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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, May 24, 2019
'Green News Report' 5/23/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Beleaguered Midwest walloped by tornadoes, floods; Study sees coastal cities inundated by century's end; LA's plan to retreat from rising seas; PLUS: Trump EPA good news and bad...
Previous GNRs: 5/21/19 - 5/16/19 - Archives...
Baltimore BOE Crippled by Ransomware Attack; 'Crapshow' Worsens in D.C.: 'BradCast' 5/22/19
Guest: Eric Boehlert on Barr, impeachment, why 'no one will break glass on the alarm'...
'Our Subpoenas Are Not Optional' (Even If Impeachment Clearly Is): 'BradCast' 5/21/19
Also: More GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud, this time in Florida....
'Green News Report' 5/21/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
More extreme weather for Midwest; Another coal co. goes bankrupt; BP, Shell lobby for a carbon tax (with a catch!); PLUS: Inslee and Warren unveil comprehensive climate plans...
Previous GNRs: 5/16/19 - 5/14/19 - Archives...
GOP's Amash Declares Trump 'Impeachable'; Gerrymanders Allowed Radical Abortion Bills: 'BradCast' 5/20/19
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley: Also: Tornado swarms amid climate crisis; Ford to fire 1000s...
Sunday CSA* Toons
(* Coathanger States of America) As usual, 'PDiddie' flags the very best political toons of the week in his latest collection...
Time to Impeach Yet?: 'BradCast' 5/17/19
Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with Senate Judiciary Committee vet Lisa Graves and Tweeter 'GottaLaff'...
The Republican Party is a Culture of Corruption: 'BradCast' 5/16/19
Spate of GOP pol scams, indictments, corrupt pardons; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
PG&E caused deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 level hits milestone, exactly as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: The Impossible Whopper goes national...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/19 - 5/7/19 - Archives...
FL's Sancho: 'No Confidence' 2020 Will Be Secure After New 2016 FBI Disclosures: 'BradCast' 5/15/19
30-yr elexn chief says FBI lied in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL unverifiable in 2020...
22 Candidates, 2020 Visions:
'BradCast' 5/14/2019
Bad news CO2 landmark; Biden booed on climate, pushes back; MT's Bullock jumps in to 2020 as Dem Gov from 'red state'; Warren says no to FNC's 'hate-for-profit racket'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/19
Trump trade war hits U.S. NatGas; Admin ices Arctic Council; Houston floods as U.S. sees wettest year on record; PLUS: UK, Scotland declare 'climate emergency'...
GA Supremes Hear Case of 125k 'Missing' 2018 Lt. Gov. Votes: 'BradCast' 5/13/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's trade war, Congress'l war; FL voting news; NC-9 do-over primary...
Sunday Billion Dollar Loser Toons
Once again, lots of losers from which to choose in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
House All Action Against Trump, with Help from Repubs: 'BradCast' 5/10/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt on what's next for abortion laws...
Trump Uses Exec Privilege to Block Mueller Report; Judiciary Finds Barr in Contempt: 'BradCast' 5/8/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Comm...
'Green News Report' 5/7/19
U.N. report warns humans pushing 1 million species to extinction; Trump repeals post-BP spill safety rules; PLUS: Midwest flooding breaks all-time records...
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...


Dems may wish to look to Republicans for help in finding the courage to invoke the Constitutional option to oust a scofflaw President...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2019 6:20pm PT  

Accountability and respect for the rule of law and Constitution are at the center of just about every story we cover on today's BradCast --- (and on most days...but especially today) --- particularly with an absolutely lawless Administration and criminal President becoming seemingly more lawless and criminal by the day. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Among the related stories on today's program....

