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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, November 16, 2019
'Why Was it Necessary to Smear My Reputation?': Yovanovitch Testifies, Trump Attacks: 'BradCast' 11/15/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Stone guilty on all counts; Giuliani facing criminal probe...
Election Advocates Demand Decert of New E-Vote Systems That Failed in PA, GA:
'BradCast' 11/14/19
Guest: NEDC's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Deval jumps in; Bevin concedes; Trump loses (again)
'Green News Report' 11/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic fires in Australia; Arctic blast in U.S.; Thunberg sets sail back to Europe; PLUS: Trump EPA seeks to limit science used to write public health rules...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/19 - 11/7/19 - Archives...
New EPA Rule Guts Science, Public Health for Corporate Polluters: 'BradCast' 11/12/19
Guest: Union of Concerned Scientists' Andrew Rosenberg; Also: SCOTUS allows suit against gun-makers, but may kill DACA; Impeachment begins; Our 1000th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 11/12/19
OUR 1000th EPISODE! Looking back and forward at a thousand 'GNRs' with a few messages from some friends and the funniest snarky comment of all time!...
EVERYTHING Is Now Political (Even CA Wildfires!): 'BradCast' 11/11/19
Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the new touchscreen vote system disasters last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 election...
Sunday 'Leaves of Crass' Toons
All the fall colors are on display in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Religious Freedom in Opposite World: 'BradCast' 11/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ Frederick Clarkson on Christian Right's 'Project Blitz'...
'Green News Report' 11/7/19
11,000 scientists issue dire warning; Hottest Oct. ever; Trump EPA weakens water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu, Maui County sue Big Oil for climate damages...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: 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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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Sestak jumps in; SCOTUS says trademark law is 'FUCT'; Pence defends squalid conditions for detained children; Even NC knows hand-marked paper ballots are needed, so why doesn't L.A. County?; Callers ring in on the Dem 'horse race' before this week's two-night Dem debate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2019 6:29pm PT  

We've largely stayed away from the "horse race" on the Democratic side of the 2020 Presidential race to date, preferring, as we're wont, to focus on more immediate issues, as well as the "track conditions" on which the horses are set to run next year. But on today's BradCast, we finally open the phones to turn to the horse race a bit, in advance of this week's first 2020 Presidential debates.

But first, a few news items of note. Among the stories covered today before we turn to the phones....

  • Were you thinking that 23 or 24 candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination just wasn't enough? Were you hoping one more white male from a swing-state might enter the race? Well, retired three-star Navy Vice Admiral, former Pennsylvania Congressman and failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak may be the man for you!;
  • In U.S. Supreme Court news, the Justices released an opinion today finding that the decades-old federal statute preventing the issue of trademarks to brands determined to have "scandalous" or "immoral" names is, in fact, an unconstitutional violation of the Free Speech clause. That will be good news to lifestyle brand FUCT which had been denied a trademark registration for years. In her opinion for the majority, Justice Elana Kagan also may have offered a preview, according to Mark Joseph Stern, of, at least, her opinion on the Court's upcoming crucial ruling on partisan gerrymandering, as she noted that free speech cannot be denied on the basis of viewpoints or ideas conveyed. The challengers in the two partisan gerrymandering cases pending before the Court --- with a decision due any day now --- are arguing that state political opponents are seeing their voting power diluted by the party in power on the basis of their political viewpoints when it comes to the partisan gerrymandering of maps for the U.S. House and state legislatures;
  • In a follow-up to our Friday program's segment focused on horrific conditions for migrant children detainees on the border, Vice President Mike Pence was on CNN Sunday, working very hard to filibuster and otherwise avoid Jake Tapper's direct questions about the Administration's argument --- offered last week in federal appeals court --- that denying soap and toothbrushes to children forced to sleep on freezing concrete under a single foil blanket in overcrowded facilities somehow qualifies as "safe and sanitary" conditions for those children, as required by federal courts. Late today, some good news on that front, as nearly 300 children at a "squalid" Texas facility --- featuring lice, the flu, kids who hadn't showered in weeks, and detained children asked to take care of infants and toddlers --- have now been transferred out of at least that horrific facility...at least for now;
  • Then, with one failure after another after another in North Carolina's elections in recent months and years, even the former counsel for the North Carolina state Board of Elections is now calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter. So why isn't the state of Georgia? Why isn't the city of Philadelphia in the key swing-state of PA? Why is the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, now moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of the 2020 Primaries? And why is Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate blocking any and all legislation that would increase election security by, among other things, mandating a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters? We discuss. Again;
  • Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, with the broad questions in advance of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential debate this week: What will our listeners be looking for in this Wednesday and Thursday's two-night face-off among 20 candidates? What is the most important factor they hope to find in a Democratic nominee? Who do they like so far and who do they not like? We offer the chance to advocate --- or bash --- any of the candidates callers may wish, along with the question: Would they vote for a nominee they may not like in the general election, rather than hand Donald Trump a nation- and planet-devastating second term? We got a lot of good callers and interesting thoughts from them along the way...

Please enjoy today's very lively show!...

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

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Also: OR GOPers still on run; 'COVFEFE - Grounds for Impeachment'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2019 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Iran and the world can breathe a bit easier for the moment, though children held in deplorable, overcrowded unsanitary conditions in U.S. detention centers near the border still may not. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

At the last minute, reportedly, Donald Trump pulled his punch, thankfully, and called off an attack on Iran in retaliation for the U.S. drone shot down by the Islamic Republic on Thursday. That drone, Iran says, was a surveillance plane flying above its territorial waters. The U.S. contends the $100 million remote-controlled plane with a wingspan the size of a 737, was flying in international air space. But, no matter who has it right, none of this would have happened at all, had Trump not recklessly and stupidly pulled the U.S. out of the landmark anti-nuclear pact with Iran, struck during the Obama Administration along with France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China.

Trump, despite his wildly inaccurate claims about the Iran deal posted to Twitter this morning, was not the only one to show restraint in the matter. Reuters reports that Iran declined to similarly target a 35-man U.S. military aircraft said to have been accompanying the unmanned Global Hawk spy drone near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Iran also says they sent "repeated warnings" to the drone operator before shooting it down.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are calling for a "step back from the brink of war" by calling for Congressional debate over the issue, even as they've allowed Trump (and other Presidents) to wage war without Constitutionally-required Congressional approval previously. Over at Fox "News", of course, talking heads such as Brian Kilmeade were calling on Trump to bomb the hell out of Iran, as if the host of Trump's favorite morning show wouldn't be affected in the least from his couch in his NY studio by the potential of WWIII breaking out in the Middle East;

While we can breathe a bit easier on that score --- at least for the moment --- migrant children at detention camps being run by the U.S. Government, suffering under deplorable conditions, are not nearly as lucky. While a silly "debate" was waged this past week by Rightwingers pretending to be outraged by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' accurate reference to U.S. holding facilities for migrants as "concentration camps", the Trump Administration's Dept. of Justice was in court stunning judges by arguing that a long-standing legal settlement requiring migrant children be held in "safe and sanitary" conditions, doesn't mean they have to have either soap or toothbrushes, and that sleeping on concrete floors in freezing, overcrowded cells with only a piece of aluminum foil to keep them warm, is just fine.

