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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, October 19, 2017
DHS Misled on 2016 'Russian Hacks' (Will They Get It Right in 2018?): 'BradCast' 10/18/17
Guest: Orange Cnty, CA Registrar Neal Kelley on new DHS 'Election Infrastructure' Council...
Impeachable Offenses: Trump's 'ObamaCare' Lie: 'BradCast' 10/17/17
Also, Guest: Pastor Michael McBride on the 'Cost for Peace vs. Death' and programs that cut gun violence where it's needed most...
'Green News Report' 10/17/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane batters Ireland; Deadliest wildfire week in CA history; Puerto Ricans drinking water from toxic Superfund sites; Coal plants closed in TX; PLUS: Oil rig explodes in LA...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/17 - 10/10/17 - Archives...
Something's Happening Here (Maybe): 'BradCast' 10/16/17
Guest: Heather Digby Parton on Trump rage, GOP 'cowardice', so-called 'Values Voters'; Also: Deadly hurricane in Ireland(?!), fires in CA, war between US-armed allies in Iraq...
Sunday 'Just Undo It' Toons
'PDiddie' rounds up yet another week in American politics where words frequently fail, but the political cartoonists do not...
'Chaos':
'BradCast' 10/13/2017
In less than 24 hours, Trump aggressively unleashes fresh havoc on the American health care system and foreign policy with Iran...
'Green News Report' 10/12/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Historic, deadly firestorms grow in CA; Water-borne diseases in Puerto Rico; PLUS: Trump EPA makes way for controversial mine in world's most valuable fishery...
Previous GNRs: 10/10/17 - 10/5/17 - Archives...
North Korea, Iran and Trump's Determined 'Path to WWIII': 'BradCast' 10/10/17
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the National Iranian-American Council on Trump's dangerous, and foolish, scheme to break the Iran nuclear deal...
'Green News Report' 10/10/17
Deadly wildfires explode in CA; 2017 shattering disaster records -- and not over yet; PLUS: Trump EPA moves to kill Obama 'Clean Power Plan' to curb global warming...
Underestimating 'Trump's Dangerously Coherent Agenda': 'BradCast' 10/9/17
Guest: Author, journalist John Nichols; Also: Massive wildfires explode across CA; Trump EPA announces reversal of Obama 'Clean Power Plan'...
Sunday 'Now is Not the Time' Toons
GOP says 'not time' to discuss gun safety or climate or anything else they don't want to talk about. Cartoonists in PDiddie's latest toon collection beg to differ...
'Calm Before the Storm'?!:
'BradCast' 10/6/17
Trump's chilling remark; More deadly coal, chemical shills for EPA; Trump's 'reverse Midas touch'; Plus: Time to abolish the 2nd Amendment?...
Trump's Cabinet of 'Trickle-Down Corruption': 'BradCast' 10/5/17
Guest: Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center; Also: GOP Rep. resigns in sex/abortion scandal, NRA gives (some) cover to GOP...
'Green News Report' 10/5/17
Trump visits PR, downplays disaster; US gives fossil fuel ind. $20B/year subsidies; Scotland bans fracking; PLUS: Climate change costing US 100s of billions per year...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
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: BuzzFeed News Journalist, 'FOIA Terrorist' Jason Leopold; Also: Trump says he was bluffing about audio tapes...but was he?...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2017 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Republicans in the U.S. Senate finally released a draft of their secret plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or 'ObamaCare', and the Dept. of Defense finally releases a redacted version of a damage assessment from 2011, examining the fallout to national security from the Bradley/Chelsea Manning leaks of 2010. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: The secret working group of white, male Republicans in the Senate finally revealed their new scheme, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act", to rewrite 1/5th of the U.S. economy by replacing ObamaCare with what Donald Trump has promised would be a healthcare plan "with heart" that was less "mean" than the version he celebrated after its narrow passage by Republicans in the U.S. House several weeks ago.

The release of the new Senate plan did not go well. Democrats, independents, and healthcare advocates alike --- not to mention elderly protesters in wheelchairs dragged away from outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell --- slammed the legislation for its massive tax cuts to the wealthy in exchange for deeply cruel cuts to federal Medicaid funding, and the promise of stingier premium subsidies for less generous health care policies.

A number of Republicans in the Senate also currently oppose the plan as written, because it doesn't repeal ObamaCare enough, but we'll see if they change their tune before the bill comes up for a vote next week, as promised by McConnell, before Congress leaves for the July 4th recess. The GOP can only afford to lose the support of two Republicans among their 52-seat caucus.

Then, we're joined by BuzzFeed News journalist and "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD, to discuss the newly unearthed Dept. of Defense damage assessment of the hundreds of thousands of documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as well as diplomatic cables, leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

During her trial, Government officials charged that the disclosures caused massive damage to national security and endangered counts lives of both U.S. personnel and our allies, but is that what the DoD's own secret 2011 assessment --- finally released this week in heavily redacted form in response to Leopold's Freedom of Information Act request --- actually found? We discuss that and the "passionate responses" he has received since publishing the assessment.

We also discuss the new White House ban on cameras during press briefings and how the Trump Administration compares to previous administrations on matters of government secrecy and document classification.

"In the overall picture, you have an administration that operates under intense secrecy that wants to limit access --- 'access' being the key word there --- that journalists depend upon. Access is really important, and it's really important to be able to confront government officials," Leopold tells me, while placing the news about the ban in context with the Trump Administration's secrecy and on-going battle with journalists elsewhere. "This type of behavior trickles down to various levels within the federal government and, I've seen, it also goes into local and state governments, as well. This intense secrecy, where elected officials who are accountable to the people are simply not interested in speaking --- and then try and set up some new rules that basically bars the press from confronting them."

