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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 17, 2019
'Why Was it Necessary to Smear My Reputation?': Yovanovitch Testifies, Trump Attacks: 'BradCast' 11/15/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Stone guilty on all counts; Giuliani facing criminal probe...
Election Advocates Demand Decert of New E-Vote Systems That Failed in PA, GA:
'BradCast' 11/14/19
Guest: NEDC's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Deval jumps in; Bevin concedes; Trump loses (again)
'Green News Report' 11/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic fires in Australia; Arctic blast in U.S.; Thunberg sets sail back to Europe; PLUS: Trump EPA seeks to limit science used to write public health rules...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/19 - 11/7/19 - Archives...
New EPA Rule Guts Science, Public Health for Corporate Polluters: 'BradCast' 11/12/19
Guest: Union of Concerned Scientists' Andrew Rosenberg; Also: SCOTUS allows suit against gun-makers, but may kill DACA; Impeachment begins; Our 1000th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 11/12/19
OUR 1000th EPISODE! Looking back and forward at a thousand 'GNRs' with a few messages from some friends and the funniest snarky comment of all time!...
EVERYTHING Is Now Political (Even CA Wildfires!): 'BradCast' 11/11/19
Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the new touchscreen vote system disasters last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 election...
Sunday 'Leaves of Crass' Toons
All the fall colors are on display in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Religious Freedom in Opposite World: 'BradCast' 11/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ Frederick Clarkson on Christian Right's 'Project Blitz'...
'Green News Report' 11/7/19
11,000 scientists issue dire warning; Hottest Oct. ever; Trump EPA weakens water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu, Maui County sue Big Oil for climate damages...
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...


Trump Twitter blocks blocked again; Perot dies; Steyer jumps in; Amash blasts Pelosi; Judge blocks DoJ Census lawyer swap; Dems subpoena Trump Org in Emoluments case, set vote for new subpoena 'blitz'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2019 6:31pm PT  

It's still unclear what it will take for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow her caucus to begin impeachment proceedings for the most impeachable President in history. But each day that goes by, each rule of law that Trump and his Administration undermine, each norm they violate, each tradition they shatter, each Constitutional clause they scoff at, seems to make her inaction more untenable by the day. But we press forward as the lawsuits pile up, subpoenas are defied, new ones are issued, and the American public wonders how we will ever find our way out of this mess. Those thoughts seem to underscore each of the many stories we cover on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among those many stories...

  • The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Tuesday unanimously confirmed a lower court ruling that Donald Trump violated the Constitution's First Amendment by blocking followers on Twitter with whom he disagreed, since he uses his personal account for governmental purposes. We wonder if Alabama's Republican Sec. of State John H. Merrill, who blocked me and election law experts like UC Irvine's Rick Hasen and University of KY's Joshua Douglas on Twitter long ago, is ready to rethink his position, or if we can expect more crazy responses from Merrill by email and phone like the last time we asked about this when the lower court first ruled in favor of plaintiffs;
  • Billionaire two-time, self-funding, third-party Presidential candidate Ross Perot, who first ran for President in 1992, has died at age 89;
  • Billionaire self-funding environmental and impeachment activist Tom Steyer of California declares his run for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination, after previously stating he wanted to focus on impeachment of Donald Trump instead. His announcement video released today describes the desperate need to get corporate money out of politics, but Steyer is also reportedly very unhappy with the speed with which Congressional Democrats are plodding toward impeachment of our scofflaw President;
  • Similarly unhappy with the lack of accountability being brought by Democrats is now-former Tea Party Republican Justin Amash, Congressman from Michigan who, last week, declared he was leaving the GOP. Over the weekend Amash blasted Democrats, specifically Nancy Pelosi, for failing to take appropriate action to begin impeaching Trump. Until leaving the party last week, Amash was the only Republican in Congress to call for impeachment proceedings and he remains one of the best advocates for same from either major party. During his interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Amash also said that high level Republicans had privately thanked him for his outspoken stance against Trump and that he remains open to the possibility of running for President on the Libertarian Party ticket next year;
  • But if Democrats are still unwilling to play the type of hardball demanded by this moment in history, the Trump Administration isn't shying away from it. Following U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' recent rejection of the Administration's "contrived" reason for adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census, the Dept. of Justice announced on Sunday that they would be replacing the entire legal team that had defended the Government in several different cases on the matter over the past year. Many of those career DoJ attorneys, it is speculated, refused to proceed after they already officially informed a federal judge that the Census was being printed, as of the July 1 deadline, without the question included. But that was before Trump tweeted that the official announcements from DoJ and the Census Bureau were "fake" and demanded that his Government find a way to include the question anyway. Former U.S. Attorney and Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal says we've "never seen anything like this", describing the DoJ move to replace all of the attorneys en masse as "the canary in the coal mine". But today, mid-show, after the ACLU challenged the nearly unprecedented removal of the DoJ legal team, a federal judge ruled the Government may not remove them from the case --- at least until they offer the court an explanation for the unusual move;
  • And while it may not (yet) be impeachment, Congressional Democrats are moving ahead with their legal strategy to challenge the Administration in court. On Monday, they issued subpoenas to a number of Trump's businesses as part of discovery in a lawsuit alleging that Trump is in violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, thanks to money received from foreign governments to his various businesses which he refused to divest from after being elected President. The DoJ, on Trump's behalf, is trying another extraordinary maneuver, in defiance of the lower court judge, by filing an appeal to block those subpoenas at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals before the case has even been resolved at the trial court level;
  • And in the House Judiciary Committee, Democrats announced plans this week to authorize new Congressional subpoenas for a bevy of current and former high profile former Trump officials, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions; former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly; former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein; Senior WH advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner; former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; and the head of the company which owned the National Inquirer, David Pecker. The subpoenas, to be formally voted on by the Committee on Thursday, are in response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and hush-money payoffs made by the President, as well as Trump's border policies and reported promises of pardons to officials willing to violate the law on Trump's behalf;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, on the day after Washington D.C. received a record four inches of rain --- a full month's worth --- in a single hour, while Donald Trump actually gave a speech meant to tout his Administration's (horrific) environmental record...

