Fifty more euphemisms for "you're fired". My favorite is 'RIF-ed'.
w/ Brad & Desi
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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
On today's BradCast: Don't be confused. Donald Trump has vowed "to bring back waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse", and he has now nominated someone to become CIA Director who has actually overseen such torture. [Audio link to show follows below.]
A noteworthy correction published by ProPublica on Thursday night, to an article they published last year, does not change the fact that Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, Trump's new nominee to become the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, personally oversaw the torture of U.S. held prisoners at a secret prison ("black site") in Thailand in 2002, and then directed the destruction of evidence documenting the torture.
To be clear, ProPublica (and others) are standing by their reporting that Haspel ran the prison in question during the torture of terror suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who the U.S. has admitted to torturing by waterboarding him three times at the secret prison. She also reportedly suggested the method used, an industrial shredder, to permanently destroy the video-taped evidence of both his torture and the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah.
Those acts are impermissible under several different torture conventions to which the U.S. --- under the negotiation and urging of no less than President Ronald Reagan --- is a party, and European prosecutors are now reportedly investigating whether Haspel must be arrested for war crimes if she arrives anywhere on European soil.
All of that, as her nomination has returned U.S. torture to an issue of "debate" under this President, who promised, during his 2016 campaign, to "bring back" torture. Of course, leading the way is Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of the Vice President who set the standard for blatantly lying about modern day U.S. torture following the 9/11 attacks. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), after taking some heat for suggesting she might vote for Haspel's promotion, is now calling for the declassification of documents detailing Haspel's role in these matters, in advance of U.S. Senate confirmation hearings.
Also today, news of Special Counsel Robert Mueller nearing what Trump has described as a 'red line' in his investigation, and growing concerns about what Trump's response to that may soon be. And, a few thoughts on the remarkable matter of the President of the United States bragging to donors this week of how he simply made stuff up while speaking to the Prime Minister of Canada, one of our closest allies and trading partners, about the U.S. trade surplus we have them (which Trump says he described as a "deficit", even though he proudly admits he had no idea.)
Then, very sad news today on the sudden loss of 88-year old progressive Democratic U.S. House "giant" Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York; Some brighter 2018 midterm news for Democrats from the Cook Political Report; and, finally, Republicans are having such a difficult time finding candidates to run for office in Nevada that they are now offering to pay them --- anyone --- to do so...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: Why in the world did 16 U.S. Senate Democrats vote in favor of gutting central provisions of the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill, as originally put in place by Congress after the 2008 global financial meltdown to avoid another such catastrophe? That and many other disasters covered on today's show. [Audio link is posted at end of article.]
Ironically enough, the new bank deregulation bill was passed on Wednesday with the votes of those Democrats and all of the Senate Republicans on the tenth anniversary of the 2008 collapse. We're joined today by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee's former chief investigator, BARTLETT NAYLOR, who is now Financial Policy Advocate for Public Citizen's Congress Watch division. He explains what this bill will do and how it allows for the same type of dangerous speculation by big Wall Street banks that led to the Great Recession ten years ago.
Naylor says the bill is "going to take the guardrails down" for banks that have less than $250 billion in assets. "This is a class of banks that collectively took some $50 billion of bailout money. A dozen of them have engaged in misconduct and have been sanctioned by regulators int he last three or four years. This class would have included Countrywide, [which] made so many bad loans that it toxified the entire industry. By taking their eyes off this class, it invites another financial calamity."
He also offers his thoughts as to why it is that those 16 Democrats appear so willing to do the bidding of the Big Bank lobby, even as many other Democrats, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren of MA and Sherrod Brown of OH, strongly opposed the measure. "I suspect it's about campaign contributions, but I don't know why any Senator who is up for re-election wants to tell his or her constituents that they're trying to help the banks," Naylor tells me. "They're not trying to help consumers, they're trying to help the banks."
