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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 21, 2018
Senate GOP Twists Law to Gut Decades-Old Regs (Forever): 'BradCast' 4/20/18
Guest: James Goodwin of CPR: Also: DNC files Trump/Russia suit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
Senate Confirms Climate Science Denier as NASA Chief: 'BradCast' 4/19/18
...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
'Green News Report' 4/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Puerto Rico power knocked out again; Studies find Gulf Stream slowing down; New climate lawsuits for oil industry, Florida; PLUS: Earth Day 2018 focused on ending plastic pollution...
Previous GNRs: 4/17/18 - 4/12/18 - Archives...
'Dark Lord of Coal Country' Rising, GOP Panicking Before WV U.S. Senate Primary: 'BradCast' 4/18/18
Guest: Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no, Mattis got Trumped, Kobach in contempt...
'Corrupt Intent': 'BradCast' 4/17/18
Guest: Former Asst. US Attorney Randall Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller, indicting a sitting Prez; Also: Tax cut support falls, GOPers keep heading for the exits...
'Green News Report' 4/17/18
Federal watchdogs say EPA violated law for Admin Scott Pruitt; Senate confirms coal industry lobbyist for deputy EPA chief; PLUS: Google and Apple go 100% renewable...
Trump's Unlawful, Evidence-Free 'Mission Accomplished': 'BradCast' 4/16/18
Congress acquiesces after second US attack on Syria; Hannity revealed as secret Cohen client; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons: 'One Raid Begets Another'
It didn't take long after Donald Trump's friend, business associate and personal lawyer was raided by the FBI for Trump to unleashes the missiles, as the cartoonists observe in PDiddie's latest collection...
As Trump Goes Ugly, How Dems Can 'Fight Dirty' to Win for the Country: 'BradCast' 4/13/18
Guest: Author David Faris on radically reform-ing 'long-term barriers to progressive power'...
Mattis: U.S. Lacks 'Actual Evidence' of Syrian Chemical Attack: 'BradCast' 4/12/18
Also: Clueless Trump to rejoin TPP?; Sinclair's abuse of public airwaves; And, why local news matters...
'Green News Report' 4/12/18
Newly unearthed docs reveal Shell knew about warming since 1950s; Dems want Pruitt to resign; EPA docs under-mine his claims; PLUS: Obama EPA chief speaks out...
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: James Goodwin of Center for Progressive Reform; Also: DNC files Trump/Russia 'conspiracy' lawsuit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Comey memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As usual, the big headlines obscure the most disturbing ones. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee filed a surprise federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, his son Don Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, several other members of the Trump Campaign, as well as Russia and WikiLeaks, for what the DNC's characterizes in the complaint as a broad "conspiracy" to steal private documents and undermine the DNC and the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign in "an act of previously unimaginable treachery". If allowed to move forward, the suit could result in the President, and all of his men, being forced to turn over documents and give depositions under oath. (It could also set a troubling precedent for journalists.)

Also on Friday, Wells Fargo was slapped with a $1 billion fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for hoaxing more than half a million customers into purchasing car insurance they did not need. While it was the first major action by the CFPB since Trump muscled his own Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney into the dual role of Acting CFPB Director, the record fine is only a small percentage of what Wells is receiving from Trump's recent massive tax cuts.

Mulvaney, who, as a Tea Party Congressman had spent years trying to abolish the consumer bureau formed after the 2008 global banking and mortgage crisis, was upbraided by Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a recent hearing in the Senate, for his ongoing efforts to undermine the CFPB's critical assistance to consumers.

And, related to all of that, while the worst of the Trump/GOP's major legislative agenda under Trump was broadly considered to be behind us with Democrats believed likely to take over one or both chambers of Congress this November, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA, pictured above) recently came up with a scheme to twist the obscure Congressional Review Act (CRA), in order to gut decades of executive agency regulations with a simple majority vote in each house. While the CRA, only used once in its 21-year history before Trump took office, was meant as a way for Congress to roll back new formal rules enacted by executive agencies, it has been used over the past year to gut dozens of formal regulations enacted during the last 60 days of the Obama Administration.

Toomey, however, has now come up with a new interpretation of the law to allow Republicans to kill regulations from decades ago. This week, the GOP Senate began using his interpretation to do just that. They voted to kill a 2013 CFPB "guidance" document enacted to prevent racial discrimination in auto loans after hundreds of thousands of minority car buyers were found to have been charged higher interest rates for loans (resulting in more than $100 million in fines by the CFPB and money paid back to customers.)

Toomey's maneuver, however, allows such guidelines --- as opposed to only recently enacted formal rules --- to be killed under the CRA, which also prevents executive agencies from ever reinstating a similar regulation in the future. In the bargain, decades of established executive agency regulations could now be done away with, with simple majority votes, between now and the start of the next Congressional term in 2019.

We're joined today by JAMES GOODWIN of the Center for Progressive Reform to discuss this dangerous and insidious new scheme which has received disturbingly sparse media attention since its first time use this past week. Goodwin details what the CRA was meant to do, versus how Republicans have now decided to use, and the many ways in which the CRA might now be abused across the federal government with this new precedent. "One of the main dangers of this new precedent," he explains, "is we have all of these critical safeguards that we thought were in place, that now could simply vanish. And, really, the only limitation [Republicans] face is time."

Finally, the release of memos [PDF] written by fired FBI Director James Comey just after his several meetings with Donald Trump, confirm Comey's earlier descriptions of those bizarre encounters, and have received much coverage for the President's described concerns about Russian hookers and his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to felonies in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Less discussed, however, are the troubling details from the memos revealing that Trump was similarly obsessed with convincing the FBI Director to throw journalists in jail --- in stark violation of the First Amendment --- for reporting on embarrassing leaks coming out of his White House...

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

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller and indicting a sitting President; Also: Tax cut popularity plummets, GOPers in Congress and White House run for the exits...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2018 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's Tax Day! Donald Trump is trying to celebrate his massive tax cut for the rich, but not many are dumb enough to actually believe him. Not with White House staffers and Republicans in Congress leaving in droves, and legal trouble getting ever closer to the President by the day, hour, moment. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First today, while Trump and the GOP have been banking on their deficit exploding tax cut to help mitigate their likely losses in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections, they may need to come up with a Plan B, as new polling reveals the scheme is decreasing, rather than increasing in popularity since it's passage last December.

