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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Inside the White House Press Corps During COVID in the Age of Trump: 'BradCast' 6/17/24
Guest: Voice of America's Steve Herman on pulling back 'The White House Curtain'; Also: CA Wildfires explode; Israel war cabinet ends...
Sunday 'Show' Toons
THIS WEEK: Two-Tiered Justice ... False Flags ... The Retribution Machine ... and much more in our latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Corrupt Anti-Abortion TX-to-SCOTUS Legal Mill Pipeline: 'BradCast' 6/13/24
Guest: Salon's Amanda Marcotte; Also: Dems outperform in OH Special Election; Brad gets COVID again goddammit...
'Green News Report' 6/13/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat wave coming to much of U.S., cooling systems can't keep up; Record rain from Sarasota to Spain to China; NY passes law to charge Big Oil for climate damage...
Previous GNRs: 6/11/24 - 6/6/24 - Archives...
Life With COVID
What goes around comes around. Again...
Hunter Biden's Conviction; Donald Trump's Weaponized Ignorance: 'BradCast' 6/11/24
Also: Biden rising; Fall of Alex Jones' corrupt empire; Phony '2000 Mules' doc pulled; More GOP voter fraud...
'Green News Report' 6/11/24
Big win for far-right in EU, climate action in crosshairs; NY Guv halts NYC congestion pricing; PLUS: Biden mileage rules save consumers money, combat climate change...
After Trump Verdict, GOPers Suddenly Warm to Voting for Felons: 'BradCast' 6/10/24
Listeners call in with explanations; Also: U.N. Security Council approves Biden's Israel/Hamas ceasefire plan; Europe moves toward far-right in EU elections...
Sunday 'Antifa' Toons
THIS WEEK: 80 Years Later ... Fascism Returns ... How Laws Work ... Summer Forecast ... And much more to be proud terrified of in our latest weekly collection...
'Green News Report' 6/6/24
Hottest 12 months ever; US Heat deaths hit new record in 2023; World's largest solar farm now online -- in China; PLUS: U.N. Sec.-Gen's warning to the world...
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: Steve Herman, Voice of America's former WH Bureau Chief, now Chief Nat'l Correspondent, on pulling back 'The White House Curtain'; Also: Wildfires explode in CA; Israeli war cabinet falls apart...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2024 6:36pm PT  

Hey, we beat COVID again over the weekend! So, we're back on today's BradCast and with a fearless in-studio guest for that matter! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Very quickly, at top of show, an update on our seemingly never-ending personal COVID nightmares. (Yup, I got it again last week, but kicked it by showtime today! And I ain't the only one.); A bit of breaking news on a spate of wildfires breaking out around Southern (and Northern) California; And some news on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wartime coalition "unity" cabinet falling apart, even as the military seems to turn on the PM, who has reportedly undermined ceasefire and hostage release negotiations "due to political considerations" and his need to stay in power to avoid pending criminal charges.

THEN, we are joined in-studio by veteran journalist STEVE HERMAN of the non-profit, non-partisan, independent, government-funded media outlet known as Voice of America. After spending nearly three decades as an overseas bureau chief for VOA, mostly in Asia, Herman moved back stateside to become White House Bureau Chief during the four years of the Trump Administration and first eight months of Biden's. Now, he has a brand new book detailing insider observations and lessons from those years, titled Behind the White House Curtain: A Senior Journalist's Story of Covering the President --- and Why It Matters.

While I just got over my latest bout with COVID this past weekend, I was somewhat concerned that Herman might not want to join me in person in a small radio studio for an hour. Then I remembered that he was among the very first civilians to enter the Fukushima Nuclear Plant after its 2011 meltdown and would later go on to serve in the cramped, poorly ventilated basement confines with the White House Press Corps during Trump's mishandling of the worse pandemic in 100 years. So, yeah, he doesn't seem easily shaken.

Among the many topics of my discussion with Herman today, based on details, stories and history lessons from his fascinating new book...

  • Details on working as a radio pool reporter during critical historic events during the Trump presidency.
  • That time Donald Trump tested positive for COVID, didn't tell the public (or the press corps working in close quarters with him) for four days, became gravely ill, and the White House lied about all of it.
  • Which was more unnerving? Walking into the nuclear plant at Fukushima just after a meltdown, or showing up each day in the White House during the worst of COVID, with a President who routinely violated WH safety protocols himself?
  • How --- and why --- the Trump Administration tried to capture VOA as a propaganda tool (the agency is prohibited, by law, from engaging in such practices and must remain independent), and how Herman was specifically targeted with a "dossier" compiled by Trump's henchmen at VOA's parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).
  • Herman discusses that time he was banned from Mike Pence's Air Force Two after revealing that the Vice President was told in advance of his maskless visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota that masking was mandatory under the legendary health facilities house rules.
  • The need for skepticism of government officials by journalists, and how should be the role of WH correspondents to not only report what officials say, but to report on when and how they are not telling the truth to the American public.
  • The differences in the pressures facing journalists at commercial news outlets reporting on the White House, versus that of non-commercial new organizations like VOA.

To give you a quick taste of the conversation today: On the Trump Administration's failed effort to capture Voice of America as a MAGA outlet, Herman tells me "...he was just looking for a head on a pike...And I would have been a good head on a pike. There was a perception that Voice of America was not stepping in line with the Trump Administration. That I and others were guilty of anti-Trump bias, allegedly. And anytime anyone has said that, whether they think I'm anti-Trump or anti-Biden or anti-whoever, go look at the stories we write, and show me where the bias is."

Of course, having the President of the United States himself furious at Voice of America for not being a propaganda outlet, kinda proves the point that, as Herman explains in his fascinating book, VOA, for some eight decades now has not served as a mouthpiece for any particular Presidential Administration. It has proven itself over and again to be a service that its stake holders --- the people of the U.S. whose Government funds it, even as VOA is barred from broadcasting here --- should be proud of. It has long served as a trusted source of news to uncountable millions across the globe in dozens of countries and languages where the service has played a critical role in countering disinformation --- either foreign or domestic --- since the outlets founding in 1942...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Political writer Amanda Marcotte; Also: Dems outperform in OH U.S. House Special Election; Brad gets COVID again goddammit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2024 6:17pm PT  

Today's BradCast summary may be necessarily (or mercifully, depending on how you look at it) brief. As noted here yesterday, I've got COVID again. Did a show today anyway. For good or ill. There's just too much going on and standing down yesterday only made me feel like we were falling even farther behind. Plus, big news today out of SCOTUS. So bear with my gravelly, congested voice as we catch up with a few of things on today's show. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among those things..,.

