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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, October 20, 2019
Sunday 'Quid Pro Uh Oh' Toons
Check out the bewitching toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection!...
Lev And Igor Are Just the Tip of a Dark Money Iceberg: 'BradCast' 10/18/19
Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Republican worms turning on impeachment after Mulvaney 'confession'?...
Syria 'Disaster', Trump 'Meltdown', a Fallen Giant: 'BradCast' 10/17/19
U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi says 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
'Green News Report' 10/17/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
CNN/NYT ignore climate in OH debate; Protesters shut down parts of London; CA to block Trump fossil fuel plans; PLUS: Another fossil fuel explosion in earthquake country...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/19 - 9/12/19 - Archives...
Special Coverage: 2020 Dem Presidential Debate in Ohio: 'BradCast' 10/16/19
Guests: Jodi Jacobson of Rewire.News; Richard 'RJ' Eskow of The Zero Hour...
Impeachment, Syria and Trump's 'Russia First' Policy: 'BradCast' 10/15/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges blocked in OH; Return of 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 10/15/19
We're back! But, while we were out, some big developments in climate science, climate strikes, extreme weather impacts, public lands policy and pollution...
We're Back! With a Few Lessons from Dad:
'BradCast' 10/14/19
And from guest (not guest host, for the first time in over a month) Nicole Sandler!...
Sunday 'Great and Unmatched Wisdom' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly toons, like the rest of us, are not in Kansas anymore...
Kiss This Thing Goodbye:
'BradCast' 10/11/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with former CIA office Jack Rice and the News...
With Friends Like These:
'BradCast' 10/10/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Denis Campbell on the UK and Thom Hartmann on the history of SCOTUS...
Broken News:
'BradCast' 10/9/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with the Latest News and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler on M4A...
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 of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2019 6:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It looks like Trump Attorney General William Barr's willingness to beclown himself to the level of Donald Trump didn't help much in protecting the President against his own clearly criminal and impeachable behavior as detailed by even the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report. And Democrats in both the House and even the Senate are finally beginning to use the "i"-word they should have invoked long ago. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Barr's willingness to offer Trumpian lies to the American people about what the report actually says and doesn't was swell until the American people were actually allowed to read it. Trump's repeated and now well-documented attempts at criminal obstruction of justice by trying to shutdown or otherwise derail the Special Counsel's probe is now detailed for all to see, as of Thursday public release of the redacted 448-page report [PDF].

They are also now able to read Mueller's clarion call, also detailed in the report, for Congress to take up the matter as per their Constitutional duty to serve as the only real check on a lawless President. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has now subpoenaed the Dept. of Justice for the full, unredacted version of the report and its underlying evidence, and has called for both Barr and Mueller himself to testify to Congress in the coming weeks. At the same time, more House members are now calling for impeachment to get under way after, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) notes: "Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President" and "squarely puts this on our doorstep."

"While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations," she Tweeted, "upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate."

For his part, after falsely hailing the report as a "total and complete exoneration" before it was publicly released, Donald Trump (who probably, ya know, should have bothered to read it first) returned to angry form as of Friday morning, railing profanely and incoherently against the report, the respected federal prosecutors and Republican former FBI Director who wrote it after a meticulous two-year process, and against his own top level staffers who are revealed in the report as the best witnesses to Trump's various impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors.

We're joined today by award-winning opinion and analysis journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo for her insight into the report itself --- which she describes as a "roadmap for impeachment" --- and its fallout today as even several Presidential candidates are now joining the growing calls for impeachment proceedings to begin in the U.S. House.

Among the many topics of our lively discussion: Bill Barr's BS; Mueller's reasoning for choosing to not prosecute while passing the ball firmly to Congress to pick up instead; Why Don Jr. wasn't charged (but should have been); Whether the long-standing DoJ guidance prohibiting sitting Presidents from being indicted makes any sense, either legally, Constitutionally or politically; and whether Democrats in the House and Senate (not to mention Republicans there) will find the backbone to do the right thing and hold Trump accountable as per their Constitutional responsibilities, or whether they'll continue to pull punches as they have for so many years. That, as we also discuss, is precisely what has allowed dangerously criminal and unfit clowns like Donald Trump to ascend to the Presidency in the first place.

"If we care about the Constitution, and we care about the democracy, you can't just let this kind of stuff go." Parton argues. "Even if they can't get the Republicans [in the Senate] to convict, I think that they have to do it anyway. It's the right thing to do. They have to lay out the case."

"Most Americans are not going to read that report like I just did. They're just going to hear snippets of it. But if they do impeachment hearings, in which they establish this narrative out there for all Americans to see, and to hear it in their own words --- from Robert Mueller to Don McGahn, to Hope Hicks, to everyone of them --- and hear what they have to say, to describe what happened, I think that's important for the record. It's important for the voters to have that as they go to the voting booth, whether Trump is convicted or not."

In case you're wondering, the phone number to reach your member of Congress is 202-224-3121. I bet they'd like to hear from you...

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

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Guests: Zero Hour's Richard Eskow, Comm. to Investigate Russia's Jacki Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2019 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It should come as little surprise that Donald Trump's newly-appointed Attorney General William Bar has gone out of his way to obstruct justice in his attempt to misdirect from the repeated obstruction of justice painstakingly detailed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 448-page report [PDF]. Still, it's remarkable to see in action, as the nation did first thing this morning at his bizarre press conference before the report was even released. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, even in the redacted version, as Barr finally allowed the public to see it today, Trump's many attempts to shut down or obstruct the Special Counsel probe are more than clear. That, after Barr delayed the report's release to the public for nearly a month and offered an astonishing --- if dishonest and ham-fisted --- bit of sleight-of-hand at his morning presser an hour before anyone was allowed to see the two-volume report on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and the President's attempts to frustrate the FBI's investigation of it, as well as the Special Counsel's probe that began after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for the corrupt intent cited in the report.

