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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 26, 2019
Sunday 'Cover-Up' Toons
There is much to cover -- and cover up -- in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's most brilliant political toons...
Pelosi v. Trump Word by Word; Impeachment, Again; Terrified by Tubman; Packing the Courts: 'BradCast' 5/24/19
Guest-hosted by Angie Coiro w/ David Levine, Elizabeth Cobbs and Kate Kendall...
'Green News Report' 5/23/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Beleaguered Midwest walloped by tornadoes, floods; Study sees coastal cities inundated by century's end; LA's plan to retreat from rising seas; PLUS: Trump EPA good news and bad...
Previous GNRs: 5/21/19 - 5/16/19 - Archives...
Baltimore BOE Crippled by Ransomware Attack; 'Crapshow' Worsens in D.C.: 'BradCast' 5/22/19
Guest: Eric Boehlert on Barr, impeachment, why 'no one will break glass on the alarm'...
'Subpoenas Are Not Optional' (Even If Imp-eachment Clearly Is): 'BradCast' 5/21/19
Also: More GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud, this time in Florida....
'Green News Report' 5/21/19
More extreme weather for Midwest; Another coal co. bankruptcy; BP, Shell lobby for carbon tax (with a catch!); PLUS: Inslee and Warren's climate plans...
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'...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
PG&E sparked deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 hits milestone, just as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: 'Impossible Whopper' goes national...
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: NBC 7 San Diego's Ramon Galindo; Also: Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2019 5:50pm PT  

Saturday's Passover shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, just north of San Diego, was only the latest in a rising spate of Rightwing extremist hate crimes --- rising even over the past week alone! --- as discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We're joined today by NBC 7 San Diego reporter RAMON GALINDO, who spent the weekend covering the shooting at Chabad of Poway, which took the life of 60-year old Lori Gilbert-Kay and injured three others, including the congregation's Rabbi, after a 19-year old armed with a military-style assault rifle opened fire during Shabbat services. The alleged shooter, who was arrested while fleeing, is said to have been inspired by both the recent attack on two Muslim mosques in New Zealand, where 50 were killed, and the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh which killed 11 worshipers exactly 6 months ago.

The shooter at Chabad, who posted a "manifesto" just prior to the attempted massacre, is also said to have been responsible for an incident of arson at a nearby Muslim mosque in late March, according to Galindo who broke the story of that fire for NBC San Diego last month. In addition to bringing us up to the latest, including charges that have now been filed, Galindo offers insight on a number of the heroes in the story who he spoke with over the weekend, including both Gilbert-Kay and Oscar Stewart, an Iraq vet and congregant who reportedly ran toward the shooter to stop him as others were fleeing. It was, in fact, a good guy WITHOUT a gun who appears to have prevented far more carnage, though an armed Border Patrol officer at the service reportedly fired shots at the shooter's car as he was speeding away.

We've got a lot to unpack on all of this today, with both Galindo and listeners who call in with their own thoughts and reactions to the shooting (including one woman who lives in the neighborhood), the White House response (denying Donald Trump's obvious responsibility in helping to hasten the rise of white supremacists and other rightwing extremists) and even some thoughts on the Obama Administration's willingness to fold to reactionaries on Fox 'News' and in the Republican Party by withdrawing his own Dept. of Homeland Security's dire draft report [PDF] on the dangerous rise of lone wolf rightwing domestic terrorism in April of 2009.

That (shamefully) withdrawn report stated: "DHS has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy --- separate from any formalized group.” (No such fury was issued by the right after a similar report on the dangers of leftwing extremism was issued before it. Both reports were begun during the George W. Bush Administration. Moreover, as Daily Beast reported earlier this month, the Trump Administration has been disbanding DHS efforts to work with state and local officials on issues of white supremacy and domestic terrorism.)

We also talk with Galindo about the editorial decision by some in the media to not share --- or, at least, over use --- the suspects name and why neither of us did so today. As noted, there is much to discuss on today's program...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: ACLU's Phil Aroneanu; Also: Nielsen out at DHS, as Trump's far-right agency purge rolls out amid immigration crisis; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2019 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two tracks, plus callers, as the Right ascends at the White House and the ACLU's fight to restore civil and Constitutional rights finds its way into the 2020 President campaign. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The hardliners are rising at the White House today, as Trump continues to purge top officials from several different key agencies, including the sprawling Dept. of Homeland Security (Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign on Sunday); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ron Vitiello, Trump's nominee to head the agency was suddenly withdrawn last week after already clearing a key Senate hurdle); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (both its Director and General Counsel were purged today); the Secret Service (its Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is now said to be leaving); and the bloodbath is continuing at other agencies as well. All of that as the number of families seeking asylum at the southern border continues to increase despite --- or, perhaps, because of --- a number of failed Trump Administration policies.