  • Tuesday's down-ballot primary elections in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina didn't offer many surprises or problems, so far, for voters or tabulation. But the Special Election for the U.S. House in Ohio's otherwise deeply red 16th Congressional District was certainly of note. The Democratic candidate, Michael Kripchak, lost the race to Republican Michael Rulli, as expected. But, continuing a pattern we've seen quite a bit of on Election Days since 2020, the Democrat wildly over-performed expectations by some 20 points! It's another good reminder to take nothing for granted this year, with the November 5th General Election Day now less than 150 days away!
  • The packed and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court did (mostly) the right thing for a happy change today. In an opinion [PDF] written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Court unanimously shut down a ridiculous case brought by legal forum-shopping anti-abortion zealots in Texas seeking a nationwide ban on the use of Mifepristone, the most popular and safest method of abortion in the U.S. The challenge, based on false claims about the drug, was rejected 9 to 0 due to a lack of standing by the crackpot doctors who brought the case (with the help of a rightwing extremist legal mill, in a lower court jurisdiction where they were guaranteed to get a favorable finding from Trump-appointed anti-abortion activist judge, Mathew Kasmaryk.) Kavanaugh's ruling, however, left the door open for future challenges by other plaintiffs to the FDA's 20-year old approval of the drug. The executive agency has repeatedly found Mifepristone --- used in about two-thirds of abortion in the U.S. last year --- to be extraordinarily safe and effective.
  • Then, we're joined by AMANDA MARCOTTE, Senior Political Writer at Salon and author of Troll Nation: How the Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself. We discuss today's SCOTUS ruling and a related matter which she recently wrote about at Salon, which also highlights the corrupt anti-abortion Texas-to-SCOTUS legal activist pipeline. This case, like the Mifepristone case, is being brought, specifically, in Kasmaryk's North Texas federal court, where he is the only judge overseeing cases filed there. It involves two University of Austin professors, Daniel Bonevac and John Hatfield, who are plaintiffs in a suit challenging Nixon-era federal law that prevents them from mistreating people, women in particular, who don't behave to the professors' liking. They are claiming a violation of their Free Speech Rights in federal laws that prevent them from flunking female students who go out of state to obtain abortions or block them from firing teaching assistants who have had one or forces them to consider the hiring of employees who may be transgendered. It is all of a piece, as Marcotte explains, with the corrupt SCOTUS decision that overturned 50 years of legal precedent for the Constitutional right to abortion back in 2022, and the subsequent total abortion ban in the Lone Star State. As Marcotte identifies, this and a number of other cases, are being brought by the same far-right interests, including former Texas Solicitor General and Federalist Society activist Jonathan Mitchell and legal mill outfits packed with former (and future?) Trump staffers.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a Brad-free edition of Green News Report! With a warning for upcoming extreme heat across much of the country; seemingly unceasing extreme rainfall in Florida; a new law adopted by the New York legislature to hold Big Oil accountable for climate damage; and hundreds of billions of dollars in health benefits now being realized thanks to President Biden's renewable energy boom...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Biden rising in polls; The fall of Alex Jones' corrupt empire; Producers pull phony '2000 Mules' doc; More GOP voter fraud...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2024 11:38am PT  

Yup. They'll believe anything. As discussed on today's BradCast, the MAGA dupes even have a new, insane explanation for why President Biden "allowed" his own, supposedly "weaponized"-against-Republicans DoJ to bring felony charges against his own son. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • The President's son, Hunter Biden, was found guilty by a federal jury in a Delaware courtroom on Tuesday, on charges that he had lied about his drug use on a federal background check form while purchasing a revolver in 2018, as he was overcoming his battle with drug addiction following the death of his brother. He never loaded the gun and owned it for just 11 days before his girlfriend thew it away. He was charged for something that nobody else has ever been charged with, unless they also committed an additional gun-related crime. Oddly enough, despite the "weaponization of the Justice Department" by Joe Biden to go after Trump and Republicans that we've heard so much about from Donald Trump and his MAGA minions, Hunter was found guilty on charges brought by a Trump-appointed federal prosecutor in a trial presided over by a Trump-appointed federal judge. President Biden said he "accepts" the jury verdict and does not plan to issue a pardon to his last living son.
  • That news comes on the heels of yesterday's program, in which we heard from Donald Trump supporting listeners about why they still support him, even after his conviction on 34 felony counts in New York related to a hush money payment to help him successfully rig the 2016 Presidential election. If you heard the show, you know that the reasons those callers still support Trump is that they have been wildly disinformed about all manner of facts, including their belief that Biden and/or his DoJ orchestrated the NY state prosecution. Even Trump's own former defense attorney in the case has called the evidence-free claim "ridiculous". But the dupes believe it nonetheless, along with a whole bunch of other Republicans who buy that nonsense and many more evidence-free claims regarding the 2020 election, the 2021 insurrection and more.
  • But, there is a bit of good news for Joe Biden and Democrats in recent polling following Trump's conviction in New York.
  • There is also good news for all of us, in that some of the biggest rightwing disinformers, other than Donald Trump, are finally facing some real accountability. Last week, it was reported that rightwing radio/podcast propagandist Alex Jones was liquidating his businesses, including his InfoWars program, to begin paying off his $1.5 billion defamation liability to families of Sandy Hook victims after years of lying about the tragic 2012 mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school as a "hoax."
  • And, at the end of May, the rightwing radio outfit Salem Media Group, apologized and retracted the hoax documentary called 2000 Mules, made by convicted rightwing election fraudster Dinesh D'Souza and the long-disgraced rightwing fraudster group called True the Vote. The film details a wholly debunked, wild conspiracy about Democrats scheming to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump through an insanely complex plot involving tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots deposited secretly into drop-boxes in battleground states. Salem pulled the film from distribution and apologies for it in response to a defamation suit filed by a man featured in the film via security camera footage and falsely described as committing election fraud. None of that, of course, will keep Trump and the MAGA dupes from continuing to cite the film as "evidence" of a stolen election --- even as it contains no actual, ya know, evidence of such any such scheme.
  • On the other hand, we have more actual voter fraud documented as having been committed by Republican voters. This time, its an 85-year old GOP voter who was found guilty last month of double voting at two different houses he owned in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire during the 2016 election.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with disturbing news on gains by far-right, anti-climate action political parties in the European Union's parliamentary elections over the weekend; dumb news on New York Governor Kathy Hochul's much-criticized halt to New York City congestion pricing; and good news on new vehicle mileage standards by the Biden Administration that will save consumers money and combat climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Listeners call in with explanations; Also: U.N. Security Council approves Biden's Israel/Hamas ceasefire plan; EU moves toward far-right in parliamentary elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2024 6:10pm PT  

In the months leading up to the disgraced former President's recent felony convictions in New York, related to rigging the 2016 election in his favor, many Trump supporters told pollsters that they would reconsider their support for him if he was eventually convicted of a crime. As discussed on today's BradCast (and warned about on many programs prior), that was just another MAGA lie. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, some big news over the weekend and then again just about an hour before airtime today...

  • On Sunday, Israeli centrist Benny Gantz quit Israel's war Cabinet citing far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placing his own "political survival" above the country's security interests. Gantz, the popular former chief of the Israel Defense Forces, had joined Netanyahu in a unity coalition after Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel. But more recently he vowed to leave if Netanyahu continued to refuse to formulate a plan for postwar Gaza. On Sunday, Gantz made good on that promise though, ironically, his move now makes Netanyahu more beholden to his far-right coalition partners.
  • In related news, just before air today, the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of an Israel/Hamas peace proposal outlined and backed by President Biden. Russia abstained from the vote and the remaining 14 members of the Council all voted in favor of the resolution that seeks an immediate ceasefire, a return of all hostages and a permanent end to the eight-month war. Hamas welcomed the resolution. We will see if Netanyahu does the same. Don't hold your breath.
  • And, over the weekend, far-right political parties across Europe --- particularly in France, Germany and Italy --- made significant gains in EU parliamentary elections. While the center right is still expected to hold, the vote in favor of anti-migrant, anti-climate action factions has seriously shaken up the Eurozone and led to French President Emmanuel Macron dissolving the French government and calling for snap elections. The far-right's parliamentary gains, according to some analysts, are tied to a failure of progressive voters to simply show up to vote. You have been warned.
  • Finally, with convicted felon Donald Trump's sentencing in New York set for July 11, he was allowed to participate in a pre-sentencing probation interview remotely on Monday with his attorney present. (Both are privileges that no other convict enjoys) But, where many Republicans told pollsters before his conviction that they would rethink their support of the former President if he was found guilty of felonies, polling since the unanimous verdict finding him guilty of 34 counts of falsifying records as part of a hush-money scheme to rig the 2016 election, finds that many of those same Republicans are suddenly very much in favor of felonious criminals running for office. (See this and this and this and this, for more details.) Go figure. We take some calls today from listeners on that point, including several Trump supporters who try to explain why they are still supporting him even after his felony convictions. It was remarkably enlightening...at least for me...and will probably be absolutely maddening to you (as it also was for me)...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Bannon (mostly) ordered to prison; U.N. chief calls for a ban on fossil fuel ads, as planet reaches disturbing new climate warming milestone...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2024 6:16pm PT  

"The Supreme Court of the United States is anti-democracy and antivoter --- and has been for far longer than you might think." That sounds like something we might charge at The BRAD BLOG or on The BradCast. But, today, that allegation comes from our guest, an esteemed law professor in his brand new book. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

FIRST UP, however... A couple of news items of note today. Convicted felon Donald Trump's 2016 campaign manager and Senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon (also a longtime "anti-democracy and antivoter" activist) may finally be heading to jail as of July 1. That according to a ruling today by the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing Bannon's two 2022 convictions for Contempt of Congress following his refusal to answer subpoenas from the bipartisan House January 6 Committee. He still has a couple of potential options for delay --- including his hope for a lifeline from the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court. But, otherwise, he is likely to soon be locked up for the next four months in the run-up to this year's election. Sad!

