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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, September 20, 2020
'RECOUNTED' with Nils Gilman, Mark Joseph Stern: 'BradCast' 9/18/20
On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
Federal Court Blocks 'Politically Motivated' USPS Changes, Orders Sorting Machines Reinstalled
Judge charges Postmaster General mandates undermined integrity of 2020 election...
More Wins in the War Against the War On Voting in PA, OH, SC & USPS: 'BradCast' 9/17/20
Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer plans to vote for Biden; Much more you need to hear...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain, floods; Fires in West behind mass bird die-off; Trump names climate denier to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science issues first-ever endorsement...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/20 - 9/10/20 - Archives...
GA's 'Experts' Flounder in Court Defending State's New Unverifiable Touchscreen Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 9/16/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Sally soaks AL, FL; Results of 2020's final primary in DE...
Mostly Good News in Battle-ground Ballot Battles in WI, OH, NV: 'BradCast' 9/15/20
Also: 175-yr old science mag issues first-ever endorsement; Corp. broadcast news outlets failing disastrously to inform electorate about our worsening climate crisis...
'Green News Report' 9/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Sally approaches, with more storms on the way; Deadly West Coast fires break more records; PLUS: Biden blasts 'climate arsonist' Trump and urges swift action...
Previous GNRs: 9/10/20 - 9/3/20 - Archives...
Fires and Liars and Modems, Oh My!: 'BradCast' 9/14/20
Guest: Jenny Cohn, election security advocate on 2020 hacking concerns; Also: Climate-fueled fires keep breaking records; More hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
Sunday 'Can't Trust the Media' Toons
But you CAN trust PDiddie to post the best of the past week's political toons in his latest collection...
GOP Gains Ground in Their War Against Voting and Voters in FL, WI, TX, NC, PA: 'BradCast' 9/11/20
Guest: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
Woodward Goes Wayward in 'Biggest Scandal in Modern Journalism': 'BradCast' 9/10
Guest: Journalist David Sirota; Also: DHS whistleblower and new report reveal U.S. Intel now fully corrupt, upside-down under Trump...
'Green News Report' 9/10/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
'Unprecedented' wildfires explode across Western U.S., man-made climate change is to blame; PLUS: Trolling for Florida votes, Trump flip-flops on offshore drilling ban...
Previous GNRs: 9/3/20 - 9/1/20 - Archives...
NC 'Secure White Supremacy' Law Struck Down, Freeing 100k Newly Eligible Voters: 'BradCast' 9/9/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern; Also: DoJ rescues Trump; Climate-fueled infernos in OR, WA, CA
Vet Group Cites Trump Attack on Troops as 'New Low' from 'Maniac in the Oval Office': 'BradCast' 9/8/20
w/ VoteVets' Will Goodwin; Record CA heat, fires; Ransomware specter; Kevin Zeese RIP...
Trump's 'Herd Immunity' Solution Could be as Lethal as Hitler's 'Final Solution'
Failure to contain the pandemic has led to a new White House plan to let millions of Americans die...
Sunday 'Postman Always Votes Twice' Toons
PDiddie gives his stamp of approval to all of the political toons in his latest collection of the week's best...
It's Reagan's Fault: 'BradCast' 9/4/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author/historian Rick Perlstein and Editor-in-Chief of 'The 19th', Andrea Valdez...
'Green News Report' 9/3/20
Climate champ Markey wins primary challenge; Admin racing to dismantle environmental protections; PLUS: Sign of the times -- ExxonMobil dropped from Dow...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

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

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: TX Guv knew deaths would spike after reopening, did it anyway; Judge reinstates NY Dem Prez primary; MT's Bullock leading U.S. Senate race...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start and finish today with some good news. Everything else inside that sandwich may be a different matter. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, a federal judge has ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate all candidates to the ballot who have not asked to be removed for the state's June 23 Democratic Presidential primary. The order is in response to a lawsuit filed by former candidate Andrew Yang following the state Board's effective cancellation of the primary --- ostensibly to lower polling place turnout to make it safer voters. The move last week angered the Bernie Sanders campaign, his supporters and, yes, Yang. That seemingly good news for voters is tempered by the fact that the NY Board says they plan to appeal the decision.

In less good news today, the coronavirus infection and death rate in Texas has --- completely predictably --- spiked with thousands of new cases after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted restrictions in the Lone Star State last week for businesses. Even more disturbingly, Abbott knew that it would happen, but did it anyway. An audio recording of a private phone conversation of Abbott speaking to other lawmakers released on Tuesday appears to contradict the Governor's public statements about what would happen after the state reopened all businesses.

Our guest today, The American Prospect's Executive Editor and investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN is not happy with public officials who are standing by while the nation is prematurely reopened for business, even as the COVID-19 infection and death rate continues to increase --- not decrease --- across the country. "Anyone working in the federal government on pandemic response right now who doesn't want to be known historically as a mass murderer should probably resign," he recently wrote in one of his must-read daily "Unsanitized" columns.

Dayen speaks to that ("The administration has pretty clearly signaled they are done with pandemic response. They're over it. ... This is a prescription for tens of thousands of people unnecessarily dying. And we should be really clear about that."); the disastrous roll-out of the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), meant to provide short-term relief to small businesses; the far smoother roll-outs of big bailouts for huge corporations; how the federal coronavirus financial relief response compares to the programs implemented in response to the 2008 mortgage crisis and Great Recession (about which Dayen wrote an award-winning book); and his scoop today regarding the U.S. Postal Service.

As we've discussed on the show previously, the USPS is in trouble, thanks to the crash in postal deliveries with so many businesses shut down. The Post Office does not receive any tax-payer dollars. It runs solely on the postage it sells as it delivers to every address in the nation, six days a week. It is also responsible for delivering absentee ballots in all 50 states amid the ongoing global pandemic and will be crucial to our ability to hold something that resembles a legitimate Presidential election this November. But now the Service has said they may have to stop operating entirely as early as June without an infusion of cash.

Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump in the White House have refused, so far, to provide a bailout to the Postal Service as they have for thousands of other private companies. But Congress did approve a $10 billion extension of credit for the USPS, to allow them to borrow more money to weather the crisis. However, the Treasury Department is holding up the increase in the USPS credit limit in hopes of forcing a bunch of conditions on them first.