The Texas Tribune takes advantage of the moment surrounding the disingenuous "concentration camp" debate to round up just a few of the horrific stories reported over the past month that would seem to prove that, yes, these are, in fact, concentration camps. And, if there was any remaining question, the Associated Press filed an horrific account Thursday night of what attorneys found at one such facility near El Paso, where frightened children are being forced to look after terrified toddlers, while going for "weeks without bathing or a clean change clothes." One attorney who represents detained children said: "In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity".

In Oregon, as we noted yesterday, Republican state Senate lawmakers have left the state to avoid the quorum needed to vote on an important climate change bill supported by Democrats that, if adopted, would help both Oregonians and the planet. Those lawmakers are now being fined $500/day for missing work, as state police have been ordered to try and round them up. It's the second time in weeks that the GOPers have fled the state. Last time it was in hopes of preventing a vote on a $2 billion funding package for schools. The state's Democratic Governor, Kate Brown, foolishly negotiated with the Republicans the first time to bring them back for that vote after four days, by promising to table planned votes on gun safety and vaccines. But, negotiating with terrorists only results in more terror. So, the Republicans have now pulled the same stunt all over again.

Finally, we can't help but notice throughout today's program how much of the chaos and suffering the nation (and world) is undergoing right now might be eased if Donald Trump was simply removed from office for some of his many high crimes. On that note --- and to lighten things up a bit at the end of another grim week --- we close out with COVFEFE - Grounds for Impeachment, a catchy new tune courtesy of Roy Zimmerman and Melanie Harby, as shared with us by Victoria Parks from our Columbus, OH affiliate WGRN! Enjoy!...

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: Dr. Assal Rad of the Nat'l Iranian Amer. Council; Also: OR Repubs skip town; House re-launches bipartisan 'Climate Solutions Caucus'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2019 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Already increasing tensions in the Middle East got much higher today after Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone last night, which the Islamic Republic claims had crossed their border into their airspace. The U.S. contends the spy plane, a U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk that can fly as high as 10 miles in altitude with a wingspan as wide as a Boeing 737, was in international airspace at the time it was downed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Both nations suggest they have evidence to support their claims about the location of the craft when it was shot down. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Tensions in the region have been rapidly rising in recent weeks as the U.S. has blamed Iran, without presenting evidence, for several attacks on shipping tankers near the narrow Straight of Hormuz, which borders Iran in the Persian Gulf and through which 20% of global oil supplies travel. Iran has denied any involvement in those incidents, other than helping to rescue the crew of one of the tankers and extinguishing its fire. But war-hawks in the U.S. have been banging the drums against Iran for some time. They applauded Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal last year from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, the landmark deal struck between Iran and seven other nations during the Obama Administration. The hard-fought treaty ended any possibility of Iran enriching uranium for use in weaponry, at least until Trump broke the deal that had lifted crippling, years-long sanctions against Iran. Trump reinstated the sanctions after becoming President and pulling out of the pact that even his own Administration admits Iran has been in full compliance with.

On Thursday, Trump described Iran's action as "a very bad mistake" and "a foolish move", while repeatedly telling reporters "you're going to find out", when asked how and if the U.S. plans to respond. He did suggest, however, during Oval Office remarks, that he believed the incident must have been unintentional or taken by "someone who was loose and stupid" --- as if to suggest he was reluctant to retaliate and/or make the situation worse.

Nonetheless, at the very same time, GOP hawks in the Senate like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seemed eager to inflame the situation by warning that Iran "needs to get ready for severe pain," vowing that "if [Iran] is itching for a fight, they're gonna get one."

We're joined today to discuss all of this by DR. ASSAL RAD, Research Fellow and policy analyst at the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Iranian American Council. In a statement today, the group's President, Jamal Abdi, counseled for both nations to "firmly step away from the path to war" by seeking out "third party mediators who can help de-escalate and bring the U.S. and Iran back to the negotiating table."

Rad explains what is known and unknown about the current situation, how dangerous the situation has now become, and how Trump's restoration of sanctions has crippled Iran's economy, at least for the working class, leading to severe shortages of food and medicine. In addition to increasing military tensions, she tells me, Trump's violation of the anti-nuclear pact has led to both increased uranium enrichment --- bringing Iran closer to the ability to build nuclear weapons if they desire --- as well as strengthening the political hand of anti-U.S. hardliners in the Islamic Republic.

"What Trump has done," she tells me, "is played into the hands of the hard-line elements in the country, tarnishing the image of the U.S., which was very positive. But, of course now, as they suffer, it's much easier for that government to point to the United States as the blame."

"On the U.S. side, of course, the argument can be made that there's a credibility issue, given that President Trump has gone back and forth in the tone he takes with Iran. He'll tweet something like 'we're going to end Iran' and 'that was a big mistake on Iran's part', and then walks it back. 'No, we don't want regime change' or 'we don't want a war'. But then he has advisers, like the National Security Advisor John Bolton, who argues exactly for those goals."

"And that's not, by the way, to give credibility to the Iranian side," Rad made clear. "The Iranian side also lacks credibility in their own right. And that's why without a full investigation and having evidence, I would avoid drawing conclusions. And certainly taking action based on conclusions that aren't based on full evidence."

She notes that "sometimes the way that our media frames it, it makes it seem like the Iranian side is an irrational party --- and yet that is the party that agreed to the deal and has abided by that deal, despite the fact that the U.S. abrogated that deal a year ago."

"One of the things that we know about war is that it's unpredictable. We don't know what will be the consequence. And to prevent this sort of unforeseen concern that something terrible could happen, we have the opportunity right now to prevent it," she concludes with optimism, advising fellow Americans to speak out to our representatives in Congress to urge them to find a peaceful solution to the quickly escalating crisis.

Then, just to lighten things up, we turn to our worsening climate crisis! With Republican state Senators in Oregon fleeing the state on Thursday to avoid a quorum needed for final approval of a sweeping bill meant to help curb climate change by reducing carbon and capping greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade system. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has now authorized state police to try and find the rogue lawmakers and bring them back to the capital. Meanwhile, back in D.C., Florida Congressmen Ted Deutch (D) and Francis Rooney (R) announced the re-launch of a bipartisan 'Climate Solutions Caucus' with about 60 members, including more than 20 Republicans.

We get some thoughts on both of those stories from a skeptical (cynical?) Desi Doyen, who also joins us for the latest Green News Report, with troubling news on the Trump Administration's official roll back of Obama's landmark Clean Power Plan in favor of scheme to aid the coal industry which, according to Trump's own EPA, will result in the premature deaths of thousands of Americans. But, she's also got some good news for us today --- and not a moment too soon --- out of the state of New York, where lawmakers did not skip the state, but instead adopted one of the world's most ambition climate change action plans...

