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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 21, 2019
The Domestic Terror Mass Shootings by White American Men That DIDN'T Happen Last Week: 'BradCast' 8/20/19
Also: Trump cow-tows to NRA on gun reform; Luntz' advice to Dems on discussing climate...
'Green News Report' 8/20/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Newark's lead contamination crisis; U.S. fracking causes spike methane emissions; Air pollution like a pack of cigarettes a day; PLUS: End the Senate filibuster to save the climate?...
Previous GNRs: 8/15/19 - 8/13/19 - Archives...
Multipartisan Petition Effort to Recall Alaska's New GOP Governor Catches Fire: 'BradCast' 8/19/19
Guest: AK Dem Party's Jeanne Devon; Also: GA voters mandate new voting system review...
Sunday Big Baby Toons!
You'll laugh, you'll cry -- you may even get rattled -- by PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Officials Scramble As Election Software Goes Obsolete, Election Servers Discovered Online: 'BradCast' 8/16/19
Guest: Kim Zetter on voting systems found connected to the Internet and vendor denial...
JUDGE BANS GA'S OLD TOUCH-SCREEN VOTE SYSTEMS FOR 2020: 'BradCast' 8/15/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system uncon-stitutional is a victory for all U.S. voters...
'Green News Report' 8/15/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Warming-fueled toxic algae blooms killing dogs; Big Oil now pushing plastic; Plastic pollution found falling in Arctic snow; PLUS: Dem states sue to stop Trump EPA's dirty power plan...
Previous GNRs: 8/13/19 - 8/8/19 - Archives...
'SKYFALL': 'BradCast' 8/14/19
Guest: Stephen Schwartz on Russia's still-unfolding nuclear weapons test disaster; Also: GA's Abrams launches nat'l effort to protect voters in 2020 elections...
From Epstein to USDA: Under-Reported Cost of Gutting US Govt: 'BradCast' 8/13/19
Also: Admin blocked from making 'dark money' darker; TX sued for tossing absentee ballots...
'Green News Report' 8/13/19
Trump Int. Dept moves to gut the Endangered Species Act; EPA paves way for controversial AK mine; PLUS: The one energy project the Admin doesn't mind slowing down...
As Long as Trump is Advancing Conspiracies about Epstein...: 'BradCast' 8/12/19
Also: Andrew Cohen on prison suicide epidemic; Admin to block legal immigration, gut Endangered Species Act...
Sunday 'Trigger Objects' Toons
Once again, PDiddie's latest weekly collection of political cartoons is dead on target...
Outing 'The Family' on Netflix:
'BradCast' 8/9/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with author Jeff Sharlet; Also: World warns of U.S. gun violence epidemic...
The White Supremacist-in-Chief and Much Brighter 2020 News: 'BradCast' 8/8/19
Brutal ICE raids in MS; WH denial on domestic terror; MT assaulter followed Trump 'rhetoric'; 'The OC' turns 'blue'; TX may soon do same...
'Green News Report' 8/8/19
UN calls for farming overhaul to solve climate change; Unpaid KY miners block coal train; PLUS: Four fossil fuel explosions in 48 hours underscores aging infrastructure...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also: Trump reverses, cow-tows to NRA on gun reform; Luntz offers advice to Dems on how to discuss climate...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2019 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our cowardly President couldn't even make it to the end of his summer vacation before flip-flopping on promised (if tepid) gun safety reforms following the two mass shooting massacres that killed 32 in El Paso and Dayton just two weeks ago. During that vacation Donald Trump reportedly met with NRA boss Wayne LaPierre who straightened him out, and Republicans in Congress decided to blame "mental illness" and "the left" are actually to blame for mass shootings, not the rightwing white supremacists, domestic terrorists or the military assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines they use to kill --which are nearly as easy to buy in much of the country as milk and eggs at the grocery store. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In just the past week, at least five different potential mass shootings by white American male rightwingers appear to have been prevented, thanks to tips to law enforcement from the public. Among those arrested over the past week and found with huge caches of military hardware, thousands of rounds of ammo, and threats against immigrants, jews, African-Americans, trans people and Planned Parenthood among others (ya know, folks often targeted by "the left"):

Again, all of those stories broke within the past week alone. But, other than that, sure, "the left" is to blame for America's domestic terrorism crisis.

To his credit, Rep. Pete King of New York, on Monday, became the first and, so far only, GOPer in the House to join 200 Democrats in co-sponsoring a bill that would ban assault weapons once and for all. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of course, has vowed to make sure the measure never sees the light of day in the Senate and Trump...well, of course, he is opposed, because it would mean actual reform that flies in the face of their benefactors at the terrorist-enabling NRA.

In other news of Republicans showing the smallest signs of willingness to do the right thing for the nation --- but we'll take it where we can find it --- longtime Republican pollster and operative Frank Luntz recently testified in the U.S. Senate that he is now willing to help Democrats fight against the climate crisis, after his home almost burned down in a California wildfire. Luntz is responsible for an infamous 2001 memo to Republicans explaining what language they should use to avoid action on the global warming climate crisis. Now, he says, he has changed and is offering advice to Democrats on language that he says will help convince the American people that urgent action is needed. We discuss his advice and his suggested language.

Finally today, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report with bad news on Newark's lead contamination water crisis; bad news on a global methane emissions spike due to U.S. fracking and Trump rollbacks to Obama restrictions; bad news on air pollution; and an aggressive --- if potentially perilous --- proposal from a Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate on action to solve the climate crisis...

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: Jeanne Devon of the AK Dem Party; Also: GA petition effort mandates new review of state's new unverifiable voting system...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A new petition effort to rename the block of Fifth Avenue in New York City where the Trump Tower is located after President Barack Obama has now gained nearly half a million signatures. It began as a joke, according to its author, but quickly caught on. While it's a brilliant, if unlikely idea, other, somewhat more important petition efforts --- with actual legal standing --- have recently caught fire over the past week or so as well. And the consequences of those efforts could be far reaching. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First, in the battleground state of Georgia, where the Secretary of State has just selected an all new 100% unverifiable touchscreen ballot marking device (BMD) voting system for the state, which voters will be forced to use at polling places in 2020, was certified just a week or so ago in violation of the state's elections code, according to election integrity experts and opponents of Republican SoS Brad Raffensberger's $150 million new system made by Dominion Voting Systems of Canada.

Raffensberger's decision comes as a federal judge in Atlanta, just last week, found [PDF] the state's current 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system to be "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack". So much so, that the judge also declared the old system be in violation of voters' right to have their votes counted as cast. As we discussed with one of the plaintiffs in detail last week, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the state to use a new, hopefully verifiable system in 2020. But the new system selected by Raffensberger may face a similar fate in federal court, as opponents vow to challenge it as well, while calling for hand-marked paper ballots instead.

In the meantime, however, more than 1,400 state voters, as of air time, have signed a petition demanding a reexamination of the newly selected system, charging that it was improperly certified in violation of the state elections code. Only 10 voters, according to GA state law, are needed to sign the petition to trigger such a second look, far fewer than the number of Georgia residents now demanding it.

