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On today's BradCast, good news for voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, not nearly as good news for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First up today, the White House is desperately scrambling for new distractions from Trump's unpopular, nearly month-long federal government shutdown and, of more pressing import for the President on Friday, an explosive report published Thursday night by BuzzFeed News. The otherwise uncorroborated article alleges that Trump instructed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators about the Trump Organization's proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cites two unnamed sources as "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and claims that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned about the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."
Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and federal investigators about a number of matters and was sentenced last November to three years in prison after cooperating with Mueller's probe. If the story proves true that Trump instructed him to lie about the project --- which was reportedly still being worked on by Trump through June of 2016, much later than he had initially admitted --- it would, according to Democrats today, amount to evidence of the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice, both impeachable offenses.
We also share the reaction today from Trump and the White House, neither of which denied the reporting initially, choosing to attack Cohen and BuzzFeed instead. Later, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Any suggestion --- from any source --- that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." [POST-SHOW UPDATE: In a rare and carefully worded statement issued late Friday evening by Mueller's office, after we got off air, they disputed BuzzFeed's "description of specific statements...and characterization of documents and testimony obtained" by the Special Counsel.]
In other news today, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday made short order of a challenge to new limits on Early Voting and allowable polling place IDs in the state after Republicans rammed through new restrictions during an extraordinary lame-duck session of the legislature last December, following Governor Scott Walker's re-election loss in the November midterm election. Thanks to heavy turnout, including record Early Voting numbers, Democrats won every statewide contest on the ballot and 54% of the votes for the State Assembly. But, thanks to partisan gerrymandering by state Republicans, they won only one third of its seats.
In a terse, 5-page ruling [PDF] on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled it was "not a close question" that the GOP's newly enacted voting restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of voting rights, just as he had found nearly identical provisions to be, as passed by GOP lawmakers in 2016.
We're joined today by ANALIESE EICHER, one of the named plaintiffs from One Wisconsin Now's lawsuit challenging both the 2016 law and the late 2018 lame-duck version which Walker signed just days before leaving office. In addition to that court victory on Thursday, the non-partisan group had another on Friday, when a different court ruled that Republican lawmakers were in violation of the First Amendment by blocking the organization and others on Twitter. (Heads up, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill!)
In neighboring Michigan, the new Democratic Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson announced she was seeking a settlement with Democratic challengers to the legislative and Congressional districts drawn by Republicans in that state. The previous Sec. of State, a Republican, was preparing to defend what Dems describe, with very good evidence, to be an extreme and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander after the 2010 Census. (One such piece of evidence are emails from GOP lawmakers discussing districts mean to "give the finger" to a former Democrat Congressman, and to "cram ALL the Dem garbage" into four districts so Republicans could control more seats across the state.)
A settlement with the newly seated SoS could result in new district maps drawn before the 2020 election. Last November, MI voters approved a ballot initiative that would put an independent redistricting commission in charge of drawing maps following the 2020 Census.
Finally today, we're sent off into the weekend with a pretty hilarious song about Donald Trump's wall, courtesy of satirist Randy Rainbow...
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The federal government continue to spiral towards utter dysfunction under a President on the precipice of (take your pick). But one freshman Congresswoman provides a bit of a light at the end of the Trump tunnel. [Audio link to today's complete BradCast is posted below.]
Among the stories covered on today's program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Senate Democrats grill Trump EPA chief nominee Andrew Wheeler in confirmation hearing; 'Code red' as historic heat wave grips Australia; EPA criminal actions against polluters hit 30-year low; Antarctica's ice sheets melting 6 times faster than in 1980s; PLUS: The business world is waking up to climate change impacts... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Some of the biggest green groups have cold feet over "Green New Deal" document; Cement: the massive CO2 emitter you may not know about; Permafrost melt, the most dangerous climate feedback loop, is speeding up; Trump replacement for Obama Clean Power Plan worse than doing nothing; Shutdown threatens to make this year's fire seasons even worse; Experts warned this floating garbage collector wouldn’t work. The ocean proved them right; Climate change is making it harder for young people to become farmers; Most coffee species at risk of extinction due to climate change, scientists warn; Indonesia lands remarkable victory with aggressive conservation measures... PLUS: Less beef, more beans - experts say the world needs a new diet... and much, MUCH more! ...