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Court punts on discrimination case, allows VA racial gerrymander fix, leaves Constitution's double-jeopardy loophole in place; Also: Iran pushes back; More bad 2020 news for Trump; Confused anti-choicer rings in...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2019 6:57pm PT  

Catching up with a weekend's worth of news in the Trump era plus the new Supreme Court decisions dropped on Monday is no easy feat. But we do our best, on today's BradCast, to get you up to speed after all of that and the madness yet to come (no doubt) this week. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A quick update on the case of anti-authoritarian author and journalist David Neiwert who we interviewed on Friday. Incredibly, his Twitter account is still suspended almost a full week since Twitter first took him down due to his use of a graphic on his profile from the cover of his most recent book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. The image is a Ku Klux Klan mask over each of the white starts on the U.S. flag, which the anti-KKK author is being told he must remove because it's considered a hate symbol. He still refuses to do so, and Twitter has yet to reassess it's ill-considered policy;
  • Next, Iran has announced that, in the next 10 days, it is speeding up nuclear enrichment and will exceed the levels of uranium allowed under the landmark seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement brokered during the Obama Administration, following the Trump Administration's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty last year and his subsequent violations in restoring crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic. With what had been a very good deal now broken by Trump, the Administration continues to saber rattle against Iran, with AP reporting late today that the U.S. plans to send an additional 1,000 troops to the Gulf;
  • Back home, the U.S. Supreme Court has begun releasing its end of term opinions. Among those released today, the Court ducked a ruling concerning yet another baker --- this time in Portland, Oregon --- who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Sending the case back down to the lower court also likely means they will avoid having to make a decision on it during their next term, which ends smack dab in the middle of the 2020 Presidential election season;
  • More substantively, for the moment, good news for Democrats as the Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand in Virginia, where Republicans were found to have used unlawful racial gerrymanders in drawing state legislative seats after the 2010 census. The lower court has imposed fairer maps that will now be used, for the first time, in the Commonwealth's statewide elections this November. (VA holds "off-year" elections, so the entire House of Delegates will be on the ballot when one or both of the General Assembly's chambers could finally be taken over by Democrats with new, fairer maps in place.) The Supremes let the lower court ruling stand after determining that the gerrymandered GOP House of Delegates did not have standing to intercede after the state's Democratic Attorney General chose not to appeal the new maps mandated by the lower court. The 5 to 4 decision, however, was a mix of very strange bedfellows, with liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing for the majority and supported by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan (not a surprise) along with Thomas and Gorsuch (very much of a surprise!). That also left the usually progressive Stephen Breyer siding with the rest of the Court's right-wingers. Though we speculate on that strange mix of votes, we hope to have more insight later this week;
  • And in the last of the SCOTUS matters for today, the Court also ruled on a case of double-jeopardy regarding a man facing prison time from both the state of Alabama and the federal government for the same crime. What has become a loophole in the U.S. Constitution's restriction against being tried twice for the same crime will remain in place, despite the dissent from --- another odd couple --- Ginsburg and Gorsuch who both dissented. But that bad news for civil libertarians who had hoped to close that Constitutional loophole once and for all with this case, is good news for those who fear Donald Trump may pardon members of his crime syndicate, like his former campaign chair Paul Manafort. He is currently facing years in federal prison, unless pardoned by Trump. But, due to the Constitutional exception that allows similar crimes to be tried against the same person at both the state and federal level, even if pardoned, Manafort would be forced to face the fraud charges currently filed against him by the state of New York;
  • And, speaking of politics and Trump-related criminality, a new survey by the President's favorite fake news outlet, Fox "News", finds at least five of the top 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates are defeating him in NATIONAL polling, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders currently dusting Trump by about ten points each. Also besting Trump in the new national poll currently --- well over a year out from the actual election --- are Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, as well as South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, though their leads are within the poll's margin of error. The new Fox poll echoes similar findings from Quinnipiac last week. So we offer similar warnings about the misleading nature of national polls (we don't have a national election! Just ask Hillary Clinton!), especially those taken 17 months before Election Day and before Democrats have even held their first debate (scheduled for next week);
  • In perhaps more noteworthy polling news, there has been a steep and quick rise in support for official impeachment hearings --- at least among Democrats --- as revealed by a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. And, with that, pressure for impeachment continues to rise in Congress as well, according to comments from Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who discussed the matter over the weekend on ABC's This Week. We share part of her remarks from Sunday in which she (correctly) argues that "impeachment is incredibly serious and this is about the evidence the President may have committed a crime, in this case, more than one." Rebutting the political considerations that have, so far, prevented U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from allowing the Democratic caucus to begin an official impeachment inquiry in the House, AOC adds: "Our decision on impeachment should be based in our Constitutional responsibilities and duties and not in elections or polling";
  • Finally, with the little time we have left today, we open up the phones to some calls, which is mostly eaten up by a woman who appears to be very confused in her "pro-life" anti-abortion argument about how conception actually occurs, as she cites her Christian religion for why women should not be able to decide for themselves regarding personal health care decisions.

Good luck with that! And enjoy today's program...

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Guest: Author, investigative journalist David Neiwert; Also: Don't fall for Admin's Iran scam; DNC sets spots for first 2020 debate; Sanders defends democratic socialism, calls for FDR's Economic Bill of Rights...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2019 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A longtime investigative journalist who has documented the rise of the radical right has been suspended from Twitter for a ridiculous reason. Should that be cause for alarm for some of those on the left who applauded the recent removals of right-wingers from that and other social media platforms? [Audio link to show follows below]

But, first up today: Don't fall for it. The Trump Administration is making all sorts of evidence free allegations that Iran is attacking shipping tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Japanese owner of one of those tankers offers evidence that directly contradicts the U.S. claims and, so far, no other country is backing up Sec. of State Mike Pompeo's litany of evidence-free charges that Iran is behind a number of recent attacks. Of course, that didn't keep Donald Trump from telling Fox "News" on Friday: "Iran did do it and you know they did it, because you saw the boat." He was referring to a grainy, black and white video released Thursday night by U.S. Central Command purporting to show an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers. Funny how easily Trump is convinced by remarkably thin evidence about something he wants to believe, versus mountains of evidence, gathered over years by independent sources, on things like climate change and his own obstruction of justice. Don't fall for it. Not again.

Then, we're joined by award-winning investigative journalist DAVID NEIWERT who, since Tuesday, has been "temporarily suspended" from Twitter due to a profile graphic he's used for two years on his account there, without incident, as taken from the cover of his 2017 book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. Neiwert, who has been a contributing writer for the non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center's "HateWatch" blog, as well as for MSNBC where his 2000 reporting on domestic terrorism earned him the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism, was informed by the popular social media platform that the profile graphic from his book --- a cleverly designed image of KKK hoods atop each of the white stars on the American flag --- violates Twitter's "sensitive media policy" rules barring "symbols historically associated with hate groups" in profile or header images.

