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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 19, 2019
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...


Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on 'the greatest liar and conman of all time'; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2019 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it seems to be the day when we are now officially tumbling over the Constitutional Crisis cliff.

The day began with Donald Trump's Dept. of Justice issuing a letter to the House Judiciary Committee informing them that the President was formally asserting Executive Privilege to block the release to Congress of the unredacted report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well as all of its underlying evidence, such as witness testimony, grand jury information, etc.

That, as the Committee held its scheduled session to consider a vote on a resolution [PDF] finding Trump's Attorney General turned personal fixer William Barr in contempt. The vote recommending the full House consider citing Barr came after weeks of Chairman Jerrold Nadler's repeated attempts, to no avail, to find good faith accommodation with the DoJ to release the subpoenaed Special Counsel materials. Nadler's thanks came today when the DoJ notified the Committee that, due to Trump invoking Executive Privilege, they would not be allowed to see any additional material from the Special Counsel investigation of Donald Trump's obstruction of justice and his 2016 campaign's involvement with alleged election interference by Russia. In an amusing sidebar, the White House statement today on this charged: "Faced with Chairman Nadler's blatant abuse of power...the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege."

And, as all of that was going on, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a Washington Post event, declared cryptically that Trump's "obstruction, obstruction, obstruction" means that he is "becoming self-impeachable," whatever that might mean.

We're joined to try and make sense of all of this today --- including last night's blockbuster New York Times exposé finding Trump's tax records from 1985 through 1994 reveal that the self-proclaimed "greatest businessman of all time" personally lost more than $1 billion over that decade --- by our friend and award-winning journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hulaballoo.

Among the many questions raised and (some of them) answered today with the great "Digby"...

  • Did the Times' report have anything to do with Trump's blanket use of Executive Privilege today to block a report that he had previously waived the privilege on? ("The bigger picture here," argues Parton, "is that it exposes Trump as the greatest liar and conman of all time.")
  • Is Trump's legally dubious (to say the least) strategy of attempting to block any and all Congressional access to documents and witnesses really meant only to run out the clock until election season begins in earnest?
  • Is there a group of non-elected Republicans who might finally step in to end this madness?
  • Will the Democrats' attempt to refer a contempt citation for Barr be any more successful than the Republicans' attempt to cite Obama Attorney General Eric Holder in 2012 when, as we discuss, they made the exact same arguments against Holder that Dems are making against Barr today?
  • Are the Dems moving too cautiously in their attempts to hold Trump and his Administration accountable?
  • Are we any closer to an actual impeachment inquiry of the President, given (as 1998's Lindsey Graham helpfully reminds us today), the very same obstruction of Congress by a President for which Articles of Impeachment were issued against both Richard Nixon and by Graham and the Republicans against Bill Clinton?
  • What the hell does Pelosi's "self-impeachable" remark actually mean?
  • And should we all be concerned about what Trump might do next when things get even worse for him and his Presidency --- as his Administration continues to beat drums of war against Venezuela, Iran and other nations?

And, as if all of that isn't enough to squeeze into one very fast moving hour, as we got off the air today we received the breaking news that the GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has now subpoenaed Donald Trump, Jr., regarding his previous Congressional testimony on the Trump Tower Moscow project...as the walls appear to be tumbling down...

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

NOTE: I'm on the road tomorrow, so we'll be airing a BradCast Recounted for ya. Angie Coiro is in for us on Friday. And I'll be back, whether you or I like it or not, on Monday!

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Pompeo plunders Arctic for U.S.; Trump pardons war criminal murderer; White House blocks subpoenaed McGahn docs; Too much more...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2019 6:52pm PT  

Before we get to our Constitutional Crisis update on today's BradCast, we offer an update on our Climate Crisis, which the rogue Trump Administration has been busy exacerbating in the Arctic this week, to the horror of other Arctic nations. And, yes, our continuing national Gun Crisis returned to the headlines (did it ever leave?) with breaking news of another school shooting today in suburban Denver. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

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

  • Trump Sec. of State Mike Pompeo stunned fellow Arctic Council members in Finland on Monday, with a speech in which he appeared absolutely giddy about economic opportunities emerging from the quickly thawing Arctic. Without once mentioning the phrase "climate change" in his 2,400 word speech, Pompeo cited "opportunity and abundance" for those able to exploit previously frozen and untapped oil and mineral reserves in the otherwise pristine Arctic, not to mention "fisheries galore" and thawed "passageways" for travel and commerce that could turn the Arctic into a "21st century Panama Canal". The remarks, reportedly, came as a shock to other representatives of the Council's nations, there to discuss protection of the melting Arctic from political and economic threat.

