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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, July 10, 2020
SCOTUS Gives Trump 'Get Out of Jail Free' (For Now) Card on Taxes, He Whines Anyway: 'BradCast' 7/9/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Conditions for Biden/Trump debates?; More COVID chaos...
SCOTUS Confirms Prez Not Above Law, But Delays Access to Trump Financial Records
Unlikely either a grand jury, Congress or the public will gain access to any financial docs prior to the Presidential Election...
'Green News Report' 7/9/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Siberian fires set new record; Atlantic hurricane season does too; Trump Admin approves natural gas bomb trains; PLUS: CA mandates zero-emission trucks, buses by 2045...
Previous GNRs: 7/7/20 - 6/30/20 - Archives...
The Truth About Fraudulent Claims About Absentee Fraud: 'BradCast' 7/8/20
Guest: OSET Institute's Eddie Perez; Also: Trump's COVID Death March continues; SCOTUS lets religious groups discriminate...
Faithless Judiciary: SCOTUS, Appeals Courts Block Voting Rights Amid Pandemic: 'BradCast' 7/7/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on new Court opinions and their (now deadly) war on voting...
'Green News Report' 7/7/20
Bad news for pipelines, good news for those who oppose them; Japan reels from more record storms; PLUS: House Dems unveil climate plan for net zero emissions by 2050...
Trump's July 4th 'Declaration of War Against Fellow Americans': 'BradCast' 7/6/20
Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Non-U.S nations getting COVID under control; SCOTUS on robocalls, 'faithless electors'...
Sunday 'Statuesque' Toons
PDiddie's latest monumental collection of the week's political toons!...
Eric Swalwell on Impeachment Revisited: 'BradCast' 7/3/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with the CA Congressman on his new book, 'Endgame', and a different look at July 4th...
The Cult of a Traitorous Trump:
'BradCast' 7/2/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Jeff Sharlet on the cult and former CIA officer Jack Rice on the bounties...
'Green News Report' 6/30/20
U.S. fracking giant files for bankruptcy; BP issues warning; SCOTUS dismisses endangered species; PLUS: Flood risks to U.S. far higher than known...
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: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Court nixes Trump 'national emergency' wall funding; TX, FL forced to re-close businesses as COVID spikes, Trump, Pence continuing lying about it...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2020 7:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why does Indiana's Secretary of State Connie Lawson believe her emails with other Secretaries of State, and potentially voting system vendors, should be exempt from disclosure via public records requests? She is claiming her discussions about those systems with members of the private National Association of Secretaries of State (and any private vendors they may discuss or hear from) should somehow be protected due to exemptions for trade secrets and national security that cannot be exposed to the public. A judge in Indiana, however, seems to believes she is wrong. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, a few items of breaking news amid our ongoing dystopian American nightmare...

  • A federal appeals court panel agreed today with a lower court judge that Donald Trump violated the law when he commandeered $2.5 billion in tax-payer dollars appropriated by Congress for the military in order to build his wall under the phony guise of a "national emergency". That, after Congress had specifically refused to allocate such funds. Bill Barr's corrupt Dept. of Justice will likely be appealing that one all the way up to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court if necessary;
  • As we have been warning for weeks (months?), the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better, in the U.S. In particular, as we've demonstrated, many of the hardest hit regions where infection rates, ICU usage and deaths are skyrocketing are places where Republican politicians have been successful in joining our maniacal conman President in pretending the virus would simply go away if we just reopened our doors for business. That strategy has failed miserably and tragically. So much so, that the very Trumpy Republican Governors in two of the hardest hit states, Florida and Texas --- which were among the first to prematurely reopen --- were forced to re-close bars, restaurants and other businesses today as infections rates surge to record numbers in their states, and as ICU beds in some locations are quickly filling to capacity;
  • That, at the same time Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force (remember them?), held their first press briefing in weeks to continue the Administration's attempted gaslighting of America to declare "very encouraging news" in the case numbers which are going straight up now in a majority of U.S. states;
  • Today's grim record COVID-19 numbers come just days after our failed President lied to his supporters at his latest maskless Death Rally inside a Phoenix church on Tuesday that "it's going away". It's not. It's getting worse. That was the same day in which internal White House task force documents, according to an NBC News exclusive, told both Trump and Pence that new case numbers in Phoenix --- which "had the highest number of new cases among the 10 metropolitan regions where the week-over-week change in infection rates spiked the most" --- was up some 150 percent over the past week. And, yes, infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths rates are rising as well, according to the White House's own numbers. That is not, despite the lies from both Trump and Pence, caused simply by "more testing".

With unabashed criminals like this now running our country --- and hopefully facing charges of criminal negligence if not mass murder someday soon --- we turn back to our "last firewall": our electoral system. There, we've got a bit of good news today, as Indiana Judge Heather Welch has rejected most of the claims made by the state's Sec. of State Connie Lawson (formerly a member of Trump's failed and phony "voter fraud" commission) to try and obscure her emails with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

The judge's ruling stems from a lawful request filed under Indiana's public records act. The suit, filed on behalf of the National Election Defense Council (NEDC) by Free Speech for People (FSFP), seeks those records in which Lawson was discussing voting systems with fellow Secretaries around the nation, NASS staffers, and, very likely, according to our guest today, private voting system vendors who wine, dine and lobby our nation's elections officials. In turn, those officials buy the unsecure, overly-expensive, error-prone computer voting and tabulation systems from the companies, and then parrot their talking points when the systems fail or when the public seeks to learn how they actually work (or don't.)