And, at the same time, way up north in Alaska, another petition effort is rocking our nation's 49th state. In just two weeks, a multipartisan coalition has gathered more than 29,500 signatures calling for a recall of newly-elected Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy. That is a thousand more signatures than required by law --- and a lot of signatures in such a short time, in a state with a population of only about three quarters of a million. The petitioners say they will continue to collect signatures through September 2nd. If this first step is successful, as appears likely, a second effort to get about 70,000 signatures will be needed to place the actual recall measure on the ballot.

The unprecedented effort comes as Gov. Dunleavy has attempted to implement radical cuts of some $443 million to the state budget, including $130 million --- or 40% of the state's budget contribution --- to the University of Alaska system. Also slashed was about $30 million for senior benefits, early learning funds and Alaska Legal Services. One of the most objectionable (and likely unlawful) attempted cuts was to the state's court system, a punitive measure in the exact amount of what the state currently spends on abortion services, meant as retaliation by the Republican Governor for the state Supreme Court having upheld a constitutional right in the state to abortion services.

And, all of this comes as Alaska is seeing record high temperatures and wildfires that have ravaged about two and a half million acres in the state this year amid our ongoing climate crisis, and as the President of the United States appears to have made a secret deal with the Governor to okay a controversial mining project on the pristine waters of the Bristol Bay watershed.

We're joined today by our old friend JEANNE DEVON, formerly known as "AKMuckraker" of the great Alaska blog The MudFlats. She now serves as Communications Director for the state Democratic Party and breaks down the details of the political tremors now reverberating in Alaska, including the fact that, while the state Democratic Party supports the petition effort to remove Dunleavy, they are not actually responsible for the effort. It is being brought forward by a coal baron, believe it or not, along with a longtime Republican legislator, the last living signer of Alaska's Constitution (a 95-year old Dem, pictured above), and the state's former independent Governor's Chief of Staff, among others.

The broad coalition, Devon explains, opposes Dunleavy for a host of reasons as the transplant from the "lower 48" does not appear to understand Alaska's values and how Republicans, Democrats and independents don't necessary operate on the same terms they do elsewhere in the country. For example, as we discuss, Alaska --- which has voted for the Republican nominee in every Presidential election since Lyndon Johnson --- is actually a socialist state, in that the fossil fuel companies who operate there are legally obligated by the state to send royalty checks to every man, woman and child each year.

"It's set up that way," Devon explains, because the resources are seen as being "owned communally by everyone in the state. We actually have written in our state constitution that our resources are to be developed 'for the maximum benefit of the people'." The result, she says, is that the people who live in Alaska own their own resources and receive a minimum basic income. Ideas that unleash shouts of "SOCIALISM! COMMUNISM!" by Republicans elsewhere, but not in Alaska for some odd reason, where the state relies, bigly, on those royalties from the fossil fuel industry. Devon notes the payments also serve to "keep 25,000 Alaska families out of poverty every year" and sever as "a huge influx of almost a billion dollars into the local economy."

As to the recall movement, she suggest that not only will petitioners successfully complete the first step, but that they are also likely to gather the 70,000 signatures needed in the second step to see the measure to remove Dunleavy placed on the ballot. "You do have folks that are Republicans, who are industry Republicans, business Republicans, who are conservatives but not ideologues in the way that Gov. Dunleavy is. He is coming from the point of view of really breaking government. And that is where the line is drawn. There is just a sense that he does not love the state, and he doesn't understand the state" as a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

In regard Dunleavy's attempt to punish the state Supreme Court, Devon argues "It's unconstitutional on so many levels. It's chilling that you can have a branch of government that not only will do their own calculations about the number of dollars that the state has spent on abortion, but will then line item veto just that amount from the entire court system as punishment. And then announce it, publicly, that this is what they're doing and why." With the help of a cold-hearted GOP operative by the name of Donna Arduin, hired by Dunleavy to slash the budget after similarly devastating cuts she made on behalf of GOP Governors in Kansas, Arizona and Florida, Devon explains that Dunleavy "even cut the money that would have earthquake-proofed children's libraries in schools, so that giant bookshelves won't fall on tiny children" in the earthquake prone state.

In our fascinating discussion today, Devon also explains what is known about the deal recently struck between Dunleavy and Donald Trump --- during a secret meeting at the state's airport in Anchorage --- that resulted in Trump's order to his EPA to reverse an environmental endangerment finding by the Obama Administration's EPA that had finally blocked the long controversial Pebble Mine project. The enormous and controversial planned gold, silver and copper mine, according to scientists, environmentalists and many other opponents in the state, will put the world's largest and most important sockeye salmon habitat in critical danger in and near Bristol Bay, causing what the EPA described previously as "irreversible loss of fish habitat". Devon describes it as"the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery on the planet. It employs almost 20,000 commercial fisherman. It feeds a region of indigenous Alaskans who have been surviving off of these fish for over 10,000 years. It's not only a food staple, but really an entire culture" that will be destroyed if the mine is allowed to be built.

Hope you'll tune in for today's important and must-listen conversation on the entire mess now consuming the great state of Alaska and how it might --- by the way --- also effect the 2020 Presidential election!...

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: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter on her jaw-dropping new exclusive finding battleground election systems vulnerable on the Internet despite claims to the contrary by elections officials, private vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections officials seem to be panicking around the country, and for good reason. But their concerns may be coming a bit late...perhaps a decade or so too late, as virtually every aspect of our "public" elections in the U.S. --- from ballot programming to registration to voting to vote tabulation to election results reporting --- has now been allowed to have become largely taken over by private vendors and contractors, with little or no oversight from either state or federal officials. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at end of article.]

An exclusive analysis last month by AP found that virtually all voting systems currently in use in the nation's 10,000 separate voting jurisdictions in all 50 states run on software --- Windows 7 or earlier --- that will no longer be supported by Microsoft with regular security updates and patches as of January. That includes systems certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) from the nation's largest private elections vendors as recently as this year. Those newly certified systems still use Windows 7, which was released a decade ago in 2009.

Of course, the EAC's certification process --- for the few states which choose to follow federal voluntary (yes, voluntary) guidelines --- has been laughable for years. It focuses on usability and functionality, not security. Most systems in the U.S., if they are EAC certified at all, were tested to guidelines published by the EAC in 2005.

At a summit this week of elections officials and vendors, hastily convened by the EAC in Maryland in response to the disturbing AP analysis, officials complained about the lack of federal support and standards, and that financially strapped and technologically challenged elections divisions at both the state and local level are realizing only now that they are being asked "to take part in what is national security" with little or no help from the federal government. One official at the EAC confab reportedly complained: "We are talking about local communities having trouble funding roads and water bills, and now we want them to take part in defense against foreign and state actors."

Of course, it is not only nation-states like Russia that pose a threat to the security of America's vulnerable, computerized and privatized public elections, so do regular old Americans, as the recent hack by a woman in Seattle of more than 100 million customer records at Capitol One proved, along with the vulnerabilities in brand new voting and registration systems discovered by hackers in a few hours at the DefCon Voting Village convention last weekend in Las Vegas.

All of this comes on the heels of Thursday's federal court ruling finding Georgia's voting systems to be so "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack" that the judge declared the systems (which are similar to ones used in several other states) a violation of voters' Constitutional right to have their votes counted as cast.

