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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, June 20, 2019
SCOTUS Decision in VA is Good News, But Trouble Awaits: 'BradCast' 6/19/2019
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump lauds socialism at 'campaign kickoff'; WH, DoJ nix Hicks House testimony; Trump EPA to help kill 1000s with roll back of Obama coal regs...
Obstruction of the Probe Into Obstruction of the Probe Into Trump's Obstruction: 'BradCast' 6/18/19
Guest: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: S. America grid failure didn't stop voting...
'Green News Report' 6/18/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Lights out for S. America; U.S. cyber-intrusions into Russian power grid?; Record Gulf 'dead zone', thanks to climate change; PLUS: U.K. sets world's most aggressive climate target...
Previous GNRs: 6/11/19 - 6/6/19 - Archives...
Supremely Strange Bedfellows in Today's SCOTUS Rulings: 'BradCast' 6/17/19
High Court punts on discrimination, allows VA gerrymander fix, leaves double-jeopardy loophole in place; Also: Iran pushes back; More bad 2020 news for Trump; Callers...
Sunday 'Dirty Deals' Toons!
We might recommend a shower after enjoying PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Journalist Suspended by Twitter for Anti Alt-Right Book Graphic: 'BradCast' 6/14/19
Guest: Author, journo David Neiwert; Also: Admin's Iran scam; DNC sets first 2020 debate; Sanders defends democratic socialism...
Amidst the GOP Paracosm: 'BradCast' 6/13/19
Bizarre day at the Conway household; Remarkable GOP excuses for ignoring Mueller; MI drops Flint indictments; Musical tribute to the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues!...
The GOP is Now an Entirely Corrupt Enterprise: 'BradCast' 6/11/19
White House censors climate science; NC GOP lied to federal court about gerrymander; FL Repubs gut state initiative process; Jon Stewart shames Congress...again...
'Green News Report' 6/11/19
WH censors intel official on climate; DoD leaves climate out of Arctic strategy; India heat leads to violence; Canada bans single-use plastic; PLUS: Bloomberg 'can't wait'...
NC Voting System 'Master Passwords' Found Online, Downloadable by Anyone:
'BradCast' 6/10/19
Researcher Chris Vickery details his startling discovery of state's exposed files in 2018...
Sunday Toons from Across the Pond!
Pip-pip and cheerio, Euro-losers! Toons from abroad and, unfortunately, right back here at home, in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
20th State Votes to Overturn 'Citizens United': 'BradCast' 6/7/19
Guest: Aquene Freechild; Also: Biden flips on Hyde Amndmnt, swears off fossil fuel money (sorta); Automakers oppose Trump mileage, emissions rollback; Listener mail...
GOP 'Socialism' and Other Deadly Hypocrisies: 'BradCast' 6/6/19
UT stuck w/ coal cleanup; UN equates anti-choice w/ 'torture'; NC veto upheld; TX Guv vetoes domestic violence law; Pelosi wants Trump 'in prison'...
'Green News Report' 6/6/19
Trump proves he knows zip about climate (again); Meeting Paris pact targets could avert 1000s of U.S. deaths; PLUS: Climate change now a litmus test for Dem 2020 hopefuls...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Former U.S. House General Counsel Stanley M. Brand; Also: NC-9 GOP election fraud follow-up; Trump pal, Patriots owner in prostitution, human-trafficking sting; The President's musical 'Border Lies'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2019 7:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some maddening facts about what awaits when Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report is handed over to the Attorney General and what will and won't likely be in it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today...in "lighter" news...some followup to our detailed coverage yesterday of the remarkable events leading up to the unanimous 5 to 0 vote by the North Carolina State Board of Elections for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional U.S. House District. The action was in response to what the board described as a "coordinated, unlawful, substantially resourced absentee ballot fraud scheme" in last November's election by the campaign of Trump-endorsed Baptist minister Mark Harris. The decision followed on stunning surprise testimony against Harris by his own son at the Board's public hearings on the matter this week.

Among our follow-up coverage today: the (not-at-all-shocking if wildly-hypocritical silence from GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters who've made their living for years lying about phony fraud to encourage laws that suppress the Democratic-leaning vote, while hoaxing Fox "News" brain-addled clowns like Donald Trump into believing there's an epidemic of Democratic voter fraud, rather than the insider election fraud which can easily flip the results of an entire election --- as seen in North Carolina. It was also nice to hear the NC Democratic Chairman finally explain the difference between "voter fraud" and "election fraud" to NPR's Steve Inskeep on today's Morning Edition. We'll see if NPR can remember that difference in the future.