We're joined today by FSFP Legal Director RON FEIN to explain the court's recent ruling [PDF] in which the Judge rejected most of Lawson's claims to things like copyright and trade secret exemptions for her official Sec. of State emails. The judge is also demanding to privately review in her chambers those emails about which Lawson is claiming statutory exemption on the basis that disclosing those emails to the public would pose "a reasonable likelihood of threatening public safety by exposing a vulnerability to terrorist attack."

Lawson [pictured above with her newly purchased unverifiable computer voting systems] served as President of NASS from 2017 to 2018. She falsely testified [PDF] in 2017 before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, that America's "voting machines are not connected to the Internet or networked in any way." That claim has been proven to be an out and out lie, over and over and again.

Nonetheless, if true, what possible "vulnerability to terrorist attack" could Lawson be referring to? Fein offers his thoughts, and explains why the judge's ruling that "access to public records is an important statutory right," is already a victory in this little known, but potentially very important case.

"The fact that the Indiana Secretary of State has fought so hard to keep these materials private suggests that at least some of them have something that's embarrassing that they don't want the public to see," Fein tells me, suggesting that, "In some cases, the [voting system] companies are either outright bribing or engaging in extremely unethical practices with election officials."

"One of the most essential elements of democracy is a free and fair election. And the free and fair election requires that it be secure and trustworthy...And we have misinformation out there about the security of these systems. When that misinformation is being spread by election officials whose job is supposed to be to spread accurate information and, if anything, tamp down misinformation, then it means that we have a crisis of legitimacy in the election," Fein explains. "What we're hoping through this public records access lawsuit is that, if we can shine a light on the processes by which election officials end up as vehicles for misinformation about the security and reliability of our election systems, then that will provide an opening for reform."

Please tune in for the full conversation, as we cover quite a bit of ground. And, just for the record, Lawson also misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when she insisted under oath that "no votes were changed in 2016." In fact, nobody actually knows one way or another, because nobody ever bothered to check.

Finally today, after yet another hellish week in Trump's America, we close with a smile and a song "celebrating" his under-attended Death Rally last weekend in Tulsa...

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

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Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

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: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: George Floyd's brother testifies; NASCAR bans Confederate flags; Trump on wrong side of history again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tuesday's horrific election meltdown in Georgia didn't have to happen. We have been reporting and warning about exactly the disaster that occurred during the state's primary elections for well over a year on this program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the non-partisan, non-profit Coalition for Good Governance, has been filing both state and federal litigation for years in hopes of blocking the use of the new, unverifiable, touchscreen voting system implemented by GA's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for this year's critical Presidential election. For years, she has been joining us on the show --- as she does again today --- to warn about the now-failed systems, month after month, as the Secretary moved forward with his Big Government mandate to force all counties in the state to switch to the new, dangerous, computerized voting systems.

One county (Athens-Clarke), whose County Board of Elections voted in March to use hand-marked paper ballots instead of Raffensperger's $104 million touchscreens, was threatened with fines and legal action by the Secretary if they refused to use his new systems made by Dominion Voting, a Canadian company whose lobbyist in Georgia was the Chief of Staff for the former Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp. Raffensperger's strong-arming did the trick. The County used the disease-vector touchscreens on Tuesday along with all of the others.

The multiple failures of the electronic pollbook computers and computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices and optical-scan computers used at every polling place in the state resulted in hours-long lines for voters throughout the day. Precincts in 20 counties were ordered by courts to remain open for hours past their scheduled closing time, with the last voter reportedly casting a vote at 12:37am on Wednesday.

The shameful story in Georgia is very similar to the disaster that occurred here in Los Angeles County during the March 3rd Super Tuesday election this year, after County officials failed to heed our warnings about their new $300 million touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system that similarly crashed and burned on Election Day and resulted in the disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters.

"Maybe it is the nature of the beast," Marks laments today. "It seems like in all matters of civil rights, things have to get to such an extreme that disaster has to happen, maybe multiple times, before society can pay attention." While there has been quite a bit of media coverage of Georgia's disaster today, where were they when their coverage might have made a difference before voters lost their right to vote?

As to who is to blame, Raffensperger still refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever. He blames county poll workers for being poorly trained to operate his needlessly complex systems. Like Donald Trump, Raffensperger takes no responsibility for what went wrong, despite being responsible for forcing all counties to use the new system. In fact, he told Georgia Public Radio yesterday, as voters were lined up for blocks and blocks (and blocks) in the blazing Georgia heat and humidity and thunderstorms to try and cast their vote, that it was "a good day for Georgia". He actually described the primary as "a great success."