    But on Tuesday, things got worse as the U.S. refused, for the first time, to sign a group agreement on challenges facing the Arctic due, according to Reuters, to discrepancies in the agreement over climate change wording, jeopardizing cooperation among participating countries as the Arctic continues to warm at nearly twice the pace as the rest of the planet;

  • Back in D.C., Donald Trump stunned the legal and military community with the Monday night pardon of a former U.S. Army lieutenant sentenced by a 2009 court marshal to 25 years in prison for the murder of an Iraqi civilian in 2008. Michael Behenna was granted Executive Clemency by Trump for the gruesome killing in which Behenna was found, according to military prosecutors, to have taken "the victim out into the desert in Iraq, stripped him naked, interrogated him while he had his Glock piston pointed at him, shot him in the head, shot him in the chest, killing him at that time," all outside of a combat zone and in defiance of both orders and the military code of justice. So, Trump has moved from sending political messages with the pardons of those who obstruct federal court orders, like the disgraced former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to granting Executive Clemency to murderous war criminals. Got the message?;
  • Before we move on to today's Constitutional Crisis update, an interesting background development, as Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department announced over the weekend that it had arrested and charged a Virginia man who served as an FBI linguist on counts of "obstructing a federal investigation and making multiple false statements to FBI officials". Of course, Barr has been famously arguing of late --- in regard to President Trump --- that, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence of criminal cooperation between the Trump Campaign and Russia during his investigation into 2016 election interference, Trump could not possibly be guilty of obstructing that investigation. With no underlying crime, Barr's legally unsupportable theory goes, there can be no obstruction of the investigation into those crimes. In the case of the FBI's cunning linguist, however, obstruction charges were filed with no underlying crime, according to a former federal and state prosecutor;
  • In related news, there are now some 500 former federal prosecutors (actually, over 700 now, since checking after the show), both Republican and Democratic, who have signed onto an open letter declaring that, based on the evidence revealed by the redacted Mueller Report, Trump would have been charged with multiple counts of felony obstruction, had he been a private citizen;
  • Then, the latest news in the multiple Constitutional showdowns between the Administration and Congress, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal to answer the Ways and Means Committee's statutory demands for the IRS Commissioner to turn over several years of Trump's tax returns and Barr's refusal to respond to a lawful Congressional subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to turn over Mueller's unredacted report and its underlying evidence. With a vote on contempt by the AG still scheduled for Wednesday in the Committee, it seems a good time to look back at the case made by House Republicans in 2012 for a contempt vote against President Obama's then-Attorney General Eric Holder, including speeches from a number of GOP lawmakers incensed at the time for the DoJ's failure to turn over subpoenaed documents, which they then described as unlawful disdain for both the rule of law and the Constitution. But that was then;
  • And, with both Mnuchin and Barr facing potential contempt citations, it was former White House Counsel Don McGahn's turn in the barrel today, as the White House stepped in to block his production of subpoenaed documents that he had long ago shared with the Special Counsel --- thus waiving the White House's opportunity at the time to invoke Executive Privilege to block the release of the documents now along with McGahn's testimony, according to largely every legal expert who doesn't work at the White House. (Though even some of those lawyers, according to WaPo, see the Administration's belated attempt to invoke the privilege now as legally dubious.) As that legal wrangle plays out, McGahn's next difficult decision will come on May 21, when he has been subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee to appear for testimony as a witness to numerous incidents of criminal obstruction by the President as detailed in the Special Counsel's redacted report;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report focused on the alarming landmark study released by the U.N. this week finding that human develop, consumption and exploitation is now threatening the extinction of some 1 million plant and animal species, a report that was released before Pompeo even arrived in the Arctic this week to dance on --- and plunder --- its melting grave...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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: Susan Harley of Public Citizen; Also: CA Guv halts death penalty; Manafort sentenced to 7 years, charged in NY; GND already paying off...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats propose a new tax on Wall Street traders that could both put the brakes on market volatility that threatens the investments of average Americans, while raising billions of much needed dollars for the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, some good news for the nation out of California. Newly elected Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the state-sanctioned killing of some 737 individuals on the state's death row. Describing the death penalty as "discriminatory" and a "failure" that has resulted in the deaths of "wrongly convicted" people proven innocent, while costing the state billions of dollars, the Governor has now blocked the barbaric planned executions of about one quarter of those slated to be killed by governments across the nation.

