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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, December 9, 2019
'Trump a Clear and Present Danger to Elections, Nat'l Security': 'BradCast' 12/9/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe and the latest Judiciary Comm. impeachment hearing...
Sunday 'Low Flow' Toons
When he goes low, the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons go lower...
U.S. Economy 'Whistling Past a Climate Graveyard':
'BradCast' 12/6/19
Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
'Green News Report' 12/5/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
The hottest ten years on record; GOP Senate confirms lobbyist as Energy Sec; CA bans all new fracking, for now; PLUS: Greta Thunberg is back in Europe, with a warning for politicians...
Previous GNRs: 12/3/19 - 11/26/19 - Archives...
'A President Should Resist Foreign Interference in Our Elections, Not Demand It': 'BradCast' 12/4/19
First House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable crimes w/ Heather Digby Parton...
'Abuse of Office, Abuse of Power, Abuse of the Public Trust': 'BradCast' 12/3/19
Guest: Const'l law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala out; Another bad court day for Team Trump...
'Green News Report' 12/3/19
U.N. climate summit kicks off with 'catastrophic' news in Madrid; PLUS: Residents back home after yet another petrochemical explosion in TX ruins Thanksgiving...
2019 Foreshadows 2020 Vote System Catastrophes: 'BradCast' 12/2/19
Also: Bullock out; Hunter 'guilty'; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer Qs about his new unverifiable vote systems...
Sunday 'It's Just a Cyst' Toons
As usual, as PDiddie proves once again, there is nothing at all to worry about in his latest Sunday collection of political toons...
Don't Just Debunk the Ukraine DNC Hack Conspiracy Theory. Expose Its Absurdity.
Why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election make no sense whatsoever...
Turkey Day Toons!
PDiddie doesn't even take Sundays off! Did you think he would stand down for Thanksgiving?! Gobble gobble!...
Trump Is Up Schiff's Creek Without an Alibi:
'BradCast' 11/27/19
Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts...
'Green News Report' 11/26/19
Climate change finds way into latest Dem debate; Greenhouse gas at record highs; 2019 wettest year on record; PLUS: Oxford Dictionary's 'Word of the Year' is...
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: Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Also: More Trump losses in federal court on the environment; Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2019 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The "national emergency" may be fake, but the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is real and getting worse...and new Trump policies are doing the opposite of helping. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Last week, Donald Trump threatened to shutdown the border with Mexico entirely. Over the weekend, he announced he was ending aid programs to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (which are not in Mexico, Fox "News"!) because, as he claimed, "they haven't done a thing for us." All of that, as an actual humanitarian crisis --- if not a pretend "National Emergency" --- grips a number of U.S. towns along the Mexico border, thanks to an unprecedented wave of migrant families and children coming, mostly, from Central American countries in strife.

We're joined today by THERESA CARDINAL BROWN, Director of Immigration and Cross-border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center to try and make sense of what is and isn't happening at the border right now, how Trump's policies are affecting it, and what Congress needs to do try to ease what she acknowledges is, indeed, a crisis, if not the "emergency" that Trump has declared in order to build his long promised wall.

Brown, a former policy advisor in the Office of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations, confirms that the influx of migrants streaming up from Central America is unprecedented and now overwhelming detention facilities and shelters built for previous waves of migrants --- such as the record number which flowed in during 2000, largely comprised of mostly men from Mexico who could be deported more quickly than the families now claiming asylum after crossing the border. (Brown notes that even a wall would not prevent such asylum claims, as it would be build on the U.S. side of the border, allowing asylum seeking immigrants to make their claim even before making it to the other side of the wall, since they are already on U.S. territory by that time.)

Brown suggests Trump's termination of U.S. aid for Central American would serve to make the problem worse, as much of those funds go to non-governmental organizations trying to improve the living conditions in countries under duress from poverty and violence. She also details the economic disaster that would likely accompany the closure of the Mexican border threatened by the President ("this may be a threat aimed at Mexico, but it would also significantly impact the United States"), and explains why "the wall will do absolutely nothing to address this current flow of people." That, she describes, as a problem due to U.S. Customs and Border Protection becoming "overstretched" because they do "not have facilities that are appropriate for anyone --- families or kids --- for the length of time they're having to be held there."

We must "address our asylum system. And that means, back to front, starting with the immigration courts" which are similarly overwhelmed and insufficiently funded, she argues, resulting in cases that stretch for years before asylum is determined one way or another. "Ultimately, what we need to do is deal with what's going on in the sending countries," she tells me. "What are the push factors that are driving migration? You have instability of government, you have people who don't feel that they have personal safety because there's impunity and corruption in their governments. They are threatened with gangs and violence and extreme poverty. What can we do to help in that situation? That's the longer term solution, but it needs to be also worked at the source. So we've got to look at this from multiple places."

Next up today, Trump's multiple losses in federal courts last week on several fronts where he's tried to undermine the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") may have been matched by his multiple losses in federal court last week on the environmental front, including a ruling from a federal Judge in Alaska late on Friday who determined that the Administration's reversal of Obama-era protections against off-shore oil drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic Oceans violate federal law. She has ordered some 128 million previously-protected acres that Trump's Admin has hoped to lease for drilling, once again off-limits to exploration and exploitation. The ruling is at least the fourth setback over the past two weeks for Trump environmental policy, where federal courts have blocked Trump agency rollbacks of nearly two dozen Obama-era conservation policies over the past two years.

Finally, we open up the phone lines to listeners today on much of the above and even a few callers with some thoughts on 2020 and more...

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

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Guest: Former WI Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns; Also: Courts block Trump 'Obamacare' attacks; WI's Supreme Court election is a big deal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some facts --- real ones, not Mitch McConnell's --- about our nation's healthy history of changing the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, which we have done seven different times over the past 238 years since our founding. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up quickly today, Donald Trump has taken yet another hit from the courts on his attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. healthcare system. It's the second such court loss he's faced over the past week, with the first court nixing his attempt to allow work requirements under Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas, and the second on Thursday night finding his allowance of cheap health insurance policies that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to be unlawful. That second ruling comes courtesy of a well-respected George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who is rarely reversed by appellate courts.

