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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, October 22, 2019
'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: 9/15/19 - 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...


Court blocks Trump 'national emergency'; Congress sues for Trump taxes; FL Repubs gut landmark voting reform; Carter says Trump 'illegitimate'; 2020 dirty tricks now underway; Dems talk climate at first debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2019 6:30pm PT  

It's been a rough week in the federal courts for Donald Trump. Even the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court failed to grant at least one victory to the Administration in its loss last week over the fight to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That loss, where Trump clearly expected a win from his cooked High Court, has resulted in the admission of another humiliating defeat for Republicans, but a huge victory for those of us who still support the idea of democracy...as fragile as it remains in the U.S. on the eve of our Independence Day holiday in 2019. There were other encouraging signs of hope from our courts this week as well, though there remains plenty to be concerned about as we head toward the crucial 2020 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered, in addition to the breaking Census news, on today's BradCast...

  • Trump may be getting a few tanks for his corrupt 4th of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, though they won't be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. Where they will be, according to some poor writing from CNN, is another matter. ("Trump later confirmed tanks would be present during remarks in the Oval Office.");
  • Heat records are shattering in the U.S. and around the world, resulting in mussels cooking in their own shells in normally cool Northern California and highways dangerously cracking and buckling in South Dakota. What happened in Mexico and Europe, however, we hold until today's Green News Report at the end of the program;
  • But, back to the courts, as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Administration for failing to turn over six years of Donald Trump's tax returns as required by federal law, in a case that Trump seems unlikely to win. A long legal fight, however, may help him to delay the inevitable, unless he is able to receive a helping hand to undermine the rule of law from his friends at the stolen and illegitimate SCOTUS;
  • But the lower courts, so far, have provided little help to Trump. Late last Friday, with surprisingly little notice, albeit in the middle of a ton of other news, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's phony "national emergency" declaration meant to steal billions of dollars from the military to build portions of his long-promised Southern border wall (which apparently Mexico is still not paying for.) The same judge in two different challenges to Trump's blatant attempted theft, ruled that Trump's use of military funds for this purpose was "unlawful" and in violation of Congress' Constitutionally-mandated control of federal purse-strings. The Administration, however, is expected to appeal both rulings;
  • Voters in Florida, in the meantime, will have to hope for good news from the courts in the days ahead after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis --- who was reportedly elected by less than one half of one percent of the vote last November --- quietly signed a controversial new law late on a Friday, without ceremony, the day before his deadline to sign it, which guts the state's reform of a 150-year old racist voting restriction. Despite passage of state Constitutional Amendment 4 last November --- by an astonishing nearly 65% of the electorate --- the new bill was passed along partisan lines in the GOP legislature to restore a restriction on the right of many former felons to vote. The new law, which went into effect Monday in the Sunshine State, requires former felons to pay off all court fines and fees before being allowed to vote, in contravention of the statewide ballot initiative which took effect on January 1 with no such restrictions. DeSantis had specifically pushed the GOP-controlled legislature to pass the bill, which will block many of the 1.5 million former felons --- including 1 out of 5 voting age African-Americans in the state --- from seeing their lifetime ban on the right to vote lifted. Voting rights advocates accurately describe the measure as an unconstitutional "poll tax" and have already filed suit to block it. The "conservatives" in the state will now have to spend millions in order to defend their new, unpopular law;
  • That's just one of the measures the GOP is beginning to take in order to boost their odds in 2020, as former President Jimmy Carter noted late last week that he doesn't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate President. Speaking Friday at a human rights forum hosted by the Carter Center --- which has served as a monitor of elections in third-world countries for decades --- the former President charged: "There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the elections and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. ... He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf." He said "yes", when asked by the forum's moderator if he believe Trump was an "illegitimate" President. Carter may be right or wrong. Shamefully, nobody knows for certain, since the public was never allowed to examine the ballots or the voting and tabulation systems following the 2016 Presidential election. That lack of public oversight, as we have long argued, continues to erode confidence in the legitimacy of American democracy. New, 100% unverifiable voting systems being put in place in advance of the 2020 race, unfortunately, (in states like Georgia and cities like Philadelphia and counties like Los Angeles) are likely to make that problem even worse;
  • But, speaking of how bad the 2020 cycle could be, the Trump Campaign has already begun their dirty tricks, according to a report in the New York Times. One of its "rising star" digital content producers has created a phony Joe Biden campaign website, meant to look like Biden's official campaign site, in order to smear the former Vice President. Neither the Trump campaign nor its staffer, Patrick Mauldin, who admits to having created the site, is noted on the page as being behind it. The fake campaign site, according to the paper, has received more visits than Biden's official website, and Mauldin has also "anomalously" created pages meant to undermine other current 2020 Democratic front-runners such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Do Dems have any plans on how to deal with this sort of thing in 2020? Right now, it appears that they do not. Unless Dems pull together somehow --- even across another rough and tumble nominating process --- a repeat of the 2016 disaster should not be a surprise to anyone;
  • Finally, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us for our Green News Report special coverage of last week's first Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami, where the planet's worsening climate crisis finally received at least a little bit of airtime from many of the Presidential hopefuls across the span of the much-watched two-night event...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden plummets, Harris and Warren spike in new polling after first 2020 Dem debate; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2019 6:22pm PT  

After our two-day Special Coverage of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate last week (Night ONE here, Night TWO here), we begin on today's BradCast to get caught up with some of the important news that we were unable to adequately focus on last week. (Even it may take a few days to get fully caught up, if ever!) [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, we're joined for one last time this SCOTUS term by MARK JOSEPH STERN, the great legal reporter at Slate who has helped us make sense of the Court's most recent term under its stolen Republican majority, including many of the oral arguments since last Fall in a bunch of important cases and all of the subsequent rulings handed down in the past several weeks. The last of those rulings were, perhaps, the most consequential, and both came smack dab in the middle of Nights ONE and TWO of the Dem debate last week.

Today, Stern details the Court's horrendous (if not unexpected) 5 to 4 partisan ruling finding partisan gerrymandering to be perfectly Constitutional, despite all of the lower federal courts which have found otherwise. That, even though the practice, taken to new computer-precision extremes by the Republican Party following the 2010 Census, has bastardized the notion of fair representation at both the state legislative and Congressional levels. (eg. See North Carolina, which largely votes 50/50 for U.S. House members over the past decade, but has been represented in the House by just 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans over all of those years!) Stern describes the majority ruling, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, as a "crushing defeat for voting rights" and a "fiasco for democracy". He explains how the rightwing majority ruling debunks the Chief Justice's own claim that he is the Court's "most aggressive defender of the First Amendment" in that extreme partisan gerrymandering blatantly robs voters of their First Amendment rights by punishing Americans for their partisan leaning, stripping them of the ability to be fairly represented.

"Partisan gerrymandering is uniquely evil and difficult to fix," Stern argues, "because it attacks the foundations of democracy. It entrenches a certain political party's power almost indefinitely, and creates a map that will hold even if the state votes against that party." Now, says Stern, the legal battle to rollback rigged election maps moves to the state court level instead, since SCOTUS has now determined that federal courts have no say in the matter (even though they long ago found racial gerrymanders, if not partisan ones, to be a violation of the Constitution.) "That's why this is the 'nightmare' scenario," he tells me. "Because if the legislature can't fix it --- and why would it fix it, they love what they've done --- you really have to rely on the courts to step in and fix it. And now Chief Justice Roberts has said that the federal courts are not going to hear these claims, that they're shut out forever. That leaves few avenues for relief for voters in these states."

We also get Stern's thoughts --- and callers who ring in on the topic as well today --- on whether Democrats, in states which they control after the 2020 Census should similarly use extreme partisan gerrymandering tactics to balance the scales by keeping Republicans out of power in such states, given that the High Court has granted its blessing for such tactics.

And, speaking of the Census, the other major ruling dropped last Thursday by SCOTUS was on whether or not the Trump Administration may add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. In that case, Roberts joined with the Court's liberals to reject the government's claim that they were simply hoping to add the question at the request of the Dept. of Justice in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. That transparently false claim was rejected by Roberts who wrote that it "appears to have been contrived".

In fact, it was, as several lower courts have ruled, even before the evidence from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering expert revealed the entire charade was specifically meant to decrease the response rate by Hispanic and other immigrant communities in order to shift federal funding and voting power to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. So, that decision was the good news. The not-as-good-news is that Roberts also left the door open for the Administration to try again with a less pretextual reason for adding the question, if they can come up with one. Or, as Stern sums up Roberts' directive in four words today: "Lie better next time." Whether the Trump Administration can do so before the deadline to send the Census to the printer (which, the Admin previously argued in court was a hard deadline of July 1, but now says "well, maybe October would be fine?") remains to be seen.

