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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 24, 2019
NC Elections Board Ignores Voters, Approves Touchscreen Barcode Ballot System: 'BradCast' 8/23/19
Guest: Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB's new cancer; Trump blows up markets, China trade war...
Ransomware Attack Hits 22 TX Cities. Why Worry About 2020?: 'BradCast' 8/22/19
Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
'Green News Report' 8/22/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic; Salmon dying in hot Alaskan rivers; Swedish teen climate activist sails for US on solar boat; PLUS: 2020 climate candidate drops out...
Previous GNRs: 8/20/19 - 8/15/19 - Archives...
GOP Website 'Political Malware' Exposed as NC Special Elections Begin: 'BradCast' 8/21/19
Guest: Bill 'DocDawg' Busa; Also: Greenland debacle; More Trump-fueled domestic terror...
The Domestic Terror Mass Shootings by White American Men That DIDN'T Happen Last Week: 'BradCast' 8/20/19
Also: Trump cow-tows to NRA on gun reform; Luntz' advice to Dems on discussing climate...
'Green News Report' 8/20/19
Newark lead crisis; U.S. fracking causes spike methane emissions; Air pollution like a pack of cigarettes a day; PLUS: End the Senate filibuster to save the climate?...
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...
'Green News Report' 8/15/19
Warming-fueled algae blooms killing dogs; Big Oil pushing plastic; Plastic found falling in Arctic snow; PLUS: Dem states sue to stop Trump EPA's dirty power plan...
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: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the National Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2019 6:57pm PT  

As my guest details on today's BradCast, it's not immigrants who are currently posing a threat to those living on our southern border, it's lawless federal agents encroaching on private lands to build an unnecessary and dangerous border wall. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up: the Department of Justice rounded up dozens of gang members and indicted them on Tuesday as part of a criminal conspiracy for "attempted murder, kidnapping, maiming, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine." No, they weren't "violent inner-city thugs" or "murderous MS-13 immigrant gangsters", they were white supremacist members of the Arkansas-based New Aryan Empire. Oddly enough, Donald Trump hasn't mentioned them during any of his false, anti-immigrant rants at campaign rallies and State of the Union addresses.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump will most likely sign the compromise deal struck between Congressional Democrats and Republicans this week to fund the federal government and avoid another shutdown, even though he will get less than he could have had if he'd accepted the deal he backed out of last year before shutting down the federal government over his new demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall. Sean Hannity of Fox "News" and wingnut talk radio fame has now backed off his earlier charge that "any Republican that supports this garbage compromise" would have to explain themselves. He now appears to be supporting the compromise, while calling for the President to declare a "national emergency" to steal more tax-payer money for a wall. With that permission from his Fox "News" handlers, Trump will almost certainly sign the agreement.

In all, as Trump points out, the deal allocates $23 billion for border security --- a lot of money for Democrats to agree to if, as Trump lies, they favor "open borders". It's also a lot of money period. But, record national debt and annual deficit spending do not appear to be a problem for pretend "fiscally conservative" Republicans in Congress. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that the national debt has now topped $22 trillion for the first time in history, after increasing more than $2 trillion since Trump took office under GOP leadership in Congress. The landmark comes thanks, in no small part, to the Trump/GOP's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax cuts.

And while both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are hoping that Trump signs their compromise border security agreement to keep the government open, Trump's U.S. Customs and Border (CPB) agents are busy breaking into private property and threatening to seize private lands owned by Americans who have lived and worked on the banks of the Rio Grande at the U.S. southern border for generations.

Bulldozers and other heavy machinery is now reportedly rolling into wildlife sanctuaries in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX has filed a restraining order this week to stop them after, the Center charges, CPB broke into a fence on its private property, cut the lock, and replaced it with its own.

We're joined today by the Center's Director MARIANNA TREVINO-WRIGHT to explain the federal government's intrusions on their 100-acre butterfly refuge, wildlife center and native species botanical garden. The Center, part of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), regards CPB's behavior as unlawful and unconstitutional according to a lawsuit "filed in December of 2017 as the result of the government's actions on our property in July of 2017, more than nine months before a Congressional vote, or any funding appropriation for 'border wall'," Trevino-Wright emphasizes.

We discuss, among other things, the 28 laws and environmental regulations --- "including the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, and the Native American Religious Freedom Act" --- that the Department of Homeland Security has waived since Congress approved 33 miles of new border fencing in the area last year to allow construction of the barrier, and the federal government's use of Eminent Domain already underway to confiscate private lands for Trump's wall. Trevino-Wright details the devastation that awaits butterfly species, as well as other insects and native wildlife with the construction of the wall on the property of both the Center and the neighboring 91,000 acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

She says insects and animals will be "sentenced to death" thanks to flooding that will occur between the mighty Rio Grande River and the concrete base of the planned 30 foot wall where they will become trapped. Moreover, the accompanying LED "blitzkrieg all-night bright lighting every 150 feet on the wall, will result in catastrophe for sensitive nocturnal creatures and "lead to greater environmental damage". And, no, Trevino-Wright tells me, many butterflies and birds are not able to fly over a 36-foot concrete and steel barrier. She describes the wall as an "abomination", Trump's claims of an humanitarian and violent criminal "crisis" at the border to be nonsense, and why residents in the area are far more worried about criminals within law enforcement agencies than they are about those crossing the border unlawfully or ferrying drugs into the country. "Conflict or property damage or terrorist acts by those who support this agenda are actually what we're more concerned about," Trevino-Wright adds.

Please tune in for this full conversation.

Finally today, a surprise resignation in the Trump Administration as FEMA Director Brock Long calls it quits after facing two years of harassment from DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen and unprecedented hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophes, writing in his farewell letter to staffers that "no one could have ever predicted the challenges we would face." Our own Desi Doyen --- who has long been citing scientists predicting those very challenges for years, thanks to global warming --- offers a word or two in response...

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

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Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally and new 'wall' deal that's worse for him than last year's...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2019 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we revisit the mysterious case of tens of thousands of 'missing' votes from Georgia's 2018 midterm election, now that the case has become even more mysterious and disturbing, with investigators finding that African-American neighborhoods may have been specifically 'targeted' in some fashion. [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

But, first today: Donald Trump and Beto O'Rourke held dueling rallies near each other and near the border in El Paso, TX on Monday night, after the President had been offering a series of lies about the effectiveness of an existing border wall in the city. During the Monday rally, Trump also lied about his rally's crowd size and that of O'Rourke's, which appears to have been larger than Trump's.

More tellingly, however, the President also failed to let his supporters know about a deal struck before the rallies by Republican and Democratic negotiators in Congress to avoid another government shutdown this Friday at midnight. The agreement, reportedly, includes less money and less fencing than Trump could have had if he'd agreed to the deal he backed out before Christmas last year, losing leverage with his subsequent record-long 35-day government shutdown and the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House. That's "The Art of the Deal"? We detail the tentative agreement and whether Trump will be harangued again by rightwingers into not signing it and shutting down the federal government yet again at week's end.