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

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Guest: David Pasch of Voices for Vaping; Also: A quick roundup of a mountain of news from over the holiday weekend...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2019 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open today with a quick review of as many of the noteworthy stories as possible from over the long holiday weekend, before moving to San Francisco's horribly, deadly scheme to --- yes --- promoting smoking! [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the quick news stories covered first:

  • Trump's celebration to himself with his 4th of July tribute to America's violent and deadly militaristic past, present and future on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial;
  • The Dept. of Justice flipping its position on adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census after last week conceding in federal court they would NOT do so after their effort was blocked by SCOTUS. Now, the entire legal team handling the matter has been replaced following Trump's tweeted insistence that the question would be added anyway;
  • Britain's ambassador to the U.S. is discovered having accurately referred to Trump in private cables as "inept", "uniquely dysfunctional" and with a Presidency that "could end in disgrace";
  • The U.S. Women's Soccer team wins their second World Cup in a row despite Trump's personal attacks on them (and their loathing of him, in kind);
  • Michigan's conservative "Tea Party" Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican in Congress to call for Trump's impeachment --- and perhaps the most effective of any party in doing so --- announced he was leaving the GOP;
  • Billionaire hedge fund manager and Trump pal Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and charged over the weekend with sex trafficking that included minors, dating from 2002, when Trump was quoted that same year by New York Magazine as calling him "a terrific guy", "a lot of fund to be with" and someone who "likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side". Epstein was arraigned and pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Monday;
  • Iran announced it has exceeded uranium enrichment levels beyond those set by the landmark nuclear agreement struck during the Obama Administration, but broken by Trump (so now broken, in kind, by Iran);
  • Temperatures hit 90 degrees for several days in Fairbanks, Alaska(!);
  • And, oh yeah, over the holiday weekend, we had two of the largest earthquakes here in Southern California to hit in more than 20 years, including one that hit 7.1 on the Richter Scale.

Then it's on to our guest today, DAVID PASCH of Voices for Vaping, an industry group sponsored by the Vapor Technology Association which, according to Pasch, takes no money from Big Tobacco and is dedicated to "bringing together Americans from all walks of life demanding access to the 21st century technology that will end smoking." He is with us today in response to an ill-considered new city ordinance signed last week by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, after unanimous passage by the City Council, banning the sale of all e-cigarettes and vaping devices --- via both brick-and-mortar stores as well as via mail order --- for everyone in the city.

The measure is certain to increase unnecessary deaths by making it much more difficult to quit smoking via e-cigarettes in a nation where half a million die each year thanks to cigarette smoking. A similarly troubling, if less draconian measure to restrict vaping is now moving through the California state Assembly, despite the proven health benefits of quitting smoking in favor of vaping, as touted by no less than UK's Royal College of Physicians as 95% safer than smoking.

Pasch, who formerly worked at the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services and for various non-profits in the healthcare industry, discusses the deadly implications of San Francisco's ban, the dangers of California's proposed measure, and the idiocy of banning the sale of devices proven to help smokers quit smoking while allowing cigarette sales to continue in the supposedly progressive enclave unabated. He also speaks to the wholly unproven myth "that e-cigarettes are some sort of gateway" to tobacco for teens, while San Francisco's "proposed solution is to get rid of them and make sure that tobacco products like cigarettes are the only ones actually available still on the store shelves." He describes vapor technology and vapor products as "probably the most exciting public health innovation of my lifetime" with "the potential to end smoking as we know it."

Alas, he also notes, that he cannot explain how San Francisco, "a progressive beacon for the whole country and in many ways for the whole world" appears to be promoting "one of the biggest public health scourges in the country" through their recent action. "If you want to see what good, progressive, small-d democratic outreach and acceptance of this issue looks like," he points to the United Kingdom. "In England, they're not exactly known as a loose regulatory environment. They have totally embraced this. The National Health Service literally pays for advertisements showing how many doctors recommend their patients switch to e-cigarettes as a way to quit. You have vape shops that are literally being built in public hospitals in England right now. It's a totally different approach, that I think progressive Democratic leaders in the United States should be looking to follow."

Finally, after a few more quick news items --- including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) dropping out of the Presidential race and billionaire environmentalist and impeachment activist Tom Steyer considering jumping in --- we open the phone lines to folks who really seem to want to talk about vaping! Both for and against it! My own personal journey --- quitting my own 30-year, 2-pack a day habit overnight, thanks to vaping --- was recently published as a Letter to the Editor in the Los Angeles Times. With the phones open, lively conversation ensues. Enjoy!