Next we open up the phone lines to listeners on last week's Democratic debate in Miami. Who do listeners feel did better than expected? Who did worse? The first polling is out today from CNN following last week's debate, finding a pretty huge shift among the Dem and Dem-leaning electorate. The survey finds Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are up 9 and 8 points respectively, while Joe Biden has fallen 10 points since the last CNN poll. That places Harris, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (whose support dropped a few points) all now within just over 5 points from the former Vice President and perceived "front runner" for the Democratic nomination. That pretty seismic shift all comes after just one single debate...with about 11 more to come in the months ahead...

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: Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'RJ' Eskow on Harris' 'breakout', Biden's 'stumble', Bernie's plan for private insurers, Yang's Universal Basic Income, and Marianne Williamson's '4th dimension'!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2019 4:51pm PT  

Our Special Coverage of this week's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami continues on today's BradCast, with post-debate analysis, insight and occasional snarky comment regarding Night Two of the festivities! [Audio link to show follows below.]

The second night featured ten more Presidential hopefuls, including: VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; CO Sen. Michael Bennett; CA Rep. Eric Swalwell; former CO Gov. John Hickenlooper; former tech executive Andrew Yang; and author and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson. It was a very lively affair, to say the least, and our coverage today, I'm fairlly certain, rises to a similar level.

Joining us once again today for the hour is Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning HEATHER DIGBY PARTON as our through-line from yesterday's coverage. She's paired today with our old friend RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, longtime political columnist, host of the weekly The Zero Hour radio and TV program and, most helpfully today, a former insurance industry executive!

Among the many issues discussed after Thursday's debate:

  • What the media are describing as a breakout performance from Harris, including her face-off with Biden over his history of working with segregationists in the U.S. Senate (and what it may tell us about her ability to take on Trump);
  • whether Biden can sustain his polling lead after a shaky performance, raising questions about his age (along with similar concerns about Sanders and MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to be fair);
  • how the matter of whether the candidates' various proposals for universal healthcare coverage deal with private insurers will be used against them by both the Right and the corporate media (as well as whether or not those proposals will apply to undocumented immigrants);
  • how well the cases made by younger candidates such as Buttigieg or Swalwell seems to be going over after the first debate; whether Silicon Valley tech exec Andrew Yang's proposal for Universal Basic Income makes any sense;
  • at least one topic that the moderators, shamefully, did not raise yesterday;
  • and even a few "insider" thoughts on the seemingly "4th dimensional" Marianne Williamson.

All of that and much more on today's very lively and hopefully both entertaining and informative BradCast Special Coverage!...

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

[And if you missed our Night ONE coverage, it's right here!]

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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: Heather Digby Parton and Dave Johnson; Also: Bad news from SCOTUS on partisan gerrymandering, slightly better news on next year's U.S. Census...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2019 5:11pm PT  

Our special coverage of Wednesday's night's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate from Miami is momentarily waylaid at the top of today's BradCast, for quick coverage of two major, long-awaited opinions released by the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court this morning, the final day of its term before Justices leave for summer recess. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The first opinion, featuring a 5 to 4 Republican- versus Democratic-appointee split, is very bad news for voting rights and democracy advocates on partisan gerrymandering cases out of Maryland and North Carolina. Writing for the GOP majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared federal courts have no place entering disputes over extreme partisan gerrymandering of state legislative and U.S. House districts, giving a green light to majority-party state lawmakers to use sophisticated computer programs to slice up maps in a way that guarantees majorities for the party in power during the redistricting process following a decennial U.S. Census. Despite lower court rulings finding Republicans in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin violated the Constitution by drawing statewide U.S. House maps meant to assure Republicans remained in power, even when receiving fewer votes over all, the partisan divided SCOTUS decision now overturns all of those previous rulings, and one out of Maryland where a U.S. House district was drawn Democrats to keep it out of the hands of Republicans.

Critics, including Justice Elana Kagan who penned a blistering minority dissent, note that the SCOTUS majority now leaves it to the very same gerrymandered legislatures who created the undemocratic problem to somehow work it out, even though it may be impossible for opposition lawmakers to gain enough of a foothold to actually change the process under the bastardized maps. In her dissent, Kagan notes partisan gerrymanders "debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people." Her opinion, representing the High Court's four liberal justices, concludes: "Of all times to abandon the Court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court's role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections."

All of which makes the Court's other major opinion today, on whether the Trump Administration will be allowed to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, all the more crucial, but slightly better news, for the moment, anyway. In that case, Roberts joined with the court's progressives for a 5 to 4 ruling that bars the Administration, at least for now, from adding the question to next year's Census. In this case, the Chief Justice notes that the Administration's pretextual reasoning for doing so "appears to have been contrived". Indeed, despite warnings by experts at the Census Bureau itself that the question would decrease the response rate by millions, officials at Trump's Dept. of Commerce (which runs the Census Bureau) and the Dept. of Justice lied to both Congress and the Courts about their reason for adding the question.

Evidence has revealed that, in fact, the Administration hoped to include the question specifically in order to under-count immigrant communities in hopes of shifting billions of dollars in federal funding --- and still more voting power --- to "Republicans and non-Hispanic whites" over the next decade. That fact was made clear by, among other things, evidence revealed from the hard drive of the GOP's recently deceased gerrymandering expert. The good news in the Census ruling today is somewhat tempered by the fact that the case has now been sent back to the lower court for further consideration, allowing the Trump Administration another bite at the apple to come up with a more plausible justification --- or at least one that the stolen SCOTUS can more easily accept --- for why they insist on adding the new question before the deadline for printing the 2020 Census. The Administration had previously said that deadline was at the end of this month, though Trump has now asked his attorneys to see if the Census may be postponed.

Then it's on to our Special Coverage of Night One of the first Democratic Debate of the 2020 Presidential cycle, which featured ten candidates in all, including MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; former HUD Secretary and San Antonio, TX mayor Julian Castro; NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio; WA Gov. Jay Inslee; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former MD Rep. John Delaney; and HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

We're joined for today's special coverage by Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and Seeing the Forest's DAVE JOHNSON, formerly a Senior Fellow at the progressive Campaign for America's Future.

Parton and Johnson offer post-debate analysis and smart insight on as many of those candidates as we can possibly fit in to the hour, along with thoughts on which of them exceeded, met or under-performed expectations; why it is that Democrats appear (foolishly) to be shying away from taking on Donald Trump directly, despite the extraordinary threat he and his Presidency pose to the nation and the world; how Democrats, as a party, now appear to be approaching issues such as taking on corporate monopolies, the need for universal access to healthcare as a human right (and the strange question about abolishing private health care insurance), foreign wars and more. We also discuss, as raised --- but largely unanswered --- during Wednesday's debate, how a Democratic President might counter obstructionist Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should the GOP maintain control of the U.S. Senate after 2020.

All of that, of course, is just a sampling of the sweeping ground we cover on today's very busy and very lively BradCast, as we await Night Two, with another ten candidates, to be covered on our next program!...

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: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dems pass $4.5B emergency funding for border - with strings; Mueller to testify in open hearings; Kellyanne Conway subpoenaed by House; NRATV finally shuts down...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2019 5:11pm PT  

Before our guest joins us on today's BradCast --- and in advance of the Democrats' first two-night 2020 Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami (which we'll be covering over the next two BradCasts), some very quick news headlines today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below]

  • House Democrats have called Donald Trump's and Republicans' bluff by passing a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill to cover border-related costs for children and other migrants being held in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with children not even being given soap or toothbrushes and forced to sleep on cold cement floors. The House bill also places some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, unlike the Senate version of a similar emergency supplemental spending measure for $4.6 billion. Some on Team Trump have called for vetoing the House version. The conflicting bills will somehow need to be reconciled before final passage, though it's unclear how that can happen before lawmakers leave town for their week-long July 4th recess;
  • On Tuesday night, the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees announced that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to appear --- after being subpoenaed --- for testimony in open sessions to both House panels, one after the other, on July 17th. He is expected to give answers to lawmakers about his two-year probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Campaign's cooperation with that effort, and Donald Trump's repeated, unlawful (and impeachable) attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's federal investigation;
  • Speaking of House testimony, the Oversight Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for testimony following a recent finding from the Trump-appointed head of an independent federal watchdog agency recommending Conway be fired for multiple violations of the federal Hatch Act. That Federal law bars public officials from using their office for partisan campaign purposes. Conway failed to show up voluntarily on Wednesday, so will now face a subpoena forcing her to do so --- at least in theory. Trump has refused to fire Conway, despite her repeated violations of the law, and his White House has, so far, taken extraordinary (and likely unlawful) measures to block Congressional testimony by White House officials;
  • Oh, and it was announced today that NRATV is finally shutting down amid internecine fighting, scandal and criminal probes of the terrorist-supporting NRA, which appears to have really shot itself in the foot. We send them our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time;

Then, we're joined once again today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and, as the end of SCOTUS' term wraps up before summer, our ever-insightful Supreme Court correspondent! There were a bevy of opinions issued by the Court over the past week, even as most received little fanfare or attention by the media. Trump's war-mongering with Iran and worsening child detention problems on the border are just some of the reasons for that. But also, the biggest expected rulings --- on whether a citizenship question may be added to the 2020 Census, despite Trump Administrations lies about it, and on whether states may employ partisan gerrymandering for electoral advantage --- are still to come at any moment now. In the meantime, while the many opinions issued over the past week, in and of themselves, may not have been marquee rulings, many, as Stern explains, have serious consequences.

