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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, May 26, 2018
Trump (and AL Sec. of State) Violating Free Speech Rights: 'BradCast' 5/24/18
Guest: Univ. of KY law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: 'Dotard' Prez nixes NK summit (for now): Plus: ZOMBIE ALERT!...
'Green News Report' 5/24/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA locks out media; TX chem plant explodes; Lava at HI power plant; WI frack sludge spill; Closed coal plants' immediate health benefits; PLUS: NPS' uncensored climate study...
Previous GNRs: 5/22/18 - 5/17/18 - Archives...
Progressives Win Some, Lose Some in GA, KY, AR, TX Primaries: 'BradCast' 5/23/18
Guest: BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein helps round up the good, bad, ugly...
ICE Busted; SCOTUS Approves Wage Theft; TX, FL GOPers Oppose Voter Registration: 'BradCast' 5/22/18
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets from event...
'Green News Report' 5/22/18
Repub House Science Comm denies sea rise; NASA: humans changing global water supply; Britain launches plastic tax; PLUS: Ex-con coal baron Blankenship returns!
'American Carnage' Continues:
'BradCast' 5/21/18
Guest: Gun safety advocate Cliff Schecter on shootings in TX, FL, Vegas; 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
EPA's Pruitt, facing 12 probes, grilled in Senate; Storms kill 5 in Northeast; King County files suit against oil cos; PLUS: Air pollution dangers extend into womb...
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: 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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By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2018 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While everything still sucks, there are, nonetheless, a growing number of encouraging signs that Americans --- even those in so-called "red" states --- have had just about enough of the rightwing Republican corporate takeover and ravaging of this country and so much that we hold dear. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered towards that end on today's program...

  • A record-breaking number of women are now running for Congress, and the filing deadlines haven't even passed in half of the states;
  • Sinclair Broadcasting Group's insidious misuse of our public airwaves for rightwing pro-Trump propaganda purposes finally begins to catch the attention of Democrats in Congress, as company executives mouth off with pathetic excuses, former employees speak out, some staffers resign in protest, and others, while embarrassed by being forced to read on-air nonsense from their owners, find reasonable excuses for not quitting (such as outrageously onerous contract terms) at once-respected TV news outlets now controlled by the nation's largest owner of television stations;
  • Teachers in so-called "red" states like Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and West Virginia continue walkouts to push back against state education budgets that have been slashed in recent years to pay for huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations in failed experiments with supposedly "pro-growth" Reaganomics;
  • And while Republican officials in those states have made clear they were only pretending to give a damn about kids, their pretend love for coal miners has also been exposed as a lie in Kentucky, where lawmakers just made it much more difficult for miners to receive compensation amid an epidemic surge of deadly black lung disease cases;
  • The jaw-dropping corruption scandals of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continue to be revealed on a daily basis. So, will Donald Trump finally find the courage to fire him?;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which Mobil Oil joins Exxon in being revealed as having been fully aware, decades ago, that the burning of fossil fuels is causing civilization-threatening climate change, and Americans tell Ryan Zinke and his Interior Department to take a hike over huge proposed increases to entry fees at our national parks...

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: Eric Levitz of New York Magazine; Plus: Dems flip another legislative seat deep in the heart of 'Trump Country'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, students are mad as hell, for a lot of very good reasons, and now they are taking things into their own hands, not a moment too soon, by threatening to vote. Where Republicans appear to have little interest in helping them, Democrats certainly can and should, but they'll need to step up with a clear, progressive agenda to do exactly that in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. [Audio link to show is posted at end of story.]

First up today, there was another Special Election on Tuesday in another deep "red" district, this time in rural Kentucky, where Democrats picked up their 37th "red-to-blue" state legislative flip since the 2016 Presidential election. The GOP believes the "odd" circumstances around this particularly election make it an outlier (the Republican preacher who held the seat killed himself in December, following allegations of sexual misconduct with a 17-year old), and show little concern that Democrat Linda Belcher reportedly defeated her Republican opponent by some 36 points in a district that went to Trump in 2016 by 49 points. (That's a huge 86 point swing towards the Democrats, for those keeping score at home!)