"Labor unions, faith groups, civil rights groups, consumer advocacy groups such as ours," all oppose the bill. "The only people that are supporting this bill are bankers," he argues. Naylor says it could still be stopped before final passage while it is being reconciled with an even more draconian U.S. House version. Donald Trump campaigned on gutting the protections of the Dodd-Frank law, whose provisions remain very popular among voters, adding still more questions as to why those Dems are going along with it, even in an election year.
All of that comes as Trump confirms his appointment of rightwing TV economist Larry Kudlow as his new top economic adviser, despite the fact that Kudlow had insisted the economy was booming under George W. Bush --- ("There's no recession coming," Kudlow wrote at the time. "It's not going to happen.") --- during the very same month in which economists have since concluded the Great Recession actually began.
But, all of those stories, sadly, are not the only disasters to report on today's show. We also cover the horrific pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami and a deadly explosion at yet another chemical plant in Texas today.
And all of that came after the White House announced new sanctions today against Russia, related to allegations of interference in the 2016 election and also for what the Administration describes as a concerted hacking operation targeting critical U.S. infrastructure like the energy grid, water and aviation systems and other key elements of the U.S. economy.
The Kremlin quickly vowed retaliation today in response to the new sanctions. And, while the move suggests somewhat of an about-face for this Administration, there still remains no explanation for why the Dept. of Homeland Security --- as concerned about hacks to our infrastructure as they claim to --- have yet to forensically examine any of the nation's extremely vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems (or even count any of the ballots!) for evidence of manipulation during the 2016 Presidential election.
Finally today, after late breaking news that Donald Trump, Jr.'s wife Vanessa is reportedly filing for divorce, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on, among other things, the nomination of Trump's CIA Director Mike Pompeo to become the nation's first climate science denying Secretary of State. Because everything is awesome!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The U.S. may soon have its first-ever climate science denying Secretary of State; World leaders sound alarm over global water scarcity crisis; Black lung disease surges back in Coal Country; Toymaker LEGO goes greener with plant-based plastics; PLUS: Seven years after the meltdown, Japan struggles to contain Fukushima's radioactive wastewater... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil giant Statoil begins transition to renewables, scrubs ‘oil’ from its name; Fast-melting Arctic is already messing with the ocean’s circulation; Bottled water contaminated with microplastics; Floods flushed 43 billion plastic pieces out to sea in UK; Climate science goes to court next week; Judge rules U.S. Army Corp liable for floods linked to habitat projects; FEMA flood maps underestimate real risks; Pruitt warns ‘California is not the arbiter’ of U.S. emissions standards; Zinke pretends to worry that wind turbines kill birds, but his agency just made it easier.... PLUS: Stephen Hawking’s dire warning about what Trump’s policies will do to the Earth... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: It was a nail-biter on Tuesday night in the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. And there is much spinning on Wednesday morning. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Lamb has declared victory, (as has the NY Times, while AP still has it as "too close to call") in the district that went to Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016. But Republicans are still holding out hope for a miracle, a "recount" and/or a lawsuit for their candidate who received a full court press from Donald Trump over the past week. That press included a weekend rally with Saccone and new steel tariffs announced by the President just last week, with an eye towards this bellwether race in "Steel Country", just outside of Pittsburgh.
We have full details on where the razor-thin results currently stand (just over 600 votes separate the two candidates, as of air time, in a race with more than 228,000 votes cast) and how such a "recount" would work in the state which still, shamefully, forces the vast majority of its voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems.
No matter the final results, Democrats are ebullient about what this huge "red to blue" swing may bode for their chances of taking back the House in November's crucial 2018 mid-term elections, even as GOPers from PA to Capitol Hill to the White House are offering some pretty remarkable spin in response.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, tens of thousands of students took to the streets from coast-to-coast with a massive school walkout to rally for gun safety legislation one month after the massacre which took the lives of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The students stood up, even as a cowardly President Trump continues to retreat from earlier promises on reforms, while trying to spin his own personal fears of the powerful gun lobbyists at the NRA.
