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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, June 19, 2019
SCOTUS Decision in VA is Good News, But Trouble Awaits: 'BradCast' 6/19/2019
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump lauds socialism at 'campaign kickoff'; WH, DoJ nix Hicks House testimony; Trump EPA to help kill 1000s with roll back of Obama coal regs...
Obstruction of the Probe Into Obstruction of the Probe Into Trump's Obstruction: 'BradCast' 6/18/19
Guest: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: S. America grid failure didn't stop voting...
'Green News Report' 6/18/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Lights out for S. America; U.S. cyber-intrusions into Russian power grid?; Record Gulf 'dead zone', thanks to climate change; PLUS: U.K. sets world's most aggressive climate target...
Previous GNRs: 6/11/19 - 6/6/19 - Archives...
Supremely Strange Bedfellows in Today's SCOTUS Rulings: 'BradCast' 6/17/19
High Court punts on discrimination, allows VA gerrymander fix, leaves double-jeopardy loophole in place; Also: Iran pushes back; More bad 2020 news for Trump; Callers...
Sunday 'Dirty Deals' Toons!
We might recommend a shower after enjoying PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Journalist Suspended by Twitter for Anti Alt-Right Book Graphic: 'BradCast' 6/14/19
Guest: Author, journo David Neiwert; Also: Admin's Iran scam; DNC sets first 2020 debate; Sanders defends democratic socialism...
Amidst the GOP Paracosm: 'BradCast' 6/13/19
Bizarre day at the Conway household; Remarkable GOP excuses for ignoring Mueller; MI drops Flint indictments; Musical tribute to the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues!...
The GOP is Now an Entirely Corrupt Enterprise: 'BradCast' 6/11/19
White House censors climate science; NC GOP lied to federal court about gerrymander; FL Repubs gut state initiative process; Jon Stewart shames Congress...again...
'Green News Report' 6/11/19
WH censors intel official on climate; DoD leaves climate out of Arctic strategy; India heat leads to violence; Canada bans single-use plastic; PLUS: Bloomberg 'can't wait'...
NC Voting System 'Master Passwords' Found Online, Downloadable by Anyone:
'BradCast' 6/10/19
Researcher Chris Vickery details his startling discovery of state's exposed files in 2018...
Sunday Toons from Across the Pond!
Pip-pip and cheerio, Euro-losers! Toons from abroad and, unfortunately, right back here at home, in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
20th State Votes to Overturn 'Citizens United': 'BradCast' 6/7/19
Guest: Aquene Freechild; Also: Biden flips on Hyde Amndmnt, swears off fossil fuel money (sorta); Automakers oppose Trump mileage, emissions rollback; Listener mail...
GOP 'Socialism' and Other Deadly Hypocrisies: 'BradCast' 6/6/19
UT stuck w/ coal cleanup; UN equates anti-choice w/ 'torture'; NC veto upheld; TX Guv vetoes domestic violence law; Pelosi wants Trump 'in prison'...
'Green News Report' 6/6/19
Trump proves he knows zip about climate (again); Meeting Paris pact targets could avert 1000s of U.S. deaths; PLUS: Climate change now a litmus test for Dem 2020 hopefuls...
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: Kansas conman Kobach's comeback?; GOP's 'Green Real Deal'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not enough that Trump has fired just about everyone in his failed Administration (or they quit), and has failed to fill the vacancies left behind, and that he has personally violated an unprecedented number of laws both before and after taking office, or that he's purging most of his top officials who work on immigration. No, it's even more distributing than that. [Audio file for today's show is posted below.]

Last week, the President of the United States said, with cameras rolling, that we "have to get rid of judges" just days before, reportedly, instructing Customs and Border Patrol agents to ignore the rule of law and simply block immigrants from exercising their right to claim asylum at the southern border once on U.S. territory. That, of course, would be a violation of both U.S. law and international treaties.

According to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump instructed agents at the border in Calexico, California on Friday to tell immigrants the U.S. is "full" and "at capacity" and "if judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'" If true, that would be an unlawful instruction from the President of the United States ordering a law enforcement officer to violate law and then to do so again once a federal judge has ordered otherwise. Real Presidents (at least Democratic ones) would be --- or should be --- impeached for such things. But we have the Republican Donald Trump as our President.

In other related Trump immigration meltdown news today...

  • More on why Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was pushed out by White House hardliners (after she reportedly refused to violate the law as Trump was demanding and also pushed back against Trump's order to close ports of entry at the border entirely);
  • Poor, disgraced, former KS Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach --- recently floated to take over some immigration duties for the Trump Administration --- may be blocked from a Senate-confirmed post because, as Kansas' GOP U.S. Senator Pat Roberts told reporters today, Kobach is so toxic that apparently even the GOP-majority Senate "can't confirm him". Luckily, Republicans who used to pretend to hate Presidential "czars" have a very short memory, so there may be another way into the Administration for Kobach, the currently jobless Kansas conman;
  • As to judges, another one in federal court on Monday night temporarily blocked yet another key Trump immigration policy, at least for now. The federal courts are unlikely to like Trump's new one any better, I suspect.

Also today --- actually, right at the top of the show --- some listener mail in follow-up to my conversation on yesterday's program with the ACLU's Phil Aroneanu regarding the group's newly-launched Rights For All campaign which seeks to get 2020 candidates on record regarding several "thorny" issues regarding civil liberties and Constitutional rights. A number of listeners had some thoughts on my questions for Aroneanu regarding the potential political dangers of backing Democratic candidates into politically difficult policy positions as they attempt to unseat arguably the worst President --- from a civil liberties and Constitutional rights perspective --- our nation has ever had. We share and discuss a few of those listener emails today.

