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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, April 19, 2018
Senate Confirms Climate Science Denier as NASA Chief: 'BradCast' 4/19/18
...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
'Green News Report' 4/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Puerto Rico power knocked out again; Studies find Gulf Stream slowing down; New climate lawsuits for oil industry, Florida; PLUS: Earth Day 2018 focused on ending plastic pollution...
Previous GNRs: 4/17/18 - 4/12/18 - Archives...
'Dark Lord of Coal Country' Rising, GOP Panicking Before WV U.S. Senate Primary: 'BradCast' 4/18/18
Guest: Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no, Mattis got Trumped, Kobach in contempt...
'Corrupt Intent':
'BradCast' 4/17/18
Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller and indicting a sitting President; Also: Slim support for tax cut falls, GOPers keep heading for the exits...
'Green News Report' 4/17/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Federal watchdogs find EPA violated law for embattled Admin Scott Pruitt; Senate confirms coal industry lobbyist for deputy EPA chief; PLUS: Google and Apple go 100% renewable...
Previous GNRs: 4/12/18 - 4/10/18 - Archives...
Trump's Unlawful, Evidence-Free 'Mission Accomplished': 'BradCast' 4/16/18
Congress acquiesces after second US attack on Syria; Also: Sean Hannity revealed as secret Michael Cohen client; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons: 'One Raid Begets Another'
It didn't take long after Donald Trump's friend, business associate and personal lawyer was raided by the FBI for Trump to unleashes the missiles, as the cartoonists observe in PDiddie's latest collection...
As Trump Goes Ugly,
How Dems Can 'Fight Dirty'
to Win for the Country: 'BradCast' 4/13/18
Guest: Author David Faris on radically reform-ing 'long-term barriers to progressive power'...
Mattis: U.S. Lacks 'Actual Evidence' of Syrian Chemical Attack: 'BradCast' 4/12/18
Also: Clueless Trump now to rejoin TPP?; Sinclair continues to abuse public airwaves; And, why local news matters...
'Green News Report' 4/12/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Newly unearthed docs reveal Shell Oil knew for decades its products cause warming; Dems want Pruitt to resign; EPA docs undermine his claims; PLUS: Obama EPA chief speaks out...
Previous GNRs: 4/10/18 - 4/5/18 - Archives...
Long Cons: Trump's War; Ryan Quits; Shell Knew Too: 'BradCast' 4/11/18
Guest: Carroll Muffett of Center for International Environmental Law...
'Green News Report' 4/10/18
Scandals engulf EPA chief; Canadian pipeline in doubt; Keystone spill twice as big as reported; PLUS: MI okays Nestle groundwater grab, ends bottled water to Flint...
COHEN OFFICES RAIDED; Rick Scott to Run for Senate, While Blocking 1.5M from Rolls: 'BradCast' 4/9/18
Also: Man dies in Trump Tower blaze; Good news for voter registration news in MD, CA...
Sunday 'Lost Control of the Agenda' Toons
Trade wars, Pruitt, Stormy, the wall, the teachers, the guns, and all the other Trump agenda items now careening off the rails in PDiddie's latest toon collection...
Why Haspel's Nomination Matters to an American Whose Father Was Tortured in WWII: 'BradCast' 4/6/18
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: GOP 'Green Party' dirty tricks in MT's U.S. Senate race...
Rising Up Against the Rightwing Takeover of Public Airwaves, Education, Lands and More: 'BradCast' 4/5/18
Some encouraging signs that Americans, even in 'red' states, have had just about enough...
'Green News Report' 4/5/18
Admin buries NOAA report; Trump trade war to hurt drillers; Interior to nix nat'l park fee hikes; PLUS: Oil CEO admitted, 20 yrs ago, fossil fuels cause climate change...
'First Genuinely Good Election for WI Progressives' in Years: 'BradCast' 4/4/18
Guest: John Nichols; Also: MO GOP wants paper ballots; PA wants more unverifiable voting; MLK, 50 years later...
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: Teacher, writer Dina Leygerman; Also: New Mueller indictments; GOP EAC Chair pushed out; MO's new GOP Guv indicted in sex scandal...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, the kids are alright. And, if this past week has been any indication --- along with the results of a fascinating social experiment by my guest today --- they may well save us all. I hope they hurry. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

First up, however, a boatload of news broke shortly before air today, and we scramble to cover as much of it as we can. Among those stories...