We're joined for special coverage analysis today as we all slog through Mueller's findings, by journalists RICHARD ESKOW, columnist and host of the weekly The Zero Hour radio and TV program, and JACKI SCHECHNER, Editor-in-Chief of the Committee to Investigate Russia.

There is lots to try and make sense of as we finally get a first look at the culmination of Mueller's two-year effort, detailing various coordination --- knowing and otherwise --- with Russia's efforts to manipulate the 2016 campaign and the President of the United States' repeated attempts to, yes, obstruct the probe into his own obstruction of justice in the wake of firing Comey and the naming of Special Counsel Mueller.

"He is a total hack," Schechner says about Barr and his repeated references to "no collusion" (which Mueller never argues in his report), while he ignored the serious obstruction evidence detailed by Mueller. "This was not an impartial Attorney General who stood up for the rule of law, to work for the American public. This was a man who is operating in a spokesperson capacity for the President of the United States. It's an embarrassment to the office."

Eskow agreed. "It should have been clear to people, as soon as the timing of these relative events was announced, that we were going to get a pre-release spin rather than a serious talk from the nation's chief law enforcement officer," he argues. "It's classic misdirection."

On the substance of the actual report, there is much more to say. The report cites DoJ guidelines finding that sitting Presidents cannot be indicted, as to why the Special Counsel avoided making judgments about whether Trump obstructed justice. As Mueller notes, however, "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."

"The obstruction of justice case is extraordinarily compelling," says Eskow, who has been responsibly skeptical about many claims in the Trump/Russia saga over the past two years. "They say it's not the crime, it's the coverup. The big change for me to today was seeing, in one place, the unimpeachability, seemingly, of the evidence pointing to obstruction of justice. [It] suggests to me that Congress should act immediately to do something about it."

We go on to discuss what may happen next, as House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announces plans to subpoena the Department of Justice for the full, unredacted report and its underlying evidence, and as calls for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump should be ramping up, given the remarkable revelations of Trump's corruption detailed by Mueller.

As Trump himself reportedly said after learning that Mueller had been named as special counsel, according to the report: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked."

Finally, if you need a break from all of this today, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, because the existential threat of our growing climate crisis always lightens things up!...

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

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Guest: Sarah Pierce of Migration Policy Inst.; Also: Trump vetoes Congressional ban on U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen; Media (and Dems) unequipped to deal with Trump lawlessness; More...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2019 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as the nation awaits Trump Attorney General William Barr's release of some redacted version or another of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday morning, Barr was busy announcing new immigration policies to add to the Administration's ongoing success in creating havoc and a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, a few other news items of note and another reminder of how neither the media nor the Democrats in Congress are prepared to adequately respond to the "creeping authoritarianism", as media analyst Eric Boehlert too-generously describes it, that has turned outrageous, impeachable actions by a sitting President into little more than another "wacky Trump story of the day" over the past two years of his chaotic and criminal Presidency.

On Tuesday night, the war-mongering Trump vetoed a bicameral, bipartisan War Powers Resolution adopted by Congress --- for the first time since the 1973 War Powers Act largely delegated Congress' Constitutional war-making power to the White House --- demanding an end to U.S. military aid for Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed and millions are facing famine. That, despite the murder last year of Washington Post's Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi at the alleged command of Saudi crown prince and Trump ally Mohammad bin Salman.

Meanwhile, as federal prosecutors seek up to 10 months in prison for actress Felicity Huffman in the college admissions scandal after her recent guilty plea (please note my "Full Disclosure" during the program regarding my personal history with Huffman and her husband William H. Macy), the actions taken by Trump last week alone, as highlighted by Boehlert, are a veritable litany of impeachable offenses.

Nonetheless, while the actress may face jail time for a foolish and illegal offense on behalf of her daughter, our lawless President runs free --- and few, if any, in the media or Congress appear capable of taking on his Constitution-endangering lawlessness with the gravity warranted. Even several of the outspoken progressive freshman Democrats in the House, while supporting calls for impeachment in general, appear to be pulling punches in deference to fearful party leadership. As I argue today (yet again), there is more than enough --- even without whatever findings may come from Mueller --- to, as columnist Dan Savage has long argued, "ITMFA".

Next, we're joined by immigration attorney SARAH PIERCE, Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute to discuss Barr's newly-announced immigration policy changes revealed Tuesday evening. The new measures would bar asylum seekers who have already demonstrated a "credible fear" of return to their home countries to immigration officials from being allowed to seek bond for release until their asylum case can be heard. The process would, she explains, keep such individual in detention for months and even years, despite an already-existing lack of space in ICE detention facilities which has led to their current so-called "catch and release" policies.

The new measures, Pierce explains, would not apply to families seeking asylum or children traveling alone (even as thousands of asylum seeking children remain separated from their parents in the wake of Trump's previous AG Jeff Sessions' so-called "zero tolerance" policies.)

Pierce details what Barr's new policy measures will and won't do; why Barr has the authority to enact them; how they differ from Executive Actions undertaken by the Obama Administration (which Republicans used to object to as "unconstitutional unilateral actions"); why the new policy is likely to be challenged in federal court; how almost all of Trump's border policies are exacerbating the very problems he claims to want to solve; and why he continues to take such extreme and often unlawful and/or unconstitutional measures.

"This Administration just doesn't seem that interested in resolving this systemic problem. Instead, they just want to deter asylum seekers from arriving at the southern border. They want to limit how many ultimately apply for asylum, and then limit how many ultimately receive it," she tells me. "There is a political incentive for this President to look like he's active on immigration, to show that he's engaged in the fight, and fighting for the policies that his base is interested in --- and maybe less of a political interest in actually having results on the ground." Pierce surmises that Trump wishes to "keep hammering in these harsh policies, whether or not they're actually going to stand up in court or be effective."

