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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, December 11, 2019
USMCA, UK Elections, Much More: 'BradCast' 12/11/19
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Global Trade Watch's Lori Wallach and American ex-pat Denis Campbell...
IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES FOR DONALD J. TRUMP:
'BradCast' 12/10/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with a day of Dem whiplash on impeachment and a new trade deal; Also author Ramesh Srinivasan...
'Green News Report' 12/10/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat wave for Aussie bushfires; Oceans losing oxygen; Bankrupt PG&E reaches $13.5 billion settlement; PLUS: Thousands of young activists pressure U.N. climate summit to get moving...
Previous GNRs: 12/5/19 - 12/3/19 - Archives...
'Trump a Clear and Present Danger to Elections, Nat'l Security': 'BradCast' 12/9/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe and the latest Judiciary Comm. impeachment hearing...
Sunday 'Low Flow' Toons
When he goes low, the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons go lower...
U.S. Economy 'Whistling Past a Climate Graveyard':
'BradCast' 12/6/19
Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
'Green News Report' 12/5/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
The hottest ten years on record; GOP Senate confirms lobbyist as Energy Sec; CA bans all new fracking, for now; PLUS: Greta Thunberg is back in Europe, with a warning for politicians...
Previous GNRs: 12/3/19 - 11/26/19 - Archives...
'A President Should Resist Foreign Interference in Our Elections, Not Demand It': 'BradCast' 12/4/19
First House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable crimes w/ Heather Digby Parton...
'Abuse of Office, Abuse of Power, Abuse of the Public Trust': 'BradCast' 12/3/19
Guest: Const'l law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala out; Another bad court day for Team Trump...
'Green News Report' 12/3/19
U.N. climate summit kicks off with 'catastrophic' news in Madrid; PLUS: Residents back home after yet another petrochemical explosion in TX ruins Thanksgiving...
2019 Foreshadows 2020 Vote System Catastrophes: 'BradCast' 12/2/19
Also: Bullock out; Hunter 'guilty'; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer Qs about his new unverifiable vote systems...
Sunday 'It's Just a Cyst' Toons
As usual, as PDiddie proves once again, there is nothing at all to worry about in his latest Sunday collection of political toons...
Don't Just Debunk the Ukraine DNC Hack Conspiracy Theory. Expose Its Absurdity.
Why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election make no sense whatsoever...
Turkey Day Toons!
PDiddie doesn't even take Sundays off! Did you think he would stand down for Thanksgiving?! Gobble gobble!...
Trump Is Up Schiff's Creek Without an Alibi:
'BradCast' 11/27/19
Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts...
'Green News Report' 11/26/19
Climate change finds way into latest Dem debate; Greenhouse gas at record highs; 2019 wettest year on record; PLUS: Oxford Dictionary's 'Word of the Year' is...
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: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the stories covered today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Surprisingly good news from the courts; SOTU cancelled?; ISIS not defeated...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2019 6:42pm PT  

We start off today's BradCast with two encouraging legal rulings from the courts with our guest today, Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

First up, the damning opinion issued on Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan finding Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross repeatedly violated the law --- and lied about his reasons for doing so --- in adding a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Stern joins the federal judge in calling out Ross' lies about adding the question supposedly at the request of the the Dept. of Justice to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (rather than as a blatant attempt to rig the Census in hopes of boosting GOP political power during the next round of redistricting).

"By my count, Judge Furman held that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the law by adding the citizenship question in at least six different ways," Stern observes. "When you add them all together, it is a sort of symphony of lawlessness that cannot be ignored by the courts."

"Ross just lied. He lied to Congress. He lied in court filings about why he added this citizenship question. It is very clear, black letter law, that when a federal agency like the Commerce Department wants to take some kind of formal action, it has to give the real and truthful grounds for its decision, it has to justify it truthfully. Ross just didn't do that here." He goes on to explain, however, that, despite the encouraging ruling yesterday, the Republicans' stolen Supreme Court will ultimately enjoy the final say on the matter. He also shares his thoughts on whether Ross should be and/or will be criminally prosecuted for lying to Congress and the courts about the issue, as made clear by the federal court ruling.

Then, Stern offers some surprisingly good news from SCOTUS today regarding a unanimous(!) opinion from the Court supporting the right of some workers to bypass costly arbitration clauses and file class action lawsuits against employers when they are ripped off by them --- though only in certain circumstances. Still, given the unanimous opinion in this case, authored by Neil Gorsuch of all Justices, we'll take it!

Next, we review Tuesday's confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Donald Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr. Stern warns that his troubling record alone --- "Barr takes a wildly expansive view of executive power and authority" --- might have been enough to derail his nomination in any other time, but for the fact that so many Democrats and Republicans alike are now desperate to replace Trump's wildly unqualified (and, arguably, unlawfully appointed) Acting AG Matthew Whitaker.

Barr, who served briefly as AG in 1991 during the George H.W. Bush Administration (where he successfully pushed for Presidential pardons for a number of top officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal), promised independence from the White House and that he would allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his probe into Team Trump's alleged involvement with Russia and obstruction meant to cover it up. However, Barr equivocated on a number of points related to the probe, such as whether he'd recuse himself from overseeing it if DoJ ethics officials advised him to do so, and whether he would release Mueller's report at all to the public.

