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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, April 12, 2021
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
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...


GA's new Senator appeals to our better angels to save our democracy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/27/2021 11:14am PT  

"A republic," Ben Franklin famously said, "if you can keep it."

After more than 230 years, the great American experiment --- constitutional democracy --- has arrived at a moment of grave national peril, once again testing Franklin's warning. Like the Confederates who fired on Fort Sumter at the outset of a bloody Civil War, a major segment of our polity today is being led by racist and seditious reactionaries --- "domestic enemies" of the very Constitution they solemnly swore to uphold and defend.

This unscrupulous lot call themselves "Republicans". Yet, they have absolutely nothing in common with the Party once led by Abraham Lincoln, an intellectual giant, who extolled the need to see that "government of the People, by the People and for the People shall not perish..."

The right to vote is foundational to all other rights. By way of more than 253 restrictive bills, introduced in 43 States, these elected autocratic "American Fascists" seek to strip that foundational right from millions of their fellow Americans.

The For the People Act of 2021, recently passed by Democrats in the House as H.R.1, is a comprehensive election, campaign, ethics and voting rights reform measure that would, among other things, eliminate partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, curb dark money campaign contributions, and preempt many state-based GOP voter suppression and intimidation laws, schemes and tactics. The Senate version of the bill, S1, is co-sponsored by 49 of the chamber's 50 Democrats.

If, at this critical moment, all 50 Senate Democrats do not agree to eliminate the filibuster, at least for Voting Rights-related legislation, in order to pass S1 before the end of the year, a clear path will have been paved for the GOP to retake majority control of both Houses of Congress in 2022 and recapture the Presidency in 2024 through a combination of extreme partisan gerrymandering and surgically precise voter suppression.

What better moment for Georgia's freshman Democratic Senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock, to call upon our better angels to save our democracy in a maiden address on the Senate floor (see video and link to transcript below) that amounted to what has been aptly described as a "Voting Rights Speech for the Ages"...

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




Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: More 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on the FBI, Kavanaugh and the Vindman family...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2021 6:28pm PT  

We've got quite a bit of 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on today's BradCast, particularly at the U.S. southern border. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, a few noteworthy 'Clean up" news items. Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon has written a letter to Joe Biden's newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting an investigation into what he describes as the "fake" investigation the FBI apparently made into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh before his confirmation to a lifetime appointment as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. That confirmation, by the way, happened only thanks to Senate Republicans willingness to do away with the filibuster on Supreme Court Justices. Of course, it wasn't only sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that deserved a real probe by the FBI. There is still the matter of what happened to the $60,000 to $200,000 worth of credit card debt that Kavanaugh carried the year before his nomination, which magically disappeared by the time he was tapped by Trump to help pack the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, Army Lt. Col Yevgeny Vindman --- twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Donald Trump during his first impeachment --- will now be promoted to Colonel under the Biden Administration. That, despite a revenge campaign leveled against the Vindman family by the former disgraced President, which resulted in some negative job reviews for Yevgeny during his time as deputy legal advisor on Trump's National Security Council. Shortly after the impeachment, Trump fired both men from their NSC posts and Yevgeny filed a whistleblower complaint over the retaliation with the Pentagon's Inspector General. The IG's report has not yet been released.

Then, for the biggest 'Clean up on Aisle 45 ' news of the day, we move down to the U.S. Southern Border, where Republicans have been taking a cue from the former disgraced President to claim a massive "Biden border crisis!" is current under way, not two months into the new President's tenure. Sadly, corporate media have taken that cue as well. As they do.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) traveled to the border this week and, among other apparent lies, claimed that terrorists from Yemen, Iran and Turkey were "rushing" the border "all at once." While that is almost certainly untrue, there has been an increase over the past two months in unaccompanied children, seeking asylum at the border, after making the arduous journey from beleaguered Central American "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Thanks to the influx of unaccompanied kids, a hollowed out asylum system left behind by the previous administration, along with pandemic social distancing requirements, Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities meant to house children before they are handed over to the Dept. of Health and Human Services to find sponsored shelters are running out of space. The influx is also leading to many being held in the CBP facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit, even as the Biden Administration has, for the time being, left many of Trump's policies in place, expelling families and single adults fleeing from gang violence, climate change and poverty in their troubled nations.

So, what is actually going on at the border right now? Is it really a crisis? And how much is the Biden Administration, not even two full months on the job, to blame? We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute to help us separate fact from breathless, GOP/media-inflated fiction.

"I think there is a significant challenge at the southern border," she explains. "I don't think we can call it a crisis yet. But we could certainly be moving in the direction of a crisis.  We had a really fast acceleration in the number of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the southern border between January and February. But we still haven't reached record numbers of children arriving at the southern border. We saw records during 2019 and 2014 that we haven't yet broken."

"But our facilities are limited because of the pandemic," she continues, "and so that is making what would already be a challenge even more difficult as the administration scrambles to bring beds back online, and move children out of Border Patrol custody as quickly as they possibly can."

Pierce explains how bad the situation currently is; whether she believes the Biden Administration is taking the appropriate measures to handle it; whether GOP claims about terrorists rushing the border or becoming "super-spreader caravans" are in any way true; and whether the situation can be handled at all without Congressional action (which seems a long shot while the filibuster remains in place, with Republicans seeking distraction from their failure to vote for the COVID relief bill and relying on alarmist rhetoric about the border to try and hold on to their base).

The Biden Administration "inherited a really, really big challenge and a system that was just gutted by the prior administration. So, whether or not they'll be able to do this all, while also dealing with what could very well be a crisis in the near future at the southern border, is a really big question."

She also offers, among other direct answers, a response to my question about the oft-repeated spurious claim that Trump's infamous family separation policy that resulted in those horrific "kids in cages" photographs was was actually begun by the Obama Administration. The answer will probably not shock you.

Next, it's our latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen (and, yes, more 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news there as well). And, finally, I close with a plea for Congress to do the right thing, once and for all, when it comes to...daylight saving time...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Callers ring in on demands for accountability following last week's deadly, Trump-incited riot at the U.S. Capitol. But timing looms large before Inauguration Day, and as the MAGA Mob gears up for more violence...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2021 7:40pm PT  

We open up the phone lines on today's BradCast for the first time since Donald Trump's deadly attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol last week, to get feedback from callers on whether it makes sense to impeach him again with just about a week and a half left in his term. (For the record, my own opinion is "YES!," and I explain why throughout the course of today's show.) [Audio link to full show is below the summary.]

We start with some of the latest breaking news...

