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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Impeachment Trial Begins With a Trial About Holding a Trial: 'BradCast' 1/21/20
Republican Senate votes to block document, witness subpoenas as White House offers remarkably hypocritical defense...
'Green News Report' 1/21/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
World's oceans hottest ever recorded; Climate change worries Wall Street; PLUS: Federal court dismisses climate kids' lawsuit...
Previous GNRs: 1/16/20 - 1/14/20 - Archives...
My Letter to CA's SoS on L.A. County's New, Unverifiable Touchscreen Voting Systems
The dangerous VSAP system must not be certified! HAND-MARKED paper ballots are needed for the 2020 elections!...
Sunday 'Ding Dong the Witch is...' Toons
PDiddie documents yet another week over the rainbow in his latest toon collection!...
On Bernie's 'Electability': 'BradCast' 1/17/20
Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
A Statistical Response to the Charge That Bernie Sanders is 'Unelectable'
Analysis of 2016 primary election numbers in three key states, finds Richard Hayes Phillips, appears to counter the allegation...
Parnas Sings, Senate Trial Begins, L.A. Facing Suit Over New Vote System Flaw: 'BradCast' 1/16/20
D.C. bombshells; Huge fail in L.A.'s $300M vote system, County Clerk finally responds...
'Green News Report' 1/16/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR SPECIAL COVERAGE: Climate change pervades the final Democratic presidential primary debate before 2020 voting begins...
Previous GNRs: 1/14/20 - 1/9/20 - Archives...
Courts Step in to Protect 'Inactive' Voters in WI, NY: 'BradCast' 1/14/20
Also: Fall out from yesterday's exclusive news on major security failures discovered in Los Angeles' new voting system, and much more...
'Green News Report' 1/14/20
2020 race loses climate justice warrior; Billion dollar disasters on the rise; 2019 second hottest year ever; PLUS: 150 arrested with Jane Fonda at climate protest...
L.A.'s New Touchscreen Vote System Fails State Testing: 'BradCast' 1/13/20
CA Sec. of State could approve for 2020 anyway, despite security failures. Public comment period ends soon! Hand-marked ballots needed in nation's largest jurisdiction!
Sunday 'Close Call' Toons
We're all living on the edge in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
One Thing Voters Can Do to Ensure Trump is Dumped This Year: 'BradCast' 1/10/20
Guest: Public Policy Polling's Jim Williams; Also: GOP Photo ID restriction blocked in NC; DoJ's probe of Hillary Clinton and Clinton Foundation quietly finds...nothing...
Hate to Say 'We Told Ya So', But...:
'BradCast' 1/9/20
Admin has no evidence of 'imminent threat'; Ukrainian plane downed by Iran missile; Study confirms new computer BMD vote systems should not be used in 2020...
'Green News Report' 1/9/20
Trump guts another landmark enviro law; EPA, FEMA not disaster ready; Coal plant shutdowns saved 26K American lives; PLUS: Murdoch, troll disinfo on Aussie fires...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon; 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2020 5:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Once again, our plans for Special Coverage of the latest Democratic Presidential Debate is somewhat truncated today to make room for our Special Coverage of impeachment and the new, wildly disturbing evidence released on Tuesday night to go with it. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

We're joined today by guests HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo and fellow longtime progressive blogger "DRIFTGLASS" (otherwise known as @Mr_Electrico on Twitter, or "Bill" to a few friends), co-host of the Professional Left Podcast, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this week.

We start with coverage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to finally transmit the two Articles of Impeachment against Donald John Trump, as approved by the House last year, over to the Senate for just the third Presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. With the articles, on Wednesday, she also announced the selection of seven House members who will serve as prosecutors (known as House Managers) for the trial. They include House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries of NY, Sylvia Garcia of TX, Val Demings of FL, Jason Crow of CO and Zoe Lofgren of CA.

Moreover, we discuss the troubling new documentary evidence released late on Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee from the phone of Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. That material, among other things, reveals a bizarre and creepy 2019 text message thread between Parnas and Republican Connecticut Congressional candidate and Trump superfan, Robert H. Hyde, detailing what appears to be Hyde's surveillance of movements of then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

The texts suggest the now-ousted Yovanovitch, who was eventually recalled for her own safety on the next available flight out of the country, may have been targeted, given the content of the conversation, including remarks such as "They are willing to help if we/you would like a price." Ambassador Yovanovitch, an anti-corruption warrior, was described by Trump in his phone conversation with Ukraine's President as "bad news", claiming "she's going to go through some things."

As if all of that is not enough for one show, we then move on to coverage and analysis of Tuesday night's debate in Des Moines, Iowa, the final Democratic Presidential debate before voting begins in earnest for the 2020 nominating cycle with the Iowa Caucuses on February 3rd. Digby and Driftglass offer insight on all of the candidates who qualified for the debate --- Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer --- and a number of topics discussed on Tuesday night, including the bubbling feud between Sanders and Warren, the many and shifting Democratic positions on the Military/Industrial Complex and our forever wars in the Middle East.

We also discuss the failures of the debate moderators from CNN and the Des Moines Register, the problem with culling down the field to just 6 candidates before a single vote has even been cast, and whether Tuesday's debate has shifted the fortunes of any of the front-runners before voting finally gets under way next month....

