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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, June 24, 2018
Out For Your Kids, Your Privacy, and Your Blood: 'BradCast' 6/22/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Ziva Branstetter, Cyrus Farivar, Ken Auletta, John Carreyrou...
Death and Taxes at SCOTUS:
'BradCast' 6/21/18
Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; Much more...
'Green News Report' 6/21/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Blocked study released, reveals contamination; More CO2 reduces food nutrition; Trump rescinds BP spill protections; PLUS: 30 years since Congress warned about climate change...
Previous GNRs: 6/19/18 - 6/14/18 - Archives...
Trump Lie Collapses, Migrant Child Policy Reversed (Sort Of): 'BradCast' 6/20/18
Also: DC, AR election results; Why 'both sides are the same' argument from progressives is pathetic; Canada legalizes recreational pot...
Judge Nixes KS 'Proof of Citizenship' Voting Law, Slaps Humiliating Sanction on Kobach: 'BradCast' 6/19/18
Guest: ACLU trial atty Sophia Lin Lakin; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Repubs...
'Green News Report' 6/19/18
Storms moving slower; EPA changes could kill thousands; China tariffs hit US energy; McDonald's dumping plastic straws; PLUS: Climate change eroding home values...
Sunday 'Giving Peace a Chance' Toons
Just a glimpse of the past week via the eyes of the world's political cartoonists, as one of them lost his job this week for being too critical of Donald J. Trump...
Sessions 'Can't Do That': Immigration Atty on Admin Denial of Domestic Abuse Asylum: 'BradCast' 6/15/18
Guest: Law Prof Karen Musalo; Also: 1000s ripped from parents, warehoused by US Govt...
'Green News Report' 6/14/18
GOPers turn on Pruitt; Antarctica melting 3x times faster; DNC bans fossil fuel donations; Floods doubled over 30 yrs; PLUS: Energy Dept: E-cars cheapest to drive...
Ranked Choice Voting is a Terrible Idea; Election Results/Fails, Trump's GOP Cult: 'BradCast' 6/13/18
NV's new voting systems fail; WI seat flipped; Scheme to break CA up on 2018 ballot...
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...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; More...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we have not one, but two important and separate warnings for Donald Trump and the Republican Party, as pulled from the deep audio archives of 1988. Both of which --- on two separate topics from two separate people --- they seem to be completely ignoring, even as one of those warnings comes from their supposed idol Ronald Reagan. [Audio link to show posted below.]

First up today, the Trump-caused child immigration crisis continues to unfold with several disturbing new reports of unspeakable abuse at two separate federally-contracted facilities, based on filings in new federal court cases. One from Associated Press on beatings and more at a youth facility in Virginia and the other from the Center for Investigative Reporting on the forced injection of psychotropic drugs at a facility near Houston. That, as an Executive Order signed by the President on Wednesday, reversing part of his Administration's policy, fails to speak to family reunification for more than 2,300 children separated from their parents in recent weeks under Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy, and an Administration request to the Pentagon for space to house some 20,000 migrant children.

While all of those American nightmares have been unfolding over the past week, the effects of Trump's growing trade war have been quietly playing out in the background, as the Dow has dropped some 600 points over the past four days, with China and friendly allies like Canada, Mexico and the EU vowing massive and swift retaliation for ill-considered tariff's on foreign imports instituted by Trump. Among the hardest-hit victims of his new trade wars: farmers who were among some of biggest supporters of Trump's candidacy in 2016.

Perhaps that explains why, as share in an audio clip from 1988 today, Ronald Reagan warned: "We should beware of the demagogues who are ready to declare a trade war...all while cynically waving the American flag."

Next, we're joined by MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, and our "Supreme Correspondent" this month, as the U.S. Supreme Court slowly releases a bevy of decisions in advance of their planned Summer recess, on a number of major cases heard at the high court over the past term. Among the cases we discuss today:

  • On Thursday, SCOTUS released a 5 to 4 decision allowing states to impose sales taxes on all online purchases. The ruling found some very strange bedfellows in both its majority and minority opinions, but both Stern and I agree, the decision makes sense, and will be good for local retailers, jobs, the economy and state budgets where, particularly in "red" states, tax cuts in recent years have lead to the gutting of education, infrastructure and other important social services. The 1967 SCOTUS ruling struck down today, was "a totally capricious standard that the Court created itself," Stern argues. "This was the Court fixing a problem that it made."
  • Stern also details an exceedingly troubling --- if little reported --- case out of South Dakota, where a man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, according to jury members themselves, they feared, as a gay man, he might enjoy life in prison too much. Seriously. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this matter: the Court declined to hear the case at all. Even the liberal Justices failed to offer a written dissent to the Court's decision.
  • We also discuss the SCOTUS' regrettable punts this week on two partisan gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland. (More on those cases earlier this week, with author David Daley on Monday's BradCast.)
  • And the seemingly unprecedented federal court smack down of Kris Kobach, notorious GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Secretary of State. His "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law was struck down by a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge, and he was slapped for his contemptible performance in the courtroom --- where he represented both himself and the state of KS --- with more humiliating sanctions that include an order to attend six hours of legal classes. Moreover, as Stern reports, Kobach appears to be in still more violation of court orders, as he has yet to remove the requirement for citizenship documentation for voter registration from the KS Sec. of State website, as the judge ordered him to do "immediately" in her ruling on Monday.

    "I think that there is a decent chance that we could see even more sanctions for Kobach after this," Stern tells me. "Kobach is such a clown that this judge is going to finally have to bring down the hammer and I think it's going to be a glorious sight." (More on that case, with Sophia Lakin, one of the ACLU trial attorneys on the case, from Tuesday's BradCast.)

  • Previewing the cases still to come before the end of the month, Sterns warns: "I think the Supreme Court is going to hobble public sector unions by preventing them from collecting dues from no-union members. I worry the Supreme Court is going to uphold the [Muslim] travel ban. I do think the Court may put real limits on the government's ability to collect information about where your cell phone has been from your provider. That's going to be a bright spot, I hope. But I also think the court's going to end up striking down California's disclosure requirements for crisis pregnancy centers. So, this is s not going to be a good term for progressives. I think everyone needs to just buckle in and focus on November."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on a number of important issues that the Trump Administration did quietly this week as the rest of the nation and media were consumed with the child immigration story, and the 30th anniversary of Dr. James Hansen's first dire warning to Congress --- also in 1988 --- about the then-looming menace of global warming due to the unprecedented release of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide from the manmade burning of fossil fuels, into the atmosphere...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Also: D.C., AR election results; Why 'both sides are the same' argument from progressives is pathetic; Canada legalizes recreational pot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump gets even uglier as he's forced to back down on his lies about his immigration policies. A few election results out of D.C. and Arkansas. And some thoughts for progressive voters as we barrel towards this November's crucial midterms. [Audio link to show posted below.]