Stern shares insight and response to a number of other troubling moments from Tuesday's hearings, such as when Barr responded to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) about whether a sitting President could be indicted and when he was asked directly by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) about whether the Justice Department, under his command, would "jail reporters for doing their jobs". Barr's response on the former was questionable, at best, and downright chilling on the latter, from the man tapped to be the nation's top law enforcement official. "There's just a right and wrong answer here," Stern quips, "and he gave the wrong one."

Finally today, the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress previously scheduled for later this month may now be cancelled amid the ongoing historic federal government shutdown, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rescinded her invitation to Trump today. And, in Syria today, four Americans --- two U.S. troops and two civilians --- were killed and three others wounded after a bombing claimed by ISIS in a crowded area. The attack in the northern city of Manbij comes on the heels of Trump's claim to have ordered the withdraw of all U.S. troops in country, based on his assertion that "we have defeated ISIS in Syria." The President's claim --- which helped lead to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis before Christmas --- was, remarkably, repeated by Vice President Mike Pence today during an address at the State Department several hours after the news of the deadly attack on Americans and others in the war torn nation had become public...

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Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: Trump praises GOP Rep's violence against journalist at MT rally, as Khashoggi assassination roils...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no longer only political pundits and activists calling for Democrats to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding several seats as soon as possible, in the wake of the Republican Party's blatant theft of the high court majority. Esteemed law professors are now joining that call. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a word or two on the President of the United States' appalling celebration of violence against journalists at a political rally in Montana on Thursday night. To the cheers of his supporters, Donald Trump praised the criminal assault on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs by Republican U.S. House member Greg Gianforte. The attack last year was carried out by Gianforte, and caught on tape, on the eve of his special election to the state's only U.S. House seat.

"Any guy that can do a body slam --- he's my kind of guy," Trump declared to laughter and wild applause from supporters at the campaign rally for Gianforte in Missoula on Thursday, lauding him as "one tough cookie." The Congressman initially lied to police after the assault, claiming that he was attacked by Jacobs. Later, after he won the election, and after a Fox News crew who witnessed the attack detailed what actually happened, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and paid a small fine in addition to performing 40 hours of community service and receiving 20 hours of anger management counseling.

Trump's disgusting --- and chilling --- praise for the violent attack against a reporter doing his job, comes amidst Trump's seeming support for Saudi Arabia following their reported assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Journalists today --- including the Guardian's Editor and the head of the White House Correspondents Association --- are decrying Trump's support for violence against reporters, despite his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution's First Amendment. We decry it --- and the dark path where it's leading --- on today's show as well.

Next, we're joined by MICHAEL KLARMAN, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School to discuss his recent essay at the Take Care Blog, detailing "Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court" if they are ever able to regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The public conversation in support of expanding the number of seats on the high court --- which can be done statutorily, without a Constitutional Amendment --- has been intensifying in recent weeks. What had begun as a call from activists to restore a Democratic majority, stolen from them by Republicans in 2016, has quickly spread to academic and legal circles.

Klarman, the author of many books on American law and history and a former clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, argues that, in addition to the GOP's historically unprecedented theft of the high court and his belief that Trump was likely elected only due to unlawful foreign interference, a host of radical actions by Republicans in recent years at both the state and federal level, leaves Democrats with only the choice to respond in kind. If not, he argues, it will be nothing less than "unilateral disarmament" and an act of "political suicide" for the party.

"It's not radical. It's responding to an extraordinary rightward shift in the Republican Party that is tearing apart the rules of democracy," he argues. "The Republicans have already packed the Court," so "unpacking" it, he says, would be warranted.

"There's a kind of sickness that's been spreading in the Republican Party for the last decade or two. It's certainly not true of all Republican voters, many of whom I think would be unaware of these things, and would have a problem with them if they knew about it," he tells me. "But the Democratic Party can't go on playing by the established norms and traditions of democracy when the Republican Party is willing to do anything to win. That's unilateral disarmament. It usually doesn't work out well for the party that disarms. So this is a fairly mild way to fight back."

"My argument is not that Democrats should control the Supreme Court at any cost --- I think that's the Republicans' position, [that] 'we get to control the Supreme Court even if it means stealing an appointment.' My position is their theft has to be offset, and put us back in the position that we ought to have been at if the seat hadn't been stolen."

He leaves the case of whether Dems should run on a promise to expand the Court, or wait until they gain back control before announcing such a plan, to political scientists, but he notes: "We're going to have to think creatively in order to rescue democracy. And that may mean occasionally fighting back in ways that Democrats don't gravitate toward naturally, and that they would prefer not to have to use at all in a normal political environment. But you can't just respond by disarming in the face of this incredible threat that the Republican Party is posing to the basic norms and institutions of democracy."