"The Treasury Department, which offers that line of credit, has signaled that they will use that to make major policy changes," Dayen explains. "In other words, you want that $10 billion? You're going to have to pay the Piper. You're going to have to bust your unions, you're going to have to get some give backs on pay and benefits. You're going to have to do what we want in terms of package delivery. Specifically, making sure Amazon pays through the nose --- this is the thing Donald Trump is obsessed with, because he hates Jeff Bezos --- and you're going to have to institute a bunch of policy changes and give us some decision-making authority on personnel, including the Postmaster General. And that's just to get the loan. ... It's really an imposition into the authority of the Postal Service, which is an independent entity that is self-sufficient."

With that explained, Dayen's scoop today is that the Administration's strong-arming appears to be working. That insight is based on the recently revealed resignation from the USPS Board of Governors by David C. Williams, the former longtime Inspector General and the Democratic appointee to the Board. A longtime champion of the Postal Service (and its return to postal banking --- which could, on its own, save the Service, as we also discuss), Williams' departure, Dayen reports, is a very bad sign that the Republican appointees who control the Board are on the precipice of winning this battle.

What it may mean for the near future of the USPS and its union workers is ominous. All of this is made even worse because Democrats have now given away much, if not all, of their negotiating leverage in Congress to include a bailout for the USPS by kicking the can down the road in earlier emergency relief bills, even as Republicans got just about everything they wanted already in those measures. All and all, this will not be good for the American people in a multitude of ways.

Finally, we close with some slightly better news as promised. According to a new poll in Montana, the state's very popular Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is up by 6 points (46% to 39%) at the moment in his U.S. Senate race against the Montana's GOP incumbent Sen. Steve Daines. A once-longshot win for Democrats in the U.S. Senate, flipping a seat in Montana this year would go a long way towards flipping control of the upper chamber of Congress from red to blue this November. The state which went for Trump by more than 20 points in 2016 (on the same statewide ballot where Bullock won reelection the same year) is also now trending toward Biden, as the same poll from Montana State University finds Trump with only a 5 point lead (45% to 40%) over the former Vice President right now. Of course, it's only May. But we'll take our encouraging news where ever we can find it these days...

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

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert on press coverage of the President's historically unparalleled failure and knee-jerk 'Dems in disarray!' narrative; Also: OH, MD elections; Trump ignored intel warnings on Coronavirus...
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2020 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As of today, more than one million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 58,000 in the U.S. have been killed by it, according to official counts (which are likely no more than half of the real number of those who have died either directly or indirectly because of COVID-19.) More Americans have been killed by the virus over the past two months than all of those who were killed throughout all of the years of the Vietnam War. The unprecedented crisis has also resulted in unemployment numbers on par with, and potentially worse than, the Great Depression. So, given the historic enormity of this moment, are the mainstream corporate media covering the failure of the Donald Trump Presidency with the unprecedented historic context warranted by what my guest today describes as 'Trump's Vietnam'? [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Before we answer that question and many related others, a quick update on the voting that is concluding today in two different states. In Maryland's 7th Congressional District there was a Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. In Ohio, voting is concluding across the state for the Democratic Presidential Primary, hundreds of local ballot issues, and a number of contested Congressional primaries in a state where, thanks to extreme gerrymandering of its 16 Congressional Districts, primaries often determine who goes to the U.S. House to represent the Buckeye State. The elections in both states (each with Republican Governors) are being held almost entirely by mail, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Complete results are unlikely to be known for several days as ballots are being quarantined for 24 hours in MD and may still arrive by mail for 10 more days in OH. Both cases, however, offer a glimpse of what elections are likely to look like in about 20 states which still have primary elections upcoming in the next several months, and potentially in all 50 states this November.

Then, we're getting a glimpse of how COVID infection rates could soon begin increasing again as some Republican Governors begin taking Donald Trump's advice to start lifting stay-at-home restrictions to allow businesses to reopen. Germany began lifting similar restrictions just last week, and early evidence suggests infections may be on the rise again there already.

Washington Post is reporting today that U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned Trump about the threat of the virus to the health of Americans and to its economy in "more than a dozen classified briefings" prepared for him in January and February. Despite the "drumbeat" of warnings reportedly in those Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs), Trump publicly ignored them and/or downplayed the dangers of the virus throughout those months and even into March. WaPo's report, based on sources that include "current and former U.S. officials", provides yet another data point underscoring the epic failure of Trump to protect the American people when he had the chance to prepare for and hope to contain the deadly pandemic.

We're joined today by longtime media analyst ERIC BOEHLERT, who, in his new thrice-weekly free newsletter, PressRun.Media, has been comparing this historic moment to the failure of leadership and years of deceptions presented to the media during the Vietnam War. Given that far more Americans have already been killed by the virus in about six weeks --- versus the 9 years of that tragic conflict --- the comparison seems apt, especially during an election year for reasons we also discuss today. "No President, obviously, in the history of our country, has ever tried to run for re-election with those staggering statistics on his resume," Boehlert explains, as he has been reporting on the media's failure to adequately cover "the truly historic and once-in-a-century events that have quickly unfolded this year" or even just how "unhinged the Trump Presidency has become."

We also discuss the corporate media's years-long and still-continuing obsession with reporting their "Dems in Disarray!" narrative, despite facts suggesting otherwise --- or, at least in comparison to their years-long downplaying of a Republican Party that is literally falling apart before our eyes with a President facing historically low approval numbers and his continuous losses in head-to-head polling with the Democrats' presumptive Presidential nominee.

