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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, June 17, 2019
Supremely Strange Bedfellows in Today's SCOTUS Rulings: 'BradCast' 6/17/19
High Court punts on discrimination, allows VA gerrymander fix, leaves double-jeopardy loophole in place; Also: Iran pushes back; More bad 2020 news for Trump; Callers...
Sunday 'Dirty Deals' Toons!
We might recommend a shower after enjoying PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Journalist Suspended by Twitter for Anti Alt-Right Book Graphic: 'BradCast' 6/14/19
Guest: Author, journo David Neiwert; Also: Admin's Iran scam; DNC sets first 2020 debate; Sanders defends democratic socialism...
Amidst the GOP Paracosm: 'BradCast' 6/13/19
Bizarre day at the Conway household; Remarkable GOP excuses for ignoring Mueller; MI drops Flint indictments; Musical tribute to the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues!...
The GOP is Now an Entirely Corrupt Enterprise: 'BradCast' 6/11/19
White House censors climate science; NC GOP lied to federal court about gerrymander; FL Repubs gut state initiative process; Jon Stewart shames Congress...again...
'Green News Report' 6/11/19
WH censors intel official on climate; DoD leaves climate out of Arctic strategy; India heat leads to violence; Canada bans single-use plastic; PLUS: Bloomberg 'can't wait'...
NC Voting System 'Master Passwords' Found Online, Downloadable by Anyone:
'BradCast' 6/10/19
Researcher Chris Vickery details his startling discovery of state's exposed files in 2018...
Sunday Toons from Across the Pond!
Pip-pip and cheerio, Euro-losers! Toons from abroad and, unfortunately, right back here at home, in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
20th State Votes to Overturn 'Citizens United': 'BradCast' 6/7/19
Guest: Aquene Freechild; Also: Biden flips on Hyde Amndmnt, swears off fossil fuel money (sorta); Automakers oppose Trump mileage, emissions rollback; Listener mail...
GOP 'Socialism' and Other Deadly Hypocrisies: 'BradCast' 6/6/19
UT stuck w/ coal cleanup; UN equates anti-choice w/ 'torture'; NC veto upheld; TX Guv vetoes domestic violence law; Pelosi wants Trump 'in prison'...
'Green News Report' 6/6/19
Trump proves he knows zip about climate (again); Meeting Paris pact targets could avert 1000s of U.S. deaths; PLUS: Climate change now a litmus test for Dem 2020 hopefuls...
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: Former U.S. House General Counsel Stanley M. Brand; Also: NC-9 GOP election fraud follow-up; Trump pal, Patriots owner in prostitution, human-trafficking sting; The President's musical 'Border Lies'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2019 7:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some maddening facts about what awaits when Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report is handed over to the Attorney General and what will and won't likely be in it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today...in "lighter" news...some followup to our detailed coverage yesterday of the remarkable events leading up to the unanimous 5 to 0 vote by the North Carolina State Board of Elections for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional U.S. House District. The action was in response to what the board described as a "coordinated, unlawful, substantially resourced absentee ballot fraud scheme" in last November's election by the campaign of Trump-endorsed Baptist minister Mark Harris. The decision followed on stunning surprise testimony against Harris by his own son at the Board's public hearings on the matter this week.

Among our follow-up coverage today: the (not-at-all-shocking if wildly-hypocritical silence from GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters who've made their living for years lying about phony fraud to encourage laws that suppress the Democratic-leaning vote, while hoaxing Fox "News" brain-addled clowns like Donald Trump into believing there's an epidemic of Democratic voter fraud, rather than the insider election fraud which can easily flip the results of an entire election --- as seen in North Carolina. It was also nice to hear the NC Democratic Chairman finally explain the difference between "voter fraud" and "election fraud" to NPR's Steve Inskeep on today's Morning Edition. We'll see if NPR can remember that difference in the future.

And, speaking of GOP hypocrisy, long-time Trump-supporting billionaire and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged today by Florida police for two instances of soliciting prostitution, as he was caught amidst a probe into human sex trafficking. Ironically enough, human trafficking has long been disingenuously used by Trump to support his "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military for use in building his border wall with Mexico. The news of the warrant for Kraft's arrest today raises a panoply of interesting issues which Desi and I take a few minutes to discuss.

Then, with several media outlets reporting this week that a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be coming as soon as next week (and, at least one outlet today reporting that's not so), the question of what happens whenever that report is finally delivered to the Attorney General is coming to the forefront.

My guest today, Professor STANLEY M. BRAND, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Government at Penn State University, recently argued in a column at The Conversation that those hoping the public may see this report after it's turned over, by statute, to Trump's newly-minted AG William Barr may be in for some disappointment. Brand, who formerly served for eight years as General Counsel to the U.S. House, now teaches a course on the Independent Counsel at Penn State, explains how it differs from the Special Counsel statute that replaced it after the Clinton era. He suggests the public may never see any of Mueller's "confidential" report.

More frustratingly, he tells me why he believes that Mueller is unlikely to indict the President or recommend such an indictment and how the by-the-book prosecutor is similarly unlikely to recommend impeachment in his report. Unlike the old Independent Counsel statute in effect under Nixon and Clinton, the new statute, he explains, as written by a Democrat, is limited to criminal matters only (not legislative matters such as impeachment) and requires Mueller largely to issue a "confidential" report with little more than details on who was prosecuted and who was not, and what, if any, actions were blocked by the Attorney General overseeing the probe. What Barr then does with that report, he explains, is a separate matter.

Brand, who says he has worked with both Mueller and Barr in the past, says "you may see portions of it, or you may see selected excerpts, or representations of what it contains, if Bill Barr --- and I take him at his word --- wants to be as transparent as he can within the rules and regulations."

In somewhat more comforting comments, he also contends, in response to my query about the curious timing of Barr being seated just days before news (accurate or not) of the report's imminent release: "I have no notion why it's wrapping up --- if it is --- at this particular point, but I have confidence that, if it is wrapping up, it's because Mueller has decided he's finished." He adds, "Nobody is going to push Bob Mueller around. So if there's a conclusion to this, it's because Mueller has determined in his judgment that it's time and he has no further actions to bring."

Brand also offers his insight on whether Mueller would testify to Congress, if subpoenaed, about what was in the report if it's not released to the public or even to Congress. The central frustration at the core of this conversation, at least for me, is that Brand essentially argues that Mueller can't indict Trump (thanks to very debatable, if long-held DoJ "guidelines") and wouldn't cite evidence of impeachable offensives in his report, since that is not part of the new statute's mandate, as written in the wake of "excesses" under the old statute.

"Leon Jaworski, who was the Independent Counsel in the Nixon case, decided that he had sufficient evidence to indict but determined it was not something he should do, given the ongoing investigation into impeachment by the House of Representatives," Brand explains. "Ken Starr, for his part, determined that he could indict a sitting President but determined as a matter of discretion not to do that, because the statute provided a specific mechanism for referring that type of evidence to the House for impeachment, which he did, and which resulted in an impeachment proceeding of President Clinton."

