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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, December 9, 2019
Sunday 'Low Flow' Toons
When he goes low, the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons go lower...
U.S. Economy 'Whistling Past a Climate Graveyard':
'BradCast' 12/6/19
Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
'Green News Report' 12/5/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
The hottest ten years on record; GOP Senate confirms lobbyist as Energy Sec; CA bans all new fracking, for now; PLUS: Greta Thunberg is back in Europe, with a warning for politicians...
Previous GNRs: 12/3/19 - 11/26/19 - Archives...
'A President Should Resist Foreign Interference in Our Elections, Not Demand It': 'BradCast' 12/4/19
First House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable crimes w/ Heather Digby Parton...
'Abuse of Office, Abuse of Power, Abuse of the Public Trust': 'BradCast' 12/3/19
Guest: Const'l law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala out; Another bad court day for Team Trump...
'Green News Report' 12/3/19
U.N. climate summit kicks off with 'catastrophic' news in Madrid; PLUS: Residents back home after yet another petrochemical explosion in TX ruins Thanksgiving...
2019 Foreshadows 2020 Vote System Catastrophes: 'BradCast' 12/2/19
Also: Bullock out; Hunter 'guilty'; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer Qs about his new unverifiable vote systems...
Sunday 'It's Just a Cyst' Toons
As usual, as PDiddie proves once again, there is nothing at all to worry about in his latest Sunday collection of political toons...
Don't Just Debunk the Ukraine DNC Hack Conspiracy Theory. Expose Its Absurdity.
Why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election make no sense whatsoever...
Turkey Day Toons!
PDiddie doesn't even take Sundays off! Did you think he would stand down for Thanksgiving?! Gobble gobble!...
Trump Is Up Schiff's Creek Without an Alibi:
'BradCast' 11/27/19
Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts...
'Green News Report' 11/26/19
Climate change finds way into latest Dem debate; Greenhouse gas at record highs; 2019 wettest year on record; PLUS: Oxford Dictionary's 'Word of the Year' is...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


A day full of both historic and chilling news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2019 6:28pm PT  

Today's BradCast offers some historic news and some chilling news. And some that may be both. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she is directing House Democrats to move forward to draw up Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump. It is only the fourth time in our nation's history for such an action. We share Pelosi's somber announcement and the history lesson that it includes, as well as the reaction from the White House, from Trump himself, and the steps that lie ahead in the House Judiciary Committee as we move toward a trial in the U.S. Senate for removal of the President.

The historic action, which reportedly may include as many as four different Articles of Impeachment --- Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair) and Obstruction of Justice (in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe) --- has become necessary, according to Pelosi, to save the republic in light of Trump's recently revealed attempts to undermine the 2020 election with help, once again, from a foreign nation.

Then, the Dept. of Justice on Thursday announced two indictments of Russian hackers --- whose whereabouts are currently unknown --- as part of what officials describe as one of the largest cybercrime sprees in U.S. history. The sweeping criminal conspiracy was allegedly led by the two men, who officials have tied to Russian security services. It involves malware designed to defeat anti-virus software distributed by a group named Evil Corp (seriously) and used to siphon more than $100 millions dollars from the bank accounts of companies and even school districts in at least 11 states. The malware phishing schemes reportedly even targeted a small organization of nuns in Chicago.

While that attack has been broad and ongoing over many months, a seemingly separate scheme, also tied to Russians criminals, crippled technology services to more than 100 nursing homes across the U.S. with a ransomware attack on the company that provides the tech services to those facilities. Following a successful emailed phishing attack on November 18, that someone within the company appears to have clicked on, the network of the Milwaukee-based firm was infected, leading the cybercriminals to demand $14 million for the restoration of access to at least 100 hijacked servers. Reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday suggests the company will rebuild their servers rather than pay the ransom. But, in the meantime, some of the nursing homes serviced by the company were unable to access patient records, use the internet, pay employees or order medications. AP reports that ransomware attacks of this kind have been on the rise in 2019, particularly those that target critical public services, with some 70 such attacks in the first half of the year targeting more than 50 cities.