More importantly, however, as we discuss today, the new rulings offer some pretty HUGE SCREAMING RED SIRENS about the direction that the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court now intends to go, with their far-right majority now firmly ensconced. A number of opinions in several of the cases offered some pretty clear projections that this Court intends to overturn decades, if not centuries, of legal court precedent, case law, and even thousands of federal laws in the bargain.

Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:

  • A contorted ruling that allows a 94-year old religious monument to fallen WWI soldiers to remain on government property despite being a clear violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause separating Church and State;
  • The case of an African American man whose death sentence was, thankfully, overturned after a state prosecutor in Mississippi repeatedly excluded African American jurors from sitting on the six different trials the man has, so far, faced for a case of multiple murders that it seems quite likely he had nothing at all to do with;
  • An opinion that overturns decades and perhaps centuries of property rights case law;
  • Another that comes within a hair's breadth of striking down hundreds, if not thousands of federal laws passed by Congress over our nation's history;
  • And a decision that overturns decades of trademark law which the court found to be FUCT. (We explain on the show, while avoiding any potential FCC language violations in the bargain! You're welcome!)

In all, we cover quite a bit of ground today, with some important details --- far more than I can cover here --- that you should definitely tune in for, if only so that you can't later say nobody warned you!

"This is the term when the Justices pretty much rip up stare decisis," explains Stern, citing the legal term for the custom of respecting court precedent, "or at least get out their lighters and lay the kindling. In a number of cases the conservative Justices have just decided that they've had enough with precedent, they're ready to make the Constitution say what they want it to say. Doesn't matter what previous courts have ruled."

Stern warns: "For the most part, the Justices have been swinging for the rafters. They do not feel hemmed in by many limitations. You're seeing unbridled exercise of judicial power --- the kind of thing that [Chief Justice] Roberts said during his confirmation hearings he would never resort to."

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Guest: Journalist Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Trump threatens Iran, they laugh; Former Fox reporter rips channel's 'partisan misinformation'; Warren releases election plan for hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Are Democrats finally beginning to reconsider their incredibly ill-considered mandate to require remote voting for their 2020 Presidential caucuses via phone or Internet voting schemes? Our guest today says they may just be doing so! If so, that would be very good news and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, speaking of "ill-considered", in an echo of his earlier posturing against North Korea, Donald Trump issued new militaristic threats and slapped new sanctions on Iran, including against its Supreme Leader, President, Foreign Minister and even the Islamic Nation's lead nuclear negotiator. The result is what Iranian officials describe as the "permanent closure" of diplomacy between the two countries. The new sanctions also resulted in the Iranian President mocking the measures as "outrageous and idiotic", "hilarious", "stupid and ugly", while charging the White House is suffering from a "mental illness".

Trump's new punitive measures come in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, which they say entered its air space last week. The U.S. denies the charge, insisting that its spy plane was in international airspace over the Straight of Hormuz. And all of it comes in the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. unilaterally out of the 2015 treaty between seven world powers that prevented Iran from enriching enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon.

But now, as the Administration penalizes Iranian leaders --- who, by all accounts, have fully complied with the strict terms of the landmark accord struck under Barack Obama's Administration --- Trump and his team can't seem to understand why Iran is not interested in negotiating with them. They have, however, threatened Iran if they renege on the terms of the deal that Trump pulled out of, as Iran has now announced they intend to do. Of course, the possibility of, once again, touching off WWIII comes with Trump's threat today of "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration" of Iran, just days after he reportedly cancelled a planned attack against them at the last minute last week.

All of which underscores the necessity of removing this dangerous menace from the White House, whether by impeachment or at the ballot box next year. Not that viewers of Fox "News", of course, have any idea of the facts behind these latest incidents, which all stem from Trump pulling out of the very good landmark agreement with Iran. In fact, even one of Fox' most beloved former reporters, "Campaign Carl" Cameron has now come out against the fake news channel's "partisan misinformation" in a video promoting his new news venture, Front Page Live, launched with progressives such as Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

As to removing the buffoonish, inept, unfit, dishonest Trump at the ballot box, that may not be as simple as it should be for Democrats, given both the proliferation of rightwing misinformation at Fox and other rightwing fake news outlets (such as the NY Post which removed its story on well-known magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's new allegations that Trump raped her in a department store dressing some years ago) and the extraordinary vulnerability of our nation's voting, registration, and tabulation systems. To that end, 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan for election reform today which calls for, among other things, a mandate to replace the nation's easily-manipulated, oft-failed computerized voting systems with ones that allow every American to cast their vote by the safest, most verifiable method possible: HAND-MARKED paper ballots. Her measure is not unlike some of the provisions in HR-1 as passed by Democrats in the House and the PAVE Act, introduced in upper chamber by Sen. Ron Wyden, where it remains, along with all such election security bills, blocked by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

But, where Democrats --- some of them anyway --- are coming around to the understanding that every voter in America must be allowed to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, the Democratic National Committee seems less than clear on the need for verifiable, publicly-overseeable election results. To that end, as we warned on the program some months ago, the DNC, following the 2016 election disaster, issued a mandate for all state Dem parties which choose to hold Presidential caucuses in 2020, rather than statewide primaries, to include some form of "remote voting" for party members who cannot attend in person.

That Democratic Party mandate, as our guest today Voting Booth's STEVEN ROSENFELD reported when we spoke with him back in March, has resulted in party officials in early caucus states such as Iowa and Nevada, scrambling to find private vendors willing to provide "remote voting" services that employee phone or Internet voting schemes. Today, Rosenfeld reports on what we'll call a moderately encouraging follow-up, finding that DNC officials may now be reconsidering that, frankly, insane mandate for unverifiable off-site voting systems.

"The thing about caucuses --- these are not government-run elections," Rosenfeld explains. "So this is really, really critical, because this means that all of the cybersecurity efforts --- of which there have been tremendous efforts made since 2016 to deal with trying to tighten systems --- those have all been in government election systems. These [caucuses] are private elections. So what the state parties will do in the caucus states is they have to rent a voting system. These do not have to be certified voting systems." That, of course, is an invitation to even less secure systems than those which already plague American elections, not to mention that cybersecurity experts consider Internet Voting schemes to be the most vulnerable of all such systems.

"So they're talking to different vendors who run these different systems. It's either going to be like using a telephone, to punch a button in to choose a candidate, or using an app, or using some kind of webpage." Rosenfeld, whose recent reporting on this includes discussion with the co-chair of the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee, says DNC officials plan to review state party plans this week, but may, in fact, not approve those plans after all.

Rosenfeld envisions a situation where, "in the first [Iowa] and third [Nevada] contests, the Democrats have a complete mess and Trump runs with it and yells and screams about 'stolen elections' all the way into the fall. The whole thing is just madness on top of madness."

Let's hope wiser heads prevail at the DNC, though I'm not holding my breath.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with Vice President Mike Pence's embarrassing weekend appearance on CNN, in which he was unwilling to acknowledge his own administration's scientific warnings about the national security threat posed by our worsening climate emergency. Also on today's GNR, the Trump USDA is burying scientific reports on climate change, a deadly heat wave and acute water shortages are ravaging India, and --- with some good news --- G.E. has announced plans to shut down a natural gas power plant in California twenty years earlier than planned because renewable energy options are now both cheaper and cleaner!...

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Also: Sestak jumps in; SCOTUS says trademark law is 'FUCT'; Pence defends squalid conditions for detained children; Even NC knows hand-marked paper ballots are needed, so why doesn't L.A. County?; Callers ring in on the Dem 'horse race' before this week's two-night Dem debate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2019 6:29pm PT  

We've largely stayed away from the "horse race" on the Democratic side of the 2020 Presidential race to date, preferring, as we're wont, to focus on more immediate issues, as well as the "track conditions" on which the horses are set to run next year. But on today's BradCast, we finally open the phones to turn to the horse race a bit, in advance of this week's first 2020 Presidential debates.