  • Trump's illegally appointed Acting Homeland Security Chief Chad Wolf announced, just before air time, that he is stepping down after being critical of Trump following last week's insurrection that killed at least five people, including a Capitol Police officer. Wolf called the riot "tragic and sickening".
  • The FBI has reportedly notified all 50 states of the possibility of armed attacks on state houses, as Trump's MAGA Mob are continuing to tell each other that Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th (he won't be) and that we should all prepare for a national emergency in which Trump invokes the Insurrection Act and begins "high profile arrests" between now and Inauguration Day. All of that, his minions have convinced themselves, come amid what they describe to each other as "a battle for our republic against elites that are attempting the very coup that they are accusing Trump of doing."
  • Over the weekend, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed House Dems that if Trump refused to resign, she would hold a vote on a resolution calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power. If that doesn't work (it doesn't appear that it will), a vote on a second Impeachment could be held in the House as early as Wednesday. We share the Article [PDF], formally filed in the House today by Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Ted Lieu (D-CA), David Cicilline's (D-RI), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) for "Incitement of Insurrection", on today's program.
  • Over the weekend, both Democrats (like AOC) and Republicans like Sen. Pat Toomey (PA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Ben Sasse (NE) and Trump ally and former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie all suggested they might support impeachment and removal of the President. As Christie noted, "If inciting to insurrection" isn't an impeachable offense then "I don't really know what is."
  • Nonetheless, a number of Republicans are suggesting that if either the 25th or impeachment are invoked, it would lead to further violence. As Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) pathetically tweeted on Saturday, "Those calling for impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment in response to President Trump's rhetoric this week are themselves engaging in intemperate and inflammatory language and calling for action that is equally irresponsible and could well incite further violence." --- In other words, if you hold anybody accountable for inciting violence, you are inciting the same people to more violence. So, best to do absolutely nothing, apparently. Very patriotic and courageous, Congressman.
  • On Sunday night, the PGA pulled their planned 2022 Championship from Trump's Bedminster, NJ golf resort, adding to the schadenfreude already most likely being enjoyed by anti-Trumpers since Twitter permanently banned him from the social media platform late on Friday.

As to the timing of how to pull off an impeachment with just days left in Trump's Presidency, it's important to understand --- as we discussed with former federal prosecutor Ben Clements on last Friday's show --- that an official doesn't even have to still be in office to be impeached. There is historical precedent for that. Clements, and others, argue it's important to impeach Trump if only to convict him at trial so that he cannot run for public office ever again.

It should also be noted that the House may vote to impeach this week or next, but wait until after Biden is sworn into office before sending the Articles to the Senate for a trial. That's what some Dems are now calling for. Rep. James Clyburn wants to wait until Biden's first 100 days are over. Others suggest waiting just long enough to allow Biden's cabinet to be sworn in, since all Senate business must stop when a Senate impeachment trial begins. With Chuck Schumer as Majority Leader, after Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are sworn in, a real trial could be held in the Senate, with dozens and dozens of witnesses, unlike the show trial McConnell held to quash the charges Trump was previously impeached for last year.

So, lots to chew over on today's program, and lots of callers ringing in with thoughts on all of the above...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Computer check-in system causing long Early Voting lines in GA; FBI warns of 'unauthorized access to elections support systems'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's full speed ahead for Senate Republicans' desperate attempt to further pack the U.S. Supreme Court while they still have the chance. And it's anything but feel speed for voters forced to wait in hours-long Early Voting lines in Georgia. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The Peach State could very well turn "blue" this year, according to Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight, in both the Presidential election and not one, but two U.S. Senate races there this year. But voters will have to work like hell to make that happen. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports today that the state's new voting check-in computers --- needed to operate the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting machines --- appear to be the main cause of intolerably long lines for voters since Early Voting began on Monday. Some voters have reportedly left without voting, others waited as long as 12 hours to cast their votes. Now that AJC has identified the check-in computers to be a main bottleneck, Georgia's terrible Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger --- who previously attributed the hours-long lines to "voter enthusiasm" --- has apparently told the private software vendor responsible for those check-in computers at Voting Centers to increase network bandwidth to speed up the process. Early reports in Atlanta suggest the expanded bandwidth may be helping to speed things up, but we'll see.

In the meantime, as voters in Georgia must now navigate at least 4 different computer systems (programmed by private companies) to cast their one vote, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Dept. of Homeland Security, are warning they are aware of "some instances" in which malicious actors (most likely foreign, they suggest) have obtained "unauthorized access to elections support systems." They quickly note, however, they have "no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised." Feel better?

Our guest today, Slate's great legal reporter, MARK JOSEPH STERN, is definitely not feeling better after a week of hearings in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, meant to further pack the Republicans' already-stolen Supreme Court with Amy Coney Barrett before Election Day. The hearings revealed little or nothing about Donald Trump's third far-right nominee to the highest court in the land, Stern reports. "It was a terrible week. It was one of the worst on record," he tells me, describing the proceedings as a "deranged power grab" and the nominee as establishing a new low for such hearings.

"Amy Coney Barrett has established a new rule for Supreme Court confirmations, which is that the nominee doesn't just have to be kind of evasive or squirrelly. The nominee can literally say nothing of substance and simply announce a rule at the outset that she won't say anything of substance, and then just swat down questions that try to get her to say anything meaningful."

Barrett refused to (or couldn't?) answer even simple, non-political questions and matters of basic federal law, such as whether it is illegal to intimidate voters at the polls. (It is.) "I don't understand why we all had to go through this entire experience. It was a psychic wound, it was demeaning to all of us. She won't even say whether this federal law exists, whether it is real," Stern observes. "Will she acknowledge that gravity exists?"

Among the many related points we discuss today...

  • While Barrett allies herself with the great myth of the late Justice Antonin Scalia's so-called "Constitutional originalism," is she in fact "a legal lightweight"?;
  • Do Republicans even care about her "remarkable paucity of experience"? (Stern charges: "I don't think that she's necessarily being picked on the merits of her own scholarship.");
  • If SCOTUS nominees are now going to refuse to answer any question on virtually anything, have these hearings and the Advise and Consent clause itself become little more than a meaningless joke at this point?;
  • Is Barrett's bizarre assertion that Roe v. Wade is not a "super-precedent" --- apparently meaning a ruling that cannot be overturned --- actually a real legal concept in any way, shape or form?;
  • What, if anything, was the impact of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's stunning thirty-minute detailing on Tuesday (video here, transcript here) of the decades-long, $250 million, rightwing dark-money court-packing conspiracy? And did it help Americans appreciate the insidious scam that wealthy rightwingers have been running with the GOP for years now to capture our entire federal judicial system? ("Amy Coney Barrett didn't just magically appear in that seat. She didn't just find herself nominated to the Supreme Court. She has been elevated, propped up, by this massive dark money machine," Stern notes.);
  • Did Democrats do all that they could to highlight the outrage of how Republicans are undermining the very legitimacy of our federal courts, even as Dems have little or no way to stop it right now?;
  • Will Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have the courage to do the right thing for justice and the American people by expanding the Supreme Court to save cherished American rights and the court system itself IF they are able to win the White House and Senate majority this November?;
  • And, why the hell was ranking Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) hugging the Judiciary Committee Chair, Sen. Lindsey Graham (maskless!), at the end of today's final day of hearings?