Another victim --- and here's where it begins to get even more chilling --- was the state of Louisiana. They appear to have been attacked on the same day as the Milwaukee tech services company. What makes this attack far more unnerving is that it took place just two days after Louisiana's recent gubernatorial run-off election on November 16.

While the state was quick to stop the spread of the virus, they had to shut down vital state services at dozens of agencies, including the Office of the Governor, the Louisiana State Legislature, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and others, such as the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on the heels of the major runoff elections just two days earlier. Hundreds of computers were affected in the state overall, including those offering elections results to the public at the Secretary of State's website. Had the attack come just days earlier, it might have been devastating for the state's elections, which shamefully require all voters at the polls to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems. Had those been knocked out --- or the electronic pollbook systems required to use them --- chaos might have ensued in the closely watched statewide election.

Nonetheless, dozens of other states and counties around the country (many of them battlegrounds and/or highly-populated) are currently moving --- right now! -- to similar computer touchscreen voting systems that rely on working computer networks in advance of the critical 2020 elections. Those systems will be wildly vulnerable next year, where unhackable hand-marked paper ballot systems would not be. Are we insane?

Finally Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with even more chilling news. Though, in this case, it's about the warming of the globe and the GOP Senate confirming yet another lobbyist to a top Trump cabinet seat. Happily, there is a bit of good news in today's GNR as well, regarding California's ban on new fracking, and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's safe arrival back in Europe for this year's U.N. climate conference in Spain...

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

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Special coverage of the first official House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable offenses, with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2019 5:27pm PT  

As we try to tell you damned near everyday here on The BradCast, everything is ultimately about elections. All of it. Today's impeachment hearings, I'm happy to say, drove that point home yet again, particularly regarding concerns from our nation's founders about the corrupting nature of foreign influence on U.S. elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The House Judiciary Committee held its first official impeachment hearing on Wednesday, regarding the Ukraine scandal and, yes, obstruction of justice in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel's probe. Four academics testified on both the history and meaning intended by the founders of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the U.S. Constitution's impeachment clause, and on what at least three of the four scholars smartly described as clearly impeachable offenses committed by President Donald J. Trump.

"President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency," said Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School. We share some extended excerpts from his opening statement as well as his fellow esteemed Constitutional law professors Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law. All three testified that the record is now clear that Trump committed impeachable offenses in his strong-arm bribery campaign to force Ukraine to announce an investigation against his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden in exchange for nearly $400 million in military assistance allocated by Congress but frozen by the White House in what Trump's own EU Ambassador described in a previous hearing as a "quid pro quo" scheme.

Today's hearing was surprising enlightening with the unusually lively and passionate academics answering sharp questions from both Democratic and Republican counsel and members of the Committee, as chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Not all of those who testified, however, agreed that Trump should be impeached --- at least not yet. George Washington University School of Law professor Jonathan Turley --- the Republicans' witness, who testified in support of impeachment against Bill Clinton in 1998 because "he ha[d] deprived himself of the perceived legitimacy to govern" --- argued the record was still too "wafer thin" to move forward with Articles of Impeachment against Trump.

We discuss that point and many others, including the Democrats' reasons --- some good, some not --- for moving quickly on impeachment before voting begins in the 2020 primaries less than two months from today, with our ace Impeachment Hearing Correspondent HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Democrats appeared to be homing in on at least three, and maybe four, Articles of Impeachment, as both Digby and I read today's hearing, including Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair), and Obstruction of Justice (in the Mueller investigation). But there was far more from today's eight hours of hearings and our coverage of it than I can possibly summarize here, so I'll just strongly suggest you tune in.

Also covered on today's program (as both stories also concern the importance of elections to the very heart of our republic): Georgia's illegitimate Republican Governor Brian Kemp names a new, wholly inexperienced "Ivanka Trump"-like U.S. Senator for the Peach State, and NATO world leaders are caught on video tape laughing (and laughing) at, not with, the President of the United States. Happy travels back from the NATO Summit, Mr. Trump!...

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

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Guest: Constitutional law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala is out; Another no good, very bad day in court for Team Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 12/3/2019 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was another very bad day in the federal courts for Donald Trump, though another very good one for the Rule of Law (for those who still care about such things), even as a new phase in the President's ongoing impeachment inquiry begins in the U.S. House. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this article.]