"It’s a very emotional place that I stand," Newsom said at a presser today, "This is about who I am as a human being, this is about what I can or cannot do. To me this is the right thing to do." As we discuss, it's not the first time that Newsom, as a public official, has placed doing the right moral thing over what may or may not be politically popular, at the moment, among the electorate.

Back in Washington D.C., Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to an additional 73 months for criminal conspiracy fraud and witness tampering on Wednesday. Some of those months will be served concurrently with the 47 months he was sentenced to last week in a Virginia federal court related to undisclosed lobbying for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. With the partially concurrent sentencing, the 69-year old Manafort now faces nearly seven years in prison.

While none of the 20 or so federal counts in two different courts that Manafort was found guilty of had charged "collusion" with Russia for interference in the 2016 election, his attorney and Donald Trump used the occasion once again to lie about that fact to the American public today. But just minutes after today's new sentencing, Manhattan's District Attorney announced 16 new indictments against Manafort in state court related to mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other crimes for which, if found guilty, the President would be unable to pardon him. Trump's pardon power extends only to federal, not state crimes.

As the madness surrounding our criminal Presidency continues, Democrats in Congress are pushing ahead with a number of progressive policy proposals in advance of 2020 to hopefully help pull the nation out of its current self-imposed morass and rebalance some of the worsening inequities between the wealthy, the poor and the middle class. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Congressman Pete DeFazio (D-OR) have now introduced new legislation that would create a very small, 0.1%, Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) on every stock market transaction. The bill [PDF] --- which already has a number of Democratic cosponsors in the House and Senate, including among Presidential hopefuls --- is estimated to raise as much as $800 billion in much-needed revenue for federal coffers over ten years. As importantly, the measure is designed to ease market volatility by curbing the legalized skimming that takes place by high volume computer traders who purchase trades from normal investors and sell them back to the investors at a higher rate, all within a fraction of a second.

The legislation is supported by some 60 non-partisan good government organizations, including Public Citizen. Attorney SUSAN HARLEY, Deputy Director of the group's Congress Watch division, joins us today to explain this new move toward an FTT that would cost traders one-tenth of a cent per dollar traded. That's $1 for every thousand invested or, as Harley explains, "Ten cents out of every 100 dollars traded. That's why we like to talk about it as rebuilding Main Street on Wall Street's dime."

"We do pay taxes on all of our purchases," she tells me. "so Wall Street should be doing the same as far as these stocks trades, bond trades, and derivative trades. It absolutely is about fairness, about making sure Wall Street is paying back the US because we did bail them out for the financial crash."

She details how the proposal is ultimately a very progressive tax, even as it's very small, because it would largely fall on the wealthy. "We've really got to re-balance our tax code, and unrigging our economy starts with making Wall Street pay its fair share. The top 1% of society owns two thirds of all financial securities."

"We did research on existing fees --- things like commission, overhead costs, broker fees. The Financial Transactions Tax would be only about $80 for the average 401k or retirement saver, versus more than $1000 in existing fees. That's just the average. Some funds have existing fees of more than $2500 dollars. So, it really is a drop in the bucket as compared to the existing commissions and other types of ways that Wall Street is taking it out of the pocket of average investors."

