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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, March 23, 2018
Congress Finds, Funds Wrong Fix to Election Vulnerabilities: 'BradCast' 3/22/18
Also: Dow plunges; Trump attorney quits; Massive funding bill; WI ordered to call elections; PA lawmakers file impeachment against state Supremes; MORE...
'Green News Report' 3/22/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Puerto Rico six months after Maria; New docs find FEMA failed; Plastic pollution in your bottled water; Congress rejects Trump EPA cuts; PLUS: World's last male white rhino dies...
Previous GNRs: 3/20/18 - 3/15/18 - Archives...
Tough Illinois Primaries for Progressives; Failed Ballot Scanners in DuPage County: 'BradCast' 3/21/18
Guests: DuPage candidate Jean Kaczmarek; 'Down With Tyranny's' Howie Klein...
Thin-Skinned Trump Blocks Americans on Twitter, Gets Sued: 'BradCast' 3/20/18
Guest: Journalist Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza on her suit against Trump: Also: Another bomb in TX, school shooting in MD, storm in the east...
'Green News Report' 3/20/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Winter weather havoc at winter's end; FBI says Russian hackers attacked grid; Storms getting stronger, building codes weaker; PLUS: Trump FEMA makes 'climate change' disappear...
Previous GNRs: 3/15/18 - 3/13/18 - Archives...
Sunday 'Involuntary Retirement' Toons
The 'swamp' is decidely not being 'drained'. So find the political cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
Trump Turns to Torture:
'BradCast' 3/16/18
CIA nom oversaw unlawful waterboarding, destruction of evidence at U.S. secret prison; Also: Trump brags about lying; More good 2018 news for Dems; Rep. Louise Slaughter RIP...
Senate Dems Vote to Gut Dodd-Frank, Other Disasters: 'BradCast' 3/15/18
Guest: Bart Naylor of Public Citizen; Also: New Russia sanctions, FL bridge collapse, TX chemical explosion, MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 3/15/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.S. may soon have its first climate science denying Sec. of State; Global water crisis; Black lung returns; LEGO goes greener; PLUS: Ice wall failing, 7 years after Fukushima disaster...
Previous GNRs: 3/13/18 - 3/8/18 - Archives...
Spinning v. Winning: BradCast 3/14/18
Nail-biter (and unverifiable) US House special election results in PA-18; Student gun safety walkouts; ICE busted as spokesman refuses to lie, steps down...
'Green News Report' 3/13/18
Admin finds EPA regs save money; CO Repubs choose oil/gas over public health; Int. Sec. protects public lands in home state; PLUS: 3rd Nor'easter in 10 days...
Battling Barcoded 'Paper Ballots' in GA, L.A., Every-where Else: 'BradCast' 3/12/18
Guest: Jennifer Cohn on deceptive dangers computer-marked 'paper ballots'; Also: Callers on that, Kim/Trump...
New Threat to Democracy: Barcodes, Ballot Marking Devices ('Electronic Pencils')
Unverifiable touchscreen DREs being phased out, replaced with unverifiable touchscreen BMDs...
Sunday Toons: 'Pick a Distraction'
The Trump Administration has a lot of problems. They also have a lot of things they hope will distract you from them, as PDiddie's latest toon collection reveals...
Trump, Kim and 'The Madman with a Gun': 'BradCast' 3/9/18
Also: White House, EPA waivers allow dozens of "ex"-lobbyists to work on issues related to corporate clients...
Trump Admin's New Report Debunks GOP Deregulation Con: 'BradCast' 3/8/18
Guest: Vox' David Roberts; Also: Trump tariffs; Good voter news for WA, CA; Senators query US voting vendors...
'Green News Report' 3/8/18
Oil co's call for carbon tax; Bad news for elephants; Good news for grid and renewables; Appeals court approves youth climate suit; PLUS: Arctic's warmest year ever...
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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...

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...

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...

The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

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

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...

The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

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...

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...

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: Mike Liszewski of Drug Policy Alliance; Also: Goodbye, Chris Christie and other encouraging news from the states...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2018 5:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the consequences of elections, from D.C. on immigration, to VA and NJ on gun safety legislation, and across both D.C. and dozens of states when it comes to marijuana policy under Trump's Attorney General. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The White House, lawmakers and corporate media continue to squabble today over Donald Trump's racist and reportedly vulgar slur of black majority nations as either "shitholes" or "shithouses" during a bipartisan meeting on immigration last week, even as his Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued a new and misleading report on terrorism that downplays the far greater threat of domestic attacks by homegrown white Americans, in favor of a focus on foreign-born terrorists.

In the meantime, as the White House and Congress attempt to strike a government spending deal that includes protections for DACA recipients in time to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week, a changing of the guards in both New Jersey and Virginia following last November's elections is taking place and already reshuffling public policy.

NJ's wildly unpopular Republican Gov. Chris Christie was finally replaced on Tuesday by the new Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, one day after Christie finally signed a law that will ban deadly bumpstock devices, like those used to kill 58 people and wound hundreds of others in minutes in Las Vegas last year, in the Garden State. (To his discredit, he had little choice, as the legislation passed both state chambers with zero votes opposing it.)