Leopold goes on to cite the increased difficulty he is beginning to have prying documents loose via FOIA requests under the Administration, while noting that "some of these agencies are having trouble trying to figure out how to respond to requests, largely because you have a President now who is tweeting, who is arguably declassifying --- instantly declassifying --- information that would otherwise remain secret."

Speaking of which, finally today, Trump tweeted that, despite his previous suggestions, he has no audio tapes of his one-on-one conversations with now-fired FBI Director James Comey. But is he telling the truth, or bluffing yet again?...

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

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Guest: Author, attorney Seth Abramson | Plus: Senate GOP plans to pass 'secret' health care bill; Energy Sec. Rick Perry is still dumb; much more...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2017 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, given the reports that Donald Trump is now personally being investigated for obstruction of justice, we unpack the chaos that may soon come about if the Deputy Attorney General is forced to recuse himself (or is fired) from overseeing the Special Counsel's probe of Team Trump. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

But, while all the madness of the DoJ's Trump investigations are going on, Senate Republicans indicated today that they will call for a vote on their secret Obamacare replacement bill before the July 4th recess next week. They also announced they will have the votes needed for passage. If they are right, the results are likely be devastating for millions of Americans, and not only the poor. One of out three elderly Americans in nursing homes, for example, rely on Medicaid to cover the costs, and the GOP is about to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the program in exchange for massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

We discuss that and, as record heat blasts the Western US, the unbelievably stupid explanation for climate change just offered by Energy Secretary Rick Perry (it's not CO2, he says, it's "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in"!) We also offer a very quick preview of the U.S. House Special Elections being held today on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines in BOTH Georgia and South Carolina. (We'll have full results, whatever they are reported to be, on tomorrow's show).

Then we're joined by attorney, author, columnist and UNH asst. professor SETH ABRAMSON to step through his recent 50 tweet(!) tweetstorm detailing the 'bedlam' that is likely to ensue when and if (he insists "when") Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is forced to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Team Trump and, reportedly, obstruction of justice by the President himself in his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The chain of events that could come about as the result of Rosenstein's recusal, as Abramson details on the show today, are amazing and could lead to a very real Constitutional Crisis and even completely separate obstruction of justice charges against Trump based on an entirely different investigation related to his February mass firing of all of the US Attorneys.

Lots of somewhat jaw-dropping 'bedlam' unpacked and explained and to be absorbed in detail on this front on today's show, including whether or not Rosenstein himself could come under investigation; who the next officials in line are to take his place (first, a friend of Ted Cruz' named Rachel Brand, then a man named Dana Boente) and what their conflicts are; how Trump could personally come to appoint the person overseeing the Special Counsel's investigation after we go through Brand and Boente; and why, if sitting Presidents cannot be indicted, as many argue, Mueller would be carrying out a criminal obstruction of justice investigation of Trump in the first place.

"Honestly, If I were to lay out the full complexity of the situation right now at the DoJ, which goes well beyond the question of Rachel Brand possibly becoming the Acting AG in the very near term, it would take --- and I am not exaggerating --- probably about 500 tweets," Abramson tells me. "We are in so many unprecedented situations and sub-situations at the DoJ, it is bewildering even for attorneys," he says, adding later: "This is the most complex and public litigation of probably the last 100 years in American political history."

Finally today, another heartbreaking story of yet another immigrant victim of Trump's, now facing deportation and separation from his family despite spending months in the clean-up efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11...

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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State contracted e-vote and pollbook programmers at Kennesaw State Univ. told of vulnerability last year, covered it up, left files unprotected
Also: Unlawful U.S. war on Syria expands, incurs Russian wrath; Dem plan to slow GOP Senate's secret health care bill; Fatal anti-Muslim attacks in London, Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2017 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast, another blockbuster report confirms vulnerabilities in our nation's voting systems that I've been trying to warn about for more than a decade, and several other stories not receiving the dire attention merited this week. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

In advance of Tuesday's highly contested U.S. House Special Election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District --- the most expensive House race in U.S. history --- Politico Magazine's Kim Zetter offers an absolutely chilling bombshell of a report headlined "Will the Georgia Special Election Get Hacked?" She reports that gigabytes of unsecured data --- including passwords for e-voting system central tabulators, voter registration databases and much more were kept on a wholly unsecured web server, potentially for years, at Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems.

The KSU Center, as they describe on their website, was "created and charged with the responsibility of ensuring the integrity of voting systems in Georgia" since the state adopted its statewide, 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting system in 2002. Those same machines are still used there today, despite their age (they run on a version of Windows 2000) and massive, well-documented vulnerabilities to hacking and insider manipulation. Nonetheless, the Center for Election Systems has long been cited as a model for election administration by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and is responsible for the security and programming of every 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system, computerized central tabulator, and electronic pollbook used across the state of Georgia.

The unsecured data files at Kennesaw, according to Zetter, were discovered prior to last year's Presidential Election and reported to the Center, but were still available online for download without a password at the beginning of March this year, during the run-up to the April primary election in the GA-06 House race. The data may, in fact, have been available there for years, even as Kennesaw's Executive Director Merle King, who has spent years testifying in court on behalf of Diebold's systems, reportedly failed to inform GA Sec. of State Brian Kemp about the breach last year after he was informed of it. In fact, Zetter notes that he warned the outside computer security researcher who discovered it not to inform the state. GA's former Sec. of State, Karen Handel, is the Republican House candidate in the reportedly very tight GA-06 race against Democrat Jon Ossoff and is said to have repeatedly blocked a security analysis of the Center years earlier while serving as the state's chief election official.

