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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 21, 2019
'Green News Report' 5/21/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
More extreme weather for Midwest; Another coal co. goes bankrupt; BP, Shell lobby for a carbon tax (with a catch!); PLUS: Inslee and Warren unveil comprehensive climate plans...
Previous GNRs: 5/16/19 - 5/14/19 - Archives...
GOP's Amash Declares Trump 'Impeachable'; Gerrymanders Allowed Radical Abortion Bills: 'BradCast' 5/20/19
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley: Also: Tornado swarms amid climate crisis; Ford to fire 1000s...
Sunday CSA* Toons
(* Coathanger States of America) As usual, 'PDiddie' flags the very best political toons of the week in his latest collection...
Time to Impeach Yet?: 'BradCast' 5/17/19
Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with Senate Judiciary Committee vet Lisa Graves and Tweeter 'GottaLaff'...
The Republican Party is a Culture of Corruption: 'BradCast' 5/16/19
Spate of GOP pol scams, indictments, corrupt pardons; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
PG&E caused deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 level hits milestone, exactly as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: The Impossible Whopper goes national...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/19 - 5/7/19 - Archives...
FL's Sancho: 'No Confidence' 2020 Will Be Secure After New 2016 FBI Disclosures: 'BradCast' 5/15/19
30-yr elexn chief says FBI lied in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL unverifiable in 2020...
22 Candidates, 2020 Visions:
'BradCast' 5/14/2019
Bad news CO2 landmark; Biden booed on climate, pushes back; MT's Bullock jumps in to 2020 as Dem Gov from 'red state'; Warren says no to FNC's 'hate-for-profit racket'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/19
Trump trade war hits U.S. NatGas; Admin ices Arctic Council; Houston floods as U.S. sees wettest year on record; PLUS: UK, Scotland declare 'climate emergency'...
GA Supremes Hear Case of 125k 'Missing' 2018 Lt. Gov. Votes: 'BradCast' 5/13/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's trade war, Congress'l war; FL voting news; NC-9 do-over primary...
Sunday Billion Dollar Loser Toons
Once again, lots of losers from which to choose in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
House All Action Against Trump, with Help from Repubs: 'BradCast' 5/10/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt on what's next for abortion laws...
Trump Uses Exec Privilege to Block Mueller Report; Judiciary Finds Barr in Contempt: 'BradCast' 5/8/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Comm...
'Green News Report' 5/7/19
U.N. report warns humans pushing 1 million species to extinction; Trump repeals post-BP spill safety rules; PLUS: Midwest flooding breaks all-time records...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Also: Govt still closed; Trump approval plummeting; Pelosi calls his SOTU bluff; Cohen cancels; Maher: How the middle-class has been squeezed...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2019 6:46pm PT  

Donald Trump was busy 'making American great again' today by extending the longest federal government shutdown in the nation's history, intimidating and threatening federal criminal witnesses and their families, lying about Democrats and calling the U.S. House Speaker silly names. And --- oh, yeah --- continuing to do nothing about a very clear case of election-flipping fraud.

By and large, the only good news we could find for today's BradCast comes from the states. But we'll take what we can get. Among the stories covered on today's program:

  • Los Angeles teachers returned to work after a six day strike was settled with a new contract that increases pay and decreases class size, among other things;
  • In D.C., in the meantime, the government shutdown continued as new polling from AP-NORC finds Trump's approval numbers plummeting over the last month in the bargain;
  • After the President insisted on Wednesday that he was coming to Congress next week to deliver his State of the Union address amid the shutdown, Speaker Pelosi called his bluff and announced she was officially postponing it until after the government was reopened;
  • Also cancelled for now, the public testimony of Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen before the U.S. House Oversight Committee that had been scheduled for the first week in February. The cancellation, according to Cohen's attorney, comes after the President's attempts to intimidate the federal witness by calling for his family to be investigated. Intimidating or threatening Congressional witnesses is a federal crime, not unlike the felony Cohen says Trump "directed" regarding hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom Trump had allegedly had sexual affairs. Cohen could still be subpoenaed to testify before he begins a three year sentence in March;
  • The U.S. House seat from North Carolina's 9th Congressional District remains vacant today, after a state judge on Tuesday declined to order the certification of Republican Mark Harris amid the ongoing investigation into absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor hired by Harris. The apparent fraud by the contractor, McCrae Dowless [pictured above with Harris], appears to have flipped the race in Harris' favor by 905 votes. The State Board of Elections investigating the matter was dissolved earlier this month by a court, in an unrelated case which found that Republican state lawmakers had unconstitutionally changed the make up of the Board to disadvantage the Democratic Governor elected in 2016. That was the same year that Dowless was reported to have committed absentee ballot fraud on behalf of a number of other Republicans.

