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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, December 13, 2019
'The President Is the Smoking Gun': 'BradCast' 12/12/19
Impeachment continues in Judiciary Comm., newspapers support; First 2020 ballots go out in 2 weeks; St. Louis County's easy move from touchscreens to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 12/12/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Exxon wins climate fraud case in NY; 'Sweep-ing' changes underway in Arctic; Extreme weather threatening global food crisis; PLUS: Thunberg named Time's 'Person of the Year'...
Previous GNRs: 12/10/19 - 12/5/19 - Archives...
USMCA, UK Elections, Much More: 'BradCast' 12/11/19
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Global Trade Watch's Lori Wallach and American ex-pat Denis Campbell...
IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES FOR DONALD J. TRUMP:
'BradCast' 12/10/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with a day of Dem whiplash on impeachment and a new trade deal; Also author Ramesh Srinivasan...
'Green News Report' 12/10/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat wave for Aussie bushfires; Oceans losing oxygen; Bankrupt PG&E reaches $13.5 billion settlement; PLUS: Thousands of young activists pressure U.N. climate summit to get moving...
Previous GNRs: 12/5/19 - 12/3/19 - Archives...
'Trump a Clear and Present Danger to Elections, Nat'l Security': 'BradCast' 12/9/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe and the latest Judiciary Comm. impeachment hearing...
Sunday 'Low Flow' Toons
When he goes low, the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons go lower...
U.S. Economy 'Whistling Past a Climate Graveyard':
'BradCast' 12/6/19
Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
'Green News Report' 12/5/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
The hottest ten years on record; GOP Senate confirms lobbyist as Energy Sec; CA bans all new fracking, for now; PLUS: Greta Thunberg is back in Europe, with a warning for politicians...
Previous GNRs: 12/3/19 - 11/26/19 - Archives...
'A President Should Resist Foreign Interference in Our Elections, Not Demand It': 'BradCast' 12/4/19
First House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable crimes w/ Heather Digby Parton...
'Abuse of Office, Abuse of Power, Abuse of the Public Trust': 'BradCast' 12/3/19
Guest: Const'l law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala out; Another bad court day for Team Trump...
'Green News Report' 12/3/19
U.N. climate summit kicks off with 'catastrophic' news in Madrid; PLUS: Residents back home after yet another petrochemical explosion in TX ruins Thanksgiving...
2019 Foreshadows 2020 Vote System Catastrophes: 'BradCast' 12/2/19
Also: Bullock out; Hunter 'guilty'; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer Qs about his new unverifiable vote systems...
Sunday 'It's Just a Cyst' Toons
As usual, as PDiddie proves once again, there is nothing at all to worry about in his latest Sunday collection of political toons...
Don't Just Debunk the Ukraine DNC Hack Conspiracy Theory. Expose Its Absurdity.
Why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election make no sense whatsoever...
Turkey Day Toons!
PDiddie doesn't even take Sundays off! Did you think he would stand down for Thanksgiving?! Gobble gobble!...
Trump Is Up Schiff's Creek Without an Alibi:
'BradCast' 11/27/19
Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts...
'Green News Report' 11/26/19
Climate change finds way into latest Dem debate; Greenhouse gas at record highs; 2019 wettest year on record; PLUS: Oxford Dictionary's 'Word of the Year' is...
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...


Guest: Election and criminal justice expert Daniel Nichanian; Also: House schedules new impeachment hearing as Trump appeals federal ruling finding 'Presidents are not kings'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/26/2019 6:44pm PT  

At the BRAD BLOG and on today's BradCast, we'll even fight for Donald Trump's right to vote --- even from prison, should he find himself there at any time in the near-ish future. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a bit of impeachment-related news, even as Congress is on recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. The House Judiciary Committee (as opposed to the House Intelligence Committee) has announced a new impeachment hearing for next Wednesday. Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to the President on Tuesday, inviting him and his counsel to attend and potentially question witnesses in the hearing titled Titled "The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment." Along with his invitation, Nadler also offered a warning about the White House's continued refusal to make witnesses and documents available to the Constitutional proceedings in the U.S. House.

In related news, Trump's Dept. of Justice on Tuesday filed for a stay to a blistering federal court ruling ordering that former White House Counsel Don McGahn appear for scheduled testimony in response to a lawful Congressional subpoena regarding the House's examination of the Robert Mueller investigation. McGahn played a key role in the probe, helping to detail Trump's multiple attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Team Trump's cooperation with the effort.

The DoJ is now seeking a pause pending an appeal to U.S. District Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown's scathing 121-page ruling [PDF] issued on Monday, in which she eviscerated the DoJ argument that Presidents and their current and former White House officials enjoy "absolute immunity" from Constitutionally-mandated Congressional oversight. "Stated simply," the Judge wrote, "the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings."

Trump, however, appears to feel otherwise. In addition to appealing the order, Trump tweeted today that "The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress," adding that while he "would love" to have top Executive Branch officials like Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton testify in impeachment hearings in the Ukraine bribery affair, he is only "fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify."

But whether Trump wins his "absolute immunity" defense while President, it is unlikely to help him once he is out of office. To that end, yes, we'd hate to see him lose his right to vote if he ever should find himself imprisoned for any of his countless crimes. In the meantime, however, there are millions in prison who have already lost that right --- a right, not a privilege, even if many treat it that way --- while behind bars. There has been some noteworthy successful (and even bi-partisan in some cases) efforts of late in a number of states to help enfranchise former felons or those out of jail on probation or parole though state constitutional amendments, legislation or executive actions. But when it comes to the right to vote for those still in prison, the debate has been slower and more contentious. Currently, only Maine and Vermont allow prisoners to vote, a policy which Vermont's U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders strongly defended during a CNN Presidential Candidate Town Hall earlier this year.

At the same time, as our guest today, DANIEL NICHANIAN, Editor of The Appeal Political Report (better known as @Taniel on Twitter) points out, lawmakers in eight states and D.C. have filed legislation this year to allow people behind bars to exercise the right to vote. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has done the same at the federal level.

After a Republican New York state Assemblyman recently described a state Senate bill there that would enfranchise convicts as "insulting [to] members of law enforcement and the criminal justice system who worked diligently to get these dangerous predators off the street," Nichanian reached out to prosecutors, correctional facility officers and elected officials in Maine and Vermont to see if they agreed. You'll be surprised to learn that not one of them did, with almost all either finding it to be no problem or, more frequently, lauding the connection to "the real world" that voting allows imprisoned citizens as they pay their debt to society.

Nichanian, a Senior Fellow at the Justice Collaborative and expert on criminal justice reform and mass incarceration, shares insight from the officials he spoke with, and explains why reform on this issue (which disproportionately affects minorities) --- and a number of related topics --- is long overdue.

"We are not treating the right to vote as an inalienable, fundamental right of U.S. democracy, as a right that every citizen should have, and have protected," he tells me, explaining why "ending felony disenfranchisement would also mean that law enforcement professionals are no longer the arbiters of who gets to exercise democratic rights."

Nichanian notes that "the way in which we talk about people who are incarcerated, it would seem like we forget that these people have families, they have kids who go to school, and the school board elections matter to them. They have families who also need to care about their elected officials."