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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Good news and not-terrible news on today's BradCast, along with an interesting proposition for the state of California in a climate changed world. [Audio link to show follows below.]
We start off with the good news today, courtesy of a federal court in Manhattan, where a U.S. District Court Judge blocked the Trump Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Judge Jesse Furman's 277-page ruling [PDF] slammed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for violating the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and for offering "pretextual" reasons for adding the question against the wishes of career Census Bureau administrators. Ross had falsely claimed the question was "well tested" and needed by the Dept. of Justice to better enforce the federal Voting Rights Act.
In fact, Republicans have long sought to add the rig the census by adding the question in hopes that it would decrease responses from immigrant communities to help shift the balance of power during decennial redistricting from Democratic-leaning urban areas to more Republican-leaning rural areas. Furman's ruling called out Ross for lying and even responded to an earlier statement on the case from Supreme Court Justice Neal Gorsuch. Several other legal challenges await, however, including a separate case on the same matter that will be heard by the Supreme Court in February.
Meanwhile, William Barr, Trump's nominee for Attorney General, testified at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He claimed he wanted to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who he cited as a friend, to complete his investigation into Trump/Russia, though would not fully commit either to publicly releasing Mueller's full report, nor to recusing himself from oversight of the probe, even if DoJ ethics officials recommended that he should. Barr, a former AG under George H.W. Bush, wrote and helped circualate a lengthy memo [PDF] last year undercutting the validity of Mueller's investigation.
All of that, as Trump's record-length federal government shutdown continues today, with so-called moderate Democrats in Congress declining invitations to the White House in response to Trump's latest effort to drive a wedge between them and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on funding for his southern border wall. The shutdown grinds on as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed or forced to work without pay, with travelers now facing long lines at TSA checkpoints at major airports, and as some federal employees are being forced to turn to charity food banks to help feed their families.
Next, with California's largest privately run utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announcing plans to seek bankruptcy protection this week, after facing some $30 billion in potential liabilities for massive, deadly wildfires across the state over the past two years, some have suggested the state should simply buy up the company, which was found to have been responsible for sparking many of the recent record fires by failing to adequately maintain its equipment and power lines.
Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and business columnist MICHAEL HILTZIK joins me today to discuss the issue, as PG&E seeks state protection from liability in hopes of passing costs on to rate-payers. The company, which serves some 16 million customers in Northern California, was once valued at more than $30 billion, but with its stock price now gutted after the bankruptcy announcement and previous criminal convictions it is currently valued at just about $3.5 billion. California could end years of repeated company mismanagement, Hiltzik explains, by purchasing the company or its most valuable assets, at --- pardon the pun --- fire sale prices.
"I wrote a column a year ago saying, 'it's time to take the franchise away from PG&E and put it out for bid.' Let somebody else come in and show that they can operate all of these functions much better, more efficiently, cheaper, and without these constant [failures]. PG&E is like the Wells Fargo of the utility business. It can't seem to do anything right, and scandals continue to crop up," Hiltzik tells me. "My case against PG&E goes way back to the proposition they tried to sneak across through the voters many, many years ago to basically eliminate competition from public power consortiums. So PG&E has just been a bad actor. They have been absolutely atrocious operators."
Hiltzik discusses the pros and cons of what would be a radical, if potentially profitable, investment by the state of California, and how the company's failures and need for public bailout portend similar threats to other fossil fuel-reliant firms, insurance companies and states as the increasingly brutal impacts and costs of climate change undercut profitability.
