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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, May 25, 2018
Trump (and AL Sec. of State) Violating Free Speech Rights: 'BradCast' 5/24/18
Guest: Univ. of KY law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: 'Dotard' Prez nixes NK summit (for now): Plus: ZOMBIE ALERT!...
'Green News Report' 5/24/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA locks out media; TX chem plant explodes; Lava at HI power plant; WI frack sludge spill; Closed coal plants' immediate health benefits; PLUS: NPS' uncensored climate study...
Previous GNRs: 5/22/18 - 5/17/18 - Archives...
Progressives Win Some, Lose Some in GA, KY, AR, TX Primaries: 'BradCast' 5/23/18
Guest: BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein helps round up the good, bad, ugly...
ICE Busted; SCOTUS Approves Wage Theft; TX, FL GOPers Oppose Voter Registration: 'BradCast' 5/22/18
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets from event...
'Green News Report' 5/22/18
Repub House Science Comm denies sea rise; NASA: humans changing global water supply; Britain launches plastic tax; PLUS: Ex-con coal baron Blankenship returns!
'American Carnage' Continues:
'BradCast' 5/21/18
Guest: Gun safety advocate Cliff Schecter on shootings in TX, FL, Vegas; Also: Trump dangerously clueless in advance of planned summit with NK...
Sunday Toons of the Peace Process Moment
Who knew making peace was so complicated? The cartoonists represented in PDiddie's latest collection probably did...
Amnesty Intl Is Ready For Haspel; Also: How About A Job?: 'BradCast' 5/17/18
Guest-hosted by Angie Coiro with Daphne Eviatar, Dave Johnson, Robert Sapolsky...
'Green News Report' 5/17/18
EPA's Pruitt, facing 12 probes, grilled in Senate; Storms kill 5 in Northeast; King County files suit against oil cos; PLUS: Air pollution dangers extend into womb...
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: 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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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: 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...

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

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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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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: 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!...

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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...

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Guest: David Faris of 'The Week'; Also: L.A. school shooting; PA GOP scoffs at court redistricting order; Great voting rights ruling in FL...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2018 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The government shutdown ended just last week. Next week, the next deadline for funding the government is upon us, along with the same fight to protect some 800,000 "Dreamers" from being deported. Do Democrats have any better plan to stand up to Trump and the Republicans this time? [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, some important news headlines that are likely to disappear among all of the madness in D.C. and much of the corporate media: There was yet another school shooting today, following the one in rural Kentucky just last week. This time it was a middle school in Los Angeles, where a 12-year old girl is said to be in custody after two 15-year olds were shot.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican President of the Senate, Joe Scarnati, is blatantly refusing orders by the State Supreme Court to turn over districting documents after the court found last week that the GOP-controlled legislature in the largely 50/50 swing-state had gerrymandered U.S. House districts in violation of state law. Republicans currently hold 13 seats to the Democrats' 5 under the GOP-drawn maps. The Court has ordered the maps immediately redrawn, but Republicans are trying to prevent that, and are now defying the court in doing so. Scarnati's behavior continues a growing and disturbing pattern by Republicans across the country --- and now all the way up to the White House --- to simply refuse to follow the rule of law and orders of the court.

Meanwhile, some very good news for voters in Florida, as a federal court, just before airtime, finds the "scheme" employed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott to consider restoration of voting rights for some 1.5 million former felons in the state, to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment Free Speech clause and 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause. Currently, the process to overcome Florida's lifetime ban on voting rights for former felons who have long ago completed their sentences, finished parole and paid off all restitution, requires personally groveling to the Governor and hoping rights are restored, at his standard-free whim, according to the federal judge. That may now, finally, change (unless the ballot initiative to restore such rights to former felons is adopted first this November, after the measure's proponents successfully gathered nearly 1 million signatures in support last week!)