  • The House Oversight Committee moved on Tuesday to vote on contempt charges against Carl Kline, former White House Personnel Security Director, who refused to show up to testify at the Committee on Tuesday despite being issued a lawful subpoena by Congress ordering him to do so. His attorney said he didn't show on the advice of the White House who directed him not to. Kline, on apparent orders from the President, had approved "top secret" security clearances for dozens of White House officials, including Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, after career security officials rejected those applications for numerous reasons, according to 18-year White House personnel office veteran Tricia Newbold, who revealed the cases during whistleblower testimony to the House panel last month;
  • Maryland's two-term Republican Governor Larry Hogan said in New Hampshire this morning that he is considering a primary run against Trump, after describing the revelations of the redacted Mueller Report as "very disturbing" and criticizing his own party for being "afraid" of challenging the President. If he jumps in, Hogan would be the second GOP Governor to try and win the nomination over Trump in 2020, along with Massachusetts' William Weld who has already declared;
  • In news of still other Republicans willing to courageously stand up to a scofflaw President from their own party, J.W. Verret, a former Trump transition team official and professor of law at George Mason University, unleashed an op-ed today making the case for impeachment in the wake of Trump's "criminal conduct," citing "roughly a dozen separate instance of obstruction of justice" revealed by the Mueller Report as his "tipping point";
  • But while a handful of Republicans may be willing to take on the President, Democrats in Congress, for their part, are still timidly moving ahead with extraordinary caution. On a conference call with and a letter to the Democratic House caucus on Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly vowed that the House would continue Congressional investigations to "uncover the truth" about Trump's "highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior in his alleged attempts to obstruct justice," while attempting to keep a lid on the growing calls for impeachment from her caucus. She did not rule out impeachment, but said "we aren't going to go faster, we are going to go as fast as the facts take us";
  • On Monday night, however, in what many have somewhat mischaracterized as Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris "calling for impeachment," the California Democrat, during a CNN town hall, did call for Congress to "take steps toward impeachment." We contrast Harris' exceedingly cautious approach to the clarion calls for equal justice under the law and impeachment proceedings as a Constitutional duty issued by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in recent days. She has been calling for same, in no uncertain terms, on the Presidential campaign trail since the release of Mueller's redacted report late last week, and said on Monday night on CNN, in response to charges that impeachment would distract from the 2020 campaign: "There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution."

    A number of other Democratic hopefuls have been far more cautious and/or circumspect than either of those two, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who says he worries a focus on impeachment could backfire on Dems and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg who concedes Trump "deserves impeachment", but that it's up to Congress, not him, to take action in that regard;

  • With the noteworthy exception of Warren, many Dems (and media geniuses) have cited the fact that Republicans in the Senate are unlikely to vote to convict the President, as a reason to shy away from impeachment proceedings entirely. (A simple majority is needed to approve articles of impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House, but a two-thirds vote is needed for conviction and removal of the President in the GOP-majority Senate). Playing slave to that conventional wisdom, however, largely allows Republicans a veto on which Presidents may or may not be impeached.

    Moreover, the convention wisdom should be challenged here, particularly given the statements that many of the currently seated Republican Senators have offered, on the record, in support of impeachment and removal from office for a President who has attempted to obstruct justice by witness tampering and lying to the American public. Trump was documented as having done so as many as ten different times, as per Mueller's Report.

    Of course, the Senators who we quote directly today on the need to remove a President for those very same crimes were speaking against President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings back in 1998. But their arguments against Clinton apply directly to Trump. So, will those very same Senators --- there are 11 who voted in '98 and would be required to vote here --- hypocritically vote against conviction this time around, under arguably far more criminal circumstances, when confronted with their own words on the topic? Maybe, maybe not. We won't know, of course, unless Dems do the right and Constitutional thing by voting in favor of the rule of law and moving to impeach this lawless President. Even the clear demonstration of blatant GOP hypocrisy would be helpful to expose to the American people before the 2020 election, and perhaps serve to make specious impeachments against Democrats in the future more unlikely;

  • Finally, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, said after the release of the redacted Mueller Report that he is "begging the American People to pay attention" and contact their members of Congress about this in order to save democracy for future generations. "At the rate we're going," he warns, "it won't be there." We are urging the same. You can reach your member of Congress at 202-224-3121...

Enjoy the program...

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

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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...