    Despite the State Election Board's referral for prosecution to Trump's U.S. Attorney in the state in 2017, action was never taken by federal prosecutors in response to the mountain of evidence of actual election fraud discovered by the Board. That, as Trump falsely claimed that same year that massive "voter fraud" was the reason for his 3 million vote loss to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. While Trump was lying about massive voter fraud, his U.S. Attorney in North Carolina was prosecuting a handful of cases of unlawful votes allegedly cast by some non-citizens, while ignoring the election-flipping GOP absentee ballot fraud scam and allowing it to be repeated in the 2018 contest;
  • One of Trump's longtime partners in false claims of non-citizen "voter fraud" was then-Kansas Sec. of State --- and top GOP "voter fraud" fraudster --- Kris Kobach, who lost his race for Governor last year to Democrat Laura Kelly. Now, KS state lawmakers have introduced measures to revoke the prosecutorial powers they had granted to Kobach, at his years-long insistence. (He was the only Sec. of State in the nation to enjoy such powers.) The new GOP Sec. of State in Kansas wants to return the office to its original purpose of administering elections, after years of claims by Kobach that "illegal aliens" were stealing Kansas elections by unlawfully voting. The disgraced former Sec. of State failed to prosecute any such cases. But he did nab less than a dozen voters, mostly for casting ballots in two different states while owning property in each;
  • Finally today, some Dems floated the idea of giving Trump some of the billions he's demanding for a border wall, but only for other forms of border security. At the same time, Republicans supporting the President's demands have never once demanded to known how that spending would be paid for, despite repeatedly telling Americans we simply can't afford money for healthcare or education or infrastructure or the environment or verifiable election systems unless we cut spending elsewhere. With that in mind, we close with a noteworthy observation by HBO's Bill Maher last weekend on what Americans should really be learning from the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history...

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: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler: Also: SCOTUS allows Trump's cruel trans ban to proceed, makes no moves (yet) on DACA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

We pick up on today's BradCast, somewhat near where we left off on Friday, following BuzzFeed News' blockbuster report charging that Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators in order to obscure their work on a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even as Americans were voting during the 2016 Presidential election. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The explosive reported allegations that the President of the United States had suborned perjury led to calls on Friday for Trump's impeachment, only to be dampened by a very rare --- and very carefully worded --- response from Robert Mueller's office, disputing "Buzzfeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's office" and the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office."

My guest today, legal and national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, says those words were carefully selected by Mueller's office and for a very specific reason. Given all the confusion following both the report and Mueller's unusual statement late last week --- not to mention conflicting remarks from Trump's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend --- Wheeler helps us try to make sense of what is now known and unknown on all of this, why Mueller's office chose to speak out in response to it, and whether or not he was encouraged to do so directly by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the White House or someone else on Trump's legal team.

"Buzzfeed offered some particular details that match exactly with details that Mueller has offered," Wheeler explains, while noting that the news outlet "made a news claim that Trump had ordered this lie. What Mueller is pushing back against is a legal claim." She tells me how the two interests are different, even as they may be describing much of the same events and documentation.

Moreover, she argues, "there's abundant evidence that Trump has ordered people to lie, and that subsequent to his orders to tell lies, his people have continued to tell those lies...and that's illegal. That should be a no-brainer and the press needs to start telling that story."