Moreover, on Monday, the foreign policy hardliners at the White House are ascendant at well, as the Administration is announcing its designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. It's the first time the U.S. has designated a foreign government entity in such a way, and the move is reportedly opposed by top Pentagon and CIA officials who fear blow-back to American troops and intelligence operatives abroad. Indeed, Iran has already responded by calling for U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, to be designated as a terrorist organization in response.

Amidst this latest disturbing lurch to the hard-right by the Trump Administration, some of us continue to look forward to 2020 when voters can, hopefully, do something about it. To that end, for the first time in its storied history, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is jumping into electoral politics in a major way this year, recently announcing they are spending $30 million to help get 2020 candidates on the record when it comes to a number of important issues for civil libertarians, including some that are quite thorny politically.

For example, the group's new national RightsForAll.us campaign seeks to force candidate to answer as to whether or not they support decreasing the bloated U.S. prison population by 50 percent (and, if so, how); allowing the incarcerated to vote (currently, only Maine and Vermont do so); and whether they would supporting overturning the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or protection of the life of the mother).

We're joined today by the ACLU's Digital Organizing Strategy Director PHIL ARONEANU to discuss the initiative, including whether some of the "thorniest" questions for candidates (as available at the campaign's website) on Voting Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Immigrants' Rights and Reproductive Freedom might, in fact, become a liability for those candidates if they answer them one way or another. That, in an age when one of the greatest threats to civil liberties and Constitutional rights clearly continues to be the man in the White House, who Democratic candidates will have to defeat to see any possibility of the restoration of such rights.

So, how does the ACLU, a non-partisan organization, respond to some of those questions and concerns? Tune in for my conversation with Aroneanu today to find out.

Then, we open up the phone lines today for listener thoughts on all of the above. You'll not be shocked to learn, they have many...

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

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Guest: Steven Rosenfeld; Also: School kids strike for climate action around globe; Trumpers against unverifiable touchscreen voting...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're sending up a warning flare, a red flag, hoping to raise your attention to the very troubling plans by Democrats to begin the use of online voting, in some form, along with their 2020 Presidential caucuses next year! [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But first, It was a very dark day in New Zealand on Friday, as a white supremacist unleashed a terror attack on two Muslim mosques in Christchurch, killing at least 49 in the massacre, with dozens still in the hospital, many in critical condition. But it was a much brighter day elsewhere around the globe as inspiring "school strikes" took place in more than 100 cities, with children walking out of class to march in protest for action on climate change from the South Pacific to the edge of the arctic circle, from San Francisco to D.C., from Spain to Berlin, from Africa to Poland and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands of young protesters inspired by 16-year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg --- who began her own solitary school strike last year and is now nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize --- took to the streets, demanding immediate action from politicians to help save all of our futures by curbing man-made fossil fuel emissions which, as scientists have warned for decades, are dangerously warming the global climate and speeding the planet toward catastrophic danger.

Then --- in hopes of replacing ineffective politicians and climate science deniers --- we move to U.S. elections, where even Rightwingers (at least some of them) in Georgia now understand the perils of touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices. The rightwing group FreedomWorks has joined the fight against BMDs in the Peach State, where vote-suppressing Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp has lobbied state legislators hard to replace the state's 17-year old, easily-hacked, oft-failed 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen voting system with all new unverifiable touchscreen BMD systems at a cost of at least $150 million.

The bill to enact this boondoggle, HR316, will see one more vote for approval in Georgia's House before it's sent to the Governor's desk. Today, we share some of the lobbying efforts against the measure by Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer who is, believe it or not, a cybersecurity expert and National Security Advisor for Trump 2020. He is calling for hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia and in other states --- such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Texas, Kansas and California --- where county election officials are handing millions to private voting system vendors for unverifiable, unnecessary systems that cybersecurity and voting system experts strongly warn against.

Finally --- speaking of unheeded warnings --- we are joined today by STEVEN ROSENFELD of the Independent Media Foundation's Voting Booth project, to sound the alarm about the Democratic National Committee's new requirement for caucus states to implement some form of remote voting during their 2020 nomination contests.

The new mandate is part of DNC reforms adopted last year, following the disastrous 2016 Presidential election when cyberattacks and the release of stolen emails undermined both Party leadership and Hillary Clinton's campaign. While last year's Party reforms urge states to move from caucus systems run by private state parties to primary elections managed instead by state and county election officials, the new requirement to allow access to caucuses for those who cannot attend in person has left state Democratic Parties looking toward various forms of online, telephonic and smartphone voting options to enact in conjunction with in-person caucusing.

Rosenfeld is currently one of the very few journalist reporting on the disturbing potential plans by Democrats in Iowa, Nevada and elsewhere to contract with private companies for some form of online caucus voting. "It's part of having the party be more inclusive and participatory," he tells me, cautioning "It's not clear how it's going to be done. This is all being developed right now." And, he warns, "vendors themselves will do this stuff for next to nothing to try to show proof of concept."