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

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Bizarre day in the Conway household; Remarkable GOP excuses for ignoring Mueller; MI drops Flint water crisis indictments; Plus: A long-overdue musical tribute to the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got quite a bit of hard news, though we have to start off with a brief personal note. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • My much-beloved hometown hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, are now Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in the franchise's storied if oft-frustrating 52-year history! After going from last place in the NHL in January to win the Cup in Game 7 in Boston, it seems only fair I'm allowed a short, if long-overdue, victory lap on today's program --- along with a bumper music tribute to the team I grew up with throughout today's show. (And no, Blues fans, it's probably not the music you expect!);
  • In somewhat more substantive, if less pleasant, matters (kicked off by a Daily Kos BradCast commenter who deserves credit for an appropriate invocation of the word "paracosm" today), life in the Conway household must be getting more bizarre by the day. On Thursday, the Trump-appointed head of the federal government watchdog Office of Special Counsel (not to be confused with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's Office) recommended that Kellyanne Conway, one of Donald Trump's top advisers and apologists, be fired for "repeated violations" of the Hatch Act. The federal law bars federal officials from using their official offices for political purposes, yet Kellyanne repeatedly used hers to bash Democrats running for office while promoting Donald Trump and other Republicans. Scoffing at the watchdog's recommendation, of course, the corrupt White House is all but certain to ignore the multiple violations of federal law by one of its top officials;
  • Meanwhile, at the other end of Chez Conway, Kellyanne's husband, longtime Republican attorney and activist George took to the pages of Washington Post to file a scorching op-ed with Barack Obama's former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, slamming Trump's latest legal appeal in the President's attempt to block Congressional subpoenas for financial documents from his accounting firm Mazars. Conway and Katyal deride the President's claims that Congress is Constitutionally barred from investigating criminal matters, and that only the Executive Branch may do so. "The idea that only the president can investigate the president is an argument for autocrats, not Americans," the pair write, arguing that Trump's legal argument seems to invite an official impeachment proceeding by Congress. "Every principle behind the rule of law requires the commencement of a process now to make this president a former one," they conclude, in what must make for some very chilly dinner conversation at the Conway household;
  • In not-at-all unrelated news, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the only sitting Republican member of Congress to call for impeachment proceedings against Trump, continues to maintain is not planning a run for President on the Libertarian ticket, though he said he has not "ruled anything out". He also lobbed back a pretty impressive response to an attempted Twitter shot by Donald Trump, Jr. (Of course, given the information-starved Trump supporters, it may be one they don't even understand.) Earlier this week, Amash officially resigned from the hard-right "House Freedom Caucus" (formerly known as the "Tea Party Caucus") which he had co-founded, having split with the group whose members have now become amongst the most virulent defenders and apologists for Trump in Congress. He also voted yesterday with Democrats in the House Oversight Committee to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying a subpoena to turn over documents related to false Administration claims regarding the addition of a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census;
  • Of course, the reason Amash is currently the only sitting GOPer to call for Trump's impeachment is because he may be the only Republican in the House who actually bothered to read the Mueller Report, which details multiple instances of criminal obstruction by the President for Congress to consider for impeachment proceedings. This past week has brought some remarkably original excuses from GOP House members as to why they are willing to overlook and excuse multiple, well-documented federal crimes by the President, who Mueller found to have committed some of the very same unlawful actions for which articles of impeachment were brought against both Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. For example, Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, who as a member of the Judiciary Committee in 1998 voted for impeachment against Clinton, now says Donald Trump never swore on a bible, so there's nothing to impeach him for. Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall fell all over himself with some remarkable, false and contradictory statements while trying to explain why he proudly refuses to even read Mueller's report at all! But while Republican members of Congress might be excused --- under the world's most generous interpretation possible --- for being clueless when it comes to the Rule of Law, no such generosity can possibly excuse the jaw-dropping response to the Mueller Report's findings from the state of Louisiana's chief law enforcement officer, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry;
  • Finally today, stunning news out of Michigan, where the state's recently appointed Solicitor General, tapped earlier this year by newly-elected Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, announced that state prosecutors were dropping all criminal charges against eight people indicted in the Flint lead poisoning water crisis and starting the probe over from scratch after an expansive new body of evidence was reviewed. Prosecutors say they may recharge some of the previously indicted individuals, but that new evidence reveals former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette's three-year investigation failed to properly examine large swaths of material evidence, some of which is said to be tied to former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. We try to make some sense of that news as we close out today's show...and musical tribute to my favorite underdog hometown team...

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

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Guest: MIT nuclear proliferation expert Vipin Narang; Also: Flooding, evacuations in AR, MO; GOP pushback against Trump's new Mexican tariff scheme; The necessity of continuing to talk about impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we really tried to talk about something other than impeachment...and we mostly did! You're welcome! But don't expect it to last. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, as predicted, during a very brief pause in the record severe weather that's been afflicting the central U.S. for weeks, flooding continues to be a major problem today and is getting worse. Mandatory evacuations are now in place in both Arkansas and Missouri after levees have breached, been topped or may do so soon both states. Thousands of homes are threatened there and elsewhere as some 80 different river gauges in 10 different states indicate the highest category of major flooding, with more severe weather predicted in the days ahead for rain soaked Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Louisiana and other Midwestern states.

In politics today, Republicans and major business groups are pushing back at Donald Trump's surprise announcement on Thursday evening that he plans to impose unilateral new taxes on all goods coming in from Mexico, in hopes of forcing our southern neighbor --- in some fashion --- to stop the flow of migrants coming into the U.S. from Central America. The new tariffs --- which are taxes paid by American importers and consumers (despite the President mischaracterization) --- would begin at 5%, and increase by the same amount until reaching 25%under Trump's scheme. A number of GOP lawmakers, particularly in farm states such as Iowa, are blasting the proposal, and warning that it is likely to derail Congressional ratification of Trump's updated NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada. It is also likely to cost billions to American businesses --- particularly in the automobile and agriculture sectors --- and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, calls for official impeachment proceedings to begin against the President get louder each day following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's statement this week clarifying the evidence in his report of serious obstruction of justice crimes by the President and a need for Congress to take action. A stunning reported comment from an attendee at a town hall held this week in Grand Rapids by Michigan's Republican Rep. Justin Amash underscores the necessity to continue informing the public about Mueller's findings. (So, yeah, we're gonna have to continue doing so. Sorry.) Amash remains the only Republican member of Congress, so far, to call for impeachment proceedings and, perhaps, clearest and most effective voices among Rs or Ds in Congress as to why taking action to hold the President accountable is so crucial.

But outside of Congress, a group of former high-level GOP attorneys are also making their voices heard, with a new video detailing several of Trump's obstruction crimes highlighted by Mueller. The group, Republicans for the Rule of Law, says they plan to begin airing a shorter version of their new ad on TV outlets such as Fox "News", where --- at least according to that attendee at Amash's town hall --- only fake news, falsely claiming Mueller exonerated Trump, is being heard.