That, as still more Republicans are running from Congress today, and even lobbyists turned White House officials are crawling back out of the swamp and back through the revolving door to get their corporate lobbying gigs back before it's too late.

Even Trump's own stolen Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch abandoned the President momentarily today, to join the Court's four liberals in striking strike down a law allowing the government to deport criminals for vaguely defined "violent crimes".

But all of that may be of little moment to Trump today, as his own personal legal woes continue to mount each day at a seemingly ever increasing pace.

Joining us to try and make sense of the fallout from the recent raid of Trump's "personal attorney" Michael Cohen and his bizarre federal court hearing on Monday, as well as where Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe may (or may not) be heading at this point, is RANDALL D. ELIASON, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C., George Washington University law professor, blogger, and Washington Post legal commentator.

Eliason details why the case against Cohen is "much bigger than just some Stormy Daniels referral" and why the Trump attorney's argument hoping to prevent prosecutors from examining supposed attorney-client privileged documents is, along with the entire criminal probe of a sitting President, "so remarkable, and incredible, and unprecedented."

"I mean, yesterday the lawyers for the head of the Executive Branch were in a federal courtroom arguing that the Department of Justice's own prosecutors can't be trusted to do a privilege review. Their own boss is in there arguing against them, basically, that they can't do this properly," Eliason tells me. "It is just unbelievable."

He also explains precisely what "collusion" is and isn't; what "corrupt intent" actually means in a legal sense, as it relates to potential obstruction of justice felonies being investigated by Mueller; why it doesn't matter whether Mueller interviews Trump at all; and whether the Special Counsel may end up issuing an indictment of the President, rather than just a report that could be referred to Congress for impeachment consideration.

Finally, speaking of mountains of scandal, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, on the increasingly scandal-plagues EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and some good news from Apple, Google, and even Trump's Department of Interior...

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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Congress acquiesces after second US attack on war-torn sovereign nation; Also: Hannity revealed as secret Cohen client; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Bill Maher quipped Friday night that the U.S. attack, with France and Britain, on Syria was code-named "Operation Desert Stormy", an attempt by Donald Trump to force his legal and ethical nightmares off the front pages. It didn't work. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Sunday night, fired FBI Director James Comey described Trump as "morally unfit" for the Presidency in a prime-time ABC News interview, and on Monday, just before air today, Sean Hannity of Fox "News" was revealed in federal court to be a secret client of Trump's hush money payoff "fixer" Michael Cohen, and Cohen and Trump's motion to review documents seized in the raid on Cohen's office and residences last week was denied (for now) by the federal judge.

Nonetheless, before it's forgotten entirely in the fog of Trump Scandal, we focus mostly today on the fact that the pre-dawn bombing of Damascus by US and its allies, said to be in response to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people a week earlier in Douma, was done without any actual hard evidence of a chemical attack or who was actually responsible for it. Trump's Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted as much during Congressional hearings just one day before more than 100 cruise missiles were unleashed on supposedly chemical weapons-related facilities in Damascus. (No proof was offered to buttress the claim about those facilities either.)

Moreover, there is absolutely no legal authority whatsoever for Trump's attack --- either domestically or internationally --- despite various claims to the contrary. Shamefully, most of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats alike, have so far failed to demand accountability for the unconstitutional use of military force (even after threatening President Obama with impeachment when he wanted to launch a similar attack in response to an alleged Syrian chemical attack in 2013).

For his part, the hapless Trump, who mercilessly derided Obama for calling for Syrian airstrikes in 2013, took to Twitter on Saturday to echo George W. Bush's infamous appearance on a U.S. Aircraft Carrier in 2003 after the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Syria.

Friday's unlawful US attack, as we also discuss today, is believed to have cost some $200 million. That could have paid for the replacement of all of Flint, MI's lead water pipes some four times over, as new studies reveal that reading proficiency levels for third-graders in Flint has plummeted in the wake of the lead drinking water contamination crisis. That continuing crisis came about after MI's Gov. Rick Snyder (R), following his election in 2010, ordered an Emergency Manager takeover of the city and a subsequent change to its water supply.

As one caller observed today, some poisoned children, like those in Syria apparently, seem to be a larger concern for the Trump Administration than others...no matter the evidence or lack thereof...

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: Political scientist and author David Faris of Roosevelt University on radically reforming 'long-term structural barriers to progressive power'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2018 6:41pm PT  

On one of the ugliest political days in recent memory (and they are likely to get still uglier --- and deadlier, as Trump launches a military attack against Syria moments ago), we fight our way on today's BradCast, out of the slime to look beyond the near horizon for how progressives can change structural impediments in our political system, just as soon as Democrats are able to regain majorities in both Congress and the White House. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, we wade into the swamp long enough to cover Donald Trump's stunning pardon on Friday of former Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, a felon who was found guilty of having lied to federal investigators and obstructing justice after purposely leaking the highly classified identify of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame to the media during the run up to the Iraq War. That, as an enraged Trump took to Twitter on Friday to tar former Republican FBI Director James Comey as a "LEAKER & LIAR" and "slime ball" following the release of his new book.

But, as we strive today to look towards a brighter future somehow, we are joined by DAVID FARIS, political science professor at Roosevelt University and author of the new book out this week, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. Faris' book outlines a number of radical ideas for a progressive institutional restructuring of our democracy which, he argues, can and should all be carried out just as soon as Democrats regain control of the House, Senate and White House.

The "procedural proposals", as he describes them, include, among other things: statehood ("on Day 1") for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico (and breaking California into several smaller states); transformation of our federal judiciary (by, among other things, doing away with lifetime tenures on the federal bench and a forced restoration of a Democratic majority on the Republican's stolen Supreme Court); and restructuring the U.S. House for proportional representation to help overcome the scourge of extreme partisan gerrymandering. All of which, Faris takes pains to note, can be done without the daunting task of amending the U.S. Constitution, and, as he argues, would be no more radical than ideas that Republicans have both been instituting for decades and plan to implement in the near future, unless they are prevented from doing so.

"Most of the ideas in this book I consider a process of rectifying existing injustices in our electoral system and our political processes, and then responding in kind to some of these Republicans escalations --- partly to convince the Republican Party that some of the things they are doing are deeply destructive, and that they will lead to retaliation," Faris tells me. "I think they are assuming things like holding a Supreme Court seat open for Neil Gorsuch will not get a reply from the opposition."

