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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, November 20, 2018
It's the Stupid, Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/20/18
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on a fire hose of news, from Ivanka's emails to Whitaker's appointment to Trump's court trouble to midterm gerrymandering push-back...
'Green News Report' 11/20/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Turn in weather is good news and bad for catastrophic CA wildfires; Admin using tragedy to push for logging; PLUS: Networks fail to connect dots to climate change...
Previous GNRs: 11/15/18 - 11/13/18 - Archives...
GOP Voter Suppression
Did the Trick in FL, GA: 'BradCast' 11/19/18
Also: CA wildfire update; Key midterm races called in CA, AZ; Runoffs coming up in GA, MS; Callers ring in on all of the above...
Sunday Sort-of-a-Pyrokinetic Toons of the Moment
Horrific wildfires rage in California, as Trump rages in the aftermath of the midterm elections in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
'Blue Wave' Still Growing Despite GA Guv Setback, Theft: 'BradCast' 11/16/18
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Staggering new CA wildfire numbers; Orange County, CA turns 'Blue'; Abrams announces Kemp will 'win' GA election, vows suppression lawsuit...
FL 'Machine Recount' Exten-sion Denied, 'Hand Recounts' Begin: 'BradCast' 11/15/18
Also: The prob w/ Vote-by-Mail ballot sig-natures; Dems win House seat in ME Ranked Choice 'runoff'; GA's illegitimate Guv election...
'Green News Report' 11/15/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Death toll still rising as CA fires rage and state preps for tomorrow's disasters; Top EPA official indicted on corruption charges; PLUS: New Dems push for bold action on climate change...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/18 - 11/8/18 - Archives...
Lawsuits Fly in FL 'Recount' Mess:
'BradCast' 11/14/18
The fight to count every vote in FL and GA gets messier still, as Dems pick up another U.S. House seat; Also: Ernie Canning on CNN's lawsuit against Trump White House...
CNN Files Legal Action Against White House to Restore Acosta Press Credentials
News oulet cites violations of First, Fifth Amendment rights by Trump, Huckabee-Sanders, Secret Service...
New Court Rulings Favor Voters Amid FL, GA Counting Fiascos: 'BradCast' 11/13/18
Guest: CommonCauseGA's Sara Henderson; Also: Dems flip Senate seat in AZ; Melania wants NSA official fired...
'Green News Report' 11/13/18
N. Cal fire now most deadly in state history; Kids' landmark climate suit placed on hold, again; PLUS: Federal judge halts all work on Keystone XL pipeline...
FL 2000 'Recount' Chief: State 'Cannot Physically' Complete 'Recounts' by Deadline: 'BradCast' 11/12/18
Guest: FL's Ion Sancho; Also: CA fires; Sinema wins Senate in AZ; Legal fight for GA Guv...
Sunday 'VFW' Toons
(Veterans Forgotten by Washington)
PDiddie's weekly toons nod to those gone and forgotten by some, and those not gone, but who we'd like to forget...
Election Battles Rage in FL, GA:
'BradCast' 11/9/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ latest on election counts; Also: Law360's Amber McKinney on DACA; D.D. Guttenplan on progressivism's future...
Dems' Challenge to FL 'Sig-nature Mismatch' Law Could Determine Guv, Senate Races
Even former Democratic Rep. Murphy disenfranchised when ballot was rejected...
'Green News Report' 11/8/18
Big wins, losses for environment in 2018 midterms: Science to return to the House Science Comm, Big Oil money crushes state energy ballot measures...
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...

Taking the voters' pulse with open phone lines and more...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2018 6:06pm PT  

After another long (though important) fund drive at KPFK, our Pacifica Radio Network flagship station here in Los Angeles, we're finally able to open the phones to hear from listeners on today's BradCast. [Audio link follows below.]

It's been a harrowing and deadly week --- and weekend --- filled with Rightwing hate and hate mongering (coincidentally, one week before Election Day for the most important election most of us have ever lived through). So, today we kick open the phones to callers on all of the above to get a sense of where things stand at this point and to help answer a bunch of questions about the crucial midterms.

Listeners ring in with questions about reported voting problems and voter suppression around the country and failing voting machines. Also, we discuss what voters can do beyond voting to participate in democracy over the next week or so.

And then there's the caller who rang in to explain why he says he has never voted, and doesn't plan to this year either. As you might imagine, both I, and a whole bunch of callers, have a few thoughts for that guy on today's program. Enjoy!...

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

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Guest: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Trump fan charged in mail bombings...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2018 6:45pm PT  

Among the many stories covered on today's BradCast, a bit more than one week from the crucial midterm Election Day. [Audio link follows below.]...

  • A 56-year old white man from Florida, suspected of sending mail bombs to about a dozen perceived enemies of Donald Trump, is arrested and charged with federal crimes. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the alleged MAGABomber, Cesar Sayoc, Jr. turns out to be a huge fan of Donald Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fails to call it terrorism;
  • In Tennessee, a state court rules in favor of voting rights advocates who sued to require Shelby County (Memphis) election officials to allow thousands of new registrants to cure any alleged omissions or errors on their voter registration applications through Election Day, and to allow those voters to vote on normal, not provisional, ballots. The Republican-majority commission in the very Democratic-leaning county, has said they would appeal the ruling. The matter could be crucial to the tight race for U.S. Senate between popular former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the contest to fill the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker;
  • In Georgia, massive attempted voter suppression overseen by Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, should qualify the entire state as a crime scene, at this point. More troubling news along those lines today, as the DeKalb County Election Commission appears to have lost nearly 5,000 vote-by-mail applications. The Democratic Party claims they turned in 4,700 requests, but the County tells the NYTimes they only received 48! The potential disenfranchisement of thousands of voters could effect the tight gubernatorial race between Kemp and African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams. Given the massive suppression attempts in the state, I don't see how a Kemp victory could possibly be seen as legitimate;
  • In Texas, amid the very tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke, many of the 100% unverifiable electronic voting machines used across the state are reportedly selecting Cruz during some attempts at straight ticket Democratic votes. State and county election officials confirm the problem with their voting systems made by Hart-Intercivic of Austin has existed for years. Nonetheless, they are blaming voters, rather than themselves or Hart, their private election vendor, for the failure. That, despite conceding that it is those systems, used in many TX counties, that are at the root of the problem for voters;
  • Finally, we're joined by energy and politics writer DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, to discuss a very important initiative on the ballot in Washington state this year. Roberts explains Initiative 1631, which, if adopted on November 6th, would create a price for carbon pollution by creating a fee for the use of fossil fuels that cause global warming. The revenue raised by the measure would be used to fund key initiatives to improve the environment and help middle and lower income Americans. Roberts describes, as he recently wrote in much more detail, how the new initiative differs from the revenue-neutral carbon tax which failed at WA polls in 2016, and how the fossil fuel industry is spending tens of millions to crush this effort (just as they did in 2016).

    All of this on a week, which we also discuss, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has staked his 2019 re-election chances on a new national carbon tax and dividend policy. The politically courageous effort was announced this week, despite what is predicted to be a neck-and-neck contest next year with his Conservative Party opponent. The scheme would tax the use of fossil fuels and send all revenue from the measure straight back to Canadians each year in the form of a check.