Finally today, some listener comment in response to my rant yesterday regarding the $700 million raised overnight (now up to nearly $1 billion), from a handful of billionaire families and corporations, to restore the fire-ravaged, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris...

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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Also: WA adopts 'public option' health insurance; Fox 'News' town hall goes wild for Bernie's plan; Warren vows to end drilling; The unspeakable cruelty of Trump immigration policies and one hero standing up to them...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2019 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast you'll be outraged, saddened, amused, inspired and may even learn a thing or two --- or your money back! [Audio link for show is posted below.]

First up today: I'm thankful the French didn't listen to Donald Trump's terrible firefighting advice as the iconic, 850-year old Notre Dame was engulfed in flames in the heart of Paris on Monday, and very happy to see that firefighters were able to save most of the cathedral's historic stone structure and many of its artifacts, and gratified to hear that French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild it (somehow) in five years, and delighted to hear that, as of this afternoon, some $700 million had been raised for the project. But there's something about that last part that really sticks in my craw.

Specifically, the fact that, as CNN reported early on Tuesday: "France's three wealthiest families are coming to the rescue of a national icon, spearheading a fundraising drive to rebuild Notre Dame that has topped $700 million." The families and a number of huge corporations that joined them to top that number, are each multi-billionaires. For example, the Pinault family, which "generously" donated $113 million to the effort, is said to be worth some $37.3 billion. To put that it terms easier to understand, it's the equivalent of someone who is worth just $37,000 giving $113 to the charitable effort. While it's appreciated --- and $113 is a fair amount of money for someone with just $37,000 in savings, it's not really much money at all for someone with the type of obscene net worth enjoyed by the Pinaults. Still, we're happy to see it, even if the glowing public relations they are enjoying is far more than appropriate here.

But, making matters a bit more maddening? The world's fourth-largest oil and gas giant, TOTAL SA, which is based in Paris, has also pledged $113 million to the rebuilding effort. Last year, the company raked in a profit of $13.6 billion. That was up 28% from the previous year. At the same time, when Macron attempted, to institute a new tax on diesel gasoline last year, citizen protesters took to the streets in the so-called Yellow Vest movement protests to successfully force Macron, among other things, to reverse a .26 cents per gallon tax hike which might have otherwise raised nearly $4.2 billion. (The revenue from the ill-considered gas tax, while clumsily advertised as a carbon tax, of sorts, to help curb climate change, was not earmarked for clean energy projects, but to help pay off French debt instead.) But where were the billionaires then? Why wasn't TOTAL asked to cover the $4.2 billion instead of rank and file citizenry, when the company could have paid the entire $4.2 billion itself and still walked away with a cool $10 billion or so in profit to spare last year? Particularly since it is the reckless use of their products which are endangering not just a cathedral in Paris, but the entirety of human civilization?

The rich folks who are contributing to rebuild Notre Dame are getting a lot of good press today for their quick "charitable" efforts. That good press is greatly overstated as compared to what they actually deserve, as I discuss (or, perhaps, rant) in detail on today's program.

In other related and under-reported news of note, former Republican Governor William Weld announces he is taking on Trump in the 2020 GOP Presidential primary, Democratic Presidential hopefully Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced she will stop all new leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands on her first day in office if elected, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced similar, and the Washington State legislature, under the leadership of Democratic Presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee, has not only passed a measure to move the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, they've also adopted a "public option" healthcare insurance plan that will be made available to all residents.

And, speaking of healthcare and Sanders, a clip from the Vermont Senator's town hall on Fox "News" Monday night has gone viral, in which the Fox crowd is seen and heard going wild in support of his proposed single-payer, Medicare-for-All universal coverage proposal. Trump has a sad.

Next up, several maddening stories of the real world effects of Trump's unspeakably cruel immigration policies, including ICE's deportation last week of a man whose U.S. Military wife was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and whose 12-year old, U.S. citizen daughter was left parentless in Phoenix (that story, at least, has a happy ending for now), and the 11-year old El Salvadoran girl in Houston who has been denied asylum and ordered deported without her family, despite gangs that have, reportedly, been systematically killing her family members after a relative witnessed a murder and testified in court.

Of particular note here is Houston's heroic Police Chief Art Acevedo who has loudly stood up for the child and taken on those elected officials and random Twitter wingnuts alike who support the Administration's monstrous policies that separate children from their parents. "Yep. The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well," Chief Acevedo observed. "You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! ... I am glad to be on the right side of history," he said after several impassioned pleas against the cruelty. "Not this chief, not this Nation, not this time!," he declared last year as the Trump Administration was caging children by the thousands.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on the swarm of tornadoes (41 of them!) which devastated areas from Texas to Delaware and killed nine over the weekend; more on a number of the 2020 candidates stepping up their climate change proposals; and on Trump's new Interior Secretary, "formerly" an oil and gas lobbyist, already facing probes by the Interior Department's Inspector General...