Then, we're joined once again by longtime election integrity bulldog MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance with a disturbing update to the group's election contest filed in state court last year to challenge the inexplicable reported results from Georgia's 2018 Lt. Governor's election. Marks had joined us previously to detail some 127,000 ballots cast last November found to have "missing" votes in only that race and only on ballots cast via the state's 17-year old, easily-manipulated, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is reported by those systems to have lost the race to Republican Geoff Duncan by 123,172 votes out of almost 4 million counted, according to the final certified results.

The 4% undervote in the contest seems impossibly huge, given that other statewide contests even further down the ballot (e.g. for Sec. of State or Agriculture Commissioner) saw a far smaller rate of ballots with no vote recorded --- an average of about 1% or less in those other races. Moreover, votes cast in the same race for Lt. Governor on verifiable hand-marked paper ballots revealed an expected, similarly small undervote rate. So, this appears to clearly be machine related somehow.

But, while the group's initial analysis revealed a disproportionate number of undervotes in Democratic-leaning areas, a newer analysis [PDF] by a number of top-flight election data analysts --- as detailed exclusively over the weekend by Michael Harriot at The Root and today (sadly, behind a paywall) by Kim Zetter at PoliticoPro --- finds that African-American neighborhoods and precincts, specifically, had an even higher disproportionate rate of missing votes in the Lt. Governor's race. Experts are having trouble coming up with non-nefarious reasons for the numbers and, as Marks tells me, state and local officials appear curiously uninterested in what is clearly a massive disenfranchisement of their own voters.

"We have had all sorts of statisticians all over the nation, from academics to those who work for political data houses, and everybody's coming up with exactly the same answer --- that African-American neighborhoods were the ones highly impacted by this," Marks tells me. "There's something wrong across the state. The state has too many missing votes, no matter what county we look at. However, it is exacerbated greatly in the heavily African-American precincts, no matter where you look."

"I've never worked on a case one-tenth as important as what I believe this is," she says. "While you and I and others, for years, have known about the dangers of electronic voting machines, and we've warned about them, I swear I never thought I would see machines used in a way that had racial disparity as a result."

We discuss the possible reasons --- nefarious and otherwise --- for such an alarmingly disproportionate undervote rates and the Coalition's several ongoing lawsuits in Georgia challenging the Lt. Governor results on the state level and the state's entire unverifiable touchscreen voting system on the federal level. Marks also discusses whether either case will soon allow for an independent forensic investigation of the computer-voting and tabulation systems used in the state in 2018, as the Coalition is demanding via discovery.

It's also worth noting here that Georgia's new Governor, Republican Brian Kemp --- who was reported to have narrowly defeated popular African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams last year --- oversaw all of the 2018 elections (including his own) as Secretary of State while repeatedly being excoriated by federal courts for voter suppression tactics. At the same time, counties in key states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa and even in California, are now preparing to moving to similarly 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. The latest news from Georgia's shameful 17-years of disastrous elections is troubling on its own, but this incident serves as yet another object lesson and warning for the entire country, as even many Democrats are now supporting the move to such completely unverifiable voting systems. (See Los Angeles, for example.)

"If there is anything good that can come out of this whole mess that we're in, surely it is that people are going to be able to see we have to stop it with this electronic voting. Here we are, months after the election, we don't know if any of those numbers can be trusted. We can't run elections this way!," Marks argues. "So, hopefully this will have some benefit to the nation in saying, 'Look, you gotta quit using touchscreen machines. End of story.'"

Finally, we're joined today by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, for special coverage of the landmark Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress last week by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (MA)...

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

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Plus: Listener calls! Including one calling for segregation?! (Yup.)
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2019 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It seems like we've been here before. Donald Trump is out lying about his border wall, Congress is days away from another potential government shutdown over Trump's demands, and various scandals continue to rock Virginia's elected Democratic leadership with calls for resignations both continuing and waning. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

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

  • During his State of the Union address, Trump offered false assertions about a border fence in El Paso, Texas, claiming it turned the state from one of the most dangerous cities in the country to one of the safest. The assertions have been debunked and re-debunked over and again since then by, among others, El Paso's sheriff and the city's mayor. Nonetheless, the President is holding a campaign rally in El Paso on Monday to repeat the lies;
  • Potential Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke --- whose hometown is El Paso --- holds a rally at the same time as Trump's to debunk the lies, after more Democrats (Senators Elizabeth Warren of MA and Amy Klobuchar of MN) announced their intention over the weekend to run for President;
  • Congressional negotiations teetered on the edge of disaster over the weekend, as Republicans and Democrats work to avoid yet another federal government shutdown as of this Friday at midnight. That, even as many federal employees furloughed or working without pay during the previous shutdown that ended just two weeks ago are still waiting to be fully paid;
  • Meanwhile, in Virginia, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax insists he has no plan to resign, even after a second accuser stepped forward on Friday to charge that he sexually assaulted her in the early 2000s when they were undergrad students. Fairfax is demanding "due process" in the form of, among other things, an FBI investigation into the serious allegations which he maintains were consensual incidents;
  • At the same time, Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam insists he will not resign either, following the revelation of a racist photo published on his medical school yearbook in 1984, which he says he knew nothing about until it was recently publicized by a Rightwing website. Following fierce calls for Northam to resign last week and subsequent concerns about Fairfax's own fitness for office (he is next in line to succeed Northam if he steps down), some African-American leaders in the commonwealth have announced they have forgiven Northam and are calling for him to remain in office and make amends by working on policy and legislation important to the black community. Also, new polling reveals that a large majority of African-American voters in the state do not want Northam to step down;
  • Also, I'm sad to report, iconoclastic Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) died Sunday, on his 76th birthday.

And, with all of those messes continuing concurrently, we open the phone lines today and receive some --- um --- fairly wild calls, including one from someone who claims to be black, but is calling for segregation in the U.S. (yes, really) and another from a guy who insists Trump should get due credit for a booming economy. (I disagree.)

All that and, yes, even more on today's BradCast...

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

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Guest: Climate/energy reporter David Roberts of Vox; Also: Witless Whitaker's remarkable House Judiciary testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2019 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast, thanks in no small part to a new progressive class of Congress members, general calls for a "Green News Deal" are finally beginning to take some shape, as an official proposal was introduced in Congress on Thursday. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

But, first up today, some of the remarkable testimony this afternoon from the nation's wildly unqualified top law enforcement official. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker answered and/or evaded questions in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Friday, as the new Democratic majority sought to learn whether he discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe with the President before or after being appointed to temporarily replace former AG Jeff Sessions, and whether he has interfered in any way with the investigation he currently oversees as Acting AG. Whitaker's remarkably evasive and, at times, arrogantly obnoxious testimony included remarks that lit up the hearing room with laughter as he attempted to inform the Committee's Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), that his five minutes of questioning had expired!

Then, we're joined by one of the nation's smartest climate and energy journalists, DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, to discuss Thursday's unveiling of a non-binding Green New Deal resolution [PDF] in Congress, as introduced by progressive freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and veteran Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), along with a host of Democratic co-sponsors.

Roberts breaks down the broad proposal for a "10-year national mobilization" to grow thousands, if not millions of jobs by transitioning the nation toward 100% "clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources". (That language, he notes, allows the debate between climate hawks on the left over nuclear energy to put off for a while.)