    Expect to see many more such efforts both in North America and across the world, to place a price on carbon pollution, as the globe continues to warm while fossil fuel companies continue to pollute the atmosphere for free. As Roberts notes: "Civilization is on the line."

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

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Guest: DuPage, IL County Clerk candidate Jean Kaczmarek; Also: In wake of still more mail bombs, Trump, White House return to attacks on media, Rightwing pounces on conspiracies...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Like clockwork the righwing conspiracy theories regarding pipe bombs begin, as do the voting system failures around the country, less than two weeks before this year's crucial midterm election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, a few quick updates on the mail bombs sent to several of the many vilified political critics of Donald Trump. In addition to explosive devices sent this week to former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, John Brennan, Rep. Maxine Waters, George Soros and CNN, additional similar packages were reported today to have been delivered to former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert DeNiro. Where Trump and the White House called for unity and an end to divisive rhetoric on Wednesday, for about 5 minutes, both Trump and WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly renewed their vitriolic attacks on the media shortly thereafter and again on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, as investigators reportedly focus on Florida as a possible source for the packages, the rightwing quickly cranked up conspiracy theories about the explosive devices being "fake bombs" meant to discredit the President in advance of the November 6 midterms.

Meanwhile, voting is already underway for those elections, as are the lawsuits aiming to prevent voter suppression and election fraud. A federal judge on Wednesday determined that Georgia may not discard absentee ballots on the basis of "signature mismatch" as determined by partisan officials with no training in hand-writing analysis. The state's legal defense for that statute was rather amazing, as we discuss. Happily, it was thoroughly dismissed by the U.S. District Court judge.

Also, the NAACP has filed official complaints with the state regarding reports of votes flipping in at least four counties on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Votes are reportedly hopping repeatedly from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to her opponent, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees and has long defended the states easily-hacked and oft-failed Diebold touchscreen systems. We explain, however, why the reported flips are not likely to be hacks, but why that also doesn't really matter.

Similar, completely predictable voting system and ballot programming failures are beginning to rear their ugly head in other states as well with early, in-person voting now underway in some 30 states. The name of the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State in Arkansas was discovered left off of the touchscreen ballots in one Arkansas county, leading to lost votes and poll closures. And in DuPage County, Illinois, a fiasco erupted this week surrounding the appearance on the ballot (or lack thereof) for a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives, resulting in election officials scrambling to distribute paper ballots to early voting locations where, normally, only touchscreen systems are available to voters.

We're joined today by longtime DuPage County election integrity champion and government watchdog JEAN KACZMAREK, who is now the Democratic candidate for County Clerk in DuPage. She joins us to explain what is only the latest mess in a years-long stream of computer voting and tabulation system boondoggles by the Election Commission in the heavily Republican-leaning suburban county west of Chicago, where she has now been endorsed by the local Daily Herald.

Kaczmarek also details the County's astonishing refusal to provide her with serial numbers for the replacement paper-ballot scanners scavenged from unknown sources and recently supplied to the County by its private voting system contractor to replace more than 100 of the machines (originally purchased from Diebold in 2001) after they were damaged by an astounding failure during this year's March primary. The County has told the County Clerk candidate that their refusal to provide her with the serial numbers --- so she may try and determine where the machines were previously used --- is due to a bizarre "security risk" claim.

"I'm concerned mostly because of the lack of a chain of custody. At least the old machines that are in DuPage County have been stored here, and have been maintained here. Yes, I do have issues with those machines, but we do have that," Kaczmarek tells me. "But these other machines, we have no idea where they've been, who has maintained them, how much mileage they have. And I'm concerned there might be problems on these machines, perhaps a virus."

Her concerns are not without warrant, and are similar to such replacement schemes by mystery machines in other states, such as Wisconsin and elsewhere. Earlier this year, for example, at the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, attendees discovered Chinese pop tunes and other software on voting systems recently discarded by elections officials around the country. "Here we are again," she says. "We have no transparency and accountability, and we're told to trust the results."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with a bunch of pretty major environment news regarding a massive hurricane striking U.S. territories in the Pacific, a record year for tropical cyclones, New York state's new lawsuit against ExxonMobil charging the company defrauded investors regarding climate change, and a landmark new carbon tax announced this week by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau...

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

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Guest: Shelby County, TN Democratic Chair Corey Strong; Also: Good news for GA voters; Bad news for ExxonMobil; Pipe bombs sent to Obama, Clinton, CNN, other Dem targets of Trump's 'right-wing ire'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2018 6:29pm PT  

It was a dark day on Wednesday, but there were a few rays of light that managed to shine through anyway on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We'll start here with the grim news. Pipe bombs were discovered to have been sent to perceived political enemies targeted by Donald Trump, including former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and CNN. The explosive devices each appear to have been sent by the same person and follow on a similar one sent to Democratic Party funder George Soros earlier this week. All the intended targets have been widely derided for months, if not years, by Trump, Fox "News" and their many Republican followers.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But, as discussed today, the biggest surprise may be how long it has taken for something like this to happen, given the President of the United States --- and his fellow Republicans --- targeting their opponents and the corporate media as the "enemy of the people" with increasingly vitriolic attacks as the midterms approach.

Next up: Tens of thousands of voter registrations were recently rejected by Shelby County (Memphis), Tennessee election officials, with thousands more not yet even processed, even as Early Voting began in the state last week, and the November 6th midterms are now less than two weeks away. Moreover, many of those rejected voters haven't been notified and given a chance to cure the problem, in the very Democratic-leaning, majority-minority county.

The non-partisan Tennessee Black Voter Project, which submitted some 36,000 registration applications in recent months, has threatened the County with legal action. In turn, the County's Republican-led Board of Elections has blamed the Project for turning in a "staggering" number of registrations, many allegedly with what they claim to be errors or missing information. (The group is required to turn in ALL registration forms collected, whether or not they contain either major or minor errors when filled in by prospective voters.)

We're joined today by Shelby County Democratic Party Chair COREY STRONG to explain the hurdles that voting rights advocates there are now actively attempting to overcome, and the history of voter suppression that, he explains, African-American voters in Memphis continue to face this year.

He charges that local officials are disenfranchising minority voters. "We have a history of our Election Commission in Shelby County not necessarily taking it upon themselves to really uphold the values of fair and just elections," he tells me. "If all of the issues end up affecting one side --- the Democratic, urban, poor, minority voters --- then you have to start asking questions, and somebody's got to be held accountable."

The battle on behalf of Shelby County voters comes amidst a reportedly very tight U.S. Senate race between popular Democratic former Governor Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, in the contest to fill the U.S. Senate of retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker. The strongly "blue" county (which went to Clinton by 30 points in 2016 in a state that went to Trump by 25 points) is "very pivotal to statewide elections," Strong explains. In this case, it's central to the state's Senate race as well as Democratic hopes of gaining control of the upper chamber and Republican efforts to hold on to their thin majority.

Strong also discusses concerns about problems during Early Voting, the failure and dangers of electronic pollbooks used across state, and the 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that voters in Memphis are still forced to use to cast their votes at the polling place

But, as noted, we do have a few rays of encouraging news on today's show as well!