Then, speaking of failed spin, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency resigns in the wake of being asked to lie about claims recently made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump regarding an ICE raid in Northern California
Finally today, as the Administration continues to misrepresent the threat to the U.S. posed by immigrants, three American rightwingers are arrested for the bombing of a Muslim mosque in Minnesota last year, and for an attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in Illinois...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: Trump's unending White House chaos appears to have morphed into Trump's White House purge of not-insane top officials, beginning with his Tuesday firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, via Tweet. [Audio link follow below.]
At the same time, Trump named rightwing former Congressman and Fox "News" Tea Party flunky turned CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his nominee to take over the role of the nation's top diplomat and Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, who oversaw torture at so-called "black site" prisons during the George W. Bush presidency, to take over Pompeo's role as CIA chief.
We're joined today by national security and civil rights journalist MARCY WHEELER of emptywheel.net to discuss all of today's alarming developments. At the center of our conversation, after discussion of why Trump off-loaded Tillerson, is whether Pompeo and Haspel will even be able to make it through the confirmation process in the U.S. Senate at all at this point, and how the entire mess, once again, highlights the shameful failure by Congressional Democrats and former President Barack Obama to demand real accountability for the war criminals at the center of Bush's torture regime.
"When people talk about how we ended up with Donald Trump, this is the problem," Wheeler argues. "We have excused things like torture for so long that it's just created the opportunity for Donald Trump. Yes, those precedents really created the way for him."
Remarkably, as discussed today, even Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein --- who spent years heroically fighting the U.S. Intelligence agencies to expose their horrific torture practices --- seems prepared to approve Haspel, for some reason, as do the former heads of those agencies --- the very same folks who claim to oppose Trump and object to his response to allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
On Haspel, Wheeler warns: "She's terrible for two reasons. One is that she's a torturer, and not just a torturer but a particularly sadistic one. But the second one is that she orchestrated both a personal and agency cover-up. And so we should expect, with her as CIA Director, to have the CIA even less in control than it is now." Yes, Haspel also oversaw the CIA's destruction of their videotapes of torture sessions.
Hard to figure out who's more furious about it all, me or Wheeler, after years of warning about precisely this day.
On Pompeo, Wheeler says: "He is much closer to Trump's views on [Russia, North Korea and Iran]. Very importantly, especially on Iran. So I think if Pompeo is confirmed, I think the chances of us going to war with Iran are significantly higher."
And, just to make my day, she warns that, should National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster be replaced, as rumored, his replacement won't even have to struggle with Senate confirmation (a road, which she predicts, may be difficult for both Haspel and Pompeo, though more so for the latter.) If McMaster is replaced by John Bolton, as some have suggested, "he gets appointed, because it's not Senate confirmed. So If Trump wants him, he's in charge of nuking North Korea."
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some more thoughts on the removal of Tillerson (ironically enough, even though he previously served as CEO of ExxonMobil, he was decidedly not a climate change denier and actually supported the U.S. staying in the Paris Agreement) and for the latest Green News Report, in which the nation and planet continue to suffer from the perfidy of dishonest Republican climate change denialism...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump doesn't want you to know his own report shows that benefits of environmental regulations far outweigh the costs; Colorado Republicans kill bill prioritizing public health in oil and gas development; Interior Secretary Zinke pulls lands in his own home state from oil and gas auction; PLUS: 3rd major storm in 10 days pummels the Northeast, underscoring need to invest in electric grid resilience... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Mike Pompeo may be the first climate-denying secretary of state; Schwarzenegger to sue Big Oil for ‘first degree murder’; EPA is openly promoting a climate denial think tank; Federal court orders EPA to implement smog rules; Trump Administration eliminates animal welfare rule; Where does all the leaking coal waste go?; WI wants break from ozone rules in advance of Foxconn; Dakota Access Pipeline leak technology can't detect all spills; Almost all sea turtles born in Florida are female... PLUS: Supreme Court asked to open public lands near the Grand Canyon to uranium mining... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: The fight for Election Integrity is often one step forward and two steps back. Don't be fooled by what many are deceptively describing as a move to "paper ballots", when those "paper ballots" aren't really what they are being sold as. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First up today: A quick preview of the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District on Tuesday, where voters will, shamefully, once again cast their votes in the crucial race on 100% unverifiable touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.
