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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Multipartisan Petition Effort to Recall Alaska's New GOP Governor Catches Fire: 'BradCast' 8/19/19
Guest: AK Dem Party's Jeanne Devon; Also: GA voters mandate new voting system review...
Sunday Big Baby Toons!
You'll laugh, you'll cry -- you may even get rattled -- by PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Officials Scramble As Election Software Goes Obsolete, Election Servers Discovered Online: 'BradCast' 8/16/19
Guest: Kim Zetter on voting systems found connected to the Internet and vendor denial...
JUDGE BANS GA'S OLD TOUCH-SCREEN VOTE SYSTEMS FOR 2020: 'BradCast' 8/15/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system uncon-stitutional is a victory for all U.S. voters...
'Green News Report' 8/15/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Warming-fueled toxic algae blooms killing dogs; Big Oil now pushing plastic; Plastic pollution found falling in Arctic snow; PLUS: Dem states sue to stop Trump EPA's dirty power plan...
Previous GNRs: 8/13/19 - 8/8/19 - Archives...
'SKYFALL': 'BradCast' 8/14/19
Guest: Stephen Schwartz on Russia's still-unfolding nuclear weapons test disaster; Also: GA's Abrams launches nat'l effort to protect voters in 2020 elections...
From Epstein to USDA: Under-Reported Cost of Gutting US Govt: 'BradCast' 8/13/19
Also: Admin blocked from making 'dark money' darker; TX sued for tossing absentee ballots...
'Green News Report' 8/13/19
Trump Int. Dept moves to gut the Endangered Species Act; EPA paves way for controversial AK mine; PLUS: The one energy project the Admin doesn't mind slowing down...
As Long as Trump is Advancing Conspiracies about Epstein...: 'BradCast' 8/12/19
Also: Andrew Cohen on prison suicide epidemic; Admin to block legal immigration, gut Endangered Species Act...
Sunday 'Trigger Objects' Toons
Once again, PDiddie's latest weekly collection of political cartoons is dead on target...
Outing 'The Family' on Netflix:
'BradCast' 8/9/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with author Jeff Sharlet; Also: World warns of U.S. gun violence epidemic...
The White Supremacist-in-Chief and Much Brighter 2020 News: 'BradCast' 8/8/19
Brutal ICE raids in MS; WH denial on domestic terror; MT assaulter followed Trump 'rhetoric'; 'The OC' turns 'blue'; TX may soon do same...
'Green News Report' 8/8/19
UN calls for farming overhaul to solve climate change; Unpaid KY miners block coal train; PLUS: Four fossil fuel explosions in 48 hours underscores aging infrastructure...
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: Heather Digby Parton on the former Special Counsel's testimony and what's next; Also: Everyone giving everyone else the finger...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2019 5:10pm PT  

Both Democrats and Republicans alike --- on Capitol Hill and in the media --- are trying to make sense of Wednesday's landmark testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and where things go from here. We do a bit of the same ourselves on today's BradCast. Though I hope we are a great deal more honest about it than Donald Trump and Fox "News", and less confusing than Fox' Ainsley Earhardt who announced this morning that Mueller's testimony "didn't change anything", before going on to tell viewers that "it changed everything". [Audio link to show our full program is posted below.]

For full coverage and extended excerpts from Mueller's nearly seven hours of hearings before the U.S. House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, see yesterday's special coverage show. For analysis and the fallout since the Republican former FBI Director confirmed the multiple and repeated felonious and impeachable crimes by the President of the United States detailed in his 448-page report [PDF], we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo today. As usual, we attempt to cut through the media drama and partisan positioning to get to the actual facts and important content that matters.

Among the issues discussed with Parton....

  • The fact that only Republicans are ever allowed to be Special Counsel/Prosecutors, no matter whether the President being investigated is a Democrat or a Republican;
  • Content of note from Wednesday's hearings that was both damning to Donald Trump and at risk of being lost amid frequently lousy corporate media coverage (and, wholly dishonest coverage from rightwing outlets);
  • The proper context for making "sense" of some of the conspiracies offered on Wednesday by Republicans, even as Trump's AG/fixer Bill Barr and other GOPers may have done harm lately to the prospects of their own conspiracy-based argument about the origins of what would eventually become the Mueller investigation;
  • How House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still dropping the ball on impeachment in Congress, at least for now, and setting the country up for even more Presidential corruption in both the near and distant future in the bargain;
  • And, where all of this madness may and/or should go next.

"It seems obvious to me that we have a criminal in the White House. And an abuser, a corrupt leader, and a barbarian and an ignoramus," Parton explains, cutting to the chase. "He's an unfit President and he should be impeached. To me, this is obvious."

But, she goes on, in struggling to make sense of why impeachment proceedings have not already been triggered, "One of the reasons that the dial is not being moved is the way that the press is covering this. There was a lot of criticism, during and after the testimony, about the fact that they covered it like a sporting event. 'He didn't put on the best show', etc. etc. The theater criticism. This is a big problem because this is a complicated story. People are seeing it as a game, as this is a strategy, instead of what it really is --- which is a fundamental threat to our democracy.

"If Donald Trump gets away with this, if he gets off scot-free --- re-elected or not --- if he gets away with doing these things while in office, it has changed everything. The President is no longer accountable. If Donald Trump cannot be impeached, then nobody can be impeached. Impeachment no longer exists as a stop on a President like this. And that's very scary," warns Parton.

Also on today's BradCast: "Unprecedented" heat and wildfires in the Arctic; Ohio's "socialist" Republicans give the planet and Ohio residents the finger by going all in on Big Government bailouts of coal and nuclear power companies; U.S. automakers give Trump the finger by working out a secret deal with California to lower vehicle emissions; The Trump Administration gives humanity the finger by deciding to "Make America Kill Americans Again"; A federal judge in California gives the finger to the Administration's new, unlawful southern border asylum ban; And Kim Jong Un gives his friend Donald the finger by firing off a few ballistic missiles to celebrate Mueller's testimony.

And, finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report on some of the above, and much much 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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In nearly seven hours of long-awaited, halting responses from the former Special Counsel, the need for impeachment became clearer than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2019 5:39pm PT  

As documented by today's BradCast special coverage, former FBI Director Robert Mueller finally offered his long-awaited testimony in the U.S. House during nearly 7 hours of hearings before both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The Republican former Special Counsel confirmed key details of his two-volume, 448-page report [PDF] on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with that effort and, in most detail, multiple instances of both indictable and impeachable criminal corruption of justice laid out by the report. In frequently halting and often terse responses to members of the two House panels, Mueller, as promised, refused to stray from the "four corners" of his report, issued earlier this year following his two-year probe.

Nonetheless, as heard on today's program, his responses made clear that both Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr --- not to mention the bulk of the Republican Party and their rightwing media outlets --- have been completely misleading the American public with their claims that Mueller's report somehow "exonerated" the President. It did anything but.

"Did you actually totally exonerate the President?" Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler asked during his opening round of questions. "No," Mueller flatly replied, later adding that "the President was not exculpated for the acts that he alleged committed." When Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intel Committee, asked, "Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?," Mueller dryly responded: "It is not a witch hunt."

In fact, as Mueller's testimony made clear to those who watched --- especially to those who didn't bother to read his actual report --- any other American who committed the crimes detailed in the Special Counsel's report would have been indicted on multiple felony counts, as more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now stated. But for the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Counsel's (unsupportable) opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, Trump would most likely have been charged long ago for his repeated, unlawful attempts to quash the Special Counsel's investigation.

Moreover, near the close of today's long hearings, Mueller offered a chilling warning about what he describes as still-ongoing efforts by Russia and other foreign powers, "as we sit here", to interfere with and manipulate upcoming U.S. elections.