On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered an injunction on Georgia's rejection of absentee ballots from disproportionately African-American voters. The rejections are said to be based on ballot signatures that allegedly do not match ones voters' signatures on file. The court found [PDF] voters were being disenfranchised by the scheme that allowed partisan, non-handwriting expert election officials to discard ballots without allowing voters an opportunity to cure any suspected problems on their mail-in ballot envelopes. According to several voting rights groups who sued Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, today's ruling is a big victory amid Kemp's tight race for Governor against African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams.

And, in a bit more good news today, the New York Attorney General, following a three-year investigation, has filed suit against ExxonMobil for an alleged "longstanding fraudulent scheme" to defraud shareholders by publicly downplaying --- and spending millions to deny and confuse the public about --- the serious risks that climate change poses to the company's bottom line. The suit could cost the company hundreds of millions, if not more, and expose Exxon to additional litigation elsewhere. According to the complaint, while publicly claiming concern about global warming as caused by their products in recent years, the company “employed internal practices that were inconsistent with its representations, were undisclosed to investors, and exposed the company to greater risk from climate change regulation than investors were led to believe"...

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

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Also: Trump's Saudi wrist slap; Bomber targets Soros; DeSantis ducks in FL; Record Early Voting in TX, GA, NV elsewhere may be misleading...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2018 6:03pm PT  

It's another very busy show on today's BradCast (for a change), exactly two weeks out from this year's crucial midterm elections. Among the stories covered [audio link to show is posted below]...

  • After Trump describes the Saudi lies about their assassination of WaPo journalist Jamal Khashoggi as "the worst" coverup "in the history of coverups" (who would know coverups better?!), the Administration announces they will revoke visas for some of those involved. Good thing those guys only chopped up a journalist instead of showing up at our border to legally claim asylum or they'd have been thrown in jail without their children for months!;
  • We finally found the "angry left wing mob"! Apparently one of them put a bomb in the mailbox of Democratic funder George Soros. That seems an odd thing for "the left" to do, doesn't it? (Happily, nobody has attempted to bomb either the Koch Brothers or the many other Republican funders like Sheldon Adelson who give far more money to GOPers than Soros has ever given to Dems.);
  • Florida's Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis really doesn't want to answer any actual questions. On Sunday, he dodged just about everything asked of him during his debate with Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum on CNN and on Monday he cancelled an hour-long interview with the Editorial Board of the USA TODAY NETWORK - Florida;
  • Rolling Stone releases audio of Georgia's Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, from a private campaign fundraising event last Friday, in which Kemp, the state's chief election official, is heard lamenting that his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams is spending millions on GOTV efforts which, he says, "continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote."

    Little wonder Kemp has spent years trying to keep Georgians from voting, supports the state's easily-hacked, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, and is being sued by at least five different voting rights organizations for the myriad ways the state has been working hard to prevent voters --- particularly African-American ones, like Abrams --- from voting;

  • In Texas (as in Georgia, Nevada, and elsewhere around the country), early voting turnout is breaking records over previous midterm elections and even nearing Presidential election numbers in some cases. But Democrats would be wise not to make too much of those numbers for a host of reasons that we discuss in detail today. Among them: evidence suggests GOP enthusiasm is up as well and lines shouldn't be as long as they are, with hours-long waits in some places, suggesting unprepared election officials and failing voting equipment which could make for a nightmarish Election Day;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more global warming-fueled hurricanes coming (including Hurricane Willa now crashing into Mexico and gunning for Texas and maybe later this week, the East Coast, as well as Typhoon Yutu barrelling towards the Marianas and Guam), more new global heat records, and some reasonably encouraging news about debates taking place around the country in advance of the November 6 midterms, where candidates are finally being asked by journalist moderators about their positions on climate change!...

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: Harold Feld of Public Knowledge; Also: Khashoggi was banned by Saudi Arabia after criticizing TRUMP; Still fighting voter suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More chilling Khashoggi news, more maddening voter suppression, and the Republican deregulation of phone companies in Florida and at the FCC have deadly consequences in the Sunshine State. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of article.]

First up today, an update on the latest in the alleged Saudi murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the wildly unreported fact that he had "self-exiled" from Saudi Arabia after being banned by the Saudis from writing and appearing on television or at conferences back in December of 2016 --- for being critical of then President-elect Donald Trump! That point seems quite important, given the Trump Administration's continuing efforts to help cover up the assassination in coordination with the Saudis and their ruling Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, after they repeatedly lied about the grisly killing of a journalist who had been mildly critical of Trump, as first reported in late 2016 and by the U.S. State Department in 2017.

Next, GOP voter suppression continues across many states in advance of the crucial November 6th midterms. Over the weekend on Twitter, President Trump lauded Georgia's Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who as Secretary of State, has been working for years to suppress tens and even hundreds of thousands of disproportionately African-American voters in the Peach State. Kemp, as the state's chief election official, is overseeing his own election in a reportedly tight race for Governor against African-American Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Trump also took the opportunity on Twitter over the weekend to falsely fan the flames of the GOP's phony claims of "VOTER FRAUD" in hopes, according to the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, of inciting government officials and law enforcement to intimidate minority voters before the crucial November 6 election. The Lawyer's Committee heads up the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline to answer question and help trouble-shoot voting problems, such as recent reports that early voters are being either turned away or forced to vote by provisional ballot --- rather than normal ones --- if the address on their ID does not match the one under which they are registered. Georgia's Photo ID voting restriction does not require registration addressees to match those on IDs (e.g. student voters who may not have in-state driver licenses or those who recently moved but have not yet updated their license.) Please contact the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline with questions about local voting laws or any problems at the polls --- and share that number far and wide over the next two weeks!

Finally, despite national media now focusing elsewhere, the devastation in Florida's Panhandle following the Category 4 Hurricane Michael two weeks ago continues and the official death toll is still rising. At the same time, power and phone service is still out in a number of rural areas, thanks in no small part to the deregulation of telecommunications company rules by Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott shortly after taking office in 2011, and by Donald Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

We're joined today by Public Knowledge's Senior Vice President HAROLD FELD, who has been warning for years about exactly such a situation. Feld explains how Scott gutted almost all of Florida's telecom company rules when he signed the "Regulatory Reform Act of 2011" and how Pai went still further when he gutted Obama-era phone company regulations in November of 2017.

Scott's 2011 measure "was a complete deregulation of the telephone industry in Florida. It removed the state Public Service Commission from any sort of jurisdiction over residential telephone service. It removed something called 'Carrier of Last Resort,' which means there always has to be a telephone provider in the area. It even removed the ability of the Public Service Commission to take complaints from consumers," Feld tells me. He describes it as "one of the most radical deregulations in the country."

As to the federal regulations scrapped by Trump's FCC, that was in response to federal regulations enacted in the wake of the disastrous performance by Verizon following SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, when copper lines were swept away, and phone companies failed to restore them, claiming that the use of cell phones meant they were no longer necessary. Obama's FCC insisted that "no repairing was not an option," says Feld. But Pai "insisted that there was no reason for any of these regulations [and] that companies have private incentive to deploy these networks, despite everything that actually happened," particularly in rural areas, following Sandy.

The Government, he notes, largely for decades has recognized "that it's always going to be profitable [to ensure service] in the cities, [but] it's not going to be profitable once you get out into the rural areas." So, it's been a value and tradition "through each upgrade of our communication network --- when we went from letters to the telegraph, from the telegraph to the telephone" to ensure service to all. But that's no longer the case.