The measure --- modeled in scope after FDR's New Deal, LBJ's Great Society and even JFK's successful effort to send a man to the moon and back in less than a decade --- also includes a number of aspirational goals to help ensure "frontline and vulnerable communities" who face the worst impacts of climate change are also among the first beneficiaries of a national effort to tackle our increasingly dire global climate crisis.

Roberts details what the resolution --- the first to begin defining what a Green New Deal should actually look like --- calls for now and puts off until later (for example, how it will be paid for); how it places its focus on solving the problem while growing the economy, rather than on specific "markets and technologies" at the center of previous efforts to combat global warming; and how the introduction of the landmark resolution itself serves to force the issue to the top of matters to be litigated during the 2020 campaign. Already at least 6 current or potential Democratic Presidential candidates (Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar) have indicated their support for the proposal.

"If you can solve the greatest challenge that's ever faced the species with a program that creates prosperity and creates jobs, and puts people to work, and gets the US back toward good-paying jobs, union-protected jobs, and does the same sort of middle-class creation that the original New Deal did, why wouldn't you do those together? Why wouldn't you do it all at once?," Roberts observes.

Rather than focus on schemes that might somehow bring so-called "conservatives" on board --- a tactic which has utterly failed in the past --- this new effort, he explains, appeals to voters to put pressure on their elected officials to support programs that a majority of Americans are behind.

"Dems, up until really recently, would have said, yes, you have to have some bipartisan support, there's no other way to get stuff passed," Roberts explains. But, he says, Trump has "stripped away all remaining pretense and made very clear [that] there just is no bipartisan cooperation to be had. It's getting farther away. Environmentalists have been begging, watering down policies, watering down their rhetoric, tiptoeing around, echoing this fiscal responsibility BS that they hear on the Washington Post editorial page, trying so hard to lure a few conservatives over. And it just isn't happening."

"So, the other take is, stop watering down your policies. Be up front and clear about the scale and severity of the problem, and the scale of the solutions, and offer a solution that engages people and that people can play a role in --- get a job from, make money from, be excited about --- then you give it political momentum. So instead of persuading Republicans into going on, you frighten them into coming along. You show that this is a giant political snowball that's rolling downhill, gathering weight, gathering momentum, and if you get in the way and push the other way, you'll get crushed. That's how you persuade a politician. Not through the sweet light of reason. It's fear. A movement that is strong enough that you will be scared to buck it."

Of course, this is about both policy and politics. So, we also discuss the amusing, over-the-top freak-out now on display from the Right, with Fox "News" and other fossil-fuel industry propagandists and apologists falling over themselves to both slam and completely misrepresent what is otherwise a series of very popular, populist, progressive and long-overdue ideas to help lift the economy, wages, the middle class and, yes, help save the world in the bargain.

"The full-on, 100% ranting, 'It's socialism!', red-faced BS --- that response is automatic to anything. So what Dems should take from this is not 'Oh no! There's going to be rightwing backlash!' Of course there is! There's rightwing backlash to literally anything you try. And it's always maximal. It's always pegged in the red. So why not, given that, be as ambitious as you want to be? You're going to get the same reaction no matter what you do, so just go for it."

There is, of course, lots more where that came from on today's program. Enjoy!...

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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A decade of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering led to this moment...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, Virginia, there is a problem with race (and hate) in the Commonwealth. But Democrats would be wise to take a breath and notice what's really going on there before making critical political decisions out of fear. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The media are all over the astonishing crisis that has overtaken VA state politics in the past week, since a Republican website revealed a racist photo on Governor Ralph Northam's 1984 yearbook page, and a serious sexual assault allegation leveled against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, while Attorney General Mark Herring subsequently announced that he had donned blackface while dressing as one of his favorite rappers for a party 40 years ago when he was 19. The political futures of all three Democrats now hang precariously in the balance, with top Dems (and media elite) both inside and outside of VA demanding Northam resign, despite the complete lack of evidence to suggest he is a racist in the 35 years since the photo was published. As we discussed on Monday's program, Northam claims he knew nothing about the photo until last week, as he hadn't purchased the yearbook.

But with Fairfax --- an African-American and first in line to succeed the Governor, should he step down --- facing a serious assault allegation (which he has repeatedly denied) and some calls for Herring --- second in the line of succession --- to step down, echoing those leveled against the Governor, the next state official in the line of succession is Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox.

Cox is in that role, thanks only to a questionably "tied" Delegate election in 2017 that left the GOP in control of the House, after a Republican election judge changed his mind in order to create the tie, and a subsequent lot was drawn from a ceramic bowl to break it.

Far more notably, and far less reported, is that a decade of unconstitutionally gerrymandered House of Delegates districts drawn by the GOP to dilute the voting power of African-Americans gave Republicans as many as 8 more delegates in the House than they likely would have won with fair districts. One of those districts was "won" by Speaker Cox himself, according to a new district map ordered for use in this year's 2019 House elections by a panel of federal judges just weeks ago. Without the racial gerrymander, he likely wouldn't be in the House at all, much less in a position to become the next Governor, replacing a guy who admitted only that he put shoe polish on his face to dress as Michael Jackson in a dance contest 25 years ago.

We break down the entire mess today to, hopefully, shed some light on the FULL story of what's going on there, and how Democrats' fearful and breathless rush to avoid charges of hypocrisy may be serving to simply do themselves in for no good or even smart reason.

Also today: Republicans are freaking out about wildly popular ideas such as increasing taxes on the wealthy and a "Green New Deal" (a resolution officially introduced today by Democratic freshman Rep. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY] and veteran Senator Ed Markey [D-MA]). They are so alarmed that over at Fox "News", anchors are describing increased taxes on rich people as an attack on Capitalism itself, and programs like the Green New Deal as "Venezuela-styled socialism". But the laugh out loud part is when one wingnut Fox personality explains why, he claims, that such programs are now so popular among voters of all political persuasions. AOC's Twitter response was priceless.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for details on all of that and with the latest Green News Report, on Trump's "disgraceful" failure to mention climate change at this week's State of the Union Address, despite hundreds of Americans killed and displaced over this past year alone, which is now, officially, the fourth hottest year since record-keeping began...

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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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Eric Boehlert...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2019 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast we attempt to make sense of last night's State of the Union Address. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

The New York Times described Trump's SOTU on Tuesday as "veer[ing] between two moods --- combative and conciliatory." Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer described it as "sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the excitement and the enthusiasm was all in the Mr. Hyde parts."

A majority of Americans who watched it, however, approved of the Trump's remarks, at least according to early polling weighted towards self-identified Republicans and right-leaning independents.

Our two excellent guests today, award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and author and political media critic ERIC BOEHLERT formerly of ShareBlue and Media Matters, now a contributor for Daily Kos, join us to make sense of both parts (all parts?) of Trump's at-times disjointed, at-times collegial, and at-times aggressive remarks as they veered conversely between out-and-out lies to something more closely resembling facts but shamefully lacking in context.

Did Trump meet the bar set for him by his own White House aides who'd promised new calls for "unity" and "bi-partisan cooperation" in his speech? Is Trump capable or even interested in that?