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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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/26/2019 11:13am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: As record floods move south from the Midwest, NOAA warns of much more to come; Big new problems after major petrochemical fire in Houston; Humanitarian crisis in Mozambique amid Cyclone Idai's widespread devastation; PLUS: Trump Administration gives troubled Georgia 'nook-yu-ler' plant billions more in taxpayer loan guarantees... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): In blow to climate, coal plants emitted more than ever in 2018; Shutting down almost every coal plant and swapping for renewables would save money: report; Recording reveals oil industry execs laughing at Trump access; Puerto Rico passes 100% renewable energy bill as it aims for storm resilience; Tearing down McMansion-sized housing myths; Navajo Nation votes to end efforts to purchase coal-fired power plant; Battery power’s latest plunge in costs threatens coal, gas; Fed researcher warns climate change could spur financial crisis; Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast... PLUS: Polluted by Money: How corporate cash corrupted one of the greenest states in America... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




McConnell won't allow Senate vote on HR-1 or restoration of Voting Rights Act; Also: Hand-marked paper ballots for PA County; Cohen sues Trump Org; Brown won't run in 2020; GOPers re-thinking climate denial...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2019 6:18pm PT  

54 years to the day after the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama led to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, and nearly 6 years following the rightwing U.S. Supreme Court's gutting of the VRA's most crucial provision, Republicans in Congress are still both blocking its restoration and working to prevent the Democrats' newly introduced and much-needed effort to expand voting rights. That's just one of a number of outrages on today's BradCast, otherwise brought to you with no small measures of hope to counter-balance the outrages. [Audio link to today's complete show is posted below.]

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

  • Michael Cohen is suing the Trump Organization for at least $1.9 million dollars to cover his legal expenses which they had apparently promised to pay --- at least until Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators.
  • Another worthy Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, announces he will not seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. He joins Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Attorney General Eric Holder and (for the most part) Hillary Clinton who all declared this week that they will not be seeking the Presidency this year.
  • Some good news for voters out of the Republican-leaning Butler County, Pennsylvania. Officials there have decided to dump their 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The local news report of this common sense measure in at least this one corner of the important swing-state is somewhat of a hoot, as we share on today's program.
  • Meanwhile, back in Congress, House Democrats will soon be holding a vote on HR-1, the "For the People Act", a massive elections and ethics measure which, among things things, calls for automatic universal voter registration; the expansion of early voting; an end to mass voter purges; independent redistricting commissions to avoid partisan gerrymandering; allows every voter in America to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot; endorses D.C. statehood; requires disclosure of funders to dark money groups; and requires Presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Similarly, Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, by reinstating the requirement for the federal government to pre-approve new election-related laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Next, there is some curious movement in the Republican Congressional caucus in regard to climate change. Clearly reading the writing on the wall, as the public overwhelmingly not only believes in global warming but is becoming increasingly concerned about it, longtime GOP science deniers in both the House and Senate are finally admitting that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of it. The recent introduction of the wildly popular Green New Deal by Democrats --- a sweeping effort to move the nation to 100% carbon-neutral energy sources and provide millions of jobs over the next ten years --- is another reason Republicans are now acknowledging they must do something about climate change, if only for appearances. We discuss what could be a sea-change (or not) in this long, existential battle today.
  • Finally, on related matters, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with disturbing news on toxic coal ash waste found in groundwater in 39 states, plastic pollution found in the deepest parts of the ocean, former military officials slamming the Trump Administration over their climate change denial, and Democrats vowing --- as they now are with elections and voting rights, as well --- to go on the offensive in the U.S. Senate...

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

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Guest: Emily Atkin of New Republic; Also: Inslee jumps into 2020 race to battle climate change; Repub trouble defending Trump against Cohen charges; Cummings' 'righteous rant' to save democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2019 6:38pm PT  

As usual, there is no shortage of insane Trump news at the end of another insane week. But we also find time on today's BradCast to focus on Democrats plans for 2020 and the internecine battle over how to take on the existential and urgent threat of climate change. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee became the latest Democratic to announce his intention to seek the 2020 nomination for President amidst an already very crowded field. He's the first Governor to jump into the fray, as we're now just months away from the start of Democratic Party Primary Debates beginning in June. He's also the first Dem to make it his "number one priority" to "rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change."