Meanwhile, high school students across the country walked out of class on Wednesday to hit the streets in a call for gun safety legislation following last week's school shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School pressed lawmakers at the Florida statehouse in Tallahassee, where Republicans quickly voted to shelve the possibility for any major gun reform before the end of the legislation session early early next month. At the nation's capitol in D.C., among other places, students also marched and promised to vote out legislators who clung to support from the NRA while rejecting calls to reform our nation's permissive and deadly gun laws.

But while Democrats, in this environment, would seem well positioned to take over the U.S. House in this year's mid-terms, a recent series of Dem-sponsored focus groups reportedly finds voters complaining that while "Republicans have the wrong agenda, Democrats have no agenda."

We're joined today by ERIC LEVITZ, Associate Editor of the Daily Intelligencer blog at New York Magazine, to discuss that problem, by way of his recent article highlighting a new research paper [PDF] from the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. The authors of the report found that, rather than blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt with tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, as recently passed by the Republican Party, we could have completely wiped out every penny of the nation's collective and sky-rocketing student debt for the same or less cost. And that money, as Levitz reports, would have "benefited all Americans by increasing economic growth and lowering unemployment" by allowing young Americans to purchase new homes, cars and make other investments which would also help to raise middle-class wages.

Levitz describes the student loan debt as a real "crisis", which has spiraled wildly out of control since the 1990s. "You've got 44 million people saddled with these debts, and that's limiting their ability to participate in the economy. All of these wages that would be going into local businesses, and circulating throughout the economy, and creating markets and stimulating demand is going to either private lenders or actually the government," he argues, charging that the government could "just completely eliminate all that debt, which just so happens to be roughly the same price as the GOP tax cuts."

In another crazy idea cited by Levitz, the federal government could offer free tuition to public colleges and universities for the same cost we currently spend on grants and tax breaks for students, without saddling them with debt for decades. That's right, it would cost the federal government zero dollars to make tuition free at our public colleges and universities.

Isn't it time Democratic officials and candidates told voters what they are for, instead of only how much they are against Donald Trump and the Republican Party, by spelling out a clear, forward-thinking progressive agenda for the future? Just asking for a friend.

On that, however, Levitz does see some reason for some optimism in the spate of 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls who are finally embracing progressive ideals like healthcare-for-all legislation and even vowing to reject "dark money" from corporate PACs. (Oh, and here's Levitz' excellent article about Donald Trump's obscenely hypocritical plan to have Big Government tell poor people what they can eat, which I only had time to quickly reference on today's show.)

Finally today, a bit more encouraging news on the gun legislation front, as a Parkland father who lost his daughter in the shooting last week faces off at the White House with Donald Trump, and as a major GOP donor says he will not give one more penny to any politicians who fail to support a ban on military-style assault weapons...

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: Obama's former chief economist at DoL, Heidi Shierholz; Also: New Trump budget slashes domestic programs, calls for trillion dollar deficits, includes long-awaited, scam infrastructure plan...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If there's anything the Trump Administration excels at, it's their reverse Robin Hood penchant of taking from the poor to give to the rich. But their new wage theft plan for workers in the restaurant industry may bring that penchant to new heights --- or depths, as the case may be. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up, and very much related, Trump's new $4.4 trillion budget proposal, released on Monday, calls for moving still more money from the poor to the rich --- on the heels of last year's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax scam --- with cuts to domestic programs, more obscene increases to our national war budget, and trillion dollar deficit spending as far as the eye can see. And all of that is separate from his Department of Labor's plan to steal tips off the tables of waiters and waitresses. Yes, literally!

We break down Trump's dead-on-arrival proposal for his 2019 budget, which doubles the deficit spending called for by his dead-on-arrival 2018 budget. The scheme, described Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as "morally bankrupt", also includes what he and corporate media (inaccurately) have been referring to as a $1.5 trillion Infrastructure Plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, airports and much more. That scheme would actually invest just $200 billion in federal money, with the rest being paid for, in theory, by cash-strapped states and wealthy private corporations --- even as the $200 billion in proposed federal spending actually comes by way of cuts to the Dept. of Transportation and EPA. In other words, as we detail today, his $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, is really a $0 infrastructure program, in which we sell off our national assets to private companies. Other than that, it sounds great!