And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the Midwest buckles up for another potential "bomb cyclone" and still more catastrophic flooding to follow it; Global warming has pushed the Arctic into an "unprecedented" new state; and the GOP, after ridiculing the Democrats' Green New Deal have introduced their own response to it called the 'Green Real Deal'. You may be surprised who the lead Congressional sponsor is, though less surprised as to what the plan actually calls for...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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The truth behind the President's latest lies on North Korea, Mueller, the border, the military, healthcare and wind power; NC GOP Chair indicted...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2019 6:09pm PT  

Among the many truthful stories covered on today's jam-packed BradCast filled with Trump lies and much more...[Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • How Trump is undermining military readiness and hurricane recovery for Marines and their families with lies about a "national emergency" at the southern border and how the Marine Corps' top General is pushing back;
  • How Trump lied about a new health care plan to replace Obamacare and how Congressional Republicans have forced him to back down;
  • How Trump lied about closing the border with Mexico this week and how economic reality forced him to back down;
  • Then, two North Carolina special elections for the U.S. House are coming up --- the first, in NC-03, to replace the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones (who voted against Trump more than for him), the second, in NC-09, a do-over election from the November 2018 contest which was never certified, thanks to a GOP absentee ballot fraud scheme paid for by the GOP candidate. But before we can get to either of those races, the federal indictment of North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, a longtime state power-broker and former GOP Congressman, was unsealed this week. The criminal charges against Hayes include counts of fraud, bribery, campaign finance violations and lying to the FBI. And another Republican Congressman from the state and member of House GOP leadership, Rep. Mark Walker (NC-06), is also finding himself entangles in the criminal scandal and named in the indictment as "Public Official A";
  • All of that today is before Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with yet another deadly chemical fire in Houston, yet another court loss for ExxonMobil, yet another way that Trump is making both climate change and immigration even worse, and yet another mendacious Trump lie about wind energy that even a top Republican is calling him out over...Oh, and Burger King's "Impossible" dream...

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: WI's John Nichols; Also: McConnell 'nukes' Senate rules again; House to subpoena 'Mueller Report', request Trump tax returns from IRS...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2019 6:52pm PT  

There were a number of important elections held around the country on Tuesday, so on today's BradCast, we've got some of the reported results from the key races, including both good and bad news for Democrats and progressives. Oh, and some stuff happened in D.C. today as well. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We start with the good news out of Chicago, where former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot will become the Windy City's first black female Mayor, as well as the city's first openly gay chief executive. Lightfoot, who has never held elective office, ran as a progressive reformer to clean up Chicago's notorious old-school, insider politics after Democratic Mayor Rahm Emmanuel chose not to seek a third term. She is said to have easily bested Toni Preckwinkle, another African-American woman and a longtime elected official. by a nearly 50-point margin in Tuesday's final runoff contest.

There was still more good news for Democrats in the key swing-state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, where Democratic Navy vet and former Dept. of Veterans Affairs official Pam Iovino is said to have defeated Republican D. Raja in a special election for a state Senate seat representing a suburban district outside of Pittsburgh. Republicans have held that seat for most of the past half-century, and the district (which uses 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems) reportedly went to Donald Trump by 6 points in 2016, when he took the state's 20 electoral votes for the first time since 1988.

Iovino's 4-point victory over Raja is being regarded as a potential bellwether for next year's Presidential contest when Democrats will need to win back Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin --- all of which went to Trump in 2016 before electing Democratic Governors during statewide elections in 2018 --- if they hope to take back the White House.

While there was good news for Dems in Pennsylvania, the news out of Wisconsin on Tuesday was decidedly less good...at least as of this hour. Progressive-aligned state Supreme Court candidate Judge Lisa Neubauer had been widely expected to win the seat of a retiring progressive-aligned state Justice, but appears to have fallen just short against GOP-aligned Judge Brian Hagedorn, according to unofficial results.

Hagedorn, who has likened homosexuality to bestiality, derided Planned Parenthood as a "wicked organization" and called the NAACP a "disgrace to America", declared victory in the early Wednesday morning hours after computer tallies gave him a lead of just under 6,000 votes out of just over 1.2 million cast across the state. Neubauer's campaign announced the race was "too close to call" and "almost assuredly headed to a recount", stating that "Wisconsinites deserve to know we have had a fair election and that every vote is counted".

With the margin less than 1% (it is currently one-half of 1%), she will be entitled to request --- and pay for --- such a "recount". State law, however, currently leaves it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether they wish to tally the state's mostly hand-marked paper ballots manually or simply run them through the same computer scanners that tallied them (correctly or incorrectly, who knows?) on Election Night.

Tuesday's state Supreme Court contest in the Badger State was particularly important for Democrats who, even if they had won, would have retained a 4 to 3 minority on the state's high court. But, with a conservative-aligned Justice retiring next year and the replacement election to be held on the same day as the state's 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, they had hoped to finally flip the court to a more Dem-friendly 4 to 3 majority next year for the first time in years. That majority would be particularly important following the 2020 census and the inevitable subsequent court battles over redistricting in one of the most extremely GOP-partisan gerrymandered states in the country, not to mention hopes for rolling back a host of rightwing initiatives enacted under Republican Gov. Scott Walker now that voters sent him packing last November.

We're joined today by Wisconsin's own JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times, to help us make sense of Tuesday's stunning reported results that appear to have taken both Democrats and Republicans alike off guard.

How and why did it happen, given Neubauer's huge fund-raising advantage over the toxic, Koch-supported former Walker protege who many Republicans chose to stay away from? Did a last minute infusion of out-of-state Republican cash make the difference? While turnout increased for both parties compared to the state's last Supreme Court election in 2018 (when the Dem-aligned candidate won by a full 12 points!), why did turnout appear to increase more for the GOP this year? And what happened that dampened turnout in Milwaukee?

Does a potential "recount" have any chance of reversing the currently reported results? And what should all of this --- an objectionably flawed rightwing candidate seen as having little chance of winning in Wisconsin, before he then goes on to narrowly win the state --- tell Democrats as they head into the crucial 2020 Presidential election looking to flip WI back into the D column? We discuss all of that and much more with the ever-wise Nichols today, who offers this "number one lesson" to progressives: "Do not assume Donald Trump is doomed."

Finally, there was also a lot of stuff that happened in Congress today for a change as well: The House Judiciary Committee voted to approve subpoenas for the Department of Justice to require Trump's Attorney General William Barr to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller Report, including its exhibits and underlying evidence; In the Senate, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unilaterally invoked the so-called "nuclear option" to change Senate rules, after failing to do so via regular Senate votes, in order to reduce the time needed to install Trump appointees to executive agencies and lifetime positions on the federal bench. The new rule will now require just 2 hours of debate, rather than 30, before holding a vote on such appointees; And, late in the day, the Democratic U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sent a letter to the IRS formally requesting the past 6 years of Donald Trump's tax returns as well as those for eight of his business entities. The House actions are certain to face challenges from the White House and likely end up being decided in court...