But all of that might ultimately be small potatoes in light of longtime cybersecurity journalist and author KIM ZETTER's recent exclusive at VICE's Motherboard, finding that "Critical U.S. Election Systems Have Been Left Exposed Online Despite Official Denials". Zetter, one of the only journalists in the nation who has been covering these matters as long or longer than we have at this point, joins us on today's program to explain her jaw-dropping article which begins this way: "For years, U.S. election officials and voting machine vendors have insisted that critical election systems are never connected to the internet and therefore can't be hacked. But a group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties --- all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections. Some of the systems have been online for a year and possibly longer."

In many cases, she tells me, the elections officials seemed to have no idea that their systems were connected to the Internet by their vendors. As for the vendors' part --- in this case, the nation's largest, ES&S --- Zetter explains their bizarre claim that voting and backend tabulation and reporting systems connected around the clock for years at a time aren't really connected to the Internet at all --- and, even if they are, they are perfectly secure. Zetter and the data researchers found otherwise.

The systems found vulnerable on the net, she details, would allow a malicious actor to change unofficial election night results, official results, and the public reporting of the results themselves. Moreover, she explains, access to the exposed backend portions of these systems over the Internet could also result in malware being transferred to voting machines themselves. And all of this was discovered by a small team of researchers with little or no funding. No nation-state required, she confirms.

"If it was just a box on the Internet that was receiving the votes transmitted [on Election Night from the precinct] that would be a security problem in itself, not only because you could potentially alter those votes. They are unofficial results on Election Night --- and the officials results are taken from the actual memory cards in the voting machines. But if you can alter the unofficial results, that's going to create a lot of mistrust in the final outcome if they don't match," she says.

"But even if you don't alter those votes, that communication over the phone between the voting machine in the field and that backend server that's on the Internet creates a channel for infecting those voting machines. So, someone who could actually install that malware on that system on the Internet can design it in such a way that it downloads to the voting machines when they connect to that system. So the attackers can alter that voting machine in preparation for a future election."

"But that's not the only problem," she continues. "If that was the only thing that was on the Internet, that would be a concern in itself. What was remarkable is that ES&S acknowledged to me that they don't just put an empty box on there to receive the votes. Also connected to that Internet connection is the backend system for tabulating both the unofficial results on Election Night, and those official results that are later taken from the memory card."

"And the Election Management System is also connected. The Election Management System is used to do a lot of functions in elections. Among them is the actual programming of these voting machines before each election. So, if you don't get to the machines through that little receptacle that's connected to the Internet, you can get to that backend Election Management System and put in malicious code that then gets transferred directly to the voting machines before the next election."

But, of course, other than that, why worry, right? Well, Zetter has much more to say on that as well, including about Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's continuing efforts to block any and all election security measures in the Senate that might help shore up at least some of these concerns, including bills already passed by the House that would mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Even that, at this point, wouldn't fully protect against attacks on computer optical-scanners currently used in all 50 states to tabulate those ballots with little or no post-election audits to make sure they did so accurately...

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: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system unconstitutional is a victory for voters across the nation...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2019 6:10pm PT  

We've got some pretty huge and long-overdue breaking news today from a federal court in Atlanta. It's huge enough that we dumped what we were previously planning to cover to devote today's BradCast to the judge's new order in a case that we have been following now for years. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg, in a 153-page ruling [PDF], finds that Georgia's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen voting systems, in use in the state since 2002, are not fit for U.S. elections because they are "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated". They are so unsecure, in fact, that they violate the Constitutional right of voters to have their votes counted as cast.

"Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack," Totenberg writes.

She excoriates the state Defendants --- former Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and current Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger --- for lying about facts and evidence in the case (though she is only slightly more polite in her wording, by describing the "Defendants' inconsistent candor with the Court") and for dismissing the many long-proven security concerns about these systems as "fantasy" forwarded by Plaintiffs.

While Judge Totenberg will allow the old Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems to be used one last time in Georgia's municipal and county elections this November, she makes it clear they may not be used again in 2020 or thereafter under any circumstances. She also offers several hints that the state's recently selected new touchscreen systems, now planned to replace the old ones, may also be found unconstitutional in further proceedings, leaving the clear preference of cybersecurity and voting systems experts --- hand-marked paper ballots --- as the only option likely to meet requirements for auditability and Constitutionality.

We're joined to explain all of these details and much more today on what is a clear, overdue --- if not (yet) total --- victory, by plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance. She has been joining us on the show for a number of years now with updates on each important aspect of this broad and gruelingly long case since filing it about two years ago. Marks calls today's ruling a victory not just for Georgia voters, but for those in many states where similar systems are now used --- including some where newer, if still unverifiable, touchscreen systems are being planned for use in 2020.

"The court ruled that DREs are unconstitutional. And that anybody voting on these things should be worried about their vote," says Marks. "Of course, this doesn't relate just to Georgia. The words of this federal court will be heard around the United States. Hopefully this will have an impact on other jurisdictions" where, she hopes, they will take notice of the judge's words recommending hand-marked paper ballots.

Marks explains that Judge Totenberg does not appear much happier with the new system Georgia now plans to use in 2020, though was unable to offer a finding on it, yet, given that the state just finalized their decision last week. But, Totenberg offered warnings about those new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in several places in the ruling, such as when she warned: "The past may here be prologue anew — it may be 'like déjà vu all over again.'"

Indeed, Marks says her non-partisan organization plans to seek an injunction on use of Georgia's new, equally unverifiable touchscreen systems as well, and that Totenberg, perhaps with that in mind, has ordered that a number of counties run hand-marked paper ballot pilot elections this year in advance of next year's Presidential primary elections. "We will absolutely be launching a constitutional challenge against Ballot Marking Devices," she vowed.

"Surely they realize that the hand-writing is on the wall and they've got to quit fighting for unverifiable elections. I would think Georgia voters are going to get pretty sick and tired of this. Most of these guys are elected officials, so I think that they need to consider the political consequences if they want to continue to fight for unverifiable elections."

As to allowing the old, unconstitutional systems to be used one more time in the state's 2019 municipal elections, Marks advises: "While they can be used in November, they shouldn't be used in November. Those people on the ballot, those people voting in the municipalities, should demand right now --- right now is the time to do it --- that their county, their municipality go ahead and use hand-marked paper ballots. They've got the equipment for it [since they already use hand-marked ballot systems for absentee voting across the state] they've got the know-how, they ought to do it."

In one other key element of this case, as Marks explains, the Judge also ordered a review of the state's electronic pollbook systems which resulted in failure and chaos and disenfranchisement during last November's general elections. She has ordered that polling places must have paper backup pollbooks on hand in elections moving forward, to avoid the disenfranchisement of voters when electronic voter registration systems fail on Election Day or are manipulated by malign actors.

"Just like with any computerized voting component, it can be hacked," Marks tells me regarding the state's ES&S ExpressPoll registration computers used in the Peach State's precincts. "There can be errors. There can be mis-programming. And that's been occurring in Georgia. [Judge Totenberg] asked us to bring her evidence. We brought her hundreds of affidavits of people who were turned away at the polls who should not have been. We brought her evidence of software problems in the e-pollbook system. And therefore she said, 'Enough of this! Go fix the system!'"

She continued: "I get it as to why computerized [registration] records can be very helpful here, but let's use some common sense. And the judge has said have a paper backup so that if there is a question that needs to be adjudicated, use the official paper backup. And look it up right there, and don't run people away from the polls. Give them their ballot."