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: Author, election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Notre Dame Cathedral burns; Trump flouts the law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg makes it official; GOPers in AR and TN move to game elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2019 6:22pm PT  

Among the many stories we cover, before getting to our guest on today's BradCast --- as one institution after another feels as if they are burning to the ground, either literally or metaphorically [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • The historic, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames today during renovations, with its famous spire and two-thirds of its roof collapsed, but its famous bell towers and Rose Windows hopefully spared;
  • The Dept. of Justice confirmed that, almost a month after Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned over his report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with the effort, and obstruction of justice by Donald Trump himself, a redacted version of the 400-page report would be given to both Congress and the public this Thursday;
  • Congressional Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have agreed, for some reason, to extend their deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of Trump's tax returns until April 23, as the Administration continues to blatantly flaunt the decades-old federal law requiring the requested materials be given to Congress;
  • Death threats continued against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after the President of the United States posted a video on his Twitter feed which repeatedly used an out-of-context remark from the Somali-American Muslim Congresswoman to tie her, incredibly enough, to the 9/11 attacks, even after a Trump supporter last month was charged for calling her office to describe her as an "fucking terrorist" and vowing to "put a bullet in her fucking skull";
  • The 21-year old son of a white sheriff's deputy in Louisiana was officially charged with hate crimes after an arson spree which recently burned down three African-American churches in the state over 10 days;
  • And, on a far more more hopeful note, the 37-year old, openly gay, Afghanistan war vet and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially announced his run for the Democratic nomination for President over the weekend.

Next, speaking of elections, and before we are joined by our guest today, University of Kentucky College of Law election Professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, a story of GOPers making it more difficult to register voters in Tennessee, and another on Republican state lawmakers working to make it next to impossible for progressives in Arkansas to place citizen initiatives on the ballot, after the state voted to increase the minimum wage via a ballot measure in 2018.

Douglas, author of the brand new book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, details a few of the stories from his book revealing how regular citizens in recent years have succeeded in pushing for local and state measures that have resulted in the expansion of the franchise, even in the face of the dark forces hoping to restrict access to the voting booth.

He shares, for example, the story of the Kentucky man who lost his right to vote for life in the state for stealing a car as a teenager decades ago, who was able to encourage his state's legislature to change the law to re-enfranchise those who have completed their sentences. And the story of the woman in Michigan whose anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative was adopted by voters last November. Both stories are told in more detail in his book. With so many stories in the news (and our program!) of voting rights being taken away or otherwise restricted, its important for folks to understand they can actually change that equation without relying on Congress or even major civil rights groups, often by taking action themselves.

"What I like to focus on, in addition to the doom and gloom that seems to invade our psyche with respect to the right to vote, are the positive stories of progress and success," Douglas tells me. "There's power in these inspiring stories that I tell in the book about ways to make our voting process more convenient and inclusive. We can quibble about some of the details, but hopefully the overarching message that we need to take back our elections through local grassroots work can really take hold."

With those hopeful notes, Douglas offers a list of groups and initiatives in his book who readers can contact and be inspired by to take action in their own home towns and states. We also discuss several emerging initiatives to expand access to voting, such as restoring voting rights to the incarcerated and even lowering the voting age to 16 (which is already being done for local elections in several jurisdictions!), as well as a number of initiatives on which we do not agree. That, of course, underscores the beauty of democracy...when we can actually find it. (Oh, and here's the link to where you can buy the book and a ticket to Josh's June 20 appearance at The Last Bookstore appearance here in L.A., as mentioned on the show!)

All of that, and even a quick --- rhyming --- listener call on today's program!...

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

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




Guest: Author Igor Volsky; Also: Lawless Trump; Regulatory capture complete; Freshmen Dems (and even John Kerry!) step up in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2019 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: One reason after another why Democrats needs to step up and offer a bold and fearless vision for a more progressive, safer, healthier, more equal and prosperous America as we look beyond the dark, corrupt era of Donald Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below after summary.]

But we start today with what Trump tweeted out as "Great News!" on Thursday, a new poll he saw on Fox "News" labeled on screen as "TRUMP'S SOARING APPROVAL" finding him with an overall 55% approval rating! Only trouble, the poll from Georgetown University found him with a 55% DISapproval rating (and just 41% approval.) Don't hold your breath for Trump to delete the Tweet.

Why should he? He's gotten away with just about everything he and Fox could ever hope for, including the complete regulatory capture of the federal government which --- following Thursday's Senate confirmation of a longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist to lead the Interior Department --- now includes corporate executives and lobbyists heading virtually every Executive Agency meant to oversee and regulate the very industries they previously worked for. Do Fox viewers not mind that Trump has filled the D.C. "swamp" like it's never been filled before? Or do they not know? Or do they just not care? Given Trump's latest, impeachable behavior regarding the southern border, and the cheers he receives from supporters for it, it's a good guess that his Republican base couldn't care less. They vote as they are told (by Fox).

Next, on the same day that New Zealand's new ban on military-style assault weapons officially goes into effect --- after being approved by a 119 to 1 vote in Parliament this week, less than one month after a massacre by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch killed 50 and wounded 50 others --- many in the U.S. are left wondering why any action to improve gun safety here remains seemingly impossible.

We're joined today by IGOR VOLKSY, founder of Guns Down America and author of the brand new book Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns. Volsky explains what lessons we might learn from New Zealand and why changing gun laws in the U.S., where more than 30,000 Americans are killed by guns each year, is so difficult.

He is calling for bold new platforms from 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates who, he says, have offered grand visions for the environment, health care and even taking on major corporations, but not when it comes to guns, where they beg for table scraps and barely incremental improvements --- if they even raise the issue. Volsky argues that, despite broad majority support for a host of common sense gun measures across all parties --- including for the banning of military-style assault weapons --- a new political framing is needed which isn't "designed to talk to some kind of mythical moderate voter".

"I am calling on the 2020 Presidential candidates to fundamentally reframe the conversation around guns, to establish a long term goal to establish a future with fewer guns, and to talk about the ways we need to raise the standard for gun ownership, for gun production," he tells me. "And by the way, when I say gun production, I mean actually regulating the firearm industry --- that it stops producing militarized weapons for the civilian market, both in terms of the assault weapons and the much more militarized handguns that use larger rounds." How to do that without flinching against the politically powerful NRA and its even more powerful rightwing propaganda outlets will not be easy, nor quick. He argues that it will require a bold, long term vision that is still absent from Democratic politics and messaging.

