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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, May 20, 2019
Time to Impeach Yet?: 'BradCast' 5/17/19
Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with Senate Judiciary Committee vet Lisa Graves and Tweeter 'GottaLaff'...
The Republican Party is a Culture of Corruption: 'BradCast' 5/16/19
Spate of GOP pol scams, indictments, corrupt pardons; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
PG&E caused deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 level hits milestone, exactly as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: The Impossible Whopper goes national...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/19 - 5/7/19 - Archives...
FL's Sancho: 'No Confidence' 2020 Will Be Secure After New 2016 FBI Disclosures: 'BradCast' 5/15/19
30-yr elexn chief says FBI lied in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL unverifiable in 2020...
22 Candidates, 2020 Visions:
'BradCast' 5/14/2019
Bad news CO2 landmark; Biden booed on climate, pushes back; MT's Bullock jumps in to 2020 as Dem Gov from 'red state'; Warren says no to FNC's 'hate-for-profit racket'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/19
Trump trade war hits U.S. NatGas; Admin ices Arctic Council; Houston floods as U.S. sees wettest year on record; PLUS: UK, Scotland declare 'climate emergency'...
GA Supremes Hear Case of 125k 'Missing' 2018 Lt. Gov. Votes: 'BradCast' 5/13/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's trade war, Congress'l war; FL voting news; NC-9 do-over primary...
Sunday Billion Dollar Loser Toons
Once again, lots of losers from which to choose in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
House All Action Against Trump, with Help from Repubs: 'BradCast' 5/10/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt on what's next for abortion laws...
Trump Uses Exec Privilege to Block Mueller Report; Judiciary Finds Barr in Contempt: 'BradCast' 5/8/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Comm...
'Green News Report' 5/7/19
U.N. report warns humans pushing 1 million species to extinction; Trump repeals post-BP spill safety rules; PLUS: Midwest flooding breaks all-time records...
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...


Leon County's 30-year veteran Election Supervisor tells us FBI lied about hacks in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL ballots will be unverifiable in 2020; calls NSA 'leaker' Reality Winner a 'heroine'; warns new GOP law means 'Jim Crow' has returned to the Sunshine State
Also: Trump's Iran war threat; AL bans almost all abortions; NC-9 do-over candidates set...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2019 6:59pm PT  

It seems that even Republicans in Florida have finally been forced to notice/admit what we've been pointing out about the 2016 election for years now. And our guest on today's BradCast, a longtime county elections chief from the Sunshine State, is none too happy about any of it. He offers several serious-as-a-heart-attack warnings about 2020 in the bargain. [Must-listen audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But, first up today, the nation and world continue to pay a dangerous and painful price for whatever did or didn't happen that resulted in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The Administration continued to ratchet up their threats of war against Iran on Wednesday by ordering all nonessential U.S. Government staff out of Iraq, citing unspecified and publicly unsupported claims of threats from Iran. The face-off clearly comes from Trump's ill-considered decision to pull out of the 2015 Obama Administration-brokered, seven-nation nuclear agreement which had effectively ended Iran's nuclear program. Though even the Trump Administration conceded Iran has been faithful to the anti-nuclear pact, Trump withdrew the U.S. and re-imposed crippling sanctions. He's now threatening war, for reasons that nobody seems to understand, and has deployed war ships and bombers to the tinder-box region.

Back at home, Trump's stolen U.S. Supreme Court has inspired dozens of new anti-abortion laws in state after state. On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most draconian measure yet, a bill that would outlaw almost all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, while jailing doctors who perform the (currently) Constitutionally-protected procedure for up to 99 years. The new law, adopted on Tuesday by the male-dominated state Senate and signed less than 24 hours later, would not only force women to carry the child of their rapists, it could also penalize doctors more harshly than the rapists. The ACLU has vowed to challenge the law which would require even pregnant 11-year old rape victims to carry their baby to term.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republican primary voters selected their candidate to run against Democrat Dan McCready in the do-over election for the state's 9th U.S. House Congressional District after the Republican candidate and Baptist Minister Mark Harris was discovered to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive Absentee Ballot Fraud Scheme last November. The 10-candidate GOP primary resulted in hard-right, Trump-loving state Senator Dan Bishop being selected to run against McCready in September's do-over election. Bishop is the author and lead sponsor of NC's infamous 2016 law restricting bathroom access for transgender people.

But, as the nation and world continue to pay the price for Trump's nightmarish Presidency, new questions emerge (or, at least, are finally being noticed by Republicans) regarding his own supposed 2016 election victory. On Tuesday, Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged the FBI notified him that election systems in at least two different Florida counties were infiltrated by by Russian intelligence in advance of the 2016 election. He says the FBI has barred him from publicly stating which two counties those are.

The news comes on the heels of similar (and similarly vague) allegations detailed in the redacted Special Counsel report [PDF] from Robert Mueller (see Volume II, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), as well as public claims in 2018 made by Florida's then Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson's assertions about Russian access to the state's elections systems were publicly ridiculed at the time by then Gov. Rick Scott and other GOPers, even though Florida's Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was told about the same information at the same time as Nelson in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Scott would go on to narrowly defeat Nelson for the Senate seat in 2018 and Republican DeSantis is said to have narrowly edged out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on the same day. Both races were so close they resulted in unprecedented statewide "recounts".

However, as our guest today, 30-year veteran Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO explains, "recounts" in Florida amount to little more than running the same paper ballots through the same optical-scan computers which tallied them --- either correctly or incorrectly --- in the first place. Sancho, the legendary elections chief in Tallahassee, the state's capital, was so well-respected by all sides that he was tapped in 2000 to oversee FL's notoriously aborted Presidential recount that year. He is furious today about DeSantis' announcement, the secrecy behind which are the counties that were penetrated (he retired after the 2016 election), and explains that he was lied to by the FBI when he was told, during a then confidential conference call with Bureau officials in 2016, that "no county had been hacked" in the run-up to the election.

"The Justice Department has continued to obfuscate and lie about this situation from the very beginning. I was on a confidential call on September 30, [2016] in which all 67 election officials here in this state, and the state election officials, were informed by the FBI that no county had been hacked. The state hadn't been hacked. They told us that. And we now know, from the documentation that's been released through The Intercept and Mueller, that was false. We now know from the documentation, some time in early August [of 2016], the successful penetration occurred."

Sancho also now questions whether there were more than two counties penetrated and says he has no reason to trust the claims by either DeSantis or federal officials that election results were unaffected by the attack. "Here's the crazy thing about it," he tells me, "the Russian GRU knows which counties they've penetrated. The only people that don't know are the election officials and the citizens and voters of the state...it's time the American citizenry, particularly Floridians, figured out that information."

He also hails NSA whistleblower Reality Winner as a "heroine" for alerting the world to documents revealing that the Russian GRU had penetrated elections systems in Florida (and possibly elsewhere) via coordinated spear-phishing attacks that allowed them access to voter registration and website election results reporting systems made by VR Systems, a private election systems vendor with contracts in dozens of U.S. states. Winner is currently serving 5 years in federal prison for having leaked those documents to The Intercept in 2017.