Like Gov. Scott's Florida, Feld describes, some 37 states have lifted similar decades-old telecommunications requirements, thanks to legislation encouraged by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a privately-funded partnership between major corporations and (mostly) Republican state lawmakers.

The Republicans' deregulate-at-all-costs efforts to gut regulations --- regulations that Pai scoffed at before he became Trump's FCC Chairman --- may now be costing lives in Florida, as many in rural areas, as of late last week, remained unaccounted for, weeks after the storm. The non-partisan Public Knowledge group is suing for a reversal of those deregulations, and Florida's own Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal, a longtime resident of the Panhandle himself, is now also begging Pai to consider a reversal...

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Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: Trump praises GOP Rep's violence against journalist at MT rally, as Khashoggi assassination roils...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no longer only political pundits and activists calling for Democrats to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding several seats as soon as possible, in the wake of the Republican Party's blatant theft of the high court majority. Esteemed law professors are now joining that call. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a word or two on the President of the United States' appalling celebration of violence against journalists at a political rally in Montana on Thursday night. To the cheers of his supporters, Donald Trump praised the criminal assault on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs by Republican U.S. House member Greg Gianforte. The attack last year was carried out by Gianforte, and caught on tape, on the eve of his special election to the state's only U.S. House seat.

"Any guy that can do a body slam --- he's my kind of guy," Trump declared to laughter and wild applause from supporters at the campaign rally for Gianforte in Missoula on Thursday, lauding him as "one tough cookie." The Congressman initially lied to police after the assault, claiming that he was attacked by Jacobs. Later, after he won the election, and after a Fox News crew who witnessed the attack detailed what actually happened, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and paid a small fine in addition to performing 40 hours of community service and receiving 20 hours of anger management counseling.

Trump's disgusting --- and chilling --- praise for the violent attack against a reporter doing his job, comes amidst Trump's seeming support for Saudi Arabia following their reported assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Journalists today --- including the Guardian's Editor and the head of the White House Correspondents Association --- are decrying Trump's support for violence against reporters, despite his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution's First Amendment. We decry it --- and the dark path where it's leading --- on today's show as well.

Next, we're joined by MICHAEL KLARMAN, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School to discuss his recent essay at the Take Care Blog, detailing "Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court" if they are ever able to regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The public conversation in support of expanding the number of seats on the high court --- which can be done statutorily, without a Constitutional Amendment --- has been intensifying in recent weeks. What had begun as a call from activists to restore a Democratic majority, stolen from them by Republicans in 2016, has quickly spread to academic and legal circles.

Klarman, the author of many books on American law and history and a former clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, argues that, in addition to the GOP's historically unprecedented theft of the high court and his belief that Trump was likely elected only due to unlawful foreign interference, a host of radical actions by Republicans in recent years at both the state and federal level, leaves Democrats with only the choice to respond in kind. If not, he argues, it will be nothing less than "unilateral disarmament" and an act of "political suicide" for the party.

"It's not radical. It's responding to an extraordinary rightward shift in the Republican Party that is tearing apart the rules of democracy," he argues. "The Republicans have already packed the Court," so "unpacking" it, he says, would be warranted.

"There's a kind of sickness that's been spreading in the Republican Party for the last decade or two. It's certainly not true of all Republican voters, many of whom I think would be unaware of these things, and would have a problem with them if they knew about it," he tells me. "But the Democratic Party can't go on playing by the established norms and traditions of democracy when the Republican Party is willing to do anything to win. That's unilateral disarmament. It usually doesn't work out well for the party that disarms. So this is a fairly mild way to fight back."

"My argument is not that Democrats should control the Supreme Court at any cost --- I think that's the Republicans' position, [that] 'we get to control the Supreme Court even if it means stealing an appointment.' My position is their theft has to be offset, and put us back in the position that we ought to have been at if the seat hadn't been stolen."

He leaves the case of whether Dems should run on a promise to expand the Court, or wait until they gain back control before announcing such a plan, to political scientists, but he notes: "We're going to have to think creatively in order to rescue democracy. And that may mean occasionally fighting back in ways that Democrats don't gravitate toward naturally, and that they would prefer not to have to use at all in a normal political environment. But you can't just respond by disarming in the face of this incredible threat that the Republican Party is posing to the basic norms and institutions of democracy."

Finally today, more news on the ongoing allegations of attempted voter suppression, particularly in southern states once covered by the Voting Rights Act until the central part of the Act was gutted by SCOTUS Republicans in 2013. That, on the same day that Trump's former longtime lawyer and business partner Michael Cohen broke his media silence to plead with the American public to vote this November or face "another two or another six years of this craziness." And then we enjoy another musical close to today's show, this time from actress Jenifer Lewis, of ABC's Blackish, who explains, in song, why it's time to "Get your ass out and vote!"...

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Also: NC Elections Board found unconstitutional; FL Guv 'bends' election rules; Still more Repub lawmakers endorse Dems for Guv in WI, KS...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2018 6:35pm PT  

It's remarkable how one's thinking about global warming can change when a tree falls into your house, or your house is blown away entirely. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [audio link to show is posted below]...

  • Some GOPers in North Carolina are rethinking their climate change denial in the wake of Hurricane Florence;
  • Also in NC, a state court panel finds the latest GOP scheme to restructure the state Board of Election to take away power from the Democratic Governor to be unconstitutional, but allows the Board to stay in place until after the midterms, when voters will be voting on a Republican Constitutional amendment to make the otherwise unconstitutional scheme legal. And a Republican county elections board appointee in NC is forced to step down after alleging that Democrats hope to make pedophilia legal;
  • In Florida, where the death toll following last week's Hurricane Michael has climbed to 35, Republican Gov. Rick Scott issued an emergency Executive Order [PDF] to "bend" state election laws to make it easier for voters in a number of storm-ravaged counties to vote in the November 6th midterms. The new rules for eight counties in the Republican-leaning Panhandle offer leeway to county officials to declare new early voting sites, send absentee ballots to addresses other than those on file for voters, allow voters without ID to vote on normal ballots, and allows early voting to continue right up until Election Day in the affected counties. All measures that the Florida Governor and his state Republican Party have charged in the past would result in voter fraud. But, with the termed-out Scott now in his own tight race for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, he doesn't seem quite as concerned about it. (For the record, I'm in favor of these changes for voters, many of whom have had their polling places destroyed, or absentee ballots and IDs blown away in the storm. But it's a shame that Scott has shown much less concern for the voting rights of the rest of the state's more Democratic-leaning voters over the years.);
  • In Wisconsin, a fourth former Gov. Scott Walker administration cabinet secretary comes out against Walker to endorse his Democratic opponent Tony Evers in the state's very close gubernatorial contest;
  • And, in Kansas, a second former Republican Governor has publicly endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly in her race against controversial Republican Sec. of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach. Former KS Gov. Mike Hayden is just the latest in a long list of current and former GOP lawmakers who have endorsed the Democrat over Kobach in a race believed to be tied between the two (though independent Greg Orman's candidacy may very well serve to throw the election to Kobach).