Then, it was only last week that Senate Democrats caved to Donald Trump and the Republicans following just two days of a government shutdown. After promising to vote against any government spending bill unless it included protections for some 800,000 "Dreamers" --- Obama-Era DACA recipients who, thanks to Trump, now face deportation as soon as March 5 --- the Dems folded and reversed course.

That, as our guest today, DAVID FARIS, Roosevelt University political scientist and The Week contributor, argues, has now further weakened what had previously been a fairly strong hand for Democrats.

Now, the next funding deadline and possible shutdown looms just one week from today, as the previous reversal by Democrats has likely bolstered Republican resolve and afforded time for Trump to move the goal posts even farther right on his immigration demands. He detailed those demands during his offensive remarks on the matter in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.

"It highlights to me way it was such a huge mistake for Democrats to cave and come back to the table and reopen the government. Because what it did was it allowed the President and his allies to seize the initiative here, and to release this plan to the public. It's just shocking to me that Democrats didn't think ahead, 'What's coming up? The State of the Union.' This will allow the President to set the parameters of the debate," Faris says.

He charges that Democrats "went from a situation where they were fighting for one issue that they had a 53 point advantage on --- and that's DACA and the Dreamers --- to a situation where now we have multiple immigration proposals thrown together, and they all, at least, have good plurality polling for the President."

Faris, author of the upcoming book, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics, argues the fate of the "Dreamers" may now, unthinkably, be left up to the hope that Trump decides to simply do the right thing for those 800,000 children brought here illegally as children decades ago by their parents.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news (for a change) for Puerto Rico, some very good news for the state of New Jersey under their new Democratic Governor, and some more bad news for the planet and the state of Maine under their dumbest Governor in the nation...

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Guest: Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause; Also: KY school shooting, Trump supporter threatens CNN, Dems' tough decision as next shutdown nears...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2018 6:08pm PT  

Did Donald Trump or the Trump Campaign or the Trump Organization violate federal law in a hush money payoff to a porn star? On today's BradCast, we speak with the lawyer from a good-government group that has now filed complaints with the Federal Elections Commission and Dept. of Justice to that end, which he describes as "a very obvious and very clear violation of federal campaign finance law." [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, the latest news on the latest school shooting, this time in rural Kentucky, where 12 students were shot, two of them killed, after a 15-year old student unleashed a barrage of gunfire at Marshall County High School just before classes were set to begin on Tuesday morning. It was the first fatal school shooting of 2018, though reportedly the 9th since the first of the year, and 283rd since 2013. In related news, a 19-year old apparent Trump supporter was arrested after repeatedly threatening CNN's Atlanta headquarters earlier this month on the heels of the President's continued targeting of the news network as "fake news".

Then, we discuss some of the newly reported details outlining how it is that Senate Democrats caved on Monday in their government shutdown standoff with Trump and Republicans in regard to protecting some 800,000 "Dreamers" from deportation, including evidence to strongly suggest we are quickly heading towards another shutdown and/or cave in just over two weeks time when the stop-gap spending measure passed on Monday night runs out.

Next, we're joined by PAUL S. RYAN, Vice President of Policy & Litigation at Common Cause, to discuss the two complaints filed on Monday with the FEC [PDF] and with the DoJ [PDF] regarding the payoff made via a shell company set up by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, allegedly to buy the silence of adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) just before the 2016 Presidential election. Trump is alleged to have had an affair, according to the Wall Street Journal, with Clifford/Daniels in 2006, shortly after his wife Melania had given birth to their son.

Ryan and Common Causes' complaints contend that the $130,000 payout appears to have been an unlawful, unreported in-kind donation to the Trump campaign, funded either by the Trump Organization, another person or corporation or Trump himself which, in any of those cases, would be a violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA). The longtime campaign finance attorney explains the law in question and handicaps the odds of whether the FEC or DoJ will take action in response.