Marks sees it differently, as does most of the world. "Ninety percent of this problem was caused by Raffensperger and the State Election Board, because they insisted that the state and the counties use the very complex, Rube Goldberg systems that nobody had been trained on, that hadn't been properly tested, shoving them in during pandemic conditions when they could have simply used the scanner and hand-marked paper ballots, and a paper pollbook, and had a simple election during pandemic conditions," she says. "The Secretary of State insisted on this roll-out. And gave the counties almost no choice. They could have defied him, and he would likely have fined them. He set them up for failure."

Marks, whose earlier lawsuit resulted in Georgia's previous touchscreen voting system being found unconstitutional in federal court, with the judge ordering that they could never be used against in the Peach State, has a continuing federal complaint against the new system. She tells me she expects to be back in court soon. "Before, the State was claiming that all of our claims were just speculative. Well, you know what? They're not speculative anymore. We have fabulous evidence --- horrendous evidence --- that this system does not create an accountable election."

A registered Republican, Marks says it is not too late for Georgia to change course before November, though the court may have to force them to do so. She also cautions about similar unnecessarily complex and already-failed new computer voting systems being used in other states --- including battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina --- instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots for this year's critical Presidential election. Since the corporate media are unlikely to make the necessarily noise before the next election disaster --- when it might be preventable --- Marks suggests voters can take action on their own to demand hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (as backup to the e-pollbooks).

"Write a letter to your Secretary of State and State Election Board, and demand it," she advises. "Something that is likely to be more effective, even though it's harder --- it's going to take some effort for voters to actually protect their elections --- is call every member of your county's bipartisan election board. You can find them because they're local citizens. Say 'You've got authority, County Election Board! We want an auditable election! We want it done with hand-marked paper ballots, and we want audits afterward. Don't wait for the state to tell you that you have to audit. Don't wait for a judge to tell you that you have to have accountable ballots. Do it on your own. Do it now, while you have time to do it!'" She argues "these counties need the pressure from the citizens, and the citizens need to put pressure on the county boards as well as the local Democratic Party and local Republican Party."

As we've said many times, this democracy ain't gonna save itself!

Next --- speaking of things that take years of disaster before they are ever reformed --- Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, the unarmed African-American killed by cops in Minneapolis two weeks ago, testified to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today. We share his emotional opening statement calling on Congress to help "stop the pain" at a hearing meant to discuss a Democratic initiative in Congress for sweeping change to the nation's policing policies. As you might imagine, they are meeting Republican resistance in both chambers of Congress.

Finally today, more change in the wake of Floyd's killing: NASCAR announced today that it will ban the Confederate Flag from its events, and Donald Trump ends up firmly on the wrong side of history --- again --- as he declared he would "not even consider" renaming U.S. military bases, such as Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, which are named for Confederate Army officers. That, despite their namesake's support of slavery and their treason in launching a war against the United States, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans. While Pentagon officials, including Trump's own Defense Secretary, have said they are open to the idea, and a host of retired generals --- including the commanders of some of the 10 bases named for Confederate traitors --- favor renaming the military posts, Trump insisted on Twitter today, without any apparent irony, that the bases are a part of "a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."

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

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Guest: Longtime journalist, novelist Lucian K. Truscott IV on the uprising against Trump by his military leaders
Also: Callers ring in on why they decided to join the demonstrations across the country following the police killing of George Floyd...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2020 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump is chastened by the Generals he once revered, and we open the lines to listeners who participated in the weekend's demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd and police abuse everywhere. [Audio link to full show follow below.]

First up today, a quick note or two on elections Tuesday in Georgia and West Virginia, Joe Biden clinching the Democratic Presidential nomination, and the still-spiking spread of COVID-19 as many states reopen for business too early.

Next, we're joined by LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV, a West Point grad from a long line of military men, who has served as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter for some 50 years. Beginning in the 1970s at The Village Voice, he has covered stories from Watergate to the Stonewall uprising as well as wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is now a columnist at Salon where late last week, in a column headlined "We are witnessing the birth of a movement - and the downfall of a president" he covered what he described as the "extraordinary" pushback from current and former high-ranking military officials against Trump's plan to unleash the U.S. military to "dominate" protesters demonstrating against the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis, police abuse everywhere, and for the principle that Black Lives Matter. "These generals are not politicians, but all their statements are as political as any I've ever seen by senior officers, retired or active duty," he wrote. "It's the equivalent of lining up howitzers on Pennsylvania Avenue and aiming at the White House."

We discuss last week's remarkable turning point moment --- beginning with a stunning statement from Trump's former Defense Secretary, General James Mattis and including the leaked memo written by Trump's current Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, as sent to the heads of all military branches --- which Truscott also believes suggests that the military will decidedly not side with Trump if he tries to use the armed forces somehow to undermine this November's never-more-critical Presidential election.

"I don't think we have anything to worry about now," says Truscott. "It's really almost like drawing a line in the sand in front of Trump. They're not going to take Trump's side in anything like that. The way [the military leaders] have recoiled from what Trump did last Monday night [when he ordered the clearing of Lafayette Square across the street from the White House for a bizarre photo-op in front of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church] is really all the evidence you need that these guys are standing up for the Constitution and not for President Donald Trump."