"There's all sorts of arguments of whether people are worthy of voting or not, whether people have shown enough civic capacity to vote or not," he argues. "And I find all of that universe of questions to be questionable, because we are claiming for ourselves the power and authority to decide whether our fellow citizens should have the same rights as us. I find that to be a problematic question. And I think that's just the bottom line: whether we want the right to vote to be a protected right for all U.S. citizens."

He says that "we are definitely seeing the criminal justice reform conversation encompass these issues of rights restoration, as a tool of re-entry, as a tool of thinking about how people remain human, as a way of thinking about economic justice and racial justice throughout the process." But whether that, theoretically bipartisan effort will ultimately become a fight for re-enfranchising felons remains to be seen.

We also discuss how the imprisoned population is used in the fight over apportionment, with the incarcerated counted in the census and for redistricting purposes, even while that huge chunk of the population is disallowed from exercising any real political power through the vote. "The time to address it is literally now, because the next round of redistricting and map-drawing is coming up. If this is going to be reformed, it has to be in the next couple of years, or else we'll have ten more years of problems on this."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report as "climate emergency" is named "Word of the Year" by the Oxford Dictionary and, unfortunately, for very good reason...

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

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Also: Federal Judge says McGahn must testify; GA SoS attempts to intimidate election experts; High profile resignation at Verified Voting; Callers ring in after blockbuster impeachment week...
By Brad Friedman on 11/25/2019 6:10pm PT  

Hmmm....That's interesting. With all of those pro-Trump callers we had last week after Week 1 of impeachment hearings, there were none willing to call in to today's BradCast to defend the President after the bombshells of Week 2. I wonder why. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to those calls today, a few other news headlines of note that we've been trying to get to for several days (and hope to cover more in coming days), but for our impeachment coverage over the past week. Among those stories...

  • Georgia's new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger is attempting to intimidate election integrity and computer science experts by announcing official state investigations of their activities. The recently announced probes are of prominent experts, several of whom have appeared on The BradCast as guests multiple times. They have been critical of Raffensperger for installing new, hackable, unreliably and 100% unverifiable touchcreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems across the state before 2020, despite the new systems' disastrous performance failures in the counties which pilot tested them in the recent 2019 off-year elections;
  • The inventor of the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, used by some jurisdictions to (supposedly) assure that computer tabulators correctly tallied voter intent when reporting election results, has resigned from the previously well-respected voting system watchdog group Verified Voting. Prof. Philip Stark of UC Berkeley has been critical of the group on which he served on their Board of Directors, for helping to validate what he describes as "meaningless" [PDF] post-election audits in jurisdictions --- such as Georgia and Philadelphia --- where unverifiable BMD systems are used to mark paper ballot summaries. He argues that only hand-marked paper ballots can be known to reflect voter intent, and that RLA's of computerized ballots is likely to offer a false sense of security in results produced on such systems. Stark sent a dramatic resignation letter over the weekend, blasting VV for "providing cover for inherently untrustworthy voting systems --- and the officials who bought them, the companies that make them, and any officials who might contemplate buying them in the future --- by conducting 'risk-limiting audits' of untrustworthy paper records, creating the false and misleading impression that relying on untrustworthy paper for a RLA can confirm election outcomes (and debasing the meaning of "RLA" in the process)";
  • In related-ish news, but far more hopeful news, the New Jersey Assembly voted to restore voting rights to some 83,000 people on parole & probation. The measure would overturn a law adopted in 1844, but must still be approved in the state Senate and sighned by the Governor;
  • And, in breaking news just as today's show began, a federal court judge has ruled that Donald Trump's former White House Counsel Don McGahn must respond to a lawful U.S. House subpoena for documents and testimony related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, during which McGahn testified that Trump attempted to obstruct justice at least 10 different times. While the ruling is likely to be appealed by Trump's Dept. of Justice, the order to testify would also likely apply to a host of top Trump officials who have refused to answer Congressional subpoenas in the Trump/Ukraine affair for which he is currently facing an impeachment inquiry, after the Administration has claimed "absolute immunity" from Congressional oversight.

Speaking of which, we summarize last week's explosive impeachment hearings today, and cover a number of new, related stories which broke over the weekend before opening the phones to callers. Last week, when we did same after Week 1 of public testimony in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, we heard from a number of callers who remained strongly opposed to Trump's impeachment and removal. Today, however, when we opened the phones to listeners to take their temperature after the several blockbuster revelations of Week 2, those callers were nowhere to be found...Go figure!

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: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs suppressing the 2020 student vote, Dems push-back in TX; Katie Hill's final floor speech...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Progressive 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finally releases her detailed proposal explaining how she plans to pay for "Medicare for All" with "not one penny in middle-class tax increases" and Democrats begin their push-back against a coordinated national GOP effort to curb surging turnout by young voters who, for some reason, tend to lean strongly Democratic when they are allowed to vote. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, we're joined by longtime health care reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Politico to break down the pay-fors and the politics of Warren's newly introduced details on how she hopes to fund her $52 trillion single-payer Medical for All plan without raising taxes on the middle class. Warren, in a 9,300-word Medium post on Friday, explained that "Medicare for All is about the same price as our current path --- and cheaper over time." The difference with our current path and her plan, she says, is that her plan covers everyone and even includes new benefits for dental, vision and long-term care, without spending more money than Americans pay overall right now for care that is twice as expensive as the rest of the developed world, but with worse outcomes.

Where fellow progressive Bernie Sanders has emphasized that middle class taxes would necessary increase under his version of Medicare for All while overall costs to Americans would be lower (thanks to no more monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.), and where more centrist 2020 Dems like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris have argued that it would be impossible to find the trillions needed for such universal single-payer plans, Warren laid out her proposal for covering everyone with better care, doctors of their choice, and no increases in taxes on the middle class. The burden as she describes will fall largely on corporations and the top 1% of taxpayers.

"It's interesting that there's been so much focus and pressure on her to produce a plan to pay for a plan that she didn't write --- it's Bernie's plan. But she has embraced it, and since she has made her personal brand being the woman with a plan for everything, it makes sense why she was pressed on this, and why she felt that she had to put something serious out there," Ollstein tells me.

Warren's plan, as Ollstein reports, even offers incentives for business to unionize in order to save money for both workers and companies, while companies are required to pay no more for health care than they already do. Effectively, argues Ollstein, Warren's expansive proposal is effectively "trying to flip the tables" back on her opponents to demonstrate how either she is wrong about her plan, or how their own plans might offer better coverage to all for less money.

Her Democratic competition, however, are not the only ones currently gunning for both her as she continues to rise in the polls, and the others seeking to improve our woeful health care system. "The medical providers have been mobilizing all year long, not just against Medicare For All but for all of the more incremental reforms, as well. They do not want to take a haircut on any of this. And this would be far more than a haircut. This would be a very deep cut."

The debate over Warren's extraordinary ambitious proposal, however, and those of other Democratic candidates, will continue for some time, even if one of them is elected. "What ends up getting actually debated and passed will not look like what we're talking about now," Ollstein predicts. "How close it looks like to what we're talking about will depend on who turns out to vote in 2020, and who sits in those seats in the House and Senate. Because, man, elections matter."

