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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, April 22, 2018
Senate GOP Twists Law to Gut Decades-Old Regs (Forever): 'BradCast' 4/20/18
Guest: James Goodwin of CPR: Also: DNC files Trump/Russia suit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
Senate Confirms Climate Science Denier as NASA Chief: 'BradCast' 4/19/18
...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
'Green News Report' 4/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Puerto Rico power knocked out again; Studies find Gulf Stream slowing down; New climate lawsuits for oil industry, Florida; PLUS: Earth Day 2018 focused on ending plastic pollution...
Previous GNRs: 4/17/18 - 4/12/18 - Archives...
'Dark Lord of Coal Country' Rising, GOP Panicking Before WV U.S. Senate Primary: 'BradCast' 4/18/18
Guest: Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no, Mattis got Trumped, Kobach in contempt...
'Corrupt Intent': 'BradCast' 4/17/18
Guest: Former Asst. US Attorney Randall Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller, indicting a sitting Prez; Also: Tax cut support falls, GOPers keep heading for the exits...
'Green News Report' 4/17/18
Federal watchdogs say EPA violated law for Admin Scott Pruitt; Senate confirms coal industry lobbyist for deputy EPA chief; PLUS: Google and Apple go 100% renewable...
Trump's Unlawful, Evidence-Free 'Mission Accomplished': 'BradCast' 4/16/18
Congress acquiesces after second US attack on Syria; Hannity revealed as secret Cohen client; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons: 'One Raid Begets Another'
It didn't take long after Donald Trump's friend, business associate and personal lawyer was raided by the FBI for Trump to unleashes the missiles, as the cartoonists observe in PDiddie's latest collection...
As Trump Goes Ugly, How Dems Can 'Fight Dirty' to Win for the Country: 'BradCast' 4/13/18
Guest: Author David Faris on radically reform-ing 'long-term barriers to progressive power'...
Mattis: U.S. Lacks 'Actual Evidence' of Syrian Chemical Attack: 'BradCast' 4/12/18
Also: Clueless Trump to rejoin TPP?; Sinclair's abuse of public airwaves; And, why local news matters...
'Green News Report' 4/12/18
Newly unearthed docs reveal Shell knew about warming since 1950s; Dems want Pruitt to resign; EPA docs under-mine his claims; PLUS: Obama EPA chief speaks out...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

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

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: James Goodwin of Center for Progressive Reform; Also: DNC files Trump/Russia 'conspiracy' lawsuit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Comey memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2018 6:13pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Hullabaloo...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It is "a very dangerous time", as longtime White House reporter and historian Paul Brandus may have understated last night. "Objectively speaking," he observed in a "difficult to write" tweet, he has "never seen, or known of, a President as unhinged and unstable as" Donald Trump appeared during remarks at the White House before his Monday meeting with his military team.

On Monday evening, following FBI raids on the office and residences of his personal attorney Michael Cohen, President Trump lashed out at law enforcement, calling the court-approved searches "disgraceful", "an attack on our country", and falsely claimed that the search warrant approved by a federal judge and the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, amounted to a "break in". Trump's remarks also included musings about the possibility of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose office is said to have shared information with the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, leading to yesterday's raids.

Trump's friend, attorney and business partner Cohen is currently embroiled in the scandal involving a $130,000 hush money payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels, made just days before the 2016 election. The lawful raid, however, which may involve far more serious crimes, comes at a particularly precarious moment.

On Tuesday --- one day after Trump's new and extraordinarily hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton's first day on the job --- longtime White House Homeland Security Advisor, Tom Bossert, was abruptly fired. His dismissal came after Bossert, while making clear that all options were on the table, had argued in favor of Trump's recent position on Syria over the weekend, in opposition to increased U.S. military action in the war-torn nation. But, after a recent chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, Trump has now cancelled a scheduled trip to Latin America and appears to be readying military action against the sovereign nation --- a close ally of both Russia and Iran --- even without authorization from Congress. Such action would likely, at a minimum, mirror the missile attack Trump unleashed on a Syrian airbase last year, which both Congressional Republicans and Democrats lauded at the time, even though Republicans had threatened President Obama with the possibility of impeachment when he considered doing the very same thing during his term in office. This time, however, the action could be much larger, more deadly, and far more dangerous for the region and the U.S.