Even so, Inslee, unlike many of the other announced hopefuls, has yet to fully endorse the Green New Deal resolution [PDF] recently introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), preferring instead a more piece-meal approach. The GND is a sweeping, ten-year blueprint for a wartime-like push to transition the American economy and power-grid to 100% carbon-neutrality by 2030, while providing millions of public works jobs to upgrade U.S. infrastructure, clean up legacy pollution, and ensure that vulnerable communities, including coal miners, survive and thrive the crucial transition.

Last week, a group of children from the Sunrise Movement visited the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to urge her support for the GND. The 85-year old Senator appeared to speak down to the kids, explaining that she had her own version [PDF] of a Green New Deal that, she believed, unlike the AOC/Markey proposal, could gain Republican support while also including a mechanism to fund itself. While a viral edited video of the encounter between the Senator and the children makes it look worse than it really was, even the full length version (which is marginally better, if still not great) reveals the long-serving California Democrat doesn't truly seem to grasp the urgency of the moment that scientists have now been warning about for decades.

We're joined to discuss all of this today by environmental reporter EMILY ATKIN who received some push-back recently from Democrats after arguing at The New Republic that Dems like Feinstein present a "bigger threat to the left's goal of slowing climate change before it's too late" than even out-and-out climate science deniers like Donald Trump. At the same time, she makes the case in a separate article this week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- who has taken some heat herself for appearing to dismiss the GND as a "green dream" --- is actually a valuable ally who hopes to see advocates rally public support for the program.

"What I mean is that [Feinstein] is a bigger threat [than Trump] to our one opportunity that we have to make a dent in climate change, to make a significant dent," Atkin explains, detailing the urgency of the next twelve years that world scientists find to be the last chance to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. "Feinstein has a preoccupation at this moment with what's passable with Republicans in charge. She's focusing on this in a moment when they're not going to pass anything either way, because Republicans are in charge. Right now is the time to mobilize on the idea of the most aggressive, most exciting climate plan possible. And use that to take control of the House and the Senate and the Presidency in 2020 --- and then you talk about what is passable."

Atkins says the DiFi legislation is "mostly a reinstatement of the status quo during the Obama Administration. So, putting back all of the regulations for the climate that Trump is attempting and has repealed. Getting back into the Paris Climate Agreement. Putting forth another big money mobilization in new technologies. It doesn't call for any of the social reforms that Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal resolution calls for."

"The path forward is to support something exciting, demonstrate that you know, as a Democrat, what it means when you say climate change is the biggest crisis of our time. Which is what Dianne Feinstein said, but doesn't demonstrate it with the type of plan she put forward," she tells me. "The path forward right now is to demonstrate to voters that you truly understand the magnitude of this crisis. That you're willing to support societal change to get there. Excite people, make them hopeful for the future, instead of saying well, we're going to support this lukewarm thing that's not going to do anything. And then people are just drawn back into apathy." We've got lots to discuss on all of those fronts today as Atkin details her arguments and offers her thoughts on Inslee's candidacy as well.

Also today, Congressional Republicans are still having a very difficult time constructing a defense for the indefensible Donald Trump following Michael Cohen's stunning U.S. House Oversight Committee testimony on Wednesday, when he detailed [PDF], with documentation, at least five felonies that Trump appears to have committed both before and after becoming President. But Trump's former nemesis-turned-lapdog Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) managed to cobble together a defense --- if a pretty thin one --- for one of the most serious alleged felonies detailed by Cohen. For his part, the President himself sputtered out another unhinged attempt at defending himself by attacking Cohen as a liar in a Twitter rant this morning.

Finally, as we wrap up another extraordinary week, NBC News reports that Congressional Dems in the Ways and Means Committee now plan to request 10 years of Trump's tax returns from the IRS, following on information provided by Cohen.

And we close with a couple more must-listen clips from the Cohen hearing that you may not have heard. One is the closing remarks from Cohen, who served as Trump's personal lawyer and fixer for about a decade, making the chilling case that Trump may not leave office peacefully if he's defeated in 2020. The closing comments include a direct, personal appeal to Trump himself. And then, one "righteous rant" from Committee chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) as he closed the proceedings on Wednesday, appealing to all of us to somehow leave this democracy in better shape than we found it and to fight like hell in the meantime to "get back to normal" someday soon in the midst of this very dark chapter in American history...