Also today, the EU's climate monitor announced this week that, as of May, the past 12 months have each been the hottest ever recorded on Planet Earth. That announcement came on the same day this week that the U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, offered a blistering speech deriding the fossil fuel industry as "the Godfathers of climate chaos" who "rake in record profits and feast off trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies" after having set the planet on "the highway to climate hell". He is, of course, correct. But Guterres also called, for the first time, for a ban on all ads by fossil fuel companies, akin to the one against tobacco companies, given the billions that Big Oil has spent on decades of deadly lies "distorting the truth, deceiving the public and sowing doubt" about the harm they've caused. He also called for "news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising." Think they will? We discuss.

NEXT... We're joined by Constitutional election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS of the University of Kentucky's College of Law to discuss his brand new book, The Court v. The Voters: The Troubling Story of How the Supreme Court Has Undermined Voting Rights. That title almost speaks for itself. But, as you might imagine, it gives us a lot to discuss today.

In his book, Douglas highlights nine different landmark SCOTUS rulings --- some you almost certainly know of, but others that you may not --- going back about 50 years, which he says have "contributed to the rise of anti-democracy forces animating our elections" today, leading the nation on the path toward the attempted rightwing insurrection on January 6, 2021.

"Legitimacy requires buy-in from everyone," when it comes to election law, Douglas tells me today. "So the fact that I make this statement about the Supreme Court, as someone who has tried to be very non-partisan in my work, says a lot about how stark it has become with respect to the way in which the Court has crafted or thought about the Constitutional right to vote."

"It has been death by a thousand cuts," he explains. "A slow march. There's no one case or one concerted effort." But the result of the Court's persistent rulings has been to undermine voting rights and, ultimately, the Constitutional order by giving more and more power to the states, after years of previously requiring strict scrutiny when it comes to restrictive voting laws. Each new ruling, he says, has fed off previous ones, granting more and more power back to states to restrict voting rights, eroding federal protections in both law and the Constitution.

In some cases, Douglas argues, such as 2021's Brnovich v. DNC, the Court (in this case, Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinion for the majority) has taken to simply making up new tests for state election laws "literally from thin air" to support their antivoter rulings.

Ever since the decade following the Civil Rights era, "it's been a slow march towards dismantling some of the protections of the Voting Rights Act, as well as undermining the constitutional importance of the right to vote within the U.S. Constitution. When you look at any one case, you don't necessarily see it. It's when we look at these combined, to note the way in which the Court has placed a thumb on the scale of the [state] legislatures at the expense of voters."

The book is written not for legal scholars, Douglas promises, but for actual voters. Rather than offering simply legal analyses, it is chock full of stories about the individual people involved in each of the cases he highlights. Evidence to support his argument here may be found in the title of Chapter 8, "An 'Embarrassing Judicial Fart'", on 2000's Bush v. Gore ruling.

While The Courts v. The Voters argues "we can no longer count on the Supreme Court to protect an equal right to vote for all" and that "voters are left with nowhere to turn to vindicate their rights," Douglas also offers a prescription for overcoming what he regards as an assault on our Democratic Republic in both the book and on today's program.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on what the European Union's chief climate monitor describes as the "shocking but not surprising" record heat over each of the last 12 months; the U.N. Secretary-General's well-supported screed against the deadly "Godfathers of climate chaos" in the fossil fuel industry; a record number of heat deaths in the U.S. last year; and the world's largest solar farm --- the size of New York City --- now finally online...in China.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Andrea Grimes warns about the TX GOP's insane new party platform being underplayed by mainstream media; Also: Primary election results from MT, NJ, NM, SD, IA and DC...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2024 6:50pm PT  

Far-right Republicans in the Lone Star State are telling us about their extreme plans. Why are both state and national media downplaying them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST UP... The Presidential Primary season comes to a close this week, with Tuesday's contests in New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa and D.C. (Though Democrats in Guam and the Virgin Islands still have a chance to ring in this weekend! And non-Presidential primaries will continue in many states in the week's ahead!) We've got some of your noteworthy results fron Tuesday today, such that there are any, including Presidential results reflecting small, if notable numbers of voters on each sides of the aisle who remain dissatisfied with both President Biden and convicted felon Donald Trump as their party's nominee.

THEN... This week, lawmakers in the very narrowly GOP-controlled chambers of Arizona's state legislature became the latest such body to try and pass new laws mimicking Texas' Senate Bill 4. That law, currently under federal challenge by the Biden Administration, grants unprecedented authority to state and local law enforcement officials to arrest people suspected of being in the country unlawfully and allows state judges to deport them. Those are roles traditionally played by federal, not state, officials. In Arizona, the Democratic Governor vetoed a similar effort earlier this year, so GOP lawmakers are now moving to place the measure on the state's already very long November ballot.

What happens in the increasingly radicalized state of Texas, unfortunately, does not stay in Texas, where Republicans hold solid majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, every single statewide office (since 1994), and every seat on the state Supreme Court. Those Republicans have only become more radical with each passing year, as evidenced by the state GOP's horrifying official party platform [PDF] adopted at their recent state party convention.

Just a few of the many planks, among others, call for doctors to be charged with homicide for carrying out an abortion; the Bible to be taught by chaplains in public schools; the deportation of noncitizens living lawfully in the country if they happen to participate in the wrong public protest; the withdraw of the U.S. from the United Nations and the organization's removal from U.S. soil.

Perhaps most disturbing (at least to me), the manifesto calls for a new law to mandate that statewide officials must win not only a majority in the state, but majorities in more than half of Texas' 254 counties in order to win office. That measure, if turned into law, would make it largely impossible for any Democrat to ever win statewide office again, given that the vast majority of the state's liberals are populated in a handful of large counties that are home to the state's major cities. Texas would become a one party state.

The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty this week described the TX GOP party platform as "hair-raising" and a sign that the state GOP has "gone off the deep end". But, at the same time, she marginalizes the document as "not a serious policy road map."

It is not only national media downplaying it. The Austin American Statesman describes the platform as little more "a wish list...than a road map that will be followed...by lawmakers in Austin or Washington". The otherwise excellent Texas Tribune similarly downplays the stated threats to democracy (and just about everything else) in their own coverage.

But our guest today, ANDREA GRIMES, an Austin-based journalist and activist who has been covering state GOP conventions since 2010, argued in an op-ed at MSNBC late last week that such views by major media outlets "aren’t merely outdated. They’re patently incorrect, contradicted by demonstrable evidence that the Texas GOP platform has been driving policy in Texas and beyond not just recently, but for several years."