"Part of the purpose of the book," he continues, "is to outline a series of ideas that are actually the right thing to do. I don't consider them to be 'fighting dirty'. I think it will be perceived as fighting dirty, but I actually really believe in all these ideas as improving the long-term performance of our democracy overall."

Faris argues that "Democrats have to take some of these procedural issues and these electoral issues much more seriously. I think they need to take them as seriously as they take their policy proposals, and their intra-party battles over what the party's stance should be on certain issues. Because the reality is in national politics, in every election for the last twenty years, the Democrats have been fighting at a really significant disadvantage, due to things like felon disenfranchisement laws, like gerrymandering, like voter ID laws. And if they don't seriously rethink some of these things, they may come back to power in 2020, but they're going to kick it right back in 2022, or 2024, or 2026. Because these long-term structural barriers to progressive power are very poorly understood by the broader public. And, in all cases, they are an affront to the spirit of small-d 'democracy' as it should be practiced, and as it is practiced in most of the rest of the world."

I hope you'll tune in for the detailed discussion (and debate) on a number of Faris' fascinating proposals for reform on today's program --- and why it is that Democrats have shied away from them for too long --- before we then head back into Trump's swamp for a few more minutes at show's end.

Among those slimy stories to close out the week: The U.S. Senate confirms Andrew Wheeler as second in command to embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Wheeler was, until his nomination late last year, a very powerful coal industry lobbyist and will now take charge of the EPA if Pruitt is pushed out.

And, finally today, wealthy Trump and George W. Bush donor Elliot Broidy steps down as the RNC's deputy finance chair after revelations that he paid a Playboy playmate $1.6 million to keep quiet about an affair in which she was reportedly impregnated and had an abortion. The man who set up the hush money payoff for Broidy? Donald Trump's personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen, whose office and residences were raided at the beginning of the week in relation to, among other things, virtually identical schemes to prevent adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal from revealing their own affairs with Trump in the days just before the 2016 Presidential election...

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: Carroll Muffett of Center for International Environmental Law...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2018 6:38pm PT  

We unpack alotta long cons on today's BradCast, some of them decades in the making. Among them: Trump's new position on U.S. war in places like Syria, versus his position before he became President; GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan's position on deficit spending before he and Congressional Republicans exploded the deficit and he announced on Wednesday he's retiring from the U.S. House; And, Royal Dutch Shell's position on the dangers of global warming before a new, recently revealed treasure trove of internal company documents going back to the 50's revealed their real position on the matter. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, Donald Trump prepares to go to war in Syria and, despite mercilessly criticizing previous Presidents for revealing their intentions before taking military action, does exactly the same today on Twitter, in order to give a warning to Syria's top ally, Russia. That, despite unanswered questions about who was actually behind a recent reported chemical attack in a rebel-held town in the war-torn nation, the U.S. Congress' failure to authorize any such military action, as per the Constitution, and the threat that both Russia and Iran say they will target a response to efforts by the U.S. and its allies in the region like Israel.

Next, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan decides to call it quits, rather than risk losing his re-election bid this November in a predicted "blue wave", just after a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects trillion dollar budget deficits as far as the eye can see, thanks to the GOP/Trump tax cuts and their recent spending bill. So much for the long-time, so-called "budget hawk" that Ryan (and Trump) pretended to be, while spending years attempting to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for Americans.

Then, we're joined by CARROLL MUFFETT, President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law to discuss a remarkable trove of recently unearthed internal documents from Royal Dutch Shell, revealing that the oil giant, just like Exxon and Mobil Oil before them, have known for decades about the threat of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Muffett describes the newly unearthed documents, as detailed in their jaw-dropping new report, "A Crack in the Shell" [PDF], which shows that, as long ago as 1958(!), Shell was well aware of the dangerous consequences of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by the burning of oil. And, as early as 1962, as the documents reveal, even urged internally "a "serious consideration of the maximum utilization of solar energy".

"The earliest document that we have with respect to Shell," he tells me, "was a report for the oil industry's Smoke and Fumes Committee that was reporting on research that the industry was funding into a variety of air pollutants. And even in 1958, one of those air pollutants was the pollution of the atmosphere by carbon from fossil sources."

"By 1962, we can demonstrate that Shell's chief geologist was very explicitly acknowledging the links between Shell's products and carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, and the potential for global warming," says Muffett. "So much so, that this scientist even highlighted the recommendations of other scientists that the switch to solar energy should begin as soon as possible."

Despite their scientific knowledge, as Muffett details today, the company eventually joined others in downplaying the threat of man-made climate change and now, according to the longtime attorney and leader in the newly emerging field of legal responses to global climate change, may face increased exposure for their part in our ever-worsening climate crisis.

"We see a remarkable transformation that goes on between 1988 and 1991, where the company is acknowledging these risks, and then by the mid-90s, Shell is, as with other oil companies, actively promoting uncertainty, and the need for inaction instead of action, in the face of mounting evidence," he explains, adding: "What we can now show, and this is very legally relevant, is that for decades, Shell was aware of those risks, and it continued to take those risks on the assumption that, ultimately, it would be consumers and governments that bore the cost, rather than Shell itself."

Please tune in for this remarkable discussion. It matters...

Finally today, a renewed bi-partisan effort emerges in the U.S. Senate to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by the President. But, with GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Ryan still in the House, the legislation may not get very far, even as Trump continues to fume --- and lie --- about the ongoing probe.

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: Ernest A. Canning; Also: GOP 'Green Party' dirty tricks in MT's U.S. Senate race; And, the movement to repeal the 2nd Amendment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: GOP dirty tricks in Montana; why an alleged torturer should be imprisoned rather than promoted to CIA chief; and, abolishing the 2nd Amendment all together. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted this week that stealing a Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court was his crowning achievement after three decades in Congress. But he's not done packing the federal courts just yet for another generation, which underscores his urgency in trying to hang on to the GOP's thin majority in the U.S. Senate this November.

That may also help to explain the bizarre situation in Montana's U.S. Senate race, where the GOP appears to have ginned up a fake Green Party candidate who was previously on the state Republican Party's payroll, in hopes of siphoning votes away from Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in an otherwise very Trumpy state. (But did the Dems do something similar in supporting a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate back in 2012, the last time Tester was on the ballot?)