Finally today, more news on the ongoing allegations of attempted voter suppression, particularly in southern states once covered by the Voting Rights Act until the central part of the Act was gutted by SCOTUS Republicans in 2013. That, on the same day that Trump's former longtime lawyer and business partner Michael Cohen broke his media silence to plead with the American public to vote this November or face "another two or another six years of this craziness." And then we enjoy another musical close to today's show, this time from actress Jenifer Lewis, of ABC's Blackish, who explains, in song, why it's time to "Get your ass out and vote!"...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ 'Gaius Publius' (Thomas Neuburger); Also: Keeping the arts alive in the era of Trump, w/ David Gans, Meredith Hagedorn, Ronit Widmann-Levy...
By Angie Coiro on 8/17/2018 6:12pm PT  

Today's BradCast is guest hosted by me, Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

The Toddler-in-Chief gives us all more fodder than we can stand for a news review: telling Vietnam vets they can’t tell the difference between napalm and Agent Orange; doubling down on pulling security clearances, because anyone dared challenge his authority to do so (those puny blowhards in the military and from the CIA!); and blaming everyone but himself for the skyrocketing price tag of his vanity parade. He showed us! He'll go to Paris and look at their parade, and buy himself some new fighter jets.

Then it's 'GAIUS PUBLIUS' - or rather, THOMAS NEUBURGER, who’s now publishing his commentaries under his real name. You may know his prolific work at Down with Tyranny. He's asked some provocative questions about unions vs. liberals, and how the Democrats fit into that picture. Just as we were speaking, word came down about Trump threatening to pull Bruce Ohr's security clearance. He had some choice words about that, too.

Finally: how arts groups and independent performers are navigating the dual challenge of diminishing funding and politically divided audiences. DAVID GANS is an itinerant independent musician; MEREDITH HAGEDORN founded the small, eclectic Dragon Theatre in a Silicon Valley suburb; and RONIT WIDMANN-LEVY is Director of Arts and Culture at the Oshman Family JCC , a multiple-venue events space. They all face different hurdles keeping their art vibrant.

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Guest: The Intercept's Ryan Grim on Senate Dem hopes of derailing Brett Kavanaugh; Also: The Administration's trade wars, new attacks on 'ObamaCare' keep undermining GOP voters...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2018 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's trail of destruction continues to spread, as Senate Democrats fumble for a strategy to oppose his new U.S. Supreme Court nominee. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, the President of the United States attacked Germany in advance of today's NATO summit in Brussels, charging one of our top European allies is "totally controlled by" and "a captive of Russia". Setting diplomatic failures and ironies aside, even worse destruction continues to be waged on Americans back home.

Trump's Administration escalated his trade war with China this week, announcing plans for another $200 billion in tariffs (taxes on the American people) on imported products, after China's dollar-for-dollar retaliation against Trump's previous round of tariffs on $34 billion in imported goods. The damage from that war is already being felt on the U.S. economy, particularly on farmers in Midwestern states, where sales have been plummeting for weeks after China stopped purchasing U.S. soy beans and other agricultural goods in response. BMW, the leading auto-exporter in the U.S., has now announced that new tariffs against China are leading the company to raise prices on SUVs, and move some of their manufacturing in South Carolina (and the jobs that go with it) out of the country --- to China. Vice-President Mike Pence is being dispatched this week to Midwestern states to try and convince GOP donors to stick with the party, despite the damage being done to those voters and companies in "red" states who had supported Trump.

As that self-destruction plays out, the Administration continues its pointless and cruel attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), even though those hurt by several newly announced cuts and refusals to make billions in legally-required payments to insurance companies (paid for by other insurance companies, not by tax-payers) --- as announced over the long holiday weekend, so few would notice --- serve to hurt mostly those who don't receive their healthcare via Obama's 2010 law. The new cuts and blocked payments, according to industry experts, will end up costing both consumers and the federal government itself much more money in the bargain, as premiums will now likely skyrocket again in 2019 and subsidy payments by the Government under the Affordable Care Act will be forced to rise along with them.

Then, we're joined by The Intercept's D.C. Bureau Chief RYAN GRIM to discuss the less-than-inspiring effort, so far, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to unify his Democratic caucus against Trump's second U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Schumer is encouraging Americans to call their Senators in opposition to Kavanaugh, and Ryan reports that he is warning colleagues they face a serious backlash from their base voters if they fail to put up a brutal fight against the nominee's confirmation.

Nonetheless, Ryan's sources also suggest that Schumer's leadership on this critical issue (and others) is lacking, to put it nicely. He tells me that Schumer has determined, based on polling and the Dems' failed effort to block Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee last year, that the opposition effort must focus on policy issues relating to Kavanaugh's record and the direct threat he poses to a host of hard-won Constitutional rights and statutes at SCOTUS. That, instead of a fierce procedural fight in response to the GOP's theft of the Court majority when they refused, in 2016, to vote on --- or even meet with --- President Obama's nominee to the court, Merrick Garland, for an entire year.

"He saw a lot of polling that was quite conclusive that the argument about substance was going to be the one that won out over the one over process," says Ryan.

That said, we discuss a number of options that Democrats could still pursue to block the nomination against the Republicans very thin Senate majority, including attempts to deny quorums in the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings and/or walking out of the Capitol to deny a Constitutionally-required quorum to prevent a floor vote entirely before the November midterms. Ryan tells me that both options have been and are still being considered by some Democrats, while going on to explain some of the considerable risks those options pose and why Schumer is said to be shying away from such hardball tactics.

"It is something that has risen to the level of leadership conversations, but as of now, it's Schumer's opinion that can't be done," he tells me, adding: "I don't think anybody knows what the best path forward is. It's definitely something that's being considered. And the more attention there is to that strategy and the more pressure there is, then the more energized Senate Democrats are. So it's worth talking about, at a minimum."

