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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 21, 2019
The Domestic Terror Mass Shootings by White American Men That DIDN'T Happen Last Week: 'BradCast' 8/20/19
Also: Trump cow-tows to NRA on gun reform; Luntz' advice to Dems on discussing climate...
'Green News Report' 8/20/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Newark's lead contamination crisis; U.S. fracking causes spike methane emissions; Air pollution like a pack of cigarettes a day; PLUS: End the Senate filibuster to save the climate?...
Previous GNRs: 8/15/19 - 8/13/19 - Archives...
Multipartisan Petition Effort to Recall Alaska's New GOP Governor Catches Fire: 'BradCast' 8/19/19
Guest: AK Dem Party's Jeanne Devon; Also: GA voters mandate new voting system review...
Sunday Big Baby Toons!
You'll laugh, you'll cry -- you may even get rattled -- by PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Officials Scramble As Election Software Goes Obsolete, Election Servers Discovered Online: 'BradCast' 8/16/19
Guest: Kim Zetter on voting systems found connected to the Internet and vendor denial...
JUDGE BANS GA'S OLD TOUCH-SCREEN VOTE SYSTEMS FOR 2020: 'BradCast' 8/15/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system uncon-stitutional is a victory for all U.S. voters...
'Green News Report' 8/15/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Warming-fueled toxic algae blooms killing dogs; Big Oil now pushing plastic; Plastic pollution found falling in Arctic snow; PLUS: Dem states sue to stop Trump EPA's dirty power plan...
Previous GNRs: 8/13/19 - 8/8/19 - Archives...
'SKYFALL': 'BradCast' 8/14/19
Guest: Stephen Schwartz on Russia's still-unfolding nuclear weapons test disaster; Also: GA's Abrams launches nat'l effort to protect voters in 2020 elections...
From Epstein to USDA: Under-Reported Cost of Gutting US Govt: 'BradCast' 8/13/19
Also: Admin blocked from making 'dark money' darker; TX sued for tossing absentee ballots...
'Green News Report' 8/13/19
Trump Int. Dept moves to gut the Endangered Species Act; EPA paves way for controversial AK mine; PLUS: The one energy project the Admin doesn't mind slowing down...
As Long as Trump is Advancing Conspiracies about Epstein...: 'BradCast' 8/12/19
Also: Andrew Cohen on prison suicide epidemic; Admin to block legal immigration, gut Endangered Species Act...
Sunday 'Trigger Objects' Toons
Once again, PDiddie's latest weekly collection of political cartoons is dead on target...
Outing 'The Family' on Netflix:
'BradCast' 8/9/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with author Jeff Sharlet; Also: World warns of U.S. gun violence epidemic...
The White Supremacist-in-Chief and Much Brighter 2020 News: 'BradCast' 8/8/19
Brutal ICE raids in MS; WH denial on domestic terror; MT assaulter followed Trump 'rhetoric'; 'The OC' turns 'blue'; TX may soon do same...
'Green News Report' 8/8/19
UN calls for farming overhaul to solve climate change; Unpaid KY miners block coal train; PLUS: Four fossil fuel explosions in 48 hours underscores aging infrastructure...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Also: Judge overturns Mnuchin scheme to make 'dark money' even darker; Texas sued for tossing out absentee ballots without notifying voters...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2019 6:39pm PT  

"You've heard about 'Draining the Swamp'," Donald Trump's Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director told a bunch of GOPers at a fundraiser recently in South Carolina. "What you haven't heard is what we're actually doing." He's right. We try to do something about that on today's BradCast. Again. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

Lack of funding and a hiring freeze by the Trump Administration has resulted in a shortage of correctional officers at facilities like the federal lockup in Manhattan where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning. The billionaire financier and friend of Trump was supposed to have been monitored every 30 minutes by correctional officers after being removed, for some reason, from the prison's "suicide watch" list just 6 days after he reportedly tried to kill himself. But media reports say that Epstein was not monitored for hours before being found dead. Both of the officers tasked with the job were working overtime and one was merely a substitute, reportedly, not fully trained for it. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has temporarily suspended both of them and reassigned the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, as he claims to be seeking accountability for the failure at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility overseen by the Attorney General.

The lack of federal funding at BOP is not an accident, of course. It's just one small part of this Administration's ongoing efforts to, as Mulvaney admitted, "streamline government" by making it simply disappear any way they possibly can. As Trump's Director of the OMB, Mulvaney attempted to cut funding in half for several key scientific and economic departments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Administration implemented Plan B, which is what Mulvaney was bragging about to the Republican donors in South Carolina. The USDA gave just over 30 days for career officials at two important and long-established USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to decide if they wished to uproot their lives and those of their family's to move to Kansas City (either Missouri or Kansas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has not told anyone which state it will be) or be fired.

Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo has been covering the ongoing crises at the two agencies in a series of stories, documenting how senior officials, with decades of institutional knowledge are being lost in the bargain, as more than half of those longtime federal workers have chosen against moving 1,000 miles across the country before the end of September.

"It's nearly impossible to fire a federal worker," Mulvaney complained while explaining the Administration's scheme for forcing longtime federal employees to either move to "the real part of the country" or quit. "They quit," Mulvaney boasted to the delight of the corporate GOP funders. "What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven't been able to do for a long time." One of Shuham's latest reports details the gut-wrenching decision of a 30-year veteran branch chief at the ERS, who says that staffers working on everything from researching genetically engineered seeds to soil conservation to climate change are almost all entirely gone from the agency now, along with hundreds of years of collective knowledge and institutional experience. Ironically enough, when Purdue issued the letter to employees notifying them of the move, he claimed it was being done, among other reasons, to "improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff."

The gutting of the USDA is a "test case", one economist at ERS said. "If they can carry this out, what’s to stop them from doing this on a larger scale to another agency?" The answer: Nothing. They are already doing something identical to the Bureau of Land Management at the Dept. of Interior. And there will be more to come if these moves aren't somehow blocked. Donald Trump is actively and purposely killing your government and both he and corporate industry interests couldn't be more delighted about it. This will only be stopped --- maybe --- if he is turned out of office no later than next year.

To that end, we catch up on a couple of (mostly) good news elections-related stories today as well. In Montana, a federal judge has overturned a new rule by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would have allowed "dark money" non-profit 501(c)4 groups to keep their donors a secret from the IRS. Such groups are already exempt from disclosing their funding sources publicly, but Mnuchin didn't want even the Government to know where their money used for elections is coming from either. A lawsuit by Montana Governor and 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Steve Bullock has successfully blocked that new rule --- for now. It would have made it almost impossible for the Government to determine if foreign sources were unlawfully funding elections work by such groups.

