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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 23, 2019
The Desperate Panic to Defend the President: 'BradCast' 10/23/19
Trump claims immunity even for murder; WH attacks Taylor; RWers 'storm' Impeachment hearing; Facts undercut quid pro quo excuses; Also: Exxon scientists undercut oil giant...
But Her Emails?:
'BradCast' 10/22/19
Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Trump likens impeachment to 'lynching'; Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine destroys Admin claim about withheld military aid...
'Green News Report' 10/22/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump's Energy Sec. announces resignation; AZ county faces 100 year water deficit; Exxon Mobil on trial for climate fraud; PLUS: Canada climate strike packs punch on election eve...
Previous GNRs: 10/17/19 - 10/15/19 - Archives...
'Lipstick on a Pig...The Pig Being the Ballot Marking Devices': 'BradCast' 10/21/19
Guest: Jennifer Cohn; Also: Judge blocks FL attempt to disenfranchise felons; MO's largest county moves to hand-marked paper ballots!...
Sunday 'Quid Pro Uh Oh' Toons
Check out the bewitching toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection!...
Lev And Igor Are Just the Tip of a Dark Money Iceberg: 'BradCast' 10/18/19
Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Republican worms turning on impeachment after Mulvaney 'confession'?...
Syria 'Disaster', Trump 'Meltdown', a Fallen Giant: 'BradCast' 10/17/19
U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi says 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
'Green News Report' 10/17/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
CNN/NYT ignore climate in OH debate; Protesters shut down parts of London; CA to block Trump fossil fuel plans; PLUS: Another fossil fuel explosion in earthquake country...
Previous GNRs: 10/15/19 - 9/12/19 - Archives...
Special Coverage: 2020 Dem Presidential Debate in Ohio: 'BradCast' 10/16/19
Guests: Jodi Jacobson of Rewire.News; Richard 'RJ' Eskow of The Zero Hour...
Impeachment, Syria and Trump's 'Russia First' Policy: 'BradCast' 10/15/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges blocked in OH; Return of 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 10/15/19
We're back! But, while we were out, some big developments in climate science, climate strikes, extreme weather impacts, public lands policy and pollution...
We're Back! With a Few Lessons from Dad:
'BradCast' 10/14/19
And from guest (not guest host, for the first time in over a month) Nicole Sandler!...
Sunday 'Great and Unmatched Wisdom' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly toons, like the rest of us, are not in Kansas anymore...
Kiss This Thing Goodbye:
'BradCast' 10/11/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with former CIA office Jack Rice and the News...
With Friends Like These:
'BradCast' 10/10/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Denis Campbell on the UK and Thom Hartmann on the history of SCOTUS...
Broken News:
'BradCast' 10/9/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with the Latest News and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler on M4A...
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...


Also: Cybersecurity firm was able to take over GA's 'entire' voter registration network; Lots of bad news for Trump and GOP in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2019 6:24pm PT  

Lots of bad news on today's BradCast for Trump and the Republican's in Congress as they head home for their long summer recess. And several astonishing followups to major voting-related stories we broke earlier in the week out of North Carolina and Georgia. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, several big stories out of Congress today, none of them good for the President or Republicans...

  • The GOP's only black U.S. House member, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, says he won't run again in 2020. The stunning announcement Thursday night represents a huge pickup opportunity for Dems in a state slowing turning "blue", and just the latest in a quickly growing string of GOPers calling it quits in the House;
  • On Friday, Donald Trump abruptly pulled his 5-day old nomination of TX Rep. John Ratcliffe to become the nation's next spy chief. Ratcliffe, after attacking former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during hearings in the House last week, was tapped by the President to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who publicly contradicted Trump on Russian interference in U.S. elections, Iran compliance with the landmark nuclear pact that Trump violated and pulled out of, and on the national security threat of climate change, among other things. Ratcliffe, however, was revealed to have had no previous intelligence experience, as required by statute for the DNI role overseeing the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, and was found to have lied about past claims to have prosecuted terrorists;
  • And, in more bad news for Trump on Friday, a majority of House Democrats have now publicly called for an official impeachment inquiry of the President. CA Rep. Salud Carbajal became the 118th out of 235 House Dems to publicly call for an inquiry to begin. With the majority of her caucus now supporting impeachment proceedings, it remains to be seen if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will finally modify her current position to allow Dems only to "legislate, investigate and litigate". House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler recently filed a court motion seeking grand jury information from the Mueller investigation which, for the first time, referenced a need for the documents due to Congressional consideration of impeachment proceedings.

Then, several (occasionally amazing) follow-ups to stories we broke earlier in the week regarding the citizen-led fights for publicly overseeable elections and hand-marked paper ballots in two key swing states.

First, on Tuesday's program we detailed what appeared to be a "win", if a short-lived one, by election integrity advocates in North Carolina, after they'd convinced the state Board of Elections, in a 3 to 2 vote, to adopt a resolution effectively blocking the certification of a 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device made by ES&S, the nation's largest (and sleaziest) private voting vendor. That vote, if finalized next month, would likely result in hand-marked paper ballots across the entire state in next year's crucial Presidential election. The powerful ES&S is currently the only voting system vendor certified to do business in the closely divided battle ground state.

But, in reporting that story on Tuesday, we also broke the news that one of the three "yes" votes on the resolution blocking ES&S, Republican David Black, had changed his mind, leading to a new meeting --- and a revote on the resolution --- called for Thursday. Black's reversal would mean a 3 to 2 vote in FAVOR of ES&S' new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems for counties currently serving some 2.5 million voters whose current, older 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are set to be certified, by state law, at year's end.

But, a funny thing happened before the Thursday revote, after the state Board's Chairman, Democrat Robert Cordle --- who had voted against the resolution on Monday --- told a wildly inappropriate joke to open a state conference of some 600 election officials. He was subsequently forced to resign by the Governor, resulting in Thursday's re-vote becoming a 2 to 2 deadlock, leaving the initial vote, which could lead to hand-marked paper ballots for all NC voters, in place.

There will be yet another vote --- the formal vote on the resolution --- on August 23rd, when whoever Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper names as the new Chair to the beleaguered 5-person Board, will be able to cast the decisive vote to determine if the key swing state will have verifiable elections in 2020 or not. And, yes, we share the "dirty joke" in question, about a woman and a cow, on today's program;

Then, we also have a follow-up to a story we broke on Monday's BradCast, regarding the federal lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before the 2020 Presidential election. On Monday, plaintiff Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, joined us on the show to describe a revelation from a court hearing latest last week in which a witness from Georgia's Sec. of State's office revealed that all voting machines across the state in 2018 were programmed, without oversight, by three independent contractors working for ES&S out of their garages, using unsecured home WiFi.

Last night, the UK's Guardian picked up the story about the state's fully-outsourced elections, confirming our reporting from earlier in the week and adding a number of additional disturbing details. Among those new details: Georgia's entire voter registration system was similarly outsourced to a private company which even contractually disallowed the Sec. of State's office from having access to the network. More alarmingly, however, as the Guardian's Jordan Wilkie reports, during security penetration tests, a third-party (fourth-party?) cybersecurity company contracted by the state, found that it was able to "take over the entire network". Moreover, in November of 2018, a year later, in a second round of testing just before last year's midterms, many of the vulnerabilities discovered during the initial test remained unresolved.

Until last week's hearing, when much of this information was revealed on the stand for the first time during questioning of the Sec. of State's chief information officer, the state had completely misled the federal court about all of the above and more.