"At a minimum here," Ryan tells me, detailing who may be culpable, "we seem to be looking at a campaign finance disclosure violation --- because the Trump Campaign Committee didn't report any of this --- and, unless the money came from Trump's own pocket, then we're also talking about a contribution violation, as well."

While the question of who put up the $130k is still unknown, he argues that there is no legitimate way to argue that the payout --- given its timing, shortly after the Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape came out, and the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from nearly 20 women --- was not meant to influence the election by keeping Daniels from talking to the press. "The timing, with the imminent threat by Stormy Daniels that she was going public with her story, to me, makes this clearly stand as a payment that was all about the election and keeping her quiet up to and until the election."

In related matters, Ryan also offers a few quick takes in response to some questions I had on several other recent news events from the past 24 hours or so, including whether the Trump Administration violated the law with their partisan outgoing voice message on the White House comment line during the shutdown over the weekend; whether any laws were violated by a Monday night dinner meeting on what are said to have been "important issues facing our country", between several Republican Senators, members of Trump's cabinet and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; and whether Republicans in Pennsylvania have a leg to stand on in their promise to make a federal case out of a Monday ruling by the state Supreme Court ordering the GOP-controlled state legislature to immediately redraw the state's U.S. House district maps, in time for the 2018 primaries, after the maps were found to have been illegally gerrymandered under Pennsylvania's Constitution to discriminate against non-Republican voters.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Monday's natural gas rig explosion in Oklahoma, new tariffs on solar panels instituted by Trump, and environmental fallout from the Congressional battle over a government spending bill. [Photo above via MySpace/Stormy Daniels.]

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Plus: Our own 'Fake News' awards! And 2017 breaks heat records...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2018 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Republicans have returned to form, via government by hostage taking. Vote our way or the kids get it it! [Audio link to show follows below.]

The chaos in Congress, as Republicans race to come up with a plan to avoid a Government shutdown this weekend, echoes what happened just last week as they they tried to pass a reauthorization and extension of the FISA Amendment Act in the U.S. House. Though GOP leadership and the White House had long lobbied for the reauthorization, Donald Trump unleashed chaos when he tweeted against his own bill. That legislation, which allows for warrantless surveillance of emails and phone calls by all Americans, ultimately passed after Paul Ryan called the President to explain it, and enough Democrats came on board to help them in the House. (It passed today, again with the help of Democrats in the Senate, and now heads to Trump's desk to be signed.)

On Thursday, as Congressional Republicans attempted to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government open --- after a long-term deal was plunged into chaos when Trump refused a deal that included immigrants from "shithole countries" --- Trump did it again. He tweeted against a GOP stopgap plan which includes reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The reauthorization, which both helps sick kids and saves the government billions of dollars, was included by Republicans in hopes of enticing Democrats to help them avoid a full government shutdown as of midnight Friday. Most Dems don't seem to be buying it --- despite Ryan, once again, calling the White House to get Trump back on board --- as they appear unwilling to help Republicans out of this jam without the inclusion of a fix to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Republicans refuse to include a fix to DACA, the Obama-era protection against deportation of some 800,000 children of immigrants, which Trump reversed, in their short-term measure. Dems say they won't support such a bill unless DACA is included. In other words, the children helped by both CHIP and DACA are now being held as hostages by the Republican Party. The measure squeaked by tonight in the U.S. House, but passage in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, is far from certain.

Then, after Donald Trump's fake "Fake News" awards face plant on Wednesday night, we have a few real "Fake News" awards to offer, based on actual facts, as we reach the end of Trump's agonizingly long first year in office this weekend.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with bad news out of China, good news out of the Detroit Auto Show (and even from McDonald's), and some late breaking news from NOAA and NASA on the record heat of 2017, as man-made global warming continues apace in the new year...