We hold most of the commentary and analysis on all of this for another day in order to bring you extended excerpts on today's program from the detailed questions and answers with members of Congress from both parties and in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. If you weren't able to catch seven hours of hearings beginning at 8:30am ET on a work day, we'll get you fairly well caught up on the key through-line and the most noteworthy stuff in just under an hour. You're welcome!

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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President's comments wreak havoc in India, stun Afghanistan; Brexit Boris to be new UK PM; Trump budget agreement balloons his record deficit spending; GOPers killing thousands by undermining ACA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2019 6:26pm PT  

Donald Trump is, apparently, not content with just breaking America. Now he seems desperate to break the entire world. Also, back home, the lie of Republican "conservatism" is revealed, yet again, to be little more than a marketing gimmick for the party. Unfortunately, it also turns out to be deadly.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show posted below]...

  • An apparent lie Donald Trump told on Monday about India's Prime Minister asking for his help to mediate the years-long Pakistan/India dispute over the Kashmir region, resulted in chaos and outrage in the Indian Parliament on Tuesday;
  • At the same White House press avail with Pakistan's Prime Minister on Monday, Donald Trump also boasted how he "has plans" that, if he wanted to, "Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth" in "literally ten days". Benevolently, however, he added that he just doesn't "want to kill ten million people". The remarks do not appear to be going over well in Afghanistan;
  • With Trump's great foreign policy successes, the Conservative Party in the UK has selected the Trumpiest character they could find to be their next Prime Minister after three years of failed Brexit efforts. Boris Johnson will now replace the outgoing Theresa May in that post and, after being a key supporter of Brexit, Johnson vows he will pull the UK out of the European Union, "do or die", by October 31st. That, even if it means leaving without an agreement with the EU, no matter how much havoc would almost certainly ensue thereafter;
  • Back at home, Trump's Swamp gets swampier still as Mark Esper, the longtime lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be our new Defense Secretary. There may be an upside, however, but if so, he probably won't last long;
  • GOP "conservatism" was revealed, yet again, for the joke that it has long been, as the Trump Administration and Congressional Democrats agreed on Monday night to a two-year budget accord that will increase spending by some $320 billion and avoid further debt-ceiling battles until 2021, the first year of the next Presidential Administration. With that agreement --- presuming Fox and friends don't convince Trump to reverse himself again --- record debt and deficit will continue to balloon under this Republican President, as it has during his first several years in office. Once again, putting the lie to the notion that Republicans are actually concerned about debt, deficit or federal spending, at least when a Republican is in the White House. Between the unpaid-for Trump/GOP tax cuts for the wealthy of $1.5 trillion, and year-over-year increases in federal spending since Trump's been in office, the annual deficit has now ballooned to nearly $1 trillion a year with the national debt reaching $22 trillion. That, after decreased deficits, year after year, during the last four years of the Obama Administration. No doubt, Republicans will pretend to be "conservatives" again just as soon as there is a Democrat in the White House once more. And they'll have a new fight over the debt ceiling to do it with, presuming Trump is out by 2021. That's the "conservative" scam, and it's shameful that the media --- and even Democrats --- continue to fall for it by calling them "conservatives". They are nothing of the kind;
  • Their pretend "conservatism", however --- whenever it is convenient to hide behind the label --- is also deadly. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that, thanks to the GOP-controlled states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), approximately 15,600 deaths have occurred that otherwise would not have. Many of those states are also part of the group suing to kill the ACA entirely, a case heard last week by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If they are successful in striking down Obamacare in its entirety as unconstitutional, it means that some 24,000 Americans per year could die that otherwise would have lived. That's how GOP "conservatism" works. (Never mind that whole "provide for the general welfare" nonsense in the Constitution that they pretend to revere when occasionally convenient for them);
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which the latest climate change-fueled record heat wave reveals the vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure, the Trump EPA refuses to ban a toxic pesticide (made by a top Trump donor) which causes brain damage in children, the Trump 2020 campaign trolls the libs with recyclable and reusable straws (seriously) and Berkeley, CA becomes the first city in the nation to ban natural gas in new home construction...

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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Callers ring in on the upcoming testimony of the former Special Counsel; Also: Are they nuts? More on the insane move to 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting in Philly and L.A. for 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2019 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners on a number of things, most notably to hear what listeners expect from this week's upcoming, long-awaited U.S. House testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding his 448-page report on Russia's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election and the ten or more instances of criminal obstruction of justice by President Trump detailed within. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Mueller's testimony during hearings on Wednesday --- three hours in the House Judiciary Committee and two hours before the House Intelligence Committee --- will be the last chance for pro-impeachment Dems to swing the sentiments of both the nation and Democratic leadership toward opening an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump before Congress leaves for its long 6-week recess next week. Callers ring on on what they expect and hope (or don't) from the proceedings.

As you can imagine, Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- who, so far, has blocked an official impeachment inquiry by her caucus in the House despite Trump's multiple felonious High Crimes and misdemeanors and in defiance of 100 or so Democratic members on record calling for impeachment --- came up quite a few times today from callers, both negatively and, in at least one instance, positively.

Also on today's program, a quick recap from key points made during our important --- and, at times, gob-smacking --- interview on Friday's program with cybersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund on the dangerous new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems currently set for use in Philadelphia, in the key swingstate of Pennsylvania before next year's Presidential election, and how some of the new system's worst, most dangerous and unverifiable features are also found in the new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being brought into Los Angeles next year.

Thanks to citizen-led efforts like those by Skoglund and Citizens for Better Elections and the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is now reviewing its previous certification of the horrible and easily manipulated computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) currently set for use in Philly. That re-examination may ultimately lead to decertification of those systems.

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, The BradCast and BradBlog.com have been pretty much the only ones publicly yelling and screaming about the serious (and completely misunderstood-by-the-media --- see this ridiculous headline and article!) dangers of moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMDs in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We also discuss the fact that, in addition to being completely unverifiable and easily manipulated, the cost of BMDs systems is at least twice the price of hand-marked paper ballots systems. In fact, one caller rings in with information to tell me that the $200+ million price-tag I cited for the new systems in L.A. was actually a low-ball estimate, according to L.A.'s actual contract with private voting system vendor Smartmatic [PDF]. That contract, she notes, specifies the price for moving L.A. to these new systems will be closer to $300 million! That, in a county that could desperately use funds for things like housing tens of thousands currently living on the streets and long-overdue infrastructure improvements among many other things...

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: Election tech and cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund; Also: Deadly heat wave continues; Who to believe in the US/Iran showdown?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some potentially good news for Philadelphia voters (and, thus, voters across the entire country), after a citizen led effort has resulted in the state of Pennsylvania re-examining its certification of a shockingly vulnerable --- and wholly unverifiable --- new touchscreen voting system selected by the city earlier this year (under questionable circumstances) for use in upcoming elections. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, before we get to our guest today and the astonishing election integrity nightmare against which he is working with a coaltion on the ground in Philly to try and save democracy there, a few quick news items to start the show. Those include the now-deadly, climate change-fueled heat wave bearing down on dozens of states and millions of Americans and the latest on the dangerously intensifying disputes in the Persian Gulf --- thanks to Trump pulling out of the landmark 2015 anti-nuclear deal.

Then, last May, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would mandate HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter in the country, to help hedge against the possibility --- some may say likelihood --- of manipulated or erroneous elections results, and to help assure that results are publicly verifiable after elections. His bill, the Protect America's Voting and Elections (or PAVE) Act of 2019 now languishes in the Senate, despite passage of a bill in the House that also mandates HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, thanks to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's vow to disallow a vote on any election-related bills that might make our democracy more secure and overseeable in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections.

