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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 22, 2018
'Green News Report' 5/22/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Repub House Science Comm denies sea level rise; NASA finds humans changing global water supply; Britain to launch plastic tax; PLUS: Ex-con coal baron Blankenship is back!...
Previous GNRs: 5/17/18 - 5/15/18 - Archives...
'American Carnage' Continues: 'BradCast' 5/21/18
Guest: Gun safety advocate Cliff Schecter on shootings in TX, FL, Vegas and how to prevent them; Also: Trump dangerously clueless in advance of planned summit with NK...
Sunday Toons of the Peace Process Moment
Who knew making peace was so complicated? The cartoonists represented in PDiddie's latest collection probably did...
Amnesty Intl Is Ready For Haspel; Also: How About A Job?: 'BradCast' 5/17/18
Guest-hosted by Angie Coiro with Daphne Eviatar, Dave Johnson, Robert Sapolsky...
'Green News Report' 5/17/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA's Pruitt, facing 12 probes, grilled in Senate; Extreme storms kill 5 in Northeast; King County, WA files suit against oil companies; PLUS: Air pollution dangers extend into womb...
Previous GNRs: 5/15/18 - 5/3/18 - Archives...
Progressives Primary Wins in OR, NE, ID and PA; And More Good News From SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 5/16/18
Guest: Ian Millhiser on why Alito opinion on sports gambling is bad news for Trump...
Trump's Desperate Gambit for a 'Deal' With North Korea: 'BradCast' 5/15/18
Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Torturer Haspel; U.S., Israel isolated at UN...
'Green News Report' 5/15/18
EPA blocking water contamination report; Global warming intensifying storms; Power co. paid actors to support plant bid in LA; PLUS: CA's landmark solar mandate...
Sunday 'Don't Torture Mother' Toons
Celebrate mom with another festive weekly collection of political cartoons from 'PDiddie'...
Punching Bags Michael Cohen, John McCain: 'BradCast' 5/11/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro with guest Sally Kohn on 'The Opposite of Hate'...
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-hosted by Angie Coiro with guests Daphne Eviatar, Dave Johnson and Robert Sapolsky...
By Angie Coiro on 5/17/2018 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we take a moment of silence to mourn Brad's late wisdom tooth. But not more than a moment --- a lot to cover with your guest host, me --- Angie Coiro of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Daphne Eviatar, Director of Security with Human Rights at Amnesty International USA talks with me about Amnesty's reactions - both official and emotional - to the announcement of Gina Haspel's confirmation to head the CIA. No one there is happy, but they're experienced, ready, and standing by, lest Haspel's last-minute conversion to an anti-torture stance prove false.

Throughout the hour we check the news, with stories from Gaza, Washington DC, and the Kushner family's building at 666 (<--- not kidding) 5th Avenue in Manhattan - which is being bailed out of fiscal failure with a little help from Qatar. Also: ICE loses one in court as a Dreamer wins.

Long-time economic observer Dave Johnson explains the genesis, progress, and prognosis for a Federal Jobs Guarantee program.

A "racism roundup" - a summary of all the videos released the past few weeks showing white people working overtime to keep non-whites and Muslims in line. Finally, neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky explores where all that hate and fear come from - it's all in your brain.

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on why Justice Alito's ruling on sports gambling is bad news for Trump's 'sanctuary city' crackdown...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got a bunch of mostly encouraging news today for a happy change --- particularly for progressives, women, and women progressives! [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, the least encouraging part of today's program, as some voters in Pennsylvania were once again prevented from voting when 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems at a York County precinct failed for the first hour of polling during Tuesday's statewide mid-term primaries. With just 10 --- that's right, just 10 --- emergency paper ballots on hand for each party, voters were turned away because the electronic voting systems failed. That completely predictable problem (which we've been warning about for well over a decade now), may well get even worse around the country, as states adopt new voting systems with the same problems, under the deceptive premise that they produce "paper ballots".