Next, a preview of a very important election on Tuesday in Wisconsin for its state Supreme Court. Its the first of two elections to the high court in the Badger State (one on Tuesday and the other next year on the same day as the Democratic Presidential primary election in WI) that could result in a progressive-leaning majority, at long last, being restored to WI's high court. Control of that court is wildly important for both the state and the nation on a number of fronts, which we discuss today, including voting rights before the 2020 election, redistricting for the next decade after the 2020 Census, and the rollback of a host of anti-union and other hard-right policies enacted during the gerrymandered Scott Walker years.

Tuesday's match-up is between progressive-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer and Koch Industries/Chamber of Commerce-backed Judge Brian Hagedorn, a protege of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Hagedorn has called Planned Parenthood a "wicked organization" devoted to "killing babies", described the NAACP as "a disgrace to America", and argued "The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable."

But while voters in WI directly select their Supreme Court at the ballot box (which I am no fan of), the U.S. Supreme Court is a different matter. After Senate Republicans stole what should have been a Democratic majority on the court in 2016 by refusing to even hold a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell held the seat vacant for a year before unilaterally changing Senate rules to do away with the filibuster to allow Neil Gorsuch to be seated on the high court. Later, under those same changed rules, the far-rightwing, accused sexual-predator Brett Kavanaugh was similarly added to the Court, likely cementing a generation of GOP-control.

In response, many progressives --- even Presidential candidates --- are now calling for the expansion of SCOTUS if Democrats can regain control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House next year, in order to restore a liberal-leaning majority that arguably should have been theirs in 2016. Naturally, McConnell is already decrying the idea, describing it on Thursday, ironically enough, as "an unprincipled power grab...that would threaten the rule of law and our American Judicial system." He cites the attempted court packing by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s to support his notion that changing the size of the Court is "a thoroughly discredited idea".

We're joined today by Wisconsin attorney and former state Supreme Court nominee TIM BURNS for both thoughts on Tuesday's crucial election in the state ("The stakes are huge," he explains) and the little-known history of "court packing" in the U.S. More specifically, Burns, who wrote about the issue recently at The New Republic, discusses the seven different times since the founding of our republic when the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court has been changed by Congress, including under one of our founders Thomas Jefferson and even under Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln.

Burns, who serves on the board of the progressive Wisconsin Justice Initiative and the national board of the American Constitution Society, argues that contrary to misleading claims by McConnell and fellow Republicans, changes made to the size of SCOTUS by the Legislative and Executive Branches, as called for by the U.S. Constitution, have been healthy for the nation, often coming "hand in hand with some of the most vibrant periods of our democracy," and in response to the out-sized growth of corporate power.

"There have always been these predictions of the utter ruin of our democracy if the size of the Court is changed," Burns tells me. "The truth is, the Court's been viewed favorably even after its size has changed." And while he says that it's "entirely possible" that Republicans could then do the same thing once they regain power, "that doesn't spell the doom of our democracy. It says that our democracy is working. The political power rests with the voter instead of nine lawyers, judges on a Supreme Court."

Perhaps that's why Senate GOPers this week have introduced a measure calling for a Constitutional Amendment to keep the number of seats on the Court at nine. Good luck with that, boys.

Most interesting, however, may be Burns' fascinating recounting of what happened when FDR attempted unsuccessfully to expand the Court in what McConnell falsely described as an historic event that resulted in the idea of "Court Packing" becoming "synonymous in American history with the idea of an unprincipled power grab". What actually happened in the 1930s, and why the Court was ultimately not expanded under FDR is a fascinating bit of lost history and quite different from the way it has been described in lore. The truth places new calls to expand the Court today, during this period of unprecedented partisanship and class-divide under a hard-Right SCOTUS, into a very different light and perspective as this debate kicks off both in the nation and among Democrats vying for the 2020 Presidential nomination....

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

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Also: NYTimes finally discovers they were scammed on 'Mueller Report'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2019 6:42pm PT  

It may not be our most hilarious show of all time, but I think it's a very important one and includes more than a few righteous rants. [Audio link to full show is at end of article.]...

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

  • The New York Times finally figures out, almost a week later, that they may have been duped by Trump Attorney General William Barr's 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report, as the incurious "paper of record" confirms the full report from Mueller runs at least 300 pages. Nonetheless, Trump and his cult-member Republicans in Congress are running with the Times' original false and/or misleading assertions published the day after Barr's deceptive summary was released on Sunday. For example, the Times' top-of-page, ALL-CAPS screaming headline "MUELLER FINDS NO TRUMP-RUSSIA CONSPIRACY" and "A Cloud Over Trump's Presidency is Lifted".

    Of course, we still have no idea how many pages are in Mueller's confidential report delivered to Trump appointee Barr last Friday, or what it actually says about the two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's potential cooperation with them, or Trump's apparent attempts to obstruct the probe. But the summary compiled in less than 48 hours by Barr and then inaccurately reported by many to have somehow "exonerated" Trump, after being written by a man appointed to the job specifically because of his expressed opposition to the Special Counsel, should have been viewed much more skeptically by the Times and many others in the corporate media --- as we've been pointing out since Monday.
  • Among the fall-out from the Times' (and others') terrible and irresponsible coverage on all of this, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday demanded Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) step down as Chair and Trump is demanding his resignation from Congress. Schiff, however, is (appropriately) having none of it;
  • Speaking of not-particularly-funny behavior from Congressional Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held a sham stunt vote earlier this week on the Green New Deal resolution [PDF] proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House. Their landmark resolution calls for a wartime-like effort to move the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to zero-carbon energy over a decade, while creating millions of jobs in the clean energy sector and supporting those in legacy industries like coal mining to ensure new jobs and protection of their pensions from bankrupt, predator coal companies. During "debate" for McConnell's mock GND vote --- on an issue which would greatly help many coal mining constituents in Kentucky and Utah alike --- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) offered an embarrassingly unfunny speech that mocked the resolution, dismissed climate change as a concern, argued the Green New Deal is somehow "part of the problem" and that the real solution to deadly and ever-more costly global warming was "churches" and "babies";
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was not amused, as his own small coastal state directly faces a very serious threat posed from global-warming fueled rising sea levels which threaten to turn Rhode Island "into an archipelago" in coming years. "As a small state, we don't have a lot to give back to the ocean," Whitehouse rails on the Senate floor. "This is deadly serious for us."
  • But, if you think Whitehouse sounded angry, wait until you hear Ocasio-Cortez' response to the belittling of climate change concerns from Republicans in the House during an epic rant in the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, after Rep Sean Duffy (R-WI) mocked the GND as "an elitist fantasy";
  • Underscoring how NOT funny all of this is, a recent, heart-breaking special report from AP detailed how Trump, McConnell and the coal industry have conspired to allow a small tax on coal to expire, which, since the 1970s, has helped to cover the extraordinary healthcare expenses of miners suffering from deadly Black Lung Disease, as well as support for their widows. A new Black Lung epidemic has been striking younger and younger coal miners in recent years, and Republicans, including Trump, allowed the tax that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to expire during the Government shutdown at the beginning of the year.