In fact, in her ruling, the judge cites "threats of contamination, dysfunction, and attacks on State and county voting systems, disparaged by the Secretary of State’s representatives...as a fantasy and still minimized as speculative" by the Defendants as recently as a hearing in the case this year. That, Totenberg notes, despite threats "identified in the most credible major national and state cybersecurity studies and official government reports." She even cites "real life" incidents that "played out with the United States’ July 2018 criminal indictment of a host of Russian intelligence agents for conspiracy to hack into the computers of various state and county boards of election and their vendors as well as agents' efforts during the 2016 election to identify election data system vulnerabilities through probing of county election websites in Georgia and two other states." All of which, writes Totenberg --- as Marks has long been arguing --- serves to "burden Georgia citizens' right to cast a vote that reliably will be counted."

As to the lies --- er..."inconsistent candor with the Court" --- Marks notes the Secretary of State's staff told "just absolutely black and white lies. They didn't mind lying to the court. And one has to wonder what is it that they are hiding that makes it worth lying to the court, and facing the potential consequences of lying to the court." She told me she intends to seek sanctions from the court for those lies in the days ahead.

So, yes, some big --- and very good --- news for a change today!

Finally today, the one thing we did not throw over to make room for the landmark ruling out of Georgia, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on global warming-fueled toxic algae blooms now killing dogs in a number of states; Big Oil pushing into plastics manufacturing as gasoline demand declines in the wake of the electronic car revolution; plastic pollution found in falling snow in the otherwise pristine Arctic; and Democratic-led states suing Trump's EPA to block his rollback of Obama's Clean Power Plan...

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Guest: 'Atomic Analyst' Stephen Schwartz on the still-unfolding nuclear weapons test disaster in Russia; Also: Stacey Abrams announces Fair Fight 2020 to help Dems protect voters in next year's crucial elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2019 6:25pm PT  

No, 'Skyfall' is not the nickname for the 800 point plummet in the Dow Jones Industrial average on Wednesday in response to signals of an imminent recession not seen since 2007. In the context of today's BradCast, it's the nickname given by NATO to an experimental Russian nuclear-propelled cruise missile project that appears to have gone horribly --- and tragically --- awry a few days ago. The consequences of yet another secretive nuclear accident in Russia have left western nuclear weapons analysts guessing as to what is now actually going on near the disaster site in northern Russia. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But, before we get to that story today, a few quick news items of note regarding the 2020 election. Popular Georgia Democrat, Stacey Abrams, has announced the launch of a new project called Fair Fight 2020 to focus on election protection in about 20 swing-states and several (Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi) with gubernatorial elections next year. The effort comes out of Abrams own experience fighting massive voter suppression in her gubernatorial contest last year against Republican Brian Kemp who, as Georgia's Sec. of State, purged roles and helped suppressed minority voters across the state while overseeing his own reported narrow "victory" on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems.

Abrams, who would have become the nation's first African-American female Governor, has also been seen as a potential 2020 candidate for President. She has announced her plan to roll out this new, much-needed initiative to help Dems prepare well in advance (for a change) before next year's elections, in hopes of combating the many, inevitable anti-voter tactics expected by Republicans. The project comes in lieu of running for President or Senator in the Peach State, where she would have a very good chance of unseating Republican Sen. David Perdue next year.

While a Senate run would have been welcomed by many (she has said she is still open to a Veep nod), her Fair Fight 2020 effort is both very important and very much needed to help Dems win back both the White House and possibly U.S. Senate next year. We contrast her effort on today's show with that of California billionaire Tom Steyer, who recently-announced his own, likely-pointless run for the Democratic nod. Steyer has vowed to spend $100 million on his own campaign, instead of using that money to help Democrats --- for example, the nearly 1 million voters who are currently being blocked by Republicans from even being allowed to register to vote in the key battle-ground state of Florida.

Then, we are joined by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst and former Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (the folks who bring us the infamous Doomsday Clock), where he now serves as a Senior Fellow. He's here to help us unravel the disturbing nuclear mystery that is currently unfolding in northern Russia.

Last Thursday, an explosion on a Russian missile testing platform in the White Sea resulted in the deaths of at least seven people, including five nuclear scientists. After several days of conflicting information about the incident, Russia finally conceded that an incident with a "nuclear isotope power source" had released radiation during an off-shore test. A town nearby saw a spike in radioactivity at least 16 times its expected normal background radiation and the hospital rooms where the injured were taken were sealed off after patients and the doctors who treated them were mysteriously transported to Moscow for observation.

The accident, as Schwartz details, is believed to have been part of the experimental nuclear-powered missile program that Russian President Vladimir Putin described last year in remarks to Parliament as a cruise missile that is propelled by a small nuclear reactor, allowing it to fly indefinitely on a path too unpredictable to be intercepted by defensive missile systems. The Russians call the project Buresvestnik. NATO has dubbed it Skyfall.

Schwartz cites the lack of information and conflicting details being made available by Russia as a relic of the secrecy mindset of the old Soviet Union. "Old habits die hard," he tells me. "The Soviet Union is gone, Russia remains. But this reaction is quite reminiscent, not just of Chernobyl, but also of the sinking of the Kursk ballistic missile submarine in August of 2000" as well as other nuclear accidents going back to the 1950s Cold War era. "Their first approach is admit only what you have to, to try to make the situation seem not so terrible. And then when you can't do that, you admit as much as you have to, in order to try to deal with whatever the concerns are."

While western analysts like Schwartz have been pouring over local media reports and grainy satellite photos to learn what may have happened and what the ongoing fallout appears to be, Donald Trump tweeted out a reaction in which he described the incident as "Not good!" and claimed that "we have similar, though more advanced, technology". That is either a lie, something that Trump misunderstood, or a program that is so highly classified it remains currently unknown outside of the U.S. government, Schwartz explains, citing a long-shelved Cold War project called "SLAM --- for Supersonic Low Altitude Missile --- that would have been powered by a reactor that had the code name of Pluto". That, he says, was a "dangerous weapon" believed to have been abandoned as of 1964, given the danger of "spewing highly radioactive exhaust everywhere it goes" as it would fly over allied nations on its way to the Soviet Union, among other concerns.

We also discuss why both Putin and Trump appear to be entering into a new nuclear arms race as Russia responds to U.S. missile defense systems being deployed to nations which border Russia. Why would Russia even want to produce such a weapon that amounts to a "flying reactor"? "We've made a lot of claims about our system," Schwartz says. "Most of them are not true. But the Russians have an undying faith in American technology and a fair degree of paranoia about what we're going to do with it. And they've decided that they need to find a way to counter it. Their fear, their paranoia, their desire to make sure that we cannot destroy them as a country has led them to the point where they're testing this exceedingly dangerous weapon."

That effort, he explains today, has now become a disaster with very serious consequences that we are only beginning to learn about as the world's latest nuclear tragedy continues to unfold....