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

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Dems and Reps charge Admin has no evidence of 'imminent threat' before Soleimani assassination; Ukrainian passenger plane believe downed by Iranian missile; New study confirms new computer BMD voting systems should not be used in 2020; Trump guts landmark environmental rule...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2020 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a whole lot of evidence as to why Desi Doyen calls us "your early warning system". [Audio link to show posted beneath summary below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • The deadly and dangerous fallout continues from Donald Trump's assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, with Democratic and Republican members of Congress from both the House and Senate, blasting the Administration for failing to provide evidence of an "imminent attack" which might have legally justified Trump's targeted killing of the second most powerful public official in Iran. Members who attended classified briefings by top Administration officials on Wednesday were outraged by the failure of those officials to provide the information they claimed they had regarding the killing. Without that information, Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general was very possibly in violation of both domestic and international law. But are Democrats enraged enough to bring another article of impeachment over it?;
  • Not all Congressional members were upset by the classified briefing. Some, like Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), charged that members such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who claimed after the briefing that Trump "recklessly assassinated" Soleimani with "no evidence of an imminent threat or attack", was actually an "Ayatollah sympathizer" who was "divid[ing] our country" (Seriously. That's what he said. Rutherford's challengers this year are Donna Deegan and Christopher Eagle on the Democratic side, and 20-year Navy vet Dr. Erick Aguilar in the August Republican primary in the state.);
  • In related matters, as we surmised based on available evidence during yesterday's BradCast, U.S. officials today are now confirming their belief that the Ukrainian Airlines passenger jet that crashed minutes after takeoff from the airport in Tehran on Wednesday was, in fact, shot down by an Iranian missile. The crash killed all 176 on board just hours after Iran's non-lethal ballistic missile revenge attack on Wednesday in response to Trump's killing of Soleimani last week. Officials in the U.S., Ukraine and Canada (which lost 63 residents in the tragic disaster) believe Iran might have mistaken the passenger flight for a military response from the U.S. that night. Along with the 56 killed during a stampede amidst the massive funeral processions for Soleimani, the death toll of Trump's action has been extraordinary. How any of this has made Americans safer is anybody's guess;
  • In election news, a new, landmark study [PDF] was released this week by computer scientists, cybersecurity and voting systems experts at the University of Michigan. It finds that new, touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) --- which we have long been warning about, and which are now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election --- are "extremely unsafe" and vulnerable to undetectable hacking.

    Most alarming (at least to those who haven't heard the same loud warnings from BradBlog.com and The BradCast for many years now) is that the researchers found that in a mock election, where they had rigged the new voting systems to misprint a voter selection on the computer-marked paper ballot printouts, more than 93% of voters failed to notice that their vote had been changed by the computer! 93%!

    And yet, these all-new, vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are now being deployed to battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia and North Carolina, and even to the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, in advance of this year's elections! We explain the study's disturbing findings and what you can do to try and avoid having your vote lost to a touchscreen Ballot Marking Device in your home jurisdiction;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (coal plant shutdowns have save some 26,000 American lives!), scary news (new findings that Trump's EPA and FEMA are not prepared for disasters) and terrible news (the Trump Administration is announcing a new rule that would do away with most environmental impact studies before construction of major federal projects, such as roads, bridges and even oil pipelines!)...

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: 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...

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: 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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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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Trump chooses deadly confrontation with Iran to distract from his impeachment, callers ring in on it; Also: Bolton willing to testify in Senate 'if subpoenaed'; A voter registration heads-up for California!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2020 5:56pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much needed holiday break! (Thanks to the great Nicole Sandler for helping us to sneak in some down time!) Sadly, things are much worse --- and more dangerous --- now than they were before the end of the new year, thanks to Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani, placing the U.S. --- and the world --- on the brink of yet another potential war. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

The Germans were right last year. Donald Trump is the greatest threat to world peace. Far greater than Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, or Iran's Ayatollah. By far.

The bulk of today's program is devoted to developments and fall-out since Trump's ill-considered attack on Soleimani late last week --- including the tens of millions of Iranians who Trump helped unify to turn out for Soleimani's funeral processions; Trump's threat of war crimes against Iran should they dare to retaliate against what is likely already a war crime; Iran's declaration that the 2015 anti-nuclear agreement which Trump pulled the U.S. out of is now all but dead; Iraq's Parliamentary resolution to throw all U.S. forces out of the country, and Trump threat of sanctions against them if they do; Trump's 2011 (and 2012 and 2013) false predictions that Obama would start a war on Iran to win reelection "because of his inability to negotiate properly"; and calls from listeners on all of the above.

Of course, the real reason Trump decided to kill Soleimani is almost certainly to distract from his end of year impeachment and upcoming trial in the U.S. Senate. On that front, we covered former National Security Advisor John Bolton's announcement today that he would testify as a witness in the trial, if subpoenaed by the Senate (which Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are still blocking, along with all first-hand eye witnesses requested by Democrats).

And also, a few heads-ups regarding voter registration in California (and elsewhere) in advance of March 3rd's Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. If you live in California, and are registered as a "No Party Preference" voter, you will either have to request a Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent Presidential ballot, or register yourself as a Republican, Green Party or Peace and Freedom Party member if you wish to vote in one of their primaries. Otherwise, in California, if you are a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter, you will receive a ballot in the mail without any Presidential options. Tune in to today's show for more details on that and what you need to do about it....very soon! (At least if you wish to avoid voting on 100% unverifiable touchscreens here in Los Angeles County and elsewhere on Primary Election Day!)

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 Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe, and the latest Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/9/2019 4:38pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back again guest hosting the BradCast on a day filled with breaking news.

