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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, November 27, 2021
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
Digging Deeper Into the Case for Homicide Charges Against Both Trump AND Pence: 'BradCast' 11/18/21
Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific Northwest; Admin's controversial oil and gas lease sale; F.T.C. to probe Big Oil corruption; PLUS: Biden promotes American-made EVs in Detroit...
Previous GNRs: 11/16/21 - 11/11/21 - Archives...
Deflating Inflation Panic: 'BradCast' 11/17
Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz on how it's misreported, good for many workers, bad for big banks; Also: 3+ years for 'QAnon Shaman'; Gosar censured; Biden' Big Oil probe; Sanders on 'Defense'...
The Unmistakable Drumbeat of Authoritarianism: 'BradCast' 11/16/21
Ominous warnings: Gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More on the attempt to steal 2020; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
'Green News Report' 11/16/21
U.N. climate summit ends with progress, compromise; Coal 'down' but not 'out' at Glasgow; PLUS: Biden signs landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal into law...
Long Roads to Accountability, Climate Action, Infrastructure: 'BradCast' 11/15
Bannon surrenders; COP26 concludes; Biden signs landmark, roads, bridges, enviro bill...
Sunday 'Big Bird, Little Bird' Toons
Flip on over to PDiddie's toon collection this week for the latest signs of the times...
Sports, Politics, Race and Florida:
'BradCast' 11/12/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Guber-natorial Candidate Annette Taddeo and The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!...
'Green News Report' 11/11/21
COP26 crunch time; Surprise US/China climate deal; Big EV agreement; Renewables rise in U.S.; PLUS: Nations under-reporting emissions, new analysis finds...
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: NC elections expert Dr. William Busa ('DocDawg' of Daily Kos!); Also: Barr, Ross found in contempt by House Oversight; Big progressive wins in VA; New NATIONAL polls show Trump in trouble, Warren surging...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2019 5:10pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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White House censors climate science; NC GOP lied to federal court about gerrymandering; FL Repubs solidify power by gutting state initiative process; Jon Stewart shames Congress for ignoring 9/11 victims...again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2019 6:33pm PT  

We are far beyond politics and partisanship at this point. Our nation, and indeed our planet, is under threat from an entirely corrupt enterprise from top to bottom: the Republican Party. That doesn't mean that Democrats are wonderful. It means that the GOP may as well no longer exist as a political party. It is now no more than a wholly corrupt tool of corporate paymasters hoping to retain power and willing to take down an entire nation or planet with them in order to do it, if need be. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Like China or North Korea or the old Soviet Union, the Trump Administration is finally just censoring science. The White House, according to the Washington Post, blocked a State Department intelligence analyst from delivering the written version of his opening testimony to a Congressional meeting last week after severely censoring his spoken remarks as well. Objections from several different corrupt White House agencies prevented Rod Schoonover, of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, from submitting his prepared testimony because it allegedly included just too much science from federal agencies such as NASA and NOAA, warning about the national security perils of unchecked climate change. In the oral version of his remarks, which he was allowed to deliver, he was forced to remove the words like "possibly catastrophic" from the phrase: "Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant --- possibly catastrophic --- harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change." Our climate crisis in frightening enough. What is happening now at the very top of our federal government makes it all the more terrifying;
  • On yesterday's program, we featured my exclusive interview with cybersecurity researcher Chris Vickery, who discovered hundreds of sensitive documents available for download on the Internet at the North Carolina State Board of Election's website, including "master passwords" for voting systems used in the state. We hope to have some followup on that story in coming days, but, in the meantime, North Carolina Republicans seems to be in competition with the nearby states of Georgia and Florida when it comes to who is able to be the most corrupt and willing to blatantly game elections for partisan advantage the most.

    Setting aside Vickery's disturbing report for now, and setting aside the DHS finally beginning a forensic probe of potential corruption (or even foreign penetration) of the state's voter registration system during the November 2016 Presidential election, and setting aside the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that derailed last November's U.S. House election in the state's 9th Congressional District, the state GOP's multiple attempts to unlawfully use both racial and partisan gerrymandering in their successful effort to prevent Democrats from winning elections at both the state legislative and U.S. House level is breathtaking.

    But it has now been revealed to be even worse than previously known, thanks to new documents found on the hard drive of the RNC's late redistricting expert which reveal the state lied to a federal court in at least one of three different lawsuits against them for unlawful gerrymanders. We try, with the help of Daily Kos' Stephen Wolf, to break down the three different gerrymandering cases (two in federal court over racial and then partisan gerrymanders of U.S. House seats, and an ongoing case in state court over the gaming of legislative districts) to help expose how breathtakingly corrupt and dishonest state Republicans have become and the lengths to which they have been willing to go in recent years to try and cling to power. That, as statewide elections have now resulted in Democratic victories for the top executive offices such as Governor and Attorney General, and a 6 to 1 advantage for Democrats on the elected state Supreme Court.

    Nonetheless, with the several illegal gerrymanders, the GOP has been able to hold on to super-majorities in both chambers of the state legislature until last November, when court-ordered fairer districts were used for the first time. But the lie that has now been exposed thanks to the dead GOPer's hard drive allowed the party to enjoy an extra year of veto-proof control and a bevy of bills and ballot measures were adopted that likely never would have been had democracy actually existed in state legislative elections;

  • Speaking of corrupt Republican state lawmakers, Florida is working hard to keep up with NC. After their legislature recently passed a measure to gut a state Constitutional amendment adopted by nearly 65% of Florida voters last year to restore voting rights to most former felons in the state after completion of their sentences, the Sunshine State's new Governor, Ron DeSantis (who reportedly won election last year by less than one half of one percent of the vote), insisted lawmakers gut the entire statewide ballot initiative process to make it nearly impossible for citizen-led initiatives to end up on the ballot at all. The new measure, as the Tampa Bay Times describes it, "will solidify Republican control in Tallahassee by eliminating one of the last threats to their power: the ballot box." They report that the legislation will "stifle the last area outside of statewide Republican control in Florida," noting "Republicans have dominated the Legislature, Cabinet and governor’s mansion for the last 20 years, and every member of the state Supreme Court has now been appointed by Republicans";
  • But where state GOP lawmakers are wholly corrupt, those at the federal level, setting the tone, are putting them to shame. We set aside today's Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment Update to bring you Jon Stewart's full testimony to a Congressional committee this afternoon, instead. Most Republican lawmakers didn't even bother to show up, despite the fact that it was a House hearing on renewing the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund which is said to be running out of money. The VCF covers health care costs of first responders such as police and firefighters who worked on and in the pile at Ground Zero on 9/11 and in the days that followed. Many of those victims have since died and are continuing to die due to long-term ailments related to breathing the air at Ground Zero. Shamefully, the GOP is, once again, fighting an extension of the program. Stewart blasts the lawmakers in moving, must-listen, sometimes tearful remarks that are alternately enraging and heartbreaking, citing "callous indifference and rank hypocrisy" of those who formerly used "Never Forget" as a political slogan supposedly in support of the same first responders who are now forced to show up on Capitol Hill to beg for healthcare as they fight for their very lives;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on one of those troubling days when the GNR, of all things, is the lightest, fluffiest segment we seem to be able to muster...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: In exclusive interview, cyber security expert Chris Vickery details his startling discovery of NC's exposed files before the 2018 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got an exclusive interview with CHRIS VICKERY, Director of Cyber Risk Research at the cyber security firm UpGuard. Vickery revealed late last week on Twitter that he discovered files, including administrative master passwords for voting systems, at the North Carolina State Board of Elections website that were left vulnerable and available online for anyone to download, prior to the 2018 election. Today he explains the evidence that suggests these files may have been available as early as February of 2016, months before that year's controversial Presidential election. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of article.]