Then, speaking of Trump scams, we're joined by President Obama's former chief economist at the Department of Labor, HEIDI SHIERHOLZ, now Senior Economist and Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, to discuss the Trump Dept. of Labor's new plan to steal tips earned by service professionals and give it to restaurant owners instead. No, really.

"There is long-standing practice by the DOL that interpreted tips as belonging to the workers who earned them. That was codified in a 2011 rule, that just said very clearly, 'Employers, you can't take tips, they belong to the workers who earned them." What this proposed rule does is it just rescinds those regulations --- it says employers can do whatever they want with worker's tips, as long as they pay workers minimum wage," Shierholz tells me. "This has been a dream of the National Restaurant Association, which is the big industry group for restaurants forever. [Trump's DoL] cared so much about giving a big gift to the National Restaurant Association, that they were willing to propose a rule that would literally shift billions of dollars from workers to employers."

And, as if that's not outrageous enough, as Bloomberg Law revealed earlier this month, it turns out the DoL, when asking for Public Comment on this new rule, withheld their own agency's analysis, finding the new scheme would transfer billions of dollars from wait staff to the restaurant owners themselves, who'd get to keep anything earned above the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.35 hour! Shierholz details how the Department is hoping to scam the public by not including their own analysis of the cost of this new rule, even as her own organization's analysis estimates that the new regulation, allowing owners to keep tip money, could transfer nearly $6 billion annually await from wait staff, and potentially as much as $13 billion each year.

"But this is the key: there are rules that they have to follow as a part of the rule-making process, and it includes, very clearly, that they have to do a very comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. They have to estimate the impacts of the rule on workers. We now know that they did do that. But it looked really bad, and so they tried to bury it."

Yup. Prepare yourself to pay up once again to defend still more lawsuits filed against this lawless Administration.

We also discuss how this rule, if finalized, will adversely affect women in particular, who stand to lose $4.6 billion of the $5.8 taken from tipped workers each year. "The fact they are forging ahead with this, despite knowing how bad it is for workers, really is primarily about their far greater interest in supporting corporate interests over those of workers. The fact that it's massively, disproportionately going to affect women may be sort of a bonus," Shierholz quips.

Finally, with the unthinkable possibility of peace between North and South Korea breaking out over the weekend during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang --- despite the Trump Administration's determined hopes for a new, potentially nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula --- deadly new military skirmishes broke out between Israel, Iran and Syria over the weekend. So, just in case you're worried that all of Trump's new U.S. military spending would go for naught, don't worry! We'll always find new wars on which to spend it...while your kids can't pay for college, you can't afford medical care and the Trump Administration is stealing tips off the table.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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Also: More under-covered news, and listeners ring in from around the world, including a call from one REALLY angry Trumper...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast, more news you need to know about in 2018, while cable news hypnotizes you with everything else. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Today, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a new report tallying up the extraordinary costs of weather and climate disasters in the United States during 2017. All told, the damage adds up to a record-shattering $306 billion from devastating hurricanes, droughts, fires, floods, freezes and more last year, as our climate crisis continues to worsen, just as scientists have long warned.

But the corporate media, particularly cable news channels, instead of covering stories you need to know, continue their 24/7 speculation about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller may or may not be up to, the salacious fall-out from Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury book, and now whether Oprah Winfrey will run for President in 2020 following her barn-burner speech at the Golden Globes last night. (Full transcript/video)

Instead, we continue our efforts to focus on stuff that matters to voters in 2018, which they are far less likely to have heard about on those same cable channels. Among those other stories covered today, in addition to our climate-related nightmares: At year's end, the Trump Administration gutted more regulations intended to protect the elderly in nursing homes(!), and continues to cut from the federal work force those who help protect American workers from injury and death on the job at construction sites and manufacturing plants, and anyone who lives near sites containing dangerous chemicals.