But first, a few news items of note. Among the stories covered today before we turn to the phones....

  • Were you thinking that 23 or 24 candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination just wasn't enough? Were you hoping one more white male from a swing-state might enter the race? Well, retired three-star Navy Vice Admiral, former Pennsylvania Congressman and failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak may be the man for you!;
  • In U.S. Supreme Court news, the Justices released an opinion today finding that the decades-old federal statute preventing the issue of trademarks to brands determined to have "scandalous" or "immoral" names is, in fact, an unconstitutional violation of the Free Speech clause. That will be good news to lifestyle brand FUCT which had been denied a trademark registration for years. In her opinion for the majority, Justice Elana Kagan also may have offered a preview, according to Mark Joseph Stern, of, at least, her opinion on the Court's upcoming crucial ruling on partisan gerrymandering, as she noted that free speech cannot be denied on the basis of viewpoints or ideas conveyed. The challengers in the two partisan gerrymandering cases pending before the Court --- with a decision due any day now --- are arguing that state political opponents are seeing their voting power diluted by the party in power on the basis of their political viewpoints when it comes to the partisan gerrymandering of maps for the U.S. House and state legislatures;
  • In a follow-up to our Friday program's segment focused on horrific conditions for migrant children detainees on the border, Vice President Mike Pence was on CNN Sunday, working very hard to filibuster and otherwise avoid Jake Tapper's direct questions about the Administration's argument --- offered last week in federal appeals court --- that denying soap and toothbrushes to children forced to sleep on freezing concrete under a single foil blanket in overcrowded facilities somehow qualifies as "safe and sanitary" conditions for those children, as required by federal courts. Late today, some good news on that front, as nearly 300 children at a "squalid" Texas facility --- featuring lice, the flu, kids who hadn't showered in weeks, and detained children asked to take care of infants and toddlers --- have now been transferred out of at least that horrific facility...at least for now;
  • Then, with one failure after another after another in North Carolina's elections in recent months and years, even the former counsel for the North Carolina state Board of Elections is now calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter. So why isn't the state of Georgia? Why isn't the city of Philadelphia in the key swing-state of PA? Why is the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, now moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of the 2020 Primaries? And why is Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate blocking any and all legislation that would increase election security by, among other things, mandating a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters? We discuss. Again;
  • Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, with the broad questions in advance of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential debate this week: What will our listeners be looking for in this Wednesday and Thursday's two-night face-off among 20 candidates? What is the most important factor they hope to find in a Democratic nominee? Who do they like so far and who do they not like? We offer the chance to advocate --- or bash --- any of the candidates callers may wish, along with the question: Would they vote for a nominee they may not like in the general election, rather than hand Donald Trump a nation- and planet-devastating second term? We got a lot of good callers and interesting thoughts from them along the way...

Please enjoy today's very lively show!...

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Also: OR GOPers still on run; 'COVFEFE - Grounds for Impeachment'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2019 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Iran and the world can breathe a bit easier for the moment, though children held in deplorable, overcrowded unsanitary conditions in U.S. detention centers near the border still may not. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

At the last minute, reportedly, Donald Trump pulled his punch, thankfully, and called off an attack on Iran in retaliation for the U.S. drone shot down by the Islamic Republic on Thursday. That drone, Iran says, was a surveillance plane flying above its territorial waters. The U.S. contends the $100 million remote-controlled plane with a wingspan the size of a 737, was flying in international air space. But, no matter who has it right, none of this would have happened at all, had Trump not recklessly and stupidly pulled the U.S. out of the landmark anti-nuclear pact with Iran, struck during the Obama Administration along with France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China.

Trump, despite his wildly inaccurate claims about the Iran deal posted to Twitter this morning, was not the only one to show restraint in the matter. Reuters reports that Iran declined to similarly target a 35-man U.S. military aircraft said to have been accompanying the unmanned Global Hawk spy drone near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Iran also says they sent "repeated warnings" to the drone operator before shooting it down.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are calling for a "step back from the brink of war" by calling for Congressional debate over the issue, even as they've allowed Trump (and other Presidents) to wage war without Constitutionally-required Congressional approval previously. Over at Fox "News", of course, talking heads such as Brian Kilmeade were calling on Trump to bomb the hell out of Iran, as if the host of Trump's favorite morning show wouldn't be affected in the least from his couch in his NY studio by the potential of WWIII breaking out in the Middle East;

While we can breathe a bit easier on that score --- at least for the moment --- migrant children at detention camps being run by the U.S. Government, suffering under deplorable conditions, are not nearly as lucky. While a silly "debate" was waged this past week by Rightwingers pretending to be outraged by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' accurate reference to U.S. holding facilities for migrants as "concentration camps", the Trump Administration's Dept. of Justice was in court stunning judges by arguing that a long-standing legal settlement requiring migrant children be held in "safe and sanitary" conditions, doesn't mean they have to have either soap or toothbrushes, and that sleeping on concrete floors in freezing, overcrowded cells with only a piece of aluminum foil to keep them warm, is just fine.

The Texas Tribune takes advantage of the moment surrounding the disingenuous "concentration camp" debate to round up just a few of the horrific stories reported over the past month that would seem to prove that, yes, these are, in fact, concentration camps. And, if there was any remaining question, the Associated Press filed an horrific account Thursday night of what attorneys found at one such facility near El Paso, where frightened children are being forced to look after terrified toddlers, while going for "weeks without bathing or a clean change clothes." One attorney who represents detained children said: "In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity".

In Oregon, as we noted yesterday, Republican state Senate lawmakers have left the state to avoid the quorum needed to vote on an important climate change bill supported by Democrats that, if adopted, would help both Oregonians and the planet. Those lawmakers are now being fined $500/day for missing work, as state police have been ordered to try and round them up. It's the second time in weeks that the GOPers have fled the state. Last time it was in hopes of preventing a vote on a $2 billion funding package for schools. The state's Democratic Governor, Kate Brown, foolishly negotiated with the Republicans the first time to bring them back for that vote after four days, by promising to table planned votes on gun safety and vaccines. But, negotiating with terrorists only results in more terror. So, the Republicans have now pulled the same stunt all over again.

Finally, we can't help but notice throughout today's program how much of the chaos and suffering the nation (and world) is undergoing right now might be eased if Donald Trump was simply removed from office for some of his many high crimes. On that note --- and to lighten things up a bit at the end of another grim week --- we close out with COVFEFE - Grounds for Impeachment, a catchy new tune courtesy of Roy Zimmerman and Melanie Harby, as shared with us by Victoria Parks from our Columbus, OH affiliate WGRN! Enjoy!...

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Guest: Dr. Assal Rad of the Nat'l Iranian Amer. Council; Also: OR Repubs skip town; House re-launches bipartisan 'Climate Solutions Caucus'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2019 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Already increasing tensions in the Middle East got much higher today after Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone last night, which the Islamic Republic claims had crossed their border into their airspace. The U.S. contends the spy plane, a U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk that can fly as high as 10 miles in altitude with a wingspan as wide as a Boeing 737, was in international airspace at the time it was downed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Both nations suggest they have evidence to support their claims about the location of the craft when it was shot down. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Tensions in the region have been rapidly rising in recent weeks as the U.S. has blamed Iran, without presenting evidence, for several attacks on shipping tankers near the narrow Straight of Hormuz, which borders Iran in the Persian Gulf and through which 20% of global oil supplies travel. Iran has denied any involvement in those incidents, other than helping to rescue the crew of one of the tankers and extinguishing its fire. But war-hawks in the U.S. have been banging the drums against Iran for some time. They applauded Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal last year from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, the landmark deal struck between Iran and seven other nations during the Obama Administration. The hard-fought treaty ended any possibility of Iran enriching uranium for use in weaponry, at least until Trump broke the deal that had lifted crippling, years-long sanctions against Iran. Trump reinstated the sanctions after becoming President and pulling out of the pact that even his own Administration admits Iran has been in full compliance with.

On Thursday, Trump described Iran's action as "a very bad mistake" and "a foolish move", while repeatedly telling reporters "you're going to find out", when asked how and if the U.S. plans to respond. He did suggest, however, during Oval Office remarks, that he believed the incident must have been unintentional or taken by "someone who was loose and stupid" --- as if to suggest he was reluctant to retaliate and/or make the situation worse.