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

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Bernhardt slithers to the top of Interior; Another deadly chemical fire in Houston; White House security whistleblower steps forward; Chinese national arrested with 'malware' at Mar-a-Lago...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's D.C. swamp isn't getting any less swampy, but it all does make chants of "Lock her up!" over Hillary Clinton's personal email server appear quite quaint. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • It's Election Day in a number of places today, including for a very important state Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin, where the results will have ramifications (for the state and nation) for the next decade. And voters are also at the polls near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today for a special election for that state's Senate in a contest which may serve as a bellwether before the 2020 elections. We'll have reported results and other analysis of that and others contests, no doubt, on tomorrow's program;
  • More disaster today near Houston, Texas where yet another deadly chemical fire broke out, killing one as of airtime, with two others airlifted to hospitals. Emergency officials issued shelter-in-place warnings to schools and residents within a 1-mile radius, advising residents to stay indoors, turn off all ventilation systems and seal all doors and windows. It's the second major toxic chemical plant explosion near Houston within as many weeks. Given the state's shameful history with chemical facilities --- and a dangerous, years-long lack of transparency, even for first responders --- the latest tragic incident is, sadly, not all that surprising;
  • Donald Trump's latest nominee to head the Dept. of Interior is near confirmation in the U.S. Senate after his confirmation hearing last week in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But David Bernhardt --- currently Deputy Secretary and Acting chief of the agency following the resignation of Trump's first disgraced and corrupt Secretary Ryan Zinke --- is a longtime, top lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and has been instrumental since arriving at the agency in 2017 in reversing loads of environmental regulations long opposed by the fossil fuel and chemical industry.

    In fact, as a recent investigative report by Reveal illustrated, at an executive meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), a top industry group, after Bernhardt was tapped to be the top Deputy at Interior in 2017, the hundred or so oil industry executives at the conference were caught on tape laughing and applauding after the IPAA's CEO bragged about Bernhardt as "the guy that actually headed up" their legal team challenging federal endangered species rules being "now the No. 2 at Interior," adding, "So that's worked out well." Now Bernhardt will be No. 1 at Interior.

    We share some of the audio from last week's Senate Committee hearing in which Bernhardt said he would decline to recuse himself from issues at Interior involving companies for whom he lobbied, because, he said, he'd be "basically handcuffed and not in the game for the American people if I am recusing myself" and prevented from unleashing his awesome "skillset" on behalf of "the American team". Bernhardt, of course, is just one of many deeply-conflicted swamp creatures now inhabiting Trump's "drained" swamp;

  • Speaking of which, a whistleblower with 18 years of experience in the White House Personnel Security Office, where she worked for Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has stepped forward to expose what she describes as at least 25 Trump appointees who failed security clearance checks, but were ultimately granted clearances anyway after intervention by more senior officials. According to Tricia Newbold's recent testimony to the U.S. House Oversight Committee, many Administration security clearances had been rejected for a number of reasons including "foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct."

    She testified that two currently-serving Senior Officials in the White House were granted clearances despite failing their background checks. Though the names of the officials whose security clearances were granted only after intervention were not specified, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings has sought "adjudication summaries" from the White House for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, his daughter Ivanka Trump, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, currently National Security Advisor John Bolton and a host of other top appointees.

    On Tuesday, the Committee voted to subpoena Carl Kline, Newbold's superior, believed to be behind a number of the questionable approvals. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders today described the Congressional oversight of the matter in partisan terms, bizarrely characterizing it on Fox "News" today as "sad and shameful" and, somehow, ironically enough, "dangerous" to national security;

  • That statement came just hours before court documents were released today revealing that the Secret Service arrested a Chinese national at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, during the President's latest visit to his Palm Beach resort, with four cell phones, two Chinese passports, a hard drive, and a computer thumb-drive said to contain "malicious malware". Court documents describe the woman telling the Secret Service, after she had initially been allowed inside the resort, that she was sent there by a Chinese friend who instructed her to travel from Shanghai to make contact with a member of Trump's family. But, why worry about security checks for those family members, eh?;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on Bernhardt's enormous conflicts of interest, the White House's latest unprecedented scheme to jump start the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, more bad news for Trump's environmental rollbacks in federal court, and the Green New Deal has its first town hall discussion...

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: Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Also: More Trump losses in federal court on the environment; Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2019 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The "national emergency" may be fake, but the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is real and getting worse...and new Trump policies are doing the opposite of helping. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Last week, Donald Trump threatened to shutdown the border with Mexico entirely. Over the weekend, he announced he was ending aid programs to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (which are not in Mexico, Fox "News"!) because, as he claimed, "they haven't done a thing for us." All of that, as an actual humanitarian crisis --- if not a pretend "National Emergency" --- grips a number of U.S. towns along the Mexico border, thanks to an unprecedented wave of migrant families and children coming, mostly, from Central American countries in strife.

We're joined today by THERESA CARDINAL BROWN, Director of Immigration and Cross-border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center to try and make sense of what is and isn't happening at the border right now, how Trump's policies are affecting it, and what Congress needs to do try to ease what she acknowledges is, indeed, a crisis, if not the "emergency" that Trump has declared in order to build his long promised wall.

Brown, a former policy advisor in the Office of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations, confirms that the influx of migrants streaming up from Central America is unprecedented and now overwhelming detention facilities and shelters built for previous waves of migrants --- such as the record number which flowed in during 2000, largely comprised of mostly men from Mexico who could be deported more quickly than the families now claiming asylum after crossing the border. (Brown notes that even a wall would not prevent such asylum claims, as it would be build on the U.S. side of the border, allowing asylum seeking immigrants to make their claim even before making it to the other side of the wall, since they are already on U.S. territory by that time.)