Finally today, two must-listen clips from Congressional hearings this week. The first features freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)'s absolutely shaming Jamie Dimon, CEO of the nation's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, for the paltry salary he pays his own employees, even after the bank reported a more than $9 billion PROFIT in just the first quarter of 2019 alone. Many of his employees, she details, are actually losing money each month, even while working full time for Chase, while Dimon enjoyed a $31 million salary last year.

As Paul Waldman observed at WaPo after watching the instructive colloquy between Porter and Dimon, "JPMorgan Chase could give every one of its 250,000 employees a $25,000 raise, and it would cost the bank only about two-thirds of the profit it made just in the first quarter of this year." He too is hoping that Porter's point becomes a central theme for Democrats running for office. Other Democrats in Congress --- including those running for President in 2020 --- have a lot to learn from the new crop of first-term progressives in the House.

And lastly, an absolutely remarkable exchange in the House Oversight Committee between climate-science denying clown, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), and former Sec. of State John Kerry at a hearing on "The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security." Suffice to say, if you're bested by John Kerry in a debate, you must be REALLY bad at this. And the laughable Massie certainly was...

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Also: Several other indictments today and, yes, still more unprecedented Trump Administration corruption...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You get an indictment! You get an indictment! You get an indictment! Everyone gets an indictment!!! Well, not everyone. At least not everyone who deserves an indictment. But a bunch of folks got indicted today in a bunch of separate federal cases. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

One time Democratic hero and former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was charged in a 36-count federal indictment in California for allegedly stealing from clients, not paying his taxes, and committing bank fraud. Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig was charged by prosecutors in D.C. for lying to federal agents regarding his lobbying work in Ukraine, a case that came out of the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe (where Trump Campaign chair Paul Manafort was previously found guilty of very related charges).

And, of course, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was finally arrested in the U.K. after being kicked out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London (where he's claimed asylum for the past seven years) before being found guilty by a British judge of skipping out on bail while facing extradition for charges of sexual assault in Sweden back in 2012. The Swedish charges have since been dropped, but Assange now faces both prison time in Britain and an extradition request from the U.S. where prosecutors unsealed a one-count indictment [PDF] against him today, as filed under seal in March of 2018.

For now, that charge is an allegation of "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion". Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia claim he attempted to help crack a password for a classified Defense Department computer system to assist then U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning in hacking documents. That, after Wikileaks had already released hundreds of such documents --- many containing evidence of serious U.S. crimes --- taken by Manning, back in 2010. Freedom of the press advocates, however, warn today that the charges being brought by Trump's Dept. of Justice against Assange could be expanded to include normal journalistic activities, which could threaten the Constitutional rights of many media outlets and journalists alike.

We detail today what we know --- and don't --- about the indictment; what we know --- and don't --- about what Assange and WikiLeaks have done (including the release of documents stolen from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016); and what all of this may --- or may not --- mean for U.S. press freedoms as the case moves forward.

Also today: Some good news regarding the death penalty in New Hampshire; Some quick updates on Trump Treasury Dept. Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal (so far) to turn over Trump's tax returns to Congress in violation of the law; Trump Attorney General William Barr's obnoxious, hypocritical, and (so far) evidence-free claim that the Obama Administration was "spying" on the Trump Campaign in 2016; And more disturbing details on the perfidy and corruption of David Bernhardt, the longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist who was shamefully confirmed today by the U.S. Senate as Trump's new Interior Department Secretary.

Finally, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report on Trump's newly signed Executive Orders authorizing himself to, among other things, authorize new oil and gas pipelines without approval from other federal agencies, and to remove states' rights to block energy infrastructure that threatens local water supplies; the second bomb cyclone in weeks to likely bring billions in damages to a number of Midwestern states; and several troubling new studies regarding the acceleration of climate change and glacial ice melt now outpacing previous scientific predictions...

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Bad news for WI progressives after last week's Supreme Court election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2019 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, finding light on a very dark news day, and making sense of Devin Nunes' bizarre new legal attack against a well-respected media outlet. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]

You know the news is dark on a day when the brightest spot seems to be the first-ever photographic evidence of a black hole in a galaxy that is 53 million light-years from Earth, as constructed by an international consortium of scientists from 20 different countries employing an array of observatories around the world to construct a virtual "telescope" the size of the planet itself. The assembled image of the supermassive black hole is the first such glimpse of such an object in space (theorized by Einstein over a century ago, but directly proven today for the first time) containing the same mass as 6.5 billion suns and so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull.

Sounds a lot like the Trump Administration. But we (mostly) avoid that today, even as we discuss one of its biggest supporters in Congress, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and his increasingly mysterious (and troubling) new legal gambit.

But, before we get there today, an update on last week's razor thin race for a key seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. With computer-reported results from last week's election showing progressive-aligned Judge Lisa Neubaeur fell less than half of a percentage point shy of defeating far-right Judge Brian Hagedorn for a seat on the state's high court being vacated by a retiring progressive-leaned Justice, Neubauer decided on Wednesday against seeking a recount which she would have had to pay for under state law. Her concession today --- despite unofficial and unconfirmed computer tallies showing a loss by just about 6,000 votes out of some 1.2 million cast statewide --- means that progressives will be unable to regain a majority on the court until 2023 at the earliest. The new 5 to 2 rightwing majority all but scotches hopes for rolling back former Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union measures and GOP voter suppression laws, and could handicap the state's Democrats during the inevitable redistricting fights following the 2020 census. (Have we mentioned lately that elections matter?!)

Also today, more on the incoming and "potentially historic" "bomb cyclone" developing over plains states and the upper Midwest, where blizzard warnings have now been issued in 6 states, snowfall as high as two feet is predicted in some areas, and the threat of more major flooding is plaguing several states still fighting to recover from billions of dollars in damage from the last "bomb cyclone" which erupted just weeks ago. This latest evidence of the increasingly dangerous threat of catastrophic climate change comes on the same day as Donald Trump signed two new Executive Orders intended to make it more difficult for environmental regulations at the state level to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (which serve to exacerbate man-made global warming.)