And down in Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and other plaintiffs are suing the state on behalf of voters to force election officials to notify voters when absentee vote-by-mail ballots are rejected by county election officials in time to correct any perceived signature mismatches. Such decisions are largely ad hoc from county to county --- elections officials are not hand-writing experts after all --- as there are no statewide standards for making the determination that the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot does not match that of the registered voter. Thousands of ballots in the Lone Star state have been tossed without the knowledge of voters who, under state law, do not need to be notified about signature mismatches that will keep their ballots from being counted, until 10 days after the election. With Texas potentially in play for Democrats next year, every vote may very well matter. So this lawsuit, like similar ones successfully filed in other states in recent years, is very important on several levels.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which another new rule imposed by the Trump Administration's Dept. of Interior is set to gut federal protections for thousands of endangered species; his EPA has cleared the way for an enormous, controversial mine project in Alaska which threatens key, pristine salmon fisheries in the region; and with details on the one energy project that the Administration is suddenly interested in slow-walking for some reason...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Court blocks Trump 'national emergency'; Congress sues for Trump taxes; FL Repubs gut landmark voting reform; Carter says Trump 'illegitimate'; 2020 dirty tricks now underway; Dems talk climate at first debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2019 6:30pm PT  

It's been a rough week in the federal courts for Donald Trump. Even the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court failed to grant at least one victory to the Administration in its loss last week over the fight to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That loss, where Trump clearly expected a win from his cooked High Court, has resulted in the admission of another humiliating defeat for Republicans, but a huge victory for those of us who still support the idea of democracy...as fragile as it remains in the U.S. on the eve of our Independence Day holiday in 2019. There were other encouraging signs of hope from our courts this week as well, though there remains plenty to be concerned about as we head toward the crucial 2020 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered, in addition to the breaking Census news, on today's BradCast...

  • Trump may be getting a few tanks for his corrupt 4th of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, though they won't be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. Where they will be, according to some poor writing from CNN, is another matter. ("Trump later confirmed tanks would be present during remarks in the Oval Office.");
  • Heat records are shattering in the U.S. and around the world, resulting in mussels cooking in their own shells in normally cool Northern California and highways dangerously cracking and buckling in South Dakota. What happened in Mexico and Europe, however, we hold until today's Green News Report at the end of the program;
  • But, back to the courts, as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Administration for failing to turn over six years of Donald Trump's tax returns as required by federal law, in a case that Trump seems unlikely to win. A long legal fight, however, may help him to delay the inevitable, unless he is able to receive a helping hand to undermine the rule of law from his friends at the stolen and illegitimate SCOTUS;
  • But the lower courts, so far, have provided little help to Trump. Late last Friday, with surprisingly little notice, albeit in the middle of a ton of other news, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's phony "national emergency" declaration meant to steal billions of dollars from the military to build portions of his long-promised Southern border wall (which apparently Mexico is still not paying for.) The same judge in two different challenges to Trump's blatant attempted theft, ruled that Trump's use of military funds for this purpose was "unlawful" and in violation of Congress' Constitutionally-mandated control of federal purse-strings. The Administration, however, is expected to appeal both rulings;
  • Voters in Florida, in the meantime, will have to hope for good news from the courts in the days ahead after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis --- who was reportedly elected by less than one half of one percent of the vote last November --- quietly signed a controversial new law late on a Friday, without ceremony, the day before his deadline to sign it, which guts the state's reform of a 150-year old racist voting restriction. Despite passage of state Constitutional Amendment 4 last November --- by an astonishing nearly 65% of the electorate --- the new bill was passed along partisan lines in the GOP legislature to restore a restriction on the right of many former felons to vote. The new law, which went into effect Monday in the Sunshine State, requires former felons to pay off all court fines and fees before being allowed to vote, in contravention of the statewide ballot initiative which took effect on January 1 with no such restrictions. DeSantis had specifically pushed the GOP-controlled legislature to pass the bill, which will block many of the 1.5 million former felons --- including 1 out of 5 voting age African-Americans in the state --- from seeing their lifetime ban on the right to vote lifted. Voting rights advocates accurately describe the measure as an unconstitutional "poll tax" and have already filed suit to block it. The "conservatives" in the state will now have to spend millions in order to defend their new, unpopular law;
  • That's just one of the measures the GOP is beginning to take in order to boost their odds in 2020, as former President Jimmy Carter noted late last week that he doesn't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate President. Speaking Friday at a human rights forum hosted by the Carter Center --- which has served as a monitor of elections in third-world countries for decades --- the former President charged: "There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the elections and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. ... He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf." He said "yes", when asked by the forum's moderator if he believe Trump was an "illegitimate" President. Carter may be right or wrong. Shamefully, nobody knows for certain, since the public was never allowed to examine the ballots or the voting and tabulation systems following the 2016 Presidential election. That lack of public oversight, as we have long argued, continues to erode confidence in the legitimacy of American democracy. New, 100% unverifiable voting systems being put in place in advance of the 2020 race, unfortunately, (in states like Georgia and cities like Philadelphia and counties like Los Angeles) are likely to make that problem even worse;
  • But, speaking of how bad the 2020 cycle could be, the Trump Campaign has already begun their dirty tricks, according to a report in the New York Times. One of its "rising star" digital content producers has created a phony Joe Biden campaign website, meant to look like Biden's official campaign site, in order to smear the former Vice President. Neither the Trump campaign nor its staffer, Patrick Mauldin, who admits to having created the site, is noted on the page as being behind it. The fake campaign site, according to the paper, has received more visits than Biden's official website, and Mauldin has also "anomalously" created pages meant to undermine other current 2020 Democratic front-runners such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Do Dems have any plans on how to deal with this sort of thing in 2020? Right now, it appears that they do not. Unless Dems pull together somehow --- even across another rough and tumble nominating process --- a repeat of the 2016 disaster should not be a surprise to anyone;
  • Finally, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us for our Green News Report special coverage of last week's first Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami, where the planet's worsening climate crisis finally received at least a little bit of airtime from many of the Presidential hopefuls across the span of the much-watched two-night event...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Aquene Freechild; Also: Biden flips on Hyde Amendment, swears off fossil fuel money (sorta); Automakers oppose Trump mileage, emissions rollback; Listener feedback on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Remember when overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment used to be a huge thing among progressives? Well, it still is. But something (or someone) came along who seems to be distracting much of the nation from the still-urgent need to get dark money and corporate funding out of electoral politics. We've got a bit of good news on that front today. Just a bit. But we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, former Veep turned Democratic Presidential candidate and currently presumptive front-runner Joe Biden responded to pressure from his 2020 rivals and the party's base by flipping his position on the Hyde Amendment. Citing his belief that "health care is a right" and the GOP attacks on women's health care, Biden now says he opposes the measure, just hours after he'd affirmed his support for the 1976 law which bans the use of federal funding for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. What should we learn about Biden from this flip-flop? We discuss.