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with updates on Hurricane Michael, the topic of climate change finally being raised by journalists at a Texas debate for the U.S. Senate between Republican climate science denier Ted Cruz and his Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke, and some news about the one thing that could end up changing many minds about the impacts of global warming...

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Guest: Voting systems expert Dr. David Jefferson on the myth of 'secure' blockchain voting; Also: Suppression continues in GA, ND, elsewhere...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Debunking the myth of "secure" Internet Voting schemes --- even with "blockchain" technology --- as West Virginia allows overseas military voters to use their mobile phones to vote for the first time in a general election. What could possibly go wrong? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, plenty is already going wrong for voters hoping to participate in midterm elections, whether via hand-marked paper ballot or, as in Georgia, where early voting began this week, on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polling place. We've been closely following voting in the Peach State recently, given the many voter suppression schemes that have come to light in the state this year, such as the recent purging of hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls, the suspensions of more than 50,000 registrations for failing to exactly match names or addresses, down to the letter or punctuation, and an abnormally high rate of rejected absentee mail-in ballots.

Thus, it was disturbing to see a busload of elderly African-Americans from a county-run senior center blocked from voting on Monday (someone didn't like the "Black Voters Matter" bus they were using) in Jefferson County, and three-hour long lines to vote near Atlanta, on just the third official day of advance voting in the state. While some may see the reportedly huge early turnout as good news, there are also reasons to be concerned that state election officials, led by Republican Sec. of State and Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, are under-prepared for what could be enormous turnout on Election Day. Several new lawsuits have now been filed against Kemp charging racially discriminatory election practices, as his race for Governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an African-American, is believed to be very tight.

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, Native American voting rights advocates say they will be posted outside of polling places with laptop computers in hand, ready to assign official addresses and new Tribal IDs to thousands of Native Americans who will now not otherwise be allowed to vote. The effort is in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week which permitted a last minute change to ID requirements sought by state Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp this year. Some 5,000 voters who live on tribal reservations using P.O. boxes, rather than street addresses, are now blocked from voting under the new law, enacted in the wake of Heitkamp's 2012 victory by less than 3,000 votes.

But in West Virginia, officials believe they've got a sure-fire way to make sure overseas military voters are able to cast votes this year: Internet Voting via smartphone! The state is the first in the nation to allow such voters to cast a ballot via smartphone --- on a mobile app called Voatz, created by a private Boston-based technology firm --- in a live (and crucial!) general election. But, don't worry! The state and the Voatz company are quick to claim that their scheme is completely secure, since it "employs blockchain technology to ensure that, once submitted, votes are verified and immutably stored on multiple, geographically diverse verifying servers."

Blockchain, in short, is a widely distributed public ledger, or database, that is used to track Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But, as long time voting system expert and Internet Voting critic DR. DAVID JEFFERSON of Livermore National Laboratory and of Verified Voting explains on today's show, the technology solves none of the many problems with using the Internet to cast votes in American elections, as he recently detailed at the non-partisan Verified Voting site.

Jefferson, an internationally recognized expert on voting systems and elections technology, has spent much of the past two decades advising five successive California Secretaries of State on voting technology. He has also been instrumental in helping to block a number of attempted Internet Voting schemes, including one he helped analyze (and stop in its tracks) as devised by the Pentagon during the George W. Bush era.

Today, he explains why use of blockchain technology, which he describes as a "fad", fails to make the Internet any more secure or auditable when it comes to American democratic elections. "All of the most serious threats to Internet voting occur before the ballot even ever gets back to the database or the blockchain," he tells me, detailing how malware on smartphones can change votes, how the authentication of the voter is also endangered by the use of such schemes and how, despite claims to the contrary by advocates of such technologies, the accuracy of results based on votes cast via the Internet can never be audited by the public after an election.

He's hardly the only technologist to decry the scheme. TechCrunch for example, recently called the Voatz app "a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea", and Vanity Fair cited experts who describe the plan as a "horrifically bad idea". But, none of that has stopped either WV or Voatz from pressing ahead, even with this year's midterms (and potentially control of the U.S. House and Senate) on the line.

"The blockchain back end of it doesn't do anything more to secure an election than any of the other technologies do," Jefferson argues. "It doesn't even play a role until the very last stage of balloting --- after you've authenticated yourself, after you've made your ballot choices, after you've transmitted them back, only then does the blockchain play any role." And by then, he says, your vote may have been tampered with, and it's unlikely that you or anybody else would ever know.

"What if there is malware on the phone or the computer that the person is voting from? Malware that is exposing the person's vote to some third party, or is modifying the vote, or is just throwing the vote away without telling the voter, making him think he's voted but he hasn't voted. That malware is not affected by, and cannot be detected by, the blockchain or the back end at all."

"That vote may be blocked or thrown away, or otherwise disturbed by a denial of service attack, for example, on the server. A blockchain server is no more invulnerable to a denial of service attack than any other service," he warns, adding "there just isn't any possibility of auditability in any online voting system, and blockchains don't change that fact."

Jefferson's preferred technology for elections: "Hand-marked paper ballots." He details why on today's program, and also notes that newer technologies, such as Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) that require voters to use touchscreen computers to print out their selections on a paper ballot --- which many jurisdictions (including Los Angeles, the largest in the nation) are moving towards --- present similar dangers when it comes to the authentication and public auditability of election results.

"I endorse your idea that if you're going to vote in person at the precinct, the best system is to use is hand-mark a paper ballot," he explains near the end of our conversation, allowing --- as I do --- that some voters may need assistive technology to vote, but that most voters do not. And worse, as we saw today at early voting cites near Atlanta, when computers are needed to vote, it can result in long lines and suppressed votes at the precinct.

"Only three or four voters per precinct can be voting simultaneously when you only have three or four ballot marking devices. With hand-marked paper ballots, you can get twenty voters voting in parallel if you have cardboard privacy booths around, and twenty cheap pencils. There are far fewer lines built up, and the cost is so radically reduced."

Finally today, a word or two from some older voters who would really REALLY prefer if young people did not bother to vote at all this year...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Early voting fails on first day in GA; Adelson now owns the GOP; Death toll rising after Michael...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If you think the way the Republican Party has rigged and stolen the U.S. Supreme Court is appalling, just wait until you see what they're trying to do of late at a few of the state Supreme Courts! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up today: Donald Trump says the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia told him he had nothing to do with the disappearance --- and, likely, murder --- of Washington Post journalist, Saudi citizen and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The Prince's word appears to be good enough for Trump, who went on to compare the situation to the allegations of sexual assault against now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Meanwhile, the midterm elections are now exactly three weeks away and early voting got underway on Monday in Georgia where, you'll be shocked to learn, it didn't go well. After our previous coverage of ongoing racially disproportionate voter suppression schemes under the command of GA Sec. of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp (who is in a tight election contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams), and after very serious and years-long concerns about their completely unsecure, wildly hackable, and 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, it appears that the electronic pollbook systems failed across Fulton County (Atlanta) on the first day of early voting.

In not entirely unrelated news, the GOP appears to now be a wholly owned subsidiary of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Then, we move to some of the insanity of several attempted state Supreme Court coups this week with Slate's legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN. Stern joins us to detail both some good news from the Florida state Supreme Court, regarding that state's Supreme Court, and an apparent Constitutional Crisis in West Virginia after a decision by that state's Supreme Court, regarding their state Supreme Court. If it all sounds nuts, it's because it is.