First up: A quick round-up of results and problem reports following primary elections on Tuesday in Washington D.C. (where voters adopted a $15 minimum wage measure for those in the service industry, despite a cynically and wildly misleading "Save Our Tips" campaign funded by the restaurant industry in opposition to Initiative 77) and in Arkansas (where runoffs were held following primaries and a computer tabulation "fiasco" late last month on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by ES&S.)

Next: After repeatedly claiming he didn't have the legally authority to keep parents and children together after they were arrested crossing the border, Donald Trump buckled under growing political pressure and signed an executive order on Wednesday to allow parents and children to stay together after being arrested crossing the border.

Many questions (and legal challenges) lie ahead regarding the new policy and what will now happen to those 2,300 children ripped from their parents over the past month following the Administration's chaotic and ill-considered "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border.

We cover a number of related stories to all of that today, as well as some response to our coverage of the issue over the past week. That response includes a bit of a rant in return, regarding the necessity of voting for Democrats this November --- good ones or bad ones --- in service of putting some brakes on the disastrous cruelty and incompetence of Trump/GOP rule in D.C. (Or, for those who prefer the chaos and cruelty of the Trump Administration, and there are many who do, the option to vote for Republicans or stay home entirely in support of still more of it.)

I've got a bit of a rant today (and so does Desi) on the incredibly lazy argument, still heard from some progressives --- even after all that we've seen in the Trump Era --- that "both sides are the same". We've got a few words for those who forward arguments which support that notion, which serves only to perpetuate the worst of the Trump/GOP's inhumane and horrifically destructive policies.

Finally: As a reminder what can happen in a mostly normal, progressive country, Canada, on Tuesday night, ended 90 years of failed prohibition policy, by approving the sale and use of recreational marijuana across the entire country...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Trial attorney Sophia Lin Lakin of ACLU's Voting Rights Project; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: GOPers in D.C. try to overcome Trump's wildly unpopular new border policy and Kansas' Secretary of State loses again in court and faces what may be his most humiliating moment to date. But that's very good news for voters! [Audio link to program is posted below.]

First up, the panic for Republicans on Capitol Hill continued to mount on Tuesday as GOP lawmakers scrambled to find a legislative way out of the family separation crisis created by Donald Trump at the southern border, where more than 2,300 children have now been separated from their parents since his "zero tolerance" policy was first implemented just two months ago. Also today, the Administration announced their intention to pull the U.S. out of the U.N. Human Rights Council the day after its outgoing head blasted the United State's new border policy as "unconscionable" for "inflicting such abuse on children". We discuss the latest on all of the above.

Then, after a quick recap of the 8-year ignominious history of Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach's inglorious tenure as the nation's top elected GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, we're joined by attorney SOPHIA LIN LAKIN of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, to discuss Kobach's latest brutal humiliation. In a victory for the state's voters on Monday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson (a George W. Bush appointee), struck down Kobach's extreme "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law, finding it in violation of the National Voter Registration Act and the Constitution.

The KS Sec. of State has repeatedly defended the law in court, and has been defeated in virtually every battle over it for years, since persuading the state legislature to adopt the measure. But Robinson's ruling on Monday permanently enjoins the law, which had kept tens of thousands of legitimate state registrants in various forms of electoral limbo as Kobach continued to insist their was a massive (if, apparently invisible) epidemic of non-citizen voters jeopardizing the integrity of KS elections.

Kobach, who originally ran for office in 2010 almost solely on the false and misleading promise to "STOP VOTER FRAUD" in Kansas, has failed to find virtually any such fraud during his eight years in office. As Lakin, a member of the ACLU's trial team explains today, during the trial earlier this year, wherein Kobach chose to represented himself and his state, he was unable to show evidence of almost any non-citizen registrations or votes cast in Kansas, despite millions of legal ballots cast during the same period.

"From 1999 to 2013," she tells me, "Kobach was able to present just 39 confirmed non-citizens who were able to successfully get on the rolls, and of those 39, only 11 voted." Most of the registrations, she explains --- as did the judge in her 118-page ruling [PDF] --- were due to administrative errors.

"The judge pretty much agreed that Kris Kobach has been peddling a xenophobic lie that non-citizens are engaging in rampant election fraud. And this was his chance. This court battle that we just had was his chance to put on the record his evidence that this is what was happening. The judge saw that evidence, and she agreed that there was very little evidence of non-citizen voting in Kansas --- certainly not enough to justify the tens of thousands of individuals that have been disenfranchised by that requirement."

"The judge very much wanted Kris Kobach to have his day in court, to put his evidence of non-citizen voting to the test, to see what he was able to actually muster," Lakin tells me. "We even re-opened discovery for the very purpose of him doing that. So, the proof is in the pudding here. He utterly failed."

Of course, Kobach has vowed to appeal the ruling, as he does. But, aside from the verdict's very good news for voters, there was another extraordinary aspect to Robinson's ruling on Monday. In what amounted to a third set of judicial sanctions against him during the long course of the 2016 case and this year's full bench trial, Judge Robinson admonished Kobach in a newly humiliating way. After previously sanctioning him to pay some $50,000 in ACLU legal bills, due to his contempt in having misled the court, Robinson ordered Kobach to attend 6 hours of law school to study up on federal and state courtroom procedures!

Lakin details how, during the trial, the judge repeatedly --- and embarrassingly --- was forced to explain basic rules of evidence and other standard courtroom procedures to Kobach.

"Judge Robinson essentially ordered Kobach to go back to school" in her ruling, she says, explaining that Kobach's performance in the courtroom and repeated reprimands from the judge were likely even worse than the clownshow that the media reported them as, at the time. When I asked how unusual these type of sanctions are against a trial lawyer, she says: "To be honest, I don't think I've ever seen so many sanction rulings against an attorney at all," much less one where they were ordered to attend legal classes.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the ACLU launched yet another lawsuit today against Kris Kobach, this time over his so-called "Crosscheck" system to help (inaccurately) purge voting rolls in some 26 states.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Trump's tariffs against China blow back on the U.S. energy industry, his EPA's gutting of regulations threatens tens of thousands of lives, global warming is making hurricane damage far worse and housing prices fall, and as McDonald's finally plans to do away with single-use plastic straws...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Author David Daley of FairVote; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More disappointing (if not deadly) rulings on voting rights were released on Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court, and callers ring in on the growing outrage of the last few days, thanks to the parent/child separation of Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy at the border.