And, speaking of GOP hypocrisy, long-time Trump-supporting billionaire and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged today by Florida police for two instances of soliciting prostitution, as he was caught amidst a probe into human sex trafficking. Ironically enough, human trafficking has long been disingenuously used by Trump to support his "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military for use in building his border wall with Mexico. The news of the warrant for Kraft's arrest today raises a panoply of interesting issues which Desi and I take a few minutes to discuss.

Then, with several media outlets reporting this week that a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be coming as soon as next week (and, at least one outlet today reporting that's not so), the question of what happens whenever that report is finally delivered to the Attorney General is coming to the forefront.

My guest today, Professor STANLEY M. BRAND, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Government at Penn State University, recently argued in a column at The Conversation that those hoping the public may see this report after it's turned over, by statute, to Trump's newly-minted AG William Barr may be in for some disappointment. Brand, who formerly served for eight years as General Counsel to the U.S. House, now teaches a course on the Independent Counsel at Penn State, explains how it differs from the Special Counsel statute that replaced it after the Clinton era. He suggests the public may never see any of Mueller's "confidential" report.

More frustratingly, he tells me why he believes that Mueller is unlikely to indict the President or recommend such an indictment and how the by-the-book prosecutor is similarly unlikely to recommend impeachment in his report. Unlike the old Independent Counsel statute in effect under Nixon and Clinton, the new statute, he explains, as written by a Democrat, is limited to criminal matters only (not legislative matters such as impeachment) and requires Mueller largely to issue a "confidential" report with little more than details on who was prosecuted and who was not, and what, if any, actions were blocked by the Attorney General overseeing the probe. What Barr then does with that report, he explains, is a separate matter.

Brand, who says he has worked with both Mueller and Barr in the past, says "you may see portions of it, or you may see selected excerpts, or representations of what it contains, if Bill Barr --- and I take him at his word --- wants to be as transparent as he can within the rules and regulations."

In somewhat more comforting comments, he also contends, in response to my query about the curious timing of Barr being seated just days before news (accurate or not) of the report's imminent release: "I have no notion why it's wrapping up --- if it is --- at this particular point, but I have confidence that, if it is wrapping up, it's because Mueller has decided he's finished." He adds, "Nobody is going to push Bob Mueller around. So if there's a conclusion to this, it's because Mueller has determined in his judgment that it's time and he has no further actions to bring."

Brand also offers his insight on whether Mueller would testify to Congress, if subpoenaed, about what was in the report if it's not released to the public or even to Congress. The central frustration at the core of this conversation, at least for me, is that Brand essentially argues that Mueller can't indict Trump (thanks to very debatable, if long-held DoJ "guidelines") and wouldn't cite evidence of impeachable offensives in his report, since that is not part of the new statute's mandate, as written in the wake of "excesses" under the old statute.

"Leon Jaworski, who was the Independent Counsel in the Nixon case, decided that he had sufficient evidence to indict but determined it was not something he should do, given the ongoing investigation into impeachment by the House of Representatives," Brand explains. "Ken Starr, for his part, determined that he could indict a sitting President but determined as a matter of discretion not to do that, because the statute provided a specific mechanism for referring that type of evidence to the House for impeachment, which he did, and which resulted in an impeachment proceeding of President Clinton."

But now, If Mueller can't indict or recommend impeachment, how is this current process supposed to bring accountability for a scofflaw President? There is a lot more to dig into in our discussion, as maddening as it may be at times. It does, however, raise the clear need for a long-overdue Congressional Hearing in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee into whether a sitting President can, under the Constitution, be criminally indicted (a hearing that would, on its own, likely bring some accountability for our current Executive). It also raises the question of why the hell Democrats are waiting for the Mueller Report to be issued before taking action to bring accountability through impeachment, especially since even they may never see this report! If not this President, then what President would ever merit impeachment proceedings in Congress?!

Finally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that a vote will be held in the U.S. House on Tuesday to block Trump's "National Emergency" declaration under the National Emergency Act. It'll likely pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but what are its chances in the GOP Senate, which much also hold a vote within 18 days of a resolution being adopted by the House? And, will EITHER chamber be able to overcome an almost-certain veto by the President?

That all remains to be seen, but satirist Randy Rainbow has a few musical thoughts on Trump's "Border Lies" to play out us out today at the end of another impossible week...