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Guest: Elizabeth Goitein of Brennan Center; Also: Dems flip a GOP seat in WI; Sex scandals go overlooked; Mass resignation at Nat'l Park Service...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2018 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump and his Great American Shitshow continues today, though he has now received a very helpful hand from Congressional Democrats, for reasons that may beggar the imagination. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, a quick word on the allegations regarding $130k in hush money said, by the Wall Street Journal, to have been paid by Donald Trump to a porn star just before the 2016 election, reportedly to hide a sexual liaison during his marriage with the now-First Lady, and on the sordid sex and blackmail scandal now roiling Missouri's new "family values" Republican governor, Eric Greitens. In normal times, of course, both stories would be huge news everywhere and we'd be discussing impeachment and/or resignation of both men. These days, however, each scandal is barely breaking the national news radar.

Then, more encouraging election news for Democrats this week in Tuesday's special elections around the country, with Dems flipping another long-held Republican seat in a deeply "red' area, this time in the Wisconsin State Senate. The results seem to be freaking out the state's controversial GOP Governor Scott Walker in advance of his own re-election contest later this year and signals a possible Dem takeover of the state Senate in advance of 2020 redistricting!

Next, Congress is on the verge of reauthorizing a warrantless mass surveillance program that civil libertarians on the right and left have long opposed and characterize as a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment privacy protections against unwarranted search and seizure. Last week, after Trump made it clear he had no idea what Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act actually was --- despite his administrations' long time lobbying of Congress to reauthorize and, indeed, expand it, it for another 6 years --- Republicans in the U.S. House passed it with the help of several Democrats (including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi).

This week in the U.S. Senate, a bi-partisan group lead by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) fell one vote shy of blocking the measure through a filibuster. So it now appears the legislation will clear both houses and sent to Trump for his signature.

We're joined today by ELIZABETH GOITEIN, former Dept. of Justice attorney, now co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, to explain Section 702, the efforts to lobby against its reauthorization, and why it is that many Congressional Democrats are willing to join Republicans in granting the Trump Administration's NSA, DHS, FBI, DOJ, CIA, etc., extraordinary new powers to secretly spy on every American citizen's phone calls and emails without warrant, due diligence or even probable cause.

While the legislation was "driven primarily by Republican leadership," she says, there were "enough Tea Party style Republicans who have really rallied in support of greater privacy protections" that some marginal reforms were added. Though, she explains, they aren't really reforms at all, and the entire dangerous package could not have moved forward had Dems stuck together in opposition.

"It's a failure of Democratic leadership," Goitein tells me. "At the last minute, [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer said he would vote no on cloture [to end the filibuster] --- but he hedged that and said, 'Amendments should be in order and we should have the chance to look at amendments, but the bill itself is not that bad, it makes improvements to the law'. Which is not true. It actually takes the law backwards. Minority Leader Pelosi in the House did even more damage...coming out in support of the bill and opposing the amendment that would have made these improvement. And then a whole bunch of Democrats went along with her."

Goitein argues "there was a full court press by intelligence officials" to pass this measure. So, even Trump's cluelessness about it was unable to prevent it from moving forward, even as it allows for the emails of two American citizens speaking to each other --- with no foreign target in the mix --- to be indexed, searched and read by the FBI without an order from any court. She explains the horrible details in depth on today's show, and why it has been so difficult to challenge this provision in a court of law.

Finally, nearly every member of the bipartisan National Park Service Advisory Board has resigned en masse this week, citing the Interior Department and its Secretary Ryan Zinke's failure to hold any meetings with the board, as required by law, during the entire first year of Trump's Presidency. The Administration's response to the mass resignation today is almost as disturbing, if not more so, than the resignation itself.

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Guest: Ryan Reilly of Huff Post; Also: House re-ups dragnet surveillance, Trump has no idea what it is, and calls Haiti and Africa 'shitholes'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who's actually running this disastrous Administration? And why don't they give a damn about terrorism when it's at the hands of white, domestic, neo-Nazis? That question may answer itself. But what's the excuse for Congress and media? [Audio link to full show at end of article.]