"These State of the Unions are typically the least awful thing Trump does in any given week," Boehlert observes, "because it's a prepared speech, it's poorly written, he delivers it poorly. But there are moments where he does appeal to independents. And then he goes back to the crazies."

Says Parton: "If the idea was to unify the Republicans, then yes, it obviously worked. By their measure, I think they probably did what they wanted to do. ... [But] there is no President in American history who is less authentic-sounding than Donald Trump when he's calling for unity and bipartisanship. And they know it."

Beyond those optics, we also dig into, among many other things in today's lively, very fast-paced hour: Trump's ridiculous threats against "ridiculous partisan investigations"; The striking image of a sea of new and veteran female Democratic Representatives dressed in suffragette white; Nancy Pelosi's triumphant new-again role as House Speaker; Trump's obsessive (not to mention graphic and largely false or misleading) continuing advocacy for a southern border just days away from another potential federal government shutdown; The stunning number of important issues (from the climate crisis to gun violence to the recent record-long shutdown and much more) that Trump didn't bother to even mention, for some reason; The misleading use of Venezuela's ongoing political crisis as an attempt to smear "socialism" in the U.S. in advance of 2020; and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' very smart, spirited and inspiring response to Trump's dark, long, and largely fact and substance-free SOTU...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Trump fails SOTU 'unity' vow; Inaugural Comm. slapped with federal subpoena...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2019 5:49pm PT  

So, a 30-year old, landmark nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia is now history. Just like that. And, beyond a few short hours of media coverage, it now seems all but forgotten. No big deal at all. Our guest on today's BradCast, however, strongly disagrees. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]

But first, a few quick items to kick off the show, including...

  • The Trump Administration vows that Tuesday night's State of the Union address will be a call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, before the Second Stupidest Man on the Internet (yes, Trump) attacks Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not winning enough seats in last year's midterm elections;
  • And federal prosecutors in New York file a subpoena seeking a massive amount of documents from Trump's 2017 Inauguration Committee, looking at virtually every aspect of the record $107 million raised, whether any of it unlawfully came from foreign sources, whether anything was unlawfully offered in exchange for donations, whether even more more was unlawfully paid directly by donors to vendors (and thus, unlawfully undisclosed to the FEC), and where all of that money (legalized bribes, in fact, a disgrace for all modern Presidents) actually went. It all amounts to more seemingly criminal chaos from anything Trump touches, from his inaugural committee, to the Trump Organization (his main private company), to the Trump Foundation (his phony, self-dealing slush-fund and "charity"), to Trump University (his fraudulent scam that settled several cases for $25 million just before he took office), to the Trump Campaign (facing myriad criminal probes and several convictions, guilty pleas and indictments), to the Trump Administration and everyone involved in it --- all being investigated by multiple state and federal probes at this point, at the very same time.

Then, we're joined by former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Obama, MICHAEL FUCHS, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal over the weekend from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement struck between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The historic pact had been the first to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons, ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.

With the Administration charging that Russia was in violation of the accord (which Fuchs confirms), Trump simply announced the U.S. pull-out, which was answered almost immediately by Russian President Vladimir Putin's own declaration in response that his country would now do the same. In the bargain, Fuchs explains, the U.S. has lost its ability under the agreement to inspect hundreds of nuclear missile sites and other weapons facilities.

What did we gain in return? Well, pretty much nothing, says Fuchs, who calls this "a very big deal", joining me in astonishment that coverage of this historic move to end such an important anti-nuclear proliferation treaty has all but disappeared from the corporate media within hours amidst continuing Trump-induced chaos. "In the age of Trump, nuclear weapons, climate change, things that could potentially end life on earth as we know it only merit fifteen minutes in the news cycle," Fuchs notes.

He goes on to detail what has been lost with the dissolution of "perhaps one of the biggest agreements ever reached as far as reducing the potential threat of nuclear weapons destroying us" and whether Trump's claims that this is all necessary to stand up against a supposedly growing military menace from China is actually true. We also discuss the real reasons that this "gift to Vladimir Putin" seems to have come about, how Trump's dangerous National Security Advisor John Bolton appears to oppose any and all international accords that tie the hands of the U.S. in any way, shape or form, and whether Trump's planned second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can possibly bear any realistic denuclearization fruit --- particularly on the heels of Trump again sending the message to the world that treaties between the U.S. and other nations are meant to be broken at the whim of an angry, brain-addled, and clueless President of the United States.

"The major problem here with throwing out this treaty is that, it is equivalent to basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Fuchs tells me. "Right now Russia is violating this treaty in a specific way, but a lot of the benefits of the treaty are still intact. Which includes the ability of the United States to actually conduct inspections and do verification of a number of different aspects of Russia's compliance with the treaty. By taking ourselves out of treaty, we are taking away our ability to inspect the other things that the Russians are doing here. And not only does that allow Russia to potentially start violating it even more, posing more danger to the United States, but it's giving a giant gift to Vladimir Putin."

Finally, Desi Doyen returns to "cheer us all up" with the latest Green News Report on hellish global warming-related nightmares from Australia to the U.S. to Antarctica; the oil lobbyist now nominated to be the next Interior Secretary; and the Administration's imminent plans to bulldoze the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to make way for a new border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas...

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Calls for VA's Governor to step down may make political sense for Democrats, but is it wise and/or the right thing to do? Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 2/4/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, should Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam resign after his 1984 medical school yearbook was revealed late last week to have featured a photo of a man in blackface standing next to a man in a KKK costume? Don't answer that too quickly. Or, at least listen to today's show first. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After apologizing on Friday night for the appearance of the photo --- calling it "clearly racist and offensive", but failing to specify which of the pictured two men he actually was --- the Governor said at a bizarre Saturday press conference that he was neither man and that he had never even seen the photograph before, since he hadn't purchased that year's yearbook. He says the photograph hit him "like a ton of bricks" on Friday night. However, he told the media that he did remember an instance around the same time when he darkened his face to dress up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. He said he remembered the contest outfit very specifically, discussing it publicly for the first time on Saturday, while insisting that he never recalls dressing up in either minstrel show blackface or as a Klansman, as depicted in the mystery photograph.

One of the two African-Americans in the same medical school class that graduated with Northam told AP the explanation is plausible, as he didn't purchase the yearbook either and found the racist photo on Northam's page to be out of character. Despite Northam's record of working closely with the African-American community and still being a member of a predominately black church in the town where he grew up, top Democrats from Virginia to D.C. and beyond continued their loud calls on Sunday for him to step down and allow his Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax --- an African-American Democrat --- to replace him.

But should he? And should he be shunned for something that may have never happened? Or, if it did, happened 35 years ago and appears completely inconsistent with his record since then? The answers to those questions are both "absolutely yes" and "no, not so fast", as we discuss with callers today, focusing on Northam's remarks at the strange, yet seemingly earnest Saturday presser in which he stated that acquiescing to calls to step down would allow him to "spare myself from the difficult path that lies ahead," adding: "I could avoid an honest conversation about harmful actions from my past. I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me."