Then, we're joined by veteran media analyst and author ERIC BOEHLERT to discuss the latest bizarre lawsuit, which seems to challenge the First Amendment itself, as filed by Nunes this week.

Several weeks ago, the California Congressman and top Trump ally in Congress filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, the owners of two anonymous parody accounts (@DevonCow and @DevonNunesMom), as well as Republican strategist and Nunes/Trump opponent Liz Mair for defamation. This week, the GOP Congressman filed suit against Mair again, along with the 162-year old McClatchy Company, a news consortium which publishes the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper in the Nunes' central California district. His latest complaint seeks $150 million in damages, charging defamation based on an article published by the Bee last year detailing the settlement of a lawsuit after a charity yacht cruise which reportedly included cocaine and underage prostitutes, according to court documents cited by the paper. The cruise was auctioned off by the philanthropic arm of the Alpha Omega Winery, in which Nunes is an investor.

But where his Twitter suit seemed absurd, this new suit --- like the first one, originally reported by Fox "News", of course --- suggests a darker and more nefarious effort to undermine Constitutionally-protected freedom of the press. Who is funding these efforts by Nunes and why? Might it have anything to do with Trump's repeated assertions that libel laws need to change to make it easier for public figures like himself to challenge reporting that celebrities like himself don't care for?

Boehlert offers insight on what may be going on here: "The Republican Party has decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the new targets. And they're using the exact same playbook that they used on the traditional media for four decades, which is you work the refs, you scream and yell over these fake phony allegations of 'liberal media bias'. And it works! Facebook has bent over backwards to make sure Republicans are happy. Twitter could have easily banned Donald Trump two years ago and saved this country an enormous amount of pain, because he obviously violates the rules all the time. So it works."

But there may be even more behind all of this, as we discuss, along with his concerns about ongoing corporate media failures in the wake of Trump AG William Barr's handling of the still-secret Mueller Report and other related matters as we head into the 2020 Presidential election cycle.

Finally, we close with some listener mail regarding our ongoing discussions of how Dems should move forward as they attempt to remove both Donald Trump from office next year and the nation itself from the black hole we continue to sink into under his increasingly dark reign...

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Also: Kansas conman Kobach's comeback?; GOP's 'Green Real Deal'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not enough that Trump has fired just about everyone in his failed Administration (or they quit), and has failed to fill the vacancies left behind, and that he has personally violated an unprecedented number of laws both before and after taking office, or that he's purging most of his top officials who work on immigration. No, it's even more distributing than that. [Audio file for today's show is posted below.]

Last week, the President of the United States said, with cameras rolling, that we "have to get rid of judges" just days before, reportedly, instructing Customs and Border Patrol agents to ignore the rule of law and simply block immigrants from exercising their right to claim asylum at the southern border once on U.S. territory. That, of course, would be a violation of both U.S. law and international treaties.

According to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump instructed agents at the border in Calexico, California on Friday to tell immigrants the U.S. is "full" and "at capacity" and "if judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'" If true, that would be an unlawful instruction from the President of the United States ordering a law enforcement officer to violate law and then to do so again once a federal judge has ordered otherwise. Real Presidents (at least Democratic ones) would be --- or should be --- impeached for such things. But we have the Republican Donald Trump as our President.

In other related Trump immigration meltdown news today...

  • More on why Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was pushed out by White House hardliners (after she reportedly refused to violate the law as Trump was demanding and also pushed back against Trump's order to close ports of entry at the border entirely);
  • Poor, disgraced, former KS Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach --- recently floated to take over some immigration duties for the Trump Administration --- may be blocked from a Senate-confirmed post because, as Kansas' GOP U.S. Senator Pat Roberts told reporters today, Kobach is so toxic that apparently even the GOP-majority Senate "can't confirm him". Luckily, Republicans who used to pretend to hate Presidential "czars" have a very short memory, so there may be another way into the Administration for Kobach, the currently jobless Kansas conman;
  • As to judges, another one in federal court on Monday night temporarily blocked yet another key Trump immigration policy, at least for now. The federal courts are unlikely to like Trump's new one any better, I suspect.

Also today --- actually, right at the top of the show --- some listener mail in follow-up to my conversation on yesterday's program with the ACLU's Phil Aroneanu regarding the group's newly-launched Rights For All campaign which seeks to get 2020 candidates on record regarding several "thorny" issues regarding civil liberties and Constitutional rights. A number of listeners had some thoughts on my questions for Aroneanu regarding the potential political dangers of backing Democratic candidates into politically difficult policy positions as they attempt to unseat arguably the worst President --- from a civil liberties and Constitutional rights perspective --- our nation has ever had. We share and discuss a few of those listener emails today.

And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the Midwest buckles up for another potential "bomb cyclone" and still more catastrophic flooding to follow it; Global warming has pushed the Arctic into an "unprecedented" new state; and the GOP, after ridiculing the Democrats' Green New Deal have introduced their own response to it called the 'Green Real Deal'. You may be surprised who the lead Congressional sponsor is, though less surprised as to what the plan actually calls for...

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Guest: ACLU's Phil Aroneanu; Also: Nielsen out at DHS, as Trump's far-right agency purge rolls out amid immigration crisis; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2019 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two tracks, plus callers, as the Right ascends at the White House and the ACLU's fight to restore civil and Constitutional rights finds its way into the 2020 President campaign. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The hardliners are rising at the White House today, as Trump continues to purge top officials from several different key agencies, including the sprawling Dept. of Homeland Security (Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign on Sunday); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ron Vitiello, Trump's nominee to head the agency was suddenly withdrawn last week after already clearing a key Senate hurdle); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (both its Director and General Counsel were purged today); the Secret Service (its Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is now said to be leaving); and the bloodbath is continuing at other agencies as well. All of that as the number of families seeking asylum at the southern border continues to increase despite --- or, perhaps, because of --- a number of failed Trump Administration policies.