Harley discusses both the legislation's challenges and growing political support on Capitol Hill, where the Trump/GOP 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut, largely for corporations and the wealthy, has resulted in record trillion dollar annual deficits and a recent budget proposal by Trump to cut more than a trillion dollars from social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (He had vowed to not cut those programs during his 2016 campaign, while suggesting that Democrats would do so.)

Finally, speaking of progressive policy proposals, the recently introduced Green New Deal is already paying off. Rightwingers have been freaking out about it, and lying about it, but they are also scrambling to respond after realizing its huge popularity among the electorate and how silly they look. Several longtime climate science deniers, including Trump acolyte and accomplice Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are now taking baby steps by conceding that "climate change is real" and "humans contribute". Soon they may even notice that, according to climate scientists, human activity is actually responsible for 100% of the warming we've seen to date. But, hey, it's a start...

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Guest: Will Bunch of Philly Inquirer/Daily News; Also: Trump blows up both federal deficit AND foreign trade deficit; House Dems seek vote suppression docs from GA's GOP Governor, Sec. of State...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the heat continues to grow on the Trump Administration, as Democrats ramp up their oversight efforts after taking back a majority in the U.S. House. But, with another Presidential election around the corner, should they already be pursuing Articles of Impeachment, particularly with what we already know about Donald Trump's unprecedented crimes and corruption both before and after becoming President? [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But, first up today...A new report from Donald Trump's U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday confirms that the Trump/GOP tax cuts have blown up the federal deficit to record levels. In the first four months of the budget year (which began in October) the deficit is up an astonishing 77 percent over the same period the previous year, thanks in no small part to a vast reduction in revenue on the heels of the tax cut, including a 23 percent drop in corporate taxes paid to the Government compared to last year. So much for the Republican repeated lie that their tax cuts would "pay for themselves!"

Then, on Wednesday, the Commerce Department followed up that news with the announcement that the foreign trade deficit has exploded, even after Trump's "American First" tariffs and trade wars that were supposed to shrink the imbalance with foreign nations that Trump has long (falsely) blamed for the loss of American manufacturing jobs. As a candidate, he described the U.S. foreign trade deficit as a "politician-made disaster" that he said he could "turn around fast". But his tariffs have only made things worse.

Moreover, as recently as this past weekend at CPAC, he repeated his line about "billions of dollars...pouring into our Treasury" due to his new tariffs on imported goods, but failed, as usual, to mention that those "billions" are paid by American consumers, not foreign nations. A recent study [PDF] found Americans are footing the entire bill for Trump's tariffs and that it is costing more for those in Republican-leaning counties. A separate study [PDF] from a different set of economists found that if Trump's tariffs somehow resulted in the creation of 35,000 new manufacturing jobs (the total number of jobs lost in the steel and aluminum industry over the past decade) they would still have cost tax-payers $195,000 per job.

Those, of course, are just some of Trump's failures as President. His high crimes and misdemeanors are another matter. With Democrats back in the majority in the U.S. House, oversight of the Executive Branch is finally beginning again. Trump and the White House and their TV operation called Fox "News", describe the Constitutional mandate oversight as a "fishing expedition", a "disgrace" and "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!" But, citing the House Judiciary Committee's request for documents from over 80 Trump associates or entities this week, our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH, describes the effort as a "shadow impeachment".

He tells me the effort now underway in the House is "exactly like" the process we would see if Articles of Impeachment had already been introduced, but without Democrats having to use "the i-word". But will that process be enough to bring accountability, much less put the brakes on this out-of-control, unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency? Especially with the next Presidential election already baring down on us? A "shadow impeachment" that could become a real one is fine, but shouldn't we have a real one already? We discuss those questions and many others with Bunch on today's program.