First up, some quick news of the day. California Senator and one time "top tier" 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate is dropping out of the race exactly two months before voting begins in Iowa in next year's nominating contest and just two weeks before the next Presidential debate set for her home state on December 19. We discuss the ramifications for the race and for the woman who might have been the first black female President (but who could very well still become the first such Vice President).

There was more bad news today for Trump and his family and his businesses in federal court on Tuesday, as a three-judge panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with the lower court ruling that both Deutsche Bank and Capital One must turn over Trump-related financial documents to two House committees which had subpoenaed them. Trump and his family sued the banks to block the disclosure of what could be a treasure trove of damning documentation detailing years of Trump's dubious financial history and the sources of his funding after several bankruptcies and denials for loans from banks other than the German-based Deutsche. Despite his many business failures, that bank, for some reason, reportedly loaned Trump and his businesses well over $2 billion. Now that he's lost in court again, he has been given seven days to decide if he wishes to appeal to the Republicans' stolen majority on the Supreme Court before the banks will be required to turn over the records to Congress.

Tuesday's serious legal blow follows another one for Trump on Monday, when U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to place a Stay on her ruling from last week ordering Don McGahn to appear before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee regarding the former White House Counsel's testimony on Trump's many instances of obstruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The judge ruled the Trump Dept. of Justice's claim that the Presidency would suffer "irreparable harm," if McGahn was allowed to testify was baseless. She did, however, determine that the House Judiciary Committee's ongoing investigation would be "unquestionably harm[ed]" without it, "and by extension" the lack of testimony by the former White House legal chief "would also injure the public’s interest in thorough and well-informed impeachment proceedings."

Speaking of which, the impeachment action moves from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, with Judiciary's first public hearing on the Ukraine matter. They will work from a searing 300-page report released by the Intelligence panel on Tuesday, documenting serious abuses of power and obstruction of Congress by Trump that have been revealed during the past several weeks of public and private testimony regarding the President's campaign to withhold military assistance from Ukraine until they agreed to help him in the 2020 Presidential election. The Judiciary Committee's central aim, after the House Intelligence panel found Trump "placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States," will now be to determine if Articles of Impeachment are merited against the President.

Our guest today, who has written several books on impeachment and testified to Congress about "high crimes and misdemeanor" is Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People. Bonifaz testified to House Judiciary Democrats during the George W. Bush era, explaining how the founders definition of "high crimes" was easily met by Dubya via his unlawful war in Iraq. He also favored impeachment of Bill Clinton back in the 90s, but tells us today that "nothing rises to the level of the kind of abuses of power we've seen under this President".

Bonifaz offers a preview of what four Constitutional law experts are likely to offer during their testimony at Wednesday's first hearing before the House Judiciary panel and explains how the Constitution's term "high crimes and misdemeanors" was meant to refer to abuses of office that were not necessarily defined as statutory crimes (since there were very few such crimes on the books when the Constitution was first adopted!) "This is not about demonstrating in a court of law that the President has committed x or y violations of the federal statutory code, a federal crime or state crime," he tells me. "This is about abuse of office, abuse of power, abuse of the public trust."

Bonifaz, whose latest book on impeachment with Ron Fein and Ben Clements is called The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, argues that there is a long list [PDF] of abuses that merit the removal of this President. "We've laid out a number of Impeachment Articles that should be presented in Congress that go beyond the Ukraine scandal. They include racist abuses of power, the abuses of power at the southern border separating children and their families, violating their Constitutional rights. The abuse of the pardon power, in pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The list goes on," he says. "And this president need to be held accountable for the full range of his high crimes."

He also explains why he is critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for not moving more quickly when they took control of the House in January, noting that had they initiated the various court battles over testimony and documents at that point, "we would be in a much different position today."

"We are where we are in part because of the unwillingness of the Democratic leadership in the House to do its duty the moment it assumed control of the House of Representatives. They ran on a platform in 2018 to be a check on this Presidency, and it took another nine months into their holding of the House control to start that process of being a check on this Presidency. And that's why we're in this predicament."