Moreover, on Monday, the foreign policy hardliners at the White House are ascendant at well, as the Administration is announcing its designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. It's the first time the U.S. has designated a foreign government entity in such a way, and the move is reportedly opposed by top Pentagon and CIA officials who fear blow-back to American troops and intelligence operatives abroad. Indeed, Iran has already responded by calling for U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, to be designated as a terrorist organization in response.

Amidst this latest disturbing lurch to the hard-right by the Trump Administration, some of us continue to look forward to 2020 when voters can, hopefully, do something about it. To that end, for the first time in its storied history, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is jumping into electoral politics in a major way this year, recently announcing they are spending $30 million to help get 2020 candidates on the record when it comes to a number of important issues for civil libertarians, including some that are quite thorny politically.

For example, the group's new national RightsForAll.us campaign seeks to force candidate to answer as to whether or not they support decreasing the bloated U.S. prison population by 50 percent (and, if so, how); allowing the incarcerated to vote (currently, only Maine and Vermont do so); and whether they would supporting overturning the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or protection of the life of the mother).

We're joined today by the ACLU's Digital Organizing Strategy Director PHIL ARONEANU to discuss the initiative, including whether some of the "thorniest" questions for candidates (as available at the campaign's website) on Voting Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Immigrants' Rights and Reproductive Freedom might, in fact, become a liability for those candidates if they answer them one way or another. That, in an age when one of the greatest threats to civil liberties and Constitutional rights clearly continues to be the man in the White House, who Democratic candidates will have to defeat to see any possibility of the restoration of such rights.

So, how does the ACLU, a non-partisan organization, respond to some of those questions and concerns? Tune in for my conversation with Aroneanu today to find out.

Then, we open up the phone lines today for listener thoughts on all of the above. You'll not be shocked to learn, they have many...

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

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

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

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Guest: WI's John Nichols; Also: McConnell 'nukes' Senate rules again; House to subpoena 'Mueller Report', request Trump tax returns from IRS...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2019 6:52pm PT  

There were a number of important elections held around the country on Tuesday, so on today's BradCast, we've got some of the reported results from the key races, including both good and bad news for Democrats and progressives. Oh, and some stuff happened in D.C. today as well. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We start with the good news out of Chicago, where former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot will become the Windy City's first black female Mayor, as well as the city's first openly gay chief executive. Lightfoot, who has never held elective office, ran as a progressive reformer to clean up Chicago's notorious old-school, insider politics after Democratic Mayor Rahm Emmanuel chose not to seek a third term. She is said to have easily bested Toni Preckwinkle, another African-American woman and a longtime elected official. by a nearly 50-point margin in Tuesday's final runoff contest.

There was still more good news for Democrats in the key swing-state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, where Democratic Navy vet and former Dept. of Veterans Affairs official Pam Iovino is said to have defeated Republican D. Raja in a special election for a state Senate seat representing a suburban district outside of Pittsburgh. Republicans have held that seat for most of the past half-century, and the district (which uses 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems) reportedly went to Donald Trump by 6 points in 2016, when he took the state's 20 electoral votes for the first time since 1988.

Iovino's 4-point victory over Raja is being regarded as a potential bellwether for next year's Presidential contest when Democrats will need to win back Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin --- all of which went to Trump in 2016 before electing Democratic Governors during statewide elections in 2018 --- if they hope to take back the White House.

While there was good news for Dems in Pennsylvania, the news out of Wisconsin on Tuesday was decidedly less good...at least as of this hour. Progressive-aligned state Supreme Court candidate Judge Lisa Neubauer had been widely expected to win the seat of a retiring progressive-aligned state Justice, but appears to have fallen just short against GOP-aligned Judge Brian Hagedorn, according to unofficial results.

Hagedorn, who has likened homosexuality to bestiality, derided Planned Parenthood as a "wicked organization" and called the NAACP a "disgrace to America", declared victory in the early Wednesday morning hours after computer tallies gave him a lead of just under 6,000 votes out of just over 1.2 million cast across the state. Neubauer's campaign announced the race was "too close to call" and "almost assuredly headed to a recount", stating that "Wisconsinites deserve to know we have had a fair election and that every vote is counted".

With the margin less than 1% (it is currently one-half of 1%), she will be entitled to request --- and pay for --- such a "recount". State law, however, currently leaves it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether they wish to tally the state's mostly hand-marked paper ballots manually or simply run them through the same computer scanners that tallied them (correctly or incorrectly, who knows?) on Election Night.

Tuesday's state Supreme Court contest in the Badger State was particularly important for Democrats who, even if they had won, would have retained a 4 to 3 minority on the state's high court. But, with a conservative-aligned Justice retiring next year and the replacement election to be held on the same day as the state's 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, they had hoped to finally flip the court to a more Dem-friendly 4 to 3 majority next year for the first time in years. That majority would be particularly important following the 2020 census and the inevitable subsequent court battles over redistricting in one of the most extremely GOP-partisan gerrymandered states in the country, not to mention hopes for rolling back a host of rightwing initiatives enacted under Republican Gov. Scott Walker now that voters sent him packing last November.

We're joined today by Wisconsin's own JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times, to help us make sense of Tuesday's stunning reported results that appear to have taken both Democrats and Republicans alike off guard.