Obviously, his use of the graphic is meant as commentary on those symbols, rather than in support of them. Still, his "temporary suspension" has resulted in all of his tweets being unavailable and a restriction on posting any new ones until he removes the graphic in question. He is refusing to do so, though he is still in contact with Twitter and hopes to negotiate a solution to what he describes at Daily Kos today as an ill-conceived policy that fails "to distinguish hate speech from the efforts to oppose it".

"Literally, they can set any standards that they want, because they are private platforms," he tells me, correctly noting that the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment free speech clause applies only to the Government, not private businesses. "Twitter has announced that it wants as its standard to remove hate speech. But it isn't distinguishing between hate speech and actual efforts to fight hate speech. It's not making that distinction. And it's supposed to be doing this on behalf of the effort to fight hate speech, because this is its standard."

"The problem is they're basically trying to replace human judgment with an algorithm. And algorithms are stupid. They can't figure this stuff out. They lack the human judgment." Nonetheless, as we discuss, even after his graphic may have been pinged by an algorithm --- likely set off by folks on the alt-right who dislike him --- human intervention has yet to result in his account being unlocked again.

With some 500 million tweets a day, he recognizes, the platform must "use algorithms to flag these things, that's just the nature of the beast. But how many suspensions for hate speech do they make? Probably not very many. Probably in the hundreds. That's something that's manageable on a human level, and it's something that requires human judgment to make those calls. And they just need to bite the bullet and recognize that they need to employ smart, well-trained humans to do that job. That they can't rely on an algorithm to do it."

Neiwert has supported the recent deplatforming across a number of the most popular social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones of InfoWars, right-wingers like Milo Yiannopoulos and White Nationalists like Richard Spencer, though he notes that others, such as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke have not been removed. Nonetheless, while the removal of far right figures has been met with cheers from many on the Left, should Neiwert's case give pause to some of those cheering progressives? Isn't fascist speech still free speech after all? And what happens if a right-winger were to take over ownership of outlets like Twitter? We discuss that and much more, including Neiwert's very early and astonishingly prescient warning about Donald Trump way back in late 2015.

Also today, the DNC announces the results of its random drawing to determine which ten 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates will appear together on each of the two nights of the first Presidential debates set for June 26 and 27 in Miami. And then we close with an excerpt from candidate Bernie Sanders' recent policy address at George Washington University in which he calls for a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights modeled on one sought by FDR to guarantee a living wage, affordable housing, health care and a complete education for all, as he makes the case that democratic socialism is the only way to offer "true freedom" from corporate oligarchy and rising authoritarianism...

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Guest: NC elections expert Dr. William Busa ('DocDawg' of Daily Kos!); Also: Barr, Ross found in contempt by House Oversight; Big progressive wins in VA; New NATIONAL polls show Trump in trouble, Warren surging...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2019 5:10pm PT  

We've got some interesting follow-up on today's BradCast, following the disturbing story we broke on air earlier this week regarding the "master passwords" for North Carolina electronic voting systems --- and more --- found online, unprotected, and downloadable by anybody since at least early 2016, at the NC Board of Elections website. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, some quick news updates: A second U.S. House committee has now voted to hold Donald Trump's new Attorney General and fixer William Barr in contempt. The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend holding both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents regarding the lies told by both Commerce and DoJ about adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Ross previously claimed he was asked by DoJ to add the question to help better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but new documents from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering operative reveal the real intent was to shift resources and Congressional districts to white Republican jurisdictions.

In other Constitutional Crisis news, Hope Hicks, Trump's former Communications Director and longtime aide --- before his run for office, during the campaign and transition, and while in the White House --- has reportedly agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week about her cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's two-year probe. Hicks was a key witness on a number of the criminal obstruction charges detailed in Mueller's report. She has agreed, however, to testify to Judiciary only behind closed doors next week, presuming the White House doesn't move to block her in some way.

In elections news, new Quinnipiac polling shows six of the current top contenders for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination --- Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg and Booker --- all handily defeating Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up in NATIONAL polling, if the election were held today. That new poll and others out today still show Biden atop the pack in the primary contest, though slipping since he entered the race last month. Two new polls show Warren leaping into second place above Sanders since last week. We offer some thoughts and WARNINGS about all such polls today.

And then, some surprisingly good news for progressives in Virginia, where two criminal justice reformers ousted long time state prosecutors in elections on Tuesday.

Next, we're joined by Dr. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, a Democratic campaign consulting and technology firm in North Carolina, though Busa is likely better known to many on the Internets as "DocDawg" from Daily Kos. Busa has been doing some excellent follow-up work on the startling recent disclosures by cyber risk researcher Chris Vickery, who explained on Monday's BradCast how he discovered "master passwords" for some of NC's electronic voting systems, and much more, on the state Board of Elections website last year. Hundreds of files and screenshots, he said, were all left vulnerable on the Internet, in a directory set as public, to anyone who felt like downloading them, at least since early 2016 in advance of that year's Presidential election and its stunning, razor-thin conclusion.

Busa, as a well known elections maven in NC, tells me he was contacted following Vickery's revelations this week by the SBOE's spokesperson with a vague explanation for the exposed files --- which were subsequently set to private after Vickery notified the Board about the vulnerability last year in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. But, as he documented at Daily Kos on Tuesday, the explanation by the Board's Public Information officer Pat Gannon only made the case "murkier". Gannon, according to an email he sent to Busa, claimed the files were old passwords that were no longer in use and that, in any event, they were encrypted when posted online. Busa studied the claims regarding encryption and finds them to be untrue based on evidence revealed by the unencrypted screenshot of the passwords posted by Vickery.

For his part, Vickery --- who previously told me he found evidence the passwords had been in other jurisdictions as well as the one county the state claims --- politely suggested that Gannon appears to be uninformed about the details of what was left online. "Both of these issues," Busa observes, "being told that they were encrypted when clearly they're not encrypted, being told they were posted in 2012 when pretty clearly they were posted in 2016 --- goes to the question of 'Are we being told what's going on?'"

Moreover, Busa hits on what he describes as "the most troubling part of this.". The larger question --- one that we've been trying to make clear since the night that Trump was supposedly elected: Nobody --- not the states, not Mueller, not the FBI, not the DHS --- nobody has done a forensic analysis of the computer voting and registration systems and tabulators used in 2016 to assure they were not manipulated in some way, despite the many claims made by the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Special Counsel's office that Russia attempted to interference with elections systems in as many as 21 states before the 2016 Presidential contest.

If "white-hat good guys like Vickery" were able to find these vulnerable files, surely black-hate bad guys could easily have done so as well. "If DHS didn't find those things, then DHS is not as good as Chris Vickery. And if it's not as good as Chris Vickery at finding the chinks in our armor, then it's certainly not as good as Russia's GRU is," notes Busa. So, why didn't the DHS --- which, the U.S. Government has claimed has taken unprecedented steps to work with states to help them protect our elections from vulnerabilities --- already find these files and notify the state about the serious breech long before Vickery did? Both Busa and I are still asking.

