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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 10, 2021
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
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...


Campaigns fight to 'count every vote' amid uncounted and rejected ballots, undervotes, computer-tabulation concerns
Also: 12 killed in CA shooting; RBG hospitalized; White House lies about, bars CNN journalist; Constitutional Crisis concern mounts after Trump fires Sessions...
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2018 7:33pm PT  

We're getting tired of being right about this stuff. The political apocalypse we predicted for the day(s) after the 2018 midterm --- from problems counting ballots to Trump's "burn it all down" response to the results --- appears to be playing out in a number of ways today. We have several big news items today regarding reported results in Florida, Arizona and Georgia on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

But first today, we needed to hit several disturbing breaking news headlines...

  • 12 people were killed in a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA, a wealthy suburb just outside of Los Angeles in Ventura County, during it's popular country music college night. The shooter, who took his own life, was reportedly a 28-year old white male Marine combat veteran thought to be suffering from PTSD. Victims are said to include the bar's security guard, an armed Sheriff's deputy, and a survivor of the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas that killed 58 and left more than 800 wounded;
  • 85-year old U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was reportedly hospitalized on Thursday, after fracturing three ribs in a fall in her office;
  • A three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump Administration's attempt to kill President Obama's 2012 DACA program was likely done so in violation of the law. For now, the protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children will stay in place, though the Administration has filed for a quick ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • The White House has barred CNN's Jim Acosta from the White House, after the President's bonkers post-election press conference on Wednesday. The White House lied about their reasons for doing so, despite video of the presser revealing their blatant lie;
  • And Trump's firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the day after the midterms is quickly leading to a full-on Constitutional Crisis, as he has named Matthew Whitaker, a former political operative and opponent of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation, as Acting AG responsible for overseeing that probe. Normally, the Deputy AG --- Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing it following Sessions' recusal --- would fill that role. It's feared Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, is likely to move to scuttle the Mueller investigation at any moment.

Meanwhile, the fight to count votes continues to grow predictably uglier in several states following Tuesday's contentious midterms. Democrats are now said to have picked up at least 31 seats in the U.S. House, taking back control of the chamber from Republicans, with analysts forecasting that they could end up winning as many as 38 new seats, as votes continue to be tabulated and canvassed across the country. But there are growing concerns about computer-tabulated results in U.S. Senate and Governors races in at least three different states tonight...

  • In Florida, a "recount" now appears inevitable in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger Gov. Rick Scott, with the margin between the two at less than 0.22% as of airtime. That would trigger an automatic statewide hand count in the Sunshine State. But there remain many questions about uncounted provisional and absentee ballots, as well as tens of thousands of suspicious undervotes in the Senate race reported by the paper ballot computer tabulators in Broward County. Some 25,000 voters, according to the computers, voted for down-ticket races like Agricultural Commission, but failed to vote in the top-of-the-ticket U.S. Senate race?

    In the state's gubernatorial election, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis' lead over Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum, has now fallen to 0.47 percent. If it stays below 0.5 percent, it would trigger an automatic machine "recount" statewide. (The margin must be below .25 percent for a hand count in Florida.)

  • In Arizona, there are nearly three-quarters of a million completely uncounted ballots across the state, leaving the results of the highly-contested and very close U.S. Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in doubt. Arizona sources tell me that this many still-uncounted early and absentee ballots is now unusual for the state. But with all eyes on whether Democrats can flip the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake blue, a lot more people are now noticing. Sinema currently leads McSally by about one-half of a percentage point, according to the latest computer-tabulated numbers.
  • And in Georgia, attorneys for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams held a news conference today, in which they offered a blistering response to Sec. of State Brian Kemp's declaration of victory in the Governor's race, and his belated resignation as SoS along with it. Team Abrams charges there are thousands of wrongly rejected and still-uncounted ballots in the state, though --- thanks to Kemp's horrific administration of the election --- they are unable to know how many there actually are and how many voters were unlawfully prevented from voting at all. They forcefully repeated Abrams' Election Night vow to fight to assure that every vote is counted, even if legal action is required to ensure it.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with both good news and bad for the environment from Tuesday's midterm elections.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: DuPage, IL County Clerk candidate Jean Kaczmarek; Also: In wake of still more mail bombs, Trump, White House return to attacks on media, Rightwing pounces on conspiracies...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Like clockwork the righwing conspiracy theories regarding pipe bombs begin, as do the voting system failures around the country, less than two weeks before this year's crucial midterm election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, a few quick updates on the mail bombs sent to several of the many vilified political critics of Donald Trump. In addition to explosive devices sent this week to former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, John Brennan, Rep. Maxine Waters, George Soros and CNN, additional similar packages were reported today to have been delivered to former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert DeNiro. Where Trump and the White House called for unity and an end to divisive rhetoric on Wednesday, for about 5 minutes, both Trump and WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly renewed their vitriolic attacks on the media shortly thereafter and again on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, as investigators reportedly focus on Florida as a possible source for the packages, the rightwing quickly cranked up conspiracy theories about the explosive devices being "fake bombs" meant to discredit the President in advance of the November 6 midterms.

Meanwhile, voting is already underway for those elections, as are the lawsuits aiming to prevent voter suppression and election fraud. A federal judge on Wednesday determined that Georgia may not discard absentee ballots on the basis of "signature mismatch" as determined by partisan officials with no training in hand-writing analysis. The state's legal defense for that statute was rather amazing, as we discuss. Happily, it was thoroughly dismissed by the U.S. District Court judge.

Also, the NAACP has filed official complaints with the state regarding reports of votes flipping in at least four counties on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Votes are reportedly hopping repeatedly from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to her opponent, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees and has long defended the states easily-hacked and oft-failed Diebold touchscreen systems. We explain, however, why the reported flips are not likely to be hacks, but why that also doesn't really matter.