Finally today, after several months of relative calm during negotiations with Trump, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un began testing missiles again in early May. While Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton has described the tests as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and South Korea sees the tests as a potential violation of recent agreements between the two Koreas, Trump has continued to downplay --- or completely deny --- Kim's actions.

At the same time, as the North fires ballistic missiles and continues to amass nuclear weaponry, Trump --- who spent the Memorial Day weekend in Japan to discuss this and other matters --- still seems more obsessed with Iran, who does not have nuclear weapons, but is now said to be increasing their fissile material enrichment program in the wake of Trump pulling out of the seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement struck during the Obama Administration. Trump now says he'd "like to make a deal" with Iran, but Iran says they see "no prospect" of such a deal with this American President.

We're joined today by VIPIN NARANG of MIT's Security Studies Program to try and make sense of what is or isn't going on on the Korean peninsula, and how the Trump Administration is or isn't responding to both North Korea and Iran. That, after Trump sided with Kim, while on foreign soil in Japan last weekend, to attack former Vice President and 2020 Presidential hopeful Joe Biden --- and amidst unconfirmed reports from South Korean media that Kim has executed his top nuclear negotiator and four other senior Foreign Ministry officials following the failed summit between him and Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam last February.

Among the very clarifying information from Narang on North Korea, he warns: "The risk now is that by [Trump] green-lighting North Korean tests short of ICBMs, it may encourage or embolden Kim Jong Un to continue testing more frequently, and maybe longer-range missiles. We've seen Trump flip very quickly, so if Kim Jong Un makes a mistake of pushing the line just a little bit too far, or testing one missile too many, President Trump can flip and feel betrayed very quickly." He adds: "If you get a missile test that really pushes a line, then we could end up back [like] in 2017 [with threats of 'fire and fury'], but without the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp."

Narang, who focuses at MIT on nuclear proliferation, strategy and South Asian security, is the author of the award-winning Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era. Among the insights he offers regarding Trump's on-again, off-again chest thumping against Iran: "It's very difficult to envision a deal with Iranians that is better than the JCPOA ... You're not going to get everything you want in a deal, and that's what the Iranians were willing to accept. And then you have to ask yourself, is a world with the JCPOA in that incarnation better than a world without? And I think it was. It was working."

In both cases, in North Korea and Iran --- as well as the United States --- Narang warns that "dysfunction within the [Trump] Administration" is allowing hardliners to gain the upper-hand against peace initiatives. "The irony is that the hardliners in the United States that want to press Iran, and press North Korea, forget that those countries have hardliners, also." Our actions, he cautions, are now serving to embolden them.

"The horse is out of the barn in North Korea. You're not going to take away their nuclear weapons. The aim should be to avoid a war," he argues. "In the medium term, the risk with this strategy is that North Korea miscalculates, or that Iran miscalculates, and then Trump flips...In the long run, the problem is if this dysfunction isn't sorted out, we are setting ourselves up for crises in both areas."

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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Good-ish news from NH and Israel; Trump unhinged after Mueller statement; Bombshell docs unearthed regarding Census citizenship question scam; And many more reasons to impeach this President...
By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2019 6:40pm PT  

We begin, at least, on today's BradCast, with a bit of what we'll call good-ish news, as things get necessarily darker from there. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among today's stories...