Finally today, some very grim news out of the Arctic, where Greenland, over the past week, has gone through an extraordinary melt event, with record high temperatures --- 10 to 30 degrees above the normal average --- resulting in the loss of some 10 billion tons of ice over the past day or two, with nearly 200 billion tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean during the month of July. How's that for a cheery way to end the week? You're welcome!

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

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Guests: David Dayen and Jacki Schechner on surprises from Wed. night, clarity on real 'costs' of Medicare-for-All, thoughts on Yang's plan for $1000/month Universal Basic Income, and Harris' record as CA AG...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2019 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage --- and a lot of smart information --- on Night Two of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate in Detroit, as hosted by CNN. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The ten candidates featured during the second night's combative, two-and-a-half-hour long festivities were: former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Former HUD Sec. Julian Castro; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; WA state Gov. Jay Inslee; CO Sen. Michael Bennet and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

As during night one, the broad array of topics about which CNN's moderators worked hard to create confrontation between the candidates included healthcare (again leading the debate at the top and in the length of time spent on the issue), immigration, race, the climate crisis, the economy, foreign policy and, unlike the first night, even a question or two on how the candidates might take on Donald Trump and whether he should be held accountability for his crimes with impeachment.

Biden, the perceived front-runner, seemed at least slightly more prepared and less frail than in his first outing during the June debate in Miami, while finding his policies as a Senator over the last many decades and as President Obama's Veep sharply attacked by a number of the other participants. For her part, Harris --- who seemed to get the best of Biden in a number of exchanges during the June forum, seeing her fortunes rise thereafter --- was met with tough attacks from both Biden and several of the other candidates hoping to grab the spotlight. Booker stood out in a number of exchanges, including several with the former Vice President. Other candidates had their moments as well, as we discuss, even as the field for the next debates in September may now be cut by half or more.

We're joined today, once again, by two guests for our special coverage. Journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER is back with us again today, and we're also joined by prolific investigative financial journalist and award-winning author DAVID DAYEN, who now also serves as Executive Editor for The American Prospect.

Their smart analysis and insight today focuses on, among other things...

  • Whether CNN improved on its questioning and format for night two after facing sharp criticism for their opening round on Tuesday (Schechner saw moderate improvement, Dayen saw none);
  • which candidates, if any, stood out over their past performances (Booker and Inslee receive the most noteworthy nods on that score);
  • whether or not proposals by a number of the more progressive candidates for a Medicare-for-All style single-payer universal coverage system is actually affordable, or if the more modest proposals to build on the existing Affordable Care Act with a so-called "Public Option", as sought by the more conservative candidates like Biden, is actually more realistic. (Dayen describing the "entire conversation about costs" as "a complete red herring", offers a more concise, clear answer to that question than any of the 20 candidates over the past two nights! In short, he explains: "A Medicare For All system would save money. We know that because the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, which put together the very study that Joe Biden and these others are quoting, said that a system where the government would cover all medical costs would actually cost $32 trillion dollars over a ten-year period, but doing nothing right now would cost Americans, through their total national health expenditures, $34 trillion. So the overall savings to America from moving into a single payer system is two trillion dollars over ten years.");
  • how Democrats seem to be pulling their punches when it comes to one of the largest cost drivers of healthcare;
  • whether debates over these weedy details are helpful or even necessary right now, or if they should take a back seat for the moment to the question of who can best defeat Donald Trump in 2020. (The conversation now simply "muddies the waters" and is "totally unecessary," Shechner argues. "We need to bring this up to a higher level at this point, and say, 'You're going to have a choice in the election between somebody who wants to do something about the broken healthcare system and somebody who doesn't care about the broken healthcare system, has no plan for it, has no interest in fixing it, and is simply interested in dismantling anything that President Obama put into place.")
  • how Yang's interesting proposal for a $1000/month Universal Basic Income for every American would (or wouldn't) actually work;
  • and a number of concerns about Harris' record as CA's Attorney General before she became a U.S. Senator. That as she cited her record as a prosecutor taking on the Big Banks during her closing statement on Wednesday night.

All of that and much more is covered during our lively --- and, I believe, quite enlightening --- conversation on today's BradCast special coverage...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guests: Jacki Schechner and David Faris on CNN's misfires, the party's divides, the candidates' substantive policies and the necessity of fearlessness in winning and taking down Donald Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2019 4:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage of Night One of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate. This one was broadcast from the Fox Theater in Detroit and hosted by CNN. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Featured on the first night's debate stage were VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; MN Senator Amy Klobuchar; former MD Rep. John Delaney; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former CO Gov. John Hickenlooper; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MT Gov. Steve Bullock (in his first Dem Debate appearance) and author/spiritual guru Marianne Williamson.

The lively and often substantive debate was, nonetheless, frequently truncated by CNN moderators, who seemed to work hard to force confrontation between the candidates, while framing many of the evening's debate topics as if they were Republican talking points and otherwise trying to highlight the divide between the progressive and conservative wings of the party. Among the many issues raised during the two and a half hour debate on Tuesday night were healthcare (a nearly 25 minute discussion, highlighting the party's many different and often controversial approaches to achieving universal coverage, from 'Medicare-for-All' to the Public Option, and their effects on private insurance), immigration, gun safety legislation (and the corporate forces that prevent it and many of the other issues discussed), the climate crisis, issues regarding race, the economy, the cost of college and student loans, foreign policy and nuclear weapons, and --- one of many Rightwing memes that CNN seemed to be pushing throughout the evening: whether the Democratic Party has moved too far to the Left.

We're joined today for discussion on as many of the above matters as we can fit in --- as well as some thoughts on what was not covered --- by journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER and Roosevelt University political scientist and contributor at The Week, DAVID FARIS, author of the recently published book, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics.

Each offer smart analysis and insight on the substantive policy issues raised last night, as well as both the political and media aspects of night one of the latest two night Democratic debate, some six months before voting is set to begin next February at the Iowa Caucuses...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Public pressure in NC almost results in statewide hand-marked paper ballots --- almost; WI's Scott Walker files suit to undermine MI democracy; And many others reasons to fight for your democracy right NOW...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2019 4:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The hack of over 100 million personal financial records of those who applied for credit cards at Capital One, one of the nation's largest financial institutions, underscores yet again how insane it is that we are relying on proprietary, un-overseeable computer systems "overseen" by Mr. and Ms. County Clerk to safeguard free and fair elections with results that can be known by the public to be accurate. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The Capital One hack did not take a nation-state like, say, Russia, to accomplish. It was allegedly pulled off by one woman hacker who lives with cats in an apartment in Seattle. But if Capital One can't protect its data --- even from a lone hacker in Seattle --- what chance do you really think your local county clerk or even state election official has in protecting the votes of millions of voters? Should you be concerned about those three guys who, according to testimony last week in federal court from a Georgia Sec. of State's official --- as discussed on our show yesterday --- program every voting machine in the state, without oversight, from their garage?

Georgia, of course, is not the only swing state right now considering the purchase of millions of dollars of new, if 100% unverifiable, computer voting systems for use in the crucial 2020 Presidential election. The closely divided North Carolina is doing the same. Thanks to public pressure from a lot of folks on the ground in NC, however, the State Board of Elections appeared, as of Monday night, to be on the verge of a resolution that would effectively mandate hand-marked paper ballot systems across the state.

That decision however, as we report today --- with some new details from those carrying out the fight locally in the state --- may now be on very shaky ground after possible pressure on State Board officials applied by ES&S, the nation's largest voting vendor and, currently, the only vendor certified to do business in the Tar Heel State. A new meeting is now scheduled for Thursday to consider rescinding the motion passed by the Board on Monday night.