Then we open up the phone lines to listeners with other under-covered news and get a bunch of interesting calls, including one from a pharmacist reporting a dangerous saline and antibiotics shortage due to the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, where many of the manufacturers were once located and where power is still out for more than a million U.S. citizens following Hurricanes Irma and Maria more than 100 days ago.

But our favorite callers, as usual, are the rightwingers and conspiracy theorists and we get some humdingers today. Don't miss the call from a VERY angry woman by the name of Shannon! She straightens us all out with the truth about "fake news" and "illegal aliens". :-)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with George Lakey on democratic socialism in action; James Forman, Jr. on equal rights for minorities; Jessica Bruder on the itinerant white underclass...
By Angie Coiro on 12/29/2017 5:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, guest hosted by my own self, Angie Coiro, we have a whole passel of topics to cover.

First up, we deal as quickly as possible with the latest eye-rolling idiocy from Trump. Then - what a contrast! - the amazing, multi-faceted GEORGE LAKEY – long-time activist and educator who’s been arrested for righteous causes more times than he can remember. His latest book Viking Economics explores four Scandinavian countries, and how their democratic socialist economic models can transfer to the US. Maybe we should at least look at countries that have eliminated poverty – yes, he says: eliminated poverty.

There’s a lot that’s heartbreaking about Erica Garner suffering a heart attack reportedly brought on by asthma. Turns out there’s a racial component to that, with African American children twice as likely to suffer from asthma. Following that – a conversation with JAMES FORMAN, JR. He puts the ongoing battle for equal rights and respect in the context of drug laws passed and enforced by well-meaning minorities. Those very groups have suffered the most from those laws.

Finally – who got those holiday gifts out of those big-box warehouses so they could sparkle under your tree? With Amazon and other retailers reporting record sales, JESSICA BRUDER introduces a hidden subculture: white, formerly middle class Americans living on the roads, moving from job to job with the seasons. It’s a strange, symbiotic relationship between these mobile citizens and the companies that hire them: Amazon, Walmart, state and federal park concessionaires, food giants. The companies provide living accommodations but barely-living wages; some nomads work 24 hours a day while getting paid for eight. Jessica’s book Nomadland was selected by the New York Times as one of the 100 notable books of 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(And a few sugar plums, too!)
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2017 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: He's a mean one. But you already knew that. So, we'll try not to let him ruin Christmas, at least if we can help it. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

As Christmas nears, why not become even more of a pariah to the rest of the world by literally threatening friends and foes alike at the United Nations over Trump's unpopular plan to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the divided city of Jerusalem? That's what UN Ambassador Nikki Haley did on Thursday, and it wasn't taken kindly --- by friend or foe. She also repeatedly lied about support from Americans for the dangerous scheme. (They're strongly against it, including a plurality of American Jews, though Trump and the GOP's big donors are in favor of it.) The move is just the latest by this Administration to cause U.S. standing in the world to plummet even further since taking office. So much for making American "great again".

But, there is some good news today for Americans who favor health care, as the Administration is forced to admit that sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") this year were nearly as high as they were under President Obama last year, despite the Trump Administration defunding advertisement and assistance for the Open Enrollment period, cutting its length in half, and Trump's repeated lies that is Obamacare is "dead", "gone", "imploding", etc. In the bargain, as many Americans now favor government-run healthcare as those who prefer a private healthcare system. That, after Americans had previously preferred a private insurance system by nearly 30 points in the same poll back in 2010, before Obamacare was initially enacted.

And more good news before the holidays: another completely unqualified nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench has withdrawn, though the GOP is still jamming similarly unqualified nominees through the Senate confirmation process at a record pace.

Next, Desi Doyen joins us for another busy Green News Report with some discouraging news, with the passage of the GOP tax bill, for the pristine Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and for victims of our quickly increasing climate-fueled natural disasters, but also some encouraging news elsewhere in the world.

And, finally, since it's Desi and my last show before Christmas --- (Though not the last BradCast before Christmas! Angie Coiro sits in for tomorrow's show with her exclusive interview with AL GORE!) --- it seems only fitting today to end today with a dramatic holiday reading of How the Trump Stole America.

Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!...

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

(h/t Mark Fiore for today's logo graphic!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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