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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Bye, Don:
'BradCast' 1/19/2021
Guest: Progressive columnist, broadcaster Richard 'RJ' Eskow on Trump's bitter end, Biden's difficult new beginning, America's challenges ahead...
'Green News Report' 1/19/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden's recovery plan focuses on climate and a blitz of action to undo Trump's enviro rollbacks; Trump's last rollbacks and polluter giveaways; PLUS: Final end of line for Keystone XL?...
Previous GNRs: 1/14/21 - 1/12/21 - Archives...
Sunday 'Capitol Punishment' Toons
PDiddie's latest, 'inciteful' collection of the week's best political toons...
Our Long National Nightmare Almost Over, Trump's Just Beginning: 'BradCast' 1/15/21
Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Tragic COVID milestone; Biden's $1.9T plan; Creepy new Capitol Insurrection revelations...
DOJ Must Contest Validity of Presidential Self-Pardons and Pardons of Seditious Co-Conspirators
Did the Framers really wish to give Get-Out-of-Jail Free cards to insurrectionists?...
'Green News Report' 1/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Former MI Gov. charged in Flint Water Crisis; Trump EPA parting gift to polluters; U.S. emissions plummet, due to coronavirus; PLUS: World's biggest battery farm now online in CA...
Previous GNRs: 1/12/21 - 1/7/21 - Archives...
'A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER': TRUMP IMPEACHED AGAIN: 'BradCast' 1/13/21
Guest: Former diplomat, Rep. Tom Perriello of Open Society Foundations US on nation's need for accountability beyond impeachment...
America or Autocracy? - GOPers Choosing Sides: 'BradCast' 1/12/21
Also: Military condemns insurrection; Corporations dump Repub coup-supporting lawmakers; Adelson dead; GOP support for impeachment; Schwarzenegger's response...
'Green News Report' 1/12/21
2020 tied for hottest year on record; 2020 also shattered record for billion-dollar disasters in U.S.; PLUS: Fossil fuel industry shuts revolving door on Trump energy staffers...
To Impeach or Not Impeach? Why It's Even a Question: 'BradCast' 1/11/21
Callers ring in following last week's deadly, Trump-incited riot, while timing looms large before Inauguration Day, and as MAGA Mobsters gears up for more violence...
Sunday 'Death to America!' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection finds, once again, the call is coming from inside the (White) House...
Trump Must Be Impeached Again, EVEN if He Leaves First: 'BradCast' 1/8/21
Guest: Former federal prosecutor Ben Clements; Also: Officer dead after Capitol riot; Pelosi to Trump: resign or be impeached; Dominion's $1.3B suit against Powell...
'Green News Report' 1/7/21
Dems win Senate majority, paving way for climate action; Amid attempted coup, Admin auctions drilling rights in ANWR; PLUS: Britain's new record in offshore wind...
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: 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...

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

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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...

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

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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!!!...

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

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

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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...

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Guest: Journalist David Dayen on new NAFTA, CA's new Net Neutrality law (and DoJ lawsuit), Amazon's new minimum wage; Also: Senate Repubs hope to force vote, bury FBI probe on U.S. Supreme Court nominee...
By Brad Friedman on 10/2/2018 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the FBI investigation into multiple allegations of sexual assault and belligerent drunken behavior by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues, as Republicans in the U.S. Senate prepare to force a vote on his confirmation before Senators, much less the public, get a full look at the information gathered by the brief and limited probe. As that shameful illustration of a process broken by Republicans for the nation's highest court plays out, a number of other noteworthy news stories slip through the cracks just over one month before the crucial 2018 midterm elections. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

On Sunday, California's Governor signed a Net Neutrality bill into law, meant to replace the Obama-era consumer protection that was gutted by the Trump Administration's Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Hours later, Trump's Dept. of Justice sued the Golden State to prevent the new law from taking effect. So much for the GOP's pretend love of "states rights".

On Monday, Trump announced "a brand new deal to terminate and replace NAFTA" [the North American Free Trade Agreement] with a "totally" new deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico as "the biggest trade deal in United States History." Even though it is NAFTA 2.0, it will now be called, if adopted by the U.S. Congress (a big "if", as our guest explains today), the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

And, on Tuesday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company will be increasing their minimum wage for all workers, both permanent and seasonal, to $15/hour beginning next month, after years of attacks by critics for low wages paid by the world's second most valuable company.