Boehlert cites "this drumbeat of Joe Biden stories," from the New York Times and others. "'Joe Biden doesn't have enough money,' 'Joe Biden doesn't have enough YouTube followers'. Those are all fair topics, but when you do it against backdrop of a pandemic, and you do it against the backdrop of a sitting President with 30 million lost jobs, that seems pretty trivial. But they are just determined to stick with it," he says, before offering evidence from the Obama years and the Clinton impeachment of "the epic double standard that [the media have] used for years."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as the U.S. oil industry continues its stunning collapse and as the Trump Administration desperately tries to find a way to employ Big Government Socialism to try and bail it out...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/28/2020 11:17am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump Administration desperately looking for ways to bail out U.S. oil industry; Big banks ditching Arctic drilling projects; Federal judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline (again); PLUS: New York City opening up the streets for pedestrians and cyclists... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): UN warns of 'biblical' famine due to Covid-19 pandemic; LNG market is “imploding”; Calif. greenlights massive Klamath River dam removal; Trump renews push for uranium mines near Grand Canyon; Big Plastic asks Congress for $1 billion bailout; Livestock destroyed as pandemic slams meat sector; Silence is golden for whales as coronavirus lockdown reduces ocean noise... PLUS: Michael Moore's "Planet of the Humans": A reheated mess of lazy, old myths... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Also: Trump dreaming about 're-opening'; Many waiting for checks that won't come; Some good news about Biden; And a happy ending...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2020 6:03pm PT  

What a week. We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, with much of it not good news at all. But we do try to offer a few bright spots along the way, and finish with a song, to make the stories you need to know about slightly less maddening. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

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

  • Biden leads Trump by 11 points in a new NATIONAL poll taken before Sanders dropped out;
  • Tuesday's shameful, disastrous and, likely, deadly "shit show" of an election in Wisconsin --- with in-person voting forced in the middle of a global pandemic by Republicans in the state legislature, state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court --- was even worse and more disenfranchising than previously known. Officials are now calling for an investigation from the U.S. Postal Service to explain why thousands of absentee ballots, many sent far in advance of Election Day, never arrived for many voters in Milwaukee, and as Republican state Sen. Dan Feyen now hypocritically wants an extension to vote for some voters in his district after several tubs of absentee ballots were discovered at a postal facility undelivered. (That, after he and his GOP colleagues in the state legislature repeatedly prevented a postponement of the election and applauded the SCOTUS ruling that prevented a 6-day extension for tens of thousands of voters to return their absentee ballots after having not even received them at all before the April 7 Election Day.);
  • And, in very related news, the U.S. Postal Service is now apparently on the brink of complete shutdown, as early as June, thanks to a decrease in mail delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats on Capitol Hill are begging for a short term bailout [PDF] for the quasi-independent federal agency that otherwise receives no tax-payer dollars. Republicans, however, blocked the effort to include $25 billion to save the USPS in the recent $2.2 Trillion emergency relief/corporate bailout CARES Act (which included $500 billion for private corporations). That, as millions rely on the USPS for prescription drugs and states across the country hope to rely on the Post Office for Vote-by-Mail primary elections in June and perhaps in all 50 states this November. Republicans also refused to include $4 billion needed to help states conduct elections during a pandemic, but they did include $400 million which, since there are few, if any, restrictions on that money, states are already using it for other things instead;
  • Finally, we end with a song and a laugh (cuz we really need both at the end of this week as much as you do), as Randy Rainbow plays us out with a tribute to his new favorite Governor...

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: American Prospect's David Dayen on the failure of coronavirus relief measures and 'Great Depression II'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Don't believe a word you are being told by the Administration or Wall Street. Actual facts and data suggest its almost entirely all bullshit. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The economic outlook in the U.S. continues to quickly degrade in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with another record 6.6 million applying for unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total number of jobless claims to an unheard of 17 million or so in the past three weeks alone, with millions more unable to even apply for benefits due to still-overloaded websites and continuously busy phone lines at states across the country. The all-time weekly record for jobless claims, until three weeks ago, was 695,000. Over the past three weeks it has been 3.2 million, followed by 6.6 million, followed again by another 6.6 million.

The numbers are stultifying. For example, that 17 million figure is more than the total number of jobs added since 2013; far more than the total number of jobs in the 20 smallest U.S. states combined; and far more than every single job in the state of Texas, which has the 2nd largest state workforce in the country. The unemployment rate, believed to now be at least 12%, goes far beyond the worst days of the Great Recession and are now in Great Depression territory, with some independent economists refering to what we are now looking at as "Great Depression II". (Check out the two gobsmacking charts in WaPo's coverage today.)

And, yet, despite those data, and still climbing coronavirus cases and deaths, we are getting a whole lot of happy talk from the Administration. And not just from our desperate, pathetic Liar-in-Chief, from whom we'd expect it, but from folks like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who absurdly suggested today on CNBC that America "could be open for business" by May! Donald Trump's Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell assured the Brookings Institution that the "strong economic footing" before the COVID-19 crisis will support a "robust" recovery, as if we could expect one any day now! All of which was enough to continue the recent Wall Street rally that resulted in the biggest weekly jump in the S&P 500 since 1974!

Everything must be going great! But, of course, it isn't. At least not back here in Realityville, where the "irrational exuberance" (as long-ago Fed Chair Alan Greenspan once described it) of the Administration and Wall Street is nowhere near seeing its way to Main Street. That, even though the Fed announced $2.3 trillion in new funding schemes --- creating money out of nowhere (no Congress needed, thanks!) --- in hopes of offsetting the impact of the pandemic on the economy. The Fed initiative includes something they are calling the "Main Street Lending Program" to shovel money to "Main Street" companies with up to 10,000 workers and less than $2.5 billion in revenue. Ya know, like most of those business on your friendly local "Main Street".

At the same time, none of the promised, measly $1,200 checks for individuals from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act have made their way to Americans yet (Mnuchin says "next week!"), and the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the same emergency relief package adopted by Congress two weeks ago is still said to be mired in bureaucratic red tape at the commercial banks tapped to hand out the money (and take a cut in the bargain). There is little if any money actually getting to people and small businesses that need it most at the moment, even as Congress was bickering again on Thursday about adding another $250 billion to the program which will still be woefully underfunded even then.

But, somehow, Wall Street and the Administration are sending the message that all will be well, with America "back in business" as early as May! Don't count on it.

Investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily and indispensable "Unsanitized" report (which warned about all of these matters before they happened today and were only then picked up by the corporate mainstream media) joins us again to help unpack the details on all of the above, more related failures, and a few that we should be expecting in the days ahead, as the dire situation gets worse and the irrational exuberance and happy talk from D.C. and Wall Street continues impotently.