"With McConnell blocking any meaningful election cybersecurity legislation in the Senate, DHS's 'band-aid' approach to 'Well, we're going to consult with the boards of elections in the fifty states and give them some assistance, it really is just that --- a band-aid. It doesn't give me any confidence whatsoever, especially now with what we've seen from the Vickery information."

Also today, since we've been covering so much GOP corruption in NC of late, (Busa quips: "North Carolina has become such an embarrassment that South Carolina is considering changing its name to 'North Georgia'), the NC elections expert and campaign consult rings in with helpful insight on the crucial, upcoming, SCOTUS opinion expected anytime now regarding unlawful GOP partisan gerrymandering of the state's U.S. House districts ("we have very little voice in North Carolina today because of those gerrymanders"); two upcoming U.S. House Special Elections in the state (one in NC-03 to replace the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones and the other to fill the NC-09 seat, which is still vacant following last year's GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that left the state BOE unwilling to certify results last November); and an important project Busa developed last year at NCGoVote.org called "Reg Watch", to automatically notify voters if their registrations have been changed or deleted for some reason. It would be very nice to see that project scaled up to all 50 states if possible! We discuss...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Aquene Freechild; Also: Biden flips on Hyde Amendment, swears off fossil fuel money (sorta); Automakers oppose Trump mileage, emissions rollback; Listener feedback on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Remember when overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment used to be a huge thing among progressives? Well, it still is. But something (or someone) came along who seems to be distracting much of the nation from the still-urgent need to get dark money and corporate funding out of electoral politics. We've got a bit of good news on that front today. Just a bit. But we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, former Veep turned Democratic Presidential candidate and currently presumptive front-runner Joe Biden responded to pressure from his 2020 rivals and the party's base by flipping his position on the Hyde Amendment. Citing his belief that "health care is a right" and the GOP attacks on women's health care, Biden now says he opposes the measure, just hours after he'd affirmed his support for the 1976 law which bans the use of federal funding for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. What should we learn about Biden from this flip-flop? We discuss.

Then, the auto industry appears to have flip-flopped as well. Twice. After working with the Obama Administration in 2009 to hammer out an agreement on new standards for vehicle mileage and carbon emissions, industry leaders begged the Trump Administration to roll back Obama's landmark standards. Trump promised to do the car company's bidding and plans to announce the official rollback over the summer (which, if it stands, will result in lower fuel efficiency and higher gas prices for consumers, increase pollution and lead to the premature deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.) Now the industry is begging Trump not to roll things back quite so far after all, but Trump doesn't care. The Administration plans to move ahead anyway and, as Desi Doyen explains, try to challenge California's long-established right under the Clean Air Act to impose its own higher air quality standards --- a state's right they have enjoyed under law for nearly 50 years now.

Speaking of our worsening climate crisis, the DNC nixed a proposal this week to hold a debate focused solely on climate change and the many different candidate proposals to take it on. The DNC has threatened to sanction 2020 Presidential candidates who may participate in such a forum on their own. We discuss that bizarre stance, particularly given the number of hopefuls who have put forward detailed and important policy proposals to offer an urgently-needed Green New Deal for Americans.

And, speaking of Biden, this week he became the 17th Democratic Presidential hopeful to sign on to the "No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge". But what does that pledge really mean and will it actually keep money from fossil fuel industry lobbyists, PACs and executives out of the race? For that matter, is it even possible to keep corporate PAC and other "dark money" out of our elections following the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme court, no matter how many pledges that Democratic candidates may make?

In related issues, the state of New Hampshire became the 20th state in the union this week to vote to overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment. The vote was a symbolic landmark for proponents of overturning the disastrous SCOTUS ruling, as it represents what would now be just over half of the 38 states that would be required to ratify such an Amendment. At the same time, the state of Montana, whose Governor Steve Bullock is also running for President on the issue of getting corporate money out of politics, is suing the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS to block the Trump Administration's new rule that would allow certain political action committees to keep their "dark money" donors a secret, even in confidential filings with the IRS, to whom donors previously were disclosed. The state was in federal court for hearings this week in response to the Administration's motion to dismiss the suit.

AQUENE FREECHILD, Co-director of Public Citizen's Democracy is For People campaign, joins us to explain both the good news out of New Hampshire and Montana's complaint against Treasury and the IRS. Freechild led Public Citizen's successful efforts to call for an amendment to overturn Citizens United in Vermont, New Jersey, Illinois, Delaware and Washington state. She offers an update on the current state of the fight to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates to corporate spending in our elections; offers an explanation as to how the Trump era has effected activism on the issue; details what is involved in adopting such a measure; explains why Bullock's suit in Montana is important, even though IRS disclosures are confidential, and how efforts in Congress (including the House-passed H.R. 1, "For the People" Act) would kick-start the process of restoring American democracy to we, the people.

"We have to protect our democracy from the existential threat that an unaccountable, dictator-loving President poses," says Freechild. "At the same time, we have to show the country the vision that we have as reformers, as pro-democracy people, for a clean government that really truly does represent people, that has public financing in partnership with overturning Citizens United so that there is an alternative to a corporate money system."

Finally, we close today with some listener feedback on the Democrats' internecine debate in the U.S. House on whether to begin an official impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump....or not...

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UT stuck with coal plant cleanup; UN equates anti-abortion with 'torture'; NC veto upheld; TX Guv vetoes domestic violence law; Dems to speed up contempt votes; Pelosi wants Trump 'in prison'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2019 5:37pm PT  

It's an (almost) entirely Trump-free program today! You're welcome! If only he would always stay out of the country! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the many (largely) Trumpless stories on today's BradCast...