Yes, they do. And Republicans know it. And the GOP effort to prevent Warren or any other Dem who wants to improve health care for Americans from taking ofice is already well under way in a number of battleground states, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, where Republican lawmakers have been instituting particularly insidious measures to make it much harder for young voters, in particular, to cast a vote at all next year. We detail some of those anti-democratic and anti-Democratic measures today, along with some of the first of the push-back from Dems, who filed suit this week against a recently adopted Texas law that effectively shuts down voting all together on many college campuses. That, as voters in Texas and a number of other states, including Virginia, head to the polls for important elections this coming Tuesday.

In related breaking news as well today, Democratic 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas announced that he would be dropping out of the Presidential nominating contest.

Finally, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill of California offered her final U.S. House floor speech on Thursday, following the vote on rules for the process of impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Her remarks come after announcing her abrupt and surprise resignation last weekend in the wake of an ugly divorce battle, an ethics investigation regarding an affair with a staffer (which she denies), and nude photos of her being published by rightwing websites. She suggests those photos were given to her opponents by her "abusive" husband. In her fiery final floor remarks, Hill excoriates what she describes as a double-standard for women who are victimized by revenge porn, even as men who are credibly accused of sexual assault and violence, like the President of the United States (and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices) remain happily in office...

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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Conyers, Hagan, RIP; Hill resigns; Another House GOPer retires; Trump touts ISIS kill, lies about bin Laden; Former Bolton aide a no-show at impeachment; Pence ducks Ukraine questions; Senate Repubs on edge...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2019 7:03pm PT  

With the avalanche of news over the weekend and right up until airtime, we've got nothing but news on today's show. Most of it emanates out of Congress in one way or another, though we take a short side-journey to debunk a major lie over the weekend by Donald Trump. Even that, however, is ultimately about his fate in Congress as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's wildly news-packed BradCast...

  • Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan died on Monday at age 66, after a three year battle with encephalitis. We share some thoughts on the distinguished record of public service from the state's first female Democratic Senator.;
  • Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers died at the age of 90 on Sunday. The champion for civil rights and equal justice and longtime Chair of the House Judiciary Committee served 53-years in the House, making him the longest-serving African-American in Congressional history, before abruptly resigning in 2017 in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations which he refuted. He stated during his resignation that he believed he was unlikely to receive due process during the peak of the "#MeToo" era. We share a number of his many lasting accomplishments today, including his successful 15-year fight to adopt a national Martin Luther King Day holiday, a years-long effort he began just four days after the civil rights legends' assassination. (Conyers was the only candidate for Congress ever endorsed by MLK.) We also share a number of personal reflections on our years working with Conyers and his office in various ways at The BRAD BLOG, particularly during the darkest years of the George W. Bush Administration. (As mentioned on the program, here is the kind message he sent to the blog in 2005, and here is his guest blog from later that same year.);
  • And, speaking of a lack of due process, rising-star freshman Rep. Katie Hill announced her own resignation from Congress on Sunday, less than a year after flipping the last Republican-controlled House seat in Los Angeles County in her 2018 election. The 32-year old California Democrat was granted a position on Leadership in the House and a plum position on the House Oversight Committee. However, allegations about an affair with a legislative staffer, which she denies, in violation of House rules was at the center of a complaint filed with the House Ethics Committee. The publication of illicit photographs and text messages attributed to the Congresswoman, which she charges were released by her estranged "abusive" husband, made her ability to fight the charges "untenable," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who praised Hill. Seen as a voice for Millennial voters, Hill describes the released photos as unlawful "revenge porn," while many supporters feel she should not have stepped down;
  • On the GOP side of the aisle, the woes are far worse. Yet another senior Republican House member, Rep. Greg Walden announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election, even as the Oregon lawmaker was thought likely to be reelected to long held seat in . He is the 19th House Republicans, many of them senior members who are current and former committee chairs, to declare their intent to retire next year, all but conceding that Republicans have little or no chance of winning back the U.S. House majority in 2020;
  • On Sunday, Donald Trump announced that a targeted mission by U.S. special forces succeeded in killing long-sought ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria. After Trump's brief announcement, in which claimed that al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest and "died like a dog", "crying", "whimpering" and "screaming", Trump went on to sing his own praises during an insane question and answer period with the press for a good 45 minutes. He claimed that the killing of al-Baghdadi was a much bigger deal than the killing of Osama bin Laden during the Obama Administration, and that he, unlike anybody else, had called for the killing of bin Laden long before the 9/11 terror attacks, in his book "The America We Deserve".

    Multiple fact-checks by multiple news outlets, however, detail that Trump did nothing of the kind in his book, where he barely referenced bin Laden in a single passage. He did not calling for him to be killed, though he did recognize him as "public enemy Number One," which also serves to debunk his own claim at the Sunday presser that "nobody had ever heard of Osama bin Laden" until 9/11. Trump's bizarre spectacle on Sunday, trumpeting his triumph and offering easily debunked false assertions, serves to add a question mark to his claims about al-Baghdaddi --- Russia's foreign ministry is dubious about the kill --- and otherwise serves to underscore what a horrible fact and character witness Donald Trump is for himself, given the ongoing impeachment inquiry he is now facing in the U.S. House;

  • Speaking of which, former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, who worked directly under former NSA John Bolton, failed to show up for his deposition before House impeachment investigators today, after seeking a ruling from a federal judge as to whether he was legally required to comply with a House subpoena. His testimony, if and when it happens, is expected to underscore concerns that Bolton reportedly had about the quid pro quo pressure campaign Trump was running against Ukraine while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to the country in exchange for a promise from its President to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden and a rightwing conspiracy theory concerning Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election;
  • The Ukraine scandal left Vice President Mike Pence going to extraordinary lengths to avoid answering --- four times --- a simple question on Face the Nation on Sunday as to whether or not he knew about the strong-arm scheme before Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as corroborated last week by the explosive testimony of top U.S. envoy to Ukraine Bill Taylor and, apparently, by others 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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CA fires, private utility blackouts; Wilbur Ross' private email scandal; Giuliani lawyers up; 'Obamacare' prices drop; MA's shameful vaping ban...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