The files were found by Vickery unencrypted and with no password needed to retrieve them from the site. He tells me today that there were so many files and screenshots (see a redacted snippet from one of the password screenshots in the graphic above), that he's not even sure if they number in the hundreds or thousands.

The longtime cyber security researcher says he promptly notified state officials of the discovery last year, before the 2018 elections, and that the state, shortly thereafter, set the files in question and their directories to "private". In response to a commenter on his short Twitter thread revealing the potential security breech late last Friday, however, he notes that "someone would have had to actively choose to make the file repository available to the entire world. It is not unprotected by default."

He tells me today that he is "very concerned" about the exposure and would "like to know who the data was intended for. If you put it up somewhere, you're intending it to be accessed by somebody. So who did they aim this for? I would love to know that." Indeed, he also shared an email with me over the weekend that was posted in the same directory as the passwords screenshot, in which a State Board of Elections official notes: "The attached screen shots should show just about all of the settings you will need for contests and candidates" in the ES&S iVotronic Image Management program, part of the computer voting system which defines where candidates selected by voters are placed on the electronic ballots and optical-scan systems.

Vickery says he decided to go public with the disclosure following the Washington Post exclusive last week reporting that federal investigators at the Dept. of Homeland Security have finally agreed to work with NC on a forensic investigation of the state's voter registration computers which inexplicably failed during the 2016 Presidential Election, on Election Day, in parts of the state. That announcement via the Post comes on the heels of Robert Mueller's redacted report [PDF] (see Volume 2, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), in which the Special Counsel briefly details how Russian Military Intelligence operatives were able to penetrate the voter registration systems of "at least one" county in Florida. Just over a week ago, the new Republican Governor of Florida announced he was notified by the FBI that, in fact, two counties had, in fact, been penetrated via a spearphishing attack on VR Systems, the private vendor contracted to run those voter registration systems.

VR Systems also supplies similar systems in about half a dozen other U.S. states, one of them being North Carolina. But, as Vickery notes, the password files that he found exposed on the Internet last year were not for registration systems, but for the state's computer voting machines, scanners and tabulation systems made by private vendor ES&S (the nation's largest), as used across most of the state of North Carolina. And ALL of this comes after we have been trying to point out on The BradCast for the last two and a half years that nobody --- not the FBI, not DHS, not the states themselves, nor even Mueller's Special Counsel team, as he admits --- ever carried out a forensic investigation of the computer voting, registration or tabulation systems in use in any of the states in 2016, despite that election's surprise ending in which Donald Trump purportedly won by a razor thin margin.

In his first broadcast interview on these new revelations, Vickery explains how he discovered the files, how the state responded when he told them about the vulnerability last year, whether the DHS has contacted him since he revealed his findings on Friday, and how serious of a potential security breech this is, especially given the extraordinary effort that the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Mueller Report claim Russia expended in hopes of interfering in the 2016 Presidential election. "When you have computers, and software, and firmware updating passwords and modems all mixed in together, you have the capability to do a lot of crazy stuff," he says, in response to my question about whether these passwords could have been used to alter or upload false results. "It's not out of the realm of possibility, but I have no specific reason to believe that happened. But that is kind of a frightening concept to realize that all of the ingredients are there."

Disturbingly, Vickery's report is startlingly similar to one revealed last year by Kim Zetter at Politico in the state of Georgia, regarding a security researcher who found millions of voter registrations along with voting system administrative passwords online and vulnerable to download without a password, prior to the Peach State's 2016 elections.

Also today: The last many weeks of climate changed-fueled weather disasters move from the Central U.S. to the SouthEast, with a month's worth of rain falling in one day over this past weekend (yet the DNC still won't allow a 2020 Presidential candidate debate focused solely on climate change!); Donald Trump pretends that his backing off of a threat to tax Americans who purchase imported goods from Mexico is a great negotiation victory; And we take a few calls on our disturbing interview with Vickery, including from one listener who quips that NC "left the combination of the safe written on top of the door"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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: Dave Daley of FairVote: Also: Tornado swarms erupt across U.S. amid climate crisis; Ford to fire thousands of workers...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2019 6:58pm PT  

Our guest on today's BradCast, argues that representative democracy is facing a "major crisis." And he wasn't even talking about the Constitutional Crisis we are now seeing as Trump turns up his obstruction measures against the U.S. Congress to 11. But partisan gerrymandering underscores that crisis as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, much of Texas and Oklahoma are under tornado watches and warnings today, as 10 million Americans were under flash flood warnings as of airtime today, following as many as 67 tornadoes over the weekend in in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska. That, after more than a month of record flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in many states. There is good reason that the UK's Guardian newspaper updated its style-guide last week to reflect the existential climate crisis humanity now faces, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels. The Guardian is now recommending "climate change" be referred to by its journalists as "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown", and that "global warming" is better described as "global heating", with "climate science denier" to be used instead of the inaccurate "climate skeptic". It will be nice when US media decides to do the same.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Ford Motor Co.'s CEO --- who personally received a 6% raise last year, bringing his total compensation package to nearly $18 million --- announced plans for a "smart organizational redesign process" on Monday. That's a nice way of describing the company's decision to lay off as many as 7,000 workers by the end of summer. So much for the $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut assuring jobs, jobs, jobs and putting our economy "on rocket fuel", apparently, as Trump promised.