Wheeler, who has long been covering all things related to the Trump/Russia probe as close --- or closer --- than virtually anybody in the nation, offers much insight today on all of the above, including details on Buzzfeed's sourcing for their report (which they continue to stand by "100%"), based on information from two unnamed "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter," as well as "multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Also today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 vote, allows Trump's ban on transgender members of the military to move forward, even as ongoing cases in several lower courts have blocked his cruel directive, and even as at least one legal obstacle remains.

In slightly more encouraging --- and certainly less cruel --- news from SCOTUS today, despite pleas from the Administration the Court made no announcement of plans to hear argument on any of the many ongoing lower court cases challenging Trump's reversal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Obama's DACA order was meant to help prevent the deportation of more than a million undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents as children many years ago. Should the Court decide to hear one of the cases, it would now most likely not happen until the session that begins in October, with an opinion coming months later. Temporary protection under DACA for so-called "Dreamers" was used over the weekend as an attempted bargaining chip by Trump, as part of an offer to Democrats in exchange for the $5.7 billion he has demanded for a border wall, leading to the longest (and still ongoing) federal government shutdown in U.S. history.

And, finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the tragic pipeline explosion in Mexico over the weekend, toxic coal ash groundwater contamination discovered in 22 states, and how the government shutdown is setting the table for a dangerous wildfire season, even as its temporarily protecting aquatic wildlife from seismic testing during offshore drilling exploration in the Atlantic...

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Guest: Analiese Eicher of One Wisconsin Now; Also: MI's new Dem SoS looks to settle gerrymander case; Buzzfeed charges Trump told Cohen to lie to feds about Moscow Trump Tower project...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2019 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, good news for voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, not nearly as good news for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, the White House is desperately scrambling for new distractions from Trump's unpopular, nearly month-long federal government shutdown and, of more pressing import for the President on Friday, an explosive report published Thursday night by BuzzFeed News. The otherwise uncorroborated article alleges that Trump instructed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators about the Trump Organization's proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cites two unnamed sources as "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and claims that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned about the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and federal investigators about a number of matters and was sentenced last November to three years in prison after cooperating with Mueller's probe. If the story proves true that Trump instructed him to lie about the project --- which was reportedly still being worked on by Trump through June of 2016, much later than he had initially admitted --- it would, according to Democrats today, amount to evidence of the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice, both impeachable offenses.

We also share the reaction today from Trump and the White House, neither of which denied the reporting initially, choosing to attack Cohen and BuzzFeed instead. Later, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Any suggestion --- from any source --- that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." [POST-SHOW UPDATE: In a rare and carefully worded statement issued late Friday evening by Mueller's office, after we got off air, they disputed BuzzFeed's "description of specific statements...and characterization of documents and testimony obtained" by the Special Counsel.]

In other news today, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday made short order of a challenge to new limits on Early Voting and allowable polling place IDs in the state after Republicans rammed through new restrictions during an extraordinary lame-duck session of the legislature last December, following Governor Scott Walker's re-election loss in the November midterm election. Thanks to heavy turnout, including record Early Voting numbers, Democrats won every statewide contest on the ballot and 54% of the votes for the State Assembly. But, thanks to partisan gerrymandering by state Republicans, they won only one third of its seats.

In a terse, 5-page ruling [PDF] on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled it was "not a close question" that the GOP's newly enacted voting restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of voting rights, just as he had found nearly identical provisions to be, as passed by GOP lawmakers in 2016.

We're joined today by ANALIESE EICHER, one of the named plaintiffs from One Wisconsin Now's lawsuit challenging both the 2016 law and the late 2018 lame-duck version which Walker signed just days before leaving office. In addition to that court victory on Thursday, the non-partisan group had another on Friday, when a different court ruled that Republican lawmakers were in violation of the First Amendment by blocking the organization and others on Twitter. (Heads up, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill!)

In neighboring Michigan, the new Democratic Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson announced she was seeking a settlement with Democratic challengers to the legislative and Congressional districts drawn by Republicans in that state. The previous Sec. of State, a Republican, was preparing to defend what Dems describe, with very good evidence, to be an extreme and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander after the 2010 Census. (One such piece of evidence are emails from GOP lawmakers discussing districts mean to "give the finger" to a former Democrat Congressman, and to "cram ALL the Dem garbage" into four districts so Republicans could control more seats across the state.)

