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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 21, 2020
Sunday 'Rest in Notorious Peace' Toons
So many cries for Justice in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'RECOUNTED' with Nils Gilman, Mark Joseph Stern: 'BradCast' 9/18/20
On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
Federal Court Blocks 'Politically Motivated' USPS Changes, Orders Sorting Machines Reinstalled
Judge charges Postmaster General mandates undermined integrity of 2020 election...
More Wins in the War Against the War On Voting in PA, OH, SC & USPS: 'BradCast' 9/17/20
Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer plans to vote for Biden; Much more you need to hear...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain, floods; Fires in West behind mass bird die-off; Trump names climate denier to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science issues first-ever endorsement...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/20 - 9/10/20 - Archives...
GA's 'Experts' Flounder in Court Defending State's New Unverifiable Touchscreen Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 9/16/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Sally soaks AL, FL; Results of 2020's final primary in DE...
Mostly Good News in Battle-ground Ballot Battles in WI, OH, NV: 'BradCast' 9/15/20
Also: 175-yr old science mag's first-ever endorsement; Broadcast news outlets failing to inform electorate about worsening climate crisis...
'Green News Report' 9/15/20
Hurricane Sally approaches, with more storms on the way; Deadly West Coast fires break more records; PLUS: Biden blasts 'climate arsonist' Trump and urges swift action...
Fires and Liars and Modems, Oh My!: 'BradCast' 9/14/20
Guest: Jenny Cohn on 2020 hacking fears; Also: Climate-fueled fires breaking records; More storms on way; Trump says climate change, like COVID, to just go away...
Sunday 'Can't Trust the Media' Toons
But you CAN trust PDiddie to post the best of the past week's political toons in his latest collection...
Woodward Goes Wayward in 'Biggest Scandal in Modern Journalism': 'BradCast' 9/10
Guest: Journalist David Sirota; Also: Whistleblower, new report reveal U.S. Intel fully upside-down under Trump...
'Green News Report' 9/10/20
'Unprecedented' wildfires explode across Western U.S., man-made climate change is to blame; PLUS: Trolling for Florida votes, Trump flip-flops on offshore drilling ban...
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: Col. Moe Davis, former Chief Military Prosecutor at Gitmo, now Dem candidate for NC-11; Also: Hurricane Laura lands hard and Faking America Great Again (again) at RNC Day 3...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2020 6:42pm PT  

On Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention, the GOP's candidate for the vacant seat in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District offered some strange remarks. Today, on The BradCast, his Democratic opponent joins us to offer his response. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel MOE DAVIS has a distinguished, 25-year career in the military that includes a boatload of awards and honors. As Chief Military Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, he pushed back against the George W. Bush Administration, refusing to use evidence obtained through torture against accused terrorists. When forced to do so anyway, he resigned. Later, while serving as a national security expert for Congress, he penned an op-ed critical of Obama's use of prosecutions at Gitmo. He was fired.

Now he's running for Congress as a Democrat in a NC District where Donald Trump reportedly won by 57 points in 2016, for the vacant seat previously occupied by Trump's latest Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. But there are new court-ordered Congressional maps this year in North Carolina, after the previous Districts were found to have been unlawfully gerrymandered by state Republicans. The old maps allowed Republicans to hold 10 of 13 U.S. House seats over the past decade in one of the most closely divided states in the nation. Davis (and other experts) contend that while his District may still lean Republican, it is now much less so.

Moreoever, Davis will be running in November against a dashing 25-year old Republican kid --- and apparent Nazi-enthusiast --- by the name of Madison Cawthorn. You may have seen him speak from his wheelchair during Wednesday night's RNC. Col Davis joins us today to respond to some of Cawthorn's somewhat bizarre remarks (in which he incorrectly claimed that James Madison signed the Declaration of Independence when he was 25 --- though Madison did not sign the Declaration at all) and other elements of Cawthorn's apparently made-up resume.

Davis notes that his opponent was recently thanked "for his service to the country" on television by a Fox "News" anchor who apparently associated his wheelchair with military service. In fact, he was paralyzed in a car accident during a Spring Break trip to Florida when he was 18. "He didn't correct her," says Davis. But facts and telling the truth are no longer required in the Republican Party. In fact, both are apparently frowned upon. So Cawthorn could be the party's next superstar! "He plays fast and loose with the truth," charges Davis. "And I guess if you're on the side that 'alternative facts' are acceptable, then he's got a whole bag full." But, Davis concedes, Cawthorn "always gives you a good show. He's a handsome young man, very charismatic and articulate," before adding: "There's a lot of sizzle there but not much beneath the surface."

He says Cawthorn had promised to finally offer proposals for things like climate change and health care during his RNC speech, but instead argued simply that "conservatives" must "win the argument on both health care and the environment." He didn't bother to offer any actual argument, however. That on a night that a monster hurricane was speeding toward the Texas/Louisiana border --- the second one in a week --- while huge wildfires burned out west, after 3 nights of the RNC in which not one speaker seems to have uttered the words "climate change" even once.

"Mr. Cawthorn's plan for addressing health care is that we need more insurance companies," says Davis, who describes that as "laughable...If you're out of work, having more insurance companies isn't going to help you. That's his fresh new plan for the Republican Party.

For his part, Davis explains his own positions on several of these issues and others affecting some of the more rural (Republican-leaning) parts of his District. After the recent court-ordered redistricting in the swingiest of swing-states, the 11th District is now believed to be more Democratic, as it includes much more of Asheville. Davis notes that many describe the progressive city as "the Berkeley of the Blue Ridge....A big blue dot in the middle of a sea of red." He offers confidence that he'll be able to flip this previously "deep red" district to "blue" this year. He also shares his thoughts, as a law enforcement official himself, on calls from the Left for police reform amid continuing protests against systemic racism and a rightwing vigilante who murdered two peaceful protesters in Kenosha, WI on Tuesday night. And we discuss what he thinks about Donald Trump's pretend opposition to the Iraq War and threats to fill up Guantanamo Bay again, after it was nearly emptied during the Obama Administration.