At the same time, in VA, where Republicans managed to barely hang on to majorities in the state legislature, thanks to some gaming of several House races and of legislative district maps across the state (allowing them to retain control despite losing statewide by a 55% to 45% margin), the GOP's majority control in the state Senate resulted in the gutting of most of the gun safety agenda on which that state's new Democratic Governor Ralph Northam ran and won by a landslide.

Then, we head back to D.C., where Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced after the turn of the new year that the DoJ was reversing Obama-era enforcement guidance on federal law, in order to crack down on states where marijuana has been made legal for medicinal and/or recreational use after decades of prohibition.

As Drug Policy Alliance advisor and marijuana legislation lobbyist MIKE LISZEWSKI joins us to explain, the new DoJ guidance, rolling back the so-called "Cole Memo" from the Obama years, has not gone over well, even with a number of Republican lawmakers, particularly those from cannabis-friendly states where they have seen a dramatic rise in tax revenue thanks to new policies adopted by voters and state lawmakers.

"The Cole Memo was just guidance, it was never binding. But by removing it, Sessions has really given the green light to US Attorneys throughout the country to say, if you want to prosecute against state marijuana conduct you have our backing," Liszewski tells me, before arguing that there is no need for such policy, given that state laws, where pot has been legalized, are already very tough. "If someone was using a state marijuana law to shield some sort of bad activity, they're clearly in violation of state law. There's so much oversight, you're likely going to get caught rather quickly. So there's really no need for additional federal prosecution. It's really addressing a concern that doesn't actually exist --- unless you have some hysterical views about marijuana."

Sessions, of course, famously has views. Last year, for example, he famously stated that marijuana was "only slightly less awful" than heroin. Liszewski breaks down the DoJ's announced change in prosecutorial guidance and the effect it is likely to have (if any) in pro-cannabis states where, he says, it has "turned out to be wonderful for generating state tax terms of the money it's pulling in, but also the law enforcement resources, the jail resources, the court resources, that don't have to go into prosecuting low-level marijuana cases."

We also discuss how Congress may still be able to move forward on drug policy under an Attorney General who is an avowed enemy of pot users and a President who claims to favor states' rights on the matter. Congress, Liszewski argues, is close to having the votes to end prohibition at the federal level all together, if it doesn't have those votes already. But, he says, thanks to a few "old guard" Committee Chairs in Congress, it may take a full reshuffling of the deck in the 2018 mid-term elections to see it actually happen.

"The 2018 elections are going to be so crucial to the future of marijuana reform," he says. "Because whether it's a shift in which party controls each chamber, or if it's just voting out the old guard and getting some new Republicans in, either way would be helpful towards ending federal marijuana prohibition."

"It would be very, very difficult to get the genie back in the bottle at this point," Liszewski adds, "especially seeing a good number of Republicans as well as states continuing to move forward right after the Sessions announcement. It really shows that Sessions is alone on an island with this and has very few supporters. I think the writing is on the wall."

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

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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...

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

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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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Guest: Farmer John Gilbert; Also: Detente in Korea; Arpaio to run for Senate; Landmark court ruling in NC; More climate-related tragedy in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2018 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Enough with the so-called "forgotten Trump voters"! What of the forgotten Democrats and progressives who far outnumber them? Where are all of those profiles in the MSM? We pick up that ball a bit today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, just some of the news breaking today: North and South Korea are now talking again, and have struck an agreement that will result in North Korea participating in the winter Olympic Games that begin next month in South Korea. They also appear to be planning for talks in the near future on the militarization of the North/South border and other related matters, even as the Trump Administration continues to send very mixed signals about negotiations that might include the U.S.

Meanwhile, back here at home, the far right-wing "news" site Breitbart has fired its far right-wing Executive Chairman Steve Bannon following comments he made about Trump's son Don Jr. in Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury book. Bannon was previously fired by the White House as Trump's top political strategist. And, speaking of the GOP's continuing internecine Trump Era War, the disgraced, far right-wing 85-year old Joe Arpaio, controversial former Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff found guilty of contempt of court last year before being pardoned by Trump shortly thereafter, says he will run for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate this year, in a bid to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Then, amidst seemingly endless sympathetic corporate media profiles of supposedly "forgotten" Trump voters in rural America, what of the majority of American voters who didn't vote for Trump, even in so-called "Trump Country"? We're joined today by sustainable family farmer JOHN GILBERT [pictured above] of Gibralter Farms, who, with his wife and extended family, has been farming and ranching on land maintained by his family since the 1890s.

Gilbert was briefly mentioned in a Washingont Post profile at year's end of another nearby farmer in Hardin County, Iowa --- part of the paper's long series of stories so-called on "THE FORGOTTEN: The issues at the heart of Trump's America" --- who remains an ardent and seemingly confused Trump supporter, angry with the way she believes the Obama Administration and its Environmental Protection Agency were enforcing too many rules that made her work difficult or costly. While Trump has begun to reverse many of those Obama Era regulations, such as the controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, Gilbert believes we need more, not fewer regulations to remain good stewards of the land, so that "humanity stays alive".

He says the "big lie" about WOTUS was that, in fact, "most farming activity was exempted. I think it's also clear that that was an issue that was ginned up almost entirely by the Farm Bureau as a way to scare farmers, and I think farmers were duped into opposing that."