But now, If Mueller can't indict or recommend impeachment, how is this current process supposed to bring accountability for a scofflaw President? There is a lot more to dig into in our discussion, as maddening as it may be at times. It does, however, raise the clear need for a long-overdue Congressional Hearing in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee into whether a sitting President can, under the Constitution, be criminally indicted (a hearing that would, on its own, likely bring some accountability for our current Executive). It also raises the question of why the hell Democrats are waiting for the Mueller Report to be issued before taking action to bring accountability through impeachment, especially since even they may never see this report! If not this President, then what President would ever merit impeachment proceedings in Congress?!

Finally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that a vote will be held in the U.S. House on Tuesday to block Trump's "National Emergency" declaration under the National Emergency Act. It'll likely pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but what are its chances in the GOP Senate, which much also hold a vote within 18 days of a resolution being adopted by the House? And, will EITHER chamber be able to overcome an almost-certain veto by the President?

That all remains to be seen, but satirist Randy Rainbow has a few musical thoughts on Trump's "Border Lies" to play out us out today at the end of another impossible week...

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

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Guest: Public Citizen's General Counsel Allison Zieve; Also: Sanders breaks record; Green New Deal wildly popular; The off-the-rails Tucker Carlson interview Fox 'News' didn't want you to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Good news for Bernie, good news for the Green New Deal, bad news for Tucker Carlson and Fox "News", and the fight is joined against the "invasion" on the U.S. southern border. (No, not that one.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: When Congress settled on a compromise spending deal last week to keep the federal government open, the agreement included a special carve-out to protect a number of sensitive wildlife and tourism related areas along the Rio Grande River in South Texas, including the threatened National Butterfly Center and the 150-year old La Lomita Mission Chapel. But, as the Director of the 100-acre butterfly and wildlife refuge tells us, she is continuing the Center's lawsuit against the government because she fears Donald Trump's "National Emergency" declaration may now override the protective legislative carve out. "In fact, we expect the equipment already at work near us will just roll right over and through us," Marianna Trevino-Wright said via email after bill was signed and the "emergency" declared by the President, noting that even the current legislative agreement lasts for just six months before negotiations for 2020 appropriations begin. "We have not been spared," Trevino-Wright wrote, "We were given a temporary stay of execution."

Receiving no such "stay" however, are thousands of private residents living along the South Texas border. So, last Friday, the non-profit good government organization Public Citizen filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three private citizens and the Frontera Audubon Society challenging Trump's "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military in order to build his wall with Mexico on the border. The lawsuit [PDF] filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C. describes the scheme as unlawful and unconstitutional.

We're joined today by ALLISON ZIEVE, General Counsel for Public Citizen and Director of their Supreme Court Assistance Project, to discuss the complaint filed on behalf of three Starr County, TX residents whose property and homes on the banks of the Rio Grande --- where they and their families have lived for as many as five generations --- will now be bisected by a giant barrier, cutting them off from the river entirely. In one case, the wall would be built just feet from the landowner's house.

The suit describes the federal government's heavy-handed tactics to condemn and seize private lands from the plaintiffs as an "imminent invasion of privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their land." The case is also filed on behalf of Frontera Audubon, which charges the wall will impede migration of wildlife at the nature preserve and prevent their members from getting to where birds and other sensitive species are threatened along a 250-mile wildlife corridor on the Rio Grande River.

Zieve tells me how Public Citizen's complaint, filed last Friday, differs from the one filed by 16 state Attorneys General on Monday also seeking to block Trump's "emergency" declaration as an unlawful exercise of the National Emergency Act, and how the cases are likely to play out as they work their way, almost certainly, to the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly, she notes, "if any of the plaintiffs win" at the appellate level.

"If there's no emergency, the President can't declare one," Zieve argues, adding: "What it really comes down to is there is no emergency. Everybody knows that. It's not really that [the Administration] thinks there's an emergency. It's that they think the President can do whatever he wants. And that's just not our Constitutional system."

Also on today's show: Bernie Sanders shatters historic U.S. records for funds raised on the first day of his announcement that he's running for President again in 2020. And it wasn't even close. And the elements of the Green New Deal prove to be wildly popular, garnering well over 80 percent support across all political parties, according to a new poll by Business Insider.

Finally, the unaired profane interview between Tucker Carlson of Fox 'News' and historian Rutger Bregman about raising taxes on the wealthy that, apparently, Fox does not want you to hear, since they taped it last week but decided against running it --- so we did.

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: Bernie's back for 2020; 10 years of our 'Green News Report'!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2019 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The crowded Democratic 2020 field gets crowded-er; The GOP's years of phony concerns about "voter fraud" are revealed as even phonier; And our own Green News Report meets another remarkable milestone. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, 2016 Democratic primary election second-place finisher Bernie Sanders announces he's running in 2020 and immediately raises a "yooge" amount of money in just hours. But the progressive independent Senator from Vermont faces a new set of challenges in his bid to win the nomination this year among a very crowded and already-quite-progressive field of candidates.

Then, the North Carolina State Board of Elections finally began their public inquiry into the Republican absentee ballot fraud scheme that apparently resulted in the 905-vote "victory" for Republican Mark Harris [pictured above at today's evidentiary hearing] in the state's 9th Congressional District race over Democrat Dan McCready last November. Neither candidate has yet been certified by the state Board as its investigation has been ongoing for months and as NC's Elections Director Kim Strach charged this week that GOP operative McCrae Dowless, a contractor hired by Harris and Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker, ran a "coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme" in two counties, with enough questionable ballots to have called the Harris/McCready 905-vote margin (out of some 275,000 votes cast) into doubt.

Dowless' scheme, according to public testimony at the hearing this week by Lisa Britt, one of his team of workers, included illegally collecting and modifying absentee ballots; paying workers to harvest those ballots; changing votes with attempts to match the ink used on each voters ballot; falsifying witness signatures and more.

While the state GOP is still backing Harris, national Republicans have remained mum about the coordinated election fraud conspiracy --- despite years of false claims about Democratic voter fraud. It's still unknown whether the 3-2 Democratic-majority State Board of Elections will ultimately certify Harris, call for a new election, or end in deadlock, since 4 votes are needed for either action. If deadlocked (or even if Harris is certified), the issue will be investigated and decided by the Democratic-majority U.S. House of Representatives. Shamefully, after state investigators found that Dowless ran a similar absentee ballot fraud scheme in 2016 and sought prosecution from the Dept. of Justice at the time, Trump's U.S. Attorney in the state ignored the matter, choosing instead to prosecute a handful of alleged non-citizen voters instead of the blatant fraud conspiracy that appeared, once again in 2018, to have stolen an entire election (or more.)

Finally today, we celebrate 10 years of the Green News Report! Desi Doyen joins us for the latest GNR in which we cover both the environmental news of the day and our milestone of a full decade of independent green news, politics, analysis and snarky comment over YOUR public airwaves!