The fight for free, fair and publicly overseeable elections in North Carolina, Georgia and many other states and counties around the country is taking place right now. As in previous years, waiting until after the election will be, once again, too late to do anything about whatever may happen. We try to give you the information you need every day here to fight for your publicly overseeable democracy. What you do with that information, however, in your own locality, is up to you. And you are really needed right now.

Meanwhile, after Florida Republicans recently undermined a landmark state Constitutional Amendment adopted in a landslide by voters last November to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons, a similarly popular state Constitutional Amendment adopted in 2018 by Michigan voters is also now under fire by Republicans. Amendment 2, adopted by 61% of statewide voters last November, creates an independent redistricting commission to draw fair state legislative and U.S. House maps after the 2020 Census. The effort came in response to the state's wildly gerrymandered 2011 maps which have kept Republicans in the majorities in the state legislature and U.S. House delegations, despite receiving fewer votes than Democrats statewide. Though federal courts found MI's maps to be unconstitutional, an opinion by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court killed that ruling in June, with Chief Justice John Roberts declaring federal courts may have no say in partisan gerrymandering cases, while citing, among other things, the citizen-led effort to create an independent redistricting commission last November in Michigan as an alternate solution to unfair partisan maps.

But, on Tuesday, a Republican group led by Wisconsin's former Gov. Scott Walker --- who approved similarly gerrymandered maps in that state before eventually being voted out of office last November --- filed suit in federal court to kill Michigan's Prop 2. The group claims the Amendment violates the Free Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. We explain and discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news for California in its fight against Donald Trump over new vehicle mileage and emissions standards; cable networks announce 2020 Democratic climate change forums; and professional Republican climate change denier and pollster Frank Luntz announces he has a change of heart...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Gilroy, CA festival shooting tied to white supremacy, Trump's stochastic terrorism...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2019 6:07pm PT  

We've got several pieces of important news, on today's BradCast, regarding the long federal court challenge against Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, the new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems they plan to move to before the 2020 elections, and a hope from one of the plaintiffs that the case could result in all such systems --- now being adopted by states and counties across the nation before 2020 --- being declared unconstitutional for use in American elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, a few words about stochastic terrorism from the President of the United States (also see this chilling editorial cartoon from our collection this week), as his appalling attacks on minority Democratic members of Congress continued with a new target over the weekend, and as another mass shooting --- this time at a food festival in Gilroy, CA on Sunday night --- is once again tied to white supremacy.

Then, we're joined by MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance for some of the at-times jaw-dropping news from a marathon hearing in federal court last Thursday and Friday in Atlanta. Marks' Coalition is a plaintiff in the case hoping to sideline Georgia's nearly 20-year old Diebold touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before this fall's municipal elections and beyond, including the 2020 Presidential primary and general elections.

Marks shares a number of remarkable updates in the case we've been following since she filed it back in 2017. The updates include new details on the state actually destroying evidence --- including computer servers, databases and voting system memory cards --- needed in the case, and lies told to the court by the defendants about security issues related to the voting system. The misleading statements came from the office of Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger and the state's former GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. Kemp is now Governor of the state, after he is said to have narrowly defeated popular Democrat Stacey Abrams last November on the very same unverifiable computer voting systems overseen at the time by then SoS Kemp.

Marks details the extraordinary security measures plaintiffs were forced to undergo in order to have their experts even partially examine the ballot database used by Georgia which, the state had claimed, included customized, "super-secret" security measures built in to the system that made it completely different from identical --- and completely hackable --- Diebold touchscreen systems used elsewhere in the country. As it turns out, after spending thousands of dollars to create secure "clean rooms" at Georgia's insistence to allow plaintiffs' experts to examine the databases in two different locations (Michigan and Washington, D.C.) those experts found there was, in fact, no special customized "super-secret" security measures. The database structures are identical to those found available for download on the Internet --- from many different states --- going back as early as 2002, when Georgia first adopted their current, easily-manipulated voting systems.

"Let's be clear that we've still not had a chance to look at the system or the programming in the voting machines or the servers," she told me. "We were allowed to look at a database that is used to program the memory cards, just one tiny piece. There was a huge fight because the state lied to the judge, and lied to us, and said that this database was its 'crown jewel' of security, [that] nobody else using Diebold had this super-secret database."

"We found out that, just as we had told the court, their database is just like every other state's database, many of them published on the Internet as public records. They just found it so convenient to lie to the court in order to keep anyone from having easy access to see what a mess they're making," she says.

On the destruction of evidence, she tells me: "The Secretary of State destroyed their two primary servers --- the first one four days after we sued them, the next one a few hours after the case was assigned to Judge Totenberg. From there, we asked to start preserving memory cards, internal memories of the voting machines themselves, and they just completely defied every request. Even the judge told them to go to the FBI, where there was a partial copy of one of the servers, and be sure that thing did not disappear, be sure it was retained, and they even refused to do that."

She also details a revelation from one of the witnesses on the stand last week which elicited gasps in the courtroom after he admited that "100%" of Georgia's ballots are programmed by three independent contractors who do not work for the state and who prepare the ballots at home --- on potentially unprotected WiFi setups. That, despite the extraordinary --- and expensive --- measures plaintiffs were forced to enact in order just to have their experts view the state's "super-secret" election system database.

"It was shocking. We had just taken the deposition of the [state official] on the witness stand. He had told us it was his employees who do the programming of the machines. We subsequently got a written contract that told us the opposite. So we asked him on the witness stand, 'Who is it that is programming ballots?' He told us about these three people who are out of their homes or garages with no real security. They are ones that have these databases, who are programming every single machine in the state, with no oversight, no public ability to check what's going on, and with such an insecure home system, that of course it's open to the bad guys."

"These are exactly the same databases that they were making us sign these enormous confidentiality agreements, set up safe rooms, have couriers fly and hand these CDs off in person because they were so super-secret, and it turns out they were three people working in their garages...The 2018 elections were 100% outsourced to three people operating in a garage."

Marks also explains that she is hopeful this suit may result in unverifiable computer Ballot Marking Devices --- like the systems Georgia hopes to move to next year, and the ones currently being installed in states and counties around the country in advance of 2020 --- being found unconstitutional at the federal level.

"We're going to do more than just 'raise awareness' on Ballot Marking Devices. This lawsuit will be the first lawsuit to challenge Ballot Marking Devices and to put them out of their misery. We are definitely going to work to see that Ballot-Marking Devices are declared unconstitutional."

Finally, Marks offers her reaction to news of Georgia's announcement today (filled with misleading nonsense [PDF]) that they plan to award a $90 million contract to the Canadian firm Dominion Voting to replace all of the state's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems with new, 100% unverifiable Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) made by Dominion in time for next year's Presidential primaries in a battle-ground which could swing the 2020 election...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on the former Special Counsel's testimony and what's next; Also: Everyone giving everyone else the finger...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2019 5:10pm PT  

Both Democrats and Republicans alike --- on Capitol Hill and in the media --- are trying to make sense of Wednesday's landmark testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and where things go from here. We do a bit of the same ourselves on today's BradCast. Though I hope we are a great deal more honest about it than Donald Trump and Fox "News", and less confusing than Fox' Ainsley Earhardt who announced this morning that Mueller's testimony "didn't change anything", before going on to tell viewers that "it changed everything". [Audio link to show our full program is posted below.]