"John Edwards used to talk about the 'Two Americas'," Dayen notes. "Those two sets of statistics couldn't be starker about the Two Americas. Investors are letting the good times roll, while ordinary Americans are losing their jobs in numbers with a speed that we have never seen before."

"The difference between 2008 and today is that, in 2008, the institutions that were getting this largess were largely responsible for the downturn, whereas these businesses pretty much aren't responsible for the coronavirus. When you look at the proportionality of the response --- when you look at the neighborhood pizza shop or the neighborhood dry cleaner, and what they have to go through to survive in this Second Depression --- and you look at a 'main street' business with 10,000 workers, or the airlines, or some other large businesses, the velvet rope service they are getting, it is obviously very disproportional," he tells me.

"So let's not say nobody has been helped. We sped relief where we could, to the people who this bill was for, and that's investors on Wall Street."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, with some actual good news --- even if it is paired, as usual, with her usual dose of much less than good news...

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More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Jobless claims skyrocket amid coronavirus pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2020 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With the frantic, if justifiable, move towards Vote-by-Mail in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one shouldn't underestimate the GOP scheming going on right now to figure out how to make sure that their efforts at vote suppression can continue none the less. [Audio link to show follows below.]

That's especially true since broad Vote-by-Mail programs are likely to increase Democratic "turnout" in many, if not most jurisdictions. (That, even as many Democrats, for their part, are underestimating the amount of fraud that can happen with broad Vote-by-Mail programs if safeguards are not carefully instituted. Such precautions are easy, given the rushed deadlines and lack of needed funding and manpower in most jurisdictions right now.)

Our elections this year are most definitely in peril. Even as many states have now rescheduled primaries, optimistically, until June 2nd. Georgia has rescheduled its primaries for May 19 (the date which was originally scheduled to hold Kentucky's primary as well, though they have smartly pushed theirs further down the road).

Perhaps most troubling of all at the moment, Wisconsin will hold primaries and a state Supreme Court election on April 7! That just over a week and a half from today, despite the Governor having shut down all non-essential businesses and ordering residents to stay-at-home through at least April 24! Election officials in several Badger State jurisdictions are complaining they will be unable to find enough pollworkers (resulting in much longer --- and dangerous --- lines); at least one major city is suing, declaring it "functionally impossible" to carry out the election while allowing voters and pollworkers to maintain necessary social distancing; and the County Clerk in for the state's capital (in one of the most Dem-leaning counties in the state) is seeing voters threatened with legal challenges if they follow his advice to declare themselves "indefinitely confined" in order to request an absentee ballot online without uploading a Photo ID, which many seniors are finding difficulty to do.

Nonetheless, the state's Democratic Governor is allowing the April 7 elections to move forward, and the Republicans in the state legislator --- who would be needed to take action in order to postpone it or change it to an all-VBM election --- are applauding the Governor. Now why would they do that?

In Georgia, meanwhile, don't be fooled by the Republican Sec. of State's lofty, high-minded explanation for mailing an absentee application to every "active" voter in the state. While that might otherwise be a very good thing, what about all of those voters who are still registered and eligible to vote this year, even if they have been marked "inactive" by the same Secretary of State?

None of this is particularly encouraging. Though neither is the fact that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this past week, shattering the decades-old record of 695,000, with likely many more who were not able to file this past week because state websites and phone systems were overwhelmed, crashing and freezing up.

But, don't worry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the quintupling of the all-time weekly unemployment record is "not relevant", thanks to the emergency stimulus bill passed by the Senate 96 to 0 on Wednesday night and now waiting for passage in the House, most likely on Friday. Of course, it's not only Mnuchin misleading Americans on behalf of the Trump Administration, the New York Times did a pretty good job of it as well recently.

All of which should serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting independent local journalism, with alt-weeklies dropping like flies (with no ad revenue to support them since restaurants, theaters, concerts, and other social gatherings are mostly shut down), even as their online readership is way up during the crisis, and local, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations also having a similarly difficult time keeping their transmitters humming during this pandemic.

We discuss all of that and more today, before closing with Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report, which, along with some good and bad news on the stimulus bill and some bad news about the Trump Administration's continuing rollback of public safety regulations even during the crisis, actually includes some bona fide good news from a federal court regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ongoing battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline...

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Guest: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the bill? Who's now holding it up? And how Governors are dismissing our idiot President...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Avery important lesson from the coronavirus crisis for progressives and for all Americans that I hope we are all able to remember once this crisis has finally ended. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article. Please click it!]

Britain's 71-year old Prince Charles, 71-year old Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and 81-year old playwright Terrence McNally all tested positive. The prolific playwright succumbed on Tuesday in Florida. They were all able to get tested for coronavirus. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans still cannot. Add it to the list of national disgraces we are collectively enduring as we stay-at-home as much as possible in hopes of slowing the spread to keep our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.

That said, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have come to an agreement on another emergency spending bill to address a bit more of the growing fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. The bill, if allowed to pass in the Senate by four Republicans now blocking it, and if House Democrats can pass a similarly acceptable bill, will cost a record $2 trillion. That's half the size of the nation's annual $4 trillion annual federal budget, and many experts agree, there will need to be much more spending hereafter.

And yet, nobody --- not Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives or White House --- seems to be complaining that we don't have the money to pay for it, or that we must cut somewhere else or raise taxes to be able to afford it. It is as if, as our guest today, Stony Brook University Professor of Economics and leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory STEPHANIE KELTON notes, we are able to just "conjure into existence, in a matter of days, a couple of trillion dollars," enough money for the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And, as it turns out, she is right!

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted recently in response to the sudden disappearance of so-called "Deficit Hawks" on Capitol Hill: "It's actually a fascinating progressive moment, because what it's shown is that all of these issues have never been about 'how are you going to pay for it?' It's never been about whether we have the capacity to do these things. All of these excuses that we have been given as to why we can't treat people humanely have suddenly gone up in smoke. And what has been revealed is that all of these issues were really about a lack of political will and who you deemed worthy to be in an emergency or not."