We endeavor to have a least part of that "honest conversation" with tons of callers on today's program, including some discussion about key civil rights figures (from Lincoln to Justice Hugo Black to LBJ) whose own histories of racism arguably allowed them to lead on a number of landmark civil rights issues from Emancipation to Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Also today: While I was happy to see MSNBC, on Friday night, highlight a Super Bowl ad buy in Georgia markets by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' voting rights group Fair Fight, calling for "hand-counted paper ballots," the news outlet's Rachel Maddow Show maddeningly cut the :30 commercial off when reporting the story, just before the crucial line calling for "hand-marked paper ballots"! (Made, in the spot, by Republican Commissioner of Habersham County, GA Natalie Crawford, by the way.) Maddening. Especially since, unless the voters rise up to protect overseeable elections and stop them, the state of Georgia, along with counties in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas --- not to mention Los Angeles County and neighboring Ventura County! --- are all now planning moves to expensive, unauditable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) before the 2020 Presidential election. Those systems print out computer-marked and barcoded paper ballots which are 100% unverifiable after an election has ended.

Add MSNBC's failure there to a list of disappointments over the weekend from the mess in Virginia to the loss of the L.A. Rams at the Super Bowl...

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Guest: Inst. for Policy Studies' Chuck Collins; Also: SD moves to restrict early voting; Panelists at Davos take on the wealthy over tax avoidance...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after some quick news on the House Democrats' much-needed omnibus election and ethics reform bill (HR1) to expand voting rights and on elected South Dakota Republicans now working to restrict voting in the state, it's on to our main story today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

"Someone has to explain, if our economy is doing so great, how come everyone is broke?," Bill Maher asked during a recent segment of HBO's Real Time in the middle of Trump's 35-day federal government shutdown over December and January. "To me, the real lesson of this government shutdown," he argued, "is that we found out that federal workers, quintessential middle-class jobs, can't afford to miss one paycheck!" He's right. Remarkable stories made their way into the media during the shutdown, about struggling furloughed federal workers, some of whom had been working for the same agencies for decades, forgoing medical care, at risk of losing their homes or being forced to use free food pantries after missing one single pay day.

The U.S. has been slashing taxes, largely for the wealthy and corporations, for decades now as middle-class wages have remained stagnant and poverty continues to grow in the richest nation on earth. That, even as the rich get obscenely richer and Americans are told we simply can't afford our existing social safety nets and government programs, much less expansions of them to include Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or free college tuition --- even though they are all wildly popular ideas. As Ernie Canning recently summarized: "81% of the electorate support a Green New Deal. 70% of all Americans --- including 52% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats --- support Medicare for All. Some 75% of Americans support tuition free college. 82% of Americans want the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. 59% support the Ocasio-Cortez proposal to raise the top marginal tax rate to 70%."

So, did the month long federal government shutdown teach us anything about how close most Americans are to the brink? Did our elected officials (ahem, Republicans) actually notice or care? This past week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and GOP Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and John Thune (SD) introduced the "Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019" to do away all together with estate taxes for the very wealthy, even though, as our guest today points out in a recent Common Dreams column, the current estate tax applies to fewer than two dozen people in those three Senators' states combined. Racial inequality means that economic inequality is even worse for those who aren't white, begging the question as to why it is described as "economic anxiety" when white people are feeling squeezed, but dismissed as poverty and laziness from everyone else.

We're joined to discuss all of this today by author CHUCK COLLINS, an expert on U.S. inequality and the racial wealth divide at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is also co-editor of Inequality.org and a contributing columnist at many outlets.

Collins discusses how the inequality gaps have become so wide in the U.S.; why so many continue to support candidates for elected office who work against the economic interests of the poor and working class; how attitudes about race exacerbate the problem; and how we may finally be "heading into a re-alignment" with a new crop of progressive elected officials and a potential awakening of the American people after being conned for last 40 years.

"I think a lot of people were surprised about the percentage of people who live in poverty, and who live paycheck to paycheck," he tells me about lessons learned during the shutdown. "I think it was eye-opening and even empathy-producing. I think people silently suffer the economic insecurities that they experience and this was another shared moment where a lot of people were saying, 'Yeah, I don't have any savings, I have no cushion, I have to go to the food bank and I'm a median income worker.' So I think it opened a lot of eyes, and potentially some hearts and minds, as well."

"Forty years of stagnant wages has certainly hit a lot of white households," Collins explains. "There is a lot of rising insecurity, certainly coming out of the economic meltdown a decade ago. A lot of white families experienced a sort of shock and vulnerability and, I would say, kind of keeps us from being able to see the parallel experience of everyone else, and the fact that the racial inequalities are even deeper, and even more insecure. 37% of African-American households --- zero or negative wealth. 33% of Latino households --- underwater. So, yes, a lot of white people are feeling the pain, but a lot of people of all colors and all races are feeling that insecurity and pain."

"Why wouldn't we want to have a minimal safety net?," he asks rhetorically, in response to my questions about whether so many popular policy ideas to help close the inequality gaps and lift the poor and middle-class may finally being getting a foothold. "Why wouldn't we want to have a system of higher education that allows young people to go to college and graduate without tens of thousands of dollars in debt? It worked for the post-World War II generation. It worked for millions of people who got debt-free college and launched their lives and careers. Have we forgotten that entirely? There's a certain amnesia at work, as well --- that public investments and public support have made it possible for lots of people to move forward in their lives and have good lives. And we shouldn't forget that when it comes to the next generation."

"I think we're heading into a kind of realignment," Collins adds optimistically, underscoring some of his recent articles on the trillions in revenue that could be raised through Elizabeth Warren's proposal to tax the ultra-wealthy and Bernie Sanders' plan to increase not decrease the estate taxes on inheritances over $1 billion. "I think most people understand that these inequalities and insecurities are a dead end. They also are getting tired of hearing billionaires telling us what to do and how the economy should be organized, realizing that this corrosive corruption and concentration of wealth at the top is bad."

There is lots to dig into in today's full conversation with Collins.

Finally, we close today's show with some must-listen conversation from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where two members of a panel on income inequality (historian Rutger Bregman and Oxfam International's Winnie Byanyima) take on the millionaires and billionaires in attendance for their unwillingness to face "the real issue of tax avoidance and the rich not paying their fair share." They also take on an outraged challenge from an audience member (former CFO of Yahoo, Ken Goldman) which only seems to underscore the need to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to lift up the needy and struggling workers around the globe...

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Also: McConnell's Election Day holiday lie; Schumer's Trump 'intervention'; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some encouraging news for democracy (at least in Georgia), some predictable lies from the Senate Majority leader, a gentle rebuke for Trump from both parties, and a call for intervention from the Senate Minority Leader, among other things.

Just some of the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Georgia Democrat and potential U.S. Senate candidate Stacey Abrams, who will be giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, is set to run a television ad during Sunday's Super Bowl in Atlanta with a north Georgia Republican County Commissioner calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots in the state!