Meanwhile, the Senate returns from their recess next week, and will soon begin confirmation hearings for a number of recent high-level Trump cabinet and executive agency nominees. Among them is Gina Haspel, the CIA's Deputy Director who has been tapped to take Mike Pompeo's spot as CIA chief (after Pompeo was nominated to become the new Sec. of State following Trump's firing of Rex Tillerson.)

Haspel, however, was the CIA's chief of a secret U.S. prison in Thailand following the 9/11 attacks, where a number of terror suspects were tortured in 2002, in violation of long-held international treaties, to which the U.S. has been a party, at least, since the days of Ronald Reagan. She also reportedly signed off on the destruction of the video-taped evidence that documented the horrific torture by the U.S. at that prison.

We're joined today by ERNEST A. CANNING, attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst, for whom the matter of someone alleged to have overseen torture becoming the next CIA director is very personal.

Canning's father, as he detailed in a recent article, was imprisoned and waterboarded by the Japanese during WWII, before testifying against his torturers during the war crimes trials held by the Allies after the war. We discuss what happened to his father at the hands of the Japanese command of the notorious Bridge House prison, why the U.S. has long held torture to be a violation of international law, and how the Democrats' failure to demand accountability of Bush-era torturers has resulted in Haspel's nomination, rather than imprisonment.

He explains that while the Japanese general in charge of the notorious Shanghai prison "did not personally take part in my father's torture, he was sentenced to a life sentence under a principle called 'command responsibility'. He had command responsibility over the people who were carrying out torture in an agency that he was responsible for. And if you use that same principle of 'command responsibility', which remains viable under intentional law today, Gina Haspel should be in prison. She should not be coming before the Senate to be confirmed as the CIA's next director. And, I think it's a slap in the face of everybody who has ever undergone such horrific treatment that Donald Trump would nominate her."

(Also, just to lighten things up a bit, I also get Ernie's take on Trump's asinine and evidence-free reiteration in West Virginia on Thursday, that millions of fraudulent votes accounted for his 3 million vote loss to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 popular vote count.)

Finally, a federal judge in Massachusetts on Friday upheld the state's ban on military-style assault weapons. And we share some listener mail in response to retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' op-ed last week, wherein he suggested that it's time to repeal the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution...

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If Gina Haspel, Trump's nominee to lead CIA, were subjected to the same standards that were applied by the Allies after WWII to those who tortured my father, she would now be languishing in prison...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/2/2018 12:36pm PT  

Three years ago, in "Torture: A War Crime Then And Now", I described the legal principles that led to a conviction and life sentences of those who were responsible for my father's torture during WWII. I argued that, if applied now, the architects of the Bush/Cheney torture regime would be languishing in prison.

While it is troubling that none of those individuals were prosecuted for war crimes, it is beyond disturbing that President Donald J. Trump has seen fit to nominate Gina Haspel, the current Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to be the CIA's next chief.

Given that Haspel not only oversaw torture at a CIA "black site" in Thailand but was also later involved in the destruction of videotaped evidence of CIA torture, such as the water-boarding of Abu Zubaydah 83 times in a single month, it seems appropriate to revisit several segments of that previous article, which had been initially published in response to a long, very well researched U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on U.S. torture...

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




Guest: FairVote's David Daley; Also: Maine's LePage calls federal judge 'imbecile'; Wisconsin's Walker finally agrees to court order on elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2018 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The GOP war on democracy and the judicial branch continue today, with a noteworthy lost battle in Wisconsin, an imbecilic turn of events in Maine, and a continuing hung jury in the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First today, Austin's police chief finally describes the white evangelical American man who terrorized the city over the past month with a string of deadly package bombs as a "domestic terrorist". Yes, that actually qualifies as news these days.

Then, the nation's dumbest governor, Maine's Paul LePage (R), repeatedly berates a federal court judge as an "imbecile" for allowing a case brought by Maryland and Washington D.C. to move forward. The case charges that Donald Trump's continuing ownership of Trump International Hotel in D.C. is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Emoluments Clause, barring gifts to the President from foreign or state governments. The "imbecile" judge in question that LePage decided to attack, found merely that plaintiffs have standing to proceed with their case.

In related GOPers-who-hate-the-rule-of-law news, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finally decided to follow state law today, by scheduling special elections to fill two vacant state legislative seats in Republican districts, which he is terrified could flip to Democrats. After three different state judges each demanded he declare a date for elections by today, Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature appear to have given up their attempted scheme to call a special session of the legislature to change the law in order to undermine the orders of the courts. Their hope had been to leave those seats vacant --- and the voters in their districts unrepresented --- for more than a year. After deciding to do the right thing and follow state law, Walker remained outraged about it today.

Next up, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in another partisan gerrymandering case this week. Last October, speaking of Wisconsin, they heard arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a landmark case where a federal court tossed out all of the state legislative districts after finding them to be unlawfully gerrymandered by state Republicans in violation of the U.S. Constitution. This week, the SCOTUS Justices heard arguments in another redistricting case, Benisek v. Lamone, which focuses on a single U.S. House district in Maryland, held for years by Republicans, before Democrats gerrymandered it in their favor.

We're joined again today by FairVote's DAVID DALEY, who was as the Court for oral arguments in both cases. The author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, explains the differences and similarities in the two SCOTUS cases (along with other recent rulings by both state and federal courts finding Republicans used unlawful partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, in order to assure legislative majorities even when receiving far fewer votes than Democrats.)

Daley also shares his assessment, based on this week's oral arguments, as to whether there will be five Justices willing to finally end the scourge of extreme partisan gerrymanders. If they don't (as a number of others suggest) Daley warns this problem may not be fixed for at least another generation, as the Court's swing-vote, 81-year old Justice Anthony Kennedy, is rumored to be contemplating retirement at the end of the term in June.

"They are searching for a standard to measure [partisan gerrymandering], that this Court can apply, but also that future Courts can apply," Daley tells me. "If the courts do not solve this now, it's not only the last opportunity for the next generation, but the gloves will be off in 2020 in a really aggressive way. No matter what they do, if it is not a finding against partisan gerrymandering, it will essentially take off any guardrails for legislators of either party when this process comes back around" after the next Census.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, as usual, mostly disturbing news --- but also some very good news for a group of natural gas pipeline protesters in Massachusetts, including the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore! (And, for those who may have missed it, here's Angie Coiro's BradCast interview with Gore last December, in which, among many other things worth listening to, he proudly discusses his daughter Karenna's arrest in the protest.)