A settlement with the newly seated SoS could result in new district maps drawn before the 2020 election. Last November, MI voters approved a ballot initiative that would put an independent redistricting commission in charge of drawing maps following the 2020 Census.

Finally today, we're sent off into the weekend with a pretty hilarious song about Donald Trump's wall, courtesy of satirist Randy Rainbow...

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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...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Surprisingly good news from the courts; SOTU cancelled?; ISIS not defeated...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2019 6:42pm PT  

We start off today's BradCast with two encouraging legal rulings from the courts with our guest today, Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

First up, the damning opinion issued on Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan finding Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross repeatedly violated the law --- and lied about his reasons for doing so --- in adding a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Stern joins the federal judge in calling out Ross' lies about adding the question supposedly at the request of the the Dept. of Justice to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (rather than as a blatant attempt to rig the Census in hopes of boosting GOP political power during the next round of redistricting).

"By my count, Judge Furman held that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the law by adding the citizenship question in at least six different ways," Stern observes. "When you add them all together, it is a sort of symphony of lawlessness that cannot be ignored by the courts."

"Ross just lied. He lied to Congress. He lied in court filings about why he added this citizenship question. It is very clear, black letter law, that when a federal agency like the Commerce Department wants to take some kind of formal action, it has to give the real and truthful grounds for its decision, it has to justify it truthfully. Ross just didn't do that here." He goes on to explain, however, that, despite the encouraging ruling yesterday, the Republicans' stolen Supreme Court will ultimately enjoy the final say on the matter. He also shares his thoughts on whether Ross should be and/or will be criminally prosecuted for lying to Congress and the courts about the issue, as made clear by the federal court ruling.

Then, Stern offers some surprisingly good news from SCOTUS today regarding a unanimous(!) opinion from the Court supporting the right of some workers to bypass costly arbitration clauses and file class action lawsuits against employers when they are ripped off by them --- though only in certain circumstances. Still, given the unanimous opinion in this case, authored by Neil Gorsuch of all Justices, we'll take it!

Next, we review Tuesday's confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Donald Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr. Stern warns that his troubling record alone --- "Barr takes a wildly expansive view of executive power and authority" --- might have been enough to derail his nomination in any other time, but for the fact that so many Democrats and Republicans alike are now desperate to replace Trump's wildly unqualified (and, arguably, unlawfully appointed) Acting AG Matthew Whitaker.

Barr, who served briefly as AG in 1991 during the George H.W. Bush Administration (where he successfully pushed for Presidential pardons for a number of top officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal), promised independence from the White House and that he would allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his probe into Team Trump's alleged involvement with Russia and obstruction meant to cover it up. However, Barr equivocated on a number of points related to the probe, such as whether he'd recuse himself from overseeing it if DoJ ethics officials advised him to do so, and whether he would release Mueller's report at all to the public.

Stern shares insight and response to a number of other troubling moments from Tuesday's hearings, such as when Barr responded to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) about whether a sitting President could be indicted and when he was asked directly by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) about whether the Justice Department, under his command, would "jail reporters for doing their jobs". Barr's response on the former was questionable, at best, and downright chilling on the latter, from the man tapped to be the nation's top law enforcement official. "There's just a right and wrong answer here," Stern quips, "and he gave the wrong one."

Finally today, the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress previously scheduled for later this month may now be cancelled amid the ongoing historic federal government shutdown, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rescinded her invitation to Trump today. And, in Syria today, four Americans --- two U.S. troops and two civilians --- were killed and three others wounded after a bombing claimed by ISIS in a crowded area. The attack in the northern city of Manbij comes on the heels of Trump's claim to have ordered the withdraw of all U.S. troops in country, based on his assertion that "we have defeated ISIS in Syria." The President's claim --- which helped lead to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis before Christmas --- was, remarkably, repeated by Vice President Mike Pence today during an address at the State Department several hours after the news of the deadly attack on Americans and others in the war torn nation had become public...