Of course, that proof of concept will be in a live, Presidential caucus election! He details just some of the many disastrous and chaotic past efforts at such schemes that "didn't go so well" --- colossal online voting failures by the Utah GOP in 2016 and 2018, stolen or corrupted online party elections in Canada, for example --- in hopes of warning about what could very well be a looming disaster waiting for Democrats in caucus states next year.

Rosenfeld says he's been speaking with Democratic officials "trying to let people know what they're headed into," and says, "I don't think they were aware --- the Democrats that I talked to on the DNC --- of these other examples" of failed elections using this new, largely untested technology.

But with already-complicated caucus systems, 20 or so candidates who could be on the ballot, and the most important election of our lives hanging in the balance, what could possibly go wrong with the addition of new, untested remote voting schemes added to the mix? Now might be a very good time to start paying attention to some of the disturbing answers to that troubling question...

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

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on today's House Oversight hearing, revealing evidence from the President's former lawyer, and his damning description of Trump as 'a racist, conman and cheat'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2019 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As you may have heard, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen publicly testified under oath for some 7 hours in the U.S. House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. We're all over it today with special coverage. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the "highlights" were Cohen's detailed allegations --- along with supporting documentation --- revealing that Trump committed felony crimes both before his election and since taking office, including secretly writing checks while President to reimburse Cohen for illicit hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to felony charges related to participating in that felony campaign finance conspiracy, which he says was "directed" by Trump to affect the election by keeping Daniels quiet about the affair she allegedly had with Trump.

Cohen also testified that Trump's son Don, Jr. participated in the conspiracy scheme in the months following the 2017 inauguration. Moreover, Cohen charged that Trump was told in advance by Roger Stone during the campaign that WikiLeaks' planned to release DNC emails said to have been hacked by Russia. He also offered evidence to suggest that Trump was well aware of the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton before it took place. Trump has previously denied both matters.

Cohen is set to soon begin a three-year federal prison sentence for his part in the hush-money conspiracy and for lying to Congress previously about Trump's plans to build a condominium project in Moscow.

In his damning and masterful opening statement [PDF], some of which we share at length today (and which you should read in full if you missed it), Cohen explains how he is seeking redemption and describes the man for whom he worked for ten years, in no uncertain terms, as a "racist, conman and cheat".

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss what we now know (and still don't), as well and how both Republican and Democratic lawmakers handled the day's astonishing and historic proceedings.

She describes Cohen's testimony as revealing how he "joined Trump's cult of personality and it destroyed him. The rottenness at the center of this cult of personality around Donald Trump was laid out, exposed. And [Cohen] looked in the eye of the Republicans sitting there on that panel who were defending Trump, saying to all these people, 'This will happen to you too. This is what happens if you follow this man.' It was almost a warning to the country [that] there's a rottenness surrounding this man on every level."

Indeed. Our full special coverage follows below...

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

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Guest: Stephen Schwartz of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists; Also: Criminal charges coming in NC-9's GOP election fraud scandal?; Trump injects himself into the Oscars that tried to ignore him...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, experts are worried about Donald Trump's summit this week with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. But, given the overall menace to the world that our President represents, are those experts too worried about a deal that could, at least, keep Trump believing that he is "winning"? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, the (non-nuclear) fallout continues in North Carolina, after the state Board of Elections last week voted unanimously for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional District following a Republican absentee ballot election fraud scandal tainted last November's never-certified 905-vote "victory" margin of Trump-endorsed Republican candidate and preacher Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. State prosecutors on Friday disclosed their intentions to bring the matter --- along with evidence of similar GOP fraud allegedly carried out in the same district back in 2016 --- before a grand jury. It's still unclear who might be charged and for which crimes, given that GOP contractor McCrae Dowless is said to have carried out the scheme paid for by Harris, who also appears to have lied about it all under oath last week on the witness stand during the Board's week-long public hearings on the matter.

After last week's decision to hold a new election, McCready quickly announced his plans to run again, but the disgraced Harris has remained mum. During a press avail at the White House on Friday, after months of not mentioning it, Trump was finally forced to comment on the unprecedented election fraud scandal engulfing the candidate he campaigned for in NC last year. In world salad remarks, he offered a bunch of false, disproved, or otherwise evidence-free claims about supposed "voter fraud" in California, Texas, and Florida last year.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, the President took off to Vietnam for his second nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Diplomatic, military and atomic experts --- and even senior Administration officials --- have reportedly been expressing concern for what Trump may give away during the upcoming meeting, as the North has only increased its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities following the pair's first meeting last June in Singapore, after which Trump falsely declared: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."

Given Trump's 2017 "fire and fury" threats against Kim, however, are experts overly worried about whatever "deal" Trump may try to make with Kim in order to walk away with something he can pretend to be a "win"? In exchange for promises of eventual "denuclearization" or less, they worry Trump, could "give away", among other things, a permanent end to U.S. military exercises in the region; a peace treaty to once and for all end the Armistice struck between the North and South at the end of the Korean War in 1953; or even a promise to bring U.S. troops home from South Korea, where they have been stationed for decades during the long, if tenuous truce in Northeast Asia.