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Guest: Ari Berman of Mother Jones; Also: Trump's legal woes worsen...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2018 6:35pm PT  

Lots of breaking news on today's BradCast, and a look at the real reasons the Trump Administration has now added a new question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. But, don't worry. It all ends with a song! [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

First up: the never-ending Executive Branch shakeup continues as Trump fires embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and announces his intention to replace him with White House physician Ronny Jackson.

Then, Trump's never-ending legal woes continue to quickly mount and worsen on several fronts beyond the Special Counsel probe (where he is still having trouble finding attorneys willing to represent him, after his latest lead attorney quit last week.) Porn star Stormy Daniel's has now added a defamation charge against Trump business partner and lawyer Michael Cohen, to her civil suit against the President, and is now seeking to depose both Cohen and the President under oath.

That, on the same day a federal judge in D.C. allowed a case filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia against Trump to move forward based on claims that the President's continued ownership of the Trump International Hotel in D.C. violates the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, barring gifts from states and foreign nations.

Up in Wisconsin, in the meantime, the GOP received its second rebuke from a state court in less than a week, for attempting to avoid calling Special Elections for two vacant seats in the state Senate. Gov. Scott Walker was ordered a second time by the court on Tuesday to call those elections immediately. Republicans in the state legislature, however, were hoping to convene a special session in order to change the law which Walker was found to have violated, as they try to avoid calling the elections in two GOP districts they fear they may lose to Democrats. (An appeals court, later on Wednesday, has now also rejected a motion to overturn the initial ruling.)

Then, we're joined by Mother Jones' Senior Reporter ARI BERMAN to discuss the GOP's war on judges who find against them, and the Commerce Dept. Secretary Wilbur Ross' approval this week of a new, last-minute, untested question on citizenship, to be added, by request of the Dept. of Justice, to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Critics, including the last five directors of the U.S. Census Bureau among others, charge the question will unlawfully depress responses to the Constitutionally-mandated decennial survey of all U.S. residents (whether they are citizens or not), as Berman reports in his new feature article for MoJo.

The DoJ, Commerce and White House all falsely claim that the new question is "necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters [and] comply with the Voting Rights Act". Berman, author of the recently published Give us the Ballot, the landmark book on the history of the VRA and the long struggle for voting rights in the U.S., scoffs at those claims and details what he sees as the real reasons for the change, and the decade-long effect on the nation that it will have if it is not blocked by the courts. California has already sued to block the question from being included, and more than a dozen other states and advocacy groups are expected to file complaints as well.

On the GOP's war on courts following adverse rulings against them in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Berman says: "There's a very disturbing trend going on. When Republicans don't like court rulings that constrain their power, they try to nullify those rulings...What I think is so noteworthy about this is that everyone always says how much of an outlier Donald Trump is within the Republican Party. But if you just look at what Republicans are doing, in Wisconsin or North Carolina or Pennsylvania, they're following the Trump playbook, which is if you don't like a law, just ignore it."

On the Census controversy, he tells me: "We are seeing the rigging and corruption of one of the most important, mandated tasks in our Constitution...If you decide to rig the Census, then you've essentially rigged everything that follows" for the next decade. He adds: "The bigger picture here is that a failed Census is going to hurt everybody."

Finally, after a bit more late breaking news on Trump's recently-resigned attorney John Dowd having reportedly floated the possibility of Presidential pardons to two indicted former Trump officials (Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort) in the Special Counsel's Trump/Russia probe, we enjoy a brand-new song written by singer, songwriter and BradCast listener Matt Sircely, attempting to make sense of a mountain of Trump-related scandal in one jaunty country/folk song! (You can download the song for free right here, and check the lyrics you may have missed right here [PDF].)

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

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Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Gun debate shifts dramatically as former SCOTUS Justice calls for 2nd Amendment repeal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: the Overton Window regarding gun safety reform may have just taken a dramatic lurch towards "the left". And, then, the heated battle to block a new 100% unverifiable computer voting system (disguised as a "paper ballot" system) from being implemented in Georgia reaches a climax, as this year's legislative session in the state nears its end. [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of article.]

First up today (well, after a disturbing story out of Atlanta that further underscores the madness of Georgia's proposed new voting system): Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens penned a stunning op-ed in the New York Times, lauding students for marching to demand gun safety legislation, but suggesting it's time for them to go much further by calling for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution itself.

The 97-year old retired Associate Justice (and lifelong Republican) explains why history and his years on the bench have led him to regard the 2nd Amendment as "a relic of the 18th century", and how the National Rifle Association (NRA) has, in recent decades --- as the conservative former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger declared in the early 90s --- perpetrated "one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

Then, speaking of great frauds, the city of Atlanta finds itself using pencil and paper to carry out business again today in municipal courts, jails and other city agencies five days after a "ransomware" attack has crippled the city's use of its computer networks. Nonetheless, at the very same time, state lawmakers in Georgia are, incredibly enough, in last minute negotiations to adopt a measure to replace their statewide, easily-hacked, 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen computer voting systems.

Unfortunately, as legislators race the clock to pass a bill before the current legislative session ends on Thursday night, the current bill to replace those systems, SB-403, would institute a new 100% unverifiable computer-marked "paper ballot" system, which is now being opposed by both local and national election integrity advocates and organizations.

Longtime election integrity expert MARILYN MARKS, whose nonpartisan Coalition for Good Governance is suing the Peach State to force them to do away with their unverifiable Director Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines, joins us to warn about the proposed new scheme to replace them with similarly unverifiable touch-screen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) and why she sees that as "going from bad to worse."

"People today at least understand that their system is unverifiable, unauditable, and really a lot of guesswork," she tells me. "Unfortunately, this new system that they are so determined to find a way to put in, kind of has the look, from a distance, of a paper system. But it really is just as unverifiable."

Marks explains that the new legislation introduces computer-printed ballots with barcodes on them, which cannot be read by humans. Deceptively, the paper ballots produced by the new touch-screen systems also include a summary of the voters' votes in human-readable form. But, it is the unreadable and impossible to verify barcodes --- rather than the human-readable voter selections --- which are used by the system's computer optical-scanners to tally results. "What can be embedded in those bar codes may be very different from the human-readable list that is printed out," she says.

Even if the barcodes weren't printed on the paper ballots, Marks explains, the computer-marked ballots would still be unacceptable and unverifiable as reflecting any voter's intent after polls close on Election Night, as Jennifer Cohn recently detailed in a must-read article at The BRAD BLOG. Marks offers action items for preventing the passage of the bill, for those both in and out of the state of Georgia (as summarized here in this Twitter Moment.)