I also ask Bonifaz for his thoughts on the White House's legal claims of "absolutely immunity" (it "has no basis in the law," he tells me); whether Chief Justice John Roberts will find a way to block high profile witnesses, like Mulvaney and Bolton, when they are called by Democrats during an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate (Roberts may "apply the argument that 'these matters are still pending in the federal courts,' so he's not going to override that"); whether he concurs with Robert Reich's argument today that impeaching Trump (whether he's removed or not) makes him legally and Constitutionally "unpardonable"; and how it is up to we, the people, to "stay alert, awake and engaged in fighting for our democracy and our Constitution because we cannot rely on those in power to save us and to save our democracy. We have to fight to protect it, and fight to protect our republic."

Finally, beyond the fight to protect our republic, there is the fight to save our civilization itself. On that matter, we are joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, as several disturbing new studies on "catastrophic" tipping points for the climate are published as the nations of the world convene in Madrid this week for the latest U.N. Climate Summit...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/26/2019 10:36am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Climate change finds its way into the latest Democratic debate; Greenhouse gas concentrations reach record highs; 2019 is the wettest year on record for the Lower 48; PLUS: The words heard 'round the world - "climate emergency" is Oxford Dictionary's 2019 'Word of the Year'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!
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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): U.N.: 'Bleak' outlook as carbon emissions gap grows; Trump EPA scales back safety rules adopted after chemical blast; No, koalas aren't 'functionally extinct'—yet; Supreme Court won't throw out climate scientist's defamation suit; 'Biblical destruction' from storms in Europe; New solar heat technology could help solve tricky industrial heat problem; How cities are turning food into fuel; Tesla's Big Battery to get even bigger... PLUS: 10 ways to accelerate progress against climate change... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Special coverage of both with David Bender and Jackie Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2019 5:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we impossibly offer special coverage of both Wednesday night's Democratic 2020 Presidential Debate in Atlanta and Wednesday night and Thursday morning's blockbuster public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today: Wednesday's second session in the House Intelligence Committee featuring Laura Cooper, Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense for Russia and David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, in which Cooper revealed that Ukrainian officials were aware of the Trump Administration's freeze on nearly $400 million in military assistance at least a month earlier than previously known. The claim undercuts GOP claims that the pressure campaign on Ukraine couldn't have been a quid pro quo because Ukraine didn't know their military assistance had been withheld. Both officials says they had no idea why the White House had frozen the funds. Their testimony also backs up the bombshell testimony earlier in the day from Gordon Sondland, Donald Trump's EU Ambassador, who charged that the scheme amounted to a clear quid pro quo by the President, as Sondland was assigned to take the lead in Trump's pressure campaign to force the Ukrainian President into announcing investigations of the 2016 election and Joe Biden in exchange for a White House meeting and millions of dollars in military aid approved by a bipartisan Congress.

And, on Thursday, David Holmes, political adviser at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine and Dr. Fiona Hill, who served as Trump's top Russia and Ukraine expert on the National Security Council under John Bolton, offered riveting testimony in the last of the Committee's scheduled impeachment hearings, for now. Holmes detailed the unsecured cell-phone conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland at a cafe in Kiev, in which the President was eager to hear about the investigations into his political rivals on the day after his infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes said Sondland told him Trump didn't care about Ukraine, other than as it pertained to the President's personal reelection interests. Hill, a longtime non-partisan foreign service officer, shared gripping details on the Russia/Ukraine conflict, describing the Trump/Rudy Giuliani/GOP claim that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election as a "fictional narrative" propagated by Russia. She detailed Bolton's description of Rudy Giuliani as "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up," adding, "I think that’s where we are today." Hill also went on to explain Trump's pursuit of what she described as a "domestic political errand" that came at the expense of official American foreign policy.

Then, we move on to Wednesday evening's 2020 Presidential Debate featuring ten candidates --- Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Harris, Klobuchar, Steyer, and Yang --- in the 5th such forum of the year, this one sponsored and moderated by hosts from MSNBC and Washington Post. We're joined for insight and analysis on BOTH of our special coverage topics today by longtime political activist, reporter, author, broadcaster and documentarian DAVID BENDER, Political Director of Progressive Voices Network and journalist, producer and communications expert JACKI SCHECHNER, formerly of CNN and CurrentTV.