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Guest: LA Times' Michael Hiltzik on PG&E's bankruptcy; Also: Federal court blocks Admin citizenship question on Census; AG-nom Bill Barr testifies; Trump's record shutdown grinds on...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2019 6:26pm PT  

Good news and not-terrible news on today's BradCast, along with an interesting proposition for the state of California in a climate changed world. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start off with the good news today, courtesy of a federal court in Manhattan, where a U.S. District Court Judge blocked the Trump Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Judge Jesse Furman's 277-page ruling [PDF] slammed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for violating the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and for offering "pretextual" reasons for adding the question against the wishes of career Census Bureau administrators. Ross had falsely claimed the question was "well tested" and needed by the Dept. of Justice to better enforce the federal Voting Rights Act.

In fact, Republicans have long sought to add the rig the census by adding the question in hopes that it would decrease responses from immigrant communities to help shift the balance of power during decennial redistricting from Democratic-leaning urban areas to more Republican-leaning rural areas. Furman's ruling called out Ross for lying and even responded to an earlier statement on the case from Supreme Court Justice Neal Gorsuch. Several other legal challenges await, however, including a separate case on the same matter that will be heard by the Supreme Court in February.

Meanwhile, William Barr, Trump's nominee for Attorney General, testified at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He claimed he wanted to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who he cited as a friend, to complete his investigation into Trump/Russia, though would not fully commit either to publicly releasing Mueller's full report, nor to recusing himself from oversight of the probe, even if DoJ ethics officials recommended that he should. Barr, a former AG under George H.W. Bush, wrote and helped circualate a lengthy memo [PDF] last year undercutting the validity of Mueller's investigation.

All of that, as Trump's record-length federal government shutdown continues today, with so-called moderate Democrats in Congress declining invitations to the White House in response to Trump's latest effort to drive a wedge between them and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on funding for his southern border wall. The shutdown grinds on as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed or forced to work without pay, with travelers now facing long lines at TSA checkpoints at major airports, and as some federal employees are being forced to turn to charity food banks to help feed their families.

Next, with California's largest privately run utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announcing plans to seek bankruptcy protection this week, after facing some $30 billion in potential liabilities for massive, deadly wildfires across the state over the past two years, some have suggested the state should simply buy up the company, which was found to have been responsible for sparking many of the recent record fires by failing to adequately maintain its equipment and power lines.

Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and business columnist MICHAEL HILTZIK joins me today to discuss the issue, as PG&E seeks state protection from liability in hopes of passing costs on to rate-payers. The company, which serves some 16 million customers in Northern California, was once valued at more than $30 billion, but with its stock price now gutted after the bankruptcy announcement and previous criminal convictions it is currently valued at just about $3.5 billion. California could end years of repeated company mismanagement, Hiltzik explains, by purchasing the company or its most valuable assets, at --- pardon the pun --- fire sale prices.

"I wrote a column a year ago saying, 'it's time to take the franchise away from PG&E and put it out for bid.' Let somebody else come in and show that they can operate all of these functions much better, more efficiently, cheaper, and without these constant [failures]. PG&E is like the Wells Fargo of the utility business. It can't seem to do anything right, and scandals continue to crop up," Hiltzik tells me. "My case against PG&E goes way back to the proposition they tried to sneak across through the voters many, many years ago to basically eliminate competition from public power consortiums. So PG&E has just been a bad actor. They have been absolutely atrocious operators."

Hiltzik discusses the pros and cons of what would be a radical, if potentially profitable, investment by the state of California, and how the company's failures and need for public bailout portend similar threats to other fossil fuel-reliant firms, insurance companies and states as the increasingly brutal impacts and costs of climate change undercut profitability.