    That, despite promises from McConnell (who represents the coal state of Kentucky) and from Trump (who has used miners endlessly as props during political rallies, while claiming to "love" them) to ensure the crucial Trust Fund doesn't go broke. Instead, both men have broken their promise and appear to be siding instead with the coal industry owners who have donated millions to them, and do not wish to see the life-saving and now-lapsed tax renewed. All of this, of course, on the same week that Trump reversed positions to support killing the Affordable Care Act entirely, while claiming "Republicans will soon be known as the party of health care";
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which touches on a number of those maddening topics and more...

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Trump border 'emergency' survives override vote; DoJ moves to kill ACA; Senate holds 'sham' vote on GND...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The coverage by the corporate media --- and response by many Democrats --- to Attorney General William Barr's terse, misleading 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report after two years has, by and large, been atrocious in innumerable ways. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We're joined today by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, who has been covering the corrupt Trump Presidency for years now, including its various Russia-related storylines and other criminal probes at Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. Among our several related topics of discussion today: Shameful failures by the media and others to demand independently verifiable evidence of speculative allegations both before the confidential Mueller Report was finally delivered to Barr and the subsequent failure by many of the same organizations and individuals in their credulous reporting of Barr's bare-bones, "very, very clever political document" summarizing the sprawling, two-year probe.

Rather than learning from mistakes, many in the media seem to be repeating them all over again in the wake of Barr's memo, which some justifiably regard as a "whitewash" or "cover-up" by a man who was selected by Trump, in no small part, for his previously stated opposition to the probe and to the very notion that any President can legally be charged with Obstruction of Justice. There's much more related conversation here today --- including on the substance of Barr's letter, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's curious complicity, and the GOP's premature victory laps --- but you'll have to tune in to listen.

Also on today's program: Though Democrats led a decisive 248 to 181 vote today (with 14 Republicans) in hopes of overriding Trump's veto of the resolution blocking his phony "national emergency" declaration, the effort fell 38 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed. In the Senate, where 12 Republicans previously voted with Democrats, 59 to 41, to block the President previously, no override vote will now be held since a two-thirds majority vote is required in both chambers. AP described Trump's overwhelming loss in both chambers as a "victory" for the President today, and it will now be left to challenges in court to block Trump's order diverting billions appropriated by Congress to the military to instead build his border wall. Mexico is still not paying for it.

Then, in a major reversal of their previous legal position, Trump's Dept. of Justice filed documents in an appeals court Monday to support striking down the entire Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") as unconstitutional. While Jeff Sessions served as Attorney General, DoJ had "only" supported gutting provisions that limited premium prices insurers could charge for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Under Barr, however, the Administration now seeks to kill the entire landmark healthcare law. If successful, as many as 30 million Americans would lose their access to affordable healthcare coverage;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest very busy Green News Report, as fossil fuel-related climate related disasters continue in the U.S. and around the world, while the Trump Administration plows billions of tax-payer dollars into troubled nuclear plants and the Senate GOP carries out a "sham" vote on the Green New Deal, in hopes of mocking the initiative...

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But Trump and the White House couldn't be happier to lie about how his conflicted Attorney General helped get him off the hook (for now)...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2019 6:12pm PT  

So what did you think we'd be talking about on today's BradCast? [Audio link to full program is posted below.]

On Sunday, Donald Trump's new Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page letter [PDF] summarizing the long-awaited, nearly two-year Special Counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 Presidential election, Team Trump's cooperation in that effort, and Donald Trump's attempts to obstruct the probe. Mueller's effort resulted in some 35 indictments, including more than 20 Russian individuals and entities, as well as indictments, convictions or guilty pleas from six top Trump associates and staffers. It has also spawned a number of other probes and indictments, including what Barr describes as "several matters" referred "to other offices for further action."

Nonetheless, based on Barr's summary report, issued less than 48 hours after receiving what is likely to have been tens of thousands of pages from the Special Counsel, the White House, the President and his fellow GOPers are falsely characterizing the terse summary as reflecting Mueller's "complete and total vindication" of Trump. That, despite Mueller's express and specific finding (according to one of the very few passages directly quoted by Barr) that the Special Counsel's report "does not exonerate" Trump of obstruction of justice crimes. That did not prevent the White House from falsely describing Mueller's findings as "a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States." That is the opposite of what little we know the report to have found.

If fact, while Barr claims Mueller's "investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities" (the matter which media, Democrats and Trump alike have long described as "collusion"), Mueller left the decision on whether to prosecute Trump on obstruction up to the Attorney General, according to Barr, for reasons that still remain unknown and will likely stay unknown until and if Mueller's report is actually publicly released. Congressional Democrats are justifiably demanding as much.

While we've shared no small measure of healthy skepticism over the years about what Russia did or didn't do during the 2016 election, along with what Team Trump's involvement with it may or may not have been, there is no legitimate question about Trump's attempt to obstruct Mueller's investigation of it, beyond whether or not the obstruction rose to something that was prosecutable or impeachable and whether a sitting President can be indicted under the DoJ's dubious guidelines which say he or she may not.

Of course, just about everyone seems to have an opinion about Barr's report on Mueller's report. But it should be made clear that everything we currently know is based only on Barr's own summary, compiled in less than 48 hours. It should also be made clear that Barr is wildly conflicted in this matter, as he "auditioned" for the job as Trump's new AG by sending an unsolicited 19-page memo [PDF] to DoJ last year explaining why he believed Mueller's probe was "fatally misconceived" and that, essentially, a President cannot be held criminally accountable for any "exercise of core discretionary powers within the executive branch." (That would include, for example, Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey due to "the Russia thing," as he admitted out loud.)

That Barr and similarly-conflicted Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein were left to determine Trump's fate on this point --- and did so in less than 48 hours after a two year investigation --- is anything but what any American should consider to be "justice". But, as Mark Joseph Stern argues today at Slate, "William Barr Did What Donald Trump Hired Him to Do".