When the results of the House contest are announced on Tuesday night --- whichever party's candidate is declared the winner --- it will be virtually impossible to know if the results are accurate or if even one vote cast on GA's 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems were recorded as per any voter's intent.

While many of the vulnerabilities in GA's terrible voting and tabulation systems have been publicly known for years, the fact that the security at Kennesaw's Center for Elections is even far worse than ever imagined is both new and absolutely chilling in regard to both Georgia elections, and all others across the country, as I explain in detail on today's program.

Beyond that nightmarish report today, we also cover two different fatal attacks on Muslims over the past 24 hours, one in London and one in Virginia (and Donald Trump's failure to comment on either of them); The new Democratic strategy to slow down progress on the Obamacare replacement bill being crafted by Senate Republicans in complete secrecy, without public hearings or amendments in advance of a possible floor vote on the controversial legislation before the July 4th recess; And, the U.S. shoots down a Syrian bomber over Syria in violation of international law and without any authorization (or complaint or debate) from Congressional Republicans or Democrats alike, even as the weekend incident has drawn the wrath and potential targeting of U.S. aircraft over Syria by its ally Russia...

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

Several other recent programs in The BradCast's series of reports leading up to the GA-06 U.S. House Special Election:

  • 4/4/2017: Computer and e-voting expert Barbara Simons on the initial reports of a "massive breach" of the state voter database files at Kennesaw State University
  • 5/8/2017: Garland Favorito of election watchdog VoterGA.org on the group's disturbing analysis of the central computer tabulator failure on the night of the April primary in GA-06.
  • 6/6/2017: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks on her lawsuit demanding hand-counted paper ballots in the GA-06 race.
  • 6/12/2017: Diebold document whistleblower Steven Heller on Diebold caught lying in California in 2004 about the exact same machines still used in Georgia in 2017. (CA decertified them after Heller's disclosure.) And on the NSA analysis recently released by NSA contractor Reality Winner on spear-phishing attacks that may have allowed access to the voting system computers of election officials across the country prior to the 2016 Presidential election.

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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: Journalist David Dayen | Also: How to win young voters and the House Democratic caucus rift over impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2017 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the latest testimony you probably already know about, and the Republican/Trump schemes on banking regulations, infrastructure and healthcare that aren't receiving nearly as much media attention. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in case you hadn't heard, testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee in open session on Tuesday, and pushed back strongly against what he described as the "secret innuendo" to smear him with the "appalling and detestable lie" that he colluded with Russia on behalf of Team Trump in any way. He said he did not violate his official recusal from the FBI's Trump/Russia investigation when he recommended that the President fire FBI Director James Comey, but then went on to refuse to answer a number of questions concerning his conversations with Trump, despite the fact that Trump has not invoked Executive Privilege for the conversations in question.

There were a number of heated exchanges with Democratic Senators on the Committee, including with one who accused Sessions of "obstructing" the Congressional investigation with his refusal to answer questions or provide a valid legal reason as to why. He also says that he is not aware whether there is a White House taping system that may have recorded Trump's one-on-one conversations with Comey, and that he has received no briefings as Attorney General on the allegations that Russian intelligence used cyberattacks to try and interfere in the 2016 elections.

We cover those hearings today, just completed before air time, before turning to a number of matters that have received far less attention by the media, with our guest DAVID DAYEN, author and prolific financial journalist for The Nation, New Republic, the Fiscal Times, The Intercept and elsewhere.

Among the topics we discuss: The stunning results of last week's UK elections and what it means for the UK, the US, and a what it may portend for a more progressive future for young voters in both countries ("The lesson is that you run on things that people can tangibly experience," says Dayen); The CHOICE Act ("A big ball of deregulation") passed by Republicans in the House last week to gut the modest banking regulations enacted in response to the 2007 global economic collapse (can it possibly pass in the Senate? And does the White House even want it to, given that they are already rolling back those same regulations on their own?); Trump's new scheme to invest in infrastructure, and how it's actually a very thinly veiled plan to privatize public assets, like the federal Air Traffic Control system ("Trump's plans for infrastructure are indistinguishable with privatization").

And finally today, more infighting among Democrats in Congress, as some members are the caucus move forward with a plan to impeach Donald Trump, as Dem leadership pushes back to kill, or at least slow down the process...

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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And other things you've been distracted from by the Trump Circus...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2017 6:39pm PT  

We'll not be distracted by the Trump Circus (well, mostly), despite what he said in the Rose Garden and on Twitter today! On today's BradCast, just a little bit of Trump, but a whole lot of failed 'conservatism' from the American Heartland to Great Britain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Thursday's elections in the UK resulted in disaster for Prime Minister Theresa May. Her Conservative Party took an absolute drubbing as young voters turned out to reject the conservative austerity agenda by casting a for change with the Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn.

Back here in the U.S., hard evidence of the utter failure of "conservative" policies is very much on display if you bother (or know where) to look. Republican-run states like Kansas and Oklahoma are facing desperate budget shortfalls following years of tax cuts that neither boosted the economy nor increased government revenues, as promised. Cuts to essential services like health care and public education have been implemented in hopes of making up for failed GOP economics. Yes, the young, the sick, the poor and the elderly pay the price in the bargain, as usual.