  • New indictments are filed by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe against two former Donald Trump campaign officials. His former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, who also served on the Trump transition team saw 32 counts added to the 17 felony counts leveled against them in October. The new charges relate to some $30 million in money laundering and tax fraud, based on funds said to have been received while Manafort worked for a Russian-backed Ukrainian President prior to joining the Trump campaign;
  • U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House have reportedly pushed out, Matthew Masterson, the Republican Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for reasons that remain unknown The EAC, formed by Congress after the 2000 election debacle to help state election officials with e-voting system standards, has failed in many ways over the years, as we discuss (and as we've reported at The BRAD BLOG for many years.) Still, they remain the only federal agency tasked with that role, even while Republicans have been attempting, for years, to shutter the Commission entirely. Masterson, said to be highly regarded by state election officials, was overseeing cyber-security standards for new voting systems before the 2018 mid-terms, in light of concerns of foreign manipulation of U.S. voting, registration and tabulation systems;
  • And, also breaking just before air, Missouri's new "family values" Republican Governor Eric Greitens was indicted late Thursday on a felony charge related to allegations that threatened to blackmail a woman he had tied up and photographed nude in his basement during an affair in 2015, prior to his 2016 election.

Then, with the incredibly impressive students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida speaking up, marching, organizing and protesting unapologetically to demand new legislation on guns after a former student killed 17 at their school last week with a legally-purchased semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, President Trump unleashed a Twitter rant on Thursday morning calling for teachers across the country to be armed in response. That call has not gone over well with the Stoneman Douglas students, though many Republican officials and their paymasters at the National Rifle Association (NRA) support the measure to place even more guns into our nations schools.

But, as my guest today, Philadelphia area high school teacher and writer DINA LEYGERMAN argues, the current generation of high schoolers across the country are fierce, a force to be reckoned with and not to be underestimated.

In her recent article headlined "The Teens Will Save Us", Leygerman documents a fascinating social experiment that she has run for a number of years while teaching George Orwell's 1984 to her English class. After similar results of the experiment year after year --- in which, without informing the students, she basically turns her classroom into an Orwellian totalitarian regime over a matter of days, with her as the dictator turning students against each other --- she says that this year, for reasons she discusses, the response by the students was completely different from previous years. The students, she explains, were having none of it, and actually stood up, organized with their classmates and other students in rebellion against her. As she wrote, "For the first time since I've done this experiment, the students 'won.'"

Leygerman joins us for what turns out to be a very hopeful segment, as she explains what happened, why, and how this generation may be very different from the slacker image many have painted them with. "They are participating in marches. They are participating in their student government. They are listening to the news. They're reading the news more, everyday. They are involved. And I think in our current political climate, where everything is so hostile and divisive, they are learning. I walk around and, even in the cafeteria, I'll listen to them talk about DACA, they'll talk about issues that I don't ever remember discussing when I was a kid," she tells me.

It's a fascinating conversation that I hope you'll tune in for. I also get her thoughts on Trump and the NRA's proposal for arming teachers, which she describes as "insane and dangerous" and a "diversion and deflection" from the actual conversation of what should be done about our nation's gun epidemic. Leygerman, who also writes for parenting website Romper, wonders: "Where's the funding coming from? And if it's coming from the government or from the state, why can't we have basic supplies instead?"

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as a chemical giant settles a decades-long water contamination lawsuit, global temperatures continue to sky-rocket, sea levels rise at an ever-quickening pace, and another western state becomes the latest to block Donald Trump's scheme to expand off-shore oil drilling...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump's horrible week; Rubio, Grassley shame after Florida shooting; Russians used GOP 'fake news' and the party is doubling down...
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2018 6:32pm PT  

We begin today's BradCast with a somewhat harrowing and breathtaking round-up of what has been an exceptionally bad news week, even for this particular White House. But all of that got considerably worse on Friday. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

New grand jury indictments [PDF] were filed against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, for alleged interference in the 2016 Presidential election. We detail what the indictment says and doesn't say, and how Donald Trump and his White House are lying about both.

Then, before it disappears into the ether, more coverage of the shameful dodging, denial and misdirection from Senate Republicans --- of particularly shameful note were Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Marco Rubio (FL) on Thursday --- following Wednesday's horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Despite some twisted misdirection from Grassley on "mental health" issues (he sponsored the bill passed last year to make it easier for the mentally ill to purchase weapons) and desperate remarks from Rubio on the purported futility of any and all laws regarding guns (or anything else, apparently), we detail the reason why the U.S. has so many mass shootings, according to dozens of peer-reviewed studies from around the nation and the world: the obscene number and easy availability of guns in the U.S., which is unparalleled among developed nations. Period.