Sancho demands to know "why Homeland Security decided to keep critical information from state and local election officials" for so many years. "Why weren't we told?" He also furious at Rubio and other Republicans for their treatment of Nelson when he tried to blow the whistle himself last year. "Nelson was vilified as being old and senile for saying such a ridiculous thing. And actually he was right...And quite frankly, the individual whose stock falls in my eyes is Senator Rubio, who confirmed what Sen. Nelson said, only after the election. He could have told the truth, and said that Sen. Nelson is raising a valid point. He kept his mouth shut. He put his party over this nation, and we are poorer for it today."

As to the security of the state's election systems as we head into 2020, he warns that "Florida is not well protected," adding a chilling note: "You do a reconnaissance before a major attack," he tells me, "and I don't think we've had the major attack yet."

Sancho has plenty more to say regarding Florida's move to unverifiable computer-marked paper ballots in advance of the upcoming Presidential election, and much more that I hope you'll click below to tune in for. There's simply too much to fully summarize here.

But one last point for now. Sancho also offers his thoughts today on the recent measure passed by GOP state lawmakers to undermine Florida's Constitutional Amendment 4 which was adopted by nearly 65% of statewide voters last November, allowing some 1.5 million former felons in Florida who have completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation, to have their voting rights restored. The new GOP measure, which awaits DeSantis' signature, would bar those newly-eligible voters --- including more than 20% of the states African-American voting-age population --- from registering to vote unless all court-imposed fines and fees are paid.

"What the Republicans did was reprehensible," Sancho rails, arguing that the bill contradicts "the overwhelming, clear language" of the statewide constitutional ballot measure. Many have described the new GOP bill as a poll tax. Sancho calls it more "cash register justice", as it will allow those with money to vote, but not those without. "This is clearly restricting the right to vote based upon who can afford to pay. Jim Crow has been reestablished in Florida."

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

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump trade war sends markets plunging; Trump's Constitutional Crisis with Congress continues; Good news for FL voters; NC-9's do-over primary election...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trump-induced chaos continues to worsen, from China to the U.S. Congress, and the fights over 2018 and 2019 elections continue in Georgia and North Carolina, while a court ruling in Florida will make things a bit easier for voters in 2020. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, Donald Trump sends world markets --- including the Dow, which dropped more than 600 points on Monday --- plummeting, after China announces plans to respond to Trump's newest 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday. Today China announced they plan to institute retaliatory tariffs on some $60 billion in U.S. exports and may cut off sales from certain companies entirely. So, Americans are left paying exorbitant new import taxes (tariffs on Chinese goods imported to the U.S. are taxes paid by U.S. companies and consumers, they are NOT paid by China, as Trump keeps falsely asserting), and now financial markets are taking an additional hit. Experts worry the dispute could soon nudge the economy into recession if a trade deal is not brokered. Trump has since threatened to add new taxes on all goods made in China if they refuse to kowtow to his demands.

At the same time as Trump is playing out his ill-considered foreign trade war, he is also expanding his domestic war against Constitutionally-mandated oversight by the Legislative Branch. A weekend analysis by the Washington Post finds Trump and his allies are now blocking more than 20 separate Congressional investigations "into his actions as president, his personal finances and his administration's policies" in what experts --- and even former Republican Congress members and legal staffers --- cite as a deepening crisis of unprecedented proportions between the two co-equal branches.

From Florida, however, we have a bit of good news from a federal court, where a judge has ruled that the state must follow the Voting Rights Act by supplying election materials and assistance for Spanish-speaking voters in advance of the 2020 primaries. The ruling is key for the tens of thousands of new Spanish-speaking Florida voters who moved to the Sunshine State from Puerto Rico following the devastation of 2017's Hurricane Maria.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republicans voters in the state's 9th Congressional District will select their nominee to run against Democrat Dan McCready in a do-over general election scheduled for this fall, after the state refused to certify a winner from last November's contest following the revelation that the Republican candidate (and Baptist minister), Mark Harris, was found to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive absentee ballot fraud scheme on his behalf. In February, after some remarkable testimony, the state scheduled a new election. Tuesday's GOP primary in NC promises to be a bit of a circus with 10 --- um, colorful --- Republicans running for the nod. If none of receive more than 30% of the vote, there will be a runoff in September, with the general election then pushed back to November. The U.S. House seat in NC-9 will remain vacant until then, as 2018's last undecided election is finally completed near the end of 2019.

In Georgia, meanwhile, results from a 2018 race are still being challenged in court, after more than 125,000 votes cast in last November's race for Lt. Governor appeared inexplicably "missing". The unusually large undervote rate in that contest does not appear in any others races, including statewide elections much farther down the ballot (eg. Sec. of State, Insurance Commissioner, etc.)

Moreover, the missing votes only appear to have occurred on ballots cast at the polling place, where voters are forcced to use GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Hand-marked absentee paper ballots revealed no similar drop-off in voting rates for Lt. Governor and, according to our guest today, plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, the unusually large residual vote rate was also inexplicably highest in predominately African-American precincts.

"It wasn't just our speculation that something went wrong with the machines," Marks tells me. "We had the premiere election statisticians in the United States look at this, and they basically said it would be a one-in-ten thousand chance that something wasn't happening in the machines that would have caused this kind of result."

Last January, as the Coalition sought a forensic analysis of the state's voting systems and other materials needed to carry out their lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the Lt. Governor election, they were blocked by the state. Leading that fight was Republican Gov. Brian Kemp who is said to have narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams last year on the same day, in a race where then-Sec. of State Kemp oversaw his own election and was found by several court challenges to have been suppressing the vote in predominately African-American areas. Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court heard the plaintiffs' appeal in the case, after a lower state court judge dismissed it --- without even allowing discovery --- earlier this year. Marks and the other plaintiffs seek to have the lower court's ruling by Senior Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs reversed, so they may proceed with discovery, including forensic analysis by cybersecurity and voting systems experts, and a full trial.

"The dynamics of [the lower court] trial were extremely strange," she explains. "We told the Supreme Court several times that during the trial, when we were begging for discovery, begging for a jury trial, begging for a continuance because they had been blocking everything we were doing, the judge said, 'Look, I'm getting pressure to get this resolved. So, no --- you cannot have the documents, you can't have a continuance, and you can't have a jury trial.'

"Getting pressure"? From whom? "We don't know. She didn't disclose that," Marks says, "but that alone is reason to reverse her."

Marks joins us to detail how things went at the high court last week, and for an update on Kemp's new effort to move the voting systems in Georgia from its current 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen system, installed in 2002, to an all-new 100% unverifiable touchscreen system that prints equally unverifiable computer-marked paper ballot summary cards. On that front, Marks has been loudly opposing the move --- advocating instead ofr hand-marked paper ballots --- and offers some interesting news as well...

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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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?...

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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All Americans, progressive or otherwise, should stand for what is right...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/6/2019 11:09am PT  

The right of inmates to vote is not a radical idea. In addition to Maine and Vermont, 21 other democracies, including Canada, Sweden and Israel, allow all prisoners to vote.