  • A 30-acre "coal-cleaning" facility has been left abandoned by its owners in Utah, with outstanding fines, unpaid taxes and a whole lotta toxic waste that tax-payers are left on the hook to clean up. Just another example of privatizing the profits and socializing the losses which the GOP has supported for years when it comes to the long-subsidized dirty fossil fuel industry;
  • The U.N.'s Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights blasts the recent spate of anti-abortion laws adopted by GOP-controlled U.S. states. She describes the epidemic as a "crisis," equating the new restrictions as akin to "torture" and "gender-based violence against women". She describes measures such as rightwing-backed, so-called "Born-Alive Abortion Survivor Protection Laws" supported by folks like Donald Trump (because Fox "News" told him to) as "an assault on truth, science and universal values and norms";
  • One such law, North Carolina's "Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act" was vetoed recently by the state's Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. The attempt to override the Governor's veto by the Republican-controlled state legislature failed on Wednesday, following the GOP's loss last November of the gerrymandered, veto-proof super-majority they've enjoyed for six years. Cooper, in his now-sustained veto message, said the bill was "needless" and would "criminalize...a practice that simply does not exist." Wisconsin's GOP-gerrymandered legislature also passed its own similar measure this week which that state's Democratic Governor has similarly vowed to veto;
  • And, in Texas, where new evidence published this week reveals that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott may have been behind a push to create a phony "non-citizen" voter roll purge, the Governor may have earned new ire from Republicans and Democrats alike on Wednesday, after vetoing a widely supported bill to protect domestic violence victims;
  • Meanwhile, in today's Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment Update, House Democrats are reportedly planning a vote next week to make it easier for Committees to bring contempt charges straight to court, without requiring a full House vote first, for Trump Administration officials who defy lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony. And, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to block her caucus from beginning an official impeachment inquiry against the criminal President of the United States, explaining that she'd prefer to see Trump "in prison". But nothing in the Constitution bars an impeached President from being indicted in a court of law after removal from office. In fact, it says just the opposite (see: Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7). So, Pelosi's claim only seems to muddy the waters as to what her strategy to continue investigation of the Administration --- but without an official impeachment inquiry, for now --- is actually meant to accomplish;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report detailing several new climate proposals from 2020 Democratic hopefuls, Trump's idiotic remarks regarding climate during his trip to the UK, and a disturbing new study about what will happen if the U.S. fails to meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Also, very quickly at the end of today's show, disturbing news on a record heat wave in India, where the mercury has topped 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a bunch of days in a row now, and a cheery warning from the U.S. Forest Service that some 1 billion acres are at risk of catastrophic wildfire this summer. (So, naturally, Trump wants to cut their fire fighting budget!)...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 6/6/2019 11:13am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: On his trip to Britain, Trump proves he knows zip about climate science --- again; Meeting Paris Climate Agreement targets could avert thousands of deaths in the U.S.; PLUS: Climate change now a litmus test in the 2020 Presidential election (at least for Democrats)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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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): India roasts under heat wave with temperatures above 120 degrees; Judges give both sides a grilling in youth climate case against the government; Roundup's risks could go well beyond cancer; Companies expect climate change to cost them $1 trillion in 5 years; With state subsidies and a firm hand, China races ahead with electric transport; USFS: 1 billion acres at risk for catastrophic wildfires this summer; DNC rejects request to host climate change-only presidential debate; Satellites show Amazon deforestation rising under Brazil's Bolsonaro... PLUS: Massive ladybug swarm over CA shows up on radar... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: DFA's Charles Chamberlain; Also: Trump does not understand climate change; Emails: TX Guv pushed for bogus 'non-citizen voter' list...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Is the dam Nancy Pelosi has erected against the tide of impeachment finally beginning to crack? Does Donald Trump have Woodsy Owl as his environmental advisor? Was the Governor of Texas behind a bogus voter purge list? [Audio link to our full show is posted below.]

First up, with Trump overseas we'd hoped to be able to ignore him as much as possible this week. But, after newly absurd comments made regarding climate change during an interview with Piers Morgan following Trump's meeting with Prince Charles on the topic, we couldn't hold our tongues

Trump made clear that he doesn't really even understand the climate crisis or how pollution from carbon emissions is endangering livability on Planet Earth. He claims the U.S. has "the cleanest climate" ever and seems to think that "clean air and clean water", as he describes it --- not understanding that carbon dioxide in excess is a dangerous pollutant --- is all that matters. (It's as if his top Environmental Advisor is Woodsy Owl, observes WaPo's Philip Bump.)

He also seems to have no clue that our air and water has gotten dirtier since he took office, and that dangerous greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. But he is very able at newly parroting long-debunked Fox "News" talking points such as the notion that "it used to be called global warming, that wasn't working, then it was called climate change, now it's called extreme weather". Desi Doyen debunks the bunkery. (Hint: It was always called climate change --- the UN's IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was formed in 1988 --- and it was Republicans in the 2000s, during the George W. Bush Administration, who preferred that phrase over global warming which GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz found to be more "frightening" to voters!)

Then, Former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid, who previously opposed impeachment, is now calling on Speaker Pelosi to begin an official inquiry in the U.S. House. And, on Tuesday, some thirty progressive groups who are usually allies to the Democrats published an open letter expressing "deep disappointment" in the Speaker for her blockade of impeachment proceedings against the President, citing her "refusal to use the full scope of your constitutional power to hold Trump accountable." The groups, which include CREDO, Indivisible, the Courage Campaign and Democracy for America among others, charge in their missive that "Voters gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives because they wanted aggressive oversight of the Trump administration" which requires "bold, moral leadership" they claim to be lacking. Though, they note, that Pelosi concedes "we are facing a constitutional crisis", they criticize her for failing to invoke the "remedy" handed to us by the Framers. "You have the power to ensure Congress exercises its constitutional obligation to hold this president accountable. But instead of using your power, you are giving us political excuses for why you shouldn't. Instead of leading, you and your colleagues have asked us to wait – wait for the Mueller report, wait for the unredacted Mueller report, wait for Mueller's testimony about the Mueller report, wait for more investigations, wait for bipartisan consensus, wait for impeachment to poll better, or wait for the 2020 election," the groups write in their open missive posted to WeCantWait.US.

We're joined today by CHARLES CHAMBERLAIN, Chair of progressive signatory Democracy for America, to discuss the letter and to respond to many of the reasons that Pelosi and other Democrats and strategists have cited for not taking action to begin official impeachment proceedings against this President. Is more information still needed from Mueller or his unredacted report before the House should begin? Are the multiple, ongoing investigations that Pelosi is encouraging in the House proving to be more helpful in detailing the high crimes and corruption of the Trump Administration? Should Dems wait until impeachment becomes even more popular among the public? Until more Republicans are willing to come on board? Would the effort endanger Democrats' chances of holding the House and taking back the Senate and White House in 2020? Should it be avoided because, as Pelosi claims, Trumps "wants" to be impeached? Or due to the conventional wisdom that, even if impeached, Senate Republicans would never vote to convict and remove Trump?

Chamberlain responds --- with gusto --- to all of those points and many other such excuses offered by party leadership for not (yet, anyway) beginning an official inquiry to consider Constitutional removal of this criminal President. He also discusses what you can do to help, and argues that impeachment will help, not hurt, Democratic chances in 2020. "It is our base that we need to be worried about. If Democrats don't follow through with what they were sent to do in 2018, then we have a high chance of them staying home," he tells me. "Let's be clear --- if there's one thing that helps people win politically, it's whenever when you're on offense, you're almost always winning. It's something that Republicans are experts at. It's something Donald Trump is expert at. And the more we can do it, the more likely we're going to win in 2020."

Finally today, newly published emails out of Texas reveal that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appears to have been behind the push for a bogus list of some 100,000 "non-citizens voters" in the state which the Secretary of State used earlier this year to try and purge legal voters from the rolls and led the state's Attorney General to open criminal investigations. Thousands of voters on the list were, in fact, found to have been naturalized citizens and the list was withdrawn by court order, the Sec. of State (a former aid to and appointee of Abbott) was forced to resign, and the state is now paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements after being sued by several groups over the bogus purge list. Thanks to newly revealed details in the emails obtained and published this week by the Campaign Legal Center, it now appears that the Governor may have been behind the insidious voter suppression initiative the whole time...

