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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, September 19, 2019
Since the Dems Stink at Oversight, Let's Focus on Climate: 'BradCast' 9/17/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with 350.org's Tamara Toles O'Laughlin and Bill McKibben...
Bigger Priorities than the Integrity of the Vote? 'BradCast' 9/16/19
Guest hosted by Angie Coiro with Patrick Poblete and Richard Clarke on UAW Strike, Wisconsin Voting Machines, Cybersecurity...
Sunday 'What's Your Flavor?' Toons
If only we moved as fast to ban deadly AR-15s as we are now moving to ban life-saving nicotine devices. Just one of many ironies in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Progressive OG Bloggers Recap the Third 2020 Debate: 'BradCast' 9/13/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Heather 'Digby' Parton and 'Driftglass'...
Taking to the Streets and Taking on the Media: 'BradCast' 9/12/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with activist Joshua Potash and broadcaster Krystal Ball...
'Green News Report' 9/12/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Global trade unions commit to Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20th; Parts of planet already warmed 2 degrees; PLUS: Prominent climate science denier departs the Trump WH...
Previous GNRs: 9/10/19 - 9/5/19 - Archives...
Dem Appears to LOSE Votes During Tally of NC09 Special Election 'Do-Over' Race? [VIDEO]
As more precincts come in, candidate totals appear to go down on MSNBC...
TX Gun Safety Advocates 'Startled' by Guv's Openness to Reform After Shootings: 'BradCast' 9/10/19
Guest: Ed Scruggs of TX Gun Sense; Also: Bolton out; Trump rallies for NC09 GOPer...
'Green News Report' 9/10/19
Trump's weather lies become NOAA crisis; Dorian death toll could be thousands in Bahamas; PLUS: Trump DoJ opens dubious anti-trust probe into automakers' CA deal...
A Month's Worth of News from the Last Three Days: 'BradCast' 9/9/19
(And we didn't even get to half of it!); Plus: Callers ring in on Dem Primary, L.A. County's new unverifiable touchscreen system, more!...
Sunday 'Category 5' Toons
Our prediction is that hot air on Hurricane Dorian won't stop after PDiddie's latest toon collection, which definitely hits Trump (and Alabama!) harder than anticipated...
'Cheeto Christ Stupid Czar' and Other Relevant Facts: 'BradCast' 9/6/19
Trump steals from hurricane-ravaged bases; Creepy Fox zombie; GOP scraps primaries; More House Rs quit; Musical happy ending...
'Green News Report' 9/5/19
Humanitarian crisis unfolding in Bahamas in Dorian's wake; PLUS: 2020 Dems dive deep in CNN's marathon 'Climate Crisis Town Hall'...
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...


Guests: David Dayen and Jacki Schechner on surprises from Wed. night, clarity on real 'costs' of Medicare-for-All, thoughts on Yang's plan for $1000/month Universal Basic Income, and Harris' record as CA AG...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2019 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage --- and a lot of smart information --- on Night Two of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate in Detroit, as hosted by CNN. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The ten candidates featured during the second night's combative, two-and-a-half-hour long festivities were: former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Former HUD Sec. Julian Castro; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; WA state Gov. Jay Inslee; CO Sen. Michael Bennet and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

As during night one, the broad array of topics about which CNN's moderators worked hard to create confrontation between the candidates included healthcare (again leading the debate at the top and in the length of time spent on the issue), immigration, race, the climate crisis, the economy, foreign policy and, unlike the first night, even a question or two on how the candidates might take on Donald Trump and whether he should be held accountability for his crimes with impeachment.

Biden, the perceived front-runner, seemed at least slightly more prepared and less frail than in his first outing during the June debate in Miami, while finding his policies as a Senator over the last many decades and as President Obama's Veep sharply attacked by a number of the other participants. For her part, Harris --- who seemed to get the best of Biden in a number of exchanges during the June forum, seeing her fortunes rise thereafter --- was met with tough attacks from both Biden and several of the other candidates hoping to grab the spotlight. Booker stood out in a number of exchanges, including several with the former Vice President. Other candidates had their moments as well, as we discuss, even as the field for the next debates in September may now be cut by half or more.

We're joined today, once again, by two guests for our special coverage. Journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER is back with us again today, and we're also joined by prolific investigative financial journalist and award-winning author DAVID DAYEN, who now also serves as Executive Editor for The American Prospect.

Their smart analysis and insight today focuses on, among other things...

  • Whether CNN improved on its questioning and format for night two after facing sharp criticism for their opening round on Tuesday (Schechner saw moderate improvement, Dayen saw none);
  • which candidates, if any, stood out over their past performances (Booker and Inslee receive the most noteworthy nods on that score);
  • whether or not proposals by a number of the more progressive candidates for a Medicare-for-All style single-payer universal coverage system is actually affordable, or if the more modest proposals to build on the existing Affordable Care Act with a so-called "Public Option", as sought by the more conservative candidates like Biden, is actually more realistic. (Dayen describing the "entire conversation about costs" as "a complete red herring", offers a more concise, clear answer to that question than any of the 20 candidates over the past two nights! In short, he explains: "A Medicare For All system would save money. We know that because the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, which put together the very study that Joe Biden and these others are quoting, said that a system where the government would cover all medical costs would actually cost $32 trillion dollars over a ten-year period, but doing nothing right now would cost Americans, through their total national health expenditures, $34 trillion. So the overall savings to America from moving into a single payer system is two trillion dollars over ten years.");
  • how Democrats seem to be pulling their punches when it comes to one of the largest cost drivers of healthcare;
  • whether debates over these weedy details are helpful or even necessary right now, or if they should take a back seat for the moment to the question of who can best defeat Donald Trump in 2020. (The conversation now simply "muddies the waters" and is "totally unecessary," Shechner argues. "We need to bring this up to a higher level at this point, and say, 'You're going to have a choice in the election between somebody who wants to do something about the broken healthcare system and somebody who doesn't care about the broken healthcare system, has no plan for it, has no interest in fixing it, and is simply interested in dismantling anything that President Obama put into place.")
  • how Yang's interesting proposal for a $1000/month Universal Basic Income for every American would (or wouldn't) actually work;
  • and a number of concerns about Harris' record as CA's Attorney General before she became a U.S. Senator. That as she cited her record as a prosecutor taking on the Big Banks during her closing statement on Wednesday night.

All of that and much more is covered during our lively --- and, I believe, quite enlightening --- conversation on today's BradCast special coverage...