The White House has been similarly disinterested in improving election security and oversight, though Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the nation's "top spy" announced a new initiative today said to help the Intelligence Community coordinate their response to potential election manipulation, at least from foreign threats. Domestic threats, including from election insiders --- such as contractors from the private vendors who run much of America's elections, as well as simple programming errors or other manipulation by elections officials --- remain both as serious and much more difficult to guard against. Election protection ultimately comes down to public oversight, at the local level, of verified election results.

To that end, an Election Integrity coalition in Philadelphia this week has successfully petitioned the state of Pennsylvania to reexamine the Commonwealth's previous certification of a wildly dangerous and vulnerable new computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) made by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S). The company's new ExpressVote XL is a 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD system recently contracted for use by the Philadelphia Elections Board for use in upcoming elections, beginning with municipal elections this November and the Presidential contest next year.

We're joined today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, election integrity expert and Chief Technologist for the non-partisan Citizens for Better Elections, which, along with others in the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition petitioned the state for a re-examination of the ExpressVote XL. The costly voting and tabulation system --- one must be purchased for each voter voting at the same time in every precinct --- is described as a "universal" or "all-in-one" system, because one computer in the system is used to mark and print a voters ballot, and a second computer in the same system is then used to optically-scan and tabulate that ballot.

The system, chosen under a mysteriously truncated process by the Philadelphia Commissioners earlier this year --- "without any public or expert input" and with "no criteria for things like security, and resilience, and accessibility" as Skoglund tells me --- also violates state election code in numerous ways, as detailed in the citizen groups' petition to the state filed on Tuesday. Most alarmingly, however --- especially given the importance of Philly's one million votes to be cast in the crucial Keystone State during next year's Presidential election --- is a remarkable security design flaw in the ES&S ExpressVote XL.

In short (Skoglund offers more details on the show), the system allows the Ballot Marking Device's printer to change votes on the computer-printed ballot summary card before it is tallied but after the voter has already been given the opportunity to approve what was initially printed on the ballot summary card by the computer! In other words, of all of the terrible, 100% unverifiable BMD voting systems that Pennsylvania's Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia could have chosen, its City Commission chose the absolute most dangerous and unverifiable one.

"After this machine was certified in Pennsylvania, security researchers determined that there was a big flaw in these machines. That flaw is that they have a single paper path. It takes the blank piece of paper, it sends it to a printer, you make your selections on the screen, it prints those on the piece of paper, puts them back in front of the voter so that the voter can look at them and say whether or not they're happy with those selections. And once the voter says 'Yes, this is the ballot that I intend to cast, I am happy with these selections' and they press the button on the machine, it sends that card back through the same printer again before it goes to to the tabulator," Skoglund explains. "That means the machine has the opportunity to mark on that ballot --- potentially changing votes on it, invalidating votes on it, adding votes to it, basically changing what the voter cast." And, of course, the voter would never know.

While recent studies have found that most voters do not even bother to verify computer-marked paper ballots, and that of those who do, many do not notice if the computer has changed their selections, "The voter can do everything that's asked of them, do everything right, they can verify that ballot, and it still might not end up being the vote that gets cast. This is a violation of a fundamental principle of being able to audit these paper ballots. It's the whole reason we're going to paper ballots, to have good evidence of what the voter intended."

Skoglund explains, however, that it's not just Philadelphia preparing to use these systems in 2020. Other counties in PA are considering them as well, even though they are at least twice the price of a paper ballot system. Similarly states such as New Jersey and Delaware are moving to these same, horrible, unsecure systems. Elsewhere, jurisdictions from Georgia to Ohio to Kansas to Texas to Los Angeles are all preparing to move to only slightly less vulnerable (if equally unverifiable) BMD systems for 2020. That, instead of simpler, cheaper and actually verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems.

All of that is just part of what we discuss with Skoglund today that will likely leave your jaw hanging open as you wonder what the hell these people are thinking, and why it is that McConnell has disallowed Wyden's PAVE Act --- requiring HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all --- from becoming the law of the land long ago...

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

* * *
While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Trump Admin cutting nuclear reactor safety inspections, killing scientific analyses, hollowing out agencies from Interior to USDA, more; Also: Feds end Trump hush-money conspiracy probe, release damning docs...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2019 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover a number of disturbing new stories highlighting how Donald Trump's Administration --- while everyone is distracted by his is obnoxious, racist tweets and occasionally by his felonious criminal behavior --- is absolutely hollowing out the U.S. Government to the detriment of public safety and the cheers of industry special interests. Oh, and we cover some of his criminal behavior as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now cutting back on safety inspections for the nation's 90-plus nuclear reactors, along with legal notices that previously had to be given to the public regarding plant safety issues. The nuclear industry, facing stiff competition from cleaner, cheaper, safer renewable energy, is applauding the "cost cutting" (some would say safety cutting) measures. Public interest groups are very concerned;
  • Out in California, where, last October, Donald Trump issued an executive order to force more water to be released from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Northern California down to farmers in the state's agriculturally rich Central Valley after years of demands by the powerful agricultural industry, the administration has paused the process just days before what was to have been a legally mandated scientific analysis of potential harm to endangered species such as salmon and delta smelt. An investigative report from Northern California's KQED finds the administration is replacing biologists from two federal agencies, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who had spent months preparing a "biological opinion", as required by law, with a team of attorneys and so-called experts in policy and regulations from outside the state. Apparently, the Administration didn't like the findings by the actual government biologists, so have paused the process for two months to allow an entirely new analysis Bureau of Reclamation's water plan by hand-picked ringers;
  • At the same time that the Interior Department is undermining their own scientists on the California project, the Department's Bureau of Land Management is planning to move its headquarters from D.C. to Grand Junction, CO, along with hundreds of federal employees, including many senior managers, who will either be forced to move or retire. The planned hollowing out of the BLM comes with little public notice or explanation, and echoes a similar recent move by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which is forcing hundreds of the agency's top scientists to either pick up and move to a new headquarters in Kansas City, or be let go. Most of those USDA scientists are reportedly unwilling to uproot their lives and families to make the move. Similar processes, according to Washington Post, are said to have resulted in thousands of civil service jobs being cut at the Departments of Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development to name a few, as the Trump Administration continues to gut the U.S. Government (well, all but the Defense Department, where they have added jobs) at the expense of public safety and to the benefit of industrial profit motives;
  • Then, we move to some of those Trump crimes mentioned earlier. A federal judge in Manhattan ordered the release today of previously redacted files regarding Trump's illegal hush-money payoffs to two women with whom he is said to have had affairs before his election as President. The judge's order comes after federal prosecutors indicated they had suddenly ended investigations into the Trump Organization and Trump himself regarding the payoff scheme in the campaign finance felony conspiracy for which Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is now serving time in federal prison. Both Cohen and federal prosecutors, when Cohen pleaded guilty, had said the conspiracy was "directed" by Trump himself. The newly unredacted documents underscore Trump's involvement in the conspiracy both before and after his election, as well as those of others in his campaign, such as longtime Trump aid and then Communications Director Hope Hicks. Setting aside the entirely of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller --- and the 10 or so instances of unlawful obstruction of justice detailed in his report --- this hush-money matter alone is more than enough to merit impeachment and removal from office (not to mention federal prosecution). At least it would be for any other President --- or if there were real leadership among Democrats in Congress;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as much of the country will be sweltering for days under the latest, dangerous, climate change-fueled heatwave, and with more on the Trump Administration's latest plans to hollow out protections against pollution and the ability for local authorities to have a say in the matter. You didn't need all of that forest land near you to be saved from clear cutting by the logging industry anyway, right?...