She joins us to detail that case today, warning that while all of these planks may sound crazy, increasingly radicalized and extremist Republicans and their office holders in Texas "and beyond" are telling us exactly what they plan to do and have a record, going back years now, of enacting into law some of the state GOP party's most appalling measures. Once fringey ideas that began as little more than seemingly buffoonish platform planks dismissed by media outlets as sops to the party's most extremist elements have since become mainstream Republican party orthodoxy and enacted into law in Texas and many other states. The failure by mainstream media to notice and warn that "these people are not messing around" continues to ill-serve the nation.

Grimes details how the problem goes back to at least the "Tea Party" days and the "white racist reactionary political movement" that rose up in response to the nation's first Black President. But that has accelerated, she says, since 2016 "with the rise of Trump" and "a Republican Party that is living its best, most crazy life at this point, achieving win after win in terms of policy."

So why are these state GOP party platforms, much of which have become law in recent years, still being downplayed by editors at mainstream state and national media outlets, rather than being regarded as the warnings that they are?

"The phrase that continues to come into my head over and over is 'normalization bias'," Grimes tells me. "It's very difficult to come to grips with the true terrors of our political reality because they are outrageous. It is outrageous for Samuel Alito to be flying an upside-down American flag at his home. It is outrageous for Trump to foment an insurrection. It's outrageous for insurrectionists to storm the U.S. Capitol. These things are outrageous. And I think there's a sense among members of the mainstream media that, if they can strive to pursue the maintenance of objectivity and normalization, that things will somehow even out on their own, and they won't be asked to truly describe the world as it is. They won't be asked to go into this uncomfortable place of appearing biased, when in fact they would simply be describing reality."

"American journalism is so rooted in this conceit of objectivity. It is so beholden to this idea," she adds. We've got much more to discuss along these lines today, including whether there is any analogue to this phenomenon on the Democratic side (spoiler alert: nope, nothing even close) and what, if anything, can now be done by Americans to stem the tide of radicalism, particularly if media outlets continue to fail call it out for what it is. It's a great conversation, I think, that I hope you tune in for!

FINALLY... Just before the close of today's show, news breaks out of Georgia that the state Appeals Court has placed a pause on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' sprawling conspiracy indictment against Trump and 18 co-conspirators for their alleged criminal scheme to steal the 2020 election in Georgia, as an appeal by the defendants to remove Willis from the case moves forward. Upshot for now: The case was highly unlikely, at this point, to get to trial before November. Now it absolutely won't.

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Also: Indicted Menendez applies for independent run in NJ; New 2020 Fake Elector plot indictments in WI; Biden will be on OH's ballot after all, convicted felon Trump may not be on WA's...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2024 6:34pm PT  

No matter how much Republicans repeatedly lie about "a justice system 'weaponized' by Joe Biden and the Democrats to go after Republicans", you should know by now how much of a lie that is. If you don't, I suspect Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ), Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX), both under federal indictment on corruption charges --- not to mention the President's son, Hunter Biden, on gun and tax charges --- should quickly rebut that nonsense to all but the brain-poisoned. Either way, today's BradCast has you covered. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Primary elections were held on Tuesday in Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and the District of Columbia. We'll have any noteworthy results or problem reports on tomorrow's show. But you can read more about the programming failure I referred to regarding ES&S touchscreen systems in Wildwood Crest, NJ (a state with a history of similar and much worse failures on their touchscreen systems) right here.
  • Speaking of New Jersey, on Monday, the state's longtime Democratic --- and now very strongly indicted (again) --- U.S. Senator, Bob Menendez, filed to run for re-election as an independent while federal criminal trial on bribery and corruption charges continues. If he remains on the ballot this Fall (which allows him to use campaign cash to pay legal bills for him and his wife, who is also charged) it could complicate things somewhat for Democrats hoping to see his seat filled by Congressman Andy Kim.
  • The House GOP loons held one of their ridiculous "Weaponization of Justice" hearings today, featuring testimony by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland who pushed back at their nonsense, even as they threaten him with a Contempt of Congress citation.
  • Meanwhile, in Wisconsin today, three of Donald Trump's 2020 lieutenants who architected the failed Fake Electors plot in hopes of stealing the election from Joe Biden in swingstates, were indicted on forgery charges. The freshly indicted trio includes former Trump attorney Ken Chesebro, former WI state judge James Troupis, and GOP operative Michael Roman who served as Trump's Director of Election Day Operations. Both Chesebro and Roman have been charged in several other battleground states previously. This is Troupis' first walk of shame. Overall, some 52 people (so far), including Trump, are now facing criminal charges in five battleground states (Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and now Wisconsin) for their parts in the attempted scheme to steal the 2020 election. More charges may still be on the way in several of those states.
  • Ohio's Republican lawmakers have finally passed --- and its Governor has signed --- a legislative fix to the deadline issue that would have prevented President Biden from appearing on this November's Presidential ballot in the Buckeye State. It took months, and a special session called by the Governor, to get done what they easily had done in years past for Republican Presidential candidates. But, in doing so, they also included a provision to change the definition of the phrase "foreign national" to include permanent U.S. residents --- green card holders --- born in a different country. All of which, as explained on today's show, is an effort by the state GOP to undermine popular ballot initiatives, like the wildly popular one adopted by voters last year to protect reproductive rights. In any event, and since the measure signed by Gov. Mike DeWine over the weekend could be found unconstitutional, the Democratic National Committee has decided to hold a virtual, online roll call vote to officially nominate Biden in advance of the OH state deadline.
  • PLOT TWIST! A Washington state law, on the books since it was a Territory in 1865 (and updated several times since), bars convicted felons from running for office. That could now be very bad news for 34-time convicted felony Donald Trump.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen --- still recovering from her second bout of COVID over the past two weeks alone --- joins us for our latest Green News Report, as India swelters under deadly record temperatures; power outages, mostly related to extreme weather, have doubled in the U.S. over the past two decades; Mexico elects a climate scientists as President amid a record heat wave; and Vermont enacts a first-in-the-nation law to make Big Oil pay up for climate damages...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: We're back! With more COVID! And Mexico elects first female Prez...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2024 5:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: FINALLY! Accountability for a criminal U.S. President. And, no matter what you've heard, there's nothing "sad" about it at all. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

As noted at the top of show, after a week away for a holiday break, we had hoped to be at KPFK, our flagship station here in L.A., for today's show, to open the phones to listener calls on last week's big news. Alas, that will have to wait. Two (yes, two!) mostly mild, but otherwise kinda out-of-the-blue cases of COVID (both of them for Desi --- for now) over the past week, necessarily changed our plans at the last moment today. We explain all of that at the top of the show, along with the news out of Mexico where, on Sunday, Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as President. She will be the first female (and Jewish, and climate scientist!) elected President of the 200-year old nation.

With the popular leftist Sheinbaum's two opposing candidates conceding and congratulating her almost immediately after partial results of her landslide victory were announced, Mexico will enjoy a peaceful transfer of power later this year. Unfortunately, we can't predict the same here anymore. Not after our former President and current presumptive Republican nominee for 2024 tried to steal the 2020 election and, as confirmed by 12 citizen jurors last week in New York, successfully rigged the 2016 election by paying hush-money to a porn star.

As you may have heard, Donald J. Trump was convicted on 34 criminal felony counts late on Thursday following a six week trial and two days of jury deliberation. It was a first in American history and great news for those of us who actually believe in the Rule of Law and Accountability. (Ya know, as Republicans used to pretend to.) It was not a 'sad day for this country' as many on both the Right and, curiously, Left have described it. It is a day to celebrate. There is nothing sad about it. The verdict represents long overdue accountability for a criminal President. And not just long (and very) overdue for Trump himself, but long overdue for any American President, many of whom arguably should have faced similar consequences in years past. Perhaps now, current and future Presidents may think twice before breaking violating the law while in office or trying to win office.