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

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Guests: Jacki Schechner and David Faris on CNN's misfires, the party's divides, the candidates' substantive policies and the necessity of fearlessness in winning and taking down Donald Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2019 4:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage of Night One of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate. This one was broadcast from the Fox Theater in Detroit and hosted by CNN. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Featured on the first night's debate stage were VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; MN Senator Amy Klobuchar; former MD Rep. John Delaney; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former CO Gov. John Hickenlooper; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MT Gov. Steve Bullock (in his first Dem Debate appearance) and author/spiritual guru Marianne Williamson.

The lively and often substantive debate was, nonetheless, frequently truncated by CNN moderators, who seemed to work hard to force confrontation between the candidates, while framing many of the evening's debate topics as if they were Republican talking points and otherwise trying to highlight the divide between the progressive and conservative wings of the party. Among the many issues raised during the two and a half hour debate on Tuesday night were healthcare (a nearly 25 minute discussion, highlighting the party's many different and often controversial approaches to achieving universal coverage, from 'Medicare-for-All' to the Public Option, and their effects on private insurance), immigration, gun safety legislation (and the corporate forces that prevent it and many of the other issues discussed), the climate crisis, issues regarding race, the economy, the cost of college and student loans, foreign policy and nuclear weapons, and --- one of many Rightwing memes that CNN seemed to be pushing throughout the evening: whether the Democratic Party has moved too far to the Left.

We're joined today for discussion on as many of the above matters as we can fit in --- as well as some thoughts on what was not covered --- by journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER and Roosevelt University political scientist and contributor at The Week, DAVID FARIS, author of the recently published book, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics.

Each offer smart analysis and insight on the substantive policy issues raised last night, as well as both the political and media aspects of night one of the latest two night Democratic debate, some six months before voting is set to begin next February at the Iowa Caucuses...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/30/2019 10:46am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California wins, Trump loses as four major automakers make a deal on fuel-efficient cars; Two cable networks to host climate change town halls for 2020 presidential candidates; Study finds just talking about climate change makes a difference; PLUS: Republican pollster Frank Luntz has a change of heart on the climate crisis... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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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): Where will the West's next deadly wildfire strike?; How the Trump Administration trampled science in the rush to drill in the Arctic; 2020 Democrats put climate justice front and center ahead of debates; Stopping climate change will never be 'good business'; Farmers reckon with new climate reality in the heartland; Africa's largest wind power project is now open in Kenya; New report shows how many environmental activists are killed each week... PLUS: How investors got a heads-up on EPA's Pebble mine reversal... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




In nearly seven hours of long-awaited, halting responses from the former Special Counsel, the need for impeachment became clearer than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2019 5:39pm PT  

As documented by today's BradCast special coverage, former FBI Director Robert Mueller finally offered his long-awaited testimony in the U.S. House during nearly 7 hours of hearings before both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The Republican former Special Counsel confirmed key details of his two-volume, 448-page report [PDF] on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with that effort and, in most detail, multiple instances of both indictable and impeachable criminal corruption of justice laid out by the report. In frequently halting and often terse responses to members of the two House panels, Mueller, as promised, refused to stray from the "four corners" of his report, issued earlier this year following his two-year probe.

Nonetheless, as heard on today's program, his responses made clear that both Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr --- not to mention the bulk of the Republican Party and their rightwing media outlets --- have been completely misleading the American public with their claims that Mueller's report somehow "exonerated" the President. It did anything but.

"Did you actually totally exonerate the President?" Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler asked during his opening round of questions. "No," Mueller flatly replied, later adding that "the President was not exculpated for the acts that he alleged committed." When Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intel Committee, asked, "Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?," Mueller dryly responded: "It is not a witch hunt."

In fact, as Mueller's testimony made clear to those who watched --- especially to those who didn't bother to read his actual report --- any other American who committed the crimes detailed in the Special Counsel's report would have been indicted on multiple felony counts, as more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now stated. But for the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Counsel's (unsupportable) opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, Trump would most likely have been charged long ago for his repeated, unlawful attempts to quash the Special Counsel's investigation.

Moreover, near the close of today's long hearings, Mueller offered a chilling warning about what he describes as still-ongoing efforts by Russia and other foreign powers, "as we sit here", to interfere with and manipulate upcoming U.S. elections.

We hold most of the commentary and analysis on all of this for another day in order to bring you extended excerpts on today's program from the detailed questions and answers with members of Congress from both parties and in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. If you weren't able to catch seven hours of hearings beginning at 8:30am ET on a work day, we'll get you fairly well caught up on the key through-line and the most noteworthy stuff in just under an hour. You're welcome!

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

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President's comments wreak havoc in India, stun Afghanistan; Brexit Boris to be new UK PM; Trump budget agreement balloons his record deficit spending; GOPers killing thousands by undermining ACA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2019 6:26pm PT  

Donald Trump is, apparently, not content with just breaking America. Now he seems desperate to break the entire world. Also, back home, the lie of Republican "conservatism" is revealed, yet again, to be little more than a marketing gimmick for the party. Unfortunately, it also turns out to be deadly.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show posted below]...

  • An apparent lie Donald Trump told on Monday about India's Prime Minister asking for his help to mediate the years-long Pakistan/India dispute over the Kashmir region, resulted in chaos and outrage in the Indian Parliament on Tuesday;
  • At the same White House press avail with Pakistan's Prime Minister on Monday, Donald Trump also boasted how he "has plans" that, if he wanted to, "Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth" in "literally ten days". Benevolently, however, he added that he just doesn't "want to kill ten million people". The remarks do not appear to be going over well in Afghanistan;
  • With Trump's great foreign policy successes, the Conservative Party in the UK has selected the Trumpiest character they could find to be their next Prime Minister after three years of failed Brexit efforts. Boris Johnson will now replace the outgoing Theresa May in that post and, after being a key supporter of Brexit, Johnson vows he will pull the UK out of the European Union, "do or die", by October 31st. That, even if it means leaving without an agreement with the EU, no matter how much havoc would almost certainly ensue thereafter;
  • Back at home, Trump's Swamp gets swampier still as Mark Esper, the longtime lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be our new Defense Secretary. There may be an upside, however, but if so, he probably won't last long;
  • GOP "conservatism" was revealed, yet again, for the joke that it has long been, as the Trump Administration and Congressional Democrats agreed on Monday night to a two-year budget accord that will increase spending by some $320 billion and avoid further debt-ceiling battles until 2021, the first year of the next Presidential Administration. With that agreement --- presuming Fox and friends don't convince Trump to reverse himself again --- record debt and deficit will continue to balloon under this Republican President, as it has during his first several years in office. Once again, putting the lie to the notion that Republicans are actually concerned about debt, deficit or federal spending, at least when a Republican is in the White House. Between the unpaid-for Trump/GOP tax cuts for the wealthy of $1.5 trillion, and year-over-year increases in federal spending since Trump's been in office, the annual deficit has now ballooned to nearly $1 trillion a year with the national debt reaching $22 trillion. That, after decreased deficits, year after year, during the last four years of the Obama Administration. No doubt, Republicans will pretend to be "conservatives" again just as soon as there is a Democrat in the White House once more. And they'll have a new fight over the debt ceiling to do it with, presuming Trump is out by 2021. That's the "conservative" scam, and it's shameful that the media --- and even Democrats --- continue to fall for it by calling them "conservatives". They are nothing of the kind;
  • Their pretend "conservatism", however --- whenever it is convenient to hide behind the label --- is also deadly. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that, thanks to the GOP-controlled states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), approximately 15,600 deaths have occurred that otherwise would not have. Many of those states are also part of the group suing to kill the ACA entirely, a case heard last week by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If they are successful in striking down Obamacare in its entirety as unconstitutional, it means that some 24,000 Americans per year could die that otherwise would have lived. That's how GOP "conservatism" works. (Never mind that whole "provide for the general welfare" nonsense in the Constitution that they pretend to revere when occasionally convenient for them);
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which the latest climate change-fueled record heat wave reveals the vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure, the Trump EPA refuses to ban a toxic pesticide (made by a top Trump donor) which causes brain damage in children, the Trump 2020 campaign trolls the libs with recyclable and reusable straws (seriously) and Berkeley, CA becomes the first city in the nation to ban natural gas in new home construction...