But are those things bad, in and of themselves? And, more to the point, with a U.S. President as wildly unbalanced and unqualified as our current one --- along with the need for "nuclear security triage", given that fact --- should we all just be happy that at least he now believes Kim is his best buddy?

Analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, former publisher and executive director, now Senior Fellow at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists --- keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" --- joins us to offer his insight and perspective on all of this in advance of this week's summit where, as I argue a bit today, a bad deal for the U.S. may be better than no deal, given the greater danger that Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button, presents to the world.

"In general, it's almost always a good thing when world leaders who are not seeing eye-to-eye on issues are talking rather than not talking, or arguing with each over Twitter, or setting up military confrontations up to and including war," Schwartz, who is also former editor of the Nonproliferation Review at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells me. "With Donald Trump, however, you can't really be sure, because he's very much a captive of the last person that he spoke with and tends to take their perspective. He's also pretty mercurial. He can turn on a dime and he's desperate for attention, desperate for a win, and therefore that makes it more likely he will try to strike some sort of deal that allows him, at least on the face, to come out of this looking like he accomplished something. And that could be problematic."

He goes on to explain why he believes "Kim Jong Un has Trump right where he wants him;" charges that Trump "in this instance, is both the arsonist and the fireman," having "inflamed an already tense situation with North Korea and made it much worse;" but seems to agree with my general theory that a placated Trump results in an ultimately safer world --- at least during the short term while he's still in office.

Schwartz also responds to Trump's repeated insistence that the U.S. would be at war with North Korea by now, had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016 ("No, in a word," he tells me), and also comments on Trump's "very foolish and counter-productive" recent decision to withdraw from the otherwise successful, decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, struck by Ronald Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and much more.

Finally, before leaving for Hanoi, Trump found time to tweet in response to Sunday night's Academy Awards Ceremony in Hollywood, where director Spike Lee won his long-overdue first Oscar for the screenplay of the remarkably timely BlacKkKlansman. Even though Lee never mentioned him by name during his acceptance speech citing 400 years since slavery began in America, our racist President found a way to inject himself into the proceedings by tweeting out today that Lee, a descent of slaves, was actually "racist". We close by discussing both that and a few of the must-see films that got robbed by the Academy this year...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please tune in for this full conversation.

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

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Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally and new 'wall' deal that's worse for him than last year's...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2019 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we revisit the mysterious case of tens of thousands of 'missing' votes from Georgia's 2018 midterm election, now that the case has become even more mysterious and disturbing, with investigators finding that African-American neighborhoods may have been specifically 'targeted' in some fashion. [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

But, first today: Donald Trump and Beto O'Rourke held dueling rallies near each other and near the border in El Paso, TX on Monday night, after the President had been offering a series of lies about the effectiveness of an existing border wall in the city. During the Monday rally, Trump also lied about his rally's crowd size and that of O'Rourke's, which appears to have been larger than Trump's.

More tellingly, however, the President also failed to let his supporters know about a deal struck before the rallies by Republican and Democratic negotiators in Congress to avoid another government shutdown this Friday at midnight. The agreement, reportedly, includes less money and less fencing than Trump could have had if he'd agreed to the deal he backed out before Christmas last year, losing leverage with his subsequent record-long 35-day government shutdown and the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House. That's "The Art of the Deal"? We detail the tentative agreement and whether Trump will be harangued again by rightwingers into not signing it and shutting down the federal government yet again at week's end.

Then, we're joined once again by longtime election integrity bulldog MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance with a disturbing update to the group's election contest filed in state court last year to challenge the inexplicable reported results from Georgia's 2018 Lt. Governor's election. Marks had joined us previously to detail some 127,000 ballots cast last November found to have "missing" votes in only that race and only on ballots cast via the state's 17-year old, easily-manipulated, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is reported by those systems to have lost the race to Republican Geoff Duncan by 123,172 votes out of almost 4 million counted, according to the final certified results.

The 4% undervote in the contest seems impossibly huge, given that other statewide contests even further down the ballot (e.g. for Sec. of State or Agriculture Commissioner) saw a far smaller rate of ballots with no vote recorded --- an average of about 1% or less in those other races. Moreover, votes cast in the same race for Lt. Governor on verifiable hand-marked paper ballots revealed an expected, similarly small undervote rate. So, this appears to clearly be machine related somehow.

But, while the group's initial analysis revealed a disproportionate number of undervotes in Democratic-leaning areas, a newer analysis [PDF] by a number of top-flight election data analysts --- as detailed exclusively over the weekend by Michael Harriot at The Root and today (sadly, behind a paywall) by Kim Zetter at PoliticoPro --- finds that African-American neighborhoods and precincts, specifically, had an even higher disproportionate rate of missing votes in the Lt. Governor's race. Experts are having trouble coming up with non-nefarious reasons for the numbers and, as Marks tells me, state and local officials appear curiously uninterested in what is clearly a massive disenfranchisement of their own voters.

