The BRAD BLOG Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! 2018-04-22T13:16:02Z Copyright 2018 WordPress PDiddie <![CDATA[Sunday 'Consensual Collusion' Toons]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12553 2018-04-22T13:16:02Z 2018-04-22T13:16:02Z Toons

Rest in Peace, Quaker Oats

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Perry Dorrell blogs as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, usually on topics concerning the strange brew of Texas politics. He's also on Twitter @PDiddie.


]]> Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Senate GOP Twists Obscure Law to Gut Decades-Old Regulations (Forever): 'BradCast' 4/20/2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12552 2018-04-21T01:13:34Z 2018-04-21T01:13:34Z BRAD BLOG Media Appearance DNC U.S. Constitution Journalist Intimidation Accountability U.S. House FBI U.S. Senate Republicans WikiLeaks KPFK Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Russia James Comey BradCast Wells Fargo Robert Mueller Mick Mulvaney CFPB Pat Toomey On today's BradCast: As usual, the big headlines obscure the most disturbing ones. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
[See post to listen to audio]

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]]> Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Senate Confirms Climate Science Denier as NASA Chief: 'BradCast' 4/19/2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12551 2018-04-20T01:30:59Z 2018-04-20T01:30:59Z Florida Election Reform Arizona BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Kansas Accountability Environment U.S. Senate Voter Registration John McCain Rudolph Giuliani KPFK Donald Trump Mitch McConnell North Dakota Oil Climate change NASA Kris Kobach Ted Cruz BradCast Puerto Rico Jeff Flake Election 2018 Mike Pompeo Robert Mueller Heidi Heitkamp Jim Bridenstine Beto O'Rourke Several stories --- pretty much all of them --- on today's BradCast, serve as trenchant reminders of the importance of elections, particularly with majority control of the U.S. Senate now hanging in the balance in this November's mid-terms. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories both covered and elucidated upon today...

  • Former prosecutor and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani joins Donald Trump's legal defense team hoping to "negotiate an end" to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Team Trump;
  • After a months-long struggle on Thursday, the U.S. Senate barely managed to confirm the wholly unqualified Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK, pictured above), a long-time, wildly partisan, non-scientist climate science denier to head NASA, the $20 billion federal agency which, among other things, tracks key climate change-related data for the world;
  • Vulnerable Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota announces she will vote in favor of Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo (also a climate denier), seemingly all but assuring Pompeo's otherwise still-troubled confirmation process;
  • GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, Kansas Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach is held in contempt of federal court for a second time, receiving an humiliating drubbing from a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge for repeatedly and "disingenuously" misleading the court in a major voter suppression case in the state, affecting tens of thousands of voters;
  • The Republican-controlled state legislature in Arizona attempts a sneaky maneuver to try and prevent voters from filling a vacated U.S. Senate seat for as long as two and a half years, should one occur, as Sen. John McCain battles brain cancer. (They now appear to be backing off the scheme.);
  • And, in Texas, a new poll finds Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic challenger to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, now within the poll's margin of error to unseat Cruz in what had previously been the very "red" Lone Star State;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as power was knocked out again across the entire island of Puerto Rico, more climate liability suits are filed against two more oil companies and the state of Florida, and the world prepares for Earth Day this weekend, with a focus on fighting the pollution scourge of plastic...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
[See post to listen to audio]

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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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]]> Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - April 19, 2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12550 2018-04-19T18:34:50Z 2018-04-19T18:34:50Z Florida Colorado Environment Green News Donald Trump Climate change Rick Scott Extreme weather Exxon Mobil Oceans Hurricane Maria

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Puerto Rico's fragile electric grid hit by another island-wide blackout; New studies warn the Gulf Stream current is slowing down; Earth Day 2018 focused on ending plastic pollution; PLUS: Oil industry slapped with two new climate liability lawsuits... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): You can turn red states green when you tell people the scientific consensus on climate change; GOP scrambles to keep 'Dark Lord Of Coal Country' from WV Senate nomination; EPA's Pruitt under spending probe; Second death reported with OK wildfires, threat 'historic'; U.S. food waste has staggering environmental footprint; Destructive nutria swamp rodents are knocking on CA's door; Trump’s EPA quietly revamps rules for air pollution; Why Australia's autumn has felt more like summer; Study reveals new Antarctic process contributing to sea level rise and climate change; GOP maneuver could roll back decades of regulation... PLUS: What Earth Day means when humans possess planet-shaping powers... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page


FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Brad Friedman <![CDATA['Dark Lord of Coal Country' Rising, GOP Panicking Before U.S. Senate Primary in West Virginia: 'BradCast' 4/18/2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12549 2018-04-19T01:44:16Z 2018-04-19T01:44:16Z Election Reform West Virginia BRAD BLOG Media Appearance New York Rights And Freedoms Kansas Accountability U.S. Senate Voter Registration Dept. of Defense Democrats Republicans KPFK Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Coal Syria NVRA Kris Kobach BradCast Donald Blankenship Andrew Cuomo James Mattis Election 2018 Joe Manchin Robert Mueller ACLU AUMF Cynthia Nixon Yes, my guest argues on today's BradCast, West Virginia Republicans may very well nominate a man just out of jail on charges related to the deaths of 29 coal miners to be their nominee for the U.S. Senate this year. [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

    But, before we head down to Coal County for that conversation today, a few news headlines...Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to prevent a bi-partisan proposal for protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Donald Trump, from coming to the Senate floor for a full vote, even if, as now appears likely, the bill is approved by the GOP-lead Senate Judiciary Committee.