First up today, two long-awaited rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on partisan gerrymandering were finally handed down on Monday. In both cases, as our guest today, FairVote's DAVID DALEY details, the Court decided to essentially punt the cases back down to lower courts.

Daley, author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, which details the GOP scheme to implement extreme partisan redistricting following the 2010 census, explains that Wisconsin Republicans will be allowed to keep their wildly unfair state assembly districts for yet another election, and that, in Maryland, where Democrats admit to having gerrymandered a U.S. House district to their own advantage, that gerrymandered district will also stay in place, almost a full decade after being implemented. That, despite lower courts finding those districts to be unlawful and unconstitutional, and other pending cases --- such as the federal court which found all of the U.S. House districts in North Carolina to have been unlawfully gerrymandered by Republicans --- still on hold and awaiting a hearing at SCOTUS.

"That's what's so frustrating and sad about today," Daley tells me. "They had a buffet of statistical standards and evidence that all pointed in the same direction and that revealed exactly what had happened here, and, instead, they ducked." He explains the basis on which the Court punted in both cases and how "Republicans have essentially been able to run out the clock to steal, in some ways, the entire decade of power, especially in state legislatures around the country."

While the "silver lining" on this today is that the Court did not declare, as some had feared, that it was up to legislatures, not courts, to fix the problem that legislatures themselves created, Daley argues that this was a missed opportunity. The Court's swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has long suggested he'd be open to finding partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional once and for all. But, once again, in both of today's cases, he ducked. That means --- should the 81-year old Justice (or any of the others) leave the Court before another case comes up to offer a definitive ruling --- things could become much worse, for generations, if Trump is allowed to appoint a replacement.

Then, as even some Republicans (a precious few) begin to finally turn against the Trump Administration's grotesque and inhumane new policy which separates children from their parents after they are detained crossing the southern border with Mexico --- resulting in thousands of kids being locked away in detention centers in just the past few weeks --- how long can Trump continue to falsely blame the Democrats for his own Dept. of Justice's new "zero tolerance" policy?

Trump and his department chiefs continue to double down on his false claim, despite the growing outrage from Americans after disturbing stories, pictures, and sounds of abuse continue to be reported out of these detention centers around the country, with media finally gaining very limited access to them.

We open the phone lines today to callers on all of those issues, as the chilling rise of Trump's GOP-approved authoritarianism in the U.S. continues to stun the nation and the world...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Karen Musalo of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies; Also: Thousands of children ripped from parents, warehoused in detention centers by U.S. Government for months...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The immigration horror stories of children being ripped from their parents and of asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse in their home countries are beginning to pour in. We speak today to a longtime immigration attorney at the center of a number of landmark rulings, who is now representing the woman from El Salvador whose grant of asylum was unilaterally overturned this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. [Link to audio of the show is posted below.]

There are now more than 11,000 children who have been separated from their parents at the southern border being held in detention centers across the country by the U.S. Government. It's unclear whether that number includes the 2,000 kids taken from their parents over a recent six week period, as reported by AP today, under the Trump Administration's new "zero tolerance" policy, which requires criminal, rather than civil, prosecution against those who cross the border unlawfully.

This week, some members of the media finally received a limited first look inside one of the largest such detention centers --- a converted Walmart superstore in Brownsville, TX --- where some 1,500 boys, aged 10 to 17, are being warehoused. They are living five in each room built for four people, are forced to stay inside for 22 hours a day, and are being held, on average, for about 50 days each in the facility, before they are either sent to foster care or reunited with their parents (if those parents can find them within the government system.)

Media reports this week include horrific stories of babies being ripped from their mothers' arms while breastfeeding and parents being told that officials are simply taking their children to bathe them, before they are shipped away to a detention facility. Somehow, Donald Trump and his White House are managing to blame all of this on Democrats, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is justifying these new Dept. of Justice policies by quoting the bible. We cover some of those nightmarish stories, reports that an outdoor tent city, in sweltering southwest TX near El Paso, is being planned to store more than 400 more children --- who are now being separated from their parents at an alarming rate --- and a confrontation between reporters and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over these matters during a briefing on Thursday.

In a separate, if related issue earlier in the week, Sessions issued a decision, attempting to change decades of U.S. immigration policy regarding asylum claims by immigrants fleeing their home countries on the basis of domestic abuse and gang violence.

We're joined today by KAREN MUSALO, Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of Law to discuss the Administration's new policy. Musalo represents "A.B.", the El Salvadoran woman whose grant of asylum by the U.S. Immigration Board of Appeals was unilaterally overturned by Sessions on Monday, along with his announcement of the Administration's cruel new policy which declares that domestic abuse will no longer be an allowable basis for asylum seekers.

The longtime immigration rights attorney pushes back today, detailing the disturbing circumstances under which her client, Ms. A.B., fled her home country, explaining several poorly understood aspects of the U.S. Immigration Court system (which is part of the Dept. of Justice, not the federal Judicial branch --- so, judges work for Sessions), and stressing that the Attorney General is misinforming the public by claiming that asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence will no longer be allowed in the country.

"Clearly what the Attorney General is trying to do with issuing this decision is to send a strong message that cases of women fleeing domestic violence or people fleeing gang violence are not legitimate asylum claims," Musalo tells me. "But for those of us who are experts and understand the law, and read his decision closely --- he may want to send that message, and he did in fact reverse a 2014 precedent that clearly stated that survivors of domestic violence were eligible for asylum --- but there's a whole framework of law that has developed in the 38 years since the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted."

She says: "The reason I'm underscoring that point is that I think he's going to try to bully judges and asylum officers into thinking this is the law, there's no way around it, they should deny these cases --- and also, making lawyers think they shouldn't bring cases on behalf of their clients. So I feel it's very important to point out this is what he's trying to do, but that's not how the law is properly interpreted."

Musalo also stresses that, despite reports of an increase in those seeking asylum from Central America due to domestic abuse since the 2014 change in policy, "The number of claims have not skyrocketed as a result of the Obama Administration recognizing domestic violence as a basis of protection. That's simply not true."

"This has really made people rise up and say, "How can it be in the year 2018 that we have an Attorney General who says that you can send a woman to her death, back to a country where the police and the courts just sit by?," Musalo notes, citing Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with the "highest homicide rates in the world [and] the highest femicide rates in the world, denoting gender-motivated killings."