Similar, completely predictable voting system and ballot programming failures are beginning to rear their ugly head in other states as well with early, in-person voting now underway in some 30 states. The name of the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State in Arkansas was discovered left off of the touchscreen ballots in one Arkansas county, leading to lost votes and poll closures. And in DuPage County, Illinois, a fiasco erupted this week surrounding the appearance on the ballot (or lack thereof) for a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives, resulting in election officials scrambling to distribute paper ballots to early voting locations where, normally, only touchscreen systems are available to voters.

We're joined today by longtime DuPage County election integrity champion and government watchdog JEAN KACZMAREK, who is now the Democratic candidate for County Clerk in DuPage. She joins us to explain what is only the latest mess in a years-long stream of computer voting and tabulation system boondoggles by the Election Commission in the heavily Republican-leaning suburban county west of Chicago, where she has now been endorsed by the local Daily Herald.

Kaczmarek also details the County's astonishing refusal to provide her with serial numbers for the replacement paper-ballot scanners scavenged from unknown sources and recently supplied to the County by its private voting system contractor to replace more than 100 of the machines (originally purchased from Diebold in 2001) after they were damaged by an astounding failure during this year's March primary. The County has told the County Clerk candidate that their refusal to provide her with the serial numbers --- so she may try and determine where the machines were previously used --- is due to a bizarre "security risk" claim.

"I'm concerned mostly because of the lack of a chain of custody. At least the old machines that are in DuPage County have been stored here, and have been maintained here. Yes, I do have issues with those machines, but we do have that," Kaczmarek tells me. "But these other machines, we have no idea where they've been, who has maintained them, how much mileage they have. And I'm concerned there might be problems on these machines, perhaps a virus."

Her concerns are not without warrant, and are similar to such replacement schemes by mystery machines in other states, such as Wisconsin and elsewhere. Earlier this year, for example, at the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, attendees discovered Chinese pop tunes and other software on voting systems recently discarded by elections officials around the country. "Here we are again," she says. "We have no transparency and accountability, and we're told to trust the results."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with a bunch of pretty major environment news regarding a massive hurricane striking U.S. territories in the Pacific, a record year for tropical cyclones, New York state's new lawsuit against ExxonMobil charging the company defrauded investors regarding climate change, and a landmark new carbon tax announced this week by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Harold Feld of Public Knowledge; Also: Khashoggi was banned by Saudi Arabia after criticizing TRUMP; Still fighting voter suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More chilling Khashoggi news, more maddening voter suppression, and the Republican deregulation of phone companies in Florida and at the FCC have deadly consequences in the Sunshine State. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of article.]

First up today, an update on the latest in the alleged Saudi murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the wildly unreported fact that he had "self-exiled" from Saudi Arabia after being banned by the Saudis from writing and appearing on television or at conferences back in December of 2016 --- for being critical of then President-elect Donald Trump! That point seems quite important, given the Trump Administration's continuing efforts to help cover up the assassination in coordination with the Saudis and their ruling Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, after they repeatedly lied about the grisly killing of a journalist who had been mildly critical of Trump, as first reported in late 2016 and by the U.S. State Department in 2017.

Next, GOP voter suppression continues across many states in advance of the crucial November 6th midterms. Over the weekend on Twitter, President Trump lauded Georgia's Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who as Secretary of State, has been working for years to suppress tens and even hundreds of thousands of disproportionately African-American voters in the Peach State. Kemp, as the state's chief election official, is overseeing his own election in a reportedly tight race for Governor against African-American Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Trump also took the opportunity on Twitter over the weekend to falsely fan the flames of the GOP's phony claims of "VOTER FRAUD" in hopes, according to the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, of inciting government officials and law enforcement to intimidate minority voters before the crucial November 6 election. The Lawyer's Committee heads up the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline to answer question and help trouble-shoot voting problems, such as recent reports that early voters are being either turned away or forced to vote by provisional ballot --- rather than normal ones --- if the address on their ID does not match the one under which they are registered. Georgia's Photo ID voting restriction does not require registration addressees to match those on IDs (e.g. student voters who may not have in-state driver licenses or those who recently moved but have not yet updated their license.) Please contact the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline with questions about local voting laws or any problems at the polls --- and share that number far and wide over the next two weeks!

Finally, despite national media now focusing elsewhere, the devastation in Florida's Panhandle following the Category 4 Hurricane Michael two weeks ago continues and the official death toll is still rising. At the same time, power and phone service is still out in a number of rural areas, thanks in no small part to the deregulation of telecommunications company rules by Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott shortly after taking office in 2011, and by Donald Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

We're joined today by Public Knowledge's Senior Vice President HAROLD FELD, who has been warning for years about exactly such a situation. Feld explains how Scott gutted almost all of Florida's telecom company rules when he signed the "Regulatory Reform Act of 2011" and how Pai went still further when he gutted Obama-era phone company regulations in November of 2017.

Scott's 2011 measure "was a complete deregulation of the telephone industry in Florida. It removed the state Public Service Commission from any sort of jurisdiction over residential telephone service. It removed something called 'Carrier of Last Resort,' which means there always has to be a telephone provider in the area. It even removed the ability of the Public Service Commission to take complaints from consumers," Feld tells me. He describes it as "one of the most radical deregulations in the country."

As to the federal regulations scrapped by Trump's FCC, that was in response to federal regulations enacted in the wake of the disastrous performance by Verizon following SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, when copper lines were swept away, and phone companies failed to restore them, claiming that the use of cell phones meant they were no longer necessary. Obama's FCC insisted that "no repairing was not an option," says Feld. But Pai "insisted that there was no reason for any of these regulations [and] that companies have private incentive to deploy these networks, despite everything that actually happened," particularly in rural areas, following Sandy.