Also on today's show: Desi Doyen joins us for details on the devastating damage wrought overnight by the monster Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and the bizarre, dangerous Night 3 of the RNC where Vice President Mike Pence gave his Presidential-sounding keynote address. He warned that violence in the streets under the Trump Administration is actually what we can expect, ironically enough, from "Joe Biden's America" --- to a maskless crowd filled with vulnerable elderly war veterans. Hopefully the event does not turn out to have been a COVID-19 super-spreader event, or Pence's closing promise to "Make America Great Again...Again" may never come to pass...again.

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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Guests: Progressive journalists Heather Digby Parton and Eric Boehlert on Biden, Harris, the Obamas and the surprising overall success of the nation's first 'virtual' political convention...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2020 5:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A bunch of longtime, cynical, dyed-in-the-wool progressive political journalists all seem to be largely in agreement today. The 2020 Democratic National Convention --- which, one week ago, nobody had any clue what it would look like --- was a stunning success on several surprising levels, starting, but not ending with, both Presidential and Vice Presidential acceptance speeches that each exceeded expectations. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

It was an often stark and somber week of uncut, commercial-free, two-hour-a-night politicking which, due to the pandemic, had to be invented from scratch by some remarkably creative minds. The result --- according to our guests HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, opinion journalist at Salon and Hullabaloo, and longtime progressive media critic ERIC BOEHLERT of PressRun --- was a remarkably cohesive and often moving narrative. The Democrats appear to have successfully framed an epic --- and even easy to understand --- election match-up featuring The Nicest Guy in the Nation versus its Meanest.

  • But will that be enough to defeat Trump, voter suppression, and ongoing chaos amid a crippling pandemic and knee-capped economy?
  • Will a platform featuring "the most progressive" programs "any Democratic presidential nominee has embraced in half a century" help counter the convention week's appeal to independents and disaffected Republican voters that seemed to overshadow, at times, the Party's more tepid embrace of it's surging progressive wing?
  • Will the bright lights of Joe Biden's trademark smile and the sunshine-bathed star-power of Kamala Harris be enough to, as the former Vice President promised in his acceptance speech, unify a nation to "overcome this season of darkness in America"?
  • And how, pray-tell, will the Republicans match or even answer the Democrats' carefully crafted and presented story-telling, featuring stars and regular Americans alike, with their own presentation next week?

We answer some of those questions and discuss all of them and much more today on today's special week-in-review coverage of the 2020 DNC...

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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Obama's DNC Day 3 speech for the ages; Also: All the President's Accountability - Bannon arrested for fraud, Trump loses again on taxes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2020 6:10pm PT  

Today's BradCast, I suspect, largely speaks for itself. [Audio link to full show is below.]

Among the news covered on today's program...

  • Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's third 2016 campaign chief and former CEO of the rightwing propaganda outlet Brietbart, becomes the third to be arrested and charged with crimes. He now faces federal felony fraud charges for stealing $1 million from a supposedly non-profit donor-driven wingnut effort that raised $25 million to build fencing on the U.S. southern border. We're happy to see yet another Trump-enabled con-man and grifter held accountable, but it comes with a warning about what this likely means for other federal indictments that could drop in the coming days ahead of the November 3rd election;
  • After receiving a very generous mulligan from the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court last month --- allowing his attorneys another bite at the apple in making their ridiculous case that the President of the United States is above the law in every way --- Trump's lawyers lose yet again, as a lower federal court judge rules for a second time that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over his tax returns and other financial documents to the Manhattan District Attorney investigating the President on state fraud charges;
  • Our quick review of the masterfully crafted and performed Day 3 of the DNC's virtual Democratic National Convention, including the historic nomination and perfectly delivered acceptance speech by official Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and...;
  • An extended excerpt of former President Barack Obama's speech for the ages, unlike any he's ever delivered, with a stern and clarion call to all Americans to rise up now by casting our votes to save democracy and the republic itself...

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: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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: David Dayen on Wednesday's 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and new book 'Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power'; Also: Herman Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2020 7:01pm PT  

The day began with a middle of the night earthquake here in Los Angeles. It was the least turbulent part of the day. We open with some grim news on today's BradCast before moving on to some shockingly encouraging news out of....wait for it....Congress of all places! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

First up today, former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain succumbed to the coronavirus. As co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, the 74-year old Cain attended Donald Trump's controversial mask-free rally in Tulsa on June 20. By July 2nd he was hospitalized with COVID-19 and now dead a month later. He wasn't the only high profile Republican to pass away from the coronavirus today. Bill Montgomery also died. He was the 80-year old co-founder of the rightwing "student group" (yes, a GOP student group founded by an 80-year old!) called Turning Point USA. The organization hosted Trump's second, similarly mask-free rally after Tulsa in Phoenix. Despite claims by both Cain and Montgomery's group that hydroxychloroquine was "100% effective" in treating coronavirus, turns out, as the FDA has emphasized, it isn't.

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was finally laid to rest on Thursday in Atlanta, where he was eulogized by three former Presidents. Trump did not attend after also failing to pay his respects while Lewis lay in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week. President Obama, however, offered stirring remarks in memoriam, calling for the expansion of voting rights which Lewis spent a lifetime --- and no small amount of blood --- fighting for.

The former President's remarks came shortly after our current President feebly suggested on Twitter that the November election should be delayed "until people can properly, securely and safely vote," charging that "2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history" due to the use of mail-in ballots needed to counteract the dangers of in-person voting during the pandemic that Trump utterly failed to control. That controversial call for delaying the election --- immediately and universally rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike --- was largely to a) further propagandize Trump's supporters into believing the November election results will be illegitimate and, more immediately, b) distract from the horrific economy news released by the federal government just minutes before Trump's tweet.

The news he was hoping to distract from: The U.S. economy plunged a staggering, unprecedented, annualized 32.9% in the second quarter of this year. By way of comparison, it took three years before the economy fell 30% during the Great Depression. This has happened in months, as another 1.4 million workers filed for new unemployment claims last week. It was the 19th week in a row of record-shattering 1 million plus applicants, leaving some 30 million Americans now jobless, as Republicans in Congress have failed to extend the expanded unemployment payments from he CARES Act. Those benefits have expired as of this week, and neither Congressional Republicans nor the White House appear to have an acceptable plan to replace them. House Democrats passed their own $3 trillion HEROES Act several months ago to continue those payments and much more critical relief to workers, states and cities, hospitals, homeowners, the U.S. Post Office and many others through the end of the year. Republicans appear to be in stultifying disarray.