Seventy (70) civil rights and advocacy groups have now joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in calling for restoring the right of all inmates to vote. Although Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have stopped short of agreeing with Sanders' proposal, both appear to be considering it. Warren stated simply that she was "not there yet." Harris, a former prosecutor, who is focused on restoring post-release felon voting rights, acknowledged that "we should have that conversation."

Inmate voting rights advocates argue that, while the rule of law requires appropriate punishments for crimes, this can be done without sacrificing the right of every citizen to vote --- a right that provides the cornerstone for a free and democratic society. Moreover, there's a rehabilitative purpose. Inmate voting encourages prisoners, who retain their First Amendment rights while incarcerated, to responsibly stay connected or reconnect with society. Indeed, some inmates have gone on to become "eloquent advocates" for social justice.

Ironically, while incarcerated, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, would go on to become the formerly apartheid South Africa's first black President and a recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Opponents of inmate voting appeal to the natural repugnance the electorate holds towards some of our nation's most heinous crimes and those who carried them out: individuals, like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted as the Boston Marathon Bomber and Dylann Roof, who was convicted for the Charleston Church Massacre.

While gut level repugnance towards these especially heinous crimes is understandable, from the perspective of societal needs, there are multiple reasons to question the validity of adding, as a form of punishment, inmate disenfranchisement to imprisonment, fines, restitution, and, in the cases of Tsarnaev and Roof, to their death sentences...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Ted Kalo, 14-year veteran House Judiciary attorney, details what comes next; Also: Good news for voters in OH, bad news for voters in FL...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2019 6:48pm PT  

Our guest today, the former U.S. House Judiciary Committee's longtime General Counsel warns on today's BradCast, that we are already in the midst of a Constitutional Crisis and that what is happening now is far worse than anything he ever encountered during his many years in that post, even during the then-unprecedented corruption of the George W. Bush Administration. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, some good news and bad for voters before 2020 out of two key battleground states. In Ohio, the good news is that a three-judge panel of federal judges on Friday unanimously found the Buckeye State's Congressional maps to be an "unconstitutional partisan gerrymander" and has ordered, via its 301-page ruling [PDF], for new maps to be drawn for use before the 2020 elections. The panel of two Dems and one Republican-appointee determined that the state's GOP-led legislature packed the majority of the state's Democratic voters into just four districts after the 2010 Census to guarantee Ohio's Congressional legislation would retain a 12 to 4 GOP advantage. Republicans have successfully held 75% of that delegation over the past decade despite receiving just more than half of the state's Congressional votes.

State Republicans vow to appeal, as the nation awaits next month's opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court on similar partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland. A three-judge federal panel last week in Michigan similarly ordered new maps there before 2020 after finding GOPers in that state used a similar tactic to disenfranchise voters. Unconstitutional GOP partisan gerrymanders were also determined by federal courts to have been in place in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for the past decade.

The bad news for voters today comes from Florida today, where the state's GOP-dominated legislature has adopted a bill to undermine Amendment 4, the landmark ballot measure voters adopted by nearly 65 percent last November to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons in the state who had completed their sentences as well as all parole and probation. Passed along party lines, state lawmakers changed the definition of sentencing to include the payment of all court-imposed fines and fees. The result: Those former felons who have money will be able vote, those who do not, won't. Once signed by the state's Republican Governor, as expected, lawsuits will almost certainly be filed by voting rights advocates to challenge the new law that appears to rewrite Amendment 4 which had ended Florida's shameful lifetime ban on voting by former felons, including more than 20 percent of the state's African-American population.

Next, we are looking for answers today about what is happening and what may come next as the Trump Administration and its new Attorney General and "fixer" William Barr harden their obstruction of all Constitutional oversight by Congressional Democrats. We are joined today by attorney TED KALO, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, where he served as General Counsel for his last 10 years there before leaving for private practice in 2011. Our conversation comes on the heels of Barr's astonishing testimony before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and his refusal to appear before the Democratic-majority House Judiciary on Thursday. That, after the Dept. of Justice's failure to respond to a Wednesday subpoena deadline from the House panel to turn over a full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and its underlying evidence, and after revelations that Barr appears to have lied to Congress in previous testimony concerning Mueller's view of Barr's public representation of the report's conclusions during the month before Barr finally released a redacted version.

Kalo tells me what is likely to happen next if Barr misses a final Monday deadline, offered in a good faith, last attempt letter sent by House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler on Friday in hopes of avoiding contempt proceedings against the nation's top law enforcement official.

The reason why Barr supposedly skipped Thursday's House hearing was because the Committee had determined to allow staff counsel from both parties to question the Attorney General along with members, which Kalo says is "not unusual at all". He cites, for example, a similar practice carried out by Republicans "during one of the many investigations of Hillary Clinton's emails," and notes that it is "not uncommon historically" for Congressional committees to use staff attorneys for questioning witnesses.

Kalo details the two possible legal paths should Barr, as expected, continue to refuse to cooperate with the Committee and is found in contempt, including a civil litigation path in federal court, which could take months or years to resolve (though Kalo says there are grounds for courts to hear these matters on an expedited basis) or Congress finding Barr in "inherent contempt". In the latter case, he explains, the House Sergeant-at-Arms could be dispatched to arrest and detain the Attorney General. (Kalo also offers a definitive answer about the jail long said to be available at the Capital Building for such matters.)

"While it's frustrating as hell to watch this play out --- it's so obvious what's going on in plain sight --- as a matter of the goal of getting the information, Congress has to proceed cautiously because of its limited options for enforcing subpoenas," Kalo tells me. Therefore, he explains, Nadler is "bending over backwards to show that he tried his hardest to reach an accommodation with the Executive Branch, with an eye towards future litigation" where the court will see the Administration as "recalcitrant and unreasonable" and find in favor of the Dems.

Among the many other questions answered and/or explained by Kalo, he offers insight into my concerns about whether many of the long-established court precedents that appear to make Trump's legal arguments to block a number of subpoenas look ridiculous could actually be overturned by Trump appointees to the federal bench or even the GOP's stolen majority on the Supreme Court. "I think you're right," he says. "We have a federal judiciary that's been packed by people who start with the political result they want and then work the legal reasoning backwards. I think it's a valid fear that the courts won't follow longstanding precedent," before adding optimistically, that he believes the courts will follow precedent in many of these matters.

I also get his thoughts on Barr's remarkable testimony before the Senate on Thursday, arguing that a President has a legal and Constitutional right to shut down or obstruct a federal investigation looking into his own potential crimes if the President believes, on his own, that he has been unfairly accused. Yes, Barr actually made that argument under oath this week. Kalo calls the theory "ridiculous" and says, "I know of no legal authority for what the Attorney General was saying, and it defies reason." He goes on to explain why.

Finally, he concludes with a chilling note. "It can't be understated that we're in a Constitutional crisis. We're trying to respond to things that we never expected to occur from a President of the United States," Kalo argues, adding that, as dark as those years were when he served as General Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the George W. Bush years, what is happening now is worse --- "by far."