We're joined by financial journalist and author DAVID DAYEN to discuss all three of those news items, whether they are a "Big Deal or No Big Deal?", and how the news may or may not affect the upcoming November elections.

On Amazon's increased wages, Dayen tells me it is "only going to bid the price of labor up. So that is a good thing." He also explains why it is "a political success for Bernie Sanders and this idea that you need to put pressure on these huge, monopolistic companies in order the get them to do right by their workers." But, he also warns, "there's an escape valve here for Amazon."

The new NAFTA includes an end to what Dayen calls the "corporate shakedown regime" in NAFTA's "horrendous" extrajudicial process for settling trade disputes between corporations and countries. That's a "huge deal" he says, which could help set a template to vastly improve other trade deals as well, and potentially increase wages for workers. But he also explains why unions are, nonetheless, not yet all in for the deal and notes that it can only be approved by the next Congress --- which will likely be far more Democratic than the current one --- if labor buys in.

On DoJ's challenge to California's own Net Neutrality law, Dayen explains, the Administration may have little choice but to try and block it, even as Republicans --- when it comes to states other than California, anyway --- argue states should decide what's best for their own residents. In the Golden State, however, "if you give net neutrality protections, if you allow the state of California to pass them, then that's going to migrate," he says. "There's a genuine concern that these regulations --- which of course were in place at the federal level and were taken out by FCC Chair Ajit Pai and the conservatives on the FCC --- would almost, by default, come back if this were allowed to stand. ... All that work they did at the FCC could be for naught."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with record rainfall numbers from Hurricane Florence (and the giant mosquitoes which have arrived in its wake), the Trump Administration's use of catastrophic climate change data to justify a deadly rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, and the French President calling for the nations of the world to reject trade deals with any country who is not a party to the Paris Climate Agreement (that would include only the U.S., which has announced its intention of pulling out of the landmark pact as soon as allowable --- the first day after the Presidential election in 2020)...

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Guest: Attorney, journalist Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewire.News; Also: More good news for Democrats in KS and in the U.S. House...
By Brad Friedman on 10/1/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Brett Kavanaugh circus continued over the weekend and into Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court nominee now faces an expanded investigation by the FBI into multiple sexual assault allegations and --- depending on the breadth of that probe, which is up to the White House and/or Senate Republicans --- into his excessive drinking in high school and college. But it's his lies about it all today, not thirty years ago which are of the most note. [Audio link to show follows below.]

A number of Kavanaugh's fellow classmates have come forward in recent days to call him out for lying to Congress during his angry rebuttal testimony last Thursday in response to accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those classmates report they have had trouble reaching the FBI to share their thoughts and observations. At the same time, the scope of the background probe is being questioned by Democrats, with conflicting reports about whether a witness list will be limited to a handful of people said to have been present during an alleged attempted rape by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge in 1982, and the charge by accuser Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken party at Yale.

All of that follows Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-AZ)'s dramatic request for a "limited" FBI probe as he voted in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday. In a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, Flake claimed that if Trump's SCOTUS nominee is shown to have lied to the Committee, his nomination would be over. But Kavanaugh demonstrably lied multiple times already in both his initial testimony and his emotional response to Ford on Thursday. We detail just a few of the small but unmistakable lies --- which were non-partisan, non-political, and non-ideological --- that the longtime GOP operative turned federal judge offered to the Committee last week regarding his high school yearbook page on which he used slang references to several sex acts, his own excessive use of alcohol, and then lied about all of them, under oath (a felony), to the U.S. Senate.

We're joined today by former litigator turned journalist and podcast host JESSICA MASON PIEKLO of Rewire.News, to discuss what we know --- and don't --- about the FBI probe, who they should talk to if it is to be a legitimate investigation, and the "window into Judge Kavanaugh's judicial temperament" revealed on Thursday before being all too happily ignored by the bulk of GOP Senators.

"You might remember during the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings," she reminds us, "Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, spent a lot of time on Justice Sotomayor's temperament and writings she had done about her experience growing up as a Latina, and what that brought to her judging." Graham doesn't seem to care all that much of such concerns anymore, it seems.

"So, while we have some really serious and, in some cases, salacious allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, the confirmation hearing isn't a criminal trial. This is about probing his temperament for the bench. And federal judicial standards say that you have to have a judicial temperament that includes no evidence of excessive partisanship, for example," Pielko, who Tweets as "Hegemommy", observes. "We have a whole list of things that, so far, indicate he does not have the temperament to sit on the Supreme Court, let alone retain his seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals, frankly."