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on the GOP's ACA challenge and the passing of SCOTUS' 'last great conservative Justice'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2019 6:46pm PT  

The United States, according to our guest today on The BradCast, lost "the last great conservative Justice" on the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice John Paul Stevens, who lead the liberal wing of SCOTUS before retiring in 2010, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99 after serving some 35 years on the High Court. IAN MILLHISER, Constitutional law expert, longtime Editor of ThinkProgress Justice and author of the book Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted joins us today to discuss that loss as well as the rightwing legal challenge seeking to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We begin today with a conversation about Stevens' remarkable legacy, and how his tenure was so starkly different from the so-called "conservatives" now seated on the GOP's stolen Supreme Court. Nominated to SCOTUS by Republican President Gerald Ford (after being appointed to the federal bench by Richard Nixon), Stevens, as AP eulogizes, "stood for the freedom and dignity of individuals, be they students or immigrants or prisoners. He acted to limit the death penalty, squelch official prayer in schools, establish gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. He protected the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation. He influenced fellow justices to give foreign terrorism suspects held for years at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base the right to plead for their release in U.S. courts." All positions now seen as "liberal".

And yet, Stevens said during a 2007 interview that he did not think of himself as liberal, but rather as "pretty darn conservative". Millhiser explains how Stevens was able to separate the law from politics, including his own personal preferences, while remaining true to the Constitution and both the rule of law and Court precedent --- all issues which those who call themselves "conservative" today seem to have a difficult time understanding or respecting.

"When he got on the Court, he was widely viewed as a center-right judge. He personally held very, very conservative views. But what made Justice Stevens a great judge was that he knew his political views didn't matter when he was a judge. He knew that regardless of what he thought about minimum wage, or Obamacare, or whatever else, his job was to be faithful to the law and the Constitution," Millhiser tells me. "He was able to set his political views aside and let the law work. And that is all you can ask for in a judge. If we had conservatives like John Paul Stevens right now, who understand that law and politics are separate, we would be in a much better place as a country."

Moreover, as I note at the top of the show, based on my own reporting from 2013, Stevens was willing to admit when he got cases wrong. That year he conceded that his 2008's controlling opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections --- the case which approved Indiana's Republican law requiring voters to present Photo ID at the polling place before being allowed to vote --- was ultimately the wrong decision. That SCOTUS opinion has been falsely cited by GOPers across the country as confirmation that Photo ID restriction laws do not suppress legal votes, but help prevent illegal ones. That is both inaccurate and decidedly not what the Court found that case. In 2013, Stevens conceded, "as a matter of actual history," dissenting Justice David Souter was "dead right" in his opposition and warnings about how the precedent would be abused to suppress the vote.

As to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) challenge we had originally booked Millhiser to discuss before news of Stevens' passing, oral arguments in Texas v. United States were heard in New Orleans last week before a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his coverage for ThinkProgress, Millhiser, who was in the courtroom, describes the hearing before two Republican-appointed judges (one by George W. Bush, the other by Donald Trump) and one Democratic-appointee as a "disaster for Obamacare".

On today's show, he explains the "dumb" and "ridiculous" basis for the case brought by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General --- and now joined by Trump's Dept. of Justice --- and how the challengers specifically filed it in a Texas jurisdiction, a "a kangaroo court", where they knew they could get a favorable ruling from the lower court judge and were likely to get a similar ruling from the rightwing 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He describes the suit as "the stupidest case I have ever seen", but notes that the appellate court's three-judge panel --- "the two Republicans on this panel were really wacky and behaved in a really partisan way in the oral arguments" --- may ultimately uphold the lower court ruling, at least in part.

Nonetheless he believes the case cannot possibly pass muster at the U.S. Supreme Court given previous rulings on ObamaCare by Chief Justice John Roberts. However, he has a caveat: that prediction only holds if the makeup of the High Court when the case ultimately reaches SCOTUS remains the same as it is today. That, as Millhiser cautions, is not a guarantee. "If Trump gets another vote, all bets are off." And there are ways that both the 5th Circuit and the Republicans challenging the landmark healthcare law could hedge that timing, depending on how quickly they act and how long they delay both the court's decision and any subsequent appeal.

While the basis for this case, he details, is so absurdly thin, that may not mean it will fail, even if, as Millhiser observes, an estimated 24,000 Americans will die each year if the ACA is entirely struck down as plaintiffs seek --- and as the lower court judge already ruled should happen.

Finally, there was a flurry of breaking news coming over the wires as we spoke with Millhiser today, including Democrats in the House scuttling a vote on Articles of Impeachment against Trump; the House voting to hold AG William Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt and MA prosecutors dismissing sex assault charges against actor Kevin Spacey. And then we close today with a few thoughts on the House Dems successful vote on Tuesday for a resolution finding Donald Trump's (legally) racist tweets attacking four freshmen Congresswomen of color were, in fact, racist, and on the 4 Republicans in the 197-seat GOP House caucus willing to vote in favor of that resolution...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; Dem Rep. to introduce Articles of Impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2019 6:32pm PT  

As a chaotic vote to condemn Donald Trump's racist comments against four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen of color moved successfully through the House during today's BradCast, we tried --- even if we didn't always succeed --- to focus as much or more on the effects of his Administration's dangerous policies, more than his obnoxious, hateful words as our eternally embarrassing President of the United States. [Audio link to full show is posted below article.]

On Monday morning, as we discussed on yesterday's program, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, with a stroke of his pen, took Administrative action to effectively rewrite decades of immigration law and case precedent to bar virtually all asylum claims made on the U.S. southern border. The radical action is now being challenged by the ACLU and, according to many immigration experts, is likely to be found unlawful by the federal courts.

Then, on Monday night, after we got off air yesterday, the Administration enacted another radical measure without notice. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services declared a new regulation would immediately take effect to ban medical services providers who receive Title X funding from referring patients to other doctors for abortions. Federal funds are already banned for use in most actual abortions themselves, but now what critics describe as a "gag rule" will be in place to keep medical professionals from even referring their patients.

Title X, signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon after bipartisan support in Congress, allocates some $260 million each year to family planning services for four million low income women. The funds are granted to states across the country and to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Under the new regulations, as our guest today, Politico healthcare reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN detailed after the rule was first proposed earlier this year, "clinics offering abortions would need to construct physically separate entrances, hire separate staff and maintain separate medical records for its abortion and non-abortion providers --- a requirement reproductive care groups argue is so costly that some, or even perhaps many, sites would be forced to close."

At the top of today's show, news broke that, in the wake of the Administration's new regulations and other rightwing assaults on the Constitutionally-protect right to abortion, Planned Parenthood's recently appointed new President, Leana Wen, has been forced out of her post. The group had previously suggested they would need to forgo federal Title X funding if the rule was formally enacted, as have several states across the country who, like Planned Parenthood are suing to block the regulation.

Nonetheless, even before any of those lawsuits have been tried, the new rule has been placed into immediate effect by HHS, resulting in "mass confusion and chaos" for states and medical care providers alike today, according to Ollstein. "Now, any clinic that makes abortion referrals for patients who request one will have their funding cut," she tells me. "Lots of clinics across the country, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a large portion of the Title X population, said that they can't comply with that. It's against their ethics as doctors to not be able to make a referral that a patient requests. So they said 'We're going to exit this program. We're going to try to rely on our own funding as long as we can. We're going to hope the courts stop this rule, and we're going to try to keep our doors open and serve this low-income population.'" But, as Ollstein notes, "that could be a struggle."

She also explains how the Right is able to justify this blatant intrusion of the federal government between a patient and her doctor, given their years of decrying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the premise that the landmark healthcare law would do just that. Ollstein also goes on to warn that the federal case currently moving through the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down Obamacare entirely as unconstitutional, is now a very real threat to the law's future --- which even Republicans in Congress are now beginning to panic about.