Today, we focus on the very few FACTS revealed by Barr's memo and open up our phone lines for listeners to offer a bunch of interesting takes on the events of the past 24 hours...and, as you might have guessed...even of the past three years...

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Guest: NatSec, cybersecurity and voting system journalist Kim Zetter; AND BREAKING: MUELLER GIVES REPORT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2019 6:54pm PT  

Today's BradCast kicks of with the breaking news of the announcement, just minutes before air, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally wrapped up his two year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, cooperation in the effort by Team Trump and any obstruction of that probe by the President of the United States. Though that may be the least troubling news on today's show. [Audio link to complete shows is posted below article.]

Mueller's confidential report has now been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, as per statute, and Trump's new AG promptly notified Congress [PDF] to say he plans to release a summary of the report as soon as possible, potentially as early as this weekend. We share what we know (and don't) from that freshly breaking news at the top of today's program. Then it's back to, at least some of, our previously scheduled program...

On the day that Jimmy Carter officially becomes the longest living President in U.S. history, we're reminded of a warning he issued while serving as co-Chair, with Bush Family consigliere James Baker, of the so-called "Commission on National Election Reform" formed by a group of Republican operatives after the highly disputed 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. The Blue Ribbon panel was, ostensibly, formed to make recommendations on how to improve elections after the second disastrous Presidential election in a row, following the 2000 debacle in Florida. But while the Republicans who created the private commission had hoped for a recommendation for photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place, the one we've cited most often over the years is the Commission's unambiguous finding that the greatest threat posed to elections comes from insiders, such as election officials and private voting system vendors. "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries," the Carter/Baker panel warned in their final report.

That warning is particularly trenchant today, with, as we recently reported, the Democratic National Committee now calling for some form of remote or online voting during their 2020 Presidential nominating caucuses next year and what has just happened with the online voting system that Switzerland has used for some time in parts of the country.

The Swiss had planned to roll out their system nationally this year, but as longtime cybersecurity and voting system journalist KIM ZETTER of MotherBoard and the New York Times reports, things did not go as well as planned.

Zetter joins us to discuss the alarming story of what happened when Switzerland, last month, opened up a month-long public hack challenge for the system which, they previously boasted, had easily passed many regular internal security checks and even several they had contracted from KPMG, an international auditing giant.

But, as Zetter recently detailed at MotherBoard, the Swiss system, designed by Barcelona-based Scytl --- "a leader in developing various internet and other voting solutions for national or regional elections in 42 countries, including at least 1,400 counties in the US" --- was almost immediately found by independent researchers to feature "a critical flaw in the code that would allow someone to alter votes without detection ... in a part of the system that is supposed to verify that all of the ballots and votes counted in an election are the same ones that voters cast." That flaw, Zetter details, "could allow someone to swap out all of the legitimate ballots and replace them with fraudulent ones, all without detection."

As she tells me today, the failure is even more troubling than that, as it allows for a single insider to exploit a "back door in the cryptography scheme, that would allow someone to alter votes but make it look like the votes haven't been altered at all." In other words, "the system is supposed to have a check in it that's designed to ensure that the ballots that go into that encryption process and come out of that de-cryption process are the exact same ballots. But there's a flaw in that proof that verifies that those ballots are the same. Therefore, that would allow someone to swap out the votes and ballots while the proof still seemed to show that the ballots were the same."

Swiss Post, which runs the system, and Scytl who sells it, claim the exploit could "only" be carried out by an insider, so why worry?

So how are those plans coming for remote voting in the DNC's 2020 Presidential caucuses next year? And how can it be that we keep attempting these same unworkable electronic and online voting schemes from private vendors and election officials who swear by the "certified" security of their systems, only to find they are anything but secure once independent experts are allowed to test them in any way?

"We should have a voting system where we're not required to trust anyone --- we're not required to trust election officials, we're not required to trust the vendors, we're not required to trust the voting machine itself," Zetter, who has been covering electronic voting and tabulation systems on her national cybersecurity beat for more than a decade, tells me. "We should have a system that can be audited independently of all of those parties in order to verify the election results. That's really in the best interests of everyone." What such a system should be, of course, is another matter, which we also discuss, and even debate a bit, on today's important program...

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Also: 'Potentially historic' U.S. flooding; New Zealand bans 'weapons of war'; Trump sparks new arms race with Russia...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2019 6:44pm PT  

All of the news you need to know today, and nothing you don't. Among the many important stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to complete show is posted below]...

  • New Zealand bans military-style assault weapons less than one week after a white supremacist terrorist massacred 50 worshiping Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch. That was easy. Must be nice to not be enthralled to decades of NRA propaganda and the tens of millions of dollars they are allowed to use to bribe politicians in the U.S., where even a Congressional vote on background checks has been verboten by Republicans;
  • Record flooding continues to swamp the upper Midwest, as the National Weather Service warns the catastrophic floods will be moving south and inundating states as water makes it way toward the Mississippi Delta where some areas have already been fighting with rising waters since last month;
  • All of that before we even get to the spring rainy season, about which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned on Thursday could bring widespread "unprecedented flooding" to most of the nation amid climate change-accelerated storms;
  • But there is much better news out of a court in Wisconsin where a state judge today blocked the GOP-controlled state legislature's unprecedented lame duck power-grab passed during an "extraordinary session" called last December to take power from the incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General following the defeat of Republican Gov. Scott Walker by state voters in November. The judge ruled the session itself, called by just eight Republicans in the state House and Senate, unconstituionally declared and therefore, the three sweeping power-grab bills and last-minute confirmation of 82 Walker appointees before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul could take over, are all now struck down. The victory for state voters and democracy lovers also means the Badger State may now withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit joined by the previous GOP administration challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"). GOPers in the state legislature have promised to appeal the ruling;
  • The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps issued blistering memos this week warning that Donald Trump's deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and his "emergency" declaration has undermined troop readiness, national security and placed the well-being of the Corps at an "unacceptable risk". Gen. Robert Neller charges, according to the documents obtained and published today by the L.A. Times, that "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment to the border last year and the shift of funding to border security efforts has resulted in cancellation of military exercises across the globe and has compromised "combat readiness and solvency". The unusually strong comments, according to military experts, critically cite the delay of urgent repairs needed at bases damaged by hurricanes last year in North Carolina and Georgia, with the new hurricane season just months away for "Marines, Sailors, and civilians working in compromised structures". All of that as Trump touted his support for the military on Wednesday night at a plant in Lima, Ohio which manufacturers tanks that the Pentagon has said they neither need nor want;
  • All of this also follows on Trump's announcement last month that he is pulling the U.S. out of the 30-year old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty struck between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, leading to the destruction of thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles on both sides after the landmark Cold War era pact was signed. Russia has said they will now follow Trump's lead in abandoning the treaty and, according to Pentagon officials, the U.S. is now preparing flight tests this summer for two types of non-INF compliant missiles that would have been long-banned under the treaty. Let the arms race begin again!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the staggering cost to date of the deadly flooding in the upper Midwest, the toxic chemical inferno this week in Houston, Trump's new EPA chief blowing off concerns of global warming, 2020 Dems demanding action on same, and a very encouraging ruling on oil and gas drilling in Wyoming from a federal judge who has ordered that the government reconsider its environmental assessment of drilling on public lands to account for the cumulative threat of fossil fueled climate change due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions...