The 68-year old Gilbert explains how many of his fellow farmers, in Iowa and elsewhere, have been misled by the American Farm Bureau --- a lobbying group which he says largely represent the interests of "Big Ag" --- about both that and the so-called "death tax", while the Republican party and its media outlets have been helping to spread the group's disinformation for many years. "Politicians and Republicans have called it the 'death tax' for a long time," he tells me, "and always say 'Oh, it's hard on farmers.' Well, there's almost never been a farmer who has ever been affected enough by it that they had to do like they claim and sell the farm. These are all just manufactured fear tactics."

He also comments on Trump's at times bewildering appearance on Monday at the Bureau's national convention in Nashville, and discusses the principals of sustainable agriculture, for which he and his wife recently won the 2017 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from the Practical Farmers of Iowa.

"The whole issue of sustainability stems from a basic acceptance of the fact that there is not enough in this world for everybody to have all they want, whether it's enough water, enough food, enough energy, enough power, enough room. There's not enough. That means that we have to share, I guess, for lack of a better word," he tells me. "The one thing that has kept humanity above the animals over all these years is the ability to control our greed...And if you don't control greed, then you use up too many resources today and don't have any left for the future."

"Agriculture, in itself, is strictly the process by which humanity stays a live," he tells me. "We in agriculture do a lot of things, but basically we're trying to keep humanity alive. The question that we don't know is how long 'forever' is. And if we're going to keep humanity alive essentially forever, we have to make sure that we have the resources available to our descendants thousands of years from now --- to continue to support humanity. When you put those two things together, you end up with a system of farming that is much more aligned with natural systems. You tend to use principles of nature rather than the test tube or the chemical companies, or the big expert input suppliers who tend to be more interested in making money off of what you do than you making money."

There is much more in our conversation today than I can adequately cover here, so I'd encourage you to tune in for my full discussion with Gilbert, from the heartland of the first-in-the-nation caucus state. He's great.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report', before several late breaking news items, including a late day landmark Appeals Court ruling striking down North Carolina's Congressional maps due to partisan gerrymandering, and the tragic news out of Southern California that at least 13 have died, so far, in mud slides amid remarkable overnight rainfall in areas recently burned by the recent record Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties north of Los Angeles, the largest fire in state history...

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: Financial journalist David Dayen; Also: Trump keeps gutting and lying as media obsesses over 'Fire & Fury', Mueller probe speculation...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2018 5:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While most of the corporate media are abuzz with the salacious news and political food fights between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon (and everyone else) stemming from the publication of Michael Wolff's new Fire & Fury book, the Administration continues to gut regulations, undermine the rule of law, and endanger the nation and planet in countless under-reported ways. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We continue today to try to focus on a number of important issues that aren't receiving the coverage they deserve, but that voters need to know about as we head toward the crucial 2018 mid-term elections. Among those issues is the strange matter of the wildly unpopular GOP tax bill which, oddly enough, most Republicans members of Congress don't seem overly concerned about. Why would that be?

One reason, as cited by GOP leadership in Congress, is that they believe Americans will come to love the new scheme once they begin to see more money in their paychecks this year. But how much more money will average middle-class Americans actually see, if any? That may be up to one man who now heads the IRS, with an "Acting" title, even as he works for the Trump Administration's Treasury Department at the same time in what seems a blatant conflict of interest.

Remember the phony "IRS Scandal" that Republicans and Fox "News" and Donald Trump all still pretend was an actual scandal involving Barrack Obama using the IRS for political purposes (which the IRS Inspector General has since completely debunked with far less fanfare)? Well, now the President of the United States actually does have a ringer at the IRS, his unconfirmed Acting IRS Chief David Kautter [pictured above]. Could he be the "Ace in the Hole" for Republicans on their tax bill?

Investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, who recently wrote about this for The Nation, joins us today to explain how Trump's ringer at the Internal Revenue Service may be able to game the nation's paycheck tax withholding scheme, beginning in February, in order to try and turn the tide in favor of the GOP tax scam in advance of the 2018 mid-terms.

"Instead of putting someone up for a vote in the Senate and going through the confirmation process, they just made this guy, Kautter, the IRS Commissioner, and there is nobody on the horizon who is set to replace him," Dayen explains. "So, this guy is doing two separate jobs, essentially. He is the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy --- which is a position where he was working with members of Congress to put the tax bill forward --- and he's supposed to be the non-partisan official who is implementing that same policy."

Since most of the changes to the tax law won't be seen by average Americans until 2019, when they file their 2018 taxes, paycheck withholding is "the only way that people are really going to experience this tax bill between now and the midterm elections," says Dayen. "And they'll see that difference in their paychecks, allegedly, by the beginning of February."

But the way the federal government determines the formulas for withholding is "more art than science," Dayen tells me. The question is now whether Kautter, who previously worked at financial giant Ernst & Young assisting huge corporations avoid taxes, will "move resources toward making sure that the assumptions that are made in withholding work to the benefit of ordinary people, so that they get more money now that they might have to give back in April of 2019? But [that] will create the feeling that there is this boost from the tax cut that is illusory, and that might help Republicans in the midterms?"

Republicans, he argues, seem to be "really relying on this. They're saying, 'Just you wait and see, America. Wait until February and all of your questions about the tax bill will be answered by your huge gain in your paycheck.' There's tons of pressure, from both the White House and from Congress, to get this done."