First, in Florida, outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott had vowed to name three new Justices to the Court, even though the Democratic-appointed Justices he planned to replace will not be vacating their seats, because of term limits, until after Scott officially leaves office in January. Stern reports the largely good news --- with a caveat or two --- regarding the Sunshine State's Supreme Court's unambiguous ruling last week that will leave the job of appointing three new Justice to Scott's successor instead (who will be either Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum or Republican Ron DeSantis, depending on how things go on November 6th.)

Then, things get far crazier at the West Virginia state Supreme Court, where the Republican state legislature, along with Republican Gov. Jim Justice, have been attempting a coup by impeachment of all five Justices on the state's 3 to 2 Democratic-majority Court. This story has more jaw-dropping twists and turns in it than I can possibly describe here --- including five temporary replacement Justices determining that at least one of the impeachments was unconstitutional under state law and the GOP-majority state Senate which hopes to move forward with a trial anyway...if only they could only find a Justice willing to preside over it, as required by the state Constitution.

Just tune in for the insane details on how, as in Florida, West Virginia Republicans are doing anything and everything they can to blatantly steal a Democratic-majority high court.

And, as if that's not enough, Stern then reports on the wildly hypocritical decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week that will leave a new voter suppression law --- enacted by North Dakota Republicans --- in place for the November midterms. The ruling effectively changes the state's election law at the last minute before this year's general election and is likely to disenfranchise thousands of Native American voters. The ruling threatens to undermine this year's re-election chances of Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who won her previous election in 2012 by just 3,000 votes, and could assure Republicans hold their control of the U.S. Senate along with it.

Yes, elections and Supreme Courts --- be they at the federal or state level --- matter!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the long road to recovery begins and the death toll increases after the catastrophic Hurricane Michael, and as a bought-and-sold Republican Party --- from Marco Rubio in Florida to Donald Trump in the White House --- continue to deny the deadly and costly impacts of climate change on behalf of their fossil-fueled corporate owners...

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Guest: Jordan Wilkie of WhoWhatWhy; Also: Despite devastation and huge cost of recent hurricanes, Rubio, Trump offer false claims about economy to justify lack of action on climate change...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're back in L.A. after several weeks on the road (thanks to Angie Coiro for sitting in to allow us some travel time!) and with just over three weeks left until this year's crucial mid-term elections. Unfortunately, we return with still more troubling news for voters --- yet again --- in the state of Georgia. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up: After a another reminder of upcoming voter registration deadlines across the county, we have a quick update on the catastrophic and costly disaster left behind in Florida, Georgia and several other states by Hurricane Michael, which slammed the Florida Panhandle with record winds just days after Hurricane Florence dumped record rainfall onto several of the same states. Both deadly storms are precisely in line with years of scientific warnings about the catastrophic effect of man-made climate change and will now require tens of billions to be spent on recovery.

Nonetheless, over the weekend both Florida's Republican Senator Marco Rubio and President Donald Trump took to the airwaves to begrudgingly acknowledge the reality of global warming, even while offering evidence-free claims regarding its cause and utterly false claims about how taking action to stop the deadly emission of greenhouse gas emission would somehow "destroy the economy". We fact-check a number of those lies from both of the GOP climate change denialists.

Next, speaking of disasters in Florida and Georgia, an academic report last month by the University of Florida revealed that the Sunshine State had rejected approximately 1% of all mail-in absentee paper ballots over the previous two Presidential elections. That rate is about 10 times higher than for voters who vote in person (either early or on Election Day) and amounts to tens of thousands of discarded votes --- often for missing signatures or those believed by election officials to not match the one on the voter's registration file --- in the nation's third most populous and closely divided state.

As bad as that is, a startling new exclusive from WhoWhatWhy over the weekend finds that Georgia has been rejecting more than 9% of all mail-in ballots received during early absentee voting before this year's midterms. 40% of those rejections, according to the report, based on analysis from Professor Michael McDonald of the U.S. Election Project, come from one single county in the Peach State, leading McDonald to warn on Friday night that "something's going on" in the state.

The extraordinarily high rate of mail-in ballot rejection in Gwinnett County also follows a pattern seen in both Georgia and Florida: ballots cast by racial minorities are rejected at a far higher rate than those from white voters, and often for highly dubious reasons. We're joined today by criminal justice journalist and WhoWhatWhy election integrity reporter JORDAN WILKIE, who broke the story on the alarming rate of rejected absentee ballots in Georgia. Reporting from on the ground in Gwinnett, Wilkie tells me that the precise cause for the high number of rejections is "still unknown...there are a lot more stories to be told", even if it reveals a very clear pattern of suppression "disproportionately affecting minority voters."

He also reports that while Georgia law requires voters to be notified of rejected mail-in ballots, they may not be doing so in a timely manner. In Gwinnett, he says, "the county claims that after a ballot is rejected, within 72 hours a notice is going to be sent. I talked to people well outside of that timeline and they still had not been notified."

Moreover, Wilkie details how the state's process for allowing voters to cure rejected ballots is, in a word, absurd and includes just about everything other than re-registering. Such voters must re-apply for an absentee ballot, be accepted, be sent one by mail, vote it again, send it back and hope that it doesn't get rejected once again. He reports on one voter in Gwinnett who is now on his fourth attempt at casting an absentee ballot in this election!

"It's just another technical hurdle, another bureaucratic step that people are going to have to take to do something that many people aren't particularly excited to do in the first place, which is vote," he argues. "Everything that is happening here is part of a systematic effort that we've seen across Georgia --- and I come from North Carolina, and we see this across a lot of Republican-led states --- where there are just a number of barriers to vote that don't need to be there. The evidence is clear that the more barriers there are, the fewer people vote, and all these barriers disproportionately affect minority voters."

The clear pattern of race-based suppression in Georgia comes amid a "dead heat" contest in their Gubernatorial race between Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp who, as the state's chief election official, is overseeing his own contest to become the state's chief executive, and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams who, if she wins, would become the nation's first female African-American governor.

The disturbing news about absentee ballot rejection in Georgia is just the latest maddening election news out of the state, where Kemp has overseen the recent purge of hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls, more than 50,000 registrations being held in suspense for allegedly violating the state's new "exact match" law, and the continued statewide use of wildly vulnerable, easily manipulated, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems on Election Day.