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

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Guest: Election tech and cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund; Also: Deadly heat wave continues; Who to believe in the US/Iran showdown?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some potentially good news for Philadelphia voters (and, thus, voters across the entire country), after a citizen led effort has resulted in the state of Pennsylvania re-examining its certification of a shockingly vulnerable --- and wholly unverifiable --- new touchscreen voting system selected by the city earlier this year (under questionable circumstances) for use in upcoming elections. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, before we get to our guest today and the astonishing election integrity nightmare against which he is working with a coaltion on the ground in Philly to try and save democracy there, a few quick news items to start the show. Those include the now-deadly, climate change-fueled heat wave bearing down on dozens of states and millions of Americans and the latest on the dangerously intensifying disputes in the Persian Gulf --- thanks to Trump pulling out of the landmark 2015 anti-nuclear deal.

Then, last May, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would mandate HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter in the country, to help hedge against the possibility --- some may say likelihood --- of manipulated or erroneous elections results, and to help assure that results are publicly verifiable after elections. His bill, the Protect America's Voting and Elections (or PAVE) Act of 2019 now languishes in the Senate, despite passage of a bill in the House that also mandates HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, thanks to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's vow to disallow a vote on any election-related bills that might make our democracy more secure and overseeable in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections.

The White House has been similarly disinterested in improving election security and oversight, though Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the nation's "top spy" announced a new initiative today said to help the Intelligence Community coordinate their response to potential election manipulation, at least from foreign threats. Domestic threats, including from election insiders --- such as contractors from the private vendors who run much of America's elections, as well as simple programming errors or other manipulation by elections officials --- remain both as serious and much more difficult to guard against. Election protection ultimately comes down to public oversight, at the local level, of verified election results.

To that end, an Election Integrity coalition in Philadelphia this week has successfully petitioned the state of Pennsylvania to reexamine the Commonwealth's previous certification of a wildly dangerous and vulnerable new computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) made by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S). The company's new ExpressVote XL is a 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD system recently contracted for use by the Philadelphia Elections Board for use in upcoming elections, beginning with municipal elections this November and the Presidential contest next year.

We're joined today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, election integrity expert and Chief Technologist for the non-partisan Citizens for Better Elections, which, along with others in the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition petitioned the state for a re-examination of the ExpressVote XL. The costly voting and tabulation system --- one must be purchased for each voter voting at the same time in every precinct --- is described as a "universal" or "all-in-one" system, because one computer in the system is used to mark and print a voters ballot, and a second computer in the same system is then used to optically-scan and tabulate that ballot.

The system, chosen under a mysteriously truncated process by the Philadelphia Commissioners earlier this year --- "without any public or expert input" and with "no criteria for things like security, and resilience, and accessibility" as Skoglund tells me --- also violates state election code in numerous ways, as detailed in the citizen groups' petition to the state filed on Tuesday. Most alarmingly, however --- especially given the importance of Philly's one million votes to be cast in the crucial Keystone State during next year's Presidential election --- is a remarkable security design flaw in the ES&S ExpressVote XL.

In short (Skoglund offers more details on the show), the system allows the Ballot Marking Device's printer to change votes on the computer-printed ballot summary card before it is tallied but after the voter has already been given the opportunity to approve what was initially printed on the ballot summary card by the computer! In other words, of all of the terrible, 100% unverifiable BMD voting systems that Pennsylvania's Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia could have chosen, its City Commission chose the absolute most dangerous and unverifiable one.

"After this machine was certified in Pennsylvania, security researchers determined that there was a big flaw in these machines. That flaw is that they have a single paper path. It takes the blank piece of paper, it sends it to a printer, you make your selections on the screen, it prints those on the piece of paper, puts them back in front of the voter so that the voter can look at them and say whether or not they're happy with those selections. And once the voter says 'Yes, this is the ballot that I intend to cast, I am happy with these selections' and they press the button on the machine, it sends that card back through the same printer again before it goes to to the tabulator," Skoglund explains. "That means the machine has the opportunity to mark on that ballot --- potentially changing votes on it, invalidating votes on it, adding votes to it, basically changing what the voter cast." And, of course, the voter would never know.

While recent studies have found that most voters do not even bother to verify computer-marked paper ballots, and that of those who do, many do not notice if the computer has changed their selections, "The voter can do everything that's asked of them, do everything right, they can verify that ballot, and it still might not end up being the vote that gets cast. This is a violation of a fundamental principle of being able to audit these paper ballots. It's the whole reason we're going to paper ballots, to have good evidence of what the voter intended."

Skoglund explains, however, that it's not just Philadelphia preparing to use these systems in 2020. Other counties in PA are considering them as well, even though they are at least twice the price of a paper ballot system. Similarly states such as New Jersey and Delaware are moving to these same, horrible, unsecure systems. Elsewhere, jurisdictions from Georgia to Ohio to Kansas to Texas to Los Angeles are all preparing to move to only slightly less vulnerable (if equally unverifiable) BMD systems for 2020. That, instead of simpler, cheaper and actually verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems.