There is a lot of important and enlightening information that Musalo imparts today --- more than I can adequately share in a short description here --- so I urge you to listen to the full conversation on today's program.

Finally today, Stephen Colbert, just before Father's Day, had a few thoughts of his own on CBS' Late Show in response to Sessions' use of a bible passage to justify the Administration's cruel and alarming new policy of separating children from their parents at the border. It also should be considered a must-listen...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Happy birthday, Mr. President! To celebrate today, the New York Attorney general filed a civil lawsuit [PDF] against Donald J. Trump, his so-called "charitable foundation", and his children Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka, charging that his foundation was used as little more than a personal and business slush fund, and to benefit his 2016 Presidential campaign. [Audio link to show follows below.]

All of that, NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges in her suit, is in violation of both state and federal law. Many of the allegations against Trump's unlawful use of his foundation were reported in the run-up to the election, though much more self-dealing was discovered in the course of the AG's 2-year investigation, including that the Trump Foundation's board of directors had not met since 1999, that some board members had no idea they were even on the board, and that Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski personally directed checks to be written from the foundation for campaign purposes.

Underwood's petition seeks nearly $3 million in reparations and to bar both Trump and his children from sitting on the boards of other nonprofit charitable organizations. She also refers the matter [PDF] to the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service for further investigation.

In other important news today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7 to 2 opinion finding that Minnesota's polling place ban on t-shirts and buttons with political slogans, such as those worn by 'Tea Party' members at the polls in 2010, is overly broad and violates Constitutional First Amendment free speech protections. Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain the Court's opinion, as well as the far more disturbing ruling from the GOP's stolen SCOTUS earlier this week, when the Court found 5 to 4 in favor of Ohio's voter roll purge scheme by Republican Sec. of State Jon Husted.

That scheme begins the process for removing voters from the rolls after a voter fails to vote in one single federal election. Stern discusses the troubling opinion which overturns the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's 2016 finding that the Buckeye State's scheme directly violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act's restriction against removing a voter from the rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote."

On today's ruling, I am somewhat less sanguine about what the Court ruled than Stern is, but it's a close call. On the Ohio case, I think we're both in agreement. As he notes: "First, you are identified for a purge because you didn't vote just one single time, and second, you are purged because you failed to cast a ballot. Again, that would seem to go against not just the text but the express purpose of both [the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Law]. So for Alito to claim that he's just following the text of the law, and dissenters are trying to enact their own policy --- that rings absolutely false to me."

Sterns explains the largely semantic trick that Justice Samuel Alito used to, essentially, flip the provision written by Congress onto its head on behalf of the court's five Republican appointees; how the state's massive purges have disproportionately affected minority and low-income voters; and how Trump and Jeff Session's Dept. of Justice has reversed an unprecedented number of positions on federal laws since taking office.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as even some Republicans appear to finally be turning against wildly corrupt fossil fuel industry "swamp monster" and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...

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New unverifiable voting systems fail in NV; LePage still dumb in ME; Walker's fears come true in WI; Canada 'fights' back; Initiative to break CA into three states will qualify for 2018 ballot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2018 6:31pm PT  

It was another wildly busy BradCast today. I know. What else is new? But, with Trump declaring today on Twitter that "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea" (Phew! That was easy!) and that "Our Country’s biggest enemy" is the media(!), we had plenty of time to cover a lot of other things, the day after Tuesday's five state primary. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among those stories...

Maine's Republican Governor Paul LePage, the dumbest in the nation, was accidentally right (sort of) in his poorly stated opposition during yesterday's primaries, to Ranked Choice Voting (or RCV, also sometimes known as Instant Runoff Voting or IRV). On Tuesday, Maine was the first in the nation to use RCV in a statewide election, despite the fact that it's very difficult to count, virtually impossible for the public to oversee, requires central tabulation and computers to pull off, and candidates and voters in many places where it's been tried in the past have found that it's impossible to understand why some candidates won and others lost.

(NOTE: Before you send me your hate mail, progressives and third-party people, please listen to today's show first, and also note that I'm willing to entertain a much simpler method of voting/counting which solves many of problems that folks who support RCV are concerned about. It's called Approval Voting. Basically, that allows voters to vote 'yes' or 'no' for as many candidates as they like. Whoever receives the most 'yes' votes wins. Simple. Overseeable. No computers necessary. And, it helps to avoid the "spoiler effect" that many proponents of RCV hope to solve. Listen to the full show, and then feel free to send your hate mail. UPDATE: Here's one more nightmare scenario for RCV, if you still need one.)

Anyway, LePage has threatened to not certify Tuesday's elections in his state because they are using RCV, which voters adopted in 2016. He's wrong about that and somewhat right about his RCV concerns, but --- because it's LePage --- for all the wrong reasons. I explain in detail on the show.

Speaking of this country's failure to even be able to count 1+1+1 reliably and overseeably in elections (even without adding the complicated algebra of RCV), the state of Nevada took its new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems out for a test drive across the state in their primary election on Tuesday. It did not go well. At some precincts, some candidates did not appear on some screens. Other precincts reported candidates pre-selected on their touchscreens (possibly left over from a previous voter, whose ballots may not have actually been cast.) And other problems that we describe on today's show.

We also cover some actual election results from Tuesday's primaries in Maine, Virginia, North Dakota, South Carolina and Nevada, as well as special elections in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker (R) had attempted to prevent two special elections for the state legislature from happening at all --- because he feared the seats would flip from "Red" to "Blue" --- one of those seats in the state Senate did, in fact, flip to the Democrats for the first time in four-decades, in a very Republican district.

In Virginia, GOP voters nominated Corey Stewart, a far rightwing, Trump-endorsed Confederacy defender as their nominee to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine for the U.S. Senate this year. In South Carolina, former Governor, now U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford was turfed out in his primary by another Republican for not being Trumpy enough. And, in D.C., retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee (correctly) charged that his party has become little more than a Trump "cult".

In Canada, meanwhile, the House of Commons unanimously pushed back on the Trump Administration's weekend attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the G7 summit, and on the tariffs imposed by Trump on steel and aluminum from our longtime friends and allies to the north. And the next day, in a complete coincidence, Trump's DHS hardened their border policy with Canada to, supposedly, prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the U.S.