Kelton, the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has been trying to make these points of late in Twitter threads, New York Times op-eds, and her upcoming book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy. As she tells me today, "Congress will always find the funds to accomplish the things that it considers a priority. If that's tax cuts, then that's the priority, and the money will be there. If it's wars, that's the priority. If it's dealing with a global pandemic, then that suddenly becomes a priority."

She laments that Democrats, over months on the Presidential campaign trail, have not been able to educate the American public about these facts and how difficult it has now become --- after years of phony claims from politicians (of both parties) that the U.S. was going broke or that government should be run by the same fiscal rules that govern households and businesses --- "to disabuse people of these myths that we have heard from our politicians, pundits and reporters."

She argues "There is a time and a place for offsets. It's not a free lunch", but Bernie Sanders' call for "canceling $81 billion of medical debt is nothing. It's everything to the people who have medical debt. But from the perspective of the federal budget, it's practically a rounding error, it's so trivial. We could have done that and not offset it," she says. "The federal government's finances don't work like ours. They're not subject to the same constraints as a household or a private company. Once you get your head around that, a lot of other things follow."

"A year ago, could we have just done free college or Medicare For All or whatever? The answer is yes. Congress can write and pass any bill it chooses, period. The risk, though, is that if you don't include offsets, and you're simply authorizing these huge spending bills left and right, at some point you're going to eat up all of the fiscal space left in the economy. In other words, it's going to become inflationary. So there is a time and a place for offsets." That time, apparently, is not now, however. And she hopes that after this emergency finally passes, enough Americans will remember what happened here, how easy it was to "find" all the money when it was needed, to finally do away with the notion that endless wars and corporate subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy are the only things we can afford to spend money on to "promote the general welfare" of the American people.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including details on what the proposed Phase III emergency coronavirus spending bill will and won't pay for, and the good news that America's Governors --- both Democratic and Republican --- seem to be rejecting our corrupt, man-child President when it comes to his dangerous coronavirus idiocy.

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Guest: Financial journalist David Dayen on 'Phase III' stimulus/bailout, Trump's deadly lies; Also: India's total lockdown; NY screams for help; Dems unite against $500B White House bailout 'slush fund' scheme...
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2020 6:32pm PT  

As Congress fights over its promised $2 trillion "Phase III" relief bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we've got some dumb questions for our guest about it all on today's BradCast.

But first, some of the latest news from around the world and the nation. India announced a 21-day lockdown for all residents, including "a total ban on venturing out" of the house, according to President Narendra Modi on Tuesday. That lockdown for all of India's 1.3 billion citizens, in a nation with three of the world's 10 most densely populated cities, comes after just 469 identified cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths there.

That is by way of contrast with New York, where its "only" 20 million residents are now facing more than 25,000 reported cases and at least 157 deaths, as the number of cases is now reportedly doubling every three days. The most infections are in New York City, which does not even make the list of the world's 10 mostly densely populated cities. The state's Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday is expressing growing frustration with the federal government, after they received just 400 ventilators in New York City, despite a need for as many as 30,000. They also estimate that as many as 140,000 hospital bed will be needed for virus patients, while only 53,000 are currently available. The state, the Governor says, has not "flattened the curve," which he describes as "actually increasing" despite the statewide stay-at-home order issued late last week.

At the same time, Donald Trump is attacking Cuomo for some reason or another, while lying about GM, Ford and Tesla "right now" making ventilators "FAST!". They are not and likely will not be doing so for a number of weeks or even months at earliest.

Nonetheless, on Tuesday, Trump suggested that by Easter (April 12), he hopes to roll back the current White House recommendations for social distancing in order to try and save the economy --- apparently no matter how many Americans he helps kill in the bargain. And it could be millions dead if he follows up with the action that he and Fox "News" have been suggesting and threatening of late, while the President of the United States continues to misleadingly argue that "we can't let the cure be worse than the problem." The "problem" for Trump, in this case, is not dead Americans. It's a tanking economy that he fears may harm his reelection chances.

But while Trump is busy lying and misleading in televised briefings and Fox interviews, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are trying to pass a record $2 trillion emergency relief package and claim they are close to reaching an agreement. That, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, frustrated with GOP intransigence on the Senate side on Monday night, released their own 1,400 page proposal called "The Take Responsibility for Workers & Families Act" which would pump hundreds of billions toward hospitals, health care workers and emergency medical coverage while expanding unemployment insurance, medicaid, food assistance programs, offering $500 billion in loans and grants to small businesses, help on some student loan debt, and immediate cash assistance to everyone in America.

We're joined today by The American Prospect's Executive Editor, longtime financial journalist DAVID DAYEN to explain the proposed bills and answer several "dumb questions" of mine about how the bailout programs might be structured to actually ensure help to individual Americans rather than corporate interests. One is my question about his thoughts on my own bipartisan stimulus proposal for a bailout that would let corporations keep the huge tax cuts they received in 2017 (stimulus that many of them have squandered) in exchange for the same amount of direct cash payments to individuals now and in the future, until such time as both can be stopped when the emergency is over.

Another question is whether all rent and mortgages can simply be paused until the crisis is over. Dayen tells me that is called "forbearance" and a version of it was actually included in the proposal Pelosi introduced last night. Whether it will remain in the Senate bill, of course, remains to be seen.

Dayen, who wrote an award-winning book on the 2008 financial meltdown, also offers a likely explanation for Trump's threatened plan to try and re-open the country for business after Easter, and whether the economic damage wrought by the current pandemic is likely to be even worse than the 2008 mortgage disaster.

Also, the two excellent recent stories by David at The Prospect that I quickly referenced on today's show:

  • "Mind the Trust Gap" - The story of scarce face masks during a pandemic points to a greater failing: Government has placed corporate greed above the public good.
  • "An Iowa-Style Voting Disaster in Los Angeles": A new voting system led to a debacle on Super Tuesday in the City of Angels. With similar machines in critical states like Georgia, election experts are raising alarm. (As noted, I am liberally quoted throughout that one, but it is an excellent piece anyway!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report in these grim times, with a few more "bright" lessons we can take from the coronavirus fallout around the globe, several ongoing and pending climate crisis-related disasters in African and the U.S. Midwest, and California's largest utility company pleading guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter. (Told ya these were grim times!)