But the biggest news over the weekend, no doubt, comes from conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who announced and explained on Twitter why he believes "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct" and why even the redacted version of the Mueller Report reveals Trump "engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."

The courageous, staunch libertarian Tea Party Republican and co-founder of the hard right Freedom Caucus in Congress, also charges that Trump's new Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report", that "partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances," and that "the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ [impeachment] as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct." He went on to warn, as we long have as well, that "When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law --- the foundation of liberty --- crumbles."

Trump's impressive response was to call Amash "a total lightweight" and "loser". Ours is to bestow him with our much-sought after, if rarely bestowed, Intellectually Honest Conservative Award

Of course, there are other reasons that so few (exactly zero, at the moment) other Congressional GOPers have joined Amash in standing up for what they used to pretend to believe in. One is that Democrats have yet to present the case for impeachment to the American public, even as the Trump Administration invokes every form of unlawful obstructive measure to try and keep them from doing so. (Breaking news during today's program, for example, includes a federal judge finding Trump's accounting firm Mazars must turn over Trump's financial documents as lawfully subpoenaed by Congress, despite a lawsuit from Trump attempting to block them from doing so; and news that the White House has now ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to defy a Congressional subpoena requiring him to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.)

The other reason many Republicans in Congress feel no need to hold Trump to account is that the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in state after state following the 2010 census has resulted in members of Congress who feel --- with no small amount of justification --- that they cannot be removed from office by voters in a general election. The radical imbalance of such obscene district maps have resulted, for example, in Democratic House candidates winning almost 50% of the vote last year in North Carolina, but ultimately taking just 3 of the state's 13 U.S. House seats. In Ohio, essentially 50/50 splits by voters for members of Congress have resulted in just 4 of 20 seats going to Democrats, year after year, over the past decade. We've similar stories in other key states such as Wisconsin, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with courts finding House Districts and state legislative districts alike to have been unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and orders by federal courts to draw new, fairer maps repeatedly blocked by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

That decade-long scam, as our guest today, DAVID DALEY of FairVote argued last week at New Republic, is precisely why GOP-controlled state after GOP-controlled state in recent weeks, have been able to adopt radical, extremist and even unpopular anti-abortion restrictions. Daley, author of the book RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, lays out his argument, updates us on the recent partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland now before SCOTUS (with a ruling due next month), and why, as he argues, the fight for fair maps, fair elections and democracy itself "is not going to be saved in this country by any given election," but needs to be "engaged and fought every single day" as we are now in "a war for the future of this country"...

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Leon County's 30-year veteran Election Supervisor tells us FBI lied about hacks in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL ballots will be unverifiable in 2020; calls NSA 'leaker' Reality Winner a 'heroine'; warns new GOP law means 'Jim Crow' has returned to the Sunshine State
Also: Trump's Iran war threat; AL bans almost all abortions; NC-9 do-over candidates set...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2019 6:59pm PT  

It seems that even Republicans in Florida have finally been forced to notice/admit what we've been pointing out about the 2016 election for years now. And our guest on today's BradCast, a longtime county elections chief from the Sunshine State, is none too happy about any of it. He offers several serious-as-a-heart-attack warnings about 2020 in the bargain. [Must-listen audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But, first up today, the nation and world continue to pay a dangerous and painful price for whatever did or didn't happen that resulted in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The Administration continued to ratchet up their threats of war against Iran on Wednesday by ordering all nonessential U.S. Government staff out of Iraq, citing unspecified and publicly unsupported claims of threats from Iran. The face-off clearly comes from Trump's ill-considered decision to pull out of the 2015 Obama Administration-brokered, seven-nation nuclear agreement which had effectively ended Iran's nuclear program. Though even the Trump Administration conceded Iran has been faithful to the anti-nuclear pact, Trump withdrew the U.S. and re-imposed crippling sanctions. He's now threatening war, for reasons that nobody seems to understand, and has deployed war ships and bombers to the tinder-box region.

Back at home, Trump's stolen U.S. Supreme Court has inspired dozens of new anti-abortion laws in state after state. On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most draconian measure yet, a bill that would outlaw almost all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, while jailing doctors who perform the (currently) Constitutionally-protected procedure for up to 99 years. The new law, adopted on Tuesday by the male-dominated state Senate and signed less than 24 hours later, would not only force women to carry the child of their rapists, it could also penalize doctors more harshly than the rapists. The ACLU has vowed to challenge the law which would require even pregnant 11-year old rape victims to carry their baby to term.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republican primary voters selected their candidate to run against Democrat Dan McCready in the do-over election for the state's 9th U.S. House Congressional District after the Republican candidate and Baptist Minister Mark Harris was discovered to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive Absentee Ballot Fraud Scheme last November. The 10-candidate GOP primary resulted in hard-right, Trump-loving state Senator Dan Bishop being selected to run against McCready in September's do-over election. Bishop is the author and lead sponsor of NC's infamous 2016 law restricting bathroom access for transgender people.

But, as the nation and world continue to pay the price for Trump's nightmarish Presidency, new questions emerge (or, at least, are finally being noticed by Republicans) regarding his own supposed 2016 election victory. On Tuesday, Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged the FBI notified him that election systems in at least two different Florida counties were infiltrated by by Russian intelligence in advance of the 2016 election. He says the FBI has barred him from publicly stating which two counties those are.

The news comes on the heels of similar (and similarly vague) allegations detailed in the redacted Special Counsel report [PDF] from Robert Mueller (see Volume II, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), as well as public claims in 2018 made by Florida's then Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson's assertions about Russian access to the state's elections systems were publicly ridiculed at the time by then Gov. Rick Scott and other GOPers, even though Florida's Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was told about the same information at the same time as Nelson in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Scott would go on to narrowly defeat Nelson for the Senate seat in 2018 and Republican DeSantis is said to have narrowly edged out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on the same day. Both races were so close they resulted in unprecedented statewide "recounts".

However, as our guest today, 30-year veteran Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO explains, "recounts" in Florida amount to little more than running the same paper ballots through the same optical-scan computers which tallied them --- either correctly or incorrectly --- in the first place. Sancho, the legendary elections chief in Tallahassee, the state's capital, was so well-respected by all sides that he was tapped in 2000 to oversee FL's notoriously aborted Presidential recount that year. He is furious today about DeSantis' announcement, the secrecy behind which are the counties that were penetrated (he retired after the 2016 election), and explains that he was lied to by the FBI when he was told, during a then confidential conference call with Bureau officials in 2016, that "no county had been hacked" in the run-up to the election.