From the release of the DOJ's Inspector General's Report on the origins of the Russia probe to the surprise huge story from the Washington Post, 'The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war - At War with the Truth' and lots more, I begin the show recapping it all.

Then we move to the main event, the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Intelligence Committee report on the impeachment inquiry. Daniel Goldman, the lead investigative counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, was the Democrats' lone witness who summarized the Democratic case for Trump's impeachment.

In his 45-minute opening statement, Goldman explained, "We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit. As part of this scheme, President Trump applied increasing pressure on the president of Ukraine to publicly announce two investigations helpful to his personal reelection efforts... When faced with the opening of an official impeachment inquiry into his conduct, President Trump launched an unprecedented campaign of obstruction of Congress — ordering executive branch agencies and government officials to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony...President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security."

Next stop, articles of impeachment? Tune in tomorrow for As the Trump Squirms...

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Also: Trump's LA Guv candidate goes down in runoff; Mass shooting in Fresno; Trump pardons war criminals; Impeachment Week 2 preview...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2019 5:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners to get their takes on where they are on impeachment following Week 1 of public hearings in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, before we go to the phones, a few news items of note from over the weekend and into today, including...

  • In Louisiana on Saturday, Donald Trump lost yet again, with Eddie Rispone, the Republican candidate for Governor that Trump rallied bigly for --- three different times over the past five weeks --- going down to the state's Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards (according to Louisiana's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems which are shamefully used across the entire state.) The embarrassing loss for Trump and Republicans in the Deep South was his second in as many weeks after he also campaigned hard for Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin. He lost in that state to Democrat Andy Beshear the week before last. If Trump is counting on support from Republican voters in red states --- during his impeachment or his re-election next year --- he could be in for some surprises based on the reported results of this year's off-year elections. Republican U.S. Senators on the ballot in "red" and swing states may also be looking very closely at these statewide results when considering whether to vote for or against Trump's removal in an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate next year;
  • The American Carnage that Trump pretended to promise to end continues apace, with yet another mass shooting on Sunday. The latest was at a football watch party in Fresno, CA where 10 party-goers were shot with 4 of them killed. The shooter(s) remains unknown and at large;
  • And, as the walls close in around Trump, the President of the United States attacked yet another impeachment witness on Twitter over the weekend. This one, Jennifer Williams, is a senior staffer for Vice President Mike Pence who referred to his strong-arming phone call to Ukraine's President as "inappropriate". Trump called her, baselessly, a "Never Trumper". But impeachment and removal of the President is getting more popular, according to a new poll from ABC News/Ipsos with a majority now in favor. And the worst is still to come for Trump as 9 witnesses, including Williams, will be testifying on the Ukraine bribery scandal in open hearings this week, and much of that testimony --- as we break down in detail today --- is expected to be both explosive and quite damaging to the President (who is also now reported under investigation by House legal counsel for lying to Robert Mueller in his written testimony during the Special Counsel's probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump's multiple attempts at obstructing the inquiry.)

Then, we open the phone to callers for the rest of the hour, in order to try and get a read on whether the first week of public impeachment hearings has moved them --- one way or another --- on the matter. While most of our callers say they were in favor of impeachment before it began, they are now even more so following last week's hearings. But a few of them were opposed to impeachment and still are. They offer a few humdingers as to why. I can't adequately summarize those calls and those excuses here, so I won't even try. Tune in and enjoy!

And buckle up for much more BradCast impeachment special coverage in the days ahead...whether you --- or we --- like it or not!...

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Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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Conyers, Hagan, RIP; Hill resigns; Another House GOPer retires; Trump touts ISIS kill, lies about bin Laden; Former Bolton aide a no-show at impeachment; Pence ducks Ukraine questions; Senate Repubs on edge...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2019 7:03pm PT  

With the avalanche of news over the weekend and right up until airtime, we've got nothing but news on today's show. Most of it emanates out of Congress in one way or another, though we take a short side-journey to debunk a major lie over the weekend by Donald Trump. Even that, however, is ultimately about his fate in Congress as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's wildly news-packed BradCast...

  • Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan died on Monday at age 66, after a three year battle with encephalitis. We share some thoughts on the distinguished record of public service from the state's first female Democratic Senator.;
  • Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers died at the age of 90 on Sunday. The champion for civil rights and equal justice and longtime Chair of the House Judiciary Committee served 53-years in the House, making him the longest-serving African-American in Congressional history, before abruptly resigning in 2017 in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations which he refuted. He stated during his resignation that he believed he was unlikely to receive due process during the peak of the "#MeToo" era. We share a number of his many lasting accomplishments today, including his successful 15-year fight to adopt a national Martin Luther King Day holiday, a years-long effort he began just four days after the civil rights legends' assassination. (Conyers was the only candidate for Congress ever endorsed by MLK.) We also share a number of personal reflections on our years working with Conyers and his office in various ways at The BRAD BLOG, particularly during the darkest years of the George W. Bush Administration. (As mentioned on the program, here is the kind message he sent to the blog in 2005, and here is his guest blog from later that same year.);
  • And, speaking of a lack of due process, rising-star freshman Rep. Katie Hill announced her own resignation from Congress on Sunday, less than a year after flipping the last Republican-controlled House seat in Los Angeles County in her 2018 election. The 32-year old California Democrat was granted a position on Leadership in the House and a plum position on the House Oversight Committee. However, allegations about an affair with a legislative staffer, which she denies, in violation of House rules was at the center of a complaint filed with the House Ethics Committee. The publication of illicit photographs and text messages attributed to the Congresswoman, which she charges were released by her estranged "abusive" husband, made her ability to fight the charges "untenable," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who praised Hill. Seen as a voice for Millennial voters, Hill describes the released photos as unlawful "revenge porn," while many supporters feel she should not have stepped down;
  • On the GOP side of the aisle, the woes are far worse. Yet another senior Republican House member, Rep. Greg Walden announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election, even as the Oregon lawmaker was thought likely to be reelected to long held seat in . He is the 19th House Republicans, many of them senior members who are current and former committee chairs, to declare their intent to retire next year, all but conceding that Republicans have little or no chance of winning back the U.S. House majority in 2020;
  • On Sunday, Donald Trump announced that a targeted mission by U.S. special forces succeeded in killing long-sought ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria. After Trump's brief announcement, in which claimed that al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest and "died like a dog", "crying", "whimpering" and "screaming", Trump went on to sing his own praises during an insane question and answer period with the press for a good 45 minutes. He claimed that the killing of al-Baghdadi was a much bigger deal than the killing of Osama bin Laden during the Obama Administration, and that he, unlike anybody else, had called for the killing of bin Laden long before the 9/11 terror attacks, in his book "The America We Deserve".