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News headlines and then live callers --- some of them heart-breaking --- on The BradCast, your 'Stay-at-Home' Radio Companion...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2020 6:05pm PT  

After a glitchy start with a skeleton crew at KFPK in Los Angeles, today's BradCast was a reminder, for me at least, of why radio over our public airwaves is so essential, especially now. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

After a few news headlines on the latest from our horrifying global pandemic --- more state Governors, thankfully, issuing "stay-at-home" orders; more coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. and around the world; more screwups from our imbecilic President regarding his "great friends" in Congress who have now contracted COVID-19; more fights in Congress about a $1.8 trillion relief package meant to save the economy and the American people (or, if left to the Republicans, to save Donald Trump and their favored companies, unless Dems continue to hold strong and not fall for another bailout con); and my own suggested Bipartisan Stimulus Relief Plan (the one that should be adopted immediately) --- we open the phones to callers who have been enduring "stay-at-home" orders now for days in California, as well as elsewhere around the country.

I thought today would be a good moment to touch base with folks to see how everyone is doing, how they are holding up in these circumstances. Right now, radio and radio stations are considered an essential service as part of our federal Critical Communications Infrastructure (a designation we take seriously.) So we hope to stay on the air as long as possible, with as much live radio as we can.

Today's callers help underscore why I believe that's so important. Among the many great calls today:

  • The 80-year old from L.A. who lives alone with his dogs and is having trouble getting food for them;
  • The blind caller from Lake Elsinore who is "terrified";
  • The caller from Minneapolis who felt he has never had to lock his doors at night, until now;
  • The millennial (and former associate producer of our show!) who reports that few in Atlanta outside her window seem to be following the Democratic Mayor's "stay-at-home" order, as the state's wingnut Republican Governor refuses to issue one;
  • The woman who believes we should call it the "Stable Genius Virus";
  • And many others, including the last caller of the day who....well, we'll let you listen, but it's a bit heartbreaking, and I wish I could have said more, though the show was ending and I had few words to help, I fear...

Hopefully, we can all come together with love at this difficult and extraordinary moment of necessary physical distancing, as opposed to social distancing... And thank you for taking the time to join us for The BradCast during this unprecedented time in history...

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Also: Judge overturns Mnuchin scheme to make 'dark money' even darker; Texas sued for tossing out absentee ballots without notifying voters...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2019 6:39pm PT  

"You've heard about 'Draining the Swamp'," Donald Trump's Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director told a bunch of GOPers at a fundraiser recently in South Carolina. "What you haven't heard is what we're actually doing." He's right. We try to do something about that on today's BradCast. Again. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

Lack of funding and a hiring freeze by the Trump Administration has resulted in a shortage of correctional officers at facilities like the federal lockup in Manhattan where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning. The billionaire financier and friend of Trump was supposed to have been monitored every 30 minutes by correctional officers after being removed, for some reason, from the prison's "suicide watch" list just 6 days after he reportedly tried to kill himself. But media reports say that Epstein was not monitored for hours before being found dead. Both of the officers tasked with the job were working overtime and one was merely a substitute, reportedly, not fully trained for it. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has temporarily suspended both of them and reassigned the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, as he claims to be seeking accountability for the failure at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility overseen by the Attorney General.

The lack of federal funding at BOP is not an accident, of course. It's just one small part of this Administration's ongoing efforts to, as Mulvaney admitted, "streamline government" by making it simply disappear any way they possibly can. As Trump's Director of the OMB, Mulvaney attempted to cut funding in half for several key scientific and economic departments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Administration implemented Plan B, which is what Mulvaney was bragging about to the Republican donors in South Carolina. The USDA gave just over 30 days for career officials at two important and long-established USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to decide if they wished to uproot their lives and those of their family's to move to Kansas City (either Missouri or Kansas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has not told anyone which state it will be) or be fired.

Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo has been covering the ongoing crises at the two agencies in a series of stories, documenting how senior officials, with decades of institutional knowledge are being lost in the bargain, as more than half of those longtime federal workers have chosen against moving 1,000 miles across the country before the end of September.

"It's nearly impossible to fire a federal worker," Mulvaney complained while explaining the Administration's scheme for forcing longtime federal employees to either move to "the real part of the country" or quit. "They quit," Mulvaney boasted to the delight of the corporate GOP funders. "What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven't been able to do for a long time." One of Shuham's latest reports details the gut-wrenching decision of a 30-year veteran branch chief at the ERS, who says that staffers working on everything from researching genetically engineered seeds to soil conservation to climate change are almost all entirely gone from the agency now, along with hundreds of years of collective knowledge and institutional experience. Ironically enough, when Purdue issued the letter to employees notifying them of the move, he claimed it was being done, among other reasons, to "improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff."

The gutting of the USDA is a "test case", one economist at ERS said. "If they can carry this out, what’s to stop them from doing this on a larger scale to another agency?" The answer: Nothing. They are already doing something identical to the Bureau of Land Management at the Dept. of Interior. And there will be more to come if these moves aren't somehow blocked. Donald Trump is actively and purposely killing your government and both he and corporate industry interests couldn't be more delighted about it. This will only be stopped --- maybe --- if he is turned out of office no later than next year.

To that end, we catch up on a couple of (mostly) good news elections-related stories today as well. In Montana, a federal judge has overturned a new rule by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would have allowed "dark money" non-profit 501(c)4 groups to keep their donors a secret from the IRS. Such groups are already exempt from disclosing their funding sources publicly, but Mnuchin didn't want even the Government to know where their money used for elections is coming from either. A lawsuit by Montana Governor and 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Steve Bullock has successfully blocked that new rule --- for now. It would have made it almost impossible for the Government to determine if foreign sources were unlawfully funding elections work by such groups.