Then, the auto industry appears to have flip-flopped as well. Twice. After working with the Obama Administration in 2009 to hammer out an agreement on new standards for vehicle mileage and carbon emissions, industry leaders begged the Trump Administration to roll back Obama's landmark standards. Trump promised to do the car company's bidding and plans to announce the official rollback over the summer (which, if it stands, will result in lower fuel efficiency and higher gas prices for consumers, increase pollution and lead to the premature deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.) Now the industry is begging Trump not to roll things back quite so far after all, but Trump doesn't care. The Administration plans to move ahead anyway and, as Desi Doyen explains, try to challenge California's long-established right under the Clean Air Act to impose its own higher air quality standards --- a state's right they have enjoyed under law for nearly 50 years now.

Speaking of our worsening climate crisis, the DNC nixed a proposal this week to hold a debate focused solely on climate change and the many different candidate proposals to take it on. The DNC has threatened to sanction 2020 Presidential candidates who may participate in such a forum on their own. We discuss that bizarre stance, particularly given the number of hopefuls who have put forward detailed and important policy proposals to offer an urgently-needed Green New Deal for Americans.

And, speaking of Biden, this week he became the 17th Democratic Presidential hopeful to sign on to the "No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge". But what does that pledge really mean and will it actually keep money from fossil fuel industry lobbyists, PACs and executives out of the race? For that matter, is it even possible to keep corporate PAC and other "dark money" out of our elections following the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme court, no matter how many pledges that Democratic candidates may make?

In related issues, the state of New Hampshire became the 20th state in the union this week to vote to overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment. The vote was a symbolic landmark for proponents of overturning the disastrous SCOTUS ruling, as it represents what would now be just over half of the 38 states that would be required to ratify such an Amendment. At the same time, the state of Montana, whose Governor Steve Bullock is also running for President on the issue of getting corporate money out of politics, is suing the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS to block the Trump Administration's new rule that would allow certain political action committees to keep their "dark money" donors a secret, even in confidential filings with the IRS, to whom donors previously were disclosed. The state was in federal court for hearings this week in response to the Administration's motion to dismiss the suit.

AQUENE FREECHILD, Co-director of Public Citizen's Democracy is For People campaign, joins us to explain both the good news out of New Hampshire and Montana's complaint against Treasury and the IRS. Freechild led Public Citizen's successful efforts to call for an amendment to overturn Citizens United in Vermont, New Jersey, Illinois, Delaware and Washington state. She offers an update on the current state of the fight to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates to corporate spending in our elections; offers an explanation as to how the Trump era has effected activism on the issue; details what is involved in adopting such a measure; explains why Bullock's suit in Montana is important, even though IRS disclosures are confidential, and how efforts in Congress (including the House-passed H.R. 1, "For the People" Act) would kick-start the process of restoring American democracy to we, the people.

"We have to protect our democracy from the existential threat that an unaccountable, dictator-loving President poses," says Freechild. "At the same time, we have to show the country the vision that we have as reformers, as pro-democracy people, for a clean government that really truly does represent people, that has public financing in partnership with overturning Citizens United so that there is an alternative to a corporate money system."

Finally, we close today with some listener feedback on the Democrats' internecine debate in the U.S. House on whether to begin an official impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump....or not...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Pompeo plunders Arctic for U.S.; Trump pardons war criminal murderer; White House blocks subpoenaed McGahn docs; Too much more...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2019 6:52pm PT  

Before we get to our Constitutional Crisis update on today's BradCast, we offer an update on our Climate Crisis, which the rogue Trump Administration has been busy exacerbating in the Arctic this week, to the horror of other Arctic nations. And, yes, our continuing national Gun Crisis returned to the headlines (did it ever leave?) with breaking news of another school shooting today in suburban Denver. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Trump Sec. of State Mike Pompeo stunned fellow Arctic Council members in Finland on Monday, with a speech in which he appeared absolutely giddy about economic opportunities emerging from the quickly thawing Arctic. Without once mentioning the phrase "climate change" in his 2,400 word speech, Pompeo cited "opportunity and abundance" for those able to exploit previously frozen and untapped oil and mineral reserves in the otherwise pristine Arctic, not to mention "fisheries galore" and thawed "passageways" for travel and commerce that could turn the Arctic into a "21st century Panama Canal". The remarks, reportedly, came as a shock to other representatives of the Council's nations, there to discuss protection of the melting Arctic from political and economic threat.

    But on Tuesday, things got worse as the U.S. refused, for the first time, to sign a group agreement on challenges facing the Arctic due, according to Reuters, to discrepancies in the agreement over climate change wording, jeopardizing cooperation among participating countries as the Arctic continues to warm at nearly twice the pace as the rest of the planet;

  • Back in D.C., Donald Trump stunned the legal and military community with the Monday night pardon of a former U.S. Army lieutenant sentenced by a 2009 court marshal to 25 years in prison for the murder of an Iraqi civilian in 2008. Michael Behenna was granted Executive Clemency by Trump for the gruesome killing in which Behenna was found, according to military prosecutors, to have taken "the victim out into the desert in Iraq, stripped him naked, interrogated him while he had his Glock piston pointed at him, shot him in the head, shot him in the chest, killing him at that time," all outside of a combat zone and in defiance of both orders and the military code of justice. So, Trump has moved from sending political messages with the pardons of those who obstruct federal court orders, like the disgraced former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to granting Executive Clemency to murderous war criminals. Got the message?;
  • Before we move on to today's Constitutional Crisis update, an interesting background development, as Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department announced over the weekend that it had arrested and charged a Virginia man who served as an FBI linguist on counts of "obstructing a federal investigation and making multiple false statements to FBI officials". Of course, Barr has been famously arguing of late --- in regard to President Trump --- that, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence of criminal cooperation between the Trump Campaign and Russia during his investigation into 2016 election interference, Trump could not possibly be guilty of obstructing that investigation. With no underlying crime, Barr's legally unsupportable theory goes, there can be no obstruction of the investigation into those crimes. In the case of the FBI's cunning linguist, however, obstruction charges were filed with no underlying crime, according to a former federal and state prosecutor;
  • In related news, there are now some 500 former federal prosecutors (actually, over 700 now, since checking after the show), both Republican and Democratic, who have signed onto an open letter declaring that, based on the evidence revealed by the redacted Mueller Report, Trump would have been charged with multiple counts of felony obstruction, had he been a private citizen;
  • Then, the latest news in the multiple Constitutional showdowns between the Administration and Congress, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal to answer the Ways and Means Committee's statutory demands for the IRS Commissioner to turn over several years of Trump's tax returns and Barr's refusal to respond to a lawful Congressional subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to turn over Mueller's unredacted report and its underlying evidence. With a vote on contempt by the AG still scheduled for Wednesday in the Committee, it seems a good time to look back at the case made by House Republicans in 2012 for a contempt vote against President Obama's then-Attorney General Eric Holder, including speeches from a number of GOP lawmakers incensed at the time for the DoJ's failure to turn over subpoenaed documents, which they then described as unlawful disdain for both the rule of law and the Constitution. But that was then;
  • And, with both Mnuchin and Barr facing potential contempt citations, it was former White House Counsel Don McGahn's turn in the barrel today, as the White House stepped in to block his production of subpoenaed documents that he had long ago shared with the Special Counsel --- thus waiving the White House's opportunity at the time to invoke Executive Privilege to block the release of the documents now along with McGahn's testimony, according to largely every legal expert who doesn't work at the White House. (Though even some of those lawyers, according to WaPo, see the Administration's belated attempt to invoke the privilege now as legally dubious.) As that legal wrangle plays out, McGahn's next difficult decision will come on May 21, when he has been subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee to appear for testimony as a witness to numerous incidents of criminal obstruction by the President as detailed in the Special Counsel's redacted report;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report focused on the alarming landmark study released by the U.N. this week finding that human develop, consumption and exploitation is now threatening the extinction of some 1 million plant and animal species, a report that was released before Pompeo even arrived in the Arctic this week to dance on --- and plunder --- its melting grave...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Ernie Canning defends inmate voting; Also: Trump lies (again) about tariffs, economy, China; House Judiciary to vote on Barr contempt; Mnuchin refuses (again) to turn over Trump taxes; 400 former prosecutors say Mueller revealed criminal felonies by the President...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2019 7:00pm PT  