Next, Friday's grand jury indictments from Mueller detail a disturbing and well-organized Russian-based scheme to try and undermine the U.S. Presidential election by using social media to spread "derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump."

But the methods and material they used for doing so came directly out of the well-worn GOP and rightwing media playbook. Fake news said to have been spread by Russian social media accounts declaring, for example, "voter fraud" in Florida just days before the election, as cited in the Mueller indictments, was, quite literally, taken straight off of Fox "News" and other rightwing media outlets, where fake news of the type said to have been spread by Russian agents has been used for years to manipulate the U.S. electorate.

Worse still, it appears that Republican officials and candidates for office are now creating their own fake news sites with legitimate sounding names --- from the "Arizona Monitor" to the "Maine Examiner" to "The Free Telegraph" (that one is run by the Republican Governors Association!) --- in order to scam voters with wildly fake and/or slanted "news", meant to appear legitimate.

So, yes, foreign interference in our elections is of concern, but, as we explain today, the far greater threat to American democracy is still "coming from inside the house."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as U.S. intelligence agencies contradict the Trump Administration on climate risks, ExxonMobil fights back against climate lawsuits, the corporate media continue to fail on climate change coverage, and a bit of good news, happily, from the Queen of England...

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: David Daley on the battle to overcome partisan gerrymandering; Also: Many now calling for 'paper ballots' still missing larger concerns...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2018 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Never mind Russia. Is it even possible for Democrats to overcome the systemic structural disadvantages Republicans have put in place in virtually every aspect of U.S. elections? We've got both encouraging and not-so-encouraging news in that regard on today's show. [Audio link to show posted below.]

Now that both the U.S. intelligence community and Democrats --- and even a few Republicans --- have finally begun to figure out that Election Integrity requires, at a bare minimum, a paper ballot for every vote cast, how long will it take them to figure out that those ballots need to be hand-marked (not computer-marked) and, preferably hand-counted, so that the American public can truly begin to restore confidence in election results and know that their votes actually matter? There is some --- precious little, but some --- encouraging news out of Pennsylvania today on that front, and even from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Governor in PA, a state which still hates its voters so much that it forces the vast majority of them to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems, has decreed that any new voting systems purchased to replace the old ones, must have some form of "paper trail" or "paper record" or "paper backup". That's a very low bar, but better --- for the most part --- than the current 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems used across the state. Yet, the Democratic Governor, Tom Wolf, has yet to propose any new funding to purchase those new systems. So, like PA votes, they remain vapor ware for the moment.

At the same time, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, Ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, seems to have noticed the cost of trying to secure elections (like "the Dutch elections, where they hand-counted all the ballots") versus the price of one single F-35. Hand-counts, like those carried out by the Dutch, is, in truth, a pretty inexpensive deterrent against foreign manipulation of our computer tabulation systems, if our elected officials were truly concerned about it. (It would also help to deter the much greater threat of domestic manipulation, by the way!)

But, even if we had a hand-marked paper ballot for every vote cast and even if we counted them all by hand, publicly at the precincts, before ballots were moved anywhere (as per Democracy's Gold Standard), Democrats would still have a mountain to overcome this year in the shape of the GOP's systemic partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts and U.S. House seats.

To that end, we've got some similarly-qualified encouraging news out of Pennsylvania as well today, where the state Supreme Court recently ordered new U.S. House maps to be drawn in time for the upcoming May primary elections in the commonwealth, after finding the ones drawn by Republicans following the 2010 census were in violation of the state constitution's right to a fair vote. The battle over those new maps --- which have given the GOP a 13 to 5 advantage in U.S. House seats in the largely 50/50 state over the last three elections, where Dems outnumber Republicans --- is now moving forward on a very tight court-ordered deadline.

Meanwhile, similarly partisan gerrymandering by the GOP in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and many other swing-states continues, thanks in no small part to the U.S. Supreme Court delaying lower federal rulings that determined Republicans had unconstitutionally given themselves a steep enough advantage on district maps that they were able to retain huge majorities in state legislatures and the U.S. House, despite being consistently out-voted by Democrats.

We're joined today by FairVote gerrymandering expert DAVID DALEY, former Editor-in-Chief at Salon and author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. We discuss the gerrymandered state of play as the 2018 primaries are now just weeks away in many states, and as the dam seems to be bursting in both state and federal courts --- finally! --- against partisan gerrymandering.

"The courts have been consistently outraged by what the Republicans pulled off in 2010, 2011," Daley says. "The problem is, here we are in 2018, we've been using these unconstitutional maps now this entire decade. There is no sense we're going to have new maps in most of these states, with the possible exception of Pennsylvania, in time for the 2018 election. We may well have the fourth of five elections in all of these states held on unconstitutional maps."