While unable to be at the station to take calls from listeners today as hoped, we were able to call in two of our old friends --- award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo, and former attorney and lifelong Republican KEITH BARBER, who blogs on legal matters (as "KeithDB") at the progressive Daily Kos --- to join us for today's program. Both have been covering the trial closely, and both have been with us each week (for the most part) over the course of Trump's criminal trial in New York for our weekly "ketchup" shows, covering its goings on. And today, we've got a LOT to ketchup with!

Among the topics discussed related to the first-ever criminal felony conviction of a former (and perhaps future) U.S. President...

  • Parton and Barber's initial takes on last week's somewhat surprisingly swift and unanimous jury verdict.
  • The "sadness" (or lack thereof) of this historic moment.
  • The ridiculously muted response from elected Democrats.
  • The obscenely angry, disingenuous and lie-filled responses from brain-poisoned MAGA Republicans, elected and otherwise.
  • GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson's claim that his personal friends on the U.S. Supreme Court must now to step in to vacate this criminal conviction under state laws.
  • House Republicans call for Congressional subpoenas for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (who never ran on indicting Trump, as he and his supporters have been falsely claiming) and the daughter of presiding judge, Justice Juan Merchan (even as the case remains ongoing, before sentencing and months of appeals.)
  • And, finally, some thoughts on the trial underway as of today in Delaware against President Biden's son Hunter Biden on gun charges brought against him by a Trump-appointed Special Counsel, before a Trump-appointed federal judge, on a charge that has apparently never been brought against any other defendant in the nation without another charge related to something like felony misuse of the weapon along with it. (He owned the revolver in question for 11 days and reportedly never even loaded it before it was thrown away.) Not sure why Republicans are furiously opposing that trial. Go figure.

And, of course, much more...

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Also: SCOTUS allows racial gerrymander in SC; OH still blocking Biden from ballot; Smartmatic says Newsmax destroyed evidence; Biden cancels still more student debt...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2024 6:46pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Imagine if Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was found to have been flying a Joe Biden "Dark Brandon" flag at her house. Ya think Republicans in Congress might have anything to say about it? Might take any action in response to it? [Audio link to full program follows this summary.]

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

  • Republicans in the Ohio state legislature are still blocking Joe Biden from this year's Presidential election ballot in the Buckeye State. Even Republican Governor Mike DeWine is now calling it "ridiculous" and "absurd" and has called a special legislative session for next week to fix the problem that GOP lawmakers have so far refused to. Think they'll finally do it?
  • The corrupt rightwing majority on the packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, allowed a racial gerrymander in South Carolina to remain in place for the 2024 election. All of the Court's liberal Justices dissented. The 6 to 3 majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who appeared more concerned that state lawmakers might be seen as having engaged in "offensive and demeaning" conduct, than he did about the tens of thousands of Black voters in the state whose votes have been shifted to other districts to make it easier for Republican Rep. Nancy Mace to hold on to a seat in the U.S. House. It's not a racial gerrymander, the Court's Republican majority claims, it's a partisan one. And, apparently, that's just fine. (Justice Clarence Thomas went out of his way in a concurring opinion to note that racial gerrymanders are just fine as well.) All of that, after a lower court panel of federal judges found that SC's racial gerrymander amounted to the "bleaching of African American voters."
  • And, speaking of Sam Alito....Now the whole world knows, if they didn't already, that the corrupt, far-right Republican Supreme Court Justice is both a personal supporter of the Trump-incited 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and a Christian Nationalist. At least based on the two different flags he has been flying over two of his houses, according to more excellent reporting by the New York Times on Wednesday. That, as we await two different major rulings from the High Court regarding accountability for Donald Trump in relation to the insurrection. Neither Alito nor Thomas, whose wife directly participated in the insurrection, have recused themselves from either case. So, what are Democrats in the U.S. Senate going to do about any of it? So far, it doesn't look like they're prepared to do much, at least beyond issuing an occasional "outraged" press release. As discussed in some detail today, that needs to change.
  • One of voting system vendor Smartmatic's several, huge, defamation lawsuits for lies told about the company "rigging" the 2020 election, is against the far-right political propaganda outlet known as Newsmax. Court documents made public this week reveal that Newsmax destroyed evidence --- text messages and emails --- that they were required to retain for the lawsuit.
  • This week, Joe Biden cancelled student loan debt for another 160,000 borrowers, bringing the total number receiving some form of forgiveness up to nearly five million. His Dept. of Education has now approved about $167 billion in loan forgiveness under a number of different programs, following the corrupt SCOTUS ruling that prevented the President's initial effort to forgive up to $20,000 for some 43 million borrowers. Still, $167 billion is nothing to sneeze at. And it's money that can now go instead into the economy instead to purchase homes, cars, etc., which helps everyone. Fox "News", of course --- which had no problem when Trump gave trillions of federal dollars to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations via GOP tax cuts --- seems to have a different opinion about federal government relief for those who actually need it.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as deadly, climate changed-fueled extreme weather lashes folks from Mexico to Iowa; Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a "Don't Say Climate Change" law as the state broils in yet another heat wave; Oakland, California becomes the nation's first school district to move to 100% all-electric school buses; And microplastics are now found everywhere, even inside of us. You'll have a ball finding out where scientists have discovered them most recently. It's nuts!...

And with that great news, The BradCast (and Green News Report) will be standing down next week for a much-needed break over the Memorial Day holiday week. Will the disgraced former President be a convicted felon by the time we return? We'll find out! Either way, see ya on the other side! (And, of course, well before then for a few Sunday Toons at the very least!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: Election results and problem reports from KY, OR, GA, CA and MD...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2024 6:19pm PT  

How many times did the disgraced, twice-impeached, four-time criminally indicted former President tell us he would "absolutely" be taking the oath to testify in his own defense at his 2016 election interference trial in New York? More times than we can count. Each time was a lie, as discussed among other matters on today's BradCast, as closing arguments are set to begin next week, before jury deliberations in the first-ever criminal trial of a U.S. President. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get to today's "ketchup" konversation on Trump's first criminal trial, we touch on a few noteworthy results out of primary and special elections in Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon and California on Tuesday, along with problem reports for voters and tabulation out of Georgia, Kentucky and, from last week's primaries, in both Baltimore and Prince George's County, Maryland.

Then, we're joined once again by award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, of Salon and Hullaballoo, and former attorney and lifelong Republican KEITH BARBER, who now regularly blogs on legal matters as "KeithDB" at the progressive Daily Kos.

On Tuesday, the Defense rested in Donald J. Trump's criminal trial in New York on 34 felony counts related to a hush-money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels in the weeks before the 2016 election, in a successful effort to help him cheat to win it. The trial has focused on the subsequent, allegedly falsified reimbursements made by Trump during his first year in the White House to his then lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen to cover it all up.

Last week, Cohen finished his testimony as the final witness for the Prosecution. This week, Robert Costello, a cartoonishly thuggish lawyer buddy of both Trump and Rudy Giuliani, took the stand as one of just two witnesses called by the Defense. After a turn last week before the GOP's U.S. House "Weaponization of Justice" Committee, Costello would be the final witness for the Defense, in what turned out to be a wildly failed effort to try and discredit Cohen.

We catch up on all of that today, as we discuss, among other things...