With a short, semi-pause in the hot impeachment action on Capitol Hill, we take the opportunity on today's BradCast to catch up on a number of non-impeachment related stories (mostly). [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • With climate change induced temps soaring, humidity plummeting and hot, nearly hurricane force desert wind gusts buffeting much of the state, wildfires are again breaking out again in both Northern and Southern California, despite the state's several privately-owned for-profit utility companies preemptively shutting down power to as many as half a million customers. That, to avoid still more liability for failing to maintain and/or bury their power lines which have been found as the cause of many recent deadly fires in the global warming-parched state. Gov. Gavin Newsom had some choice words on Thursday about those utility companies, such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG+E) and Southern California Edison, placing profits over safety for many years in what he blasted as "dog-eat-dog capitalism [and] corporate greed meeting climate change";
  • As the years-long probe by Trump's State Department into the phony "scandal" surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as Secretary of State finally concluded very quietly last week --- having found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information” --- yet another top Trump Administration official is being investigated for his use of private email accounts to conduct official business. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is at least the 9th senior Trump official who has been revealed to have done so, as he faces both a civil lawsuit over the practice, and as the National Archives and Records Administration has just opened an official probe;
  • In only somewhat impeachment-related news, Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who refused last week to answer a Congressional subpoena from House impeachment investigators while parting ways with his personal attorney, is now said to be looking for a new criminal attorney. The former NYC Mayor is reportedly a person of interest in at least two different federal probes, both criminal and counterintelligence, being carried out by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY (the office Giuliani once led as U.S. Attorney);
  • In U.S. healthcare news, open enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act healthcare.gov exchange is set to begin on November 1, with as many as 20 new insurers and an average drop in the cost of premiums of 4%. Despite years of attempts by Republicans and Donald Trump to try and undermine "Obamacare", its marketplace is apparently stabilizing even as a ruling is now pending at any time from a federal appeals court in the GOP challenge to the law seeking to strike down the entire Act as unconstitutional;
  • And, in related-ish news, a court in Massachusetts has temporarily delayed an ill-considered attempt by its Governor to institute the nation's strictest ban on vaping, in supposed response to a recent outbreak of lung injuries, a number of them deadly, due to the use of black-market THC/cannabis vaping cartridges. Gov. Charlie Baker's attempted ban, however, would prevent the sale of all nicotine vaping products, which are not tied to the recent outbreak in any way, thus endangering the lives of an untold number of smokers and former smokers who would be prevented from using life-saving nicotine vapor devices in the state. Shamefully, a number of other states are in the process of implementing similarly deadly bans, thanks in no small part to horrifically irresponsible media coverage that has equated safe nicotine vaping (and safe marijuana vaping in locations where it is both legal and regulated) with the use of contaminated black-market THC vaping devices;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on the disgraceful and dangerous California private utilities power blackouts, the deadly costs of Trump's rollbacks of clean air standards, and Congressional testimony from former Exxon scientists who detail how the oil giant spent decades and millions of dollars lying to the public about climate change...

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Guest: Election Integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn; Also: Judge blocks FL GOP's attempt to disenfranchise felons (for now); MO's largest county finally moves to hand-marked paper ballots!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2019 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the catch-up work continues! In the week since returning from my month-long forced hiatus due to a family emergency, we've been so busy with Donald Trump's insanity and impeachment inquiry and withdrawal of troops from Syria and attempt to award himself the contract for the G7 Summit at his own Florida resort (which he retracted over the weekend under pressure from Republicans), that we haven't had any time to discuss concerns about "Plan B". Specifically, concerns about voting systems in a whole bunch of states and counties where elections officials are, insanely, moving towards vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of 2020. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We make up for a month's worth of lost time on today's show. But first, some actually encouraging news out of two different states. On Friday, a federal court judge placed a temporary injunction on Florida's new Republican-adopted law that prevents former felons from registering to vote, unless they've paid off all court-imposed fines and fees first. The judge ruled the GOP law, enacted by state lawmakers just after state voters overwhelmingly adopted a new Constitutional amendment to re-enfranchise former felons last November, essentially amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax. The ruling, for now, is limited and has a few caveats, but voting rights activists are hailing the decision.

In still more good news for voters, this time in Missouri, the St. Louis County Board of Elections last month (where I was born and raised), unanimously voted to move the state's largest county to a new, hand-marked paper ballot system for all voters, other than those disabled voters who choose to use an assistive electronic system, beginning this November. The move comes as a welcome safeguard for voters after the County allowed voters over the past decade to choose between touchscreens or hand-marked paper ballots at the polls, while subtly (and not-so-subtly) encouraging voters to use the unverifiable touchscreens. That good news would also make my late father very happy, given that he was also a proponent for hand-marked paper ballots, as made clear in an amusing 2006 BRAD BLOG entry, which we share on today's show.

The move in St. Louis, however, is contrary to similar choices being made in a number of key jurisdictions around the country, where officials are moving to unverifiable and hackable BMD systems before 2020. States such as Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, and New Jersey are moving to these expensive and vulnerable systems, as well as key cities and counties in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia!), North Carolina (Mecklenberg County, the state's most populous) and California (Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous!)

We're joined today by journalist, attorney, Election Integrity advocate and Twitter activist JENNIFER COHN --- who has a new video presentation out today on the many concerns about private voting system vendors who have taken over our public elections, and on the desperate need for hand-marked paper ballots --- in hopes of beginning to catch up on much of the voting system news we missed over the past month!

Unfortunately, as Cohn details, other than in St. Louis, the outlook is pretty grim between now and next year, as even leading Democrats (hello, Sen. Amy Klobuchar!) seem to have a very difficult time fighting for the real security improvements necessary to protect our election system from adversaries --- both foreign and domestic --- before next year's critical Presidential election.

Cohn makes the crucial point that phrases other than "HAND-MARKED paper ballots" are, essentially, code words for unverifiable, hackable, computer-marked paper ballot summaries. Phrases often used by vendors, as well as election and elected official to confuse voters include: Voter-marked paper ballots, voter-verifiable (as opposed to veriFIED) paper ballots, back-up paper ballots (hello again, Sen. Klobuchar!) or simply "paper ballots", without using "hand-marked" before it. If you don't hear them say "hand-marked" first, they either don't know what they're talking about, or they're trying to put something over on you.

And, as Cohn notes, if they promise post-election audits to protect the integrity of the vote, but are doing so without using hand-marked paper ballots to "audit" with, they are also trying to scam you. At least according to the actual inventor of the post-election Risk-Limited Audit (RLA) protocol, Prof. Phil Stark of UC-Berkley, an opponent of universal use BMDs. He describes RLAs of computer-marked ballots as "worthless" and little more than putting "lipstick on a pig"...

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U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi tells Trump 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

I'm still out of breath from today's BradCast, even after I had to cut a whole bunch of breaking (and not so breaking) news to make room for the sad passing of a much-beloved Congressional giant.

We begin today with the devastating news of the untimely death of 68-year old Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the larger than life Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee whose extraordinary 23-year legacy in Congress and decades of civil rights work before it has left an indelible mark on the nation and our ongoing fight for democracy and equal justice for all.

Next up, as support for the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump continues to build, chaos continues to unravel in the Middle East following his recent green light for Turkey's invasion of Northern Syria. Trump's approval, given to Turkish President Erdogan on a recent phone call, stunned White House aides, the Pentagon, bi-partisan members of Congress, and our Kurdish allies in the long fight against ISIS in the region.

It also led to an incredibly bonkers threat letter sent by the U.S. President to his Turkish counterpart (which was ignored); the escape of ISIS prisoners being held by the now-endangered and fleeing Kurds; Kurdish forces choosing to ally with Russian and Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Turkish and Russian forces rolled onto bases previously occupied by the U.S. and the Kurds; the U.S. military being forced to bomb its own military outpost and ammo dump near the Turkish border; bi-partisan condemnation from Congress (including from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a lopsided 354 to 60 resolution vote in the U.S. House against the Trump policy), Russia's emergence as the new power-broker in the Middle East, and a meeting between Democratic Congressional leaders and the President on Wednesday that ended with furious Democrats storming out after Trump reportedly insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "third-rate politician" and suggesting that the Democrats were communist sympathizers in what the Speaker described as a "meltdown" after she charged that "all roads lead to Putin" with this President.