Also on today's program, we follow the House Democrats move today to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump for his racist "go back" to your countries tweets over the weekend, directed towards Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, all of whom are American citizens. Three were born in the U.S. and one, Omar, came here as a child refugee to escape civil war in Somalia. Also today, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced his intention to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Trump once again tonight after the vote on resolution to condemn Trump. He vows to force a floor vote on the Articles within two legislative days.

By show's end, the racism resolution had been passed by Congress with the votes of all Democrats, four Republicans and newly independent former Republican Justin Amash, after what is being reported as a "bitterly partisan brawl" and "one of the most polarizing exchanges" ever on the House floor. The measure comes after both Trump's racist tweets telling the women to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" on Sunday, and his doubled-down assertion on Monday that their criticism of his Presidency and policies demonstrates they "hate America".

In fact, as Philip Bump cleverly highlights in a "Who said it?" test at Washington Post, Trump's own comments about the U.S. during the Obama Administration are far more demonstrative of hating America than anything ever known to have been publicly uttered by the four women he continued to attack on Twitter today. We're happy to associate ourselves with Stephen Colbert's response to all of this from Monday night.

Finally, as if all of that isn't chaotic and ugly enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New Orleans dodged catastrophe (for now) from Hurricane Barry over the weekend; the U.S. sees its wettest 12-month period on record (again); and the weekend blackout in NYC reveals (also, again) the fragility of this nation's vulnerable infrastructure...

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Guest: KPFK News Dir. Ernesto Arce; Barry misses NOLA; L.A. immigrant community comes together to face down Trump raids; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2019 6:45pm PT  

The catastrophic hurricane that didn't flood New Orleans (yet) and Trump's promised immigration round-ups that haven't happened either (yet) are both the focus of today's BradCast. That, along with callers and some appropriate upbraiding of our disgustingly xenophobic President for his obnoxious racist tweets over the weekend. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, New Orleans may have dodged a bullet, at least for now, says our own Desi Doyen. Hurricane Barry, veered to the west as it made landfall over the weekend, helping to spare the flood-prone city from both another torrential downpour and an ocean storm surge at the mouth of the Mississippi River that might have overwhelmed the city's new pump system and over-topped levees that are already dangerously close to being over-topped after months of climate change-fueled flooding in the Central U.S. Water from those months of record flooding has made its way down the Mississippi, which was already at record levels.

The remnants of Barry is now working its way up the river, leading to flash-flood warnings in about half a dozen states over the next several days. That water will eventually make its way back down to NOLA. For now, however, the Big Easy appears to have avoided the worst. For now.

Then, following nationwide #Lights4Liberty protests across the nation on Friday, following continuing revelations of horrific and inhumane conditions at many of Donald Trump's migrant detention centers --- or concentrations camps, as they may more appropriate be known --- major cities from Los Angeles to New York buckled up for Trump's promised round-ups of "millions" of immigrants, including thousands of families across the country. Though the President threatened the door-to-door arrests would begin on Sunday, the mass round-ups by ICE have, so far, failed to materialize.

We're joined in studio today for the latest, by ERNESTO ARCE, News Director of our Pacifica Radio Network flagship affiliate, KPFK 90.7FM here in Los Angeles. Arce details how both local officials and the immigrant community in Southern California have been girding for Trump's promised ICE raids, and how the (so-far, empty) threat has served to rally the community and bring them together to resist Trump's immigration deportation forces. Having covered immigration issues for KPFK for over a decade in L.A., Arce explains how the Southern California community learned long ago how to resist thuggishness and unlawful behavior from both federal and local law enforcement officials alike and how Trump's open racism has served to embolden many of the officials in several of those agencies.

"Since 9/11, since [1994's] Prop 187, since the million-plus people came out to downtown LA to protest the [2006] Sensenbrenner Bill, there has been a powerful immigrants rights community and immigrant rights advocacy movement here in the United States," he tells me, adding "nowhere has it been as strong as here in Southern California and Los Angeles."

Arce also observes how Friday's protests against the Administration's practices, during these dark hours of the Trump Presidency, demonstrate the resilience of the Southern California immigrant community and those who support them. "The biggest phrase we can come out with in this movement is 'resistance.' You've got all these groups that are organizing, not just organizing Lights4LIberty, but groups organizing all these kinds of actions saying 'We're going to defend our community against any type of raid, against any type of what we believe is an unlawful action by federal ICE agents.' ... We've had very moving ceremonies, many events and efforts over the last few weeks, where the community comes together and says --- 'Undocumented and Unafraid" is one of the main phrases, 'Abolish ICE' is another --- [where] people are unwilling to put up with fear mongering and terrorizing of a community."

Then, we cover Trump's reprehensible, xenophobic, racist Twitter attacks over the weekend against four Democratic freshman Congresswomen of color, and how the appalling attacks have served to unite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump's targets-of-the-moment --- Reps. Ayanna Pressley (MA), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Ilhan Omar (MN) --- along with the rest of the Democratic caucus, to push back on the President with a planned resolution condemning his statements. Shamefully, very few Republicans in either chamber of Congress have condemned Trump's racist attacks on members of Congress.

Finally, we open the phones lines for a bit on all of the above today! Enjoy!...

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Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: Barr's power grabs continue elsewhere; Hurricane Barry takes aim at already flooded NOLA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Attorney General continues to make extraordinary, unprecedented moves at the Dept. of Justice as he takes power for himself on all manner of things. And only some of those moves are receiving the attention they deserve. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, just two days after nearly 4 inches of record rainfall in one hour resulted in flash flooding and a number of high-water rescues in the nation's capital --- on the very same day Trump was delivering a ridiculous, rambling speech on his (horrific) environmental record --- an even worse downfall slammed New Orleans on Wednesday. What lies ahead this week for NOLA, however, may be far worse. A tropical storm spun up quickly off the Gulf Coast following the downpour, and now threatens to become a hurricane that could, as soon as this weekend, over-top levees that protect the city. The Mississippi River at New Orleans is already at 16 feet, just below flood stage, thanks to historic spring flooding in the central U.S. But Hurricane Barry could bring a storm surge of several feet of ocean water and as much as 18 inches of rain that could test the city's 20-foot high levees. The National Weather Service is now projecting the river could crest at that same height by Saturday, depending on which way the winds blow. That may happen despite the failure of science denier and corrupt fossil fuel swamp-dweller Trump to utter the words "climate change" during his environmental speech earlier this week.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., Trump's Attorney General and personal fixer William Barr continues to exercise extraordinary, unprecedented powers in his role as the nation's chief law enforcement official. So far, the federal courts have held off a fair amount of his attempted power grabs, including a federal court in New York which has, for the moment, blocked his latest move to replace all of the Dept. of Justice attorneys previously assigned to defend legal challenges to the Administration's effort to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Another federal judge in another legal challenge on the same matter in Maryland is now considering whether to block those replacements as well.

At the same time, however, Barr is also reportedly instructing former members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to not appear before Congress to give testimony next week on the same day Mueller is currently scheduled to do so.

But a recent, little noticed move over the 4th of July holiday week to grant himself the power to establish precedent on immigration laws, overriding decisions by immigration judges, needs much more attention. Last week, a federal court blocked Barr's decree to disallow bond hearings for asylum-seekers who successfully demonstrate a "credible fear" of return to their home countries. But for a ruling by the federal court in Washington state last week, Barr's decree would have resulted in immigrant asylum-seekers being held for months or even years in already horrific, overcrowded detention facilities as they await their official hearings in immigration court. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that detaining asylum-seekers indefinitely is "unconstitutional".