  • New Hampshire's legislature overrides a veto by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to finally abolish capital punishment. The Granite State becomes the 21st in the union to ban the death penalty which is, as one state Senator accurately describes it, "archaic, costly, discriminatory and violent";
  • More good-ish news from Israel, where a historic second election has now been called after rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition after what appeared a Likud party victory in April, when both they and the centrist Blue and White party both won 35 seats in the Knesset. With a new election now set for September, it may be even more difficult for the hard-line Netanyahu, already facing felony indictments, to win what he thought would be an historic 5th term as Prime Minister;
  • Meanwhile, back here at home, the dispute over our own elections, two and a half years ago in 2016, continue, with our President seemingly growing more unhinged now by the day and the need --- and calls from Democrats --- to begin an official impeachment inquiry in the House, becoming louder by the hour following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's remarkable statement at the Dept. of Justice on Wednesday. As discussed in detail on yesterday's program, in his brief remarks, Mueller appeared to completely contradict earlier claims by Donald Trump's Attorney General William Barr that the DoJ's (absurd) guidelines barring criminal prosecution of a sitting President had nothing to do with Mueller's failure to file charges against Trump. In fact, as Mueller made clear (as he also did in his 448-page report [PDF], for those who bothered to actually read it), the Special Counsel's team of prosecutors never even considered criminal charges against the President, due to that dubious Departmental policy. Instead, they gathered evidence of criminal wrongdoing to be considered by Congress for purposes of potential impeachment. However, as Mueller said on Wednesday: "If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so";
  • Among the most persuasive and clarion voices to lay out the case in favor of impeachment in the U.S. House, ironically enough, is the only Republican who has come out in favor of such proceedings. Conservative Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash has been making the case for impeachment in a number of Twitter threads over the last week or so. We review another recent such thread today, in which Amash calls out Barr for having "deliberately misrepresented key aspects of Mueller's report" to Congress and the American people. That recent instructive commentary from Amash concludes by charging that "Barr has so far successfully used his position to sell the president’s false narrative to the American people," and warns: "This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing back on his misrepresentations and share the truth." While it's unclear if he's speaking to either his Democratic or Republican colleagues (or both) with that statement, it's also good advice for all Americans. We try do just that today (and every day, for that matter);
  • To that end, we both respond to BRAD BLOG commenter "DonL", who seeks some clarity on the impeachable actions by this President, as well as rebut Trump's unhinged press avail on the White House lawn today where he manically contradicted one of his own tweets from earlier in the day when he claimed that he "had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected." While the tweet was the first known instance of Trump conceding, as the Special Counsel detailed, Russia's efforts to support Trump's 2016 election, he quickly reversed his position when asked about it by media this morning, shouting "No, Russia did not help me get elected! You know who got me elected? I got me elected!" He then went on to respond to a question about whether he thought he would be impeached by claiming he couldn't "imagine the courts allowing it." ("The courts" play no part in impeachment proceedings beyond the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding in the U.S. Senate over a trial for removal from office, should it come to that.) Trump also described "the word impeach" as "a dirty, disgusting, filthy word" as he stalked back and forth while parrying reporter's queries;
  • All of which seems to underscore the need to impeach the criminal and unfit President, despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's increasingly unsupportable arguments against it. Following Mueller's statement on Wednesday and Trump's variously unhinged statements and lies in response to it, there are now about half a dozen 2020 Democratic contenders (many of them Senators) calling for impeachment proceedings, along with at least 50 Democratic members of the House (including 11 members of the House Judiciary Committee and a number of Committee chairs), along with Amash, the lone House Republican to favor impeachment;
  • And, as if still more reasons are needed to bring impeachment proceedings against not only Trump, but other administration officials as well, new "bombshell" documents came to light on Thursday from the hard drive of a now-deceased, longtime Republican operative revealing that the Trump Administration's case for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was built on lies from the jump. Experts say the addition of such a question would serve to disenfranchise urban and immigrant communities in favor of white Republican communities over the next decade, and the newly unearthed documents from the GOP operative say the same thing. The documents, found on the hard drive of the late GOP gerrymandering operative detail how such a question was needed by Republicans because it "would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats" and "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites." The newly explosive evidence also reveals that Trump officials at the DoJ and Commerce Department (which oversees the Census Bureau), including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, lied to both Congress and prosecutors about their reasons for wanting to add the question. (They absurdly claim it is meant to help the DoJ better enforce the Voting Rights Act.) But with the Republican majority on the stolen U.S. Supreme Court already appearing to favor the addition of the question following recent oral argument, and their decision on the matter due next month, its unclear how the new evidence will be presented to or considered by SCOTUS;
  • Finally, to finish where we started --- with a little bit more good-ish news (very little) --- we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report as the relentless extreme weather begins to ease in the central U.S. and as climate protesters in Europe helped to see big gains for Greens in last weekend's elections for the EU Parliament...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Pause predicted after weeks of catastrophic climate changed-fueled storms in central U.S...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2019 5:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: For the first time before, during or since the completion of his two-year Special Counsel's probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and Donald Trump's obstruction of that investigation, Robert Mueller offered a 9-minute statement at the Dept. of Justice today to announce his expected resignation and to clarify a thing or two...sort of. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Mueller made clear, as did his 448-page report [PDF], that while current Dept. of Justice guidelines prevent the indictment of a sitting President, he and his team of investigators would have cleared the President of wrong-doing if they could have. "If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," he explained, adding, "we did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime." Mueller noted that he was bound, from the beginning, by DoJ's guidance which finds that "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing."

The statement, once again, both contradicts Trump's Attorney General William Barr and clearly places the matter of impeachment on Congress' doorstep. Whether Congress will take up that matter, however, still remains unknown. Following Mueller's remarks, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler offered his strongest condemnation of Trump to date, charging that "the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel's findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel's report and, above all, lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion." He further said that "all options were on the table", regarding impeachment, and vowed that "no one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law."

Nonetheless, while Mueller took no questions after his statement, Nadler avoided direct answers to several questions from the press as to whether his Committee would finally begin a formal impeachment inquiry or even subpoena Mueller to testify. We share both statements in full today before we're joined for analysis and insight by award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. She charges that Mueller's statement, once again, highlights how Barr misrepresented the Special Counsel's efforts and findings. He "entirely contradicts what William Barr has told the American people," she says, before moving on to charge that "Democrats are dithering" in the face of clear and convincing evidence of criminal obstruction by the President of the United States.

We also discuss the recent, noteworthy commentary and actions by libertarian conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan on these matters. Amash, alone (so far) among Congressional Republicans, has offered a number of powerful, clear and to-the-point summary condemnations on Twitter of what he describes as Trump's "impeachable" behavior documented by Mueller and takes Barr to task for misrepresentations of those findings. Moreover, as evidenced by a clip from Amash's first town hall event since calling for impeachment, back home in Grand Rapids on Tuesday night, the Congressman, who was elected in the Tea Party wave election of 2010 and is an original founding member of the far-right Freedom Caucus in the House, is not backing down from his advocacy and calls for impeachment of the President.

Parton rings in with her thoughts on Amash and whether he should be considered for the job of House Manager (essentially, one of the "prosecutors") in any trial for conviction and removal of the President in the U.S. Senate, should the Democrats finally move to impeach in the House.

Also today: After several unceasing weeks of severe weather and at least 200 reported tornadoes wreaking havoc and death across more than half a dozen states, the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center predicts a few days of relative calm, finally, in the days ahead, as we head toward the weekend. Major flooding, however, is predicted to continue in many states throughout the central U.S. and, despite the months of catastrophic climate-changed fueled extreme weather, the federal government, headed by a scofflaw President and climate science denier, continues to otherwise ignore our worsening climate crisis...

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Also: More GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud, this time in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2019 6:05pm PT  

The Constitutional Crisis in D.C. continues to heat up on today's BradCast, following Monday's directive from the White House that former White House Counsel Don McGahn should defy a lawful Congressional subpoena to appear for testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and Monday's ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that Donald Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over financial documents from Trump within the next week, as subpoenaed by Congress. And we've got a new case of GOP election fraud tossed into the mix with everything else today, as well. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below.]

McGahn did not appear Tuesday morning at the Judiciary Committee, defying his subpoena and prompting a public upbraiding from the panel's Democratic Chair Jerry Nadler who declared "our subpoenas are not optional" and vowed the Committee would hear McGahn's testimony "even if we have to go to court to secure it." Nadler added that Democrats will not be deterred from their Constitutionally mandated oversight investigations and "will hold this President accountable, one way or the other."