Also discussed on today's show: Speaking of the new Gilded Age for corporations and the wealthy, Dayen's latest cover story for American Prospect on "Big Tech's New Predatory Capitalism"; HUD's just-announced postponement of a major new Obama-era rule meant to decrease racial segregation in public housing; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt takes credit for the Obama EPA's work on Superfund site cleanup...

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: BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning...
By Brad Friedman on 12/28/2017 5:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one last battle over democracy before 2017 comes to a close, and an early look forward to the battles --- and, perhaps, "democracy's revenge" --- that lie ahead in 2018. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In his last minute bid to prevent final certification of the first Democrat to be elected to the U.S. Senate in more than two decades, Alabama's Republican candidate Roy Moore filed an 80-page lawsuit [PDF] late Wednesday night alleging massive "voter fraud" and other somewhat confusing irregularities are to blame for his December 12 Special Election loss to the Democratic candidate Doug Jones.

A state court judge quickly dismissed Moore's complaint on Thursday morning and Jones was certified shortly thereafter as having defeated him by nearly 22,000 votes out of some 1.3 million cast. Jones will fill the seat vacated by Alabama's former Republican Senator turned Donald Trump's U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly after the new year.

We're joined today by long-time BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING who largely dismisses the allegations detailed in Moore's suit. Though, as we discuss, the GOP may have themselves to blame for making it difficult, if not impossible, for federal candidates in Alabama (and elsewhere) to ensure the accuracy of computer-reported vote tallies, even when they are based, as in AL, on hand-marked paper ballots scanned by computer systems but never verified for accuracy by human beings.

Moore's complaint, Canning adds, is also deficient when it comes to presenting any actual hard evidence of fraud by voters. The controversial Republican cites statistical analyses focusing on high turnout in a number of African-American districts said to contrast with Exit Poll data, and the affidavit of one poll worker who claims she saw more out-of-state IDs than usual used by voters even though that's perfectly lawful under the state's strict Photo ID voting restriction. Beyond that, no hard evidence is offered by the complaint to prove that any illegal votes were cast in the election, much less thousands of them.

Then, we discuss two of Canning's recent articles at The BRAD BLOG, both looking forward towards what he describes as the possibility of "democracy's revenge" in 2018. In one, he details why every single Republican U.S. House member from California could be in jeopardy of losing their seat in the "deep blue" state next year. In the other, he lays out what he describes as "Revolutionary Strategies to End GOP Rule in 2018" across the nation.

The CA attorney and 2016 Senior Adviser to Veterans for Bernie also discusses the need for "political maturity" among both progressive and establishment Democrats alike, in order to effectively take on the GOP following the 2016 election of Trump and his compliant Republicans in Congress who, he argues, have since revealed their true nature of legislating only for the benefit of the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.

Desi Doyen then joins us for our final Green News Report of 2017, rounding up both the good and horrific news over the past year, including, despite Trump's best efforts, a number of very hopeful signs for the environment as we head into 2018. And, finally, we close with one last punch in the face at the intolerable and seemingly endless 2017, from comedian Lewis Black.

Angie Coiro guest-hosts for us on tomorrow's BradCast, and Desi and I will see you again after the New Year holiday! Until then, my thanks to those of you who have answered our call by stopping by in support of our efforts to try and continue our work --- over your public airwaves --- as long as possible into the new year!


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What Democrats and their voters must do in 2018, and beyond, to restore a progressive vision to the American political landscape...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/27/2017 11:53am PT  

"We must become the change we wish to see in the world" - Mohandas Gandhi

In a recent article, I explored the question as to whether California Congressional Republicans should now be looked upon as an endangered species.

The article touched upon the declining numbers of registered California Republican voters, the fact that no Republican official has won a race for statewide office since 2006, and the fact that the Trump/GOP oligarchic agenda is so immensely unpopular, especially in "deep blue" California, that no incumbent Congressional Republican seat in the state should be considered a lock as we head into 2018.

But, political transformation cannot be accomplished by simply sitting back and waiting for the GOP to self-destruct, as hard as they seem to be working toward that goal. Instead, the great masses of the American electorate, who's economic survival has been threatened by the greed of the privileged few, must coalesce into an active and overwhelming political force prepared to make 2018 the year of democracy's revenge...

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

Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Several federal court rulings block un-Christian Administration excesses over the Christmas weekend...
By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2017 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're back at work between the holidays, even as the President only pretends to be. But maybe that's a good thing. For everyone. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

(Also, my thanks once again to Angie Coiro of In Deep Radio for filling in for us on Friday! Her must-listen exclusive interview with former Vice President Al Gore is right here!)

Over the weekend before Christmas there were several noteworthy federal court rulings against the Trump Administration. Among them, one blocked a plan by Trump's Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency to overturn an Obama Administration rule meant to help low-income Americans obtain affordable housing as of January 1, 2018. The judge ruled Trump's HUD overturned Obama's new rule arbitrarily, with no supportable reason for doing so, which is unlawful. Another federal court over the holiday weekend partially lifted parts of Trump's third attempt at banning travelers and refugees from several Muslim-majority countries. The Administration claimed they were doing so for national security purposes. The judge determined that national security was actually threatened by the ban itself.

Then, in related-ish matters, we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss many aspects of the Trump Administration and the GOP's long "War on Truth".

As the President pretended, on Tuesday, to be "back to work" --- before playing another round of golf on his 85th day of staying at one of his own branded properties during his Presidency --- we discuss a number of the ongoing hoaxes played by him and fellow Republicans on the American people, beginning with the absurd, Fox "News"-created "War on Christmas".