The day before her ruling, however, Barr quietly signed yet another new regulation --- without the traditional public comment period --- that restructures the way immigration courts have handled appeals for years. Previously, while tens of thousands of decisions are made on cases by the Board of Immigration Appeals each year, only a small number of them, about 30 per year, are published in order to establish them as precedent. Under current law, unpublished decisions are not binding on the entire system and are only published if a majority of the 21 member Board votes to do so. But last week, relying on a public comment period from about 15 years ago concerning a regulation proposed (but rejected) by the George W. Bush Administration, Barr granted himself unilateral power to selectively publish any such decisions that he likes. The move, in effect, will allow him the authority as Attorney General to set immigration law precedent that must be followed during this Administration as well as future ones, at his own whim.

We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute to explain both the encouraging news on Barr's temporarily blocked bond hearing rule, first decreed back in April, as well as his move last week to reign as king over U.S. immigration policy by using the abandoned "zombie regulation", as Pierce describes it, on appeals court precedents first proposed by the Bush Administration. She describes the latter as "alarming", noting that "under this new regulation, the Attorney General will have his pick of whatever issue he wants, and really, whatever plans on the issue he wants, when deciding whether or not to make some of these decisions precedent." Pierce warns that these could be "decisions on what kinds of crimes makes someone deportable from the United States," for example, adding that "the possibilities are really endless when he has so many decisions before him to choose from."

She argues that the way immigration courts are currently structured, under the control of the DoJ, not the Judicial Branch, results in unconfirmed and even unqualified people being appointed as immigration judges without Congressional confirmation or oversight. They all serve at the pleasure and whims of the Attorney General. "This is a huge problem with our immigration court that we have this political appointee who is in charge of effectively the legal well-being of our immigration system. That's a huge problem and a huge conflict of interest," she tells me.

We also discuss the mountain of recent reports of overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions at detention centers on the border; why we are seeing this influx of families seeking asylum in the U.S.; why this Administration is handling it all so poorly, despite the number of immigrants and asylum seekers being far larger during previous administrations; and how the system itself needs to be reformed, with immigration courts placed under an independent body.

Finally today, with all of the coverage in the media and focus by Democrats on the 2020 Presidential race, the need to win back a majority in the U.S. Senate no matter who wins the White House has taken a back seat, unfortunately. But Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was able to claim at least one recruiting victory this week, with Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath, who narrowly lost a U.S. House race last November in Kentucky, declared her intention of taking on Republican Majority Leader and democracy villain Mitch McConnell during his reelection bid in the Bluegrass State next year. We share McGrath's announcement video and ponder why the hell more big name Democrats --- including many who have chosen to run for the Presidential nomination instead --- aren't stepping up to the equally-as-important task of winning back the U.S. Senate for their party in 2020...

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Trump Twitter blocks blocked again; Perot dies; Steyer jumps in; Amash blasts Pelosi; Judge blocks DoJ Census lawyer swap; Dems subpoena Trump Org in Emoluments case, set vote for new subpoena 'blitz'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2019 6:31pm PT  

It's still unclear what it will take for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow her caucus to begin impeachment proceedings for the most impeachable President in history. But each day that goes by, each rule of law that Trump and his Administration undermine, each norm they violate, each tradition they shatter, each Constitutional clause they scoff at, seems to make her inaction more untenable by the day. But we press forward as the lawsuits pile up, subpoenas are defied, new ones are issued, and the American public wonders how we will ever find our way out of this mess. Those thoughts seem to underscore each of the many stories we cover on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among those many stories...

  • The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Tuesday unanimously confirmed a lower court ruling that Donald Trump violated the Constitution's First Amendment by blocking followers on Twitter with whom he disagreed, since he uses his personal account for governmental purposes. We wonder if Alabama's Republican Sec. of State John H. Merrill, who blocked me and election law experts like UC Irvine's Rick Hasen and University of KY's Joshua Douglas on Twitter long ago, is ready to rethink his position, or if we can expect more crazy responses from Merrill by email and phone like the last time we asked about this when the lower court first ruled in favor of plaintiffs;
  • Billionaire two-time, self-funding, third-party Presidential candidate Ross Perot, who first ran for President in 1992, has died at age 89;
  • Billionaire self-funding environmental and impeachment activist Tom Steyer of California declares his run for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination, after previously stating he wanted to focus on impeachment of Donald Trump instead. His announcement video released today describes the desperate need to get corporate money out of politics, but Steyer is also reportedly very unhappy with the speed with which Congressional Democrats are plodding toward impeachment of our scofflaw President;
  • Similarly unhappy with the lack of accountability being brought by Democrats is now-former Tea Party Republican Justin Amash, Congressman from Michigan who, last week, declared he was leaving the GOP. Over the weekend Amash blasted Democrats, specifically Nancy Pelosi, for failing to take appropriate action to begin impeaching Trump. Until leaving the party last week, Amash was the only Republican in Congress to call for impeachment proceedings and he remains one of the best advocates for same from either major party. During his interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Amash also said that high level Republicans had privately thanked him for his outspoken stance against Trump and that he remains open to the possibility of running for President on the Libertarian Party ticket next year;
  • But if Democrats are still unwilling to play the type of hardball demanded by this moment in history, the Trump Administration isn't shying away from it. Following U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' recent rejection of the Administration's "contrived" reason for adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census, the Dept. of Justice announced on Sunday that they would be replacing the entire legal team that had defended the Government in several different cases on the matter over the past year. Many of those career DoJ attorneys, it is speculated, refused to proceed after they already officially informed a federal judge that the Census was being printed, as of the July 1 deadline, without the question included. But that was before Trump tweeted that the official announcements from DoJ and the Census Bureau were "fake" and demanded that his Government find a way to include the question anyway. Former U.S. Attorney and Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal says we've "never seen anything like this", describing the DoJ move to replace all of the attorneys en masse as "the canary in the coal mine". But today, mid-show, after the ACLU challenged the nearly unprecedented removal of the DoJ legal team, a federal judge ruled the Government may not remove them from the case --- at least until they offer the court an explanation for the unusual move;
  • And while it may not (yet) be impeachment, Congressional Democrats are moving ahead with their legal strategy to challenge the Administration in court. On Monday, they issued subpoenas to a number of Trump's businesses as part of discovery in a lawsuit alleging that Trump is in violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, thanks to money received from foreign governments to his various businesses which he refused to divest from after being elected President. The DoJ, on Trump's behalf, is trying another extraordinary maneuver, in defiance of the lower court judge, by filing an appeal to block those subpoenas at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals before the case has even been resolved at the trial court level;
  • And in the House Judiciary Committee, Democrats announced plans this week to authorize new Congressional subpoenas for a bevy of current and former high profile former Trump officials, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions; former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly; former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein; Senior WH advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner; former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; and the head of the company which owned the National Inquirer, David Pecker. The subpoenas, to be formally voted on by the Committee on Thursday, are in response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and hush-money payoffs made by the President, as well as Trump's border policies and reported promises of pardons to officials willing to violate the law on Trump's behalf;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, on the day after Washington D.C. received a record four inches of rain --- a full month's worth --- in a single hour, while Donald Trump actually gave a speech meant to tout his Administration's (horrific) environmental record...