"We really need to have a debate --- and a debate in the near term --- about who should own these utilities and how they should be operated," he argues. "California has probably done more than most other states in starting to come to grips with [climate change], because at least we've been developing information about what those impacts will be. But nobody has done enough planning up to this point."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, as usual, no shortage of disturbing news...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Food and ag correspondent Tom Philpott; Also: 'National emergency' likely as polls plummet for President, Senate Repubs...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2019 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, while Donald Trump threatens to declare a "national emergency" to build his southern border all, his federal government shutdown may lead to a real emergency on everything from the nation's food supply to air travel to defense against weapons of mass destruction and cybersecurity threats. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, as Donald Trump's federal government shutdown continues over his insistence that tax-payers spend $5.7 billion to begin construction of his wall, we take a quick look back at some of his 2013 comments on who should be blamed for government shutdowns, back when he charged that Presidents, not opposition parties in Congress, should be held responsible. But what he had to say about walls way back in 2004 is even more amusing and/or ironic.

Meanwhile, Trump hoped to blame Democrats for the shutdown today, while claiming it needed to continue for the "safety of our Nation". But the safety of the nation, including its food supply, is now endangered by the three week shutdown of all FDA food inspections (along with furloughs of thousands of agents at the Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, FBI, DHS' cybersecurity agencies and even its Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.)

We're joined today by food and agriculture correspondent TOM PHILPOTT of Mother Jones' to discuss the safety (or lack thereof) of the nation's imperiled food supply as the shutdown is now days away from becoming the longest in U.S. history. The FDA's lack of all food inspections comes on the heels of the CDC's declaration this week that the second of two deadly E. coli outbreaks in romaine lettuce last year is finally over.

"We should be pretty concerned, especially as this drags on and on," Philpott warns. "Any kind of product that we take for granted, mundane products that aren't regularly in the news for causing outbreaks, can cause outbreaks when companies lapse and the regulatory process fails. This is an engineered failure of the regulatory process. It's just a very, very stupid idea."

"Who knows how long this thing is going to go on?," he says. "Which, if it does, the food safety situation is going to get gnarly."

Philpott's concerns reach beyond the current situation, however, as he explains how the Trump Administration's de-regulatory agenda has already undercut the safety of our nation's food supply. Also, he reports on how the shutdown (and trade war) is negatively effecting farmers (many of whom comprise Trump's base) and craft beer makers (small business owners), along with women, infants, children and others in poverty who rely on government programs for nutrition assistance.

While Trump said today that if Democrats don't agree to his demand for billions in border wall funding he will "definitely" declare a national emergency in order to force the construction of his wall, even folks on the Right --- for example on his favorite Fox 'News' show --- argue that such a Presidential declaration would set a very bad precedent.

But, with Americans increasingly blaming Trump for the shutdown by double-digits, and sharing that blame with GOP Senators up for reelection next year, the toughest sting for our Reality-TV President may be that more Americans tuned in to watch Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer's response to Trump's prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday, than the number of those who watched the speech itself. So much for his "winning" television ratings.

Finally, with good news/bad news for Joshua Tree National Park amid the shutdown, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Fiat-Chrysler agrees to pay a huge fine to the EPA for using secret software to cheat on emissions testing, as Trump threatens to cut off FEMA wildfire disaster relief to California, and as Democrats continue to push back and push ahead on climate crisis action...

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Guest: Matt Gertz of Media Matters; Also: Dems win big in VA, Trump claims to be cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to CA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2019 6:02pm PT  

Donald Trump's tantrums and partial federal government shutdown continue on today's BradCast, with no end in sight for either of them. [Audio link for today's show follows below.]

On Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Donald Trump of governing "by temper tantrum". The first reference came in Tuesday's Democratic response, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Trump's televised prime-time Oval Office address meant to gain public support for his demand of $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. The money is needed, Trump claims, to respond to what he described during his 9-minute speech as an immigration and humanitarian "crisis". But the address offered no new policies or information and, at times, parroted word-for-word rightwing anti-immigration, pro-wall commentary from Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs' programs on Fox 'News'.

The second reference to a Trump "tantrum" came today after the President reportedly stormed out of a White House negotiation meeting with Congressional Democrats as the partial federal government shutdown over funding for his wall continues in its third week. The cost of that shutdown to some 800,000 federal workers is rapidly intensifying. Paychecks will not be issued this week for many workers who are already facing extraordinary hardship thanks to the shutdown which Trump has threatened to continue for "months or even years" unless Democrats agree to his border wall demand.