The "other" way, of course, is via an official impeachment inquiry in the House, which is now being sought by more and more House members, including several both in Democratic leadership and serving on the Judiciary Committee, which would take the lead in such an inquiry. Proponents of an impeachment inquiry now reportedly includes Chairman Nadler himself. He is said to have made the case to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday night, while she reportedly maintains that such an inquiry would hold up both legislation as well as other investigations in the House. Nonetheless, calls for impeachment proceedings from House Democrats are getting louder and appear more inevitable with each passing day and each defied subpoena, even with court rulings favoring Democrats to date. That could change as Trump takes his cases to Courts of Appeal or the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court, as the Administration clearly hopes.

But, even conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash (MI) is sticking to his guns following his weekend Twitter thread in which he declared the redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller reveals that Trump "engaged in impeachable conduct," displaying a "pattern of behavior that meet[s] the threshold for impeachment." Amash pushed back against his fellow Republican critics in a new Twitter thread on Monday. The founding House Freedom Caucus member shot down a number of limp and uninformed defenses and excuses offered by Trump, his Attorney General Bill Barr and other apologists who wrongly claim the President could not have obstructive justice --- despite the mountain of evidence presented by Mueller of repeated instances --- because there was no "underlying crime" that Trump was attempting to obstruct. All of that, as Amash explains, is simply false from top to bottom.

Also today, more breaking news of yet another case of Republican absentee ballot election fraud, this time in Florida. The latest incident comes on the heels of a GOP absentee ballot fraud scandal that resulted in North Carolina calling a do-over election for this September after the State Board of Elections refused to certify last November's tainted contest in the 9th Congressional District. The newly exposed case was from earlier in 2018, in Miami, where a WhatsApp chat log obtained by the Miami New Times appears to reveal campaign supporters and organizers for a Republican running for a seat on the Miami-Dade's County Commission describing the theft and destruction of absentee ballots cast for their opponents. The incident offers yet more evidence that voting by mail --- unless absolutely necessary --- remains a terrible idea, as we have long argued (despite many Democrats, including lots of friends, readers and listeners in Oregon and other states with all Vote-by-Mail elections, who feel quite differently about it.)

Lastly today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as 67 tornadoes blew through half a dozen states over the weekend and at least another 21 continue to wreak over the past 24 hours in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, where millions of Americans are now under flash flood warnings. Also on today's GNR, another coal company bankruptcy, a new scammy effort by BP and Shell to lobby for a carbon tax, and the introduction of comprehensive new plans to take on our climate crisis by two different 2020 Democratic hopefuls...

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Guest: Dave Daley of FairVote: Also: Tornado swarms erupt across U.S. amid climate crisis; Ford to fire thousands of workers...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2019 6:58pm PT  

Our guest on today's BradCast, argues that representative democracy is facing a "major crisis." And he wasn't even talking about the Constitutional Crisis we are now seeing as Trump turns up his obstruction measures against the U.S. Congress to 11. But partisan gerrymandering underscores that crisis as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, much of Texas and Oklahoma are under tornado watches and warnings today, as 10 million Americans were under flash flood warnings as of airtime today, following as many as 67 tornadoes over the weekend in in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska. That, after more than a month of record flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in many states. There is good reason that the UK's Guardian newspaper updated its style-guide last week to reflect the existential climate crisis humanity now faces, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels. The Guardian is now recommending "climate change" be referred to by its journalists as "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown", and that "global warming" is better described as "global heating", with "climate science denier" to be used instead of the inaccurate "climate skeptic". It will be nice when US media decides to do the same.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Ford Motor Co.'s CEO --- who personally received a 6% raise last year, bringing his total compensation package to nearly $18 million --- announced plans for a "smart organizational redesign process" on Monday. That's a nice way of describing the company's decision to lay off as many as 7,000 workers by the end of summer. So much for the $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut assuring jobs, jobs, jobs and putting our economy "on rocket fuel", apparently, as Trump promised.

But the biggest news over the weekend, no doubt, comes from conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who announced and explained on Twitter why he believes "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct" and why even the redacted version of the Mueller Report reveals Trump "engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."

The courageous, staunch libertarian Tea Party Republican and co-founder of the hard right Freedom Caucus in Congress, also charges that Trump's new Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report", that "partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances," and that "the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ [impeachment] as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct." He went on to warn, as we long have as well, that "When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law --- the foundation of liberty --- crumbles."

Trump's impressive response was to call Amash "a total lightweight" and "loser". Ours is to bestow him with our much-sought after, if rarely bestowed, Intellectually Honest Conservative Award

Of course, there are other reasons that so few (exactly zero, at the moment) other Congressional GOPers have joined Amash in standing up for what they used to pretend to believe in. One is that Democrats have yet to present the case for impeachment to the American public, even as the Trump Administration invokes every form of unlawful obstructive measure to try and keep them from doing so. (Breaking news during today's program, for example, includes a federal judge finding Trump's accounting firm Mazars must turn over Trump's financial documents as lawfully subpoenaed by Congress, despite a lawsuit from Trump attempting to block them from doing so; and news that the White House has now ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to defy a Congressional subpoena requiring him to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.)

The other reason many Republicans in Congress feel no need to hold Trump to account is that the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in state after state following the 2010 census has resulted in members of Congress who feel --- with no small amount of justification --- that they cannot be removed from office by voters in a general election. The radical imbalance of such obscene district maps have resulted, for example, in Democratic House candidates winning almost 50% of the vote last year in North Carolina, but ultimately taking just 3 of the state's 13 U.S. House seats. In Ohio, essentially 50/50 splits by voters for members of Congress have resulted in just 4 of 20 seats going to Democrats, year after year, over the past decade. We've similar stories in other key states such as Wisconsin, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with courts finding House Districts and state legislative districts alike to have been unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and orders by federal courts to draw new, fairer maps repeatedly blocked by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

That decade-long scam, as our guest today, DAVID DALEY of FairVote argued last week at New Republic, is precisely why GOP-controlled state after GOP-controlled state in recent weeks, have been able to adopt radical, extremist and even unpopular anti-abortion restrictions. Daley, author of the book RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, lays out his argument, updates us on the recent partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland now before SCOTUS (with a ruling due next month), and why, as he argues, the fight for fair maps, fair elections and democracy itself "is not going to be saved in this country by any given election," but needs to be "engaged and fought every single day" as we are now in "a war for the future of this country"...