By way of one example, Daley notes: "In 2012, 52% of Pennsylvanian voters vote for Barack Obama, 51% of them vote for Democratic members of the U.S House. Republicans however, take 13 of the18 seats that year --- 71% of them! Democrats get 28% of the seats, even with more votes."

We also discuss the new documents he recently uncovered, published in a new Salon exclusive, detailing the fascinating story of how the Republicans' so-called REDMAP scheme to take over state legislatures and redistrict the nation with a wildly partisan advantage, first came about prior to the 2010 election and U.S. Census.

Among the questions we discuss: Is it even possible for Democrats to overcome that structural disadvantage in the 2018 mid-terms without the U.S. Supreme Court finding partisan gerrymandering to be unlawful? Are state court cases, like the one in PA, the answer instead? And can any of this be done in time for the 2020 elections, after which district maps will be redrawn once again by partisan majorities in state houses for another 10 years?

"There may be a blue wave [in 2018], but there is also a red firewall that stands ready to knock it down," Daley warns. "Democrats are probably going to need two seismic, historic waves in order to have a shot at fair maps in 2021. And it they can't pull that off, and if the courts don't come in and do something in the meantime, the maps that are drawn in 2021 are the ones we are going to live with until 2031."

Also today, in other related news: A second federal court, this time in New York, blocks Trump's attempt to reverse DACA, and one Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate must be a very bad choice...at least according to his own parents!...

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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Separating fact from defamatory Republican myth about the 'Steele Dossier' and Fusion GPS research...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/12/2018 10:38am PT  

The significance of the previously concealed transcripts of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson's unclassified Congressional testimony far exceeds the narrow, albeit accurate, observation that the transcripts blew a huge hole in one of numerous conspiracy theories about the so-called "Steele Dossier" floated by the President, his Republican allies in Congress and by right-wing propaganda outlets such as Fox "News".

Contrary to earlier GOP spin, the FBI initiated its Trump/Russia investigation before the Bureau was first contacted by Christopher Steele, the former British MI-6 intelligence agent and author of the 16 field memos collectively known as the "Steele Dossier".

Indeed, even Republicans now concede that point, as detailed by the feckless Nunes memo, which notes that the Trump/Russia probe was initially triggered by the loose lips of Trump campaign foreign policy aide, George Papadopoulos.

That timing issue, however, is but a tip of the iceberg.

We now know why Congressional Republicans sought for so long to keep the Simpson transcripts under wraps. They had hoped to erect a patently false narrative that depicted the 'Steele Dossier" as a groundless and politically-motivated exercise in character assassination; a "poison" that so tainted everyone at the FBI who touched it, that it called for, in the words of Jeannie Pirro at Fox "News", a "cleansing" and subsequent jailing of the individuals at the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) who have undertaken to investigate Trump/Russia.

By detailing both the sound investigative techniques applied by Simpson and Steele, and, most importantly, by explaining the real reasons why Steele reported his disturbing, yet entirely unanticipated findings to the FBI, the now public Simpson Congressional transcripts expose the mendacity behind a vicious right-wing assault on the integrity of the Trump/Russia probe and upon our federal law enforcement institutions. In the process, the Simpson transcripts raise even more deeply unsettling questions about the man now serving as the 45th President of the United States...

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




CA Dem joins 'BradCast' to tout new 'Woman and Climate' bill, much more!; Also: Rand Paul defines 'hypocrisy' in budget battle; Porter scandal reveals Trump, Kelly undermining national security at White House...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're joined by progressive Democratic REP. BARBARA LEE of California, the only member of Congress, in either house, to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) after 9/11, calling it a blank check that would lead to endless war. As we now know, 17 years later, with the War in Afghanistan and many others still raging under the third President to cite the AUMF to justify military action anywhere in the world without Congressional oversight, she was, of course, correct. Along with continuing her fight to repeal that 2001 AUMF, this week Lee introduced a new bill regarding woman and climate change, which we discuss as well today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up, on another insanely busy program, we detail what happened on Thursday night and Friday morning when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly held up passage of the new, bi-partisan government spending bill, which includes up to $500 billion in new military and domestic spending, as well as disaster aid. In shutting down the government for the second time this year, for about seven hours, Paul described approval of the bill and increased deficit spending by his fellow Republicans to be the "the very definition of intellectual dishonesty [and] hypocrisy". That, after the intellectually dishonest and hypocritical Paul just voted in December, along with the entire Senate Republican caucus, for massive, unpaid-for tax cuts set to blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt.