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Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on all of that and the stolen SCOTUS' anti-union decision today and whether it's time for Dems to 'steal' it back...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2018 5:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Political earthquakes. Several of them. All shaking up the political world just within the past 12 to 24 hours. As if we needed still more chaos. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We do our best to navigate through as many of those temblors --- one or two of them quite encouraging, the rest, not so much --- as possible, with the help of our guest today, JOHN NICHOLS, longtime progressive champion and Washington Correspondent for The Nation.

Among the several earthquakes covered today: Antonia Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year old Latina and political novice unseated Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth most powerful Democrat in the U.S. House, by a huge margin (some 15 points) during Tuesday's midterm primaries in New York's 14th Congressional District. The defeat of a 10-term incumbent, previously thought to have been a potential future Speaker of the House, by a self-described Democratic socialist who raised and spent millions less than Crowley, has sent shockwaves through the Democratic establishment.

"When we vote, this is what happens," Ocasio-Cortez declared today after her stunning upset victory, following on the heels of her viral campaign video in which she declared the race "about people versus money. We've got people, they've got money." In the strongly Democratic district in Queens and The Bronx, she is almost certain to win this November.

In Maryland, meanwhile, another proudly progressive Bernie Sanders acolyte, former NAACP Chair Ben Jealous bested several other Dems to win the nomination to run on his bold populist agenda against popular GOP Gov. Larry Hogan this November.

Also on Tuesday night, a federal judge in San Diego --- a George W. Bush appointee --- issued a ruling requiring the Trump Administration to reunite families separated at the border within 30 days or less. (Within 14 days, if children younger than 5 are included.)

On Wednesday, however, things to several turns for the worst. First, the stolen 5 to 4 majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, in yet another far-right ruling overturning decades of established law, struck down so-called agency fees that public sector unions had been allowed to charge non-union members in exchange for representing them in collective bargaining negotiations. Though federal law still requires that non-union members receive the same pay and benefits as union members, the Court's final ruling issued before Summer recess means public sector unions are likely to lose millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of members. The decision is seen as a huge blow to labor and a long-sought victory for Republicans. In her dissent to Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion finding the 40-year old violated First Amendment free speech rights of non-union members, Justice Elena Kagan charged her GOP colleagues with "weaponizing the First Amendment" for political purposes. "At every stop," she charged in her opinion, read from the bench, "there are block-robed rulers overriding citizens' choices. The First Amendment was meant for better things."

But the day's largest earthquake, by far, came shortly thereafter, as 81-year old Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative Ronald Reagan appointee, who was often the swing-vote on issues such as abortion, gay rights and other progressive causes, announced he would be retiring at the end of July.

Nichols, author of The Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse, helps us navigate all of the above today, with analysis and insight on all of today's political earthquakes, as well as my argument that Senate Democrats must now follow the so-called "McConnell Rule" --- which Senate Republicans used to prevent a vote on Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee to fill a vacant SCOTUS seat, for nearly a year in 2016 before it was ultimately filled by Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

Not only must Dems insist on no voting on any Trump nominee to SCOTUS until after the November Election and the seating of the next Senate, just as McConnell and the Republicans did in 2016, but since Repubs unilaterally changed the Senate filibuster rule in order to force Gorsuch's confirmation through with a bare majority, Dems should consider walking out entirely --- for months, if necessary --- if the absence of a Senate quorum might prevent a vote on whoever Trump nominates to fill Kennedy's seat.

Yes, shut it all down, if necessary. As I argue today, the stakes are now that high. In order to prevent the further erosion of enumerable long-held American rights and values, Democrats now need to put it all on the line in advance of the 2018 midterm primary, which could flip the balance of the upper chamber to the Democrats. Nichols responds with his own thoughts in response to my assertion, and much more --- including on some of the otherwise very good news for progressives from Tuesday's primaries...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'Korematsu 2.0' and how the GOP's theft of the Supreme Court has finally paid off big time...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2018 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. Supreme Court seat stolen by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans --- who carried out the unprecedented blockade of President Obama's SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland for almost a year following the death of Antonin Scalia --- paid off in spades today in two separate 5 to 4 decisions which should forever have an asterisk next to them in the history books. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First up today, however, primary elections are being held in seven states on Tuesday in New York, Maryland, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma, with primary runoffs in Mississippi and South Carolina. We'll have noteworthy results and problem reports on tomorrow's BradCast, though we already know of one huge problem in Baltimore. (No, it's not a mere "glitch" or "snafu", Baltimore Sun. It is a failure...at the very least!) On Monday night, it was revealed that Maryland failed to include updated voter registration information for some 80,0000 voters who made changes to their party affiliation or residential addresses since April of 2017. The announcement was made by the state late on the evening before Tuesday's elections, in which those voters were forced to vote on provisional ballots at the polls. Those ballots will be included in the results, but won't be tallied until next week.