Brown suggests Trump's termination of U.S. aid for Central American would serve to make the problem worse, as much of those funds go to non-governmental organizations trying to improve the living conditions in countries under duress from poverty and violence. She also details the economic disaster that would likely accompany the closure of the Mexican border threatened by the President ("this may be a threat aimed at Mexico, but it would also significantly impact the United States"), and explains why "the wall will do absolutely nothing to address this current flow of people." That, she describes, as a problem due to U.S. Customs and Border Protection becoming "overstretched" because they do "not have facilities that are appropriate for anyone --- families or kids --- for the length of time they're having to be held there."

We must "address our asylum system. And that means, back to front, starting with the immigration courts" which are similarly overwhelmed and insufficiently funded, she argues, resulting in cases that stretch for years before asylum is determined one way or another. "Ultimately, what we need to do is deal with what's going on in the sending countries," she tells me. "What are the push factors that are driving migration? You have instability of government, you have people who don't feel that they have personal safety because there's impunity and corruption in their governments. They are threatened with gangs and violence and extreme poverty. What can we do to help in that situation? That's the longer term solution, but it needs to be also worked at the source. So we've got to look at this from multiple places."

Next up today, Trump's multiple losses in federal courts last week on several fronts where he's tried to undermine the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") may have been matched by his multiple losses in federal court last week on the environmental front, including a ruling from a federal Judge in Alaska late on Friday who determined that the Administration's reversal of Obama-era protections against off-shore oil drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic Oceans violate federal law. She has ordered some 128 million previously-protected acres that Trump's Admin has hoped to lease for drilling, once again off-limits to exploration and exploitation. The ruling is at least the fourth setback over the past two weeks for Trump environmental policy, where federal courts have blocked Trump agency rollbacks of nearly two dozen Obama-era conservation policies over the past two years.

Finally, we open up the phone lines to listeners today on much of the above and even a few callers with some thoughts on 2020 and more...

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Guest: Former WI Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns; Also: Courts block Trump 'Obamacare' attacks; WI's Supreme Court election is a big deal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some facts --- real ones, not Mitch McConnell's --- about our nation's healthy history of changing the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, which we have done seven different times over the past 238 years since our founding. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up quickly today, Donald Trump has taken yet another hit from the courts on his attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. healthcare system. It's the second such court loss he's faced over the past week, with the first court nixing his attempt to allow work requirements under Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas, and the second on Thursday night finding his allowance of cheap health insurance policies that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to be unlawful. That second ruling comes courtesy of a well-respected George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who is rarely reversed by appellate courts.

Next, a preview of a very important election on Tuesday in Wisconsin for its state Supreme Court. Its the first of two elections to the high court in the Badger State (one on Tuesday and the other next year on the same day as the Democratic Presidential primary election in WI) that could result in a progressive-leaning majority, at long last, being restored to WI's high court. Control of that court is wildly important for both the state and the nation on a number of fronts, which we discuss today, including voting rights before the 2020 election, redistricting for the next decade after the 2020 Census, and the rollback of a host of anti-union and other hard-right policies enacted during the gerrymandered Scott Walker years.

Tuesday's match-up is between progressive-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer and Koch Industries/Chamber of Commerce-backed Judge Brian Hagedorn, a protege of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Hagedorn has called Planned Parenthood a "wicked organization" devoted to "killing babies", described the NAACP as "a disgrace to America", and argued "The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable."

But while voters in WI directly select their Supreme Court at the ballot box (which I am no fan of), the U.S. Supreme Court is a different matter. After Senate Republicans stole what should have been a Democratic majority on the court in 2016 by refusing to even hold a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell held the seat vacant for a year before unilaterally changing Senate rules to do away with the filibuster to allow Neil Gorsuch to be seated on the high court. Later, under those same changed rules, the far-rightwing, accused sexual-predator Brett Kavanaugh was similarly added to the Court, likely cementing a generation of GOP-control.

In response, many progressives --- even Presidential candidates --- are now calling for the expansion of SCOTUS if Democrats can regain control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House next year, in order to restore a liberal-leaning majority that arguably should have been theirs in 2016. Naturally, McConnell is already decrying the idea, describing it on Thursday, ironically enough, as "an unprincipled power grab...that would threaten the rule of law and our American Judicial system." He cites the attempted court packing by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s to support his notion that changing the size of the Court is "a thoroughly discredited idea".

We're joined today by Wisconsin attorney and former state Supreme Court nominee TIM BURNS for both thoughts on Tuesday's crucial election in the state ("The stakes are huge," he explains) and the little-known history of "court packing" in the U.S. More specifically, Burns, who wrote about the issue recently at The New Republic, discusses the seven different times since the founding of our republic when the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court has been changed by Congress, including under one of our founders Thomas Jefferson and even under Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln.

Burns, who serves on the board of the progressive Wisconsin Justice Initiative and the national board of the American Constitution Society, argues that contrary to misleading claims by McConnell and fellow Republicans, changes made to the size of SCOTUS by the Legislative and Executive Branches, as called for by the U.S. Constitution, have been healthy for the nation, often coming "hand in hand with some of the most vibrant periods of our democracy," and in response to the out-sized growth of corporate power.

"There have always been these predictions of the utter ruin of our democracy if the size of the Court is changed," Burns tells me. "The truth is, the Court's been viewed favorably even after its size has changed." And while he says that it's "entirely possible" that Republicans could then do the same thing once they regain power, "that doesn't spell the doom of our democracy. It says that our democracy is working. The political power rests with the voter instead of nine lawyers, judges on a Supreme Court."

Perhaps that's why Senate GOPers this week have introduced a measure calling for a Constitutional Amendment to keep the number of seats on the Court at nine. Good luck with that, boys.

Most interesting, however, may be Burns' fascinating recounting of what happened when FDR attempted unsuccessfully to expand the Court in what McConnell falsely described as an historic event that resulted in the idea of "Court Packing" becoming "synonymous in American history with the idea of an unprincipled power grab". What actually happened in the 1930s, and why the Court was ultimately not expanded under FDR is a fascinating bit of lost history and quite different from the way it has been described in lore. The truth places new calls to expand the Court today, during this period of unprecedented partisanship and class-divide under a hard-Right SCOTUS, into a very different light and perspective as this debate kicks off both in the nation and among Democrats vying for the 2020 Presidential nomination....