This is important for folks in every state, since similar systems are already spreading nationwide and will assuredly do so even quicker if Georgia becomes the first in the nation to adopt them statewide --- just as they were the first to go to touch-screen Diebold DREs statewide back in 2002. "We don't want this insidious disease of these things --- as we call it, 'Son of DREs' --- going on to other states," Marks cautions. "The minute that Georgia accepts this, the vendors will be out in other states trying to do the same thing. Change the definition of the ballot to include barcodes, and pointing to Georgia as 'look the whole state of Georgia just said this was okay!'"

Similar systems are already being deployed in Texas, Tennessee, Los Angeles and elsewhere (though not yet in Missouri, where a Republican state legislator has, happily, just introduced a bill calling for DREs used in St. Louis and Kansas City to be replaced by real, HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today with the latest Green News Report, including some surprisingly good news from the massive omnibus spending bill just signed into law, begrudgingly, by Donald Trump...

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

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler; Also: Trump signs spending bill, lies about it, calls for unconstitutional line-item veto...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Fox "News"-ification of Donald Trump's U.S. Government ramps way up with the terrifying late Thursday appointment of far-right neo-con, controversial former George W. Bush Administration official, and longtime Fox "News" contributor John Bolton as the President's third National Security Advisor. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Last week, national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel joined us to discuss the sudden firing of Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, and the move of wingnut CIA Director Mike Pompeo into Tillerson's role, with Pompeo's Deputy Director, Gina Haspel's nomination to become the next CIA Director. Haspel oversaw torture and the destruction of evidence of it while in charge of a secret overseas U.S. prison in 2002. But, unlike those positions, which require U.S. Senate confirmation, the President's National Security Advisor is a direct appointment, as Wheeler noted at the very end of the show last week, explaining that there would be nothing to prevent Bolton's appointment. If Trump wants Bolton as NSA, she chillingly warned, "he's in charge of nuking North Korea."

Well, sure enough, on Thursday, H.R. McMaster was pushed out as NSA and Bolton was named to replace him. So, Wheeler returns today discuss the many concerns --- from right, left and center --- about the dangerous new appointment of a man who strongly supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, arguing at the time that the role of the U.S. there, after removing Saddam's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction, would be "fairly minimal". He is also long and loudly on record calling for similar first-strike U.S. aggression against both Iran and nuclear-armed North Korea.

As Iraq War veteran and chair of VoteVets Jon Solz warned in a statement upon the news: "Let there be no mistake – there is no war for regime change, anywhere, that John Bolton wasn’t for. He sees troops not as human beings, with families, but as expendable resources, in his real-life game of Risk." He added: "To the Trump voters out there we say: You were suckered. John Bolton and Mike Pompeo represent the neocon foreign policy that Donald Trump falsely said he was against."

Bolton, according to one former senior Bush Administration official "was by far the most dangerous man we had," adding that his hiring is "an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war." Senior Bush Administration diplomat Richard Haass cautions: "This is the most perilous moment in modern American history." They aren't the only ones very panicked about the appointment, charging Bolton's appointment puts us "on the path to war."

Wheeler offers her own additional concerns about Bolton, citing the very curious, potentially "casus belli" timing on Friday morning of Justice Department indictments of nine Iranians said to have been sponsored by their government to hack and steal academic papers (not U.S. Government secrets!) from thousands of university professors around the world.

She also cites the observation of former Bush Administration attorney Matthew Waxman at Lawfare, as "the most frightening thing I've read" about Bolton's appointment.

Waxman, she explains, "worked with Bolton, and he basically says, unlike everybody else who has worked with Trump, Bolton is very, very, very bureaucratically competent, like Dick Cheney. We've been blessed so far --- if we can use that term --- in the Trump Administration, in that he keeps hiring incompetents. Or, even if they're competent, people who don't understand how government bureaucracy works. John Bolton was trained by the master, Dick Cheney. He knows how government bureaucracy works. He's a vindictive man, and he knows how to get the bureaucracy to do what he wants it to do. And that is, I think, the most terrifying part of John Bolton being named National Security Advisor."

We discuss why Defense Secretary James Mattis may now suddenly be the most important man in the world. And, in related Trump Foxification news, Wheeler also offers reason to be dubious about the reports that Fox "News" wingnut contributor Joe diGenova and his Fox "News" wingnut contributor wife, Victoria Toensing, will actually be joining Trump's personal legal team dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Other related stuff covered today: Trump signs the massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress to keep the government open as of midnight Friday, after pretending to threaten to veto the 2,200-page bill just hours before signing it as is --- and then lying about it. (He also seems unaware that a Presidential line-item veto he called for today was long ago found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.); A former Fox "News" anchor with no government or foreign policy experience has been quietly promoted to become the 4th highest ranking diplomat at the U.S. State Department; One longtime Fox "News" military analyst finally quits after ten years, charging that Trump's favorite "news" outlet is now "a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration."; And, in case you needed more proof for that charge, we've got an hilarious disturbing compilation of video clips comparing the way the outlet's anchors and contributors (including Bolton!)blasted the nation of Barack Obama meeting Kim Jong Un face-to-face some years ago, versus Trump's plans to actually do so in May...

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An entire new decade of government control hangs in the balance...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/26/2018 11:23am PT  

Don't get me wrong. The bold move by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in adopting a Congressional map that, according to an analysis cited by the Wall Street Journal, could see PA Democrats picking up as many as six Congressional House seats now held by Republicans, bodes well for those of us who value small "d" democracy and the rule of law.

So does the recent mind-boggling 85-point swing from "red to blue" in Kentucky, where Democrat Linda Belcher, in a Special Election, defeated her Republican opponent by 36 points in a state House district that Donald Trump carried by 49 points in 2016.

There are multiple indices of a public revulsion in response to Republican overreach that is much greater than that displayed in 2008 when Democrats rode a "Blue Wave" to victories that placed them in control of the White House, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Last year, polls revealed as little as 12% support amongst the American electorate for Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Another poll revealed that only 24% of Americans supported the GOP tax cut measure. (Though more recent polling suggests it's growing in popularity.) This year, a Quinnipiac poll, taken in the wake of the massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school, suggests that 2/3 of Americans have finally lost their patience with NRA-funded Republicans and their feckless "thoughts and prayers".