Among the many debate-related matters we discuss today: How Wednesday's forum, lead by four female journalists, differed from previous debates this year; whether Democrats are focusing too much or not enough on the dangers posed to the nation and the world by Donald Trump; whether the Democratic Party is adequately reaching out to the anti-war left (some of whom abandoned them for Trump in 2016); Joe Biden's frailty and Tulsi Gabbard's politics; and what if any effect Michael Bloomberg may have on the race if and when he finally enters --- as he continues to threaten...

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Also: Trump's LA Guv candidate goes down in runoff; Mass shooting in Fresno; Trump pardons war criminals; Impeachment Week 2 preview...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2019 5:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners to get their takes on where they are on impeachment following Week 1 of public hearings in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, before we go to the phones, a few news items of note from over the weekend and into today, including...

  • In Louisiana on Saturday, Donald Trump lost yet again, with Eddie Rispone, the Republican candidate for Governor that Trump rallied bigly for --- three different times over the past five weeks --- going down to the state's Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards (according to Louisiana's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems which are shamefully used across the entire state.) The embarrassing loss for Trump and Republicans in the Deep South was his second in as many weeks after he also campaigned hard for Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin. He lost in that state to Democrat Andy Beshear the week before last. If Trump is counting on support from Republican voters in red states --- during his impeachment or his re-election next year --- he could be in for some surprises based on the reported results of this year's off-year elections. Republican U.S. Senators on the ballot in "red" and swing states may also be looking very closely at these statewide results when considering whether to vote for or against Trump's removal in an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate next year;
  • The American Carnage that Trump pretended to promise to end continues apace, with yet another mass shooting on Sunday. The latest was at a football watch party in Fresno, CA where 10 party-goers were shot with 4 of them killed. The shooter(s) remains unknown and at large;
  • And, as the walls close in around Trump, the President of the United States attacked yet another impeachment witness on Twitter over the weekend. This one, Jennifer Williams, is a senior staffer for Vice President Mike Pence who referred to his strong-arming phone call to Ukraine's President as "inappropriate". Trump called her, baselessly, a "Never Trumper". But impeachment and removal of the President is getting more popular, according to a new poll from ABC News/Ipsos with a majority now in favor. And the worst is still to come for Trump as 9 witnesses, including Williams, will be testifying on the Ukraine bribery scandal in open hearings this week, and much of that testimony --- as we break down in detail today --- is expected to be both explosive and quite damaging to the President (who is also now reported under investigation by House legal counsel for lying to Robert Mueller in his written testimony during the Special Counsel's probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump's multiple attempts at obstructing the inquiry.)

Then, we open the phone to callers for the rest of the hour, in order to try and get a read on whether the first week of public impeachment hearings has moved them --- one way or another --- on the matter. While most of our callers say they were in favor of impeachment before it began, they are now even more so following last week's hearings. But a few of them were opposed to impeachment and still are. They offer a few humdingers as to why. I can't adequately summarize those calls and those excuses here, so I won't even try. Tune in and enjoy!

And buckle up for much more BradCast impeachment special coverage in the days ahead...whether you --- or we --- like it or not!...

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Extended excerpts and analysis with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/13/2019 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our special coverage of the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We share extended excerpts from the opening statements at today's historic hearing in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, as chaired by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and led on the Republican side by Ranking Member Devin Nunes.

The witnesses for Wednesday's hearing were two long-serving, non-partisan, career diplomats who offered detailed and often damning testimony on Trump's unprecedented withholding of military aide to Ukraine as part of a pressure campaign to force its new President to announce investigations into Trump's political rivals and into an uncorroborated theory regarding Ukraine's interference in the 2016 election. Both men also offered background on Ukraine's struggle to break away from its corrupt past with its new administration, even while the beleaguered former Soviet-bloc nation continues its long and deadly war on its eastern border against Russian-backed separatists.