At the same time, lawmakers in the state of Georgia, which has disastrously used similarly unverifiable DREs for the past 15 years, are moving a deceptively described "paper ballot" bill forward in the legislature. However, what those lawmakers are not making clear (and some may not even understand) is that the bill would fund new computer-marked paper ballot systems, known as Ballot Marking Devices (BMD)s, across the state. Such systems also require voters to use a touch-screen device to vote and, like DREs, also cannot be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter.
Worse still, rather than use the human-readable information printed out by the computers onto the "paper ballot" at the end of the process, BMDs use optical scanners which tally results read from barcodes or QR codes printed on the ballot that are NOT human readable!
And, it's not only Republican-leaning Georgia that is quickly hoping to move to such unverifiable systems. So is the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, Los Angeles County! Also, counties in Texas and Tennessee are already using them and other states are looking to purchase them as well. Indeed, many supposedly progressive organizations and Democrats are actually recommending them, without understanding the very real dangers of BMDs!
We're joined today by attorney-turned-journalist JENNIFER COHN to discuss her well-researched and documented concerns, as detailed by voting system and computer security experts, regarding the nation's dangerous and disturbing lurch towards what she describes as expensive "electric pencils", otherwise known as BMDs. Cohn explained those concerns in simple, layman's language in a recent post at The BRAD BLOG.
As we discuss on the show: No, "paper ballots" are not enough! We need HAND-MARKED paper ballots that are known to have been verified by the voters, if we are going to even have a chance of restoring publicly verifiable democratic elections in the U.S.
Cohn details both in her article and on today's show, a number of academic studies finding that most voters do not check computer printouts and summaries at the end of the voting process, and of the minority who do, some 60% or more don't even notice when the computer has flipped their vote!
PLEASE tune in for this important conversation, because Americans must begin to understand the dangers presenting by these deceptively described "paper ballots", which are coming to a voting jurisdiction near you!
Then, we open up the phone lines today to callers on that issue, as well as some of my thoughts from last Friday's show regarding the supposed face-to-face meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and even crazier U.S. leader Donald Trump, regarding the North's nuclear weapons program...
A Ballot Marking Device ("BMD") is a touchscreen computer that generates a computer-marked paper ballot or printout, which is then tallied on a computerized optical scanner. (Those computer-marked ballots can also, in theory, be counted by hand, but generally are not, as most election officials rely on optical scanners instead.)
BMDs were initially designed for people who are unable to hand-mark paper ballots due to disability, old age, etc. But the state of Georgia and Los Angeles County, California are now at the forefront of an unfortunate new trend, which is to consider buying these expensive hackable "electronic pencils" for use by all voters at the polls, regardless of need.
The Georgia legislature is quickly working to adopt a bill to fund such new systems to replace their similarly 100% unverifiable, 15-year old Diebold touchscreen systems used across the entire state. L.A. County is in the late process of a years-long development program to deploy these systems in time for the 2020 Presidential election.
Should Georgia and Los Angeles proceed on their current course, it would introduce a second unnecessary and insecure computer system in the polling place above and beyond already insecure optical scanners, creating twice as many opportunities for electronic programming errors, paper jams, and hacking. For example, some BMD systems have already had problems with:
Meanwhile, two of the most popular BMD's --- the ES&S ExpressVote and the Dominion ImageCast --- produce bar-coded (or QR-coded) printouts, which cannot be read by human beings, in lieu of traditional, hand-marked paper ballots.
This is alarming, according to experts --- including some who describe BMDs as "Son of DREs" --- for a number reasons...