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Also: Judge overturns Mnuchin scheme to make 'dark money' even darker; Texas sued for tossing out absentee ballots without notifying voters...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2019 6:39pm PT  

"You've heard about 'Draining the Swamp'," Donald Trump's Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director told a bunch of GOPers at a fundraiser recently in South Carolina. "What you haven't heard is what we're actually doing." He's right. We try to do something about that on today's BradCast. Again. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

Lack of funding and a hiring freeze by the Trump Administration has resulted in a shortage of correctional officers at facilities like the federal lockup in Manhattan where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning. The billionaire financier and friend of Trump was supposed to have been monitored every 30 minutes by correctional officers after being removed, for some reason, from the prison's "suicide watch" list just 6 days after he reportedly tried to kill himself. But media reports say that Epstein was not monitored for hours before being found dead. Both of the officers tasked with the job were working overtime and one was merely a substitute, reportedly, not fully trained for it. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has temporarily suspended both of them and reassigned the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, as he claims to be seeking accountability for the failure at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility overseen by the Attorney General.

The lack of federal funding at BOP is not an accident, of course. It's just one small part of this Administration's ongoing efforts to, as Mulvaney admitted, "streamline government" by making it simply disappear any way they possibly can. As Trump's Director of the OMB, Mulvaney attempted to cut funding in half for several key scientific and economic departments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Administration implemented Plan B, which is what Mulvaney was bragging about to the Republican donors in South Carolina. The USDA gave just over 30 days for career officials at two important and long-established USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to decide if they wished to uproot their lives and those of their family's to move to Kansas City (either Missouri or Kansas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has not told anyone which state it will be) or be fired.

Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo has been covering the ongoing crises at the two agencies in a series of stories, documenting how senior officials, with decades of institutional knowledge are being lost in the bargain, as more than half of those longtime federal workers have chosen against moving 1,000 miles across the country before the end of September.

"It's nearly impossible to fire a federal worker," Mulvaney complained while explaining the Administration's scheme for forcing longtime federal employees to either move to "the real part of the country" or quit. "They quit," Mulvaney boasted to the delight of the corporate GOP funders. "What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven't been able to do for a long time." One of Shuham's latest reports details the gut-wrenching decision of a 30-year veteran branch chief at the ERS, who says that staffers working on everything from researching genetically engineered seeds to soil conservation to climate change are almost all entirely gone from the agency now, along with hundreds of years of collective knowledge and institutional experience. Ironically enough, when Purdue issued the letter to employees notifying them of the move, he claimed it was being done, among other reasons, to "improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff."

The gutting of the USDA is a "test case", one economist at ERS said. "If they can carry this out, what’s to stop them from doing this on a larger scale to another agency?" The answer: Nothing. They are already doing something identical to the Bureau of Land Management at the Dept. of Interior. And there will be more to come if these moves aren't somehow blocked. Donald Trump is actively and purposely killing your government and both he and corporate industry interests couldn't be more delighted about it. This will only be stopped --- maybe --- if he is turned out of office no later than next year.

To that end, we catch up on a couple of (mostly) good news elections-related stories today as well. In Montana, a federal judge has overturned a new rule by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would have allowed "dark money" non-profit 501(c)4 groups to keep their donors a secret from the IRS. Such groups are already exempt from disclosing their funding sources publicly, but Mnuchin didn't want even the Government to know where their money used for elections is coming from either. A lawsuit by Montana Governor and 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Steve Bullock has successfully blocked that new rule --- for now. It would have made it almost impossible for the Government to determine if foreign sources were unlawfully funding elections work by such groups.

And down in Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and other plaintiffs are suing the state on behalf of voters to force election officials to notify voters when absentee vote-by-mail ballots are rejected by county election officials in time to correct any perceived signature mismatches. Such decisions are largely ad hoc from county to county --- elections officials are not hand-writing experts after all --- as there are no statewide standards for making the determination that the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot does not match that of the registered voter. Thousands of ballots in the Lone Star state have been tossed without the knowledge of voters who, under state law, do not need to be notified about signature mismatches that will keep their ballots from being counted, until 10 days after the election. With Texas potentially in play for Democrats next year, every vote may very well matter. So this lawsuit, like similar ones successfully filed in other states in recent years, is very important on several levels.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which another new rule imposed by the Trump Administration's Dept. of Interior is set to gut federal protections for thousands of endangered species; his EPA has cleared the way for an enormous, controversial mine project in Alaska which threatens key, pristine salmon fisheries in the region; and with details on the one energy project that the Administration is suddenly interested in slow-walking for some reason...

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Also: Andrew Cohen of The Marshall Project on America's shameful epidemic of prison suicides; Plus: The Administration's new rules to restrict legal immigration and gut the landmark Endangered Species Act...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's one of those shows you may have to take a shower after --- or even during. Apologies in advance. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We start today with the easy stuff. The Trump Administration announced two new federal rules of note on Monday. Both include major changes to federal law without Congress actually voting to have changed anything and both will result in lawsuits from opponents.

The first is a change to the law that would further restrict legal immigration to the U.S., by barring green card status in the country to whomever the Administration believes is not wealthy enough and may require public assistance. The move, if not blocked by the courts, would put the emphasis on the skills of immigrants seeking permanent status, rather than on family reunification. The new rule would prevent many U.S. citizens from being joined here by parents, siblings or children.

The Administration's other major rule change today is to significantly weaken the landmark Endangered Species Act on behalf of industry profits. The ESA has protected thousands of plants and animals from becoming extinct since President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1973. Trump's changes would end protection for plants and animals newly deemed threatened and allow federal officials, for the first time, to consider the economic costs of protecting a particular species. The change could also allow officials to disregard the impact of climate change when determining which species require federal protection. Both rule changes, according to opponents, are unlawful and will face legal challenges almost immediately.

Next, we turn to the weekend's disturbing news regarding the death of imprisoned financier, sexual predator and former Donald Trump friend, Jeffrey Epstein. The accused pedophile was found dead Saturday morning alone in his federal prison cell in lower Manhattan where he was supposed to have had a cellmate and guards that were supposed to monitor him every 30 minutes. His death came less than 24 hours after thousands of documents from an earlier lawsuit were publicly released, revealing lurid allegations that he'd sexually abused scores of young girls and just two weeks after he'd been removed from "suicide watch" after reportedly trying to kill himself just six days earlier.

There are many questionable circumstances that resulted in Epstein's death, angering elected officials, his many victims and even Trump's Attorney General who claimed to be "appalled". Barr announced over the weekend that he had tasked the Dept. of Justice Inspector General to investigate the matter. But, of course, conspiracy theories began flying almost immediately upon the news of Epstein's death, given his years of contact with high profile celebrities from Presidents to prime ministers to princes to other politicians and titans of industry and the academic world. Those conspiracies are hardly surprising. But the fact that Donald Trump, over the weekend, tweeted out several such conspiracies, attempting to tie Epstein's death to Bill Clinton, suggesting the former President had a hand in murdering the accused sex trafficker and may even have been a "pedophile" himself, seems to be a new low, even for this President.

Of course, while there is no evidence that Clinton was a close friend of Epstein's, Trump is known to have partied with him on several occasions, telling New York magazine in 2002 that he had "known Jeff for fifteen years" by that time, that he was a "terrific guy" and a "lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Trump's senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway actually defended Trump's Twitter smears of Bill Clinton, claiming on Fox "News" on Sunday that "the President just wants everything to be investigated".