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Guest: Dr. Micah Kubic of ACLU Florida; Also: Beto on voter suppression; Abrams says she 'won' in GA; U.S. judge blocks oil, gas drilling in WY...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2019 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fight to vote, particularly in Florida, never seems to end --- even after a huge bi-partisan majority of voters in the state voted to change their Constitution last November to re-enfranchise more than a million of their fellow citizens. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Following decades of post-Civil War Reconstruction/Jim Crow-era lifetime prohibitions on former felons voting in the Sunshine State, voters last fall overwhelmingly adopted Amendment 4 to their state Constitution. The statewide ballot referendum, adopted with nearly 65 percent of the vote, restores full voting rights to former felons who have completed their sentence, including probation and parole. The only exception to the long-overdue landmark measure is for those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses.

Moreover, the measure --- placed on the ballot after 800,000 signatures were collected across the state by the non-partisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, as part of a years-long effort --- was to be self-executing. In other words, as of January 1, 2019, the amendment went into effect, without any supporting legislation necessary. That means as many as 1.5 million former felons, at long last, have begun registering to vote to take part in their own representative democracy, finally ending the state's shameful, decades-long prohibition. This week, however, after introducing a bill on Friday, Republicans in the state legislature have begun speeding a new measure through the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives to add new restrictions on the Constitutional Amendment, limiting which former felons it would apply to and, as critics charge, adding what amounts to an unconstitutional "poll tax" that many former felons would have to pay before being allowed back on the rolls.

The ACLU of Florida derides the new legislation, which was approved in a House sub-committee along party lines on Tuesday, as "an affront to Florida voters", raising "serious constitutional concerns" which "thwart the will of the people and extend far beyond what any reasonable person would conclude the voters intended when they passed Amendment 4".

We're joined today by DR. MICAH W. KUBIC, Executive Director of ACLU Florida, to explain how state Republicans are attempting "to create new barriers and burdens" to the "crystal clear" language of the referendum, which, he notes, the Supreme Court of the State of Florida already approved before it was placed onto the ballot last year. Lawmakers "are changing the process completely, and changing it in a way that had never been used in the state of Florida before," Kubic tells me. "They're rewriting the amendment, they're rewriting the process that has been used throughout Florida, and they're creating a special set of conditions that only apply to ex-offenders that don't apply to anyone else."

"What is important here is to remember the experiences of the 1.4 million people who have been disenfranchised for decades, for generations, in Florida. Who have been told that they are not part of our community, essentially. Because remember, that's what the right to vote is really about --- going in to the ballot box and voting for a Democrat or a Republican or a Libertarian or anyone," Kubic argues. "The right to vote is really a marker of citizenship. It's a marker of who counts and who doesn't, who matters, who doesn't, who is part of the community and who is not."

We discuss with Kubic the way GOP lawmakers are attempting to expand the definition of "sexual offenses", and adding new requirements --- above and beyond fines imposed by judges during sentencing --- that many ex-offenders will simply be unable to pay. Given the national importance of Florida in next year's crucial Presidential election, it may come as little surprise, sadly, that GOP lawmakers are now hoping to undermine even their own voters' approval of last year's landmark ballot measure.

Also on today's program, speaking of next year's elections, a bit of 2020 Democratic primary news. Beto O'Rourke rails against discriminatory Photo ID voting restrictions and other types of voter suppression during a New Hampshire campaign swing. And we discuss the veracity of possible 2020 Presidential candidate and Georgia's former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams' recently reported assertion that she "did win" her election last November after all, against former vote-suppressing Sec. of State turned Governor Brian Kemp, but "just didn't get to have the job."

Given the widespread voter suppression under Kemp's supervision last year, some 125,000 votes said to be missing entirely (and in disproportionately black neighborhoods) from the Lieutenant Governor's race, and that the state still forces voters to use easily-manipulated, oft-failed 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polling place, Abrams' assertion is far more supportable than some elections experts seem to fully appreciate.

Of course, the ongoing controversy --- and Kemp's questionable legitimacy as the state's new Governor --- underscores our many years of warnings about the use of voting systems that do not allow candidates or the public to ever know who actually won or lost any given election. It's also another teachable moment regarding the alarming fact that even more jurisdictions around the nation --- from California to Texas to Georgia to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Kansas, Delaware and beyond --- are now, astonishingly enough, moving to adopt similarly unverifiable computer touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 election!

Finally, we end with what appears to be a bit of very good news, as a federal judge issued a ruling Tuesday night that blocks for now, oil and gas drilling on almost 500 square miles of public lands in Wyoming, after finding the U.S. government unlawfully failed to consider the cumulative effect of climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions in their environmental impact studies when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal lands. One of the plaintiffs in the case hailed the judge's finding, which may affect other fossil fuel leases on federal lands far beyond Wyoming, as "the Holy Grail ruling we've been after"...

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Climate catastrophe strikes Midwest; MO lawmaker to force everyone to buy an AR-15; Kids fight for the planet; Also: Dem 2020 candidates seek to abolish Electoral College; Daylight Saving Time haters strike back...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast, climate change slams Trump Country (again), several 2020 Democratic candidates call for structural change to our electoral system, some elected jerk in Missouri wants government to mandate everyone purchase an AR-15, and we continue to help you make sense of it all --- or, at least, try to make sense of it for ourselves. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

Donald Trump responded to catastrophic record flooding in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and several other states by sending his Vice President Mike Pence to check it out today. In just Nebraska, damage to the agriculture industry alone is expected to near $1 billion. Had the President himself gone, he might have seen, first hand, yet again, how climate disruption has begun to wreak devastating and costly havoc on virtually every area of the U.S. at this point.