"I can't even believe I have to say this," Parton tells me with no small amount of exasperation, but "how far have we come that we are actually at a point that we have to prove that there was no 'War on Christmas'?" Good question, since it seems a non-trivial number of Trump supporters actually believe there was/is such a war. That said, as she further observes, it's become very difficult to know who really believes what anymore and who is playing whom at the end of a remarkably "disorienting" (to say the least) first year of Trump's Presidency.

"If you go over to Fox News, or you look at any of the rightwing media, or talk radio, of course, it's no longer that we're just arguing over stuff," she says, "they're in a completely different dimension than we are. The arguments they are having are not arguments that are taking place in our world. They're not arguing with real people. We're not existing on the same level of reality."

While the "War on Christmas" is a pretend reality, the "War for Truth," on the other hand, is "definitely raging," she argues. Among the many truths and frauds we seek to highlight during our conversation today: we discuss the GOP tax bill and whether voters will be moved by it to vote Republican in 2018 as the GOP seems to think; whether media (and Democrats) will stop falling for the mostly phony "economic concerns" of many Trump voters ("It was not based on economics, it was based on resentment," she argues); whether Democrats should or will take the bait being offered by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to work across the aisle next year as both he and Trump now claim to want after a year of shutting Dems out of the Congressional process entirely; whether Truth Warrior Al Franken should have resigned from the U.S. Senate amid sexual misconduct claims; and what "Digby" finds herself most surprised by as Trump wraps up his intolerably long first year in office...

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Guest: Jeet Heer of New Republic...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2017 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: An all too remarkable reminder that every vote --- every single vote --- matters. Or should, with control of the Virginia's House of Delegates and, potentially, healthcare for hundreds of thousands now at stake amid a remarkable "recount" in the state. Also, now that the massive GOP tax bill has been passed, are Democrats still relying too much on potential findings of the Special Counsel and the possibility of impeachment in 2018? [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Just after our show yesterday, the Commonwealth of Virginia completed a partial-machine, partial-hand "recount" of one of last month's House of Delegates races that, by one single vote, appeared last night to hand the victory to the Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds. One single vote. If Democrats pick up that seat, it would, in turn, end decades of Republican-majority control of the House, with a 50/50 seat split among Ds and Rs. Before the November 7 election, Republicans held a 66-34 seat advantage.

It appeared, as of last night, to be a done deal, with the Dem having been declared the winner after the "recount" by one vote on the state's hand-marked paper ballots and the Republicans having conceded the race. (Virginia finally got rid of all of its 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems this after.) The bi-partisan election official judges signed off on Tuesday's new tally, handing the victory to Simonds over Republican David Yancey who had led by just 10 votes prior to the "recount".

But on Wednesday morning, a GOP election official judge had second thoughts about one ballot which, previously, the judges had unanimously determined to be an overvote --- with a selection in the bubbles for both the Democrat Simonds and for the incumbent Republican Yancey. The Simonds bubble, however, appears to have a slash through it. The rest of the selections on the ballot were for Republicans, though the choice for the Republican candidate for Governor also appears to have a cross through it, with no other candidate selected by the voter in that race. (The full ballot in question can be viewed here [JPG].)

So, after a two hour court hearing on Wednesday, it was decided by a three-judge panel that the race was/is a tie instead, with 11,608 votes for each candidate. That means control of the VA House --- and the increased possibility of health care coverage via Medicaid expansion for nearly half a million Virginians --- will be left up to a random draw to see who wins the seat.

There are, of course, still many questions about this story, which was still breaking as we went to air today. The "losing" candidate after the random draw will also be able to ask for a second "recount". We discuss all of those questions, the ballot, the "recount" methods used in the state, the state's published guidelines [PDF] for counting various types of questionably hand-marked paper ballots in VA, and much more related to this remarkable episode, including whether digitally scanned "Ballot Images" from Election Night may exist to determine whether the cross-out on the ballot in question was there originally or added somehow during the post-Election Night chain of custody. (The city of Newport News, where this election in the 94th District was held, does appear to have the type of computer-scanners that create digital ballot images, though I've yet to hear back from the Registrar if those systems were set to retain the images after scanning them.)

It should also be noted here that Democrats received some 53% of the vote, compared to just 43% for Republicans across the state when the entire House was up for grabs in November. Nonetheless, as things currently stand, Democrats may only achieve a 50/50 split in the House. That should offer an idea of how badly the Republicans have gerrymandered the state.

Also, a separate recount for a separate very close VA House of Delegates race is still pending, though Democrats there are suing for a completely new election, since at least 100 voters were given the wrong ballot in a race currently decided for the Republican incumbent --- before the "recount" --- by just 82 votes.

Then, we're joined today by JEET HEER, Senior Editor at New Republic to discuss the final passage of the GOP's massive tax cuts, largely for the wealthy, how Democrats are responding to them, and whether or not they are over-relying on the possibility of impeachment to take down President Trump as they head into the 2018 mid-term election year. Heer argued as much in a recent article discussing "the Democrats' dangerous obsession with impeachment". It's a highly debatable subject, about which I am of at least two minds, as discussed in detail with Heer on today's show.