Okay. If so, does he also want a proper investigation of the detailed 2016 lawsuit filed against him and Epstein --- before many of the allegations against Epstein had even come to public light --- by a woman who claims she was raped and abused by both men when she was 13 years old? Trump vigorously denied the charges at the time, and the case was eventually dropped after the woman says she faced death threats. But, given the many credible allegations of sexual assault by Trump, including from his own ex-wife who claimed at one point she was also raped by Trump, there is certainly more evidence to support that conspiracy than the ones forwarded by the President of the United States over the weekend following Epstein's death by apparent suicide --- in a federal prison overseen by Trump's own Administration.

While we have never discussed those rape allegations against Trump by the anonymous woman on The BradCast before --- yes, we saw them originally when they appeared in 2016, but didn't share them on air, preferring not to traffic in unverified allegations --- it seems that Trump himself has no such reservations. That, even after the death of his sexual predator friend in a federal prison overseen by his own federal Bureau of Prisons. If Trump is happy to spread wildly defamatory unsubstantiated allegations about former Presidents, I guess its now appropriate to publicly share allegations with far more substance since, right? According to Conway, after all, he "just wants everything to be investigated." And, as noted, we just want to take a shower at this point!

Finally, setting aside grotesque conspiracies, ANDREW COHEN, senior editor at The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization which reports on the U.S. criminal justice system, and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, took the opportunity of Epstein's death to note that it was "completely predictable". Not due to Epstein's high-profile or even the particular circumstances of his case, but because there is what Cohen describes as an "epidemic" of prison suicides in U.S. prisons.

He explains that the epidemic --- shamefully resulting in an all-time high of hundreds of suicides in both federal and state prisons each year --- is the number one cause of death in such facilities. Cohen says the epidemic crosses all demographics and has been exacerbated --- arguably, even caused --- by a lack of interest or empathy by prison officials and both funding and interest from elected officials. "There's plenty of blame to go around," he tells me. "Yes, it's a long term problem [and] yes, it's gotten worse under the Trump Administration."

If anything good can possibly come of all of these horrific events, perhaps it begins in conversations like the one we have on today's program with Cohen. After your shower, I hope you will tune in for it...

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Brutal ICE raids in MS; WH denial over domestic terror; MT assaulter acted on Trump 'rhetoric'; 'The OC' turns 'blue'; TX may soon do same...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2019 6:35pm PT  

Well, today's BradCast features an epic righteous rant or two for your listening pleasure, as we begin with some grim news of the day but finish with a much brighter outlook for the near future. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • First up today, the dark news out of Mississippi where Trump's federal deportation forces waited for the first day of the school year --- and the day after Tuesday's state and legislative primary elections --- to violently round up nearly 700 longtime immigrant workers at various food processing plants around the state. The record ICE arrests came just days after 22 were gunned down in the heavily Hispanic town of El Paso, Texas by a white supremacist who echoed Trump's words about an "immigrant invasion". Children in the MS towns reportedly came home from school to find parents gone, toddlers and infants were not picked up at day care, and local news highlighted a number of children roaming the street in tears, terrified about was happening to them and their families. It seems the federal government made no plans for what would happen when the U.S. citizen children of immigrants were violently hauled away. Even one U.S. citizen worker was tazed and knocked to the ground by the out-of-state invading ICE thugs;
  • At the same time, in an exclusive from CNN, details of the White House's purposeful failure to take action on the quickly growing threat of domestic terrorism by white supremacists like the shooter in El Paso, and so many other similar cases in recent years. According to the report, based on sources said to include current and former senior Administration officials, many in the Department of Homeland Security had been trying for some time to force the White House to take the rising menace more seriously, but those closest to Trump were reluctant to do so for fear it would "trigger the boss".

    Trump, like many Republicans and Fox "News" zombies have spent years in denial (or supportive) of the threat of domestic terror by rightwing extremists such as white supremacists. In 2009, after an outcry by Republicans, the Obama Administration shamefully withdrew a DHS draft report [PDF] on the growing threat of rightwing extremism that had been largely prepared during the George W. Bush Administration. There was no such outcry over a similar report, released without incident, on leftwing extremism. Nonetheless, Obama's DHS chief buckled, apologized(!), withdrew the draft report, and the DHS group which created it was largely dismantled. With increasing evidence of the white supremacist threat --- even cited by Trump's own FBI Director --- the Trump Administration has continued to insist on focusing on jihadist terror and illicit drug importation instead. That, as they exercise their own white supremacist terror on immigrant communities such as those across the state of Mississippi on Wednesday, a state with one of the lowest populations of undocumented immigrants in the nation;

  • All of this, of course, sends a very clear message. It was one that appears to have been heard loud and clear by a 39-year old man in Montana who placed a 13-year old in choke-hold and fractured his skull when body-slamming him to the ground after the boy refused to remove his baseball cap during the national anthem at a rodeo. The man's lawyer contends the U.S. Army veteran who had suffered his own brain injury in 2000, was acting on the President's "rhetoric". He told the local paper in Montana that the man's "Commander-in-Chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished." While he says the man takes "a big portion of accountability for what took place...there was other things at work here that definitely contributed". The attorney argues that “Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear....[his client] was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the President."

    The argument might sound absurd, until you connect a few dots to include, among many, Montana's Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte who, on the eve of his special election to the U.S. House in 2017, actually grabbed a reporter by the throat and slammed him to the ground. In 2018, during a campaign rally for Gianforte --- who won in deep red Montana in 2017, despite the incident --- Trump made light of the Congressman's violent 2017 assault of a journalist, noting to the delight of the assembled MAGA crowd that "any guy who can do a body slam is my kind of guy." Message delivered and, apparently, received;

  • But we've got some brighter news as well today, as formerly GOP strongholds appear to be turning "blue" in advance of the crucial 2020 elections. The Orange County Register reports something this week that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. California's former GOP stronghold of Orange County --- the birthplace of Richard Nixon --- now, officially, has more registered Democrats than Republicans. The CA state GOP Chairman's explanation for the news is --- as we discuss --- hilarious and completely counter to demonstrable facts and reality. (Which makes him perfect for the job!) That follows the 2018 midterm wave election when all four U.S. House seats in the OC, incredibly, flipped from "red" to "blue";
  • Evidence for a similar sea changes in the Trump Era is beginning to appear elsewhere as well, as this week saw the fourth Republican U.S. House member in a week from once-ruby-red Texas to announce that he would not be running again in 2020. He was the 9th GOPer to declare the same over the past three weeks, with 11 incumbent Republicans in total now planning to step down next year, as opposed to just 3 Democrats. The pace of announced House Republican retirements is now actually ahead of the number that called it quits at this time before the 2018 mid-term elections when Democrats ended up retaking the House majority by flipping some 40 seats in a Blue Tsunami route. Is Texas set to become the new Orange County next year?;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with an important new U.N. report on farming and climate change, a growing worldwide water crisis, four U.S. fossil fuel explosions in 48 hours, and some miners in Kentucky finally waking up to how the dying coal industry is working to take advantage of them...