But voters last November and legislators this week in Kansas, at least, are striking back at Gov. Sam Brownback by reversing his failed GOP austerity policies. Given what school kids in Oklahoma are now facing after years of budget shortfalls due to tax cuts and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry by the state's GOP legislature and aptly-named Governor Mary Fallin, voters in the Sooner State will --- hopefully sooner rather than later --- reject similarly failed hard-right policies and elected officials just as Kansas has finally begun to do.

Later this month, at least in one part of Georgia, voters may also send a similar message in the upcoming U.S. House Special Election in a very "red" district, where the young, first-time Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is now said to be leading by 7 points, at least in one new poll, over Karen Handel, his "conservative" GOP establishment opponent. (She made the case against "conservatism" very nicely this week, when she said, during a debate, that she does "not believe in a livable wage", citing that as "the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative".)

Meanwhile, millionaire Greg Gianforte, the Trump "conservative" who managed to eke out a win in the U.S. House special election in Montana last week after body slamming a reporter the night before the election, will now plead guilty to misdemeanor assault in the matter after buying his way out of a civil suit.

Back at the D.C. White House Circus today, the day after his fired FBI Director James Comey's sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Donald Trump accused him of lying and suggested again that the White House may have tapes to prove it. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have finally asked for copies of those tapes...if they exist. And, as you were distracted, Republicans in the House were quietly passing a bill to roll back the Dodd-Frank big banking reforms enacted after the 2007 global economic collapse and, in the Senate, quietly paving the way to repeal Obamacare, no matter how many millions of Americans will lose their healthcare in the bargain.

Finally, with more news of failed "conservative" policies in both practice and at the polling place, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, before we close with yet another U.S. Supreme Court rejection this past week of a massive racial gerrymandering scam in yet another "red" state...

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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Long road, many questions, battles lie ahead...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/5/2017 10:59am PT  

Late last week, the California state Senate adopted a proposal for a state-run, single-payer, "Medicare for All" style healthcare system. That's just the latest encouraging news to suggest that, on the surface, single-payer healthcare advocates have the wind at their sails in the Golden State.

Buoyed by a public opinion poll that showed that 70% of Californians support SB-562 ("The Health California Act") --- the state Senate measure that aspires to provide publicly-funded quality healthcare to all California residents --- and a newly released Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) Study, which concluded that the measure would save California $37.5 billion in annual healthcare expenditures while covering millions of additional residents, single-payer advocates have encountered smooth sailing in the California State Senate. Last Thursday, that legislative body approved the bill by a 23-14 vote with three members not voting.

The measure now moves to the state Assembly, and irrespective of whether it is similarly approved there, the good ship Single-Payer is about to encounter choppy waters and a stiff headwind.

SB-562's authors, Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Baldwin Park) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), deferred questions about the new taxes needed to fully fund their proposed, state-run single-payer healthcare system. A separate tax measure would have to be approved by a 2/3 vote in both Houses of the California legislature. Democrats hold super majorities in each chamber. However, 2/3 passage is by no means a given.

The landmark single-payer initiative and tax measure to fund it would then have to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jerry "Budget Miser" Brown, who has already expressed concerns about how a single-payer system could be financed.

Moreover, as evidenced in recent days, the otherwise popular measure also faces a hostile corporate-owned media...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Also: Trump travel ban blocked by full Appeals Court; UK furious at Admin over intel leaks; Trump praises Philippines extrajudicial murders; More...
By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2017 5:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of the most amazing candidate meltdowns ever seen (or, in this case, heard) and how the Speaker of the House hopes to look the other way in the event that he wins anyway. But that's just the tip of today's news iceberg(s). [Audio link to show posted below.]

In one of the most remarkable Election Eve unravelings ever by a U.S. candidate for...pretty much anything, Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte melted down on the eve of what should have been an easy victory in his statewide Special Election for Montana's only U.S. House seat against Democratic candidate Rob Quist. Instead, in an incident caught on stunning audio tape and witnessed by Fox "News" reporters, Gianforte "body slammed" a Guardian reporter, has been charged with assault, and saw his newspaper endorsements rescinded on the night before voters went to the polls on Thursday.

But many voters already cast their vote by absentee ballot by time of the Wednesday incident, and House Speaker Paul Ryan suggests he'll accept whatever results are reported from the election. That, as I explain today, conveniently ignores Congress's Article 1, Section 5 Constitutional right (and duty) to determine who is actually seated in the House of Representatives. It's a right they have exercised on a number of other controversial elections in the past, so surely Ryan is familiar with that. But, of course, we'll soon see (hopefully) who voters in Montana have decided they want for their only Representative in the U.S. House.

At the same time, it was another enormous news day in which Donald Trump's second attempted travel ban Executive Order was blocked, yet again, this time by the full U.S. 4th Circuit of Appeals. His Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced he will appeal the case to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, yet another embarrassment for the Trump Administration, which was publicly taken to task by British Prime Minister Theresa May for leaking British intelligence to media regarding the UK's Manchester Bombing investigation. The leaks not only invoked the wrath of (and temporarily stopped intelligence sharing from) the United States' closest ally, but it was hardly the only highly sensitive information recently and inappropriately disclosed to friend and foe alike by Trump and/or his Administration in recent days.