"The Justice Department has continued to obfuscate and lie about this situation from the very beginning. I was on a confidential call on September 30, [2016] in which all 67 election officials here in this state, and the state election officials, were informed by the FBI that no county had been hacked. The state hadn't been hacked. They told us that. And we now know, from the documentation that's been released through The Intercept and Mueller, that was false. We now know from the documentation, some time in early August [of 2016], the successful penetration occurred."

Sancho also now questions whether there were more than two counties penetrated and says he has no reason to trust the claims by either DeSantis or federal officials that election results were unaffected by the attack. "Here's the crazy thing about it," he tells me, "the Russian GRU knows which counties they've penetrated. The only people that don't know are the election officials and the citizens and voters of the state...it's time the American citizenry, particularly Floridians, figured out that information."

He also hails NSA whistleblower Reality Winner as a "heroine" for alerting the world to documents revealing that the Russian GRU had penetrated elections systems in Florida (and possibly elsewhere) via coordinated spear-phishing attacks that allowed them access to voter registration and website election results reporting systems made by VR Systems, a private election systems vendor with contracts in dozens of U.S. states. Winner is currently serving 5 years in federal prison for having leaked those documents to The Intercept in 2017.

Sancho demands to know "why Homeland Security decided to keep critical information from state and local election officials" for so many years. "Why weren't we told?" He also furious at Rubio and other Republicans for their treatment of Nelson when he tried to blow the whistle himself last year. "Nelson was vilified as being old and senile for saying such a ridiculous thing. And actually he was right...And quite frankly, the individual whose stock falls in my eyes is Senator Rubio, who confirmed what Sen. Nelson said, only after the election. He could have told the truth, and said that Sen. Nelson is raising a valid point. He kept his mouth shut. He put his party over this nation, and we are poorer for it today."

As to the security of the state's election systems as we head into 2020, he warns that "Florida is not well protected," adding a chilling note: "You do a reconnaissance before a major attack," he tells me, "and I don't think we've had the major attack yet."

Sancho has plenty more to say regarding Florida's move to unverifiable computer-marked paper ballots in advance of the upcoming Presidential election, and much more that I hope you'll click below to tune in for. There's simply too much to fully summarize here.

But one last point for now. Sancho also offers his thoughts today on the recent measure passed by GOP state lawmakers to undermine Florida's Constitutional Amendment 4 which was adopted by nearly 65% of statewide voters last November, allowing some 1.5 million former felons in Florida who have completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation, to have their voting rights restored. The new GOP measure, which awaits DeSantis' signature, would bar those newly-eligible voters --- including more than 20% of the states African-American voting-age population --- from registering to vote unless all court-imposed fines and fees are paid.

"What the Republicans did was reprehensible," Sancho rails, arguing that the bill contradicts "the overwhelming, clear language" of the statewide constitutional ballot measure. Many have described the new GOP bill as a poll tax. Sancho calls it more "cash register justice", as it will allow those with money to vote, but not those without. "This is clearly restricting the right to vote based upon who can afford to pay. Jim Crow has been reestablished in Florida."

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump trade war sends markets plunging; Trump's Constitutional Crisis with Congress continues; Good news for FL voters; NC-9's do-over primary election...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trump-induced chaos continues to worsen, from China to the U.S. Congress, and the fights over 2018 and 2019 elections continue in Georgia and North Carolina, while a court ruling in Florida will make things a bit easier for voters in 2020. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, Donald Trump sends world markets --- including the Dow, which dropped more than 600 points on Monday --- plummeting, after China announces plans to respond to Trump's newest 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday. Today China announced they plan to institute retaliatory tariffs on some $60 billion in U.S. exports and may cut off sales from certain companies entirely. So, Americans are left paying exorbitant new import taxes (tariffs on Chinese goods imported to the U.S. are taxes paid by U.S. companies and consumers, they are NOT paid by China, as Trump keeps falsely asserting), and now financial markets are taking an additional hit. Experts worry the dispute could soon nudge the economy into recession if a trade deal is not brokered. Trump has since threatened to add new taxes on all goods made in China if they refuse to kowtow to his demands.

At the same time as Trump is playing out his ill-considered foreign trade war, he is also expanding his domestic war against Constitutionally-mandated oversight by the Legislative Branch. A weekend analysis by the Washington Post finds Trump and his allies are now blocking more than 20 separate Congressional investigations "into his actions as president, his personal finances and his administration's policies" in what experts --- and even former Republican Congress members and legal staffers --- cite as a deepening crisis of unprecedented proportions between the two co-equal branches.

From Florida, however, we have a bit of good news from a federal court, where a judge has ruled that the state must follow the Voting Rights Act by supplying election materials and assistance for Spanish-speaking voters in advance of the 2020 primaries. The ruling is key for the tens of thousands of new Spanish-speaking Florida voters who moved to the Sunshine State from Puerto Rico following the devastation of 2017's Hurricane Maria.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republicans voters in the state's 9th Congressional District will select their nominee to run against Democrat Dan McCready in a do-over general election scheduled for this fall, after the state refused to certify a winner from last November's contest following the revelation that the Republican candidate (and Baptist minister), Mark Harris, was found to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive absentee ballot fraud scheme on his behalf. In February, after some remarkable testimony, the state scheduled a new election. Tuesday's GOP primary in NC promises to be a bit of a circus with 10 --- um, colorful --- Republicans running for the nod. If none of receive more than 30% of the vote, there will be a runoff in September, with the general election then pushed back to November. The U.S. House seat in NC-9 will remain vacant until then, as 2018's last undecided election is finally completed near the end of 2019.

In Georgia, meanwhile, results from a 2018 race are still being challenged in court, after more than 125,000 votes cast in last November's race for Lt. Governor appeared inexplicably "missing". The unusually large undervote rate in that contest does not appear in any others races, including statewide elections much farther down the ballot (eg. Sec. of State, Insurance Commissioner, etc.)

Moreover, the missing votes only appear to have occurred on ballots cast at the polling place, where voters are forcced to use GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Hand-marked absentee paper ballots revealed no similar drop-off in voting rates for Lt. Governor and, according to our guest today, plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, the unusually large residual vote rate was also inexplicably highest in predominately African-American precincts.

"It wasn't just our speculation that something went wrong with the machines," Marks tells me. "We had the premiere election statisticians in the United States look at this, and they basically said it would be a one-in-ten thousand chance that something wasn't happening in the machines that would have caused this kind of result."

