Yes, my guest argues on today's BradCast, West Virginia Republicans may very well nominate a man just out of jail on charges related to the deaths of 29 coal miners to be their nominee for the U.S. Senate this year. [Audio link to show is posted below below.]
But, before we head down to Coal County for that conversation today, a few news headlines...Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to prevent a bi-partisan proposal for protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Donald Trump, from coming to the Senate floor for a full vote, even if, as now appears likely, the bill is approved by the GOP-lead Senate Judiciary Committee.
The notoriously obstructionist McConnell also appears ready to block any new Congressional military Authorization for the Use of Force --- as currently being considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --- citing, along with GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, the AUMFs from 2001 and 2002, for authorization of war against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Iraq after 9/11, as valid enough approval for Trump to bomb Syria, however he sees fit. Speaking of which, the NYTimes is reporting that Defense Secretary James Mattis had tried to insist that Trump obtain Congressional authorization before attacking Syria last week, but was overruled by the President.
Meanwhile, in Kansas today, a federal judge found GOP Sec. of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court, amidst the long-watched ACLU cases challenging a state law he'd championed, which has kept thousands of otherwise valid voters off the rolls for failing to provide proof of citizenship documents to the state. Kobach, one of the nation's leading Republican "voter fraud" fraudsters, was slapped by the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge in her ruling [PDF] and ordered to pay the ACLU's legal fees for the contempt hearing. This is the second time that Kobach, now a candidate for the 2018 Republican nomination for Governor in Kansas, has been found in contempt.
Also today, in more good news for voters, New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, facing a primary challenge from progressive actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, announced a plan to immediately restore voting rights to some 35,000 parolees by executive order.
Then, we're joined by West Virginia's own BOB KINCAID, the always-colorful, long-time radio host and President of West Virginia's Coal River Mountain Watch, to discuss the remarkable re-emergence of disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy CEO who was released from prison last year following a one-year sentence for his involvement in safety violations at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed 29 workers in 2010.
Blankenship, to the supposed horror of establishment GOPers, is running for the party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in the state's May 8th primary, in hopes of taking on incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Remarkably, Blankenship's fortunes appear to be rising, just three weeks out from a contest against a number of very Trumpy primary opponents. That has now forced the national GOPers to form a "local" PAC to purchase ads that take on Blankenship by pretending to be against Massey's coal-related pollution of drinking water in the state. In return, Blankenship is now firing back at his former ally Mitch McConnell.
"It's all swamp," Kincaid says. "Don Blankenship is the ultimate swamp. If McConnell is a swamp Captain, then Don Blankenship is a swamp Field Marshal. Remember, [McConnell] got behind a Supreme Court candidate in this state some years back solely so that he could protect Massey Energy from a jury verdict that they deserved --- trying to make sure that verdict would be overturned once it got to the [state] Supreme Court. That's swampy behavior if anything is."
Kincaid details the once-wildly powerful Blankenship's deadly background and the contours of the now-bizarre race --- which is beginning to echo Roy Moore's disastrous GOP run for the U.S. Senate in Alabama last December --- in a state where Trump won by some 40 points in 2016 and the conservative Manchin is considered to be amongst the most vulnerable Democratic Senators up for re-election this year.
"They really don't know quite what to do with him because, frankly, Don Blankenship doesn't give a damn. He has that in common with Geezer Disgustus over in the White House. It seems like everything just bounces of off him. Mainly because he can just push it off to one side, he can run his own ads, he can finance his own campaign. There's a certain element of people in this state who would vote for the Devil himself --- and Blankenship is pretty close --- if he said 'I hate that Obama'," argues Kincaid, adding, "There's a whole lot of white-lash still left in West Virginia."
We also discuss what progressives --- whose own Democratic primary candidate, Paula Jean Swearengin, does not appear to be gaining traction in the state --- ought to do this November, if faced with a choice between a vote for the coal-loving corporatist Manchin and whoever becomes the GOP nominee amid our ever-deepening, Trump-induced national emergency.
"The fact of the matter is, we've been in a Constitutional crisis ever since the Electoral College failed to do that which the Framers said the Electoral College was designed to do. And if you let this Congress continue, there is no hope whatsoever of saving the Republic," he warns...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)