The Government, he notes, largely for decades has recognized "that it's always going to be profitable [to ensure service] in the cities, [but] it's not going to be profitable once you get out into the rural areas." So, it's been a value and tradition "through each upgrade of our communication network --- when we went from letters to the telegraph, from the telegraph to the telephone" to ensure service to all. But that's no longer the case.

Like Gov. Scott's Florida, Feld describes, some 37 states have lifted similar decades-old telecommunications requirements, thanks to legislation encouraged by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a privately-funded partnership between major corporations and (mostly) Republican state lawmakers.

The Republicans' deregulate-at-all-costs efforts to gut regulations --- regulations that Pai scoffed at before he became Trump's FCC Chairman --- may now be costing lives in Florida, as many in rural areas, as of late last week, remained unaccounted for, weeks after the storm. The non-partisan Public Knowledge group is suing for a reversal of those deregulations, and Florida's own Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal, a longtime resident of the Panhandle himself, is now also begging Pai to consider a reversal...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: Trump praises GOP Rep's violence against journalist at MT rally, as Khashoggi assassination roils...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no longer only political pundits and activists calling for Democrats to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding several seats as soon as possible, in the wake of the Republican Party's blatant theft of the high court majority. Esteemed law professors are now joining that call. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a word or two on the President of the United States' appalling celebration of violence against journalists at a political rally in Montana on Thursday night. To the cheers of his supporters, Donald Trump praised the criminal assault on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs by Republican U.S. House member Greg Gianforte. The attack last year was carried out by Gianforte, and caught on tape, on the eve of his special election to the state's only U.S. House seat.

"Any guy that can do a body slam --- he's my kind of guy," Trump declared to laughter and wild applause from supporters at the campaign rally for Gianforte in Missoula on Thursday, lauding him as "one tough cookie." The Congressman initially lied to police after the assault, claiming that he was attacked by Jacobs. Later, after he won the election, and after a Fox News crew who witnessed the attack detailed what actually happened, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and paid a small fine in addition to performing 40 hours of community service and receiving 20 hours of anger management counseling.

Trump's disgusting --- and chilling --- praise for the violent attack against a reporter doing his job, comes amidst Trump's seeming support for Saudi Arabia following their reported assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Journalists today --- including the Guardian's Editor and the head of the White House Correspondents Association --- are decrying Trump's support for violence against reporters, despite his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution's First Amendment. We decry it --- and the dark path where it's leading --- on today's show as well.

Next, we're joined by MICHAEL KLARMAN, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School to discuss his recent essay at the Take Care Blog, detailing "Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court" if they are ever able to regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The public conversation in support of expanding the number of seats on the high court --- which can be done statutorily, without a Constitutional Amendment --- has been intensifying in recent weeks. What had begun as a call from activists to restore a Democratic majority, stolen from them by Republicans in 2016, has quickly spread to academic and legal circles.

Klarman, the author of many books on American law and history and a former clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, argues that, in addition to the GOP's historically unprecedented theft of the high court and his belief that Trump was likely elected only due to unlawful foreign interference, a host of radical actions by Republicans in recent years at both the state and federal level, leaves Democrats with only the choice to respond in kind. If not, he argues, it will be nothing less than "unilateral disarmament" and an act of "political suicide" for the party.

"It's not radical. It's responding to an extraordinary rightward shift in the Republican Party that is tearing apart the rules of democracy," he argues. "The Republicans have already packed the Court," so "unpacking" it, he says, would be warranted.

"There's a kind of sickness that's been spreading in the Republican Party for the last decade or two. It's certainly not true of all Republican voters, many of whom I think would be unaware of these things, and would have a problem with them if they knew about it," he tells me. "But the Democratic Party can't go on playing by the established norms and traditions of democracy when the Republican Party is willing to do anything to win. That's unilateral disarmament. It usually doesn't work out well for the party that disarms. So this is a fairly mild way to fight back."

"My argument is not that Democrats should control the Supreme Court at any cost --- I think that's the Republicans' position, [that] 'we get to control the Supreme Court even if it means stealing an appointment.' My position is their theft has to be offset, and put us back in the position that we ought to have been at if the seat hadn't been stolen."

He leaves the case of whether Dems should run on a promise to expand the Court, or wait until they gain back control before announcing such a plan, to political scientists, but he notes: "We're going to have to think creatively in order to rescue democracy. And that may mean occasionally fighting back in ways that Democrats don't gravitate toward naturally, and that they would prefer not to have to use at all in a normal political environment. But you can't just respond by disarming in the face of this incredible threat that the Republican Party is posing to the basic norms and institutions of democracy."

Finally today, more news on the ongoing allegations of attempted voter suppression, particularly in southern states once covered by the Voting Rights Act until the central part of the Act was gutted by SCOTUS Republicans in 2013. That, on the same day that Trump's former longtime lawyer and business partner Michael Cohen broke his media silence to plead with the American public to vote this November or face "another two or another six years of this craziness." And then we enjoy another musical close to today's show, this time from actress Jenifer Lewis, of ABC's Blackish, who explains, in song, why it's time to "Get your ass out and vote!"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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Also: Toxic environmental disaster begins after Florence; AL SoS sued for Twitter blocking; Bad news for 'dark money', good news for voters...
By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2018 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Except for our Florence coverage, it's all about November 6th, including the GOP's rush to seat another alleged sexual predator on the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, a quick update on the still-ongoing disaster of Hurricane Florence, with the human death toll rising to 37 and the poultry and pork death tolls in the millions, after three feet of rain fell on parts of the Carolinas, thousands remain in shelters, and the environmental disasters --- including toxic human waste and animal waste now streaming into swelling rivers and floodwaters --- may just be beginning.