Then, late details on this week's newest scandal surrounding the resignation of White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter on Wednesday, following the public disclosure of his alleged violence against his two former wives. Among the new developments: Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly and other top White House officials reportedly knew about the charges long ago; Kelly has now said he'd be willing to resign over what happened, and several outlets are reporting that their remain "dozens" of White House staffers, some in very senior positions, still operating without full security clearance.

That suggests that many of them, like the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner, may never receive full security clearances, despite Trump and the GOP having run their entire Presidential campaign hypocritically (and falsely) charging that Hillary Clinton carelessly allowed classified information to be seen by those without proper security clearance. According to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), a former White House Staff Secretary himself, describes this situation as "nuts", saying that Porter would have handled the nation's most highly classified secrets in his top Oval Office role. He believes an investigation is warranted to determine what both Kelly and Trump knew about the "eminently blackmailable" Porter and who gave him the okay to remain on, even after the FBI had determined he would not qualify for a full security clearance.

Next, we're joined by Congresswoman Lee, to detail her new "Woman and Climate Change Act of 2018" [PDF]. We discuss how women and girls around the world are "bearing the brunt in many ways", as the first and most affected victims of the dangerous effects of global warming and whether Republican members of the bi-partisan Women's Working Group may help in co-sponsoring this effort, despite "the climate deniers who are within the federal government running the show."

"Women are especially vulnerable to these changes in the environment," Lee explains. "We know women are the ones that are finding water, collecting food, caring for family members. And so now, more than ever, we need to focus on climate change as a whole, but also ways to empower women, as they are the most vulnerable people, and will be impacted most by these health epidemics, refuge crises, forced migration --- all the issues that we know women are disproportionately impacted by."

She also shares her opinion on the odds of Ivanka Trump, self-proclaimed women's champion, coming aboard this particular campaign. Lee, a former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, who now serves as Senior Democratic Whip, responds as to whether Democrats fought hard enough, during the recent government funding battle, to protect "Dreamers" facing imminent deportation as early as March 5, unless a legislative deal can be struck, and whether she believes House Speaker Paul Ryan will ever allow such a measure to be brought up for a vote. She urges Americans to keep contacting their members of Congress on both of these efforts.

"Listen, you have to stay optimistic. Otherwise we get stuck with their negativity and trying to take us back. The public has to be hopeful and has to work hard to get this done," she tells me.

Finally, Lee also shares her thoughts on the bi-partisan momentum in both the House and Senate for finally repealing (and replacing?) the 2001 AUMF. "Congress has been missing in action. We need to do our job, and we're not. But, believe you me, we are building support to do this," she insists. "Hold your elected officials accountable!"

We close today with a bit of listener mail in response to a recent story we covered on the record number of scientists now said to be running for office in 2018, and on the dangerous new effort by the Trump Administration place lifetime limits on Medicaid for the first time in the popular social safety net program's history...

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Also: Shutdown looms, ObamaCare lives, Medicaid targeted...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As Congress struggles to pass a spending bill and avoid another government shutdown, the White House was busy on Thursday fending off much-deserved criticism for allowing an alleged wife abuser to serve as a top Oval Office official for the past year, despite failing background and security checks over that time. [Audio link to show posted below.]

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter finally resigned on Wednesday, but not before Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly fought hard to keep him on board and wildly sang his praises, even after reportedly being told long ago that Porter's two former wives had both accused him of physical and emotional abuse, which they had notified the FBI about as early as January of 2017.

It wasn't until a graphic photo of one of the women with a black eye --- which she says she told the FBI that Porter had caused when he punched her while on a vacation --- was published, that the White House finally got around to backing off the praises they had been singing for him. That, even while Porter had been handling the nation's most classified information along with Kelly, despite being unable to obtain a full security clearance, thanks to his violent and abusive background.

We cover many of the developing details in that grotesque story, including some of the remarkable (and shameful) reaction to it today.

Then, the 2018 Affordable Care Act enrollment numbers are finally in and suggest that Americans, even in states won by Trump in 2016, sure do like ObamaCare!

Nonetheless, the White House and Republican states are still doing all they can to take health coverage away from Americans, particularly those that need it most. Several GOP states have now applied for waivers to allow them to put lifetime limits on the use of Medicaid for the first time in the history of the crucial social safety net program.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt uses your public airwaves to double-down on lies about climate change, Dunkin' Donuts finally ditches foam cups (well, eventually, anyway), and California fends off the Trump Administration's hopes of expanding offshore drilling off the Golden State coast...