He might also have seen how two military bases --- one of them the headquarters for Strategic Command, which oversees our nation's nuclear arsenal --- have been devastated by floodwaters, despite recent upgrades after a "one thousand year flood" back in 2015 and devastating tornadoes in 2017. The flood walls built after 2015 have failed, as have dozens of levees in state after state as the waters of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers continue to rise several feet above record flood levels.

Those fossil fueled disasters are of a piece with multiple recent reports by Trump's own scientific, military and intelligence agencies warning of the catastrophic effects of climate change, including last November's National Climate Assessment, a Pentagon report on the national security threat posed by climate change in January and, just weeks later, the U.S. Intelligence Community's annual consensus World Threat Assessment. Trump responded to the November report last year by saying: "I don't believe it". In response, the White House is reportedly preparing a commission to rebut to those reports, headed up by a climate science-denying retired physics professor named William Happer, who believes more CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial, not a menace. He also compares the "demonization" of C02 by climate scientists to Hitler's demonization of the Jews. Seriously.

In other, slightly less insane news related to moving beyond our ongoing national Presidential nightmare, two 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a CNN townhall in Mississippi and Mayor Pete Buttigieg in an interview with Washington Post, have called for the Electoral College to be abolished. We discuss and explain why that may or may not be such a smart idea --- whether done via a Constitutional Amendment or statutorily via the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact --- or, at least something for which Dems may want to be careful what they wish for.

Next, a Missouri state lawmaker has introduced two bills that would force every Missourian over 21 in the state to own either an AR-15 or a handgun or both. Don't worry, there will be tax credits available to help you meet the mandate. The legislators name is Rep. Andrew McDaniel (R-Deering) in case anybody feels like taking this idiot on at the polls in 2020.

And then we share a few emails from listeners who strongly disagree with our conversation on yesterday's program with Slate's Mark Joseph Stern about the benefits of Daylight Saving Time, the cold, dark, endless nights of Standard Time and how wrong everybody is that feels otherwise. Those listeners who disagree with us --- despite their very interesting emails --- are, of course, entirely wrong.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, filled with one deadly fossil fuel-related climate and environmental disaster after another from just the past several days, while finishing with some much more hopeful news for the future as millions of kids around the world skipped school last Friday to march in Climate Strikes around the globe, calling for action on global warming while vowing to keep the pressure on elected officials who, so far, have failed us all...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Record flooding in Midwest; Beto, Bernie and Buttigieg; The definitive truth about Daylight Saving Time...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2019 6:59pm PT  

We're happy to have the long-overdue return of great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate on today's BradCast! As usual, we cover a whole bunch of important topics at lightning speed [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of article.]

But first, some quick news headlines on the record flooding of the Missouri River now wreaking havoc, evacuations and several deaths in parts of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Damage has also affected a number of military bases, despite Donald Trump's recent plans to form a "Blue Ribbon Commission" of climate science deniers to rebut military assessments about the serious dangers of climate change posed to national security and military facilities.

Also, some interesting background info today on 2020 Democratic Presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana as well as his position on climate change and the Green New Deal. And, some news today that recently-declared 2020 Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke raised a jaw-dropping $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after entering the race last week, exceeding Bernie Sanders' previous record haul of $5.9 million a few weeks earlier. Both candidates blew away all other current Democratic contenders so far with those numbers --- for what it's worth.

Then, we're joined by Stern to catch up on a boatload noteworthy legal issues moving through the federal and state court systems. Among them...

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, late last week, upheld lower court rulings ordering a State Senate district in Mississippi found to have been a racial gerrymander to be redrawn before the state's off-year 2019 elections. That, as the U.S. Supreme Court today heard a confusing oral argument regarding 11 racially gerrymandering districts in Virginia, where lower courts have already ordered new maps to be drawn in advance of 2019 state legislative elections likely to determine whether Democrats regain majorities in either or both chambers of the state legislature.

And all of that comes in advance of a SCOTUS hearing next week regarding partisan gerrymanders in several others states before the 2020 elections, when control of both Congress and many state legislatures will be up for grabs before the redistricting that will follow the 2020 Census to help determine balances of power in all 50 states and Congress for the next decade.

Stern describes all of this as the nation finding itself in the middle of an all-out "gerrymandering brawl...a kind of legal convulsion over how much our lawmakers can draw partisan district lines to swing elections in their favor." He cautions that racial gerrymanders --- long ago found to be unconstitutional --- may not be found as such anymore in the GOP's new, stolen Court. And that the question of partisan gerrymandering, which Justice Anthony Kennedy could have ended before retiring, is now a complete unknown. "The whole thing is upside-down, inside-out," he tells me, warning to "be afraid. Be very afraid" of Justice Clarence Thomas' varying and bizarre "back and forth" positions on these matters.

Stern offers slightly better news for us regarding the last-ditch appeal of a previously blocked law created by disgraced GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, the former Sec. of State of Kansas and failed 2018 Republican Gubernatorial candidate. That law, repeatedly found by lower courts to be unconstitutional, had blocked tens of thousands of legal Kansas voters from being able to register to vote without presenting proof of citizenship first. All, as the trial court judge found in 2016, to prevent what amounted to 11 votes by non-citizens cast between 1999 and 2013 out of tens of millions of votes cast by the state's 1.76 million registered voters.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut late last week, the state's Supreme Court made what Stern describes as a "stunning" ruling in a suit brought by parents of children killed in the 2012 gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The case is filed against gun manufacturer Remington, makers of the Bushmaster AR-15 style weapon used to gun down 20 school kids and 6 adults. The court held, as Stern explains, that plaintiffs may move forward with their suit against the company, despite a unique federal law that otherwise grants completely immunity to gun manufacturers for the use of their deadly products. The suit is being brought under a state statute which, plaintiffs argue, allows them to sue Remington for irresponsibly dangerous advertising of the Bushmaster rifle. The state high court's ruling will now allow the case to continue and for plaintiffs' important discovery access to internal communications by the manufacturer, the gun industry and its advertising firms.