"We have had all sorts of statisticians all over the nation, from academics to those who work for political data houses, and everybody's coming up with exactly the same answer --- that African-American neighborhoods were the ones highly impacted by this," Marks tells me. "There's something wrong across the state. The state has too many missing votes, no matter what county we look at. However, it is exacerbated greatly in the heavily African-American precincts, no matter where you look."

"I've never worked on a case one-tenth as important as what I believe this is," she says. "While you and I and others, for years, have known about the dangers of electronic voting machines, and we've warned about them, I swear I never thought I would see machines used in a way that had racial disparity as a result."

We discuss the possible reasons --- nefarious and otherwise --- for such an alarmingly disproportionate undervote rates and the Coalition's several ongoing lawsuits in Georgia challenging the Lt. Governor results on the state level and the state's entire unverifiable touchscreen voting system on the federal level. Marks also discusses whether either case will soon allow for an independent forensic investigation of the computer-voting and tabulation systems used in the state in 2018, as the Coalition is demanding via discovery.

It's also worth noting here that Georgia's new Governor, Republican Brian Kemp --- who was reported to have narrowly defeated popular African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams last year --- oversaw all of the 2018 elections (including his own) as Secretary of State while repeatedly being excoriated by federal courts for voter suppression tactics. At the same time, counties in key states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa and even in California, are now preparing to moving to similarly 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. The latest news from Georgia's shameful 17-years of disastrous elections is troubling on its own, but this incident serves as yet another object lesson and warning for the entire country, as even many Democrats are now supporting the move to such completely unverifiable voting systems. (See Los Angeles, for example.)

"If there is anything good that can come out of this whole mess that we're in, surely it is that people are going to be able to see we have to stop it with this electronic voting. Here we are, months after the election, we don't know if any of those numbers can be trusted. We can't run elections this way!," Marks argues. "So, hopefully this will have some benefit to the nation in saying, 'Look, you gotta quit using touchscreen machines. End of story.'"

Finally, we're joined today by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, for special coverage of the landmark Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress last week by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (MA)...

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Plus: Listener calls! Including one calling for segregation?! (Yup.)
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2019 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It seems like we've been here before. Donald Trump is out lying about his border wall, Congress is days away from another potential government shutdown over Trump's demands, and various scandals continue to rock Virginia's elected Democratic leadership with calls for resignations both continuing and waning. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

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

  • During his State of the Union address, Trump offered false assertions about a border fence in El Paso, Texas, claiming it turned the state from one of the most dangerous cities in the country to one of the safest. The assertions have been debunked and re-debunked over and again since then by, among others, El Paso's sheriff and the city's mayor. Nonetheless, the President is holding a campaign rally in El Paso on Monday to repeat the lies;
  • Potential Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke --- whose hometown is El Paso --- holds a rally at the same time as Trump's to debunk the lies, after more Democrats (Senators Elizabeth Warren of MA and Amy Klobuchar of MN) announced their intention over the weekend to run for President;
  • Congressional negotiations teetered on the edge of disaster over the weekend, as Republicans and Democrats work to avoid yet another federal government shutdown as of this Friday at midnight. That, even as many federal employees furloughed or working without pay during the previous shutdown that ended just two weeks ago are still waiting to be fully paid;
  • Meanwhile, in Virginia, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax insists he has no plan to resign, even after a second accuser stepped forward on Friday to charge that he sexually assaulted her in the early 2000s when they were undergrad students. Fairfax is demanding "due process" in the form of, among other things, an FBI investigation into the serious allegations which he maintains were consensual incidents;
  • At the same time, Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam insists he will not resign either, following the revelation of a racist photo published on his medical school yearbook in 1984, which he says he knew nothing about until it was recently publicized by a Rightwing website. Following fierce calls for Northam to resign last week and subsequent concerns about Fairfax's own fitness for office (he is next in line to succeed Northam if he steps down), some African-American leaders in the commonwealth have announced they have forgiven Northam and are calling for him to remain in office and make amends by working on policy and legislation important to the black community. Also, new polling reveals that a large majority of African-American voters in the state do not want Northam to step down;
  • Also, I'm sad to report, iconoclastic Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) died Sunday, on his 76th birthday.

And, with all of those messes continuing concurrently, we open the phone lines today and receive some --- um --- fairly wild calls, including one from someone who claims to be black, but is calling for segregation in the U.S. (yes, really) and another from a guy who insists Trump should get due credit for a booming economy. (I disagree.)

All that and, yes, even more on today's BradCast...