"They're shooting a shot over Trump's bow and saying, 'You better watch out what kind of orders you give.' Because I don't think they going to follow any un-American orders," Truscott tells me. "I have to say, a couple of weeks and months ago, I was a little bit concerned about what the military would choose to do. But I'm not concerned at all anymore."

We also discuss how the ongoing demonstrations following the killing of Floyd compare to those seen during the Civil Rights era, as well as his attempt --- as the great-great-great-great grandson of Thomas Jefferson --- to include the descendants of Sally Hemings in the Monticello Association's annual reunions of those descended from the author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd U.S. President. Hemings was a slave with whom Jefferson is said to have had six children after the death of his wife. Truscott first invited Hemings' descendants to join the Monticello Association on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1998. We discuss how that turned out in the ensuing years.

Finally, we open the phones to callers who took part in the massive demonstrations around the country over the weekend and in days previous. Why did they decide to march? What did they learn? Why did they decide to not march, in some cases, and how the current movement for equal rights and justice for all compares to similar mass demonstrations in past eras (by those callers who participated in some of those as well!)...

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




Guest: Down With Tyranny's Howie Klein on progressives wins and losses on Tuesday and those still to come...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2020 7:12pm PT  

Sure, I admit today's BradCast is a bit breathless, but you try and keep up with all of this madness happening, breaking, changing and then changing again all at once while trying to make calm, cool, collected sense of it all for listeners in just under an hour! As usual, we do our best. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full breathless show is posted below the summary.]

Somewhere amid the mayhem of our latest program you will find coverage of...

  • New charges brought today against the four Minneapolis police officers responsible for killing George Floyd last week. (BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning foreshadowed as much in his report on the results of a new independent autopsy of Floyd earlier today.);
  • Protests against Floyd's ghastly murder-by-cop continue around the country for a tenth day;
  • Trump (as we predicted yesterday) begins to back away from his tough guy threats to send U.S. military troops to cities across the country to "dominate" peaceful American protesters;
  • Trump's Secretary of Defense Mark Esper claims he didn't know where he was going when he joined Trump's pathetic photo-op with a bible iin his hands in front of St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday, after federal storm-troopers were ordered to clear out peaceful protesters and church staff with tear gas, rubber bullets and other violence to take the shot. Esper now says that he opposes using federal troops against Americans, even though he described American cities as "battle spaces" during a phone call with Governor's on Monday;
  • A senior Pentagon adviser resigns, charging that Esper "violated" his oath to protect and defend the Constitution;
  • Even Pat Robertson tosses Trump under the bus after all of this;
  • U.S. troops deployed to D.C. from Fort Bragg in NC on Tuesday to quell protests are reportedly sent back to their bases...and then reported NOT being sent back to their bases just a few hours later, right before air time today';
  • Some protesters managed to breach a temporary fence near the White House and cowardly Trump is reportedly scuttled back into his underground White House bunker by Secret Service;
  • Also, Trump claims to now be pulling the August Republican National Convention out of Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Governor won't let him create a shoulder-to-shoulder viral super-spreader event out of it. We'll see if President Bluffer keeps that threat (he usually backs away from most), and we'll see how it may harm his odds of winning the very closely divided Tar Heel State this November. He really needs it to go "red" again if he wants a chance at re-election;
  • And, oh yeah, all of this as primary elections were held in about a dozen states and D.C. amid protests, curfews and a pandemic that continues and has, so far, killed more than 105,000 Americans in just the past 90 days.

    Unofficial results from Tuesday are slower than usual in coming in, due to the expansion of absentee voting in most states to help keep Americans safe during the pandemic. Lines to vote in-person were also much longer than usual in many places, due to the consolidation of polling places, also thanks to the coronavirus. That resulted in many forced to wait in very long lines, sometimes for hours after curfews around the country. But there was some noteworthy news in the few results we do have.

    Of course Joe Biden continues his march toward the required number of delegates to formally win the Democratic Presidential nomination. But, of more note on Tuesday...

    • Ferguson, Missouri --- where the killing of a young African-American man by a white cop sparked national protests six year ago --- elected Ella Jones as the city's first woman and first African-American Mayor!
    • Nine-term white supremacist Republican Congressman Steve King was defeated in the GOP primary in Iowa's 4th Congressional District by another rightwinger who will go on to face progressive Democrat J.D. Scholten (a guest on this show just a few weeks ago) in November.
    • Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte, who beat up a journalist (and tried to lie about it) the night before winning his first term in Congress three years ago, won the GOP nomination for Governor in Montana. He will now run against the state's Democratic Lt. Governor Mike Cooney to fill the seat being vacated by the popular term-limited Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in a state which Trump won by 20 points in 2016. That year, however, Bullock won his second term as Governor on the same ballot, and on Tuesday he secured the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who could very well be in trouble this year.

    We're joined today by progressive Congressional campaign expert and advocate HOWIE KLEIN of the "Down With Tyranny" blog and the BlueAmericaPAC to discuss all of the above and much more, including a number of other progressive wins (some a surprise) and losses (not as surprising) on Tuesday.