"We have allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, and evidence that suggests that he misled Senate Judiciary Committee members under oath, if not outright lied. And that, in itself, is disqualifying," she tells me, while detailing how the FBI's investigation could also help to exonerate Kavanaugh. "Their job is to get as much information from both sides of these allegations. It's actually an extension of the 'advice and consent' and disclosure processes that is supposed to happen in the routine course of nominations."

We also discuss what may happen to the information gathered by the FBI after its handed over to the White House and whether the Senate, much less the public, will ever be allowed to see it. And, we talk about what may happen --- and how Democrats should move forward hereafter --- once Kavanaugh is either rejected or confirmed for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Finally, some new polling is out showing that Kansas' Secretary of State and infamous GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach could be in trouble in his bid to become Governor against Democrat Laura Kelly (and independent Greg Orman), and there are still more new signs that Republicans are heading into triage mode to try and save their U.S. House majority from a possible "blue wave" in the November midterm elections...

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Guest: Media critic Eric Boehlert; Also: National Voter Registration Day!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's National Voter Registration Day as the crucial midterm general elections on November 6th are now exactly 6 weeks away. Other than that, today's news may be somewhat less encouraging --- though we, and the world, manage to have a bit of a laugh at Donald Trump's expense, in the bargain. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: Happy National Voter Registration Day! Do you need to register to vote before November 6th? Have you checked your registration lately to make sure it's accurate? Today is a great day to do so!

Today is also a great day, apparently, for the world to laugh at the President of the United States, as they literally did at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Not with Donald Trump, but at him, during his address to the Assembly.

While there, during a joint media avail with the President of Colombia, Trump also took the time to attack the two named women who have accused his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault during high school and his first year at Yale. Trump also dismissed the allegations as little more than "a con game being played by the Democrats." That, even as new information continues to buttress the allegations by the women and as the calls grow louder (even from Mormon women) for a full, legitimate investigation of their charges, which the White House and Republicans refuse to ask the FBI for (and which even potential Kavanaugh swing vote Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) now says she'd like to see.)

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh, a longtime GOP operative who claimed during his initial Senate confirmation hearings just weeks weeks ago that "the Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution", took to the right-wing Fox 'News' air waves on Monday night for a softball interview with his wife, in hopes of defending himself against the growing allegations. He and his first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, are scheduled to give testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. In advance, the all-white, all-male Republicans on the Committee have announced they are hiring a woman to ask questions of Ford on their behalf, though they won't identify her. They have also now scheduled a committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination the very next day, on Friday.

At the same time on Thursday, Trump is scheduled to meet at the White House with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Republican who oversees the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe into the alleged conspiracy between Team Trump and Russia. The meeting, at which many expect Rosenstein will be fired, follows a misleading exclusive report published by the New York Times charging Rosenstein had suggested secretly taping Trump and recruiting White House staffers to invoke the 25th Amendment early last year. As subsequent reporting by other outlets reveals, however, Rosenstein was reportedly being sarcastic with his comments, according to people who were actually at the meeting in question. Nonetheless, we are still barreling toward a potential Constitutional Crisis as early as Thursday, thanks in no small part to the pretext for firing Rosenstein --- and perhaps Mueller, shortly thereafter --- äs provided by the Times' reporting.

We're joined today by former Media Matters media critic, author and political writer ERIC BOEHLERT of ShareBlue to discuss both of these stories and where they may be headed, as well as for some insight into what the hell is wrong with the New York Times.

On the Supreme Court, Boehlert says, among many things of note today: "With Merrick Garland, and with Kavanaugh, the Republican Party in 18 months is this close to demolishing the legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court. That has huge implications, not just for law and justice, but for an authoritarian like Trump. Because corrupting the high courts is always a goal of any authoritarian, just like de-legitimizing the free press."

As to his analysis of the "institutional problems" at the Times, you'll have to tune in for details, but he notes: "There does seem to be a pattern. When they get things wrong, they get things wrong in a way that helps Republicans."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the impacts of Hurricane Florence continue in the Carolinas two weeks after landfall, including new evacuations, more record flooding, the toxic release of coal ash into North Carolina waters, and the media failure to connect the climate change dots to all of it. She also offers a bit of good news for us today, for a change, out of Cleveland, OH! So there's that!...