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

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

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

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Trump's own Commission shuts coal plants in KY, TN; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'National Emergency' to come; Freshmen light up Committee hearings; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2019 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Seriously, coal miners should have voted for Hillary, as we learn once again today. But those who voted for progressives in Congress are getting their money's worth already! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Leading off today's rather lively show: The federal utility board known as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), now dominated by Donald Trump appointees, voted today to shut down the last remaining coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, once the heart of "Coal Country" as the nation's top producer. The move is expected to save some $320 million dollars for 10 million rate-payers in the region, not to mention the resulting cleaner air and water and lower medical expenses in the bargain.

The decisive 6 to 1 vote (which includes 4 Trump appointees) to close the dirty, inefficient decades-old plant comes despite pleas to the board from Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Trump himself and one of his top donors (Robert Murray of Murray Energy) who owns the nearby mine that supplies the plant. The TVA also voted to close another coal plant in Tennessee.

Several hundred of jobs will be lost in the bargain, which gives us the opportunity to remind listeners of Hillary Clinton's 2016 plan to invest $30 billion for support and retraining of miners and others effected by coal's inevitable end. It was while describing that plan when Clinton correctly, if infamously, noted that "we're gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business". The phrase was then opportunistically taken out of context by Fox 'News', Republicans and Trump himself to endlessly blast her during the campaign, even though she had been explaining the need to help those effected Coal Country miners and families to survive. Those miners, most of whom fell for the dishonest Rightwing smears and voted for Trump, will soon be out of work without the help Clinton had tried to offer them.

In other news: The U.S. Senate confirmed William Barr, largely along party lines, as the next U.S. Attorney General at a crucial moment in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe.

The Senate also voted to approve a $330 billion compromise bill to fund the Government, including $23 billion for border security, but just $1.4 billion for Trump's border wall, less than he would have gotten had he accepted the deal offered last December. Instead, he shut down the federal government for a record 35 days. The House just approved it as well, though a small group of progressive freshman Congresswomen vowed to vote against the measure due to its increased funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The spending bill is expected to pass the House nonetheless and, Ann Coulter's ALL-CAPS Twitter threat notwithstanding, McConnell has said that Trump intends to both sign it and then declare a "National Emergency" in order to steal tax-payer funds from elsewhere to fund his border wall. That move, if it happens, will be vigorously challenged in court and is even opposed by many Republicans.

Also today, a few quick words about Daily Beast's report that DHS is allowing two teams created in 2016 to help protect elections from foreign influence wither away in advance of the 2020 President election, in favor of moving resources toward border and immigration efforts. (More on that matter, hopefully, at a later date.);

Then, we share a couple of killer Q&A's from recent Congressional hearings by two of the aforementioned freshman Congresswomen. The first is a colloquy in the House Foreign Affairs Committee between Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and disgraced diplomatic operative Elliot Abrams, who has been pulled out of mothballs to serve as Trump's Special Venezuela Envoy. That, despite his having pleaded guilty to withholding documents from Congress during the 1980's Iran-Contra Scandal probe and his subsequent pardoned by then President George H.W. Bush. Omar calls him out on that, noting that she "fail[ed] to understand why members of this committee of the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful", and asking if he stood by his 1982 Senate testimony dismissing a massacre by U.S. backed troops in El Salvador.

Then, in another brilliant round of questioning, this time from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House Oversight Committee, the shameful lack of campaign finance laws and ethics rules for members of Congress accepting funding from corporate interests is laid bare. We share both rounds of Committee questioning in full today.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the hilariously panicked Fox "News"/GOP freak-out and lie-fest regarding AOC's Green New Deal proposal (in which, among other things, they charge that the legislation would result in banning cars, cows, ice cream and cheeseburgers), some very bad news about insects, and some very good news about the City of Los Angeles, which has already dumped coal-fired power plants, and is now moving to get rid of natural gas-powered electricity in favor of 100% renewable power....