As discussed, Desi has been covering dire warnings about global warming and connecting the climate change dots before even I fully appreciated the dangers. I learned thanks to her important, repeated coverage of these issues as I hope listeners around the globe have as well over these past 10 years. If so, it's all thanks to those of you who have supported our efforts to help get the word out over your public airwaves by donating to our work via BradBlog.com/Donate.

If you haven't done so lately, or haven't signed up for a monthly subscription of any amount you like, please consider doing so now, as we rely only on listeners (not corporate ads, foundational grants or political groups) to continue our work here after 15 years of The BRAD BLOG and a full decade of GNR! Thanks in advance for whatever you can spare to help keep us going!

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 Angie Coiro with Joel Simon of Comm. to Protect Journalists; Also: Fate of big-tech host cities; Weld to primary Trump?; RBG returns...
By Angie Coiro on 2/15/2019 6:11pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Des, dropping by from my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Today's Rose Garden press conference was drenched in irony: a faltering, incoherent, angry man declaring a "national emergency", even as he demonstrated that he's the crisis. Donald Trump yelled at reporters to sit down, fell into sing-song whimsy, showed off his version of a Chinese accent, repeated phrases when he lost his train of thought, wielding terrifyingly grown-up powers with the gravitas of a toddler in a man's suit.

Fortunately, enough roadblocks will be thrown down --- by Reps AOC and Castro, by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, by the ACLU, and presumably by property owners along the proposed wall sites --- that he should be kept busy and irritated for some time. The taxpayer money wasted will be appalling.

Republican former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld appears willing to throw himself atop the bomb: he says he may primary Donald Trump. He minced no words -– I mean, he was stunningly straightforward -– in criticizing his fellow GOPers, who he said exhibit all the signs of Stockholm Syndrome(!). Someone needs to step up, he says. He even hints that he's willing to act as a spoiler to damage Trump in the general.

Plus the latest on Facebook, Amazon, and what tech campuses have to offer their neighbors.

Finally, my guest JOEL SIMON of the Committee to Protect Journalists. His new book, We Want To Negotiate, makes a compelling case that both the US and Britain need to re-examine their "we don't negotiate with terrorists" policies. His research puts the lie to a lot of assumptions, for example, that to pay ransoms will encourage more kidnappings. It makes sense on the face of it, but --- wrong.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!




Trump's own Commission shuts coal plants in KY, TN; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'National Emergency' to come; Freshmen light up Committee hearings; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2019 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Seriously, coal miners should have voted for Hillary, as we learn once again today. But those who voted for progressives in Congress are getting their money's worth already! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Leading off today's rather lively show: The federal utility board known as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), now dominated by Donald Trump appointees, voted today to shut down the last remaining coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, once the heart of "Coal Country" as the nation's top producer. The move is expected to save some $320 million dollars for 10 million rate-payers in the region, not to mention the resulting cleaner air and water and lower medical expenses in the bargain.

The decisive 6 to 1 vote (which includes 4 Trump appointees) to close the dirty, inefficient decades-old plant comes despite pleas to the board from Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Trump himself and one of his top donors (Robert Murray of Murray Energy) who owns the nearby mine that supplies the plant. The TVA also voted to close another coal plant in Tennessee.

Several hundred of jobs will be lost in the bargain, which gives us the opportunity to remind listeners of Hillary Clinton's 2016 plan to invest $30 billion for support and retraining of miners and others effected by coal's inevitable end. It was while describing that plan when Clinton correctly, if infamously, noted that "we're gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business". The phrase was then opportunistically taken out of context by Fox 'News', Republicans and Trump himself to endlessly blast her during the campaign, even though she had been explaining the need to help those effected Coal Country miners and families to survive. Those miners, most of whom fell for the dishonest Rightwing smears and voted for Trump, will soon be out of work without the help Clinton had tried to offer them.

In other news: The U.S. Senate confirmed William Barr, largely along party lines, as the next U.S. Attorney General at a crucial moment in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe.

The Senate also voted to approve a $330 billion compromise bill to fund the Government, including $23 billion for border security, but just $1.4 billion for Trump's border wall, less than he would have gotten had he accepted the deal offered last December. Instead, he shut down the federal government for a record 35 days. The House just approved it as well, though a small group of progressive freshman Congresswomen vowed to vote against the measure due to its increased funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The spending bill is expected to pass the House nonetheless and, Ann Coulter's ALL-CAPS Twitter threat notwithstanding, McConnell has said that Trump intends to both sign it and then declare a "National Emergency" in order to steal tax-payer funds from elsewhere to fund his border wall. That move, if it happens, will be vigorously challenged in court and is even opposed by many Republicans.

Also today, a few quick words about Daily Beast's report that DHS is allowing two teams created in 2016 to help protect elections from foreign influence wither away in advance of the 2020 President election, in favor of moving resources toward border and immigration efforts. (More on that matter, hopefully, at a later date.);

Then, we share a couple of killer Q&A's from recent Congressional hearings by two of the aforementioned freshman Congresswomen. The first is a colloquy in the House Foreign Affairs Committee between Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and disgraced diplomatic operative Elliot Abrams, who has been pulled out of mothballs to serve as Trump's Special Venezuela Envoy. That, despite his having pleaded guilty to withholding documents from Congress during the 1980's Iran-Contra Scandal probe and his subsequent pardoned by then President George H.W. Bush. Omar calls him out on that, noting that she "fail[ed] to understand why members of this committee of the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful", and asking if he stood by his 1982 Senate testimony dismissing a massacre by U.S. backed troops in El Salvador.

Then, in another brilliant round of questioning, this time from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House Oversight Committee, the shameful lack of campaign finance laws and ethics rules for members of Congress accepting funding from corporate interests is laid bare. We share both rounds of Committee questioning in full today.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the hilariously panicked Fox "News"/GOP freak-out and lie-fest regarding AOC's Green New Deal proposal (in which, among other things, they charge that the legislation would result in banning cars, cows, ice cream and cheeseburgers), some very bad news about insects, and some very good news about the City of Los Angeles, which has already dumped coal-fired power plants, and is now moving to get rid of natural gas-powered electricity in favor of 100% renewable power....

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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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
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Choose monthly amount...


(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the National Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2019 6:57pm PT  

As my guest details on today's BradCast, it's not immigrants who are currently posing a threat to those living on our southern border, it's lawless federal agents encroaching on private lands to build an unnecessary and dangerous border wall. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up: the Department of Justice rounded up dozens of gang members and indicted them on Tuesday as part of a criminal conspiracy for "attempted murder, kidnapping, maiming, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine." No, they weren't "violent inner-city thugs" or "murderous MS-13 immigrant gangsters", they were white supremacist members of the Arkansas-based New Aryan Empire. Oddly enough, Donald Trump hasn't mentioned them during any of his false, anti-immigrant rants at campaign rallies and State of the Union addresses.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump will most likely sign the compromise deal struck between Congressional Democrats and Republicans this week to fund the federal government and avoid another shutdown, even though he will get less than he could have had if he'd accepted the deal he backed out of last year before shutting down the federal government over his new demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall. Sean Hannity of Fox "News" and wingnut talk radio fame has now backed off his earlier charge that "any Republican that supports this garbage compromise" would have to explain themselves. He now appears to be supporting the compromise, while calling for the President to declare a "national emergency" to steal more tax-payer money for a wall. With that permission from his Fox "News" handlers, Trump will almost certainly sign the agreement.