    Multiple fact-checks by multiple news outlets, however, detail that Trump did nothing of the kind in his book, where he barely referenced bin Laden in a single passage. He did not calling for him to be killed, though he did recognize him as "public enemy Number One," which also serves to debunk his own claim at the Sunday presser that "nobody had ever heard of Osama bin Laden" until 9/11. Trump's bizarre spectacle on Sunday, trumpeting his triumph and offering easily debunked false assertions, serves to add a question mark to his claims about al-Baghdaddi --- Russia's foreign ministry is dubious about the kill --- and otherwise serves to underscore what a horrible fact and character witness Donald Trump is for himself, given the ongoing impeachment inquiry he is now facing in the U.S. House;

  • Speaking of which, former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, who worked directly under former NSA John Bolton, failed to show up for his deposition before House impeachment investigators today, after seeking a ruling from a federal judge as to whether he was legally required to comply with a House subpoena. His testimony, if and when it happens, is expected to underscore concerns that Bolton reportedly had about the quid pro quo pressure campaign Trump was running against Ukraine while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to the country in exchange for a promise from its President to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden and a rightwing conspiracy theory concerning Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election;
  • The Ukraine scandal left Vice President Mike Pence going to extraordinary lengths to avoid answering --- four times --- a simple question on Face the Nation on Sunday as to whether or not he knew about the strong-arm scheme before Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as corroborated last week by the explosive testimony of top U.S. envoy to Ukraine Bill Taylor and, apparently, by others as well;

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Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Republican worms turning on impeachment after Mulvaney 'confession'?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2019 5:51pm PT  

The outlook for Donald Trump appears grimmer by the day, but the systemic institutional problems that brought him to office and have now helped bring him to the brink of impeachment are of even larger concern on today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's program is posted below.]

First up, the latest in the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry, as the worm may --- emphasis on 'may' --- be turning, following Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's nationally-televised admission that the Administration withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aide to Ukraine in an effort to strong-arm the former Soviet nation into investigating Democrats and the 2016 election. Mulvaney's "confession", as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described it, of a pretty clear quid pro quo has knocked several Republicans off their footing, as they struggle to find ways to defend the President's actions.

A number of Congressional Republicans in both the House and the Senate now appear troubled by the admission (which Mulvaney attempted to walk back just hours later) and it has led Ohio's former Republican Governor John Kasich to concede on Friday that he now supports the impeachment and removal of Trump based on the latest information.

Then, we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in Washington D.C., which filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in July of 2018, detailing serious campaign fiance law violations by Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The Soviet-born Ukrainian-Americans were dramatically arrested and indicted at Dulles International Airport just over a week ago by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, as they were attempting to flee the country with one way tickets to Vienna. Parnas and Fruman were charged [PDF] with using a fake shell corporation to illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars from an unknown source to Republicans, including Trump's America First Action SuperPAC, in a successful effort to gain political power.

They also paid some $500 thousand to Giuliani --- who is working, for free, as Trump's personal lawyer --- and donated to Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, all in an effort to act on the conspiracy theories used by Trump and Giuliani to strong-arm Ukraine. As Fischer lays out in a piece at CLC detailing the backstory of the arrests of the two Trump donors, "Working closely with the president’s personal attorney, Giuliani, their efforts touched two branches of U.S. government, two presidential administrations in Ukraine, at least five countries, numerous individuals in and out of government, and, now, an impeachment inquiry into the U.S. President himself."

"The big giving opened a lot of doors," Fischer tells me. "It got them into political fundraisers where they rubbed shoulders with President Trump's inner circle. That money allowed them to build and deepen a relationship with Giuliani. And they were able to leverage that relationship in order to advance this narrative about Ukraine --- the same narrative about Ukraine that President Trump espoused in his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, which has now led to this impeachment inquiry."

In other words, despite the ongoing mysteries behind the true source of their funding, they got a lot of bang for their campaign finance bucks used to buy influence with GOP officials and effect actual U.S. foreign policy in the bargain. But, as Fischer explains on today's program, had they not used a phony corporation to do it with someone else's money (and lied about that to the FEC), everything they did appears to be largely perfectly legal under U.S. campaign finance laws! Yes, apparently if you have enough money, you are allowed to use it to buy a major political influence operation that can directly effect U.S. foreign and domestic policy, even out of the White House.