For full coverage and extended excerpts from Mueller's nearly seven hours of hearings before the U.S. House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, see yesterday's special coverage show. For analysis and the fallout since the Republican former FBI Director confirmed the multiple and repeated felonious and impeachable crimes by the President of the United States detailed in his 448-page report [PDF], we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo today. As usual, we attempt to cut through the media drama and partisan positioning to get to the actual facts and important content that matters.

Among the issues discussed with Parton....

  • The fact that only Republicans are ever allowed to be Special Counsel/Prosecutors, no matter whether the President being investigated is a Democrat or a Republican;
  • Content of note from Wednesday's hearings that was both damning to Donald Trump and at risk of being lost amid frequently lousy corporate media coverage (and, wholly dishonest coverage from rightwing outlets);
  • The proper context for making "sense" of some of the conspiracies offered on Wednesday by Republicans, even as Trump's AG/fixer Bill Barr and other GOPers may have done harm lately to the prospects of their own conspiracy-based argument about the origins of what would eventually become the Mueller investigation;
  • How House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still dropping the ball on impeachment in Congress, at least for now, and setting the country up for even more Presidential corruption in both the near and distant future in the bargain;
  • And, where all of this madness may and/or should go next.

"It seems obvious to me that we have a criminal in the White House. And an abuser, a corrupt leader, and a barbarian and an ignoramus," Parton explains, cutting to the chase. "He's an unfit President and he should be impeached. To me, this is obvious."

But, she goes on, in struggling to make sense of why impeachment proceedings have not already been triggered, "One of the reasons that the dial is not being moved is the way that the press is covering this. There was a lot of criticism, during and after the testimony, about the fact that they covered it like a sporting event. 'He didn't put on the best show', etc. etc. The theater criticism. This is a big problem because this is a complicated story. People are seeing it as a game, as this is a strategy, instead of what it really is --- which is a fundamental threat to our democracy.

"If Donald Trump gets away with this, if he gets off scot-free --- re-elected or not --- if he gets away with doing these things while in office, it has changed everything. The President is no longer accountable. If Donald Trump cannot be impeached, then nobody can be impeached. Impeachment no longer exists as a stop on a President like this. And that's very scary," warns Parton.

Also on today's BradCast: "Unprecedented" heat and wildfires in the Arctic; Ohio's "socialist" Republicans give the planet and Ohio residents the finger by going all in on Big Government bailouts of coal and nuclear power companies; U.S. automakers give Trump the finger by working out a secret deal with California to lower vehicle emissions; The Trump Administration gives humanity the finger by deciding to "Make America Kill Americans Again"; A federal judge in California gives the finger to the Administration's new, unlawful southern border asylum ban; And Kim Jong Un gives his friend Donald the finger by firing off a few ballistic missiles to celebrate Mueller's testimony.

And, finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report on some of the above, and much much more...

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In nearly seven hours of long-awaited, halting responses from the former Special Counsel, the need for impeachment became clearer than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2019 5:39pm PT  

As documented by today's BradCast special coverage, former FBI Director Robert Mueller finally offered his long-awaited testimony in the U.S. House during nearly 7 hours of hearings before both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The Republican former Special Counsel confirmed key details of his two-volume, 448-page report [PDF] on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with that effort and, in most detail, multiple instances of both indictable and impeachable criminal corruption of justice laid out by the report. In frequently halting and often terse responses to members of the two House panels, Mueller, as promised, refused to stray from the "four corners" of his report, issued earlier this year following his two-year probe.

Nonetheless, as heard on today's program, his responses made clear that both Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr --- not to mention the bulk of the Republican Party and their rightwing media outlets --- have been completely misleading the American public with their claims that Mueller's report somehow "exonerated" the President. It did anything but.

"Did you actually totally exonerate the President?" Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler asked during his opening round of questions. "No," Mueller flatly replied, later adding that "the President was not exculpated for the acts that he alleged committed." When Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intel Committee, asked, "Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?," Mueller dryly responded: "It is not a witch hunt."

In fact, as Mueller's testimony made clear to those who watched --- especially to those who didn't bother to read his actual report --- any other American who committed the crimes detailed in the Special Counsel's report would have been indicted on multiple felony counts, as more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now stated. But for the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Counsel's (unsupportable) opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, Trump would most likely have been charged long ago for his repeated, unlawful attempts to quash the Special Counsel's investigation.

Moreover, near the close of today's long hearings, Mueller offered a chilling warning about what he describes as still-ongoing efforts by Russia and other foreign powers, "as we sit here", to interfere with and manipulate upcoming U.S. elections.

We hold most of the commentary and analysis on all of this for another day in order to bring you extended excerpts on today's program from the detailed questions and answers with members of Congress from both parties and in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. If you weren't able to catch seven hours of hearings beginning at 8:30am ET on a work day, we'll get you fairly well caught up on the key through-line and the most noteworthy stuff in just under an hour. You're welcome!

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President's comments wreak havoc in India, stun Afghanistan; Brexit Boris to be new UK PM; Trump budget agreement balloons his record deficit spending; GOPers killing thousands by undermining ACA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2019 6:26pm PT  

Donald Trump is, apparently, not content with just breaking America. Now he seems desperate to break the entire world. Also, back home, the lie of Republican "conservatism" is revealed, yet again, to be little more than a marketing gimmick for the party. Unfortunately, it also turns out to be deadly.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show posted below]...

  • An apparent lie Donald Trump told on Monday about India's Prime Minister asking for his help to mediate the years-long Pakistan/India dispute over the Kashmir region, resulted in chaos and outrage in the Indian Parliament on Tuesday;
  • At the same White House press avail with Pakistan's Prime Minister on Monday, Donald Trump also boasted how he "has plans" that, if he wanted to, "Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth" in "literally ten days". Benevolently, however, he added that he just doesn't "want to kill ten million people". The remarks do not appear to be going over well in Afghanistan;
  • With Trump's great foreign policy successes, the Conservative Party in the UK has selected the Trumpiest character they could find to be their next Prime Minister after three years of failed Brexit efforts. Boris Johnson will now replace the outgoing Theresa May in that post and, after being a key supporter of Brexit, Johnson vows he will pull the UK out of the European Union, "do or die", by October 31st. That, even if it means leaving without an agreement with the EU, no matter how much havoc would almost certainly ensue thereafter;
  • Back at home, Trump's Swamp gets swampier still as Mark Esper, the longtime lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be our new Defense Secretary. There may be an upside, however, but if so, he probably won't last long;
  • GOP "conservatism" was revealed, yet again, for the joke that it has long been, as the Trump Administration and Congressional Democrats agreed on Monday night to a two-year budget accord that will increase spending by some $320 billion and avoid further debt-ceiling battles until 2021, the first year of the next Presidential Administration. With that agreement --- presuming Fox and friends don't convince Trump to reverse himself again --- record debt and deficit will continue to balloon under this Republican President, as it has during his first several years in office. Once again, putting the lie to the notion that Republicans are actually concerned about debt, deficit or federal spending, at least when a Republican is in the White House. Between the unpaid-for Trump/GOP tax cuts for the wealthy of $1.5 trillion, and year-over-year increases in federal spending since Trump's been in office, the annual deficit has now ballooned to nearly $1 trillion a year with the national debt reaching $22 trillion. That, after decreased deficits, year after year, during the last four years of the Obama Administration. No doubt, Republicans will pretend to be "conservatives" again just as soon as there is a Democrat in the White House once more. And they'll have a new fight over the debt ceiling to do it with, presuming Trump is out by 2021. That's the "conservative" scam, and it's shameful that the media --- and even Democrats --- continue to fall for it by calling them "conservatives". They are nothing of the kind;
  • Their pretend "conservatism", however --- whenever it is convenient to hide behind the label --- is also deadly. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that, thanks to the GOP-controlled states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), approximately 15,600 deaths have occurred that otherwise would not have. Many of those states are also part of the group suing to kill the ACA entirely, a case heard last week by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If they are successful in striking down Obamacare in its entirety as unconstitutional, it means that some 24,000 Americans per year could die that otherwise would have lived. That's how GOP "conservatism" works. (Never mind that whole "provide for the general welfare" nonsense in the Constitution that they pretend to revere when occasionally convenient for them);
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which the latest climate change-fueled record heat wave reveals the vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure, the Trump EPA refuses to ban a toxic pesticide (made by a top Trump donor) which causes brain damage in children, the Trump 2020 campaign trolls the libs with recyclable and reusable straws (seriously) and Berkeley, CA becomes the first city in the nation to ban natural gas in new home construction...