Nonetheless, at the very same time, GOP hawks in the Senate like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seemed eager to inflame the situation by warning that Iran "needs to get ready for severe pain," vowing that "if [Iran] is itching for a fight, they're gonna get one."

We're joined today to discuss all of this by DR. ASSAL RAD, Research Fellow and policy analyst at the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Iranian American Council. In a statement today, the group's President, Jamal Abdi, counseled for both nations to "firmly step away from the path to war" by seeking out "third party mediators who can help de-escalate and bring the U.S. and Iran back to the negotiating table."

Rad explains what is known and unknown about the current situation, how dangerous the situation has now become, and how Trump's restoration of sanctions has crippled Iran's economy, at least for the working class, leading to severe shortages of food and medicine. In addition to increasing military tensions, she tells me, Trump's violation of the anti-nuclear pact has led to both increased uranium enrichment --- bringing Iran closer to the ability to build nuclear weapons if they desire --- as well as strengthening the political hand of anti-U.S. hardliners in the Islamic Republic.

"What Trump has done," she tells me, "is played into the hands of the hard-line elements in the country, tarnishing the image of the U.S., which was very positive. But, of course now, as they suffer, it's much easier for that government to point to the United States as the blame."

"On the U.S. side, of course, the argument can be made that there's a credibility issue, given that President Trump has gone back and forth in the tone he takes with Iran. He'll tweet something like 'we're going to end Iran' and 'that was a big mistake on Iran's part', and then walks it back. 'No, we don't want regime change' or 'we don't want a war'. But then he has advisers, like the National Security Advisor John Bolton, who argues exactly for those goals."

"And that's not, by the way, to give credibility to the Iranian side," Rad made clear. "The Iranian side also lacks credibility in their own right. And that's why without a full investigation and having evidence, I would avoid drawing conclusions. And certainly taking action based on conclusions that aren't based on full evidence."

She notes that "sometimes the way that our media frames it, it makes it seem like the Iranian side is an irrational party --- and yet that is the party that agreed to the deal and has abided by that deal, despite the fact that the U.S. abrogated that deal a year ago."

"One of the things that we know about war is that it's unpredictable. We don't know what will be the consequence. And to prevent this sort of unforeseen concern that something terrible could happen, we have the opportunity right now to prevent it," she concludes with optimism, advising fellow Americans to speak out to our representatives in Congress to urge them to find a peaceful solution to the quickly escalating crisis.

Then, just to lighten things up, we turn to our worsening climate crisis! With Republican state Senators in Oregon fleeing the state on Thursday to avoid a quorum needed for final approval of a sweeping bill meant to help curb climate change by reducing carbon and capping greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade system. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has now authorized state police to try and find the rogue lawmakers and bring them back to the capital. Meanwhile, back in D.C., Florida Congressmen Ted Deutch (D) and Francis Rooney (R) announced the re-launch of a bipartisan 'Climate Solutions Caucus' with about 60 members, including more than 20 Republicans.

We get some thoughts on both of those stories from a skeptical (cynical?) Desi Doyen, who also joins us for the latest Green News Report, with troubling news on the Trump Administration's official roll back of Obama's landmark Clean Power Plan in favor of scheme to aid the coal industry which, according to Trump's own EPA, will result in the premature deaths of thousands of Americans. But, she's also got some good news for us today --- and not a moment too soon --- out of the state of New York, where lawmakers did not skip the state, but instead adopted one of the world's most ambition climate change action plans...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump lauds socialism at 'campaign kickoff'; WH, DoJ nix Hicks testimony in House; Trump EPA to help kill thousands with new roll back of Obama coal regs...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after what seems like a too-long absence, we're joined again today by Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN for insight on the first batch of U.S. Supreme Court opinions issued at term's end this week. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, mercifully brief coverage of Donald Trump's re-election campaign launch in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday night. While the rally followed the same tired pattern of pretty much all of the campaign rallies he's held non-stop since becoming President --- (Remember when the GOP and Fox 'News' used to complain that Obama was holding campaign rallies as President, rather than governing? That was darling.) --- the usual recitation of Trump lies and nonsense also included a fascinating reference to Republican opposition to "socialism" just one mere breath before Trump (falsely) touted GOP support for protecting much-beloved socialist programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The irony, no doubt, was lost on most of his brain-poisoned followers on hand or watching via the Fox "News" disinformation channel.

On Capitol Hill today, Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee finally heard testimony from a former Trump official in the aftermath of the damning Robert Mueller Special Counsel report. Longtime Trump aid Hope Hicks --- who worked with him before his campaign, during it, during the transition and in the White House --- cooperated with the Mueller probe and is cited within it as a witness about 180 times. She agreed to testify today, though only behind closed doors, with a transcript to be released later. However, White House and DoJ Attorneys were also on hand to continue what Committee member Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) described as "obstruction of justice in action". The lawyers issued objections to any and all questions related to Hicks' service with Trump as President, asserting "absolute immunity" from such questions. That is a newly invented "privilege" from the White House and DoJ which Lieu described as "not a thing. It doesn't exist." Lawmakers suggest the result will be court action to force Hicks' testimony on her time at the White House, now that she is a private citizen (who works for Fox "News"). Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is still opposed to opening an official impeachment inquiry, reportedly described the new White House offensive as "obstruction of justice", which --- in case she needs a reminder --- is one of the offenses included in the Articles of Impeachment for both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Also in D.C. today, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by "former" coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, officially replaced President Obama's Clean Power Plan, meant to curb global warming greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, with a new rule that makes the reduction of emissions optional for states. Even while coal plants have been shutting down across the country over the past two years in favor of cheaper, cleaner natural gas and renewable energy production, the Administration is implementing the new rule which, according to the EPA's own analysis, will result in thousands of unnecessary deaths per year. The new rule parallels a similar effort by the Trump Administration to roll back new mileage standards implemented by Obama with the cooperation of the auto industry, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says will save thousands of lives as well. So, yes, Trump is now purposely killing Americans and lying about it by claiming U.S. air and water has never been cleaner. That, according to actual findings from the Government, is also untrue, as pollution has increased over the past two years since Trump became President.

We're then joined by Slate's Stern for a review of this week's SCOTUS rulings and an explanation for some of the "strange bedfellow" partnerships found in several of them. Among the opinions discussed today...

  • A Supreme Court "punt if I've ever seen one," according to Stern, on a case involving yet another bigoted baker, this time in Portland, who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The Justices sent that case back down to the lower court for review, though Stern suggests they are largely buying time before being forced to determine, once and for all, whether discrimination against LGBTQ people is Constitutional. "The Court can't duck this forever," says Stern;
  • The largely good news ruling of the week is for voters in Virginia, where a 5 to 4 majority opinion results in new, fairer, more competitive legislative districts in advance of the Commonwealth's statewide elections this November. The Justices held that the GOP-gerrymandered House of Delegates did not have standing to appeal new legislative maps implemented by lower courts to correct 11 districts found to have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered following the 2010 Census. Only the state's Attorney General, a Democrat, who initially challenged the ruling on behalf of the state but later declined to appeal the lower court's ultimate ruling, has such standing, the majority determined.

    But the majority opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was joined, unsurprisingly, by Justices Elana Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, and much more surprisingly by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch! Moreover, the minority dissent, penned by rightwing Justice Samuel Alito was also joined by the normally progressive Stephen Breyer. Stern offers an explanation for what appears to be very strange bedfellows on this opinion, and whether the ultimate outcome --- while very good news for Democrats who hope to take control of one or both chambers in the VA legislature this November --- will be good news or bad news for Democrats and Republicans in the future;

  • We then move to what Stern describes as "a tough but interesting case", for his explanation of the Court's affirmation of what has long been considered a loophole in the U.S. Constitution allowing an exception to its restriction on double-jeopardy cases. In fact, as the Court held in a 7-2 decision, virtually identical indictments may be brought against the same person, for the same crime, so long as they are brought in separate State and Federal jurisdictions, which are considered to be "separate sovereigns". On the minority in this case was another odd couple, Ginsberg and Gorsuch, while Thomas --- who previously decried the Double-Jeopardy Loophole by calling for a "fresh examination" of it --- chose not to vote for ending it when he had the opportunity. He did, however, take the opportunity to write a concurrence in the case, calling for reversing other long-held SCOTUS precedents, such as those which allow women the right to choose to have an abortion. "He used his opinion to launch into this crazy attack on precedent, that was clearly laying the groundwork for an attack on cases like Roe. vs. Wade" and marriage equality;
  • Finally, Stern offers some thoughts on the Court's expected opinion, due any day now, regarding the Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That determination is still expected, despite evidence unearthed after oral argument that proves the Administration lied about their reasons for adding the question, which, according to the Census Bureau itself, will reduce participation. That, in turn, is expected to radically shift government funding and citizen voting power from Democrats and minorities toward white Republican jurisdictions. We discuss that bizarre matter --- and how SCOTUS can possibly rule on the case now, given the new evidence revealed from the hard drive of a now-deceased GOP gerrymandering expert following the Court's hearing months ago --- and a few of the other expected important decisions to come in the next two weeks before the Justices leave town for Summer vacation...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: Acting SecDef withdraws nomination; S. America power grid collapse did not prevent voting; Swing district Rep. Porter calls for impeachment proceedings...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2019 6:24pm PT  