First up, today in the U.S. House, Republicans, with the help of a number of Democrats, voted to approve the re-authorization of a sweeping surveillance law --- Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act --- that results in the phone calls and emails of millions of Americans being scooped up for review without cause or court warrant. Civil libertarians on both the Right and Left have been hoping, for years, to end or radically limit the dragnet measure which they say violates Constitutional rights to privacy and against unwarranted search and seizure.

Though the White House has been lobbying for this re-authorization, which must still be approved in the U.S. Senate, a tweet this morning by Donald Trump, while watching Fox "News", harshly criticized the measure. Following that tweet, two hours later, after a call from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and chaos in the House GOP caucus in response to the tweet, the President took to Twitter again, this time in support of the measure, which he clearly knows nothing about.

Only his later description of Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries", as reportedly uttered during bi-partisan immigration negotiations today with lawmakers, moved the nation's media on to the next Trump embarrassment of the day.

In the meantime, as Trump and Congressional Republicans pretend to be concerned about terrorism and putting "America first", a major terrorism case brought by the Dept. of Justice just before Christmas has gone almost entirely unnoticed by the media, after the DoJ itself failed to even issue a statement on the recent arrest. Why? The obvious reason is that it involves a white supremacist neo-Nazi from Missouri (as opposed to someone with a middle-eastern sounding name) who had amassed an arsenal of deadly weapons in hopes of allegedly "killing black people". But there are several other reasons why the case has largely failed to become much more than a blip on the corporate media and cable news radar, much less be mentioned by either the DoJ or tweeted about by Donald Trump.

We're joined by HuffPost's senior justice reporter RYAN REILLY to discuss the matter today. Reilly has been investigating the disturbing lack of coverage of a case which includes an Amtrak train stopped by the accused 26-year old right-winger, Taylor Michael Wilson, in the dead of night in the middle of rural Nebraska several months ago, before he was arrested, then released on bail for several weeks, before finally being charged on a number of federal terrorism counts before Christmas.

"When I didn't see the story pop up until Friday, I was like wait, how did I miss this? What's going on? Federal prosecutors are charging a white supremacist with terrorism?," Reilly says, explaining why the case in which Wilson was originally charged with "criminal mischief" went unnoticed by media and unreported by law enforcement officials, who are usually eager to get publicity for terrorism cases.

"The broader issue is that it's a demonstration, an illustration of exactly how differently the Justice Department apparatus, and the national security apparatus of the US Government, treats domestic terrorism in comparison to anything that remotely has a sniff of anything related to Islamic terrorism," Reilly tells me. The reasons, for that, above and beyond strictly racism (which is certainly a large part of this), may be more complicated than you think, both statutorily and Constitutionally. None of those reasons, as we also discuss, necessarily excuse the media's apparent lack of interest in such cases, despite the fact that domestic terror remains a far greater threat to Americans than the threat posed by those claiming an association with international terror groups.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the tragic climate disaster unfolding in Southern California which has, so far, taken 17 lives in the past several days; the Trump Administration's about-face on its recently announced expansion of off-shore drilling (but only for one politically important state); and an important lawsuit filed this week by New York City, along with the promise of divestiture, against major oil companies. The suit could prove to be a serious blow against the fossil fuel industry, and is said to have been filed in response to billions of dollars in climate change-related damages after years of those companies hiding their own scientific knowledge of climate change from the public...

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DACA scheme blocked; Off-shore drilling reversed; CA's latest disaster; VA's gamed elections; NC's gamed Congressional maps; much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2018 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we do our best to try and make some sense of the utter chaos, havoc and non-stop breaking news plaguing the nation over the past 24 hours. Wish us luck! [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's extremely busy program...