Our lead story on today's BradCast makes everything else seem quite small by comparison. (And, no, that story is not the new royal baby. You're welcome.) Unfortunately, those other stories aren't small at all. In fact, they are almost all unprecedented as the nation continues its dark plummet into an historic Constitutional crisis under this Presidency. [Audio link for today's show is posted at end of summary.]

We cover quite a bit of ground on today's show, by necessity, if not choice. Among the stories covered...

  • A landmark, 1000+ page report compiled by some 450 researcher working with a U.N. agency, based on the data from 15,000 scientific and governmental reports warns that 1 million of the planet's 8 million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction --- many within decades --- thanks to human activity. The report finds that, more than at any other time in human history, nature itself is threatened due to human development and consumption that leaves land species finding "insufficient habitat for long-term survival" and oceans species in similar peril. While the report's authors stress there is still time to act to reverse this alarming trend, we break down some of their critical findings at the top of the show, since they are likely being overshadowed today with so much other insane news emanating from our nation's capitol and reverberating around the globe;
  • Beyond that disturbing new study, world markets opened on an alarming note on Monday --- including an initial 450-point plunge on the Dow --- following Trump's weekend tweets threatening to impose a 25% tariff on all goods imported from China by week's end. In ">his tweet, he included at least two lies, including that "China has been paying Tariffs to the USA" and "These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results." In fact, Americans pay those taxes, not China. And, as even honest conservatives who we cite on today's show point out, Trump's continuing trade war has harmed, not helped the economy, and the trade deficit with China has only gotten worse, not better, for the US in the bargain;
  • Posing an additional threat to the world economy is the Trump Administration's chest-thumping against Iran, including threats of sanctions against any nation (including allies) who purchase Iranian oil and the deployment over the weekend of an aircraft carrier battle group and a bunch of bombers toward the Persian Gulf;
  • Setting aside the Trump-caused foreign-policy and market crises, there's the Constitutional crises that he's continuing to exacerbate today here at home, where some 400 former federal prosecutors --- both Republican and Democratic, some who served as long ago as Dwight D. Eisenhower --- issued an open letter today proclaiming that, were it not for the Dept. of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, Trump would have been charged on multiple felony counts of obstruction of justice, based on the information detailed in the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report;
  • In related news, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans on Monday for a vote on Contempt against Trump Attorney General and "fixer" William Barr after the nation's top law enforcement officer's repeated failure to hand over to Congress the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence, as per a Congressional subpoena;
  • Similarly, Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Treasury Department will also rebuff a Congressional request from the Ways and Means Committee to produce six years of Donald Trump's tax returns, as per long-standing federal statute. Both incidents --- both unprecedented --- will almost certainly now be forced into federal court for adjudication;
  • Meanwhile, in New York, Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for Trump who predates Trump co-opting of the nation's Attorney General for that purpose, offered a public statement to media before heading off to federal prison for three years on Monday. Cohen will be serving time for, among other things, lying to Congress and carrying out hush-money payments to two women with whom Trump had affairs, a criminal conspiracy "directed" by Trump, according to prosecutors, in violation of federal campaign finance laws. In his statement, Cohen said: "I hope when I rejoin my family and friends that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country." In other words, he hopes that voters will remove Trump from office next year, highlighting the fact that as a federal inmate in New York he will not be allowed to vote in that election. But if the man who federal officials say "directed" the conspiracy --- who would also have been charged on multiple obstruction counts had he not been the President (thanks, in no small part, arguably, to those unlawful hush-money payments made just before the 2016 election) --- gets to not only vote, but run for re-election next year, shouldn't Cohen have a vote as well?;

That brings us to our guest today, attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG contributor ERNEST A. CANNING, who penned an insightful op-ed today arguing that the notion of "inmate vote is not a radical idea". On Friday, Republican state lawmakers in Florida enacted a measure that would undermine Sunshine State voters who approved a Constitutional measure in November, with a nearly 65% majority, that would restore voting rights to most former felons in the closely divided swing-state, one of just three in the nation --- along with Iowa and Kentucky --- to ban former felons from voting for life, even after serving their time.

But the idea of inmates voting, while still in prison, has been a matter of discussion and growing debate following the ACLU's recently-launched "RIghts for All" campaign, in which they seek to get 2020 candidates on record regarding, among other things, the right to vote by those still in prison. Currently, 48 states, other than Vermont and Maine, ban the practice. But, as Canning explains, "21 other democracies, including Canada, Sweden and Israel, allow all prisoners to vote." So, why should inmates lose their right to vote in the nation that incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other?

Canning, a Vietnam vet who also worked as a Senior adviser to VetsForBernie.org, explains the injustice and hypocrisy of barring inmates from voting, citing its lack of deterrent effect and noting that luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and that Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, would go on to become the formerly-apartheid South Africa's first black President and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In his article and on today's program, Canning also offers a compelling response to critics, like the President and many in his party (and in the Democratic Party, as well) who, as Trump's spokesperson recently charged, find the notion of inmate voting "deeply offensive", because it would allow the likes of the Boston Marathon Bomber and the perpetrator of the Charleston Church Massacre (both of whom have been sentenced to death), to cast a vote before being killed.

