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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, April 20, 2018
Senate Confirms Climate Science Denier as NASA Chief: 'BradCast' 4/19/18
...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
'Green News Report' 4/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Puerto Rico power knocked out again; Studies find Gulf Stream slowing down; New climate lawsuits for oil industry, Florida; PLUS: Earth Day 2018 focused on ending plastic pollution...
Previous GNRs: 4/17/18 - 4/12/18 - Archives...
'Dark Lord of Coal Country' Rising, GOP Panicking Before WV U.S. Senate Primary: 'BradCast' 4/18/18
Guest: Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no, Mattis got Trumped, Kobach in contempt...
'Corrupt Intent':
'BradCast' 4/17/18
Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller and indicting a sitting President; Also: Slim support for tax cut falls, GOPers keep heading for the exits...
'Green News Report' 4/17/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Federal watchdogs find EPA violated law for embattled Admin Scott Pruitt; Senate confirms coal industry lobbyist for deputy EPA chief; PLUS: Google and Apple go 100% renewable...
Previous GNRs: 4/12/18 - 4/10/18 - Archives...
Trump's Unlawful, Evidence-Free 'Mission Accomplished': 'BradCast' 4/16/18
Congress acquiesces after second US attack on Syria; Also: Sean Hannity revealed as secret Michael Cohen client; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons: 'One Raid Begets Another'
It didn't take long after Donald Trump's friend, business associate and personal lawyer was raided by the FBI for Trump to unleashes the missiles, as the cartoonists observe in PDiddie's latest collection...
As Trump Goes Ugly,
How Dems Can 'Fight Dirty'
to Win for the Country: 'BradCast' 4/13/18
Guest: Author David Faris on radically reform-ing 'long-term barriers to progressive power'...
Mattis: U.S. Lacks 'Actual Evidence' of Syrian Chemical Attack: 'BradCast' 4/12/18
Also: Clueless Trump now to rejoin TPP?; Sinclair continues to abuse public airwaves; And, why local news matters...
'Green News Report' 4/12/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Newly unearthed docs reveal Shell Oil knew for decades its products cause warming; Dems want Pruitt to resign; EPA docs undermine his claims; PLUS: Obama EPA chief speaks out...
Previous GNRs: 4/10/18 - 4/5/18 - Archives...
Long Cons: Trump's War; Ryan Quits; Shell Knew Too: 'BradCast' 4/11/18
Guest: Carroll Muffett of Center for International Environmental Law...
'Green News Report' 4/10/18
Scandals engulf EPA chief; Canadian pipeline in doubt; Keystone spill twice as big as reported; PLUS: MI okays Nestle groundwater grab, ends bottled water to Flint...
COHEN OFFICES RAIDED; Rick Scott to Run for Senate, While Blocking 1.5M from Rolls: 'BradCast' 4/9/18
Also: Man dies in Trump Tower blaze; Good news for voter registration news in MD, CA...
Sunday 'Lost Control of the Agenda' Toons
Trade wars, Pruitt, Stormy, the wall, the teachers, the guns, and all the other Trump agenda items now careening off the rails in PDiddie's latest toon collection...
Why Haspel's Nomination Matters to an American Whose Father Was Tortured in WWII: 'BradCast' 4/6/18
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: GOP 'Green Party' dirty tricks in MT's U.S. Senate race...
Rising Up Against the Rightwing Takeover of Public Airwaves, Education, Lands and More: 'BradCast' 4/5/18
Some encouraging signs that Americans, even in 'red' states, have had just about enough...
'Green News Report' 4/5/18
Admin buries NOAA report; Trump trade war to hurt drillers; Interior to nix nat'l park fee hikes; PLUS: Oil CEO admitted, 20 yrs ago, fossil fuels cause climate change...
'First Genuinely Good Election for WI Progressives' in Years: 'BradCast' 4/4/18
Guest: John Nichols; Also: MO GOP wants paper ballots; PA wants more unverifiable voting; MLK, 50 years later...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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...

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

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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...

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

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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!...

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

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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?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Special coverage with blogger Dave Johnson and podcaster Tara Devlin...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2018 5:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we try to make sense (wish us luck!) of Donald Trump's first, anything-but-normal State of the Union Address on Tuesday night. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After some quick news headlines --- (on another top Trump official resigning in shame, another senior Republican Congressman announcing he won't run for reelection, a Democratic Senator avoiding a second corruption trial, and a literal GOP train-wreck) --- we dive into our special coverage of what used to be a solemn and largely serious U.S. tradition.

We're joined today for commentary, fact-checking and other post-SOTU analysis by DAVE JOHNSON, longtime blogger, creator of "Seeing the Forest", and former Senior Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, and TARA DEVLIN, comedian, creator of RDTDaily.com and host of the weekly, TaraBuster podcast.