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A decade of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering led to this moment...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, Virginia, there is a problem with race (and hate) in the Commonwealth. But Democrats would be wise to take a breath and notice what's really going on there before making critical political decisions out of fear. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The media are all over the astonishing crisis that has overtaken VA state politics in the past week, since a Republican website revealed a racist photo on Governor Ralph Northam's 1984 yearbook page, and a serious sexual assault allegation leveled against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, while Attorney General Mark Herring subsequently announced that he had donned blackface while dressing as one of his favorite rappers for a party 40 years ago when he was 19. The political futures of all three Democrats now hang precariously in the balance, with top Dems (and media elite) both inside and outside of VA demanding Northam resign, despite the complete lack of evidence to suggest he is a racist in the 35 years since the photo was published. As we discussed on Monday's program, Northam claims he knew nothing about the photo until last week, as he hadn't purchased the yearbook.

But with Fairfax --- an African-American and first in line to succeed the Governor, should he step down --- facing a serious assault allegation (which he has repeatedly denied) and some calls for Herring --- second in the line of succession --- to step down, echoing those leveled against the Governor, the next state official in the line of succession is Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox.

Cox is in that role, thanks only to a questionably "tied" Delegate election in 2017 that left the GOP in control of the House, after a Republican election judge changed his mind in order to create the tie, and a subsequent lot was drawn from a ceramic bowl to break it.

Far more notably, and far less reported, is that a decade of unconstitutionally gerrymandered House of Delegates districts drawn by the GOP to dilute the voting power of African-Americans gave Republicans as many as 8 more delegates in the House than they likely would have won with fair districts. One of those districts was "won" by Speaker Cox himself, according to a new district map ordered for use in this year's 2019 House elections by a panel of federal judges just weeks ago. Without the racial gerrymander, he likely wouldn't be in the House at all, much less in a position to become the next Governor, replacing a guy who admitted only that he put shoe polish on his face to dress as Michael Jackson in a dance contest 25 years ago.

We break down the entire mess today to, hopefully, shed some light on the FULL story of what's going on there, and how Democrats' fearful and breathless rush to avoid charges of hypocrisy may be serving to simply do themselves in for no good or even smart reason.

Also today: Republicans are freaking out about wildly popular ideas such as increasing taxes on the wealthy and a "Green New Deal" (a resolution officially introduced today by Democratic freshman Rep. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY] and veteran Senator Ed Markey [D-MA]). They are so alarmed that over at Fox "News", anchors are describing increased taxes on rich people as an attack on Capitalism itself, and programs like the Green New Deal as "Venezuela-styled socialism". But the laugh out loud part is when one wingnut Fox personality explains why, he claims, that such programs are now so popular among voters of all political persuasions. AOC's Twitter response was priceless.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for details on all of that and with the latest Green News Report, on Trump's "disgraceful" failure to mention climate change at this week's State of the Union Address, despite hundreds of Americans killed and displaced over this past year alone, which is now, officially, the fourth hottest year since record-keeping began...

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Calls for VA's Governor to step down may make political sense for Democrats, but is it wise and/or the right thing to do? Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 2/4/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, should Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam resign after his 1984 medical school yearbook was revealed late last week to have featured a photo of a man in blackface standing next to a man in a KKK costume? Don't answer that too quickly. Or, at least listen to today's show first. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After apologizing on Friday night for the appearance of the photo --- calling it "clearly racist and offensive", but failing to specify which of the pictured two men he actually was --- the Governor said at a bizarre Saturday press conference that he was neither man and that he had never even seen the photograph before, since he hadn't purchased that year's yearbook. He says the photograph hit him "like a ton of bricks" on Friday night. However, he told the media that he did remember an instance around the same time when he darkened his face to dress up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. He said he remembered the contest outfit very specifically, discussing it publicly for the first time on Saturday, while insisting that he never recalls dressing up in either minstrel show blackface or as a Klansman, as depicted in the mystery photograph.

One of the two African-Americans in the same medical school class that graduated with Northam told AP the explanation is plausible, as he didn't purchase the yearbook either and found the racist photo on Northam's page to be out of character. Despite Northam's record of working closely with the African-American community and still being a member of a predominately black church in the town where he grew up, top Democrats from Virginia to D.C. and beyond continued their loud calls on Sunday for him to step down and allow his Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax --- an African-American Democrat --- to replace him.

But should he? And should he be shunned for something that may have never happened? Or, if it did, happened 35 years ago and appears completely inconsistent with his record since then? The answers to those questions are both "absolutely yes" and "no, not so fast", as we discuss with callers today, focusing on Northam's remarks at the strange, yet seemingly earnest Saturday presser in which he stated that acquiescing to calls to step down would allow him to "spare myself from the difficult path that lies ahead," adding: "I could avoid an honest conversation about harmful actions from my past. I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me."