Fischer explains how the dark money operation --- which didn't even include all that much money --- is still being unraveled by federal investigators as the probe (which could even nab Giuliani) continues and, perhaps even more importantly, how it may represent just be the tip of a campaign finance iceberg that illustrates the dangers of our disgraceful campaign finance laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010.

"The indictment makes clear that the purpose of the political contributions that Parnas and Fruman made was to buy access and to build influence with powerful political officials in order to advance their own personal financial interests," says Fischer. "But that is not what they are being indicted for. They were indicted because they laundered the funds through shell corporations and then lied about it." So, had they actually been rich dudes who used their own money for this scheme, it would have been just fine? "Yes, it would have been just a beautiful expression of their First Amendment right to free speech."

“This indictment of Parnas and Fruman is really an indictment of our big money political system. It lays out very clearly how powerful political figures operate on this cash-for-access practice. It's become entirely commonplace for wealthy political actors to buy their way into Congressional offices and into the President's inner circle. If you don't have money, your voice does not get heard in our democracy.”

Finally, longtime good government watchdog Fischer also rings in on Mulvaney's stunning announcement that the Administration has officially selected Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Florida as the location for next year's G-7 Summit of world leaders, despite the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution which strictly bans payments to the President from foreign officials --- a point that even Fox "News" (well, at least some there) appear to have a problem with as well...

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U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi tells Trump 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

I'm still out of breath from today's BradCast, even after I had to cut a whole bunch of breaking (and not so breaking) news to make room for the sad passing of a much-beloved Congressional giant.

We begin today with the devastating news of the untimely death of 68-year old Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the larger than life Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee whose extraordinary 23-year legacy in Congress and decades of civil rights work before it has left an indelible mark on the nation and our ongoing fight for democracy and equal justice for all.

Next up, as support for the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump continues to build, chaos continues to unravel in the Middle East following his recent green light for Turkey's invasion of Northern Syria. Trump's approval, given to Turkish President Erdogan on a recent phone call, stunned White House aides, the Pentagon, bi-partisan members of Congress, and our Kurdish allies in the long fight against ISIS in the region.

It also led to an incredibly bonkers threat letter sent by the U.S. President to his Turkish counterpart (which was ignored); the escape of ISIS prisoners being held by the now-endangered and fleeing Kurds; Kurdish forces choosing to ally with Russian and Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Turkish and Russian forces rolled onto bases previously occupied by the U.S. and the Kurds; the U.S. military being forced to bomb its own military outpost and ammo dump near the Turkish border; bi-partisan condemnation from Congress (including from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a lopsided 354 to 60 resolution vote in the U.S. House against the Trump policy), Russia's emergence as the new power-broker in the Middle East, and a meeting between Democratic Congressional leaders and the President on Wednesday that ended with furious Democrats storming out after Trump reportedly insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "third-rate politician" and suggesting that the Democrats were communist sympathizers in what the Speaker described as a "meltdown" after she charged that "all roads lead to Putin" with this President.

And, amidst that chaos today, after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Ankara to try and clean up the mess created by Trump with Turkey, a supposed "deal" was struck for a short-term cease-fire to allow the Kurds (and U.S. troops) to retreat, while all but giving Turkey everything that it had sought on the Turkish/Syrian border for years, with the U.S. promising to lift economic sanctions against its NATO ally.

It's all even more disastrous than that, according to Trump's own former Envoy in the Fight to Defeat ISIS who calls the new U.S. policy a "disaster" and "totally incoherent", and a former FBI official who warns that Trump is "spiraling down into a dangerous posture", acting in "almost total isolation" and is now "incredibly vulnerable" to foreign manipulation. But you'll have to both tune in and buckle up for the full details. They are worse than they sound.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with coverage of the lack of climate questions raised at the recent 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Ohio, California's latest plans to foil Trump's fossil fuel schemes in the Golden State and much more!...

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Guest: Nicole Sandler...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2019 5:02pm PT  

Desi and I are back on today's BradCast, after an unscheduled month-long hiatus as my otherwise very healthy 80-year old dad suffered a sudden and major stroke in mid-September before ultimately passing away a few weeks later. [That's him on the left with me in the photo. Audio for today's program is posted below.]

We share a few memories of Harvey Friedman at the top of today's show (there are many more here) and a couple of very important lessons learned both before and after his death that will almost certainly be of use to you and your family! The two booklets I mentioned on air today are Five Wishes (available via AgingWithDignity.org) and the Advance Health Care Directive (available via PrepareForYourCare.org). Both are likely to be wildly helpul to your family, should you or they find themselves in a similar situation. Please consider clicking on those links when you find some time.

Then, we're joined by the great NICOLE SANDLER of The Nicole Sandler Show who filled in for us, with absolutely no notice, over the past month (with some occasional help from Angie Coiro along the way) even as she did her own show as well nearly every damned day! Desi and I cannot thank her enough. Though we try to today.