In all, as Trump points out, the deal allocates $23 billion for border security --- a lot of money for Democrats to agree to if, as Trump lies, they favor "open borders". It's also a lot of money period. But, record national debt and annual deficit spending do not appear to be a problem for pretend "fiscally conservative" Republicans in Congress. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that the national debt has now topped $22 trillion for the first time in history, after increasing more than $2 trillion since Trump took office under GOP leadership in Congress. The landmark comes thanks, in no small part, to the Trump/GOP's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax cuts.

And while both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are hoping that Trump signs their compromise border security agreement to keep the government open, Trump's U.S. Customs and Border (CPB) agents are busy breaking into private property and threatening to seize private lands owned by Americans who have lived and worked on the banks of the Rio Grande at the U.S. southern border for generations.

Bulldozers and other heavy machinery is now reportedly rolling into wildlife sanctuaries in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX has filed a restraining order this week to stop them after, the Center charges, CPB broke into a fence on its private property, cut the lock, and replaced it with its own.

We're joined today by the Center's Director MARIANNA TREVINO-WRIGHT to explain the federal government's intrusions on their 100-acre butterfly refuge, wildlife center and native species botanical garden. The Center, part of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), regards CPB's behavior as unlawful and unconstitutional according to a lawsuit "filed in December of 2017 as the result of the government's actions on our property in July of 2017, more than nine months before a Congressional vote, or any funding appropriation for 'border wall'," Trevino-Wright emphasizes.

We discuss, among other things, the 28 laws and environmental regulations --- "including the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, and the Native American Religious Freedom Act" --- that the Department of Homeland Security has waived since Congress approved 33 miles of new border fencing in the area last year to allow construction of the barrier, and the federal government's use of Eminent Domain already underway to confiscate private lands for Trump's wall. Trevino-Wright details the devastation that awaits butterfly species, as well as other insects and native wildlife with the construction of the wall on the property of both the Center and the neighboring 91,000 acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

She says insects and animals will be "sentenced to death" thanks to flooding that will occur between the mighty Rio Grande River and the concrete base of the planned 30 foot wall where they will become trapped. Moreover, the accompanying LED "blitzkrieg all-night bright lighting every 150 feet on the wall, will result in catastrophe for sensitive nocturnal creatures and "lead to greater environmental damage". And, no, Trevino-Wright tells me, many butterflies and birds are not able to fly over a 36-foot concrete and steel barrier. She describes the wall as an "abomination", Trump's claims of an humanitarian and violent criminal "crisis" at the border to be nonsense, and why residents in the area are far more worried about criminals within law enforcement agencies than they are about those crossing the border unlawfully or ferrying drugs into the country. "Conflict or property damage or terrorist acts by those who support this agenda are actually what we're more concerned about," Trevino-Wright adds.

Please tune in for this full conversation.

Finally today, a surprise resignation in the Trump Administration as FEMA Director Brock Long calls it quits after facing two years of harassment from DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen and unprecedented hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophes, writing in his farewell letter to staffers that "no one could have ever predicted the challenges we would face." Our own Desi Doyen --- who has long been citing scientists predicting those very challenges for years, thanks to global warming --- offers a word or two in response...

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Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally and new 'wall' deal that's worse for him than last year's...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2019 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we revisit the mysterious case of tens of thousands of 'missing' votes from Georgia's 2018 midterm election, now that the case has become even more mysterious and disturbing, with investigators finding that African-American neighborhoods may have been specifically 'targeted' in some fashion. [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

But, first today: Donald Trump and Beto O'Rourke held dueling rallies near each other and near the border in El Paso, TX on Monday night, after the President had been offering a series of lies about the effectiveness of an existing border wall in the city. During the Monday rally, Trump also lied about his rally's crowd size and that of O'Rourke's, which appears to have been larger than Trump's.

More tellingly, however, the President also failed to let his supporters know about a deal struck before the rallies by Republican and Democratic negotiators in Congress to avoid another government shutdown this Friday at midnight. The agreement, reportedly, includes less money and less fencing than Trump could have had if he'd agreed to the deal he backed out before Christmas last year, losing leverage with his subsequent record-long 35-day government shutdown and the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House. That's "The Art of the Deal"? We detail the tentative agreement and whether Trump will be harangued again by rightwingers into not signing it and shutting down the federal government yet again at week's end.

Then, we're joined once again by longtime election integrity bulldog MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance with a disturbing update to the group's election contest filed in state court last year to challenge the inexplicable reported results from Georgia's 2018 Lt. Governor's election. Marks had joined us previously to detail some 127,000 ballots cast last November found to have "missing" votes in only that race and only on ballots cast via the state's 17-year old, easily-manipulated, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is reported by those systems to have lost the race to Republican Geoff Duncan by 123,172 votes out of almost 4 million counted, according to the final certified results.

The 4% undervote in the contest seems impossibly huge, given that other statewide contests even further down the ballot (e.g. for Sec. of State or Agriculture Commissioner) saw a far smaller rate of ballots with no vote recorded --- an average of about 1% or less in those other races. Moreover, votes cast in the same race for Lt. Governor on verifiable hand-marked paper ballots revealed an expected, similarly small undervote rate. So, this appears to clearly be machine related somehow.

But, while the group's initial analysis revealed a disproportionate number of undervotes in Democratic-leaning areas, a newer analysis [PDF] by a number of top-flight election data analysts --- as detailed exclusively over the weekend by Michael Harriot at The Root and today (sadly, behind a paywall) by Kim Zetter at PoliticoPro --- finds that African-American neighborhoods and precincts, specifically, had an even higher disproportionate rate of missing votes in the Lt. Governor's race. Experts are having trouble coming up with non-nefarious reasons for the numbers and, as Marks tells me, state and local officials appear curiously uninterested in what is clearly a massive disenfranchisement of their own voters.

"We have had all sorts of statisticians all over the nation, from academics to those who work for political data houses, and everybody's coming up with exactly the same answer --- that African-American neighborhoods were the ones highly impacted by this," Marks tells me. "There's something wrong across the state. The state has too many missing votes, no matter what county we look at. However, it is exacerbated greatly in the heavily African-American precincts, no matter where you look."

"I've never worked on a case one-tenth as important as what I believe this is," she says. "While you and I and others, for years, have known about the dangers of electronic voting machines, and we've warned about them, I swear I never thought I would see machines used in a way that had racial disparity as a result."