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/14/2019 11:08am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Banning cars, cows and ice cream?! Republicans move quickly to demonize the Green New Deal; New study warns insects are declining at an alarming rate; Massive public lands bill passes in the Senate; PLUS: Los Angeles ditches natural gas for electricity... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): If Not the Green New Deal, Then What?: We asked two GND critics to share their good-faith alternatives for reversing climate change; EPA Scientists: The Toxic Chemicals Our Agency Won’t Regulate Are Definitely in Our Drinking Water; TVA board rebukes Trump, votes to close two coal-fired power plants; School climate strike children’s garners academics' support; Landmark Australian ruling rejects coal mine over global warming; Weedkiller 'raises risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent; With Democrats in Charge, House Science Committee Talks About Climate Science... PLUS: PGE, NextEra team up for largest wind-solar-storage project in US... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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...

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...

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Guest: Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project on Trump's Rio Grande land grab; Also: Historic shutdown fallout across the nation, and an impossible (but real!) 60-year old warning about 'Trump' and his 'wall'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's federal government shutdown is the now the longest in U.S. history and landowners in Texas are fighting to keep the federal government from stealing their land even before Trump shakes down the U.S. Treasury somehow for $5.7. Also, we might have avoided all of these messes had we only paid attention to a remarkably prescient warning from a 1958 episode of an obscure television show on CBS. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, some 800,000 furloughed federal workers missed their paychecks, after hundreds of them protested the shutdown, lockout, "shakedown" outside the White House as they are having trouble paying rents, mortgages and for food and medical needs. Nonetheless, Trump continues to threaten a "national emergency" declaration to force the funding of his long-promised southern border wall with money the Administration is considering taking from U.S. military disaster relief funding earmarked for hurricane and fire-ravaged states like Florida, Texas, California and dozens of others.

House Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) continue to vote to reopen the government --- or, at least, some of its various agencies which have nothing to do with immigration or a wall --- while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow a vote on same in the upper chamber, even for identical bills to the those passed virtually unanimously there last year. Airports are being forced to enact closures for lack of TSA personnel, the nation's foods supply is going untested by the FDA for contamination, FBI agents are sending letters to the White House and Congress describing the furlough of thousands of special agents as a national security threat, and federally subsidized HUD housing for the elderly and poor is being forced to do without.

Meanwhile, down in Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, even before Trump receives the $5.7 billion he is demanding for hundreds of miles of new border wall/fencing, property owners are receiving letters from the federal government to begin the process of eminent domain. Families who have lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for generations are being threatened with having their homes taken away to pave the way for the construction of Trump's wall. Even an historic, 150-year old Catholic mission chapel on the banks of the river --- and on the city seal of Mission, TX --- finds itself in a legal battle with the federal government to remain in place.

We're joined today by RICKY GARZA, Rio Grande Valley native and staff attorney for the non-profit Texas Civil Rights Project. As Trump came to the area for another photo-op on Thursday, Garza is working to help hundreds of local property owners in the valley understand their legal rights to fend off a government takeover of their land and homes.

Garza scoffs at the President's claims of "crisis" conditions in what he describes as a "diverse region of over a million people that lives and dies by the water that comes from the river," but which may soon be cut off from it entirely. "The only crisis that exists now is artificially created by this administration," he tells me. "The only time I heard any talk about a crisis along the border was when I turned on cable news."

"Polling consistently shows that an overwhelming majority of people that actually live and work on the border oppose the border wall, and oppose the militarization of our communities," he says.

"What we're seeing on the ground is that people are having their lives interrupted by this intrusion into the borderlands by the federal government and border militarization. We've seen a decrease in apprehensions along the border, yet an increase in Border Patrol hiring, staffing and construction of things like the border wall, erections of things like security towers along the areas close to the river, and aerostat blimps that were formerly used in Iraq now deployed in some neighborhoods to surveil the border, and implicitly, all of us," Garza laments. "It's just another sad example of the federal government failing to understand the realities of life on the border, and what it's really like for us, just trying to live our lives in peace."

Finally today, a few minutes from a gob-smacking episode of the 1958 CBS Television series called Trackdown in which --- and this is for real --- a colorful con-man named "Trump" (seriously!) comes to town and tries to tell its gullible, terrified residents that only he can save them...by selling them on a "wall" to protect them from total destruction!!!...