Ambassador Bill Taylor, a 30-year foreign service veteran and decorated Vietnam combat soldier, currently serves as Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine. He was assigned to the post by Trump's Sec. of State Mike Pompeo after Trump's previous Ambassador, the virulently anti-corruption Marie Yovanovitch (who will testify on Friday), was pushed out of her role by what Taylor described as an "irregular" diplomatic channel consisting of several of Trump's political allies, including his attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Taylor broke the most noteworthy new piece of information of the day as he described learning, just last week, about a late night unsecured cell phone call in July by one of the "irregulars", Ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland, to the President. The call was made in a restaurant, the day after Trump's infamous July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor's staffer (who will now also testify on Friday) is said to have overheard Trump asking Sondland about the status of "the investigations" into the Bidens and the 2016 election. After the call, Taylor testified, when the staffer asked Sondland about Trump's feelings toward Ukraine, the Trump-donor-turned-diplomat said he "cares more about the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine.

Sharing the witness table with Taylor on Wednesday was George Kent, Deputy Asst. Sec. of State overseeing policy for Ukraine. Kent, who also offered damning testimony about Trump's scheme to strong-arm Ukraine, has been a part of the State Department's foreign service since 1992, having served, like Taylor, under five different U.S. Presidents --- three Republicans and two Democrats --- during his time in government service.

We're joined today for insight and analysis on all of this by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Hullabaloo and Salon, as we discuss today's breaking news of note, the damning case being laid out against the President by Democrats, the thin and disjointed rebuttal being offered by Republicans in his defense, and how all of this may be perceived by the American public as the historic hearings continue later this week, into the next one, and likely beyond...

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Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Impeachment 101; NSC official offers first-hand corroboration of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, in an historic vote, the U.S. House officially adopted formal rules and procures to govern the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. We also do a bit of helpful Impeachment 101 to explain how it works, and what we know historically about the process from the three prior Presidential impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. [Audio link to program is posted below.]

Then, it's on to today's vote in the U.S. House, undercutting a limp Republican argument --- already undercut by a federal court last week which determined no such vote was actually required by the Constitution to proceed with impeachment --- a sharply divided House adopted a resolution [PDF] by a 232 to 196 vote, setting out official rules for how the inquiry will proceed. All present members of the GOP voted against the measure and all but two Democrats (conservative ones, from districts won by Trump in 2016) voted in favor. So did former Tea Party Republican turned Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Texas.

The resolution sets the ground rules for upcoming public hearings in the House Judiciary Committee with witnesses who have testified to members behind-closed-doors in recent weeks. The adopted procedures allow the President and his attorneys to participate and cross-examine witnesses in those hearings, as well as request subpoenas for their own witnesses and other evidence, as long as they do not obstruct the proceedings or continue to withhold evidence. The Democrats are targeting a timeline that could see a vote on Articles of Impeachment in the Judiciary Committee and then the full House by Christmas, unless it is further derailed by continuing White House obstruction.

We cover the historic floor arguments today in favor of the resolution offered by Democrats from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff to several rank-and-file members, along with arguments against the resolution from members like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Even as today's vote was carried out, both Democratic and Republican impeachment investigators from the Intelligence, Foreign Services and Oversight Committees continued taking depositions behind closed doors on Thursday, from witnesses testifying about Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, which is at the center of the current effort to consider official Articles of Impeachment against the President. Testifying in the House today was the top Russia expert on the White House's National Security Council, Tim Morrison, who was hand-picked by his immediate superior, the extremely right-wing then National Security Advisor John Bolton (who Democrats have also summoned to offer testimony in coming days.) Morrison reportedly corroborated accounts by other senior Administration officials that Trump did, in fact, personally push to withhold $391 million in Congressionally-allocated security assistance to Ukraine in exchange for a commitment from its new President to open an investigation into Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine (not Russia) attempted to manipulate the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with new evidence that Donald Trump is losing --- and losing badly --- the "War on Coal", the ominous sign for every state offered by California's wildfires and power blackouts, a very disturbing new study on sea level rise, and a number of major automakers joining Trump in his battle against California and a number of other major automakers on mileage and emissions standards...