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Guest: Meteorologist Guy 'Climate Guy' Walton; Also: NH Primary results...
By Brad Friedman on 9/12/2018 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A multitude of terrifying threats from Hurricane Florence loom large across at least four states in the Southeast, as millions of Americans hunker down or evacuate on the final week of primary elections in the U.S. before the crucial 2018 midterm elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, after a quick warning to ignore the President of the United State's assertion that the federal government is "totally prepared" for the damage that awaits the still-growing Hurricane Florence (while citing his Administration's response to last year's Hurricane Maria that killed nearly 3,000 citizens in Puerto Rico as "an incredible unsung success"), we head to New Hampshire for the penultimate federal primaries of the season. (Rhode Island voted today and New York holds state and local primaries on Thursday.)

On Tuesday, voters in the Granite State went to the polls with, happily, few problems reported so far, beyond the larger than anticipated turnout, particularly in a number of the state's many college towns. That may signal good news for Democrats, at least until the state GOP's new law making it much harder for college students to register to vote kicks in in 2019 (unless its blocked by courts before then). We fill you in on the noteworthy reported results today, including the single mom, Molly Kelly, who won the Democratic primary for Governor, the openly gay man, Chris Pappas, who defeated 10 other Democrats (including Bernie Sanders' son) to win the U.S. House nomination in one of the swingiest swing districts in the country, and 27-year old refugee from Afghanistan, Safiya Wazir, who unseated a four-term incumbent Democrat and appears poised to become a NH state Representative just 9 years after leaving her war-torn country for a better life in these United States.

Then, all eyes (pun intended) on the disturbing amount of cyclonic activity churning across the globe --- not just off the Eastern U.S. seaboard --- at the peak of hurricane season. The "monster" storm, Hurricane Florence grew in size today, as its movement continues to slow, and as it's trajectory appears to have taken a slight turn toward the southwest. The storm's brutal winds, surging waters and threat of days of unforgiving rainfall, now pose a grave threat to some 10 million residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and, as of Wednesday's latest predictions, Georgia.

But, while Florence may be the fiercest and most immediate threat to Americans, it's hardly the only storm worth keep an eye on, as nine --- count 'em --- nine storms across the globe are now either hurricanes, typhoons, tropical storms or depressions, or otherwise threatening to become one of the above at any moment. Among the most immediate non-Florence threats are Tropical Storm Olivia, slamming into Hawaii today (just two weeks or so following Hurricane Lane's record 50 inches of rainfall dumped on some parts of the island), Category 5 Typhoon Mangkhut, which just slammed Guam and now heads toward The Philippines and Hong Kong, and another storm currently brewing in the record warm Gulf of Mexico waters that could visit Texas and/or Louisiana by this weekend, even as Florence wreaks its own separate havoc on the East Coast. (Is Trump's FEMA "totally prepared" for all of that also?)

According to our guest today, 30-year veteran Weather Channel meteorologist, "Climate Guy" GUY WALTON this amount of cyclonic activity is not normal, and much of it is attributable to warming waters and highly unusual weather patterns in a climate-changed world.

"As you get more heat, you'll get more storms, and that's exactly what we're seeing," says Walton who points to sub-tropical storm Joyce, which was just named today, taking its place along with Hurricanes Helene and Isaac behind Florence in the Atlantic. "That will make four in the Atlantic basin alone. And if you look at the Gulf of Mexico, there could be a potential fifth, I guess named Kirk. If we have five simultaneous named systems in the Atlantic basin, that would be a record."

As to Florence, he warns: "Meteorologically, the greatest concern is the slowing of the storm and stalling right off the Carolina coast, right around Wilmington, and then very, very slowly moving south or southwest back towards Charleston. If that's the case, you could have winds and waves for many, many hours, if not for two or three days, just lashing at the shore. And that could produce more damage than, say, a Category 4 Hugo," in 1989, which killed 27 in South Carolina, left nearly 100,000 homeless and wreaked nearly $10 billion in damage.

"These things usually move northeast, they don't move southwest or west. If it does, that would be highly unusual. And devastating," he tells me.