I've had a lot of legal questions swirling through my head in recent weeks as Trump and his minions have expanded their attempts at blocking all Congressional investigations of his many crimes. On today's BradCast, despite the unprecedented and ever-changing nature of what Trump is attempting, I get a bit of clarity from a guest with a long background in legal, legislative and executive matters regarding all three branches of the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, however, some quick news of the day. Donald Trump's Acting Sec. of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has withdrawn his formal nomination after reported difficulties obtaining a standard FBI background clearance due to a history of domestic violence with his former wife. Former Raytheon lobbyist and Trump's Sec. of the Army Mark Esper has been tapped, for now, as the new Acting SecDef.

The widespread --- and still-unexplained --- failure of the electrical grid in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend that affected tens of millions in South America, did not, at least, prevent gubernatorial elections from continuing on Sunday in Argentina, where they wisely use HAND-MARKED paper ballots. The election was uninterrupted despite the outage, as voting was able to continue as usual, even if voters needed to rely on mobile phone flashlights in order to see their ballots while filling them out by hand. That, by way of contrast with the utter havoc and chaos that would result from a similar outage or cyber-attack on the U.S. power grid during an election next year, with dozens of states relying on computer voting systems and electronic poll books, including a number of jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County (the nation's largest), which are set to move from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential primary elections. What could possibly go wrong?

Freshman Democratic U.S. House Rep. Katie Porter announced on Monday night that, after weeks of careful consideration, she has decided to call for an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Her announcement is significant in that Porter narrowly won election last year in Republican-leaning Orange County, California, defeating her incumbent GOP opponent by just over three points. With more than 65 Democratic members in the House (and one Republican) now calling for impeachment proceedings, Porter is one of only two Democrats from closely divided swing districts where GOP incumbents were ousted last November to call publicly for beginning the Constitutional process of impeachment of our criminal President.

At the same time, the Trump Administration has spent months following the release of the damning, redacted Special Counsel's report from Robert Mueller [PDF], exercising all manner of legal schemes and Presidential tricks to try and obstruct the Congressional investigation of the many criminal obstruction offenses by Trump detailed in Mueller's report. The Administration, with the aid of his new Attorney General and fixer William Barr, has invoked so-called Executive Privilege over the entire report (even the already released material) in an attempt to prevent the unredacted report and its underlying evidence from being disclosed to Congress and the American public. They've also used Executive Privilege to try and block lawful Congressional subpoenas of current and former White House officials, many of whom cooperated as witnesses with the Mueller probe, in hopes of preventing them from testifying in the House or turning over subpoenaed documents. Barr's DoJ has gone so far this week as to offer a legal claim that the IRS need not turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee in defiance of a decades-old statute requiring the IRS to do so. Trump's private attorneys have attempted to block Congressional subpoenas for the President's financial documents at his accounting firm Mazars and at Deutsche Bank, and, during a recent interview with ABC News, Trump said his own FBI Director was "wrong" for insisting that candidates contact the FBI if they are approached by foreign nationals with opposition research on their political opponents.

Those, of course, are just some of the ways that Trump continues to obstruct justice and defy the rule of law. But what are the chances that he will ultimately succeed in his attempts to obstruct Congress? We're joined today by LISA GRAVES, who has worked as a senior advisor in all three branches of the federal Government, to help us better understand some of the key elements of Trump's crimes and his attempts to invoke measures to block accountability for them.

Graves, the co-founder of the non-profit Documented, formerly served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the Dept. of Justice, General Counsel in the US Senate, and former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. On today's program, she explains the seriousness of obstruction crimes; how "Executive Privilege" has been invoked by Presidents (successfully or otherwise) in the past, and what the privilege really is and isn't (hint: it's not actually a statutorily or Constitutionally defined thing); whether it's actually possible or justifiable to prevent the disclosure of Trump's tax returns under the DoJ's new pretext; and whether she believes Trump should be impeached.

On criminal obstruction, says Graves: "The fact is that obstruction is a very serious crime. I suppose that if they really wanted to know how serious obstruction is, they could call Nixon back from the grave to ask him how serious this is."

On Barr's collusion with Trump: "It's truly a shame, quite frankly, that under the broken Senate led by Mitch McConnell, that Barr was confirmed to this role that he was most undeserving to hold. And that he now holds basically as a lapdog to this President, willing to his bidding, and to really subvert the true mission of this Justice Department."

On Trump's broad attempted use of Executive Privilege: "The idea that any President could somehow assert privilege over revealing evidence of his own potential obstruction of justice, the crime of obstruction, is simply astounding...There's simply no way that any reasonable interpretation of whatever that privilege might or might not be, would allow a President to hide from Congress --- which expressly has powers under our Constitution to impeach a President and to try a President --- to hide evidence from that Congress that has those express powers to hold a President accountable."

But, on that last point, she offers some "hesitation" thanks to "this Supreme Court which has been stacked by McConnell and the dark money which backs him." I'm also happy to hear her correctly note that "this court is not truly conservative, they are radically reactionary."

Graves also responds to my question about the recent statement from the chair of Federal Elections Commission, Ellen Weintraub, issued in response to Trump's assertion that he needn't contact the FBI if approached by a foreign national with dirt on a political opponent. Weintraub's statement clarified that "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election." But, isn't that precisely what the Hillary Clinton Campaign (and a Republican primary campaign before it) did during the 2016 election by soliciting oppo-research on Donald Trump from former British spy Christopher Steele? I discuss that and much more with Graves today.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more details on Sunday's South American power grid failure, news of a reported U.S. cyber-offensive against the Russian power grid, bad climate change-related news for the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone", and some very good news from outgoing conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May who is vowing to commit the UK to the world's most aggressive targets to combat our climate crisis by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while boosting the nation's economy at the very same time...

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Court punts on discrimination case, allows VA racial gerrymander fix, leaves Constitution's double-jeopardy loophole in place; Also: Iran pushes back; More bad 2020 news for Trump; Confused anti-choicer rings in...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2019 6:57pm PT  