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

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State Board votes unanimously after Mark Harris testimony follows son's dramatic turn against him on 2018 GOP absentee ballot fraud scheme...
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2019 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It looks like it'll be several more months before we actually have a member of Congress seated in the 2018 U.S. House race in North Carolina's 9th Congressional district. But, as of dramatic developments last night and again today, at least we now know that a new election is finally on the way. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

After a stunning past 24 hours, the NC State Board of Elections voted 5 to 0 on Thursday to hold a new election, following dramatic, surprise testimony on Wednesday at a public hearing over the disputed results of last year's NC-9 House election. Republican Mark Harris is said to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes out of more than 275,000 cast, but evidence of absentee ballot fraud by a Contractor hired by Harris prevented the Board from certifying the results.

On Wednesday, John Harris, an assistant U.S. Attorney and son of the Republican candidate, took to the stand at this week's public hearings to turn against his father by detailing warnings he had given his dad about the Republican absentee ballot contractor, McCrae Dowless, whose record of defrauding elections was clear long before he was hired by Harris for his 2018 campaign.

Today, we break down both the backstory from 2016 through the 2018 contest, as well as the astonishing key events from the past 24 hours in which John's testimony brought his father to tears in the hearing room [see photo above], and also stunned the McCready campaign which similarly not known in advance of John Harris' plan to take the stand to testify against his father's claims of innocence. "I thought what he was doing was illegal, and I was right," said John, discussing Dowless' record. In his own teary closing statements, he testified: "I love my dad, I love my mom, O.K.? I certainly have no vendetta against them, no family scores to settle, O.K.? I think they made mistakes in this process and they certainly did things differently than I would have done."

And with that, and a few other comments about the need to "transcend our partisan politics, and the exploitation of processes like this for political gain," we're happy to offer John Harris our coveted if more-rarely-than-ever-bestowed BRAD BLOG Intellectually Honest Conservative Award. We haven't given one of those out in years!

Moreover, just minutes before the testimony, emails and texts between father and son were released, detailing the warnings John had given his father Mark (a Baptist minister!) about Dowless, which undercut the Republican candidate's long-repeated, if never-believable public insistence that he'd known nothing about Dowless' penchant for forging absentee ballots.

In 2016, Harris lost the Republican primary by a very slim margin after losing an impossible number of absentee votes in Bladen County to the another candidate who had hired Dowless. In 2017 the state Board of Elections referred the election fraud case to the U.S. Attorney at Trump's Dept. of Justice. But the DoJ took no action, despite the mountain of election fraud evidence uncovered by state investigators from the 2016 GOP election fraud scheme. All before Harris hired him for his 2018 campaign and what state officials described earlier this week as a "coordinated, unlawful, substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme".

The 5 to 0 vote of three Democrats and two Republicans on the Board to hold a new election followed Mark Harris' own testimony in which he tried to distance himself from his son's damning testimony and attempted to defend his months of demands he be seated, before finally declaring today: "It's become clear to me that the public's confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted."

Buckle up for the entire sordid and remarkable tale as it unfolded today and the many subsequent unanswered questions raised by this entire shameful mess.

Then, how hand-marked paper ballots were instrumental to uncovering the NC fraud scheme, how the recent report that Trump's DHS has moved resources from election oversight to immigration/border matters in advance of the 2020 race, and the disturbing story of the long-time Coast Guard official who, according to federal prosecutors on Wednesday, was a White Supremacist domestic terrorist plotting to murder "leftist" Democratic members of Congress (many of whom have been singled out by Donald Trump), along with MSNBC and CNN media figures "on a scale rarely seen in this country." That, on the very same day that Donald Trump tweeted, yet again, in all caps, that journalists are the "ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!"

Finally, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report on the Trump Administration punting on action to prevent incredibly toxic chemicals in our drinking water, another global heat record last month, and even a bit of good news out of Australia for a change....

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: Public Citizen's General Counsel Allison Zieve; Also: Sanders breaks record; Green New Deal wildly popular; The off-the-rails Tucker Carlson interview Fox 'News' didn't want you to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Good news for Bernie, good news for the Green New Deal, bad news for Tucker Carlson and Fox "News", and the fight is joined against the "invasion" on the U.S. southern border. (No, not that one.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: When Congress settled on a compromise spending deal last week to keep the federal government open, the agreement included a special carve-out to protect a number of sensitive wildlife and tourism related areas along the Rio Grande River in South Texas, including the threatened National Butterfly Center and the 150-year old La Lomita Mission Chapel. But, as the Director of the 100-acre butterfly and wildlife refuge tells us, she is continuing the Center's lawsuit against the government because she fears Donald Trump's "National Emergency" declaration may now override the protective legislative carve out. "In fact, we expect the equipment already at work near us will just roll right over and through us," Marianna Trevino-Wright said via email after bill was signed and the "emergency" declared by the President, noting that even the current legislative agreement lasts for just six months before negotiations for 2020 appropriations begin. "We have not been spared," Trevino-Wright wrote, "We were given a temporary stay of execution."