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Congress acquiesces after second US attack on war-torn sovereign nation; Also: Hannity revealed as secret Cohen client; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Bill Maher quipped Friday night that the U.S. attack, with France and Britain, on Syria was code-named "Operation Desert Stormy", an attempt by Donald Trump to force his legal and ethical nightmares off the front pages. It didn't work. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Sunday night, fired FBI Director James Comey described Trump as "morally unfit" for the Presidency in a prime-time ABC News interview, and on Monday, just before air today, Sean Hannity of Fox "News" was revealed in federal court to be a secret client of Trump's hush money payoff "fixer" Michael Cohen, and Cohen and Trump's motion to review documents seized in the raid on Cohen's office and residences last week was denied (for now) by the federal judge.

Nonetheless, before it's forgotten entirely in the fog of Trump Scandal, we focus mostly today on the fact that the pre-dawn bombing of Damascus by US and its allies, said to be in response to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people a week earlier in Douma, was done without any actual hard evidence of a chemical attack or who was actually responsible for it. Trump's Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted as much during Congressional hearings just one day before more than 100 cruise missiles were unleashed on supposedly chemical weapons-related facilities in Damascus. (No proof was offered to buttress the claim about those facilities either.)

Moreover, there is absolutely no legal authority whatsoever for Trump's attack --- either domestically or internationally --- despite various claims to the contrary. Shamefully, most of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats alike, have so far failed to demand accountability for the unconstitutional use of military force (even after threatening President Obama with impeachment when he wanted to launch a similar attack in response to an alleged Syrian chemical attack in 2013).

For his part, the hapless Trump, who mercilessly derided Obama for calling for Syrian airstrikes in 2013, took to Twitter on Saturday to echo George W. Bush's infamous appearance on a U.S. Aircraft Carrier in 2003 after the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Syria.

Friday's unlawful US attack, as we also discuss today, is believed to have cost some $200 million. That could have paid for the replacement of all of Flint, MI's lead water pipes some four times over, as new studies reveal that reading proficiency levels for third-graders in Flint has plummeted in the wake of the lead drinking water contamination crisis. That continuing crisis came about after MI's Gov. Rick Snyder (R), following his election in 2010, ordered an Emergency Manager takeover of the city and a subsequent change to its water supply.

As one caller observed today, some poisoned children, like those in Syria apparently, seem to be a larger concern for the Trump Administration than others...no matter the evidence or lack thereof...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2017 5:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the world and the U.S. Congress respond to Trump's bombing of Syria earlier this morning, even as Republicans in the Senate complete their unprecedented theft of the U.S. Supreme Court. In a related matter, an appellate court issues a landmark expansion of the Civil Rights Act. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

While many in the corporate media are joining a number of world leaders and members of Congress in celebrating Donald Trump's cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base days after an horrific chemical attack in the country, Russia is citing the action as a "significant blow" to U.S.-Russia relations and an act of "aggression" in violation of international law. Moreover, a number of Congress members, both Republican and Democratic from both chambers, are similarly citing Trump's attack as "an act of war" that is unlawful under the U.S. Constitution, as well as ill-considered and dangerous on several levels. Congress itself has now scuttled away for a two-week holiday recess, after refusing to even debate U.S. action in Syria more than 4 years, in the wake of some 400,000 deaths in the war-torn country.

At the same time, before heading home for the holidays, as the nation, the media and world were otherwise distracted today, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans finalized their historic judicial coup by confirming "Justice" Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court with a simple majority after unilaterally changing Senate rules to kill the right to filibuster SCOTUS nominees in the wake of their year-long refusal to hold a hearing or a vote for Barack Obama's nominee Judge Merrick Garland.

Then, following a landmark 8 to 3 bi-partisan Civil Rights Act ruling this week by the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (where most of the judges were appointed by Republicans and are considered quite conservative), Mark Joseph Stern, legal reporter for Slate, joins us to explain why he sees the decision as a precedent-setting "thunderbolt" for civil rights and the LGBTQ community.

The case involves a community college which was found sued for having discriminated against a woman in its employment practices on the basis that she was gay. The ruling, as Stern details, is the first time an appellate court has extended the Civil Rights Act to include protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in addition to simply race and gender.

"What the 7th Circuit majority said was, look, it is logically incoherent to remove sexual orientation discrimination from the concept of sex discrimination. When an employer discriminates against a woman for dating another woman, he is discriminating against her explicitly on the basis of her sex. If she were a man dating a woman, then she would not face discrimination. If she were a woman dating a man, then she would not face discrimination. It is only because she is a woman and she is associating intimately with other women that she faces this kind of discrimination," Stern explains.

The case is likely to have broad national implications and will be "impossible to ignore" at the Supreme Court, says Stern. It's also important thanks to Reagan-appointed conservative Judge Richard Posner's opinion in which he argues that courts, as Stern short-hands it, "should interpret statutes in a manner that 'infuses' them 'with vitality and significance today' rather than relying on their original meaning. Posner contrasted this theory with the conservative 'originalism' championed by Justice Antonin Scalia." That is no small matter as it's being sung out by Posner, the Supreme Court's most cited federal jurist of the 20th century. (And, incredibly enough, even the far-right activist Judge Frank Easterbrook joined the majority in this case!)