Other than that, the news was largely good for progressives (and bad for Congressional Republicans) following Tuesday's primaries in Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska and, of course, Pennsylvania, where Democrats hope to pick up as many as 6 seats from Republicans in their bid to retake the U.S. House this November. The news was particularly good for female candidates in PA and elsewhere, and for progressives who won in a number of places against candidates preferred by the national Democratic party.

We detail the key races and upsets in question, some of which will be pose an interesting test for progressives this fall, who have long argued that bolder progressive candidates --- calling for universal health care for all, higher wages and other progressive priorities --- will perform better in general elections than so-called "Republican lite" candidates. We'll see if they're right in just under six months.

Then, we're joined by Constitutional law expert and author IAN MILLHISER, to discuss the stolen U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this week striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 federal ban on sports betting in, largely, all states other than Nevada. But, the reason why the finding in the case (Murphy v. NCAA) is of note to progressives is not due to the specific issue of sports gambling, as he argues, but what it likely means for other federalism issues, such as the Trump Administration's attempted immigration crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities".

Millhiser explains why progressives should be very happy about the Court's ruling this week --- even with the majority opinion written by far-right Justice Samuel Alito --- and why the Court unanimously found the law to be an unconstitutional "commandeering" of state's rights.

While the holding in that case may be bad news for Trump, so is another decision from a lower federal court this week. Millhiser also details a federal judge's ruling on Tuesday knocking down an attempt by Paul Manafort, Trump's indicted former campaign chair, to toss one of the two criminal cases filed against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Finally today, a bit more on Tuesday's primaries in Idaho, where a progressive female Democrat became the first native America woman to win the party's nomination for Governor, defeating the national Democrats' preferred candidate in a race seen as a long-shot for this fall. But, in a nation where thousands of teachers in yet another so-called "red" state (North Carolina) on Wednesday shut down schools to march in support of higher pay and more money for schools, anything may now be possible...if voters get out to the polls, are allowed to vote, and are able to make sure their votes are counted as cast this November...

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-host Angie Coiro with Trita Parsi, Brad Adams, Daphne Eviatar, Elena Saxonhouse...
By Angie Coiro on 5/10/2018 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trita Parsi helps us make sense of the Israel/Syria attacks. I'm Angie Coiro of In Deep sitting in the host chair today.

Trita Parsi from the National Iranian American Council helps us get through the "they started it" claims around yesterday's attacks. We spend some time deconstructing media reports and voices on the issue. He talks, too, about the Americans still held hostage in Iran, and potential long-term consequences of Trump pulling out of the nuclear agreement.

Then Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch talks about the release of American hostages from North Korea. I ask him about Israel kicking a Human Rights Watch employee out, based on his support of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Then it's back to Gina Haspel, as more news came out today about inaccuracies in her Senate testimony. Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International details Amnesty's call for Haspel's CIA bid to be rejected.

Finally, we dig to the source of all those troublesome Scott Pruitt emails with Elena Saxonhouse, senior attorney with the Sierra Club. It was the Sierra Club's dogged insistence on getting 24,000 pages of emails that opened up all those tales.

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: FCC appointee arrested for fraud and forgery, Trump nominee for VA appears to be in trouble...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: After a months-long drought of one of our favorite guests, legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate returns today! And we make up for the deficit with a legal lightning round on a number of big cases being heard this and in recent weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a number of important cases from elsewhere around the country.

Among the cases covered with Stern today: The years-long challenge to Texas Republicans' racial gerrymandering of Congressional and statehouse districts, which were struck down as unlawful by several lower courts, and Donald Trump's controversial anti-Muslim travel ban(s), which were also blocked by lower courts. The U.S. Supremes, however, may be on the verge of restoring both laws, according to Stern, despite previous findings of unconstitutionality. We also discuss the pending fate of two separate challenges to partisan gerrymandering heard recently by SCOTUS.