Receiving no such "stay" however, are thousands of private residents living along the South Texas border. So, last Friday, the non-profit good government organization Public Citizen filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three private citizens and the Frontera Audubon Society challenging Trump's "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military in order to build his wall with Mexico on the border. The lawsuit [PDF] filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C. describes the scheme as unlawful and unconstitutional.

We're joined today by ALLISON ZIEVE, General Counsel for Public Citizen and Director of their Supreme Court Assistance Project, to discuss the complaint filed on behalf of three Starr County, TX residents whose property and homes on the banks of the Rio Grande --- where they and their families have lived for as many as five generations --- will now be bisected by a giant barrier, cutting them off from the river entirely. In one case, the wall would be built just feet from the landowner's house.

The suit describes the federal government's heavy-handed tactics to condemn and seize private lands from the plaintiffs as an "imminent invasion of privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their land." The case is also filed on behalf of Frontera Audubon, which charges the wall will impede migration of wildlife at the nature preserve and prevent their members from getting to where birds and other sensitive species are threatened along a 250-mile wildlife corridor on the Rio Grande River.

Zieve tells me how Public Citizen's complaint, filed last Friday, differs from the one filed by 16 state Attorneys General on Monday also seeking to block Trump's "emergency" declaration as an unlawful exercise of the National Emergency Act, and how the cases are likely to play out as they work their way, almost certainly, to the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly, she notes, "if any of the plaintiffs win" at the appellate level.

"If there's no emergency, the President can't declare one," Zieve argues, adding: "What it really comes down to is there is no emergency. Everybody knows that. It's not really that [the Administration] thinks there's an emergency. It's that they think the President can do whatever he wants. And that's just not our Constitutional system."

Also on today's show: Bernie Sanders shatters historic U.S. records for funds raised on the first day of his announcement that he's running for President again in 2020. And it wasn't even close. And the elements of the Green New Deal prove to be wildly popular, garnering well over 80 percent support across all political parties, according to a new poll by Business Insider.

Finally, the unaired profane interview between Tucker Carlson of Fox 'News' and historian Rutger Bregman about raising taxes on the wealthy that, apparently, Fox does not want you to hear, since they taped it last week but decided against running it --- so we did.

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

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Also: Bernie's back for 2020; 10 years of our 'Green News Report'!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2019 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The crowded Democratic 2020 field gets crowded-er; The GOP's years of phony concerns about "voter fraud" are revealed as even phonier; And our own Green News Report meets another remarkable milestone. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, 2016 Democratic primary election second-place finisher Bernie Sanders announces he's running in 2020 and immediately raises a "yooge" amount of money in just hours. But the progressive independent Senator from Vermont faces a new set of challenges in his bid to win the nomination this year among a very crowded and already-quite-progressive field of candidates.

Then, the North Carolina State Board of Elections finally began their public inquiry into the Republican absentee ballot fraud scheme that apparently resulted in the 905-vote "victory" for Republican Mark Harris [pictured above at today's evidentiary hearing] in the state's 9th Congressional District race over Democrat Dan McCready last November. Neither candidate has yet been certified by the state Board as its investigation has been ongoing for months and as NC's Elections Director Kim Strach charged this week that GOP operative McCrae Dowless, a contractor hired by Harris and Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker, ran a "coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme" in two counties, with enough questionable ballots to have called the Harris/McCready 905-vote margin (out of some 275,000 votes cast) into doubt.

Dowless' scheme, according to public testimony at the hearing this week by Lisa Britt, one of his team of workers, included illegally collecting and modifying absentee ballots; paying workers to harvest those ballots; changing votes with attempts to match the ink used on each voters ballot; falsifying witness signatures and more.

While the state GOP is still backing Harris, national Republicans have remained mum about the coordinated election fraud conspiracy --- despite years of false claims about Democratic voter fraud. It's still unknown whether the 3-2 Democratic-majority State Board of Elections will ultimately certify Harris, call for a new election, or end in deadlock, since 4 votes are needed for either action. If deadlocked (or even if Harris is certified), the issue will be investigated and decided by the Democratic-majority U.S. House of Representatives. Shamefully, after state investigators found that Dowless ran a similar absentee ballot fraud scheme in 2016 and sought prosecution from the Dept. of Justice at the time, Trump's U.S. Attorney in the state ignored the matter, choosing instead to prosecute a handful of alleged non-citizen voters instead of the blatant fraud conspiracy that appeared, once again in 2018, to have stolen an entire election (or more.)