I wholeheartedly recommend you tune in for today's complete conversation, as there was much more than I am able to adequately summarize here...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump panics over impeachment, sets course for Constitutional crisis by blocking lawful subpoenas...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Administration is now barreling the nation towards one or more unprecedented Constitutional crises as he panics about the possibility of impeachment. But the fruits of the GOP's labor in violating Constitutional norms to steal a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court may now finally be set to pay off for them for at least the next decade. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

First up today, however, some quick election results following a few contests around the country on Tuesday. In a Special Election for a vacated state Senate seat in Tennessee, Republican Bill Powers reportedly defeated Democrat Juanita Charles. The result wasn't a surprise in a state where the GOP now enjoys a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly. But Powers is said to have won by just under 10 points. That's a 13-point swing towards the Democrats in a very Republican district from what would normally be expected.

In Tampa, Florida former police Chief Jane Castor was elected by a 73% landslide to become the city's first openly gay Mayor, the first to lead a major city in the U.S. Southeast. The victory comes less than one month after the openly gay Lori Lightfoot was elected Mayor in Chicago. Castor was outspent 2 to 1 by her opponent, David Straz, a 76-year old banker who wasted $5 million of his own money on the race and also outspent the other seven candidates combined in last month's primary.

Back in D.C., the U.S. House General Counsel filed a motion in federal court seeking to block Trump's re-appropriation of some $6 billion from the Defense Department to build his wall on the Southern border. The House --- which voted, along with the Senate, to block Trump's "national emergency" declaration and his re-allocated spending, only to be vetoed by the President --- argues that Trump's actions are unconstitutional as contracts are being awarded and money spent to build and repair border barriers with funding that "Congress did not appropriate for that purpose."

But federal judges who actually believe in following the Constitution may be in shorter supply these days, as Trump and the GOP have packed the courts with "conservatives" of convenience --- jurists who claim to believe in one set of principles but follow a radically different path when it suits their political whims. Trump is counting on such activist judges as he announces his Administration is now blocking all White House and other executive agency officials from responding to lawful document demands and subpoenas issued by Congress. In just the past 24 hours, the Administration has directed several current and former officials to not respond to lawful Congressional subpoenas for testimony and has denied statutory requests for financial documents of Trump and a number of his companies. Trump also, on another Twitter tear today, vowed to seek help from his stolen SCOTUS in the event that he is impeached.

Our guest today, MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter for Slate, offers insight on all of the above, before we focus on the even more disturbing news regarding Tuesday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the Commerce Department's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census.

Stern, who was present at the Court for argument on Tuesday, suggests the outlook is not encouraging. He tells me he counted five rightwing Justices who appear eager to overturn three lower court rulings which found Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about his reasons for unlawfully directing the Census Bureau to add the question despite objections from career Census professionals who advise that the question would result in a massive under-count of Hispanic and immigrant populations.

The decennial count of all "persons" in the U.S., (as the Constitution requires), may be off by as many 6.5 million people if the question is added, largely in areas that tend to vote Democratic, according to the experts. The result would be felt for the next decade --- particularly in Democratic-leaning cities and states --- as the Census is used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending, as well as how Congressional and state legislative districts are mapped and residents represented, and even how electoral votes are to be allocated.

"This was just a real bloodbath for the plaintiffs here," Stern tells me about Tuesday's oral argument. "This case should have been so simple. Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce lied about his reason for including a citizenship question on the Census. He lied, and he got found out. He is the one who asked the Justice Department to create some pretext for the citizenship question. And beyond that, Ross busted through a bunch of statutory roadblocks that are supposed to prevent the inclusion of gratuitous questions on the Census."

"The lower court in this case said, 'I count Wilbur Ross violating the law in at least six separate ways.' The Supreme Court only has to find one of those ways to be compelling to stop the citizenship question and say no," Stern laments. "But I don't think a majority of the court is willing to step in and stand up for the law. And I fear the reason is because they know exactly why the Trump Administration wants the citizenship question on the Census."

Stern details what he describes as hypocrisy displayed by the Court's five Republican Justices during argument, as they cited everything from the Voting Rights Act (which they voted to gut) to international law (which they have dismissed as having no basis in U.S. law) to deference to federal agencies (which they have famously undermined in recent years when it comes to environmental regulations and other disputes where courts had traditionally deferred to executive agency expertise) in posing questions that indicate they plan to approve the new question meant to rig the Census. "It was a very bad day for truth at the Supreme Court," Stern reports.

"Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to capture what this is," he argues. "I can only hope that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch begin to apply international law in death penalty cases, as well. But something tells me this is a ticket good for one ride only."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (after we ran out of time for it yesterday) with another troubling mix of both good news and bad for the nation and the planet...

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Finds Russians implanted malware, but didn't check if results affected
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, new details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report supporting the argument we've been trying to make for the last two years: Nobody ever checked the results of the 2016 election to make sure they were correct! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, we open with an avalanche of important news headlines breaking today and over the weekend, including the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka; A TV comedian becoming the next President of Ukraine by a landslide; Trump's latest vow to impose sanctions on allies who purchase oil from Iran; Woefully unqualified Federal Reserve Board candidate and alleged sexual harasser Herman Cain withdrawing his name from Trump's consideration; The GOP's stolen Supreme Court announcing plans to take up cases to determine whether LGBTQ people may be covered by anti-discrimination civil rights employment laws this Fall; and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton jumping into the crowded Democratic Presidential nomination contest.

Then we move to our all too brief commemoration of Earth Day's 49th Anniversary on Monday, wherein our own Desi Doyen details how and why the annual celebration first came about beginning in 1970. Of course, as we like to say on our Green News Report, every day is Earth Day for us! Nonetheless, sticking with that theme today --- for those who only notice it once a year --- we share "A Message from the Future from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" in which the freshman NY Democratic Congresswoman, from a couple of decades in the future, looks "back" on the world-changing successes of her Green New Deal program, as recently introduced with veteran Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). The charming animated video, with illustrations by Molly Crabtree, is a thought experiment of sorts worth watching and/or listening to, as it helps explain how the GND would work to curb many of the worst effects of climate change, while providing millions of jobs and healthcare for all, as climate scientists have repeatedly warned the world must do within the next decade or face unstoppable consequences that threaten the entirety of human civilization.

Then, we move on to the revelation from the redacted Mueller Report [PDF] which has caused my Twitter feed to go somewhat bonkers since I cited it over the weekend. As the Special Counsel's report reveals (Vol. 1, pages 51-52, in the section entitled "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), Russian intelligence operatives at the GRU targeted and infiltrated "individuals and entities involved in the administration of the [2016] elections. U.S. state and local entities, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and county governments, as well as individuals who worked for those entities. The GRU also targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations."

In other words, voter registration databases AND voting systems, such as voting machines and tabulators. Mueller's report goes on to concede that though the GRU was successful in implanting malware on a number of the targeted computers, "the [Special Counsel's] Office did not investigate further [and] did not, for instance, obtain or examine servers or other relevant items belonging to these victims." Instead, as Mueller writes, "The Office understands that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the states have separately investigated that activity".