But, if nothing new was offered in his Tuesday night prime-time address, why did the television networks agree to clear the time for him to litter our public airwaves with false claims and long-ago debunked propaganda? Particularly since the same networks refused President Obama's request to air his own remarks on actual new immigration policy back in 2014?

We're joined today by Media Matters' Senior Fellow MATT GERTZ who charges that the "networks got played." He describes their capitulation to Trump as "cowardly" with the result being "exactly what we said was going to happen: the President used the time to lie to the public."

"I don't understand why there's such an urgency to just put the President on television when all of the people involved in producing the news know that he's a liar who is going to lie," he tells me. "It's the most predictable thing in American politics right now --- if the President is talking, he's lying."

So why did the networks give up that valuable airtime to allow it to happen? And, were the attempts by media outlets at debunking and fact-checking Trump's false claims during or after the speech actual helpful to the public? We discuss that and the larger challenge for media: "How do you respond to a President who is deliberately deceptive and is constantly trying to make people believe in a reality that is different from the actual one?"

Also today: The 2018 electoral 'blue wave' continues into 2019, as Dems in Virginia win very big (by 40 points!) in the first Special Election of the year. And Donald Trump announces, via misspelled tweet, that he is cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to California, following the worst and most deadly fires in state history. Whether he will follow through with that threat is a separate question, of course, and his absurd explanation as to why he claims to be doing it is, as usual, nonsense...

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HUD closure threatens evictions; Pence makes false immigration claims; SCOTUS on redistricting; 2018 'blue wave' bringing good news for Americans in FL, MI, ME and elsewhere across the country...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2019 6:25pm PT  

The effects of the federal government's partial shutdown, now in its third week, continue to worsen, even as the effects of last year's 'blue wave' election continue to make things much better for Americans across the country. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [audio link is posted below]...

  • The shutdown is causing "a mess" for potentially tens of thousands of American families who live in properties subsidized by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. They may soon face rent increases or eviction due to HUD's failure to renew thousands of contracts before and during the agency's closure;
  • Vice President Mike Pence made the media rounds in advance of Trump's Tuesday night prime-time Oval Office remarks (which TV networks didn't allow for Obama), in hopes of drumming up support for the Administration's false claim there is a national security crisis on the border which may precipitate a Presidential declaration of a "national emergency". Pence offered a number of false claims in the bargain, which even some GOPers were scoffing at today;
  • With Trump having boxed himself into this protracted shutdown mess, a "national emergency" declaration may be his only face-saving way out of it. It would likely result in Republicans allowing a vote in the Senate for reopening the government, even as the declaration would face court challenges over its legality and, essentially, do little more than steal tax-payer money from national defense as U.S. troops are tasked with building Trump's southern border wall;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear two partisan gerrymandering cases this session (from Maryland and North Carolina), which may not be good news following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy;
  • But, in better news from SCOTUS today, the Court rejected a plea from Virginia Republicans to delay a lower-court mandated remapping of districts for its House of Delegates in advance of this November's off-year legislative elections in the state. Twelve of those districts were previously found by the lower court to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders;
  • Meanwhile, last year's midterm 'blue wave' is already yielding dividends for the nation. In Maine, the nation's dumbest now-thankfully-former Governor Paul LePage certified what he declared to be a "stolen election" for the U.S. House on his way out the door, and the state's new Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed legislation on her first day on the job that will finally give access to healthcare to some 70,000 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Medicaid Expansion that had been blocked for some eight years by the former Republican Governor;
  • And, in further good news following last year's midterms, Florida's Amendment 4, adopted by nearly 65 percent of voters in November, kicked in on Tuesday to allow as many as 1.4 million former felons the right to vote in a state that is notorious for its close elections. Despite claims by some Republicans that "implementing language" may need to be enacted, County Supervisors of Elections began allowing registrations under the new Amendment for most former felons who have served their time. The result could be a sea change for the state in 2020, not to mention for the rest of the nation where Florida's electoral votes are key to Presidential elections;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the first Green News Report of 2019, where last year's 'blue wave' is also being positively felt on the environmental front at both the state and federal level, even as Trump's shutdown is trashing national parks and blocking important scientific research...

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

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