And, in a (related) news item we didn't get to yesterday, after disclosing the whereabouts of two U.S. nuclear submarines, it appears Trump actually praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a recent phone call for the "unbelievable...great job" he has done on that nation's drug epidemic --- in which thousands of people have been murdered in a brutal extrajudicial campaign carried out by Duterte's police force.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with a jam-packed Green News Report, before still more news breaks at the buzzer, reportedly finding Trump's top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner 'under FBI scrutiny' in the Bureau's ongoing Trump/Russia probe...

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Guest: Journalist, health care reform advocate Jacki Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2017 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast, big wins for Democrats in very Republican districts, more trouble for the GOP as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally scores the House healthcare bill, and trouble likely ahead for still-divided Democrats. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

As Republicans struggle to pass any major legislation in the wake of Donald Trump's continuing political and legal troubles, Democrats saw two different huge state-level electoral victories in "deeply red districts" in New York and New Hampshire during special elections on Tuesday. Both seats had been previously held by Republicans for years and, in NY, the former Bernie Sanders delegate who won the set, helped flip the district "an astounding 39 points" since the November election!

All of that comes in advance of a statewide special election for the U.S. House in Montana on Thursday, believed to be "closer than it should be" in a state that went for Trump last November by more than 20 points, and a U.S. House special election runoff next month in Georgia's 6th Congressional District which also went to Trump last year, but where the Democrat is now said to be leading his Republican opponent by 7 points.

The first-time Democratic candidates in both the MT and GA races are raising record-shattering money from small donors, though in Georgia, non-partisan election watchdogs are urging voters to cast absentee paper ballots by mail or, preferably, dropped off at County HQ, rather than via the 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems the state will once again, shamefully, force voters to use at the precincts on June 20th.

Then, just before airtime, the non-partisan CBO finally released its score of the Republicans' American Health Care Act (ACHA), which was narrowly adopted in the U.S. House three weeks ago. Like previous GOP versions of the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), the CBO finds the latest version will result in more than 20 million Americans (23 million, in this case) losing their health care coverage over the next ten years, including 14 million next year alone.

Journalist and health care reform advocate Jackie Schechner joins us with details from the CBO's just-released report, and what it is likely to mean for the future of the GOP legislation in the House and in the U.S. Senate. (She believes the GOP will ultimately fail to pass a bill that both houses can agree upon, so Obamacare will stay in place for the foreseeable future.)

Schechner details how the GOP's House bill will imperil health care for those with preexisting conditions (the CBO found such people "would ultimately be unable to purchase...health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all"); the Senate GOP leadership's strange plan to create a competing bill in the upper chamber with a "group of 13 white men" and no Democrats or even industry experts taking part; how she believes Republicans and President Trump have purposely undermined Obamacare; and how Democrats and Republicans together could actually fix the problems in the Affordable Care Act --- if they actually wanted to.

"I think it's important that we take a step back and take the politics out of this, and start to focus on the policy of what we're trying to do," she tells me. "What we're trying to do is get people in this country access to health care, and to make it affordable. That's where the policy specifics need to come into play, and that's not going to happen if you got 13 white men who are crafting this behind closed doors who have no experience in health care policy."

We then close with a very lively discussion of a Democratic single-payer "Medicare for All" health care bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in the House. The legislation, HR-626, for the first time ever, now has support from more than half of the Democratic caucus. Does that bill present a way forward for health care reform in the U.S. --- and for Democrats at the ballot box?

We discuss, debate and, hopefully, inform on that and much more on today's BradCast!...

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Guest: Former Asst. US Attorney Randall D. Eliason of GWU Law School...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2017 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, yes, like yesterday, more huge breaking news mid-show. [Audio link follows below.]

But before we get to that, today, controversial, extremist and, perhaps, insane Milwaukee Sheriff David C. Clarke claimed today that he has been appointed to a position in Donald Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security. If true, his appointment would be disturbing. Not only given the number of people who have died in his jail cells, but also because he has, literally, called for about a million people in the U.S. to be rounded up and shipped off to Gitmo, indefinitely, without attorney or trial. Really.

Then, the fallout from yesterday's huge mid-show breaking news concerning the report that, in February, Donald Trump asked then FBI Director James Comey to end the Bureau's investigation of Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Republicans, both last night and today on Capitol Hill, are having trouble grappling with and/or responding to the news, though at least one GOP Senator, John McCain, compared what's now going on to Watergate. And committees in both the House and Senate have now asked to see the Comey memos said to document his private meetings with Trump.

And, along with all of that, the phrase "Obstruction of Justice" is being heard more and more regarding Trump's apparent efforts to shut down the FBI's probe into his campaign associates alleged coordination with Russia during the 2016 Presidential election. So, we are joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney, now Professor Randall D. Eliason of George Washington University Law School to discuss what "Obstruction of Justice" actually means, in both the criminal sense (as it might apply in an indictment) and in the political sense (as it might apply in Articles of Impeachment) Eliason recently discussed both applications in a lengthy article at his Sidebars Blog.

"The important thing," he tells me today, "is to distinguish between Obstruction of Justice in the broader sense --- the way the term gets thrown around a lot --- and the more narrow criminal sense of an actual criminal violation that fits the Obstruction of Justice statutes. That's a much higher standard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the elements of an actual crime, as opposed to a more general claim that the President is kind of violating all these norms and rules and traditions that we have about not interfering with ongoing investigation, appearing to pressure the FBI Director, things like that."