Since Nicole filled in for us during what was clearly a very very slow news month, she gets us caught up on what we missed while we were "gone", from the Impeachment process now under way in the House in response to Trump's strong-arming of the Ukrainian President for (apparently false) dirt on Joe Biden and the 2016 election; to Trump's disturbing sudden withdraw of U.S. troops in the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria (and the death and chaos and escaped ISIS detainees and new deal cut between our previously-allied and now-abandoned Kurds and the Russian-supported Syrians in its wake); to the corporate media still falling for Trump's B.S. on everything from his "new impeachment attorney", former Rep. Trey Gowdy (who doesn't appear to have been hired after all) to his new trade deal with China (which may not be a deal after all); to the latest in the 2020 race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

After a month off the grid, we're wading gently back in today and this week with a little help from our friends. My thanks to so many of you for your kind words while we were gone, and our thanks to all of our listeners and affiliate stations for tolerating our unexpected and unprecedented absence! Hope you'll enjoy today's program as we gently get back into the swing of things...

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Guest: Vox.com's energy and climate journalist David Roberts...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2019 5:55pm PT  

It's a very green BradCast today, but don't let that scare you away from hearing Bernie Sanders shout "DUUUHHH!" at Anderson Cooper. [Audio link to show follows below.]

As the twisted Trump Administration is attempting this week to roll back helpful regulations that enforce a bipartisan statute adopted in 2007 under George W. Bush that has saved millions of dollars for Americans while reducing vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions by lowering energy bills and usage with more efficient light bulbs, Democratic 2020 Presidential contenders had a few other ideas this week. In a first of its kind, town hall devoted to solutions to our global Climate Crisis, the ten current top contenders for the Democratic nomination --- Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Cory Booker --- were granted 40 minutes a piece by CNN to answer questions and discuss their plans in a marathon 7-hour televised event on Wednesday night.

The result, as discussed today on the program with one of our favorite, if usually very cynical energy and climate journalists, DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, was surprisingly engaging and informative! "I will say that what happened was a thousand times better than a debate would have been," Roberts argues, citing the DNC's refusal to allow a single-issue debate focused solely on climate, while allowing for forums such as CNN's where candidates do not appear on the same stage at the same time.

"A climate debate when they only had 30 seconds at a time would have been a shallow, ridiculous show. This event turned out a thousand times better than I expected it to be," he tells me. "I expected a super-boring cliché fest, a bunch of shallow questions and shallow, cliché answers. 'Global warming is real.', 'We need to rejoin the Paris Agreement.' While the moderators varied in quality --- and Wolf Blitzer remains an embarrassment to cable news and to humanity --- overall, it was incredibly substantive and serious, beyond my expectations. I loved it."

We do our best today to make sense of the 7-hour event given the difficulty of doing so in the time available, which seems to somewhat mirror the difficulty of taking on climate change as a whole and the difficulty candidates have in articulating meaningful answers as they attempt (some more effectively than others) to overcome the difficulty of answering questions framed by the media to reflect rightwing and/or fossil fuel industry talking points.

Roberts offers his thoughts on both the successes and failures of the CNN anchors, the candidates responses, and on the often incredibly smart and insightful questions posed by audience members. Those, he describes with delight, were often far more substantive than the questions posed by the "professionals".

As to the actual substance of how to tackle the climate crisis as offered by candidates at the forum, we discuss their thoughts on how and if nuclear energy must play a part in solutions to the climate crisis; how some of the candidates pushed back on the idea that solutions must involve painful personal sacrifice (no, driving electric cars is not a sacrifice. "We are all going to love driving our electric cars!," Yang had to explain, over and again, to Blitzer); how government mandates already effect our food supply (often, adversely, thanks to corporate, profit-driven control of government institutions); whether the Senate filibuster must be dissolved in order to ever see real action that meets the existential challenges posed by global warming; and how candidates for office must reframe so many of these issues when discussing them with public and media, given years of corporate misframing adopted by media and politicians on the left and right alike (though especially on the right).

By way of one example, in response to Yang's comment on electric cars and Blitzer's harangue, Roberts notes: "That's the whole point about electric cars --- they're better! They're more fun to drive, they operate better, they accelerate faster, they need fewer repairs. This notion that it's all sacrifice is just what Republicans want. That's how Republicans want to frame the discussion. That's how they've wanted and attempted to frame every discussion about environmental policy going back four or five decades now. That's why it's sunk in in cable news land so much. They hear that from Republicans --- who they feature on their shows disproportionately --- all the time, so it just sinks in as a kind of background assumption. But it's absurd!"

We discuss all of that and much more, including Roberts' observations --- and often delightfully snarky views --- on which candidates excelled during the town hall and which ones too often fell for the bait offered by some of the CNN moderators.

Finally today, on what we promised would be a very green program, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with a bit more on the CNN Town Hall and coverage of Hurricane Dorian after the storm's two-day devastation of The Bahamas and it's current track threatening large swaths of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard....

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Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) 'hopes' newest SCOTUS Justice was 'completely forthright with U.S. Senate during confirmation', says House Judiciary 'proceeding in the nature of an Impeachment Inquiry' on Trump; Also: Prez uses visits to Dayton, El Paso to attack Dems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2019 6:35pm PT  

Hey! Remember Brett Kavanaugh? The Donald Trump SCOTUS appointee who demonstrably lied during his sworn U.S. Senate Confirmation hearings last year before Republicans voted to ram him through to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land, anyway? Yeah, we do too. Thankfully, so does our guest on today's BradCast who, as a member of Congress, can actually maybe --- just maybe --- do something to finally bring some accountability there. And, according to a letter signed by him and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday, there is now evidence that they intend to try and do just that! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, NBC News nailed it in a headline we saw only after getting off air today: "Trump turns day of grieving for shooting victims into day of grievances". That about sums it up. On Monday, in a scripted teleprompter speech, the President responded to the two weekend gun massacres that took the lives of at least 31 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by asking Americans "to set destructive partisanship aside...and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love". But, just over 24 hours later, he began to unleash various attacks on Democrats Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Vice President Joe Biden, and even managed to tie Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren somehow to the shooter in Dayton. All of that before, during and after what were supposed to be Presidential visits to the two recovering cities, intended to console them and help ease their pain after the twin tragedies.