Stern also discusses what we should expect when and if the case is heard by what he also considers to be a "stolen" Supreme Court in the wake of the GOP's illegitimate confirmation today of Gorsuch.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report with an unconscionable corporate media failure, and as the GOP-controlled U.S. House Science Committee shamefully uses McCarthy-esque tactics to put science itself on trial...

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

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'You owe my family and this community an apology for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2014 12:33pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

Washington Posts' "The Fix" blog describes Rep. Justin Amash's (R-MI) victory speech after his primary election on Tuesday as "absolutely amazing", noting that "Politicians who win campaigns, no matter how dirty, will almost always kiss and make up with their political opponents in their election-night speeches."

Amash did no such thing, as his remarks highlighted, once again, the growing, deep and bitter divide running straight through the Republican Party.

The libertarian-leaning ally of former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) and co-sponsor, with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) of last year's narrowly defeated bi-partisan attempt in the U.S. House to end blanket, warrantless NSA spying on Americans following the initial Edward Snowden disclosures, unloaded last night on the failed U.S. Chamber of Commerce-backed campaign to unseat him with an "establishment-approved" candidate.

In particular, Amash targeted Michigan's former Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra, a long-time Chamber-backed candidate himself, now a Chamber-funded political lobbyist and supporter of Amash's Republican opponent Brian Ellis. "I want to say to lobbyist Pete Hoekstra," Amash told the crowd, underscoring the L-word to much applause, "you are a disgrace. And I'm glad we could hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance."

Ouch. As "The Fix" notes, "Hoekstra lost the state's 2012 Senate race --- and in the 2010 gubernatorial primary."

And then Amash zeroed in on his direct opponent, businessman Ellis: "You owe my family and this community an apology for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign. You had the audacity to try and call me today after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country. I ran for office to stop people like you. To stop people who were more interested in themselves than in doing what's best for their district."

The Ellis campaign ran an ad earlier this summer, citing Amash's support for shutting down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay (just as both George W. Bush and John McCain once supported) and his attempt to stop warrantless spying on Americans (a bill that narrowly failed with a bi-partisan 205 to 217 vote, which included 94 votes from fellow Republicans).

The Ellis ad referred to Amash, who is an Arab-American, as "Al Qaeda's best friend in Congress."

His blistering remarks about Hoekstra and Ellisn come just after the 3 minute mark in the video below...




UPDATED: NSA domestic surveillance data used for IRS investigations...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2013 6:35am PT  

[ED NOTE: An abridged version of this article was republished by the Ventura County Star on 8/17/2013.]

On Aug. 1, my Congressional Representative, Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), forwarded a letter to me in response to a query as to why she was amongst those responsible for the recent narrow defeat (205 - 217) of Amash-Conyers, a bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' phone records.

The response did not address the actual substance of Amash-Conyers. Instead, her complaints about the measure were procedural, as she explained...

I have worked vigorously to protect civil liberties over my entire career in public service, and will continue to do so. However, we must address the very complex issues related to our privacy, rapidly advancing technology, and threats to our national security that exploit these advancements, in a deliberative, thoughtful, and responsible way with vigorous public debate. Crafting legislation that deals with such foundational issues cannot be accomplished in an amendment to an appropriations bill, as was the strategy with the Amash amendment. Furthermore, it allowed for only fifteen minutes of debate, which is not acceptable for such an important and complex issue that the public and their elected representatives rightfully care so deeply about.

While there's some legitimacy in Brownley's objection to an arbitrary 15-minute time limit for debate on such an important matter, the issue is not as "complex" as the first-term Congresswoman characterizes it. The one paragraph amendment, and its implications --- unlike the PATRIOT Act, FISA and the opaque secret interpretations of those laws she was effectively voting to keep in place, as is --- were fairly straightforward, in fact...

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




First surveillance-related floor vote since Snowden disclosures opposed by White House, secretly lobbied against by NSA head, supported by majority of Democrats and some Republicans
UPDATED: Congressional opponents of unlimited domestic surveillance vow to fight on...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 7:22pm PT  

A bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and former House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI), was defeated late today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' telephone records. It failed by a narrow margin of 205 to 217.

The Amash-Conyers amendment represented the first Congressional challenge to the NSA's bulk collection of domestic phone records in the wake of recent disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The vote came just one day after a speech by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has served on the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, in which he not only warned about the unlimited scope of the NSA's ever-expanding surveillance capabilities but the unnecessary development of a secret body of laws that, he argued, threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

Ironically, NSA Director General Keith Alexander, did his best to underscore Wyden's warnings. Where the Obama administration and other members of both the Senate and House Intelligence Committee publicly lobbied against Amash-Conyers, Alexander scheduled "a last-minute, members-only briefing" to lobby against the measure behind closed doors.

Alexander, whom James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factor: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, has described as "the most powerful person that's ever existed in the American intelligence community," took pains to insure that his own efforts to privately lobby against this public bill be classified as "Top Secret," thereby precluding public consideration as to the reasons why publicly-elected officials might refuse to rein in unfettered access to the telephone records of millions of law-abiding Americans.

Rather than look at today's vote as a defeat, the ACLU's Michelle Richards told The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman that the vote's narrow margin reflects "a 'sea change' in how Congress views bulk surveillance," describing the bi-partisan debate on the House floor as "a great first step."

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who originally broke a number of the stories related to Snowden's disclosures, tweeted during the floor debate: "Edward Snowden did what he did to make everyone aware of all this, and to prompt precisely this debate. That was his motive." He also observed this irony, after the House Democratic leadership rallied against the amendment and the measure ultimately went down to narrow defeat: "A majority of Dems supported the Amash/Conyers amendment to defund NSA bulk spying - majority of GOP joined [with the White House]."

* * *

UPDATE 7/25/13: According to AP today, Congressional "Opponents of the National Security Agency's collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records insist they will press ahead with their challenge to the surveillance program after a narrow defeat in the House"...

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