Only problem with that? As we have reported repeatedly over the past two years, Jeanette Manfra, the top DHS official in charge of overseeing cyber-intrusions of critical infrastructure such as voting and tabulation systems, conceded during a June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that her department had not, in fact, conducted any forensic analyses of computer voting and tabulation systems or servers following the 2016 Presidential election. We play a clip from her Senate testimony to that end.

As far as we can tell, this means that nobody has ever conducted such an analysis, despite the stunning results of the 2016 Presidential election. That remains very troubling, considering that Trump reportedly won, very narrowly, by less than 80,000 votes total in the key swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, none of which had voted GOP in a Presidential election for decades until 2016. The margins --- as reported by computers, but never verified by humans --- were close enough in each of those states that, had an average of just two votes in each precinct in each of those states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, she, not he, would be President now.

Moreover, as the Mueller Report also documents, Trump's then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort offered briefings and internal polling data to his business associate Konstanin Klimnik, a Ukrainian national tied to Russian intelligence, "on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort's plan to win the election," including what Manafort's partner Rick Gates described to the Special Counsel as "discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota."

So, at this point, that means nobody still knows whether Donald Trump was actually the legitimate choice of the voters who comprise the Electoral College. (We already know he lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes.) Most of those very same computer systems will be used once again in the 2020 Presidential election, though some --- for example in Philadelphia, the entire state of Georgia, Los Angeles County and elsewhere --- are being replaced with newer systems that are even more difficult for the public to oversee to ensure reported results reflect actual voter intent.

And, with all of that today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for thoughts on whether --- given the findings of the Mueller Report, including Trump's well-documented and repeated attempts to unlawfully obstruct the investigation itself --- Democrats in Congress should begin impeachment hearings or not. So far, Democrats are somewhat split on the issue, with a number of freshmen in the House calling for impeachment proceedings to begin and, so far, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among the current Presidential candidates offering a clarion call for members of Congress to meet their Constitutional duties by officially investigating Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors via an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House and a vote on whether to convict and remove Trump from office in the U.S. Senate. Our callers offer somewhat mixed feelings as well, as you'll hear on today's very busy and fast-moving BradCast!...

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Guest: Sarah Pierce of Migration Policy Inst.; Also: Trump vetoes Congressional ban on U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen; Media (and Dems) unequipped to deal with Trump lawlessness; More...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2019 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as the nation awaits Trump Attorney General William Barr's release of some redacted version or another of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday morning, Barr was busy announcing new immigration policies to add to the Administration's ongoing success in creating havoc and a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, a few other news items of note and another reminder of how neither the media nor the Democrats in Congress are prepared to adequately respond to the "creeping authoritarianism", as media analyst Eric Boehlert too-generously describes it, that has turned outrageous, impeachable actions by a sitting President into little more than another "wacky Trump story of the day" over the past two years of his chaotic and criminal Presidency.

On Tuesday night, the war-mongering Trump vetoed a bicameral, bipartisan War Powers Resolution adopted by Congress --- for the first time since the 1973 War Powers Act largely delegated Congress' Constitutional war-making power to the White House --- demanding an end to U.S. military aid for Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed and millions are facing famine. That, despite the murder last year of Washington Post's Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi at the alleged command of Saudi crown prince and Trump ally Mohammad bin Salman.

Meanwhile, as federal prosecutors seek up to 10 months in prison for actress Felicity Huffman in the college admissions scandal after her recent guilty plea (please note my "Full Disclosure" during the program regarding my personal history with Huffman and her husband William H. Macy), the actions taken by Trump last week alone, as highlighted by Boehlert, are a veritable litany of impeachable offenses.

Nonetheless, while the actress may face jail time for a foolish and illegal offense on behalf of her daughter, our lawless President runs free --- and few, if any, in the media or Congress appear capable of taking on his Constitution-endangering lawlessness with the gravity warranted. Even several of the outspoken progressive freshman Democrats in the House, while supporting calls for impeachment in general, appear to be pulling punches in deference to fearful party leadership. As I argue today (yet again), there is more than enough --- even without whatever findings may come from Mueller --- to, as columnist Dan Savage has long argued, "ITMFA".

Next, we're joined by immigration attorney SARAH PIERCE, Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute to discuss Barr's newly-announced immigration policy changes revealed Tuesday evening. The new measures would bar asylum seekers who have already demonstrated a "credible fear" of return to their home countries to immigration officials from being allowed to seek bond for release until their asylum case can be heard. The process would, she explains, keep such individual in detention for months and even years, despite an already-existing lack of space in ICE detention facilities which has led to their current so-called "catch and release" policies.

The new measures, Pierce explains, would not apply to families seeking asylum or children traveling alone (even as thousands of asylum seeking children remain separated from their parents in the wake of Trump's previous AG Jeff Sessions' so-called "zero tolerance" policies.)

Pierce details what Barr's new policy measures will and won't do; why Barr has the authority to enact them; how they differ from Executive Actions undertaken by the Obama Administration (which Republicans used to object to as "unconstitutional unilateral actions"); why the new policy is likely to be challenged in federal court; how almost all of Trump's border policies are exacerbating the very problems he claims to want to solve; and why he continues to take such extreme and often unlawful and/or unconstitutional measures.

"This Administration just doesn't seem that interested in resolving this systemic problem. Instead, they just want to deter asylum seekers from arriving at the southern border. They want to limit how many ultimately apply for asylum, and then limit how many ultimately receive it," she tells me. "There is a political incentive for this President to look like he's active on immigration, to show that he's engaged in the fight, and fighting for the policies that his base is interested in --- and maybe less of a political interest in actually having results on the ground." Pierce surmises that Trump wishes to "keep hammering in these harsh policies, whether or not they're actually going to stand up in court or be effective."

Finally today, some listener comment in response to my rant yesterday regarding the $700 million raised overnight (now up to nearly $1 billion), from a handful of billionaire families and corporations, to restore the fire-ravaged, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris...

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Also: WA adopts 'public option' health insurance; Fox 'News' town hall goes wild for Bernie's plan; Warren vows to end drilling; The unspeakable cruelty of Trump immigration policies and one hero standing up to them...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2019 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast you'll be outraged, saddened, amused, inspired and may even learn a thing or two --- or your money back! [Audio link for show is posted below.]

First up today: I'm thankful the French didn't listen to Donald Trump's terrible firefighting advice as the iconic, 850-year old Notre Dame was engulfed in flames in the heart of Paris on Monday, and very happy to see that firefighters were able to save most of the cathedral's historic stone structure and many of its artifacts, and gratified to hear that French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild it (somehow) in five years, and delighted to hear that, as of this afternoon, some $700 million had been raised for the project. But there's something about that last part that really sticks in my craw.