All of those questions asked and mostly answered on today's lively --- if maddening --- program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Attorney, former FCC official Art Belendiuk and media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: FBI Director says no evidence of widespread ballot fraud; Federal Judge orders Census to continue until completed...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2020 7:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A good answer to the question of how the hell we got here. We have an FCC that appears fully captured by the very (rightwing) corporate entities it is supposed to be regulating while overseeing control of our public airwaves. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, before we get to our main story today, which is a scoop you probably haven't heard about elsewhere, Donald Trump's own FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday that he is unaware of any evidence to suggest widespread absentee ballot fraud is underway. That runs completely contrary to the President of the United States' continued, persistent, repeated, evidence-free claims that Democrats are running some kind of massive absentee ballot fraud scam to steal the election from Trump.

On the other hand, Donald Trump was and is trying to steal the U.S. Census from the people of the United States. But on Friday, a federal judge ordered a stop to it, based on testimony and email from Census Bureau officials revealing that the Commerce Department's order for the Constitutionally-mandated decennial head count to be prematurely ended this month would result in fatally flawed headcount data. The Trump Administration has been trying to complete the tally in time to turn it over to the President for final approval by the end of this year, to avoid the current deadline of April 2021 when Joe Biden could be in office to approve it instead. The attempt to force an under-count, according to critics, would bastardized U.S. House seat apportionment, as well as thousands of state legislative seats and the distribution of some $1.5 trillion in federal spending for the next ten years. It would also result in the under-count of minorities and the shifting of political power to white, rural Republican districts.

And speaking of politically captured federal agencies, earlier this week at The BRAD BLOG, award-winning journalist turned media reform activist SUE WILSON broke the story of a "Petition to Deny" license renewals filed against three broadcast television stations in the Baltimore market. The petition, filed by longtime, D.C.-based Republican communications attorney and former FCC official ART BELENDIUK, charges that the giant, rightwing corporate TV station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group is unlawfully violating the Telecommunications Act [PDF] by secretly owning or controlling three stations in the Baltimore market, when they are only allowed to own one.

Belendiuk and Wilson join me on today's program to explain how the far-right Sinclair, which own Baltimore's WBFF, also secretly controls the ownership of Cunningham Broadcast, which nominally owns WNUV and Deerfield Media, which holds the license to WUTB in the same market. Belendiuk explains how that violates federal restrictions on media ownership, while noting that his "Petition to Deny", filed in Baltimore in hopes of blocking the stations' licensing renewals, is just the first such Petition, given that Sinclair is pulling the same corporate shell game scam with stations all across the country.

"You can have relationships with other stations in the market, but they're carefully regulated by the FCC," Belendiuk tells me. "But Sinclair has gone way beyond that, down to the point of setting the salary of the president of Cunningham. That's not the kind of thing you do at arm's length. Cunningham, which is the main partner of Sinclair, has twenty stations in twenty different markets and they're all paired with Sinclair. So this isn't a Baltimore problem, it's just that the petition had to be filed in Baltimore because of FCC reasons. The first place you could file was in Baltimore."

Wilson detailed in her recent report how, under the FCC's regulation of the Telecommunications Act, "In a single local broadcast market, one company may apply to own two stations --- if there are nine or more stations in that market. [But] Baltimore has just eight stations, and three of them are actually owned by Sinclair."

Sinclair, which officially owns almost 200 hundred TV stations across the county in more than 100 markets, largely in the South and Midwest, first came to national prominence when they mandated their hundreds of otherwise trusted local TV news anchors to read a script on air about "fake news" being a threat to democracy, back in early 2018. As their stations are affiliated with various networks such as ABC, Fox and The CW, local viewers often have no idea they are actually watching a Sinclair station, with a far-right corporate owner controlling the local station's newsroom.

"What's really at stake here are the diversity of voices that we the people get to hear on our local TV stations," Wilson explains. "Local television news is really the medium that most of us trust more than any other today for our news. This is really cutting away at that kind of trust, when you allow one company to own so many stations." She says "the law is clear," but the FCC, whose chairman Ajit Pai was appointed by Donald Trump, is failing to enforce it, even though the details of the sham ownership of the stations and companies controlled by Sinclair were discovered in both FCC and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents, according to Belendiuk's petition

"The commission is aware of this," Belendiuk insists. "Enough is enough. it's time for the FCC to stop looking the other way."

The self-described "political conservative" also shares the progressive Wilson's concerns about the dangers of the lack of diversity over our public airwaves. "In many markets --- take Columbus, Ohio --- they own two major network affiliates, Fox and I believe an NBC station. That means every day at 6 o'clock there are two local newscasts going out holding one political view. That's not what the Communications Act intended. The Communications Act intended that there should be a diversity of views. If there's a Sinclair with a clear rightwing view, there should be another station that has a middle-ground view, and one that maybe has a leftwing view. There shouldn't be one voice."

He goes on to discuss the serious "impacts" all of this has on our politics and elections. "It really, really matters to the people of Columbus, Ohio. And they're being deprived of the information they need to vote for the candidate of their choice. Whether you're voting Republican or Democrat, that vote should be an informed vote. When you control the local news, which is really what I see as the problem, then I'm no longer getting that kind of information that I need to make an informed decision."

Belendiuk notes that station license renewals, which come up every eight years, will also be happening soon in other markets around the country where, he says, "any citizen can file a petition saying why they don't serve --- and this is in the Communications Act --- 'the public interest, convenience, or necessity'," before he details how Sinclair has been repeatedly fined by the FCC for other violations over the years when they were found to not be acting in the public interest as mandated.

Sinclair has until October 1 to respond to the Petition, after which the matter will either be decided by the FCC or, if they ignore or attempt to whitewash the complaint, by a federal Appeals Court, Belendiuk vows.

There is much more on all of this in today's show, including information on how you can reach him and take action locally if you feel, like he does, that "enough is enough".

Finally today, because this week has been more than "enough", we end with the overdue return of one of our favorite Trump-era musical satirists! Randy Rainbow sends us off into the weekend with a tune that we dare you to get out of your head after you hear it...