And down in Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and other plaintiffs are suing the state on behalf of voters to force election officials to notify voters when absentee vote-by-mail ballots are rejected by county election officials in time to correct any perceived signature mismatches. Such decisions are largely ad hoc from county to county --- elections officials are not hand-writing experts after all --- as there are no statewide standards for making the determination that the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot does not match that of the registered voter. Thousands of ballots in the Lone Star state have been tossed without the knowledge of voters who, under state law, do not need to be notified about signature mismatches that will keep their ballots from being counted, until 10 days after the election. With Texas potentially in play for Democrats next year, every vote may very well matter. So this lawsuit, like similar ones successfully filed in other states in recent years, is very important on several levels.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which another new rule imposed by the Trump Administration's Dept. of Interior is set to gut federal protections for thousands of endangered species; his EPA has cleared the way for an enormous, controversial mine project in Alaska which threatens key, pristine salmon fisheries in the region; and with details on the one energy project that the Administration is suddenly interested in slow-walking for some reason...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt...
By Angie Coiro on 5/10/2019 5:56pm PT  

I'm Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro, in for Brad and Desi on today's BradCast.

One story after another is piling out of the House today: subpoenas, threats of fines for unanswered subpoenas, and more. Chelsea Manning is out of jail for now. The Pentagon is shifting important funds to building a border wall. Chobani steps in to save a school lunch program. And the interview by the BBC's conservative Andrew Neil with the right-wing Ben Shapiro is a lesson in how journalism should be done --- and why being coddled by friendly interlocutors in the past did Ben no favors.

Then a deep dive into a topic that will never die: abortion. This week's "heartbeat" law and shenanigans in Alabama are just the latest in the non-stop assault on women's health care and autonomy. UC-San Francisco's DR. MONICA McLEMORE and NARAL's AMY EVERITT tackle the topic from both the medical and legal angles. You can hear the whole one-hour conversation on the In Deep website.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Pompeo plunders Arctic for U.S.; Trump pardons war criminal murderer; White House blocks subpoenaed McGahn docs; Too much more...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2019 6:52pm PT  

Before we get to our Constitutional Crisis update on today's BradCast, we offer an update on our Climate Crisis, which the rogue Trump Administration has been busy exacerbating in the Arctic this week, to the horror of other Arctic nations. And, yes, our continuing national Gun Crisis returned to the headlines (did it ever leave?) with breaking news of another school shooting today in suburban Denver. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

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

  • Trump Sec. of State Mike Pompeo stunned fellow Arctic Council members in Finland on Monday, with a speech in which he appeared absolutely giddy about economic opportunities emerging from the quickly thawing Arctic. Without once mentioning the phrase "climate change" in his 2,400 word speech, Pompeo cited "opportunity and abundance" for those able to exploit previously frozen and untapped oil and mineral reserves in the otherwise pristine Arctic, not to mention "fisheries galore" and thawed "passageways" for travel and commerce that could turn the Arctic into a "21st century Panama Canal". The remarks, reportedly, came as a shock to other representatives of the Council's nations, there to discuss protection of the melting Arctic from political and economic threat.

    But on Tuesday, things got worse as the U.S. refused, for the first time, to sign a group agreement on challenges facing the Arctic due, according to Reuters, to discrepancies in the agreement over climate change wording, jeopardizing cooperation among participating countries as the Arctic continues to warm at nearly twice the pace as the rest of the planet;

  • Back in D.C., Donald Trump stunned the legal and military community with the Monday night pardon of a former U.S. Army lieutenant sentenced by a 2009 court marshal to 25 years in prison for the murder of an Iraqi civilian in 2008. Michael Behenna was granted Executive Clemency by Trump for the gruesome killing in which Behenna was found, according to military prosecutors, to have taken "the victim out into the desert in Iraq, stripped him naked, interrogated him while he had his Glock piston pointed at him, shot him in the head, shot him in the chest, killing him at that time," all outside of a combat zone and in defiance of both orders and the military code of justice. So, Trump has moved from sending political messages with the pardons of those who obstruct federal court orders, like the disgraced former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to granting Executive Clemency to murderous war criminals. Got the message?;
  • Before we move on to today's Constitutional Crisis update, an interesting background development, as Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department announced over the weekend that it had arrested and charged a Virginia man who served as an FBI linguist on counts of "obstructing a federal investigation and making multiple false statements to FBI officials". Of course, Barr has been famously arguing of late --- in regard to President Trump --- that, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence of criminal cooperation between the Trump Campaign and Russia during his investigation into 2016 election interference, Trump could not possibly be guilty of obstructing that investigation. With no underlying crime, Barr's legally unsupportable theory goes, there can be no obstruction of the investigation into those crimes. In the case of the FBI's cunning linguist, however, obstruction charges were filed with no underlying crime, according to a former federal and state prosecutor;
  • In related news, there are now some 500 former federal prosecutors (actually, over 700 now, since checking after the show), both Republican and Democratic, who have signed onto an open letter declaring that, based on the evidence revealed by the redacted Mueller Report, Trump would have been charged with multiple counts of felony obstruction, had he been a private citizen;
  • Then, the latest news in the multiple Constitutional showdowns between the Administration and Congress, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal to answer the Ways and Means Committee's statutory demands for the IRS Commissioner to turn over several years of Trump's tax returns and Barr's refusal to respond to a lawful Congressional subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to turn over Mueller's unredacted report and its underlying evidence. With a vote on contempt by the AG still scheduled for Wednesday in the Committee, it seems a good time to look back at the case made by House Republicans in 2012 for a contempt vote against President Obama's then-Attorney General Eric Holder, including speeches from a number of GOP lawmakers incensed at the time for the DoJ's failure to turn over subpoenaed documents, which they then described as unlawful disdain for both the rule of law and the Constitution. But that was then;
  • And, with both Mnuchin and Barr facing potential contempt citations, it was former White House Counsel Don McGahn's turn in the barrel today, as the White House stepped in to block his production of subpoenaed documents that he had long ago shared with the Special Counsel --- thus waiving the White House's opportunity at the time to invoke Executive Privilege to block the release of the documents now along with McGahn's testimony, according to largely every legal expert who doesn't work at the White House. (Though even some of those lawyers, according to WaPo, see the Administration's belated attempt to invoke the privilege now as legally dubious.) As that legal wrangle plays out, McGahn's next difficult decision will come on May 21, when he has been subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee to appear for testimony as a witness to numerous incidents of criminal obstruction by the President as detailed in the Special Counsel's redacted report;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report focused on the alarming landmark study released by the U.N. this week finding that human develop, consumption and exploitation is now threatening the extinction of some 1 million plant and animal species, a report that was released before Pompeo even arrived in the Arctic this week to dance on --- and plunder --- its melting grave...