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Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: Trump praises GOP Rep's violence against journalist at MT rally, as Khashoggi assassination roils...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no longer only political pundits and activists calling for Democrats to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding several seats as soon as possible, in the wake of the Republican Party's blatant theft of the high court majority. Esteemed law professors are now joining that call. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a word or two on the President of the United States' appalling celebration of violence against journalists at a political rally in Montana on Thursday night. To the cheers of his supporters, Donald Trump praised the criminal assault on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs by Republican U.S. House member Greg Gianforte. The attack last year was carried out by Gianforte, and caught on tape, on the eve of his special election to the state's only U.S. House seat.

"Any guy that can do a body slam --- he's my kind of guy," Trump declared to laughter and wild applause from supporters at the campaign rally for Gianforte in Missoula on Thursday, lauding him as "one tough cookie." The Congressman initially lied to police after the assault, claiming that he was attacked by Jacobs. Later, after he won the election, and after a Fox News crew who witnessed the attack detailed what actually happened, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and paid a small fine in addition to performing 40 hours of community service and receiving 20 hours of anger management counseling.

Trump's disgusting --- and chilling --- praise for the violent attack against a reporter doing his job, comes amidst Trump's seeming support for Saudi Arabia following their reported assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Journalists today --- including the Guardian's Editor and the head of the White House Correspondents Association --- are decrying Trump's support for violence against reporters, despite his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution's First Amendment. We decry it --- and the dark path where it's leading --- on today's show as well.

Next, we're joined by MICHAEL KLARMAN, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School to discuss his recent essay at the Take Care Blog, detailing "Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court" if they are ever able to regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The public conversation in support of expanding the number of seats on the high court --- which can be done statutorily, without a Constitutional Amendment --- has been intensifying in recent weeks. What had begun as a call from activists to restore a Democratic majority, stolen from them by Republicans in 2016, has quickly spread to academic and legal circles.

Klarman, the author of many books on American law and history and a former clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, argues that, in addition to the GOP's historically unprecedented theft of the high court and his belief that Trump was likely elected only due to unlawful foreign interference, a host of radical actions by Republicans in recent years at both the state and federal level, leaves Democrats with only the choice to respond in kind. If not, he argues, it will be nothing less than "unilateral disarmament" and an act of "political suicide" for the party.

"It's not radical. It's responding to an extraordinary rightward shift in the Republican Party that is tearing apart the rules of democracy," he argues. "The Republicans have already packed the Court," so "unpacking" it, he says, would be warranted.

"There's a kind of sickness that's been spreading in the Republican Party for the last decade or two. It's certainly not true of all Republican voters, many of whom I think would be unaware of these things, and would have a problem with them if they knew about it," he tells me. "But the Democratic Party can't go on playing by the established norms and traditions of democracy when the Republican Party is willing to do anything to win. That's unilateral disarmament. It usually doesn't work out well for the party that disarms. So this is a fairly mild way to fight back."

"My argument is not that Democrats should control the Supreme Court at any cost --- I think that's the Republicans' position, [that] 'we get to control the Supreme Court even if it means stealing an appointment.' My position is their theft has to be offset, and put us back in the position that we ought to have been at if the seat hadn't been stolen."

He leaves the case of whether Dems should run on a promise to expand the Court, or wait until they gain back control before announcing such a plan, to political scientists, but he notes: "We're going to have to think creatively in order to rescue democracy. And that may mean occasionally fighting back in ways that Democrats don't gravitate toward naturally, and that they would prefer not to have to use at all in a normal political environment. But you can't just respond by disarming in the face of this incredible threat that the Republican Party is posing to the basic norms and institutions of democracy."

Finally today, more news on the ongoing allegations of attempted voter suppression, particularly in southern states once covered by the Voting Rights Act until the central part of the Act was gutted by SCOTUS Republicans in 2013. That, on the same day that Trump's former longtime lawyer and business partner Michael Cohen broke his media silence to plead with the American public to vote this November or face "another two or another six years of this craziness." And then we enjoy another musical close to today's show, this time from actress Jenifer Lewis, of ABC's Blackish, who explains, in song, why it's time to "Get your ass out and vote!"...