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Guest: Investigative journalist Art Levine: Also: No charges for Breonna Taylor killing; FBI issues curious 'Announcement' on election fakery...
By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: So, Donald Trump's campaign, as well as the National Republican Committee and the Pennsylvania state GOP, are battling it out with state Dems and the state's Democratic Secretary of State over pretty much all aspects of absentee mail-in voting in the key battleground state. But, for some reason, as our guest reports today, Trump and the GOP are actually joining forces with Dem Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to defend the use of brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the most Democratic-leaning part of the state. Now why would they be doing that?

Before we get there today, however, some quick news on today's announcement on the lack of charges brought against the Louisville, Kentucky police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 36-year old African-American emergency medical specialist, in her apartment in the middle of the night this past March.

Also, some thoughts on a somewhat odd "Public Service Announcement" issued on Tuesday by the FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency regarding "foreign actors and cybercriminals" who might take advantage of the necessary delay in tallying absentee ballots in the days following Election Day on November 3rd. The federal agencies warn that bad actors could "create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions." The announcement warns that malicious individuals could propagate false information about vote counts and other disinformation "that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections' illegitimacy." It's an odd "announcement" that focuses largely on foreign actors, while warning the public "to seek out reliable and verified information from trusted sources, such as state and local election officials." They say nothing about domestic bad actors, nor do they recommend federal sources as "trusted". We discuss.

Then, in Pennsylvania, Republicans have told the state Supreme Court that they plan to appeal last week's rulings against them to the U.S. Supreme Court. The news follows the Keystone State's high court determination that mail-in ballots can be counted if they arrive up to three days after Election Day; that absentee ballot drop-boxes are perfectly legal; and that state law bars poll watchers who come from outside of the county where they plan to observe. At the same time, the Trump Campaign is suing the state in federal court over many of the same issues in a suit that could also find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That may be just one of the reasons that Republicans are pushing so hard to seat a replacement so quickly for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As VP Mike Pence told Fox 'News' on Tuesday, "there is a possibility that election issues may come before the Supreme Court in the days following the election, and all the more reason why we should have nine Justices on the Supreme Court to be able to resolve any issues that may arise ." (Notably, this is something Republicans didn't seem to care about in the least before the 2016 election, when they were blocking Barack Obama's nominee from filling the late Justice Scalia's seat for a full nine months before the election.)

But for all the legal fights that Republicans are carrying out to block the use of, delivery of, and counting of verifiable hand-marked paper mail-in ballots in PA, for some reason the Trump Campaign is intervening in a court case to side with the Democratic Secretary of State there to defend the use of 100% unverifiable touchscreens in Philadelphia, the most Dem-leaning part of the state. Trump's intervention is in a suit filed by the NAACP (which we discussed with the attorney working on the case in a recent show) against the PA SoS, which seeks to block the state's use of the new computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). It's curious, to say the least, that Team Trump is supporting SoS Boockvar's use of the new, unverifiable devices, which are being forced for universal-use in all Philly polling places this year.

We're joined today by longtime investigative journalist and author ART LEVINE to discuss his detailed report today at Washington Monthly, headlined "Donald Trump's Favorite Voting Machines: Ballot-marking devices in key swing states could give him the perfect excuse to contest the election." In the article, and on today's show, Levine describes the boondoggle e-voting systems that have been installed for first time use this year in a number of key battleground states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and, yes, Pennsylvania. They are remarkably expensive, produce ballots that can never be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter who used one, and they have failed disastrously in multiple ways in several states (including PA) during their first-time use in primaries earlier this year.

Sadly, it's not only Trump and PA's Democratic Sec. of State who are defending or otherwise quietly allowing the use of these dangerous new voting systems. So are many Democratic officials and election watchdog organizations that have historically been critical of electronic voting systems. "They've been absolutely radio silent --- except for Ohio Democrats --- at the state and national level about the risks of this voting technology," charges Levine. Even here in Los Angeles, our Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla has been very supportive of the $300 million dollar boondoggle touchscreen BMD system installed this year, disastrously, by Los Angeles County's Democratic Registrar of Voters, Dean Logan.

Levine's new investigative report today explores many of these various strange bedfellows in detail.

"I hope I can shed further light on the tangled, unbelievable, nutty mess in Philadelphia that is emblematic of the kind of challenges that other swing states --- statewide in Georgia and in some key Democratic cities in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and so on --- will be facing. It's a nightmare beyond the already-other nightmares that we're aware of," he explains, describing a potential disaster with these systems that adds "kindling" for "a Constitutional crisis...if Trump doesn't win on Election Night."

Recent studies [PDF] reveal that 93% of voters do not notice when a BMD has changed one of their selections on the paper "ballots" printed out by these touchscreen systems. Moreover, the tallies created by optically-scanning those "ballots" (with yet another computer) are not even based on the human-readable printout that voters may or may not bother --- or be able --- to successfully verify as reflecting their intent. Instead, it is a barcode or a QR code, which can't be read by voters, that is also printed on the "ballots" and used by the scanning computers to tally the votes. But, still worse, even if everything works perfectly --- if the machines don't break down as they did during the primaries, causing hours-long lines, and if they aren't hacked or misprogrammed and everyone somehow manages to verify them accurately --- there is still no way for anybody to know after the election that any of those ballots accurately reflect the will of any voter.

As Levine warns in his report today: "Let's say the November election is close, and Donald Trump comes up short in Pennsylvania or Georgia or North Carolina, or all of them, and loses the Electoral College vote. ... It would make perfect sense for him and his lawyers to seize on the ambiguities of BMDs to argue that the voting was rigged and illegitimate. And Democrats would be hard-pressed to prove Trump wrong --- especially since some of their own elected officials and allies have been relatively quiet about the BMDs' shortcomings, and in some cases have even been at the forefront of pushing for the machines' use."

We have been warning as much for years. I'm happy to see Levine picking up those serious concerns and amplifying them. Please read his important article in full and then listen to today's show --- or vice versa.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some quick --- but VERY big --- news today out of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced plans to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in the state by 2035. That's right! If his initiative is successful --- and it is bound to be challenged and hated by Trump and the fossil fuel industry --- the Golden State may be selling nothing but electric cars at new car dealers in as little as 15 years!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer endorses Biden; And MUCH more you need to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2020 7:08pm PT  

As my rant near the top of today's BradCast makes clear --- there is a now mountain of madness emanating from the White House. All of it now going on at one time, as Donald Trump and the Republican Party become more desperate with each passing day before this year's election. And while the mountain of unfolding nightmarish stories I quickly cover in that rant are all terrible --- some of them horrific, in fact --- none of them matter, for the moment, as much as making sure that everyone is able to vote this safely this year and have their votes counted as cast in the November 3rd election. That is how we will keep ourselves and this republic alive, as this President and his Administration (and their party) appear to have no interest in that. I hope you'll enjoy the rant nonetheless. [Audio link to today's show follows below the summary.]