On today's BradCast: Donald Trump seems to believe he's the first U.S. President to have been invited by a North Korean leader for face-to-face talks. He's not. And he may not have even been officially invited at all. Not that any of that kept President Stable Genius from immediately accepting the invitation. [Audio link to show follows below.]
It's been another remarkable 24 hours, as Trump's White House appears to believe that his "maximum pressure campaign" against the North led to what he clearly saw as a breakthrough invitation from Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to discuss "denuclearization" on the Korean Peninsula. But our own great leader appears to have failed to check with any of his own top diplomatic officials --- where he actually has any in place --- before quickly accepting the invitation without per-conditions and, as we began to learn late Friday, may not have actually been a formal invitation at all.
But, even if he wishes to believe his tough sanctions regime and blustery military threats of "fire and fury" over the past year have somehow led to progress with the North (which appears to have been moved, if at all, by outreach from South Korean President Moon Jae-in), it seems the Trump Administration has no actual strategy in place to push for the disarmament and necessary verification that has alluded many previous U.S. Presidents who were wise enough to decline such invitations.
So, who knows what will happen? In truth, nobody does, including (perhaps, especially) the President of the United States, who is making all of this shit up as he goes.
All of that said, reported and discussed on today's program, I also explain why I believe that a face-to-face Trump meeting with Kim would be a very good thing for all of us --- no matter how good or bad any deal that may or may not come out of it actually is.
Also today: The swamp is decidedly not only not being drained by Donald Trump, it's being quickly filled with more swamp dwellers than ever before. New reports from the Associated Press reveal that the White House Counsel has waived ethics requirements for dozens of top White House and executive agency appointees to work on issues directly related to corporate clients they very recently lobbied for or represented as attorneys. Some have even been granted permission to continue working for previous companies even while they now officially work for the federal government at the very same time! The spate of ethics waivers, issued by White House Counsel Don McGahn and top EPA attorneys, among others, have been sparse in explanation, while some have even been redacted before being shared with Congressional lawmakers attempting to oversee the executive branch. Yes, seriously...
On today's BradCast, so many great cons to debunk, so little time. But we've actually got some good news for voters today as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
Then, some voting news, most of it good. The state of Washington is the ninth state in the union to adopt automatic voter registration, and a federal court has ruled that California must inform Vote-by-Mail voters before their ballots are tossed out when election officials decide that the signature on the ballot doesn't match the one on the voter's registration form. According to the ACLU's lawsuit, as many as 45,000 voters in the state were disenfranchised, without their knowledge, thanks to California's horrible practice, carried out by the whim of officials who are anything but handwriting experts.
Meanwhile, two Democratic U.S. senators have sent a letter to the nation's top three election vendors, ES&S, Dominion, and Hart Intercivic, asking if they have shared the source code from their computerized voting and tabulation systems with Russia. We discuss what this actually means and doesn't. (For example: No, it's not necessary for Russia or anybody else, including elections officials, to have access or familiarity with proprietary source code from voting and tabulating systems in order to manipulate computer-tallied elections!) We also call out Reuters for continuing to spread the evidence-free claim in their report on this that "voting machines were not directly affected" by meddling during the 2016 election.
Next, we're joined by Vox.com's environment and politics writer DAVID ROBERTS to discuss a new report [PDF] released by the Trump Administration's own Office of Management and Budget(!) which, as he writes, "demolishes the GOP’s deregulatory claims." In short, it finds that benefits to the public of federal regulations far outstrip their costs in pretty much every imaginable way.
The aggregate costs of major federal regulations (those with an impact of $100 million or more) between 2006 and 2016, according to the annually mandated report released late on a Friday night for some reason, "were somewhere between $59 and $88 billion. And the aggregate benefits were somewhere between $219 and $695 billion," says Roberts. "So, even if you take the highest possible estimate of costs, and the lowest possible estimate of benefits, the benefits are still well over double what the costs were, in the most conservative analysis."
