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...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)