Finally, speaking of long-overdue and much-needed federal oversight. Democratic leadership in the House Oversight and Reform Committee today sent letters [PDF] to Georgia's new Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp, along with new Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger, seeking documents surrounding the massive vote suppression that tainted Kemp's reported narrow victory in the Governor's contest over Democrat Stacey Abrams last November. Among the documents sought by the House Dems in their new investigation are those related to Peach State government actions to purge voters (1.4 million were removed from the rolls during Kemp's tenure as SoS), shut down polling places (200 have been closed since 2012); keep newly-registered voters off the rolls (the registrations of 53,000 disproportionately black voters were suspended under the state's so-called "exact match" requirement); the "sequestration" of un-deployed voting machines (which resulted in long lines on Election Day in three key counties); and other related concerns over which Kemp was sued (and lost) countless times while overseeing his own election last year.

All of that as both Kemp and Raffensberger are pushing hard this week to hoax state lawmakers into voting to spend at least $150 million on new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Republicans are rushing through legislation this week in the state Senate to purchase the new computer-marked "paper ballot" systems, despite being virulently opposed by computer cybersecurity and voting machine experts who describe the new systems as unverifiable [PDF], unauditable [PDF] and vulnerable to hacking [PDF]. The experts recommend hand-marked paper ballot systems instead.

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Guest: Public Citizen's General Counsel Allison Zieve; Also: Sanders breaks record; Green New Deal wildly popular; The off-the-rails Tucker Carlson interview Fox 'News' didn't want you to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Good news for Bernie, good news for the Green New Deal, bad news for Tucker Carlson and Fox "News", and the fight is joined against the "invasion" on the U.S. southern border. (No, not that one.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: When Congress settled on a compromise spending deal last week to keep the federal government open, the agreement included a special carve-out to protect a number of sensitive wildlife and tourism related areas along the Rio Grande River in South Texas, including the threatened National Butterfly Center and the 150-year old La Lomita Mission Chapel. But, as the Director of the 100-acre butterfly and wildlife refuge tells us, she is continuing the Center's lawsuit against the government because she fears Donald Trump's "National Emergency" declaration may now override the protective legislative carve out. "In fact, we expect the equipment already at work near us will just roll right over and through us," Marianna Trevino-Wright said via email after bill was signed and the "emergency" declared by the President, noting that even the current legislative agreement lasts for just six months before negotiations for 2020 appropriations begin. "We have not been spared," Trevino-Wright wrote, "We were given a temporary stay of execution."

Receiving no such "stay" however, are thousands of private residents living along the South Texas border. So, last Friday, the non-profit good government organization Public Citizen filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three private citizens and the Frontera Audubon Society challenging Trump's "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military in order to build his wall with Mexico on the border. The lawsuit [PDF] filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C. describes the scheme as unlawful and unconstitutional.

We're joined today by ALLISON ZIEVE, General Counsel for Public Citizen and Director of their Supreme Court Assistance Project, to discuss the complaint filed on behalf of three Starr County, TX residents whose property and homes on the banks of the Rio Grande --- where they and their families have lived for as many as five generations --- will now be bisected by a giant barrier, cutting them off from the river entirely. In one case, the wall would be built just feet from the landowner's house.

The suit describes the federal government's heavy-handed tactics to condemn and seize private lands from the plaintiffs as an "imminent invasion of privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their land." The case is also filed on behalf of Frontera Audubon, which charges the wall will impede migration of wildlife at the nature preserve and prevent their members from getting to where birds and other sensitive species are threatened along a 250-mile wildlife corridor on the Rio Grande River.

Zieve tells me how Public Citizen's complaint, filed last Friday, differs from the one filed by 16 state Attorneys General on Monday also seeking to block Trump's "emergency" declaration as an unlawful exercise of the National Emergency Act, and how the cases are likely to play out as they work their way, almost certainly, to the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly, she notes, "if any of the plaintiffs win" at the appellate level.

"If there's no emergency, the President can't declare one," Zieve argues, adding: "What it really comes down to is there is no emergency. Everybody knows that. It's not really that [the Administration] thinks there's an emergency. It's that they think the President can do whatever he wants. And that's just not our Constitutional system."

Also on today's show: Bernie Sanders shatters historic U.S. records for funds raised on the first day of his announcement that he's running for President again in 2020. And it wasn't even close. And the elements of the Green New Deal prove to be wildly popular, garnering well over 80 percent support across all political parties, according to a new poll by Business Insider.