Finally, we close with Bernie Sanders' late-night response to the passage of the $1.5 trillion tax bill in the middle of the night on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning in the U.S. Senate, and how the GOP is now planning to come for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in order to pay for it...

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Guest: Political scientist Spencer Piston of Boston University...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2017 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Is it time for Dems to run on soaking the rich? If the GOP's tax legislation doesn't reveal Republicans' own continuing class warfare against the poor and middle-class, nothing will. But will Democrats be smart enough to take advantage of it? [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Tuesday, House Republicans passed what they thought would be the final version of their massive tax legislation to transfer hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars from the poor and middle class to the wealthy and corporations already raking in record profits. A parliamentary issue in the Senate, however, may require the House to vote on the measure once again on Wednesday. But, either way, the bill now looks as if the temporary tax cuts for individuals and massive permanent cuts for corporations will clear both chambers and head to Donald Trump's desk for signing before Christmas.

So, what happened to all of those Tea Party folks who, back in 2010, under a Democratic President, pretended to be demanding fiscal discipline and an end to deficit spending in Congress? All of those dupes, patsies, chumps and suckers --- not to mention the GOPers who scammed them about it all in the first place --- now seem to be cool with adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt via the GOP tax bill. In Congress, Republicans are now giddy about their hopes of dealing with that debt by cutting social programs, like health care to people who need it, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, to help pay for their massive tax cuts to the wealthy and for huge increases in spending for the U.S. war-making machine.

At the same time, Democrats ought to be eying the fact that the vast majority of voters --- including huge majorities of Trump supporters --- would prefer to see taxes raised, not lowered, on the rich. Political scientist and researcher SPENCER PISTON of Boston University, author of the upcoming book Class Attitudes in America: Sympathy for the Poor, Resentment of the Rich, and Political Implications joins us today to discuss his recent article at The Nation with Sean McElwee, on how Republican politicians continue to get away with cutting taxes for the wealthy, despite overwhelming popular opposition to it.

Piston explains how tactics are used by the GOP to confuse the public (which are then echoed by the media) and, when all else fails and such measures are still wildly unpopular --- as with the current GOP tax cuts --- they go ahead and vote for it anyway. It's time, he argues, for Democrats to stop shying away from leveraging resentment of the rich in their politics. And he has the data to prove it.

"There's a common assumption out there that, in a democratic political system, the desires of the public should guide public policy," he tells me. "And in some cases that's certainly true. But, in many cases, the opinions of the public have very little to do with the policy outcomes that actually occur. This [GOP tax plan] is no exception. Americans have desired higher taxes on the rich for decades. And yet, fairly consistently, albeit with some notable exceptions, taxes on the rich over the past few decades have plummeted."

"The reason that this happens is policy makers who don't want to do what majorities of the public want, follow a playbook of confuse, distract, and ignore." Piston explains how it works and what it means --- or should --- for Democrats as they move into the 2018 mid-term election year and look to 2020 beyond it. "There is certainly a benefit to running against the rich, which is that it's easier to get the public on your side," he explains, before cautioning, "But it's not as easy to get donors on your side."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the cause of the Atlanta airport blackout, the massive, still-out-of-control winter wildfires in Southern California, Trump's ridiculous new declaration that climate change is no longer a national security threat, and an update on the deadly Amtrak train derailment near Seattle, which could have been avoided...with proper funding from Congress...

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Guest: Election integrity advocate Lulu Friesdat; Also: One deadly disaster after another, the 'Corker Kickback', calls for Franken to un-resign...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2017 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yet another mind-blowing adventure in attempted election oversight. This time regarding the complete destruction of all paper ballots in the middle of a Florida lawsuit, following an election between two Democrats, one of them a powerful member of Congress. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first: Deadly and costly disasters, natural and otherwise, top the news headlines on today's program. Among them: the catastrophic Amtrak train derailment on a brand-new line near Seattle, the second straight week for still-raging apocalyptic wildfires in Southern California, and the continuing disaster in Puerto Rico where, three months after Hurricane Maria came ashore, one-third of the island is still without power and the Governor has finally conceded that the official death toll of 64 may be as much as 1,000!

All tolled, hundreds of billions will be needed to rebuild from those deadly disasters, and yet Republicans in Congress are still hoping to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut, largely for wealthy Americans, before Christmas. Their scheme took a troubling turn over the weekend, as a new provision was added to the legislation during reconciliation of the House- and Senate-passed versions late last week. The new provision, it was revealed by David Sirota at International Business Times, would give special tax breaks to owners of large real estate holding LLC's like President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and, most curiously, Sen. Bob Corker who, on Friday, mysteriously reversed his previous opposition to the bill after the new provision was tacked on, in what many are now calling the #CorkerKickBack.

Then, we're joined by journalist, documentarian and election integrity advocate LULU FRIESDAT to discuss the remarkable turn of events recently revealed in response to multiple public records requests she has made over the past year in hopes of reviewing hand-marked paper ballots from the Democratic primary election last year between Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her Bernie Sanders-endorsed challenger Tim Canova.

Just weeks after being forced to step down as chair of the DNC amidst the release of stolen emails from party officials, Wasserman-Schultz soundly defeated Canova in the first primary she'd faced in her six terms as a member of Congress. But, unexplained vote count numbers --- such as hundreds of more voted ballots than voters signed in to the poll books in the 23rd Congressional District race in Broward County, FL --- led to Friesdat's attempt to examine the paper ballots by hand, in hopes of determining if they were tallied correctly by the county's computer tabulators during the August 2016 Democratic primary. Eventually Canova himself filed a lawsuit against the county's Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, after Friesdat says she was continually denied access to the materials.