Before and after today's rant...

  • We kick off our show with the new ad from Republican Voters Against Trump, featuring Olivia Troye, a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence as his homeland security advisor and his lead staffer on the White House Coronavirus Task Force "from day one". Troye, who left the White House in July, announced today that she is endorsing Joe Biden and explains why in the video ad that excoriates Trump for not wanting to hear about the pandemic back in February "because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year and how was this going to effect his record of success." She goes on to charge that Trump "doesn't care about anyone else but himself" and once described his supporters during a task force meeting as "disgusting people";
  • Then, a bit of testimony from Donald Trump's FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a hearing today before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in which the man Trump hired to replace the fired James Comey explains that Russia is currently undertaking "very active efforts...to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more than malign foreign influence". He testified that the Russian effort underway is meant to denigrate Joe Biden;
  • But, as noted in our rant, ultimately, none of it matters unless American voters can safely vote and have their vote counted as cast. Toward that end, we have several stories of mostly good news for voting rights, beginning with the federal judge in Washington State who issued a nationwide preliminary injunction today to block what he describes as "a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service" before the November election. The injunction was sought in a suit filed by 14 states against the Trump Administration and the U.S. Postal Service. It seeks to block measures implemented by new Postmaster General and major Trump/RNC donor Louis DeJoy which slowed down mail delivery in advance of an election that will see record mail-in voting due to Trump's failure to control the coronavirus pandemic;
  • That is hardly the only effort underway by Trump and his party to make voting by mail more difficult this year. But we've got mostly good news to report today from the Supreme Court in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. The high court approved the use of absentee ballot drop-boxes and is allowing ballots received by elections officials to be tallied if they arrive as late as three days after Election Day and are postmarked by November 3rd. The setback for Team Trump in the state Court's series of rulings on Thursday also included upholding a state requirement that poll watchers must live in the county where they are poll watching (while that's not optimal in most cases, it may be necessary this year to prevent the GOP from bringing in people to intimidate voters. We explain why that is.)

    In more good Keystone State news for Democrats, the state Supremes also ruled that the Green Party failed to qualify for this year's Presidential ballot. In better news for Trump and the GOP --- though not good news for voting rights advocates --- the Court denied a Democratic request for voters to be notified to come in and cure absentee ballot deficiencies --- such as missing or perceived mismatched signatures or missing secrecy envelopes --- before those ballots are rejected. Hopefully this serves as a warning to voters in PA (and everywhere else!) to follow all the rules for absentee voting carefully before mailing --- or, better yet --- dropping off ballots in person this year, where allowed. A lawsuit challenging some of the same issues has been filed by the Trump Campaign in federal court, where the Trump-appointed judge in charge of that case has put it on hold as the state cases moved forward. We'll see what that federal judge does now.

  • The embarrassing battle over absentee ballot drop-boxes continued today in the longtime battleground state of Ohio, leading the Republican Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court to excoriate her own party for attacks they leveled against Democratic Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye after he found in favor of Democrats earlier this week in the state suit they filed against Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose. In that case, Frye found that state law allows Counties to deploy as many secure mail-in ballot drop-boxes as they'd like.

    Longtime "conservative stalwart" and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor issued a blistering rebuke against state Republicans for their response to Frye's finding, calling the GOP's allegations "disgraceful" and "deceitful" and "a blatant and unfounded attack". Nonetheless, even after Frye's finding, LaRose has so far declined to lift his August directive mandating only one drop-box in each of the Buckeye State's 88 counties and has vowed to appeal Frye's ruling. That turns out to be in contradiction of what the Secretary indicated previously, when he told many people --- including a top labor official in the state (via text messages) as well as a federal judge in a parallel federal suit --- that he would be happy to change his order once a Court clarified if it was allowable under state law. But LaRose, apparently, is a liar...or a coward cowed by his own party;

  • In our final War on Voting story for today (yes, there will be many more to come in the days ahead, sadly), South Carolina's Republican Governor signed a law this week that will allow any state voter to vote by absentee ballot this year, no excuse needed, in response to the nation's still-out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic. That's good news. But the legislation adopted this week by the GOP-dominated state legislature failed to include several provisions sought by Democrats, including the use of secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots and the waiving of a requirement for a witness to sign the mail-in ballot. The changes to state election law come as incumbent Republican U.S. Senator and Trump lackey Lindsey Graham is said to be TIED in pre-election polling with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in the Palmetto State in what could be a stunning upset this November...if ALL voters in the state are allowed to vote and to see their votes counted as cast;
  • Finally today, in a brief respite from the War Against the War on Voting, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some of the ongoing brutal news this week in the war against our ever worsening and deadly climate crisis and those who continue to pretend it doesn't exist...even in a week like this one...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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GOP lawmaker, 4 co-conspirators face racketeering charges for billion dollar nuke plant bailout conspiracy; Also: 31 states smash COVID records; MO Guv okay with school kids getting infected...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2020 7:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Five arrests and a massive, $61 million criminal bribery scheme allegedly headed up by Ohio's Republican House Speaker in cahoots with GOP lobbyists and dirty energy company payouts help explain, yet again, why we can't have nice things. That's especially true for residents of the Buckeye State who keep electing Republican officials who play them for chumps, take all their money, and make them sick in the bargain. It's also true for Floridians, Georgians, Texans and now Missourians, but we'll get there as well today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

"We're here today to announce the arrest of Larry Householder, the speaker of the House of the state of Ohio and four other defendants for racketeering in relation to what is likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme every perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio," announced U.S. Attorney David DeVillers during a news conference in Columbus on Tuesday afternoon. "The conspiracy was to pass and maintain a $1.5 billion bailout in return for $61 million in dark money that was used for various things. One: to line the pockets of defendants. Two: to build a power base for Larry Householder. And three: to further the conspiracy. That is to further the affairs of this Enterprise."

The explosive story is rocking Ohio today, though many should have seen it coming. A year ago, in July of 2019, Vox's longtime energy and climate reporter David Roberts wrote a must-read deep-dive article on the passage of House Bill 6 (HB 6) --- the legislation at the center of this massive con --- describing it at the time as "the most counterproductive and corrupt piece of state energy legislation I can recall in all my time covering this stuff."

The measure forced Ohio's ratepayers to subsidize bailouts of two supposedly failing nuclear plants (the Davis-Besse plant near Oak Harbor and the Perry plant east of Cleveland) owned by FirstEnergy and two failing coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (a collective owned by several large utilities), while wiping out previously successful state incentives for renewable energy and efficiency projects that saved the state's ratepayers both money and lives.