Finally, the unaired profane interview between Tucker Carlson of Fox 'News' and historian Rutger Bregman about raising taxes on the wealthy that, apparently, Fox does not want you to hear, since they taped it last week but decided against running it --- so we did.

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Guest: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the National Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2019 6:57pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please tune in for this full conversation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Trump paid Cohen to rig online polling; Giuliani moves the Russia goal posts (again); President throws tantrum at Pelosi; Government shutdown taking toll; And why Ocasio-Cortez is joyfully freaking out the GOP...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

The federal government continue to spiral towards utter dysfunction under a President on the precipice of (take your pick). But one freshman Congresswoman provides a bit of a light at the end of the Trump tunnel. [Audio link to today's complete BradCast is posted below.]

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

  • Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admits he paid a guy from Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University to rig online polls for Trump before he announced his candidacy in 2015. That, as Cohen is reportedly reconsidering his decision to testify to Congress next month in advance of his three year prison sentence, due to threats (witness tampering? intimidation?) by the President against him and his family. Trump failed to report the $50,000 payoff to rig polls to the FEC, which is yet another potential federal felony and/or article of impeachment for the sitting President. While the story should surprise no one at this point (remember, he also paid extras to cheer him on while announcing his candidacy at Trump Tower that year), its somehow still stunning and disturbing as yet another indication of just what Trump was likely willing to do, at any cost, to win in 2016;
  • Speaking of what Trump and his campaign were willing to do, his new personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, may have broken the Internet after his appearance on CNN Wednesday night, in which he moved the "collusion" goal posts by falsely claiming that neither he nor the President ever claimed his campaign --- if not Trump himself --- "colluded" with Russia. In fact, contrary to Giuliani's ridiculous assertions, both men claimed repeatedly that nobody on the Trump Campaign was involved in such an activity. As of Wednesday night, it seems, Trump's lawyer is officially backing off that claim on behalf of the President...for some reason;
  • Reverberations and consequences of Trump's nearly-month long federal government shutdown continue. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a Congressional delegation were preparing to leave today for a secret trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Trump, in retribution for Pelosi's threat to postpone his scheduled State of the Union Address during the shutdown, rescinded permission for the use of a military plane set to take Pelosi and the others on the overseas trip. You'll also be shocked to hear he lied about it all too;
  • Meanwhile, as more Congressional Republicans --- and even a top former Administration official --- are questioning the wisdom of shutting down the federal government over Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to begin building his southern border wall, senior citizens and people with disabilities are facing the threat of potential eviction in HUD and USDA subsidized housing across the country;
  • At the same time, the Administration is calling some 50,000 furloughed federal employees back to work without pay at agencies such as the FDA, FAA, and at the IRS as tax season begins;
  • But, speaking of taxes, there is a reason that Republicans are freaking out --- and lying --- about the recent proposal floated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to raise the nation's top tax bracket to 70% on those earning more than $10 million: the proposal is wildly popular --- by double-digit margins --- across virtually every demographic and every area of the country. Thus, folks like Wisconsin's failed former GOP Gov. Scott Walker was out bragging on social media this week about lying to school children about how AOC's proposal would actually work, who would and wouldn't be affected by it, and by how much;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Dems grill the Administration's new nominee/coal lobbyists tapped to head an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where pollution prosecutions have plummeted since Trump took office, while Australia faces yet another record heat wave, and as the business world slowly begins waking up to the mounting threat of climate change...

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

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Federal closures having real effects (but not on Trump's business); RBG absent at SCOTUS; High Court rejects Exxon; AOC floats tax increase, GOP freaks out; Callers ring in on Democratic majority priorities...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desi and I are back after the holidays --- and to end the shutdown! You're welcome! There's a LOT of news to catch up on as Democrats officially settle in to their new U.S. House majority with the federal government remaining partially closed thanks to Donald Trump's new demand for $5 billion in tax-payer money (not Mexico's) to fund his southern border wall. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The federal shutdown is beginning to cause very real and negative effects across the country, particularly at our national parks and monuments and, if it goes on much longer, in food assistance to the poor. Oddly enough, National Park Service rangers are still deployed to one historic site in D.C. --- the one that happens to be inside the Old Post Office building....which is now the Trump International Hotel.