In both cases, Stern notes, referring to the stolen GOP majority on the Court after Obama's nominee Merrick Garland was blocked for a year, before Trump appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch: "I hope against hope that my predictions are wrong, but Republicans stole this seat for a reason."

But that's not all! We also hit several other important recent cases from federal courts around the country, which prove to offer a bit more encouraging news. Stern details the "complete train wreck" seen in a federal court in Kansas earlier this month, as their Sec. of State and top-shelf GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach disastrously attempted to defend his "proof of citizenship" voter registration law at trial. Kobach's humiliating effort resulted in a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge slapping him with the second of two contempt of court sanctions during the long case, and may signal, as Stern posits, the near end of the Republican Party's years-long disingenuous claims about a "voter fraud" epidemic.

"Kobach had committed a major self-own," Stern tells me. "He had gone into that trial thinking he was going to prove once and for all that 'voter fraud' was real, and he left that trial having inadvertently proved that it wasn't. He undermined all of the evidence that he had worked so hard to build up."

That, as one of Kobach's longtime colleagues in the long GOP "voter fraud" con, J. Christian Adams, finds himself as the defendant in a new lawsuit filed in Virginia by a number of U.S. citizens who were inaccurately accused by Adam's group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), in error-riddled reports titled "Alien Invasion of Virginia" and "Alien Invasion II", of committing voter fraud. Adams is accused by the lawful voters of violations of the Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and even the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

"It's satisfying to see these guys have to answer in court for all that they've said and done for so long, and it's great to see the victims of their slander fighting back in such a powerful way," Stern argues.

We finish up our legal lightening round today with a case decided last week by the Supreme Court, in which Justice Gorsuch, who enjoys the seat stolen for him by Senate Republicans last year, actually joined the Court's four liberal Justices in striking down a law that allows the deportation of immigrants accused of "violent crimes". While Stern applauds Gorscuh joining the liberal justices in this case, given the vague statutory language used for defining "violent crimes", he also cautions that Gorsuch's interest here may signal a broader, more disturbing scheme down the road by Trump's far rightwing appointee.

Also today: The Trump Administration doesn't appear to do any vetting of any of their nominees for any office, it seems. Last week, Elizabeth Anne Pierce, a corporate member of a public commission created by Trump's FCC Chair Ajit Pai, purportedly to help expand broadband Internet access, was arrested on allegations of fraud to the tune of $250 million for forging signatures on contracts on behalf of her startup high-speed fiber-optic company. And, on Capitol Hill today, Navy Admiral Ronny Jackson, Trump's personal physician turned nominee to head the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, comes under fire from Senators of both parties, regarding his complete lack of experience for such a role, but also for reports of fostering a "hostile work environment", "excessive drinking on the job" and "improperly dispensing meds" among other things. In the bargain, today at the White House, Trump appeared to begin the process of throwing Jackson --- who he reportedly had to convince to accept the nomination to head the VA and its 360,000 employees --- under the nearest bus.

And finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, and for a tribute or two to Schoolhouse Rock creator Bob Dorough, who died today at the age of 94...

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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White Waffle House mass shooter peacefully apprehended, White GOP Judge in TX gets slap on the wrist for election fraud, and other recent tales of gentle accountability...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2018 6:22pm PT  

We've got a lot of news to cover from over the weekend, and breaking today on today's BradCast, even as we try to focus on the continued undermining of our electoral system, and the lack of accountability for certain lawbreakers versus others. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the stories we cover today, along with some great calls from listeners...

