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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: NatSec, cybersecurity and voting system journalist Kim Zetter; AND BREAKING: MUELLER GIVES REPORT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2019 6:54pm PT  

Today's BradCast kicks of with the breaking news of the announcement, just minutes before air, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally wrapped up his two year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, cooperation in the effort by Team Trump and any obstruction of that probe by the President of the United States. Though that may be the least troubling news on today's show. [Audio link to complete shows is posted below article.]

Mueller's confidential report has now been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, as per statute, and Trump's new AG promptly notified Congress [PDF] to say he plans to release a summary of the report as soon as possible, potentially as early as this weekend. We share what we know (and don't) from that freshly breaking news at the top of today's program. Then it's back to, at least some of, our previously scheduled program...

On the day that Jimmy Carter officially becomes the longest living President in U.S. history, we're reminded of a warning he issued while serving as co-Chair, with Bush Family consigliere James Baker, of the so-called "Commission on National Election Reform" formed by a group of Republican operatives after the highly disputed 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. The Blue Ribbon panel was, ostensibly, formed to make recommendations on how to improve elections after the second disastrous Presidential election in a row, following the 2000 debacle in Florida. But while the Republicans who created the private commission had hoped for a recommendation for photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place, the one we've cited most often over the years is the Commission's unambiguous finding that the greatest threat posed to elections comes from insiders, such as election officials and private voting system vendors. "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries," the Carter/Baker panel warned in their final report.

That warning is particularly trenchant today, with, as we recently reported, the Democratic National Committee now calling for some form of remote or online voting during their 2020 Presidential nominating caucuses next year and what has just happened with the online voting system that Switzerland has used for some time in parts of the country.

The Swiss had planned to roll out their system nationally this year, but as longtime cybersecurity and voting system journalist KIM ZETTER of MotherBoard and the New York Times reports, things did not go as well as planned.

Zetter joins us to discuss the alarming story of what happened when Switzerland, last month, opened up a month-long public hack challenge for the system which, they previously boasted, had easily passed many regular internal security checks and even several they had contracted from KPMG, an international auditing giant.

But, as Zetter recently detailed at MotherBoard, the Swiss system, designed by Barcelona-based Scytl --- "a leader in developing various internet and other voting solutions for national or regional elections in 42 countries, including at least 1,400 counties in the US" --- was almost immediately found by independent researchers to feature "a critical flaw in the code that would allow someone to alter votes without detection ... in a part of the system that is supposed to verify that all of the ballots and votes counted in an election are the same ones that voters cast." That flaw, Zetter details, "could allow someone to swap out all of the legitimate ballots and replace them with fraudulent ones, all without detection."

As she tells me today, the failure is even more troubling than that, as it allows for a single insider to exploit a "back door in the cryptography scheme, that would allow someone to alter votes but make it look like the votes haven't been altered at all." In other words, "the system is supposed to have a check in it that's designed to ensure that the ballots that go into that encryption process and come out of that de-cryption process are the exact same ballots. But there's a flaw in that proof that verifies that those ballots are the same. Therefore, that would allow someone to swap out the votes and ballots while the proof still seemed to show that the ballots were the same."

Swiss Post, which runs the system, and Scytl who sells it, claim the exploit could "only" be carried out by an insider, so why worry?

So how are those plans coming for remote voting in the DNC's 2020 Presidential caucuses next year? And how can it be that we keep attempting these same unworkable electronic and online voting schemes from private vendors and election officials who swear by the "certified" security of their systems, only to find they are anything but secure once independent experts are allowed to test them in any way?

"We should have a voting system where we're not required to trust anyone --- we're not required to trust election officials, we're not required to trust the vendors, we're not required to trust the voting machine itself," Zetter, who has been covering electronic voting and tabulation systems on her national cybersecurity beat for more than a decade, tells me. "We should have a system that can be audited independently of all of those parties in order to verify the election results. That's really in the best interests of everyone." What such a system should be, of course, is another matter, which we also discuss, and even debate a bit, on today's important program...

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

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Also: Beto jumps in to 2020; Still more evidence that WI's Photo ID voting restrictions were meant only to prevent Democrats from voting...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2019 6:39pm PT  

They were just baby steps. Though perhaps notable ones. Time will tell. But Thursday may prove to be a landmark in a potential and greatly-overdue claw back of Congressional powers ceded long ago --- long before Trump --- to the Executive branch. Whether the actions taken by Congress (including no small number of Republicans) on three separate issues today signal a sea change in the way Congress regards its own Constitutionally co-equal mandates and powers remains to be seen. But their rebukes of President Trump were surprisingly clear. Three different Congressional votes on three different matters covered on today's BradCast underscore this issue. [Audio link to show follows below.]