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By Brad Friedman on 10/10/2018 6:57pm PT  

Among the many stories covered on today's BradCast, with vigor and no small amount of occasional vitriol. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

  • The catastrophic and climate change-fueled Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida on Wednesday as a deadly and unprecedented Category 4, the strongest ever to strike the Panhandle since record keeping began in 1851;
  • In not unrelated news, another major coal company, one of the nation's oldest, declares bankruptcy. It's the fourth to do so in the past three years;
  • ExxonMobil gets some great publicity from Bloomberg by spending just $1 million (which they generated every two minutes in 2017) in pretending to support a carbon tax scheme (that would benefit them anyway);
  • The U.S. Supreme Court allows a lower court's voter ID ruling to stand in North Dakota, despite the fact that the rule is a change from voting laws used during the April primary and is now likely to result in the disenfranchisement of thousands of Native Americans in a state where Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp faces re-election after winning by just 3,000 votes in 2012. (Here's the ridiculous effort that thousands of Native Americans without a residential address, as now required by ND law to vote, must now go through to get one registered somehow before November 6th.);
  • A state court in Missouri blocks part of their new voter ID law for being "contradictory and misleading" and "impermissibly infring[ing] on a citizen's right to vote" in the state where Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is in a very close re-election battle. Her opponent, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley is defending the law and is likely to seek an appeal from a higher state court;
  • After Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp was found to have purged hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls over the past several years, AP finds that some 53,000 voter registrations are currently in a suspended state due to GA's "exact match" rule, which allows election officials to block registrants whose names aren't listed identically to the way they are on found on file at either the state's Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. A missing hyphen or a typo by officials entering a name into one of the databases is enough to result in a suspension which, the AP finds, is disproportionately keeping black voters off the rolls. 70% of those blocked are African-Americans, even though GA’s population is just 32% black. Kemp is currently running for Governor against Stacey Abrams who, if successful on November 6th, would become the nation's first African-American female Governor;
  • Some listener mail on a recent show regarding West Virginia's Sen. Joe Manchin, who voted in favor of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court last weekend, as the coal state Democrat faces re-election after WV voted for Trump by 42 points in 2016;
  • And, finally, a viral musical ditty to close us out today on the "very scary time for young men," as Donald Trump appallingly described it, following the multiple credible allegations of sexual assault by now-Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh...

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

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Guest: Doug Pagitt of Vote Common Good; Also: Voter registration surge after Taylor Swift endorsement, Nikki Haley's mysterious (and dishonest) resignation, and Hurricane Michael intensifies before FL landfall...
By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the religious left fights back! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first: It's little wonder Fox 'News' doesn't like it when celebrities on the left speak out about politics. Sure, it's fine when a Republican actor or TV celebrity with zero political background runs for and becomes President of the United States. But if a singer or comedian sports hero on the left dares have an opinion, they need to "shut up and dribble". Vote.org reports a huge spike in voter registrations nationwide and in Tennessee this week, following pop star Taylor Swift's Instagram endorsement of the state's Democratic candidate, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, for the U.S. Senate in his race against Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Yes, bravely speaking out about politics helps. No wonder the right would like folks like Swift to shut up, especially as voter registration deadlines hit across the country this week and next.

At the same time, as a Category 3 hurricane barrels toward the Florida Gulf Coast, Democrats are forced to sue the state again, as they did in 2016, to force the Governor to extend voter registration, which officially ended on Tuesday night in the Sunshine State.

Also today, up in Washington, D.C., U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, one of the few top officials in the Trump Cabinet not considered to be a complete wingnut (a very low bar), announced her plan to resign at year's end for reasons that remain shrouded in much speculation. As she announced her planned exit today at the White House with Donald Trump, she managed to argue that since Trump --- who was laughed at, out loud, in the U.N. General Assembly just two weeks ago --- took office, "now, the United States is respected." As we discuss, that claim flies in the face of demonstrable facts supported by actual recent polling around the world.

Next up today, after Republicans ignored a statement last week from the National Coalition of Churches --- the nation's largest such group representing 38 denominations, 100,000 congregations and 40 million Americans --- to withdraw the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh "immediately", a group of evangelicals are now hitting the road for a national bus tour to "Flip Congress for the common good."

We're joined today by Vote Common Good founder and executive director, Pastor DOUG PAGITT, to explain his group's attempted outreach to white evangelicals who may have previously supported Trump and his Republican Party. The non-profit, non-partisan organization's cross-country tour began in Pennsylvania last week and is set to hit Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico before wrapping up in California before the November 6th election.

Pagitt, the founding pastor of Solomon's Porch Christian Comuninity in Minneapolis (and who also hosts an afternoon drive time show on our Minneapolis/St. Paul affiliate, am950 KTNF!) tells me that there is a need for liberal and progressive religious community leaders on the left to speak out for Christian values in the dangerous era of Trump, even if it risks their tax-exempt status and even as white evangelicals have institutionalized their support of the Republican Party with millions of dollars over the past several decades.

"What we are saying is the Republican Congress has lost its ability, lost its moral compass, lost its spine, when it comes to standing up to the Trump Administration. Our need to flip Congress now is a bipartisan, non-partisan civic duty to put restraints on the Trump Administration," he says. "I think pastors and churches all over the country should be willing to risk their non-profit status in order to speak out about the Trump Administration because the Trump Administration is that dangerous. The idea that the thing that makes a Christian community a Christian community is that people don't have to pay taxes on the money they give to you, is the lowest possible level that a Christian community could be proud of. It's almost like the government is saying is 'if you speak up against us, we're going to make that a financial burden upon you'. And I think Christian churches should take on that burden. If you lose that 501c3 non-profit contribution status? Fair enough. Be like every other business that has to function in this society."

Pagitt details how he believes that many Christian voters have been conned into giving up their values and otherwise intimidated and frightened into voting against biblical teachings. He calls for the Christian left to build a political coalition to counter the long-entrenched, so-called Religious Right.

"We are trying to call the bluff on the evangelicals who, out of one side of their mouth, want to say that they follow the teachings of Jesus, and out of the other side of their mouth, are not just endorsing Donald Trump but seem to be wanting to move into a full embrace of Trumpism," Pagitt tells me, explaining why many evangelicals who know Trump represents the opposite of their beliefs, may still be afraid of voting for Democrats. "People confuse their identity with their tactic. Voting is a tactic to bring about the common good. Voting ought not be seen as our identity, but a lot of religious people have merged their religious and civic identity with the political Republican Party...and [it's difficult] to start to separate out your identities from your tactics. When someone realizes in their life that they have a misplaced identity, that takes awhile for them to get their heads around."

It's a fascinating (and long overdue) national conversation that I recommend you tune in for.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Hurricane Michael threatens Florida with catastrophic, global warming-fueled destruction and as the United Nations issues an alarming scientific report finding the worst impacts of climate change will arrive much sooner than predicted unless massive and immediate changes are made by the nations of the world...

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

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Guest: WV's Bob Kincaid: Also: With Kavanaugh on SCOTUS, a hurricane headed toward FL, UN releases a stark new report on climate change...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2018 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast: In case it wasn't clear until now, the stakes for November's midterms couldn't be higher --- for the nation and for the planet --- leading to what might be a difficult choice for some voters. At this point, however, at least in my opinion --- as discussed at the opening of thd show today --- the choices are not difficult at all. [Audio link to show follows below.]

It's now official. Judge Brett Kavanaugh --- alleged sexual assaulter and demonstrably repeated perjurer --- is now Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court. That means that all five serving Republican appointees on the (currently) nine-person Court, serve under one cloud of illegitimacy or another. That said, while there are ways to reverse the terrifying course the nation (and planet) are now on --- including a difficult path towards restoring a majority to the stolen Court that might actually represent the majority of the country --- it will be neither easy nor painless. Nonetheless, the first major step on that path is the November 6th, 2018 midterm elections less than one month away, and now more crucial than ever.