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Also: NYTimes finally discovers they were scammed on 'Mueller Report'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2019 6:42pm PT  

It may not be our most hilarious show of all time, but I think it's a very important one and includes more than a few righteous rants. [Audio link to full show is at end of article.]...

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

  • The New York Times finally figures out, almost a week later, that they may have been duped by Trump Attorney General William Barr's 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report, as the incurious "paper of record" confirms the full report from Mueller runs at least 300 pages. Nonetheless, Trump and his cult-member Republicans in Congress are running with the Times' original false and/or misleading assertions published the day after Barr's deceptive summary was released on Sunday. For example, the Times' top-of-page, ALL-CAPS screaming headline "MUELLER FINDS NO TRUMP-RUSSIA CONSPIRACY" and "A Cloud Over Trump's Presidency is Lifted".

    Of course, we still have no idea how many pages are in Mueller's confidential report delivered to Trump appointee Barr last Friday, or what it actually says about the two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's potential cooperation with them, or Trump's apparent attempts to obstruct the probe. But the summary compiled in less than 48 hours by Barr and then inaccurately reported by many to have somehow "exonerated" Trump, after being written by a man appointed to the job specifically because of his expressed opposition to the Special Counsel, should have been viewed much more skeptically by the Times and many others in the corporate media --- as we've been pointing out since Monday.
  • Among the fall-out from the Times' (and others') terrible and irresponsible coverage on all of this, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday demanded Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) step down as Chair and Trump is demanding his resignation from Congress. Schiff, however, is (appropriately) having none of it;
  • Speaking of not-particularly-funny behavior from Congressional Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held a sham stunt vote earlier this week on the Green New Deal resolution [PDF] proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House. Their landmark resolution calls for a wartime-like effort to move the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to zero-carbon energy over a decade, while creating millions of jobs in the clean energy sector and supporting those in legacy industries like coal mining to ensure new jobs and protection of their pensions from bankrupt, predator coal companies. During "debate" for McConnell's mock GND vote --- on an issue which would greatly help many coal mining constituents in Kentucky and Utah alike --- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) offered an embarrassingly unfunny speech that mocked the resolution, dismissed climate change as a concern, argued the Green New Deal is somehow "part of the problem" and that the real solution to deadly and ever-more costly global warming was "churches" and "babies";
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was not amused, as his own small coastal state directly faces a very serious threat posed from global-warming fueled rising sea levels which threaten to turn Rhode Island "into an archipelago" in coming years. "As a small state, we don't have a lot to give back to the ocean," Whitehouse rails on the Senate floor. "This is deadly serious for us."
  • But, if you think Whitehouse sounded angry, wait until you hear Ocasio-Cortez' response to the belittling of climate change concerns from Republicans in the House during an epic rant in the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, after Rep Sean Duffy (R-WI) mocked the GND as "an elitist fantasy";
  • Underscoring how NOT funny all of this is, a recent, heart-breaking special report from AP detailed how Trump, McConnell and the coal industry have conspired to allow a small tax on coal to expire, which, since the 1970s, has helped to cover the extraordinary healthcare expenses of miners suffering from deadly Black Lung Disease, as well as support for their widows. A new Black Lung epidemic has been striking younger and younger coal miners in recent years, and Republicans, including Trump, allowed the tax that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to expire during the Government shutdown at the beginning of the year.

    That, despite promises from McConnell (who represents the coal state of Kentucky) and from Trump (who has used miners endlessly as props during political rallies, while claiming to "love" them) to ensure the crucial Trust Fund doesn't go broke. Instead, both men have broken their promise and appear to be siding instead with the coal industry owners who have donated millions to them, and do not wish to see the life-saving and now-lapsed tax renewed. All of this, of course, on the same week that Trump reversed positions to support killing the Affordable Care Act entirely, while claiming "Republicans will soon be known as the party of health care";
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which touches on a number of those maddening topics and more...

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Guest: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Trump border 'emergency' survives override vote; DoJ moves to kill ACA; Senate holds 'sham' vote on GND...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The coverage by the corporate media --- and response by many Democrats --- to Attorney General William Barr's terse, misleading 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report after two years has, by and large, been atrocious in innumerable ways. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We're joined today by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, who has been covering the corrupt Trump Presidency for years now, including its various Russia-related storylines and other criminal probes at Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. Among our several related topics of discussion today: Shameful failures by the media and others to demand independently verifiable evidence of speculative allegations both before the confidential Mueller Report was finally delivered to Barr and the subsequent failure by many of the same organizations and individuals in their credulous reporting of Barr's bare-bones, "very, very clever political document" summarizing the sprawling, two-year probe.

Rather than learning from mistakes, many in the media seem to be repeating them all over again in the wake of Barr's memo, which some justifiably regard as a "whitewash" or "cover-up" by a man who was selected by Trump, in no small part, for his previously stated opposition to the probe and to the very notion that any President can legally be charged with Obstruction of Justice. There's much more related conversation here today --- including on the substance of Barr's letter, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's curious complicity, and the GOP's premature victory laps --- but you'll have to tune in to listen.

Also on today's program: Though Democrats led a decisive 248 to 181 vote today (with 14 Republicans) in hopes of overriding Trump's veto of the resolution blocking his phony "national emergency" declaration, the effort fell 38 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed. In the Senate, where 12 Republicans previously voted with Democrats, 59 to 41, to block the President previously, no override vote will now be held since a two-thirds majority vote is required in both chambers. AP described Trump's overwhelming loss in both chambers as a "victory" for the President today, and it will now be left to challenges in court to block Trump's order diverting billions appropriated by Congress to the military to instead build his border wall. Mexico is still not paying for it.

Then, in a major reversal of their previous legal position, Trump's Dept. of Justice filed documents in an appeals court Monday to support striking down the entire Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") as unconstitutional. While Jeff Sessions served as Attorney General, DoJ had "only" supported gutting provisions that limited premium prices insurers could charge for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Under Barr, however, the Administration now seeks to kill the entire landmark healthcare law. If successful, as many as 30 million Americans would lose their access to affordable healthcare coverage;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest very busy Green News Report, as fossil fuel-related climate related disasters continue in the U.S. and around the world, while the Trump Administration plows billions of tax-payer dollars into troubled nuclear plants and the Senate GOP carries out a "sham" vote on the Green New Deal, in hopes of mocking the initiative...