    Klein also handicaps a few upcoming races and offers what he regards as some "exciting" contests next week in Georgia which, with West Virginia, will be holding their own primary elections on June 9th. If you can keep up with everything that happened on today's show, much less today overall, you win a prize. Other than that, color me breathless...again...

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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!...

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Guest: Alexander Sammon of The American Prospect; Also: Some much brighter news about voting in Virginia...and even Pennsylvania!
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2020 5:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. and world economies continue to collapse amid ridiculous happy talk largely from the President and his GOP pals, as the suffering of millions of Americans grows amid the coronavirus pandemic and, incredibly enough, millions of tons of fresh food being destroyed by farmers and other food producers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Why are farmers and dairy producers doing that? The American Prospect's ALEXANDER SAMMON joins us today to explain how "Coronavirus has Broken America's Food Supply", and how, amazingly enough, the federal government (including the President who pretends to love farmers...especially in swing states) appears to be doing absolutely nothing about about a collapsing supply chain.

To be fair, neither party seems to be loudly pressing for action here, according to Sammon. But, as we discuss, this is a problem that could pretty easily be solved by the federal government. American families are running out of money as workers are being laid off. The Government is sending them a paltry $1,200 check (which may be delayed for many, because Trump is insisting on his name appearing on the checks), which many are likely to use to buy food. At the same time, food and milk created for commercial use in sectors which have collapsed (restaraunts, hotels, schools) is being destroyed. The Government could be buying that food (delivering much-needed relief to struggling farmers and food producers) and use the storied logistics skills of the U.S. Military to help deliver it to people in desperate need all over the country and around the world.

"It's one of those things where we've seen the President basically almost allergic to using federal authority, the national authority that is at his disposal to make these things right," Sammon explains. "Here is something he could do, well within the capacity of the federal government and the military, but there's been no indication they're going to pursue that. I think that's a pretty astounding political failure, at a very basic level."

Sammon goes on to describe the worsening conditions for food producers and the laborers in the industry who are becoming sick at an alarming rate, as "a very troubling sign for farmers and the food supply chain going forward."

"There's going to be a lot of farmers entering in to bankruptcy," he tells me. "The jolt to the system is not going to be immediate. But a year from now we could be looking at diminished supply at a pretty significant level. That could result in much higher prices. If we're emerging from a global recession, where we're talking about forecasts of 30% unemployment, potentially, at some point later in the year, the notion of having escalating food prices is certainly not something that's going to take the edge off of that."

Despite that grim news and the horrific economic numbers released on Wednesday regarding retail sales --- (yes, CONSUMERS, as it turns out, are the backbone of the nation's economy...They are the job creators, not the parasitic corporations and executives who pretend to be) --- we've got some more good news today for those who can't wait to vote this November. It'll much easier --- and safer --- to do that in Virginia this year, thanks to a series of important election reforms signed into law over the weekend by the state's Democratic Governor. Among the many long-overdue reforms: No-excuse absentee voting; Automatic voter registration at the DMV; Repeal of Photo ID voting restrictions; Expanded early and Election Day voting hours; and Election Day will now be a state holiday, while the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, celebrating Confederate Generals who attacked the U.S., will no longer be celebrated.

All of those reforms come thanks to the Democratic majorities won for the first time in years in both the Commonwealth's Senate and House last year. And that is thanks, in no small part, to the court-ordered UNgerrymandering of Virginia last year.

But that's not all the good news about upcoming elections today. The Republican National Committee, according to mailers they paid for and sent out to Republican voters in Pennsylvania, has declared that absentee voting is "easy, convenient and secure"! Yes, the word "secure" was made bold on the "Official Republican Party Mail-in Ballot Application" sent out to voters in the Keystone State this week.

So, apparently, we can all happily ignore the President and other high-profile Republicans around the country who claim that Vote-by-Mail is a vector for fraud. Their own party, it seems, has just made liars of them! (Though that's not particularly difficult to do these days.)

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Caucus errors lead to unsupported charges of 'rigging'; Sanders seeks 'partial recanvass'; Unattended L.A. Vote-by-Mail drop-box removed thanks to public oversight; More Trump disasters and lies...
By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We get you all caught up after Friday night's lively Democratic debate in New Hampshire --- which included many calls for unity by most of the candidates --- and as voters in the Granite State prepare to vote on Tuesday in the first-in-the-nation primary. But the reported results from first-in-the-nation caucuses, held last week in Iowa, are still roiling some Democratic partisans. Others, meanwhile, are taking important actions to make our elections more secure, as we report on a citizen action that led to small, if positive change in Los Angeles in advance of the critical March 3rd Super Tuesday primary. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The only thing that appears reasonably certain regarding last week's Iowa mess at this hour is that Bernie Sanders received more votes than any other candidates and that Pete Buttigieg appears to have come in second, while perhaps winning an infinitesimally larger portion of "State Delegate Equivalents", thanks to the absurdly complex Iowa Caucus math and a number of seemingly random errors in that math on enough precinct worksheets that Associated Press is still refusing to call the race one way or another.