Finally today, a ballot initiative that would break California into three states appears to have qualified for this November's ballot! While the measure is currently said to be very unpopular with actual voters in the Golden State, it seems at least as unthinkable that it could pass as that Donald Trump could ever become President of the United States...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on Singapore statement, NK/US 'denuclearization' history, Trump dismissal of Kim atrocities...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: After turning on our closest allies at the G7 summit over the weekend, Donald Trump made history on Tuesday by shaking hands, meeting with, and praising brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un at a much-anticipated, on-again off-again, made for Reality TV summit in Singapore. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The two signed and released a thin, one-page joint statement at the meeting's end, calling for the vaguely referenced "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", with the U.S. offering security guarantees to the isolated nation for what appears to be precious little in return. Trump also announced, to the apparent surprise and dismay of both our allies in South Korea and even the U.S. military, that he intends to end joint military exercises with the South, which he described (just as the North does), as "provocative".

Trump later went on to dismiss the long-documented history of murderous and brutal human rights violations in NK, which our guest today, former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs MICHAEL FUCHS, describes as "the most brutal dictatorship on the face of the planet." Trump's response today, when asked about the country's horrifying human rights abuses: "It doesn't matter. We're starting from scratch. We're starting right now."

Indeed, as Fuchs notes, the joint document signed by the pair does not speak to Kim's atrocities in any way, nor does it reference his ballistic missile program. Trump has repeatedly cited the failure to deal with Iran's missile program as central to his reason for pulling out and violating the comprehensive, seven-nation pact struck during the Obama Administration with Iran, which ended that country's ability to even build nuclear weapons.

Fuchs, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, offers key insight and analysis as a former diplomat who worked closely on these issues with the previous administration, including the history of similar (if much more comprehensive) agreements during several previous administrations, all of which were ultimately violated by Kim's father, the previous leader. "This is a repeat of what we've seen before," he tells me. "We have had numerous agreements, numerous joint statements, dating back more than 25 years. This statement resembles, to be fair, the least-detailed statements that North Korea and the United States have ever put out."

He argues that the current turn to diplomacy, while welcome, is only due to a "false choice between war, which [Trump] was advocating for, or diplomacy. We should be engaged in diplomacy with North Korea, but we should be engaged in it at the right level, with the experts negotiating things, to see if we can get North Korea to commit to verifiable steps to reduce the threat to the United States. Instead of, frankly and unfortunately, the sort of 'pomp and circumstance' show that we got."

Noting that the agreement doesn't even define what is meant by "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," for which NK has a wildly different definition than that of the U.S., Fuchs explains: "This is the crux of the entire matter. What do both sides mean by 'denuclearization' and what is North Korea willing to do? And it's clear to me that the vague language in this statement is the result of not getting agreement from the two parties on what they mean."

"We didn't get any specifics, any agreements for [North Korea] to do anything when it comes to stopping or halting their nuclear or missile programs right now. They didn't even reiterate in the agreement that North Korea would continue what has been a months-long freeze on its testing of nuclear weapons and missiles," Fuchs charges, describing what he characterized at the Guardian today as "the latest episode in the TV series starring the US president, Donald Trump, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and a stockpile of nuclear weapons" in "one of the world’s most intractable and dangerous conflicts."

(And, yes, the summit even included a schlocky fake movie trailer that Trump played for Kim on an iPad at the beginning of their conversation.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on how climate change was at the center of Trump's turn against the United State's closes allies at this past weekend's G7 summit in Canada, and much more...

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Also: Stolen SCOTUS approves OH's radical vote purge scheme; L.A. County won't rule out hacking in primary election 'print error' that left 118k off Election Day rolls; Callers ring in on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2018 6:10pm PT  

The crazy train continues. And gets crazier. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

  • The stolen Republican 5 to 4 majority [PDF] on the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday found in favor of Ohio's radical voter purge scheme that begins to remove voters from the rolls for failing to vote in one single federal election, in what voting rights advocates (and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) found to be a direct violation of the National Voter Registration Act. According to a 2016 Reuters analysis, the scheme resulted in 144,000 voters being removed from the rolls in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus alone, and affected voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods. Other GOP-controlled states are now believed likely to adopt similar voter purge schemes;
  • The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters says he cannot yet rule out hacking as the cause for 118,000 voters being left off the printed rosters at the polls during last week's midterm primaries in California. Registrar Dean Logan has announced that an independent analyst will be hired to try and determine why it happened and how to prevent an even worse disaster this November;
  • Seemingly bowing to public pressure, The Trump Administration's Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has now said he plans to back off his proposed scheme to increase rents by more than 20% per year on more than 8 million low-income Americans --- including millions of children, elderly and the disabled --- who live in federally subsidized housing for the working poor; (Our guest on this topic last week, former Obama HUD official Diane Yentel, warns that pieces of this proposal may find its way into other legislation being moved by Congressional Republicans to gut the social safety net for the poor.);
  • Then, on to the crazy train: Trump arrived late and left early from the Group of Seven (G7) summit with our top allies on Saturday, pulled the U.S. off of the G7's traditional summit-ending communiqué, which he'd previously agreed to, and then turned against mild-mannered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for daring to keep his promise to respond (as he'd previously announced) to Trump's trade tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and other close allies last week. In turn, Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, took to the Sunday news shows to describe Canada's response as a "betrayal" and his top trade adviser, Peter Navarro went on to charge there was a "special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad diplomacy with president Donald J. Trump.";
  • All of which served as a precursor for Trump's historic summit set for Tuesday in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On Monday, Trump announced he planned to leave that summit --- with the potential denuclearization of North Korea and an end to the 70-year old conflict between the North and the South on the table --- early as well. What could possibly go wrong? And how bad does this all get before it gets better?

Callers ring in on all of the above on today's busy BradCast, focusing on the election failure last week in Los Angeles, and how Trump is likely to try and use the results from Singapore, whatever they may be, to his political advantage...accurately, dishonestly, or otherwise...

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Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on journalist in leak probe, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in new lawsuit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2018 6:45pm PT  

It was another very difficult day, with a fire hose of incoming news, figuring out what most needs to be covered, underscored, highlighted and given context to on today's BradCast. Here are some of the stories that made the difficult cut. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

First up: The Department of Justice appears to have ignored its own guidelines for dealing with journalists and their Constitutional First Amendment protections. James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in charge of security, has now been charged with three counts of lying to federal investigators as part of an aggressive leak investigation. It should be noted that he has not (at least yet) been charged with leaking classified information, just of lying to investigators.