Walton explains how climate change-fueled weather patterns are resulting in slower moving storms causing much more rainfall and flooding in recent years and why he believes some broadcast meteorologists --- versus climatologists --- are still either climate deniers or simply fail to connect the dots of increasingly extreme weather to global warming. He also discusses his upcoming children's book on climate, with Nick Walker, The World of Thermo: Thermometer Rising.

Finally today, we bounce off of Will Bunch at the Philadelphia Daily News today with a few thoughts on talking about the rapidly increasing dangers of climate change, even while a major storm imperils millions of American citizens. As Bunch observes, many of them live in southern states with political leadership that has ill-served their residents by lying to them about climate change science over a shameful number of years, even as they now find themselves at the center of some of its most threatening and deadly effects...

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Important U.S. House Special Election next Tuesday in Columbus, OH; Trump, GOP Congress lying about election security; Admin announces deadly scheme to rollback mileage, air quality standards; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2018 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, if you're waiting for the government to save us by protecting elections --- or anything else --- that's not going to happen. But you can save us, as I explain today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, voters in Tennessee head to the polls for their midterm primaries (yes, on a Thursday! --- perhaps that's one of the reasons the state has among the lowest turnout rates in the country?), as voters elsewhere are preparing for next Tuesday's primaries in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington.

Also next Tuesday will be the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year before the midterms. The race is in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, a normally very "red" district centered in Columbus, where Republican Troy Balderson had, as recently as last month, been favored by some 10 points over Democrat Danny O'Connor. The race, however, has now become a dead heat, according to new polling from Monmouth and others. So, we have a few very specific and important thoughts for our friends and listeners in Columbus (on WGRN 94.1FM!) today regarding that contest. In short, as I explain: this long-held Republican seat --- in a district which both Romney and Trump reportedly won by some 10 points --- is now flippable, but it will require all hands on deck to do it next week (yes, including independent and Green Party voters!)

In the meantime, Donald Trump's White House paraded out a bunch of their top intelligence community officials to try and convince us all that they give a damn about election security before the November midterms. Don't believe them for a second. I explain why. Similarly, do not believe the Republicans in Congress who now pretend that they give a damn about election security, since, on Wednesday, they proved once again they do not. Every Republican Senator present, with the exception of TN's Bob Corker, voted against an appropriations amendment to give $250 million for additional election security to states. All Democrats voted in favor of the amendment, which received a majority 50-47 vote. But that wasn't enough to overcome the 60 vote filibuster threshold (which Republicans could have waived). That, on the same day the GOP-majority Senate easily approved a $717 billion defense authorization package --- in case you're wondering where their priorities really are.

As explained in an impassioned rant today, in response to all of the above, it's unclear that more money thrown at our computerized election systems would even result in more secure elections or those that Americans can have confidence in. When it comes to our elections and our democracy, and so much more, one thing is clear: "We are not going to be protected by Congress, or the White House, no matter who is in charge of either. The government is not going to save us here. We are going to save us here. We are the only chance that we have."

I offer a number of ways for folks to do exactly that on today's show, which I hope you'll share loudly and broadly. [Update: Desi has transcribed a bit of today's rant for easier sharing right here.]

Speaking of, as we warned on a recent BradCast, the Trump Administration has now formally announced their new scheme today to roll back automobile fuel-efficiency standards that had previously been worked out in an agreement between the Obama Administration, automakers and states like California who have stricter air quality standards than the federal government's. Trump's EPA, however, is hoping to block those new standards --- which experts say will save 40,000 lives per year thanks to cleaner air --- in favor of dirtier air more costly gas mileage for consumers. The Administration justifies the change with a dubious assertion that 1,000 lives per year will be saved, because it will be cheaper for Americans to purchase newer, safer cars --- never mind the higher fuel costs (approximately $170 billion over all) they'll have to pay.

The Administration which pretends to believe in "states' rights" is also moving with their newly proposed regulation to block California's legal right under the federal Clean Air Act to determine their own air quality and mileage standards. The state, and 16 others, have already filed suit against the proposed regulation. A public comment period is now open in response to the measure at this Regulations.gov docket page.

Our own Desi Doyen has a few words about all of that. And then she joins us for our latest Green News Report, with 2017 now officially found to have smashed global heat records, deadly global warming-fueled wildfires continuing to devastate Northern California, and the U.S. Supreme Court (surprisingly) giving their unanimous go-ahead for a landmark climate change lawsuit against the federal government, as filed by children, to move ahead!...