It's a long-overdue --- and interesting --- conversation that Americans of all political stripes, but certainly progressives, should have in "the land of the free", where First Amendment rights are still allowed for prisoners. So why isn't the right to vote?...

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Also: Several other indictments today and, yes, still more unprecedented Trump Administration corruption...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You get an indictment! You get an indictment! You get an indictment! Everyone gets an indictment!!! Well, not everyone. At least not everyone who deserves an indictment. But a bunch of folks got indicted today in a bunch of separate federal cases. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

One time Democratic hero and former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was charged in a 36-count federal indictment in California for allegedly stealing from clients, not paying his taxes, and committing bank fraud. Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig was charged by prosecutors in D.C. for lying to federal agents regarding his lobbying work in Ukraine, a case that came out of the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe (where Trump Campaign chair Paul Manafort was previously found guilty of very related charges).

And, of course, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was finally arrested in the U.K. after being kicked out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London (where he's claimed asylum for the past seven years) before being found guilty by a British judge of skipping out on bail while facing extradition for charges of sexual assault in Sweden back in 2012. The Swedish charges have since been dropped, but Assange now faces both prison time in Britain and an extradition request from the U.S. where prosecutors unsealed a one-count indictment [PDF] against him today, as filed under seal in March of 2018.

For now, that charge is an allegation of "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion". Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia claim he attempted to help crack a password for a classified Defense Department computer system to assist then U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning in hacking documents. That, after Wikileaks had already released hundreds of such documents --- many containing evidence of serious U.S. crimes --- taken by Manning, back in 2010. Freedom of the press advocates, however, warn today that the charges being brought by Trump's Dept. of Justice against Assange could be expanded to include normal journalistic activities, which could threaten the Constitutional rights of many media outlets and journalists alike.

We detail today what we know --- and don't --- about the indictment; what we know --- and don't --- about what Assange and WikiLeaks have done (including the release of documents stolen from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016); and what all of this may --- or may not --- mean for U.S. press freedoms as the case moves forward.

Also today: Some good news regarding the death penalty in New Hampshire; Some quick updates on Trump Treasury Dept. Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal (so far) to turn over Trump's tax returns to Congress in violation of the law; Trump Attorney General William Barr's obnoxious, hypocritical, and (so far) evidence-free claim that the Obama Administration was "spying" on the Trump Campaign in 2016; And more disturbing details on the perfidy and corruption of David Bernhardt, the longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist who was shamefully confirmed today by the U.S. Senate as Trump's new Interior Department Secretary.

Finally, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report on Trump's newly signed Executive Orders authorizing himself to, among other things, authorize new oil and gas pipelines without approval from other federal agencies, and to remove states' rights to block energy infrastructure that threatens local water supplies; the second bomb cyclone in weeks to likely bring billions in damages to a number of Midwestern states; and several troubling new studies regarding the acceleration of climate change and glacial ice melt now outpacing previous scientific predictions...

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Guest: Will Bunch of Philly Inquirer/Daily News; Also: Trump blows up both federal deficit AND foreign trade deficit; House Dems seek vote suppression docs from GA's GOP Governor, Sec. of State...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the heat continues to grow on the Trump Administration, as Democrats ramp up their oversight efforts after taking back a majority in the U.S. House. But, with another Presidential election around the corner, should they already be pursuing Articles of Impeachment, particularly with what we already know about Donald Trump's unprecedented crimes and corruption both before and after becoming President? [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But, first up today...A new report from Donald Trump's U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday confirms that the Trump/GOP tax cuts have blown up the federal deficit to record levels. In the first four months of the budget year (which began in October) the deficit is up an astonishing 77 percent over the same period the previous year, thanks in no small part to a vast reduction in revenue on the heels of the tax cut, including a 23 percent drop in corporate taxes paid to the Government compared to last year. So much for the Republican repeated lie that their tax cuts would "pay for themselves!"

Then, on Wednesday, the Commerce Department followed up that news with the announcement that the foreign trade deficit has exploded, even after Trump's "American First" tariffs and trade wars that were supposed to shrink the imbalance with foreign nations that Trump has long (falsely) blamed for the loss of American manufacturing jobs. As a candidate, he described the U.S. foreign trade deficit as a "politician-made disaster" that he said he could "turn around fast". But his tariffs have only made things worse.

Moreover, as recently as this past weekend at CPAC, he repeated his line about "billions of dollars...pouring into our Treasury" due to his new tariffs on imported goods, but failed, as usual, to mention that those "billions" are paid by American consumers, not foreign nations. A recent study [PDF] found Americans are footing the entire bill for Trump's tariffs and that it is costing more for those in Republican-leaning counties. A separate study [PDF] from a different set of economists found that if Trump's tariffs somehow resulted in the creation of 35,000 new manufacturing jobs (the total number of jobs lost in the steel and aluminum industry over the past decade) they would still have cost tax-payers $195,000 per job.

Those, of course, are just some of Trump's failures as President. His high crimes and misdemeanors are another matter. With Democrats back in the majority in the U.S. House, oversight of the Executive Branch is finally beginning again. Trump and the White House and their TV operation called Fox "News", describe the Constitutional mandate oversight as a "fishing expedition", a "disgrace" and "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!" But, citing the House Judiciary Committee's request for documents from over 80 Trump associates or entities this week, our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH, describes the effort as a "shadow impeachment".

He tells me the effort now underway in the House is "exactly like" the process we would see if Articles of Impeachment had already been introduced, but without Democrats having to use "the i-word". But will that process be enough to bring accountability, much less put the brakes on this out-of-control, unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency? Especially with the next Presidential election already baring down on us? A "shadow impeachment" that could become a real one is fine, but shouldn't we have a real one already? We discuss those questions and many others with Bunch on today's program.

Finally, speaking of long-overdue and much-needed federal oversight. Democratic leadership in the House Oversight and Reform Committee today sent letters [PDF] to Georgia's new Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp, along with new Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger, seeking documents surrounding the massive vote suppression that tainted Kemp's reported narrow victory in the Governor's contest over Democrat Stacey Abrams last November. Among the documents sought by the House Dems in their new investigation are those related to Peach State government actions to purge voters (1.4 million were removed from the rolls during Kemp's tenure as SoS), shut down polling places (200 have been closed since 2012); keep newly-registered voters off the rolls (the registrations of 53,000 disproportionately black voters were suspended under the state's so-called "exact match" requirement); the "sequestration" of un-deployed voting machines (which resulted in long lines on Election Day in three key counties); and other related concerns over which Kemp was sued (and lost) countless times while overseeing his own election last year.