Meanwhile, Trump has announced plans for a prime-time speech to the nation on Tuesday night to address his pretend "National Security crisis on our Southern Border" and is requesting airtime for it from the national TV networks. However, while Trump is standing firm on his demand for some $5 billion to fund his border wall, (and Dems are standing equally firm in not giving it to him), his very own proposed budget plan for 2019 [PDF], as given to Congress last year, requested just $1.6 billion for the wall. (Seriously, open on the PDF and click on the section for the Dept. of Homeland Security, where it details the Admin's 2019 request: "Critical investments include $1.6 billion for construction of the border wall.") That's almost exactly what the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted to give him last year, which Trump agreed to...before criticism from Righwing media led him to increase his demand two weeks ago.

So, it's left to me, I guess, to explain how Democrats should give Trump exactly what he asked for in that proposal last year --- as written by Office of Management and Budget chief and now Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney --- in order to solve the very real shutdown crisis.

Also, among the many other stories covered on today's show:

  • For the first time in her career as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, recuperating from cancer surgery, was not present for oral argument at SCOTUS on Monday.
  • In better SCOTUS news, the Court rejected ExxonMobil's plea to save them from an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General into the oil giant's decades of apparent fraud regarding climate change.
  • Over the weekend, newly-minted progressive Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for restoring the 70 percent income tax rate for the lucky few earning more than $10 million a year, in order to help fund a 'Green New Deal' to save the planet. Republicans, predictably, are both freaking out and lying about her proposal.

And, finally, we open up the phone lines to callers on all of the above and much more, including what listeners hope to see Democrats take on as their top priorities in the new Congress...

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

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Guest hosted by Angie Coiro, with wisdom from historian Adam Hochschild; Abortion rights update; John Roberts vs. Donald Trump; Saudi Arabia torture reports; urban housing insights, and more!...
By Angie Coiro on 11/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad today --- Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Quite the contrast between all the news Brad and Desi had to fit in yesterday, and the relatively quiet developments today; everyone's hitting the road. Except Donald, who's hitting Twitter, and SCOTUS chief John Roberts, who's hitting back.

We start with a round-up of news, including three abortion stories (yes, politicians in Ohio want you dead if you get or give an abortion); three tales of adults adulting, even in DC; and a story out of Saudi Arabia that makes it even more astounding that Trump loves the Crown Prince (and Saudi-tied profits) so dearly. Plus a look at Robert Reich's antitrust take on Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

Then long-time historian/journalist ADAM HOCHSCHILD discusses his book, Lessons from a Dark Time --- a collection of his work from over the decades. (A warning here for those who are sensitive to sexual assault discussions, as that does come up.) We talk about prison reform, redefining gun issues, and how far the Nazi Germany metaphor might play out in the US.

Housing activist and journalist RANDY SHAW has a book, too, and it has an unusual take on the urban housing crisis: it's a generational thing. Generation Priced Out documents his investigations in twelve major US cities, seeking both factors and fixes. In addition to the more universally-recognized culprits, he sees a less-discussed one: Baby Boomer resistance to housing the next generations.

And at the very tail end of the hour, a little something to make you smile --- to get you into the Thanksgiving spirit of gratitude. I'll let you check it out for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Guest: Doug Pagitt of Vote Common Good; Also: Voter registration surge after Taylor Swift endorsement, Nikki Haley's mysterious (and dishonest) resignation, and Hurricane Michael intensifies before FL landfall...
By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the religious left fights back! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first: It's little wonder Fox 'News' doesn't like it when celebrities on the left speak out about politics. Sure, it's fine when a Republican actor or TV celebrity with zero political background runs for and becomes President of the United States. But if a singer or comedian sports hero on the left dares have an opinion, they need to "shut up and dribble". Vote.org reports a huge spike in voter registrations nationwide and in Tennessee this week, following pop star Taylor Swift's Instagram endorsement of the state's Democratic candidate, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, for the U.S. Senate in his race against Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Yes, bravely speaking out about politics helps. No wonder the right would like folks like Swift to shut up, especially as voter registration deadlines hit across the country this week and next.