  • As we predicted last week, Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY), who had been pretending to oppose the nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the next Secretary of State, has flipped his position (as usual), and is now voting in favor of Pompeo, virtually guaranteeing the pro-war, anti-gay, climate science denier as the nation's next top diplomat.
  • The alleged shooter who killed 4 and injured several others at a Waffle House in Nashville on Sunday morning is finally apprehended and taken in peacefully by local officials. But why was the suspect, a 29-year old white guy with a long record of mental issues and run-ins with police, even in possession of four semi-automatic weapons that were taken from him, for a short time, following his arrest by Secret Service outside the White House, where he is said to have identified himself as a "sovereign citizen" (a rightwing domestic extremist movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and law enforcement officials.) The mass shooting was ended on Sunday morning, not by "a good guy with a gun" but, in fact, by a potential African-American victim without a gun. James Shaw Jr. burned his hand as he grabbed the muzzle of the shooters AR-15 and wrestled it away from him.
  • Despite going to court to successfully stop Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein's attempted post-election "recount" in the state of Michigan after the 2016 election, state Republicans have now passed a number of bills in the state legislature to make it even more difficult for candidates and the public to oversee their own elections to ensure that computer-tallied results have been accurately reported. The measures heading to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's desk follow Stein's attempted 2016 count, in a state which hadn't gone to a Republican Presidential candidate in nearly 30 years, where Trump is said to have won by just over 10,000 votes (out of more than 5,000,000 cast), and where terrible state "recount" laws prevented some 60,000 hand-marked paper ballots from even being considered for "recounting" in Detroit alone.
  • Meanwhile, down in Fort Worth, Texas, a Tarrant County Justice of the Peace, after submitting fraudulent signatures to appear on the Republican primary ballot last March, resigned from office after pleading guilty and receiving, essentially, five years probation. It appears disgraced Judge Russ Casey won't won't spend a day in a jail, despite his guilty plea and a previous record of an "improper sexual relationship" with a former clerk. We also contrast the gentle treatment of Casey, a white elected Republican judge, with that of Crystal Mason and Rosa Maria Ortega, both of them in Tarrant County. Mason is a 43-year old African-American mother sentenced to five years in prison just last month for voting in 2016 while on supervised release from her three-year sentence on a 2011 fraud conviction for helping tax clients receive larger refunds than they deserved. She was not told by her probation officer, or anyone else, that she was not allowed to vote while on probation in Texas. Ortega, a mother of four, voted unlawfully in both 2012 and 2014, thinking she was allowed to do so as a Green Card holder from Mexico. She received an eight-year prison sentence for her crime (and likely deportation after it), despite testifying that she believed she was allowed to vote as a permanent U.S. resident. Too bad for the black woman and the immigrant. But fantastic news for the white elected Republican Judge, who had received a $125,000/year salary since his initial election in 2007, before he knowingly committed his election fraud crimes!
  • Also today, speaking of accountability --- or, perhaps, lack thereof --- for powerful white Republicans, Missouri's embattled GOP Governor Eric Greitens was charged with a second felony late Friday, though he refuses to step down, despite the two charges. One is related to tying up a woman with whom he was having an affair, photographing her naked, and threatening to blackmail her, and the second for unlawfully using a veterans charity mailing list during his 2016 run for Governor. Top GOP lawmakers and the state's Attorney General have called for Greitens' resignation. But he, just like President Donald Trump, describes the investigation of his alleged felony crimes as nothing more than a "witch hunt...by the liberal media and their allies".

We discuss all of that, and more breaking news on today's very lively and/or busy BradCast, and also take callers on all of the above in the bargain!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Ari Berman of Mother Jones; Also: Trump's legal woes worsen...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2018 6:35pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler; Also: Trump signs spending bill, lies about it, calls for unconstitutional line-item veto...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2018 6:37pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Dow plunges; Trump lead attorney quits; Massive funding bill approved; Walker ordered to call elections; PA lawmakers file impeachment against 4 state Supreme Court Justices; MUCH MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2018 6:36pm PT  

Before Thursday's late bombshell news that Trump's National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is being replaced by hard-right Fox "News" neo-con wingnut John Bolton, we covered a number of stories on today's --- at times maddening, sad, frightening (and occasionally humorous and encouraging) --- BradCast.

Among them...