Desi Doyen joins us as well, of course, to help break down and fact-check Trump's misleading claims and outright SOTU lies on the economy, tax cuts, healthcare, immigration, drug prices, dangerous "national security" plans, his deceptive infrastructure proposal, his racist dog-whistles and shameless attempts at fear-mongering the American people during Tuesday night's joint session of Congress.

We also review just some of the things that Trump didn't mention in his speech for some reason (America's deadly gun epidemic and climate change, among others), whether Democrats will be able to counter the coming tsunami of GOP propaganda in advance of the 2018 midterms, and how Rep. Joe Kennedy, III performed in his Democratic Response to Trump's address.

"It's another flim-flam plan from the greatest con-man who ever lived," explains Devlin about at least one of the items mentioned above. "That's going to be one of those things that in a few months Trump is going to deny he said. It ain't gonna happen. The opposite is going to happen," says Johnson about another one of those items. Take your pick. But tune in for our special coverage on a very lively show amid very dark times!...

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: Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch on staving off 'Trump Futility Syndrome'; Also: Debunking Trump lies about the economy (and the environment) in advance of SOTU and the 2018 midterms..
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2018 5:00pm PT  

Echoing a recent Saturday Night Live sketch on today's BradCast, we ask: "What even matters anymore?" Well, plenty as it turns out, no matter how exhausted, anxious, depressed you (and I) may feel after a full year of the Trump Era. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, some encouraging numbers on Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") enrollment for 2018, despite the GOP and Trump's best attempts to undermine any way that they could. (Along with a reminder that folks in California and New York still have time to sign up or change their existing plan if they work quickly!).

Then, Donald Trump and his party are already lying about the economy --- from unemployment figures to the stock market to their tax cuts --- under the first year of his watch, which, if demonstrable facts still matter (and they may not) is not as good as it was under Obama's watch.

Nonetheless, the economy is doing well for many and always matters to voters at election time. So, will Trump and Republicans gets more credit than they deserve for the strength of Obama's economic policies in the 2018 midterms? Especially after they are bombarded with non-stop propaganda from Trump and the Republicans about it over the next 10 months? If a majority of Democratic voters now approve of the job George W. Bush did in office, as a stunning new poll suggests, perhaps they may be as brain-addled as Republican voters, at this point, when it comes to keeping track of actual facts and reality. (SNL's Will Ferrell seems to think so, anyway.)

But, with "Trump Fatigue" now setting in for many, as our guest today, WILL BUNCH of Philadelphia Daily News, argues in a recent column, it may be getting more difficult to keep "The Resistance" going amid the barrage of dispiriting news and horrible tweets from Trump and his Administration. That, Bunch argues, makes 2018 incredibly dangerous.

So, how does "The Resistance" avoid stave off the fatigue before (and even after) the 2018 midterm elections, as the darkest of Trump's authoritarian impulses continue to kick in? How different is all of this from similar madness during Dubya's regime (the memories of Democratic voters notwithstanding)? And how much should the media and, yes, Democrats themselves be held to account for the mess we're now in?

"The actuality of Trump --- after just one year, remember --- has not been as bad as the actuality of eight years of George W. Bush," Bunch says. "But I think the potential is just so much worse. I think that causes this anxiety, but also the fact that people feel powerless to change this course. That is the 'Trump Fatigue' that I wrote about."

"It's fatiguing, it's exhausting, and it makes so many people just want to give up, not read the news, not call their Congressmen to protest the latest outrage that's going on. That's the danger. Again, that's the authoritarian playbook, what has happened so many times in so many places around the world. We've never had this experience in the United States, ever, and so we don't really know what to expect," he explains.

We discuss the effectiveness (and/or lack thereof) of public protest during the Trump Era, and how much of the lack of outrage, at least on the streets, can be chalked up to the ineffectiveness, so far, of the Trump Administration itself.

"I keep coming back, again and again, to two things," he says. "The environment and immigration are two areas where we are not waiting for Trump to do something. Those catastrophes are happening right now. The lack of action on climate change, the undoing of regulations to help the worst polluters. That's an abusive catastrophe that's already happened under Trump....The human rights catastrophe of ICE and the Border Patrol, and the way they're carrying out deportations --- they're arresting and targeting activists. These are individuals. They are isolated cases. But you have to do the math, you have to add it up. It's a pattern of human rights abuses. It's horrible."

We discuss all of that and much more in today's conversation.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with much more on the very real effects of Donald Trump's complete cluelessness about climate science facts and Team Trump's anti-environment, anti-Earth, anti-humanity agenda...