1) On Wednesday night, the GOP-controlled Senate voted once again in support of a resolution to end financial and military support to the U.S.-enabled, Saudi-led war on Yemen that has resulted in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. The effort amounts to the first Congressional rebuke of a President under the War Powers Resolution since its adoption in 1973. But the invocation of a resolution under the legislation which cedes Congress' sole Constitutional power to declare war may not be enough to prevent the Trump Administration's promised veto and continued support of war-making with the murderous Saudi regime and its Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

2) On Thursday morning, the Democratic led U.S. House voted unanimously(!), 420 to 0, on a resolution to demand the public release of the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whenever that may happen, after it's delivered to Attorney General William Barr. The statute guiding the duties of the Special Counsel was adopted by Congress in 1999, but mandates only that the Special Counsel deliver a "confidential" report to the AG. Congress failed to specify whether that report must ever be released to the full Congress, much less the public.

3) After recent passage in the Democratically controlled House, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 59-41 --- including all Democrats and 12 Republicans --- to reject Trump's "National Emergency" declaration to steal money appropriated by Congress to the military in order to build his southern border wall. It's the first time since the National Emergencies Act of 1973 that Congress has exercised its option to try and block such a declaration. The effort comes after a week of intense lobbying of Senate Republicans by the White House to block the resolution, and by Senate Republicans to convince Trump to accept a compromise alternative or face an embarrassing rejection from his own party. Nonetheless, Trump has vowed to veto the resolution and there are not currently the two-thirds of members in each chamber to override Trump's veto. The matter will most likely be settled in court and, as we argue today, very likely in favor of the President, given the way the Act was written (also ceding more Congressional powers to the Executive Branch.)

If the nation is lucky, however, today could mark a turning point after decades of Congress giving away its powers. But our nation hasn't been very lucky of late.

Also on today's news-packed program...

  • Beto O'Rourke jumps into the 2020 Democratic Presidential free-for-all. We discuss.
  • And, in Wisconsin, still more (shameful) evidence that Republican Photo ID voting restrictions were adopted as little more than a (successful) scam to suppress the Democratic-leaning vote in the Badger State. A new report from all of Wisconsin's county election clerks finds just 24 cases of potential voter fraud out of some 2.7 million votes cast over the past year. ZERO of those cases, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, would have been prevented by the state's Photo ID voting restrictions. On the other hand, as we learned back in 2017, some 23,000 legal voters in just two WI counties alone were deterred from voting by the suppressive law in 2016. That was the year that Donald Trump reportedly won the state by 22,748 votes.
  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report on the Trump Administration's wasted billions in taxpayer dollars in rolling back climate policy regulations and how school strikes by kids around the globe and the recent introduction of the Green New Deal is now forcing fossil fuel industry executives to rethink their loathsome, planet-killing business strategies...

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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Trump's own Commission shuts coal plants in KY, TN; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'National Emergency' to come; Freshmen light up Committee hearings; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2019 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Seriously, coal miners should have voted for Hillary, as we learn once again today. But those who voted for progressives in Congress are getting their money's worth already! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Leading off today's rather lively show: The federal utility board known as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), now dominated by Donald Trump appointees, voted today to shut down the last remaining coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, once the heart of "Coal Country" as the nation's top producer. The move is expected to save some $320 million dollars for 10 million rate-payers in the region, not to mention the resulting cleaner air and water and lower medical expenses in the bargain.

The decisive 6 to 1 vote (which includes 4 Trump appointees) to close the dirty, inefficient decades-old plant comes despite pleas to the board from Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Trump himself and one of his top donors (Robert Murray of Murray Energy) who owns the nearby mine that supplies the plant. The TVA also voted to close another coal plant in Tennessee.

Several hundred of jobs will be lost in the bargain, which gives us the opportunity to remind listeners of Hillary Clinton's 2016 plan to invest $30 billion for support and retraining of miners and others effected by coal's inevitable end. It was while describing that plan when Clinton correctly, if infamously, noted that "we're gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business". The phrase was then opportunistically taken out of context by Fox 'News', Republicans and Trump himself to endlessly blast her during the campaign, even though she had been explaining the need to help those effected Coal Country miners and families to survive. Those miners, most of whom fell for the dishonest Rightwing smears and voted for Trump, will soon be out of work without the help Clinton had tried to offer them.