These surveys suggest a likelihood that Democrats in 2018 can recapture a majority in the U.S. House and potentially even the U.S. Senate --- a result that is critical to fending off the threat to democracy, political and economic equality and the rule of law now posed by the Trump/GOP oligarchic/kleptocratic agenda.

But a number of recent court rulings on extreme partisan gerrymandering reveal that the 2020 election will ultimately be of far greater significance than 2018, and not simply because it will be a Presidential election year…

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




Trump's horrible idea; FL's tepid gun reform package; Melania's parents' 'chain migration'; Gates cops a plea; McMaster may soon be out; Why Republicans must be removed; Stoneman Douglas students shine...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2018 6:03pm PT  

We catch up with a lot of news today, at the end of another ridiculously busy week, on today's very busy BradCast! But, hey, we start with a laugh and end with a song. So, it can't be all that bad, right? [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Donald Trump's horrendous idea for arming school teachers and workers appears to have come straight from Archie Bunker, and it won't work out well, especially for black teachers;
  • After the NRA's A+ rated, Florida Gov. Rick Scott joins the NRA's A+ rated Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in blowing away Second Amendment straw-man arguments, he proposes a package of tepid gun reforms for the state in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre, including barring those under 21 from buying a semi-automatic rifle;
  • A handful of D.C. GOPers also consider raising the federal age for gun purchases (though don't hold your breath, the NRA is against it.);
  • The problem isn't 'Washington' or 'Congress', it's Republicans, and it's time to remove them from office at the federal, state and local level;
  • After new charges against him and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort were filed on Thursday, Manafort's partner and former Trump aide Rick Gates copped a guilty plea on Friday and agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Mueller filed even more new charges against Manafort on Friday;
  • Trump may be about to fire his second National Security Advisor, Gen. H.R. McMaster;
  • Did Melania Trump's parents receive permanent U.S. residency, and soon citizenship, thanks to the "chain migration" (family reunification) program that Donald Trump and the GOP are hoping to kill in exchange for protection of DACA kids?;
  • Fox "News" reports that Defense Sec. James Mattis has quietly decided to allow transgender troops to serve in the military, despite Trump's declaration last year that they would be barred from serving "in any capacity";
  • New effort launched by Democrats and gun reform advocates to register high school students to vote in advance of the 2018 mid-terms;

And, finally, some closing thoughts on the heroically shining students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their performance of the song they wrote just days after a former student, armed with a legally purchased semi-automatic weapon, killed 17 of their fellow students and teachers and wounded more than a dozen others...

[Note: Angie Coiro is in for us on the next BradCast as we take a day off for Desi's birthday! If you'd like to give her a much-deserved birthday gift, please do so in any amount, at BradBlog.com/Donate! And thank you!]

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

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Guest: Redistricting expert Brian Amos on new PA U.S. House map; Plus; Trump's bump-stock ban gimmick; Buying a gun is easier than voting in Florida; Maine GOP's fake news site; The GNR's 9th Anniversary...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2018 6:24pm PT  

There is big news out of Pennsylvania again on today's BradCast, concerning the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections. And it appears to be very good news indeed for Democrats. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

But first up, Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he is directing the Dept. of Justice to propose new regulations that, if adopted, would ban the sale of so-called bump stock devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic machine guns. That, nearly four months after such devices were used in the massacre that killed 58 concert-goers and wounded some 500 others on the Las Vegas Strip in a matter of minutes in October, and less than one week since a 19-year old gunman killed 17 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, without using a bump-stock, on his legally purchased AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. The process Trump called for will take months and likely face legal challenges, if it ever results in any such devices being banned for sale. Congress could ban them today, if they wished to. Republicans supported by the NRA however, do not.

At the same time, as we discuss today, it is easier in many states to purchase an AR-15 or similar weapon than it is to cast a vote, including in Florida. While an ID is needed to both register and then to cast a ballot at the polls on Election Day in the Sunshine State, an unlimited number of semi-automatic rifles can be purchased there without any ID or background check at all. And, unlike voter registration in FL, gun sales can be carried out online, completely anonymously, even as GOP lawmakers in the state have made it harder and harder to both register and vote in the state in recent years.

Next, following up on a story we covered in detail on Friday's show, regarding fake news sites (actual fake news sites!) set up to look like real ones by Republican officials across the country to support Republican candidates and attack Democrats. The Executive Director of the Maine Republican Party has now admitted that he is behind the anonymously-run Maine Examiner site which, last December, falsely claimed leaked emails of the Democratic candidate for mayor in Maine's second largest city called voters a "bunch of racists". Days later, after the fake news story took off, that candidate, Ben Chin, is said to have lost his election by just 145 votes to the Republican. While many are worried about Russians posing as Americans to post attacks on social media in support of Republicans and attacking Democrats --- using fake claims about "voter fraud" taken directly from GOP outlets like Fox 'News' and Breitbart --- this new scheme by GOP officials (from coast to coast) to create fake news websites in support of Republican candidates should be very troubling for Dems in advance of the 2018 mid-terms.

But, there is some better news today for Democrats in Pennsylvania where, after the Republican-controlled state legislature failed to draw "fair and equal" U.S. House maps, as ordered by the State Supreme Court, the Court itself released its own map to be used in the 2018 election. The commonwealth's primaries are set for May, with candidates beginning their signature gathering process in days.

The new map follows a finding by the state's high court in January that the map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 was an unlawful partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. The previous map resulted in Democrats holding just 5 of the state's 18 U.S. House seats election after election, in what is otherwise a largely 50/50 state (with nearly half a million more registered Democrats than Republicans.)

We're joined today to discuss the new map, and what it is likely to mean for Democrats, Republicans and the rest of the country where many other partisan gerrymanders will still remain in effect this year, by redistricting expert BRIAN AMOS of the University of Florida. Amos, a PH.D. candidate specializing in the intersection of geography and politics, served as an analyst for the Florida team that was the first in the nation to successfully challenge a Republican drawn district plan in state court on partisan gerrymandering grounds.

Amos details the expected effect of the new PA map, drawn up by the court and released on Monday, which is expected to result in at least 3 or 4 more Democrats in the U.S. House, even though Trump won in 10 of the new districts in 2016, while Hillary Clinton won only 8 of them.