Specifically, the fact that, as CNN reported early on Tuesday: "France's three wealthiest families are coming to the rescue of a national icon, spearheading a fundraising drive to rebuild Notre Dame that has topped $700 million." The families and a number of huge corporations that joined them to top that number, are each multi-billionaires. For example, the Pinault family, which "generously" donated $113 million to the effort, is said to be worth some $37.3 billion. To put that it terms easier to understand, it's the equivalent of someone who is worth just $37,000 giving $113 to the charitable effort. While it's appreciated --- and $113 is a fair amount of money for someone with just $37,000 in savings, it's not really much money at all for someone with the type of obscene net worth enjoyed by the Pinaults. Still, we're happy to see it, even if the glowing public relations they are enjoying is far more than appropriate here.

But, making matters a bit more maddening? The world's fourth-largest oil and gas giant, TOTAL SA, which is based in Paris, has also pledged $113 million to the rebuilding effort. Last year, the company raked in a profit of $13.6 billion. That was up 28% from the previous year. At the same time, when Macron attempted, to institute a new tax on diesel gasoline last year, citizen protesters took to the streets in the so-called Yellow Vest movement protests to successfully force Macron, among other things, to reverse a .26 cents per gallon tax hike which might have otherwise raised nearly $4.2 billion. (The revenue from the ill-considered gas tax, while clumsily advertised as a carbon tax, of sorts, to help curb climate change, was not earmarked for clean energy projects, but to help pay off French debt instead.) But where were the billionaires then? Why wasn't TOTAL asked to cover the $4.2 billion instead of rank and file citizenry, when the company could have paid the entire $4.2 billion itself and still walked away with a cool $10 billion or so in profit to spare last year? Particularly since it is the reckless use of their products which are endangering not just a cathedral in Paris, but the entirety of human civilization?

The rich folks who are contributing to rebuild Notre Dame are getting a lot of good press today for their quick "charitable" efforts. That good press is greatly overstated as compared to what they actually deserve, as I discuss (or, perhaps, rant) in detail on today's program.

In other related and under-reported news of note, former Republican Governor William Weld announces he is taking on Trump in the 2020 GOP Presidential primary, Democratic Presidential hopefully Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced she will stop all new leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands on her first day in office if elected, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced similar, and the Washington State legislature, under the leadership of Democratic Presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee, has not only passed a measure to move the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, they've also adopted a "public option" healthcare insurance plan that will be made available to all residents.

And, speaking of healthcare and Sanders, a clip from the Vermont Senator's town hall on Fox "News" Monday night has gone viral, in which the Fox crowd is seen and heard going wild in support of his proposed single-payer, Medicare-for-All universal coverage proposal. Trump has a sad.

Next up, several maddening stories of the real world effects of Trump's unspeakably cruel immigration policies, including ICE's deportation last week of a man whose U.S. Military wife was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and whose 12-year old, U.S. citizen daughter was left parentless in Phoenix (that story, at least, has a happy ending for now), and the 11-year old El Salvadoran girl in Houston who has been denied asylum and ordered deported without her family, despite gangs that have, reportedly, been systematically killing her family members after a relative witnessed a murder and testified in court.

Of particular note here is Houston's heroic Police Chief Art Acevedo who has loudly stood up for the child and taken on those elected officials and random Twitter wingnuts alike who support the Administration's monstrous policies that separate children from their parents. "Yep. The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well," Chief Acevedo observed. "You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! ... I am glad to be on the right side of history," he said after several impassioned pleas against the cruelty. "Not this chief, not this Nation, not this time!," he declared last year as the Trump Administration was caging children by the thousands.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on the swarm of tornadoes (41 of them!) which devastated areas from Texas to Delaware and killed nine over the weekend; more on a number of the 2020 candidates stepping up their climate change proposals; and on Trump's new Interior Secretary, "formerly" an oil and gas lobbyist, already facing probes by the Interior Department's Inspector General...

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Guest: Author, election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Notre Dame Cathedral burns; Trump flouts the law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg makes it official; GOPers in AR and TN move to game elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2019 6:22pm PT  

Among the many stories we cover, before getting to our guest on today's BradCast --- as one institution after another feels as if they are burning to the ground, either literally or metaphorically [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • The historic, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames today during renovations, with its famous spire and two-thirds of its roof collapsed, but its famous bell towers and Rose Windows hopefully spared;
  • The Dept. of Justice confirmed that, almost a month after Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned over his report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with the effort, and obstruction of justice by Donald Trump himself, a redacted version of the 400-page report would be given to both Congress and the public this Thursday;
  • Congressional Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have agreed, for some reason, to extend their deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of Trump's tax returns until April 23, as the Administration continues to blatantly flaunt the decades-old federal law requiring the requested materials be given to Congress;
  • Death threats continued against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after the President of the United States posted a video on his Twitter feed which repeatedly used an out-of-context remark from the Somali-American Muslim Congresswoman to tie her, incredibly enough, to the 9/11 attacks, even after a Trump supporter last month was charged for calling her office to describe her as an "fucking terrorist" and vowing to "put a bullet in her fucking skull";
  • The 21-year old son of a white sheriff's deputy in Louisiana was officially charged with hate crimes after an arson spree which recently burned down three African-American churches in the state over 10 days;
  • And, on a far more more hopeful note, the 37-year old, openly gay, Afghanistan war vet and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially announced his run for the Democratic nomination for President over the weekend.

Next, speaking of elections, and before we are joined by our guest today, University of Kentucky College of Law election Professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, a story of GOPers making it more difficult to register voters in Tennessee, and another on Republican state lawmakers working to make it next to impossible for progressives in Arkansas to place citizen initiatives on the ballot, after the state voted to increase the minimum wage via a ballot measure in 2018.

Douglas, author of the brand new book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, details a few of the stories from his book revealing how regular citizens in recent years have succeeded in pushing for local and state measures that have resulted in the expansion of the franchise, even in the face of the dark forces hoping to restrict access to the voting booth.

He shares, for example, the story of the Kentucky man who lost his right to vote for life in the state for stealing a car as a teenager decades ago, who was able to encourage his state's legislature to change the law to re-enfranchise those who have completed their sentences. And the story of the woman in Michigan whose anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative was adopted by voters last November. Both stories are told in more detail in his book. With so many stories in the news (and our program!) of voting rights being taken away or otherwise restricted, its important for folks to understand they can actually change that equation without relying on Congress or even major civil rights groups, often by taking action themselves.

"What I like to focus on, in addition to the doom and gloom that seems to invade our psyche with respect to the right to vote, are the positive stories of progress and success," Douglas tells me. "There's power in these inspiring stories that I tell in the book about ways to make our voting process more convenient and inclusive. We can quibble about some of the details, but hopefully the overarching message that we need to take back our elections through local grassroots work can really take hold."

With those hopeful notes, Douglas offers a list of groups and initiatives in his book who readers can contact and be inspired by to take action in their own home towns and states. We also discuss several emerging initiatives to expand access to voting, such as restoring voting rights to the incarcerated and even lowering the voting age to 16 (which is already being done for local elections in several jurisdictions!), as well as a number of initiatives on which we do not agree. That, of course, underscores the beauty of democracy...when we can actually find it. (Oh, and here's the link to where you can buy the book and a ticket to Josh's June 20 appearance at The Last Bookstore appearance here in L.A., as mentioned on the show!)