    The ad is sponsored by Abrams' non-partisan voting rights organization Fair Fight, formed after Abrams is said to have very narrowly lost her contest to become the nation's first African-American female governor last November to Republican Secretary of State and champion vote suppressor Brian Kemp. Both he and his GOP successor are now calling for the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to be replaced with new, very expensive and also 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems that produce computer-marked, human-unreadable barcoded ballot summary cards, rather than hand-marked paper ballots which computer science and voting systems experts all agree [PDF] to be the most secure, auditable and overseeable way to carry out elections;
  • In the U.S. Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a huge lie about the Democrats' "For the People Act" (HR-1), recently introduced in the U.S. House to call for a series of major election reforms. Among the many provisions in the measure --- such as universal automatic voter registration, expanded early voting, ending partisan gerrymandering and yes, ensuring a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter --- it also seeks to declare Election Day as a federal holiday. Naturally, McConnell lied about what the bill calls for on that point, and absurdly describes the measure as a "Democrat power-grab". We respond;
  • Also in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Trump's Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats calling for him and the other Administration Intelligence Chiefs to "stage an intervention" with the Commander-in-Chief, after Donald Trump described his own top intel officials on Wednesday as "wrong", "naive" and needing to "go back to school!" on a host of foreign policy issues. Trump's remarks came in response to the Intelligence Community's new annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" PDF. The report, and Senate testimony from the chiefs about it on Tuesday, argues that Trump is essentially wrong on everything from North Korea, to Iran, to ISIS to Syria and Afghanistan, and on his claims about an imagined "national emergency" at the U.S. -Mexico board.
  • But if Schumer really wants to "stage an intervention" with this President, his Democrats in the Senate and House could be calling for an immediate Impeachment inquiry. As detailed by Ernest Canning at BradBlog.com this week, the Nixon impeachment process reveals that it is both unnecessary and, arguably, unwise for Dems to wait for a report from the Special Counsel investigation before exercising their Constitutional duty;
  • Also today, Republicans and about half of Senate Democrats passed an amendment that (gently) rebukes the President by calling for U.S. troops to remain in both Syria and Afghanistan, in contrast to Trump's recent military directives;
  • An upside to the recent federal government shutdown? A beach in Northern California that had been closed will remain closed, because elephant seals have taken it over;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with updates on the record bone-chilling --- and deadly --- Polar Vortex cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast, evidence that Trump's intervention in Venezuela is, of course, all about oil, and some good news out of Germany which is now on its way to quitting coal entirely...

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Guest: Meteorologist Guy Walton on the polar vortex and the 'sinking fossil-fuel Titanic'; Also: Trump's own intel chiefs say he's wrong...about pretty much everything; And a new, game-changing e-cig study...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Baby, it's COLD outside in much of the Midwest and Northeast. Record cold, in fact, with wind chills dipping near an unfathomable 60 degrees below zero in some parts of the country, as discussed with --- and explained by --- our guest today. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

But, first up: Donald Trump's own top intelligence chiefs --- the FBI and CIA Directors as well as his Director of National Intelligence and others --- all directly contradicted the Commander-in-Chief on matters of foreign affairs this week, from the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, to the continuing threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq, to the cybersecurity threat to elections posted by China and Russia, and to the lack of nuclear threat from Iran or at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the intel heads --- appointed by Trump himself (not so-called "Deep State Obama Democrats") --- expanded on their newly published annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" [PDF]. As it turns out, neither the new report nor the officials themselves cite border concerns as any sort of danger to the nation, despite Trump's persistent and unsupported claims to the contrary and his threat to declare a "National Emergency" if he's not given $5.7 billion for his southern border wall before the Continuing Resolution for government funding runs out, once again, on February 15. Today, in response, Trump mocked his own intel staff as "naive".

The testimony from Trump's own intel chiefs is likely to be used against the President in court, should he declare that "emergency", according to U.S. House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA). But, as Democratic Committee member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), points out, House Republicans have yet to actually appoint their members to either that Committee or three others (on Climate Change, Ethics or House Administration, which handles election challenges, such as the one in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, where the House seat is still empty due to a GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal.) Those committees may not proceed with virtually any business until House Republicans appoint their members and end the purposeful slow-walking.

After that warm up, it's on to the sub-freezing temps that have kept even the U.S. Post Office from completing their appointed rounds in a number of states. Of course, the big chill has led the Fox "News" clowns and climate change Denier-in-Chief to have a grand old time avoiding the actual scientific explanation for the bone-numbing depression in the Polar Vortex which, yes, is tied to global warming.

We're joined today by "Climate Guy" GUY WALTON, a 30-year Weather Channel veteran meteorologist, for some actual science on what's going on. Walton pens a daily "Extreme Temperature Diary" and is co-author, with Nick Walker, of the new (joyfully snarky) children's book and climate primer World of Thermo: Thermometer Rising.

Walton explains why and how global weather patterns have changed in recent years to bring bitter cold snaps like the one experienced this week in parts of the U.S., even as the rest of the globe --- like Australia, where temps have neared 120 degrees Fahrenheit and touched off record bush fires in recent days --- continues to suffer from record heat, thanks to anthropomorphic Global Warming. This "Age of Weather Extremes" is precisely in line with what climate scientists have long predicted.

"Right now, as far as global warming goes, we're having a lot of warmth from the sub-tropics moving northward over the polar areas, where, prior to, say, the 1970s, we hadn't been seeing that as much," he tells me. "What we had in the past, when we had Arctic outbreaks in the 70s and 80s, we had a larger, colder Polar Vortex encompassing the Northern Hemisphere. Now we have a warmer Polar Vortex which is not quite as large, and it's having a tendency to pinch off pieces...when they do pinch off, they're quite cold, and you can get cold air, colder than what you have right now at the North Pole, sitting right over say, Chicago or Detroit."

As to Trump's recent tweet making light of "Global Waming [sic]" amidst the Arctic blast, Walton argues: "A lot of this is out of greed, and to perhaps make more money through the fossil fuel industry. And to some extent, it's just denial, in that they know deep down the Titanic is sinking, they're just not wanting to admit that the ship's going to go under the water, so to speak."

Finally, some encouraging news today from the world of science, which we could have told you about (and, in fact, did!) years ago. A new "seminal study" finds that e-cigs or vaping is more than twice as likely to lead smokers to kick the habit than the use of Big Pharma-approved nicotine delivery systems such as patches and gums. While that may be bad news for Big Pharma's billion dollar nicotine industry, it's good news for the world which sees more than 6 million die annually thanks to tobacco, including nearly half a million alone here in the U.S. Now, if someone would just inform the Democrats in Congress and around the U.S. who are working to make it harder, not easier, for people to quit smoking and dying by moving to vaping, it would be VERY much appreciated...

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Guest: Election expert Marilyn Marks on GA 2018 Lt. Gov. election contest as state moves to unverifiable barcoded ballots; Also: FL 2020 GOP power-grab update; IA Repubs vote to NOT count absentee ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2019 6:50pm PT  

No, we're still not done with the 2018 elections on The BradCast, even as we begin to turn towards the hell that awaits in 2020...because someone's got to. We've got several follow-up stories today, and some new ones. All of them maddening for those of us who believe in fair and overseeable public elections. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First today, an update to a story we covered in detail yesterday. Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently suspended the elected Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, falsely charging the 10-year elections official --- one of the most knowledgeable and respected in the nation --- with "incompetence". Her suspension followed on another by Rick Scott, the previous Republican Governor, of the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County. In both cases, the officials in two of the most Democratic counties in the closely-divided swing-state have now been replaced with Republicans in advance of 2020. These are extraordinary partisan power grabs.