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

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Guest: Ernie Canning defends inmate voting; Also: Trump lies (again) about tariffs, economy, China; House Judiciary to vote on Barr contempt; Mnuchin refuses (again) to turn over Trump taxes; 400 former prosecutors say Mueller revealed criminal felonies by the President...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2019 7:00pm PT  

Our lead story on today's BradCast makes everything else seem quite small by comparison. (And, no, that story is not the new royal baby. You're welcome.) Unfortunately, those other stories aren't small at all. In fact, they are almost all unprecedented as the nation continues its dark plummet into an historic Constitutional crisis under this Presidency. [Audio link for today's show is posted at end of summary.]

We cover quite a bit of ground on today's show, by necessity, if not choice. Among the stories covered...

  • A landmark, 1000+ page report compiled by some 450 researcher working with a U.N. agency, based on the data from 15,000 scientific and governmental reports warns that 1 million of the planet's 8 million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction --- many within decades --- thanks to human activity. The report finds that, more than at any other time in human history, nature itself is threatened due to human development and consumption that leaves land species finding "insufficient habitat for long-term survival" and oceans species in similar peril. While the report's authors stress there is still time to act to reverse this alarming trend, we break down some of their critical findings at the top of the show, since they are likely being overshadowed today with so much other insane news emanating from our nation's capitol and reverberating around the globe;
  • Beyond that disturbing new study, world markets opened on an alarming note on Monday --- including an initial 450-point plunge on the Dow --- following Trump's weekend tweets threatening to impose a 25% tariff on all goods imported from China by week's end. In ">his tweet, he included at least two lies, including that "China has been paying Tariffs to the USA" and "These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results." In fact, Americans pay those taxes, not China. And, as even honest conservatives who we cite on today's show point out, Trump's continuing trade war has harmed, not helped the economy, and the trade deficit with China has only gotten worse, not better, for the US in the bargain;
  • Posing an additional threat to the world economy is the Trump Administration's chest-thumping against Iran, including threats of sanctions against any nation (including allies) who purchase Iranian oil and the deployment over the weekend of an aircraft carrier battle group and a bunch of bombers toward the Persian Gulf;
  • Setting aside the Trump-caused foreign-policy and market crises, there's the Constitutional crises that he's continuing to exacerbate today here at home, where some 400 former federal prosecutors --- both Republican and Democratic, some who served as long ago as Dwight D. Eisenhower --- issued an open letter today proclaiming that, were it not for the Dept. of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, Trump would have been charged on multiple felony counts of obstruction of justice, based on the information detailed in the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report;
  • In related news, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans on Monday for a vote on Contempt against Trump Attorney General and "fixer" William Barr after the nation's top law enforcement officer's repeated failure to hand over to Congress the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence, as per a Congressional subpoena;
  • Similarly, Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Treasury Department will also rebuff a Congressional request from the Ways and Means Committee to produce six years of Donald Trump's tax returns, as per long-standing federal statute. Both incidents --- both unprecedented --- will almost certainly now be forced into federal court for adjudication;
  • Meanwhile, in New York, Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for Trump who predates Trump co-opting of the nation's Attorney General for that purpose, offered a public statement to media before heading off to federal prison for three years on Monday. Cohen will be serving time for, among other things, lying to Congress and carrying out hush-money payments to two women with whom Trump had affairs, a criminal conspiracy "directed" by Trump, according to prosecutors, in violation of federal campaign finance laws. In his statement, Cohen said: "I hope when I rejoin my family and friends that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country." In other words, he hopes that voters will remove Trump from office next year, highlighting the fact that as a federal inmate in New York he will not be allowed to vote in that election. But if the man who federal officials say "directed" the conspiracy --- who would also have been charged on multiple obstruction counts had he not been the President (thanks, in no small part, arguably, to those unlawful hush-money payments made just before the 2016 election) --- gets to not only vote, but run for re-election next year, shouldn't Cohen have a vote as well?;

That brings us to our guest today, attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG contributor ERNEST A. CANNING, who penned an insightful op-ed today arguing that the notion of "inmate vote is not a radical idea". On Friday, Republican state lawmakers in Florida enacted a measure that would undermine Sunshine State voters who approved a Constitutional measure in November, with a nearly 65% majority, that would restore voting rights to most former felons in the closely divided swing-state, one of just three in the nation --- along with Iowa and Kentucky --- to ban former felons from voting for life, even after serving their time.

But the idea of inmates voting, while still in prison, has been a matter of discussion and growing debate following the ACLU's recently-launched "RIghts for All" campaign, in which they seek to get 2020 candidates on record regarding, among other things, the right to vote by those still in prison. Currently, 48 states, other than Vermont and Maine, ban the practice. But, as Canning explains, "21 other democracies, including Canada, Sweden and Israel, allow all prisoners to vote." So, why should inmates lose their right to vote in the nation that incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other?

Canning, a Vietnam vet who also worked as a Senior adviser to VetsForBernie.org, explains the injustice and hypocrisy of barring inmates from voting, citing its lack of deterrent effect and noting that luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and that Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, would go on to become the formerly-apartheid South Africa's first black President and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In his article and on today's program, Canning also offers a compelling response to critics, like the President and many in his party (and in the Democratic Party, as well) who, as Trump's spokesperson recently charged, find the notion of inmate voting "deeply offensive", because it would allow the likes of the Boston Marathon Bomber and the perpetrator of the Charleston Church Massacre (both of whom have been sentenced to death), to cast a vote before being killed.

It's a long-overdue --- and interesting --- conversation that Americans of all political stripes, but certainly progressives, should have in "the land of the free", where First Amendment rights are still allowed for prisoners. So why isn't the right to vote?...

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

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