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Callers ring in on the upcoming testimony of the former Special Counsel; Also: Are they nuts? More on the insane move to 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting in Philly and L.A. for 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2019 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners on a number of things, most notably to hear what listeners expect from this week's upcoming, long-awaited U.S. House testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding his 448-page report on Russia's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election and the ten or more instances of criminal obstruction of justice by President Trump detailed within. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Mueller's testimony during hearings on Wednesday --- three hours in the House Judiciary Committee and two hours before the House Intelligence Committee --- will be the last chance for pro-impeachment Dems to swing the sentiments of both the nation and Democratic leadership toward opening an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump before Congress leaves for its long 6-week recess next week. Callers ring on on what they expect and hope (or don't) from the proceedings.

As you can imagine, Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- who, so far, has blocked an official impeachment inquiry by her caucus in the House despite Trump's multiple felonious High Crimes and misdemeanors and in defiance of 100 or so Democratic members on record calling for impeachment --- came up quite a few times today from callers, both negatively and, in at least one instance, positively.

Also on today's program, a quick recap from key points made during our important --- and, at times, gob-smacking --- interview on Friday's program with cybersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund on the dangerous new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems currently set for use in Philadelphia, in the key swingstate of Pennsylvania before next year's Presidential election, and how some of the new system's worst, most dangerous and unverifiable features are also found in the new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being brought into Los Angeles next year.

Thanks to citizen-led efforts like those by Skoglund and Citizens for Better Elections and the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is now reviewing its previous certification of the horrible and easily manipulated computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) currently set for use in Philly. That re-examination may ultimately lead to decertification of those systems.

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, The BradCast and BradBlog.com have been pretty much the only ones publicly yelling and screaming about the serious (and completely misunderstood-by-the-media --- see this ridiculous headline and article!) dangers of moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMDs in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We also discuss the fact that, in addition to being completely unverifiable and easily manipulated, the cost of BMDs systems is at least twice the price of hand-marked paper ballots systems. In fact, one caller rings in with information to tell me that the $200+ million price-tag I cited for the new systems in L.A. was actually a low-ball estimate, according to L.A.'s actual contract with private voting system vendor Smartmatic [PDF]. That contract, she notes, specifies the price for moving L.A. to these new systems will be closer to $300 million! That, in a county that could desperately use funds for things like housing tens of thousands currently living on the streets and long-overdue infrastructure improvements among many other things...

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Guest: Election tech and cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund; Also: Deadly heat wave continues; Who to believe in the US/Iran showdown?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some potentially good news for Philadelphia voters (and, thus, voters across the entire country), after a citizen led effort has resulted in the state of Pennsylvania re-examining its certification of a shockingly vulnerable --- and wholly unverifiable --- new touchscreen voting system selected by the city earlier this year (under questionable circumstances) for use in upcoming elections. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, before we get to our guest today and the astonishing election integrity nightmare against which he is working with a coaltion on the ground in Philly to try and save democracy there, a few quick news items to start the show. Those include the now-deadly, climate change-fueled heat wave bearing down on dozens of states and millions of Americans and the latest on the dangerously intensifying disputes in the Persian Gulf --- thanks to Trump pulling out of the landmark 2015 anti-nuclear deal.

Then, last May, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would mandate HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter in the country, to help hedge against the possibility --- some may say likelihood --- of manipulated or erroneous elections results, and to help assure that results are publicly verifiable after elections. His bill, the Protect America's Voting and Elections (or PAVE) Act of 2019 now languishes in the Senate, despite passage of a bill in the House that also mandates HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, thanks to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's vow to disallow a vote on any election-related bills that might make our democracy more secure and overseeable in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections.

The White House has been similarly disinterested in improving election security and oversight, though Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the nation's "top spy" announced a new initiative today said to help the Intelligence Community coordinate their response to potential election manipulation, at least from foreign threats. Domestic threats, including from election insiders --- such as contractors from the private vendors who run much of America's elections, as well as simple programming errors or other manipulation by elections officials --- remain both as serious and much more difficult to guard against. Election protection ultimately comes down to public oversight, at the local level, of verified election results.

To that end, an Election Integrity coalition in Philadelphia this week has successfully petitioned the state of Pennsylvania to reexamine the Commonwealth's previous certification of a wildly dangerous and vulnerable new computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) made by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S). The company's new ExpressVote XL is a 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD system recently contracted for use by the Philadelphia Elections Board for use in upcoming elections, beginning with municipal elections this November and the Presidential contest next year.

We're joined today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, election integrity expert and Chief Technologist for the non-partisan Citizens for Better Elections, which, along with others in the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition petitioned the state for a re-examination of the ExpressVote XL. The costly voting and tabulation system --- one must be purchased for each voter voting at the same time in every precinct --- is described as a "universal" or "all-in-one" system, because one computer in the system is used to mark and print a voters ballot, and a second computer in the same system is then used to optically-scan and tabulate that ballot.

The system, chosen under a mysteriously truncated process by the Philadelphia Commissioners earlier this year --- "without any public or expert input" and with "no criteria for things like security, and resilience, and accessibility" as Skoglund tells me --- also violates state election code in numerous ways, as detailed in the citizen groups' petition to the state filed on Tuesday. Most alarmingly, however --- especially given the importance of Philly's one million votes to be cast in the crucial Keystone State during next year's Presidential election --- is a remarkable security design flaw in the ES&S ExpressVote XL.

In short (Skoglund offers more details on the show), the system allows the Ballot Marking Device's printer to change votes on the computer-printed ballot summary card before it is tallied but after the voter has already been given the opportunity to approve what was initially printed on the ballot summary card by the computer! In other words, of all of the terrible, 100% unverifiable BMD voting systems that Pennsylvania's Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia could have chosen, its City Commission chose the absolute most dangerous and unverifiable one.

"After this machine was certified in Pennsylvania, security researchers determined that there was a big flaw in these machines. That flaw is that they have a single paper path. It takes the blank piece of paper, it sends it to a printer, you make your selections on the screen, it prints those on the piece of paper, puts them back in front of the voter so that the voter can look at them and say whether or not they're happy with those selections. And once the voter says 'Yes, this is the ballot that I intend to cast, I am happy with these selections' and they press the button on the machine, it sends that card back through the same printer again before it goes to to the tabulator," Skoglund explains. "That means the machine has the opportunity to mark on that ballot --- potentially changing votes on it, invalidating votes on it, adding votes to it, basically changing what the voter cast." And, of course, the voter would never know.

While recent studies have found that most voters do not even bother to verify computer-marked paper ballots, and that of those who do, many do not notice if the computer has changed their selections, "The voter can do everything that's asked of them, do everything right, they can verify that ballot, and it still might not end up being the vote that gets cast. This is a violation of a fundamental principle of being able to audit these paper ballots. It's the whole reason we're going to paper ballots, to have good evidence of what the voter intended."