Related to that indictment, we have now learned that New York Times journalist Ali Watkins, said to have been in a romantic relationship with Wolfe at one time, had at least a year's worth of her phone and email records secretly seized by Trump's DoJ without her knowledge. That means the confidential sources and whistleblowers (above and beyond Wolfe, who, she says, was never a source of classified information for her) have presumably now all been exposed to the DoJ. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that his DoJ has tripled the number of leak investigations carried out by Obama's DoJ, which had already prosecuted more government leakers than all previous Administrations combined.

The turn of events has, justifiably, gravely alarmed journalists and First Amendment advocates, such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation which has decried both the indictments of Wolfe and, in particular, the spying on Atkins, who was given no opportunity to challenge the matter in court. "Having her private records scrutinized and spied on by the government for doing her job as a journalist, and the Justice Department's move should be loudly condemned by everyone no matter your political preference," said Trevor Timm, the Foundation's Executive Director.

Next: In another alarming break with both precedent and tradition, Trump's DoJ announced they would not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") against a lawsuit filed by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General. The DoJ traditionally defends federal laws duly adopted by Congress and signed by the President in all but the most extreme circumstances. According to experts, however, this is an otherwise very weak case against the law which has ensured affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans since its passage in 2010.

We explain the basis for the suit, and how, if successful, it would gut two of the most popular provisions of the ACA, it's restriction on charging the elderly more for health insurance, and on insurance companies denying covering to those with pre-existing conditions.

Three career attorneys at DoJ were removed from the case on Thursday so that a Trump political appointee could take it over and flip the Department's previous position defending ACA and opposing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, some 17 state Attorneys General from Democratic leaning states have interceded to oppose the suit and defend the federal law.

Finally today: As if all of that isn't disturbing enough. A new bill introduced in Congress, supported by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, would see rent for low-income tenants in federally-subsidized housing increased by an average of 26% --- year after year, according to a new analysis! The "Make Affordable Housing Work Act" introduced in April, would affect roughly four million American households, many of them families with children who could be forced into homelessness by this extraordinary cruel measure which Carson recently described on Fox "News" as "our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty."

Our guest today, former director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the HUD under Barack Obama, DIANE YENTEL, charges that Carson's statement is "as absurd as it sounds. Clearly, increasing rents on people isn't the way out of poverty, it's the way deeper into poverty. And potentially homelessness."

Yentel, now President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains the extraordinary measure, noting that "by design, the greatest burden falls on seniors, people with disabilities, and families with young kids." In fact, the measure would, according to AP, "increase the percentage of income poor tenants are required to pay from 30 percent to 35 percent [of their income, and] would eliminate deductions, for medical care and child care, and for each child in a home."

Moreover, while Carson's HUD claims the elderly and disabled would be exempt from the change, Yentel charges that "is just not true", and explains how an estimated 314,000 households stand to lose their elderly or disabled status and will see their rents increased as well.

She goes on to argue that we already face a massive housing crisis for low and middle-income Americans, and that this measure would only make things far worse. "The housing crisis that we're in right now has reached historic heights. It's most negatively impacting the lowest income people. The National Low Income Housing Coalition's research [shows] we currently have a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available for the lowest income people. Nationwide, for every 100 of the lowest-income people who need housing assistance, there's only 35 homes that are affordable and available to them."

Yentel goes on to tell me that most of those who would be effected are already working families, and that while raising the federal minimum wage is a necessary part of making housing affordable for millions of these Americans, it would have to be raised to more than $21 per hour for most to be able to afford a modest, two bedroom apartment. That, even as the wealth disparity between rich and poor in the U.S. continues to grow in the wake of the Trump/GOP tax cuts last year, gifting some $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest of Americans who need it the least and now "by cutting the programs that give the most basic resources, basic benefits, to the lowest income, most vulnerable people in our country."

"I think that's pretty shameful," says Yentel...

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News on several massive Election Day failures in L.A. and some more noteworthy results in CA and elsewhere; Also: The continuing jaw-dropping kleptocracy of Trump's shockingly still-employed EPA chief...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2018 5:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We continue our coverage of fallout following this past Tuesday's midterm primary elections in eight states, as the counting and canvassing moves forward. [Audio link to show follows below]

In California on Wednesday night, Sec. of State Alex Padilla (D) sent a stern letter to Los Angeles County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan demanding answers and actions following a still-unexplained "printing error" that resulted in the names of more than 118,000 registered voters (including Fonzie!) being left off the printed rosters at more than 1,000 polling places.

Voters found missing from the rolls were to have been given provisional ballots on Tuesday, according to Logan, but there are questions as to whether all of them were. Also, there are concerns about whether those provisional ballots will all, in fact, be counted (or tossed for bad reasons, as some provisional and vote-by-mail ballots are), and if those ballots will be included in the county's 1% post-election manual "spot check", meant to determine whether hand-marked paper ballots were tallied as per voter intent by the county's computer tabulators. A new state law adopted last year exempts both provisional ballots and late vote-by-mail ballots post-marked by Election Day (which may arrive several days after the election and still be included in tallies) from that mandated 1% "random audit". We've got a bit of exclusive news on that front today.

That disaster was not the only problem for voters on Tuesday in L.A., the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. One blind voter reports on her failed attempt to vote on four separate audio voting systems for disabled voters at three separate polling places. All four machines failed to work, echoing a very similar problem that I had while attempting to vote on those very same systems in L.A. ten years ago. In a 2008 primary, 4 out of 12 of my own votes were misprinted by the computer-marked paper ballot audio voting system. (Luckily, I'm not blind, so was able to notice the computer-printed failure before casting the ballot!) Two years later, in 2010, when I tried the system again, it failed to work altogether on two different machines.

Also in CA on Tuesday, voters in a recall election successfully removed a state judge who had issued a controversially lenient sentence to a Stanford University athlete last year following his sexual assault of an unconscious woman. Another recall election, engineered by state Republicans, resulted in the removal of a Democratic state Senator for having voted in favor of a gas tax hike last year. The successful recall strips Dems of their two-thirds super-majority in the state Senate, which is required for the passage of any new state taxes or fees.

In Alabama, the unbalanced Republican Sec. of State John Merrill --- who blocked me on Twitter last December for being correct about the state's computer tabulation systems, before sending a barrage of insanely bizarre emails to me last week --- won his primary for re-election on Tuesday.