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

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Guest: David Pasch of Voices for Vaping; Also: A quick roundup of a mountain of news from over the holiday weekend...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2019 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open today with a quick review of as many of the noteworthy stories as possible from over the long holiday weekend, before moving to San Francisco's horribly, deadly scheme to --- yes --- promoting smoking! [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the quick news stories covered first:

  • Trump's celebration to himself with his 4th of July tribute to America's violent and deadly militaristic past, present and future on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial;
  • The Dept. of Justice flipping its position on adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census after last week conceding in federal court they would NOT do so after their effort was blocked by SCOTUS. Now, the entire legal team handling the matter has been replaced following Trump's tweeted insistence that the question would be added anyway;
  • Britain's ambassador to the U.S. is discovered having accurately referred to Trump in private cables as "inept", "uniquely dysfunctional" and with a Presidency that "could end in disgrace";
  • The U.S. Women's Soccer team wins their second World Cup in a row despite Trump's personal attacks on them (and their loathing of him, in kind);
  • Michigan's conservative "Tea Party" Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican in Congress to call for Trump's impeachment --- and perhaps the most effective of any party in doing so --- announced he was leaving the GOP;
  • Billionaire hedge fund manager and Trump pal Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and charged over the weekend with sex trafficking that included minors, dating from 2002, when Trump was quoted that same year by New York Magazine as calling him "a terrific guy", "a lot of fund to be with" and someone who "likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side". Epstein was arraigned and pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Monday;
  • Iran announced it has exceeded uranium enrichment levels beyond those set by the landmark nuclear agreement struck during the Obama Administration, but broken by Trump (so now broken, in kind, by Iran);
  • Temperatures hit 90 degrees for several days in Fairbanks, Alaska(!);
  • And, oh yeah, over the holiday weekend, we had two of the largest earthquakes here in Southern California to hit in more than 20 years, including one that hit 7.1 on the Richter Scale.

Then it's on to our guest today, DAVID PASCH of Voices for Vaping, an industry group sponsored by the Vapor Technology Association which, according to Pasch, takes no money from Big Tobacco and is dedicated to "bringing together Americans from all walks of life demanding access to the 21st century technology that will end smoking." He is with us today in response to an ill-considered new city ordinance signed last week by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, after unanimous passage by the City Council, banning the sale of all e-cigarettes and vaping devices --- via both brick-and-mortar stores as well as via mail order --- for everyone in the city.

The measure is certain to increase unnecessary deaths by making it much more difficult to quit smoking via e-cigarettes in a nation where half a million die each year thanks to cigarette smoking. A similarly troubling, if less draconian measure to restrict vaping is now moving through the California state Assembly, despite the proven health benefits of quitting smoking in favor of vaping, as touted by no less than UK's Royal College of Physicians as 95% safer than smoking.

Pasch, who formerly worked at the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services and for various non-profits in the healthcare industry, discusses the deadly implications of San Francisco's ban, the dangers of California's proposed measure, and the idiocy of banning the sale of devices proven to help smokers quit smoking while allowing cigarette sales to continue in the supposedly progressive enclave unabated. He also speaks to the wholly unproven myth "that e-cigarettes are some sort of gateway" to tobacco for teens, while San Francisco's "proposed solution is to get rid of them and make sure that tobacco products like cigarettes are the only ones actually available still on the store shelves." He describes vapor technology and vapor products as "probably the most exciting public health innovation of my lifetime" with "the potential to end smoking as we know it."

Alas, he also notes, that he cannot explain how San Francisco, "a progressive beacon for the whole country and in many ways for the whole world" appears to be promoting "one of the biggest public health scourges in the country" through their recent action. "If you want to see what good, progressive, small-d democratic outreach and acceptance of this issue looks like," he points to the United Kingdom. "In England, they're not exactly known as a loose regulatory environment. They have totally embraced this. The National Health Service literally pays for advertisements showing how many doctors recommend their patients switch to e-cigarettes as a way to quit. You have vape shops that are literally being built in public hospitals in England right now. It's a totally different approach, that I think progressive Democratic leaders in the United States should be looking to follow."

Finally, after a few more quick news items --- including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) dropping out of the Presidential race and billionaire environmentalist and impeachment activist Tom Steyer considering jumping in --- we open the phone lines to folks who really seem to want to talk about vaping! Both for and against it! My own personal journey --- quitting my own 30-year, 2-pack a day habit overnight, thanks to vaping --- was recently published as a Letter to the Editor in the Los Angeles Times. With the phones open, lively conversation ensues. Enjoy!

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

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Court blocks Trump 'national emergency'; Congress sues for Trump taxes; FL Repubs gut landmark voting reform; Carter says Trump 'illegitimate'; 2020 dirty tricks now underway; Dems talk climate at first debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2019 6:30pm PT  

It's been a rough week in the federal courts for Donald Trump. Even the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court failed to grant at least one victory to the Administration in its loss last week over the fight to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That loss, where Trump clearly expected a win from his cooked High Court, has resulted in the admission of another humiliating defeat for Republicans, but a huge victory for those of us who still support the idea of democracy...as fragile as it remains in the U.S. on the eve of our Independence Day holiday in 2019. There were other encouraging signs of hope from our courts this week as well, though there remains plenty to be concerned about as we head toward the crucial 2020 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered, in addition to the breaking Census news, on today's BradCast...

  • Trump may be getting a few tanks for his corrupt 4th of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, though they won't be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. Where they will be, according to some poor writing from CNN, is another matter. ("Trump later confirmed tanks would be present during remarks in the Oval Office.");
  • Heat records are shattering in the U.S. and around the world, resulting in mussels cooking in their own shells in normally cool Northern California and highways dangerously cracking and buckling in South Dakota. What happened in Mexico and Europe, however, we hold until today's Green News Report at the end of the program;
  • But, back to the courts, as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Administration for failing to turn over six years of Donald Trump's tax returns as required by federal law, in a case that Trump seems unlikely to win. A long legal fight, however, may help him to delay the inevitable, unless he is able to receive a helping hand to undermine the rule of law from his friends at the stolen and illegitimate SCOTUS;
  • But the lower courts, so far, have provided little help to Trump. Late last Friday, with surprisingly little notice, albeit in the middle of a ton of other news, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's phony "national emergency" declaration meant to steal billions of dollars from the military to build portions of his long-promised Southern border wall (which apparently Mexico is still not paying for.) The same judge in two different challenges to Trump's blatant attempted theft, ruled that Trump's use of military funds for this purpose was "unlawful" and in violation of Congress' Constitutionally-mandated control of federal purse-strings. The Administration, however, is expected to appeal both rulings;
  • Voters in Florida, in the meantime, will have to hope for good news from the courts in the days ahead after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis --- who was reportedly elected by less than one half of one percent of the vote last November --- quietly signed a controversial new law late on a Friday, without ceremony, the day before his deadline to sign it, which guts the state's reform of a 150-year old racist voting restriction. Despite passage of state Constitutional Amendment 4 last November --- by an astonishing nearly 65% of the electorate --- the new bill was passed along partisan lines in the GOP legislature to restore a restriction on the right of many former felons to vote. The new law, which went into effect Monday in the Sunshine State, requires former felons to pay off all court fines and fees before being allowed to vote, in contravention of the statewide ballot initiative which took effect on January 1 with no such restrictions. DeSantis had specifically pushed the GOP-controlled legislature to pass the bill, which will block many of the 1.5 million former felons --- including 1 out of 5 voting age African-Americans in the state --- from seeing their lifetime ban on the right to vote lifted. Voting rights advocates accurately describe the measure as an unconstitutional "poll tax" and have already filed suit to block it. The "conservatives" in the state will now have to spend millions in order to defend their new, unpopular law;
  • That's just one of the measures the GOP is beginning to take in order to boost their odds in 2020, as former President Jimmy Carter noted late last week that he doesn't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate President. Speaking Friday at a human rights forum hosted by the Carter Center --- which has served as a monitor of elections in third-world countries for decades --- the former President charged: "There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the elections and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. ... He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf." He said "yes", when asked by the forum's moderator if he believe Trump was an "illegitimate" President. Carter may be right or wrong. Shamefully, nobody knows for certain, since the public was never allowed to examine the ballots or the voting and tabulation systems following the 2016 Presidential election. That lack of public oversight, as we have long argued, continues to erode confidence in the legitimacy of American democracy. New, 100% unverifiable voting systems being put in place in advance of the 2020 race, unfortunately, (in states like Georgia and cities like Philadelphia and counties like Los Angeles) are likely to make that problem even worse;
  • But, speaking of how bad the 2020 cycle could be, the Trump Campaign has already begun their dirty tricks, according to a report in the New York Times. One of its "rising star" digital content producers has created a phony Joe Biden campaign website, meant to look like Biden's official campaign site, in order to smear the former Vice President. Neither the Trump campaign nor its staffer, Patrick Mauldin, who admits to having created the site, is noted on the page as being behind it. The fake campaign site, according to the paper, has received more visits than Biden's official website, and Mauldin has also "anomalously" created pages meant to undermine other current 2020 Democratic front-runners such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Do Dems have any plans on how to deal with this sort of thing in 2020? Right now, it appears that they do not. Unless Dems pull together somehow --- even across another rough and tumble nominating process --- a repeat of the 2016 disaster should not be a surprise to anyone;
  • Finally, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us for our Green News Report special coverage of last week's first Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami, where the planet's worsening climate crisis finally received at least a little bit of airtime from many of the Presidential hopefuls across the span of the much-watched two-night event...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden plummets, Harris and Warren spike in new polling after first 2020 Dem debate; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2019 6:22pm PT  