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Northam calls special session in VA; GOP's 'Mexican standoff'; Hicks' nix fix; 2020 Dems seek climate solutions, Admin offers 'freedom gas'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2019 6:25pm PT  

As usual, on today's BradCast, everything you need to know --- whether you want to know it or not --- in 57 minutes or less...or your money back! [Audio link to full show follows below.]

  • First up today, Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announces a plan to convene a special session of the state legislature this summer to respond to last Friday's massacre at a municipal building in Virginia Beach which killed twelve people. Republicans, who have long controlled both chambers of the gerrymandered state legislature, have nixed a panoply of popular gun safety measures year after year in subcommittees, such as measures to place limits on extended magazines like the type used in Friday's shooting, barring the purchase of more than one hand-gun per month, and background checks for all gun sales. Northam says he is asking for "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers" from state lawmakers just months before the entire General Assembly will be on the ballot for the Commonwealth's November 2019 off-year elections;
  • The GOP establishment appears to be pushing back hard today against Donald Trump's promised new tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico, which Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) recently predicted Trump won't actually implement. "He 's been known to play with fire, but not live hand-grenades," Kennedy opined regarding a new 25% tax that Americans would have to pay on all products from Mexico under the President's promised new scheme to, somehow, stop immigration across the southern border. Even members of his own Administration, however, don't appear to understand how Trump's proposed trade war would lead to an end of migration. But, in London today, Trump said it would be "foolish" to try and stop his plan to declare another "national emergency" to unilaterally impose the tariffs. Republicans are indicating they may have enough votes to override a Presidential veto. (We'll believe it when we see it.);
  • Meanwhile, our Constitutional Crisis continues, as the White House has now instructed former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and former White House Counsel Chief of Staff Annie Donaldson to defy a Congressional subpoena for documents by claiming Executive Privilege over materials that have already been shared with Special Counsel Robert Mueller (and thus, have already had Privilege waived). With the persistent drumbeat calling for an official impeachment inquiry growing louder each day against the scofflaw President while the White House fights "all of the subpoenas" as per Trump's instructions, Democrats are preparing a number of votes in a number of Committees to hold current and former Administration members in contempt. In addition to possible votes of contempt in a number of committees, Dems have votes scheduled next week for the full House to declare both Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt;
  • In 2020 Presidential election news today, Joe Biden released a 22-page, $5 trillion climate plan that includes $1.7 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years, to be paid for by reversing the GOP's 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut and ending subsidies for fossil fuel companies. We share Biden's introductory video for the plan, which vows to create millions of jobs and protect the retirement and pensions of fossil fuel industry workers. And we compare it to those of other 2020 candidates, including Elizabeth Warren who released her own "aggressive" $2 trillion plan to take on our climate crisis today as well. Biden's new proposal to make America carbon neutral by 2050 is receiving mostly high marks from environmentalists and comes in the wake of a much-derided recently reported comment from a campaign spokesperson claiming that the former Vice President was seeking a "middle ground" on climate that might be joined by Republicans. Climate hawks and supporters of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' Green New Deal resolution characterized Biden's new proposal as an encouraging response to activism and pushback from their ranks;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news of Republican obstructionism finally giving way to a long-awaited $19 billion disaster relief package in Congress, the Trump Administration's newest scam to try and suppress climate science, Colorado's new plan to go big on renewable energy, and....yes...the Administration's promise of "freedom gas" for the world!...

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Guest: MIT nuclear proliferation expert Vipin Narang; Also: Flooding, evacuations in AR, MO; GOP pushback against Trump's new Mexican tariff scheme; The necessity of continuing to talk about impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we really tried to talk about something other than impeachment...and we mostly did! You're welcome! But don't expect it to last. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, as predicted, during a very brief pause in the record severe weather that's been afflicting the central U.S. for weeks, flooding continues to be a major problem today and is getting worse. Mandatory evacuations are now in place in both Arkansas and Missouri after levees have breached, been topped or may do so soon both states. Thousands of homes are threatened there and elsewhere as some 80 different river gauges in 10 different states indicate the highest category of major flooding, with more severe weather predicted in the days ahead for rain soaked Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Louisiana and other Midwestern states.

In politics today, Republicans and major business groups are pushing back at Donald Trump's surprise announcement on Thursday evening that he plans to impose unilateral new taxes on all goods coming in from Mexico, in hopes of forcing our southern neighbor --- in some fashion --- to stop the flow of migrants coming into the U.S. from Central America. The new tariffs --- which are taxes paid by American importers and consumers (despite the President mischaracterization) --- would begin at 5%, and increase by the same amount until reaching 25%under Trump's scheme. A number of GOP lawmakers, particularly in farm states such as Iowa, are blasting the proposal, and warning that it is likely to derail Congressional ratification of Trump's updated NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada. It is also likely to cost billions to American businesses --- particularly in the automobile and agriculture sectors --- and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, calls for official impeachment proceedings to begin against the President get louder each day following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's statement this week clarifying the evidence in his report of serious obstruction of justice crimes by the President and a need for Congress to take action. A stunning reported comment from an attendee at a town hall held this week in Grand Rapids by Michigan's Republican Rep. Justin Amash underscores the necessity to continue informing the public about Mueller's findings. (So, yeah, we're gonna have to continue doing so. Sorry.) Amash remains the only Republican member of Congress, so far, to call for impeachment proceedings and, perhaps, clearest and most effective voices among Rs or Ds in Congress as to why taking action to hold the President accountable is so crucial.

But outside of Congress, a group of former high-level GOP attorneys are also making their voices heard, with a new video detailing several of Trump's obstruction crimes highlighted by Mueller. The group, Republicans for the Rule of Law, says they plan to begin airing a shorter version of their new ad on TV outlets such as Fox "News", where --- at least according to that attendee at Amash's town hall --- only fake news, falsely claiming Mueller exonerated Trump, is being heard.

Finally today, after several months of relative calm during negotiations with Trump, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un began testing missiles again in early May. While Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton has described the tests as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and South Korea sees the tests as a potential violation of recent agreements between the two Koreas, Trump has continued to downplay --- or completely deny --- Kim's actions.

At the same time, as the North fires ballistic missiles and continues to amass nuclear weaponry, Trump --- who spent the Memorial Day weekend in Japan to discuss this and other matters --- still seems more obsessed with Iran, who does not have nuclear weapons, but is now said to be increasing their fissile material enrichment program in the wake of Trump pulling out of the seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement struck during the Obama Administration. Trump now says he'd "like to make a deal" with Iran, but Iran says they see "no prospect" of such a deal with this American President.

We're joined today by VIPIN NARANG of MIT's Security Studies Program to try and make sense of what is or isn't going on on the Korean peninsula, and how the Trump Administration is or isn't responding to both North Korea and Iran. That, after Trump sided with Kim, while on foreign soil in Japan last weekend, to attack former Vice President and 2020 Presidential hopeful Joe Biden --- and amidst unconfirmed reports from South Korean media that Kim has executed his top nuclear negotiator and four other senior Foreign Ministry officials following the failed summit between him and Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam last February.