Skoglund explains, however, that it's not just Philadelphia preparing to use these systems in 2020. Other counties in PA are considering them as well, even though they are at least twice the price of a paper ballot system. Similarly states such as New Jersey and Delaware are moving to these same, horrible, unsecure systems. Elsewhere, jurisdictions from Georgia to Ohio to Kansas to Texas to Los Angeles are all preparing to move to only slightly less vulnerable (if equally unverifiable) BMD systems for 2020. That, instead of simpler, cheaper and actually verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems.

All of that is just part of what we discuss with Skoglund today that will likely leave your jaw hanging open as you wonder what the hell these people are thinking, and why it is that McConnell has disallowed Wyden's PAVE Act --- requiring HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all --- from becoming the law of the land long ago...

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Trump Admin cutting nuclear reactor safety inspections, killing scientific analyses, hollowing out agencies from Interior to USDA, more; Also: Feds end Trump hush-money conspiracy probe, release damning docs...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2019 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover a number of disturbing new stories highlighting how Donald Trump's Administration --- while everyone is distracted by his is obnoxious, racist tweets and occasionally by his felonious criminal behavior --- is absolutely hollowing out the U.S. Government to the detriment of public safety and the cheers of industry special interests. Oh, and we cover some of his criminal behavior as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now cutting back on safety inspections for the nation's 90-plus nuclear reactors, along with legal notices that previously had to be given to the public regarding plant safety issues. The nuclear industry, facing stiff competition from cleaner, cheaper, safer renewable energy, is applauding the "cost cutting" (some would say safety cutting) measures. Public interest groups are very concerned;
  • Out in California, where, last October, Donald Trump issued an executive order to force more water to be released from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Northern California down to farmers in the state's agriculturally rich Central Valley after years of demands by the powerful agricultural industry, the administration has paused the process just days before what was to have been a legally mandated scientific analysis of potential harm to endangered species such as salmon and delta smelt. An investigative report from Northern California's KQED finds the administration is replacing biologists from two federal agencies, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who had spent months preparing a "biological opinion", as required by law, with a team of attorneys and so-called experts in policy and regulations from outside the state. Apparently, the Administration didn't like the findings by the actual government biologists, so have paused the process for two months to allow an entirely new analysis Bureau of Reclamation's water plan by hand-picked ringers;
  • At the same time that the Interior Department is undermining their own scientists on the California project, the Department's Bureau of Land Management is planning to move its headquarters from D.C. to Grand Junction, CO, along with hundreds of federal employees, including many senior managers, who will either be forced to move or retire. The planned hollowing out of the BLM comes with little public notice or explanation, and echoes a similar recent move by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which is forcing hundreds of the agency's top scientists to either pick up and move to a new headquarters in Kansas City, or be let go. Most of those USDA scientists are reportedly unwilling to uproot their lives and families to make the move. Similar processes, according to Washington Post, are said to have resulted in thousands of civil service jobs being cut at the Departments of Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development to name a few, as the Trump Administration continues to gut the U.S. Government (well, all but the Defense Department, where they have added jobs) at the expense of public safety and to the benefit of industrial profit motives;
  • Then, we move to some of those Trump crimes mentioned earlier. A federal judge in Manhattan ordered the release today of previously redacted files regarding Trump's illegal hush-money payoffs to two women with whom he is said to have had affairs before his election as President. The judge's order comes after federal prosecutors indicated they had suddenly ended investigations into the Trump Organization and Trump himself regarding the payoff scheme in the campaign finance felony conspiracy for which Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is now serving time in federal prison. Both Cohen and federal prosecutors, when Cohen pleaded guilty, had said the conspiracy was "directed" by Trump himself. The newly unredacted documents underscore Trump's involvement in the conspiracy both before and after his election, as well as those of others in his campaign, such as longtime Trump aid and then Communications Director Hope Hicks. Setting aside the entirely of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller --- and the 10 or so instances of unlawful obstruction of justice detailed in his report --- this hush-money matter alone is more than enough to merit impeachment and removal from office (not to mention federal prosecution). At least it would be for any other President --- or if there were real leadership among Democrats in Congress;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as much of the country will be sweltering for days under the latest, dangerous, climate change-fueled heatwave, and with more on the Trump Administration's latest plans to hollow out protections against pollution and the ability for local authorities to have a say in the matter. You didn't need all of that forest land near you to be saved from clear cutting by the logging industry anyway, right?...

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on the GOP's ACA challenge and the passing of SCOTUS' 'last great conservative Justice'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2019 6:46pm PT  

The United States, according to our guest today on The BradCast, lost "the last great conservative Justice" on the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice John Paul Stevens, who lead the liberal wing of SCOTUS before retiring in 2010, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99 after serving some 35 years on the High Court. IAN MILLHISER, Constitutional law expert, longtime Editor of ThinkProgress Justice and author of the book Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted joins us today to discuss that loss as well as the rightwing legal challenge seeking to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We begin today with a conversation about Stevens' remarkable legacy, and how his tenure was so starkly different from the so-called "conservatives" now seated on the GOP's stolen Supreme Court. Nominated to SCOTUS by Republican President Gerald Ford (after being appointed to the federal bench by Richard Nixon), Stevens, as AP eulogizes, "stood for the freedom and dignity of individuals, be they students or immigrants or prisoners. He acted to limit the death penalty, squelch official prayer in schools, establish gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. He protected the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation. He influenced fellow justices to give foreign terrorism suspects held for years at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base the right to plead for their release in U.S. courts." All positions now seen as "liberal".

And yet, Stevens said during a 2007 interview that he did not think of himself as liberal, but rather as "pretty darn conservative". Millhiser explains how Stevens was able to separate the law from politics, including his own personal preferences, while remaining true to the Constitution and both the rule of law and Court precedent --- all issues which those who call themselves "conservative" today seem to have a difficult time understanding or respecting.

"When he got on the Court, he was widely viewed as a center-right judge. He personally held very, very conservative views. But what made Justice Stevens a great judge was that he knew his political views didn't matter when he was a judge. He knew that regardless of what he thought about minimum wage, or Obamacare, or whatever else, his job was to be faithful to the law and the Constitution," Millhiser tells me. "He was able to set his political views aside and let the law work. And that is all you can ask for in a judge. If we had conservatives like John Paul Stevens right now, who understand that law and politics are separate, we would be in a much better place as a country."

Moreover, as I note at the top of the show, based on my own reporting from 2013, Stevens was willing to admit when he got cases wrong. That year he conceded that his 2008's controlling opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections --- the case which approved Indiana's Republican law requiring voters to present Photo ID at the polling place before being allowed to vote --- was ultimately the wrong decision. That SCOTUS opinion has been falsely cited by GOPers across the country as confirmation that Photo ID restriction laws do not suppress legal votes, but help prevent illegal ones. That is both inaccurate and decidedly not what the Court found that case. In 2013, Stevens conceded, "as a matter of actual history," dissenting Justice David Souter was "dead right" in his opposition and warnings about how the precedent would be abused to suppress the vote.

As to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) challenge we had originally booked Millhiser to discuss before news of Stevens' passing, oral arguments in Texas v. United States were heard in New Orleans last week before a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his coverage for ThinkProgress, Millhiser, who was in the courtroom, describes the hearing before two Republican-appointed judges (one by George W. Bush, the other by Donald Trump) and one Democratic-appointee as a "disaster for Obamacare".