Catching up with a weekend's worth of news in the Trump era plus the new Supreme Court decisions dropped on Monday is no easy feat. But we do our best, on today's BradCast, to get you up to speed after all of that and the madness yet to come (no doubt) this week. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A quick update on the case of anti-authoritarian author and journalist David Neiwert who we interviewed on Friday. Incredibly, his Twitter account is still suspended almost a full week since Twitter first took him down due to his use of a graphic on his profile from the cover of his most recent book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. The image is a Ku Klux Klan mask over each of the white starts on the U.S. flag, which the anti-KKK author is being told he must remove because it's considered a hate symbol. He still refuses to do so, and Twitter has yet to reassess it's ill-considered policy;
  • Next, Iran has announced that, in the next 10 days, it is speeding up nuclear enrichment and will exceed the levels of uranium allowed under the landmark seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement brokered during the Obama Administration, following the Trump Administration's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty last year and his subsequent violations in restoring crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic. With what had been a very good deal now broken by Trump, the Administration continues to saber rattle against Iran, with AP reporting late today that the U.S. plans to send an additional 1,000 troops to the Gulf;
  • Back home, the U.S. Supreme Court has begun releasing its end of term opinions. Among those released today, the Court ducked a ruling concerning yet another baker --- this time in Portland, Oregon --- who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Sending the case back down to the lower court also likely means they will avoid having to make a decision on it during their next term, which ends smack dab in the middle of the 2020 Presidential election season;
  • More substantively, for the moment, good news for Democrats as the Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand in Virginia, where Republicans were found to have used unlawful racial gerrymanders in drawing state legislative seats after the 2010 census. The lower court has imposed fairer maps that will now be used, for the first time, in the Commonwealth's statewide elections this November. (VA holds "off-year" elections, so the entire House of Delegates will be on the ballot when one or both of the General Assembly's chambers could finally be taken over by Democrats with new, fairer maps in place.) The Supremes let the lower court ruling stand after determining that the gerrymandered GOP House of Delegates did not have standing to intercede after the state's Democratic Attorney General chose not to appeal the new maps mandated by the lower court. The 5 to 4 decision, however, was a mix of very strange bedfellows, with liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing for the majority and supported by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan (not a surprise) along with Thomas and Gorsuch (very much of a surprise!). That also left the usually progressive Stephen Breyer siding with the rest of the Court's right-wingers. Though we speculate on that strange mix of votes, we hope to have more insight later this week;
  • And in the last of the SCOTUS matters for today, the Court also ruled on a case of double-jeopardy regarding a man facing prison time from both the state of Alabama and the federal government for the same crime. What has become a loophole in the U.S. Constitution's restriction against being tried twice for the same crime will remain in place, despite the dissent from --- another odd couple --- Ginsburg and Gorsuch who both dissented. But that bad news for civil libertarians who had hoped to close that Constitutional loophole once and for all with this case, is good news for those who fear Donald Trump may pardon members of his crime syndicate, like his former campaign chair Paul Manafort. He is currently facing years in federal prison, unless pardoned by Trump. But, due to the Constitutional exception that allows similar crimes to be tried against the same person at both the state and federal level, even if pardoned, Manafort would be forced to face the fraud charges currently filed against him by the state of New York;
  • And, speaking of politics and Trump-related criminality, a new survey by the President's favorite fake news outlet, Fox "News", finds at least five of the top 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates are defeating him in NATIONAL polling, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders currently dusting Trump by about ten points each. Also besting Trump in the new national poll currently --- well over a year out from the actual election --- are Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, as well as South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, though their leads are within the poll's margin of error. The new Fox poll echoes similar findings from Quinnipiac last week. So we offer similar warnings about the misleading nature of national polls (we don't have a national election! Just ask Hillary Clinton!), especially those taken 17 months before Election Day and before Democrats have even held their first debate (scheduled for next week);
  • In perhaps more noteworthy polling news, there has been a steep and quick rise in support for official impeachment hearings --- at least among Democrats --- as revealed by a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. And, with that, pressure for impeachment continues to rise in Congress as well, according to comments from Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who discussed the matter over the weekend on ABC's This Week. We share part of her remarks from Sunday in which she (correctly) argues that "impeachment is incredibly serious and this is about the evidence the President may have committed a crime, in this case, more than one." Rebutting the political considerations that have, so far, prevented U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from allowing the Democratic caucus to begin an official impeachment inquiry in the House, AOC adds: "Our decision on impeachment should be based in our Constitutional responsibilities and duties and not in elections or polling";
  • Finally, with the little time we have left today, we open up the phones to some calls, which is mostly eaten up by a woman who appears to be very confused in her "pro-life" anti-abortion argument about how conception actually occurs, as she cites her Christian religion for why women should not be able to decide for themselves regarding personal health care decisions.

Good luck with that! And enjoy today's program...

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Guest: Author, investigative journalist David Neiwert; Also: Don't fall for Admin's Iran scam; DNC sets spots for first 2020 debate; Sanders defends democratic socialism, calls for FDR's Economic Bill of Rights...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2019 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A longtime investigative journalist who has documented the rise of the radical right has been suspended from Twitter for a ridiculous reason. Should that be cause for alarm for some of those on the left who applauded the recent removals of right-wingers from that and other social media platforms? [Audio link to show follows below]

But, first up today: Don't fall for it. The Trump Administration is making all sorts of evidence free allegations that Iran is attacking shipping tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Japanese owner of one of those tankers offers evidence that directly contradicts the U.S. claims and, so far, no other country is backing up Sec. of State Mike Pompeo's litany of evidence-free charges that Iran is behind a number of recent attacks. Of course, that didn't keep Donald Trump from telling Fox "News" on Friday: "Iran did do it and you know they did it, because you saw the boat." He was referring to a grainy, black and white video released Thursday night by U.S. Central Command purporting to show an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers. Funny how easily Trump is convinced by remarkably thin evidence about something he wants to believe, versus mountains of evidence, gathered over years by independent sources, on things like climate change and his own obstruction of justice. Don't fall for it. Not again.

Then, we're joined by award-winning investigative journalist DAVID NEIWERT who, since Tuesday, has been "temporarily suspended" from Twitter due to a profile graphic he's used for two years on his account there, without incident, as taken from the cover of his 2017 book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. Neiwert, who has been a contributing writer for the non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center's "HateWatch" blog, as well as for MSNBC where his 2000 reporting on domestic terrorism earned him the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism, was informed by the popular social media platform that the profile graphic from his book --- a cleverly designed image of KKK hoods atop each of the white stars on the American flag --- violates Twitter's "sensitive media policy" rules barring "symbols historically associated with hate groups" in profile or header images.

Obviously, his use of the graphic is meant as commentary on those symbols, rather than in support of them. Still, his "temporary suspension" has resulted in all of his tweets being unavailable and a restriction on posting any new ones until he removes the graphic in question. He is refusing to do so, though he is still in contact with Twitter and hopes to negotiate a solution to what he describes at Daily Kos today as an ill-conceived policy that fails "to distinguish hate speech from the efforts to oppose it".

"Literally, they can set any standards that they want, because they are private platforms," he tells me, correctly noting that the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment free speech clause applies only to the Government, not private businesses. "Twitter has announced that it wants as its standard to remove hate speech. But it isn't distinguishing between hate speech and actual efforts to fight hate speech. It's not making that distinction. And it's supposed to be doing this on behalf of the effort to fight hate speech, because this is its standard."

"The problem is they're basically trying to replace human judgment with an algorithm. And algorithms are stupid. They can't figure this stuff out. They lack the human judgment." Nonetheless, as we discuss, even after his graphic may have been pinged by an algorithm --- likely set off by folks on the alt-right who dislike him --- human intervention has yet to result in his account being unlocked again.

With some 500 million tweets a day, he recognizes, the platform must "use algorithms to flag these things, that's just the nature of the beast. But how many suspensions for hate speech do they make? Probably not very many. Probably in the hundreds. That's something that's manageable on a human level, and it's something that requires human judgment to make those calls. And they just need to bite the bullet and recognize that they need to employ smart, well-trained humans to do that job. That they can't rely on an algorithm to do it."

Neiwert has supported the recent deplatforming across a number of the most popular social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones of InfoWars, right-wingers like Milo Yiannopoulos and White Nationalists like Richard Spencer, though he notes that others, such as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke have not been removed. Nonetheless, while the removal of far right figures has been met with cheers from many on the Left, should Neiwert's case give pause to some of those cheering progressives? Isn't fascist speech still free speech after all? And what happens if a right-winger were to take over ownership of outlets like Twitter? We discuss that and much more, including Neiwert's very early and astonishingly prescient warning about Donald Trump way back in late 2015.

Also today, the DNC announces the results of its random drawing to determine which ten 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates will appear together on each of the two nights of the first Presidential debates set for June 26 and 27 in Miami. And then we close with an excerpt from candidate Bernie Sanders' recent policy address at George Washington University in which he calls for a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights modeled on one sought by FDR to guarantee a living wage, affordable housing, health care and a complete education for all, as he makes the case that democratic socialism is the only way to offer "true freedom" from corporate oligarchy and rising authoritarianism...