While Bucher had vowed last week to fight her suspension, about an hour after we got off air yesterday she decided to resign rather than challenge her case to the partisan GOP-controlled Florida state Senate, her only option under state law. Here's the full statement [PDF] on her decision to resign that Bucher sent me earlier today.

An outrageous decision by Republicans in Iowa's state legislature on Monday illustrates a similar concern in the Hawkeye State. There, Republicans in the state House of Representatives won a party-line vote to reject 29 absentee ballots cast in an Iowa state House race last November that was reportedly won by the Republican candidate by just 9 votes out of more than 14,000 cast. The unopened ballots in question were missing a postmark --- the Postal Service acknowledges they don't always postmark absentee ballots --- but had barcodes on the envelopes confirming that the ballots were sent and received by the Post Office in time to be included in the tally. Nonetheless, GOP state lawmakers refused to open the ballots and include them in the count, denying the voters their right to vote and ensuring the 9 vote "victory" by the incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Bergan, The Democratic candidate who filed the election challenge, Kayla Koether, says she's considering a lawsuit with some of the voters in response.

Speaking of rejected challenges, we're joined once again today by MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance for several maddening updates to at least two election cases that her organization has filed in Georgia. One, which we initially covered with her when it was filed last year, is an election contest to the results of November's Lt. Governor's race. That contest featured an inexplicably huge undervote rate, but only in that race (not in any other races much farther down the ballot) and only on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems (the undervote rate was as expected, in line with other contests, on hand-marked paper ballots sent via mail or at the polls during early voting in the some race.)

That contest, however, was recently dismissed in an remarkable ruling by Cobb County Judge Adele Grubbs. She found the plaintiffs offered no evidence that votes were cast illegally or that legal votes were rejected, after refusing to allow discovery that would have permitted an expert forensic investigation of the state's unverifiable, easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems. Marks' organization is now appealing Grubbs' ruling to the state Supreme Court and is hopeful the higher court will allow the discovery investigation that was denied, but that voting systems experts say is warranted.

Marks says the Secretary of State's office refused access the systems and the judge "forced us to go trial without the first shred of discovery, which is our legal right to have. She also denied our right to a jury trial. So the state and the court has nailed the doors shut to make sure that we don't get to find out what is behind this clear machine misprogramming, defect, malfunction, whatever it is."

At the same time, Marks has also been leading the charge in an uphill battle against former GOP Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and his Republican successor Brad Raffensberger to replace the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with hand-marked paper ballots. Computer scientists and voting systems experts strongly recommend such systems [PDF], along with voters in the Peach State who have spoken out loudly and clearly in favor of hand-marked paper ballots.

And yet, the private voting system vendor lobbyists, elections officials and elected state Republicans continue to call for newly designed and expensive unverifiable touchscreen systems which produce a barcoded ballot summary card instead of a verifiable record of voter intent. It's impossible to carry out legitimate post-election audits of computer-marked ballot summaries. Nonetheless, jurisdictions around the nation --- counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and even Los Angeles County, not to mention the the entire state of Georgia --- may soon be voting on such unauditable, unverifiable systems in the 2020 Presidential election, unless they can be stopped.

"There is just no reason that such machines should be legal in this country, given what we know now about the dangers of electronic voting," Marks tells me, while noting that computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) cost about three times as much as hand-marked paper ballots systems. "There's too much money involved, and therefore a lot of people are not looking at what's best for the state. I'll just say it that way. Too many people have probably received too many favors."

"Unfortunately, for some of the decision-makers, having an unauditable system is a feature, not a bug," she opines, while remaining hopeful that "people are catching on" that a barcoded ballot system is not the same as a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system, despite how elections officials are misleading voters around the country.

Finally today, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report as Democratic candidates begin taking positions on a "green new deal", as hundreds are dead or missing in a mining dam collapse in Brazil, and as a powerfully frigid Arctic polar vortex descends on much of the U.S. (thanks, in no small part, to climate change)...

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

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Also: Callers ring in on Trump's shutdown cave, and what happens next...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2019 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: how Florida Republicans are brazenly stripping elected Democratic election officials of power (their jobs, in fact!) in advance of the 2020 election, and callers ring in on Donald Trump's shutdown capitulation and what happens next. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Florida's new Secretary of State Mike Ertel, appointed at the end of last year by the state's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, was forced to resign late last week after photos of him dressed in blackface at a 2005 Halloween party, making fun of Hurricane Katrina disaster victims in New Orleans, were surfaced by a Florida newspaper.

But, far more troubling is that two elected county Supervisors of Elections have now been suspended and forced out of their job in the two most Democratic areas of the state. Former Governor Rick Scott pushed out Broward County's Brenda Snipes last year, after the midterm elections. And a week or so ago, the new Governor DeSantis subsequently suspended longtime Palm Beach County Supervisor Susan Bucher. Both suspensions used false pretexts.

Scott falsely claimed that Snipes added fraudulent ballots to the totals last November. DeSantis claimed that Bucher's failure to deliver results on time from last year's unprecedented four statewide "recounts" (including ones that Scott won for the U.S. Senate and DeSantis won for Governor) justified the removal of the popular --- and elected! --- Supervisor Bucher. [DeSantis and Scott are pictured above with Trump.] While Snipes has had a number of failures as Broward's elections chief over the years, Bucher is one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable election officials in the nation.

As we reported before Florida's ridiculously short deadline for machine "recounted" elections last year, the older tabulation system still used in Palm Beach was simply, and physically, incapable of re-tallying ballots from four different statewide races in the 5 days or so allotted by state law. Bucher's removal, as described on today's program in detail, is nothing short of an outrageous GOP power-grab.

As the Palm Beach Post editorial board described in a scathing editorial, the removal of Bucher "plunged a dagger into the election process". They argue it "smacks of overreach and an abuse of power". Bucher, the board accurately notes, is "highly respected by her peers," has been "a hard-working public servant," before concluding: "[S]he has never shown anything but dedication and integrity to the voters of this county. She doesn't deserve this blatantly partisan bum's rush from a fledgling governor."

But, it's not just a Florida outrage. It should be a national one, given that two Republican lackeys have now been installed by Republican Governors to oversee elections in the two most Democratic-leaning areas of the closely divided Sunshine State in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. And, in both cases, they were removing officials who were (small-"d") democratically elected by their constituents!

Also today...

  • The billions lost to the U.S. economy, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, thanks to Trump's shutdown;
  • How federal contract workers are currently screwed without promises for back-pay, unlike furloughed federal employees;
  • The population of monarch butterflies has absolutely plummetted in California (and elsewhere). Not a good sign.
  • And callers ring in on why they believe Trump finally decided to fold on the shutdown on Friday --- at least for three weeks, until it may happen again, or he decides to declare a fake "national emergency" to justify stealing billions of tax-payer dollars allocated to military spending in order to build his unnecessary and unwanted southern border wall...