"We really need to have a debate --- and a debate in the near term --- about who should own these utilities and how they should be operated," he argues. "California has probably done more than most other states in starting to come to grips with [climate change], because at least we've been developing information about what those impacts will be. But nobody has done enough planning up to this point."
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, as usual, no shortage of disturbing news...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Intense winter storms wreak havoc from coast to coast; Trump's ongoing government shutdown threatening public health and safety; 2018 was the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, putting the planet in hot water; PLUS: California's largest electric utility to file for bankruptcy in wake of catastrophic wildfires... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Are we living through climate change’s worst-case scenario?; EPA criminal action against polluters hits 30-year low; Australia extreme heatwave: 'code red' issued; How China’s big overseas initiative threatens global climate progress; Detroit Auto Show has SUVs, horsepower, but electric cars are few; Water desalination plants harm environment, U.N. report finds; New industry group pledges $1B to combat plastic pollution; One fight the Green New Deal should avoid for now; Trump’s executive order will aggressively cut more forest trees... PLUS: Air pollution is as bad as smoking when it comes to miscarriage risk... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]
Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...
Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.
Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.
In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.
Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.
In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."
The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.
But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!
We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.
"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."
Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."
We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.
Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...
On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's federal government shutdown is the now the longest in U.S. history and landowners in Texas are fighting to keep the federal government from stealing their land even before Trump shakes down the U.S. Treasury somehow for $5.7 billion. Also, we might have avoided all of these messes had we only paid attention to a remarkably prescient warning from a 1958 episode of an obscure television show on CBS. [Audio link to show follows below.]
On Friday, some 800,000 furloughed federal workers missed their paychecks, after hundreds of them protested the shutdown, lockout, "shakedown" outside the White House as they are having trouble paying rents, mortgages and for food and medical needs. Nonetheless, Trump continues to threaten a "national emergency" declaration to force the funding of his long-promised southern border wall with money the Administration is considering taking from U.S. military disaster relief funding earmarked for hurricane and fire-ravaged states like Florida, Texas, California and dozens of others.
House Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) continue to vote to reopen the government --- or, at least, some of its various agencies which have nothing to do with immigration or a wall --- while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow a vote on same in the upper chamber, even for identical bills to the those passed virtually unanimously there last year. Airports are being forced to enact closures for lack of TSA personnel, the nation's foods supply is going untested by the FDA for contamination, FBI agents are sending letters to the White House and Congress describing the furlough of thousands of special agents as a national security threat, and federally subsidized HUD housing for the elderly and poor is being forced to do without.
Meanwhile, down in Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, even before Trump receives the $5.7 billion he is demanding for hundreds of miles of new border wall/fencing, property owners are receiving letters from the federal government to begin the process of eminent domain. Families who have lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for generations are being threatened with having their homes taken away to pave the way for the construction of Trump's wall. Even an historic, 150-year old Catholic mission chapel on the banks of the river --- and on the city seal of Mission, TX --- finds itself in a legal battle with the federal government to remain in place.
We're joined today by RICKY GARZA, Rio Grande Valley native and staff attorney for the non-profit Texas Civil Rights Project. As Trump came to the area for another photo-op on Thursday, Garza is working to help hundreds of local property owners in the valley understand their legal rights to fend off a government takeover of their land and homes.
Garza scoffs at the President's claims of "crisis" conditions in what he describes as a "diverse region of over a million people that lives and dies by the water that comes from the river," but which may soon be cut off from it entirely. "The only crisis that exists now is artificially created by this administration," he tells me. "The only time I heard any talk about a crisis along the border was when I turned on cable news."
"Polling consistently shows that an overwhelming majority of people that actually live and work on the border oppose the border wall, and oppose the militarization of our communities," he says.
"What we're seeing on the ground is that people are having their lives interrupted by this intrusion into the borderlands by the federal government and border militarization. We've seen a decrease in apprehensions along the border, yet an increase in Border Patrol hiring, staffing and construction of things like the border wall, erections of things like security towers along the areas close to the river, and aerostat blimps that were formerly used in Iraq now deployed in some neighborhoods to surveil the border, and implicitly, all of us," Garza laments. "It's just another sad example of the federal government failing to understand the realities of life on the border, and what it's really like for us, just trying to live our lives in peace."