Next, the reason why Republicans are in such a panic to minimize the allegations of attempted rape by Brett Kavanaugh, their nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, in any way they possibly can in advance of the quickly arriving November 6th midterm elections. That minimization includes avoiding both time and an FBI investigation at any cost. The White House could have already requested one, which Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) insisted was "the very right thing to do" --- at least during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the 1991 sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill against then-nominee, now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Then, you may recall at the beginning of the year I reported on a strange conversation I had on Twitter with Alabama's Sec. of State John Merrill regarding the state's voting systems, resulting in Merrill blocking me on the social media site. It wasn't the first time Merrill had blocked election experts or journalists or his own constituents. But, even after a federal court later in the year found that Donald Trump was violating the First Amendment rights of his constituents by blocking them on Twitter, Merrill still refused to unblock anybody. A query to his office about that, just before the state's May primary elections, resulted in a bizarre and unhinged exchange via phone and email with the Secretary. Today, Merrill is being sued by the ACLU of Alabama for violating his constituents' First Amendment rights for blocking them and, of course, that means that AL taxpayers will likely be on the hook to pay for the so-called "conservative" Merrill's knowingly unconstitutional behavior.

Also, speaking of transparency and the rule of law, the U.S. Supreme Court, just weeks before the 2018 midterms, has allowed a lower court ruling on "dark money" to take immediate effect, meaning that some political non-profits will now have to disclose the names of wealthy donors who spend more than $200 per year in hopes of buying elections. The Koch-sponsored hit squads, including their ringers on the FEC, are none too happy it.

Finally, we've got some good news for voters in California, where the Governor has now signed a bill requiring election officials to notify voters when local officials believe signatures on Vote-by-Mail ballots don't match the one on their registration file. Such voters will now be notified at least eight days before any results are certified, so they have a chance to fix the problem, which could happen for many reasons, before the ballot is simply discarded (as tens of thousands have routinely been tossed in previous elections).

Also, good news for Democrats in Wisconsin, where the "gold standard" of Wisconsin polling outfits finds divisive, two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker now trailing Democrat Tony Evers in this year's Gubernatorial race.

And, in Kansas, yet another top former Republican official has endorsed Laura Kelly, the Democratic candidate for Governor, in her race against controversial GOP nominee Sec. of State Kris Kobach...

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Newspapers push back as GOPers agree with Trump's Nixonian attacks on media; Trade war leads to U.S. factory closures; Trump's $92M parade; Zinke's land lie; Pruitt's toxic desk; Poison in your cereal; RIP Aretha...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2018 6:43pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On the 47th anniversary of the Nixon White House creating its then-confidential "enemies list" featuring, among others, many members of the media, Donald Trump's intensifying attacks on the press have now resulted in a majority of Republicans (51%) believing that the press is the "enemy of the people" rather than "an important part of democracy", according to a new Quinnipiac poll finding just 36% of self-identified GOPers agree with the latter. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

(Though I've also got a few thoughts and, perhaps, a warning on today's show regarding what to make of polling of self-identified Republicans these days. I think it's very possible our polls may now be broken, as we discuss a bit today.)

In response to the repeated and worsening attacks on the press by the President of the United States, some 350 newspapers today issued editorials in support of press freedoms. We join them in calling for support of media outlets --- particularly local newspapers and independent outlets --- who are struggling to stay alive and, yet, are needed more now than ever. (Yes, we too welcome your support for the same reason.)

That, as evidence continues to come to light underscoring the lies told to the American people by Donald Trump and the GOP while selling their tax cuts for the rich and corporations to the American people. In fact, those tax cuts won't not "pay for themselves" (the federal deficit this year will now be close to $1 trillion, thanks to plummeting revenue to the government in the wake of the cuts to the wealthy and corporations), nor have they increased wages for members of the working class (who are now making less than they did before the cuts, thanks to inflation and pay that has remained largely stagnant for workers.)

Less than three months out from the crucial 2018 midterms, Trump's tariffs and trade wars are continuing to worsen their toll on workers as well. Factories are shutting down or moving jobs to Mexico and other "off shore" locations in order to survive new added costs of tariffs on imported manufacturing supplies from China and elsewhere.

And, speaking of con jobs by this President, a new report finds his planned military parade, scheduled just days after the upcoming midterm elections, is now estimated to cost taxpayers some $92 million. That is some $80 million higher than a report on the parade's estimated cost last month, which was "only" $12 million at the time. That lower price tag is almost as much as the cost of military exercises with South Korea that Trump cancelled after his recent summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un because, at $14 million, they were "tremendously expensive" and, he tweeted, "we save a fortune" by not holding them. (Shortly after we got off air today, new reports suggest the military parade will now be postponed until 2019...if it's ever held at all.)

Also today, before we get to today's Green News Report', a brief tribute to the life and civil rights legacy of Aretha Franklin, the beloved "Queen of Soul", who died today at the age of 76.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest GNR, in which --- among many other stories --- Interior Dept. Secretary Ryan Zinke is revealed as a liar for promising, upon taking office, that public lands would not be sold off. In fact, as reported this week, his Department has now drawn up draft plans to do exactly that.

So, if you're keeping track this week, the President of the United States has called the press "the enemy of the people" and "very disgusting", while the head of his Interior Department has called mainstream environmental groups "terrorists". But it's Democrats, we are told, who are being uncivil in their response to this Administration.