On Tuesday night, Trump first broke his call for setting aside partisanship with a misfired Twitter snipe at El Paso native Beto O'Rourke's name, in which he told the former Texas Congressman to "be quiet!" after O'Rourke accurately tied the El Paso shooter's white supremacist diatribe to Trump's identical references to an "invasion" at our southern border. But on Wednesday morning, before leaving for his trips to the two grieving cities, he told reports at the White House that he felt his "rhetoric brings people together" and he "would like to stay out of the political fray." That vow didn't even last until he arrived in El Paso, with his new Twitter attacks emanating even while he was on Air Force One.

But in news today that is much less insane, we are joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA), a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and Chair of its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. That subcommittee oversees the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Johnson and Nadler sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration requesting records from Justice Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House during the George W. Bush Administration, when he first served in the White House Counsel's office from 2001 to 2003 and then as White House Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006.

The request includes thousands of documents either never reviewed or never requested by then-U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during Kavanaugh's SCOTUS confirmation process last year. While Grassley requested no documents at all from Kavanaugh's tenure as Staff Secretary --- during which many decisions were discussed and made in the run-up to Iraq War and about the torture and detention of suspect terrorists and prisoners of war --- thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time in the White House Counsel's office were withheld from the Senate Judiciary panel last year after they were privately reviewed by Kavanaugh's own personal attorney.

Johnson explains why Democrats are now seeking all of those records, what they hope to find, and what they may do with the information they unearth from them on the Committee which has jurisdiction to launch impeachment proceedings for all federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will attempt to block the records request, which asserts the rights of the Committee to review the documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1975. If they are blocked, Johnson tells me, they are prepared to take additional measures to obtain the records. The Georgia Congressman also responds in detail to a number of my questions including whether he supports an expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court in order to unpack the Republican's currently stolen majority; why he is not currently among the majority of House Dems publicly calling to open an official Impeachment Inquiry in his Judiciary Committee; and what he thinks of his home state of Georgia's current plan to move from one 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to an all new, if equally unverifiable touchscreen voting system --- rather than a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system --- before next year's crucial 2020 Presidential election in a state that many believe may finally be ready to flip "blue" after years of GOP dominance in the state.

On what he hopes to find in Kavanaugh's records from the George W. Bush years: "I hope to discover that Justice Kavanaugh has been completely forthright and honest with the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process. Moreover, I hope to find that the conduct of Justice Kavanaugh, during his time as Secretary with the Office of Counsel for the President, at all times conducted himself in a way that would be in keeping with that of someone who now serves on the U.S. Supreme court with a lifetime tenure. And, of course, that is only subject to the House's ability to impeach, should there be a need for it. The American people deserve to know who we have on the US Supreme Court, what his background is, and if he was honest with the Senate in his confirmation proceedings."

On expanding the stolen SCOTUS: "It's no question that the courts have been stacked with judges with a particular political bent...They are holding the future back, and it's hurting America. So we, as the legislative branch, with the power to expand the Supreme Court --- nothing in the Constitution says that it will be a Court of nine Justices --- so we have to look at whether or not its in the efficiency of our process that we need to expand the Court. We really don't need to politicize the courts. But unfortunately the courts have been politicized. So the question is, what do we do? And how will the Supreme Court react to the fact that the legislative branch is open to looking at alternatives to the current way that it does business?"

On why Johnson is not currently among the majority of Dems in the House publicly calling for an official Impeachment Inquiry: He stands by his current position (despite my generous offer to allow him to make news by changing it on today's BradCast), while explaining, "We are proceeding in the nature of an impeachment inquiry at this time, and we're doing so without calling it an impeachment inquiry so as not to put the 31 red-to-blue winners in 2018, new Democrats, not to put them in jeopardy of not being able to come back and keep us in the majority in 2020. ... At some point we may accumulate the record that we can then pass the impeachment resolutions on and then proceed to the evidence --- not just the Mueller Report, but the evidence... take that over to the US Senate and have a trial. " After I press him a bit on his current position, he concedes: "I tell you what --- if you call me back in about two or three months, maybe I will have changed on impeachment."

And, finally, on Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State defying cybersecurity experts to move from one unverifiable touchscreen voting system to another: "I think the way to go is to have hand-marked paper ballots that are then scanned into a counting machine and counted. And then you have the paper ballots that you can test the results of the tally machine against, and that way, you can have a verifiable vote. ... But we cannot do it on this new system that the Georgia legislature has authorized. I think it is a $125 or $150 million dollar expenditure that will be for a system that we can't even rely on. I think it's bad for the taxpayers, it's bad for the voters, it's bad for democracy, and it's a bad move for Georgia."

He offers much more on all of the above, so I hope you'll tune in to listen to today's BradCast...