Then, we're joined again today by Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss both of the U.S. Supreme Court's grim rulings today on Trump's Muslim travel ban and on so-called "crisis pregnancy centers", as well as several decisions from Monday --- all of which, Stern correctly points out, would almost certainly have seen the opposite outcome under Garland instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch who has been the "decisive 5th vote" in each of the cases. "Every single one of the decision that we're talking about right now would have come out differently if Justice Merrick Garland were sitting on the Supreme Court right now instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch. We would have an end to partisan gerrymandering, an end to racial gerrymandering, an end to voter suppression, an end to crisis pregnancy centers' efforts to be lawless and not have to comply with basic medical licensing. The travel ban would be struck down. It's almost brutal to think about how all of these cases would turn out if the man who should be on the Court were on the Court."

Stern details Chief Justice John Roberts' 5 to 4 majority opinion in the travel ban case, in which the Court overturned multiple lower courts to uphold Trump's third attempt at banning immigrants and travelers from several majority Muslim countries. As dissenter Justice Sonia Sotomayor also does, Stern compares the ruling to the notoriously shameful 1944 Supreme Court decision in Korematsu v. U.S., which allowed Japanese-Americans to be forced into internment camps during WWII. Today's ruling is being described as "shameful", “hateful" and "racist" by immigration advocates and religious groups alike. Stern calls the decision --- in which Roberts largely dismisses Trump's oft-repeated statements revealing his personal animus towards Muslims --- as "Korematsu 2.0"

"This Court is not as disturbed and disgusted by Trump's approach to immigration as I think a majority of Americans are," he tells me. "This is a Court that's eager to bless the President's moves in the realm of national security, and to basically believe his pretext, even when it's flagrantly B.S"

Sotomayor argues in her dissent: "By blindly accepting the Government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another."

Stern also details Justice Clarence Thomas' 5 to 4 majority opinion which, under a pretext of First Amendment free speech rights, strikes down California's restrictions on anti-abortionist scam artists posing as phony medical clinics to hoax pregnant women into not receiving abortions. Thomas, charges Stern, "wrote an astonishingly broad decision that effectively says the government has no power to regulate professional speech, no power to regulate medical speech, or doctors' speech, except when they are telling abortion patients not to get abortions." In all, he says, describing how the Court is also targeting voting rights by reversing multiple lower courts in recent rulings, they are "on a kind of tear right now, overturning court after court" and/or using any "flimsy reason to send a case back down" for rehearing.

Yes, elections matter, if you haven't noticed. In the case of the 2016 election, the result will now haunt the U.S. for generations.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the climate changed-fueled flooding in Iowa that resulted in an oil train derailment and hundreds of thousands of gallons of dirty tar sands crude spilled into the drinking water supplies, and other such cheerful news to close out today's program...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets, forcibly removes reporter, from water contamination event...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2018 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A host of important and troubling news items that you're probably not hearing much about as the corporate media continue their seemingly non-stop focus on investigations into massive Trump corruption. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, a disturbing move by the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday suggests a very dark moment for American democracy as reporters from AP, CNN and elsewhere were blocked from attending a water contamination event held EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. One AP journalist is said to have been "forcibly removed" from the building. That, just about one week after reports that the Trump Administration is blocking the publication of a major new report finding widespread water contamination across the country. That study is reportedly being withheld because the Administration believes it would be a "public relations nightmare" for the chemical companies involved, if it was released.

Meanwhile, a federal court on Monday found Texas in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for refusing to allow residents who update their drivers license online to register to vote at the same time, as required by the 1993 law. The Republican-controlled state appealed the ruling to the rightwing U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals just minutes after it was issued by the U.S. District Court judge, all but assuring the case, originally filed in 2016, will continue beyond this November's mid-terms.

And, speaking of Republicans who don't want certain people to vote, in Florida, John Ward, a GOP candidate for the U.S. House, was caught on videotape arguing that U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico who moved to the Sunshine State following the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year, should not be allowed to register to vote in Florida and should go back "where they belong".

Next, we're joined by Slate's fantastic legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer clarity on two disturbing, and very important cases this week.

The first is the story of a 24-year old DACA recipient from Seattle who was brought here by his father when he was five years old and detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency last year just after Trump took office. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a "Dreamer" with no criminal record, legally working in the U.S. after twice receiving protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was arrested by ICE in February of 2017 when they went to his house to detain his father. ICE subsequently booked Ramirez, lied about him --- blatantly doctoring a document to make it appear Ramirez admitted to being a member of a non-existent gang (he never was) --- in order to remove his protection and begin deportation proceedings.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, a George W. Bush appointee, found that ICE repeatedly lied about Ramirez and to the court about their evidence against him. "Judge Martinez is no flaming liberal, but he looked at the evidence before him, and he was clearly disgusted and incensed by what the agency had done," says Stern.

He describes how Ramirez was saved, for now, only due to his protected status under the Obama-era DACA program, which Trump continues to try to kill. "The only reason that this story rose to the top, and that it actually got before a federal judge who could rule on it, is because this guy is lucky enough to have DACA status. So he had this extra layer of protection that most undocumented immigrants don't have." Unfortunately, the dishonest tactics ICE attempted to use against Ramirez are usually successful, Stern says, explaining, "ICE agents do this all the time".

Then, we turn to an outrageous 5 to 4 decision by the stolen, rightwing U.S. Supreme Court this week that demolished the clear, statutory right established by decades-old New Deal-era labor reforms, allowing employees to file collective class-action lawsuits against their employers for wage theft.