We discuss the possible reasons --- nefarious and otherwise --- for such an alarmingly disproportionate undervote rates and the Coalition's several ongoing lawsuits in Georgia challenging the Lt. Governor results on the state level and the state's entire unverifiable touchscreen voting system on the federal level. Marks also discusses whether either case will soon allow for an independent forensic investigation of the computer-voting and tabulation systems used in the state in 2018, as the Coalition is demanding via discovery.

It's also worth noting here that Georgia's new Governor, Republican Brian Kemp --- who was reported to have narrowly defeated popular African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams last year --- oversaw all of the 2018 elections (including his own) as Secretary of State while repeatedly being excoriated by federal courts for voter suppression tactics. At the same time, counties in key states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa and even in California, are now preparing to moving to similarly 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. The latest news from Georgia's shameful 17-years of disastrous elections is troubling on its own, but this incident serves as yet another object lesson and warning for the entire country, as even many Democrats are now supporting the move to such completely unverifiable voting systems. (See Los Angeles, for example.)

"If there is anything good that can come out of this whole mess that we're in, surely it is that people are going to be able to see we have to stop it with this electronic voting. Here we are, months after the election, we don't know if any of those numbers can be trusted. We can't run elections this way!," Marks argues. "So, hopefully this will have some benefit to the nation in saying, 'Look, you gotta quit using touchscreen machines. End of story.'"

Finally, we're joined today by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, for special coverage of the landmark Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress last week by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (MA)...

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Plus: Listener calls! Including one calling for segregation?! (Yup.)
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2019 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It seems like we've been here before. Donald Trump is out lying about his border wall, Congress is days away from another potential government shutdown over Trump's demands, and various scandals continue to rock Virginia's elected Democratic leadership with calls for resignations both continuing and waning. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's show...

  • During his State of the Union address, Trump offered false assertions about a border fence in El Paso, Texas, claiming it turned the state from one of the most dangerous cities in the country to one of the safest. The assertions have been debunked and re-debunked over and again since then by, among others, El Paso's sheriff and the city's mayor. Nonetheless, the President is holding a campaign rally in El Paso on Monday to repeat the lies;
  • Potential Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke --- whose hometown is El Paso --- holds a rally at the same time as Trump's to debunk the lies, after more Democrats (Senators Elizabeth Warren of MA and Amy Klobuchar of MN) announced their intention over the weekend to run for President;
  • Congressional negotiations teetered on the edge of disaster over the weekend, as Republicans and Democrats work to avoid yet another federal government shutdown as of this Friday at midnight. That, even as many federal employees furloughed or working without pay during the previous shutdown that ended just two weeks ago are still waiting to be fully paid;
  • Meanwhile, in Virginia, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax insists he has no plan to resign, even after a second accuser stepped forward on Friday to charge that he sexually assaulted her in the early 2000s when they were undergrad students. Fairfax is demanding "due process" in the form of, among other things, an FBI investigation into the serious allegations which he maintains were consensual incidents;
  • At the same time, Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam insists he will not resign either, following the revelation of a racist photo published on his medical school yearbook in 1984, which he says he knew nothing about until it was recently publicized by a Rightwing website. Following fierce calls for Northam to resign last week and subsequent concerns about Fairfax's own fitness for office (he is next in line to succeed Northam if he steps down), some African-American leaders in the commonwealth have announced they have forgiven Northam and are calling for him to remain in office and make amends by working on policy and legislation important to the black community. Also, new polling reveals that a large majority of African-American voters in the state do not want Northam to step down;
  • Also, I'm sad to report, iconoclastic Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) died Sunday, on his 76th birthday.

And, with all of those messes continuing concurrently, we open the phone lines today and receive some --- um --- fairly wild calls, including one from someone who claims to be black, but is calling for segregation in the U.S. (yes, really) and another from a guy who insists Trump should get due credit for a booming economy. (I disagree.)

All that and, yes, even more on today's BradCast...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Eric Boehlert...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2019 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast we attempt to make sense of last night's State of the Union Address. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

The New York Times described Trump's SOTU on Tuesday as "veer[ing] between two moods --- combative and conciliatory." Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer described it as "sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the excitement and the enthusiasm was all in the Mr. Hyde parts."

A majority of Americans who watched it, however, approved of the Trump's remarks, at least according to early polling weighted towards self-identified Republicans and right-leaning independents.

Our two excellent guests today, award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and author and political media critic ERIC BOEHLERT formerly of ShareBlue and Media Matters, now a contributor for Daily Kos, join us to make sense of both parts (all parts?) of Trump's at-times disjointed, at-times collegial, and at-times aggressive remarks as they veered conversely between out-and-out lies to something more closely resembling facts but shamefully lacking in context.

Did Trump meet the bar set for him by his own White House aides who'd promised new calls for "unity" and "bi-partisan cooperation" in his speech? Is Trump capable or even interested in that?

"These State of the Unions are typically the least awful thing Trump does in any given week," Boehlert observes, "because it's a prepared speech, it's poorly written, he delivers it poorly. But there are moments where he does appeal to independents. And then he goes back to the crazies."

Says Parton: "If the idea was to unify the Republicans, then yes, it obviously worked. By their measure, I think they probably did what they wanted to do. ... [But] there is no President in American history who is less authentic-sounding than Donald Trump when he's calling for unity and bipartisanship. And they know it."

Beyond those optics, we also dig into, among many other things in today's lively, very fast-paced hour: Trump's ridiculous threats against "ridiculous partisan investigations"; The striking image of a sea of new and veteran female Democratic Representatives dressed in suffragette white; Nancy Pelosi's triumphant new-again role as House Speaker; Trump's obsessive (not to mention graphic and largely false or misleading) continuing advocacy for a southern border just days away from another potential federal government shutdown; The stunning number of important issues (from the climate crisis to gun violence to the recent record-long shutdown and much more) that Trump didn't bother to even mention, for some reason; The misleading use of Venezuela's ongoing political crisis as an attempt to smear "socialism" in the U.S. in advance of 2020; and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' very smart, spirited and inspiring response to Trump's dark, long, and largely fact and substance-free SOTU...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Trump fails SOTU 'unity' vow; Inaugural Comm. slapped with federal subpoena...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2019 5:49pm PT  

So, a 30-year old, landmark nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia is now history. Just like that. And, beyond a few short hours of media coverage, it now seems all but forgotten. No big deal at all. Our guest on today's BradCast, however, strongly disagrees. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]

But first, a few quick items to kick off the show, including...

  • The Trump Administration vows that Tuesday night's State of the Union address will be a call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, before the Second Stupidest Man on the Internet (yes, Trump) attacks Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not winning enough seats in last year's midterm elections;
  • And federal prosecutors in New York file a subpoena seeking a massive amount of documents from Trump's 2017 Inauguration Committee, looking at virtually every aspect of the record $107 million raised, whether any of it unlawfully came from foreign sources, whether anything was unlawfully offered in exchange for donations, whether even more more was unlawfully paid directly by donors to vendors (and thus, unlawfully undisclosed to the FEC), and where all of that money (legalized bribes, in fact, a disgrace for all modern Presidents) actually went. It all amounts to more seemingly criminal chaos from anything Trump touches, from his inaugural committee, to the Trump Organization (his main private company), to the Trump Foundation (his phony, self-dealing slush-fund and "charity"), to Trump University (his fraudulent scam that settled several cases for $25 million just before he took office), to the Trump Campaign (facing myriad criminal probes and several convictions, guilty pleas and indictments), to the Trump Administration and everyone involved in it --- all being investigated by multiple state and federal probes at this point, at the very same time.