  • The Dow plunges more than 700 points after Trump announces his trade war with China;
  • John Dowd, Trump's lead defense attorney responding to the Special Counsel probe, has had enough, quits, as hard-right Fox 'News' conspiracist/attorney Joe diGenova joins the team;
  • U.S. House approves massive last-minute $1.3 trillion spending bill to keep the government open before Friday's midnight deadline for a government shutdown, and so they can get out of town before student protesters show up on Saturday for the "March for Our Lives" gun safety rally;
  • Included in the massive, last-minute omnibus spending bill is hundreds of millions of dollars for cybersecurity "upgrades" to our nation's election systems. That funding comes on the heels of ill-considered new recommendations [PDF] from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, meant to protect U.S. elections by increasing, rather than decreasing, the amount of cyber hardware and software used in elections, and instead of increasing the ability for public oversight of elections. (I have just a few words to say about all of that,as you might imagine, if you can hear them over the sound of my brain exploding. You might hear me mentioning hand-counted, hand-marked paper ballots once or twice, since election officials and members of Congress still seem to have trouble hearing that phrase, despite what happened in 2016, and after some 15+ years of folks like me trying to warn them about the very vulnerabilities they think they are now trying to correct. P.S. Russia isn't the only serious and ongoing threat to U.S. elections...by a long shot. But my brain is exploding now again. So just listen to the show.);
  • Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker is ordered by a judge (who he appointed) to immediately call special elections for two vacant state legislative seats. He's avoided doing that ever since a recent long-held Republican seat in the state Senate was lost to a Democrat in a January special election amid anti-Trump fervor;
  • Trump-loving Republican U.S. House candidate Rick Saccone finally concedes last week's special U.S. House election in Pennsylvania's very Republican 18th Congressional district to Democrat Connor Lamb, who appears to have defeated Saccone by about 750 votes out of more than 225,000 cast;
  • Republicans in the PA House of Representatives file articles of impeachment against four Democratic state Supreme Court Justices who mandated a new U.S. House district map before the 2018 mid-term elections, after finding the one drawn by Republicans in 2011 was an unlawful partisan gerrymander resulting in a 13 to 5 advantage in PA's U.S. House delegation over the last three elections (in an otherwise 50/50, slightly Dem-leaning swingstate);

Finally, just after the breaking news of McMaster out and Bolton in arrives...Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news for the EPA, some disturbing news about bottled water, and some heartbreaking news for mankind...

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U.S. House special election results in PA; Student gun safety walkouts from coast-to-coast; ICE busted as spokesman refuses to lie, steps down...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a nail-biter on Tuesday night in the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. And there is much spinning on Wednesday morning. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Lamb has declared victory, (as has the NY Times, while AP still has it as "too close to call") in the district that went to Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016. But Republicans are still holding out hope for a miracle, a "recount" and/or a lawsuit for their candidate who received a full court press from Donald Trump over the past week. That press included a weekend rally with Saccone and new steel tariffs announced by the President just last week, with an eye towards this bellwether race in "Steel Country", just outside of Pittsburgh.

We have full details on where the razor-thin results currently stand (just over 600 votes separate the two candidates, as of air time, in a race with more than 228,000 votes cast) and how such a "recount" would work in the state which still, shamefully, forces the vast majority of its voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems.

No matter the final results, Democrats are ebullient about what this huge "red to blue" swing may bode for their chances of taking back the House in November's crucial 2018 mid-term elections, even as GOPers from PA to Capitol Hill to the White House are offering some pretty remarkable spin in response.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, tens of thousands of students took to the streets from coast-to-coast with a massive school walkout to rally for gun safety legislation one month after the massacre which took the lives of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The students stood up, even as a cowardly President Trump continues to retreat from earlier promises on reforms, while trying to spin his own personal fears of the powerful gun lobbyists at the NRA.

Then, speaking of failed spin, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency resigns in the wake of being asked to lie about claims recently made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump regarding an ICE raid in Northern California

Finally today, as the Administration continues to misrepresent the threat to the U.S. posed by immigrants, three American rightwingers are arrested for the bombing of a Muslim mosque in Minnesota last year, and for an attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in Illinois...