The key issue, Eliason explains, is whether there was "corrupt intent" in the many different incidents that now appear as Trump's obstruction. "It's not enough if the President does something that just has the effect of hurting the investigation, as a kind of side effect. The prosecutor would have to show that was what he set out to do --- he had the wrongful and deliberate intent to try to thwart, in [the Flynn] case, the ongoing grand jury investigation."

As to the use of Obstruction of Justice as used in Articles of Impeachment against a President, there is a different standard, which Eliason also explains. We discuss the cases (and defenses) being built for both types of obstruction, whether a sitting President can actually be indicted on criminal charges, and also the meaning of another phrase being bandied about of late: "abuse of power".

In the course of the conversation we also discuss the likelihood of impeachment and the potential application of the 25th Amendment remedy as a way to remove Trump from power and the need for a Special Counsel to be named by the Dept. of Justice.

No sooner do we complete that conversation, than the huge news breaks late today that, indeed, former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been named by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as Special Counsel to take over the the FBI's probe into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump"...

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The VP will now oversee Trump's sham 'Election Integrity' Commission; Also: Trump/Comey goes 'Godfather' and even more Nixon-like...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2017 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The story of Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey turns even more bizarre and takes a decidedly thuggish turn (don't worry, your President is 'not a crook') and Vice President Mike Pence gets tapped to head Trump's new "voter fraud" commission, despite his own (much overlooked) record of stoking false GOP allegations of "voter fraud" and helping to shut down a major registration drive in his home state, just before last year's Presidential election, while campaigning for Veep and serving as Governor of Indiana.

First, the Trump/Comey affair turns more insane and Godfather-like by the hour...or Nixon-like, if you prefer, now that Trump has hinted there may be audio recordings of his private conversation with the now-former FBI Director. We bring you up to date on the latest madness and lies on that quickly moving soap opera, which continues to tie the White House into knots.

We then turn to the Executive Order signed this week by the President amidst all the Comey fallout, which creates a new sham commission, by fiat, to examine Trump's false claims that as many as five million votes were illegally cast in the 2016 election. The so-called "Election Integrity Commission" --- which, according to the Order, is to look at only voter and voter registration fraud, rather than voter suppression, which is a far more extensive problem or concerns about the vulnerability of vote casting and counting systems --- is to be headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas' notorious vote-suppressing Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

While many may be familiar, by now, with Kobach's years-long storied history of fraudulent 'voter fraud' claims, many are likely unaware of Pence's efforts last year during the campaign, while serving as Indiana's Governor, to suppress a major voter registration drive targeting African-Americans in Indiana, with false claims of "voter fraud" and the outrageously heavy-handed use of his State Police force.

On today's show, we detail how the offices of the Indiana Voter Registration Project were raided and shut down, with computers, cell phones and paperwork confiscated by Pence's cops, just days before the state's October 11, 2016 voter registration deadline. The effort (also aided and abetted by the state's Republican Sec. of State Connie Lawson, who is also set to serve on Trump's phony commission), served to shut down the major registration drive by a Democratic-leaning organization and resulted in the Marion County Prosecutor demanding an end to misleading and suppressing public statements from Superintendent of the State Police. It did not, however, despite claims of "thousands" of fraudulent forms, result in any arrests, and it was all quickly forgotten, as usual, after Election Day. In all, some 50,000 valid registrations may have been scuttled in the Hoosier State, thanks to the false claims of forged and fraudulent registration forms across dozens of counties in what Pence described to brain-addled supporters on the campaign trail as a "vigorous investigation into voter fraud".

Finally today: The White House lies about the number of new manufacturing and coal jobs created last month and North Carolina receives just 1% of their requested funding for Hurricane Matthew relief from Congress and the President...

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

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Guests: Carleton Bowekaty & Matthew Campbell of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition | Plus: The latest insanity from the Comey firing fallout...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2017 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fallout from the James Comey firing swirl further out of control, as I suspect it will for quite some time, while other disturbing Administration policies move forward with much less focus from either media or Congress. One such policy is Trump's recent Executive Order calling for the dismantling of National Monuments --- "public land grabs" and "outrageous abuses of power", as he has taken to incorrectly describing them --- on behalf of corporate drilling and mining interests. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The madness of King Donald continues to devolve at now breakneck speeds, as the White House and an increasingly enraged Trump continue their unsustainable spinning, flip-flopping and nonsensical rants concerning the President's sudden firing of the FBI Director earlier this week under an obviously phony pretext. The need to create fresh lies to cover up older ones is also creating fresh perils for those foolish enough to enter Trump's orbit, like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. So, we've got the latest on all of that, including an interesting suggestion for Comey's permanent replacement, a bit of pushback from his Acting replacement, and some ill-considered admissions about the entire affair by Trump himself.

Meanwhile, as Trump keeps digging, and the media and Congress continue (justifiably) to obsess about and investigate it all, the Administration's other corrupt policy measures move forward with measurably less attention. Among those efforts is the unprecedented attempt to roll back National Monument designations by the three previous Presidents, including the Obama-designated Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah.

In response to an Executive Order signed in April, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is touring the area this week, where more than 1 million acres of land that is sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings, are now being reviewed on behalf of Trump, Congressional Republicans and corporate fossil fuel interests.

Joining us today to describe the local, tribal efforts to protect these native public lands --- and the Utah Congressional delegation's efforts to undermine them (literally) --- are Carleton Bowekaty, a Zuni Tribal councilman and co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and Matthew Campbell, attorney with the Native American Rights Fund.

They both explain the reasons why the Antiquities Act of 1906 was invoked by President Obama to protect the lands; speak to some recent "extremely offensive" comments by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); and the absurdity of Trump describing these designation of federal lands as national monuments as "federal land grabs".