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Trump proves (again) he knows nothing about climate change; Former CO GOP Chair sentenced for voter fraud; and other news you need to know...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2018 6:17pm PT  

Today's BradCast took several unexpected turns as news broke, callers called, and the Trump-era debunkery continued. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered and/or debunked on today's program, before we opened up the line to callers...

  • In a surprise reversal, some good news to start off, as Donald Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt puts the brakes on a huge, dangerous, proposed Canadian mining project in Alaska's pristine Bristol Bay watershed;
  • In a weekend interview, Trump once again made clear he knows nothing at all about climate science (beyond what they told him about it on Fox "News) and doesn't care to learn. Desi Doyen joins us to correct at least some of the misinformation offered by the President of the United States' embarrassing comments to Piers Morgan;
  • Former Colorado Republican Party Chair and rightwing radio host Steve Curtis (pictured above) was found guilty of forgery and voter fraud in the 2016 Presidential election last year, after claiming on air, just before the election, that only Democrats commit voter fraud and they should be prevented from voting at all. On Friday, he was sentenced to four years of probation and community service, even as he claims he didn't know that voting his ex-wife's absentee ballot was unlawful. ("He knew exactly what he was doing," the prosecutor argued during the trial's closing arguments. "He received it in the mail, opened it, voted, signed it, sealed it back up and sent it in." All in his wife's name. She had moved out 11 months earlier.)
  • We then contrast the white Republican Curtis' lenient sentence for voter fraud to that of a Mexican national who came here as an infant, has long been a permanent US resident with four U.S. citizen children, but was sentenced last year to 8 years in federal prison and likely deportation thereafter for unlawfully voting. She thought she was allowed to do so as a permanent US resident;
  • On the encouraging side of election and voting rights news today, however, the North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday sided with the state's new Democratic governor, and effectively reversed a years-long effort by the state's Republican legislature to roll back many voting rights in the key swing-state.

And, with all of that, we then open our phone lines to all sorts of interesting listener calls, including one caller (one of our favorites) who argues that progressives should mount write-in campaigns to take on corporatist Dems, (we debate whether doing that or primarying such Dems is the smarter route to take), and another right-wing caller who pretends to have no idea how Photo ID voting restrictions suppress the legal votes of minorities --- or he simply doesn't care. (He also revealed himself to be a climate change denier, what a surprise, as the call turned quickly South)...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Callers ring in on that and the weekend's massive Women's Marches; Also, PA's U.S. House maps struck down, natgas rig explodes in OK...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2018 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trying to make sense of the Senate Democrats' decision on Monday to vote in favor of re-opening the federal government, following Friday's vote that resulted in a short shutdown over the weekend. Callers ring in on that today, the Women's March over the weekend, and a number of other late breaking news items. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Democrats in the U.S. Senate appear to have folded in their demand that Republicans protect 800,000 "Dreamers" in a short-term spending bill. In the bargain, they voted to re-open the federal Government on Monday, after a nearly identical bill was blocked from passage on Friday, resulting in a two-day shutdown of the federal government. The difference between Monday's vote and Friday's? A three week Continuing Resolution to fund the government, instead of a four week extension, and a promise (of sorts) from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on a measure to protect those 800,000 children of immigrants brought here years ago through no fault of their own, but who are now facing deportation beginning on March 5, following Donald Trump ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

On today's show we discuss the politics around all of this, whether Democrats were right to give in for now, despite polls suggesting the public by and large blamed Republicans for the standoff, the angry progressives and immigration advocates who are furious about it, and whether there's a chance in hell that Republicans will allow a real fix to DACA without being forced to do so through a full and extended government shutdown.

We take calls from listeners today on all of that, on the huge and absurdly under-covered Women's Marches held over the weekend in hundreds of cities, where anywhere from 1.3 to 2.1 million turned out --- not that you would know it from the lack of media coverage.

Also on today's show: A natural gas rig explodes in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania's Supreme Court orders the Republican-controlled state legislature to redraw gerrymandered U.S. House maps in time for the 2018 primaries which begin in weeks in the Keystone State. The PA ruling follows similar ones by courts in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Florida and elsewhere, finding Republicans unconstitutionally discriminated against non-Republican voters in U.S. House and state legislative maps drawn after the 2010 census. Most of the rulings in those states, to date, have been delayed by the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court, likely allowing the worst of the gerrymandering to continue into the crucial 2018 mid-term elections...