In other news: The U.S. Senate confirmed William Barr, largely along party lines, as the next U.S. Attorney General at a crucial moment in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe.

The Senate also voted to approve a $330 billion compromise bill to fund the Government, including $23 billion for border security, but just $1.4 billion for Trump's border wall, less than he would have gotten had he accepted the deal offered last December. Instead, he shut down the federal government for a record 35 days. The House just approved it as well, though a small group of progressive freshman Congresswomen vowed to vote against the measure due to its increased funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The spending bill is expected to pass the House nonetheless and, Ann Coulter's ALL-CAPS Twitter threat notwithstanding, McConnell has said that Trump intends to both sign it and then declare a "National Emergency" in order to steal tax-payer funds from elsewhere to fund his border wall. That move, if it happens, will be vigorously challenged in court and is even opposed by many Republicans.

Also today, a few quick words about Daily Beast's report that DHS is allowing two teams created in 2016 to help protect elections from foreign influence wither away in advance of the 2020 President election, in favor of moving resources toward border and immigration efforts. (More on that matter, hopefully, at a later date.);

Then, we share a couple of killer Q&A's from recent Congressional hearings by two of the aforementioned freshman Congresswomen. The first is a colloquy in the House Foreign Affairs Committee between Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and disgraced diplomatic operative Elliot Abrams, who has been pulled out of mothballs to serve as Trump's Special Venezuela Envoy. That, despite his having pleaded guilty to withholding documents from Congress during the 1980's Iran-Contra Scandal probe and his subsequent pardoned by then President George H.W. Bush. Omar calls him out on that, noting that she "fail[ed] to understand why members of this committee of the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful", and asking if he stood by his 1982 Senate testimony dismissing a massacre by U.S. backed troops in El Salvador.

Then, in another brilliant round of questioning, this time from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House Oversight Committee, the shameful lack of campaign finance laws and ethics rules for members of Congress accepting funding from corporate interests is laid bare. We share both rounds of Committee questioning in full today.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the hilariously panicked Fox "News"/GOP freak-out and lie-fest regarding AOC's Green New Deal proposal (in which, among other things, they charge that the legislation would result in banning cars, cows, ice cream and cheeseburgers), some very bad news about insects, and some very good news about the City of Los Angeles, which has already dumped coal-fired power plants, and is now moving to get rid of natural gas-powered electricity in favor of 100% renewable power....

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

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Guest: Analiese Eicher of One Wisconsin Now; Also: MI's new Dem SoS looks to settle gerrymander case; Buzzfeed charges Trump told Cohen to lie to feds about Moscow Trump Tower project...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2019 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, good news for voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, not nearly as good news for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, the White House is desperately scrambling for new distractions from Trump's unpopular, nearly month-long federal government shutdown and, of more pressing import for the President on Friday, an explosive report published Thursday night by BuzzFeed News. The otherwise uncorroborated article alleges that Trump instructed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators about the Trump Organization's proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cites two unnamed sources as "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and claims that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned about the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and federal investigators about a number of matters and was sentenced last November to three years in prison after cooperating with Mueller's probe. If the story proves true that Trump instructed him to lie about the project --- which was reportedly still being worked on by Trump through June of 2016, much later than he had initially admitted --- it would, according to Democrats today, amount to evidence of the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice, both impeachable offenses.

We also share the reaction today from Trump and the White House, neither of which denied the reporting initially, choosing to attack Cohen and BuzzFeed instead. Later, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Any suggestion --- from any source --- that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." [POST-SHOW UPDATE: In a rare and carefully worded statement issued late Friday evening by Mueller's office, after we got off air, they disputed BuzzFeed's "description of specific statements...and characterization of documents and testimony obtained" by the Special Counsel.]

In other news today, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday made short order of a challenge to new limits on Early Voting and allowable polling place IDs in the state after Republicans rammed through new restrictions during an extraordinary lame-duck session of the legislature last December, following Governor Scott Walker's re-election loss in the November midterm election. Thanks to heavy turnout, including record Early Voting numbers, Democrats won every statewide contest on the ballot and 54% of the votes for the State Assembly. But, thanks to partisan gerrymandering by state Republicans, they won only one third of its seats.

In a terse, 5-page ruling [PDF] on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled it was "not a close question" that the GOP's newly enacted voting restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of voting rights, just as he had found nearly identical provisions to be, as passed by GOP lawmakers in 2016.