But there is some good news today and, believe it or not, it comes out of Congress! The U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday held a five-hour hearing on Big Tech monopolies, featuring the CEOs of Amazon (Jeff Bezos), Apple (Tim Cook), Google (Sundar Pichai) and Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) as witnesses. All of them were grilled by Democrats and, yes, even Republicans alike for years of runaway, anti-competitive business practices. Progressive Matt Stoller's coverage of the hearing at The Guardian was headlined "Congress forced Silicon Valley to answer for its misdeeds. It was a glorious sight." Our guest today, DAVID DAYEN, author, investigative financial journalist and Executive Editor of the progressive American Prospect, filed a piece with the exhuberant hed: "The Triumphant Return of Congress," following up his 175-tweet live thread from his Wednesday coverage.

Dayen tells me today that it was "probably the most consequential hearing on corporate power in decades," where one CEO after another was called on the carpet to answer for years of crushing, anti-competitive practices in their sectors. He reports that the "members of that subcommittee," headed up by Democratic Chair David Cicilline of Rhode Island, "knew exactly what they wanted to talk about. They knew who they wanted to target. This is the culmination of a year-long investigation and these members had an incredible amount of knowledge about the harms that these four large corporations have been causing through the exertion of their power."

"They really extracted confessions from Bezos and Zuckerberg and others about the practices they engage in which really are illegal," he says. The hearing couldn't have been better timed for Dayen, coming just a week or so after the publication of his new book Monoplized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power documenting the breathtaking reach of unchecked corporate mergers and consolidation over the past four decades. He explains on today's show, as he does in the book, how century old anti-trust laws were turned on their head during the Reagan Administration, when a theory promoting the idea that monopolies are actually good for consumers was advanced by one Robert Bork. The theory would eventually prove untrue by its own standards. It was not good for consumers and, Dayen describes, failed to take into account the damage that anti-competitive practices actually wrought on small business, employees and the supply chain itself --- leading directly to some of the dangerous consequences and ridiculous shortages we've seen during the COVID crisis in everything from toilet paper to critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment.

"This hearing was a complete indictment of the Federal Trade Commission and the anti-trust division of the Justice Department, who had access to all this information that the subcommittee had. They had all of these documents. They had all of the ability to conduct an investigation. In fact, it's their job to do so," Dayen observes. "They did not do that, and waved through merger after merger after merger, and the people who had that authority, under Democratic administrations and Republican administrations, who were responsible for this failure should not be listened to again, and they should not hold power again."

Dayen is hopeful that Wednesday's hearing may actually spur action --- grant permission, if you will --- to the FTC and DOJ to start upholding those unenforced anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws and regulations that remain on the books. "The only way that gets done is that the momentum from this hearing is built, where a popular movement to understand and work against the power of monopolies is what is going to carry us forward. It has in the past. That's how we got these laws in the first place, because people demanded the political system respond, and it's how we're going to get them now."

I should note here that I make a personal cameo appearance in Dayen's new book (beginning on page 85, if you must know) discussing my own personal experience with the anti-competitive monopoly practices in the media industry, and how the unchecked "sale" of our public airwaves to a handful of mega-media corporations has led directly to all of the various disasters --- political, economic, societal and, yes, medical --- that are now rending apart our very republic.

Dayen, whose indispensable daily "Unsanitized" column at The American Prospect chronicles the continuing eroding state of our national battle with the global coronavirus pandemic and its ever-worsening toll on our economy, closes by bringing us up to date on the disastrous Republican effort to craft a new emergency relief bill in Congress, as expanded unemployment benefits expire and the U.S. Postal Service faces implosion just months away from the largest vote-by-mail election in the nation's history...

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 host Nicole Sandler with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and healthcare advocate Laura Packard...
By Nicole Sandler on 7/27/2020 5:08pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back to guest host today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Today we learned that Florida is now considered the epicenter of the global pandemic. Lucky me, I live in South Florida, where we've had more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases reported every day for the past five days. Things are especially bad in Miami-Dade County, the hardest-hit part of the hardest-hit state. I give the credit for our position to our Governor, a smarmy, unqualified man named Ron DeSantis who's earned his new nickname, Ron DeathSentence.

I reached out to an old friendly acquaintance, DAN GELBER, who is the mayor of Miami Beach. We spoke about his many challenges, including the pandemic that's threatening to shut down his city again, plus the threat of a major storm hitting at this horrible time. It is, after all, hurricane season, and Miami Beach is a barrier island.

As millions of Americans are now without health insurance as a result of losing their jobs due to the pandemic, I spoke with healthcare advocate LAURA PACKARD, who reminded me that three years ago tonight (or three years ago in the very early hours of tomorrow morning), John McCain came to our rescue!

Laura and I are both cancer survivors. I fought lung cancer four years ago; Laura was undergoing chemotherapy three years ago when the Republicans' latest effort to overturn what's left of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, made it to the Senate floor for a vote. We needed three courageous Republicans to vote with the Democrats to avoid losing access to insurance. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins had already voted no. And John McCain stepped up to do the right thing and saved the program so that those of us with pre-existing conditions still had the right to pay through the nose for health insurance.

Laura's spending this anniversary helping to put together a healthcare Town Hall with Senators Debbie Stabenow, Tammy Baldwin, Bob Casey and Amy Klobuchar with a bunch of other health care advocates and activists that will be archived here.