As discussed on today's program, those math worksheets were signed off on as accurate, not only by every Precinct Leader and Secretary at each caucus cite, but also by the campaign captains of each candidate at every caucus site. Nonetheless, with math errors discovered on those sheets at a small number of precincts (thankfully due to the transparency of the otherwise complex caucus processes in Iowa as demanded by Sanders after the 2016 caucuses) and the state Democratic Party attorney's claim that correcting the math worksheets would amount to election tampering under state law, the Sanders campaign is requesting a "partial recanvass" of results from about 20 or 30 of the state's more than 1,700 caucuses.

While the ultimate delegate count out of Iowa is unlikely to change very much --- Sanders and Buttigieg are largely tied on that score --- a number of his supporters are charging the contest was rigged or stolen from him by the DNC and/or Iowa Democratic Party (and/or, apparently, the Buttigieg Campaign. Based on the currently available evidence, I disagree with that charge and explain why on today's program.

Despite the increasing animosity between some supporters of the candidates, pretty much all of the Democrats still in the hunt for the nomination spent portions of Friday's debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, and subsequent media appearances and rallies thereafter, calling for unity among the party faithful, in order to defeat Donald Trump this November. Whether their supporters heard those pleas or not is another matter, but we make an effort to help them hear that message just a bit better on today's program.

We also take some time to share a few news headlines from the past couple of days underscoring again what a dangerous and unprecedentedly dishonest menace this American President represents to both the nation and the world. Among those news headlines today...

  • The African-American fourth-grader who Trump awarded with a scholarship at his State of the Union Address last week, as it turns out, already attends one of Philadelphia's most prestigious charter schools and needs no scholarship. The privately-run public school is already paid for with tax dollars. Yes, Trump's stunt was another scam;
  • The deadly and injurious fallout from Trump's unlawful assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani at the beginning of the year, on the heels of his impeachment, continues today. More than 100 U.S. service members, according to a new report from CNN today, have now been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following the missile attack response by Iran on a military base in Iraq housing U.S. troops. After the Iranian response, Trump claimed all was well, and that no service members were killed or injured. That turns out to have been another lie. Last month, after the first reports of traumatic brain injury to troops was reported, Trump dismissed them as "headaches". The head of the influential Veterans of Foreign Wars is now demanding an apology from the President;
  • And, in one more reminder today about what a dangerous menace this President is and his reelection would be to the nation and its people, Trump released his $4.8 trillion budget proposal on Monday. It includes calls for deep cuts to student loan assistance, affordable housing, food stamps, health care (Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act), education and the environment. With those calls for slashing the federal public safety net, Trump is also proposing increased spending on the military, his border wall, his "Space Force" program, and an extension to his tax cuts which mostly benefited corporations and wealthy Americans.

Finally today, we have an interesting story about a Sanders supporter out here in Los Angeles who discovered a dangerously light and apparently totally unguarded table-top drop-off for Vote-by-Mail ballots at a UCLA facility over the weekend. According to the campaign volunteer, It was "light as a feather...not bolted down...right by the door [and] weighs about 5 pounds and could easily be taken."

After we contacted the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan with the report over the weekend, including a photograph of the unattended drop-box [as seen in the graphic above], Logan told us this morning that the vulnerable table-top container at the facility has now been replaced with a permanent, 1,000 pound collection box. We share the telling (and just a bit snarky) email exchange between he and me that led to the upgrade in advance of California's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary. That good news comes thanks to PUBLIC OVERSIGHT of our public election processes by a concerned voter! We could use a helluva lot more of that!...

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Could be approved for 2020 anyway. Public comment period ends soon! Hand-marked paper ballots needed in nation's largest jurisdiction!
Also: Booker out; Trump still lying about Iran; NBC covers huge e-vote security prob...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2020 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after a necessarily quick news round-up today (on Cory Booker dropping out of the Democratic Presidential nominating contest and the Trump Administration's continuing attempt to lie about about Donald Trump's unlawful assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani), we get on to the most important business of the day --- at least for voters in the state of California, though all across the country as well.

Brand-new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, which all voters at the polls will be forced to use for the first-time in the 2020 Presidential election in Los Angeles County, beginning with the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, are currently undergoing the CA state certification process. The $300 million system is failing state security and certification testing miserably, according to documents buried at the CA Sec. of State website, and reported on today's program for the first time.

In addition to producing a computer-marked ballot that can never be verified as reflecting any voters' intent after an election, documentation of state certification tests of the new "Voting Solutions for All People" system (or VSAP), reveal a myriad of incredibly serious security failures and violations of state law, according to experts we've consulted.

As we detail on today's program, the testers have discovered, among other very serious concerns, more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards, including findings that reveal:

  • The VSAP system can be booted from a USB drive that would bypass all security and logging protections and that access to the master account is needed for too many things, meaning that "too many people have access to the root password," according to state testers. That means "The excessive root access and the ability to boot the system from a USB port give access to the system by unauthorized individuals. Either scenario can result in undetected changes to files and data...Both scenarios can allow functions to be executed in non-intended ways. The unrestricted access to, and the ability to boot from, the USB port allows access to voting data";
  • Many problems were discovered with security regarding encryption and cryptography in the new system;
  • The testers discovered "It is possible to insert or remove ballots from both the BMD and ballot transfer boxes without detection";
  • "The printer cover allows access to the ballot box and can be opened without detection";
  • "Seals, locks, labels and sensors can all be bypassed" without detection.