All of that as both Kemp and Raffensberger are pushing hard this week to hoax state lawmakers into voting to spend at least $150 million on new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Republicans are rushing through legislation this week in the state Senate to purchase the new computer-marked "paper ballot" systems, despite being virulently opposed by computer cybersecurity and voting machine experts who describe the new systems as unverifiable [PDF], unauditable [PDF] and vulnerable to hacking [PDF]. The experts recommend hand-marked paper ballot systems instead.

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Guest: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the National Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2019 6:57pm PT  

As my guest details on today's BradCast, it's not immigrants who are currently posing a threat to those living on our southern border, it's lawless federal agents encroaching on private lands to build an unnecessary and dangerous border wall. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up: the Department of Justice rounded up dozens of gang members and indicted them on Tuesday as part of a criminal conspiracy for "attempted murder, kidnapping, maiming, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine." No, they weren't "violent inner-city thugs" or "murderous MS-13 immigrant gangsters", they were white supremacist members of the Arkansas-based New Aryan Empire. Oddly enough, Donald Trump hasn't mentioned them during any of his false, anti-immigrant rants at campaign rallies and State of the Union addresses.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump will most likely sign the compromise deal struck between Congressional Democrats and Republicans this week to fund the federal government and avoid another shutdown, even though he will get less than he could have had if he'd accepted the deal he backed out of last year before shutting down the federal government over his new demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall. Sean Hannity of Fox "News" and wingnut talk radio fame has now backed off his earlier charge that "any Republican that supports this garbage compromise" would have to explain themselves. He now appears to be supporting the compromise, while calling for the President to declare a "national emergency" to steal more tax-payer money for a wall. With that permission from his Fox "News" handlers, Trump will almost certainly sign the agreement.

In all, as Trump points out, the deal allocates $23 billion for border security --- a lot of money for Democrats to agree to if, as Trump lies, they favor "open borders". It's also a lot of money period. But, record national debt and annual deficit spending do not appear to be a problem for pretend "fiscally conservative" Republicans in Congress. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that the national debt has now topped $22 trillion for the first time in history, after increasing more than $2 trillion since Trump took office under GOP leadership in Congress. The landmark comes thanks, in no small part, to the Trump/GOP's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax cuts.

And while both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are hoping that Trump signs their compromise border security agreement to keep the government open, Trump's U.S. Customs and Border (CPB) agents are busy breaking into private property and threatening to seize private lands owned by Americans who have lived and worked on the banks of the Rio Grande at the U.S. southern border for generations.

Bulldozers and other heavy machinery is now reportedly rolling into wildlife sanctuaries in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX has filed a restraining order this week to stop them after, the Center charges, CPB broke into a fence on its private property, cut the lock, and replaced it with its own.

We're joined today by the Center's Director MARIANNA TREVINO-WRIGHT to explain the federal government's intrusions on their 100-acre butterfly refuge, wildlife center and native species botanical garden. The Center, part of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), regards CPB's behavior as unlawful and unconstitutional according to a lawsuit "filed in December of 2017 as the result of the government's actions on our property in July of 2017, more than nine months before a Congressional vote, or any funding appropriation for 'border wall'," Trevino-Wright emphasizes.

We discuss, among other things, the 28 laws and environmental regulations --- "including the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, and the Native American Religious Freedom Act" --- that the Department of Homeland Security has waived since Congress approved 33 miles of new border fencing in the area last year to allow construction of the barrier, and the federal government's use of Eminent Domain already underway to confiscate private lands for Trump's wall. Trevino-Wright details the devastation that awaits butterfly species, as well as other insects and native wildlife with the construction of the wall on the property of both the Center and the neighboring 91,000 acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

She says insects and animals will be "sentenced to death" thanks to flooding that will occur between the mighty Rio Grande River and the concrete base of the planned 30 foot wall where they will become trapped. Moreover, the accompanying LED "blitzkrieg all-night bright lighting every 150 feet on the wall, will result in catastrophe for sensitive nocturnal creatures and "lead to greater environmental damage". And, no, Trevino-Wright tells me, many butterflies and birds are not able to fly over a 36-foot concrete and steel barrier. She describes the wall as an "abomination", Trump's claims of an humanitarian and violent criminal "crisis" at the border to be nonsense, and why residents in the area are far more worried about criminals within law enforcement agencies than they are about those crossing the border unlawfully or ferrying drugs into the country. "Conflict or property damage or terrorist acts by those who support this agenda are actually what we're more concerned about," Trevino-Wright adds.

Please tune in for this full conversation.

Finally today, a surprise resignation in the Trump Administration as FEMA Director Brock Long calls it quits after facing two years of harassment from DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen and unprecedented hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophes, writing in his farewell letter to staffers that "no one could have ever predicted the challenges we would face." Our own Desi Doyen --- who has long been citing scientists predicting those very challenges for years, thanks to global warming --- offers a word or two in response...

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Guest: Journalist David Dayen; Also: Florence flooding and nuclear threat; Manafort guilty plea; MA NatGas explosions; 10 years after the crash...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2018 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as my producer Desi Doyen likes to say, we once again attempt "to squeeze a 10 pound show into a 1 pound bag." [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, the latest on Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical storm but wreaking extraordinary havoc, storm surge, flooding, hundreds of rescues and now at least five deaths. The monster storm has largely stalled over the Carolinas to dump, according to one meteorologist, 10 trillion gallons of rainfall, or enough to fill more than 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

Also today, Donald Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort finally pleaded guilty in a deal to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller that requires him to cooperate on the Trump/Russia investigation and, as Marcy Wheeler describes, is "pardon proof".

Next, an update on the still-unexplained natural gas explosions that set dozens of homes ablaze north of Boston, a story which broke at the very end of yesterday's BradCast.

Then, a brief followup on the reported widespread problems with voter registrations in New York during their state and local primaries on Thursday, the final primaries of the season before the crucial 2018 midterm elections in November. Those reported failures for some voters at polling places helped underscored at least one of the important outcomes from Thursday's contests.

We're joined by The Intercept and New Republic contributor DAVID DAYEN to discuss reported results out of New York, where progressive actress and activist Cynthia Nixon challenged two-term Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and progressive Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout vied for the Democratic nod to become the state's next Attorney General. Alas, those underdog progressive upstarts on the statewide ballot were unsuccessful, though, as Dayen reports, Teachout was undermined by a rightwing Democratic Congressman who, he tells me was likely "placed in there to depress Teachout's upstate numbers on behalf of Wall Street special interests."