As Stern explains, Monday's hypocritical and legally erroneous majority opinion in Epic Systems v. Lewis [PDF], written by the corrupt, self-proclaimed "textualist" Justice Neil Gorsuch (who occupies the seat stolen for him by the GOP Senate after Antonin Scalia's death in early 2016), was blasted by a furious Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her minority opinion, as the ruling, according to Stern, "effectively legalizes low-level wage theft" and is "nothing less than catastrophic for workers across the country."

It's really even worse than you may have heard --- if you even heard anything about it. But, Sterns adds with a glimmer of hope, the law in question that was blatantly misinterpreted by Gorsuch's judicial activism could very easily be amended for clarity in order to reverse this SCOTUS decision. The fix, however, would likely require a Democratic Congress and a cooperative President.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some insane new climate denialism by Republicans on the U.S. House Science Committee, and some much more encouraging news on several other related fronts from Britain to San Francisco to China...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: FCC appointee arrested for fraud and forgery, Trump nominee for VA appears to be in trouble...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: After a months-long drought of one of our favorite guests, legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate returns today! And we make up for the deficit with a legal lightning round on a number of big cases being heard this and in recent weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a number of important cases from elsewhere around the country.

Among the cases covered with Stern today: The years-long challenge to Texas Republicans' racial gerrymandering of Congressional and statehouse districts, which were struck down as unlawful by several lower courts, and Donald Trump's controversial anti-Muslim travel ban(s), which were also blocked by lower courts. The U.S. Supremes, however, may be on the verge of restoring both laws, according to Stern, despite previous findings of unconstitutionality. We also discuss the pending fate of two separate challenges to partisan gerrymandering heard recently by SCOTUS.

In both cases, Stern notes, referring to the stolen GOP majority on the Court after Obama's nominee Merrick Garland was blocked for a year, before Trump appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch: "I hope against hope that my predictions are wrong, but Republicans stole this seat for a reason."

But that's not all! We also hit several other important recent cases from federal courts around the country, which prove to offer a bit more encouraging news. Stern details the "complete train wreck" seen in a federal court in Kansas earlier this month, as their Sec. of State and top-shelf GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach disastrously attempted to defend his "proof of citizenship" voter registration law at trial. Kobach's humiliating effort resulted in a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge slapping him with the second of two contempt of court sanctions during the long case, and may signal, as Stern posits, the near end of the Republican Party's years-long disingenuous claims about a "voter fraud" epidemic.

"Kobach had committed a major self-own," Stern tells me. "He had gone into that trial thinking he was going to prove once and for all that 'voter fraud' was real, and he left that trial having inadvertently proved that it wasn't. He undermined all of the evidence that he had worked so hard to build up."

That, as one of Kobach's longtime colleagues in the long GOP "voter fraud" con, J. Christian Adams, finds himself as the defendant in a new lawsuit filed in Virginia by a number of U.S. citizens who were inaccurately accused by Adam's group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), in error-riddled reports titled "Alien Invasion of Virginia" and "Alien Invasion II", of committing voter fraud. Adams is accused by the lawful voters of violations of the Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and even the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

"It's satisfying to see these guys have to answer in court for all that they've said and done for so long, and it's great to see the victims of their slander fighting back in such a powerful way," Stern argues.

We finish up our legal lightening round today with a case decided last week by the Supreme Court, in which Justice Gorsuch, who enjoys the seat stolen for him by Senate Republicans last year, actually joined the Court's four liberal Justices in striking down a law that allows the deportation of immigrants accused of "violent crimes". While Stern applauds Gorscuh joining the liberal justices in this case, given the vague statutory language used for defining "violent crimes", he also cautions that Gorsuch's interest here may signal a broader, more disturbing scheme down the road by Trump's far rightwing appointee.

Also today: The Trump Administration doesn't appear to do any vetting of any of their nominees for any office, it seems. Last week, Elizabeth Anne Pierce, a corporate member of a public commission created by Trump's FCC Chair Ajit Pai, purportedly to help expand broadband Internet access, was arrested on allegations of fraud to the tune of $250 million for forging signatures on contracts on behalf of her startup high-speed fiber-optic company. And, on Capitol Hill today, Navy Admiral Ronny Jackson, Trump's personal physician turned nominee to head the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, comes under fire from Senators of both parties, regarding his complete lack of experience for such a role, but also for reports of fostering a "hostile work environment", "excessive drinking on the job" and "improperly dispensing meds" among other things. In the bargain, today at the White House, Trump appeared to begin the process of throwing Jackson --- who he reportedly had to convince to accept the nomination to head the VA and its 360,000 employees --- under the nearest bus.

And finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, and for a tribute or two to Schoolhouse Rock creator Bob Dorough, who died today at the age of 94...

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Guest: Political scientist and author David Faris of Roosevelt University on radically reforming 'long-term structural barriers to progressive power'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2018 6:41pm PT  

On one of the ugliest political days in recent memory (and they are likely to get still uglier --- and deadlier, as Trump launches a military attack against Syria moments ago), we fight our way on today's BradCast, out of the slime to look beyond the near horizon for how progressives can change structural impediments in our political system, just as soon as Democrats are able to regain majorities in both Congress and the White House. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, we wade into the swamp long enough to cover Donald Trump's stunning pardon on Friday of former Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, a felon who was found guilty of having lied to federal investigators and obstructing justice after purposely leaking the highly classified identify of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame to the media during the run up to the Iraq War. That, as an enraged Trump took to Twitter on Friday to tar former Republican FBI Director James Comey as a "LEAKER & LIAR" and "slime ball" following the release of his new book.