Finally today, we celebrate 10 years of the Green News Report! Desi Doyen joins us for the latest GNR in which we cover both the environmental news of the day and our milestone of a full decade of independent green news, politics, analysis and snarky comment over YOUR public airwaves!

As discussed, Desi has been covering dire warnings about global warming and connecting the climate change dots before even I fully appreciated the dangers. I learned thanks to her important, repeated coverage of these issues as I hope listeners around the globe have as well over these past 10 years. If so, it's all thanks to those of you who have supported our efforts to help get the word out over your public airwaves by donating to our work via BradBlog.com/Donate.

If you haven't done so lately, or haven't signed up for a monthly subscription of any amount you like, please consider doing so now, as we rely only on listeners (not corporate ads, foundational grants or political groups) to continue our work here after 15 years of The BRAD BLOG and a full decade of GNR! Thanks in advance for whatever you can spare to help keep us going!

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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Trump's own Commission shuts coal plants in KY, TN; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'National Emergency' to come; Freshmen light up Committee hearings; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2019 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Seriously, coal miners should have voted for Hillary, as we learn once again today. But those who voted for progressives in Congress are getting their money's worth already! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Leading off today's rather lively show: The federal utility board known as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), now dominated by Donald Trump appointees, voted today to shut down the last remaining coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, once the heart of "Coal Country" as the nation's top producer. The move is expected to save some $320 million dollars for 10 million rate-payers in the region, not to mention the resulting cleaner air and water and lower medical expenses in the bargain.

The decisive 6 to 1 vote (which includes 4 Trump appointees) to close the dirty, inefficient decades-old plant comes despite pleas to the board from Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Trump himself and one of his top donors (Robert Murray of Murray Energy) who owns the nearby mine that supplies the plant. The TVA also voted to close another coal plant in Tennessee.

Several hundred of jobs will be lost in the bargain, which gives us the opportunity to remind listeners of Hillary Clinton's 2016 plan to invest $30 billion for support and retraining of miners and others effected by coal's inevitable end. It was while describing that plan when Clinton correctly, if infamously, noted that "we're gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business". The phrase was then opportunistically taken out of context by Fox 'News', Republicans and Trump himself to endlessly blast her during the campaign, even though she had been explaining the need to help those effected Coal Country miners and families to survive. Those miners, most of whom fell for the dishonest Rightwing smears and voted for Trump, will soon be out of work without the help Clinton had tried to offer them.

In other news: The U.S. Senate confirmed William Barr, largely along party lines, as the next U.S. Attorney General at a crucial moment in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe.

The Senate also voted to approve a $330 billion compromise bill to fund the Government, including $23 billion for border security, but just $1.4 billion for Trump's border wall, less than he would have gotten had he accepted the deal offered last December. Instead, he shut down the federal government for a record 35 days. The House just approved it as well, though a small group of progressive freshman Congresswomen vowed to vote against the measure due to its increased funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The spending bill is expected to pass the House nonetheless and, Ann Coulter's ALL-CAPS Twitter threat notwithstanding, McConnell has said that Trump intends to both sign it and then declare a "National Emergency" in order to steal tax-payer funds from elsewhere to fund his border wall. That move, if it happens, will be vigorously challenged in court and is even opposed by many Republicans.

Also today, a few quick words about Daily Beast's report that DHS is allowing two teams created in 2016 to help protect elections from foreign influence wither away in advance of the 2020 President election, in favor of moving resources toward border and immigration efforts. (More on that matter, hopefully, at a later date.);

Then, we share a couple of killer Q&A's from recent Congressional hearings by two of the aforementioned freshman Congresswomen. The first is a colloquy in the House Foreign Affairs Committee between Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and disgraced diplomatic operative Elliot Abrams, who has been pulled out of mothballs to serve as Trump's Special Venezuela Envoy. That, despite his having pleaded guilty to withholding documents from Congress during the 1980's Iran-Contra Scandal probe and his subsequent pardoned by then President George H.W. Bush. Omar calls him out on that, noting that she "fail[ed] to understand why members of this committee of the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful", and asking if he stood by his 1982 Senate testimony dismissing a massacre by U.S. backed troops in El Salvador.