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the Green News Report, with news on the Administration's deliberations regarding the landmark UN Paris Climate Agreement, the latest on the nuclear emergency in Washington state, and much more...

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

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress Justice...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2017 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as you might have guessed, we pick up on the news that broke mid-show yesterday of Donald Trump's stunning and sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, while the fallout and reeling continues in D.C. and across the nation today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The pretext for that firing, which even some on Fox "News" describe as "almost inexplicable", was Comey's alleged mishandling last year of the Bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while Sec. of State, according to a letter [PDF] written by new Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

A handful of Republican Senators (though some key ones) have expressed concern or "disappointment" over "the timing" of Trump's unprecedented firing of the FBI chief, which appears to have caught just about everybody by surprise, even as investigations continue at both the FBI and Congress into Trump and members of his campaign regarding allegations of undeclared ties to Russia and/or other foreign nations both during the campaign and after the election.

Democrats, meanwhile, are outraged by Comey's firing, despite their furor about the way he oversaw the Clinton probe last year during the run-up to the Presidential election. They are calling for a special prosecutor to be named by Rosenstein at the DoJ and an independent bi-partisan special committee to be named by Congress to investigate all of this. Many are comparing Trump's dismissal of Comey to Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" at the height of the Watergate investigation, others describing it as "a grotesque abuse of power by the President", while some Congressional Democrats are citing this moment as "a full-blown Constitutional crisis."

Joining us today to try and explain what is or isn't going on here, and whether it amounts to such a Constitutional crisis, full-blown or otherwise, is author and Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress Justice. He explains the legitimate complaints against Comey, while making the case that his firing was little more than an effort by Trump to disrupt the FBI's ongoing Russia probe.

"What is the emotion you're supposed to feel when the biggest villain in the United States fires the second biggest villain in the United States?," Millhiser wryly asks, before detailing the legal underpinnings for Trump's move, whether any of it is in violation of the law or the U.S. Constitution, and whether Rosenstein or his new boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acted inappropriately in collusion with Trump and the White House.

"The story of the last nine years of American politics," he goes on to explain, "has been that people like Trump, and Jeff Sessions, and James Comey, and Mitch McConnell --- maybe I shouldn't lump Comey in with them because I don't know that he was necessarily acting in bad faith in the way that some of the other ones are --- but people have figured out that we don't have a system of rules that prevents you from doing a lot to blow stuff up, and that prevents you from engaging in a lot of sabotage. What we have are norms that people just didn't violate because they cared enough about the United States of America not to do so."

Those days, Millhiser argues today, appear to be over --- at least as of right now --- in these United States.

Finally, we close with a tiny bit of good news today --- thanks, in part, to the surprising vote of at least one Republican Senator --- regarding the GOP's continuing attempt to roll back Obama Administration fossil fuel-related regulations on public lands...

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And MUCH more today...
By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2017 5:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The stunning breaking news that FBI Director James Comey has been fired by Donald Trump hits smack dab in the middle of today's show.

Other than that, we also cover a whole bunch of other noteworthy stuff today, including...

  • South Korea elects liberal candidate who wants to open relations with North Korea as new President, Donald Trump about to get very confused;
  • Trump Campaign scrubs own website amid federal court hearing on 'unconstitutional' Muslim travel ban;
  • Sally Yates makes mincemeat of both hypocritical U.S. Senators from Texas during her Monday Senate testimony;
  • Vulnerable Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) walks out of interview in a huff after being asked perfectly reasonable question;
  • New study finds GOP Photo ID voting restriction laws suppressed huge number of voters in 2016, including some 200,000 in Wisconsin (which Trump reportedly won by 22,700 votes);
  • Illinois Senate calls Republican Governor's bluff, advances bi-partisan bill for automatic voter registration;
  • Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as France votes for climate action and climate change-fueled extreme weather turns deadly in Midwest and South East.

Oh, and did I mention Donald Trump suddenly fired FBI Director James Comey today?!!...

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

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Guest: Maricopa County, AZ Recorder Adrian Fontes...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2017 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the new election chief in Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ has discovered tens of thousands of voter registration forms from citizens who, he says, are otherwise eligible to vote, but were never added to the voting rolls by his predecessor, due to what he describes as an unconstitutional or, at least, immoral state statute. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Democrats seem quite giddy (with good reason) about their chances of re-taking the U.S. House next year following Thursday's passage of the wildly unpopular Republican bill to replace ObamaCare. But their voters will have to be able to actually cast a vote next year --- and have their votes counted as cast --- in order for Democrats to have any chance of regaining a majority in Congress.

On that note, we are joined on today's show by Maricopa's brand new County Recorder Adrian Fontes. Last November, the Democratic former prosecutor unseated Pheonix' previous election chief, Republican Helen Purcell, who had served in the post unopposed for 30 years. He was inspired to run following the disastrous Presidential Primary in Maricopa last year, when hundreds of precincts were shut down and many voters were forced to wait for hours to cast a vote in the Sanders/Clinton primary.

Since taking office, Fontes has discovered tens of thousands of voter registration forms, going as far back as a decade, stored in dusty boxes in a county warehouse. The forms, he explains, were never entered in to the voter database, since the applicants failed to include proof of citizenship, as required by Prop 200, a 2004 ballot initiative that is now Arizona law.