"Despite a tsunami of dark money supporting the bill," Roberts reported last year, "HB 6 was overwhelmingly opposed by ratepayer groups, business groups, free market conservative groups, environmental groups, and Ohioans generally. Its only support came from its only beneficiaries: the utilities that own the bailed-out plants, the employees of the bailed-out plants, the communities where the bailed-out plants are located, and possibly President Trump, who doesn't want to see coal plants closing during his reelection campaign."

Well, apparently there were a few more "beneficiaries": Ohio's House Speaker Householder and his political allies inside and out of the state legislature. That "tsunami of dark money", as it turns out, was used to blanket the airwaves with propaganda in support of HB 6 --- describing it misleadingly as a fight for jobs and "clean energy" in a battle between "Big Oil and Ohio" --- by a group calling itself Generation Now. That dark money group, as it turns out, was run by Householder himself with "bags of cash" from the nuke plants' supposedly bankrupt owners, FirstEnergy of Ohio. According to today's criminal complaint [PDF], his "Enterprise" used a series of unregulated passthroughs to move millions and "freely spent the bribe payments to further the Enterprise's political interests and to enrich themselves" with "unlimited" funds that came in to Generation Now from FirstEnergy in payments described by one of the defendants as "Monopoly money."

Despite the wildly unpopular HB 6's narrow passage in the state legislature, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed it quickly after passage. He was not indicted today, though he did cancel a scheduled COVID-19 press conference after the announcement, before calling for Householder's resignation.

It's an incredibly sordid story which we report in detail today. It's also one that should remind everyone exactly what they can expect when they put corrupt politicians like this in power who did the bidding of major corporate interests, rather than the public's.

In not entirely unrelated news today, Couy Griffin, the idiot who heads up a group called "Cowboys for Trump", is calling for Americans to take their masks off because they --- as opposed to the coronavirus --- are making everybody sick. And while we'd love to ignore Griffin and the "Cowboys," it turns out he's also an elected Republican official in New Mexico and the same jerk who posted a video back in May which began by announcing that "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat." And while we'd love to ignore that as well, that video was then retweeted by the President of the United States that month, along with the message "Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!"

Idiot elected "cowboys" and Presidents of the United States may be one thing we've come to expect by now. But with the coronavirus smashing records in at least 31 states, we'd hoped we'd get better from the Governors who have been left to handle the pandemic after Trump decided he had better things to do, despite some 4 million infected Americans and 144,000 U.S. deaths now from COVID-19 over the past six months.

But our hopes have been dashed. By Florida's very Trumpy Governor Ron DeSantis who's made a jackass of himself over the past month as cases, hospitalizations and deaths skyrocket in his state --- now overwhelming hospitals with at least 50 having run out of ICU beds --- while ordering kids back to in-person classes next month; By Georgia's Trumpy Governor Brian Kemp, who is suing cities in the state for instituting mask mandates as the Peach State also breaks single-day case records and death records; By Texas' Trump-loving Governor Greg Abbot, who wonders where he went wrong in reopening up the state so early, now that hospitals in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere are overwhelmed and calling in refrigrator trucks to serve as overflow morgues to hold all of the extra dead bodies.

But now we now have Missouri's woeful Governor Mike Parson declaring he's just fine with kids in his state becoming infected in the classroom. "These kids have got to get back to school," Parson told a local radio station recently. "They're at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will --- and they will when they go to school --- they're not going to the hospitals. They're not going to have to sit in doctor's offices. They're going to go home and they're going to get over it."

Whether Parson, who replaced the state's previous Republican Governor after he resigned in a sexual coercion, abuse and blackmail scandal, realizes that those kids go home to parents and grandparents who they will infect in turn (not to mention all of the teachers and staff at those schools) is unclear. Hopefully Missourians, however, understand it by now, and will consider replacing Parson this November with state Auditor Nicole Galloway, the Democratic candidate for Governor. Maybe then the good folks of Missouri can begin to have nice things again.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a few too many disasters than we can possibly detail at the end of a summary like this one...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Anticipated court rulings will determine whether Trump's corrupt political influence will expand from a compromised DOJ to the Judiciary...
UPDATE : Sharply divided Appellate Panel orders District Court to dismiss Flynn case. UPDATE 7/10/20: District Court petitions full DC Circuit for en banc rehearing. UPDATE 7/30/20: DC Circuit grants en banc review; vacates panel's order. UPDATE: 9/2/20 DC Circuit denies Flynn's writ petition...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/17/2020 11:33am PT  

This is about far more than the fate of Michael Flynn.

Last week, in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief [PDF], former federal prosecutor John Gleeson, a retired federal judge, together with a number of renowned attorneys and constitutional scholars, offered a scathing condemnation of the William Barr-led Department of Justice. Gleeson denounced the DOJ's "corrupt" and "politically motivated" effort to dismiss the long-running case against Flynn, Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor, who, the brief describes as a "political ally of the President."

The issue at stake in this case is not only on a matter of accountability for Trump's disgraced former National Security Advisor. It also entails a question of whether the corrupt political influence the President has exerted over an ethically compromised Attorney General will now flow into and compromise a co-equal branch of government, the federal Judiciary...

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




Looks like we gotta lot of fact-checking to do today...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2020 6:59pm PT  

The good news for today's BradCast is that, thanks to so much breaking news on yesterday's show, we've got at least one encouraging new piece of news on a story that we had to bump yesterday regarding Donald Trump's absentee voter fraud felony in the state of Florida. Between that and the false claims made by him and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (in the pages of the New York Times, shamefully enough) charging that "antifa" is behind the violence seen at some of the mostly peaceful protests across the country over the past week and a half, we've got a lot of fact-checking to do on today's program. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]

First, Times staffers are livid that that the paper of record gave space to Cotton for an editorial on Wednesday calling for U.S. military troops to be deployed across the country against U.S. citizens under the Insurrection Act. The far-right Republican Senator charged in the piece that "cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa [are] infiltrating protest marches to exploit [George] Floyd's death for their own anarchic purposes." His remarks echo those of Trump, who, on Sunday, declared (falsely) that antifa will be designated as "a Terrorist Organization". In fact, antifa is not an organization. It's a movement of people who oppose fascism and authoritarianism and there is no such federal designation for domestic organizations, even if antifa was one. But the calls of Trump and Barr and Cotton echo what the Times itself described as "misinformation" just two days earlier in an article debunking that myth and several others related to the protest and being circulated widely (and falsely) on social media.