We also discuss a recent disturbing ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on an Ohio state GOP law that blocks all funding to Planned Parenthood. Stern describes the ruling as a foreboding omen for what he sees as the likely full dismantling of Roe v. Wade at SCOTUS, already under way, he charges, by "a thousand cuts" at the lower court level in several states where Trump appointees are quickly filling vacancies on federal benches.

And, finally, the most important issue of all today (obviously): "The evils of Standard Time", the awesomeness of Daylight Saving Time, and those who are completely wrong in hating it, as well as the many, as Stern recently reported, who do not seem to even have an understanding of what it is! (Versus Standard Time that actually ruins everybody's lives for months on end by keeping us all in dangerous and debilitating darkness all winter long!)...

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Guest: Steven Rosenfeld; Also: School kids strike for climate action around globe; Trumpers against unverifiable touchscreen voting...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're sending up a warning flare, a red flag, hoping to raise your attention to the very troubling plans by Democrats to begin the use of online voting, in some form, along with their 2020 Presidential caucuses next year! [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But first, It was a very dark day in New Zealand on Friday, as a white supremacist unleashed a terror attack on two Muslim mosques in Christchurch, killing at least 49 in the massacre, with dozens still in the hospital, many in critical condition. But it was a much brighter day elsewhere around the globe as inspiring "school strikes" took place in more than 100 cities, with children walking out of class to march in protest for action on climate change from the South Pacific to the edge of the arctic circle, from San Francisco to D.C., from Spain to Berlin, from Africa to Poland and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands of young protesters inspired by 16-year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg --- who began her own solitary school strike last year and is now nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize --- took to the streets, demanding immediate action from politicians to help save all of our futures by curbing man-made fossil fuel emissions which, as scientists have warned for decades, are dangerously warming the global climate and speeding the planet toward catastrophic danger.

Then --- in hopes of replacing ineffective politicians and climate science deniers --- we move to U.S. elections, where even Rightwingers (at least some of them) in Georgia now understand the perils of touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices. The rightwing group FreedomWorks has joined the fight against BMDs in the Peach State, where vote-suppressing Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp has lobbied state legislators hard to replace the state's 17-year old, easily-hacked, oft-failed 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen voting system with all new unverifiable touchscreen BMD systems at a cost of at least $150 million.

The bill to enact this boondoggle, HR316, will see one more vote for approval in Georgia's House before it's sent to the Governor's desk. Today, we share some of the lobbying efforts against the measure by Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer who is, believe it or not, a cybersecurity expert and National Security Advisor for Trump 2020. He is calling for hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia and in other states --- such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Texas, Kansas and California --- where county election officials are handing millions to private voting system vendors for unverifiable, unnecessary systems that cybersecurity and voting system experts strongly warn against.

Finally --- speaking of unheeded warnings --- we are joined today by STEVEN ROSENFELD of the Independent Media Foundation's Voting Booth project, to sound the alarm about the Democratic National Committee's new requirement for caucus states to implement some form of remote voting during their 2020 nomination contests.

The new mandate is part of DNC reforms adopted last year, following the disastrous 2016 Presidential election when cyberattacks and the release of stolen emails undermined both Party leadership and Hillary Clinton's campaign. While last year's Party reforms urge states to move from caucus systems run by private state parties to primary elections managed instead by state and county election officials, the new requirement to allow access to caucuses for those who cannot attend in person has left state Democratic Parties looking toward various forms of online, telephonic and smartphone voting options to enact in conjunction with in-person caucusing.

Rosenfeld is currently one of the very few journalist reporting on the disturbing potential plans by Democrats in Iowa, Nevada and elsewhere to contract with private companies for some form of online caucus voting. "It's part of having the party be more inclusive and participatory," he tells me, cautioning "It's not clear how it's going to be done. This is all being developed right now." And, he warns, "vendors themselves will do this stuff for next to nothing to try to show proof of concept."

Of course, that proof of concept will be in a live, Presidential caucus election! He details just some of the many disastrous and chaotic past efforts at such schemes that "didn't go so well" --- colossal online voting failures by the Utah GOP in 2016 and 2018, stolen or corrupted online party elections in Canada, for example --- in hopes of warning about what could very well be a looming disaster waiting for Democrats in caucus states next year.

Rosenfeld says he's been speaking with Democratic officials "trying to let people know what they're headed into," and says, "I don't think they were aware --- the Democrats that I talked to on the DNC --- of these other examples" of failed elections using this new, largely untested technology.

But with already-complicated caucus systems, 20 or so candidates who could be on the ballot, and the most important election of our lives hanging in the balance, what could possibly go wrong with the addition of new, untested remote voting schemes added to the mix? Now might be a very good time to start paying attention to some of the disturbing answers to that troubling question...

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

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Also: Beto jumps in to 2020; Still more evidence that WI's Photo ID voting restrictions were meant only to prevent Democrats from voting...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2019 6:39pm PT  

They were just baby steps. Though perhaps notable ones. Time will tell. But Thursday may prove to be a landmark in a potential and greatly-overdue claw back of Congressional powers ceded long ago --- long before Trump --- to the Executive branch. Whether the actions taken by Congress (including no small number of Republicans) on three separate issues today signal a sea change in the way Congress regards its own Constitutionally co-equal mandates and powers remains to be seen. But their rebukes of President Trump were surprisingly clear. Three different Congressional votes on three different matters covered on today's BradCast underscore this issue. [Audio link to show follows below.]

1) On Wednesday night, the GOP-controlled Senate voted once again in support of a resolution to end financial and military support to the U.S.-enabled, Saudi-led war on Yemen that has resulted in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. The effort amounts to the first Congressional rebuke of a President under the War Powers Resolution since its adoption in 1973. But the invocation of a resolution under the legislation which cedes Congress' sole Constitutional power to declare war may not be enough to prevent the Trump Administration's promised veto and continued support of war-making with the murderous Saudi regime and its Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

2) On Thursday morning, the Democratic led U.S. House voted unanimously(!), 420 to 0, on a resolution to demand the public release of the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whenever that may happen, after it's delivered to Attorney General William Barr. The statute guiding the duties of the Special Counsel was adopted by Congress in 1999, but mandates only that the Special Counsel deliver a "confidential" report to the AG. Congress failed to specify whether that report must ever be released to the full Congress, much less the public.