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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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Also: GOP memo mayhem continues, stock market falls, callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Super Bowl victory for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was fantastic, but the victory for all of Pennsylvania (and, indeed, voters across the entire nation) on Monday was even better! [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected Pennsylvania Republicans' request to block, overturn, deny, or delay the state Supreme Court's recent order to redraw all U.S. House districts in the key swing-state immediately and in time for the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections. The state's highest court found two weeks ago that the GOP-controlled state legislature had unlawfully gerrymandered the Keystone State's U.S. House maps following the 2010 census in such a way that the GOP ended up with 13 seats to the Democrats' 5, despite Democratic registration and voting far out-pacing Republicans statewide.

The PA GOP's request for SCOTUS to intercede in a state constitutional matter was denied on Monday. That is also very good news for the country, as discussed on today's show.

But the SCOTUS decision has yet to stop the state GOP from refusing to follow state court orders on the matter. Moreover, while the state GOP is demanding that its state Supremes overturn their own ruling, new reporting over the weekend reveals that a Republican state Supreme Court Justices who voted against the order to redraw U.S. House district maps, received several undisclosed donations --- including a huge one from the state Senate President Pro Tempore, as well as from two Republican U.S. House members effected by the ruling --- when she ran for a 10-year term last year. The donations were given to her after the challenge in the gerrymandering case had already been filed, yet her campaign now admits she failed to disclose those donations until they were revealed over the weekend.

Then, we move on to a number of late developments in the failing attempt by the chair of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Team Trump, by using specious claims about the self-generated GOP House Intel Committee memo released on Friday. Both Nunes and Trump (and other Republicans) had claimed the memo supposedly reveals some sort of partisan bias in the FBI/DoJ and now Special Counsel probe. One GOPer even went so far as to claim the memo revealed "evidence of treason". (It doesn't. Not by a long shot.)

In fact, as we detail today, even statements by other Republican members on the same committee --- including Trey "Benghazi" Gowdy --- over the weekend, seriously undermine the claims made by Nunes and Trump himself over the weekend and again on Monday.

And, as we detailed at length on Friday's show, Nunes --- who now claims that former Trump Campaign advisor and suspected Russian intelligence asset Carter Page's rights were somehow violated by the procedure used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to eavesdrop on his communications --- showed no such concerns about the FISA law used to obtain that warrant when he voted in favor of extending it and expanding it for 6 more years just weeks ago. Trump also signed that extension.

Oh, and the Dow had its worse day since 2011 and largest all-time point drop today.

Finally, we open the phone lines to take listener calls on all of the day's hypocrisy and much more on today's BradCast!...

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GOP just extended surveillance law they now decry; Trump policies terrorizing public, infuriating judges; Also: Diebold 'jackpotting'!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: That mighty "thud" you heard on Friday morning? It may have been the release by Donald Trump and U.S. House Republicans of their long-awaited, much-ballyhooed, self-generated memo, which they promised would expose "worse than Watergate" crimes and wildly biased partisan "witch hunt" activities by the FBI and DoJ as part of their investigation into whether Team Trump worked with Russia to undermine the 2016 Presidential election. It did none of those things. But it does expose them as hypocrites when it comes to U.S. surveillance policies. [Audio link to show posted below.]

The three-and-half page memo was released on Friday despite the strenuous objections of Democrats and Trump appointees at the FBI and DoJ who shared "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy" before its release. Trump didn't care. The document, made of partial, cherry-picked facts, is meant to suggest the FBI inappropriately obtained a secret warrant (and three renewals for it) from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to spy on Carter Page in late 2016. Page was a Trump campaign volunteer who had long been on the radar of the intelligence community after being cited in intercepts from Russian intelligence agents discussing him as an asset as early as 2013.

The newly declassified memo is the work of U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) and his staff, who may or may not have worked with the White House itself on the effort, but it ultimately appears to do little to bolster their argument that Republican Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe is in some way compromised by Democratic partisans. (Even Shepard Smith of Fox "News" seems to agree.)

It does, however, underscore concerns about the manner in which Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants are obtained in the secret FISA Court, where there is no adversarial opposition to the secret case offered by the Government. All of which begs the question as to why Nunes himself voted just two weeks ago against FISA reforms advocated by civil libertarians on the Right and Left, and in favor of extending and expanding the controversial surveillance law for another 6 years. It also begs the question as to why Trump signed that FISA extension without reforms to the process that he and Nunes are now claiming to be so troubled by. Again, that was all just two weeks ago! [My conversation on that matter on this show, two weeks ago with former DoJ attorney Elizabeth Goitein --- after Nunes and the House passed the bill, and just before Trump signed it --- is right here.]