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

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Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) 'hopes' newest SCOTUS Justice was 'completely forthright with U.S. Senate during confirmation', says House Judiciary 'proceeding in the nature of an Impeachment Inquiry' on Trump; Also: Prez uses visits to Dayton, El Paso to attack Dems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2019 6:35pm PT  

Hey! Remember Brett Kavanaugh? The Donald Trump SCOTUS appointee who demonstrably lied during his sworn U.S. Senate Confirmation hearings last year before Republicans voted to ram him through to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land, anyway? Yeah, we do too. Thankfully, so does our guest on today's BradCast who, as a member of Congress, can actually maybe --- just maybe --- do something to finally bring some accountability there. And, according to a letter signed by him and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday, there is now evidence that they intend to try and do just that! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, NBC News nailed it in a headline we saw only after getting off air today: "Trump turns day of grieving for shooting victims into day of grievances". That about sums it up. On Monday, in a scripted teleprompter speech, the President responded to the two weekend gun massacres that took the lives of at least 31 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by asking Americans "to set destructive partisanship aside...and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love". But, just over 24 hours later, he began to unleash various attacks on Democrats Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Vice President Joe Biden, and even managed to tie Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren somehow to the shooter in Dayton. All of that before, during and after what were supposed to be Presidential visits to the two recovering cities, intended to console them and help ease their pain after the twin tragedies.

On Tuesday night, Trump first broke his call for setting aside partisanship with a misfired Twitter snipe at El Paso native Beto O'Rourke's name, in which he told the former Texas Congressman to "be quiet!" after O'Rourke accurately tied the El Paso shooter's white supremacist diatribe to Trump's identical references to an "invasion" at our southern border. But on Wednesday morning, before leaving for his trips to the two grieving cities, he told reports at the White House that he felt his "rhetoric brings people together" and he "would like to stay out of the political fray." That vow didn't even last until he arrived in El Paso, with his new Twitter attacks emanating even while he was on Air Force One.

But in news today that is much less insane, we are joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA), a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and Chair of its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. That subcommittee oversees the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Johnson and Nadler sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration requesting records from Justice Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House during the George W. Bush Administration, when he first served in the White House Counsel's office from 2001 to 2003 and then as White House Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006.

The request includes thousands of documents either never reviewed or never requested by then-U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during Kavanaugh's SCOTUS confirmation process last year. While Grassley requested no documents at all from Kavanaugh's tenure as Staff Secretary --- during which many decisions were discussed and made in the run-up to Iraq War and about the torture and detention of suspect terrorists and prisoners of war --- thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time in the White House Counsel's office were withheld from the Senate Judiciary panel last year after they were privately reviewed by Kavanaugh's own personal attorney.

Johnson explains why Democrats are now seeking all of those records, what they hope to find, and what they may do with the information they unearth from them on the Committee which has jurisdiction to launch impeachment proceedings for all federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will attempt to block the records request, which asserts the rights of the Committee to review the documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1975. If they are blocked, Johnson tells me, they are prepared to take additional measures to obtain the records. The Georgia Congressman also responds in detail to a number of my questions including whether he supports an expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court in order to unpack the Republican's currently stolen majority; why he is not currently among the majority of House Dems publicly calling to open an official Impeachment Inquiry in his Judiciary Committee; and what he thinks of his home state of Georgia's current plan to move from one 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to an all new, if equally unverifiable touchscreen voting system --- rather than a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system --- before next year's crucial 2020 Presidential election in a state that many believe may finally be ready to flip "blue" after years of GOP dominance in the state.

On what he hopes to find in Kavanaugh's records from the George W. Bush years: "I hope to discover that Justice Kavanaugh has been completely forthright and honest with the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process. Moreover, I hope to find that the conduct of Justice Kavanaugh, during his time as Secretary with the Office of Counsel for the President, at all times conducted himself in a way that would be in keeping with that of someone who now serves on the U.S. Supreme court with a lifetime tenure. And, of course, that is only subject to the House's ability to impeach, should there be a need for it. The American people deserve to know who we have on the US Supreme Court, what his background is, and if he was honest with the Senate in his confirmation proceedings."

On expanding the stolen SCOTUS: "It's no question that the courts have been stacked with judges with a particular political bent...They are holding the future back, and it's hurting America. So we, as the legislative branch, with the power to expand the Supreme Court --- nothing in the Constitution says that it will be a Court of nine Justices --- so we have to look at whether or not its in the efficiency of our process that we need to expand the Court. We really don't need to politicize the courts. But unfortunately the courts have been politicized. So the question is, what do we do? And how will the Supreme Court react to the fact that the legislative branch is open to looking at alternatives to the current way that it does business?"

On why Johnson is not currently among the majority of Dems in the House publicly calling for an official Impeachment Inquiry: He stands by his current position (despite my generous offer to allow him to make news by changing it on today's BradCast), while explaining, "We are proceeding in the nature of an impeachment inquiry at this time, and we're doing so without calling it an impeachment inquiry so as not to put the 31 red-to-blue winners in 2018, new Democrats, not to put them in jeopardy of not being able to come back and keep us in the majority in 2020. ... At some point we may accumulate the record that we can then pass the impeachment resolutions on and then proceed to the evidence --- not just the Mueller Report, but the evidence... take that over to the US Senate and have a trial. " After I press him a bit on his current position, he concedes: "I tell you what --- if you call me back in about two or three months, maybe I will have changed on impeachment."

And, finally, on Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State defying cybersecurity experts to move from one unverifiable touchscreen voting system to another: "I think the way to go is to have hand-marked paper ballots that are then scanned into a counting machine and counted. And then you have the paper ballots that you can test the results of the tally machine against, and that way, you can have a verifiable vote. ... But we cannot do it on this new system that the Georgia legislature has authorized. I think it is a $125 or $150 million dollar expenditure that will be for a system that we can't even rely on. I think it's bad for the taxpayers, it's bad for the voters, it's bad for democracy, and it's a bad move for Georgia."

He offers much more on all of the above, so I hope you'll tune in to listen to today's BradCast...

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...And the Ohio City of Dayton (not Toledo!); Also: Countries warn against U.S. travel.; New gun, domestic terror laws needed; Hannity's really dumb idea; Former House GOPer says 'beat every single one' in 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2019 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's unclear if Donald Trump's hope for making America great again is to see foreign countries warn their citizenry against traveling here due to the risk of gun massacres and racist hate crimes, but that's now how "great" we are. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Uruguay and Venezuela issued alerts to travelers following recent mass shooting in the U.S., and Mexico is considering legal action following the murder of seven of their citizens in the shooting at the El Paso Walmart on Saturday which took the lives of 22 in all.

At the same time, the U.S. cities which endured mass shootings by domestic terrorists over the weekend don't really wish to have a visit from the man who has inspired so much hatred and death. But the White House says that Trump will be going to El Paso and Dayton on Wednesday anyway. That, despite locally elected officials who wish he wouldn't, as they mourn their dead and protest the racist hate-mongering President who continues to sow the ground for even more rightwing violence. (And as El Paso waits for Trump's campaign to pay them the more than $400k for security that they are still owed following his last campaign rally there months ago.)

While the El Paso shooter is being investigated on Domestic Terrorism charges after echoing Trump's "Hispanic invasion" language prior to the massacre, the FBI announced on Tuesday that the mass shooting at the Gilroy, California, Garlic Festival just over a week ago is now also being probed as a Domestic Terror incident. So why is it so difficult to bring Domestic Terror charges against white male American citizens who committed these acts of terror and others like them? Federal statutes make prosecution of foreign terror charges easy, but domestic charges have a much higher bar and fewer options for law enforcement to choose from.