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But Trump and the White House couldn't be happier to lie about how his conflicted Attorney General helped get him off the hook (for now)...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2019 6:12pm PT  

So what did you think we'd be talking about on today's BradCast? [Audio link to full program is posted below.]

On Sunday, Donald Trump's new Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page letter [PDF] summarizing the long-awaited, nearly two-year Special Counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 Presidential election, Team Trump's cooperation in that effort, and Donald Trump's attempts to obstruct the probe. Mueller's effort resulted in some 35 indictments, including more than 20 Russian individuals and entities, as well as indictments, convictions or guilty pleas from six top Trump associates and staffers. It has also spawned a number of other probes and indictments, including what Barr describes as "several matters" referred "to other offices for further action."

Nonetheless, based on Barr's summary report, issued less than 48 hours after receiving what is likely to have been tens of thousands of pages from the Special Counsel, the White House, the President and his fellow GOPers are falsely characterizing the terse summary as reflecting Mueller's "complete and total vindication" of Trump. That, despite Mueller's express and specific finding (according to one of the very few passages directly quoted by Barr) that the Special Counsel's report "does not exonerate" Trump of obstruction of justice crimes. That did not prevent the White House from falsely describing Mueller's findings as "a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States." That is the opposite of what little we know the report to have found.

If fact, while Barr claims Mueller's "investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities" (the matter which media, Democrats and Trump alike have long described as "collusion"), Mueller left the decision on whether to prosecute Trump on obstruction up to the Attorney General, according to Barr, for reasons that still remain unknown and will likely stay unknown until and if Mueller's report is actually publicly released. Congressional Democrats are justifiably demanding as much.

While we've shared no small measure of healthy skepticism over the years about what Russia did or didn't do during the 2016 election, along with what Team Trump's involvement with it may or may not have been, there is no legitimate question about Trump's attempt to obstruct Mueller's investigation of it, beyond whether or not the obstruction rose to something that was prosecutable or impeachable and whether a sitting President can be indicted under the DoJ's dubious guidelines which say he or she may not.

Of course, just about everyone seems to have an opinion about Barr's report on Mueller's report. But it should be made clear that everything we currently know is based only on Barr's own summary, compiled in less than 48 hours. It should also be made clear that Barr is wildly conflicted in this matter, as he "auditioned" for the job as Trump's new AG by sending an unsolicited 19-page memo [PDF] to DoJ last year explaining why he believed Mueller's probe was "fatally misconceived" and that, essentially, a President cannot be held criminally accountable for any "exercise of core discretionary powers within the executive branch." (That would include, for example, Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey due to "the Russia thing," as he admitted out loud.)

That Barr and similarly-conflicted Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein were left to determine Trump's fate on this point --- and did so in less than 48 hours after a two year investigation --- is anything but what any American should consider to be "justice". But, as Mark Joseph Stern argues today at Slate, "William Barr Did What Donald Trump Hired Him to Do".

Today, we focus on the very few FACTS revealed by Barr's memo and open up our phone lines for listeners to offer a bunch of interesting takes on the events of the past 24 hours...and, as you might have guessed...even of the past three years...

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Guest: NatSec, cybersecurity and voting system journalist Kim Zetter; AND BREAKING: MUELLER GIVES REPORT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2019 6:54pm PT  

Today's BradCast kicks of with the breaking news of the announcement, just minutes before air, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally wrapped up his two year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, cooperation in the effort by Team Trump and any obstruction of that probe by the President of the United States. Though that may be the least troubling news on today's show. [Audio link to complete shows is posted below article.]

Mueller's confidential report has now been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, as per statute, and Trump's new AG promptly notified Congress [PDF] to say he plans to release a summary of the report as soon as possible, potentially as early as this weekend. We share what we know (and don't) from that freshly breaking news at the top of today's program. Then it's back to, at least some of, our previously scheduled program...

On the day that Jimmy Carter officially becomes the longest living President in U.S. history, we're reminded of a warning he issued while serving as co-Chair, with Bush Family consigliere James Baker, of the so-called "Commission on National Election Reform" formed by a group of Republican operatives after the highly disputed 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. The Blue Ribbon panel was, ostensibly, formed to make recommendations on how to improve elections after the second disastrous Presidential election in a row, following the 2000 debacle in Florida. But while the Republicans who created the private commission had hoped for a recommendation for photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place, the one we've cited most often over the years is the Commission's unambiguous finding that the greatest threat posed to elections comes from insiders, such as election officials and private voting system vendors. "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries," the Carter/Baker panel warned in their final report.

That warning is particularly trenchant today, with, as we recently reported, the Democratic National Committee now calling for some form of remote or online voting during their 2020 Presidential nominating caucuses next year and what has just happened with the online voting system that Switzerland has used for some time in parts of the country.

The Swiss had planned to roll out their system nationally this year, but as longtime cybersecurity and voting system journalist KIM ZETTER of MotherBoard and the New York Times reports, things did not go as well as planned.

Zetter joins us to discuss the alarming story of what happened when Switzerland, last month, opened up a month-long public hack challenge for the system which, they previously boasted, had easily passed many regular internal security checks and even several they had contracted from KPMG, an international auditing giant.

But, as Zetter recently detailed at MotherBoard, the Swiss system, designed by Barcelona-based Scytl --- "a leader in developing various internet and other voting solutions for national or regional elections in 42 countries, including at least 1,400 counties in the US" --- was almost immediately found by independent researchers to feature "a critical flaw in the code that would allow someone to alter votes without detection ... in a part of the system that is supposed to verify that all of the ballots and votes counted in an election are the same ones that voters cast." That flaw, Zetter details, "could allow someone to swap out all of the legitimate ballots and replace them with fraudulent ones, all without detection."