While Donald Trump has attempted to cut hundreds of rules and regulations across federal agencies --- repeatedly boasting about doing away with a record number of "job-killing regulations" and bureaucratic red-tape --- the fact is, as his own OMB (headed up by the far-right, Tea Party, regulation-hating Mick Mulvaney!) detailed in their report, those regulations do not "kill jobs" or cost the government money. In fact, killing those rules costs the government far more, particularly the environmental rules being radically gutted by this Administration.
But, as Roberts argues, the "job-killing" mantra has been so often repeated by Republicans since the days of Ronald Reagan --- and gone largely unchallenged by corporate media --- much of the public now simply accepts those false assertions as reality.
"Just to be clear, we've known this about federal regulations for a long time," Roberts notes. "These things have been subjected to cost-benefit analysis out the wazoo for years and years. Not only by the federal government, but by outside analysts. They all more or less converge on this same answer, which is that the public health and social and employment benefits of these things wildly outweigh the costs, and have for years."
"The reason Republicans hate this is because, when you see it in aggregate like this, it's almost enough to convince you that government can be an agent of good, that it can improve public health and welfare while still maintaining economic growth."
"It's revealing, I think, that this is treated as a revelation," he tells me. "It ought to be commonplace by now. It's the consensus of the experts. We just don't accept it, because Republicans, just through the sheer weight of repetition, have been saying 'job-killing regulations', 'burdensome regulations', etc., etc., for so long, that that's just sort of baked into the cake as one side of the debate, even though there's no support for it. There's no analysis that supports that."
We discuss why that is and who actually benefits from the GOP's great con. (Hint: It isn't the bulk of the folks who voted for Donald Trump!) Robert's also goes on to argue why he believes that Democrats are at least partly to blame for this con having taken such a death grip on the American conscience as self-defeating "conventional wisdom" over the past several decades.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report for yet another demonstration of how the decades-long scam to gut regulations continues to threaten the nation and the world...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Stark contrast on climate between U.S. and Europe at energy industry conference; Bad news for elephants; Good news for a U.S. electric grid powered by clean solar and wind; Appeals court rules youth climate lawsuit can move forward; PLUS: The Arctic just had its warmest winter on record, and polar scientists are kind of freaking out... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Democrats release infrastructure plan with $80 billion in electric grid upgrades; Spring is running 20 days early, but it’s not good; EPA is letting key staffers keep their political consulting side gigs; Climate change tightens grip on US west coast despite progressive aspirations; Forests that protect against climate impacts are increasingly threatened; Zinke backs off some oil drilling expansion due to GOP resistance; Subsidence will worsen sea level rise in coming decades; Trump official slams USGS for documenting glacier shrinkage; Tepco's 'ice wall' failing to contain radioactive water runoff... PLUS: As Arctic ice melts, territorial disputes are heating up, too... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: You may not have noticed with everything else going on, but, on Tuesday, Texas held the first primaries of the crucial 2018 mid-terms elections. We have the reported results, including the largest Democratic primary turnout in the Lone Star state in decades (though the GOP turnout was still larger.) [Audio link to show follows below.]
Women and progressives appear to have performed very well on the Democratic side. Though, given the huge number of candidates in many of the Democratic U.S. House primaries, many of those contests will now go to run-offs on May 22nd. Wealthy self-funders, Trump supporters and more conservative Democrats didn't do quite as well. And a number of voters across the state were disenfranchised, as usual, and forced deal with failing electronic voting systems and polling places that were recently moved. (Even as the corporate media downplayed problems, as usual.) We dive into all the details.
Also today, the chaos continues at Donald Trump's White House and we do our best to keep up with the latest developments, including a finding by the Office of Special Counsel that senior White House counselor and former Campaign chair Kellyanne Conway violated the federal Hatch Act (and why that matters); Donald Trump may be backing off his hard-line and ill-considered, pledge to issue broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, following critiques from friends and foes alike and his top economic advisor Gary Cohn stepping down in response; Porn-star Stormy Daniels is suing Donald Trump over hush money paid to her before the 2016 election; And the Trump Administration is suing the state of California over immigration issues.