And, amidst that chaos today, after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Ankara to try and clean up the mess created by Trump with Turkey, a supposed "deal" was struck for a short-term cease-fire to allow the Kurds (and U.S. troops) to retreat, while all but giving Turkey everything that it had sought on the Turkish/Syrian border for years, with the U.S. promising to lift economic sanctions against its NATO ally.

It's all even more disastrous than that, according to Trump's own former Envoy in the Fight to Defeat ISIS who calls the new U.S. policy a "disaster" and "totally incoherent", and a former FBI official who warns that Trump is "spiraling down into a dangerous posture", acting in "almost total isolation" and is now "incredibly vulnerable" to foreign manipulation. But you'll have to both tune in and buckle up for the full details. They are worse than they sound.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with coverage of the lack of climate questions raised at the recent 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Ohio, California's latest plans to foil Trump's fossil fuel schemes in the Golden State and much more!...

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Guests: Rewire.News' Jodi Jacobson; Zero Hour's Richard 'RJ' Eskow...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2019 4:58pm PT  

The top TWELVE 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates --- yes, TWELVE --- gathered for 3 hours --- yes THREE --- on Tuesday night at Otterbein University, in Westerville, Ohio for their 4th primary debate of the 2020 nomination cycle. We devote the hour on today's BradCast, to post-debate coverage, analysis and, of course, occasional snark. [Audio link to program is posted below.]

The candidates at the CNN and NYTimes co-sponsored forum were: MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; NJ Sen. Corey Booker; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Former HUD Sec. Julian Castro; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; CA entrepreneur and activist Tom Steyer (making his first debate appearance); Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andrew Yang; and former El Paso, TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Among the many issues and questions covered and discussed on today's program, following last night's forum...

  • Do we really need three hour debates?;
  • Do we really need 12 candidates?;
  • Do we really need Steyer to be one of them?;
  • Did the moderators do any better than they have in previous debates this cycle?;
  • Was there really not a single question on either our climate or voting rights crises worth asking the candidates?;
  • Did Elizabeth Warren perform well in the face of direct attacks from her opponents now that she is being perceived as the front-runner?;
  • Could she stand up to similar or almost certainly far worse attacks from Trump (presuming he is the GOP nominee)?;
  • Is Booker right to worry about sniping and some of the direct attacks between his fellow Democratic candidates?;
  • What's the reason he is not performing better in the polls?;
  • Why is Harris still slipping in the polls?;
  • Will Sanders' recent heart attack be a deal breaker for some voters (despite his energetic performance at Tuesday's debate)?;
  • As Biden slips in the polls, is he also showing signs of cognitive decline that may concern voters?;
  • What's the difference between "Medicare for All", as proposed by Sanders and Warren, and "Medicare for All Who Want It" and a "Public Option" as proposed by Biden, Buttigieg and Warren?;
  • Why won't Warren admit out loud, as Sanders has, that her Medicare for All plan will raise taxes on the middle class, even as she correctly points out that overall costs for such families would go down?;
  • And why do people who like their private insurance have to give it up under a "Medicare for All" plan?;
  • Were attacks by Klobuchar and Buttigieg and Biden against so-called progressive "pipe dreams" effective for their candidacies or just damaging to the party?;
  • Is "Accountable Capitalism" actually a thing?

All of those questions and many more are tackled with Eskow, Jacobson and even Desi Doyen and myself on today's very lively, insightful and intermittently humorous post-debate special coverage!...

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Guest: Nicole Sandler...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2019 5:02pm PT  

Desi and I are back on today's BradCast, after an unscheduled month-long hiatus as my otherwise very healthy 80-year old dad suffered a sudden and major stroke in mid-September before ultimately passing away a few weeks later. [That's him on the left with me in the photo. Audio for today's program is posted below.]

We share a few memories of Harvey Friedman at the top of today's show (there are many more here) and a couple of very important lessons learned both before and after his death that will almost certainly be of use to you and your family! The two booklets I mentioned on air today are Five Wishes (available via AgingWithDignity.org) and the Advance Health Care Directive (available via PrepareForYourCare.org). Both are likely to be wildly helpul to your family, should you or they find themselves in a similar situation. Please consider clicking on those links when you find some time.

Then, we're joined by the great NICOLE SANDLER of The Nicole Sandler Show who filled in for us, with absolutely no notice, over the past month (with some occasional help from Angie Coiro along the way) even as she did her own show as well nearly every damned day! Desi and I cannot thank her enough. Though we try to today.

Since Nicole filled in for us during what was clearly a very very slow news month, she gets us caught up on what we missed while we were "gone", from the Impeachment process now under way in the House in response to Trump's strong-arming of the Ukrainian President for (apparently false) dirt on Joe Biden and the 2016 election; to Trump's disturbing sudden withdraw of U.S. troops in the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria (and the death and chaos and escaped ISIS detainees and new deal cut between our previously-allied and now-abandoned Kurds and the Russian-supported Syrians in its wake); to the corporate media still falling for Trump's B.S. on everything from his "new impeachment attorney", former Rep. Trey Gowdy (who doesn't appear to have been hired after all) to his new trade deal with China (which may not be a deal after all); to the latest in the 2020 race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

After a month off the grid, we're wading gently back in today and this week with a little help from our friends. My thanks to so many of you for your kind words while we were gone, and our thanks to all of our listeners and affiliate stations for tolerating our unexpected and unprecedented absence! Hope you'll enjoy today's program as we gently get back into the swing of things...

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with authors Jenny Brown and Doug White...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/4/2019 3:53pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back again to guest host the BradCast. We start the show as usual, by bringing everyone up to speed on the latest news concerning the impeachment inquiry into the president.

I promised I'd provide links to the pages of text messages turned over to Congress by Kurt Volker, and to Volker's opening statement as delivered yesterday. So, just click!

I have two fascinating guests today. First up, JENNY BROWN, author of Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now, on the day the Supreme Court announced that they'll hear an abortion rights case this term.

Then, I speak with author and non-profit advisor DOUG WHITE about his new book, Wounded Charity: Lessons Learned from the Wounded Warriors Project Crisis.

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(And we didn't even get to half of it!); Plus: Callers ring in on the Dem Primary, L.A. County's new unverifiable touchscreen vote system, more!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2019 6:08pm PT  

The weekend brought us another avalanche of news in the Trump Era. As usual, we try to catch up by focusing on the stories that actually matter. But, even at that, we couldn't get to half of what we'd planned for today BradCast. But we did have time for a bunch of great callers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the many stories we cover today that they were calling in to comment on...