All of that is just part of what we discuss with Skoglund today that will likely leave your jaw hanging open as you wonder what the hell these people are thinking, and why it is that McConnell has disallowed Wyden's PAVE Act --- requiring HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all --- from becoming the law of the land long ago...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: Barr's power grabs continue elsewhere; Hurricane Barry takes aim at already flooded NOLA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Attorney General continues to make extraordinary, unprecedented moves at the Dept. of Justice as he takes power for himself on all manner of things. And only some of those moves are receiving the attention they deserve. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, just two days after nearly 4 inches of record rainfall in one hour resulted in flash flooding and a number of high-water rescues in the nation's capital --- on the very same day Trump was delivering a ridiculous, rambling speech on his (horrific) environmental record --- an even worse downfall slammed New Orleans on Wednesday. What lies ahead this week for NOLA, however, may be far worse. A tropical storm spun up quickly off the Gulf Coast following the downpour, and now threatens to become a hurricane that could, as soon as this weekend, over-top levees that protect the city. The Mississippi River at New Orleans is already at 16 feet, just below flood stage, thanks to historic spring flooding in the central U.S. But Hurricane Barry could bring a storm surge of several feet of ocean water and as much as 18 inches of rain that could test the city's 20-foot high levees. The National Weather Service is now projecting the river could crest at that same height by Saturday, depending on which way the winds blow. That may happen despite the failure of science denier and corrupt fossil fuel swamp-dweller Trump to utter the words "climate change" during his environmental speech earlier this week.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., Trump's Attorney General and personal fixer William Barr continues to exercise extraordinary, unprecedented powers in his role as the nation's chief law enforcement official. So far, the federal courts have held off a fair amount of his attempted power grabs, including a federal court in New York which has, for the moment, blocked his latest move to replace all of the Dept. of Justice attorneys previously assigned to defend legal challenges to the Administration's effort to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Another federal judge in another legal challenge on the same matter in Maryland is now considering whether to block those replacements as well.

At the same time, however, Barr is also reportedly instructing former members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to not appear before Congress to give testimony next week on the same day Mueller is currently scheduled to do so.

But a recent, little noticed move over the 4th of July holiday week to grant himself the power to establish precedent on immigration laws, overriding decisions by immigration judges, needs much more attention. Last week, a federal court blocked Barr's decree to disallow bond hearings for asylum-seekers who successfully demonstrate a "credible fear" of return to their home countries. But for a ruling by the federal court in Washington state last week, Barr's decree would have resulted in immigrant asylum-seekers being held for months or even years in already horrific, overcrowded detention facilities as they await their official hearings in immigration court. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that detaining asylum-seekers indefinitely is "unconstitutional".

The day before her ruling, however, Barr quietly signed yet another new regulation --- without the traditional public comment period --- that restructures the way immigration courts have handled appeals for years. Previously, while tens of thousands of decisions are made on cases by the Board of Immigration Appeals each year, only a small number of them, about 30 per year, are published in order to establish them as precedent. Under current law, unpublished decisions are not binding on the entire system and are only published if a majority of the 21 member Board votes to do so. But last week, relying on a public comment period from about 15 years ago concerning a regulation proposed (but rejected) by the George W. Bush Administration, Barr granted himself unilateral power to selectively publish any such decisions that he likes. The move, in effect, will allow him the authority as Attorney General to set immigration law precedent that must be followed during this Administration as well as future ones, at his own whim.

We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute to explain both the encouraging news on Barr's temporarily blocked bond hearing rule, first decreed back in April, as well as his move last week to reign as king over U.S. immigration policy by using the abandoned "zombie regulation", as Pierce describes it, on appeals court precedents first proposed by the Bush Administration. She describes the latter as "alarming", noting that "under this new regulation, the Attorney General will have his pick of whatever issue he wants, and really, whatever plans on the issue he wants, when deciding whether or not to make some of these decisions precedent." Pierce warns that these could be "decisions on what kinds of crimes makes someone deportable from the United States," for example, adding that "the possibilities are really endless when he has so many decisions before him to choose from."

She argues that the way immigration courts are currently structured, under the control of the DoJ, not the Judicial Branch, results in unconfirmed and even unqualified people being appointed as immigration judges without Congressional confirmation or oversight. They all serve at the pleasure and whims of the Attorney General. "This is a huge problem with our immigration court that we have this political appointee who is in charge of effectively the legal well-being of our immigration system. That's a huge problem and a huge conflict of interest," she tells me.

We also discuss the mountain of recent reports of overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions at detention centers on the border; why we are seeing this influx of families seeking asylum in the U.S.; why this Administration is handling it all so poorly, despite the number of immigrants and asylum seekers being far larger during previous administrations; and how the system itself needs to be reformed, with immigration courts placed under an independent body.

Finally today, with all of the coverage in the media and focus by Democrats on the 2020 Presidential race, the need to win back a majority in the U.S. Senate no matter who wins the White House has taken a back seat, unfortunately. But Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was able to claim at least one recruiting victory this week, with Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath, who narrowly lost a U.S. House race last November in Kentucky, declared her intention of taking on Republican Majority Leader and democracy villain Mitch McConnell during his reelection bid in the Bluegrass State next year. We share McGrath's announcement video and ponder why the hell more big name Democrats --- including many who have chosen to run for the Presidential nomination instead --- aren't stepping up to the equally-as-important task of winning back the U.S. Senate for their party in 2020...

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

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Court blocks Trump 'national emergency'; Congress sues for Trump taxes; FL Repubs gut landmark voting reform; Carter says Trump 'illegitimate'; 2020 dirty tricks now underway; Dems talk climate at first debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2019 6:30pm PT  

It's been a rough week in the federal courts for Donald Trump. Even the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court failed to grant at least one victory to the Administration in its loss last week over the fight to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That loss, where Trump clearly expected a win from his cooked High Court, has resulted in the admission of another humiliating defeat for Republicans, but a huge victory for those of us who still support the idea of democracy...as fragile as it remains in the U.S. on the eve of our Independence Day holiday in 2019. There were other encouraging signs of hope from our courts this week as well, though there remains plenty to be concerned about as we head toward the crucial 2020 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered, in addition to the breaking Census news, on today's BradCast...