Finally, a disturbing follow-up to today's GNR for people who eat food, after last week's $289 million jury award to a man with terminal cancer, after determining that Monsanto knowingly sold toxic RoundUp weed killer despite studies finding that it causes cancer. And, in related news, recently obtained internal EPA emails reveal that its disgraced and now former chief Scott Pruitt's staff were very concerned about formaldehyde used in a desk they were considering purchasing for his newly remodeled office, even as the agency blocked the release of a public report highlighting the dangers of the very same carcinogen in public drinking water...

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Guest: Columnist, broadcaster, former insurance exec Richard 'R.J.' Eskow on the Koch Bros' misleading study on 'Medicare-for-All' cost...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as the President of the United States continues his tweets and rally cries targeting the free press as "the Enemy of the People", we offer another stark reminder of the danger of those attacks. Then, another reminder of the inevitable move toward "Medicare-for-All" in the U.S. and the mighty forces pushing back against it. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First up, early Sunday morning, just hours before another one of Donald Trump's tweets targeting the media as "purposely caus[ing] division and distrust", characterizing them as "dangerous and sick" and, yes, "the Enemy of the People", a masked gunman opened fired inside of WORT-FM 89.9FM, a long-time progressive radio station (and Pacifica Radio Network affiliate) in Madison, WI. Luckily, among the three hosts in the studio at the time, there was just one, non-life-threatening injury. But the gunman is still on the loose and the volunteers who work at the station are lucky to be alive today.

Of course, progressive radio outlets have long been targets of violence by right-wingers --- long before Trump --- and we don't yet know what the motive was for the attacker at WORT in Madison. But with more and more folks in the mainstream corporate media receiving death threats now as well, as CNN's Brian Stelter noted over the weekend, citing a right-wing columnist at the New York Times, "we are approaching a day when blood on the newsroom floor will be blood on the President's hands". That could already be the case in Madison, WI.

In any event, please consider this a reminder to support the progressive media outlets --- many of them community stations run by volunteers --- who enable you to hear The BradCast every day, in any way that you can!

Next up, a lawsuit was filed against the Trump Administration late last week, alleging that it has failed to honor the Constitution's "Take Care" clause, requiring the President "faithfully execute" the laws of the land". The complaint, filed by the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati, OH, along with Baltimore, MD and Chicago, IL, charges that the Administration is unlawfully undermining and attempting to "sabotage" the Affordable Care Act (or, ObamaCare).

That suit was filed by the four cities, even as many progressives continue to push for a single-payer, universal, "Medicare-for-All" style healthcare system like the one Sen. Bernie Sanders has long called for. With such a plan growing in popularity among both voters and leading Democrats alike, a Koch Brothers-funded think-tank last week came out with a report that they'd hoped would undermine the prospect of a government-run, single-payer insurance program available to all Americans.

The report, misleadingly headlined "'Medicare for All' Plan Would Cost Federal Government $32 Trillion", was picked up by many media outlets who failed to highlight the more salient fact that the $32 trillion cited is actually $2 trillion LESS than Americans already spend on healthcare, even as millions are still without insurance and tens of millions more --- even if they are covered --- are still without access to important items like vision and dental care.

We're joined today by former insurance industry executive turned progressive blogger, columnist and broadcaster RICHARD "R.J." ESKOW to discuss his Los Angeles Times op-ed last week rebutting the misinformation that Charles Blahuas of the right-wing, Koch-funded Mercatus Center attempted to hoax American with.

Eskow, who hosts The Zero Hour podcast and also worked on Sanders' 2016 Presidential campaign, explains how the type of system that the Vermont Senator and, now, many leading 2020 Democratic Presidential contenders are endorsing, would both save Americans money and provide better and more complete care to tens and perhaps hundreds of millions.

"What the Koch Brothers and people who work for them are trying to get us to do is to only think about what the government spends," he tells me, explaining the sleight-of-hand the report uses to make families think such a plan would cost them more money than they are paying already. In fact, he explains, the average family of four would actually save $13,000 a year in healthcare costs.

"This guy who wrote this report unintentionally shot himself in the foot," Eskow argues, "Because even though I believe he stacked the deck against Medicare-For-All by under-estimating the savings and over-estimating the costs, he still couldn't avoid the conclusion that it would save $2 trillion over 10 years. I think it could save more than that, while giving people much better coverage. But even by his standards, the conservative standards, the right-wingers' standards, he has to admit it saves money!"

"We've been brainwashed into thinking that paying a nickel in taxes is worse than paying a dollar to some exploitative health insurance company. I don't think you make that sale anymore. I think people are getting wise to the truth."

Eskow also offers his insight into the fear that some "centrist" establishment Democrats have about such a system, and whether progressive voters should continue to push the party to be more in step with its own voters, or whether those voters need to look elsewhere...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dave Johnson...
By Angie Coiro on 7/30/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, you won't hear Brad or Desi --- because you'll be very busy hearing me. I'm the host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

You may have been fooled for a second --- nah, you're too smart --- but casual observers might mistake Jeff Sessions' announcement of a new DOJ "Religious Liberty Task Force" as an effort to address genuine hate crimes, including attacks on Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and Sikh Americans. But of course not. He made it clear it’s about bakers afraid of serving LGBTQ customers, or taxpayers having to support icky women – that sort of thing. ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She puts this latest news in the wider context of Trump’s pro-Christian pandering. While we're at it, we look at how bad for basic civil rights Brett Kavanaugh would be on the Supreme Court.

More news headlines, then DAVE JOHNSON of Seeing The Forest ponders how the concepts of markets, capitalism, and socialism get contorted by propaganda. Even respectable journalists fall victim...