Then, we're joined by former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Obama, MICHAEL FUCHS, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal over the weekend from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement struck between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The historic pact had been the first to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons, ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.

With the Administration charging that Russia was in violation of the accord (which Fuchs confirms), Trump simply announced the U.S. pull-out, which was answered almost immediately by Russian President Vladimir Putin's own declaration in response that his country would now do the same. In the bargain, Fuchs explains, the U.S. has lost its ability under the agreement to inspect hundreds of nuclear missile sites and other weapons facilities.

What did we gain in return? Well, pretty much nothing, says Fuchs, who calls this "a very big deal", joining me in astonishment that coverage of this historic move to end such an important anti-nuclear proliferation treaty has all but disappeared from the corporate media within hours amidst continuing Trump-induced chaos. "In the age of Trump, nuclear weapons, climate change, things that could potentially end life on earth as we know it only merit fifteen minutes in the news cycle," Fuchs notes.

He goes on to detail what has been lost with the dissolution of "perhaps one of the biggest agreements ever reached as far as reducing the potential threat of nuclear weapons destroying us" and whether Trump's claims that this is all necessary to stand up against a supposedly growing military menace from China is actually true. We also discuss the real reasons that this "gift to Vladimir Putin" seems to have come about, how Trump's dangerous National Security Advisor John Bolton appears to oppose any and all international accords that tie the hands of the U.S. in any way, shape or form, and whether Trump's planned second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can possibly bear any realistic denuclearization fruit --- particularly on the heels of Trump again sending the message to the world that treaties between the U.S. and other nations are meant to be broken at the whim of an angry, brain-addled, and clueless President of the United States.

"The major problem here with throwing out this treaty is that, it is equivalent to basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Fuchs tells me. "Right now Russia is violating this treaty in a specific way, but a lot of the benefits of the treaty are still intact. Which includes the ability of the United States to actually conduct inspections and do verification of a number of different aspects of Russia's compliance with the treaty. By taking ourselves out of treaty, we are taking away our ability to inspect the other things that the Russians are doing here. And not only does that allow Russia to potentially start violating it even more, posing more danger to the United States, but it's giving a giant gift to Vladimir Putin."

Finally, Desi Doyen returns to "cheer us all up" with the latest Green News Report on hellish global warming-related nightmares from Australia to the U.S. to Antarctica; the oil lobbyist now nominated to be the next Interior Secretary; and the Administration's imminent plans to bulldoze the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to make way for a new border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas...

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Guest: Meteorologist Guy Walton on the polar vortex and the 'sinking fossil-fuel Titanic'; Also: Trump's own intel chiefs say he's wrong...about pretty much everything; And a new, game-changing e-cig study...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Baby, it's COLD outside in much of the Midwest and Northeast. Record cold, in fact, with wind chills dipping near an unfathomable 60 degrees below zero in some parts of the country, as discussed with --- and explained by --- our guest today. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

But, first up: Donald Trump's own top intelligence chiefs --- the FBI and CIA Directors as well as his Director of National Intelligence and others --- all directly contradicted the Commander-in-Chief on matters of foreign affairs this week, from the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, to the continuing threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq, to the cybersecurity threat to elections posted by China and Russia, and to the lack of nuclear threat from Iran or at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the intel heads --- appointed by Trump himself (not so-called "Deep State Obama Democrats") --- expanded on their newly published annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" [PDF]. As it turns out, neither the new report nor the officials themselves cite border concerns as any sort of danger to the nation, despite Trump's persistent and unsupported claims to the contrary and his threat to declare a "National Emergency" if he's not given $5.7 billion for his southern border wall before the Continuing Resolution for government funding runs out, once again, on February 15. Today, in response, Trump mocked his own intel staff as "naive".

The testimony from Trump's own intel chiefs is likely to be used against the President in court, should he declare that "emergency", according to U.S. House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA). But, as Democratic Committee member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), points out, House Republicans have yet to actually appoint their members to either that Committee or three others (on Climate Change, Ethics or House Administration, which handles election challenges, such as the one in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, where the House seat is still empty due to a GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal.) Those committees may not proceed with virtually any business until House Republicans appoint their members and end the purposeful slow-walking.

After that warm up, it's on to the sub-freezing temps that have kept even the U.S. Post Office from completing their appointed rounds in a number of states. Of course, the big chill has led the Fox "News" clowns and climate change Denier-in-Chief to have a grand old time avoiding the actual scientific explanation for the bone-numbing depression in the Polar Vortex which, yes, is tied to global warming.

We're joined today by "Climate Guy" GUY WALTON, a 30-year Weather Channel veteran meteorologist, for some actual science on what's going on. Walton pens a daily "Extreme Temperature Diary" and is co-author, with Nick Walker, of the new (joyfully snarky) children's book and climate primer World of Thermo: Thermometer Rising.

Walton explains why and how global weather patterns have changed in recent years to bring bitter cold snaps like the one experienced this week in parts of the U.S., even as the rest of the globe --- like Australia, where temps have neared 120 degrees Fahrenheit and touched off record bush fires in recent days --- continues to suffer from record heat, thanks to anthropomorphic Global Warming. This "Age of Weather Extremes" is precisely in line with what climate scientists have long predicted.

"Right now, as far as global warming goes, we're having a lot of warmth from the sub-tropics moving northward over the polar areas, where, prior to, say, the 1970s, we hadn't been seeing that as much," he tells me. "What we had in the past, when we had Arctic outbreaks in the 70s and 80s, we had a larger, colder Polar Vortex encompassing the Northern Hemisphere. Now we have a warmer Polar Vortex which is not quite as large, and it's having a tendency to pinch off pieces...when they do pinch off, they're quite cold, and you can get cold air, colder than what you have right now at the North Pole, sitting right over say, Chicago or Detroit."

As to Trump's recent tweet making light of "Global Waming [sic]" amidst the Arctic blast, Walton argues: "A lot of this is out of greed, and to perhaps make more money through the fossil fuel industry. And to some extent, it's just denial, in that they know deep down the Titanic is sinking, they're just not wanting to admit that the ship's going to go under the water, so to speak."

Finally, some encouraging news today from the world of science, which we could have told you about (and, in fact, did!) years ago. A new "seminal study" finds that e-cigs or vaping is more than twice as likely to lead smokers to kick the habit than the use of Big Pharma-approved nicotine delivery systems such as patches and gums. While that may be bad news for Big Pharma's billion dollar nicotine industry, it's good news for the world which sees more than 6 million die annually thanks to tobacco, including nearly half a million alone here in the U.S. Now, if someone would just inform the Democrats in Congress and around the U.S. who are working to make it harder, not easier, for people to quit smoking and dying by moving to vaping, it would be VERY much appreciated...