Moreover, the charge that antifa is behind the violence at protests is contradicted by intelligence reports this week from both the FBI and DHS, which find little evidence of antifa involvement, but seem to find plenty of evidence that rightwing white nationalist groups have organized to instigate chaos at otherwise peaceful demonstration around the nation. Continuing video tape evidence of police violently abusing peaceful protesters, including on Wednesday night after many of the demonstrations had otherwise calmed down, doesn't help either. But this week Twitter reported they'd shut down a European white nationalist group posting as "@ANTIFA_US" and tweeting out, for example, messages with a brown raised first emoji and declaring: "Tonight's the night, Comrades. Tonight we say 'F--- The City' and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours."

While that account has been shut down, the white nationalists on the street have not all been. We still do not know the identity of the white man with full face gas mask (pictured above) and a black umbrella, who strolled down the sidewalk in front of the Minneapolis AutoZone last week with a hammer by his side, casually smashing each window of the store. Protesters tried to stop him and to identify him before he slipped away, leading Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to post the video of the man on Twitter, along with the remark: "This man doesn't look like any civil rights protester I have ever seen. Looks like a provocateur. Can anyone ID him?"

And yesterday, in Las Vegas, AP reported on terrorism charges filed against three Nevada men with ties to a rightwing extremist group. They were arrested on Saturday heading to a protest on the Strip after "filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles," according to the criminal complaint obtained by AP. Two of the men, according to an informant, "discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot, in response to the death" of George Floyd. They are all said to be members of the anti-government "boogaloo" movement, advocating for a new civil war.

It seems its easier to find strawmen to blame for years of systemic racism rather than take responsibility for it. That seems to be what Trump, Barr, Cotton, Fox "News" and all the rest of those looking for someone else to blame for Floyd's death and the resulting outrage seem to be doing. It doesn't seem to be working. But that won't stop them from trying to play a whole bunch of folks just months before the next Presidential election.

Speaking of...as we reported several weeks ago, Donald Trump --- who has been making myriad false claims about absentee voter fraud for weeks now --- is, himself, a voter fraud criminal after illegally voting in Florida this year, by absentee ballot, despite having no lawful permanent residence in the state.

While he claimed late last year to have moved his permanent residence from New York to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, his original 1993 agreement with the city when he purchased the property and turned it from a single-family residence into a commercial club, required that nobody could actually live there. So, yes, that is voter fraud, and people in Florida have been charged and even jailed for much lesser infractions of the Sunshine State's elections code.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported another noteworthy point or two on this story, with yet another update to it today. On Wednesday, the paper reported that Trump, when he filed his Florida voter registration [PDF], listed the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as his "legal residence". That means his legal residence is not in Florida and he is, therefore, not allowed to vote there. A month later it appears he tried again, this time specifying Mar-a-Lago's address as his "legal residence." It's unknown what happened in the 31 days between the first and second registration, but maybe Florida generously granted him a mulligan. Of course, that still doesn't make his declared residence at his commercial property in Palm Beach a legal domicile in the state.

Making his case even worse, on Monday, during his infamous phone call with the nation's Governors (in which he described peaceful protesters as "terrorists" and instructed the Governors to "dominate" them or he would send in U.S. troops to do so), he stated: "I live in Manhattan". Oops. That prompted Democratic election attorney Marc Elias to tweet: "Sounds like New York may have a good claim for taxes. And Florida for voter fraud."

And, on that point, the Post updated its story today with the news that a Florida resident has now filed a formal election fraud complaint against Trump, which is what we've been calling for weeks! Under Florida law, the state is now required to investigate the complaint. And because it's a violation of state, not federal, law there is nothing to my knowledge that should prevent the President from being charged with felony voter fraud there. He did it. He should be charged with fraud.

When we painstakingly detailed the voter fraud by former GOP superstar Ann Coulter more than a decade ago after she illegally lied about her address in Palm Beach on her registration application and then unlawfully voted at a precinct she was not entitled to vote in, the state slow-walked their investigation until the statute of limitations ran out. (She also got a helping hand from a former FBI boyfriend). We'll hope that Florida Law Enforcement doesn't try something similar here. Though it would be much harder to do in this instance, given that the crime happened just months ago in this case.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with coverage of a tropical storm barrelling towards the Gulf Coast; evidence that global warming is increasing extreme rainfall events in North America; a new study finding that building new wind and solar plants is now cheaper than using existing coal power plants; and the good news that the University of California is divesting it's $120 billion endowment from all fossil fuels...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler of EmptyWheel; Also: COVID science censored by Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2020 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the gaslighting of the nation continues, from Flynn to Florida. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr's Dept. of Justice stunned the legal world by filing a motion to drop all charges against Lt. General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's first National Security Advisor and one of his earliest supporters. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty before three different judges about lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador before Trump's inauguration. His guilty plea also included the admission that he was a paid agent for the nation of Turkey, which he failed to disclose even as he received highly classified briefings after Trump's election before going on to serve as the nation's top national security official in the White House.

Flynn initially lied to FBI officials in January of 2017 and was recently set to receive his sentencing in federal court when his new Fox "News" lawyers convinced him to try and withdraw his guilty plea. Before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan was able to decide on that matter, Barr, Trump's new fixer, jumped in to try to make the prosecution go away completely, claiming that the initial interview during which Flynn lied to federal officials about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, should never have happened in the first place. Barr argues the counterintelligence probe being carried out by the FBI at the time, looking into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 campaign and potential cooperation by the Trump Campaign, should also have never happened in the first place.

The problem is Barr's own DoJ --- just a few months ago, at the beginning of this year, in their sentencing recommendation memo [PDF] for Flynn --- argued the 2017 interview was "material to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation to know the full extent of the defendant’s communications with the Russian Ambassador, and why he lied to the FBI about those communications." They called Flynn's false statements to the FBI "significant" and potential "evidence of links or coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia."

Week's later, in the May 7 motion to dismiss the charges [PDF] against Flynn --- which all of the career prosecutors who worked on the case for years refused to sign --- Barr's DoJ claimed the exact opposite, that the January 2017 interview with Flynn was not "conducted with a legitimate investigative basis." Barr himself, during an interview with a former Fox "News" reporter explaining the unprecedented filing, argued that the FBI "did not have a legitimate basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn."

But Barr's DoJ argued the opposite case only weeks earlier and offered few details in the new filing about why they are now, suddenly, changing their legal position. Judge Sullivan is none to happy about any of it and has retained a retired prosecutor/federal judge to argue against the new filing now that the DoJ has literally joined forces with the Flynn defense team they were previously prosecuting.

The argument, as national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Empty Wheel recently reported, is now between the Barr DoJ's two different and conflicting positions on the matter and, she explains, should be covered as such by the corporate media seeking to "both sides" every issue.