How and why did it happen, given Neubauer's huge fund-raising advantage over the toxic, Koch-supported former Walker protege who many Republicans chose to stay away from? Did a last minute infusion of out-of-state Republican cash make the difference? While turnout increased for both parties compared to the state's last Supreme Court election in 2018 (when the Dem-aligned candidate won by a full 12 points!), why did turnout appear to increase more for the GOP this year? And what happened that dampened turnout in Milwaukee?

Does a potential "recount" have any chance of reversing the currently reported results? And what should all of this --- an objectionably flawed rightwing candidate seen as having little chance of winning in Wisconsin, before he then goes on to narrowly win the state --- tell Democrats as they head into the crucial 2020 Presidential election looking to flip WI back into the D column? We discuss all of that and much more with the ever-wise Nichols today, who offers this "number one lesson" to progressives: "Do not assume Donald Trump is doomed."

Finally, there was also a lot of stuff that happened in Congress today for a change as well: The House Judiciary Committee voted to approve subpoenas for the Department of Justice to require Trump's Attorney General William Barr to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller Report, including its exhibits and underlying evidence; In the Senate, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unilaterally invoked the so-called "nuclear option" to change Senate rules, after failing to do so via regular Senate votes, in order to reduce the time needed to install Trump appointees to executive agencies and lifetime positions on the federal bench. The new rule will now require just 2 hours of debate, rather than 30, before holding a vote on such appointees; And, late in the day, the Democratic U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sent a letter to the IRS formally requesting the past 6 years of Donald Trump's tax returns as well as those for eight of his business entities. The House actions are certain to face challenges from the White House and likely end up being decided in court...

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Bernhardt slithers to the top of Interior; Another deadly chemical fire in Houston; White House security whistleblower steps forward; Chinese national arrested with 'malware' at Mar-a-Lago...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's D.C. swamp isn't getting any less swampy, but it all does make chants of "Lock her up!" over Hillary Clinton's personal email server appear quite quaint. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • It's Election Day in a number of places today, including for a very important state Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin, where the results will have ramifications (for the state and nation) for the next decade. And voters are also at the polls near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today for a special election for that state's Senate in a contest which may serve as a bellwether before the 2020 elections. We'll have reported results and other analysis of that and others contests, no doubt, on tomorrow's program;
  • More disaster today near Houston, Texas where yet another deadly chemical fire broke out, killing one as of airtime, with two others airlifted to hospitals. Emergency officials issued shelter-in-place warnings to schools and residents within a 1-mile radius, advising residents to stay indoors, turn off all ventilation systems and seal all doors and windows. It's the second major toxic chemical plant explosion near Houston within as many weeks. Given the state's shameful history with chemical facilities --- and a dangerous, years-long lack of transparency, even for first responders --- the latest tragic incident is, sadly, not all that surprising;
  • Donald Trump's latest nominee to head the Dept. of Interior is near confirmation in the U.S. Senate after his confirmation hearing last week in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But David Bernhardt --- currently Deputy Secretary and Acting chief of the agency following the resignation of Trump's first disgraced and corrupt Secretary Ryan Zinke --- is a longtime, top lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and has been instrumental since arriving at the agency in 2017 in reversing loads of environmental regulations long opposed by the fossil fuel and chemical industry.

    In fact, as a recent investigative report by Reveal illustrated, at an executive meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), a top industry group, after Bernhardt was tapped to be the top Deputy at Interior in 2017, the hundred or so oil industry executives at the conference were caught on tape laughing and applauding after the IPAA's CEO bragged about Bernhardt as "the guy that actually headed up" their legal team challenging federal endangered species rules being "now the No. 2 at Interior," adding, "So that's worked out well." Now Bernhardt will be No. 1 at Interior.

    We share some of the audio from last week's Senate Committee hearing in which Bernhardt said he would decline to recuse himself from issues at Interior involving companies for whom he lobbied, because, he said, he'd be "basically handcuffed and not in the game for the American people if I am recusing myself" and prevented from unleashing his awesome "skillset" on behalf of "the American team". Bernhardt, of course, is just one of many deeply-conflicted swamp creatures now inhabiting Trump's "drained" swamp;

  • Speaking of which, a whistleblower with 18 years of experience in the White House Personnel Security Office, where she worked for Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has stepped forward to expose what she describes as at least 25 Trump appointees who failed security clearance checks, but were ultimately granted clearances anyway after intervention by more senior officials. According to Tricia Newbold's recent testimony to the U.S. House Oversight Committee, many Administration security clearances had been rejected for a number of reasons including "foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct."

    She testified that two currently-serving Senior Officials in the White House were granted clearances despite failing their background checks. Though the names of the officials whose security clearances were granted only after intervention were not specified, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings has sought "adjudication summaries" from the White House for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, his daughter Ivanka Trump, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, currently National Security Advisor John Bolton and a host of other top appointees.

    On Tuesday, the Committee voted to subpoena Carl Kline, Newbold's superior, believed to be behind a number of the questionable approvals. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders today described the Congressional oversight of the matter in partisan terms, bizarrely characterizing it on Fox "News" today as "sad and shameful" and, somehow, ironically enough, "dangerous" to national security;

  • That statement came just hours before court documents were released today revealing that the Secret Service arrested a Chinese national at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, during the President's latest visit to his Palm Beach resort, with four cell phones, two Chinese passports, a hard drive, and a computer thumb-drive said to contain "malicious malware". Court documents describe the woman telling the Secret Service, after she had initially been allowed inside the resort, that she was sent there by a Chinese friend who instructed her to travel from Shanghai to make contact with a member of Trump's family. But, why worry about security checks for those family members, eh?;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on Bernhardt's enormous conflicts of interest, the White House's latest unprecedented scheme to jump start the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, more bad news for Trump's environmental rollbacks in federal court, and the Green New Deal has its first town hall discussion...

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

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Guest: Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Also: More Trump losses in federal court on the environment; Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2019 6:09pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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