  • Trump may be getting a few tanks for his corrupt 4th of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, though they won't be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. Where they will be, according to some poor writing from CNN, is another matter. ("Trump later confirmed tanks would be present during remarks in the Oval Office.");
  • Heat records are shattering in the U.S. and around the world, resulting in mussels cooking in their own shells in normally cool Northern California and highways dangerously cracking and buckling in South Dakota. What happened in Mexico and Europe, however, we hold until today's Green News Report at the end of the program;
  • But, back to the courts, as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Administration for failing to turn over six years of Donald Trump's tax returns as required by federal law, in a case that Trump seems unlikely to win. A long legal fight, however, may help him to delay the inevitable, unless he is able to receive a helping hand to undermine the rule of law from his friends at the stolen and illegitimate SCOTUS;
  • But the lower courts, so far, have provided little help to Trump. Late last Friday, with surprisingly little notice, albeit in the middle of a ton of other news, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's phony "national emergency" declaration meant to steal billions of dollars from the military to build portions of his long-promised Southern border wall (which apparently Mexico is still not paying for.) The same judge in two different challenges to Trump's blatant attempted theft, ruled that Trump's use of military funds for this purpose was "unlawful" and in violation of Congress' Constitutionally-mandated control of federal purse-strings. The Administration, however, is expected to appeal both rulings;
  • Voters in Florida, in the meantime, will have to hope for good news from the courts in the days ahead after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis --- who was reportedly elected by less than one half of one percent of the vote last November --- quietly signed a controversial new law late on a Friday, without ceremony, the day before his deadline to sign it, which guts the state's reform of a 150-year old racist voting restriction. Despite passage of state Constitutional Amendment 4 last November --- by an astonishing nearly 65% of the electorate --- the new bill was passed along partisan lines in the GOP legislature to restore a restriction on the right of many former felons to vote. The new law, which went into effect Monday in the Sunshine State, requires former felons to pay off all court fines and fees before being allowed to vote, in contravention of the statewide ballot initiative which took effect on January 1 with no such restrictions. DeSantis had specifically pushed the GOP-controlled legislature to pass the bill, which will block many of the 1.5 million former felons --- including 1 out of 5 voting age African-Americans in the state --- from seeing their lifetime ban on the right to vote lifted. Voting rights advocates accurately describe the measure as an unconstitutional "poll tax" and have already filed suit to block it. The "conservatives" in the state will now have to spend millions in order to defend their new, unpopular law;
  • That's just one of the measures the GOP is beginning to take in order to boost their odds in 2020, as former President Jimmy Carter noted late last week that he doesn't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate President. Speaking Friday at a human rights forum hosted by the Carter Center --- which has served as a monitor of elections in third-world countries for decades --- the former President charged: "There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the elections and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. ... He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf." He said "yes", when asked by the forum's moderator if he believe Trump was an "illegitimate" President. Carter may be right or wrong. Shamefully, nobody knows for certain, since the public was never allowed to examine the ballots or the voting and tabulation systems following the 2016 Presidential election. That lack of public oversight, as we have long argued, continues to erode confidence in the legitimacy of American democracy. New, 100% unverifiable voting systems being put in place in advance of the 2020 race, unfortunately, (in states like Georgia and cities like Philadelphia and counties like Los Angeles) are likely to make that problem even worse;
  • But, speaking of how bad the 2020 cycle could be, the Trump Campaign has already begun their dirty tricks, according to a report in the New York Times. One of its "rising star" digital content producers has created a phony Joe Biden campaign website, meant to look like Biden's official campaign site, in order to smear the former Vice President. Neither the Trump campaign nor its staffer, Patrick Mauldin, who admits to having created the site, is noted on the page as being behind it. The fake campaign site, according to the paper, has received more visits than Biden's official website, and Mauldin has also "anomalously" created pages meant to undermine other current 2020 Democratic front-runners such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Do Dems have any plans on how to deal with this sort of thing in 2020? Right now, it appears that they do not. Unless Dems pull together somehow --- even across another rough and tumble nominating process --- a repeat of the 2016 disaster should not be a surprise to anyone;
  • Finally, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us for our Green News Report special coverage of last week's first Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami, where the planet's worsening climate crisis finally received at least a little bit of airtime from many of the Presidential hopefuls across the span of the much-watched two-night event...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/2/2019 11:14am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: GNR Special Coverage: Climate change finally gets some air time in the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in Miami; PLUS: Extreme weather wreaks havoc around the world... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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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.

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... PLUS:

... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden plummets, Harris and Warren spike in new polling after first 2020 Dem debate; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2019 6:22pm PT  

After our two-day Special Coverage of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate last week (Night ONE here, Night TWO here), we begin on today's BradCast to get caught up with some of the important news that we were unable to adequately focus on last week. (Even it may take a few days to get fully caught up, if ever!) [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, we're joined for one last time this SCOTUS term by MARK JOSEPH STERN, the great legal reporter at Slate who has helped us make sense of the Court's most recent term under its stolen Republican majority, including many of the oral arguments since last Fall in a bunch of important cases and all of the subsequent rulings handed down in the past several weeks. The last of those rulings were, perhaps, the most consequential, and both came smack dab in the middle of Nights ONE and TWO of the Dem debate last week.

Today, Stern details the Court's horrendous (if not unexpected) 5 to 4 partisan ruling finding partisan gerrymandering to be perfectly Constitutional, despite all of the lower federal courts which have found otherwise. That, even though the practice, taken to new computer-precision extremes by the Republican Party following the 2010 Census, has bastardized the notion of fair representation at both the state legislative and Congressional levels. (eg. See North Carolina, which largely votes 50/50 for U.S. House members over the past decade, but has been represented in the House by just 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans over all of those years!) Stern describes the majority ruling, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, as a "crushing defeat for voting rights" and a "fiasco for democracy". He explains how the rightwing majority ruling debunks the Chief Justice's own claim that he is the Court's "most aggressive defender of the First Amendment" in that extreme partisan gerrymandering blatantly robs voters of their First Amendment rights by punishing Americans for their partisan leaning, stripping them of the ability to be fairly represented.

"Partisan gerrymandering is uniquely evil and difficult to fix," Stern argues, "because it attacks the foundations of democracy. It entrenches a certain political party's power almost indefinitely, and creates a map that will hold even if the state votes against that party." Now, says Stern, the legal battle to rollback rigged election maps moves to the state court level instead, since SCOTUS has now determined that federal courts have no say in the matter (even though they long ago found racial gerrymanders, if not partisan ones, to be a violation of the Constitution.) "That's why this is the 'nightmare' scenario," he tells me. "Because if the legislature can't fix it --- and why would it fix it, they love what they've done --- you really have to rely on the courts to step in and fix it. And now Chief Justice Roberts has said that the federal courts are not going to hear these claims, that they're shut out forever. That leaves few avenues for relief for voters in these states."

We also get Stern's thoughts --- and callers who ring in on the topic as well today --- on whether Democrats, in states which they control after the 2020 Census should similarly use extreme partisan gerrymandering tactics to balance the scales by keeping Republicans out of power in such states, given that the High Court has granted its blessing for such tactics.

And, speaking of the Census, the other major ruling dropped last Thursday by SCOTUS was on whether or not the Trump Administration may add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. In that case, Roberts joined with the Court's liberals to reject the government's claim that they were simply hoping to add the question at the request of the Dept. of Justice in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. That transparently false claim was rejected by Roberts who wrote that it "appears to have been contrived".