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Guest: Media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: Preemptive blackouts threaten CA elections; GOP tries denial as impeachment defense; Trump Campaign has bought 69,000 Facebook ads since May...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2019 6:24pm PT  

Right in the middle of today's BradCast, as we were discussing the very topic, Twitter announced that they would be blocking all political ads before 2020 from their massive social media site. As our guest today explains, however, Facebook, still refuses to even fact-check political ads purchased on their site, no matter how demonstrably false and misleading they are. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, as fires rage up and down the great state of California due to climate change-fueled winds, heat, tinderbox dry conditions and preemptive power blackouts by private, for-profit utility companies who failed to heed early warnings, it's become clear that elections in the Golden State are now also endangered. Exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, a number of large counties in the state, most notably here in Los Angeles (the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction) are moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems, rather than verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, and to e-pollbook systems at Voting Centers which rely on the Internet to establish voter eligibility before voting, rather than old school paper pollbooks.

Both new systems also require electricity for voters to be able to cast their votes at all. But what if power companies are forced, at this very same time next year, to once again preemptively shut down power to avoid the threat of utility line sparked wildfires? We have queried L.A.'s County Clerk and Registrar Recorder's office seeking information on what their backup plans are for such a situation, should it occur, next year. We'll let you know what, if anything, we hear back from Registrar Dean Logan or his office on an upcoming show.

Then, today's impeachment update includes a look at another one of the Republicans' latest attempts to find a way --- some way, any way! --- to defend Donald Trump's well-documented quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military assistance in hopes of forcing Ukraine's President to commit to a probe of Trump's 2020 political rival Joe Biden. After eviscerating, on yesterday's program, the disingenuous cries from GOPers in recent days that the inquiry was unfair to the President for lack of "due process," today we highlight several of the attempts by a number of Republicans to simply deny the entire matter even exists. From Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner's recent claim that the impeachment is little more than a "silly game" because the President "hasn't done anything wrong", to Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)'s refusal to answer even the simplest questions about Trump's documented behavior, to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)'s admission that he hadn't even attended a single impeachment inquiry hearing session, despite being a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of three that has been taking depositions behind closed doors from witnesses in the Ukraine affair over the past several weeks.

Then, with the Trump Campaign having purchased some 69,000(!) micro-targeted Facebook ads since May alone, many of them either entirely false or horrifically misleading (and amounting to more ads in total than all 18 current Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates combined!) we're joined by SUE WILSON, former Emmy and AP-award winning broadcast journalist turned media reform activist and founder of the Media Action Center, to discuss the controversial refusal by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to fact-check political ads purchased on his enormous social media site.

Wilson recently wrote at The BRAD BLOG about the controversy, sparked by Zuckerberg's refusal to block a clearly false Trump ad which CNN refused to air, and a subsequent false ad by Elizabeth Warren that she purposely ran at Facebook (and admitted was false) in order to press the point. That column, critiquing Zuckerberg's claim to be following local broadcaster ad standards (despite not being a broadcaster) as an important issue of "free speech", was published prior to some 200 employees of the social media giant signing a public letter this week calling for a number of the same reforms cited by Wilson in her recent op-ed.

"Personally, I'm offended by the idea that lying ads are the same as free speech," she tells me. "That is not free speech. It is paid speech, paid-to-misinform-people speech."

Wilson describes the breaking news about Twitter as "wonderful", adding: "It's kind of ironic that it's taking Facebook for us to start looking at these political ads that are allowed to lie to us. Not only should Facebook ban all political ads, but we should rewrite the laws so that broadcasters ban all political ads. This is a giant industry which promotes misinformation, and this is one very good way to start telling the truth to America."

Wilson debunks a number of Zuckerberg's claims about his ill-considered policy decision to allow all paid political propaganda ads by campaigns to run, no matter how many lies are included in them, and explains the arcane, nearly century-old federal requirements regarding which political ads broadcasters (versus cable channels and television networks) are allowed to prevent from running and which ones they may not censor, no matter how demonstrably false they may be.