Last January, as the Coalition sought a forensic analysis of the state's voting systems and other materials needed to carry out their lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the Lt. Governor election, they were blocked by the state. Leading that fight was Republican Gov. Brian Kemp who is said to have narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams last year on the same day, in a race where then-Sec. of State Kemp oversaw his own election and was found by several court challenges to have been suppressing the vote in predominately African-American areas. Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court heard the plaintiffs' appeal in the case, after a lower state court judge dismissed it --- without even allowing discovery --- earlier this year. Marks and the other plaintiffs seek to have the lower court's ruling by Senior Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs reversed, so they may proceed with discovery, including forensic analysis by cybersecurity and voting systems experts, and a full trial.

"The dynamics of [the lower court] trial were extremely strange," she explains. "We told the Supreme Court several times that during the trial, when we were begging for discovery, begging for a jury trial, begging for a continuance because they had been blocking everything we were doing, the judge said, 'Look, I'm getting pressure to get this resolved. So, no --- you cannot have the documents, you can't have a continuance, and you can't have a jury trial.'

"Getting pressure"? From whom? "We don't know. She didn't disclose that," Marks says, "but that alone is reason to reverse her."

Marks joins us to detail how things went at the high court last week, and for an update on Kemp's new effort to move the voting systems in Georgia from its current 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen system, installed in 2002, to an all-new 100% unverifiable touchscreen system that prints equally unverifiable computer-marked paper ballot summary cards. On that front, Marks has been loudly opposing the move --- advocating instead ofr hand-marked paper ballots --- and offers some interesting news as well...

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Guest: NC writer, activist Tom Sullivan on today's hearing, yesterday's shooting at UNC Charlotte, upcoming U.S. House elections in NC-3 and NC-9, and on pushing back against the 'campaign-industrial complex'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2019 6:36pm PT  

Despite our best efforts, on today's BradCast, we are unable to avoid the vortex of testimony by Donald Trump's newly-appointed and already-dishonest Attorney General William Barr in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

What made the testimony of the President's cover-up man impossible to ignore (as much as we had previously hoped to) was the overnight release of a letter from Special Counsel Robert Mueller [PDF] sent to Barr just days after the A.G. released his misleading four-page letter to Congress in late March, mischaracterizing the findings of the Special Counsel's two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, Team Trump's coordination with the effort, and the President's repeated attempts to obstruct the investigations into those matters.

In his letter, Mueller charged the A.G.'s summary --- sent to Congress nearly a full month before Barr finally released a redacted version of the Special Counsel's report [PDF] to the public --- "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions." That, Mueller wrote, led to "public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation" and "threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations." In his summary letter, Barr took it upon himself to clear Trump of obstruction charges even though Mueller's report specifically said it was unable to exonerate the President, finding at least 10 different instances in which Trump had attempted to stymie the investigation. Barr also mischaracterized the report's findings on "collusion" with Russia.

The revelation of Mueller's extraordinary complaints (which Barr described as "snitty" today) came after previous sworn testimony by the new A.G. in early April, in both the House and Senate, in which he misled members of both chambers regarding Mueller's concerns about Barr's inaccurate conclusions about the Special Counsel's findings. We share some experts from today's hearing in which Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) charges Barr with lying to Congress and calls for his resignation, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) calls out Republican colleagues for ignoring the matter in favor of calls to investigate Hillary Clinton's email server again, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) calls out of the A.G. for making his decisions about the case without, as he admitted, reviewing the evidence.

We're then joined today by North Carolina writer and activist TOM SULLIVAN, a daily correspondent for Digby's Hullabaloo and longtime progressive organizer in the Tar Heel state. Even though it's not why we had originally hoped to speak with Sullivan today, we get his thoughts on what to make of Barr's "stunning performance," as he describes it, and how Congressional Democrats should now respond, with impeachment seeming more and more inevitable each day despite continuing reticence from Democratic Congressional leadership.

As Sullivan is based in North Carolina, we also discuss the latest news from yesterday's mass shooting at UNC Charlotte, where a gunman killed two and injuried four others on the semester's final day of classes.

As well, U.S. House special election primaries were held in the state's 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday to fill the seat of the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones who died in February, and there is also a do-over election for the 9th Congressional District in a few months to fill the seat left vacant after the State Board of Elections refused to certify last November's contest upon discovery of a GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scheme that tainted the race.

We briefly discuss both of those contests and Sullivan's "For The Win" nuts-and-bolts training guide for countywide Get Out The Vote operations in NC. He describes the manual as having been successfully used to organize Democrats in counties all over the country. (Request a copy for use in your own home town via email at tom.bluecentury at gmail).

And, finally, one of the points we'd originally hoped to discuss with Sullivan (but will have to dive in deeper on another day, given all the breaking news that shuffled things for us today), we get his thoughts on the still roiling internecine battles between progressive activists and the conservative Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) --- which has led to a new boycott campaign by a nationwide coalition of College Democrats. He offers his thoughts on "the campaign-industrial complex that exists in Washington, as well as in the state capitals," and what progressives may wish to do about it...

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The truth behind the President's latest lies on North Korea, Mueller, the border, the military, healthcare and wind power; NC GOP Chair indicted...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2019 6:09pm PT  

Among the many truthful stories covered on today's jam-packed BradCast filled with Trump lies and much more...[Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • How Trump is undermining military readiness and hurricane recovery for Marines and their families with lies about a "national emergency" at the southern border and how the Marine Corps' top General is pushing back;
  • How Trump lied about a new health care plan to replace Obamacare and how Congressional Republicans have forced him to back down;
  • How Trump lied about closing the border with Mexico this week and how economic reality forced him to back down;
  • Then, two North Carolina special elections for the U.S. House are coming up --- the first, in NC-03, to replace the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones (who voted against Trump more than for him), the second, in NC-09, a do-over election from the November 2018 contest which was never certified, thanks to a GOP absentee ballot fraud scheme paid for by the GOP candidate. But before we can get to either of those races, the federal indictment of North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, a longtime state power-broker and former GOP Congressman, was unsealed this week. The criminal charges against Hayes include counts of fraud, bribery, campaign finance violations and lying to the FBI. And another Republican Congressman from the state and member of House GOP leadership, Rep. Mark Walker (NC-06), is also finding himself entangles in the criminal scandal and named in the indictment as "Public Official A";
  • All of that today is before Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with yet another deadly chemical fire in Houston, yet another court loss for ExxonMobil, yet another way that Trump is making both climate change and immigration even worse, and yet another mendacious Trump lie about wind energy that even a top Republican is calling him out over...Oh, and Burger King's "Impossible" dream...