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Guest: Tax policy expert Alexandra Thornton; Also: Great news for voters in MI! And, what exactly is Sen. Jeff Flake doing in Africa?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tax cuts by executive fiat? It may depend on what the definition of "cost" is. Republicans used to pretend to oppose "Imperial Presidencies" --- at least when the President in question was Barack Obama --- but, hey, things change. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, however, we begin with some good news for a change! The Michigan Supreme Court late on Tuesday, approved a wildly popular, non-partisan, grassroots anti-gerrymandering measure for this November's statewide ballot, after GOP opposition to the initiative. Michigan's Proposal 2 is just one of several encouraging election reforms that Michiganders will be able to vote for (or against) during this year's midterms. And, MI is just one of several states (along with Missouri, Utah, and Colorado) that will see citizen-driven initiatives to end the scourge of partisan redistricting on this year's ballot!

More good news: A U.S. court of appeals in California on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling finding Donald Trump's executive order barring federal funds to so-called "sanctuary cities" as unconstitutional.

Then, several new studies find record corporate profits --- both before and after the Trump/GOP tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy late last year --- are being spent mostly on stock buybacks, rather than increased worker wages, as Republicans had pretended would be the case when they rammed last year's massive tax cuts through Congress. Those cuts have already raised the federal deficit above $1 trillion, rather than paying for themselves as promised.

At the same time, Trump's Dept. of Treasury is now said to be considering a controversial scheme to bypass Congress entirely in order to offer at least another $100 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We're joined today by ALEXANDRA THORNTON, former tax policy adviser to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, now Senior Director of Tax Policy for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. She tells me: "We already have very low taxes on capital income, capital gains, and now they want to make it lower."

Thornton explains Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's planned scheme that would reinterpret the word "cost" in the federal Revenue Act of 1918 in order to index the already very low tax rate on income earned via investment in stocks and real estate to inflation, and how doing so by executive branch fiat would most likely be unlawful. (At least the George W. Bush Administration found that to be the case when they considered a similar plan.)

"Here is this administration that's been talking about 'regulatory overreach' and wanting to get rid of all these regulations, and now they want to go beyond their authority to pass a regulation that gives this gigantic tax cut almost exclusively to the wealthy. It's incredibly hypocritical."

Thornton also debunks the long-held GOP "fairy tale" that tax cuts pay for themselves by growing the economy, rather than blowing holes in the national debt and deficit, and further helps explain why last year's tax cuts, as passed without any Democratic votes, may not be working quite as well as a campaign issue for Republicans before the midterms as they had hoped.

"This is all part of the conservative mantra that if we tax investment that'll slow down economic growth. There's really no evidence for that at all. Basically, what they say is that we need to cut taxes on any kind of income, and eventually that will mean that we'll be able to invest in more things in the economy which will make workers more productive, and when they become more productive their wages can go up and there will be more jobs. And it's a fairy tale. It's basically never happened. It doesn't work like that."

Finally today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled this year's August Senate recess in hopes of ramming through a bunch of Trump's federal judicial nominees and his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. His hope was to do so before Republicans potentially lose their slim majority in the U.S. Senate in the fall elections. But that plan may be facing an unexpected hurdle from Arizona's outgoing U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who is currently in Africa observing the hand-counting of hand-marked paper ballots in Zimbabwe's historic election. He may not be returning to D.C. anytime soon, according to some Senate staffers, which could stymie the possibility of any nominees being voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which is deadlocked at 10 to 10 without Flake's presence), and perhaps even prevent floor votes in a 49-49 Senate with both Flake and ailing fellow Arizona Senator John McCain both missing. Is Flake, who claims to be a Trump opponent (even while voting for most of his agenda anyway) finally taking some form of real action in response?...

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

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A compromised Russian asset, even if the President of the United States, cannot be guilty of treason unless we are 'at war' with Russia...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/23/2018 10:47am PT  

Of all of the reactions to the July 16 joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland in which Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump responded to reporters' questions, perhaps the harshest assessment came in a Tweet by former CIA Director John Brennan.

Trump's "performance", Brennan contended, "rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous."

Brennan may have been uniquely positioned to offer that assessment since he was amongst the intelligence officials, who, on Jan. 6, 2017, showed President-Elect Trump emails and texts between high-level members of Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, that purportedly establish that Putin had personally ordered the cyberattack on the 2016 election.