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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why Donald Trump finally buckled in his demand for border wall funding and how the unprecedented government shutdown helped distract all of us from the Administration's new policy that endangers children by officially allowing blatant religious discrimination --- at least against religions other than Protestant. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Trump caved. He finally agreed to reopen the federal government --- at least temporarily --- after five weeks and the longest shutdown in U.S. history. He pretended he'd made a "deal" with Democrats. In fact, he simply agreed to continue funding the government at its previous levels until February 15. He received zero dollars for his border wall in the bargain, while suggesting during bizarre, inaccurate and, at times, graphic remarks at the White House that, without some sort of "deal" for a wall, he would either shut the government down again in three weeks or declare a "national emergency" to take the money to build it from elsewhere.

There were many reasons Trump finally buckled today, including increasing anger from lawmakers in his own party, plummeting poll numbers, news that the IRS was in "panic mode" without enough workers as tax season begins, and flight delays up and down the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, according to the FAA. But there were at least two stories that the Administration, no doubt, was eager to get off the front pages today and over the weekend.

One, a stunning report from NBC News Thursday night that Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had been rejected for top secret clearance in 2017, for a host of reasons, by two career security professionals at the White House, only to have that security recommendation overruled (along with similar rejections for "at least 30" others!) and granted to him by a Trump appointee. Also, Trump's longtime supporter and dirty trickster Roger Stone --- who helped lead the "lock her up!" charge against Hillary Clinton with the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks --- was arrested in Florida on Friday morning by FBI officials and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice by a grand jury convened as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Following the GOP's fake "outrage" about national security concerns related to Clinton's private email server, which Stone helped amplify, there's no small amount of irony here with his arrest on the heels of news that the Trump Administration appears to have forgone top level security concerns altogether in order to allow Kushner and others access to the nation's most closely guarded intelligence materials.

Trump's "deal" to temporarily reopen the government may have served to change the news cycle for a few hours, but it didn't endear him to Republican extremists like Ann Coulter, whose critiques late last year led Trump to break his agreement with lawmakers and demand $5.7 billion for a southern border wall resulting in the five week shutdown. Today she deried him as "the biggest wimp ever to serve as President."

While all of these nightmares have been unfolding in recent weeks, few noticed that the Trump Administration's Health and Human Services Department quietly approved a very controversial waiver to allow a Protestant South Carolina group called Miracle Hill Ministries to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Catholics and atheists in the placement of foster care children. We're joined by criminal justice reporter AKELA LACY of The Intercept today to explain this very real and disturbing outrage which very few have noticed, and how the Administration's partnership with "Religious Right" Republicans under the guise of "religious freedom" is now officially sanctioning religious discrimination in the U.S.

"South Carolina is saying that the foster care statute in HHS rules and regulations does not specify religion as a characteristic on which they are not allowed to discriminate. They say that the foster care program statute says that agencies that receive federal funding can't deny parents based on race, color or national origin, but that because that statute does not specify religion, the request that Miracle Hill accept these families is outside of the law," Lacy tells me, noting that state law in South Carolina bars this sort of discrimination, as do federal non-discrimination laws that the Administration appears to be ignoring.

"The other really scary part of this," she notes, "is that, aside from these individual waivers, eighty Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the President in May asking for even further repeal of these federal protections against discrimination. So this is not just something that is being advocated for on a state-by-state basis. This is a quiet effort from the right to change these rules in the interests of mostly Christian organizations."

Describing a similar waiver request from Texas --- which also seeks to allow discrimination against LGBTQ families as well --- she says (real) advocates of religious freedoms and civil liberties fear the South Carolina precedent is likely now to spread to other states, other federal agencies, and other matters that reach well beyond foster care while much of the media continue to be distracted with the ongoing Trump chaos...

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

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Also: Govt still closed; Trump approval plummeting; Pelosi calls his SOTU bluff; Cohen cancels; Maher: How the middle-class has been squeezed...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2019 6:46pm PT  

Donald Trump was busy 'making American great again' today by extending the longest federal government shutdown in the nation's history, intimidating and threatening federal criminal witnesses and their families, lying about Democrats and calling the U.S. House Speaker silly names. And --- oh, yeah --- continuing to do nothing about a very clear case of election-flipping fraud.

By and large, the only good news we could find for today's BradCast comes from the states. But we'll take what we can get. Among the stories covered on today's program:

  • Los Angeles teachers returned to work after a six day strike was settled with a new contract that increases pay and decreases class size, among other things;
  • In D.C., in the meantime, the government shutdown continued as new polling from AP-NORC finds Trump's approval numbers plummeting over the last month in the bargain;
  • After the President insisted on Wednesday that he was coming to Congress next week to deliver his State of the Union address amid the shutdown, Speaker Pelosi called his bluff and announced she was officially postponing it until after the government was reopened;
  • Also cancelled for now, the public testimony of Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen before the U.S. House Oversight Committee that had been scheduled for the first week in February. The cancellation, according to Cohen's attorney, comes after the President's attempts to intimidate the federal witness by calling for his family to be investigated. Intimidating or threatening Congressional witnesses is a federal crime, not unlike the felony Cohen says Trump "directed" regarding hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom Trump had allegedly had sexual affairs. Cohen could still be subpoenaed to testify before he begins a three year sentence in March;
  • The U.S. House seat from North Carolina's 9th Congressional District remains vacant today, after a state judge on Tuesday declined to order the certification of Republican Mark Harris amid the ongoing investigation into absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor hired by Harris. The apparent fraud by the contractor, McCrae Dowless [pictured above with Harris], appears to have flipped the race in Harris' favor by 905 votes. The State Board of Elections investigating the matter was dissolved earlier this month by a court, in an unrelated case which found that Republican state lawmakers had unconstitutionally changed the make up of the Board to disadvantage the Democratic Governor elected in 2016. That was the same year that Dowless was reported to have committed absentee ballot fraud on behalf of a number of other Republicans.

    Despite the State Election Board's referral for prosecution to Trump's U.S. Attorney in the state in 2017, action was never taken by federal prosecutors in response to the mountain of evidence of actual election fraud discovered by the Board. That, as Trump falsely claimed that same year that massive "voter fraud" was the reason for his 3 million vote loss to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. While Trump was lying about massive voter fraud, his U.S. Attorney in North Carolina was prosecuting a handful of cases of unlawful votes allegedly cast by some non-citizens, while ignoring the election-flipping GOP absentee ballot fraud scam and allowing it to be repeated in the 2018 contest;
  • One of Trump's longtime partners in false claims of non-citizen "voter fraud" was then-Kansas Sec. of State --- and top GOP "voter fraud" fraudster --- Kris Kobach, who lost his race for Governor last year to Democrat Laura Kelly. Now, KS state lawmakers have introduced measures to revoke the prosecutorial powers they had granted to Kobach, at his years-long insistence. (He was the only Sec. of State in the nation to enjoy such powers.) The new GOP Sec. of State in Kansas wants to return the office to its original purpose of administering elections, after years of claims by Kobach that "illegal aliens" were stealing Kansas elections by unlawfully voting. The disgraced former Sec. of State failed to prosecute any such cases. But he did nab less than a dozen voters, mostly for casting ballots in two different states while owning property in each;
  • Finally today, some Dems floated the idea of giving Trump some of the billions he's demanding for a border wall, but only for other forms of border security. At the same time, Republicans supporting the President's demands have never once demanded to known how that spending would be paid for, despite repeatedly telling Americans we simply can't afford money for healthcare or education or infrastructure or the environment or verifiable election systems unless we cut spending elsewhere. With that in mind, we close with a noteworthy observation by HBO's Bill Maher last weekend on what Americans should really be learning from the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history...