  • Late updates on the devastating mud-flows that have, so far, resulted in the deaths of 17 in Southern California's Santa Barbara County, just north of Los Angeles, following a massive rainfall this week in the area just burned by the largest fire in state history;
  • A federal judge has temporarily blocked Donald Trump's attempt to lift the DACA program, which has protected some 800,000 children of immigrants who came here with their parents through no fault of their own;
  • Just days after announcing their intention to open 90% of U.S. coastline to off-shore drilling, Trump's Dept. of Interior chief Ryan Zinke reverses course, but only for the state of Florida, in what appears to be a political (and unlawful) favor to Florida's Governor Rick Scott, who Trump is supporting in a run for the U.S. Senate;

In election and voting news today...

  • Just minutes before Virginia's House of Delegates convened its new legislative session today, Democrat Shelly Simonds conceded her 94th District race against Republican David Yancey without seeking the second "recount" she is entitled to by state law. The first "recount" resulted in a declared "tie" vote and a random drawing, following a very questionable ballot [JPG] counted for the Republican after the initial "recount" had handed the victory to Simonds by a single vote. (She could still ask for a recount as late as the 17th, if she and the Democratic Party wise up and changes their minds. Republicans absolutely would have demanded such a count had the random drawing gone the other way. They would also have prevented her from being seated until that count was completed. Moreover, I share some disturbing comments from a conversation about all of this with the Voter Registrar who oversaw the election in Newport News, VA.)
  • In the 28th District race for Virginia's House, an appeals court denied the Democrats emergency motion for a new election today, after the Republican was declared the winner by 73 votes even though 147 voters were given the wrong ballot on Election Day last November. (With both of those Dems out, the GOP majority in the VA House has shrunk from 66-34 last session, to just 51-49 as of today, despite Democrats winning 55% of the vote statewide in the Republican gerrymandered state);
  • In North Carolina, a federal court panel issued a landmark and blistering ruling on Tuesday night, finding state Republicans had blatantly gerrymandered the swing-state's U.S. House Districts on a partisan bases to ensure a 10 to 3 majority for themselves, in what the panel found to be a violation of the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The court ordered new Congressional maps to be drawn up immediately, in the next two weeks, in time for the 2018 primaries. But Republicans vow to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently deciding a separate but very similar case on partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts by Wisconsin Republicans.
  • And today, a divided (and stolen by the GOP) U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case challenging Ohio Secretary of State John Husted's scheme to purge voter rolls after voters have gone just two years without voting in a federal election, in what Democrats and voting rights advocates argue is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

Finally today...

  • Trump's Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry sees his scheme to extend the life of coal and nuclear plants under the false guise of "grid resiliency" go up in smoke after all of the appointees on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), most of whom were appointed by Trump, unanimously reject the plan, which was seen as a payoff to a coal baron benefactor of both Perry and Trump. A former Trump Campaign official, however, sees a far more insidious (and laughable) conspiracy.

What. A. Mess. Enjoy!...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 12/11/2017 9:25am PT  

Last week, at the behest of the "terrorist-enabling" National Rifle Association (NRA), the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act [PDF] (CCRA or HR-38), by way of a mostly party-line vote, 231 to198.

Under the provisions of this proposed federal statute, anyone who has a right to carry a concealed handgun in their own state --- such as "Wild, Wild West Nevada" where everyone is entitled to open or conceal carry all manner of firearms --- must now be permitted to carry a concealed weapon inside any other state that allows citizens to apply for, but not necessarily receive, a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., "Someone from Vermont, where there are no permit requirements, could come into New York City with a loaded gun, come to Times Square, go to the subways." This, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill added, "will make New York City less safe and our job as law enforcement much harder."

Organizing for America's Jesse Lehrich similarly observed in a tweet, that where Massachusetts "has a rigorous process to obtain a Concealed Carry permit, Vermont has no requirements. Under HR-38, a guy from MA could just buy a gun in VT & bring it back & override MA laws."

As a practical matter, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for local law enforcement to determine whether an individual sporting a concealed weapon has a permit from another state without first "detaining" them long enough to check their ID. That, as Lehrich notes, could also get them sued, because HR-38 allows someone with a permit from another state to sue law enforcement for simply detaining them.