We're joined today by ANALIESE EICHER, one of the named plaintiffs from One Wisconsin Now's lawsuit challenging both the 2016 law and the late 2018 lame-duck version which Walker signed just days before leaving office. In addition to that court victory on Thursday, the non-partisan group had another on Friday, when a different court ruled that Republican lawmakers were in violation of the First Amendment by blocking the organization and others on Twitter. (Heads up, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill!)

In neighboring Michigan, the new Democratic Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson announced she was seeking a settlement with Democratic challengers to the legislative and Congressional districts drawn by Republicans in that state. The previous Sec. of State, a Republican, was preparing to defend what Dems describe, with very good evidence, to be an extreme and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander after the 2010 Census. (One such piece of evidence are emails from GOP lawmakers discussing districts mean to "give the finger" to a former Democrat Congressman, and to "cram ALL the Dem garbage" into four districts so Republicans could control more seats across the state.)

A settlement with the newly seated SoS could result in new district maps drawn before the 2020 election. Last November, MI voters approved a ballot initiative that would put an independent redistricting commission in charge of drawing maps following the 2020 Census.

Finally today, we're sent off into the weekend with a pretty hilarious song about Donald Trump's wall, courtesy of satirist Randy Rainbow...

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: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Surprisingly good news from the courts; SOTU cancelled?; ISIS not defeated...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2019 6:42pm PT  

We start off today's BradCast with two encouraging legal rulings from the courts with our guest today, Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

First up, the damning opinion issued on Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan finding Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross repeatedly violated the law --- and lied about his reasons for doing so --- in adding a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Stern joins the federal judge in calling out Ross' lies about adding the question supposedly at the request of the the Dept. of Justice to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (rather than as a blatant attempt to rig the Census in hopes of boosting GOP political power during the next round of redistricting).

"By my count, Judge Furman held that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the law by adding the citizenship question in at least six different ways," Stern observes. "When you add them all together, it is a sort of symphony of lawlessness that cannot be ignored by the courts."

"Ross just lied. He lied to Congress. He lied in court filings about why he added this citizenship question. It is very clear, black letter law, that when a federal agency like the Commerce Department wants to take some kind of formal action, it has to give the real and truthful grounds for its decision, it has to justify it truthfully. Ross just didn't do that here." He goes on to explain, however, that, despite the encouraging ruling yesterday, the Republicans' stolen Supreme Court will ultimately enjoy the final say on the matter. He also shares his thoughts on whether Ross should be and/or will be criminally prosecuted for lying to Congress and the courts about the issue, as made clear by the federal court ruling.

Then, Stern offers some surprisingly good news from SCOTUS today regarding a unanimous(!) opinion from the Court supporting the right of some workers to bypass costly arbitration clauses and file class action lawsuits against employers when they are ripped off by them --- though only in certain circumstances. Still, given the unanimous opinion in this case, authored by Neil Gorsuch of all Justices, we'll take it!

Next, we review Tuesday's confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Donald Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr. Stern warns that his troubling record alone --- "Barr takes a wildly expansive view of executive power and authority" --- might have been enough to derail his nomination in any other time, but for the fact that so many Democrats and Republicans alike are now desperate to replace Trump's wildly unqualified (and, arguably, unlawfully appointed) Acting AG Matthew Whitaker.

Barr, who served briefly as AG in 1991 during the George H.W. Bush Administration (where he successfully pushed for Presidential pardons for a number of top officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal), promised independence from the White House and that he would allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his probe into Team Trump's alleged involvement with Russia and obstruction meant to cover it up. However, Barr equivocated on a number of points related to the probe, such as whether he'd recuse himself from overseeing it if DoJ ethics officials advised him to do so, and whether he would release Mueller's report at all to the public.

Stern shares insight and response to a number of other troubling moments from Tuesday's hearings, such as when Barr responded to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) about whether a sitting President could be indicted and when he was asked directly by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) about whether the Justice Department, under his command, would "jail reporters for doing their jobs". Barr's response on the former was questionable, at best, and downright chilling on the latter, from the man tapped to be the nation's top law enforcement official. "There's just a right and wrong answer here," Stern quips, "and he gave the wrong one."