At the same time, nobody seems to be certain as to exactly why Cohen was raided in the first place. Speculation ranges from the Stormy Daniels affair, to bank and wire fraud, to alleged schemes and payouts from Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, to Cohen's taxi business in New York.

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog, to try and make sense of all of the above. Wish us luck. "It's like there's this unharmonic convergence happening with all this news," she tells me. "I don't know what it is, but it's not good."

"In this situation, when you've got Syria there and Trump under the gun, feeling Robert Mueller breathing down his neck, this is something that a guy like Bolton --- if he is smart enough to suss that out about Trump, and I have a suspicion that he might be --- he could be feeding that into Trump and we're going to see some kind of --- what do they call it these days? --- 'kinetic violence'. That's another word for war," she says.

We've got a lot to discuss about all of this on today's show with 'Digby', including what is likely to happen if (when) Trump moves to fire Mueller, as well as how this entire long national nightmare may finally end.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the scandals involving EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continue to mount, and with some good news, once again, for pipeline protesters, this time in Canada, but more bad water news for Michigan. Also, we've got a bit some more late-breaking Pruitt/EPA news, as well...

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

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Also: Man dies in Trump Tower blaze; Good news for voters in MD, CA...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2018 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A lot of breaking news, accompanied by some actual Donald Trump 'fire and fury' today and callers who ring in on all of it. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

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

  • The legal offices and residences of Donald Trump's personal friend, business partner, attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen were raided by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan today just before airtime. Cohen's attorney claims some of the information used to obtain the warrant came from Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Cohen has recently come under legal scrutiny for his part in a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep an affair between her and Trump quiet just before the 2016 election. Trump is said to be furious, and described the investigation as "disgraceful" and "an attack on our country" after news of the FBI raid on Cohen's office became public on Monday.
  • That comes after a longtime tenant died in a massive four-alarm blaze on the 50th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan over the weekend, following Trump having reportedly spent years fighting against requirements for mandatory fire sprinklers on the residential floors of his namesake tower and headquarters of the Trump Organization.
  • Also today, some good news (and bad) for voters. In Maryland, the state's Republican Governor allowed a bill for automatic voter registration to becoome law without his signature.
  • California announced it has now had 100,000 16- and 17-year olds pre-register to vote, after a 2016 state law was enacted to allow for early registration by teens. A flurry of those pre-registrations, according to CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, have reportedly come in the wake of the 'March for Our Lives' activism by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, following the February gun massacre at their school.
  • And, speaking of elections and the Sunshine State, Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Monday, in his long-expected bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. The race is expected to be one of the most expensive U.S. Senate races in the nation's history.
  • Scott's announcement comes just days after he appealed a ruling by a federal judge ordering him to reform the state's procedures for restoring voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons. Scott has slow-walked the clemency process for years, since taking office, leaving some 10% of the state's voting-age population (and nearly a quarter of the state's African Americans) off the rolls and unable to participate in elections in the closely divided swing-state.

Listeners ring in with calls on all of that news today and more!...

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: Investigative journalist Jason Leopold; Also: Trump expels Russian diplomats; Fox 'News' lawyers won't join Trump legal team after all; 'March for Our Lives'; Callers on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The allegation made by adult film actress Stormy Daniels that someone associated with Donald Trump physically threatened her, appears to track quite well with decades of similar allegations made by those who Trump, at one point, believed to have cross him. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

During her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Sunday night, adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, claimed she was physically threatened in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot, in front of her young daughter, by someone warning her to not to speak publicly about the sexual tryst she says she had with Donald Trump back in 2006. Immediately after the interview aired, an attorney for Michael Cohen (Trump's personal lawyer, fixer, and business partner) sent a "cease and desist" letter to Daniels' attorney, demanding she retract the "false and defamatory" claims made on the program, charging that Cohen "was responsible" in some way for the alleged threat. The attorney charged that Daniels' claims accusing Cohen "of criminal conduct" were "false", "libel[ous]" and "defamatory".

The only problem: Daniels didn't actually tie Cohen to the story about the thug who, she says, threatened her in 2011!