Still, he says, both challenges managed to force Cuomo and his party to the left on a number of important matters already. That move to the left was more of a lurch, however, at the state Senate level, where 6 of 8 members of the so-called Independent Democratic Conference (or IDC, a group of corporate Democrats who had caucused with Republicans in the Senate, giving the GOP control of the otherwise Democratic-majority body) were turfed out by progressive challengers. That, Dayen argues, is likely to result in a huge difference in the legislation enacted by a state legislative body that has been blocked for years, with Cuomo's help, from adopting a number of long-overdue progressive reforms on everything from healthcare to fiscal matters to New York's antiquated election laws.

"There was this host of progressive legislation that was clogged in the state of New York because of Republican control of the state senate, which was facilitated by Democrats. It's confounding that this went on for so long!," he observes."Andrew Cuomo is a throwback to the New Democrats, the Clinton era. And he believes that if he was forced to sign progressive legislation, it would hurt his ultimate ambition, which is the presidency. He's still stuck in a 1990s mindset that you can't go any further left than, I guess, 'midnight basketball' laws in order to win the Presidency."

And, as primary season voting is finally now wrapped up, we discuss the various ways in which voters and broadly diverse candidacies have helped to redefine the Democratic Party over the past year. "The Democratic Party is one of the more diverse parties at this point in history that we've seen, certainly ever in America, maybe elsewhere. Representation absolutely matters. The people who are the workhorses of the Democratic Party --- women, people of color --- want to see themselves represented in the leadership that is going to carry the party forward."

Also, on this week's 10th anniversary of the 2008 global financial meltdown, Dayen, author of the widely acclaimed Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud, explains how even a decade later no real accountability has ever been brought to the elite who caused the crisis and how even Barack Obama's own Treasury Secretary was allowed to undermine him in a way that is not dissimilar to the actions discussed in the recent anonymous New York Times op-ed regarding a "resistance" inside the Trump Administration.

Dayen also discusses several other way in which the ramifications of the Wall Street bank bailouts still reverberate throughout the American body politic, by "set[ting] the table for demagogues. And that's what happened in 2016."

Finally today, some details from concerned scientists on the nuclear plants currently threatened by the massive flooding of Florence, specifically, the Duke Energy-owned Brunswick plant in North Carolina which houses two reactors almost identical to the GE-designed reactors which melted down after power-outages following the 2011 tsunami-caused flooding in Japan...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center; Also, new numbers in OH-12, KS GOP Guv primary, Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2018 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Understanding two new, seemingly conflicting directives on "dark money" in campaigns --- one of them very encouraging --- and a new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission charging several GOP Senators unlawfully colluded with the NRA during the 2014 and 2016 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, adjusting some numbers! In this past Tuesday's very close U.S. House Special Election in Ohio's (previously, very Republican) 12th Congressional District, the Trump-endorsed GOP candidate Troy Balderson was reportedly up over Democrat Danny O'Connor by just over 1,700 votes out of about 200,000 tallied on election night in the closely watched, bellwether race. On Wednesday, however, Franklin County's Board of Elections discovered an electronic cartridge from one precinct, with 588 votes stored on it, had not been included in the original unofficial tallies. With those ballots now added, O'Connor has netted 190 additional votes over Balderson, lowering the current unofficial margin in the contest to just 0.8 points. A margin of 0.5 or less would trigger an automatic "recount", as thousands of provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots are still being processed.

In Kansas, Tuesday's even tighter race between Sec. of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, saw its margin cut by more than half, from 191 votes to just 91, out of some 311,000 cast. The adjustment appears due to an incorrectly entered number by the Sec. of State's office on Tuesday night. The controversial, hard-right Kobach's razor-thin lead may further erode (or expand) as some 10,000 provisional and late mail-in ballots are still to be processed. A recount in that contest is all but certain.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, in an official statement to Congress, now acknowledges that at least 1,427 were killed during and after Hurricane Maria last year, a vastly different figure than the island's still-official death toll of 64. The new numbers place Maria's death toll much closer to the 1,833 said to have been killed during and after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. We discuss why it has been so difficult for Puerto Rican officials to acknowledge those far-higher numbers, long ago estimated by many experts.

Then we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Washington D.C.'s Campaign Legal Center (CLC), to help explain several important, if seemingly conflicting, pieces of campaign finance related news. About two weeks ago, the Treasury Department announced that non-profits who spend money on political campaigns --- so-called "Dark Money" groups --- would no longer be required to disclose the names of their donors to the IRS. The timing of that new policy, Fischer notes, "was pretty terrible. It happened on the same day that federal prosecutors charged Maria Butina with being an unregistered Russian agent who tried to influence American politics through the NRA, which had spent at least $35 million through its 501c4 [non-profit political action committee] arm during the last election cycle."

"So, if you're concerned about foreign money in elections, you should be really concerned about the Treasury Dept. stating that 501c4s, like [Karl Rove's] Crossroads GPS or the NRA, no longer have to disclose their top donors to the IRS."

Then, a week or so later, last Friday, a federal judge ordered the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to rewrite their current rules, within 45 days, in order to require the disclosure of the names of donors to many of those same "dark money" groups. Fischer details how the new mandate from Judge Beryl Howell, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, differs from the Treasury Dept. directive and, in fact, could be very good news indeed for those who believe in transparency and public oversight of elections!

"If the FEC was doing its job, then it wouldn't matter quite so much if the IRS was not collecting this information," Fischer tells me. "Judge Howell said that the FEC has been failing at its job, and it needs to go back to the drawing board and draft new rules that are going to ensure effective donor disclosure for certain types of political advertising."

"Judge Howell's decision is a reminder that the FEC is largely to blame for the rise of dark money. It's not just the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, it also is in large part the fault of the FEC for failing to enforce the laws that are on the books. The Supreme Court has endorsed donor disclosure, and the laws passed by Congress say that donors to politically active dark money groups must be disclosed. It falls to the FEC to draft the rules that interpret laws passed by Congress and to enforce those rules. But what the FEC has done is draft rules that narrow the donor disclosure laws passed by Congress, and then they failed to enforce even those narrow rules."

While acknowledging the new ruling as "a very big deal", Fischer explains why questions remain as to whether the ruling will be (or even can be) appealed and how the current vacancies on the FEC may prevent them from being able to act within the time ordered by Judge Howell.

In a separate, if somewhat related matter, Fischer details CLC's recently filed complaint with the FEC charging that the campaigns of four different Republican U.S. Senators unlawfully coordinated with the NRA's political action committee in violation of long-standing campaign finance laws during the 2014 and 2016 elections. The GOP Senators named in the complaint: Ron Johnson (WI), Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Thom Tillis (NC).