As usual, we began with the latest news you need to get you through the day, and a bit of humor in a song by Lauren Mayer too.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Guest: Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute; Also: Bolton book confirms what every honest person already knows...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is one thing that Donald Trump excels at: screwing up. Despite his promises to his nativist racist base to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, even his stolen U.S. Supreme Court had to concede his attempt to do so was unlawful and unconstitutional [Audio link to full show is posted below]

It was the second such defeat for the haters this week, after Trump's own appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, found it unlawful in his 6-3 majority opinion to fire someone simply because they are gay or trans, as had been legal in most states before this week's landmark ruling. Today's defeat for our feckless President was found in the 5-4 majority opinion [PDF] authored by Chief Justice John Roberts who, with the Court's four Democratic appointees, held that, in Trump's haste to end the program that protects from deportation nearly 800,000 people brought here by their parents as children, the Administration did so in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

No, Roberts isn't turning into a liberal squish, despite the blustered outrage from rightwingers today. The APA statute requires a reasonable explanation for overturning Executive Actions by previous Presidents, and the Roberts majority determined --- as with Trump's botched attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census last year --- the Administration couldn't even muster up one.

We're joined by SARAH PIERCE, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, to describe the "surprise", if narrow, opinion, that protects DREAMers for now, but allows Trump to try again if his Administration can figure out how to do it legally. "No one expected the Supreme Court to rule against the Trump Administration and how it went about ending DACA. We're all extremely surprised by this decision --- and happy, because this is a large group of young people we're talking about in the United States that contribute a lot to our country, and society, and economy. So it's good news all around," she tells me.

In addition to the good news that these folks --- some 20,000 of whom are now working in the health care industry during the pandemic, many others in the U.S. military, many more now married with U.S. citizen children --- will not be ripped out of their communities and sent back to countries they don't remember or even speak the language, the economy will also not have to suffer another $300 billion blow. That is just one of the costs cited by Roberts in his opinion as unlawfully ignored by the Administration when they violated the law in trying to reverse DACA.

Naturally, Trump played the victim, describing this week's two SCOTUS verdicts that did not go his way as "horrible & politically charged decisions" and "shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives." He then pitifully asked: "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?" No. But pretty much nobody else does.

For his part, President Obama lauded the decision, citing DACA as having "protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation." He called for Joe Biden to be elected with "a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that's truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all."

As Pierce explains on today's show, Congress has, for years, been on the verge of passage of an immigration bill to protect DREAMers. Those efforts, however, are inevitably scotched by Trump and the GOP, who seem to prefer a political issue they can raise money on to an actual permanent solution to the problem.

"We've always gotten a lot of mixed messages on this, not only from Donald Trump's statements but from his actions, as well," says Pierce, referencing his 2017 tweet when he asked: "Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?," followed by his tweet two years later when he referred to some DREAMers as "far from 'angels" and "very tough, hardened criminals."

"Both the Senate and the House took time to seriously consider passing legislation on DREAMers," Pierce notes. "And the White House really torpedoed that, both times, by adding a bunch of demands that were just unsuitable for Democrats to take on. So we have them moving one step forward, clearly with the interests of DACA recipients interests in mind, and then taking two steps back. They're all over the place."

Whether these failures harm or hurt Trump's reelection chances remains to be seen. He is already demanding "more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else." But, of course, as his former National Security Advisor John Bolton's new book makes clear --- according to reporting on copies obtained by media before next week's official publication date --- everything Trump does, every decision he makes as President, is not based on how it might help Americans, but on how it might help his reelection chances. That includes an attempted quid pro quo scheme, according to Bolton, to lift U.S. sanctions against China in exchange for their purchase of soybeans and wheat to help voters in the Midwest that Trump believes he needs to win in 2020.

The conversation described by Bolton between Trump and Chinese President XI Jinping mirrors the extortion scheme with Ukraine's President that resulted in Trump's impeachment last year. Shamefully, though Bolton would have bolstered the Democrats' case against Trump in the impeachment trial, he chose to hold his revelations for his new book. Please don't buy that book, even as everything so far described from it regarding Trump's failures and fecklessness as both a President and a human being sounds 100% plausible.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as the corporate person known as California utility company PG&E admits guilt to 84 counts of manslaughter (don't worry, despite all the deaths they admit to causing, nobody will actually go to jail); as new analyses find the nation could move to 90% renewable electricity in just 15 years and save money doing it; and as the 2020 wildfire season sparks up with an ominous beginning...

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

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Guest: Policing expert Alex S. Vitale on failed reforms and a new solution
Also: Messy primaries underway in a dozen states; Tough Guy Trump unleashes federal troops on peaceful demonstrators, a church, and foreign journos for a campaign photo-op...
By Brad Friedman on 6/2/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast (with helicopters circling overhead here in Hollywood): Massive protests around the country continue today for an eighth day following last week's police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The street protests continue to swell, no doubt, in response to the frequently brutal response by law enforcement officials in many major cities around the country toward the mostly peaceful demonstrations. But protests in the streets aren't the only much-needed response to years of violence instigated by law enforcement. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, one response will be --- or, certainly should be --- at the voting booth this year. To that end, eight states and Washington D.C. are holding their Presidential primaries today. Congressional primaries and municipal elections are being held in a number of other states as well, many of them previously postponed due to the coronavirus. But the deadly pandemic continues, leading Republican Gov. Mike Parsons of Missouri --- where absentee voting is severely restricted --- to tell voters recently that if they don't feel safe to vote due to the pandemic, they just shouldn't bother. That, instead of working to expand absentee voting in the Show-Me State to make it safer for voters to exercise their right to participate in their own democracy. As a GOP-dominated state, however, making it easier to vote in MO may be the last thing Parsons wants.

Nonetheless, expanded absentee voting is now occurring in a number of states --- red, blue and battleground --- where problems have already emerged, including in Pennsylvania and in Idaho, as discussed on today's show.

We're hopeful that election officials see today's "practice run" primaries as a flashing red warning light to get their acts together before November 3rd. That will not be made any easier by intransigent Republican lawmakers in D.C. who are still refusing to appropriate the billions of dollars that elections officials say they need to upgrade systems for this year's elections amid a pandemic, or to bail out the U.S. Postal Service --- hard hit by the COVID crisis --- so they are able to handle the unprecedented mail-in voting we will see in this fall's critical general election.