  • A federal judge has restored a nationwide injunction to block the Trump Administration's likely-unlawful new policy that bars asylum to migrants who travels to the U.S. through another country before entering the U.S.;
  • Former GOP Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina becomes the third major Republican candidate to announce his intention of running against Donald Trump for the party's 2020 Presidential nomination, after previously describing Trumpism as "a cancerous growth" and charging the Republican Party has "lost our way". His long-shot bid, joining former MA Gov. Bill Weld and former IL Rep. Joe Walsh, will be made all the more difficult now that the Republican Party in South Carolina, along with those in Nevada, Kansas and Arizona, have cancelled the GOP caucuses and primaries in those states for 2020 at the behest of our thin-skinned, cowardly, unfit President;
  • Next door in North Carolina, it now appears to be full-speed ahead for Tuesday's two U.S. House Special Elections which were imperiled for a time by Hurricane Dorian. While the storm resulted in some cancelled Early Voting days last week, most of those hours were made up with extended hours over the weekend, leaving Democrats with a larger share of the early vote in the 9th Congressional District than they even had during early voting in last November's "Blue Wave" election. The Republican candidate reportedly "won" that race by about 900 votes in a district held by Republicans since the 1960s. But the election was never certified after revelations of a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme. Both Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are in the 9th district on Monday night, with two separate rallies, for far-right GOP State Senator Dan Bishop in the do-over race against centrist Democrat Dan McCready. The contest is currently being characterized as a toss-up and is being regarded as a bellwether for the 2020 elections. The other race, in NC's 3rd Congressional District is to fill the seat of the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones in an even more "red", if Hurricane Dorian-battered, district on the state's coast;
  • And in D.C. today, Trump declared that year-long peace talks with Taliban officials and the Afghan government are now "dead". That, after Trump revealed his cancellation of a secret meeting that had been set with Taliban officials this week at Camp David --- on the week when the nation commemorates the 18th anniversary of 9/11 while the nation's longest war (in response to it) continues on with no end in sight despite campaign promises from Trump to end it;
  • We also briefly reference the plan announced today by Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to hold a formal vote this week to officially begin their impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump before opening up our lines to callers on all of the above and more.

    Among the additional topics on listeners minds today: The Democratic Presidential primary and the likely-disastrous move by Los Angeles County to replace its hand-marked paper ballot voting system with an ill-considered and 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system (pictured above) before the 2020 Presidential elections. The new system (pictured above) was developed by its brainchild, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, who now refuses to appear on the show or answer our questions about the new, still uncertified system, as he used to. He calls it Voting Solutions for All People or VSAP. As one caller notes, the new system is shamefully being supported by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. One of them, longtime Democratic Supervisor Janice Hahn, has been (mis)representing the new system as an "exciting" "upgrade" from the previous system, despite the fact that the computer-marked "paper ballot" summaries the new system produces can never be known to reflect any voter's intent after an election in the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems are being implemented in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and other key states before the 2020 election, despite warnings against electronic Ballot Marking Devices from world-class cybersecurity and voting systems experts...

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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa on that and two U.S. House Special Elections in NC as Dorian closes in; Also: TX shooting highlights 'gun show loophole'; Trump creates fake map to mask his AL hurricane lie...
By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, w've got some very good news for democracy, for a change, today --- and it comes out of North Carolina of all places! But first, a few quick updates on some others stories we've been following recently on the program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Hurricane Dorian is weaker but larger after devastating parts of The Bahamas. The now-Category 2 storms is moving incredibly slowly northward, perilously close to the Florida Coast, and on a more direct path that could include landfalls in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and even Virginia. Massive storm surges and power outages are predicted for many of those states in the days ahead;
  • Following two recent mass shootings in Texas, one at a Walmart store in El Paso where 22 were killed by a white nationalist, the superstore chain announced a change to its policies on gun and ammo sales and is asking shoppers to no longer open carry weapons in their stores. Grocery giant Kroger has also now asked customers to leave their guns at home. In response, the terrorist-enabling NRA shot a letter to Walmart describing their new policy as "shameful".

    That, as law enforcement officials confirm that the gunman who killed 7 and injured more than 20 during a Labor Day holiday weekend shooting rampage in Odessa and Midland, TX had failed a federal background check for purchasing a firearm before buying his semi-automatic assault-style rifle through a private sale with no required no background check. The so-called "gun show loophole" in the federal background check law allows for private sales between friends and families, on a number of online forums, and via some vendors at gun shows. Such sales amount to an estimated 25% to 40% of all guns sales in the U.S., but NRA-controlled Republicans in Congress have refused for years to allow an up or down vote on measures that would close the loophole, despite overwhelming public support, including from members of the NRA;

  • Then, we get to the huge news out of the North Carolina Superior Court, where a three-judge panel (2 Dems and 1 Republican) unanimously ordered the GOP-dominated state legislature to redraw its state House and Senate maps before the 2020 elections. The court found the current maps to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the state Constitution's Free Elections Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and Free Speech and Free Assembly Clauses. The current maps, as allowed for use in 2018 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared in early summer that federal courts may not block partisan gerrymandering, were themselves newly drawn after the ones created by state Republicans following the 2010 Census were found to have been racially gerrymandered in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The existing state legislative maps resulted in a 65 - 55 seat majority for the GOP in the state House, even after 2018's "Blue Wave" election when Democrats received 51% of the votes statewide to the GOP's 49%. The state Senate is similarly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, as is NC's U.S. House map in the closely divided state where Democrats have held just 3 seats in the state's 13-seat Congressional delegation over the past decade.

    We're joined today once again by NC election expert and campaign consultant DR. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, who is perhaps better known as "DocDawg" at Daily Kos. Busa breaks down what Tuesday's 357-page ruling [PDF] means for NC voters, describing "a court that clearly has had it up to here with the GOP's ten years of obstruction of justice in this matter."

    He believes the new maps will help "level the playing field" and possibility result in long-overdue Democratic majorities in one or even both chambers of the state legislature next year, though he details a potential GOP scheme to undermine the court's ruling that might explain the decision by Republicans to not appeal Tuesday's landmark order. "We won the vote" last year, he notes, "we just didn't win the map. If we win the map, we can win the vote again, and we'll have the whole shooting match."

    All of this is happening as two U.S. House Special Elections are currently underway in the state, with Election Day set for Tuesday (September 10) as the slow-moving Hurricane Dorian is creeping toward the state. One of the House elections will fill the seat vacated by the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones in NC's 3rd Congressional district which runs the entirety of the state's now-imperiled coastline. The other election, in NC's 9th district, is the long-awaited do-over election following the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud Scandal last November which resulted in the State Board of Elections refusing to certify an extremely narrow reported "win" by the Republican candidate.

    What effect will the impending storm and all of these various controversies have on Tuesday's election --- if it is not postponed due to Dorian? Busa explains it all for us on today's action-packed program!

  • And finally, speaking of bad maps, we close today with the story of the somewhat mind-boggling and continuing attempts by Donald Trump to justify his false --- and potential unlawful --- repeated claims that Dorian was threatening the state of Alabama. It wasn't and isn't. But that hasn't stopped Trump from both lying about it repeatedly and today, incredibly, producing a clearly doctored map in the White House in hopes of supporting his obviously false claims...

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Guest: Veteran Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton...
By Brad Friedman on 9/3/2019 6:34pm PT  

There were a number of bullets dodged in the past few days, literal and otherwise, and some that, tragically, were not. We cover them on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Most of Florida appears to have dodged a bullet --- though Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina aren't in the clear yet --- after the deadly and incredibly slow-moving Hurricane Dorian, once a Category 5, heads to the north, grazing the coast of the Sunshine State after catastrophically devastating several large islands in The Bahamas. We're joined today by Atlanta-based, 30-year Weather Channel meteorologist GUY WALTON, who now tracks extreme weather and our worsening climate crisis at his website, GuyOnClimate.com. He offers insight into what has made Dorian such an unusual, deadly, and wildly unpredictable storm.