Then, as the cable news channels continue to devote nearly 24/7 to political intrigue and food fights, a reminder that a fish rots from the head down. To that end, the petty cruelty of Donald Trump is permeating its way into executive branch agencies, polices and behavior with nowhere near the media sunlight it deserves. We cover a number of the under-reported recent stories of how his cruel, hard-line immigration policies are ripping families apart and hurting real people, right now, and at least one federal judge who drew a hard line in the sand this week against at least one aspect of those policies.

Finally, as promised earlier this week, a disturbing story about Diebold, the makers of ATMs and (formerly) of computer voting, registration and tabulation systems, and a newly-issued warning that their ATMs are being hacked to spit out cash in a scheme called "jackpotting". But while the security built into their machines that contain thousands of dollars of actual cash may not be great, you needn't worry about the security of their systems used to cast and count our votes in at least one-third of the country this year in our upcoming 2018 midterm elections, right? After all, neither Trump nor Nunes nor the rest of the Congressional Republicans appear to be too concerned about it, so why should you be?...

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Trump chickens out; WI and AL block elections; More embarrassment for KS; Help for sharks; And a perfect gift for the First Family...
By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2018 6:13pm PT  

After yet another exhausting and harrowing week in Donald Trump's America, as the Doomsday Clock inches closer to midnight, we try to lighten things up a bit, at least comparatively, on today's BradCast --- even if it's not always easy. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • A few words about Donald Trump's reported attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June before chickening out, which the President describes today as "fake news";
  • Republicans are now, literally, trying to block democracy by preventing elections from happening at all. Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and the GOP-controlled Alabama state legislature provide just the two latest examples;
  • Kansas' failed Governor Sam Brownback has, apparently, failed up, with an appointment by the Trump Administration, confirmed this past week by the U.S. Senate, after Vice President Mike Pence was brought in to break the tie vote in Brownback's favor;
  • Speaking of failures in the state of Kansas, their Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a long-time GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and now candidate for Governor, enjoys still more shame and ignominy this week, as it was discovered that he exposed private information, including the last four digits of social security numbers for thousands of state officials and employees --- including his own! --- on an unprotected Internet page;
  • The Guggenheim Museum declines to loan a valuable Vincent van Gogh painting to Donald and Melania Trump for use in their White House residence, but offers a solid gold alternative that seems perfect for the first family;
  • And, speaking of the first family, Trump's recently reported hatred of sharks --- revealed by adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the wake of revelations of her alleged affair with Donald Trump and $130,000 hush-money payoff just before the 2016 election --- has resulted in an outpouring of donations to shark charities across the nation and the world! See? Donald Trump can do some good in this world after all!

Finally, speaking of donations, as we celebrate The BRAD BLOG's 14th Anniversary this week (thanks to those who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate), a plea to support ALL independent progressive media, including whatever station or outlet you may use to enjoy listening to The BradCast every day!...

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Guest: Nuclear analyst Stephen Schwartz on why the clock was moved forward, Trump's new 'Nuclear Posture Review', and Hawaii's false alarm...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a "grim assessment" and, hopefully, wake-up call from a group comprised of the nation's top nuclear (and climate) experts. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While much of the corporate media continued their 24/7 coverage of Republicans' pretending there is a "secret society" at the FBI to take down President Trump and Democrats' ongoing speculation about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller may or may not be finding in his probe, an august body of nuclear and climate scientists offered yet another chilling warning to the world. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" since 1945, announced that they were moving the symbolic clock forward to two minutes to midnight, which is as close as the world has metaphorically been to apocalypse since the end of World War II, including at the height of the Cold War.

We're joined to discuss today's announcement and related matters by longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, who formerly served for years as the Bulletin's Executive Director and Publisher, and now as an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Schwartz shares the fascinating origin of the Doomsday Clock's creation (originally meant as little more than a magazine cover), and offers insight into why the Bulletin's scientific board --- which includes 15 Nobel Laureates --- decided, for the second year in a row, to move the clock "thirty seconds" forward.

"This is the closest that it's ever been, as it was in 1953, when it hit two minutes. The furthest away was at 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, reflecting the end of the Cold War, the creation of the START Treaty that sharply reduced US and Soviet strategic nuclear weapons, and a general feeling at that point that we were moving very much in the right direction. Obviously, the people at the Bulletin today, and many people around the world, feel that we're moving very much in the wrong direction," Schwartz tells me, noting that while there are "far fewer nuclear weapons in the world today than in 1953 when the hands were last at 'two minutes to midnight'," we now have far more countries with their "fingers on proverbial buttons. Thus, he charges, the "the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used, whether by accident or design, is higher, certainly, than at any time since the Cold War ended."