Various half-hearted walk-backs aside, Trump's continued refusal to accept that Putin personally ordered Russia's alleged cyberattacks on the 2016 election and denial that any such attacks might have even taken place, is at odds with (a) the bipartisan conclusions offered by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee; (c) an extraordinarily detailed, 37-page speaking indictment in February, setting forth how 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies allegedly carried out an illegal foreign influence campaign, and (d) the more recent, 29-page, July 13 indictment filed against 12 members of the GRU, laying out the dates and specific manner in which named individuals are said to have carried out cyberattacks on the DNC, Hillary Clinton's campaign chair and many others.

The July 13 indictment also details the manner in which Special Counsel investigators say emails --- purloined information --- from several of those attacks were weaponized for release during the campaign and that, for the first time, the GRU had targeted Clinton's "personal office" emails on the very same day that candidate Trump publicly called for Russia to find her "missing" emails during a July 27, 2016 campaign rally.

Ironically, as observed by MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, Trump's decision to cast aside the unanimous conclusions of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement after the Helsinki summit was promptly followed by a "Perry Mason moment" when Putin was questioned by Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason at the joint press conference of the two Presidents:

Mason: "Did you want President Trump to win the election, and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"

Putin: "Yes, I did. Yes, I did."

Early-on, as we reported last February, after accepting an assignment to conduct a human-sourced intelligence investigation into Trump's ties to Russia, Christopher Steele, a former British MI-6 intelligence officer, informed Glenn Simpson of research firm Fusion GPS that he, Steele, had a professional responsibility to report his findings to the FBI. He explained his reasoning at the time. Steele believed he'd uncovered a "crime in progress" and that there was a chilling prospect that the man who might become the 45th President of the United States was and is a compromised Russian asset.

Hillary Clinton appeared to share Steele's concern. During a debate, she not only described Trump as "Putin's puppet," but also presciently added: "You encouraged espionage against our people, sign up for his wish list: break up NATO, do whatever he wants."

The very notion that a Commander-in-Chief could be a compromised foreign asset is so unprecedented that it is difficult to comprehend. Just think how history would have turned out if it had been George Washington instead of General Benedict Arnold who had committed treason.

Yet, the factors that suggest Trump is indeed compromised include, but are not limited to, (a) the retention of Michael Flynn for 18 days after Acting AG Sally Yates warned the White House that the DOJ believed Flynn was a compromised Russia asset, firing him only after Flynn was publicly exposed by the Washington Post; (b) the disclosure of highly classified information to Russia's ambassador during an Oval Office meeting; (c) the continuing refusal to impose Congressionally enacted sanctions against Russia --- a refusal that violates the President's duty to see that the laws are faithfully executed --- and (d) Trump's performance at and after the Helsinki Summit.

If Trump is, indeed, a compromised Russian asset, it would represent a monstrous betrayal, a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and grounds for his removal from office. But, as Brad Friedman correctly observed during a July 16 BradCast, the question as to whether that betrayal amounts to "treason" entails a difficult, unsettled and far murkier legal issue as to whether the U.S. and Russia are at war...

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




By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2018 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our 'WTF?!' coverage of the remarkable joint press conference following President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. [Audio link follows below.]

It was not 72 hours following US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment on Friday of 12 top Russian Military Intelligence officers on 11 felony indictments related to hacking into and stealing DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign emails and releasing them to the world, in an alleged attempt to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election, when Trump tweeted: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"

Hours later he held his one-on-one summit with Putin in Helsinki before going on to hold a remarkable press conference in which, essentially, the President of the United States took Russia's side in the matter on virtually every point. In the bargain, he also attacked the FBI, the DNC and other Americans, as he stood next to the Russian President, taking his side against his own intelligence agencies.

On one point, however, they differed. Trump asserted Putin had told him he was not involved in interference in the 2016 Presidential election and he didn't "see any reason why" he would have been. But, when asked directly by a reporter if he "direct[ed] any...officials" to help Trump, who he says he supported over Clinton, Putin admitted, "Yes, I did."

Nonetheless, Trump failed to demand an explanation for any of the exceedingly detailed allegations contained in Mueller's Friday indictments when directly asked by media, choosing instead to return to strange, and largely disproven assertions regarding Democrats, the DNC server, Hillary Clinton's emails, his claims of "no collusion" with Russia and his great electoral college victory (which he also lied about.) Neither did he condemn Russia or its President in any way. We have clips from several of those answers during today's presser and reaction to it --- much of it gobsmacked --- from media, Democrats, former top intelligence officials, and even a number of Republicans, including at least one Fox "News" host who, on air, just after the news conference, condemned Trump's behavior as "disgusting".