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

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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why Donald Trump finally buckled in his demand for border wall funding and how the unprecedented government shutdown helped distract all of us from the Administration's new policy that endangers children by officially allowing blatant religious discrimination --- at least against religions other than Protestant. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Trump caved. He finally agreed to reopen the federal government --- at least temporarily --- after five weeks and the longest shutdown in U.S. history. He pretended he'd made a "deal" with Democrats. In fact, he simply agreed to continue funding the government at its previous levels until February 15. He received zero dollars for his border wall in the bargain, while suggesting during bizarre, inaccurate and, at times, graphic remarks at the White House that, without some sort of "deal" for a wall, he would either shut the government down again in three weeks or declare a "national emergency" to take the money to build it from elsewhere.

There were many reasons Trump finally buckled today, including increasing anger from lawmakers in his own party, plummeting poll numbers, news that the IRS was in "panic mode" without enough workers as tax season begins, and flight delays up and down the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, according to the FAA. But there were at least two stories that the Administration, no doubt, was eager to get off the front pages today and over the weekend.

One, a stunning report from NBC News Thursday night that Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had been rejected for top secret clearance in 2017, for a host of reasons, by two career security professionals at the White House, only to have that security recommendation overruled (along with similar rejections for "at least 30" others!) and granted to him by a Trump appointee. Also, Trump's longtime supporter and dirty trickster Roger Stone --- who helped lead the "lock her up!" charge against Hillary Clinton with the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks --- was arrested in Florida on Friday morning by FBI officials and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice by a grand jury convened as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Following the GOP's fake "outrage" about national security concerns related to Clinton's private email server, which Stone helped amplify, there's no small amount of irony here with his arrest on the heels of news that the Trump Administration appears to have forgone top level security concerns altogether in order to allow Kushner and others access to the nation's most closely guarded intelligence materials.

Trump's "deal" to temporarily reopen the government may have served to change the news cycle for a few hours, but it didn't endear him to Republican extremists like Ann Coulter, whose critiques late last year led Trump to break his agreement with lawmakers and demand $5.7 billion for a southern border wall resulting in the five week shutdown. Today she deried him as "the biggest wimp ever to serve as President."

While all of these nightmares have been unfolding in recent weeks, few noticed that the Trump Administration's Health and Human Services Department quietly approved a very controversial waiver to allow a Protestant South Carolina group called Miracle Hill Ministries to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Catholics and atheists in the placement of foster care children. We're joined by criminal justice reporter AKELA LACY of The Intercept today to explain this very real and disturbing outrage which very few have noticed, and how the Administration's partnership with "Religious Right" Republicans under the guise of "religious freedom" is now officially sanctioning religious discrimination in the U.S.

"South Carolina is saying that the foster care statute in HHS rules and regulations does not specify religion as a characteristic on which they are not allowed to discriminate. They say that the foster care program statute says that agencies that receive federal funding can't deny parents based on race, color or national origin, but that because that statute does not specify religion, the request that Miracle Hill accept these families is outside of the law," Lacy tells me, noting that state law in South Carolina bars this sort of discrimination, as do federal non-discrimination laws that the Administration appears to be ignoring.

"The other really scary part of this," she notes, "is that, aside from these individual waivers, eighty Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the President in May asking for even further repeal of these federal protections against discrimination. So this is not just something that is being advocated for on a state-by-state basis. This is a quiet effort from the right to change these rules in the interests of mostly Christian organizations."

Describing a similar waiver request from Texas --- which also seeks to allow discrimination against LGBTQ families as well --- she says (real) advocates of religious freedoms and civil liberties fear the South Carolina precedent is likely now to spread to other states, other federal agencies, and other matters that reach well beyond foster care while much of the media continue to be distracted with the ongoing Trump chaos...

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

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Guests: BRAD BLOG's Ernest A. Canning and Desi Doyen, with a look back, a look forward, some thanks, and, yes, the news of the day...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's the 15th Anniversary of The BRAD BLOG! So --- in addition to the news of the day --- we take a precious few minutes on today's program to reminisce a bit with longtime BradBlog.com legal contributor ERNEST A. CANNING and Green News Report co-host and BradCast producer DESI DOYEN! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

After a few words on Canning's latest article at the blog on the "Political Revolution" embodied by the new freshman class of progressive U.S. House members and the many challenges they are now facing down in D.C., we discuss some of the lessons learned and important stories covered at our little, independent, reader- and listener-supported website over the past decade and a half.

Many of the stories we broke years ago --- too numerous to link here, on everything from electronic voting concerns and voting rights to climate change and much more --- have since become part of the national consensus as well as many popular calls for reform. That, even as much (but not all) of our independently verifiable, evidence-based news coverage was marginalized or dismissed by many in the corporate media years earlier. We discuss just a few of those stories today --- too numerous to detail here --- as we look both back and forward on this latest milestone. We also offer thanks to the many who have made all of it possible over the years, from our blogging contributors, to radio affiliate partners, to various whistleblowers (publicly known and unknown) over the years.

Of course, none of it could be done without those of you support our work via BradBlog.com/Donate. So, if you haven't hit that page in a while, please consider doing so, as we operate solely on the support of folks like you. Seriously. Please consider a one-time donation or, even better, an automated monthly donation of any amount you can afford. I hate haranguing folks for this, but it really is necessary in order for us to continue our work, which we now share on a daily basis with dozens of radio affiliates around the country and world for free! Your support alone allows that and so much more that we do at The BRAD BLOG, The BradCast and the Green News Report to continue. And if I can't ask on our 15th birthday, when can I? So click here please! And thank you!

And, yes, there was also a bit of news today for a change in Washington D.C., so we also cover that on today's program. Among those stories...

  • Donald Trump's federal government shutdown nears the end of it's fifth record week, as he folded like one of his own cheap and poorly tailored suits on Wednesday night in his standoff with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on delivering his State of the Union next week.
  • At the same time, federal aviation unions issued a dire warning about the ongoing effects and potential critical dangers of the shutdown.
  • We share a heartbreaking story about a 10-year old girl who suffered a broken wrist in stoic silence for a week, because she was frightened to tell her father, a Dept. of Homeland Security employee forced to work without pay.
  • Billionaire crypt-keeper and Commerce Dept. Secretary Wilbur Ross took to the airwaves to, essentially, call 800,000 federal workers whiners for needing to use food banks to feed their families, when they could just go out and get a bank loan instead to cover costs until the federal government reopens.
  • In the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell finally allowed votes on measures to reopen the government, one from Rs and one from Ds. Both failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome filibuster, though the D version --- which did not include funding for Trump's border wall --- received more votes than the R version in the GOP-majority Senate.
  • And Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen learned that he may have to appear before both House and Senate Committees next month, despite threats to his family by the President of the United States.
  • Finally. Desi brings us the latest Green News Report, with more bad news about the shutdown and Greenland's melting ice shelf, but some encouraging news on a huge majority of Americans who now appreciate the threat of climate change and on the amazing teen climate activist taking on the corporate powers and millionaire/billionaires at Davos this week...

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

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