"Steering currents are being affected by climate change and, as more warmth gets put into the atmosphere, the weaker those steering currents are going to be," Walton, who has written a children's book on the climate crisis, tells me in explaining the "$250 billion question" about "where the storm is going to be going." He says the weakened steering currents are what allow storms like Harvey in Houston two years ago and now Dorian to basically stand in place. "Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, and in this case, that was extremely bad for The Bahamas but good for Florida. It's very unusual to have a system just stall like that."

"We're getting more Category 4s and 5s forming in the Atlantic basin, and they're forming quite rapidly. Dorian formed near Puerto Rico and it did give them some tropical storm force winds, but it was only a Cat 1 at the time, and it really didn't take it more than about 24 hours to become a Cat 5," he observes, citing the increased effect of climate change on these storms. "We've had four out of the last five years seeing Cat 5s. We've had Dorian, Michael, Maria, Irma, and Matthew. And two of the storms --- Michael and Maria --- hit the United States as 5s."

A number of Texas residents were much less lucky than Floridians over the Labor Day holiday weekend, as actual bullets were flying yet again in the Lone Star state in yet another mass shooting by another young American white man. This one in the West Texas towns of Odessa and Midland resulted in 7 killed, more than 20 injured, a cowardly, sputtering President of the United States who clearly hasn't a clue what to do about it, and a cowardly Texas Governor who, after recently loosening gun restrictions in Texas to allow weapons of mass destruction in public schools and churches, suggests he might finally be willing to take action that might actually help protect Texans for a change by curbing the scourge of gun massacres in the state since he's taken office. We wouldn't hold our breath for that action, however. Texas Governor Greg Abbot, like Donald Trump, is a Republican who lives in fear of the terrorist-enabling NRA and places his own political career over the actual lives of the people he is sworn to protect and serve.

Democratic voters in the 2020 caucus states of Iowa and Nevada, meanwhile, may have dodged figurative bullets thanks to a few experts who managed to hack a recent closed telephone conference call by the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee as they were considering approval of plans by those two states to add unsecure remote telephone voting options to next February's caucuses there. The new plans were being prepared in answer to the DNC's mandate enacted after the contentious 2016 primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in hopes of encouraging states to hold more inclusive primary elections rather than caucuses. If state parties chose to hold caucuses, however, the DNC is requiring them to add some form of remote voting option for those unable to attend hours-long, in-person caucuses. The remote voting plans in Iowa and Nevada, however, now appear all but dead, at least for 2020.

And, as we were just finishing up today's show, some more good news for Democrats --- and for all voters who believe in fair elections --- as North Carolina's State Superior Court issued a 357-page [PDF] ruling finding the state's GOP-gerrymandered legislative districts are unconstitutional and ordering new maps to be drawn before the 2020 elections in the closely divided battleground state. (Much more on that last story, undoubtedly, on tomorrow's BradCast!)

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system unconstitutional is a victory for voters across the nation...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2019 6:10pm PT  

We've got some pretty huge and long-overdue breaking news today from a federal court in Atlanta. It's huge enough that we dumped what we were previously planning to cover to devote today's BradCast to the judge's new order in a case that we have been following now for years. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg, in a 153-page ruling [PDF], finds that Georgia's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen voting systems, in use in the state since 2002, are not fit for U.S. elections because they are "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated". They are so unsecure, in fact, that they violate the Constitutional right of voters to have their votes counted as cast.

"Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack," Totenberg writes.

She excoriates the state Defendants --- former Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and current Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger --- for lying about facts and evidence in the case (though she is only slightly more polite in her wording, by describing the "Defendants' inconsistent candor with the Court") and for dismissing the many long-proven security concerns about these systems as "fantasy" forwarded by Plaintiffs.

While Judge Totenberg will allow the old Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems to be used one last time in Georgia's municipal and county elections this November, she makes it clear they may not be used again in 2020 or thereafter under any circumstances. She also offers several hints that the state's recently selected new touchscreen systems, now planned to replace the old ones, may also be found unconstitutional in further proceedings, leaving the clear preference of cybersecurity and voting systems experts --- hand-marked paper ballots --- as the only option likely to meet requirements for auditability and Constitutionality.

We're joined to explain all of these details and much more today on what is a clear, overdue --- if not (yet) total --- victory, by plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance. She has been joining us on the show for a number of years now with updates on each important aspect of this broad and gruelingly long case since filing it about two years ago. Marks calls today's ruling a victory not just for Georgia voters, but for those in many states where similar systems are now used --- including some where newer, if still unverifiable, touchscreen systems are being planned for use in 2020.

"The court ruled that DREs are unconstitutional. And that anybody voting on these things should be worried about their vote," says Marks. "Of course, this doesn't relate just to Georgia. The words of this federal court will be heard around the United States. Hopefully this will have an impact on other jurisdictions" where, she hopes, they will take notice of the judge's words recommending hand-marked paper ballots.

Marks explains that Judge Totenberg does not appear much happier with the new system Georgia now plans to use in 2020, though was unable to offer a finding on it, yet, given that the state just finalized their decision last week. But, Totenberg offered warnings about those new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in several places in the ruling, such as when she warned: "The past may here be prologue anew — it may be 'like déjà vu all over again.'"

Indeed, Marks says her non-partisan organization plans to seek an injunction on use of Georgia's new, equally unverifiable touchscreen systems as well, and that Totenberg, perhaps with that in mind, has ordered that a number of counties run hand-marked paper ballot pilot elections this year in advance of next year's Presidential primary elections. "We will absolutely be launching a constitutional challenge against Ballot Marking Devices," she vowed.

"Surely they realize that the hand-writing is on the wall and they've got to quit fighting for unverifiable elections. I would think Georgia voters are going to get pretty sick and tired of this. Most of these guys are elected officials, so I think that they need to consider the political consequences if they want to continue to fight for unverifiable elections."

As to allowing the old, unconstitutional systems to be used one more time in the state's 2019 municipal elections, Marks advises: "While they can be used in November, they shouldn't be used in November. Those people on the ballot, those people voting in the municipalities, should demand right now --- right now is the time to do it --- that their county, their municipality go ahead and use hand-marked paper ballots. They've got the equipment for it [since they already use hand-marked ballot systems for absentee voting across the state] they've got the know-how, they ought to do it."

In one other key element of this case, as Marks explains, the Judge also ordered a review of the state's electronic pollbook systems which resulted in failure and chaos and disenfranchisement during last November's general elections. She has ordered that polling places must have paper backup pollbooks on hand in elections moving forward, to avoid the disenfranchisement of voters when electronic voter registration systems fail on Election Day or are manipulated by malign actors.

"Just like with any computerized voting component, it can be hacked," Marks tells me regarding the state's ES&S ExpressPoll registration computers used in the Peach State's precincts. "There can be errors. There can be mis-programming. And that's been occurring in Georgia. [Judge Totenberg] asked us to bring her evidence. We brought her hundreds of affidavits of people who were turned away at the polls who should not have been. We brought her evidence of software problems in the e-pollbook system. And therefore she said, 'Enough of this! Go fix the system!'"