Those are just some of the many findings that led one national voting system and cybersecurity expert to wryly describe the results to us as "not good" and another to describe the system as "a security fail".

Nonetheless, CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla could still certify the systems for use in the 2020 primaries and general election anyway, following the passage of a law he championed in 2013 as a State Senator that gives the SoS the ability to approve the use of new voting systems, even if they fail both federal and state testing, for actual elections.

The very quiet Public Comment period regarding certification of the unverifiable, unsecure VSAP touchscreen computer voting system ends next Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at 5pm Pacific Time. We are urging those concerned to contact the state at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov immediately to ask them to not certify this dangerous, unverifiable system, and to require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for all voters at the polling place in this year's crucial primary and general elections.

We offer much more frightening detail on all of this on today's program regarding the dangers of this type of voting system as they are proliferating not just in Los Angeles County, but also in key battleground states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and many others before the critical 2020 elections begin in just weeks time!

We appear to be the only media outlet, to our knowledge, reporting this important information on the failed VSAP tests out of California, so please share widely! We cannot afford to wait until corporate media bother to notice (such as NBC News, which just noticed on Friday a very serious concern about modems in voting systems in several battleground states that we had covered on The BradCast more than six months ago!)...

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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...

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

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Guests: Author, political scientist David Faris; Columnist, opinion journalist Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2019 5:21pm PT  

The final 2020 Democratic Presidential debate of 2019 was held Thursday night in Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, just one day after the U.S. House approved two Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. On today's BradCast, we have lively, smart (and, yes, occasionally snarky) special coverage of both, with returning champion guests DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of political science at Chicago's Roosevelt University, The Week contributor, and author of It's Time to Fight Dirty; and HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, Salon columnist and award-winning opinion and analysis journalist from Digby's Hullabaloo.

As per DNC requirements for participation at the Thursday night's debate, co-sponsored by PBS Newshour and Politico, the included candidates were former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer; MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

With ballots for early primary states going out to voters any day now, we should also note that NOT featured on Thursday's debate stage, though very likely featured along with the above candidates on 2020 Democratic primary ballots very soon, are: CO Sen. Michael Bennet; Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; former HUD Secretary Julián Castro; former MD Rep. John Delaney; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; former MA Gov. Deval Patrick; and author Marianne Williamson.

We cover a lot of ground on today's special coverage program, beginning with the latest in the post-impeachment showdown between House Democrats and Senate Republicans and how the ongoing fight over sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate before a trial is likely to play out; what to make of Gabbard's "present" vote on those Articles; how the PBS/Politico debate format worked out on Thursday night; who should have been included but wasn't; why Warren has recently lost some of her momentum despite her many proposals and popular plan to tax millionaires (while also landing the line of the night!); why Buttigieg has picked up so much steam in Iowa; why Biden remains the national front runner, according to polling, over all of these months and despite his flaws; how Sanders hit on some key points Thursday night that nobody else did; how our Climate Crisis finally played a prominent role in the Thursday night forum; why Yang and Steyer are there at all (and whether that's a good thing or bad); and whether Klobuchar can somehow emerge as the Democratic centrists' option to take on Donald Trump.

Of course, those are just a few of the topics covered, along with a host of clips from the debate and no shortage of both snarky and insightful commentary along the way!

Also, please note: Desi and I will be taking a bit of a break to recharge batteries and spend some long-overdue family time over the upcoming holidays. Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us, along with a mix of a few days of various encore BradCasts until we're back in 2020. My thanks to all of you who helped us get through this very difficult year in one way or another. From your notes of support and well wishes, to your news tips, to your generous support via BradBlog.com/Donate to help us keep doing what we try to do five days a week over your public airwaves without corporate or political support, helping us to remain 100% listener-supporter radio! Thank you for all of that, and we'll see you --- for better or worse --- in the new election year!...

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

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Impeachment debate continues in House Judiciary, Newspapers are in support; First 2020 ballots go out in two weeks; St. Louis County, MO's easy move from touchscreen to hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2019 6:05pm PT  

