On today's BradCast: Two tracks, plus callers, as the Right ascends at the White House and the ACLU's fight to restore civil and Constitutional rights finds its way into the 2020 President campaign. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
The hardliners are rising at the White House today, as Trump continues to purge top officials from several different key agencies, including the sprawling Dept. of Homeland Security (Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign on Sunday); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ron Vitiello, Trump's nominee to head the agency was suddenly withdrawn last week after already clearing a key Senate hurdle); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (both its Director and General Counsel were purged today); the Secret Service (its Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is now said to be leaving); and the bloodbath is continuing at other agencies as well. All of that as the number of families seeking asylum at the southern border continues to increase despite --- or, perhaps, because of --- a number of failed Trump Administration policies.
Moreover, on Monday, the foreign policy hardliners at the White House are ascendant at well, as the Administration is announcing its designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. It's the first time the U.S. has designated a foreign government entity in such a way, and the move is reportedly opposed by top Pentagon and CIA officials who fear blow-back to American troops and intelligence operatives abroad. Indeed, Iran has already responded by calling for U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, to be designated as a terrorist organization in response.
Amidst this latest disturbing lurch to the hard-right by the Trump Administration, some of us continue to look forward to 2020 when voters can, hopefully, do something about it. To that end, for the first time in its storied history, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is jumping into electoral politics in a major way this year, recently announcing they are spending $30 million to help get 2020 candidates on the record when it comes to a number of important issues for civil libertarians, including some that are quite thorny politically.
For example, the group's new national RightsForAll.us campaign seeks to force candidate to answer as to whether or not they support decreasing the bloated U.S. prison population by 50 percent (and, if so, how); allowing the incarcerated to vote (currently, only Maine and Vermont do so); and whether they would supporting overturning the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or protection of the life of the mother).
We're joined today by the ACLU's Digital Organizing Strategy Director PHIL ARONEANU to discuss the initiative, including whether some of the "thorniest" questions for candidates (as available at the campaign's website) on Voting Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Immigrants' Rights and Reproductive Freedom might, in fact, become a liability for those candidates if they answer them one way or another. That, in an age when one of the greatest threats to civil liberties and Constitutional rights clearly continues to be the man in the White House, who Democratic candidates will have to defeat to see any possibility of the restoration of such rights.
So, how does the ACLU, a non-partisan organization, respond to some of those questions and concerns? Tune in for my conversation with Aroneanu today to find out.
Then, we open up the phone lines today for listener thoughts on all of the above. You'll not be shocked to learn, they have many...
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)