As she tells me today, the failure is even more troubling than that, as it allows for a single insider to exploit a "back door in the cryptography scheme, that would allow someone to alter votes but make it look like the votes haven't been altered at all." In other words, "the system is supposed to have a check in it that's designed to ensure that the ballots that go into that encryption process and come out of that de-cryption process are the exact same ballots. But there's a flaw in that proof that verifies that those ballots are the same. Therefore, that would allow someone to swap out the votes and ballots while the proof still seemed to show that the ballots were the same."

Swiss Post, which runs the system, and Scytl who sells it, claim the exploit could "only" be carried out by an insider, so why worry?

So how are those plans coming for remote voting in the DNC's 2020 Presidential caucuses next year? And how can it be that we keep attempting these same unworkable electronic and online voting schemes from private vendors and election officials who swear by the "certified" security of their systems, only to find they are anything but secure once independent experts are allowed to test them in any way?

"We should have a voting system where we're not required to trust anyone --- we're not required to trust election officials, we're not required to trust the vendors, we're not required to trust the voting machine itself," Zetter, who has been covering electronic voting and tabulation systems on her national cybersecurity beat for more than a decade, tells me. "We should have a system that can be audited independently of all of those parties in order to verify the election results. That's really in the best interests of everyone." What such a system should be, of course, is another matter, which we also discuss, and even debate a bit, on today's important program...

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Also: 'Potentially historic' U.S. flooding; New Zealand bans 'weapons of war'; Trump sparks new arms race with Russia...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2019 6:44pm PT  

All of the news you need to know today, and nothing you don't. Among the many important stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to complete show is posted below]...

  • New Zealand bans military-style assault weapons less than one week after a white supremacist terrorist massacred 50 worshiping Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch. That was easy. Must be nice to not be enthralled to decades of NRA propaganda and the tens of millions of dollars they are allowed to use to bribe politicians in the U.S., where even a Congressional vote on background checks has been verboten by Republicans;
  • Record flooding continues to swamp the upper Midwest, as the National Weather Service warns the catastrophic floods will be moving south and inundating states as water makes it way toward the Mississippi Delta where some areas have already been fighting with rising waters since last month;
  • All of that before we even get to the spring rainy season, about which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned on Thursday could bring widespread "unprecedented flooding" to most of the nation amid climate change-accelerated storms;
  • But there is much better news out of a court in Wisconsin where a state judge today blocked the GOP-controlled state legislature's unprecedented lame duck power-grab passed during an "extraordinary session" called last December to take power from the incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General following the defeat of Republican Gov. Scott Walker by state voters in November. The judge ruled the session itself, called by just eight Republicans in the state House and Senate, unconstituionally declared and therefore, the three sweeping power-grab bills and last-minute confirmation of 82 Walker appointees before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul could take over, are all now struck down. The victory for state voters and democracy lovers also means the Badger State may now withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit joined by the previous GOP administration challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"). GOPers in the state legislature have promised to appeal the ruling;
  • The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps issued blistering memos this week warning that Donald Trump's deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and his "emergency" declaration has undermined troop readiness, national security and placed the well-being of the Corps at an "unacceptable risk". Gen. Robert Neller charges, according to the documents obtained and published today by the L.A. Times, that "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment to the border last year and the shift of funding to border security efforts has resulted in cancellation of military exercises across the globe and has compromised "combat readiness and solvency". The unusually strong comments, according to military experts, critically cite the delay of urgent repairs needed at bases damaged by hurricanes last year in North Carolina and Georgia, with the new hurricane season just months away for "Marines, Sailors, and civilians working in compromised structures". All of that as Trump touted his support for the military on Wednesday night at a plant in Lima, Ohio which manufacturers tanks that the Pentagon has said they neither need nor want;
  • All of this also follows on Trump's announcement last month that he is pulling the U.S. out of the 30-year old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty struck between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, leading to the destruction of thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles on both sides after the landmark Cold War era pact was signed. Russia has said they will now follow Trump's lead in abandoning the treaty and, according to Pentagon officials, the U.S. is now preparing flight tests this summer for two types of non-INF compliant missiles that would have been long-banned under the treaty. Let the arms race begin again!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the staggering cost to date of the deadly flooding in the upper Midwest, the toxic chemical inferno this week in Houston, Trump's new EPA chief blowing off concerns of global warming, 2020 Dems demanding action on same, and a very encouraging ruling on oil and gas drilling in Wyoming from a federal judge who has ordered that the government reconsider its environmental assessment of drilling on public lands to account for the cumulative threat of fossil fueled climate change due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions...

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

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Guest: Dr. Micah Kubic of ACLU Florida; Also: Beto on voter suppression; Abrams says she 'won' in GA; U.S. judge blocks oil, gas drilling in WY...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2019 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fight to vote, particularly in Florida, never seems to end --- even after a huge bi-partisan majority of voters in the state voted to change their Constitution last November to re-enfranchise more than a million of their fellow citizens. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Following decades of post-Civil War Reconstruction/Jim Crow-era lifetime prohibitions on former felons voting in the Sunshine State, voters last fall overwhelmingly adopted Amendment 4 to their state Constitution. The statewide ballot referendum, adopted with nearly 65 percent of the vote, restores full voting rights to former felons who have completed their sentence, including probation and parole. The only exception to the long-overdue landmark measure is for those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses.

Moreover, the measure --- placed on the ballot after 800,000 signatures were collected across the state by the non-partisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, as part of a years-long effort --- was to be self-executing. In other words, as of January 1, 2019, the amendment went into effect, without any supporting legislation necessary. That means as many as 1.5 million former felons, at long last, have begun registering to vote to take part in their own representative democracy, finally ending the state's shameful, decades-long prohibition. This week, however, after introducing a bill on Friday, Republicans in the state legislature have begun speeding a new measure through the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives to add new restrictions on the Constitutional Amendment, limiting which former felons it would apply to and, as critics charge, adding what amounts to an unconstitutional "poll tax" that many former felons would have to pay before being allowed back on the rolls.

The ACLU of Florida derides the new legislation, which was approved in a House sub-committee along party lines on Tuesday, as "an affront to Florida voters", raising "serious constitutional concerns" which "thwart the will of the people and extend far beyond what any reasonable person would conclude the voters intended when they passed Amendment 4".