In November of this year, well over a year after Snipes certified the contest, both were finally invited to inspect the Broward County ballots only to learn upon arrival that all of them had actually been destroyed by the county in the middle of the lawsuit. Only digital images of what were purportedly the original ballots were available for examination, according to Snipes, in what appears to be, according to Politico's survey of election experts, a clear and stunning violation of federal election law requiring all such materials be retained for 22 months after an election.

Friesdat tells me that neither her nor Canova had any idea the ballots were destroyed before showing up to review them. "If you're looking at digital scans, and you don't have the original ballots to turn to, at that point you have no way of verifying that ballots haven't been switched out, that ballots haven't been added, that ballots haven't been taken away --- you don't have any verification that those are the original ballots."

Oddly enough, she explains, "in the very first public records request in November [of 2016], I requested all of the digital ballot scans for the election, and I was told that they didn't have them, that they didn't exist. And then it turned out that they did exist. So the county was duplicitous in regard to that information."

As to what's really going on here, Friesdat demures from speculation, but says, based only on what is already known on the public record, that "according to Politico, seven legal experts that they consulted all agreed that the ballots being destroyed was illegal."

It is of a piece, she observes, with the recent revelations in Racine County, WI, in November of this year, when multi-partisan election transparency advocates were finally allowed to review some of the computer-scanned paper ballots from the 2016 Presidential election. After months of similar public records request, they were allowed to view original paper ballots, only to find that, in the precincts they examined, anywhere from 2 to 6% of perfectly valid Presidential votes had been ignored by the computer tabulators entirely. That, in an election where Trump is said to have pulled off his shocking statewide victory by less than 1%.

"What's going on here is actually just a representative sample of the problems that we have with our elections, and which you have been reporting on for over a decade," Friesdat says. "We're heading into the 2018 primaries. We at least now have a growing understanding and awareness that, in many cases, our election results may or may not be accurate, and that the protocols we are using in order to get those results are not secure." She offers many other troubling observations on all of this during our conversation today.

Finally, four U.S. Senators --- two of whom had previously called for Sen. Al Franken to resign amidst allegations of inappropriate conduct --- are now, according to a new report today, said to be hoping that he might reconsider his previously-announced plans to resign "in the coming weeks", before the Senate Ethics Committee has even investigated the charges against him...

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By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2017 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a spoonful or two of sugar where we can find it, along with much too much bitter medicine. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's jam-packed 'BradCast'...

First up: The massively unpopular Republican tax scam lurches toward the finish line after the last of the pretend GOP hold-outs in the U.S. Senate now seem to be on board. They all know it's a scam, of course, one that will not, as they pretend, "pay for itself". And most predict the tax bill will gravely hurt the GOP's chances of holding on to the U.S. House in 2018. But they don't seem to care for some reason Moreover, they are openly admitting publicly that they are coming for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid almost as soon as the largest redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to corporations and the wealthy in the history of the nation is completed before Christmas.

Then: Earlier in the week, Trump's beleaguered Sec. of State Rex Tillerson had announced that the U.S. was ready to meet with the North Koreans for peace talks without preconditions. By week's end, however, that hopeful message of potential peace took a drastic u-turn, as Tillerson appears to have reversed course at the last minute during his remarks at the U.N. on Friday.

Meanwhile, even though they have, up until now, failed to enact any major legislation to date, Trump and the Republicans have been wildly successful at ramming lifetime appointments of radical right-wing jurists to the federal bench through the U.S. Senate. Some of those appointees have been ridiculously unqualified, though at least one Senate Republican is beginning to put the brakes on those nominees. We share part of the astonishing Senate Judiciary Committee colloquy this week between Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Mark Spencer Petersen, Trump's embarrassingly unqualified nominee for a lifetime post on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Finally, we get to at least a spoonful of sugar with a musical tribute to the apparently failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, plummeting approval ratings for the President, the Vice-President and the entire Republican Party, and the hilarious case of pretty much every member of the Trump family in D.C. successfully suppressing their own votes in last month's New York mayoral election.

All of that and much more in today's BradCast. Enjoy!

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Guest: Sue Wilson of Media Action Center; Also: More mega-mergers before GOP tax cuts; Trump noms to EPA, federal bench withdrawn...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2017 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Disturbing news for Americans and free speech before Christmas, but great news for huge corporations enjoying record profits already. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, yet another media mega-merger is announced as Disney says they will purchase much of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in a $52 billion dollar deal, even as Trump and the Congressional GOP push to give them all huge tax breaks --- at the expense of the poor and middle class. Republicans are hoping for final passage of their tax bill before Christmas and before presumptive Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) can be seated and further reduce the GOP's slim U.S. Senate majority.

On the upside today, one of Trump's wildly inappropriate industry shills nominated to the EPA has reportedly withdrawn, as have two wholly unqualified nominees for lifetime judgeship appointments to the federal bench.

Then, as expected on Thursday, Trump's Republican-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC), voted 3 to 2 along party lines to kill "Net Neutrality" rules for Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Comcast. That, despite a letter from 18 state Attorneys General who asked the Commission to delay the vote until after a legitimate public comment period. The previous one, they charge, was manipulated by as many as 2,000,000 comments that New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has found found to have been faked.