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

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler: Also: SCOTUS allows Trump's cruel trans ban to proceed, makes no moves (yet) on DACA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

We pick up on today's BradCast, somewhat near where we left off on Friday, following BuzzFeed News' blockbuster report charging that Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators in order to obscure their work on a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even as Americans were voting during the 2016 Presidential election. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The explosive reported allegations that the President of the United States had suborned perjury led to calls on Friday for Trump's impeachment, only to be dampened by a very rare --- and very carefully worded --- response from Robert Mueller's office, disputing "Buzzfeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's office" and the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office."

My guest today, legal and national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, says those words were carefully selected by Mueller's office and for a very specific reason. Given all the confusion following both the report and Mueller's unusual statement late last week --- not to mention conflicting remarks from Trump's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend --- Wheeler helps us try to make sense of what is now known and unknown on all of this, why Mueller's office chose to speak out in response to it, and whether or not he was encouraged to do so directly by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the White House or someone else on Trump's legal team.

"Buzzfeed offered some particular details that match exactly with details that Mueller has offered," Wheeler explains, while noting that the news outlet "made a news claim that Trump had ordered this lie. What Mueller is pushing back against is a legal claim." She tells me how the two interests are different, even as they may be describing much of the same events and documentation.

Moreover, she argues, "there's abundant evidence that Trump has ordered people to lie, and that subsequent to his orders to tell lies, his people have continued to tell those lies...and that's illegal. That should be a no-brainer and the press needs to start telling that story."

Wheeler, who has long been covering all things related to the Trump/Russia probe as close --- or closer --- than virtually anybody in the nation, offers much insight today on all of the above, including details on Buzzfeed's sourcing for their report (which they continue to stand by "100%"), based on information from two unnamed "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter," as well as "multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Also today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 vote, allows Trump's ban on transgender members of the military to move forward, even as ongoing cases in several lower courts have blocked his cruel directive, and even as at least one legal obstacle remains.

In slightly more encouraging --- and certainly less cruel --- news from SCOTUS today, despite pleas from the Administration the Court made no announcement of plans to hear argument on any of the many ongoing lower court cases challenging Trump's reversal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Obama's DACA order was meant to help prevent the deportation of more than a million undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents as children many years ago. Should the Court decide to hear one of the cases, it would now most likely not happen until the session that begins in October, with an opinion coming months later. Temporary protection under DACA for so-called "Dreamers" was used over the weekend as an attempted bargaining chip by Trump, as part of an offer to Democrats in exchange for the $5.7 billion he has demanded for a border wall, leading to the longest (and still ongoing) federal government shutdown in U.S. history.

And, finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the tragic pipeline explosion in Mexico over the weekend, toxic coal ash groundwater contamination discovered in 22 states, and how the government shutdown is setting the table for a dangerous wildfire season, even as its temporarily protecting aquatic wildlife from seismic testing during offshore drilling exploration in the Atlantic...

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

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Guest: Analiese Eicher of One Wisconsin Now; Also: MI's new Dem SoS looks to settle gerrymander case; Buzzfeed charges Trump told Cohen to lie to feds about Moscow Trump Tower project...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2019 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, good news for voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, not nearly as good news for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, the White House is desperately scrambling for new distractions from Trump's unpopular, nearly month-long federal government shutdown and, of more pressing import for the President on Friday, an explosive report published Thursday night by BuzzFeed News. The otherwise uncorroborated article alleges that Trump instructed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators about the Trump Organization's proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cites two unnamed sources as "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and claims that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned about the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and federal investigators about a number of matters and was sentenced last November to three years in prison after cooperating with Mueller's probe. If the story proves true that Trump instructed him to lie about the project --- which was reportedly still being worked on by Trump through June of 2016, much later than he had initially admitted --- it would, according to Democrats today, amount to evidence of the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice, both impeachable offenses.

We also share the reaction today from Trump and the White House, neither of which denied the reporting initially, choosing to attack Cohen and BuzzFeed instead. Later, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Any suggestion --- from any source --- that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." [POST-SHOW UPDATE: In a rare and carefully worded statement issued late Friday evening by Mueller's office, after we got off air, they disputed BuzzFeed's "description of specific statements...and characterization of documents and testimony obtained" by the Special Counsel.]

In other news today, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday made short order of a challenge to new limits on Early Voting and allowable polling place IDs in the state after Republicans rammed through new restrictions during an extraordinary lame-duck session of the legislature last December, following Governor Scott Walker's re-election loss in the November midterm election. Thanks to heavy turnout, including record Early Voting numbers, Democrats won every statewide contest on the ballot and 54% of the votes for the State Assembly. But, thanks to partisan gerrymandering by state Republicans, they won only one third of its seats.

In a terse, 5-page ruling [PDF] on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled it was "not a close question" that the GOP's newly enacted voting restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of voting rights, just as he had found nearly identical provisions to be, as passed by GOP lawmakers in 2016.

We're joined today by ANALIESE EICHER, one of the named plaintiffs from One Wisconsin Now's lawsuit challenging both the 2016 law and the late 2018 lame-duck version which Walker signed just days before leaving office. In addition to that court victory on Thursday, the non-partisan group had another on Friday, when a different court ruled that Republican lawmakers were in violation of the First Amendment by blocking the organization and others on Twitter. (Heads up, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill!)

In neighboring Michigan, the new Democratic Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson announced she was seeking a settlement with Democratic challengers to the legislative and Congressional districts drawn by Republicans in that state. The previous Sec. of State, a Republican, was preparing to defend what Dems describe, with very good evidence, to be an extreme and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander after the 2010 Census. (One such piece of evidence are emails from GOP lawmakers discussing districts mean to "give the finger" to a former Democrat Congressman, and to "cram ALL the Dem garbage" into four districts so Republicans could control more seats across the state.)

A settlement with the newly seated SoS could result in new district maps drawn before the 2020 election. Last November, MI voters approved a ballot initiative that would put an independent redistricting commission in charge of drawing maps following the 2020 Census.

Finally today, we're sent off into the weekend with a pretty hilarious song about Donald Trump's wall, courtesy of satirist Randy Rainbow...

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

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