Desi and I are back for today's BradCast --- (thanks for saving us over the past three day, Nicole Sandler!) --- as the House Judiciary Committee's debate over two Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump continues and with the first ballots for the 2020 elections set to be mailed out in just over two weeks. That, even as many jurisdictions around the nation are still choosing between gambling on faulty new electronic voting systems or moving to safe, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • Dems continue to make Trump's reelection easier for him with fresh compromises in Congress, including approval of his new Space Force military branch and expanded paid parental leave for millions of federal workers (as also supported by Trump);
  • The (so far) two-day markup of the Democrats' two Articles of Impeachment against Trump continued into Thursday after opening statements on Wednesday night. We share some notable and pointed clips from Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen (TN), on the President's attempts to undermine American democracy itself; Pramila Jayapal (WA), who accurately describes Trump as "the smoking gun"; and Veronica Escobar (TX) who offers a great analogy to explain how Trump's attempt to force Ukraine to help him in the 2020 election would have landed any other public official in jail;
  • In an attempt at fairness, we searched for hours (and hours) to find remarks from the Republican minority that were not comprised of blatantly false claims, wholly misleading information and/or out and out lies. We failed. We did find Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), however, apparently characterizing 2016 Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein as a "Democrat" and falsely claiming that she filed "a frivolous lawsuit...claiming voting machines were rigged in three states" in 2016. She did no such thing. Nor did anybody else to our knowledge. But that's the sort of knowingly fake news Republicans are now using to try and defend their President from impeachment. They are also claiming that "Abuse of Power" and "Obstruction of Congress" are not actually high crimes and misdemeanors (which would likely come as a delightful surprise to Richard Nixon);
  • Three years into his Presidency, major newspapers are now finally jumping in to support Trump's impeachment --- now that he is already being impeached. That, after many of those same courageous outlets called for Bill Clinton to resign from office within just days of a sex scandal that resulted in his own impeachment. But we do offer some well-deserved kudos to the American Conservative magazine, for their non-hypocritical support of Trump's impeachment, find the case to be "Overwhelming";
  • As to what We, The People, can do about all of this, the first ballots of the 2020 Presidential Primaries will be sent out as early as December 28, just two weeks from now, for military and overseas voters participating in New Hampshire's February 11 primary. And voters from more than a dozen states which are holding Super Tuesday primaries on March 3rd --- including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia --- will begin receiving Vote-by-Mail ballots in just over a month, as of January 18. That's before the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 3 or the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11;
  • Nonetheless, there are still many jurisdictions around the country fighting to determine exactly which voting systems they will be using at the polls in the 2020 elections. Recent failures of brand-new touchscreen voting systems in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas should spook officials and voters alike, even as officials in the battleground state of North Carolina are facing big problems with their plans to use similarly unverifiable systems.
  • Meanwhile, in Missouri, the most populous jurisdiction in the state, St. Louis County, was able to move seamlessly from unverifiable touchscreen systems to a brand new, completely verifiable, "Print-on-Demand" hand-marked paper ballot system last month with no complications, and at a saving of some $3 million for tax payers!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for both good news and bad in our latest Green News Report, as Exxon is exonerated in a big climate fraud case, while 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg is named TIME Magazine's 2019 "Person of the Year"!...

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

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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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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2019 4:06pm PT  

We go to air, on today's BradCast, midway between the two sets of witnesses on Day 3 of public hearings in the U.S. House impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump, with testimony from Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine and Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's former chief Russia and Ukraine adviser --- both of whom have since resigned in the wake of the Ukraine scandal --- scheduled for the afternoon session. So we focus today on the testimony from Tuesday's morning session featuring Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert on Donald Trump's NSC and Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence's Ukraine expert. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Both of those witnesses have served for years as government officials. Williams was hired as a political appointee by the George W. Bush Administration after working on his Presidential campaign. Vindman, who immigrated here from Soviet-era Ukraine with his family when he was three, is a 20-year, decorated military man and Purple Heart recipient after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2014. Both officials were listening in during Donald Trump's infamous July 25 call to Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump asked him for the "favor" of investigations into Joe Biden and his son's involvement with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and into the Russia-supported theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. President election.

Williams described the President's phone call with Zelensky as "inappropriate", as did Vindman, who was so "shocked" by the attempt at strong-arming Ukraine for Trump's personal political purposes that he brought his concerns to the NSC's top legal counsel on two separate occasions. The first time was after a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials, after then National Security Advisor John Bolton objected strongly to Trump-donor turned EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland (who testifies on Wednesday) informing the foreign emissaries that they would need to carry out those investigations in order to receive a White House meeting for President Zelensky, and again after the July 25 phone call when nearly $400 million in military aid was held up by the Administration in exchange for the "favor" Trump sought from the Ukrainians. Vindman testified today that he "couldn't believe what [he] was hearing".

“It was probably an element of shock — that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security,” Vindman explained.

We share portions of Vindman's testimony on both of the disturbing July events, including his concerns that the pressure campaign was a threat to U.S. national security, along with his personal response to the attacks he has received from the President and others since his role in what Democrats describe as the President's bribery scandal has come to light.

We're joined once again by our special BradCast Impeachment Correspondent Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss today's proceedings, including how Vindman's testimony blew up the Trump/GOP narrative that the pressure campaign was meant to combat corruption in Ukraine; what Democrats hope Americans take away from today's testimony; how Republicans are responding in their alternate reality world; how John Bolton might actually prove to be a hero in this story (as unlikely as that seems); and, by the way, what was Donald Trump doing in his unannounced, rushed, mysterious weekend trip to Walter Reed Medical Center anyway?

Finally today, as if all of that is not enough, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, on record, climate change-fueled flooding in the historic city of Venice; Ford's new all-electric Mustang SUV, and a landmark, bipartisan legislative plan passed by New Zealand to reach net zero carbon emissions in just over a decade...

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

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