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Guest: Barbara Arnwine of the new Nat'l Commission for Voter Justice...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2018 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're still fighting for the right to vote and to have that vote counted, 60 years after MLK's "Give Us the Ballot" speech, 50 years after the passage of the hard-won Voting Rights Act, 4 years after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted it, and one day after what my guest today describes as a "really wicked decision" by the Court on Thursday to set aside a landmark ruling on gerrymandering that was meant to finally correct a grave injustice to voters in 2018. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

With Republicans in the U.S. House, on Thursday, having passed a short-term stopgap spending bill to keep the U.S. Government from shutting down beginning on Friday night at midnight, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are still racing to figure out how to overcome a filibuster of the same bill. The measure includes support for kids that rely on the currently-expired Children's Healthcare Insurance Program (CHIP), but leaves some 800,000 kids of immigrants who came here with their parents still facing deportation as early as March, after Trump ended Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. So, once again, rather than simply including a fix to DACA, Republicans are using children as human shields to try and force Democrats to vote with them for a short-term bill to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. It would be the first such shutdown in U.S. history while the House, Senate and White House are all controlled by the same party.

Sick of this sort of BS? If so, you can theoretically do something about it this year at the ballot box. But the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court isn't making it easy. On Thursday, SCOTUS stayed a landmark ruling by a lower federal court panel that had ordered North Carolina to immediately redraw the state's U.S. House district maps, since the Republican majority legislature admitted that they, unconstitutionally, drew them to ensure a Republican advantage. Though it's largely a 50/50 state, NC Republicans hold 10 seats in the U.S. House to the Democrats' 3.

That's just one of the ways that Republicans hope to keep cheating voters this year in order to hang on to power as the mid-terms approach. Another way was through Trump's discredited and now disbanded "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity", run by the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach. He had hoped to use the Commission to make it harder (for certain people) to vote, but he faced yet another embarrassment in court this week. When Kobach's Commission was originally shut down a week or two ago, there was a cry from voting rights advocates for a national committee to study and call out the real scourge of American democracy: voter suppression.

That call may have been answered this week with the formation of the non-partisan National Commission for Voter Justice, co-chaired by my guest today, BARBARA ARNWINE, former longtime Executive Director of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and now President and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition. Arnwine explains the new Commission's mission, responds to the "wicked" SCOTUS ruling on NC maps and other recent voting rights issues, and details many of the threats to democracy that must be overcome in 2018, more than sixty years after, as she and John Nichols note at The Nation this week, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his landmark "Give Us the Ballot" address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1957.

"We gotta remember, we are looking at the Roberts Court. This is a man who made his life ambition the evisceration and the weakening of the Voting Rights Act. In fact, if he had had his way, there wouldn't be a Voting Rights Act, as he wrote many, many years ago," Arnwine says in response to the SCOTUS stay on the NC redistricting ruling and a similar one in Texas. "They are fine with these kinds of schemes --- gerrymandering and other devices and tactics that deny people the right to vote --- because they believe in their hearts that the result is fair, it's a result that they want, and it's a result that puts people into power that they favor. And that's wrong."

"We believe that democracy should be for every single voter. That's why we created the National Commission for Voter Justice, because every voter should have the right to be able to vote and to have their vote counted," the animated Arnwine explains. "Democracy should always be about a competition of ideas, a competition of the best candidates, and then the people make their choices. Politicians should never pick who their constituents are. The constituents should pick the politicians. We are in a reverse democracy right now."

It has, sadly, been that way for a while. I recalled today, while prepping for the show, that Arnwine and I were on a National Public Radio show back in 2008, facing off against the notorious GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Hans von Spakovsky, who, I suspect, was very used to getting away with his lies before that show. I also recall Arnwine's testimony to the Baker/Carter Commission on Voting Rights which was a panel created by Republican Party vote suppressors in 2005 to push for Photo ID voting restrictions. In comparison to the Trump/Kobach Commission, however, that panel was blue ribbon! The fight for democracy is never ending, it seems.

"Democracy is never permanent. It requires vigilance. It requires engagement. It requires organizations to monitor, to advocate for it," Arnwine tells me. "But it shouldn't be as bad as it is in the United States. That's the problem. The problem is that even with the fact that you've got to constantly seek it, it shouldn't be this bad. We should not have millions upon millions of voters finding themselves blocked from the polling booth. We shouldn't have three-hour lines. We shouldn't have machinery that everybody knows is worthless."

"But that's why the National Commission for Voter Justice is going to be coming to every area where we can," she says. "We're going to have over 20 hearings around the country, so that we can hear directly from voters what they are encountering, what their experiences are and, more importantly, what some of the solutions are, helping people to advocate for those changes."

Don't miss the full conversation today! It should get you pretty fired up for 2018, if you need any help.

And, finally, speaking of what Republicans are willing to do to get and hang on to power, a disturbing comparison of the dates set for U.S. House Special Elections to fill the seats of two different Congress members who both resigned during the same week last year (there will be a special election to fill the GOP seat in May, but the Dem seat will remain vacant until November), and the four --- count 'em, four --- convicted Republican criminals who have declared their intention to run for seats in the U.S. House and Senate in 2018...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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