Finally today, a few minutes from a gob-smacking episode of the 1958 CBS Television series called Trackdown in which --- and this is for real --- a colorful con-man named "Trump" (seriously!) comes to town and tries to tell its gullible, terrified residents that only he can save them...by selling them on a "wall" to protect them from total destruction!!!...
On today's BradCast, while Donald Trump threatens to declare a "national emergency" to build his southern border all, his federal government shutdown may lead to a real emergency on everything from the nation's food supply to air travel to defense against weapons of mass destruction and cybersecurity threats. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But first, as Donald Trump's federal government shutdown continues over his insistence that tax-payers spend $5.7 billion to begin construction of his wall, we take a quick look back at some of his 2013 comments on who should be blamed for government shutdowns, back when he charged that Presidents, not opposition parties in Congress, should be held responsible. But what he had to say about walls way back in 2004 is even more amusing and/or ironic.
Meanwhile, Trump hoped to blame Democrats for the shutdown today, while claiming it needed to continue for the "safety of our Nation". But the safety of the nation, including its food supply, is now endangered by the three week shutdown of all FDA food inspections (along with furloughs of thousands of agents at the Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, FBI, DHS' cybersecurity agencies and even its Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.)
We're joined today by food and agriculture correspondent TOM PHILPOTT of Mother Jones' to discuss the safety (or lack thereof) of the nation's imperiled food supply as the shutdown is now days away from becoming the longest in U.S. history. The FDA's lack of all food inspections comes on the heels of the CDC's declaration this week that the second of two deadly E. coli outbreaks in romaine lettuce last year is finally over.
"We should be pretty concerned, especially as this drags on and on," Philpott warns. "Any kind of product that we take for granted, mundane products that aren't regularly in the news for causing outbreaks, can cause outbreaks when companies lapse and the regulatory process fails. This is an engineered failure of the regulatory process. It's just a very, very stupid idea."
"Who knows how long this thing is going to go on?," he says. "Which, if it does, the food safety situation is going to get gnarly."
Philpott's concerns reach beyond the current situation, however, as he explains how the Trump Administration's de-regulatory agenda has already undercut the safety of our nation's food supply. Also, he reports on how the shutdown (and trade war) is negatively effecting farmers (many of whom comprise Trump's base) and craft beer makers (small business owners), along with women, infants, children and others in poverty who rely on government programs for nutrition assistance.
While Trump said today that if Democrats don't agree to his demand for billions in border wall funding he will "definitely" declare a national emergency in order to force the construction of his wall, even folks on the Right --- for example on his favorite Fox 'News' show --- argue that such a Presidential declaration would set a very bad precedent.
But, with Americans increasingly blaming Trump for the shutdown by double-digits, and sharing that blame with GOP Senators up for reelection next year, the toughest sting for our Reality-TV President may be that more Americans tuned in to watch Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer's response to Trump's prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday, than the number of those who watched the speech itself. So much for his "winning" television ratings.
Finally, with good news/bad news for Joshua Tree National Park amid the shutdown, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Fiat-Chrysler agrees to pay a huge fine to the EPA for using secret software to cheat on emissions testing, as Trump threatens to cut off FEMA wildfire disaster relief to California, and as Democrats continue to push back and push ahead on climate crisis action...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Fiat-Chrysler to pay big fines for using secret software to cheat on U.S. emissions tests; Three costliest natural disasters in the world in 2018 all occurred in the U.S.; Trump threatens to cut off FEMA disaster aid for California wildfires; U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018; PLUS: Democrats push back, and push ahead, on climate action... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): “Innovation”: the latest GOP smokescreen on climate change policy. It does not mean what they think it means; Dr. Michael Mann: A commentary on the politics of climate denial and 'Vice'; Food inspections by the FDA have been sharply reduced, alarming critics; Shutdown means EPA inspectors aren't on the job; California governor Newsom proposes wildfire investments; California set a goal of 100% clean energy, and now other states may follow its lead; Trump nominates Andrew Wheeler as permanent EPA Administrator; Federal judge strikes down Iowa law on undercover ag workers... PLUS: How mountains of U.S. plastic waste ended up in Malaysia, broken down by workers for $10 a day... and much, MUCH more! ...