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Election results and voting probs from the Lone Star state's first-in-the-nation primaries; Also: Chaos continues at Trump White House, Florida lawmakers enact gun safety measures following Parkland massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2018 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You may not have noticed with everything else going on, but, on Tuesday, Texas held the first primaries of the crucial 2018 mid-terms elections. We have the reported results, including the largest Democratic primary turnout in the Lone Star state in decades (though the GOP turnout was still larger.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

Women and progressives appear to have performed very well on the Democratic side. Though, given the huge number of candidates in many of the Democratic U.S. House primaries, many of those contests will now go to run-offs on May 22nd. Wealthy self-funders, Trump supporters and more conservative Democrats didn't do quite as well. And a number of voters across the state were disenfranchised, as usual, and forced deal with failing electronic voting systems and polling places that were recently moved. (Even as the corporate media downplayed problems, as usual.) We dive into all the details.

Also today, the chaos continues at Donald Trump's White House and we do our best to keep up with the latest developments, including a finding by the Office of Special Counsel that senior White House counselor and former Campaign chair Kellyanne Conway violated the federal Hatch Act (and why that matters); Donald Trump may be backing off his hard-line and ill-considered, pledge to issue broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, following critiques from friends and foes alike and his top economic advisor Gary Cohn stepping down in response; Porn-star Stormy Daniels is suing Donald Trump over hush money paid to her before the 2016 election; And the Trump Administration is suing the state of California over immigration issues.

Finally, as we head off air today, breaking news out of the the Florida legislature, which has now adopted a number of gun safety reforms opposed by the NRA, including raising the minimum age for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles and a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. The measure --- passed in no small part due to the persistent advocacy of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the massacre there last month --- now heads to the desk of the NRA's A+ rated Governor Rick Scott...

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Star of CBS' 'Mom', Advisory Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America joins us in studio for the hour!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast, on the day following Sunday night's Academy Awards show, we're joined in studio at KPFK/Pacifica Radio for the hour by our friend MIMI KENNEDY, Advisory Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America and star of the CBS sit-com Mom (which also stars last night's Best Supporting Actress winner Allison Janney). [Audio link to show follows below.]

We've got lots to discuss today with Kennedy, a longtime progressive activist and leader (that's her and me in the photo above, just after today's show), and we also open up the phone lines to callers as well.

Among the many issues and items we chat and/or bicker about today:

  • How Hollywood and its politics have changed very quickly over the past year or two in light of the #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite movements;
  • Whether Democrats chances to retake the U.S. House this November are as good as many Dems seem to think;
  • Conservative Democrat Connor Lamb's chances of winning next week's U.S. House Special Election in the "Trump Country" of Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional district;
  • Big turnout in advance of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation 2018 primary elections in Texas;
  • Serious concerns about election integrity that still undermine democracy in 2018 (Mimi and PDA have been longtime champions for the cause!) and whether the solutions being offered by a number of states and large jurisdictions --- including a disturbing move to computer-printed and computer-counted paper ballots --- is a good idea, or if we'll be left with the same or worse lack of ability for the public to oversee election results that we already have in many places. (Among them, see the 100% unverifiable computerized touch-screen style voting systems used in much of Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, etc.);
  • And whether elected Democratic officials and 2020 Presidential hopefuls are finally understanding the importance of single-payer "Medicare for All" (or, as PDA has been advocating for years: "Healthcare not Warfare!").

Also on today's show: More tentatively encouraging news on the Korean Peninsula (at least until Trump screws it up again); Trump's artificial DACA deadline hits, endangering hundreds of thousands of young immigrant 'Dreamers'; Another senior Republican U.S. Senator, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, announces that he is resigning, as of next month.

All of that and a bunch of great callers ringing in on all of the above on today's BradCast!...