Then, we open up the phone lines to callers --- who have a number of diverse opinions --- on all of the above, even as most of the same U.S. electoral vulnerabilities said to have been exploited by Russia in 2016, remain equally as vulnerable just months before our crucial 2018 midterm elections...

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

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Guest: The Intercept's Ryan Grim on Senate Dem hopes of derailing Brett Kavanaugh; Also: The Administration's trade wars, new attacks on 'ObamaCare' keep undermining GOP voters...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2018 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's trail of destruction continues to spread, as Senate Democrats fumble for a strategy to oppose his new U.S. Supreme Court nominee. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, the President of the United States attacked Germany in advance of today's NATO summit in Brussels, charging one of our top European allies is "totally controlled by" and "a captive of Russia". Setting diplomatic failures and ironies aside, even worse destruction continues to be waged on Americans back home.

Trump's Administration escalated his trade war with China this week, announcing plans for another $200 billion in tariffs (taxes on the American people) on imported products, after China's dollar-for-dollar retaliation against Trump's previous round of tariffs on $34 billion in imported goods. The damage from that war is already being felt on the U.S. economy, particularly on farmers in Midwestern states, where sales have been plummeting for weeks after China stopped purchasing U.S. soy beans and other agricultural goods in response. BMW, the leading auto-exporter in the U.S., has now announced that new tariffs against China are leading the company to raise prices on SUVs, and move some of their manufacturing in South Carolina (and the jobs that go with it) out of the country --- to China. Vice-President Mike Pence is being dispatched this week to Midwestern states to try and convince GOP donors to stick with the party, despite the damage being done to those voters and companies in "red" states who had supported Trump.

As that self-destruction plays out, the Administration continues its pointless and cruel attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), even though those hurt by several newly announced cuts and refusals to make billions in legally-required payments to insurance companies (paid for by other insurance companies, not by tax-payers) --- as announced over the long holiday weekend, so few would notice --- serve to hurt mostly those who don't receive their healthcare via Obama's 2010 law. The new cuts and blocked payments, according to industry experts, will end up costing both consumers and the federal government itself much more money in the bargain, as premiums will now likely skyrocket again in 2019 and subsidy payments by the Government under the Affordable Care Act will be forced to rise along with them.

Then, we're joined by The Intercept's D.C. Bureau Chief RYAN GRIM to discuss the less-than-inspiring effort, so far, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to unify his Democratic caucus against Trump's second U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Schumer is encouraging Americans to call their Senators in opposition to Kavanaugh, and Ryan reports that he is warning colleagues they face a serious backlash from their base voters if they fail to put up a brutal fight against the nominee's confirmation.

Nonetheless, Ryan's sources also suggest that Schumer's leadership on this critical issue (and others) is lacking, to put it nicely. He tells me that Schumer has determined, based on polling and the Dems' failed effort to block Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee last year, that the opposition effort must focus on policy issues relating to Kavanaugh's record and the direct threat he poses to a host of hard-won Constitutional rights and statutes at SCOTUS. That, instead of a fierce procedural fight in response to the GOP's theft of the Court majority when they refused, in 2016, to vote on --- or even meet with --- President Obama's nominee to the court, Merrick Garland, for an entire year.

"He saw a lot of polling that was quite conclusive that the argument about substance was going to be the one that won out over the one over process," says Ryan.

That said, we discuss a number of options that Democrats could still pursue to block the nomination against the Republicans very thin Senate majority, including attempts to deny quorums in the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings and/or walking out of the Capitol to deny a Constitutionally-required quorum to prevent a floor vote entirely before the November midterms. Ryan tells me that both options have been and are still being considered by some Democrats, while going on to explain some of the considerable risks those options pose and why Schumer is said to be shying away from such hardball tactics.

"It is something that has risen to the level of leadership conversations, but as of now, it's Schumer's opinion that can't be done," he tells me, adding: "I don't think anybody knows what the best path forward is. It's definitely something that's being considered. And the more attention there is to that strategy and the more pressure there is, then the more energized Senate Democrats are. So it's worth talking about, at a minimum."

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

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