Then, in another brilliant round of questioning, this time from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House Oversight Committee, the shameful lack of campaign finance laws and ethics rules for members of Congress accepting funding from corporate interests is laid bare. We share both rounds of Committee questioning in full today.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the hilariously panicked Fox "News"/GOP freak-out and lie-fest regarding AOC's Green New Deal proposal (in which, among other things, they charge that the legislation would result in banning cars, cows, ice cream and cheeseburgers), some very bad news about insects, and some very good news about the City of Los Angeles, which has already dumped coal-fired power plants, and is now moving to get rid of natural gas-powered electricity in favor of 100% renewable power....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please tune in for this full conversation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Climate/energy reporter David Roberts of Vox; Also: Witless Whitaker's remarkable House Judiciary testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2019 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast, thanks in no small part to a new progressive class of Congress members, general calls for a "Green News Deal" are finally beginning to take some shape, as an official proposal was introduced in Congress on Thursday. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

But, first up today, some of the remarkable testimony this afternoon from the nation's wildly unqualified top law enforcement official. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker answered and/or evaded questions in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Friday, as the new Democratic majority sought to learn whether he discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe with the President before or after being appointed to temporarily replace former AG Jeff Sessions, and whether he has interfered in any way with the investigation he currently oversees as Acting AG. Whitaker's remarkably evasive and, at times, arrogantly obnoxious testimony included remarks that lit up the hearing room with laughter as he attempted to inform the Committee's Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), that his five minutes of questioning had expired!

Then, we're joined by one of the nation's smartest climate and energy journalists, DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, to discuss Thursday's unveiling of a non-binding Green New Deal resolution [PDF] in Congress, as introduced by progressive freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and veteran Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), along with a host of Democratic co-sponsors.

Roberts breaks down the broad proposal for a "10-year national mobilization" to grow thousands, if not millions of jobs by transitioning the nation toward 100% "clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources". (That language, he notes, allows the debate between climate hawks on the left over nuclear energy to put off for a while.)

The measure --- modeled in scope after FDR's New Deal, LBJ's Great Society and even JFK's successful effort to send a man to the moon and back in less than a decade --- also includes a number of aspirational goals to help ensure "frontline and vulnerable communities" who face the worst impacts of climate change are also among the first beneficiaries of a national effort to tackle our increasingly dire global climate crisis.

Roberts details what the resolution --- the first to begin defining what a Green New Deal should actually look like --- calls for now and puts off until later (for example, how it will be paid for); how it places its focus on solving the problem while growing the economy, rather than on specific "markets and technologies" at the center of previous efforts to combat global warming; and how the introduction of the landmark resolution itself serves to force the issue to the top of matters to be litigated during the 2020 campaign. Already at least 6 current or potential Democratic Presidential candidates (Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar) have indicated their support for the proposal.

"If you can solve the greatest challenge that's ever faced the species with a program that creates prosperity and creates jobs, and puts people to work, and gets the US back toward good-paying jobs, union-protected jobs, and does the same sort of middle-class creation that the original New Deal did, why wouldn't you do those together? Why wouldn't you do it all at once?," Roberts observes.

Rather than focus on schemes that might somehow bring so-called "conservatives" on board --- a tactic which has utterly failed in the past --- this new effort, he explains, appeals to voters to put pressure on their elected officials to support programs that a majority of Americans are behind.

"Dems, up until really recently, would have said, yes, you have to have some bipartisan support, there's no other way to get stuff passed," Roberts explains. But, he says, Trump has "stripped away all remaining pretense and made very clear [that] there just is no bipartisan cooperation to be had. It's getting farther away. Environmentalists have been begging, watering down policies, watering down their rhetoric, tiptoeing around, echoing this fiscal responsibility BS that they hear on the Washington Post editorial page, trying so hard to lure a few conservatives over. And it just isn't happening."

"So, the other take is, stop watering down your policies. Be up front and clear about the scale and severity of the problem, and the scale of the solutions, and offer a solution that engages people and that people can play a role in --- get a job from, make money from, be excited about --- then you give it political momentum. So instead of persuading Republicans into going on, you frighten them into coming along. You show that this is a giant political snowball that's rolling downhill, gathering weight, gathering momentum, and if you get in the way and push the other way, you'll get crushed. That's how you persuade a politician. Not through the sweet light of reason. It's fear. A movement that is strong enough that you will be scared to buck it."

Of course, this is about both policy and politics. So, we also discuss the amusing, over-the-top freak-out now on display from the Right, with Fox "News" and other fossil-fuel industry propagandists and apologists falling over themselves to both slam and completely misrepresent what is otherwise a series of very popular, populist, progressive and long-overdue ideas to help lift the economy, wages, the middle class and, yes, help save the world in the bargain.

"The full-on, 100% ranting, 'It's socialism!', red-faced BS --- that response is automatic to anything. So what Dems should take from this is not 'Oh no! There's going to be rightwing backlash!' Of course there is! There's rightwing backlash to literally anything you try. And it's always maximal. It's always pegged in the red. So why not, given that, be as ambitious as you want to be? You're going to get the same reaction no matter what you do, so just go for it."