    The notoriously obstructionist McConnell also appears ready to block any new Congressional military Authorization for the Use of Force --- as currently being considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --- citing, along with GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, the AUMFs from 2001 and 2002, for authorization of war against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Iraq after 9/11, as valid enough approval for Trump to bomb Syria, however he sees fit. Speaking of which, the NYTimes is reporting that Defense Secretary James Mattis had tried to insist that Trump obtain Congressional authorization before attacking Syria last week, but was overruled by the President.

    Meanwhile, in Kansas today, a federal judge found GOP Sec. of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court, amidst the long-watched ACLU cases challenging a state law he'd championed, which has kept thousands of otherwise valid voters off the rolls for failing to provide proof of citizenship documents to the state. Kobach, one of the nation's leading Republican "voter fraud" fraudsters, was slapped by the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge in her ruling [PDF] and ordered to pay the ACLU's legal fees for the contempt hearing. This is the second time that Kobach, now a candidate for the 2018 Republican nomination for Governor in Kansas, has been found in contempt.

    Also today, in more good news for voters, New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, facing a primary challenge from progressive actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, announced a plan to immediately restore voting rights to some 35,000 parolees by executive order.

    Then, we're joined by West Virginia's own BOB KINCAID, the always-colorful, long-time radio host and President of West Virginia's Coal River Mountain Watch, to discuss the remarkable re-emergence of disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy CEO who was released from prison last year following a one-year sentence for his involvement in safety violations at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed 29 workers in 2010.

    Blankenship, to the supposed horror of establishment GOPers, is running for the party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in the state's May 8th primary, in hopes of taking on incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Remarkably, Blankenship's fortunes appear to be rising, just three weeks out from a contest against a number of very Trumpy primary opponents. That has now forced the national GOPers to form a "local" PAC to purchase ads that take on Blankenship by pretending to be against Massey's coal-related pollution of drinking water in the state. In return, Blankenship is now firing back at his former ally Mitch McConnell.

    "It's all swamp," Kincaid says. "Don Blankenship is the ultimate swamp. If McConnell is a swamp Captain, then Don Blankenship is a swamp Field Marshal. Remember, [McConnell] got behind a Supreme Court candidate in this state some years back solely so that he could protect Massey Energy from a jury verdict that they deserved --- trying to make sure that verdict would be overturned once it got to the [state] Supreme Court. That's swampy behavior if anything is."

    Kincaid details the once-wildly powerful Blankenship's deadly background and the contours of the now-bizarre race --- which is beginning to echo Roy Moore's disastrous GOP run for the U.S. Senate in Alabama last December --- in a state where Trump won by some 40 points in 2016 and the conservative Manchin is considered to be amongst the most vulnerable Democratic Senators up for re-election this year.

    "They really don't know quite what to do with him because, frankly, Don Blankenship doesn't give a damn. He has that in common with Geezer Disgustus over in the White House. It seems like everything just bounces of off him. Mainly because he can just push it off to one side, he can run his own ads, he can finance his own campaign. There's a certain element of people in this state who would vote for the Devil himself --- and Blankenship is pretty close --- if he said 'I hate that Obama'," argues Kincaid, adding, "There's a whole lot of white-lash still left in West Virginia."

    We also discuss what progressives --- whose own Democratic primary candidate, Paula Jean Swearengin, does not appear to be gaining traction in the state --- ought to do this November, if faced with a choice between a vote for the coal-loving corporatist Manchin and whoever becomes the GOP nominee amid our ever-deepening, Trump-induced national emergency.

    "The fact of the matter is, we've been in a Constitutional crisis ever since the Electoral College failed to do that which the Framers said the Electoral College was designed to do. And if you let this Congress continue, there is no hope whatsoever of saving the Republic," he warns...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

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    ]]> Brad Friedman <![CDATA['Corrupt Intent': 'BradCast' 4/17/2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12548 2018-04-18T01:25:04Z 2018-04-18T01:25:04Z Pennsylvania Sean Hannity BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Rights And Freedoms U.S. Constitution Impeachment Accountability U.S. House Environment Immigration Republicans U.S. Supreme Court EPA KPFK Donald Trump IRS/Taxes Charlie Dent BradCast Apple Google Scott Pruitt Election 2018 Robert Mueller Michael Cohen 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...
    [See post to listen to audio]

    * * *
    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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    ]]> Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - April 17, 2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12547 2018-04-17T18:24:37Z 2018-04-17T18:24:37Z United Nations Environment GAO Democrats Green News EPA Coal Wind Solar Climate change Apple Transportation Paris Agreement Dept. of Interior Scott Pruitt Public lands Joe Manchin

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Federal watchdogs find EPA violated the law on behalf of embattled Administrator Scott Pruitt; Senate confirms coal industry lobbyist for deputy EPA chief; Global shipping industry reaches first-ever agreement to cut emissions; Interior Department scraps big increases in national park entry fees; PLUS: Tech giants Google and Apple go 100% renewable... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

    Link:
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    Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

    IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Trump administration clips the wings of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; Kids are suing Gov. Rick Scott to force Florida to take action on climate change; 2 Canada Provinces Feud Over Pipeline; In North Carolina, Hog Waste Is Becoming A Streamlined Fuel Source; Zinke Failed To Disclose Campaign Ties To Speech Host; Shell Defends Climate Strategy In Clash With Investors; Mass. Top Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation... PLUS: San Francisco’s Big Seismic Gamble... and much, MUCH more! ...

    STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

    'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

    For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page


    FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Trump's Unlawful, Unauthorized, Impeachable, Evidence-Free 'Mission Accomplished' in Syria: 'BradCast' 4/16/2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12546 2018-04-17T01:23:24Z 2018-04-17T01:23:24Z Sean Hannity BRAD BLOG Media Appearance U.S. Constitution Impeachment United Nations Accountability U.S. House U.S. Senate Barack Obama Dept. of Defense Democrats Republicans Michigan Nancy Pelosi Bush Legacy KPFK Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Russia Paul Ryan Syria Justin Amash BradCast Barbara Lee Rick Snyder James Mattis Stormy Daniels/Stephanie Clifford Michael Cohen On today's BradCast: Bill Maher quipped Friday night that the U.S. attack, with France and Britain, on Syria was code-named "Operation Desert Stormy", an attempt by Donald Trump to force his legal and ethical nightmares off the front pages. It didn't work. [Audio link to show follows below.]

    On Sunday night, fired FBI Director James Comey described Trump as "morally unfit" for the Presidency in a prime-time ABC News interview, and on Monday, just before air today, Sean Hannity of Fox "News" was revealed in federal court to be a secret client of Trump's hush money payoff "fixer" Michael Cohen, and Cohen and Trump's motion to review documents seized in the raid on Cohen's office and residences last week was denied (for now) by the federal judge.

    Nonetheless, before it's forgotten entirely in the fog of Trump Scandal, we focus mostly today on the fact that the pre-dawn bombing of Damascus by US and its allies, said to be in response to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people a week earlier in Douma, was done without any actual hard evidence of a chemical attack or who was actually responsible for it. Trump's Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted as much during Congressional hearings just one day before more than 100 cruise missiles were unleashed on supposedly chemical weapons-related facilities in Damascus. (No proof was offered to buttress the claim about those facilities either.)

    Moreover, there is absolutely no legal authority whatsoever for Trump's attack --- either domestically or internationally --- despite various claims to the contrary. Shamefully, most of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats alike, have so far failed to demand accountability for the unconstitutional use of military force (even after threatening President Obama with impeachment when he wanted to launch a similar attack in response to an alleged Syrian chemical attack in 2013).

    For his part, the hapless Trump, who mercilessly derided Obama for calling for Syrian airstrikes in 2013, took to Twitter on Saturday to echo George W. Bush's infamous appearance on a U.S. Aircraft Carrier in 2003 after the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Syria.

    Friday's unlawful US attack, as we also discuss today, is believed to have cost some $200 million. That could have paid for the replacement of all of Flint, MI's lead water pipes some four times over, as new studies reveal that reading proficiency levels for third-graders in Flint has plummeted in the wake of the lead drinking water contamination crisis. That continuing crisis came about after MI's Gov. Rick Snyder (R), following his election in 2010, ordered an Emergency Manager takeover of the city and a subsequent change to its water supply.

    As one caller observed today, some poisoned children, like those in Syria apparently, seem to be a larger concern for the Trump Administration than others...no matter the evidence or lack thereof...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

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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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    ]]> PDiddie <![CDATA[Sunday 'One Raid Begets Another' Toons]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12545 2018-04-15T13:24:53Z 2018-04-15T13:24:53Z Toons

    * * *

    Perry Dorrell blogs as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, usually on topics concerning the strange brew of Texas politics. He's also on Twitter @PDiddie.


    ]]> Brad Friedman <![CDATA[As Trump Goes Ugly, How Dems Can 'Fight Dirty' to Win for the Country: 'BradCast' 4/13/2018]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12544 2018-04-14T01:41:16Z 2018-04-14T01:41:16Z California Election Reform Scooter Libby CIA Leak Case BRAD BLOG Media Appearance U.S. Constitution Accountability U.S. House U.S. Senate RNC Democrats Republicans U.S. Supreme Court Washington D.C. EPA KPFK Donald Trump Coal James Comey BradCast Puerto Rico Scott Pruitt Election 2018 Neil Gorsuch Election 2020 Michael Cohen On one of the ugliest political days in recent memory (and they are likely to get still uglier --- and deadlier, as Trump launches a military attack against Syria moments ago), we fight our way on today's BradCast, out of the slime to look beyond the near horizon for how progressives can change structural impediments in our political system, just as soon as Democrats are able to regain majorities in both Congress and the White House. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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