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Guest: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Plus: NY AG finally probing Trump bank fraud; Feds finally probing GOP election fraud in NC; Kids in 90 countries planning day of climate action...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some good reporting, some bad politics, and some accountability on the horizon. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the many stories worth your while covered on today's program...

  • Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to take impeachment "off the table", just as she did back in 2006 during the George W. Bush regime, asserting this time that, "Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it." It was a mistake during the Bush era, and its a mistake now. Perhaps not a political one --- at least as she and many Democrats may see it --- but a mistake for the nation and its long term well-being. We discuss and explain why;
  • While he may (or may not) be safe from impeachment, Donald Trump's legal troubles are getting no better. New York state's recently elected Attorney General has now reportedly subpoenaed Duetsche Bank and other financial institutions related to a number of Trump projects where, according to recent testimony by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements in order to fraudulently borrow money for real estate and other projects;
  • Speaking of subpoenas, federal investigators are now said to finally be investigating Republican election fraud in North Carolina, where a GOP absentee ballot fraud scheme resulted in the nullification of last November's U.S. House election --- and a new one now scheduled --- in the state's 9th Congressional District. The State Board of Elections had requested a federal probe following apparent GOP absentee fraud in the 2016 election, but Trump's U.S. Attorney in NC appears to have ignored the request, paving the way for the same fraud scheme to be repeated during 2018 cycle. McCrae Dowless, the contractor who carried out the fraud, as hired by GOP candidate Mark Harris, has already been indicted on state charges. But Harris, so far, has escaped accountability at both the state and federal levels. His campaign has now been subpoenaed by the feds. Stay tuned;
  • The Trump Administration evacuated the last of the remaining U.S. diplomats in Venezuela on Monday night, saying their presence in the country has become a "constraint" on U.S. policy there, whatever that may ominously mean. Top Trump officials have been threatening the administration of President Nicolas Maduro for several months since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself to be President of the nation in turmoil. Since late last week, power outages have crippled the country, with each side blaming the other and Maduro charging the U.S. has sabotaged the power grid with cyberattacks.

    But some excellent reporting by the New York Times over the weekend reveals, yet again, that many of the claims against Maduro being made by Trump Administration and supportive Republicans in Congress like Sen. Marco Rubio, are based on completely false information. On Sunday, the Times published a video report revealing that claims by Trump officials from National Security Advisor John Bolton to Sec. of State Mike Pompeo to Vice President Mike Pence and, yes, Rubio, charging that Maduro's forces set fire to aid trucks coming from Colombia are inaccurate. In fact, as the Times' unearthed video reveals, it was protesters in support of Guaido on the Colombian side of the border who caused the fires. This is just one more reason to be skeptical about Trump's intentions in the troubled South American nation (and media reports of same) as his own political fortunes worsen at home.

    And, in case you don't find Rubio wrong enough in his false claims about the aid trucks, just wait until you hear what the dumb cluck charged over the weekend regarding an explosion at the 'German Dam' in Bolivar State!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the oil, gas and mining lobbyist Trump has now officially nominated to head the U.S. Interior Dept; news on Wyoming Republicans bailing out their coal industry; how Bernie Sanders was right about climate change and the media as long ago as 1989; and this Friday's plans for school children in more than 90 countries to strike in demand of action on climate change, thanks to the inspiration of Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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2020 Presidential primary news; GOP election fraud news in NC and VA; Bad news for our wildly corrupt President; and much more news...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2019 6:07pm PT  

That headline will make sense once you listen to the show. With the news "only" turned up to 11 today (as opposed to its usual 12 or 13), we're able to catch up on a whole bunch of important stories, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. [Audio link is posted below.]

Among those many stories...

  • Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Senator, Sec. of State and 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton all announce they will not be running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020. That's mostly good news, as we discuss;
  • A southern Indiana election board is considering using hand-marked and hand-COUNTED paper ballots in an upcoming local primary election. That's definitely good news;
  • North Carolina's State Board of Elections announces the dates for the redo election(s) in the state's 2018 U.S. House race for the 9th Congressional District. The first one was nullified a week or so ago, due to Republican absentee ballot election fraud by a GOP contractor on behalf of the disgraced candidate and Baptist preacher Mark Harris. The Democratic candidate, Marine vet and businessman Dan McCready, has already announced he will be running again, and only one Republican, so far, has announced his intention to run in the do-over contest. That one candidate, Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing --- endorsed by Harris (ouch) --- turns out to be a real peach, as we explain with some help from Daily Kos' Jeff Singer;
  • Also in NC, the judge who nullified two state Constitutional Amendments, one of which would have imposed disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions, stands by his recent ruling to nix the measures on the basis that the state legislature that placed them on the ballot had been "illegally constituted" by unlawful racial gerrymanders in several NC legislative districts;
  • And, speaking of GOP election fraud, in Virginia, the criminal investigation into (now-former) Republican Rep. Scott Taylor and his paid campaign staffers who forged petition signatures to place an independent candidate on the ballot in 2018, continues. The GOP scheme, exposed before the election last year, included what a judge described as "out-and-out fraud" via forged signatures from people who had long ago died or moved. The failed scheme was meant by the Republicans to dilute the votes of Taylor's Democratic challenger, now-freshman Rep. Elaine Luria, in VA's 2nd U.S. House District;
  • A huge majority of American voters now believe, 64 to 24%, that Donald Trump committed crimes before becoming President, with a smaller plurality believing he also has committed crimes since becoming President, according to new polling from Quinnipiac.
  • Meanwhile, Trump characterized the new House majority Democrats' several burgeoning investigations into his and his associates myriad apparent crimes as a "big, fat, fishing expedition", "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!", "nonsense" and "a disgrace to our country" today. He charged the "real crime is what the Dems are doing." But, as we discuss today, the long, LONG overdue exercise of Congressional oversight into an unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency is anything but. We list an astonishing number of potential crimes now under the Democrats' microscope thanks to the House Judiciary Committee's massive document requests sent Monday to more than 80 Trump associates, family members, organizations and institutions. That, as we also note, is just the tip of the iceberg for what is still to come, thanks to voters who put Democrats back in charge in the House last November;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with tragic news out of Alabama, stupid news out of CPAC, and important news at the EPA and from the latest Democratic candidates entering the 2020 Presidential contest...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Repubs have no defense against Trump felonies alleged by Cohen; Hanoi Summit collapses with no deal; Netanyahu faces indictments; NC-9 GOP election fraud arrests; Judge blocks TX 'non-citizen' voter purge...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2019 6:39pm PT  

It's happening way too slowly. But, if you haven't noticed --- it's unclear whether Republicans have yet --- their "strategy" of simply ignoring and denying very real problems, from a wildly failed and corrupt Presidency to Earth's climate now on the brink of disaster, is no longer working. You can only ignore and deny and delay for so long before things just fall apart. It's a theme that comes up in a number of stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show posted below.]