We endeavor to have a least part of that "honest conversation" with tons of callers on today's program, including some discussion about key civil rights figures (from Lincoln to Justice Hugo Black to LBJ) whose own histories of racism arguably allowed them to lead on a number of landmark civil rights issues from Emancipation to Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Also today: While I was happy to see MSNBC, on Friday night, highlight a Super Bowl ad buy in Georgia markets by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' voting rights group Fair Fight, calling for "hand-counted paper ballots," the news outlet's Rachel Maddow Show maddeningly cut the :30 commercial off when reporting the story, just before the crucial line calling for "hand-marked paper ballots"! (Made, in the spot, by Republican Commissioner of Habersham County, GA Natalie Crawford, by the way.) Maddening. Especially since, unless the voters rise up to protect overseeable elections and stop them, the state of Georgia, along with counties in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas --- not to mention Los Angeles County and neighboring Ventura County! --- are all now planning moves to expensive, unauditable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) before the 2020 Presidential election. Those systems print out computer-marked and barcoded paper ballots which are 100% unverifiable after an election has ended.

Add MSNBC's failure there to a list of disappointments over the weekend from the mess in Virginia to the loss of the L.A. Rams at the Super Bowl...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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...

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Trump's Oval Office tantrum; The 'Bottomless Pinocchio'; New misconduct in NC-9 election fraud probe; FL's late absentee ballots; The 'Axis of Oil'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/11/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A preview of the unimaginably worse dysfunction that awaits us all after Democrats take over the U.S. House majority in January and Donald Trump becomes even worse and more dishonest at his job? [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, some quick news headlines, including Time Magazine's announcement that several journalists, killed or imprisoned, are "Person of the Year" for 2018, and a life sentence plus 419 years recommended by the jury for the neo-Nazi who murdered activist Heather Heyer by plowing a car into counter-protesters during the August 2017 "United the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Also, the Washington Post Fact Checkers have been forced to create a new category to describe Donald Trump's dozens of endlessly repeated lies, such as his claims that Mexico would pay for his border wall (he's demanding U.S. tax-payers do so instead) and that his tax cuts were the largest in U.S. history (they weren't. They were the 8th largest.) The new category will be called "Bottomless Pinocchio" and will apply to lies that repeated more than 20 times after they've long been debunked by the fact-checkers as a falsehood. To date, Trump is the only politician to merit such a rating. At least 14 of his most frequently repeated lies have already earned the dubious new distinction.

Then, Trump's bizarre on-camera pageant in the Oval Office today with presumptive, soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. During a media avail before what was to be a meeting regarding the impending federal budget deadline, the three bickered about Trump's threat to shut down the U.S. Government if a budget deal fails to include billions for his southern border wall. "If we don't get what we want," Trump threatened the Democrats during the lengthy and bizarre televised negotiation, "I will shut down the government."

Pelosi and Schumer tried to convince the President to accept one of two bi-partisan deals they say could be immediately passed by both the House and Senate. But Trump, the great deal-maker, failed to budge --- so far. Trump's threat to shutdown the U.S. Government despite the costs to Americans and the economy, comes even while Republicans still control both chambers of Congress. Things are likely to get much uglier once Dems take over the House with their (at least) 40-seat majority on January 3.

Speaking of which, we've got a few more new details today on the GOP election fraud scandal in North Carolina's still-uncertified 9th Congressional District race. Republican Mark Harris is said to have won the election in November by just 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready. But evidence of absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor hired by Harris (in both the general election and Republican primary) has delayed certification of the race by the State Board of Elections. They will decide whether to order a new election or declare one of the two candidates the winner. The Board had planned to review evidence from the ongoing investigation by December 21, but has now told a state court they they may need more time, given that the Harris Campaign has been slow in responding to documents subpoenaed by the Board.

Also, new evidence this week reveals that election workers in Bladen County (one of two NC counties at the center of the probe), illegally tabulated early vote results and leaked them to non-election officials (the Harris campaign?) several days prior to the close of polls on November 6th.

Meanwhile, election officials in Florida have now revealed that more than 6,600 vote-by-mail absentee ballots sent and post-marked by Election Day went uncounted in the Sunshine State's midterm election. Those numbers don't yet include ballots from Palm Beach County, a Democratic stronghold. The untabulated ballots might have effected a number of close races in FL, including those tallied in statewide "recounts" for U.S. Senate, Governor and Agricultural Commissioner. While state law allows ballots post-marked by Election Day from overseas military votes to be included in the tally if they are received up to ten days after the election, all other "late" ballots are ignored.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with news from COP24, the U.N. climate conference in Poland, where the U.S. has joined Russia and Saudi Arabia in an "Axis of Oil" and is, literally, being laughed at for pushing coal while youth protesters demand fossil fuels be kept in the ground. Back home, the Trump Administration is now planning to reclassify high-level nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state (and other facilities) in order to avoid billions of dollars in clean-up at the nation's most polluted former nuclear weapons site...