But, as we strive today to look towards a brighter future somehow, we are joined by DAVID FARIS, political science professor at Roosevelt University and author of the new book out this week, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. Faris' book outlines a number of radical ideas for a progressive institutional restructuring of our democracy which, he argues, can and should all be carried out just as soon as Democrats regain control of the House, Senate and White House.

The "procedural proposals", as he describes them, include, among other things: statehood ("on Day 1") for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico (and breaking California into several smaller states); transformation of our federal judiciary (by, among other things, doing away with lifetime tenures on the federal bench and a forced restoration of a Democratic majority on the Republican's stolen Supreme Court); and restructuring the U.S. House for proportional representation to help overcome the scourge of extreme partisan gerrymandering. All of which, Faris takes pains to note, can be done without the daunting task of amending the U.S. Constitution, and, as he argues, would be no more radical than ideas that Republicans have both been instituting for decades and plan to implement in the near future, unless they are prevented from doing so.

"Most of the ideas in this book I consider a process of rectifying existing injustices in our electoral system and our political processes, and then responding in kind to some of these Republicans escalations --- partly to convince the Republican Party that some of the things they are doing are deeply destructive, and that they will lead to retaliation," Faris tells me. "I think they are assuming things like holding a Supreme Court seat open for Neil Gorsuch will not get a reply from the opposition."

"Part of the purpose of the book," he continues, "is to outline a series of ideas that are actually the right thing to do. I don't consider them to be 'fighting dirty'. I think it will be perceived as fighting dirty, but I actually really believe in all these ideas as improving the long-term performance of our democracy overall."

Faris argues that "Democrats have to take some of these procedural issues and these electoral issues much more seriously. I think they need to take them as seriously as they take their policy proposals, and their intra-party battles over what the party's stance should be on certain issues. Because the reality is in national politics, in every election for the last twenty years, the Democrats have been fighting at a really significant disadvantage, due to things like felon disenfranchisement laws, like gerrymandering, like voter ID laws. And if they don't seriously rethink some of these things, they may come back to power in 2020, but they're going to kick it right back in 2022, or 2024, or 2026. Because these long-term structural barriers to progressive power are very poorly understood by the broader public. And, in all cases, they are an affront to the spirit of small-d 'democracy' as it should be practiced, and as it is practiced in most of the rest of the world."

I hope you'll tune in for the detailed discussion (and debate) on a number of Faris' fascinating proposals for reform on today's program --- and why it is that Democrats have shied away from them for too long --- before we then head back into Trump's swamp for a few more minutes at show's end.

Among those slimy stories to close out the week: The U.S. Senate confirms Andrew Wheeler as second in command to embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Wheeler was, until his nomination late last year, a very powerful coal industry lobbyist and will now take charge of the EPA if Pruitt is pushed out.

And, finally today, wealthy Trump and George W. Bush donor Elliot Broidy steps down as the RNC's deputy finance chair after revelations that he paid a Playboy playmate $1.6 million to keep quiet about an affair in which she was reportedly impregnated and had an abortion. The man who set up the hush money payoff for Broidy? Donald Trump's personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen, whose office and residences were raided at the beginning of the week in relation to, among other things, virtually identical schemes to prevent adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal from revealing their own affairs with Trump in the days just before the 2016 Presidential election...

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Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: GOP 'Green Party' dirty tricks in MT's U.S. Senate race; And, the movement to repeal the 2nd Amendment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: GOP dirty tricks in Montana; why an alleged torturer should be imprisoned rather than promoted to CIA chief; and, abolishing the 2nd Amendment all together. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted this week that stealing a Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court was his crowning achievement after three decades in Congress. But he's not done packing the federal courts just yet for another generation, which underscores his urgency in trying to hang on to the GOP's thin majority in the U.S. Senate this November.

That may also help to explain the bizarre situation in Montana's U.S. Senate race, where the GOP appears to have ginned up a fake Green Party candidate who was previously on the state Republican Party's payroll, in hopes of siphoning votes away from Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in an otherwise very Trumpy state. (But did the Dems do something similar in supporting a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate back in 2012, the last time Tester was on the ballot?)

Meanwhile, the Senate returns from their recess next week, and will soon begin confirmation hearings for a number of recent high-level Trump cabinet and executive agency nominees. Among them is Gina Haspel, the CIA's Deputy Director who has been tapped to take Mike Pompeo's spot as CIA chief (after Pompeo was nominated to become the new Sec. of State following Trump's firing of Rex Tillerson.)

Haspel, however, was the CIA's chief of a secret U.S. prison in Thailand following the 9/11 attacks, where a number of terror suspects were tortured in 2002, in violation of long-held international treaties, to which the U.S. has been a party, at least, since the days of Ronald Reagan. She also reportedly signed off on the destruction of the video-taped evidence that documented the horrific torture by the U.S. at that prison.