Among the stories we cover today...

  • Fallout continues from Wednesday's bombshell Michael Cohen's testimony in the U.S. House Oversight Committee. According to conservative WaPo columnist Max Boot, evidence of at least five felony crimes by the President of the United States was offered under oath by Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer. Yet, Republicans don't seem to have a clue, according to Rightwing former NJ Governor Chris Christie, how to substantively respond. Describing it as a "fake hearing", as Trump did and hoping to tar Cohen as a "liar" only gets ya so far, particularly since Cohen already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress --- on behalf of Donald Trump! --- and is soon going to prison for it. His life would only gets worse if he lied to Congress again. So why would he? On the other hand, Trump has yet to face consequences for his unprecedented lies, cover-ups and felony crimes both before and after becoming President;
  • Speaking of Trump and lies, his second Summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam abruptly collapsed on Thursday, ending early with no deal and no agreement signed as planned. Trump claims it was because the North insisted the U.S. lift all sanctions in exchange for the closure of its main nuclear site. The North claims Trump is lying. Who to believe? It should also be noted that Trump, the self-described great deal maker, continues to fail to make virtually any deals at all with anybody over the two years of his woeful if tumultuous Presidency.

    He also failed, once again, to condemn North Korea's brutal and atrocious human rights record, and even publicly sided with Kim over U.S. intelligence agencies (yet again), this time regarding the death of 22-year old American student Otto Warmbier after his imprisonment there. Trump said Kim told him he knew nothing about Warmbier's death and "take[s] him at his word" on that. But, as long as the unbalanced Trump still believes he's friends with Kim, we'll take that over the "fire and fury like the world has never seen" that 2017 Donald Trump had been promising when he threatened to wipe North Korea off the map;

  • Also today, in Israel, recommendations for felony indictments were announced by the Attorney General after a two year investigation of the dishonest, corrupt, Trump-supported, right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently facing a tough upcoming election. Despite the corruption allegations, Netanyahu says he won't step down as PM amidst what he describes as an "unprecedented witch hunt" by "the left". (Sound familiar?);
  • Meanwhile, on Wednesday, while Cohen was testifying to Congress, McCrae Dowless and a number of his accomplices were arrested in North Carolina on charges related to absentee ballot election fraud on behalf of Republicans in the state. The long overdue accountability comes on the heels of last week's State Board of Elections hearing and unanimous vote for a new election in NC's 9th Congressional District. That, after Republican candidate and Baptist minister Mark Harris hired Dowless to run his absentee ballot campaign last year and lied about his knowledge of Dowless' tactics. The District Attorney who indicted Dowless and friends says more charges for "others", regarding the November 2018 general election, could be coming. Harris may want to do some heavy praying. The Board of Elections meets Monday to determine a date for the new election to fill the still-vacant U.S. House seat tainted by GOP fraud last year. Democrat Dan McCready says he plans to run again. The disgraced Harris says he won't;
  • And, more good news for voters on Wednesday, this time in Texas. A federal judge has ruled the state may not purge as many as 98,000 voters from the rolls after Secretary of State David Whitley and (criminally indicted) Attorney General Ken Paxton declared them to be non-citizens fraudulently registered to vote in the state. As became apparent just hours after Paxton announced Whitley's flawed list in a "VOTER FRAUD ALERT!", tens of thousands of those listed were revealed to have been citizens after all. That didn't prevent Trump from tweeting out the fake news as "just the tip of the iceberg", in order to falsely declare that "voter fraud is rampant". But it has now earned a reprimand from a federal court and will likely block Whitley's state Senate confirmation as SoS, if Democrats in the chamber keep their vow to block Governor Greg Abbott's former aide turned nominee. The federal judge found that just 80 of the 98,000 names were actually non-citizens;
  • Finally today, with the GOP's long-held Ignore and Deny strategy also falling apart on man-made climate change, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with news on that and much more, including some good news for solar power in Arizona for a pleasant change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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House votes to overturn Trump 'Emergency'; Gaetz threatens Cohen before House testimony; Harris won't run in NC-9 do-over; Judge nixes NC Photo ID measure due to unlawful gerrymander; 12-year old journo exposes bad AZ cop; Kids push for climate action...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2019 6:46pm PT  

This is the week that everything is now all happening at once, apparently. We do our best to cover as much of it as we can, and then some. How it all fits together, you'll have to tune in and find out. Among the stories covered on today's whirlwind BradCast whirlwind [audio link to show is posted below]...