3) After recent passage in the Democratically controlled House, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 59-41 --- including all Democrats and 12 Republicans --- to reject Trump's "National Emergency" declaration to steal money appropriated by Congress to the military in order to build his southern border wall. It's the first time since the National Emergencies Act of 1973 that Congress has exercised its option to try and block such a declaration. The effort comes after a week of intense lobbying of Senate Republicans by the White House to block the resolution, and by Senate Republicans to convince Trump to accept a compromise alternative or face an embarrassing rejection from his own party. Nonetheless, Trump has vowed to veto the resolution and there are not currently the two-thirds of members in each chamber to override Trump's veto. The matter will most likely be settled in court and, as we argue today, very likely in favor of the President, given the way the Act was written (also ceding more Congressional powers to the Executive Branch.)

If the nation is lucky, however, today could mark a turning point after decades of Congress giving away its powers. But our nation hasn't been very lucky of late.

Also on today's news-packed program...

  • Beto O'Rourke jumps into the 2020 Democratic Presidential free-for-all. We discuss.
  • And, in Wisconsin, still more (shameful) evidence that Republican Photo ID voting restrictions were adopted as little more than a (successful) scam to suppress the Democratic-leaning vote in the Badger State. A new report from all of Wisconsin's county election clerks finds just 24 cases of potential voter fraud out of some 2.7 million votes cast over the past year. ZERO of those cases, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, would have been prevented by the state's Photo ID voting restrictions. On the other hand, as we learned back in 2017, some 23,000 legal voters in just two WI counties alone were deterred from voting by the suppressive law in 2016. That was the year that Donald Trump reportedly won the state by 22,748 votes.
  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report on the Trump Administration's wasted billions in taxpayer dollars in rolling back climate policy regulations and how school strikes by kids around the globe and the recent introduction of the Green New Deal is now forcing fossil fuel industry executives to rethink their loathsome, planet-killing business strategies...

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

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Guest: Susan Harley of Public Citizen; Also: CA Guv halts death penalty; Manafort sentenced to 7 years, charged in NY; GND already paying off...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats propose a new tax on Wall Street traders that could both put the brakes on market volatility that threatens the investments of average Americans, while raising billions of much needed dollars for the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, some good news for the nation out of California. Newly elected Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the state-sanctioned killing of some 737 individuals on the state's death row. Describing the death penalty as "discriminatory" and a "failure" that has resulted in the deaths of "wrongly convicted" people proven innocent, while costing the state billions of dollars, the Governor has now blocked the barbaric planned executions of about one quarter of those slated to be killed by governments across the nation.

"It’s a very emotional place that I stand," Newsom said at a presser today, "This is about who I am as a human being, this is about what I can or cannot do. To me this is the right thing to do." As we discuss, it's not the first time that Newsom, as a public official, has placed doing the right moral thing over what may or may not be politically popular, at the moment, among the electorate.

Back in Washington D.C., Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to an additional 73 months for criminal conspiracy fraud and witness tampering on Wednesday. Some of those months will be served concurrently with the 47 months he was sentenced to last week in a Virginia federal court related to undisclosed lobbying for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. With the partially concurrent sentencing, the 69-year old Manafort now faces nearly seven years in prison.

While none of the 20 or so federal counts in two different courts that Manafort was found guilty of had charged "collusion" with Russia for interference in the 2016 election, his attorney and Donald Trump used the occasion once again to lie about that fact to the American public today. But just minutes after today's new sentencing, Manhattan's District Attorney announced 16 new indictments against Manafort in state court related to mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other crimes for which, if found guilty, the President would be unable to pardon him. Trump's pardon power extends only to federal, not state crimes.

As the madness surrounding our criminal Presidency continues, Democrats in Congress are pushing ahead with a number of progressive policy proposals in advance of 2020 to hopefully help pull the nation out of its current self-imposed morass and rebalance some of the worsening inequities between the wealthy, the poor and the middle class. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Congressman Pete DeFazio (D-OR) have now introduced new legislation that would create a very small, 0.1%, Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) on every stock market transaction. The bill [PDF] --- which already has a number of Democratic cosponsors in the House and Senate, including among Presidential hopefuls --- is estimated to raise as much as $800 billion in much-needed revenue for federal coffers over ten years. As importantly, the measure is designed to ease market volatility by curbing the legalized skimming that takes place by high volume computer traders who purchase trades from normal investors and sell them back to the investors at a higher rate, all within a fraction of a second.

The legislation is supported by some 60 non-partisan good government organizations, including Public Citizen. Attorney SUSAN HARLEY, Deputy Director of the group's Congress Watch division, joins us today to explain this new move toward an FTT that would cost traders one-tenth of a cent per dollar traded. That's $1 for every thousand invested or, as Harley explains, "Ten cents out of every 100 dollars traded. That's why we like to talk about it as rebuilding Main Street on Wall Street's dime."

"We do pay taxes on all of our purchases," she tells me. "so Wall Street should be doing the same as far as these stocks trades, bond trades, and derivative trades. It absolutely is about fairness, about making sure Wall Street is paying back the US because we did bail them out for the financial crash."

She details how the proposal is ultimately a very progressive tax, even as it's very small, because it would largely fall on the wealthy. "We've really got to re-balance our tax code, and unrigging our economy starts with making Wall Street pay its fair share. The top 1% of society owns two thirds of all financial securities."

"We did research on existing fees --- things like commission, overhead costs, broker fees. The Financial Transactions Tax would be only about $80 for the average 401k or retirement saver, versus more than $1000 in existing fees. That's just the average. Some funds have existing fees of more than $2500 dollars. So, it really is a drop in the bucket as compared to the existing commissions and other types of ways that Wall Street is taking it out of the pocket of average investors."

Harley discusses both the legislation's challenges and growing political support on Capitol Hill, where the Trump/GOP 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut, largely for corporations and the wealthy, has resulted in record trillion dollar annual deficits and a recent budget proposal by Trump to cut more than a trillion dollars from social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (He had vowed to not cut those programs during his 2016 campaign, while suggesting that Democrats would do so.)

Finally, speaking of progressive policy proposals, the recently introduced Green New Deal is already paying off. Rightwingers have been freaking out about it, and lying about it, but they are also scrambling to respond after realizing its huge popularity among the electorate and how silly they look. Several longtime climate science deniers, including Trump acolyte and accomplice Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are now taking baby steps by conceding that "climate change is real" and "humans contribute". Soon they may even notice that, according to climate scientists, human activity is actually responsible for 100% of the warming we've seen to date. But, hey, it's a start...

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

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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...

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

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