  • Justice Juan Merchan's upbraiding of Costello during his obnoxious testimony as the Defense's star witness, turning what might have been a mild win for Trump following cross-examination last week of Cohen, into what both Parton and Barber characterize as a disaster for the Defense. According to Parton, "It was really stupid of them to call him, knowing that the prosecution already knew what he had to say...He was bombastic, he was rude. ... Costello looked like a hired gun."
  • To the surprise of absolutely no one, Trump failed to take the witness stand in his own defense after all, following months of promising to do so. It may have been the only smart thing he has done to help his case during the entire trial. As Parton notes, "Trump saw him as a good stand-in for himself," as he was almost certainly testifying at the instance of Trump and against advice of counsel. It went at least as poorly for Costello as it would have gone for the former President turned current Defendant, had he taken the stand.
  • Barber details what he sees as "the missing link" in the Prosecution's case and "the biggest weakness" in the Defense's cases; how the jury is likely to view Trump's lack of testifying in his own defense ("The jury will be strongly admonished by the judge to not consider Donald Trump's failure to testify"); and what exactly they will be charged with deciding when they are finally instructed by the judge --- likely beginning next week --- to begin deliberations.
  • Parton discusses her biggest concerns about the case, and how the mainstream corporate media has failed, yet again, in its responsibility of accurately reporting on the threat to the nation represented by Trump. Barber casts more blame on his old party, the Republicans.
  • And, in a related matter today, we turn to the federal criminal indictment against Trump down in Florida for stealing highly classified national security documents and refusing to return them to the Government. On Wednesday, earlier court documents related to the eventual search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago, were unsealed, leading Trump to lie about the FBI being "locked and loaded" in an attempt to "assassinate" him during the search...when Trump was in an entirely different state.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Researcher Victoria Cadostin on 'Citizens for Sanity'; Also: Giuliani arraigned with fake electors in AZ; Defense rests in NY Trump trial; More...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2024 6:42pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after an unavoidable extended weekend due to a family funeral. We've got a lot to get caught up on today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get to today's guest, a few quick headlines from over the weekend and through today...

  • Iran's President and Foreign Minister were killed over the weekend in a helicopter crash in foggy conditions in the northern part of the country.
  • The top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity in both Gaza and Israel.
  • A British court has granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange the right to appeal his extradition to the U.S. on 17 espionage charges and one for computer misuse related to the publication of classified U.S. documents 15 years ago.
  • The New York Times revealed last week that rightwing Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito flew an upside down American flag --- a MAGA "stop the steal" symbol --- at his home for several days following the Trump-incited January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Nonetheless, the corrupt Alito has failed to recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election, including the Court's pending opinion on "Presidential Immunity" which has held up Trump's federal trial for months in his indictment on multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election.
  • Rudy Giuliani and 11 others, including Kelli Ward, the former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, were arraigned on Tuesday in Phoenix for their roles in attempting to steal the state's 2020 election for Trump. Giuliani and the others face multiple counts each (nine in Rudy's case) related to conspiracy, forgery and fraud.
  • The Defense rested on Tuesday in Donald Trump's 2016 election interference trial in New York, where he is facing 34 felony charges related to the falsification of documents to hide a hush-money payment to a porn star just before that year's election day. The disgraced former President, who repeatedly vowed that he would testify in his own defense at the criminal trial, did not do so. As expected. Closing arguments are next week.
  • Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday for down-ballot primaries and special elections in Kentucky, Oregon, Georgia and California on Tuesday. We'll have any available noteworthy results and problems reports on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then we're joined by VICTORIA CADOSTIN, researcher and writer at the non-profit watchdog organization DOCUMENTED to explain who is behind the new Trump-aligned extremist group known as "Citizens for Sanity". In a weekend article at The Guardian, Cadostin and her colleague Brendan Fischer break down details from newly obtained filings by the dark money group revealing they spent more more than $90 million dollars in the final few months of 2022 alone on a flood of what have been described as "vile, racist and transphobic" ads designed to disinform, terrify, divide and incite the voting public.

"They were one of the biggest election spenders in the last election cycle," Cadostin explains. "What's really alarming about it is that our records show that Citizens For Sanity is housed at the Conservative Partnership Institute, which has been characterized as the 'nerve center' of the rightwing." She describes the group as the homebase for the Trump Administration in exile, as it's led by former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as well as one of his former attorneys (and election fraudsters) Cleta Mitchell. It also shares the same leadership with American First Legal, a rightwing extremist lawfare organization headed up by Trump's MAGA anti-immigrant henchman Stephen Miller.

"CPI represents the creation of MAGA political infrastructure," says Cadostin. "These are all folks who are in the MAGA world very deeply, and who have a lot of power in that world, who are pushing out this messaging and pushing out extremism."

The group spent tens of millions of dollars from unknown donors on ads that air heavily in battleground states and swing districts, and even during highly-viewed mainstream events such as the World Series.

The organization uses racist messaging against Blacks and Latino immigrants in its ads, even while it also targets those same communities with different ads in hopes of suppressing their voters. "It's really a targeted effort to stoke racial hostility and suppress the vote however they can for the base that they don't think will vote Republican or conservative," she says. "While at the same time pushing out messaging that will move a conservative base, a white American base, to show up at the polls. It is very sinister, the way they are twisting this, using this information to mobilize one particular base against another."

"These divisive ads and the spreading of misinformation in order to sway folks in swing districts have a real impact outside of just voting," argues Cadostin. "This kind of messaging supports the rise of anti-trans legislation and violence against trans folks, as well as the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, legislation and violence. Powerful folks are throwing money around to manufacture racial and gendered hostility in the voting population. And it's also further evidence that attacks on equality and democracy are often coming from the exact same place."

What can be done about any of it, since, as disgusting as it all is, it's all largely been legalized by a string of rightwing SCOTUS decisions over the years? We discuss that as well on today's BradCast...

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Guest: Campaign finance expert Craig Holman of Public Citizen; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2024 6:55pm PT  

It's received almost zero attention or notice, but the Republican appointees to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday tried to overturn a bedrock principle of American democracy: transparency of contributions and the identities of donors to political campaigns. The move caught us here at The BradCast by surprise, but we feel slightly better after hearing that our guest today, one of the nation's foremost experts on campaign finance, also just learned about this unprecedented effort. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST UP... Two unusual rulings from the packed, stolen and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court. Unusual for several reasons. One, because both oppose rightwing advocacy. Two, because a majority of rightwingers on the Court voted in favor of both of them. And three, because the Court's liberals voted in a bloc against one of them! We try to make sense of all of that for you today in each of the two rulings.

One came late on Wednesday, when the Court invoked the so-called Purcell Principle, which prevents changes to election rules, laws and district maps too close to an election, theoretically in order to avoid confusion by voters or election administrators. But this principle is opportunistically invoked by the rightwing Court when they feel like it --- even it means allowing, for example, the use of a U.S. House District map that has been found unconstitutional by the courts --- and ignored when they don't.

Their unsigned shadow-docket ruling [PDF] on Wednesday, however, invoked Purcell to allow a U.S. House District map that was newly approved by Louisiana's GOP-controlled legislature. It adds a second Black-majority voting district in the state after its previous map was found to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act following a years-long legal fight. But after the new map was approved by the state earlier this year, a group of self-described "non-Black voters" sued, claiming the new map was an unlawful racial gerrymander. A 3-judge panel on the 5th Circuit agreed and ordered a new new map. That is the order that was blocked on Wednesday by SCOTUS, allowing the second Black-majority district to stand as is, at least for 2024, even as the Court's liberal Justices, to the surprise of many, voted in against the rightwing majority. If you're confused as to why, tune in! We explain all!

The other unusual SCOTUS ruling came today, via a 7 to 2 majority opinion [PDF] written by Justice Clarence Thomas(!) and opposed only by fellow rightwing Justices Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch. The majority opinion rejected an effort by the sleazy payday lending industry to kill the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration, before she became a U.S. Senator. It was created on the heels of the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the Great Recession. To avoid industry influence on funding of the federal government's only consumer-oriented agency, it was housed inside of the Federal Reserve and allowed to draw up to $600 million per year for its budget, rather than go through the Congressional appropriations process each year. The payday lender group filed suit to argue the CFPB's funding mechanism ran afoul of the Constitution's Appropriations Clause and, therefore, all of the CFPB's actions since its 2010 founding, including billions of dollars in fines leveed against their industry, must all be rolled back and the agency dissolved.