  • With the nation's top U.S. General for homeland defense telling a Senate committee today that there is no military emergency on the southern border, and scores of former national security officials and former GOP lawmakers declaring this week that Trump's "national emergency" declaration is unjustified and even unlawful and/or unconstitutional, the U.S. House voted on Tuesday to block Trump's "emergency" declaration that takes money allocated by Congress for other purposes in order to build his border wall. Prospects for similar passage in the Senate are currently unknown, but currently looking positive. Overriding a promised Presidential veto, however, will be much more difficult, so this is all likely to be decided by the courts and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • Trump landed in Vietnam today for the start of his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, where senior Administration officials have reportedly said the President plans to stay up overnight to watch Wednesday's televised hearing in the U.S. House Oversight Committee with Michael Cohen. Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer is expected, according to reports today, to testify --- with documentation --- on criminal acts he claims to have been carried out by Trump both before and during his Presidency. He's also expected to detail Trump's history of racist behavior and lies regarding his own personal wealth, among other things. Incredibly, Trump partisan Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) issued an extraordinary threat against Cohen via Twitter just before airtime today, which experts immediately cited as a potentially unlawful attempt at criminal witness tampering and/or intimidation;
  • Also in the Democratic-majority U.S. House on Tuesday, hearings on the Administration's policy of family separation at the southern border amid new reports today of thousands of children alleging sexual abuse during their detention;
  • In North Carolina, disgraced 9th Congressional House District Republican candidate Mark Harris announced he will not run in a new election called for the district after the November 2018 race was tainted by absentee ballot fraud carried out by Harris' campaign. According to his Harris' own attorney, after stunning surprise testimony against him by his own son at public hearings held by the NC State Board of Elections, the candidate and evangelical minister lied about his knowledge of the scheme. Harris now claims his health is preventing him from running in the not-yet-scheduled do-over election, and is also the reason for his faulty memory about his knowledge of fraud by a campaign contractor he hired to run his absentee ballot effort in Bladen County. The Democratic candidate, Dan McCready, previously announced his intention to run again, and several Republicans have now expressed interest in vying for the nomination in what will be the GOP's second bite at the apple, after getting caught committing election fraud the first time out;
  • Also in NC, a state court judge late last week nullified two state Constitutional amendments approved by voters in November after they were placed on the ballot by a super-majority of Republican lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature. That state legislature, however, is built on an unlawful racial gerrymander by those same state Republicans, as confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. Therefore, the judge ruled, the illegitimately constructed chambers do not have the lawful right to place state constitutional measures on the ballot. One measure imposes photo ID voting restrictions previously found in violation of the state Constitution and another lowers a state cap on tax rates. The extraordinary ruling has already been appealed by the Republicans and legal experts are dubious as to whether it will be upheld by higher courts, but it reminds us (again) how, even when they know its unlawful and will eventually be overturned, it pays for lawmakers to gerrymander;
  • And, in Arizona, 12-year old journalist Hilde Lysiak of Orange Street News (who, three years ago when she was 9, broke the story of a murder in her Pennsylvania neighborhood!) posted a videotaped conversation with Patagonia, AZ Town Marshall Joseph Patterson lying to her about the law regarding taping cops. Patterson had previously threatened her with arrest and/or detention in juvenile jail on the basis of still more false claims when he reportedly said he didn't "want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff." We share the video of hero Lysiak's second encounter with Patterson. She has reportedly been interviewing local residents about border security in the state and Patterson has reportedly been disciplined;
  • Also this week, kids from the Sunrise Movement have been turning up to demand action on climate change and passage of the Green News Deal in the U.S. Senate, where Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) talked down to the children who visited her in her office asking for her vote on the GND, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)'s office had a number of protesters in the group that visited his office arrested on Monday;
  • All of which leads us up to our latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen today, with details on a new Trump climate change Commission to be headed up by a climate science denier; very bad news in Antarctica; and children around the globe protesting and walking out of school to demand action on climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Stephen Schwartz of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists; Also: Criminal charges coming in NC-9's GOP election fraud scandal?; Trump injects himself into the Oscars that tried to ignore him...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, experts are worried about Donald Trump's summit this week with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. But, given the overall menace to the world that our President represents, are those experts too worried about a deal that could, at least, keep Trump believing that he is "winning"? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, the (non-nuclear) fallout continues in North Carolina, after the state Board of Elections last week voted unanimously for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional District following a Republican absentee ballot election fraud scandal tainted last November's never-certified 905-vote "victory" margin of Trump-endorsed Republican candidate and preacher Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. State prosecutors on Friday disclosed their intentions to bring the matter --- along with evidence of similar GOP fraud allegedly carried out in the same district back in 2016 --- before a grand jury. It's still unclear who might be charged and for which crimes, given that GOP contractor McCrae Dowless is said to have carried out the scheme paid for by Harris, who also appears to have lied about it all under oath last week on the witness stand during the Board's week-long public hearings on the matter.

After last week's decision to hold a new election, McCready quickly announced his plans to run again, but the disgraced Harris has remained mum. During a press avail at the White House on Friday, after months of not mentioning it, Trump was finally forced to comment on the unprecedented election fraud scandal engulfing the candidate he campaigned for in NC last year. In world salad remarks, he offered a bunch of false, disproved, or otherwise evidence-free claims about supposed "voter fraud" in California, Texas, and Florida last year.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, the President took off to Vietnam for his second nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Diplomatic, military and atomic experts --- and even senior Administration officials --- have reportedly been expressing concern for what Trump may give away during the upcoming meeting, as the North has only increased its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities following the pair's first meeting last June in Singapore, after which Trump falsely declared: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."

Given Trump's 2017 "fire and fury" threats against Kim, however, are experts overly worried about whatever "deal" Trump may try to make with Kim in order to walk away with something he can pretend to be a "win"? In exchange for promises of eventual "denuclearization" or less, they worry Trump, could "give away", among other things, a permanent end to U.S. military exercises in the region; a peace treaty to once and for all end the Armistice struck between the North and South at the end of the Korean War in 1953; or even a promise to bring U.S. troops home from South Korea, where they have been stationed for decades during the long, if tenuous truce in Northeast Asia.

But are those things bad, in and of themselves? And, more to the point, with a U.S. President as wildly unbalanced and unqualified as our current one --- along with the need for "nuclear security triage", given that fact --- should we all just be happy that at least he now believes Kim is his best buddy?

Analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, former publisher and executive director, now Senior Fellow at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists --- keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" --- joins us to offer his insight and perspective on all of this in advance of this week's summit where, as I argue a bit today, a bad deal for the U.S. may be better than no deal, given the greater danger that Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button, presents to the world.

"In general, it's almost always a good thing when world leaders who are not seeing eye-to-eye on issues are talking rather than not talking, or arguing with each over Twitter, or setting up military confrontations up to and including war," Schwartz, who is also former editor of the Nonproliferation Review at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells me. "With Donald Trump, however, you can't really be sure, because he's very much a captive of the last person that he spoke with and tends to take their perspective. He's also pretty mercurial. He can turn on a dime and he's desperate for attention, desperate for a win, and therefore that makes it more likely he will try to strike some sort of deal that allows him, at least on the face, to come out of this looking like he accomplished something. And that could be problematic."

He goes on to explain why he believes "Kim Jong Un has Trump right where he wants him;" charges that Trump "in this instance, is both the arsonist and the fireman," having "inflamed an already tense situation with North Korea and made it much worse;" but seems to agree with my general theory that a placated Trump results in an ultimately safer world --- at least during the short term while he's still in office.

Schwartz also responds to Trump's repeated insistence that the U.S. would be at war with North Korea by now, had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016 ("No, in a word," he tells me), and also comments on Trump's "very foolish and counter-productive" recent decision to withdraw from the otherwise successful, decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, struck by Ronald Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and much more.

Finally, before leaving for Hanoi, Trump found time to tweet in response to Sunday night's Academy Awards Ceremony in Hollywood, where director Spike Lee won his long-overdue first Oscar for the screenplay of the remarkably timely BlacKkKlansman. Even though Lee never mentioned him by name during his acceptance speech citing 400 years since slavery began in America, our racist President found a way to inject himself into the proceedings by tweeting out today that Lee, a descent of slaves, was actually "racist". We close by discussing both that and a few of the must-see films that got robbed by the Academy this year...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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