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New unverifiable voting systems fail in NV; LePage still dumb in ME; Walker's fears come true in WI; Canada 'fights' back; Initiative to break CA into three states will qualify for 2018 ballot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2018 6:31pm PT  

It was another wildly busy BradCast today. I know. What else is new? But, with Trump declaring today on Twitter that "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea" (Phew! That was easy!) and that "Our Country’s biggest enemy" is the media(!), we had plenty of time to cover a lot of other things, the day after Tuesday's five state primary. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among those stories...

Maine's Republican Governor Paul LePage, the dumbest in the nation, was accidentally right (sort of) in his poorly stated opposition during yesterday's primaries, to Ranked Choice Voting (or RCV, also sometimes known as Instant Runoff Voting or IRV). On Tuesday, Maine was the first in the nation to use RCV in a statewide election, despite the fact that it's very difficult to count, virtually impossible for the public to oversee, requires central tabulation and computers to pull off, and candidates and voters in many places where it's been tried in the past have found that it's impossible to understand why some candidates won and others lost.

(NOTE: Before you send me your hate mail, progressives and third-party people, please listen to today's show first, and also note that I'm willing to entertain a much simpler method of voting/counting which solves many of problems that folks who support RCV are concerned about. It's called Approval Voting. Basically, that allows voters to vote 'yes' or 'no' for as many candidates as they like. Whoever receives the most 'yes' votes wins. Simple. Overseeable. No computers necessary. And, it helps to avoid the "spoiler effect" that many proponents of RCV hope to solve. Listen to the full show, and then feel free to send your hate mail. UPDATE: Here's one more nightmare scenario for RCV, if you still need one.)

Anyway, LePage has threatened to not certify Tuesday's elections in his state because they are using RCV, which voters adopted in 2016. He's wrong about that and somewhat right about his RCV concerns, but --- because it's LePage --- for all the wrong reasons. I explain in detail on the show.

Speaking of this country's failure to even be able to count 1+1+1 reliably and overseeably in elections (even without adding the complicated algebra of RCV), the state of Nevada took its new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems out for a test drive across the state in their primary election on Tuesday. It did not go well. At some precincts, some candidates did not appear on some screens. Other precincts reported candidates pre-selected on their touchscreens (possibly left over from a previous voter, whose ballots may not have actually been cast.) And other problems that we describe on today's show.

We also cover some actual election results from Tuesday's primaries in Maine, Virginia, North Dakota, South Carolina and Nevada, as well as special elections in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker (R) had attempted to prevent two special elections for the state legislature from happening at all --- because he feared the seats would flip from "Red" to "Blue" --- one of those seats in the state Senate did, in fact, flip to the Democrats for the first time in four-decades, in a very Republican district.

In Virginia, GOP voters nominated Corey Stewart, a far rightwing, Trump-endorsed Confederacy defender as their nominee to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine for the U.S. Senate this year. In South Carolina, former Governor, now U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford was turfed out in his primary by another Republican for not being Trumpy enough. And, in D.C., retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee (correctly) charged that his party has become little more than a Trump "cult".

In Canada, meanwhile, the House of Commons unanimously pushed back on the Trump Administration's weekend attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the G7 summit, and on the tariffs imposed by Trump on steel and aluminum from our longtime friends and allies to the north. And the next day, in a complete coincidence, Trump's DHS hardened their border policy with Canada to, supposedly, prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the U.S.

Finally today, a ballot initiative that would break California into three states appears to have qualified for this November's ballot! While the measure is currently said to be very unpopular with actual voters in the Golden State, it seems at least as unthinkable that it could pass as that Donald Trump could ever become President of the United States...

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Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on journalist in leak probe, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in new lawsuit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2018 6:45pm PT  

It was another very difficult day, with a fire hose of incoming news, figuring out what most needs to be covered, underscored, highlighted and given context to on today's BradCast. Here are some of the stories that made the difficult cut. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

First up: The Department of Justice appears to have ignored its own guidelines for dealing with journalists and their Constitutional First Amendment protections. James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in charge of security, has now been charged with three counts of lying to federal investigators as part of an aggressive leak investigation. It should be noted that he has not (at least yet) been charged with leaking classified information, just of lying to investigators.

Related to that indictment, we have now learned that New York Times journalist Ali Watkins, said to have been in a romantic relationship with Wolfe at one time, had at least a year's worth of her phone and email records secretly seized by Trump's DoJ without her knowledge. That means the confidential sources and whistleblowers (above and beyond Wolfe, who, she says, was never a source of classified information for her) have presumably now all been exposed to the DoJ. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that his DoJ has tripled the number of leak investigations carried out by Obama's DoJ, which had already prosecuted more government leakers than all previous Administrations combined.

The turn of events has, justifiably, gravely alarmed journalists and First Amendment advocates, such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation which has decried both the indictments of Wolfe and, in particular, the spying on Atkins, who was given no opportunity to challenge the matter in court. "Having her private records scrutinized and spied on by the government for doing her job as a journalist, and the Justice Department's move should be loudly condemned by everyone no matter your political preference," said Trevor Timm, the Foundation's Executive Director.

Next: In another alarming break with both precedent and tradition, Trump's DoJ announced they would not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") against a lawsuit filed by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General. The DoJ traditionally defends federal laws duly adopted by Congress and signed by the President in all but the most extreme circumstances. According to experts, however, this is an otherwise very weak case against the law which has ensured affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans since its passage in 2010.

We explain the basis for the suit, and how, if successful, it would gut two of the most popular provisions of the ACA, it's restriction on charging the elderly more for health insurance, and on insurance companies denying covering to those with pre-existing conditions.

Three career attorneys at DoJ were removed from the case on Thursday so that a Trump political appointee could take it over and flip the Department's previous position defending ACA and opposing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, some 17 state Attorneys General from Democratic leaning states have interceded to oppose the suit and defend the federal law.