Donald Trump's tantrums and partial federal government shutdown continue on today's BradCast, with no end in sight for either of them. [Audio link for today's show follows below.]
On Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Donald Trump of governing "by temper tantrum". The first reference came in Tuesday's Democratic response, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Trump's televised prime-time Oval Office address meant to gain public support for his demand of $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. The money is needed, Trump claims, to respond to what he described during his 9-minute speech as an immigration and humanitarian "crisis". But the address offered no new policies or information and, at times, parroted word-for-word rightwing anti-immigration, pro-wall commentary from Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs' programs on Fox 'News'.
The second reference to a Trump "tantrum" came today after the President reportedly stormed out of a White House negotiation meeting with Congressional Democrats as the partial federal government shutdown over funding for his wall continues in its third week. The cost of that shutdown to some 800,000 federal workers is rapidly intensifying. Paychecks will not be issued this week for many workers who are already facing extraordinary hardship thanks to the shutdown which Trump has threatened to continue for "months or even years" unless Democrats agree to his border wall demand.
But, if nothing new was offered in his Tuesday night prime-time address, why did the television networks agree to clear the time for him to litter our public airwaves with false claims and long-ago debunked propaganda? Particularly since the same networks refused President Obama's request to air his own remarks on actual new immigration policy back in 2014?
We're joined today by Media Matters' Senior Fellow MATT GERTZ who charges that the "networks got played." He describes their capitulation to Trump as "cowardly" with the result being "exactly what we said was going to happen: the President used the time to lie to the public."
"I don't understand why there's such an urgency to just put the President on television when all of the people involved in producing the news know that he's a liar who is going to lie," he tells me. "It's the most predictable thing in American politics right now --- if the President is talking, he's lying."
So why did the networks give up that valuable airtime to allow it to happen? And, were the attempts by media outlets at debunking and fact-checking Trump's false claims during or after the speech actual helpful to the public? We discuss that and the larger challenge for media: "How do you respond to a President who is deliberately deceptive and is constantly trying to make people believe in a reality that is different from the actual one?"
Also today: The 2018 electoral 'blue wave' continues into 2019, as Dems in Virginia win very big (by 40 points!) in the first Special Election of the year. And Donald Trump announces, via misspelled tweet, that he is cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to California, following the worst and most deadly fires in state history. Whether he will follow through with that threat is a separate question, of course, and his absurd explanation as to why he claims to be doing it is, as usual, nonsense...
The effects of the federal government's partial shutdown, now in its third week, continue to worsen, even as the effects of last year's 'blue wave' election continue to make things much better for Americans across the country. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [audio link is posted below]...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: While we were out: Trump's government shutdown is seriously impacting national parks and federal scientific research; Trump EPA launched another serious attack on public health; PLUS: New Democratic U.S. House majority pledged to act on our climate crisis... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Democrats are shockingly unprepared to fight climate change; U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018;
U.S. Supreme Court rejects Exxon in climate change document dispute; US Interior Dept. plans to skirt FOIA requests; Colorado could save $2.5 billion by rapidly shutting down its coal power plants; Sharp drop in monarch butterflies in California; PG&E could be prosecuted for murder in record CA wildfires; Waste Management's 20-year path to 'moonshot' climate goal... PLUS: 10 easy ways to reduce your plastic use in 2019... and much, MUCH more! ...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
· Brilliant at Breakfast
· Crooks and Liars
· Dan Froomkin
· Fired Up! Missouri
· Freedom's Phoenix
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