After our two-day Special Coverage of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate last week (Night ONE here, Night TWO here), we begin on today's BradCast to get caught up with some of the important news that we were unable to adequately focus on last week. (Even it may take a few days to get fully caught up, if ever!) [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, we're joined for one last time this SCOTUS term by MARK JOSEPH STERN, the great legal reporter at Slate who has helped us make sense of the Court's most recent term under its stolen Republican majority, including many of the oral arguments since last Fall in a bunch of important cases and all of the subsequent rulings handed down in the past several weeks. The last of those rulings were, perhaps, the most consequential, and both came smack dab in the middle of Nights ONE and TWO of the Dem debate last week.

Today, Stern details the Court's horrendous (if not unexpected) 5 to 4 partisan ruling finding partisan gerrymandering to be perfectly Constitutional, despite all of the lower federal courts which have found otherwise. That, even though the practice, taken to new computer-precision extremes by the Republican Party following the 2010 Census, has bastardized the notion of fair representation at both the state legislative and Congressional levels. (eg. See North Carolina, which largely votes 50/50 for U.S. House members over the past decade, but has been represented in the House by just 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans over all of those years!) Stern describes the majority ruling, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, as a "crushing defeat for voting rights" and a "fiasco for democracy". He explains how the rightwing majority ruling debunks the Chief Justice's own claim that he is the Court's "most aggressive defender of the First Amendment" in that extreme partisan gerrymandering blatantly robs voters of their First Amendment rights by punishing Americans for their partisan leaning, stripping them of the ability to be fairly represented.

"Partisan gerrymandering is uniquely evil and difficult to fix," Stern argues, "because it attacks the foundations of democracy. It entrenches a certain political party's power almost indefinitely, and creates a map that will hold even if the state votes against that party." Now, says Stern, the legal battle to rollback rigged election maps moves to the state court level instead, since SCOTUS has now determined that federal courts have no say in the matter (even though they long ago found racial gerrymanders, if not partisan ones, to be a violation of the Constitution.) "That's why this is the 'nightmare' scenario," he tells me. "Because if the legislature can't fix it --- and why would it fix it, they love what they've done --- you really have to rely on the courts to step in and fix it. And now Chief Justice Roberts has said that the federal courts are not going to hear these claims, that they're shut out forever. That leaves few avenues for relief for voters in these states."

We also get Stern's thoughts --- and callers who ring in on the topic as well today --- on whether Democrats, in states which they control after the 2020 Census should similarly use extreme partisan gerrymandering tactics to balance the scales by keeping Republicans out of power in such states, given that the High Court has granted its blessing for such tactics.

And, speaking of the Census, the other major ruling dropped last Thursday by SCOTUS was on whether or not the Trump Administration may add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. In that case, Roberts joined with the Court's liberals to reject the government's claim that they were simply hoping to add the question at the request of the Dept. of Justice in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. That transparently false claim was rejected by Roberts who wrote that it "appears to have been contrived".

In fact, it was, as several lower courts have ruled, even before the evidence from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering expert revealed the entire charade was specifically meant to decrease the response rate by Hispanic and other immigrant communities in order to shift federal funding and voting power to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. So, that decision was the good news. The not-as-good-news is that Roberts also left the door open for the Administration to try again with a less pretextual reason for adding the question, if they can come up with one. Or, as Stern sums up Roberts' directive in four words today: "Lie better next time." Whether the Trump Administration can do so before the deadline to send the Census to the printer (which, the Admin previously argued in court was a hard deadline of July 1, but now says "well, maybe October would be fine?") remains to be seen.

Next we open up the phone lines to listeners on last week's Democratic debate in Miami. Who do listeners feel did better than expected? Who did worse? The first polling is out today from CNN following last week's debate, finding a pretty huge shift among the Dem and Dem-leaning electorate. The survey finds Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are up 9 and 8 points respectively, while Joe Biden has fallen 10 points since the last CNN poll. That places Harris, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (whose support dropped a few points) all now within just over 5 points from the former Vice President and perceived "front runner" for the Democratic nomination. That pretty seismic shift all comes after just one single debate...with about 11 more to come in the months ahead...

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

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'RJ' Eskow on Harris' 'breakout', Biden's 'stumble', Bernie's plan for private insurers, Yang's Universal Basic Income, and Marianne Williamson's '4th dimension'!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2019 4:51pm PT  

Our Special Coverage of this week's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami continues on today's BradCast, with post-debate analysis, insight and occasional snarky comment regarding Night Two of the festivities! [Audio link to show follows below.]

The second night featured ten more Presidential hopefuls, including: VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; CO Sen. Michael Bennett; CA Rep. Eric Swalwell; former CO Gov. John Hickenlooper; former tech executive Andrew Yang; and author and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson. It was a very lively affair, to say the least, and our coverage today, I'm fairlly certain, rises to a similar level.

Joining us once again today for the hour is Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning HEATHER DIGBY PARTON as our through-line from yesterday's coverage. She's paired today with our old friend RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, longtime political columnist, host of the weekly The Zero Hour radio and TV program and, most helpfully today, a former insurance industry executive!

Among the many issues discussed after Thursday's debate:

  • What the media are describing as a breakout performance from Harris, including her face-off with Biden over his history of working with segregationists in the U.S. Senate (and what it may tell us about her ability to take on Trump);
  • whether Biden can sustain his polling lead after a shaky performance, raising questions about his age (along with similar concerns about Sanders and MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to be fair);
  • how the matter of whether the candidates' various proposals for universal healthcare coverage deal with private insurers will be used against them by both the Right and the corporate media (as well as whether or not those proposals will apply to undocumented immigrants);
  • how well the cases made by younger candidates such as Buttigieg or Swalwell seems to be going over after the first debate; whether Silicon Valley tech exec Andrew Yang's proposal for Universal Basic Income makes any sense;
  • at least one topic that the moderators, shamefully, did not raise yesterday;
  • and even a few "insider" thoughts on the seemingly "4th dimensional" Marianne Williamson.

All of that and much more on today's very lively and hopefully both entertaining and informative BradCast Special Coverage!...

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

[And if you missed our Night ONE coverage, it's right here!]

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