Finally today: As if all of that isn't disturbing enough. A new bill introduced in Congress, supported by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, would see rent for low-income tenants in federally-subsidized housing increased by an average of 26% --- year after year, according to a new analysis! The "Make Affordable Housing Work Act" introduced in April, would affect roughly four million American households, many of them families with children who could be forced into homelessness by this extraordinary cruel measure which Carson recently described on Fox "News" as "our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty."

Our guest today, former director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the HUD under Barack Obama, DIANE YENTEL, charges that Carson's statement is "as absurd as it sounds. Clearly, increasing rents on people isn't the way out of poverty, it's the way deeper into poverty. And potentially homelessness."

Yentel, now President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains the extraordinary measure, noting that "by design, the greatest burden falls on seniors, people with disabilities, and families with young kids." In fact, the measure would, according to AP, "increase the percentage of income poor tenants are required to pay from 30 percent to 35 percent [of their income, and] would eliminate deductions, for medical care and child care, and for each child in a home."

Moreover, while Carson's HUD claims the elderly and disabled would be exempt from the change, Yentel charges that "is just not true", and explains how an estimated 314,000 households stand to lose their elderly or disabled status and will see their rents increased as well.

She goes on to argue that we already face a massive housing crisis for low and middle-income Americans, and that this measure would only make things far worse. "The housing crisis that we're in right now has reached historic heights. It's most negatively impacting the lowest income people. The National Low Income Housing Coalition's research [shows] we currently have a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available for the lowest income people. Nationwide, for every 100 of the lowest-income people who need housing assistance, there's only 35 homes that are affordable and available to them."

Yentel goes on to tell me that most of those who would be effected are already working families, and that while raising the federal minimum wage is a necessary part of making housing affordable for millions of these Americans, it would have to be raised to more than $21 per hour for most to be able to afford a modest, two bedroom apartment. That, even as the wealth disparity between rich and poor in the U.S. continues to grow in the wake of the Trump/GOP tax cuts last year, gifting some $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest of Americans who need it the least and now "by cutting the programs that give the most basic resources, basic benefits, to the lowest income, most vulnerable people in our country."

"I think that's pretty shameful," says Yentel...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Univ. of Kentucky law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: 'Dotard' President nixes NK summit (for now): Plus: ZOMBIE ALERT!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our last show before a long holiday weekend packs a wallop and finds not just the President of the United States in violation of the Constitution, but also Alabama's Secretary of State. Also: zombies! [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, President Trump found an excuse today to bail out of the planned June 12th nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, stunning allies in South Korea with a letter to Kim that sounded not unlike a bad breakup letter from a "needy" boyfriend, meant to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him first --- while begging her to come back. We share the bizarre letter in full, along with both reactions to it and reasons behind it.

Then, it's been an interesting week for the First Amendment and those who claim to be "Constitutional conservatives", as Scott Pruitt's EPA locked out mainstream media outlets, such as AP and CNN, from a major water contamination forum, and as a federal judge in New York ruled that Trump was personally violating the Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights of seven plaintiffs who sued after he blocked them on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs earlier this year, legal journalist Rebecca Showalter-Poza, is here.) The Dept. of Justice is said to be reviewing the court's ruling and may appeal.

While those plaintiffs were purportedly blocked from seeing or responding to Trump's Twitter feed, because he disagreed with their political points of view, the case echoes a similar matter that we discussed some months ago, after I was blocked on Twitter by Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in the midst of a bizarre conversation [PDF] in which I politely corrected the Secretary for erroneous public statements made about his state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

We're joined today to discuss both of those free speech matters and more by University of Kentucky College of Law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, who was also blocked by Merrill on Twitter last year after mentioning to him that "blocking people on Twitter, blocking his own constituents on Twitter, could violate the First Amendment".

Douglas, whose assertion was bared out by the federal judge in New York this week, explains the ruling and what may happen next in the case (will Trump end up pushing the case and violating a federal court order and then attempt to pardon himself as a test run for the future?), and I share an emailed response to my query from Merrill this morning in full, as the blocks continue on Twitter in apparent violation of the Constitution.

The central part of Merrill's response to me today [emphasis added]:

I will continue to use my social media forums the way that I have in the past. They will not be utilized by other users to express their political views or promote their agendas.

While I don't think Merrill actually owns Twitter quite as much as he seems to think he does, there was actually no political view or agenda expressed in my conversation with him that resulted in the block. More importantly, as Douglas notes in response to Merrill's remarks today: "Once someone like Donald Trump or John Merrill begins to use his Twitter account in a governmental capacity, then he can't pick and choose and block someone because he thinks, in his own view, that that person is promoting some sort of political agenda. That's really what the core of the First Amendment is all about, and that's what this court said."

Douglas, a Constitutional law and elections expert in Kentucky, also offers his thoughts on this week's upset victory by political newcomer Amy McGrath over DCCC-recruited Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in the primary contest for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Andy Barr (R) this November in Douglas' own district. His take, particularly on the "conservative" bent of the two Democratic candidates, is somewhat different than the one offered by BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein on yesterday's program.

Then, we're joined by Desi Doyen for an incredibly news-chocked and, at times, quite troubling Green News Report. And, finally, to lighten things up just a bit before a long holiday weekend, an actual story about a "ZOMBIE ALERT!" issued in south Florida this past week. No, really!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets, forcibly removes reporter, from water contamination event...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2018 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A host of important and troubling news items that you're probably not hearing much about as the corporate media continue their seemingly non-stop focus on investigations into massive Trump corruption. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, a disturbing move by the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday suggests a very dark moment for American democracy as reporters from AP, CNN and elsewhere were blocked from attending a water contamination event held EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. One AP journalist is said to have been "forcibly removed" from the building. That, just about one week after reports that the Trump Administration is blocking the publication of a major new report finding widespread water contamination across the country. That study is reportedly being withheld because the Administration believes it would be a "public relations nightmare" for the chemical companies involved, if it was released.