On today's show, he explains the "dumb" and "ridiculous" basis for the case brought by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General --- and now joined by Trump's Dept. of Justice --- and how the challengers specifically filed it in a Texas jurisdiction, a "a kangaroo court", where they knew they could get a favorable ruling from the lower court judge and were likely to get a similar ruling from the rightwing 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He describes the suit as "the stupidest case I have ever seen", but notes that the appellate court's three-judge panel --- "the two Republicans on this panel were really wacky and behaved in a really partisan way in the oral arguments" --- may ultimately uphold the lower court ruling, at least in part.

Nonetheless he believes the case cannot possibly pass muster at the U.S. Supreme Court given previous rulings on ObamaCare by Chief Justice John Roberts. However, he has a caveat: that prediction only holds if the makeup of the High Court when the case ultimately reaches SCOTUS remains the same as it is today. That, as Millhiser cautions, is not a guarantee. "If Trump gets another vote, all bets are off." And there are ways that both the 5th Circuit and the Republicans challenging the landmark healthcare law could hedge that timing, depending on how quickly they act and how long they delay both the court's decision and any subsequent appeal.

While the basis for this case, he details, is so absurdly thin, that may not mean it will fail, even if, as Millhiser observes, an estimated 24,000 Americans will die each year if the ACA is entirely struck down as plaintiffs seek --- and as the lower court judge already ruled should happen.

Finally, there was a flurry of breaking news coming over the wires as we spoke with Millhiser today, including Democrats in the House scuttling a vote on Articles of Impeachment against Trump; the House voting to hold AG William Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt and MA prosecutors dismissing sex assault charges against actor Kevin Spacey. And then we close today with a few thoughts on the House Dems successful vote on Tuesday for a resolution finding Donald Trump's (legally) racist tweets attacking four freshmen Congresswomen of color were, in fact, racist, and on the 4 Republicans in the 197-seat GOP House caucus willing to vote in favor of that resolution...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; Dem Rep. to introduce Articles of Impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2019 6:32pm PT  

As a chaotic vote to condemn Donald Trump's racist comments against four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen of color moved successfully through the House during today's BradCast, we tried --- even if we didn't always succeed --- to focus as much or more on the effects of his Administration's dangerous policies, more than his obnoxious, hateful words as our eternally embarrassing President of the United States. [Audio link to full show is posted below article.]

On Monday morning, as we discussed on yesterday's program, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, with a stroke of his pen, took Administrative action to effectively rewrite decades of immigration law and case precedent to bar virtually all asylum claims made on the U.S. southern border. The radical action is now being challenged by the ACLU and, according to many immigration experts, is likely to be found unlawful by the federal courts.

Then, on Monday night, after we got off air yesterday, the Administration enacted another radical measure without notice. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services declared a new regulation would immediately take effect to ban medical services providers who receive Title X funding from referring patients to other doctors for abortions. Federal funds are already banned for use in most actual abortions themselves, but now what critics describe as a "gag rule" will be in place to keep medical professionals from even referring their patients.

Title X, signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon after bipartisan support in Congress, allocates some $260 million each year to family planning services for four million low income women. The funds are granted to states across the country and to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Under the new regulations, as our guest today, Politico healthcare reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN detailed after the rule was first proposed earlier this year, "clinics offering abortions would need to construct physically separate entrances, hire separate staff and maintain separate medical records for its abortion and non-abortion providers --- a requirement reproductive care groups argue is so costly that some, or even perhaps many, sites would be forced to close."

At the top of today's show, news broke that, in the wake of the Administration's new regulations and other rightwing assaults on the Constitutionally-protect right to abortion, Planned Parenthood's recently appointed new President, Leana Wen, has been forced out of her post. The group had previously suggested they would need to forgo federal Title X funding if the rule was formally enacted, as have several states across the country who, like Planned Parenthood are suing to block the regulation.

Nonetheless, even before any of those lawsuits have been tried, the new rule has been placed into immediate effect by HHS, resulting in "mass confusion and chaos" for states and medical care providers alike today, according to Ollstein. "Now, any clinic that makes abortion referrals for patients who request one will have their funding cut," she tells me. "Lots of clinics across the country, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a large portion of the Title X population, said that they can't comply with that. It's against their ethics as doctors to not be able to make a referral that a patient requests. So they said 'We're going to exit this program. We're going to try to rely on our own funding as long as we can. We're going to hope the courts stop this rule, and we're going to try to keep our doors open and serve this low-income population.'" But, as Ollstein notes, "that could be a struggle."

She also explains how the Right is able to justify this blatant intrusion of the federal government between a patient and her doctor, given their years of decrying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the premise that the landmark healthcare law would do just that. Ollstein also goes on to warn that the federal case currently moving through the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down Obamacare entirely as unconstitutional, is now a very real threat to the law's future --- which even Republicans in Congress are now beginning to panic about.

Also on today's program, we follow the House Democrats move today to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump for his racist "go back" to your countries tweets over the weekend, directed towards Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, all of whom are American citizens. Three were born in the U.S. and one, Omar, came here as a child refugee to escape civil war in Somalia. Also today, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced his intention to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Trump once again tonight after the vote on resolution to condemn Trump. He vows to force a floor vote on the Articles within two legislative days.

By show's end, the racism resolution had been passed by Congress with the votes of all Democrats, four Republicans and newly independent former Republican Justin Amash, after what is being reported as a "bitterly partisan brawl" and "one of the most polarizing exchanges" ever on the House floor. The measure comes after both Trump's racist tweets telling the women to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" on Sunday, and his doubled-down assertion on Monday that their criticism of his Presidency and policies demonstrates they "hate America".

In fact, as Philip Bump cleverly highlights in a "Who said it?" test at Washington Post, Trump's own comments about the U.S. during the Obama Administration are far more demonstrative of hating America than anything ever known to have been publicly uttered by the four women he continued to attack on Twitter today. We're happy to associate ourselves with Stephen Colbert's response to all of this from Monday night.

Finally, as if all of that isn't chaotic and ugly enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New Orleans dodged catastrophe (for now) from Hurricane Barry over the weekend; the U.S. sees its wettest 12-month period on record (again); and the weekend blackout in NYC reveals (also, again) the fragility of this nation's vulnerable infrastructure...

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Guest: KPFK News Dir. Ernesto Arce; Barry misses NOLA; L.A. immigrant community comes together to face down Trump raids; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2019 6:45pm PT  

The catastrophic hurricane that didn't flood New Orleans (yet) and Trump's promised immigration round-ups that haven't happened either (yet) are both the focus of today's BradCast. That, along with callers and some appropriate upbraiding of our disgustingly xenophobic President for his obnoxious racist tweets over the weekend. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, New Orleans may have dodged a bullet, at least for now, says our own Desi Doyen. Hurricane Barry, veered to the west as it made landfall over the weekend, helping to spare the flood-prone city from both another torrential downpour and an ocean storm surge at the mouth of the Mississippi River that might have overwhelmed the city's new pump system and over-topped levees that are already dangerously close to being over-topped after months of climate change-fueled flooding in the Central U.S. Water from those months of record flooding has made its way down the Mississippi, which was already at record levels.

The remnants of Barry is now working its way up the river, leading to flash-flood warnings in about half a dozen states over the next several days. That water will eventually make its way back down to NOLA. For now, however, the Big Easy appears to have avoided the worst. For now.