Thomas, the Court's liberals, and three more of its Republican appointees flatly rejected the lender's case. They held that, though its funding mechanism is somewhat outside the norm, Congress may still change the way it is funded at any time. Also, as the majority opinion notes, there have been other agencies, such as the Customs Service and USPS, which have had similar, non-annual standing appropriations since the founding of the country.

NEXT... On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) held an historic vote on a new rule to allow campaign donors to remain anonymous if they claimed that allowing their identities to become public would lead to harassment. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) already allows some very rare exceptions for members of groups who are shown to have been historically harassed by the U.S. Government itself. Beyond that, however, allowing for campaign donors to remain anonymous challenges the very basis of our system of open, transparent, democratic elections.

We're joined today by CRAIG HOLMAN, longtime government affairs and ethics lobbyist at the non-profit watchdog Public Citizen. He is helping to lead the fight against this startling effort headed up by Trump-appointed FEC Commissioner Alan Dickerson.

The new rule "cuts into the very fabric of a functional democratic society," argues Public Citizen in its public comment against the rule. They note it would "vastly expand the donor [disclosure] exemption far beyond its original purpose, would undermine effective disclosure of the sources of political spending, deprive voters of critical election information, swamp the FEC under a wave of new paperwork, and runs contrary to the core mission of the agency." Other than that, it's great!

"What I really find astounding is that people of all partisan persuasions, Democrats and Republicans, have always believed in disclosure," Holman tells me today. "That's the one pillar of campaign finance law that no one has really come out against. The Republicans may come out against contribution limits, regulation of money in politics, but they always say to have transparency so we know where the money is coming from. This is the very first time that the FEC has encroached upon that principle."

The good(ish) news for now, is that he reports the Commission deadlocked, in a three-to-three vote along partisan lines today. That kills it for the moment. Though, in a second vote today, Holman says they agreed to ask the FEC's General Counsel to study the matter and report back in 75 days. That, he says, is likely to result in a second attempt by Dickerson later this year. Holman says he knows Dickerson to be a "hardcore deregulation" supporter. But "this is the first time the FEC has addressed the actual issue: 'Should we just get rid of disclosure altogether?'"

"Fortunately the FEC deadlocked," Holman says. But "that means three Republicans were saying 'Yes, let's get rid of disclosure!' That's frightening. We only defeated this resolution by a deadlock vote."

Holman has much more on "how absurd" Dickerson's proposal is, and the fact that "it caught us all by surprise." He also fills us in on a petition that he has filed for a new FEC rule that will be voted on next month regarding mandatory disclosure by campaigns when they use deepfake audio and video, created by Artificial Intelligence, to mislead voters.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as wildfires continue to explode in Canada; Broadcast media continues to ignore Donald Trump's billion-dollar quid pro quo proposal to Big Oil donors; and Joe Biden takes on China regarding the sale of electric vehicles and solar panels in the U.S...

[NOTE: The BradCast will be off at the beginning of next week due to a family funeral. We'll be back soon!]

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2024 6:38pm PT  

It has been the most important week in the New York criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, as the last witness for the prosecution, Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen took the stand. The court is off today, so we have time on today's BradCast to catch our breath for yet another Trump Trial "ketchup" show for you. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST, we've got a few noteworthy results from Tuesday's primary elections in Nebraska, Maryland and West Virginia, where, once again --- other than in WV --- Joe Biden outperformed Donald Trump among their respective party voters. Yes, the zombie campaign of Nikki Haley keeps on going. The former South Carolina Governor, who dropped out of the race months ago at this point, won 20% of the GOP vote in MD, while she and one other GOP candidate (that few have heard of) won about the same percentage among Republicans in Nebraska. In both states, Biden outpaced Trump among his own party's primary voters. FWIW.

On Wednesday, Biden threw down the gauntlet to challenge Trump to two early debates hosted by media outlets --- in a studio, without an audience --- rather than by the non-partisan Committee on Presidential Debates. The Biden-Harris Campaign explained their several reasons for pre-empting the CPD in a letter. They are mostly good ones. Among them, the fact that the group has failed to update its schedule for debates to hold them before tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots this year via early and absentee voting.

Trump quickly accepted the challenge, and within hours the pair had agreed to allow CNN host the first debate in Atlanta on June 27, and ABC to host the second on September 10.

THEN, it's on to today's coverage of noteworthy news from the 5th week of the first-ever criminal trial of a former American President. We're joined again today for insight and commentary by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning Salon columnist and Hullaballoo blogger, and former attorney and former Republican KEITH BARBER, who now blogs on legal matters as "KeithDB" at the progressive Daily Kos.

Among our many topics of discussion today...

  • Parton discusses the embarrassing parade of elected Republican deplorables now showing up at the courthouse in Manhattan --- mostly in red ties and navy suits --- to display their love for the boss, audition to become his Vice Presidential nominee, and/or say the things that the Court has barred Trump from saying via a gag order. Among the "toadies [who] came a-croaking," as Barber quips: Senators JD Vance (OH) and Tommy Tuberville (AL), Rep. Byron Donalds (FL), Gov. Doug Burgham (ND), Vivek Ramaswamy, and, perhaps most shamefully from the former "Rule of Law" party, House Speaker Mike Johnson (LA). "These people are playing to Donald Trump," explains Parton, along with the warning that many of them are "the Michael Cohens the future."
  • This week's critical testimony of Michael Cohen --- who Parton describes as a "diminished, humiliated man sitting on the witness stand having to admit, over and over again, that he was a liar, a fool, a dupe, he got sent to jail, all in service to Donald Trump" --- and the "smoking gun" bank statement featuring proof of Cohen's $130,000 hush-money payment to porn storm Stormy Daniels. That document, we have now learned, also features Cohen's own hand-writing and that of former (now jailed for perjury) Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. Their marginalia details how the falsified reimbursements to Cohen, fraudulently described in the Trump Org's books as "legal retainer" fees, would be made in $35,000 monthly payments by Trump during his first year in the White House. But, as importantly, Cohen testified that Trump personally approved the fraudulent reimbursement scheme during a meeting at Trump Tower with both Cohen and Weisselberg present after Trump's hush-money scheme helped him to win the 2016 election.
  • Barber describes what he saw as a surprisingly limp start to cross-examination of Cohen by Trump's lead attorney, Todd Blanche, on Tuesday and how, frankly, Team Trump doesn't seem to have much to work with after the Prosecution spent much of their direct examination "inoculating the jury" to Cohen's many years of lying on behalf of Trump before he came clean and pleaded guilty to many of the crimes Trump is now being held to account for. Trump's attorneys have presented no alternative theory in the case, says Barber. Which also means they are unlikely to offer much, if any, defense case at all after the Prosecution rests. On Tuesday, they informed the judge that Cohen will be their final witness. Team Trump, meanwhile, is still pretending that Trump might actually testify. (He won't.)

Cohen's cross-examination of continues and likely completes on Thursday, and then the court will be off on Friday to allow Trump to go to his son Baron's high-school graduation (if the disgraced former President actually bothers to show up for it.) But it's been a fascinating and critical week of testimony so far, including Cohen's explanation of how he spent years "knee-deep in the cult of Donald Trump".

"Cult of Donald Trump"? What "cult of Donald Trump"?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2024 6:34pm PT  

We're covering 2024 election news in at least four different states on today's BradCast --- track conditions, not horse race --- and only one of those stories is particularly good news as GOP dirty tricks and voter suppression seem to be getting an early start this year. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our main stories today...