We also discuss the geographical and political challenges (and opportunities) of drawing maps that are fair to voters of all parties, when those maps are drawn up by partisan legislatures. That's become even more of a problem, not just after the GOP's REDMAP Project to take over state legislatures before the 2010 Census so they could draw the new maps in 2011, but also because of the geological self-sorting that is taking place, as Dems tend huddle in more urban areas, while Republicans spread out in rural districts.

"Democrats tend to live in densely Democratic areas --- cities --- whereas Republicans tend to live in areas that are a bit more balanced, like 60% Republican, 40% Democrat," Amos explains. "So the arguments tends to be that, if we have to draw geographic districts, it's harder to spread out those Democrats across districts in order to make an even balance. In a lot of cases I think you'll see something like what we saw from the court's map, where it's as fair as you can get, but it's still 10-8 [in favor of Republicans.]"

The outcome could have been better for Republicans in PA, Amos explains, they could have put their own map forward that was more fair. But, he says, "they got too greedy." State Republicans are still vowing to challenge the new map in some federal court or another, but experts suggest that may be very difficult, given that this was a state court ruling.

For his part, Amos, though not an attorney, tells me that "when the state fails to pass a map, then somebody has to step in and that's always been the courts. So maybe they'll find some friendly federal court somewhere, but it seems like a stretch." Meanwhile, as recent federal court rulings finding unlawful partisan gerrymandering carried out in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Maryland and elsewhere are currently on hold at the U.S. Supreme Court, "we're all waiting on Justice Kennedy," says Amos. But that ruling --- sadly, for those of us who believe in fairer elections --- is not expected until June, likely too late to effect the 2018 mid-terms.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 9th Anniversary Green News Report, as the Trump Administration's EPA and Dept. of Energy face new trouble from the courts and the Inspector General. And we reminisce about the vastly difficult political landscape that existed 9 years ago, when we began the GNR, and when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, but were unable to pass cap and trade legislation to put a price on the release of carbon pollution, in hopes of mitigating our current and worsening climate crisis.

Thank you, from Desi and myself, to those of you who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us continue the GNR into our 10th year! For some reason, ExxonMobil will still not cough up any sponsorship funds for us, even though we talk about them all the time!...

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

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on the memo mess, Special Counsel mess, immigration/DACA mess, and several others; Also: Elected PA GOPer trying to impeach 5 of 7 state Supreme Court Justices...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2018 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as one political mess piles up on top of another in D.C. (and across the country), at what now seems to be an impossible pace, our old friend HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and "Digby's Hullabaloo" blog is here today to try and help us dig out of from under it. Wish her luck. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

First up, Parton responds to Donald Trump's charge on Monday that Democrats who failed to stand and applaud during his State of the Union address last week were "unAmerican" and may have committed "treason". Yes, he actually said as much, even though treason is punishable by death, and couldn't possibly be applied in this case. (And, yes, we also discuss how many others also misuse the charge of "treason" against Trump.)

Then, Republicans on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have finally voted to release the Democratic Rebuttal Memo written in response to the cherry-picked Republican Memo produced by committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), perhaps in collusion with the White House. The Nunes memo, though landing with a thud after it's release on Friday, is still being used by Fox "News" GOPers to falsely make the case that Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe must be shut down due to an alleged misuse of material from the so-called "Trump/Russia Dossier" written by a former British intelligence agent, for the FISA warrant application sought and obtained by the FBI in 2016 (and renewed three times) to intercept communications with Carter Page, a former Trump Campaign advisor and suspected Russian asset.

But will the President actually allow the House Democrats' rebuttal memo to be released to the public? Parton has her doubts ("I don't know why people think it's a done deal. I mean, I keep wanting to say, 'Have you met Donald Trump?!'") She also has a few thoughts on Nunes and the entire GOP attempt to undermine the Mueller probe on specious grounds and on the promise by Nunes' to produce several new memos in what is part of his new effort to make the case that Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, conspired with Russia before the 2016 election. Parton compares the effort to go after members of the FBI and DoJ, etc., to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's targeting, in the 1950s, of alleged Communists in the FBI, Dept. of Justice and State Department. Sadly, the effort by Nunes, Trump and friends seems to be working, at least partially, according to a stunning new Axios poll.

I also share my own concern with Parton about what I see as a serious weakness in the Democrats' case for "collusion" against Trump, and she shares her prediction that "there's an excellent chance" a second Special Counsel will be convened to try and prosecute Hillary Clinton before this is all said and done.

We then go on to discuss the mess in Congress in advance of another possible federal government shutdown later this week, which Trump, on Tuesday, said he welcomes amid what has been his own bad faith deal-making with Democrats over the fate of some 800,000 children of immigrants brought here illegally decades ago. Those kids had been protected from deportation by the Obama-era DACA program, until Trump reversed it --- using them as human shields for his radical new immigration demands --- setting a deadline to begin their deportation as early as March 5th, unless a deal can be struck for legislation passed by Congress to protect them.

"This is a mess. It's been a mess," Parton argues. "Giving the Democrats a little bit of slack, this immigration problem and the DACA kids have been out there for a long time, and they have tried. The problem for the Democrats was that they thought, when Donald Trump was elected, because of this promises "Oh, I love the [DACA] kids!', that he had the credibility to bring along the Freedom Caucus and all these right-wing anti-immigration hawks in the Congress. That was the game that Trump talked. It turns out that he's a complete mess. He doesn't know how the government works. He doesn't know how to negotiate."

So, now, such a deal must somehow be worked out between the Dems, who are lousy negotiators, and Trump, who is a dishonest one, in advance of Friday's government shutdown deadline, or be pushed off yet again, leaving the fate of the DACA kids in jeopardy as March approaches. Not helping in the matter, as Parton observes, is Trump's far-right, anti-immigrant Chief of Staff John Kelly, not to mention the untrustworthy Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Next, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest news-filled Green News Report.

And, finally, some new developments out of Pennsylvania where, speaking of the rise of authoritarianism under Republican rule, an elected GOPer in the state House is now moving to impeach five of the seven Justices on the state Supreme Court after they voted to require new U.S. House maps for the state. The new districts would replace the GOP's illegally gerrymandered Congressional Districts that Republicans have been using to hold 13 of 18 U.S. House seats in the closely divided (but Democratic-leaning) swing-state. The nascent impeachment effort --- though one that should be taken seriously --- in the PA House comes as the Republican President of the state Senate continues to defy the court's orders, despite their ruling being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

Yes, this mess keeps getting messier. By the minute...

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

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