In fact, it was, as several lower courts have ruled, even before the evidence from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering expert revealed the entire charade was specifically meant to decrease the response rate by Hispanic and other immigrant communities in order to shift federal funding and voting power to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. So, that decision was the good news. The not-as-good-news is that Roberts also left the door open for the Administration to try again with a less pretextual reason for adding the question, if they can come up with one. Or, as Stern sums up Roberts' directive in four words today: "Lie better next time." Whether the Trump Administration can do so before the deadline to send the Census to the printer (which, the Admin previously argued in court was a hard deadline of July 1, but now says "well, maybe October would be fine?") remains to be seen.

Next we open up the phone lines to listeners on last week's Democratic debate in Miami. Who do listeners feel did better than expected? Who did worse? The first polling is out today from CNN following last week's debate, finding a pretty huge shift among the Dem and Dem-leaning electorate. The survey finds Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are up 9 and 8 points respectively, while Joe Biden has fallen 10 points since the last CNN poll. That places Harris, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (whose support dropped a few points) all now within just over 5 points from the former Vice President and perceived "front runner" for the Democratic nomination. That pretty seismic shift all comes after just one single debate...with about 11 more to come in the months ahead...

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

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Typhoid Fever, Bubonic Plague make a comeback in L.A. at the bleeding tip of the spear of epidemic U.S. homelessness, despair...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/1/2019 9:35am PT  

Notwithstanding Donald Trump's 4-Pinocchio claim that low-end wages are on the rise, there is an ample body of evidence that wealth inequality has reached levels not seen since the onset of the Great Depression. Those who study the issue often compare the financial holdings of the privileged few to those of the many.

A 2017 study, for example, revealed that just three individuals – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos – had, at that point, held as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the American population --- some 160 million people. It's a wealth gap that continues to grow exponentially.

Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is the Ebenezer Scrooge-like poster child for obscene wealth disparity. Last year, Bezos agreed to pay Amazon employees $15 per hour wages, but only after sustained pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who introduced the StopBezosAct.

At $15 per hour, a full time, 40 hour per week Amazon employee would earn $31,200 per year, before taxes. How generous! According to Business Insider, every 60 seconds, Bezos earns $149,353. That's more than four (4) full-time Amazon employees collectively earn in a year. Bezos' per minute earnings are $56,000 higher than the $93,170 in annual earnings an individual would have to make in order to be placed within the top 10%.

In the minds of most people, $215 million looks like an enormous sum of money, and it is. Business Insider reports that Bezos rakes in $215 million per day, every day, and more than $6.5 billion per year. Amazon, which reported $11.2 billion in earnings last year, did not pay one dime in federal taxes.

While these numbers are essential to understanding our gaping inequality problem, they really don't do much by way of exposing what life is like for those at the bottom end of the scale, to wit: the homeless, who, to many, are simply "invisible" .

In a recently released report (see below) titled, "Paradise Lost", Eric Johnson of Seattle ABC News affiliate, KOMO, takes an in depth look at what wealth disparity has wrought for those at the very bottom --- the 59,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. Not mentioned by Johnson is that 11% of those struggling to survive without a roof over their heads are U.S. military veterans. The numbers of individuals in L.A. who are slipping into the homeless abyss, according to Johnson, are increasing --- by 16% over the previous year.

Johnson focused on what he described as "the worst man-made disaster in the United States" --- "53 square blocks of suffering and mental illness and drugs on a level that is hard to fathom." For the homeless of L.A., conditions may be even worse than those experienced during the Great Depression. They face what Johnson described as "the long-ignored cousin of addiction and homelessness: disease."

"We have not seen conditions for humans like this since medieval times. Period. And that's a fact," Dr. Drew Pinsky told Johnson. He is, literally, correct...

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




Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'RJ' Eskow on Harris' 'breakout', Biden's 'stumble', Bernie's plan for private insurers, Yang's Universal Basic Income, and Marianne Williamson's '4th dimension'!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2019 4:51pm PT  

Our Special Coverage of this week's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami continues on today's BradCast, with post-debate analysis, insight and occasional snarky comment regarding Night Two of the festivities! [Audio link to show follows below.]

The second night featured ten more Presidential hopefuls, including: VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; CO Sen. Michael Bennett; CA Rep. Eric Swalwell; former CO Gov. John Hickenlooper; former tech executive Andrew Yang; and author and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson. It was a very lively affair, to say the least, and our coverage today, I'm fairlly certain, rises to a similar level.

Joining us once again today for the hour is Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning HEATHER DIGBY PARTON as our through-line from yesterday's coverage. She's paired today with our old friend RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, longtime political columnist, host of the weekly The Zero Hour radio and TV program and, most helpfully today, a former insurance industry executive!

Among the many issues discussed after Thursday's debate:

  • What the media are describing as a breakout performance from Harris, including her face-off with Biden over his history of working with segregationists in the U.S. Senate (and what it may tell us about her ability to take on Trump);
  • whether Biden can sustain his polling lead after a shaky performance, raising questions about his age (along with similar concerns about Sanders and MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to be fair);
  • how the matter of whether the candidates' various proposals for universal healthcare coverage deal with private insurers will be used against them by both the Right and the corporate media (as well as whether or not those proposals will apply to undocumented immigrants);
  • how well the cases made by younger candidates such as Buttigieg or Swalwell seems to be going over after the first debate; whether Silicon Valley tech exec Andrew Yang's proposal for Universal Basic Income makes any sense;
  • at least one topic that the moderators, shamefully, did not raise yesterday;
  • and even a few "insider" thoughts on the seemingly "4th dimensional" Marianne Williamson.

All of that and much more on today's very lively and hopefully both entertaining and informative BradCast Special Coverage!...

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

[And if you missed our Night ONE coverage, it's right here!]

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Dave Johnson; Also: Bad news from SCOTUS on partisan gerrymandering, slightly better news on next year's U.S. Census...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2019 5:11pm PT  

Our special coverage of Wednesday's night's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate from Miami is momentarily waylaid at the top of today's BradCast, for quick coverage of two major, long-awaited opinions released by the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court this morning, the final day of its term before Justices leave for summer recess. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The first opinion, featuring a 5 to 4 Republican- versus Democratic-appointee split, is very bad news for voting rights and democracy advocates on partisan gerrymandering cases out of Maryland and North Carolina. Writing for the GOP majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared federal courts have no place entering disputes over extreme partisan gerrymandering of state legislative and U.S. House districts, giving a green light to majority-party state lawmakers to use sophisticated computer programs to slice up maps in a way that guarantees majorities for the party in power during the redistricting process following a decennial U.S. Census. Despite lower court rulings finding Republicans in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin violated the Constitution by drawing statewide U.S. House maps meant to assure Republicans remained in power, even when receiving fewer votes over all, the partisan divided SCOTUS decision now overturns all of those previous rulings, and one out of Maryland where a U.S. House district was drawn Democrats to keep it out of the hands of Republicans.