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

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Guests: AUDIT-USA's Emily Levy and attorney Chris Sautter; Also: Reports of FBI ignoring dozens of Kavanaugh witnesses persist, Trump mocks accuser, Americans can't wait to vote...
By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2018 6:56pm PT  

We work hard on today's BradCast to stay focused on the crucial upcoming elections, even as Brett Kavanaugh's cavalcade of shame continues in D.C. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

Senate Republicans intensified their push for a floor vote as soon as possible, even as reports persist that the FBI is either refusing or failing to interview dozens of witnesses in their supplemental background probe of Kavanaugh following sexual assault against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee. At the same time, former classmates and clerks of Kavanaugh are retracting previous support for him, and three key Republican Senators (Flake, Collins and Murkowski) gently rebuked Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night.

Amidst that circus, it's no easy feat to stay focused on the crucial upcoming midterm elections. But we try. And so are an extraordinary number of Americans. Today we learn that last week, on National Voter Registration Day, more than 800,000 signed up to vote, stunning organizers and smashing the previous record of 771,000 who registered on National Voter Registration Day in 2016, before the Presidential election.

But, even with all of the apparent enthusiasm, will all of those new and previous voters be allowed to vote this year? If so, will their votes be counted, tallied accurately, and in a way that the public can know they have been tallied accurately? In recent days, corporate media --- right on schedule --- has suddenly begun to churn out articles questioning the accuracy and security of our wildly insecure and frequently inaccurate electronic voting and tabulation systems...once its largely too late to do much about any of it, just weeks before an election. (That, of course, is why we have been trying to do so year 'round over the past 15 years!)

The corporate election vendors who have been allowed to privatize our public elections with systems that have long ago (over a decade ago) been found to be easily hacked --- and which have failed in election after election --- continue to sell their flawed systems to officials and offer false claims about security to the public.

One of those companies, Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S), the nation's largest voting system vendor, has now threatened a lawsuit against a small, non-profit election transparency organization which has been fighting to encourage election officials to take advantage of a security setting available on newer models of paper ballot scanners made by ES&S and others. The group, AUDIT-USA, has been sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] by ES&S corporate attorneys objecting to the organization posting user manuals for their scanners that capture digital images of ballots when they are scanned. The group has been working to encourage states and counties to make sure those which use the newer systems have them set to retain all such ballot images so they can potentially be reviewed by the public after an election. That, in lieu of the public being allowed to examine paper ballots themselves in order to assure unverified computer-tabulated results are accurate.

We're joined today by long-time election integrity champion EMILY LEVY of AUDIT-USA and their long-time election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER of American University, to discuss the ES&S threat letter sent to the group last week, charging copyright infringement for making their instruction manuals available to the public. The letter, as we discuss, fails to even cite security concerns. Levy notes the irony in this case, given that AUDIT-USA is actually supporting the newer ES&S systems for their security feature that many election officials appear unaware of.

"What we've found from talking to election officials around the country is that a lot of them don't really understand the systems that they're using in their own counties," Levy tells me. "They don't understand why they need ballot images when they have the paper ballots. And they don't understand that, in order to preserve the ballot images, all they need to do is not change the settings that the machines come with. The default settings on the machines are to preserve the ballot images, and it's only by having someone --- whether a vendor working for them or elections officials themselves --- changing those settings that the ballot images get destroyed.

"So we want people to understand both the importance of the ballot images and preserving them --- that it's legally required to preserve them, just as it is to preserve all election materials. And that's it's not a difficult thing to do."

Sautter argues the information in question, as posted to their website, is in the public interest and, therefore, falls under the Fair Use Doctrine. "Cease and desist letters like the one that ES&S sent AUDIT-USA are a common form of intimidation," he says. "These companies have a lot of money, and sometimes they figure, well, we can overpower them, we'll file this lawsuit and we'll try to break this little non-profit in attorneys fees and we'll set an example."

As we also discuss, threats of lawsuits by voting system vendors against voting system experts and computer scientists have been going on for years (here's The BRAD BLOG exclusive from 2008 that I cite on the show), even as tax payers continue dolling out billions of dollars to these shameless and irresponsible private companies...

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

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