Fontes explains that he is now attempting to confirm the citizenship of the would-be voters himself, by checking their status as already tracked by the state's Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) database. "We had a policy in this office that uses what I consider to be a mis-read of state law," he tells me. "The read that was happening says that the County Recorder is to reject the form. My read is, if you've already proven to the State of Arizona that you're a citizen, then you should be allowed to vote."

Critics, specifically Republican critics, charge that Fontes, a U.S. Marine who formerly worked as a prosecutor in both the County Attorney's office as well as for the Arizona Attorney General, is not shy in countering those critics. "Why in the world would anyone not want me to go check with the MVD and say 'lo and behold, the Motor Vehicle Division of the State of Arizona has on file a document proving that this person is a citizen. I will therefore register you to vote!' Why would anybody oppose that?"

Making matters worse or more "ironic" or "laughable", as Fontes describes it, because the federal voter registration form has no instructions for attesting to citizenship status, state guidance requires him to check with the MVD himself to confirm citizenship status for those voters. But if the very same person were to have used a state voter registration form and forgot to fill in their drivers license number or provide other proof of citizenship, he is not supposed to register that person, according to the state rulebook. Moreover, he tells me, an online state registration system automatically checks that very same MVD database for applicants. "So, something that the state does, automatically, on its own website, you've got people telling me that I'm barred from doing. If that's not the epitome of craziness, I don't know what is!"

In all, Fontes tells me, he now believes "nearly 91,000" otherwise eligible voters may be found in those dusty boxes and he plans to register them all if he is able to confirm their status.

In addition to all of that, I ask Fontes about claims by Bernie Sanders supporters (he is one himself) that the DNC and/or Hillary Clinton Campaign were somehow behind the Primary election disaster in Phoenix last year, in order to rig the contest against the progressive Vermont U.S. Senator. That disaster, he explains, is what inspired him to run against Purcell. We also discuss allegations of Arizona's voter database being hacked last year, concerns about the county's electronic ballot tabulation system and whether there is actually any evidence to support claims by Republicans like Donald Trump and his adviser, Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach (who also instituted a "proof of citizenship" requirement in that state), that millions of illegal votes, including by non-citizens, were cast in last year's election.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the Green News Report with her usual disturbing news, but also with a number of happily encouraging reports on the amazing growth of clean, renewable energy both in the U.S. and around the world!...

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

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Guest: Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2017 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast, House Republicans finally pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) --- a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ('ObamaCare') --- but at what cost? Also: Donald Trump signs a bill that pretends to protect religious liberties. But what does it really do? [Audio link to show follows below.]

It's difficult, if not impossible, to know the real cost of the Republicans' ACHA, since House Speaker Paul Ryan refused to allow the bill to be analyzed first by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office before forcing a vote in the House today. Instead, it was rammed through with a very narrow margin of all-Republican votes just hours after the final text was made available to members. That, as you'll recall, is exactly what Republicans used to pretend Democrats did during the 13-month process to pass ObamaCare in 2009 and 2010.

The costs, however, are likely to be enormous to the American public, if the bill gets through the Senate and is signed by the President, particularly to the poor, the elderly, the more than 25% of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and to those who found themselves filing bankruptcy due to medical expenses prior to the passage of ACA. The political cost to House Republicans, however, who left today for yet another 11-day recess, may be a whole different matter. The CBO predicted 24 million Americans would lose their health care coverage in the next decade under the GOP's failed plan six weeks ago. This version is likely to be much worse.

Also today, Donald Trump signed another one of his Executive Orders. This one pretends to counter the "religious discrimination" of the Johnson Amendment, a piece of otherwise almost 70 year old, non-controversial, bipartisan legislation originally signed by President Eisenhower, barring tax-exempt non-profit groups, like churches, from explicitly endorsing or opposing candidates for office. But what's the real point behind Trump's otherwise empty action today? And why is the religious Right so eager to see Trump "get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment," as he promised at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, just weeks after taking office?

Brendan Fischer, associate counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, joins us to explain this move that could ultimately result in allowing even more "dark money" to make its way into politics and elections. And, this time, while giving secret political funders a tax deduction for it in the bargain!

"We, as taxpayers, are subsidizing these groups, and we are not subsidizing these groups to offer wealthy donors a tax deduction for their secret political spending," Fischer explains. The Johnson Amendment, so-named for its original sponsor, then Sen. Lyndon Johnson, was enacted in response to a "dark money" attack against him during his 1954 reelection campaign by a non-profit, tax-exempt group.

While Presidential Executive Orders don't actually have the power to reverse legislation (whether this President understands that or not), Trump is pretending that his order will prevent the IRS from "targeting" religious institutions, as he and his evangelical allies claim to be the case, despite all evidence to the contrary.

"The Johnson Amendment is not targeting churches at all," says Fischer. "Because donors to these churches and charities get a tax deduction for their donations, 501(c)3's are prohibited from engaging in political activity. The reason that taxpayers are effectively subsidizing these groups is for their charitable, or religious or social welfare oriented activities, not for their political activities and partisan political engagement." But, of course, the religious Right would like to change that, and Trump appears more than willing to try and help.

The greater danger is that a provision to reverse the rarely-enforced Johnson Amendment could be slipped into upcoming legislation. Then, warns Fischer, churches and charities could potentially become what he describes as "super dark money groups" --- as if we don't already have enough problem with dark money in politics!

Finally: Fox "News" offers one more example today of the Right finding all new ways to pretend that they are victims. This time, if you believe Fox's fake news about a recent shooting, climate "skeptics" are becoming victims of those 'violent and dangerous' environmentalists...

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

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