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Guest: David Bier of CATO Institute; Also: Hicks out; Special election results; Trump court win; Teacher fires a pistol in school; Sporting goods outlet to stop selling assault weapons...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2018 6:11pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days away from Donald Trump's artificial deadline to end Obama-era protections from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children, the attendees at last weekend's CPAC can't even come to terms with documented facts on the benefits of immigration, even when delivered to them by one of their own. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, some quick news headlines of note...

  • Another top White House official, Trump's 29-year old Communications Director Hope Hicks (his third since taking office), says she's resigning, and offered a ridiculous reason for it, just one day after admitting to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that she has been required to lie on behalf of Trump.
  • Tuesday was another Special Election day in several states --- including New Hampshire, Connecticut, Kentucky and Arizona --- and we have the reported results after still more state legislative seats in Republican districts were flipped from 'red' to 'blue' by Democrats. (And as Republicans appear to have mostly avoided another huge embarrassment in Arizona.)
  • The federal judge who Trump attacked during the campaign for allegedly opposing his border wall, as the court case for Trump's fraudulent 'Trump University' played out, decides in favor of the Administration scheme to waive environmental laws to build that wall with Mexico.

Then, we're joined by immigration policy analyst DAVID BIER of the libertarian Cato Institute, following his recent appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) --- where his presentation of independently verifiable facts and data detailing how immigration is actually good for the country --- was met with derision and heckles from the audience and fellow panelists alike.

Setting our many political differences aside for purposes of this discussion, Bier offers some of that data on today's show, in hopes that we can, at least, agree on facts if we are ever to find a legislative solution to protect "Dreamers" and turn back the new Trump/GOP efforts to restrict even legal immigration to our country. Among those derided and heckled facts Bier presented at CPAC: "I talked about how some conservative outlets really like to focus on immigrant crime. But we know from the U.S. Census bureau that immigrants --- including illegal immigrants --- are about half as likely to be incarcerated in the United States for serious crime than U.S.-born adults. So they're really focusing on the exceptions to the rule. Something else that I cited is the National Academies of Sciences 2016 report on the fiscal costs of immigration, that found that the average recent immigrant will pay at least $92,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits from the government over their lifetime."

He went on to debunk a number of other myths offered by right-wing outlets, such as on English-language comprehension and assimilation of new immigrants and the claim (even made by the host of the panel) that Democrats favor immigration because they want millions of new voters. He also detailed how new immigration is needed to help support Social Security and Medicare for many of the aging baby-boomers who were, no doubt, among the many attendees at CPAC.

Bier told me about the reaction to his remarks at the only immigration-related panel on the weekend's agenda at the annual far-right Republican gathering, how that response may have differed from previous years, and why it is that he believes attendees are so terrified of independently verifiable facts on immigration's many benefits for all Americans --- economically, politically and culturally.

He even managed to offer a fairly impressive response to my skepticism to his claim that "the data is the thing that’s going to win people over." Despite appearances from this President and his administration, he argues, immigration advocates are winning. "You and I and everyone who favors legal immigration and legalizing long-term residents of the United States, we're winning that argument. The public supports our position overwhelmingly. It's never been higher in terms of support for legalization, support for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, support for not restricting legal immigration. We're winning all of those things."

"It's sort of their last stand before the end," he asserts, by way of explaining the confused and fearful anti-immigrant CPAC attendees. "If Democrats do take over, I fully expect immigration reform will happen. And that will be the moment where they realize they lost the argument."

Finally, as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened on Wednesday, two weeks after a 19-year old with a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle killed 17 and injured a dozen others in a matter of minutes, the debate over what to do about it still rages. Today, amid Donald Trump's argument for arming teachers, the "top teacher" of 2012 at a Georgia high school outside of Atlanta fired a pistol in his classroom, sending students into a justifiable panic. And, one of the nation's largest sporting goods outlets announced that it would no longer sell military-style semi-automatic rifles and planned to raise the age requirement for all gun and ammo purchases at their stores to 21...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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