And Joseph Siegelman, son of the former Democratic AL Gov. Don Siegelman, (both guests on the show over the years) won his primary for Attorney General in the state. Depending on the results of a primary runoff on the GOP side, Siegelman may be running this November against a former AL Attorney General who was part of the GOP cabal who helped imprison his father on seemingly trumped up bribery charges more than a decade ago. (Tune in for a wild summary of the incredible GOP corruption in that state around all of that, which still echoes throughout state politics today. And, with all of the madness I quickly summarized on the show, I now realize I forgot to mention, incredibly enough, that the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who convicted and sentenced Gov. Siegelman was later forced to resign after being arrested for beating his wife!)

And, in South Dakota, some remarkable fallout from a Sheriff's race in one county, underscoring, yet again that elections have consequences and that so-called "Right-to-Work" states are anything but.

Then, after a smart observation from longtime BRAD BLOG reader "Dredd", who points out that more Americans appear to have been killed by one climate event --- Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico --- than in our (so far) 17-year long war in Afghanistan, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. Among other things in today's report, still more outrageous corruption news revealed from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. But, we had more on that front than we could fit into our GNR today --- and more that has broken since recording it Wednesday morning --- so we follow up with that additional news about Trump's kleptocratic EPA chief, including a Republican U.S. Senator who has some choice words for the shockingly still-employed Pruitt...

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Guest: Jim Dean of DFA is 'celebrating' after contests in 9 states, but wants 'institutional' Dems to let state voters decide elections; Also: More on polling place failures in L.A. and SD; Huge wins for Dems in NM, MO...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a wild ride on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, particularly in California, as eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) all held their held their mid-term primary elections, along with another special election for MO's state legislature.

Most eyes were on the Golden State Tuesday, as Democrats see as many as seven U.S. House seats currently held by Republicans that they may be able to flip this November. But, thanks to California's "Top Two" or "Jungle Primary" system, where all candidates, from all parties, run in the same primary --- with the top two vote-getters going on to compete in November --- there was a very real chance that Dems could have been shut out of some of those flippable races altogether, due to the sheer number of Democrats on yesterday's ballot. That bullet appears to have been dodged, so far. As of Wednesday afternoon, it appears that Dems will place in the two top in each of those races, though votes are still being tallied across the state, and a number of Election Day concerns have muddied some of the water.

One such concern is the more than 118,000 voters whose names were left off of the printed voter rosters at the polls in Los Angeles County, due to a "printing error". Though voters were all supposed to have been given provisional ballots if their names did not appear, the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads the national Election Protection coalition, reported in a statement last night that "many were not".

Meanwhile, in the northern part of the state, it was a failure of electronic pollbooks in CA's San Mateo County that forced some voters to cast hand-marked paper provisional ballots (arguably better than the county's 100% unverifiable electronic voting system, however!) And a similar failure of computerized e-pollbooks from a private vendor in eight different South Dakota counties also jeopardized that state's election on Tuesday.

We're joined today by JIM DEAN, longtime chair of Democracy for America (DFA), which has has been fighting to build a broad, progressive grassroots coalition since Dean's brother Howard famously ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination back in 2004. Dean, whose DFA-endorsed candidates won some and lost some on Tuesday, excoriates the national, "institutional" Democratic Party for meddling in state primaries, including in CA, where, he argues, voters, not the party, should be allowed to decide who will run in November.

"If we aren't good enough to expand the electorate in these districts, to have enough support so that one of the Democratic candidates is going to survive this top two 'jungle primary' system --- if we're not good enough to do that, then it doesn't matter whether they engineer a Democratic second place finisher or not," he contends.

He also suggests that this week's primaries in CA, may signal that it's time to end the state's "experiment" with the Top Two system, while otherwise observing that Tuesday, overall, was a very good day for Democrats and progressives alike. Dean tells me he is "celebrating" the "plethora of candidates that are out there running and putting themselves out" in response to the nation's "little Fort Sumter moment in 2016."

We also discuss what effect the 2nd place finish by Republican businessman John Cox to take on Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Gubernatorial race this November in CA is likely to have on Dems chances of flipping several House seats from "red" to "blue" and how the U.S. Senate contest between two Democrats, Sen. Diane Feinstein and the more progressive (DFA-endorsed) second-place finisher, state Senate President Kevin de León, might effect voter turnout across the state as well.

As to the party's national message, such that there is one to date, Dean believes the candidates who are running this year will force the party in the right direction. "Last year, canvassers were being told not to talk to voters about immigration and gun control," he says. "It's time for us to start standing up. The thing that is so great about these candidates, they're pushing this out. You may not agree with their positions, but they are pushing this stuff out. We are having a lot of progressive positions that do have traction. $15 an hour is another one. Medicare For All. A lot of things are going to come out in the primary process, and we just have to make sure the leadership doesn't buckle that down" as they have in years past.

"I think the candidates are going to change that. I'm confident their aggressive style is going to force the leadership to actually say what they're for, and not say 'you gotta vote for us because the other guy's really bad', which is not a winning message."

There was more good news elsewhere for Democrats and progressives on Tuesday, including in New Mexico where Debra Haaland now appears poised to become the first Native American woman ever in the U.S. House after winning her primary. And progressive grassroots upstart Susan Herrera unseated a long-serving, rightwing corporatist Democrat in the state's House of Representatives, making reform in NM for things like automatic voter registration and gun safety legislation now much more likely. There is no Republican running against her for the seat this fall.

Finally, in Missouri, Democrat Lauren Arthur won a special election for the state Senate, in a district that has been held by Republicans for more than a decade. Her whopping 19-point victory (a nearly 25-point swing since Trump won the district by 5 points in 2016), appears to be freaking out many Republicans in MO and elsewhere, who worry about the potential "blue wave" that Dems hope to see crashing ashore this November...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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Guest: Fordham Univ. School of Law's legal historian Jed Shugerman...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2018 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The nation appears to be lurching ever closer to a full-blown Constitutional Crisis, as Trump and his team offer a series of extraordinary and largely unprecedented (save for Nixon) claims in support of sweeping Presidential powers, over the past few days, which would place the Executive completely above the rule of law. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Over the weekend, Team Trump was once again on the offensive in the media, following the disclosure of a 20-page letter sent by Trump's attorneys to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in January, wherein they argued, among other things, that Presidents cannot legally be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice, since they have unfettered power over all Dept. of Justice investigations, cannot be indicted while serving, and have absolute power to pardon anybody for any crime at any time for any reason.

Moreover, on Monday, Trump took to Twitter to charge that the Mueller probe is, itself "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL" (his caps) and that he has "the absolute right to PARDON" himself. Many constitutional law experts disagree with many of those points.