All of that, and even a quick --- rhyming --- listener call on today's program!...

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Guest: Author Igor Volsky; Also: Lawless Trump; Regulatory capture complete; Freshmen Dems (and even John Kerry!) step up in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2019 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: One reason after another why Democrats needs to step up and offer a bold and fearless vision for a more progressive, safer, healthier, more equal and prosperous America as we look beyond the dark, corrupt era of Donald Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below after summary.]

But we start today with what Trump tweeted out as "Great News!" on Thursday, a new poll he saw on Fox "News" labeled on screen as "TRUMP'S SOARING APPROVAL" finding him with an overall 55% approval rating! Only trouble, the poll from Georgetown University found him with a 55% DISapproval rating (and just 41% approval.) Don't hold your breath for Trump to delete the Tweet.

Why should he? He's gotten away with just about everything he and Fox could ever hope for, including the complete regulatory capture of the federal government which --- following Thursday's Senate confirmation of a longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist to lead the Interior Department --- now includes corporate executives and lobbyists heading virtually every Executive Agency meant to oversee and regulate the very industries they previously worked for. Do Fox viewers not mind that Trump has filled the D.C. "swamp" like it's never been filled before? Or do they not know? Or do they just not care? Given Trump's latest, impeachable behavior regarding the southern border, and the cheers he receives from supporters for it, it's a good guess that his Republican base couldn't care less. They vote as they are told (by Fox).

Next, on the same day that New Zealand's new ban on military-style assault weapons officially goes into effect --- after being approved by a 119 to 1 vote in Parliament this week, less than one month after a massacre by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch killed 50 and wounded 50 others --- many in the U.S. are left wondering why any action to improve gun safety here remains seemingly impossible.

We're joined today by IGOR VOLKSY, founder of Guns Down America and author of the brand new book Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns. Volsky explains what lessons we might learn from New Zealand and why changing gun laws in the U.S., where more than 30,000 Americans are killed by guns each year, is so difficult.

He is calling for bold new platforms from 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates who, he says, have offered grand visions for the environment, health care and even taking on major corporations, but not when it comes to guns, where they beg for table scraps and barely incremental improvements --- if they even raise the issue. Volsky argues that, despite broad majority support for a host of common sense gun measures across all parties --- including for the banning of military-style assault weapons --- a new political framing is needed which isn't "designed to talk to some kind of mythical moderate voter".

"I am calling on the 2020 Presidential candidates to fundamentally reframe the conversation around guns, to establish a long term goal to establish a future with fewer guns, and to talk about the ways we need to raise the standard for gun ownership, for gun production," he tells me. "And by the way, when I say gun production, I mean actually regulating the firearm industry --- that it stops producing militarized weapons for the civilian market, both in terms of the assault weapons and the much more militarized handguns that use larger rounds." How to do that without flinching against the politically powerful NRA and its even more powerful rightwing propaganda outlets will not be easy, nor quick. He argues that it will require a bold, long term vision that is still absent from Democratic politics and messaging.

Finally today, two must-listen clips from Congressional hearings this week. The first features freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)'s absolutely shaming Jamie Dimon, CEO of the nation's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, for the paltry salary he pays his own employees, even after the bank reported a more than $9 billion PROFIT in just the first quarter of 2019 alone. Many of his employees, she details, are actually losing money each month, even while working full time for Chase, while Dimon enjoyed a $31 million salary last year.

As Paul Waldman observed at WaPo after watching the instructive colloquy between Porter and Dimon, "JPMorgan Chase could give every one of its 250,000 employees a $25,000 raise, and it would cost the bank only about two-thirds of the profit it made just in the first quarter of this year." He too is hoping that Porter's point becomes a central theme for Democrats running for office. Other Democrats in Congress --- including those running for President in 2020 --- have a lot to learn from the new crop of first-term progressives in the House.

And lastly, an absolutely remarkable exchange in the House Oversight Committee between climate-science denying clown, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), and former Sec. of State John Kerry at a hearing on "The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security." Suffice to say, if you're bested by John Kerry in a debate, you must be REALLY bad at this. And the laughable Massie certainly was...

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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...

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

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Bad news for WI progressives after last week's Supreme Court election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2019 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, finding light on a very dark news day, and making sense of Devin Nunes' bizarre new legal attack against a well-respected media outlet. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]

You know the news is dark on a day when the brightest spot seems to be the first-ever photographic evidence of a black hole in a galaxy that is 53 million light-years from Earth, as constructed by an international consortium of scientists from 20 different countries employing an array of observatories around the world to construct a virtual "telescope" the size of the planet itself. The assembled image of the supermassive black hole is the first such glimpse of such an object in space (theorized by Einstein over a century ago, but directly proven today for the first time) containing the same mass as 6.5 billion suns and so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull.

Sounds a lot like the Trump Administration. But we (mostly) avoid that today, even as we discuss one of its biggest supporters in Congress, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and his increasingly mysterious (and troubling) new legal gambit.

But, before we get there today, an update on last week's razor thin race for a key seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. With computer-reported results from last week's election showing progressive-aligned Judge Lisa Neubaeur fell less than half of a percentage point shy of defeating far-right Judge Brian Hagedorn for a seat on the state's high court being vacated by a retiring progressive-leaned Justice, Neubauer decided on Wednesday against seeking a recount which she would have had to pay for under state law. Her concession today --- despite unofficial and unconfirmed computer tallies showing a loss by just about 6,000 votes out of some 1.2 million cast statewide --- means that progressives will be unable to regain a majority on the court until 2023 at the earliest. The new 5 to 2 rightwing majority all but scotches hopes for rolling back former Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union measures and GOP voter suppression laws, and could handicap the state's Democrats during the inevitable redistricting fights following the 2020 census. (Have we mentioned lately that elections matter?!)

Also today, more on the incoming and "potentially historic" "bomb cyclone" developing over plains states and the upper Midwest, where blizzard warnings have now been issued in 6 states, snowfall as high as two feet is predicted in some areas, and the threat of more major flooding is plaguing several states still fighting to recover from billions of dollars in damage from the last "bomb cyclone" which erupted just weeks ago. This latest evidence of the increasingly dangerous threat of catastrophic climate change comes on the same day as Donald Trump signed two new Executive Orders intended to make it more difficult for environmental regulations at the state level to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (which serve to exacerbate man-made global warming.)

Then, we're joined by veteran media analyst and author ERIC BOEHLERT to discuss the latest bizarre lawsuit, which seems to challenge the First Amendment itself, as filed by Nunes this week.

Several weeks ago, the California Congressman and top Trump ally in Congress filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, the owners of two anonymous parody accounts (@DevonCow and @DevonNunesMom), as well as Republican strategist and Nunes/Trump opponent Liz Mair for defamation. This week, the GOP Congressman filed suit against Mair again, along with the 162-year old McClatchy Company, a news consortium which publishes the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper in the Nunes' central California district. His latest complaint seeks $150 million in damages, charging defamation based on an article published by the Bee last year detailing the settlement of a lawsuit after a charity yacht cruise which reportedly included cocaine and underage prostitutes, according to court documents cited by the paper. The cruise was auctioned off by the philanthropic arm of the Alpha Omega Winery, in which Nunes is an investor.