In related news, the President of the United States, after reportedly spending time over the weekend locked away in a White House bunker due to fears of protests in front of the Presidential mansion, decided to play tough guy on Monday by unleashing federal troops with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and shields on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, on the priest and several seminarians at St. John's Episcopal Church across the street, and on foreign journalists covering the American Dystopian nightmare live on television. D.C.'s Episcopal Bishop, as well as the Australian Ambassador, both had a word or two to say about it after a crew from the country's Seven Network was ">punched by federal storm-troopers as the journalists were covering the violent effort to clear out the park so that Trump could pose for a campaign photo-op holding a bible in front of the historic church.

And, in more related news, while Trump's questionably Constitutional threat on Monday to dispatch the U.S. military to quell protests in states around the country --- beyond his own front door, in any event --- is likely as hollow as most of his other strongman threats, the very real and systemic problem of brutal, racist policing policies continues in this country. To that end, calls to "Defund the Police" have grown in recent days, as seen in protest signs, from various non-governmental organizations around the country and in various media outlets.

We're joined today by longtime policing expert ALEX S. VITALE, Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and Coordinator of their Policing and Social Justice Project. Vitale, who penned an opinion piece for The Nation over the weekend headlined "The Only Solution Is to Defund the Police" explains how reforms instituted by the Obama Administration after outrage unleashed by the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner on Staten Island, NY six years ago have failed to bring much-needed institutional changes to police departments around the country. The Minneapolis Police Department, in fact, was once held up by some as a model of progressive change that, clearly, has not resulted in the hoped-for reform.

"Minneapolis was kind of a 'shining star' of this new approach to police reform," he tells me. "That comes out of the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice and a lot of academic think tanks. Their idea was if we can make the police more professional, less biased, more transparent, that this will help restore people's trust in policing. So they implement things like implicit bias training, mindfulness training, de-escalation training. They give police body cameras. They set up a lot of police-community encounter sessions. They try to identify a few problem officers, to give them supplemental training. These are the kinds of things that they hope will create a more modern, professional police force that hopefully will kill fewer unarmed black people."

None of that worked, however, he says. "The number of police killings has not been reduced over the last five or six years. The number of low-level misdemeanor arrests has not been reduced. The number of police in our schools has not been reduced. The war on drugs has not been reduced. So we haven't seen real changes in the impact of policing on those who are most heavily policed. And that's really the problem here."

Now, explains Vitale, author of the book The End of Policing, it is time to demilitarize and defund departments around the country after 40 years of expanded and intensified policing and the more recent failed reforms. "We have dozens of places across the country where people have organized campaigns to dial back police funding," he explains. "No one is out there saying tomorrow we can just flip a switch and there are no police. Most of these proposals are about rolling back increases in police spending over the last ten years."

He argues that many of the functions that cops are currently tasked with would be much better handled by social workers and community organizations, where funding should be shifted away from the police. He also details how this has been a long time bipartisan problem and that many of the "solutions" offered by politicians --- from tough guy "law and order" measures on the Right or more recent progressive initiatives to better train cops to handle sensitive racial situations and improve community policing efforts on the Left --- are more often "used by police leaders and political leaders to deflect and demobilize the protests against them."

Vitale explains how you can help join the movement, why its so important, and how it is literally the only chance we have left for change. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a long-overdue conversation in our country. "My hope is that, as the immediacy of the protests subside, that people connect with these real movements to do the kind of sustained political organizing on the ground that can help change the view about policing, and develop a kind of new majoritarian politics that is more humane, and less centered on punishment and vengeance," he says.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Trump's EPA proves they couldn't care less about "states' rights"; the U.N. is forced to delay a crucial climate summit due to the pandemic; there is more good news about the end of coal; and less good news about Zombie Fires! Yes, Zombie Fires!...

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

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Guest: Howie Klein on progressive Dem win in NE, establishment Dem loss in CA; Also: Trump voted illegally in FL and ... 'OBAMAGATE'!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, committed voter fraud while serving as President of the United States. And, speaking of elections, we had a few on Tuesday in California, Wisconsin and Nebraska. [Audio link to full show is conveniently posted below.]

But first up today, if Trump is accusing someone else of doing something, it's a near certainty it's because he's doing it himself. While he's been busy pretending in recent weeks that Democrats steal elections by absentee voting, it turns out it was Trump himself who actually committed voter fraud in the state of Florida this year when he voted in the Sunshine State's primary election in March by absentee ballot. No, voting by absentee is not a crime or fraud in and of itself (as he continues to claim). But voting in the state of Florida --- in-person or via absentee --- without having a lawful permanent domicile there is, in fact, a felony.

As Washington Post recently documented, thanks to some digging by attorneys, historians and neighbors of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump signed an agreement in 1993 that turned Mar-a-Lago from a single family residence into a commercial club. It cannot be both at the same time under state law, despite Trump's recent assertion on a Palm Beach application for approval of a boat dock at his seaside club that the club was his "personal residence".

As the facts started coming out that Trump's claim to have moved his residence from New York to Florida last year was, in fact, unlawful, he quietly rescinded the application for a new dock this week. But he can't rescind the fact that he committed voter fraud in the state of Florida by falsely claiming residency there and then voting unlawfully in their March primary elections. If it was anyone else (any Democrat, anyway), charges would be brought. But, like former GOP superstar Ann Coulter, who also blatantly and knowingly committed voter fraud in Palm Beach, Florida (as The BRAD BLOG meticulously and indisputably documented years ago), Trump will probably find a way to eventually get off the hook for his voter fraud crimes as well. He shouldn't. Even if that means waiting until he's out of office to bring criminal charges against him. Republicans have jailed, fined, deported and otherwise thrown the book at others for far lesser election-related crimes in recent years.

That, as Trump is claiming a bogus (if unspecified) crime by former President Obama that he and Fox "News" have now dubbed "OBAMAGATE" in apparent hopes of tarring Trump's presumptive Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, somehow. The pretend scandal seemly has something to do with Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to federal officials about his contact with Russian agents prior to Trump's inauguration and about being an undeclared agent of Turkey even while serving as National Security Advisor. But, despite Trump describing "OBAMAGATE" as the "biggest political crime in American history, by far!," so big, in fact, that it "makes Watergate look small time", neither the President nor Fox "News" seem to be able to explain either what the crime is, or why Trump says that his own Constitutional powers as President allow him to commit any crime he wants, while that same Constitution didn't apply to President Obama apparently (even as there is no evidence to demonstrate that Obama committed any such crime.) It was, however, quite amusing when a guest on Fox "News" recently pointed out that little problem with Trump's otherwise ingenious plan.