  • Voters in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia headed to primary polls on Tuesday, with critical U.S. Senate and other races on the ballot. Noteworthy results and/or problem reports on tomorrow's program.
  • We first began reporting on this story early last month, when it seemed utterly ridiculous to even contemplate. It still does, frankly. Nonetheless, Ohio's wildly dysfunctional, partisan-gerrymandered Republican state legislature missed last week's deadline for a legislative fix to allow Joe Biden on the Buckeye State ballot this year. Ohio has a state law that requires Presidential candidates be officially certified by their party 90 days before the general election to be included on the state ballot. But the Dems' convention this year is just 74 days before the election. In past years --- for example, for Donald Trump in 2020 --- lawmakers simply changed the deadline to cure the problem as needed when conventions are held later in the Summer. This year, however, petulant state Republicans are demanding a pound of flesh from Democrats to make any such changes. And now, with last week's deadline past, its going to be even more difficult to do so. Tune in for the full --- and still ridiculous --- skinny.
  • Speaking of ridiculous, a rightwing activist in the state of Washington placed two Democratic candidates for Governor named Bob Ferguson on the ballot last Friday, just hours before the state's August 6th primary deadline. The state's longtime Democratic Attorney General, and front-runner to win the Governorship this year, is also named Bob Ferguson. And so the GOP's dirty tricks chaos for 2024 officially begins.
  • If they can't keep Democratic candidates off the ballot for no good reason, or add several candidates with the same name to the ballot to wreak confusion, Republicans still remember how to do it with good old fashioned voter suppression laws, like the newest one signed last week by Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats are still in court fighting back Republican voter suppression from years ago. On Monday, the newly liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral argument to reverse a ridiculous ruling by the high court's previous rightwing majority that bans the use of secure absentee ballot drop-boxes. That, even as they've been used for years without incident or fraud in the Badger State (or anywhere else, for that matter.) The hearing was encouraging, as even the defendants --- the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission --- agree there is nothing in state law that actually bans their use. "The Commission fully agrees that drop boxes are permitted under Wisconsin statutes," said the Asst. AG representing them at the hearing. But it sure was amusing to hear Republicans argue in favor of stare decisis (respect for legal precedent and settled law) to keep the 2022 ruling in place from the rightwing partisan court just two years ago. Especially when one of the court's liberal justices at the hearing cited none other than U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito's majority opinion in Dobbs that overturned 50 years of Roe v. Wade legal precedent. Using Alito's precise language from the SCOTUS ruling, the WI Justice asked what Republican plaintiffs thought the court should do if they found the previous ruling to be "egregiously wrong".
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as wildfire season explodes in Canada; the world records a record-breaking rise in CO2 levels; and Michigan moves to sue Big Oil for ever-worsening climate damages...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon appeal denied; Giuliani fired; Trial begins for Menendez; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal case...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2024 6:23pm PT  

We've got a whole lotta Trump accountability news (and some for one high-ranking Democrat as well) since we last spoke to you on The BradCast last week. We'll get you up to speed on all of that today, but not before getting caught up on a crazy recount situation out here in the Golden State which I hope does not serve as a precursor to election challenges this Fall. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The March 5th Super Tuesday primary elections here in California ended in an exact tie in the race to fill the Northern California U.S. House seat being vacated by long-serving, now-retiring Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo in the state's 16th Congressional District.

The exact tie --- with 30,249 votes for each candidate --- was not for first place, but for second place. Since 2010, California has used a Top-Two primary system where all candidates in a race, from any and all parties, run in the same primary. The top two vote getters --- regardless of party --- then move on to the general election in November.

In the CA-16 race, with 11 candidates running in March, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo won with a fairly comfortable 5 point margin. In second place, however, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and state Assemblymember Evan Low were tied according to the certified results in early April.

Under CA law, that meant all three --- all Democrats in the very left-leaning Bay Area district --- would advance to the general, for the first time in CA's Top-Two primary history. That left all three men seemingly happy enough. Liccardo, in first place, would have his competition split between two competitors and Simitian and Low would each go to the general election. Neither dared asked for a recount, because a single change of even one vote would knock one of the second-place finishers out.

CA law doesn't allow for an automatic, state-funded recount in such closes races (as dozens of other states do). But it does allow any voter to request a recount in any race they like, so long as they are willing to pay for it. If the final recounted results cause a change to the certified results of the election, the requester is supposed to be refunded. At least, in theory.

A guy by the name of Jonathan Padilla sought a recount in the race. He filed on behalf of Low, because you have to file on behalf of one of the candidates, even though Low says he had nothing to do with the request. Padilla, it seems, had worked for first-place finisher Liccardo during his 2014 run for Mayor in San Jose, though not lately. And while Liccardo says he knows nothing about Padilla's effort here, and nobody seems to know who actually funded the recount, it was carried out over several weeks recently in both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, which the 16th CD splits across.

Padilla was initially told that the recount would cost about $320,000 in Santa Clara alone. It would cost another $84,000 to recount in San Mateo, astronomically high numbers in a state which still allows County Registrars to charge pretty much anything they like. Those charges vary wildly from county to county (as we have detailed multiple times over the years) and all votes cast in a race must be re-tallied in order for results to be official recertified.

The costs to Padilla were then largely cut in half once he agreed to a recount by the same computer scanners that tallied the ballots in the initial count, rather than by a manual hand-count wherein results can be known to be accurate.

In any event, please tune in to find out who won the recount (by just 5 votes total!) and why it is that the CA Sec. of State now says Padilla is not due a refund after all, even though the results of the recount changed the results of the election to send just two candidates, instead of three, to this year's general.

We're joined today by DR. JOHN MAA, a San Francisco-based surgeon who was the first voter ever in California to seek and fund a statewide recount of a ballot initiative way back in 2010. He has become a bit of an expert in CA recounts since then, and advised both Low and Simitian during the recent 16th District recount.

Maa explains a number of vulnerabilities in CA's antiquated recount laws that were once again exposed by this latest recount, from seemingly arbitrary costs to requesters in each CA county (making recounts unaffordable to all but the weathiest of voters or candidates), to the concerns about retallying votes by the same computer scanners that tallied them in the first place, to the absurd ruling by the SoS that Padilla should not be refunded for the entire thing.

"Ultimately, I believe that the requester is a hero for Election Integrity," Maa tells me about Padilla. "And they bore the cost of what I believe that the Registrar's office should have done, because their certification of a tie was actually in error."

Tune in for much more.

THEN, in the second half of today's program, we get caught up on a whole bunch of legal woes for Donald Trump and several of his top supporters, as well as accountability for New Jersey's sitting Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who is accused, along with his wife, of bribery and corruption to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. His criminal trial began jury selection in Manhattan today.

As to the Trumpers, 2016 Campaign Manager and top Trump White House Advisor Steve Bannon's appeal was rejected late last week in the two Contempt of Congress charges he was found guilty of, resulting in a four-month sentence for defying subpoenas from the Congressional Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th insurrection. Bannon has a few more appeal options left before he, like White House trade advisor Pete Navarro (already serving four months for the same crime) is sent off to a federal penal facility.

Trump's disgraced 2020 attorney and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani --- who is also facing criminal charges in Arizona and Georgia, a bunch of civil lawsuits and has already been found liable for $148 million for repeatedly defaming two Atlanta poll workers in 2020 --- was fired from his daily radio show gig at WABC in New York. Apparently, the billionaire Republican owner of the station let him go because Rudy refused to stop lying about the results of the 2020 election on air. Sad!

And, also in New York on Monday, Trump's former personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen finally took the stand to offer pivotal testimony in the disgraced former President's first criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to the falsification of business records meant to hide his White House repayments to Cohen for hush-money given to porn star Stormy Daniels to help him win the 2016 election.

Oh, and a few callers ring in today as well, in another very busy BradCast to kick off the week!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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