As if another violent reminder of dangers that now lie ahead, Hurricane Michael is now barreling toward the Florida Gulf Coast, threatening to make landfall in the next day or two, and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a chilling new report on Monday, warning the worst effects of global warming are now set to arrive far sooner than previously predicted by the conservative scientific body. The new report details, among other things, the enormous contrast in impacts based on the half of a degree Celsius difference between holding the earth's warming to 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial times versus the 2 degrees or more where we are almost certainly headed unless very serious changes --- with "no documented historic precedent" --- are made by civilization, very quickly over the next 10 years. Are the corporate media up to the task of covering this? Much less civilization doing what is now needed?

With all of that (and much more) at stake, we are joined today by the inimitable BOB KINCAID of West Virginia's Coal River Mountain Watch and the Head-On Radio Network (HORN) to discuss WV Senator Joe Manchin's weekend vote in favor of Kavanaugh. He was the only Democratic Senator to do so, despite the nearly 10 point average lead he currently enjoys over his Republican re-election opponent in pre-election polling. Specifically, we focus on why Manchin voted the way he did and, more importantly, the difficult choice that voters like Kincaid now face in choosing between the barely Democratic Senator and his far-right, Trump-endorsed challenger Pat Morrissey.

With hopes of regaining control of one or both houses of Congress now the only way to begin putting the brakes on our Trump/GOP-inflicted national emergency, will progressives be able to hold their nose and vote for some candidates who they would never have even considered voting for during a primary season in which the Democratic Party was finally forced, at least a little bit, towards the progressive left? It's a question that many progressives --- not just in West Virginia --- will now have to seriously ask themselves before November, with many less-than-perfect Democrats on the ballot, but the very fate of the Republic and the planet now clearly on the line.

"Joe Manchin is a 'pro-life' Democrat from way back, going way back to when he was just a little, bitty, grasping, ambition-driven state senator," Kincaid argues, charging that both he and Kavanaugh are hard-core Roman Catholics" and that "He voted the Church doctrine. It's just clear as day."

Kincaid, who comes from generations of WV coal miners, is nonetheless a dyed-in-the-wool progressive who, on previous appearances on the show, has both strongly criticized Manchin and explained how difficult it would be to even consider voting for him in the midterm. The last time Kincaid was on, back in April, he described Manchin thusly: "This is really difficult for me, because Joe's a Democrat the way I'm Neptune, Lord of the Deep. Ya know, not at all."

Today, he says, for those who wonder how Manchin could "dismiss the experiences and the suffering of so many women and vote for a guy credibly accused of sexual assault? Let me explain to you: Joe Manchin has sat around for at least eight years, fully knowing what the toxic consequences are of mountaintop removal on babies in the womb, pregnant mothers, grandmothers, grandsons, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, possums, everything. He has known that it poisons his own constituents, kills his own constituents, and yet he has slavishly continued to support that practice and ignored every bit of the science around it." He adds that "We have about a thousand deaths a year in the counties in West Virginia where mountaintop removal is practiced."

"I say all that," he tells me, "hoping that people will understand that I do not come to a decision about Joe Manchin lightly. I would not trust Joe Manchin with the carcass of a run-over skunk."

So, with the stakes now as high as they are, does he still find himself unable to vote for Manchin? And what of other progressives who may still believe that sitting this one out or voting "third party" or staying home instead of voting is the only way to cleanse the Democratic Party of its overly-conservative, overly-corporatist establishment? Please tune in for this important conversation with Kincaid today, that, he says, "he spent a long time thinking about" after he and I had a private discussion over the weekend, begging the question: "Do I vote as an American first, or a West Virginian first?"

Please listen to today's show and let me know, in comments below, how you feel about either his points or mine.

Finally, as voter registration deadlines end this week in more than a third of the states, the disturbingly high purge rates of voting rolls in a number of them continues. Particularly of concern are states with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place, who --- until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 --- had been required to receive preclearance from the federal government for such purges. A new list of purged GA voters has finally been obtained by reporter Greg Palast, who has created a searchable database for hundreds of thousands of purged GA voters, but the deadline to re-register is Tuesday. And the lists from other states are not as easily accessible. Please go to your state and/or county website to register or check your status as soon --- and as often --- as possible between now and November 6th! Yes, the fate of the planet now rests on it...

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

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Guest: Fordham Law's Jed Shugerman; Also: More reported vote.org registration probs; Vote-flipping in MO; Willie Nelson's 'Vote 'em Out!'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP's far-right take-over of the U.S. Supreme Court for generations --- including one blatantly stolen seat and two men accused of sexual misconduct and/or assault --- is now all but complete, and we discuss an upcoming SCOTUS case that some have cited as reason for the Trump/GOP panic to get their man on the bench as soon as possible. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

On Friday, the four theoretically previously-undecided U.S. Senators announced how they planned to vote on the confirmation of accused sexual assaulter and confirmed liar Brett Kavanaugh for his lifetime appointment to SCOTUS. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced her intention to vote against him, while Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Joe Manchin all declared they will vote in favor of the most contentious nominee to the high court, perhaps in U.S. history. We discuss what all of that means today, moving forward, as the far-right cements its stolen majority. As you might imagine, both Desi and I have some thoughts on all of that today.

Then, we're joined by legal historian and Fordham Law School professor JED SHUGERMAN, author of The People's Courts, to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court case that many Trump opponents have cited in recent days as one of the explanations for Republicans' apparent panic to seat Kavanaugh on the Court as quickly as possible. The case, Gamble v. U.S., involves what some on both the Right and civil libertarian Left consider to be unconstitutional double jeopardy regarding an Alabama man who was convicted at both the state and federal levels for unlawful possession of a firearm. Some Trump critics have suggested, depended on how its decided, that the case could result in states being barred from prosecuting Donald Trump, his associates, or his family members in the event that they are pardoned at the federal level.

Shugerman --- who was one of more than 2,400 legal professors to sign on to a recent letter published by the New York Times calling on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination due to his lack of appropriate judicial temperament --- explains why he believes the Gamble case poses no threat to state prosecutions of Trump and/or his associates, nor to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Team Trump.

He also explains today why he signed the public letter opposing Kavanaugh, how it now may affect lawyers who signed it when arguing cases before Justice Kavanaugh, why he believes the GOP has been in such a hurry to seat Kavanaugh, and the "completely unprecedented" public opposition to him by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Shugerman also describes some of his major concerns for the Court once Kavanaugh is finally in place: how Chief Justice John Roberts is going to be forced to deal with it. "How is he going to manage this explosive controversy and the unprofessional conduct, the injudicious conduct, of Judge Kavanaugh? How will he restore consensus to this Court? How will he manage Judge Kavanaugh, given that he should have reason to fear that Judge Kavanaugh cannot be balanced, and won't be perceived to be balanced when he's on the Court?"

Finally today, some listener mail regarding more voter registration problems via the vote.org service (we recommend registering either in-person or via your Sec. of State or County website, rather than via third-party app, is possible); the first reports of 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote-flipping in the general election (in the very close U.S. Senate race in Missouri between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP challenger Josh Hawley); and Willie Nelson's new song, Vote 'em Out!, debuted for the first time at last weekend's 55,000-person rally in Texas, in support of Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke's surging campaign against Lone Star State Republican Sen. Ted Cruz...

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

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