Finally today, the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress previously scheduled for later this month may now be cancelled amid the ongoing historic federal government shutdown, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rescinded her invitation to Trump today. And, in Syria today, four Americans --- two U.S. troops and two civilians --- were killed and three others wounded after a bombing claimed by ISIS in a crowded area. The attack in the northern city of Manbij comes on the heels of Trump's claim to have ordered the withdraw of all U.S. troops in country, based on his assertion that "we have defeated ISIS in Syria." The President's claim --- which helped lead to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis before Christmas --- was, remarkably, repeated by Vice President Mike Pence today during an address at the State Department several hours after the news of the deadly attack on Americans and others in the war torn nation had become public...

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

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Guest: LA Times' Michael Hiltzik on PG&E's bankruptcy; Also: Federal court blocks Admin citizenship question on Census; AG-nom Bill Barr testifies; Trump's record shutdown grinds on...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2019 6:26pm PT  

Good news and not-terrible news on today's BradCast, along with an interesting proposition for the state of California in a climate changed world. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start off with the good news today, courtesy of a federal court in Manhattan, where a U.S. District Court Judge blocked the Trump Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Judge Jesse Furman's 277-page ruling [PDF] slammed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for violating the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and for offering "pretextual" reasons for adding the question against the wishes of career Census Bureau administrators. Ross had falsely claimed the question was "well tested" and needed by the Dept. of Justice to better enforce the federal Voting Rights Act.

In fact, Republicans have long sought to add the rig the census by adding the question in hopes that it would decrease responses from immigrant communities to help shift the balance of power during decennial redistricting from Democratic-leaning urban areas to more Republican-leaning rural areas. Furman's ruling called out Ross for lying and even responded to an earlier statement on the case from Supreme Court Justice Neal Gorsuch. Several other legal challenges await, however, including a separate case on the same matter that will be heard by the Supreme Court in February.

Meanwhile, William Barr, Trump's nominee for Attorney General, testified at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He claimed he wanted to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who he cited as a friend, to complete his investigation into Trump/Russia, though would not fully commit either to publicly releasing Mueller's full report, nor to recusing himself from oversight of the probe, even if DoJ ethics officials recommended that he should. Barr, a former AG under George H.W. Bush, wrote and helped circualate a lengthy memo [PDF] last year undercutting the validity of Mueller's investigation.

All of that, as Trump's record-length federal government shutdown continues today, with so-called moderate Democrats in Congress declining invitations to the White House in response to Trump's latest effort to drive a wedge between them and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on funding for his southern border wall. The shutdown grinds on as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed or forced to work without pay, with travelers now facing long lines at TSA checkpoints at major airports, and as some federal employees are being forced to turn to charity food banks to help feed their families.

Next, with California's largest privately run utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announcing plans to seek bankruptcy protection this week, after facing some $30 billion in potential liabilities for massive, deadly wildfires across the state over the past two years, some have suggested the state should simply buy up the company, which was found to have been responsible for sparking many of the recent record fires by failing to adequately maintain its equipment and power lines.

Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and business columnist MICHAEL HILTZIK joins me today to discuss the issue, as PG&E seeks state protection from liability in hopes of passing costs on to rate-payers. The company, which serves some 16 million customers in Northern California, was once valued at more than $30 billion, but with its stock price now gutted after the bankruptcy announcement and previous criminal convictions it is currently valued at just about $3.5 billion. California could end years of repeated company mismanagement, Hiltzik explains, by purchasing the company or its most valuable assets, at --- pardon the pun --- fire sale prices.

"I wrote a column a year ago saying, 'it's time to take the franchise away from PG&E and put it out for bid.' Let somebody else come in and show that they can operate all of these functions much better, more efficiently, cheaper, and without these constant [failures]. PG&E is like the Wells Fargo of the utility business. It can't seem to do anything right, and scandals continue to crop up," Hiltzik tells me. "My case against PG&E goes way back to the proposition they tried to sneak across through the voters many, many years ago to basically eliminate competition from public power consortiums. So PG&E has just been a bad actor. They have been absolutely atrocious operators."

Hiltzik discusses the pros and cons of what would be a radical, if potentially profitable, investment by the state of California, and how the company's failures and need for public bailout portend similar threats to other fossil fuel-reliant firms, insurance companies and states as the increasingly brutal impacts and costs of climate change undercut profitability.

"We really need to have a debate --- and a debate in the near term --- about who should own these utilities and how they should be operated," he argues. "California has probably done more than most other states in starting to come to grips with [climate change], because at least we've been developing information about what those impacts will be. But nobody has done enough planning up to this point."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, as usual, no shortage of disturbing news...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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