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with still more record heat, pushback from California against the Administration's attempt to undermine state mileage and emissions standards, and the extraordinary revelation that Trump's EPA is actually attempting to bring deadly asbestos back! Seriously!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Tax policy expert Alexandra Thornton; Also: Great news for voters in MI! And, what exactly is Sen. Jeff Flake doing in Africa?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tax cuts by executive fiat? It may depend on what the definition of "cost" is. Republicans used to pretend to oppose "Imperial Presidencies" --- at least when the President in question was Barack Obama --- but, hey, things change. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, however, we begin with some good news for a change! The Michigan Supreme Court late on Tuesday, approved a wildly popular, non-partisan, grassroots anti-gerrymandering measure for this November's statewide ballot, after GOP opposition to the initiative. Michigan's Proposal 2 is just one of several encouraging election reforms that Michiganders will be able to vote for (or against) during this year's midterms. And, MI is just one of several states (along with Missouri, Utah, and Colorado) that will see citizen-driven initiatives to end the scourge of partisan redistricting on this year's ballot!

More good news: A U.S. court of appeals in California on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling finding Donald Trump's executive order barring federal funds to so-called "sanctuary cities" as unconstitutional.

Then, several new studies find record corporate profits --- both before and after the Trump/GOP tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy late last year --- are being spent mostly on stock buybacks, rather than increased worker wages, as Republicans had pretended would be the case when they rammed last year's massive tax cuts through Congress. Those cuts have already raised the federal deficit above $1 trillion, rather than paying for themselves as promised.

At the same time, Trump's Dept. of Treasury is now said to be considering a controversial scheme to bypass Congress entirely in order to offer at least another $100 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We're joined today by ALEXANDRA THORNTON, former tax policy adviser to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, now Senior Director of Tax Policy for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. She tells me: "We already have very low taxes on capital income, capital gains, and now they want to make it lower."

Thornton explains Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's planned scheme that would reinterpret the word "cost" in the federal Revenue Act of 1918 in order to index the already very low tax rate on income earned via investment in stocks and real estate to inflation, and how doing so by executive branch fiat would most likely be unlawful. (At least the George W. Bush Administration found that to be the case when they considered a similar plan.)

"Here is this administration that's been talking about 'regulatory overreach' and wanting to get rid of all these regulations, and now they want to go beyond their authority to pass a regulation that gives this gigantic tax cut almost exclusively to the wealthy. It's incredibly hypocritical."

Thornton also debunks the long-held GOP "fairy tale" that tax cuts pay for themselves by growing the economy, rather than blowing holes in the national debt and deficit, and further helps explain why last year's tax cuts, as passed without any Democratic votes, may not be working quite as well as a campaign issue for Republicans before the midterms as they had hoped.

"This is all part of the conservative mantra that if we tax investment that'll slow down economic growth. There's really no evidence for that at all. Basically, what they say is that we need to cut taxes on any kind of income, and eventually that will mean that we'll be able to invest in more things in the economy which will make workers more productive, and when they become more productive their wages can go up and there will be more jobs. And it's a fairy tale. It's basically never happened. It doesn't work like that."

Finally today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled this year's August Senate recess in hopes of ramming through a bunch of Trump's federal judicial nominees and his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. His hope was to do so before Republicans potentially lose their slim majority in the U.S. Senate in the fall elections. But that plan may be facing an unexpected hurdle from Arizona's outgoing U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who is currently in Africa observing the hand-counting of hand-marked paper ballots in Zimbabwe's historic election. He may not be returning to D.C. anytime soon, according to some Senate staffers, which could stymie the possibility of any nominees being voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which is deadlocked at 10 to 10 without Flake's presence), and perhaps even prevent floor votes in a 49-49 Senate with both Flake and ailing fellow Arizona Senator John McCain both missing. Is Flake, who claims to be a Trump opponent (even while voting for most of his agenda anyway) finally taking some form of real action in response?...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: The Intercept's David Dayen: Also: CA Dems endorse Feinstein's opponent de León; Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez head to KS; FBI reveals Russian ownership of MD's public election system server...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2018 6:41pm PT  

We start off on today's BradCast with how the FBI's startling new revelation that a Russian oligarch tied to Vladimir Putin essentially owns the state of Maryland's public election system, underscores yet again what we've been trying to explain for about 15 years here: Private corporations have no place in public elections! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Only oversight by the public can possibly prevent our electoral system from being manipulated (or owned) by insiders (like election officials and/or private election vendors) or outsiders (like foreign nations and/or hackers). Amazingly, Maryland says they had no clue about the Russian ownership of the private server company which hosts the state's electoral systems --- including voter registration, election management (ballot programming and tabulation), election night results reporting and more. They were notified by the Feds just last Friday. (For a sense of how long we've been yelling about the threats related to the corporatization our public elections, see our August 2008 article by Ellen Theisen, linking to Voters Unite's then-new report on how private "Vendors are Undermining the Structure of U.S. Elections".)

Next, speaking of public oversight being stripped away from the public, author and financial journalist DAVID DAYEN joins us to discuss several topics. First, the US Treasury Department announced this week, incredibly enough, that it is doing away with the requirement for non-profit "social welfare organizations", such as the National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity, to reveal the names of their donors to the IRS.

"You can sort of squint and say, well, any organization, whether it's the Chamber of Commerce or Planned Parenthood, on the left or on the right, can benefit from this," says Dayen. "But lets' be real. The practitioners of dark money are overwhelmingly on the right. That's why politicians on the right support burying this information, whereas politicians on the left generally support disclosure."

The new regulation, experts and journalists argue, will make "dark money" in our elections even darker. The three right-wing groups cited above were the top spenders on elections in 2016 and they are celebrating the new announcement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today, even as Treasury used what Dayen describes as a "Zombie Lie" (which just wont die) in their official announcement --- citing the long-debunked "IRS targeting scandal" --- as one of the reasons for the new policy, which has long been lobbied for by the Right.

The announcement comes just days after the federal indictment of a Russia national who had infiltrated the NRA along with another oligarch who had helped funnel millions of foreign dollars to the group. "Foreign spending within US elections remains illegal, whether the IRS collects this information or not. And it seems like they're giving themselves less of an opportunity to connect the dots and make sure they are properly enforcing federal election law." That, I argue, is a feature, not a bug.

Then, Dayen explains the remarkable turn of events over the weekend in Oakland, where the California Democratic Party's executive committee voted --- by a huge margin --- to endorse state Senator Kevin de León over four-term, 26-year incumbent U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein in her reelection bid this November. Dayen describes what happened and why.

Finally, Dayen details why progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders and NY U.S. House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are barnstorming the so-called "red" state of Kansas this weekend to stump for several progressive U.S. House candidates in advance of the state's August 7 primary. Early voting in the state is under way as of today.

Also, though we didn't have time to dive into the details, Dayen teases his recent "long read" over at HuffPost's Highline, which he worked on for about year, documenting the jaw-dropping story of what happened to a whistleblower who tried to sound the alarm on sexual harassment at international banking behemoth HSBC...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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