Among the very clarifying information from Narang on North Korea, he warns: "The risk now is that by [Trump] green-lighting North Korean tests short of ICBMs, it may encourage or embolden Kim Jong Un to continue testing more frequently, and maybe longer-range missiles. We've seen Trump flip very quickly, so if Kim Jong Un makes a mistake of pushing the line just a little bit too far, or testing one missile too many, President Trump can flip and feel betrayed very quickly." He adds: "If you get a missile test that really pushes a line, then we could end up back [like] in 2017 [with threats of 'fire and fury'], but without the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp."

Narang, who focuses at MIT on nuclear proliferation, strategy and South Asian security, is the author of the award-winning Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era. Among the insights he offers regarding Trump's on-again, off-again chest thumping against Iran: "It's very difficult to envision a deal with Iranians that is better than the JCPOA ... You're not going to get everything you want in a deal, and that's what the Iranians were willing to accept. And then you have to ask yourself, is a world with the JCPOA in that incarnation better than a world without? And I think it was. It was working."

In both cases, in North Korea and Iran --- as well as the United States --- Narang warns that "dysfunction within the [Trump] Administration" is allowing hardliners to gain the upper-hand against peace initiatives. "The irony is that the hardliners in the United States that want to press Iran, and press North Korea, forget that those countries have hardliners, also." Our actions, he cautions, are now serving to embolden them.

"The horse is out of the barn in North Korea. You're not going to take away their nuclear weapons. The aim should be to avoid a war," he argues. "In the medium term, the risk with this strategy is that North Korea miscalculates, or that Iran miscalculates, and then Trump flips...In the long run, the problem is if this dysfunction isn't sorted out, we are setting ourselves up for crises in both areas."

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More Trump embarrassments abroad; More deadly tornado swarms; More rightwing buffoonery; More bad news from SCOTUS; Some good news for TX; And Mayor Pete doubles-down against 'draft dodger' Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 5/28/2019 6:44pm PT  

Someone needs to let the President of the United States know that Memorial Day is, at least in theory, a somber remembrance for the nation's war dead. It might have been nice if that someone had done so before Trump showed up in Japan over the weekend --- for talks with that nation's Prime Minister --- and wished U.S. troops stationed with our ally and former WWII foe a "Happy Memorial Day!" It certainly wasn't a happy one around many parts of the U.S. for a number of reasons. But, once again, we try to find the bright spots where we can.

Among the swarm of stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link posted below summary]...

  • The record swarm of tornado swarms continued on Memorial Day, with some 53 twisters touching down in eight different states on the same day. A man in Ohio was killed when a car flew into his living room and at least 130 were reportedly injured in the Buckeye State, where power was knocked out to more than 5 million residents as of Tuesday morning. "Catastrophic" destruction was seen across many states after Monday marked a record-tying 11th straight day with at least eight tornadoes in the U.S. according to NOAA. Whether media outlets connected the virtually unprecedented storms (and month of flooding in the Midwest and Central U.S. that preceded it) to our worsening climate crisis is another matter entirely;
  • Speaking of Ohio, at least before the storms, a KKK rally on Saturday brought out 9 Klansmen and between 500 and 600 counter-protesters. At least the folks in Dayton got that one right, if not some of their responses to emergency interruptions during their favorite TV programs as tornadoes swept through the state on Monday;
  • And, speaking of getting it wrong, there is the far-right evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late, respected minister Billy Graham. Franklin, a Trump supporter who has attacked Indiana Mayor and 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg for being both gay and a practicing Christian at the same time, used his tax-exempt religious pulpit to call for "Christian leaders" to declare a "day of prayer" next Sunday for Donald Trump, who, Franklin says, has been "attacked" by his "enemies" more than "any President in the history of this nation". President Abraham Lincoln dissents;
  • As the loony right rises, or tries to, we move out west to Fresno, California, which, as we reportedly exclusively back in 2013, single-handedly blocked an attempted statewide "recount" of Prop 37, a state ballot initiative that would have required the labeling of GMO foods. The wingnuttery in Fresno continued over the weekend, as its minor league baseball franchise, the Fresno Grizzlies, "celebrated" Memorial Day with a video tribute that featured a speech by Ronald Reagan and a montage of Americas "enemies" that included Kim Jong Un, Fidel Castro and....wait for it....New York's Democratic freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The team eventually apologized to AOC --- hours after their initial apology for the video itself --- though they never bothered to mention that, among other "enemies" shown in the 3 and a half minute video played at the ballpark, anti-fascism and anti-KKK marchers were also singled out. 'Happy' Memorial Day!;
  • In voting news over the long weekend....the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday put on hold two different earlier rulings from lower federal appeals courts finding that Republicans in both Ohio and Michigan had unconstitutionally gerrymandered their Congressional maps for the past decade. The high court's action was issued without comment as we await their pending decisions on two similar cases the Justices heard earlier this year regarding unlawful partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina and Maryland. That may be a bad omen for those two cases. But, for now, the SCOTUS order blocks the lower court orders to draw new, fair Congressional maps for 2020 in Ohio by June 14 and in Michigan (where new state legislative districts were also ordered) by August 1;
  • There was better news, for a change, in the state of Texas of all places. The state's legislative session ended on Monday without confirmation of the nomination of Gov. Greg Abbott's Secretary of State David Whitley, thanks to all Senate Democrats refusing to support him. Whitley was forced to resign without the confirmation, which was withheld after the unqualified former travel aid to Abbott had falsely announced in January that 100,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in Texas, with 58,000 of them having illegally cast votes since 1996. As it turns out, most of those voters had become naturalized citizens over that period. But that didn't prevent Whitley from instructing the state's County Clerks to purge voters in 30 days unless they could prove their citizenship or from referring the case to the TX Attorney General who promptly ordered criminal investigations for his own part in the attempted purge. The state was sued by three different voting rights groups and a number of naturalized citizens. They were forced to settle by changing voter roll purge rules for the future and paying some $450,000 to plaintiffs for their legal costs and fees;
  • Finally today, with at least 24 candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and debates set to begin next month, voters have been sizing up how the hopefuls might take on Donald Trump next year (presuming he's the GOP nominee) if they win the nod. Last week, during a Washington Post forum, South Bend, IN Mayor Buttigieg, who was deployed to Afghanistan in the Naval Reserves, cited Trump's draft dodging due to a claimed "disability" during the Vietnam War. When asked about his comments over the weekend on ABC's This Week, rather than backing off of them, Buttigieg doubled-down, revealing a) Trump was, indeed, a draft dodger who now pretends to revere the military, but who was willing to let someone else take his place in Vietnam and b) Mayor Pete is not afraid to stand up, at least rhetorically, to the bully who has become the President of the United States, even after some in the media attempted (as they do) to try and call him out for it...

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