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Bizarre day in the Conway household; Remarkable GOP excuses for ignoring Mueller; MI drops Flint water crisis indictments; Plus: A long-overdue musical tribute to the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got quite a bit of hard news, though we have to start off with a brief personal note. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • My much-beloved hometown hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, are now Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in the franchise's storied if oft-frustrating 52-year history! After going from last place in the NHL in January to win the Cup in Game 7 in Boston, it seems only fair I'm allowed a short, if long-overdue, victory lap on today's program --- along with a bumper music tribute to the team I grew up with throughout today's show. (And no, Blues fans, it's probably not the music you expect!);
  • In somewhat more substantive, if less pleasant, matters (kicked off by a Daily Kos BradCast commenter who deserves credit for an appropriate invocation of the word "paracosm" today), life in the Conway household must be getting more bizarre by the day. On Thursday, the Trump-appointed head of the federal government watchdog Office of Special Counsel (not to be confused with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's Office) recommended that Kellyanne Conway, one of Donald Trump's top advisers and apologists, be fired for "repeated violations" of the Hatch Act. The federal law bars federal officials from using their official offices for political purposes, yet Kellyanne repeatedly used hers to bash Democrats running for office while promoting Donald Trump and other Republicans. Scoffing at the watchdog's recommendation, of course, the corrupt White House is all but certain to ignore the multiple violations of federal law by one of its top officials;
  • Meanwhile, at the other end of Chez Conway, Kellyanne's husband, longtime Republican attorney and activist George took to the pages of Washington Post to file a scorching op-ed with Barack Obama's former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, slamming Trump's latest legal appeal in the President's attempt to block Congressional subpoenas for financial documents from his accounting firm Mazars. Conway and Katyal deride the President's claims that Congress is Constitutionally barred from investigating criminal matters, and that only the Executive Branch may do so. "The idea that only the president can investigate the president is an argument for autocrats, not Americans," the pair write, arguing that Trump's legal argument seems to invite an official impeachment proceeding by Congress. "Every principle behind the rule of law requires the commencement of a process now to make this president a former one," they conclude, in what must make for some very chilly dinner conversation at the Conway household;
  • In not-at-all unrelated news, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the only sitting Republican member of Congress to call for impeachment proceedings against Trump, continues to maintain is not planning a run for President on the Libertarian ticket, though he said he has not "ruled anything out". He also lobbed back a pretty impressive response to an attempted Twitter shot by Donald Trump, Jr. (Of course, given the information-starved Trump supporters, it may be one they don't even understand.) Earlier this week, Amash officially resigned from the hard-right "House Freedom Caucus" (formerly known as the "Tea Party Caucus") which he had co-founded, having split with the group whose members have now become amongst the most virulent defenders and apologists for Trump in Congress. He also voted yesterday with Democrats in the House Oversight Committee to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying a subpoena to turn over documents related to false Administration claims regarding the addition of a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census;
  • Of course, the reason Amash is currently the only sitting GOPer to call for Trump's impeachment is because he may be the only Republican in the House who actually bothered to read the Mueller Report, which details multiple instances of criminal obstruction by the President for Congress to consider for impeachment proceedings. This past week has brought some remarkably original excuses from GOP House members as to why they are willing to overlook and excuse multiple, well-documented federal crimes by the President, who Mueller found to have committed some of the very same unlawful actions for which articles of impeachment were brought against both Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. For example, Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, who as a member of the Judiciary Committee in 1998 voted for impeachment against Clinton, now says Donald Trump never swore on a bible, so there's nothing to impeach him for. Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall fell all over himself with some remarkable, false and contradictory statements while trying to explain why he proudly refuses to even read Mueller's report at all! But while Republican members of Congress might be excused --- under the world's most generous interpretation possible --- for being clueless when it comes to the Rule of Law, no such generosity can possibly excuse the jaw-dropping response to the Mueller Report's findings from the state of Louisiana's chief law enforcement officer, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry;
  • Finally today, stunning news out of Michigan, where the state's recently appointed Solicitor General, tapped earlier this year by newly-elected Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, announced that state prosecutors were dropping all criminal charges against eight people indicted in the Flint lead poisoning water crisis and starting the probe over from scratch after an expansive new body of evidence was reviewed. Prosecutors say they may recharge some of the previously indicted individuals, but that new evidence reveals former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette's three-year investigation failed to properly examine large swaths of material evidence, some of which is said to be tied to former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. We try to make some sense of that news as we close out today's show...and musical tribute to my favorite underdog hometown team...

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Guest: NC elections expert Dr. William Busa ('DocDawg' of Daily Kos!); Also: Barr, Ross found in contempt by House Oversight; Big progressive wins in VA; New NATIONAL polls show Trump in trouble, Warren surging...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2019 5:10pm PT  

We've got some interesting follow-up on today's BradCast, following the disturbing story we broke on air earlier this week regarding the "master passwords" for North Carolina electronic voting systems --- and more --- found online, unprotected, and downloadable by anybody since at least early 2016, at the NC Board of Elections website. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, some quick news updates: A second U.S. House committee has now voted to hold Donald Trump's new Attorney General and fixer William Barr in contempt. The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend holding both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents regarding the lies told by both Commerce and DoJ about adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Ross previously claimed he was asked by DoJ to add the question to help better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but new documents from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering operative reveal the real intent was to shift resources and Congressional districts to white Republican jurisdictions.

In other Constitutional Crisis news, Hope Hicks, Trump's former Communications Director and longtime aide --- before his run for office, during the campaign and transition, and while in the White House --- has reportedly agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week about her cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's two-year probe. Hicks was a key witness on a number of the criminal obstruction charges detailed in Mueller's report. She has agreed, however, to testify to Judiciary only behind closed doors next week, presuming the White House doesn't move to block her in some way.

In elections news, new Quinnipiac polling shows six of the current top contenders for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination --- Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg and Booker --- all handily defeating Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up in NATIONAL polling, if the election were held today. That new poll and others out today still show Biden atop the pack in the primary contest, though slipping since he entered the race last month. Two new polls show Warren leaping into second place above Sanders since last week. We offer some thoughts and WARNINGS about all such polls today.

And then, some surprisingly good news for progressives in Virginia, where two criminal justice reformers ousted long time state prosecutors in elections on Tuesday.

Next, we're joined by Dr. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, a Democratic campaign consulting and technology firm in North Carolina, though Busa is likely better known to many on the Internets as "DocDawg" from Daily Kos. Busa has been doing some excellent follow-up work on the startling recent disclosures by cyber risk researcher Chris Vickery, who explained on Monday's BradCast how he discovered "master passwords" for some of NC's electronic voting systems, and much more, on the state Board of Elections website last year. Hundreds of files and screenshots, he said, were all left vulnerable on the Internet, in a directory set as public, to anyone who felt like downloading them, at least since early 2016 in advance of that year's Presidential election and its stunning, razor-thin conclusion.

Busa, as a well known elections maven in NC, tells me he was contacted following Vickery's revelations this week by the SBOE's spokesperson with a vague explanation for the exposed files --- which were subsequently set to private after Vickery notified the Board about the vulnerability last year in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. But, as he documented at Daily Kos on Tuesday, the explanation by the Board's Public Information officer Pat Gannon only made the case "murkier". Gannon, according to an email he sent to Busa, claimed the files were old passwords that were no longer in use and that, in any event, they were encrypted when posted online. Busa studied the claims regarding encryption and finds them to be untrue based on evidence revealed by the unencrypted screenshot of the passwords posted by Vickery.

For his part, Vickery --- who previously told me he found evidence the passwords had been in other jurisdictions as well as the one county the state claims --- politely suggested that Gannon appears to be uninformed about the details of what was left online. "Both of these issues," Busa observes, "being told that they were encrypted when clearly they're not encrypted, being told they were posted in 2012 when pretty clearly they were posted in 2016 --- goes to the question of 'Are we being told what's going on?'"

Moreover, Busa hits on what he describes as "the most troubling part of this.". The larger question --- one that we've been trying to make clear since the night that Trump was supposedly elected: Nobody --- not the states, not Mueller, not the FBI, not the DHS --- nobody has done a forensic analysis of the computer voting and registration systems and tabulators used in 2016 to assure they were not manipulated in some way, despite the many claims made by the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Special Counsel's office that Russia attempted to interference with elections systems in as many as 21 states before the 2016 Presidential contest.

If "white-hat good guys like Vickery" were able to find these vulnerable files, surely black-hate bad guys could easily have done so as well. "If DHS didn't find those things, then DHS is not as good as Chris Vickery. And if it's not as good as Chris Vickery at finding the chinks in our armor, then it's certainly not as good as Russia's GRU is," notes Busa. So, why didn't the DHS --- which, the U.S. Government has claimed has taken unprecedented steps to work with states to help them protect our elections from vulnerabilities --- already find these files and notify the state about the serious breech long before Vickery did? Both Busa and I are still asking.

"With McConnell blocking any meaningful election cybersecurity legislation in the Senate, DHS's 'band-aid' approach to 'Well, we're going to consult with the boards of elections in the fifty states and give them some assistance, it really is just that --- a band-aid. It doesn't give me any confidence whatsoever, especially now with what we've seen from the Vickery information."

Also today, since we've been covering so much GOP corruption in NC of late, (Busa quips: "North Carolina has become such an embarrassment that South Carolina is considering changing its name to 'North Georgia'), the NC elections expert and campaign consult rings in with helpful insight on the crucial, upcoming, SCOTUS opinion expected anytime now regarding unlawful GOP partisan gerrymandering of the state's U.S. House districts ("we have very little voice in North Carolina today because of those gerrymanders"); two upcoming U.S. House Special Elections in the state (one in NC-03 to replace the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones and the other to fill the NC-09 seat, which is still vacant following last year's GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that left the state BOE unwilling to certify results last November); and an important project Busa developed last year at NCGoVote.org called "Reg Watch", to automatically notify voters if their registrations have been changed or deleted for some reason. It would be very nice to see that project scaled up to all 50 states if possible! We discuss...

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