Today's conversation with Wilson makes clear that Facebook needs to, as its own employees advise, rethink its current policy, at a minimum, before the platform is further "weaponized" by political campaigns with "destructive misinformation" that threatens our very democracy, even as concerns about political censorship by huge media outlets remains a concern. Hope you'll tune in for this important discussion in advance of next year's critical Presidential election!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AG Barr ordered to hand over grand jury transcripts, exhibits redacted from the Mueller Report to Congress by October 30
UPDATE 10/29/19: DC Circuit Court of Appeal Grants Temporary Stay of Order to Release Grand Jury Materials...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/28/2019 9:35am PT  

In her landmark, 75-page decision filed on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell did much more than simply grant a motion filed by the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) to compel the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide it with grand jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe that had been previously concealed. In that same order, the court systematically demolished every quasi-legal objection the DOJ and White House have raised in their specious efforts to interfere with an ongoing and lawful impeachment inquiry.

The core question raised by HJC's motion was whether the court should order the DOJ to release pertinent grand jury materials in accordance with Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Although grand jury testimony and exhibits are ordinarily kept secret, Rule 6(e) authorizes a court to order the disclosure of such materials "preliminarily to" or "in connection with a judicial proceeding" when there is a "particularized need" for disclosure.

Judge Howell suggested that a House impeachment inquiry, in and of itself, may be considered a "judicial proceeding". She concluded, however, that the court did not have to reach that issue because the HJC was correct in its assertion that its impeachment inquiry was "preliminary to" a judicial proceeding.

In her erudite decision, Howell cited historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and both Supreme Court and binding DC Circuit Court of Appeals precedent. All of these make it abundantly clear: U.S. Senate impeachment trials are "judicial proceedings". Indeed, the DOJ's contrary position is not only at odds with the appellate decision in Haldeman v. Sirica (1974) but also with the DOJ's own legal position in that Watergate-era decision. The DOJ was unable to satisfactorily explain why, under Attorney General William P. Barr, it had changed its previous, long-standing legal position.

The "particularized need" to release the materials arises, in this instance, because Mueller, in deference to the opinions of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting President may not be indicted,* refrained from reaching conclusions about the legality or illegality of the President's conduct. "This," the court observed, "leaves the House as the only federal body that can act on allegations of presidential misconduct." Yet, the court observed, "under the DOJ's reading of Rule 6(e), the Executive Branch would be empowered to wall off any evidence of presidential misconduct from the House by placing that evidence before a grand jury."

The DOJ's contentions were, thus, not simply wrong but untenable. "In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted," Judge Howell observed at the outset of her opinion, "Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel's investigation, nor risk being mislead by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel that varies with what they tell HJC."

Had she stopped there, Judge Howell's ruling would be significant. Her demolition of every argument against the validity of the impeachment inquiry that has been presented by the DOJ, by the White House and by some Republican members of Congress, however, was nothing short of breathtaking...

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




$10 billion should buy a lot of fact-checking on his social media platform. Instead it empowers the fake news he claims to oppose...
By Sue Wilson on 10/25/2019 9:35am PT  

There has been a battle between Elizabeth Warren v. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook since the social media giant started accepting incendiary paid advertisements from President Donald Trump in which his campaigns makes claims about former Vice President and Presidential candidate Joe Biden that are, to put it mildly, less than true.

Recently, Warren, in a gutsy move, shot back with an ad that willfully lied about Zuck and Trump so she could make a valid point about Facebook's recent policy of allowing candidates' ads to run on Facebook without any vetting of facts.

What is really at issue is whether laws developed for local broadcast licensees can --- or should --- apply to social media platforms and, really, whether any outlets should be allowed to make billions of dollars knowingly running ads that lie and purposely misinform the public.

In her ad, Warren first claims "Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have endorsed Trump for re-election!" Then she writes, "you might be thinking, how could this possibly be true? Well, it's not. (sorry.)" Warren goes on to make the point that what the Facebook CEO is doing in avoiding responsibility for all fact-checking on the massive social media site is giving Trump permission to lie --- so long as he pays Facebook "gobs of money" to spread those lies to voters. She draws a distinction between the way TV networks and Facebook are handling the ads: "If Trump tries to lie in a TV ad, most networks will refuse to air it. But Facebook just cashes Trumps checks."

Facebook responded, ironically enough, in a tweet...

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




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