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

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Trump tariff idiocy; Runoff results and an election contest in GA; Good news in Little Rock, AR; More on NC-9's GOP election fraud scandal; WI Republicans muscle through their brazen power grab...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2018 7:10pm PT  

Given many of the stories covered on today's BradCast, it's beginning to feel more and more each day like the GOP is a party in its death throes. Of course, rumors of that death have been greatly exaggerated in the past. [Audio link to show follows below]

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

  • The stock market was closed today in observance of a national day of mourning declared for President George H.W. Bush, whose funeral ceremony was held on Wednesday at the National Cathedral in D.C. The market closures may prove to have been a good thing, given that the Dow plummeted some 800 points on Tuesday after it became clear that Donald Trump and his Administration had lied over the weekend regarding a deal with China to avoid more tariffs on Chinese imports. During a Twitter rant that helped send the markets plunging, Trump appeared to reveal once again that he has no idea what tariffs actually are. He seems to believe they involve foreign countries paying money to the U.S., rather than an actual tax on American consumers. Is it conceivable that he really does not understand this by now? Or is he just continuing to play his supporters for chumps? We discuss;
  • In Georgia's runoff election for Secretary of State on Tuesday, Republican Brad Raffensperger has declared himself the winner over Democrat John Barrow, in a race that will have serious repercussions for the 2020 Presidential election in the trending-"blue" southern state, where voter suppression and 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems created havoc in the 2018 Gubernatorial race said to have been won by GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. Raffensperger has called for new 100% touchscreen systems that create unverifiable computer-marked/barcoded ballot summary cards. Barrow, who is waiting for late absentee ballots to actually be tallied, has called for the only system of voting that is actually verifiable by the public after an election: hand-marked paper ballots.

    At the same time, the state's largest newspaper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, has finally noticed the wildly anomalous undervote rate from the November 6th general election in the Lt. Governor's race, as only seen in the unverifiable touchscreen results, not on the vote-by-mail paper absentee ballots. Last week, we discussed these concerns with plaintiff Marilyn Marks of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance. Two weeks ago, Marks filed an election lawsuit contesting the results of the Lt. Governor's race. She and other plaintiffs are seeking a first-of-its-kind post-election forensic audit of the state's voting systems in light of the seemingly inexplicable undervote numbers;

  • But there was some good news from Tuesday's runoffs as well. In Little Rock, Arkansas, where, six decades after angry white mobs protested the integration of nine black students at the Little Rock Central High School in 1957, the town will now have its very first elected African-American mayor!;
  • In North Carolina, new details continue to emerge from the intensifying GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal which has prevented the certification of Republican Mark Harris' purported 905-vote "win" over Democrat Dan McCready in the 9th District U.S. House race. A second woman has now come forward to allege that she was paid to unlawfully collect absentee ballots by McCrae Dowless, a former felon contracted by Harris in Bladen Country and, as discussed today, by the Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker. The GOP Sheriff has deleted his campaign webpage on Facebook and refuses to comment after he was found to have paid thousands of dollars to Dowless along with Harris.

    A top Democrat in the U.S. House has now suggested that "Republican operatives stole" the House seat and cites the silence from the Trump Administration about it. "LOCK THEM UP," quipped new House Democratic Caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) on Tuesday. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) has now called for a new election and, on Wednesday, he was joined in that call by the editorial board of The Charlotte Observer, the state's largest newspaper.

    (For my part, I'm just happy that at least some in the media reporting on this have finally noticed they were previously misreporting on it as a "voter fraud", rather than election fraud, scandal, even though voters are accused of having done nothing wrong here. In fact, they are the ones who appear to have been defrauded in this matter by GOP insiders! Happily, the Washington Post removed three references to "voter fraud" in one of their stories after my complaints last week.)

    All of that, even as Republicans in the state's legislature continue to jam through a polling place Photo ID voting restriction during the lame duck period before they lose their supermajority in the upcoming new session, along with their ability to override a veto from the state's Democratic Governor. The Photo ID measure, which they've been trying to adopt for years, claiming it necessary to prevent "voter fraud", did not, until today, apply to absentee voting --- where actual fraud clearly exists;

  • Finally today, speaking of lame ducks, the GOP-gerrymandered and controlled state legislature in Wisconsin worked, literally, all night to jam through a bill aimed at stealing power from incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers, incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and from the state's voters who elected Democrats for every statewide office in November. Adopted by party line votes in both chambers as the sun rose today after another all-night session, Republicans hope GOP Gov. Scott Walker will sign the measure before leaving office after the first of the year. Walker, who was rejected by voters last month, has said he planned to do so.

    As we discussed on yesterday's program, the outrageous GOP power grab in WI mirrors a similar coup by the NC legislature in 2016 after a Democrat was elected as Governor in that state. Republican lawmakers in Michigan are also considering similarly desperate measures before Democrats take over as Governor and Sec. of State in that state next month. All in all, the desperate power grabs by GOPers around the country do not suggest a healthy party but, rather, one that may well be revealing its political death throes.

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

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