But where his Twitter suit seemed absurd, this new suit --- like the first one, originally reported by Fox "News", of course --- suggests a darker and more nefarious effort to undermine Constitutionally-protected freedom of the press. Who is funding these efforts by Nunes and why? Might it have anything to do with Trump's repeated assertions that libel laws need to change to make it easier for public figures like himself to challenge reporting that celebrities like himself don't care for?

Boehlert offers insight on what may be going on here: "The Republican Party has decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the new targets. And they're using the exact same playbook that they used on the traditional media for four decades, which is you work the refs, you scream and yell over these fake phony allegations of 'liberal media bias'. And it works! Facebook has bent over backwards to make sure Republicans are happy. Twitter could have easily banned Donald Trump two years ago and saved this country an enormous amount of pain, because he obviously violates the rules all the time. So it works."

But there may be even more behind all of this, as we discuss, along with his concerns about ongoing corporate media failures in the wake of Trump AG William Barr's handling of the still-secret Mueller Report and other related matters as we head into the 2020 Presidential election cycle.

Finally, we close with some listener mail regarding our ongoing discussions of how Dems should move forward as they attempt to remove both Donald Trump from office next year and the nation itself from the black hole we continue to sink into under his increasingly dark reign...

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Also: Kansas conman Kobach's comeback?; GOP's 'Green Real Deal'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not enough that Trump has fired just about everyone in his failed Administration (or they quit), and has failed to fill the vacancies left behind, and that he has personally violated an unprecedented number of laws both before and after taking office, or that he's purging most of his top officials who work on immigration. No, it's even more distributing than that. [Audio file for today's show is posted below.]

Last week, the President of the United States said, with cameras rolling, that we "have to get rid of judges" just days before, reportedly, instructing Customs and Border Patrol agents to ignore the rule of law and simply block immigrants from exercising their right to claim asylum at the southern border once on U.S. territory. That, of course, would be a violation of both U.S. law and international treaties.

According to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump instructed agents at the border in Calexico, California on Friday to tell immigrants the U.S. is "full" and "at capacity" and "if judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'" If true, that would be an unlawful instruction from the President of the United States ordering a law enforcement officer to violate law and then to do so again once a federal judge has ordered otherwise. Real Presidents (at least Democratic ones) would be --- or should be --- impeached for such things. But we have the Republican Donald Trump as our President.

In other related Trump immigration meltdown news today...

  • More on why Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was pushed out by White House hardliners (after she reportedly refused to violate the law as Trump was demanding and also pushed back against Trump's order to close ports of entry at the border entirely);
  • Poor, disgraced, former KS Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach --- recently floated to take over some immigration duties for the Trump Administration --- may be blocked from a Senate-confirmed post because, as Kansas' GOP U.S. Senator Pat Roberts told reporters today, Kobach is so toxic that apparently even the GOP-majority Senate "can't confirm him". Luckily, Republicans who used to pretend to hate Presidential "czars" have a very short memory, so there may be another way into the Administration for Kobach, the currently jobless Kansas conman;
  • As to judges, another one in federal court on Monday night temporarily blocked yet another key Trump immigration policy, at least for now. The federal courts are unlikely to like Trump's new one any better, I suspect.

Also today --- actually, right at the top of the show --- some listener mail in follow-up to my conversation on yesterday's program with the ACLU's Phil Aroneanu regarding the group's newly-launched Rights For All campaign which seeks to get 2020 candidates on record regarding several "thorny" issues regarding civil liberties and Constitutional rights. A number of listeners had some thoughts on my questions for Aroneanu regarding the potential political dangers of backing Democratic candidates into politically difficult policy positions as they attempt to unseat arguably the worst President --- from a civil liberties and Constitutional rights perspective --- our nation has ever had. We share and discuss a few of those listener emails today.

And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the Midwest buckles up for another potential "bomb cyclone" and still more catastrophic flooding to follow it; Global warming has pushed the Arctic into an "unprecedented" new state; and the GOP, after ridiculing the Democrats' Green New Deal have introduced their own response to it called the 'Green Real Deal'. You may be surprised who the lead Congressional sponsor is, though less surprised as to what the plan actually calls for...

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

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Guest: ACLU's Phil Aroneanu; Also: Nielsen out at DHS, as Trump's far-right agency purge rolls out amid immigration crisis; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2019 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two tracks, plus callers, as the Right ascends at the White House and the ACLU's fight to restore civil and Constitutional rights finds its way into the 2020 President campaign. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The hardliners are rising at the White House today, as Trump continues to purge top officials from several different key agencies, including the sprawling Dept. of Homeland Security (Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign on Sunday); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ron Vitiello, Trump's nominee to head the agency was suddenly withdrawn last week after already clearing a key Senate hurdle); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (both its Director and General Counsel were purged today); the Secret Service (its Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is now said to be leaving); and the bloodbath is continuing at other agencies as well. All of that as the number of families seeking asylum at the southern border continues to increase despite --- or, perhaps, because of --- a number of failed Trump Administration policies.

Moreover, on Monday, the foreign policy hardliners at the White House are ascendant at well, as the Administration is announcing its designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. It's the first time the U.S. has designated a foreign government entity in such a way, and the move is reportedly opposed by top Pentagon and CIA officials who fear blow-back to American troops and intelligence operatives abroad. Indeed, Iran has already responded by calling for U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, to be designated as a terrorist organization in response.

Amidst this latest disturbing lurch to the hard-right by the Trump Administration, some of us continue to look forward to 2020 when voters can, hopefully, do something about it. To that end, for the first time in its storied history, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is jumping into electoral politics in a major way this year, recently announcing they are spending $30 million to help get 2020 candidates on the record when it comes to a number of important issues for civil libertarians, including some that are quite thorny politically.

For example, the group's new national RightsForAll.us campaign seeks to force candidate to answer as to whether or not they support decreasing the bloated U.S. prison population by 50 percent (and, if so, how); allowing the incarcerated to vote (currently, only Maine and Vermont do so); and whether they would supporting overturning the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or protection of the life of the mother).

We're joined today by the ACLU's Digital Organizing Strategy Director PHIL ARONEANU to discuss the initiative, including whether some of the "thorniest" questions for candidates (as available at the campaign's website) on Voting Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Immigrants' Rights and Reproductive Freedom might, in fact, become a liability for those candidates if they answer them one way or another. That, in an age when one of the greatest threats to civil liberties and Constitutional rights clearly continues to be the man in the White House, who Democratic candidates will have to defeat to see any possibility of the restoration of such rights.

So, how does the ACLU, a non-partisan organization, respond to some of those questions and concerns? Tune in for my conversation with Aroneanu today to find out.

Then, we open up the phone lines today for listener thoughts on all of the above. You'll not be shocked to learn, they have many...

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

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