We're joined today by DR. MICAH W. KUBIC, Executive Director of ACLU Florida, to explain how state Republicans are attempting "to create new barriers and burdens" to the "crystal clear" language of the referendum, which, he notes, the Supreme Court of the State of Florida already approved before it was placed onto the ballot last year. Lawmakers "are changing the process completely, and changing it in a way that had never been used in the state of Florida before," Kubic tells me. "They're rewriting the amendment, they're rewriting the process that has been used throughout Florida, and they're creating a special set of conditions that only apply to ex-offenders that don't apply to anyone else."

"What is important here is to remember the experiences of the 1.4 million people who have been disenfranchised for decades, for generations, in Florida. Who have been told that they are not part of our community, essentially. Because remember, that's what the right to vote is really about --- going in to the ballot box and voting for a Democrat or a Republican or a Libertarian or anyone," Kubic argues. "The right to vote is really a marker of citizenship. It's a marker of who counts and who doesn't, who matters, who doesn't, who is part of the community and who is not."

We discuss with Kubic the way GOP lawmakers are attempting to expand the definition of "sexual offenses", and adding new requirements --- above and beyond fines imposed by judges during sentencing --- that many ex-offenders will simply be unable to pay. Given the national importance of Florida in next year's crucial Presidential election, it may come as little surprise, sadly, that GOP lawmakers are now hoping to undermine even their own voters' approval of last year's landmark ballot measure.

Also on today's program, speaking of next year's elections, a bit of 2020 Democratic primary news. Beto O'Rourke rails against discriminatory Photo ID voting restrictions and other types of voter suppression during a New Hampshire campaign swing. And we discuss the veracity of possible 2020 Presidential candidate and Georgia's former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams' recently reported assertion that she "did win" her election last November after all, against former vote-suppressing Sec. of State turned Governor Brian Kemp, but "just didn't get to have the job."

Given the widespread voter suppression under Kemp's supervision last year, some 125,000 votes said to be missing entirely (and in disproportionately black neighborhoods) from the Lieutenant Governor's race, and that the state still forces voters to use easily-manipulated, oft-failed 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polling place, Abrams' assertion is far more supportable than some elections experts seem to fully appreciate.

Of course, the ongoing controversy --- and Kemp's questionable legitimacy as the state's new Governor --- underscores our many years of warnings about the use of voting systems that do not allow candidates or the public to ever know who actually won or lost any given election. It's also another teachable moment regarding the alarming fact that even more jurisdictions around the nation --- from California to Texas to Georgia to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Kansas, Delaware and beyond --- are now, astonishingly enough, moving to adopt similarly unverifiable computer touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 election!

Finally, we end with what appears to be a bit of very good news, as a federal judge issued a ruling Tuesday night that blocks for now, oil and gas drilling on almost 500 square miles of public lands in Wyoming, after finding the U.S. government unlawfully failed to consider the cumulative effect of climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions in their environmental impact studies when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal lands. One of the plaintiffs in the case hailed the judge's finding, which may affect other fossil fuel leases on federal lands far beyond Wyoming, as "the Holy Grail ruling we've been after"...

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

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Climate catastrophe strikes Midwest; MO lawmaker to force everyone to buy an AR-15; Kids fight for the planet; Also: Dem 2020 candidates seek to abolish Electoral College; Daylight Saving Time haters strike back...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast, climate change slams Trump Country (again), several 2020 Democratic candidates call for structural change to our electoral system, some elected jerk in Missouri wants government to mandate everyone purchase an AR-15, and we continue to help you make sense of it all --- or, at least, try to make sense of it for ourselves. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

Donald Trump responded to catastrophic record flooding in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and several other states by sending his Vice President Mike Pence to check it out today. In just Nebraska, damage to the agriculture industry alone is expected to near $1 billion. Had the President himself gone, he might have seen, first hand, yet again, how climate disruption has begun to wreak devastating and costly havoc on virtually every area of the U.S. at this point.

He might also have seen how two military bases --- one of them the headquarters for Strategic Command, which oversees our nation's nuclear arsenal --- have been devastated by floodwaters, despite recent upgrades after a "one thousand year flood" back in 2015 and devastating tornadoes in 2017. The flood walls built after 2015 have failed, as have dozens of levees in state after state as the waters of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers continue to rise several feet above record flood levels.

Those fossil fueled disasters are of a piece with multiple recent reports by Trump's own scientific, military and intelligence agencies warning of the catastrophic effects of climate change, including last November's National Climate Assessment, a Pentagon report on the national security threat posed by climate change in January and, just weeks later, the U.S. Intelligence Community's annual consensus World Threat Assessment. Trump responded to the November report last year by saying: "I don't believe it". In response, the White House is reportedly preparing a commission to rebut to those reports, headed up by a climate science-denying retired physics professor named William Happer, who believes more CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial, not a menace. He also compares the "demonization" of C02 by climate scientists to Hitler's demonization of the Jews. Seriously.

In other, slightly less insane news related to moving beyond our ongoing national Presidential nightmare, two 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a CNN townhall in Mississippi and Mayor Pete Buttigieg in an interview with Washington Post, have called for the Electoral College to be abolished. We discuss and explain why that may or may not be such a smart idea --- whether done via a Constitutional Amendment or statutorily via the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact --- or, at least something for which Dems may want to be careful what they wish for.

Next, a Missouri state lawmaker has introduced two bills that would force every Missourian over 21 in the state to own either an AR-15 or a handgun or both. Don't worry, there will be tax credits available to help you meet the mandate. The legislators name is Rep. Andrew McDaniel (R-Deering) in case anybody feels like taking this idiot on at the polls in 2020.

And then we share a few emails from listeners who strongly disagree with our conversation on yesterday's program with Slate's Mark Joseph Stern about the benefits of Daylight Saving Time, the cold, dark, endless nights of Standard Time and how wrong everybody is that feels otherwise. Those listeners who disagree with us --- despite their very interesting emails --- are, of course, entirely wrong.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, filled with one deadly fossil fuel-related climate and environmental disaster after another from just the past several days, while finishing with some much more hopeful news for the future as millions of kids around the world skipped school last Friday to march in Climate Strikes around the globe, calling for action on global warming while vowing to keep the pressure on elected officials who, so far, have failed us all...

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

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