Then, we're joined by longtime, champion progressive blogger HOWIE KLEIN of Down With Tyranny to discuss Tuesday's Special Elections for the U.S. House in California and Wisconsin and a big win for progressives in Omaha during yesterday's primary elections in Nebraska. Progressive Democrat Kara Eastman trounced former Republican Ann Ashford, wife of former conservative Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, to win the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District. Eastman will run against hard right Republican Trump loyalist Donald Bacon in November, after the incumbent Congressman defeated her by about 2 points in 2018. Klein argues that it sometimes takes a couple runs at it before progressive candidates are able to unseat incumbents. He believes Eastman, a strong supporter of a Medicare for All single-payer universal health care system, has a very good shot at flipping the seat from red to blue this year, fueled by the populist progressive grassroots support that lead to her landslide win on Tuesday

Meanwhile, the news was not as good for Democrats in the two U.S. House Special Elections yesterday. In Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District (so gerrymandered by Republicans that it stretches across 26 different rural counties!), Republican Tom Tiffany easily defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker by about 15 points. As Klein tells me, however, she did better than Clinton in that district, which went for Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012 and to Trump by about 20 points in 2016.

The most stinging loss of the night for Dems had to be in California's 25th Congressional District, where establishment-backed Democratic candidate Christy Smith appears to have lost to Republican Mike Garcia by about 12 points (at least with 82% of ballots now tabulated). This is the seat vacated late last year by freshman Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned amid a revenge porn and ethics scandal. Klein explains how and why the Democrats lost on Tuesday, and blames much of it on a lack of support --- and, at times, opposition --- from the conservative Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). That election, by the way, is the one that Trump and Republicans were pretending over the weekend was being "stolen by Democrats!"

As co-founder of the BlueAmericaPAC with Heather Digby Parton of Hullabaloo and John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Klein also details several progressive U.S. House candidates today who could use your support in upcoming primaries around the country. Several of them are facing contests with incumbent establishment Democrats over the next two months as nearly 20 different states have yet to hold their primary elections this year...

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

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Prime-time Oval Office speech goes disastrously, markets plunge, almost all gains under Trump wiped out, major league seasons called off, Biden and Sanders step up, even as critical elections threatened by virus...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's error-laden prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday night did little to ease the nation's anxieties over the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it appears to have made things much worse in a number of ways.

The Dow Futures market plummeted as his remarks began, with the DJI closing down more than 2,300 points on Thursday. In all, after hitting a record high just weeks ago, the markets have lost nearly 90% of the gains they've seen since Trump took office in January of 2017. One more day like this and all of those gains will be lost. So much for "rocket fuel to the economy".

Fortunes on Wall Street, however, may be the least of the country's problems right now. Trump's announcement on Wednesday night called for a travel ban from all European countries other than the United Kingdom (for reasons that no one seems able to explain) and for the payroll tax cut he's been seeking for months (long before the virus), which few experts believe will be much help amidst this worsening epidemic. Moreover, no sooner did Trump finish his teleprompter remarks than the White House had to begin issuing corrections to them. No, trade and cargo would not actually be banned from Europe, as Trump claimed, and the health insurance industry didn't actually agree to offer free coronavirus treatments to all as the Liar-in-Chief claimed Wednesday night.

Europe was blindsided by the announcement, and it was left to Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to try and calm an anxious nation today with their own speeches addressing the crisis as Trump continues to refuse to declare a national emergency because it would reveal he had lied about the epidemic for weeks. (And apparently he needs to get Jared's permission first.)

The NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball all announced they are suspending their seasons, the NCAA cancelled their March Madness tournaments, Disneyland will be closing their doors, and Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife Rita Wilson have both contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

But what about the upcoming primary and general elections? Are we really going to continue asking voters to stand in long lines with hundreds of people to vote on potentially virus-infected touchscreen voting systems? As it turns out, hand-marked paper ballots still moist from hand-sanitizer also caused problems this week in New Hampshire's municipal elections, jamming optical-scan tabulators at precincts.

The U.S. Vote Foundation, led by former GOP Chair Michael Steele, is now calling on Congress to immediately pass legislation requiring every state in the union to allow no-excuse absentee/Vote-by-Mail ballots for all voters. And while I am no fan of Vote-by-Mail usually (other than in jurisdiction where voters are forced to vote on touchscreen voting systems at the polls), it's looking more and more like we are all going to be voting via VBM this year if the virus continues on its current trajectory.

We cover all of that and much more on today's show, before ending on a "lighter note"...with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report (which, believe it or not, actually has a quite a bit of welcome good news today...at least once we get past the coronavirus part of it anyway.)

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

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And how the War Powers Act was created and then ignored...
By Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D. on 2/24/2020 10:35am PT  

In response to President Donald Trump having ordered a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, the United States Senate on February 13 passed a resolution that would prevent him from engaging in further hostilities against Iran without first getting approval from Congress. The resolution had already passed the House by a vote of 224-194. It passed in the Senate by a vote of 55-45, with eight Republicans voting in favor.

Those Republicans include Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

President Trump is almost certain to veto the resolution. Both chambers lack the two-thirds majority necessary to override a Presidential veto. But the War Powers Act was written to be exempt from the possibility of a Presidential veto.

So, what's going on here? One of the most contentious fronts in the current power struggle between the Congress and the President involves the power to declare war. The Constitution makes clear that this power resides in Congress. Over time, this power has effectively shifted from the Congress to the President. Here's how that happened...