There is, of course, lots more where that came from on today's program. Enjoy!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Eric Boehlert...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2019 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast we attempt to make sense of last night's State of the Union Address. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

The New York Times described Trump's SOTU on Tuesday as "veer[ing] between two moods --- combative and conciliatory." Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer described it as "sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the excitement and the enthusiasm was all in the Mr. Hyde parts."

A majority of Americans who watched it, however, approved of the Trump's remarks, at least according to early polling weighted towards self-identified Republicans and right-leaning independents.

Our two excellent guests today, award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and author and political media critic ERIC BOEHLERT formerly of ShareBlue and Media Matters, now a contributor for Daily Kos, join us to make sense of both parts (all parts?) of Trump's at-times disjointed, at-times collegial, and at-times aggressive remarks as they veered conversely between out-and-out lies to something more closely resembling facts but shamefully lacking in context.

Did Trump meet the bar set for him by his own White House aides who'd promised new calls for "unity" and "bi-partisan cooperation" in his speech? Is Trump capable or even interested in that?

"These State of the Unions are typically the least awful thing Trump does in any given week," Boehlert observes, "because it's a prepared speech, it's poorly written, he delivers it poorly. But there are moments where he does appeal to independents. And then he goes back to the crazies."

Says Parton: "If the idea was to unify the Republicans, then yes, it obviously worked. By their measure, I think they probably did what they wanted to do. ... [But] there is no President in American history who is less authentic-sounding than Donald Trump when he's calling for unity and bipartisanship. And they know it."

Beyond those optics, we also dig into, among many other things in today's lively, very fast-paced hour: Trump's ridiculous threats against "ridiculous partisan investigations"; The striking image of a sea of new and veteran female Democratic Representatives dressed in suffragette white; Nancy Pelosi's triumphant new-again role as House Speaker; Trump's obsessive (not to mention graphic and largely false or misleading) continuing advocacy for a southern border just days away from another potential federal government shutdown; The stunning number of important issues (from the climate crisis to gun violence to the recent record-long shutdown and much more) that Trump didn't bother to even mention, for some reason; The misleading use of Venezuela's ongoing political crisis as an attempt to smear "socialism" in the U.S. in advance of 2020; and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' very smart, spirited and inspiring response to Trump's dark, long, and largely fact and substance-free SOTU...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Trump fails SOTU 'unity' vow; Inaugural Comm. slapped with federal subpoena...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2019 5:49pm PT  

So, a 30-year old, landmark nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia is now history. Just like that. And, beyond a few short hours of media coverage, it now seems all but forgotten. No big deal at all. Our guest on today's BradCast, however, strongly disagrees. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]

But first, a few quick items to kick off the show, including...

  • The Trump Administration vows that Tuesday night's State of the Union address will be a call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, before the Second Stupidest Man on the Internet (yes, Trump) attacks Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not winning enough seats in last year's midterm elections;
  • And federal prosecutors in New York file a subpoena seeking a massive amount of documents from Trump's 2017 Inauguration Committee, looking at virtually every aspect of the record $107 million raised, whether any of it unlawfully came from foreign sources, whether anything was unlawfully offered in exchange for donations, whether even more more was unlawfully paid directly by donors to vendors (and thus, unlawfully undisclosed to the FEC), and where all of that money (legalized bribes, in fact, a disgrace for all modern Presidents) actually went. It all amounts to more seemingly criminal chaos from anything Trump touches, from his inaugural committee, to the Trump Organization (his main private company), to the Trump Foundation (his phony, self-dealing slush-fund and "charity"), to Trump University (his fraudulent scam that settled several cases for $25 million just before he took office), to the Trump Campaign (facing myriad criminal probes and several convictions, guilty pleas and indictments), to the Trump Administration and everyone involved in it --- all being investigated by multiple state and federal probes at this point, at the very same time.

Then, we're joined by former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Obama, MICHAEL FUCHS, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal over the weekend from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement struck between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The historic pact had been the first to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons, ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.

With the Administration charging that Russia was in violation of the accord (which Fuchs confirms), Trump simply announced the U.S. pull-out, which was answered almost immediately by Russian President Vladimir Putin's own declaration in response that his country would now do the same. In the bargain, Fuchs explains, the U.S. has lost its ability under the agreement to inspect hundreds of nuclear missile sites and other weapons facilities.

What did we gain in return? Well, pretty much nothing, says Fuchs, who calls this "a very big deal", joining me in astonishment that coverage of this historic move to end such an important anti-nuclear proliferation treaty has all but disappeared from the corporate media within hours amidst continuing Trump-induced chaos. "In the age of Trump, nuclear weapons, climate change, things that could potentially end life on earth as we know it only merit fifteen minutes in the news cycle," Fuchs notes.