The legislation, if adopted, would also appear to override states' rights in gun safety conscious states, like California, where both open and concealed carry is generally prohibited, though residents may apply for a license to carry a concealed firearm. The NRA's proposed federal statute would prohibit CA law enforcement from "arresting or detaining" a NV resident with a permit, even though CA residents who could not meet the criteria for a concealed carry license under state law could be prosecuted for the same offense.

Fortunately, if the life-endangering CCRA is enacted into law, there's a good chance it will subsequently be struck down as unconstitutional, even by our current U.S. Supreme Court...

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




Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Fires worsen in and near L.A.; Franken may be forced, by Democrats, to resign...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2017 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Another day, still more chaos in these United States, threatening to all but drown out two major civil and privacy rights cases heard this week by the U.S. Supreme Court and covered in detail on today's show. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, Desi Doyen joins us for an update on the out-of-control wildfires in and around Los Angeles today, threatening tens of thousands of structures and many more residents, who have been forced to flee several large blazes fueled by dry conditions and record winds. Also in danger: Animals, priceless works of art and one of Rupert Murdoch's mansions.

Next, calls from fellow Democrats for Sen. Al Franken to resign blew up on Wednesday in the U.S. Senate, after another unnamed woman reportedly stepped forward to claim the Minnesota Senator tried to kiss her after a radio program back in 2006. Franken denies the claim and calls it "preposterous", but may be forced to resign anyway on Thursday, less than one week before Republicans in Alabama may elect Roy Moore, an accused child molester, to the same U.S. Senate. Desi has a few choice thoughts on the Franken matter as well.

Then, we're joined by Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN, to discuss two important cases heard at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. Stern, who was at the Court during oral arguments for both, explains what is at stake in each, and how the Republicans' blatantly stolen seat occupied by Justice Neil Gorsuch will radically effect each case.

The first, Carpenter v. United States has to do with the U.S. Government's argument that law enforcement has the right to obtain anyone and everyone's cell phone location data, even without obtaining a warrant from a court first, in what appears to be a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment privacy rights for freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

"The case almost sounds too crazy to be true," Stern tells me, detailing the Government's argument that "because customers voluntarily turn over the data to a third party --- their cellphone companies," which keeps records of which cell phone towers are used and by whom, customers "have no right to privacy with regards to that information."

The second, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is an even more insane "free speech" and "religious expression" case. It was brought by a virulently anti-gay baker in Colorado who claims his bakery shop has the First Amendment right to discriminate and refuse to sell a cake to two men celebrating their same-sex wedding. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the state courts disagreed with the baker, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who appealed to the U.S. Supremes. Surprisingly they took up the case after Phillips was also joined by Trump's U.S. Department of Justice over the summer.

Stern details the liberal Justices' skeptical (and even hilarious) questioning of whether Phillips' argument that he is an "artist" exercising creative free speech --- not blatant discrimination --- could also be extended to florists and hair stylists and make-up artists, among many others.

"This is an embarrassment," says Stern. "What happened here is a clear-cut case of discrimination." He also highlights one key irony underscoring the entire case: "The Supreme Court's conservative justices have really been lecturing gay people for years that they should stop turning to the courts to vindicate their rights and, instead, go through the democratic process to secure their equality under law. And here we have a case of gay people doing exactly that. Gay people in Colorado fought long and hard to change the law to protect their right to equal service in public accommodations. They succeeded. And now, those same Supreme Court conservatives who said you have to do this through democracy, are now poised to say, 'Actually you don't get to this,' and nullify the rights that they secured through the democratic process."

Depending on how Justice Kennedy decides in a likely 5 to 4 opinion one way or another --- on a case that would have been a cake walk for civil rights advocates before Republicans stole the Court majority --- what could very well result is legalization of mass discrimination of people of all races, religions and sexual orientations by any and all manner of businesses in the U.S. for decades to come...

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

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