At the same time, as a Category 3 hurricane barrels toward the Florida Gulf Coast, Democrats are forced to sue the state again, as they did in 2016, to force the Governor to extend voter registration, which officially ended on Tuesday night in the Sunshine State.

Also today, up in Washington, D.C., U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, one of the few top officials in the Trump Cabinet not considered to be a complete wingnut (a very low bar), announced her plan to resign at year's end for reasons that remain shrouded in much speculation. As she announced her planned exit today at the White House with Donald Trump, she managed to argue that since Trump --- who was laughed at, out loud, in the U.N. General Assembly just two weeks ago --- took office, "now, the United States is respected." As we discuss, that claim flies in the face of demonstrable facts supported by actual recent polling around the world.

Next up today, after Republicans ignored a statement last week from the National Coalition of Churches --- the nation's largest such group representing 38 denominations, 100,000 congregations and 40 million Americans --- to withdraw the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh "immediately", a group of evangelicals are now hitting the road for a national bus tour to "Flip Congress for the common good."

We're joined today by Vote Common Good founder and executive director, Pastor DOUG PAGITT, to explain his group's attempted outreach to white evangelicals who may have previously supported Trump and his Republican Party. The non-profit, non-partisan organization's cross-country tour began in Pennsylvania last week and is set to hit Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico before wrapping up in California before the November 6th election.

Pagitt, the founding pastor of Solomon's Porch Christian Comuninity in Minneapolis (and who also hosts an afternoon drive time show on our Minneapolis/St. Paul affiliate, am950 KTNF!) tells me that there is a need for liberal and progressive religious community leaders on the left to speak out for Christian values in the dangerous era of Trump, even if it risks their tax-exempt status and even as white evangelicals have institutionalized their support of the Republican Party with millions of dollars over the past several decades.

"What we are saying is the Republican Congress has lost its ability, lost its moral compass, lost its spine, when it comes to standing up to the Trump Administration. Our need to flip Congress now is a bipartisan, non-partisan civic duty to put restraints on the Trump Administration," he says. "I think pastors and churches all over the country should be willing to risk their non-profit status in order to speak out about the Trump Administration because the Trump Administration is that dangerous. The idea that the thing that makes a Christian community a Christian community is that people don't have to pay taxes on the money they give to you, is the lowest possible level that a Christian community could be proud of. It's almost like the government is saying is 'if you speak up against us, we're going to make that a financial burden upon you'. And I think Christian churches should take on that burden. If you lose that 501c3 non-profit contribution status? Fair enough. Be like every other business that has to function in this society."

Pagitt details how he believes that many Christian voters have been conned into giving up their values and otherwise intimidated and frightened into voting against biblical teachings. He calls for the Christian left to build a political coalition to counter the long-entrenched, so-called Religious Right.

"We are trying to call the bluff on the evangelicals who, out of one side of their mouth, want to say that they follow the teachings of Jesus, and out of the other side of their mouth, are not just endorsing Donald Trump but seem to be wanting to move into a full embrace of Trumpism," Pagitt tells me, explaining why many evangelicals who know Trump represents the opposite of their beliefs, may still be afraid of voting for Democrats. "People confuse their identity with their tactic. Voting is a tactic to bring about the common good. Voting ought not be seen as our identity, but a lot of religious people have merged their religious and civic identity with the political Republican Party...and [it's difficult] to start to separate out your identities from your tactics. When someone realizes in their life that they have a misplaced identity, that takes awhile for them to get their heads around."

It's a fascinating (and long overdue) national conversation that I recommend you tune in for.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Hurricane Michael threatens Florida with catastrophic, global warming-fueled destruction and as the United Nations issues an alarming scientific report finding the worst impacts of climate change will arrive much sooner than predicted unless massive and immediate changes are made by the nations of the world...

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

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