He goes on to detail what has been lost with the dissolution of "perhaps one of the biggest agreements ever reached as far as reducing the potential threat of nuclear weapons destroying us" and whether Trump's claims that this is all necessary to stand up against a supposedly growing military menace from China is actually true. We also discuss the real reasons that this "gift to Vladimir Putin" seems to have come about, how Trump's dangerous National Security Advisor John Bolton appears to oppose any and all international accords that tie the hands of the U.S. in any way, shape or form, and whether Trump's planned second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can possibly bear any realistic denuclearization fruit --- particularly on the heels of Trump again sending the message to the world that treaties between the U.S. and other nations are meant to be broken at the whim of an angry, brain-addled, and clueless President of the United States.

"The major problem here with throwing out this treaty is that, it is equivalent to basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Fuchs tells me. "Right now Russia is violating this treaty in a specific way, but a lot of the benefits of the treaty are still intact. Which includes the ability of the United States to actually conduct inspections and do verification of a number of different aspects of Russia's compliance with the treaty. By taking ourselves out of treaty, we are taking away our ability to inspect the other things that the Russians are doing here. And not only does that allow Russia to potentially start violating it even more, posing more danger to the United States, but it's giving a giant gift to Vladimir Putin."

Finally, Desi Doyen returns to "cheer us all up" with the latest Green News Report on hellish global warming-related nightmares from Australia to the U.S. to Antarctica; the oil lobbyist now nominated to be the next Interior Secretary; and the Administration's imminent plans to bulldoze the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to make way for a new border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: McConnell's Election Day holiday lie; Schumer's Trump 'intervention'; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some encouraging news for democracy (at least in Georgia), some predictable lies from the Senate Majority leader, a gentle rebuke for Trump from both parties, and a call for intervention from the Senate Minority Leader, among other things.

Just some of the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Georgia Democrat and potential U.S. Senate candidate Stacey Abrams, who will be giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, is set to run a television ad during Sunday's Super Bowl in Atlanta with a north Georgia Republican County Commissioner calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots in the state!

    The ad is sponsored by Abrams' non-partisan voting rights organization Fair Fight, formed after Abrams is said to have very narrowly lost her contest to become the nation's first African-American female governor last November to Republican Secretary of State and champion vote suppressor Brian Kemp. Both he and his GOP successor are now calling for the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to be replaced with new, very expensive and also 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems that produce computer-marked, human-unreadable barcoded ballot summary cards, rather than hand-marked paper ballots which computer science and voting systems experts all agree [PDF] to be the most secure, auditable and overseeable way to carry out elections;
  • In the U.S. Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a huge lie about the Democrats' "For the People Act" (HR-1), recently introduced in the U.S. House to call for a series of major election reforms. Among the many provisions in the measure --- such as universal automatic voter registration, expanded early voting, ending partisan gerrymandering and yes, ensuring a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter --- it also seeks to declare Election Day as a federal holiday. Naturally, McConnell lied about what the bill calls for on that point, and absurdly describes the measure as a "Democrat power-grab". We respond;
  • Also in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Trump's Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats calling for him and the other Administration Intelligence Chiefs to "stage an intervention" with the Commander-in-Chief, after Donald Trump described his own top intel officials on Wednesday as "wrong", "naive" and needing to "go back to school!" on a host of foreign policy issues. Trump's remarks came in response to the Intelligence Community's new annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" PDF. The report, and Senate testimony from the chiefs about it on Tuesday, argues that Trump is essentially wrong on everything from North Korea, to Iran, to ISIS to Syria and Afghanistan, and on his claims about an imagined "national emergency" at the U.S. -Mexico board.
  • But if Schumer really wants to "stage an intervention" with this President, his Democrats in the Senate and House could be calling for an immediate Impeachment inquiry. As detailed by Ernest Canning at BradBlog.com this week, the Nixon impeachment process reveals that it is both unnecessary and, arguably, unwise for Dems to wait for a report from the Special Counsel investigation before exercising their Constitutional duty;
  • Also today, Republicans and about half of Senate Democrats passed an amendment that (gently) rebukes the President by calling for U.S. troops to remain in both Syria and Afghanistan, in contrast to Trump's recent military directives;
  • An upside to the recent federal government shutdown? A beach in Northern California that had been closed will remain closed, because elephant seals have taken it over;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with updates on the record bone-chilling --- and deadly --- Polar Vortex cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast, evidence that Trump's intervention in Venezuela is, of course, all about oil, and some good news out of Germany which is now on its way to quitting coal entirely...

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

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