Nonetheless, right-wing FCC Commissioner and former Verizon attorney Ajit Pai did not delay the vote, and the Commission voted to kill the rules that had long prevented ISP's from blocking or slowing down certain websites or apps, or charging more for access to them. Longtime media reform activist SUE WILSON joins us today and describes the latest actions by the FCC as little more than a move toward the end of free speech on the Internet.

She argues that the move to kill Net Neutrality echoes the efforts to pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was also sold by proponents at the time as a boon for competition and innovation that would result in more free speech over our public airwaves. Instead, the public radio waves have become the nearly exclusive domain of corporate right-wing political speech and propaganda in the 20 years since the measure was signed by President Bill Clinton.

"They made a lot of promises, when they consolidated radio, that we would end up with a much more diverse speech for everybody," Wilson explains. "Anybody who listens to radio knows that it's almost impossible to find a show like The BradCast on the air because it is now dominated by pro-Republican, conservative --- no, 'alt-right' --- speech, to the exclusion of all others. They flat-out lied to us, and guess what? That's what they're doing today."

A similar future may soon be in store for the Internet, unless promised lawsuits or Congressional legislation is able to block or reverse today's shamefully under-reported and disturbing turn of events.

"The claim that the Federal Communications Commission Republicans are making is that we need to give more money to broadband services so that they can invest in rural areas," says Wilson. "However, if you look at the Securities and Exchange [Commission] documents, which these corporations have to fill out --- under penalty of prosecution if they lie --- the six CEOs of publicly-traded broadband companies are telling their investors that the FCC's current Net Neutrality rules have not in any way impacted their investment strategies. Again, we're looking at the Federal Communications Commission, as headed by Ajit Pai, just making things up out of whole cloth."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with an update on the record and still-growing Southern California wildfires, more bad news about the Arctic, some good news for Tesla, and a worldwide embarrassment for the United States...

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Guest: Election recount expert Chris Sautter of American Univ.
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2017 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was an all too rare moment of good news, of late, for Democrats and, indeed, the nation on Tuesday, after what appears to have been a stunning upset by Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama's U.S. Senate Special Election. But Dems may not want to spend too much time celebrating. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Following Jones' apparent stunning victory on Tuesday, his highly controversial opponent has so far refused to concede or reportedly even speak to Jones. At the same time, despite Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's demand in 2010, when Democrats controlled the U.S. Senate, to wait to hold a vote on the Affordable Care Act ('ObamaCare') until Republican Sen. Scott Brown could be seated after his special election in Massachusetts, the GOP appears to be barreling ahead with their plan to vote on their radical and wildly unpopular tax scheme in the coming days, before Jones can be seated. That, even after McConnell had held a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court open for almost a year, claiming that "the American people should have a voice" in who would be the next Supreme Court Justice during the 2016 Presidential election.

In the meantime, even after the voice of AL voters seems to have quite clearly said they want to be represented by a Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Moore suggested on Tuesday night that he may hold out for a "recount" of paper ballots processed by computer scanners across the state. AL's Sec. of State John Merrill told CNN Tuesday night that Moore has the right to do so, but election statutes in the state seem to say otherwise.

We're joined today by veteran recount expert, attorney, author and professor CHRIS SAUTTER of American University, to discuss all of this. Sautter, formerly an adviser to Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and many other Democrats, worked on the recount efforts by Al Gore in Florida in 2000 and Al Franken in Minnesota in 2008, among many other such efforts going back decades.

"I've been doing recounts now since the 1984 [U.S.] House recount in Indiana that was ultimately decided by 4 votes --- still the closest House race in modern times," Sautter tells me. "One thing I've observed is that in the heart of the narrowly-defeated candidate lies the belief that he actually won or at least the hope that a recount will somehow salvage a victory. It's another way of describing denial in an election that is close, heartbreakingly close, for the loser."

Sautter was also part of the team supporting the multi-partisan lawsuit recently filed in Alabama in hopes of forcing the state to retain digital "ballot images" created by their paper ballot computer scanners. Those images, many election integrity advocates argue, can be useful for public oversight of results, particularly in states like Alabama which make it virtually impossible for citizens to oversee tabulation of paper ballots, and which simply rescan them through the same computers a second time in the rare event of a "recount".

As we have been reporting, the transparency advocates who filed that lawsuit appeared to have won it on Monday afternoon, but by Monday evening, in a ruling that Sautter describes as "extraordinary" the night before the Election, the Sec. of State was successful in convincing the state Supreme Court to allow counties to destroy those "ballot images" altogether.

Sautter offers insight, among other things, as to Moore's chances of success in a potential "recount" (and of being allowed to have one at all under state law); on the bizarre circumstances under which the AL Supremes reversed the lower court's "ballot images" ruling at the last minute without input from the plaintiffs; and how he and other election integrity advocates hope to take their fight for transparency nationwide in 2018.

Finally, while Jones' apparent victory on Tuesday may have been good news for Democrats, Alabama, the nation as a whole (and even the Republican Party), we explain why what happened on Tuesday actually serves as a startling reminder of just how rigged against Democrats the electoral system is as they prepare to head into next year's crucial mid-term elections...

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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!... ---

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