Finally, as we head off air today, breaking news out of the the Florida legislature, which has now adopted a number of gun safety reforms opposed by the NRA, including raising the minimum age for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles and a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. The measure --- passed in no small part due to the persistent advocacy of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the massacre there last month --- now heads to the desk of the NRA's A+ rated Governor Rick Scott...
On today's BradCast, the Chaos Presidency continues apace, as do the nuclear threats, despite a potential thaw of tensions on the Korean Peninsula today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
First up, another top White House official, top economic advisor Gary Cohn, has had enough. He announced his resignation late on Tuesday in response to Trump vowing to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that virtually everyone in the country and world has come out in opposition to.
At the same time, as we also discuss today, Donald Trump makes clear that he has no actual plans to "counteract" interference of the 2018 and 2020 elections, though he managed to say the words "paper backup" out-loud during a press appearance today, as if to indicate he knew anything about how easily computerized election results can be manipulated (presuming he cares).
Meanwhile, after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, officials in South Korea announced plans for face-to-face talks between the leaders of the both countries, along with an easing of tensions and the possibility of direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington D.C. --- unless Trump blows it. The potentially encouraging news on the Korean Peninsula comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a number of new, high-tech nuclear weapons which he says his nation has now developed in response to so-called U.S. missile defense systems deployed near Russia's border and Trump's own efforts to greatly expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Longtime nuclear policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ of Middlebury Institute of International Studies, joins us to help explain what's actually going on, what isn't, and why all of it is happening in the first place in both potential conflicts and/or nuclear standoffs..
“Winston Churchill once said that 'It's better to jaw-jaw than war-war’. And I think that's probably the first takeaway from today's news” out of Korea, says Schwartz, noting “the good news is we are talking about the possibility of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and we're not talking about lobbing nuclear weapons in both directions.” But, while he says he is “cautiously optimistic,” he believes talks between NK and Trump’s Administration are not likely to go anywhere. The former longtime Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (keepers of the infamous “Doomsday Clock”) reminds us of similar agreements with NK in the past --- and how our previous Republican President, George W. Bush, (No, you don't "look pretty good" now, George) helped to scuttle them.
As to the dizzying array of new high-tech weaponry revealed by Putin in Moscow late last week, Schwartz believes “it’s sort of less than meets the eye,” and argues much of the show “was for domestic political consumption” in advance of Russian’s Presidential election later this month. While the new weapons systems are, ostensibly, said to be a response to the deployment of U.S. defensive missiles, Schwartz contends those systems don’t actually work --- even if Russia believes they do.
The massive new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) revealed by Putin, however, “is for real”, Schwartz says, adding: “It's worth pointing out that the New START agreement just went into effect officially last month. If Donald Trump does not choose to extend it, it will expire in three years, in 2021, and if it does, that means Russia can deploy as many nuclear ICBMs and submarines and bombers, without any constraint whatsoever, and completely overwhelm any missile defense system we have. And then we'd be truly off to the races.” To date, he notes, “Trump has said this is a bad deal and we're not going to do it.”
Finally, as if all of that doesn’t offer enough doom and gloom for ya, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as potential nuclear doomsday scenarios are matched only by our ongoing doomsday climate crisis...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
· Brilliant at Breakfast
· Crooks and Liars
· Dan Froomkin
· Fired Up! Missouri
· Freedom's Phoenix
· Freeway Blogger
· Glenn Greenwald
· Huffington Post
· Jesus' General
· Juan Cole
· Washington Monthly
· Media Matters
· Nashua Advocate
· Oliver Willis
· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
Project Censored Sites:
· Daily Censored
· Media Freedom
· Project Censored
· Scholars & Rogues
· Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
· Talking Points Memo
· Think Progress
· Tom Tomorrow
· TV Newser
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