Then, following nationwide #Lights4Liberty protests across the nation on Friday, following continuing revelations of horrific and inhumane conditions at many of Donald Trump's migrant detention centers --- or concentrations camps, as they may more appropriate be known --- major cities from Los Angeles to New York buckled up for Trump's promised round-ups of "millions" of immigrants, including thousands of families across the country. Though the President threatened the door-to-door arrests would begin on Sunday, the mass round-ups by ICE have, so far, failed to materialize.

We're joined in studio today for the latest, by ERNESTO ARCE, News Director of our Pacifica Radio Network flagship affiliate, KPFK 90.7FM here in Los Angeles. Arce details how both local officials and the immigrant community in Southern California have been girding for Trump's promised ICE raids, and how the (so-far, empty) threat has served to rally the community and bring them together to resist Trump's immigration deportation forces. Having covered immigration issues for KPFK for over a decade in L.A., Arce explains how the Southern California community learned long ago how to resist thuggishness and unlawful behavior from both federal and local law enforcement officials alike and how Trump's open racism has served to embolden many of the officials in several of those agencies.

"Since 9/11, since [1994's] Prop 187, since the million-plus people came out to downtown LA to protest the [2006] Sensenbrenner Bill, there has been a powerful immigrants rights community and immigrant rights advocacy movement here in the United States," he tells me, adding "nowhere has it been as strong as here in Southern California and Los Angeles."

Arce also observes how Friday's protests against the Administration's practices, during these dark hours of the Trump Presidency, demonstrate the resilience of the Southern California immigrant community and those who support them. "The biggest phrase we can come out with in this movement is 'resistance.' You've got all these groups that are organizing, not just organizing Lights4LIberty, but groups organizing all these kinds of actions saying 'We're going to defend our community against any type of raid, against any type of what we believe is an unlawful action by federal ICE agents.' ... We've had very moving ceremonies, many events and efforts over the last few weeks, where the community comes together and says --- 'Undocumented and Unafraid" is one of the main phrases, 'Abolish ICE' is another --- [where] people are unwilling to put up with fear mongering and terrorizing of a community."

Then, we cover Trump's reprehensible, xenophobic, racist Twitter attacks over the weekend against four Democratic freshman Congresswomen of color, and how the appalling attacks have served to unite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump's targets-of-the-moment --- Reps. Ayanna Pressley (MA), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Ilhan Omar (MN) --- along with the rest of the Democratic caucus, to push back on the President with a planned resolution condemning his statements. Shamefully, very few Republicans in either chamber of Congress have condemned Trump's racist attacks on members of Congress.

Finally, we open the phones lines for a bit on all of the above today! Enjoy!...

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Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: Barr's power grabs continue elsewhere; Hurricane Barry takes aim at already flooded NOLA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Attorney General continues to make extraordinary, unprecedented moves at the Dept. of Justice as he takes power for himself on all manner of things. And only some of those moves are receiving the attention they deserve. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, just two days after nearly 4 inches of record rainfall in one hour resulted in flash flooding and a number of high-water rescues in the nation's capital --- on the very same day Trump was delivering a ridiculous, rambling speech on his (horrific) environmental record --- an even worse downfall slammed New Orleans on Wednesday. What lies ahead this week for NOLA, however, may be far worse. A tropical storm spun up quickly off the Gulf Coast following the downpour, and now threatens to become a hurricane that could, as soon as this weekend, over-top levees that protect the city. The Mississippi River at New Orleans is already at 16 feet, just below flood stage, thanks to historic spring flooding in the central U.S. But Hurricane Barry could bring a storm surge of several feet of ocean water and as much as 18 inches of rain that could test the city's 20-foot high levees. The National Weather Service is now projecting the river could crest at that same height by Saturday, depending on which way the winds blow. That may happen despite the failure of science denier and corrupt fossil fuel swamp-dweller Trump to utter the words "climate change" during his environmental speech earlier this week.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., Trump's Attorney General and personal fixer William Barr continues to exercise extraordinary, unprecedented powers in his role as the nation's chief law enforcement official. So far, the federal courts have held off a fair amount of his attempted power grabs, including a federal court in New York which has, for the moment, blocked his latest move to replace all of the Dept. of Justice attorneys previously assigned to defend legal challenges to the Administration's effort to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Another federal judge in another legal challenge on the same matter in Maryland is now considering whether to block those replacements as well.

At the same time, however, Barr is also reportedly instructing former members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to not appear before Congress to give testimony next week on the same day Mueller is currently scheduled to do so.

But a recent, little noticed move over the 4th of July holiday week to grant himself the power to establish precedent on immigration laws, overriding decisions by immigration judges, needs much more attention. Last week, a federal court blocked Barr's decree to disallow bond hearings for asylum-seekers who successfully demonstrate a "credible fear" of return to their home countries. But for a ruling by the federal court in Washington state last week, Barr's decree would have resulted in immigrant asylum-seekers being held for months or even years in already horrific, overcrowded detention facilities as they await their official hearings in immigration court. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that detaining asylum-seekers indefinitely is "unconstitutional".

The day before her ruling, however, Barr quietly signed yet another new regulation --- without the traditional public comment period --- that restructures the way immigration courts have handled appeals for years. Previously, while tens of thousands of decisions are made on cases by the Board of Immigration Appeals each year, only a small number of them, about 30 per year, are published in order to establish them as precedent. Under current law, unpublished decisions are not binding on the entire system and are only published if a majority of the 21 member Board votes to do so. But last week, relying on a public comment period from about 15 years ago concerning a regulation proposed (but rejected) by the George W. Bush Administration, Barr granted himself unilateral power to selectively publish any such decisions that he likes. The move, in effect, will allow him the authority as Attorney General to set immigration law precedent that must be followed during this Administration as well as future ones, at his own whim.

We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute to explain both the encouraging news on Barr's temporarily blocked bond hearing rule, first decreed back in April, as well as his move last week to reign as king over U.S. immigration policy by using the abandoned "zombie regulation", as Pierce describes it, on appeals court precedents first proposed by the Bush Administration. She describes the latter as "alarming", noting that "under this new regulation, the Attorney General will have his pick of whatever issue he wants, and really, whatever plans on the issue he wants, when deciding whether or not to make some of these decisions precedent." Pierce warns that these could be "decisions on what kinds of crimes makes someone deportable from the United States," for example, adding that "the possibilities are really endless when he has so many decisions before him to choose from."

She argues that the way immigration courts are currently structured, under the control of the DoJ, not the Judicial Branch, results in unconfirmed and even unqualified people being appointed as immigration judges without Congressional confirmation or oversight. They all serve at the pleasure and whims of the Attorney General. "This is a huge problem with our immigration court that we have this political appointee who is in charge of effectively the legal well-being of our immigration system. That's a huge problem and a huge conflict of interest," she tells me.

We also discuss the mountain of recent reports of overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions at detention centers on the border; why we are seeing this influx of families seeking asylum in the U.S.; why this Administration is handling it all so poorly, despite the number of immigrants and asylum seekers being far larger during previous administrations; and how the system itself needs to be reformed, with immigration courts placed under an independent body.

Finally today, with all of the coverage in the media and focus by Democrats on the 2020 Presidential race, the need to win back a majority in the U.S. Senate no matter who wins the White House has taken a back seat, unfortunately. But Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was able to claim at least one recruiting victory this week, with Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath, who narrowly lost a U.S. House race last November in Kentucky, declared her intention of taking on Republican Majority Leader and democracy villain Mitch McConnell during his reelection bid in the Bluegrass State next year. We share McGrath's announcement video and ponder why the hell more big name Democrats --- including many who have chosen to run for the Presidential nomination instead --- aren't stepping up to the equally-as-important task of winning back the U.S. Senate for their party in 2020...

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