Cohen formed the LLC created to pay $130,000 in hush money to Daniels just weeks before the 2016 Presidential election, though he says he did not do so on behalf of Trump or the Trump Organization, that he was never reimbursed for the payment (which would be a violation of federal campaign finance law, if it was meant to help Trump win the election as Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause told us in January, just after he filed his complaints with the FEC and DoJ), and that, in any event, the tryst between Trump and Daniels never happened at all.

But, whether Daniels' tied Cohen to the alleged 2001 threat or not, it's hardly the first time the Trump Organization --- and Donald Trump specifically --- has been accused of physical threats against his perceived adversaries.

We're joined today by BuzzFeed investigative journalist and renowned "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD to discuss three different incidents, revealed via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request documents he obtained from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies last year, detailing physical threats said to have been made against Trump business associates in the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

The details of the three different alleged incidents are chilling, including one terrifying and profane phone threat to an attorney, made on the day Trump's Casino business declared bankruptcy, from a payphone outside the Ed Sullivan Theater on the very same day that Trump was appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, which is shot there. As Leopold explains, the incidents which he reported on exclusively last year at BuzzFeed, came immediately to mind upon hearing Daniels recount her own frightening tale on 60 Minutes.

Then, we open up the phone lines to hear from listeners on all of the above, as well as a number of other stories that we also cover on today's program, including: Saturday's massive March for Our Lives rallies for gun safety reform, as led by the students of Parkland, Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and supported by Pope Francis; the Trump Administration's announcement that they plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian intelligence agent in Britain; and the Sunday announcement that, despite reports to the contrary last week, Fox "News" wingnut attorneys Joe diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing will not, in fact, be joining Trump's personal defense team responding the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller after all (precisely as predicted by Friday's guest on The BradCast, Marcy Wheeler!)...

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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Callers ring in on all of the above and much more today!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We have a lot to catch up from over the weekend, and callers with lots of opinions to go with it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, both a Republican federal court panel and the U.S. Supreme Court both rejected Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker's last ditch attempt to block a new U.S. House map forced upon them by the state Supreme Court in February after the previous map enacted in 2011 was determined to be an unlawful partisan gerrymander in violation of the state's Constitution. Those were the last chances for the state GOP to restore the unlawful maps --- which had given them a 13 to 5 advantage in U.S. House seats over the past three elections --- before the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primary elections in the largely 50/50 swing-state.

At the same time, voters head to the polls in Illinois on Tuesday for the second primary of the crucial 2018 mid-terms. Among the contested races is a primary challenge by progressive Marie Newman to longtime, very right-wing Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in IL's 3rd Congressional district. The race is said to be statistically tied, as Lipinski fights for his political life, and as the winner of Tuesday's primary in the very "blue" area of Chicago will likely go on to win in November, since the GOP, literally, has only a proud neo-Nazi running on the ballot for the Republican nomination.

But concerns about Illinois' computerized voting, tabulation and registration system continue to haunt officials and undermine democracy and voter confidence --- justifiably. The state's voter registration system was breached during the 2016 election, and remains wildly vulnerable along with the state's voting and tabulation systems. Despite purported concerns of "Russian interference", little has changed in any of our nation's easily hacked, oft-failed electoral systems following the 2016 election.

Then: On last Friday's show, we noted that nobody in the Trump Admin had yet been fired that day. But, shortly after airtime, FBI Deputy Director and former Acting Director Andrew McCabe was fired just two days shy of receiving his lifetime pension after 21 years of service to the Bureau.

We discuss the reasons he was said to have been fired and the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who officially fired him) was supposed to have recused himself from the matter. Nonetheless, Donald Trump rejoiced at the news via Twitter --- since McCabe is a witness against Trump's apparent attempted obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey --- before turning his wrath back against Comey and, for the first time on Twitter, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Is a newly emboldened Trump preparing again to fire Mueller? If he does, will Congressional Republicans do anything to block him? And what, for that matter, will the American people do --- if anything --- in response to what many (over-confidently) believe would be a Constitutional crisis? We open the phone lines to talk about all of that and much more on today's BradCast!...

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!...

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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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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!!!)

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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