Meanwhile, a federal court on Monday found Texas in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for refusing to allow residents who update their drivers license online to register to vote at the same time, as required by the 1993 law. The Republican-controlled state appealed the ruling to the rightwing U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals just minutes after it was issued by the U.S. District Court judge, all but assuring the case, originally filed in 2016, will continue beyond this November's mid-terms.

And, speaking of Republicans who don't want certain people to vote, in Florida, John Ward, a GOP candidate for the U.S. House, was caught on videotape arguing that U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico who moved to the Sunshine State following the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year, should not be allowed to register to vote in Florida and should go back "where they belong".

Next, we're joined by Slate's fantastic legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer clarity on two disturbing, and very important cases this week.

The first is the story of a 24-year old DACA recipient from Seattle who was brought here by his father when he was five years old and detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency last year just after Trump took office. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a "Dreamer" with no criminal record, legally working in the U.S. after twice receiving protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was arrested by ICE in February of 2017 when they went to his house to detain his father. ICE subsequently booked Ramirez, lied about him --- blatantly doctoring a document to make it appear Ramirez admitted to being a member of a non-existent gang (he never was) --- in order to remove his protection and begin deportation proceedings.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, a George W. Bush appointee, found that ICE repeatedly lied about Ramirez and to the court about their evidence against him. "Judge Martinez is no flaming liberal, but he looked at the evidence before him, and he was clearly disgusted and incensed by what the agency had done," says Stern.

He describes how Ramirez was saved, for now, only due to his protected status under the Obama-era DACA program, which Trump continues to try to kill. "The only reason that this story rose to the top, and that it actually got before a federal judge who could rule on it, is because this guy is lucky enough to have DACA status. So he had this extra layer of protection that most undocumented immigrants don't have." Unfortunately, the dishonest tactics ICE attempted to use against Ramirez are usually successful, Stern says, explaining, "ICE agents do this all the time".

Then, we turn to an outrageous 5 to 4 decision by the stolen, rightwing U.S. Supreme Court this week that demolished the clear, statutory right established by decades-old New Deal-era labor reforms, allowing employees to file collective class-action lawsuits against their employers for wage theft.

As Stern explains, Monday's hypocritical and legally erroneous majority opinion in Epic Systems v. Lewis [PDF], written by the corrupt, self-proclaimed "textualist" Justice Neil Gorsuch (who occupies the seat stolen for him by the GOP Senate after Antonin Scalia's death in early 2016), was blasted by a furious Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her minority opinion, as the ruling, according to Stern, "effectively legalizes low-level wage theft" and is "nothing less than catastrophic for workers across the country."

It's really even worse than you may have heard --- if you even heard anything about it. But, Sterns adds with a glimmer of hope, the law in question that was blatantly misinterpreted by Gorsuch's judicial activism could very easily be amended for clarity in order to reverse this SCOTUS decision. The fix, however, would likely require a Democratic Congress and a cooperative President.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some insane new climate denialism by Republicans on the U.S. House Science Committee, and some much more encouraging news on several other related fronts from Britain to San Francisco to China...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Snowflake politicians and members of the 'liberal' media elite are 'outraged' by imaginery attacks from a comedian on Saturday night...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2018 5:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Listen for yourself to the speech that top politicians and corporate journalists have claimed to be furious about since the annual White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night. Then ask yourself: What the hell are these people talking about? [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Over the weekend, we learned that the U.S. Department of Justice has literally rewritten their prosecutorial guidance manual for U.S. Attorneys in order to, among other things, remove the section on the "Need for [a] Free Press". That, just a week or two after we learned, via memos [PDF] written by then FBI Director James Comey immediately after several private meetings last year with Donald Trump, that the President seemed obsessed with the idea of arresting and throwing journalists in prison. "They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk," Trump reportedly said to Comey, according to one of the contemporaneous memos.

Despite all of that, many elite journalists in the corporate media, from the New York Times to NBC News to Fox "News" and beyond, have spent much of their last two days claiming to be outraged by a comedian's routine at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. The (somewhat grotesque) annual event, which usually features the President (but hasn't in the two years since Trump took office and has refused to attend) is specifically, according to the first several hours of the event and the huge banner on the wall behind the dais, meant for the purpose of "CELEBRATING THE FIRST AMENDMENT".

Nonetheless, NBC's Andrea Mitchell and the NYTimes' Maggie Haberman among others in the media, joined high-ranking Republicans to blast that comedian, Michelle Wolf, in the days since the event, demanding an apology for Wolf's jokes that, they claimed, were divisive and, worse, attacked the physical appearance of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. Only problem with that: Wolf didn't attack her physical appearance. She appropriately roasted Sanders (and many others) for lying to the press and the American people every day.

As many have probably heard about Wolf's outrageous "attacks" and what a "bomb" her routine was --- (Trump tweeted as much, along with the journalists, many times since) --- we thought it might be useful and informative to actually celebrate the First Amendment by playing Wolf's entire WHCD routine in full, so listeners can decide for themselves about the corporate media's bizarre response to it...at an annual event where thousands of the country's "access journalists" hobnob and back-slap with the very elected politicians they are supposed to be skeptically reporting on.

Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, just in case they heard the offense to Sanders' physical appearance that I must have missed. (Spoiler alert: Listeners didn't hear it either, even after I played Wolf's sometimes raunchy and satirically biting remarks in full! Go figure. But, listeners do have a few thoughts on why many elite politicians and members of the corporate media may have heard it that way.)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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