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




Also: CBS-LA runs investigative report (featuring Brad) on L.A.'s new unverifiable touchscreen voting system; And a word or two about Romney's courage and Trump's ugly everlasting shame...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2020 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We dispatch with the dark, ugly post-impeachment bitterness of our completely unfit and totally guilty President as quickly as possible at the top of today's show, along with a word or two about Mitt Romney's commendable, historic courage. Then it's on to looking forward to how Americans must remove this dangerous man from office, even as we all must surmount seemingly impossible odds with our nation's terrible, dangerous, nontransparent voting systems in 2020. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On that score, first up, CBS-2 in Los Angeles ran an investigative report this week, featuring yours truly, on the County's new, unverifiable, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system. We share the report from CBS-LA's David Goldstein in full, along with some additional thoughts, including the eerie similarities between comments in the CBS report from L.A. County's Registrar Dean Logan, who developed the new VSAP ("Voting Solutions for All People") system, on his strong confidence in the first-time use of this new system before the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, and those from an interview with the Iowa Democratic Party Chair Tom Price on the night before the Iowa Caucuses about his own confidence in the party's new, secretly-developed smartphone app that failed so disastrously the next day.

Then, speaking of Iowa, several reports on Thursday confirm that there was an apparent effort by Trump supporting trolls to jam the phone lines used as the backup for precinct officials to phone in caucus results when the IDP's smartphone app had failed. That element of the story is eerily similar to the 2002 GOP phone-jamming scandal during a U.S. Senate election in New Hampshire that year. Four Republican operatives hired by the party were convicted in a criminal scheme and the party had to pay NH Dems $125,000 in damages afterward. How does that tie to what happened in Iowa? We hope to report more on that on tomorrow's BradCast. But for now, we hope it serves as a reminder that Russia is not the only threat to the integrity of U.S. elections. Not by a long shot.

Today we've got more new, and still-partial (97%), results out of Iowa, showing Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in a virtual tie, with Buttigieg barely leading in state delegates at the moment (3 out of several thousand divvied up between candidates) and Sanders winning in the raw vote counts in both the first and final rounds of voting on Caucus night. Controversy around the reported numbers, as chaotic and error-ridden as it has been, is actually a good thing, as we explain, given that publicly-witnessed, precinct-based counts (with hand-marked paper ballots to boot) are available from all 1,765 caucus sites. That means, when incorrect numbers have been posted to date, the public has been able to scrutinize and force corrections to those numbers, as has been the case in several instances across the state.

It should also be noted that, despite claims from supporters of some candidates, there is no evidence so far to suggest that any of the errors in reporting were meant to help or harm any particular candidate. As the NYTimes reports tonight, "Some of these inconsistencies may prove to be innocuous, and they do not indicate an intentional effort to compromise or rig the result. There is no apparent bias in favor of the leaders Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders, meaning the overall effect on the winner’s margin may be small."

We go over some of those claims as well today. While some are viewing all of this as chaos and failure, we see it as a victory for PUBLIC OVERSIGHT OF ELECTION RESULTS. Public oversight is generally missing in jurisdictions where computers tally votes (which is to say, in all 50 states) leaving the public often entirely unable to verify results of their own elections. Similar errors occur in virtually every election, but due to the nature of secret counting in most locations, the public rarely learns about or notices them and erroneous results are rarely corrected. That, of course, was what we shamefully saw (or, rather, didn't) in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania after the stunning reported end to the 2016 Presidential election.

Now, ironically enough, a furious National Democratic Pary chair is demanding a recanvass of results in Iowa. But where were those same Dems after 2016 when they decided to not challenge or scrutinize any of the dubious numbers from the most surprising Presidential election results in U.S. history?

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with more debunkery of Trump's lies about energy at this week's SOTU, some bad news about January's record heat, and some very good news about the scheduled ban on gasoline-powered cars in Great Britain!...

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

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on the path toward de-escalation with Iran; Also: Lights out (again) for Puerto Rico...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2020 5:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, while "all" is anything but "well", it may at least be a bit better than it was 24 hours ago at this time --- at least if the backing away from the likelihood of an apocalyptic military confrontation in the Middle East serves as any gauge. [Audio link to today's program is posted at end of summary.]

Shortly after air time on Tuesday, Iran launched a 22 ballistic missile fusillade at two Iraqi military bases housing thousands of U.S. troops in response to Donald Trump's assassination late last week of revered Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. And shortly after that, a Ukrainian Airliner made by Boeing fell from the sky and crashed after take off from Tehran's airport, killing everyone on board. While it's still early and unclear what exactly caused the disaster, some experts believe the plane could have been attacked either accidentally or on purpose. We discuss.

As to the Iranian attack on U.S. troops, thankfully there were no casualties, either American or Iraqi, as Iran announced there would be no more military reappraisals for Soleimani's killing, so long as America does not attack the nation again. What turned out to be a largely symbolic revenge attack for domestic consumption by Iran appears to have been an act of mercy to help deescalate a military confrontation touched off late last week by Trump that many feared had been spiraling out of control since the targeted drone strike against Soleimani.

After declaring "All is well!" on Twitter Tuesday evening, amidst the missile assault and deadly airliner crash, Trump offered mercifully brief remarks at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by the Vice President and top cabinet members and military officials, to suggest he was taking the off-ramp offered him by the grown-ups in Iran. In between several blatant lies told about the anti-nuclear pact struck with Iran and other leading nations during the Obama Administration and on other related matters, Trump promised new economic sanctions against Iran, but said the nation "appears to be standing down", that Iran and the US should "work together" against their mutual enemy of ISIS, and that the United States is ready to embrace peace."

Whether any of that turns out to be true, given a President of the United States who lies as easily as he breathes, is anyone's guess. But it may allow many of us to breathe a bit easier for the moment, at least until Trump's next unnecessary self-inflicted crisis.

We're joined today by former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State MICHAEL FUCHS, to try and help clear up much of the confusion and anxiety of the last 12 hours since Iran's attack and the six days since Trump's assassination of Soleimani. Among the questions discussed with Fuchs...