Wheeler joins us today to explain the extraordinary, unprecedented mess, and how it is that Barr and his DoJ now find themselves, literally, on both sides of the issue, as the nation's top law enforcement official continues his partisan bidding for the President of the United States. "You can't, as the same party," says Wheeler, "stand before a court and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 4 and then the next day come in and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 17.' That's effectively what DoJ has done, given that Bill Barr's DoJ said in January this was material to a serious and legitimate investigation, and now he's saying this was not material because the investigation was not legitimate."

She also discusses whether the media are falling for Barr's bogus claims; whether Barr and the DoJ could, themselves, be sanctioned by Judge Sullivan; and whether Sullivan's new hire, Judge John Gleeson, may argue that Flynn, in this case, should be charged with contempt for his perjurious lies to the court.

Then, as Barr tries to gaslight the nation, the state of Florida, under the command of GOP Governor and Trump pal Ron DeSantis, is apparently trying to do the same amid the coronavirus pandemic. A new report from Florida Today finds that the state's lead Department of Health official who headed up the creation of Florida's highly lauded COVID-19 dashboard website, was recently removed from the job after refusing to censor key scientific data on coronavirus cases, spread and deaths in the Sunshine State while DeSantis is risking lives by "reopening" the economy there faster than health experts recommend.

The way in which Republicans are trying to deny, ignore and otherwise hide scientific data in favor of promoting the economy at all costs, as we discuss, is a perfect hyper-speed analog of how the same political party has attempted to deny, ignore and otherwise hide the science of climate change in favor of the economy, no matter the expense to the public and the death toll that folly similarly entails.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins for the latest Green News Report with more lessons we should learn from the COVID crisis about the climate crisis; news on the massive, climate change-fueled cyclone about to slam into one of the poorest regions on earth in the middle of the pandemic; and the Trump EPA's approval of rocket-fuel toxins in your drinking water...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest-host Nicole Sandler with 'Modern Monetary Theory' economist Stephanie Kelton, former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves...
By Nicole Sandler on 5/11/2020 2:12pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back again to guest-host today's edition of the BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

It's a crazy time in American history as, under the background of a global pandemic for which there is no cure, vaccine or treatment, we have an out-of-control President who hasn't got a clue how to handle the economic meltdown we're experiencing. So I called on my favorite expert to talk all things economic-- STEPHANIE KELTON! With all indicators showing that we've entered depression territory, the time is ripe for her forthcoming book, The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the Peoples Economy.

And we have an out-of-control U.S. Attorney General in Bill Barr who last week moved to dismiss the charges against Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn --- charges to which he'd already pleaded guilty! I couldn't think of a better guest to call on than LISA GRAVES, who rose to Deputy Assistant Attorney General under Janet Reno in the Clinton administration, and is one of 2000 former DOJ officials signing on to a letter today asking Barr to resign...

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author Asawin Suebsaeng...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/14/2020 5:56pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back in to guest host today's BradCast. We begin with an update of the latest news.

My guest is journalist ASAWIN SUEBSAENG of the Daily Beast, whose first book, Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump's Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington is newly released and full of the kind of stories you'd expect from Donald Trump's White House.

Today is February 14. Yes, it's Valentines Day, but it's a sad day where I live. Two years ago today, a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida --- about 10 minutes from my home --- with an AK47, killing 17 people and seriously injuring another 17. And nothing has changed since.

And thirty years ago today, as the Voyager-1 was passing Neptune heading out of the solar system, it took the first picture of Earth from outer space. Carl Sagan wrote about it famous "Pale Blue Dot." Neil deGrasse Tyson read it, so we share it today to try to end the week on a positive note...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

And because laughter is good for the soul and especially needed these days, I shared a wonderful parody sent to me by a listener. The song played on the show today was good enough, but the video is even better. So enjoy!

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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!




Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe, and the latest Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/9/2019 4:38pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back again guest hosting the BradCast on a day filled with breaking news.

From the release of the DOJ's Inspector General's Report on the origins of the Russia probe to the surprise huge story from the Washington Post, 'The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war - At War with the Truth' and lots more, I begin the show recapping it all.

Then we move to the main event, the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Intelligence Committee report on the impeachment inquiry. Daniel Goldman, the lead investigative counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, was the Democrats' lone witness who summarized the Democratic case for Trump's impeachment.

In his 45-minute opening statement, Goldman explained, "We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit. As part of this scheme, President Trump applied increasing pressure on the president of Ukraine to publicly announce two investigations helpful to his personal reelection efforts... When faced with the opening of an official impeachment inquiry into his conduct, President Trump launched an unprecedented campaign of obstruction of Congress — ordering executive branch agencies and government officials to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony...President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security."

Next stop, articles of impeachment? Tune in tomorrow for As the Trump Squirms...

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Democracy's need for lifeboats in the form of hand-marked paper ballots...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/30/2019 9:35am PT  

Like those who took part in the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic as it blindly traversed the Atlantic, many American citizens are rushing headlong towards a pivotal 2020 election, unmindful of the potential for yet another e-voting catastrophe.

In 1912, in defiance of science, passengers and crew mistakenly believed that the Titanic was "unsinkable". In 2019, far too many Americans are either unaware of or have chosen to ignore repeated warnings from computer scientists. For many, the very idea that a Presidential selection could be the product of election fraud or failure in the form of undetectable, malicious manipulation or error of electronically tabulated ballots in disparate local, county and state-run election systems across an entire nation is simply unthinkable.

In 1912, ignoring the danger led to the deaths of 1,500 of the Titanic's 2,224 passengers and crew --- paltry numbers when measured against the threat to humanity's very survival that would be embodied in another four years of the Trump Administration's greed-over-science, anti-environmental policies.

Over the past two decades, the central problem for both computer scientists and election integrity advocates has not been the question as to whether all e-voting and electronic tabulation systems are vulnerable to manipulation via external hacks, mis-programming or malicious insider manipulations --- they are! Instead, they've been stymied by the near impossible task of proving that a given election result was fraudulent. That inability is occasioned by the fact that, in the absence of timely forensic access to the system, its ballot programming and its source codes, electronic theft is largely undetectable in any system that does not deploy hand-marked paper ballots.

While e-voting vulnerabilities to all manner of manipulation, as well as unintended programming errors, have always been present, both the threat of wholesale electronic theft and the dire consequences of that threat in 2020 have never been greater.

Fortunately, just as help for the surviving Titanic passengers and crew was just over the horizon in the form of the HMS Carpathia, democracy itself may be saved as the result of the valiant efforts by the Coalition for Good Governance ("the Coalition") to help compel the State of Georgia to conduct verifiable elections on hand-marked paper ballots. The help may not only save Georgia, but save the entire country, eventually, as evidenced by the extraordinarily well-informed 153-page ruling [PDF] that was recently handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg…

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




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