Critics, including Justice Elana Kagan who penned a blistering minority dissent, note that the SCOTUS majority now leaves it to the very same gerrymandered legislatures who created the undemocratic problem to somehow work it out, even though it may be impossible for opposition lawmakers to gain enough of a foothold to actually change the process under the bastardized maps. In her dissent, Kagan notes partisan gerrymanders "debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people." Her opinion, representing the High Court's four liberal justices, concludes: "Of all times to abandon the Court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court's role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections."

All of which makes the Court's other major opinion today, on whether the Trump Administration will be allowed to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, all the more crucial, but slightly better news, for the moment, anyway. In that case, Roberts joined with the court's progressives for a 5 to 4 ruling that bars the Administration, at least for now, from adding the question to next year's Census. In this case, the Chief Justice notes that the Administration's pretextual reasoning for doing so "appears to have been contrived". Indeed, despite warnings by experts at the Census Bureau itself that the question would decrease the response rate by millions, officials at Trump's Dept. of Commerce (which runs the Census Bureau) and the Dept. of Justice lied to both Congress and the Courts about their reason for adding the question.

Evidence has revealed that, in fact, the Administration hoped to include the question specifically in order to under-count immigrant communities in hopes of shifting billions of dollars in federal funding --- and still more voting power --- to "Republicans and non-Hispanic whites" over the next decade. That fact was made clear by, among other things, evidence revealed from the hard drive of the GOP's recently deceased gerrymandering expert. The good news in the Census ruling today is somewhat tempered by the fact that the case has now been sent back to the lower court for further consideration, allowing the Trump Administration another bite at the apple to come up with a more plausible justification --- or at least one that the stolen SCOTUS can more easily accept --- for why they insist on adding the new question before the deadline for printing the 2020 Census. The Administration had previously said that deadline was at the end of this month, though Trump has now asked his attorneys to see if the Census may be postponed.

Then it's on to our Special Coverage of Night One of the first Democratic Debate of the 2020 Presidential cycle, which featured ten candidates in all, including MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; former HUD Secretary and San Antonio, TX mayor Julian Castro; NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio; WA Gov. Jay Inslee; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former MD Rep. John Delaney; and HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

We're joined for today's special coverage by Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and Seeing the Forest's DAVE JOHNSON, formerly a Senior Fellow at the progressive Campaign for America's Future.

Parton and Johnson offer post-debate analysis and smart insight on as many of those candidates as we can possibly fit in to the hour, along with thoughts on which of them exceeded, met or under-performed expectations; why it is that Democrats appear (foolishly) to be shying away from taking on Donald Trump directly, despite the extraordinary threat he and his Presidency pose to the nation and the world; how Democrats, as a party, now appear to be approaching issues such as taking on corporate monopolies, the need for universal access to healthcare as a human right (and the strange question about abolishing private health care insurance), foreign wars and more. We also discuss, as raised --- but largely unanswered --- during Wednesday's debate, how a Democratic President might counter obstructionist Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should the GOP maintain control of the U.S. Senate after 2020.

All of that, of course, is just a sampling of the sweeping ground we cover on today's very busy and very lively BradCast, as we await Night Two, with another ten candidates, to be covered on our next program!...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dems pass $4.5B emergency funding for border - with strings; Mueller to testify in open hearings; Kellyanne Conway subpoenaed by House; NRATV finally shuts down...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2019 5:11pm PT  

Before our guest joins us on today's BradCast --- and in advance of the Democrats' first two-night 2020 Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami (which we'll be covering over the next two BradCasts), some very quick news headlines today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below]

  • House Democrats have called Donald Trump's and Republicans' bluff by passing a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill to cover border-related costs for children and other migrants being held in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with children not even being given soap or toothbrushes and forced to sleep on cold cement floors. The House bill also places some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, unlike the Senate version of a similar emergency supplemental spending measure for $4.6 billion. Some on Team Trump have called for vetoing the House version. The conflicting bills will somehow need to be reconciled before final passage, though it's unclear how that can happen before lawmakers leave town for their week-long July 4th recess;
  • On Tuesday night, the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees announced that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to appear --- after being subpoenaed --- for testimony in open sessions to both House panels, one after the other, on July 17th. He is expected to give answers to lawmakers about his two-year probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Campaign's cooperation with that effort, and Donald Trump's repeated, unlawful (and impeachable) attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's federal investigation;
  • Speaking of House testimony, the Oversight Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for testimony following a recent finding from the Trump-appointed head of an independent federal watchdog agency recommending Conway be fired for multiple violations of the federal Hatch Act. That Federal law bars public officials from using their office for partisan campaign purposes. Conway failed to show up voluntarily on Wednesday, so will now face a subpoena forcing her to do so --- at least in theory. Trump has refused to fire Conway, despite her repeated violations of the law, and his White House has, so far, taken extraordinary (and likely unlawful) measures to block Congressional testimony by White House officials;
  • Oh, and it was announced today that NRATV is finally shutting down amid internecine fighting, scandal and criminal probes of the terrorist-supporting NRA, which appears to have really shot itself in the foot. We send them our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time;

Then, we're joined once again today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and, as the end of SCOTUS' term wraps up before summer, our ever-insightful Supreme Court correspondent! There were a bevy of opinions issued by the Court over the past week, even as most received little fanfare or attention by the media. Trump's war-mongering with Iran and worsening child detention problems on the border are just some of the reasons for that. But also, the biggest expected rulings --- on whether a citizenship question may be added to the 2020 Census, despite Trump Administrations lies about it, and on whether states may employ partisan gerrymandering for electoral advantage --- are still to come at any moment now. In the meantime, while the many opinions issued over the past week, in and of themselves, may not have been marquee rulings, many, as Stern explains, have serious consequences.

More importantly, however, as we discuss today, the new rulings offer some pretty HUGE SCREAMING RED SIRENS about the direction that the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court now intends to go, with their far-right majority now firmly ensconced. A number of opinions in several of the cases offered some pretty clear projections that this Court intends to overturn decades, if not centuries, of legal court precedent, case law, and even thousands of federal laws in the bargain.

Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:

  • A contorted ruling that allows a 94-year old religious monument to fallen WWI soldiers to remain on government property despite being a clear violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause separating Church and State;
  • The case of an African American man whose death sentence was, thankfully, overturned after a state prosecutor in Mississippi repeatedly excluded African American jurors from sitting on the six different trials the man has, so far, faced for a case of multiple murders that it seems quite likely he had nothing at all to do with;
  • An opinion that overturns decades and perhaps centuries of property rights case law;
  • Another that comes within a hair's breadth of striking down hundreds, if not thousands of federal laws passed by Congress over our nation's history;
  • And a decision that overturns decades of trademark law which the court found to be FUCT. (We explain on the show, while avoiding any potential FCC language violations in the bargain! You're welcome!)

In all, we cover quite a bit of ground today, with some important details --- far more than I can cover here --- that you should definitely tune in for, if only so that you can't later say nobody warned you!

"This is the term when the Justices pretty much rip up stare decisis," explains Stern, citing the legal term for the custom of respecting court precedent, "or at least get out their lighters and lay the kindling. In a number of cases the conservative Justices have just decided that they've had enough with precedent, they're ready to make the Constitution say what they want it to say. Doesn't matter what previous courts have ruled."

Stern warns: "For the most part, the Justices have been swinging for the rafters. They do not feel hemmed in by many limitations. You're seeing unbridled exercise of judicial power --- the kind of thing that [Chief Justice] Roberts said during his confirmation hearings he would never resort to."

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

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Guest: Journalist Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Trump threatens Iran, they laugh; Former Fox reporter rips channel's 'partisan misinformation'; Warren releases election plan for hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Are Democrats finally beginning to reconsider their incredibly ill-considered mandate to require remote voting for their 2020 Presidential caucuses via phone or Internet voting schemes? Our guest today says they may just be doing so! If so, that would be very good news and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, speaking of "ill-considered", in an echo of his earlier posturing against North Korea, Donald Trump issued new militaristic threats and slapped new sanctions on Iran, including against its Supreme Leader, President, Foreign Minister and even the Islamic Nation's lead nuclear negotiator. The result is what Iranian officials describe as the "permanent closure" of diplomacy between the two countries. The new sanctions also resulted in the Iranian President mocking the measures as "outrageous and idiotic", "hilarious", "stupid and ugly", while charging the White House is suffering from a "mental illness".

Trump's new punitive measures come in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, which they say entered its air space last week. The U.S. denies the charge, insisting that its spy plane was in international airspace over the Straight of Hormuz. And all of it comes in the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. unilaterally out of the 2015 treaty between seven world powers that prevented Iran from enriching enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon.

But now, as the Administration penalizes Iranian leaders --- who, by all accounts, have fully complied with the strict terms of the landmark accord struck under Barack Obama's Administration --- Trump and his team can't seem to understand why Iran is not interested in negotiating with them. They have, however, threatened Iran if they renege on the terms of the deal that Trump pulled out of, as Iran has now announced they intend to do. Of course, the possibility of, once again, touching off WWIII comes with Trump's threat today of "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration" of Iran, just days after he reportedly cancelled a planned attack against them at the last minute last week.

All of which underscores the necessity of removing this dangerous menace from the White House, whether by impeachment or at the ballot box next year. Not that viewers of Fox "News", of course, have any idea of the facts behind these latest incidents, which all stem from Trump pulling out of the very good landmark agreement with Iran. In fact, even one of Fox' most beloved former reporters, "Campaign Carl" Cameron has now come out against the fake news channel's "partisan misinformation" in a video promoting his new news venture, Front Page Live, launched with progressives such as Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

As to removing the buffoonish, inept, unfit, dishonest Trump at the ballot box, that may not be as simple as it should be for Democrats, given both the proliferation of rightwing misinformation at Fox and other rightwing fake news outlets (such as the NY Post which removed its story on well-known magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's new allegations that Trump raped her in a department store dressing some years ago) and the extraordinary vulnerability of our nation's voting, registration, and tabulation systems. To that end, 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan for election reform today which calls for, among other things, a mandate to replace the nation's easily-manipulated, oft-failed computerized voting systems with ones that allow every American to cast their vote by the safest, most verifiable method possible: HAND-MARKED paper ballots. Her measure is not unlike some of the provisions in HR-1 as passed by Democrats in the House and the PAVE Act, introduced in upper chamber by Sen. Ron Wyden, where it remains, along with all such election security bills, blocked by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

But, where Democrats --- some of them anyway --- are coming around to the understanding that every voter in America must be allowed to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, the Democratic National Committee seems less than clear on the need for verifiable, publicly-overseeable election results. To that end, as we warned on the program some months ago, the DNC, following the 2016 election disaster, issued a mandate for all state Dem parties which choose to hold Presidential caucuses in 2020, rather than statewide primaries, to include some form of "remote voting" for party members who cannot attend in person.

That Democratic Party mandate, as our guest today Voting Booth's STEVEN ROSENFELD reported when we spoke with him back in March, has resulted in party officials in early caucus states such as Iowa and Nevada, scrambling to find private vendors willing to provide "remote voting" services that employee phone or Internet voting schemes. Today, Rosenfeld reports on what we'll call a moderately encouraging follow-up, finding that DNC officials may now be reconsidering that, frankly, insane mandate for unverifiable off-site voting systems.

"The thing about caucuses --- these are not government-run elections," Rosenfeld explains. "So this is really, really critical, because this means that all of the cybersecurity efforts --- of which there have been tremendous efforts made since 2016 to deal with trying to tighten systems --- those have all been in government election systems. These [caucuses] are private elections. So what the state parties will do in the caucus states is they have to rent a voting system. These do not have to be certified voting systems." That, of course, is an invitation to even less secure systems than those which already plague American elections, not to mention that cybersecurity experts consider Internet Voting schemes to be the most vulnerable of all such systems.

"So they're talking to different vendors who run these different systems. It's either going to be like using a telephone, to punch a button in to choose a candidate, or using an app, or using some kind of webpage." Rosenfeld, whose recent reporting on this includes discussion with the co-chair of the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee, says DNC officials plan to review state party plans this week, but may, in fact, not approve those plans after all.

Rosenfeld envisions a situation where, "in the first [Iowa] and third [Nevada] contests, the Democrats have a complete mess and Trump runs with it and yells and screams about 'stolen elections' all the way into the fall. The whole thing is just madness on top of madness."

Let's hope wiser heads prevail at the DNC, though I'm not holding my breath.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with Vice President Mike Pence's embarrassing weekend appearance on CNN, in which he was unwilling to acknowledge his own administration's scientific warnings about the national security threat posed by our worsening climate emergency. Also on today's GNR, the Trump USDA is burying scientific reports on climate change, a deadly heat wave and acute water shortages are ravaging India, and --- with some good news --- G.E. has announced plans to shut down a natural gas power plant in California twenty years earlier than planned because renewable energy options are now both cheaper and cleaner!...

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

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