"It's an interesting and obviously symbolic arbiter of global dangers," he explains. "And since about 2007 it also includes global warming in the mix, so it's not just about nuclear dangers."

At what is now "two minutes to midnight", we also discuss a draft report from the Pentagon of a new "Nuclear Posture Review" currently being reviewed for final release by the White House. The new Defense Department plan calls for, among other disturbing things, clearance for the President to launch a first strike nuclear attack in response to non-nuclear events such as a cyberwarfare attack on U.S. infrastructure.

"I think is really problematic," Schwartz warns, explaining how the new policy would set a very dangerous precedent not just for the U.S., but with other nuclear armed nations. "It just seems incredible that the first thing we would do if we were attacked via cyberwarfare is to start thinking about lobbing nuclear weapons. We're sending a very clear signal to every country in the world that has or wants nuclear weapons, 'Hey, this is what you should be thinking about doing with your nuclear arsenal.' And if they were to adopt our posture, it would come back to haunt us in a really big way."

We also talk about lessons learned from the recent false alarm of an incoming ballistic missile attack on Hawaii, how and why the terrifying alert was issued, similar such false alarms in recent U.S. history, and why this particular event highlights the many dangers of "Donald Trump's intemperate rhetoric and threats against [a nuclear-armed] North Korea."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report to help underscore the other major reason the Doomsday Clock was notched forward again today, as climate change has helped lead to the world's first major city about to completely run out of water, even as another major city in California becomes the 9th to sue the fossil fuel industry for damage to the climate.

All of that before we close today with a few listener comments on the milestone of The BRAD BLOG's 14th Anniversary of investigative journalism, blogging, broadcasting, trouble-making and muck-raking this week. (To that end, PLEASE consider a donation to our work on the form below, or at BradBlog.com/Donate! Thank you!!!)

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Guest: Justin George of The Marshall Project; Also: FL initiative to restore former felon voting rights qualifies for November ballot, dirty Trump Family laundry, and 14 years of muck-raking at The BRAD BLOG!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2018 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we celebrate The BRAD BLOG's 14th anniversary of independent investigative blogging, journalism, broadcasting, trouble-making and muck-raking! Thanks to those who've stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us continue into our 15th year! If you haven't done so yet, what's stopping you? We really need your help! [Audio link to today's show follow below.]

Beyond that, on today's program, we've got some encouraging news on voting rights in the state of Florida, believe it or not. A citizen initiative to allow former felons to vote has officially qualified for the state's November ballot, after an herculean effort to gather more than 800,000 qualified signatures by proponents who hope to help re-enfranchise some 1.7 million Floridians who have completed their sentences, many of them years ago.

While the grassroots effort has already been monumental --- as a segment from Sam Bee's Full Frontal highlighted last year --- the measure must still receive more than 60% approval from voters this November in order to amend the state's constitution. More former felons --- who are disproportionately African-American in FL --- are disqualified from voting in the Sunshine State than any other. Only they, Kentucky, Virginia and Iowa currently ban such citizens from voting for life. "Florida accounts for nearly 25 percent, or 1.6 million, of the people who have lost their right to vote" in the U.S., according to the ACLU. "As a result, one in ten Floridians are shut out of our democracy."

But, if it was up to the Trump Administration, there would be many more such felons in FL and everywhere else. We're joined today by criminal justice journalist JUSTIN GEORGE of The Marshall Project, to discuss his recent article looking at "Trump Justice, Year One: The Demolition Derby", in which he examines "nine ways Trump has transformed the landscape of criminal justice, just one tumultuous year into his presidency."

We discuss the many changes made by Trump's Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as they attempt to "demolish" the legacy of the Obama Administration. From their rhetoric and tone on crime, the "drug war" and immigration, to policy changes on policing, sentencing, mass incarceration, the private prison industry, and in stacking the federal bench with rightwingers, Team Trump is hoping to unwind many of the criminal justice reforms successfully enacted by Obama and his DoJ, particularly in the later years of his Presidency.

But have Trump and Sessions' attempts to rollback Obama's criminal justice legacy, to date, been particularly effective? And, for that matter, why did Obama's efforts at reform come so late in his Presidency?

We cover a lot of ground in my conversation with George today, before somewhat departing from our usual beat to close with a bit of dirty laundry, sleaze, speculation and rumor mongering concerning Donald and Melania Trump --- though we've got a reasonable justification for doing so today...mostly...

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

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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.]

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

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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.

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

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