We're joined today by ERNEST A. CANNING, attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst, for whom the matter of someone alleged to have overseen torture becoming the next CIA director is very personal.

Canning's father, as he detailed in a recent article, was imprisoned and waterboarded by the Japanese during WWII, before testifying against his torturers during the war crimes trials held by the Allies after the war. We discuss what happened to his father at the hands of the Japanese command of the notorious Bridge House prison, why the U.S. has long held torture to be a violation of international law, and how the Democrats' failure to demand accountability of Bush-era torturers has resulted in Haspel's nomination, rather than imprisonment.

He explains that while the Japanese general in charge of the notorious Shanghai prison "did not personally take part in my father's torture, he was sentenced to a life sentence under a principle called 'command responsibility'. He had command responsibility over the people who were carrying out torture in an agency that he was responsible for. And if you use that same principle of 'command responsibility', which remains viable under intentional law today, Gina Haspel should be in prison. She should not be coming before the Senate to be confirmed as the CIA's next director. And, I think it's a slap in the face of everybody who has ever undergone such horrific treatment that Donald Trump would nominate her."

(Also, just to lighten things up a bit, I also get Ernie's take on Trump's asinine and evidence-free reiteration in West Virginia on Thursday, that millions of fraudulent votes accounted for his 3 million vote loss to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 popular vote count.)

Finally, a federal judge in Massachusetts on Friday upheld the state's ban on military-style assault weapons. And we share some listener mail in response to retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' op-ed last week, wherein he suggested that it's time to repeal the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution...

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Guest: Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause; Also: KY school shooting, Trump supporter threatens CNN, Dems' tough decision as next shutdown nears...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2018 6:08pm PT  

Did Donald Trump or the Trump Campaign or the Trump Organization violate federal law in a hush money payoff to a porn star? On today's BradCast, we speak with the lawyer from a good-government group that has now filed complaints with the Federal Elections Commission and Dept. of Justice to that end, which he describes as "a very obvious and very clear violation of federal campaign finance law." [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, the latest news on the latest school shooting, this time in rural Kentucky, where 12 students were shot, two of them killed, after a 15-year old student unleashed a barrage of gunfire at Marshall County High School just before classes were set to begin on Tuesday morning. It was the first fatal school shooting of 2018, though reportedly the 9th since the first of the year, and 283rd since 2013. In related news, a 19-year old apparent Trump supporter was arrested after repeatedly threatening CNN's Atlanta headquarters earlier this month on the heels of the President's continued targeting of the news network as "fake news".

Then, we discuss some of the newly reported details outlining how it is that Senate Democrats caved on Monday in their government shutdown standoff with Trump and Republicans in regard to protecting some 800,000 "Dreamers" from deportation, including evidence to strongly suggest we are quickly heading towards another shutdown and/or cave in just over two weeks time when the stop-gap spending measure passed on Monday night runs out.

Next, we're joined by PAUL S. RYAN, Vice President of Policy & Litigation at Common Cause, to discuss the two complaints filed on Monday with the FEC [PDF] and with the DoJ [PDF] regarding the payoff made via a shell company set up by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, allegedly to buy the silence of adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) just before the 2016 Presidential election. Trump is alleged to have had an affair, according to the Wall Street Journal, with Clifford/Daniels in 2006, shortly after his wife Melania had given birth to their son.

Ryan and Common Causes' complaints contend that the $130,000 payout appears to have been an unlawful, unreported in-kind donation to the Trump campaign, funded either by the Trump Organization, another person or corporation or Trump himself which, in any of those cases, would be a violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA). The longtime campaign finance attorney explains the law in question and handicaps the odds of whether the FEC or DoJ will take action in response.

"At a minimum here," Ryan tells me, detailing who may be culpable, "we seem to be looking at a campaign finance disclosure violation --- because the Trump Campaign Committee didn't report any of this --- and, unless the money came from Trump's own pocket, then we're also talking about a contribution violation, as well."

While the question of who put up the $130k is still unknown, he argues that there is no legitimate way to argue that the payout --- given its timing, shortly after the Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape came out, and the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from nearly 20 women --- was not meant to influence the election by keeping Daniels from talking to the press. "The timing, with the imminent threat by Stormy Daniels that she was going public with her story, to me, makes this clearly stand as a payment that was all about the election and keeping her quiet up to and until the election."

In related matters, Ryan also offers a few quick takes in response to some questions I had on several other recent news events from the past 24 hours or so, including whether the Trump Administration violated the law with their partisan outgoing voice message on the White House comment line during the shutdown over the weekend; whether any laws were violated by a Monday night dinner meeting on what are said to have been "important issues facing our country", between several Republican Senators, members of Trump's cabinet and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; and whether Republicans in Pennsylvania have a leg to stand on in their promise to make a federal case out of a Monday ruling by the state Supreme Court ordering the GOP-controlled state legislature to immediately redraw the state's U.S. House district maps, in time for the 2018 primaries, after the maps were found to have been illegally gerrymandered under Pennsylvania's Constitution to discriminate against non-Republican voters.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Monday's natural gas rig explosion in Oklahoma, new tariffs on solar panels instituted by Trump, and environmental fallout from the Congressional battle over a government spending bill. [Photo above via MySpace/Stormy Daniels.]

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

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