She continued: "I get it as to why computerized [registration] records can be very helpful here, but let's use some common sense. And the judge has said have a paper backup so that if there is a question that needs to be adjudicated, use the official paper backup. And look it up right there, and don't run people away from the polls. Give them their ballot."

In fact, in her ruling, the judge cites "threats of contamination, dysfunction, and attacks on State and county voting systems, disparaged by the Secretary of State’s representatives...as a fantasy and still minimized as speculative" by the Defendants as recently as a hearing in the case this year. That, Totenberg notes, despite threats "identified in the most credible major national and state cybersecurity studies and official government reports." She even cites "real life" incidents that "played out with the United States’ July 2018 criminal indictment of a host of Russian intelligence agents for conspiracy to hack into the computers of various state and county boards of election and their vendors as well as agents' efforts during the 2016 election to identify election data system vulnerabilities through probing of county election websites in Georgia and two other states." All of which, writes Totenberg --- as Marks has long been arguing --- serves to "burden Georgia citizens' right to cast a vote that reliably will be counted."

As to the lies --- er..."inconsistent candor with the Court" --- Marks notes the Secretary of State's staff told "just absolutely black and white lies. They didn't mind lying to the court. And one has to wonder what is it that they are hiding that makes it worth lying to the court, and facing the potential consequences of lying to the court." She told me she intends to seek sanctions from the court for those lies in the days ahead.

So, yes, some big --- and very good --- news for a change today!

Finally today, the one thing we did not throw over to make room for the landmark ruling out of Georgia, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on global warming-fueled toxic algae blooms now killing dogs in a number of states; Big Oil pushing into plastics manufacturing as gasoline demand declines in the wake of the electronic car revolution; plastic pollution found in falling snow in the otherwise pristine Arctic; and Democratic-led states suing Trump's EPA to block his rollback of Obama's Clean Power Plan...

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Guest: 'Atomic Analyst' Stephen Schwartz on the still-unfolding nuclear weapons test disaster in Russia; Also: Stacey Abrams announces Fair Fight 2020 to help Dems protect voters in next year's crucial elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2019 6:25pm PT  

No, 'Skyfall' is not the nickname for the 800 point plummet in the Dow Jones Industrial average on Wednesday in response to signals of an imminent recession not seen since 2007. In the context of today's BradCast, it's the nickname given by NATO to an experimental Russian nuclear-propelled cruise missile project that appears to have gone horribly --- and tragically --- awry a few days ago. The consequences of yet another secretive nuclear accident in Russia have left western nuclear weapons analysts guessing as to what is now actually going on near the disaster site in northern Russia. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But, before we get to that story today, a few quick news items of note regarding the 2020 election. Popular Georgia Democrat, Stacey Abrams, has announced the launch of a new project called Fair Fight 2020 to focus on election protection in about 20 swing-states and several (Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi) with gubernatorial elections next year. The effort comes out of Abrams own experience fighting massive voter suppression in her gubernatorial contest last year against Republican Brian Kemp who, as Georgia's Sec. of State, purged roles and helped suppressed minority voters across the state while overseeing his own reported narrow "victory" on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems.

Abrams, who would have become the nation's first African-American female Governor, has also been seen as a potential 2020 candidate for President. She has announced her plan to roll out this new, much-needed initiative to help Dems prepare well in advance (for a change) before next year's elections, in hopes of combating the many, inevitable anti-voter tactics expected by Republicans. The project comes in lieu of running for President or Senator in the Peach State, where she would have a very good chance of unseating Republican Sen. David Perdue next year.

While a Senate run would have been welcomed by many (she has said she is still open to a Veep nod), her Fair Fight 2020 effort is both very important and very much needed to help Dems win back both the White House and possibly U.S. Senate next year. We contrast her effort on today's show with that of California billionaire Tom Steyer, who recently-announced his own, likely-pointless run for the Democratic nod. Steyer has vowed to spend $100 million on his own campaign, instead of using that money to help Democrats --- for example, the nearly 1 million voters who are currently being blocked by Republicans from even being allowed to register to vote in the key battle-ground state of Florida.

Then, we are joined by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst and former Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (the folks who bring us the infamous Doomsday Clock), where he now serves as a Senior Fellow. He's here to help us unravel the disturbing nuclear mystery that is currently unfolding in northern Russia.

Last Thursday, an explosion on a Russian missile testing platform in the White Sea resulted in the deaths of at least seven people, including five nuclear scientists. After several days of conflicting information about the incident, Russia finally conceded that an incident with a "nuclear isotope power source" had released radiation during an off-shore test. A town nearby saw a spike in radioactivity at least 16 times its expected normal background radiation and the hospital rooms where the injured were taken were sealed off after patients and the doctors who treated them were mysteriously transported to Moscow for observation.

The accident, as Schwartz details, is believed to have been part of the experimental nuclear-powered missile program that Russian President Vladimir Putin described last year in remarks to Parliament as a cruise missile that is propelled by a small nuclear reactor, allowing it to fly indefinitely on a path too unpredictable to be intercepted by defensive missile systems. The Russians call the project Buresvestnik. NATO has dubbed it Skyfall.

Schwartz cites the lack of information and conflicting details being made available by Russia as a relic of the secrecy mindset of the old Soviet Union. "Old habits die hard," he tells me. "The Soviet Union is gone, Russia remains. But this reaction is quite reminiscent, not just of Chernobyl, but also of the sinking of the Kursk ballistic missile submarine in August of 2000" as well as other nuclear accidents going back to the 1950s Cold War era. "Their first approach is admit only what you have to, to try to make the situation seem not so terrible. And then when you can't do that, you admit as much as you have to, in order to try to deal with whatever the concerns are."

While western analysts like Schwartz have been pouring over local media reports and grainy satellite photos to learn what may have happened and what the ongoing fallout appears to be, Donald Trump tweeted out a reaction in which he described the incident as "Not good!" and claimed that "we have similar, though more advanced, technology". That is either a lie, something that Trump misunderstood, or a program that is so highly classified it remains currently unknown outside of the U.S. government, Schwartz explains, citing a long-shelved Cold War project called "SLAM --- for Supersonic Low Altitude Missile --- that would have been powered by a reactor that had the code name of Pluto". That, he says, was a "dangerous weapon" believed to have been abandoned as of 1964, given the danger of "spewing highly radioactive exhaust everywhere it goes" as it would fly over allied nations on its way to the Soviet Union, among other concerns.

We also discuss why both Putin and Trump appear to be entering into a new nuclear arms race as Russia responds to U.S. missile defense systems being deployed to nations which border Russia. Why would Russia even want to produce such a weapon that amounts to a "flying reactor"? "We've made a lot of claims about our system," Schwartz says. "Most of them are not true. But the Russians have an undying faith in American technology and a fair degree of paranoia about what we're going to do with it. And they've decided that they need to find a way to counter it. Their fear, their paranoia, their desire to make sure that we cannot destroy them as a country has led them to the point where they're testing this exceedingly dangerous weapon."

That effort, he explains today, has now become a disaster with very serious consequences that we are only beginning to learn about as the world's latest nuclear tragedy continues to unfold....

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