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On the weekend massacres in El Paso and Dayton; And Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo on the recent Senate Intelligence Comm. report on Russia interference in 2016 and the fight to secure 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2019 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open with the grim weekend news of the two gun massacres in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio, which collectively resulted in at least 30 killed and some four dozen others wounded, before moving to yet another issue of national security being avoided by most Republicans and the White House. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

The two domestic terror events in TX and OH, each carried out in minutes by white American men with semi-automatic military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, has once again spurred calls for legislative action by Democrats in Congress and the avoidance of same by the terrorist-enabling, NRA-captured Republican officials.

In addition, Donald Trump spent about 48 hours following the El Paso shooting hoping to avoid the fact that the 21-year old man who carried it out had reportedly driven from his home in Dallas to target immigrants in the border town. An online manifesto attributed to the white nationalist shooter, echoing language and racism frequently used by Trump, describes an "invasion" of Hispanic immigrants. "El Paso and Dayton make 251 mass shootings in the US in 216 days, more shootings than days in the year," notes USA Today.

The incidents also serve as the latest to highlight shameful GOP hypocrisy on matters of national security. Over the past two decades, the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars under the guise of "national security", even as the focus on international terrorism has resulted in several acute issues of national security such as climate change, gun violence by domestic terrorists, and election security being all but ignored by Republicans. That, even as the public has been asked to sacrifice one freedom after another under disingenuous claims of "national security" while the country has been bankrupted both financially and morally in the bargain.

The latest massacres and lack of willingness by Republicans to take action and confront a real and growing national security threat, is also echoed in their lack of action regarding security in our elections, the only means by which the public may actually hold their failed, hypocritical, and corrupt elected officials accountable. But a week or so ago there was a glimmer of hope, sort of, when the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan --- if absurdly redacted --- report on election security [PDF], concluding that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016. At the same time, the report states that "the Committee has seen no indications that votes were changed" or that "vote-tallying systems were manipulated".

Then again, as we've take great pains to report in detail since 2016, nobody, to our knowledge --- including the FBI, DHS, Robert Mueller's Special Counsel Office or even local and state officials --- has actually bothered to look! Calls for hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots and forensic analyses of electronic voting systems were blocked after the 2016 election in many states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania which each are said to have flipped to the Republican Presidential candidate that year by incredibly narrow, unverified margins, for the first time in decades. The Senate Intelligence Committee report suggests that while foreign actors were able to gain access to the nation's voting systems and voter registration databases, they took no action to modify them in any way. Really?

We're joined today by cybersecurity and voting system expert RICH DEMILLO, formerly the Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard, now Professor of Computing at Georgia Tech, where he served as Dean and director of their Information Security Center. DeMillo shares his takeaways from what he describes as a "frustrating" Senate report, which appears to both pull punches and hide much of both its findings and recommendations behind redactions. "There is just a massive amount of evidence that not only were the systems targeted, and in some cases penetrated, but it would take an extraordinarily altruistic spy to resist the opportunity of doing something nasty once they got into these systems," he tells me. "Not going that final step, which is relatively risk-free, of carrying out the mission that you were there to accomplish, just seems to me to strain credibility."

DeMillo, who has co-authored a number of landmark studies on the many dangers posed by the 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) now being deployed before the 2020 election to places like Georgia, Philadelphia, Los Angeles County as well as counties in other key battle-ground states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, warns that our vulnerable voting systems are, indeed, an issue of "national security".

"We're in an era where the tools can be turned against the citizens," he cautions. "Where the results of an election in an entire jurisdiction can be changed with literally the flip of a switch." DeMillo, who now serves on the board of the Verified Voting Foundation, is a supporter of hand-marked paper ballots as the only known type of verifiable voting and (like me) is dubious about the push to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for new "upgraded" computer voting systems. "It's like buying better filters for cigarettes," he says.

And while there are still no federal mandatory standards for voting systems (only voluntary guidelines last updated by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission in 2005!), the "real obvious vulnerability" to the systems comes from election insiders, local and state officials and contractors hired to program and maintain the systems. "Even in the face of arguments from election officials that 'we vet our people, we do background checks,' every time we look under those covers, what we find is that there's almost no due diligence that's taking place. That the people that we entrust with these systems, in the first place, don't understand the systems, have never been briefed on the threats, and we have no idea what their background and motivations are."

He cites the story we broke on the program last week based on testimony from an official in the Georgia Secretary of State's office who conceded on the witness stand the week before in a federal court hearing that all voting machines in the state are programmed by three outside contractors "in their garage." That new revelation of outsourcing from the ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the security and Constitutionality of the state's unverifiable touchscreen systems underscores that "everything they tell you about the security of their infrastructure, and how well they vet against the insider threat, turns out not to be the case. And that story is repeated over and over again around the country."

DeMillo also relates the story of the "ruckus" he recently caused on social media when relaying a conversation with election officials in a largely rural state "who just happened to mention in an open meeting that the computers that they use to program their ballots were housed on laptop computers that were in the houses of people, without any security clearances, no special security infrastructure. In fact, they were in places where the Internet connections were so bad that some of those people had to go to the local Starbucks in order to connect to the internet." He says his "jaw dropped to the floor" when he learned that many of those officials were programming their voting machines and tabulators on wide open, completely unsecured public networks.

Finally, DeMillo goes on to offer some advice on how to "move the needle" in the continuing fight by election integrity advocates to secure our elections by using systems that can actually be overseen by the public, slamming those --- from Congress to state and local officials to academics to private voting system vendors --- who believe that secrecy and "security by obscurity" can actually work to protect the heartbeat of our nation's fragile and more-threatened-than-ever system of representative democracy...

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

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