  • Was Iran's missile attack, in fact, an "act of mercy"?;
  • Should we take any comfort from Trump's response today?;
  • Will there be additional responses from Iran (including cyberattacks) against the U.S.?;
  • Why were there no grown-ups in either the State or Defense Departments to warn Trump off of his wildly ill-considered murder of Iran's second most powerful official?;
  • What can and should be done to keep a President from being able to do something as irresponsible and dangerous like this in the future?;
  • Haven't both Republicans and Democrats in Congress ceded far too much of their Constitutional war-making authority to Presidents of both parties in recent years?;
  • What can Congress do to prevent this President and future ones from acting so dangerously?;
  • While the deal with Iran to block their path to a nuclear weapon had been a success (Trump's demonstrable lies about it not withstanding), until he unilaterally pulled the U.S. from the deal, wouldn't Iran be within their rights, and indeed wise, to now pursue a nuclear weapon, given the behavior of the U.S.?;
  • With Iranian and Iraqi leaders both demanding that U.S. troops leave the region, and Trump pretending for years that he wants the same, wouldn't this be a great time to find common ground and finally pull out of our many decades-long disastrous adventures in the Middle East once and for all?;
  • Can U.S. diplomacy actually rise in the Trump Administration with his widly hawkish Sec. of State Mike Pompeo?;

Fuchs, a former senior State Department official turned Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Guardian columnist, gamely offers insightful answers to all of those questions and many others at the (hopeful) end of another series of exhausting, unnerving and confusing days during the horrific Trump Presidency.

"It is entirely possible that Iran might respond more to this most recent series of events. They might use cyberattacks, they might use their proxies throughout the region, which is a little bit hands-off, allows them a little bit of plausible deniability in their mind to attack US interests," Fuchs tells me. "But even if there is no immediate other response from Iran, we are still in this very dangerous and precarious moment where tensions between the two countries are incredibly high. And neither side seems, frankly, to have the ability nor the interest, at the moment at least, to finding a sustainable solution to these tensions. So for the moment, we want to hope for a very quick de-escalation, but the bigger problem is still very much there."

Finally, with the ability to breathe just a bit easier (at least for now) for the first time since the turn of the New Year, we turn to some quick coverage of some stories we've had to put off during Trump's latest world-threatening tantrum, beginning with the fact that two-thirds of Puerto Rico has been without power, and hundreds of thousands without clean water, since a major (and unusual) earthquake on Tuesday took out the U.S. island's largest power plant...

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Guest: National security law expert Karen J. Greenberg; Also: McConnell says has votes to begin fixed impeachment trial; 'GNR' returns for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2020 5:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the world remains on edge in the wake of Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general Qassem Soleimani. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of summary.]

At least 56 mourners reportedly died during a stampede at funeral processions for the revered figured in Iran, were millions turned out to show their respects and to vow revenge against the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. customs and border officials were reportedly detaining Iranian-American citizens for extended questioning as they re-entered the country; Trump's Secretaries of Defense and State each tried to walk back Trump's twice-threatened war crimes against Iran, should they dare to retaliate; And both Secretaries along with the White House continued to claim, without evidence, that an "imminent attack" that would have killed "hundreds" of Americans was prevented by the killing and served to justify the targeted drone strike against Soleimani and several Iraqi officials; Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to have the votes necessary to move Donald Trump's impeachment trial forward in the U.S. Senate (which Trump had clearly hoped to distract from with his attack on Iran) without allowing for either first-hand witnesses or subpoenaed White House documents to be presented as evidence; and the Foreign Minister of Iran described the assassination of Soleimani as "state terrorism" and President Trump as "lawless".

On that last point, and many related, we are joined today by KAREN J. GREENBERG, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law and the author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. Professor Greenberg, an expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, detailed in a New York Times op-ed today headlined "Killing Qassim Suleimani Was Illegal. And Predictable.," how American Presidents have been expanding their own executive authority for "targeted killings" and assassination since the post-Watergate Church Committee in the Senate called for reforms to ban such activity by the Executive Branch in 1975. President Gerald Ford, in 1976, issued an Executive Order to ban all political assassinations by the U.S.

Over the years since, however, as Greenberg documents, Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama have each stretched the definitions of what amounts to an allowable "targeted killing" under certain restricted circumstances in order to prevent an "imminent attack". And while such killings eventually numbered in the hundreds under Obama (and included at least one U.S. citizen, albeit in a different country), Greenberg explains that no President, until Donald Trump, has broadened the definitions to include an out-and-out assassination of a state official, much less one as highly revered as Soleimani in Iran.

"President Obama attempted to expand the authority for targeted killing, excepting it from the category 'assassination', and giving many reasons --- including international law reasons --- for why this would be lawful. And tying it, however, to the War on Terror, which in a way, puts it in a different scenario than what we're now seeing. Because what we've seen this week is a successful attempt to attack a leading member of a sovereign state," Greenberg tells me. "It distinguishes in many ways from what the Obama Administration had done. But what the Obama Administration did was to open the window for that. They did it because they wanted to expand the targeted killing program of George [W.] Bush. Obama said it would cause less trouble, less reprisal on the ground, and therefore less violence against American troops. And they thought it would work in cases where they couldn't capture somebody who they thought was being tremendously detrimental to the United States."

The authority he and other Presidents granted to themselves, however, "essentially bypasses the idea of laws that restrain" and "comes down to 'trust me' government", in that the public must rely on classified evidence by the Intelligence Community --- and, hopefully, its review by members of Congress --- as legal justification for the actions. But Trump, she explains, while previously dismissing the assessments of the intelligence community as dishonest "Deep State" actors, is now citing what he claims to be their evidence and asking us to trust it.

The result of all of this is what Greenberg describes as "a lack of foresight to put in place policies, by any President or any administration that, should it get into the wrong hands, can prove truly dangerous. We've now crossed that threshold." She goes on to note that "The basic bottom line is this is not something that the United States has supported or allowed since the Church Committee" in 1975.

We discuss how Ford's Executive Order, the War Powers Act of 1973 (meant to constrain Presidents from acts of war without approval by Congress), and the Authorizations for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress after 9/11 and again before our invasion of Iraq, have all now been stretched to the point of near meaningless. At the same time, the U.S. has also pushed the boundaries of Geneva Convention restrictions against war crimes to fit its defensive/aggressive needs of the moment, with as little enforcement by international agencies as Congress has brought against U.S. Presidents from both major parties at home for violations of domestic laws and Constitutional mandates.

There is quite a bit in this conversation that can't adequately be summarized here, so I hope you'll tune in for much more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, which, sadly, picks up with the continuing, record, devastating Australian wildfires which also led our last GNR of the year in 2019, some two and a half weeks ago...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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