In response, author, blogger, Slate contributor and Fordham University School of Law legal historian JED SHUGERMAN joins us on today's show to offer historical, legal, and Constitutional points of clarity and precedent on the power and scope of Presidential pardons, subpoenas, indictments and the expansive interpretation of those powers that Trump and his attorneys have been proffering in recent days.

Among the historically relevant cases and precedents referenced by Shugerman today: United States v. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton v. Paula Jones, and even the more recent case of Rod Blagojevich, who, Trump recently said, he was considering pardoning after the disgraced Illinois Governor was convicted for trying to sell off the vacant U.S. Senate seat left by Barack Obama when he became President. "It's no accident that Trump is talking about pardoning [Blagojevich]," argues Shugerman, detailing how Trump sees him as unfairly convicted for simply using his constitutional powers, "even with a bribe, because that's just politics as normal. It's an incredibly cynical move."

"Just because the Constitution gives someone the power to do something, it doesn't mean they can use it for whatever purpose they want," he tells me. "Even if you have five good reasons for doing something, but one illegal reason, that illegal reason still makes it illegal."

"The Constitution says 'the President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed'," Shugerman notes, while explaining why many of the current arguments being made by Team Trump may work effectively for propaganda purposes, but appear to have little legal basis or precedent, particularly while describing that a President would be acting "faithlessly" by pardoning himself. But, even if that happens, he says, he is confident (more so than I) that state prosecutors who are unbound by federal pardons, will pick up the prosecutorial ball against Trump and his cohorts.

[Update 6/5/2018: Shugerman and more than a dozen other distinguished constitutional law experts outline their case against Trump's expansive pardon powers claim in a letter to Trump's Whitehouse attorneys now posted here.]

Shugerman also describes the "bombshell" disclosure from that newly revealed letter from Trump's lawyers, in their admission that the President "dictated" the false written response from Don Jr. after the disclosure of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals to receive "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

Also on today's show...

  • Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy --- believed to be the front-runner to become the next Speaker of the House if the GOP maintains control of the chamber this November --- refused to respond to CNN's on-air questions over the weekend about the Trump attorneys' concession that they and the White House had lied to the public about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting;
  • Despite his continuing lies and chaotic presidency, Trump remains wildly popular among Republicans, according to Gallup. As of his 500th day in office, he enjoys a higher "own party" approval rating than any other President since WWII, other than George W. Bush (following 9/11), at a similar point in their presidencies;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court allows a baker in Colorado to discriminate against a gay couple. (More on this tomorrow.)
  • Corporate CEOs are now admitting out loud that, despite record profits, a theoretically booming economy and huge recent tax cuts, they have no intention of raising pay for workers;

And, on the day before 2018 mid-term primary elections are held in eight states tomorrow, an Election Integrity author rings in to remind us that Russia isn't the only threat to vulnerable, easily-manipulated computerized election results in the U.S. --- not by a long shot...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Alex Doukas of Oil Change Int'l; Also: Trump's trade war, Bad news for CA Repubs, Bad news for TX voters, listeners aghast at AL Sec. of State's crazy emails...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Both Trump in the U.S. and Trudeau in Canada have revealed schemes to prop up dying elements of the fossil fuel industry by having their respective governments spend billions "picking winners and losers," which Republicans, at least, used to pretend to abhor. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, however, just before Tuesday's primaries in eight states, one of them, California, announces record voter registration numbers including the fact that, for the first time, registrations for "No Party Preference" voters now outnumber registration for the Republican Party in the state.

As California has made registration far easier for voters in a number of ways, Texas continues to do the opposite. A federal court last week found the state in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA or "Motor Voter Act") as well as the Constitution's Equal Protection clause, and ordered them to implement online voter registration for those who renew drivers licenses online within 45 days. Of course, TX appealed the ruling to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now temporarily blocked the lower court ruling. That is likely to block online registration for Texans until at least after the crucial 2018 midterms, as the case filed by voting rights advocates in 2016 continues to languish.

Also today, Donald Trump has managed to infuriate allies, adversaries, and even his own party, as longtime U.S. trading partners Canada, Mexico and the EU began to push back against steep tariffs imposed, as of today, by the Trump Administration on imported steel and aluminum. In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, has announced a dollar for dollar retaliation in what is quickly turning into a full blown global trade war, likely to increase prices for Americans on many consumer goods.

At the same time, a new scheme by the Trump administration to pick winners and losers in the energy industry, by forcing electric operators to use coal and nuclear power under the pretext of a 70-year old, Cold War-era "national security" provision, was revealed today by Bloomberg News.

And, up in Canada, PM Trudeau is facing criticism after announcing his government's plan to purchase the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. A massive extension of the pipeline, to send dirty tar sands oils from Alberta to British Columbia for export overseas, has been long opposed by environmentalists and indigenous groups. But Trudeau's nationalization of the pipeline is meant to overcome both the protests and legal barriers.

Our guest today, ALEX DOUKAS of Oil Change International (a Canadian himself) explains what "these egregious and terrible decisions that Trump and Trudeau have taken over the last few days" mean for the U.S., Canada, and our dangerous fossil fuel future. Doukas heads up the group's Stop Funding Fossil Fuels program and observes that Trump is "setting up consumers to pay vastly more for more polluting forms of electricity, just to give handouts to his corporate cronies and his buddies in the coal industry."

That, as Trudeau, who claims to favor the reduction of fossil fuel emissions to curb global warming, has, with his plan to purchase what Doukas describes as the "doomed" Kinder Morgan pipeline, "gives the lie to the idea that the Trudeau Government is really serious about tackling climate change."

Trump and Trudeau, Doukas argues, are "actually a lot more alike than I would have hoped, because they're both willing to step in and nationalize parts of the fossil fuel industry to keep the dollars flowing to the petro-state." He adds: "Pretending that the tar sands is a long term industry, is the same thing that's happening in the U.S. --- lying to coal miners that coal is going to make a comeback, that we're going to make coal great again. It's not going to happen."

But, while he argues that Kinder Morgan, the Houston-based "successor of Enron," has "basically pulled one over on the Canadian government for a failing project they they knew wasn't going to get built," establishing the precedent of government intervention in the dying industries may come back to haunt the supporters of the petro-chemical industries in both countries.

Finally, we've received a lot of feedback following Thursday's program, in which we shared some of the insane emails [PDF] sent over the past week to me by Alabama's seemingly unbalanced Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in advance of his state's (and his own) primary elections next week. We share a bit of the response from listeners, computer experts and election integrity advocates who were, by and large, flabbergasted by Merrill's behavior, as revealed in those emails...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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