So, there are now calls to beef up federal Domestic Terrorism statutes, but do they stand any better chance of changing than the very-low-hanging-fruit gun safety laws that Ohio's GOP Gov. Mike DeWine is now calling for in the Buckeye State? (Laws that Dems have been calling for for years? And that even Donald Trump is now pretending to call for at the federal level?) Don't hold your breath. Fox News Presidential adviser Sean Hannity's breathtakingly stupid idea for protecting schools and malls from gun violence may have a better chance of actually become reality.

But at least one former GOP U.S. House Member, Rep. David Jolly, who quit the party last year over Trump, predicts his former Republican colleagues will not change any laws even after the recent string of gun massacres. He is now calling for every Republican in the U.S. House and Senate to be voted out of office next year. "Beat 'em. Beat every single one of them," he now says.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Greenland experiences historic ice melt raising world sea levels; we all just lived through the hottest month ever recorded on Planet Earth; and CNN actually gave substantial time for 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates to discuss their ideas for saving the planet at last week's debate in Detroit...

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On the weekend massacres in El Paso and Dayton; And Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo on the recent Senate Intelligence Comm. report on Russia interference in 2016 and the fight to secure 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2019 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open with the grim weekend news of the two gun massacres in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio, which collectively resulted in at least 30 killed and some four dozen others wounded, before moving to yet another issue of national security being avoided by most Republicans and the White House. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

The two domestic terror events in TX and OH, each carried out in minutes by white American men with semi-automatic military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, has once again spurred calls for legislative action by Democrats in Congress and the avoidance of same by the terrorist-enabling, NRA-captured Republican officials.

In addition, Donald Trump spent about 48 hours following the El Paso shooting hoping to avoid the fact that the 21-year old man who carried it out had reportedly driven from his home in Dallas to target immigrants in the border town. An online manifesto attributed to the white nationalist shooter, echoing language and racism frequently used by Trump, describes an "invasion" of Hispanic immigrants. "El Paso and Dayton make 251 mass shootings in the US in 216 days, more shootings than days in the year," notes USA Today.

The incidents also serve as the latest to highlight shameful GOP hypocrisy on matters of national security. Over the past two decades, the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars under the guise of "national security", even as the focus on international terrorism has resulted in several acute issues of national security such as climate change, gun violence by domestic terrorists, and election security being all but ignored by Republicans. That, even as the public has been asked to sacrifice one freedom after another under disingenuous claims of "national security" while the country has been bankrupted both financially and morally in the bargain.

The latest massacres and lack of willingness by Republicans to take action and confront a real and growing national security threat, is also echoed in their lack of action regarding security in our elections, the only means by which the public may actually hold their failed, hypocritical, and corrupt elected officials accountable. But a week or so ago there was a glimmer of hope, sort of, when the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan --- if absurdly redacted --- report on election security [PDF], concluding that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016. At the same time, the report states that "the Committee has seen no indications that votes were changed" or that "vote-tallying systems were manipulated".

Then again, as we've take great pains to report in detail since 2016, nobody, to our knowledge --- including the FBI, DHS, Robert Mueller's Special Counsel Office or even local and state officials --- has actually bothered to look! Calls for hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots and forensic analyses of electronic voting systems were blocked after the 2016 election in many states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania which each are said to have flipped to the Republican Presidential candidate that year by incredibly narrow, unverified margins, for the first time in decades. The Senate Intelligence Committee report suggests that while foreign actors were able to gain access to the nation's voting systems and voter registration databases, they took no action to modify them in any way. Really?

We're joined today by cybersecurity and voting system expert RICH DEMILLO, formerly the Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard, now Professor of Computing at Georgia Tech, where he served as Dean and director of their Information Security Center. DeMillo shares his takeaways from what he describes as a "frustrating" Senate report, which appears to both pull punches and hide much of both its findings and recommendations behind redactions. "There is just a massive amount of evidence that not only were the systems targeted, and in some cases penetrated, but it would take an extraordinarily altruistic spy to resist the opportunity of doing something nasty once they got into these systems," he tells me. "Not going that final step, which is relatively risk-free, of carrying out the mission that you were there to accomplish, just seems to me to strain credibility."

DeMillo, who has co-authored a number of landmark studies on the many dangers posed by the 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) now being deployed before the 2020 election to places like Georgia, Philadelphia, Los Angeles County as well as counties in other key battle-ground states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, warns that our vulnerable voting systems are, indeed, an issue of "national security".

"We're in an era where the tools can be turned against the citizens," he cautions. "Where the results of an election in an entire jurisdiction can be changed with literally the flip of a switch." DeMillo, who now serves on the board of the Verified Voting Foundation, is a supporter of hand-marked paper ballots as the only known type of verifiable voting and (like me) is dubious about the push to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for new "upgraded" computer voting systems. "It's like buying better filters for cigarettes," he says.

And while there are still no federal mandatory standards for voting systems (only voluntary guidelines last updated by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission in 2005!), the "real obvious vulnerability" to the systems comes from election insiders, local and state officials and contractors hired to program and maintain the systems. "Even in the face of arguments from election officials that 'we vet our people, we do background checks,' every time we look under those covers, what we find is that there's almost no due diligence that's taking place. That the people that we entrust with these systems, in the first place, don't understand the systems, have never been briefed on the threats, and we have no idea what their background and motivations are."

He cites the story we broke on the program last week based on testimony from an official in the Georgia Secretary of State's office who conceded on the witness stand the week before in a federal court hearing that all voting machines in the state are programmed by three outside contractors "in their garage." That new revelation of outsourcing from the ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the security and Constitutionality of the state's unverifiable touchscreen systems underscores that "everything they tell you about the security of their infrastructure, and how well they vet against the insider threat, turns out not to be the case. And that story is repeated over and over again around the country."

DeMillo also relates the story of the "ruckus" he recently caused on social media when relaying a conversation with election officials in a largely rural state "who just happened to mention in an open meeting that the computers that they use to program their ballots were housed on laptop computers that were in the houses of people, without any security clearances, no special security infrastructure. In fact, they were in places where the Internet connections were so bad that some of those people had to go to the local Starbucks in order to connect to the internet." He says his "jaw dropped to the floor" when he learned that many of those officials were programming their voting machines and tabulators on wide open, completely unsecured public networks.

Finally, DeMillo goes on to offer some advice on how to "move the needle" in the continuing fight by election integrity advocates to secure our elections by using systems that can actually be overseen by the public, slamming those --- from Congress to state and local officials to academics to private voting system vendors --- who believe that secrecy and "security by obscurity" can actually work to protect the heartbeat of our nation's fragile and more-threatened-than-ever system of representative democracy...

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Also: Cybersecurity firm was able to take over GA's 'entire' voter registration network; Lots of bad news for Trump and GOP in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2019 6:24pm PT  

Lots of bad news on today's BradCast for Trump and the Republican's in Congress as they head home for their long summer recess. And several astonishing followups to major voting-related stories we broke earlier in the week out of North Carolina and Georgia. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, several big stories out of Congress today, none of them good for the President or Republicans...

  • The GOP's only black U.S. House member, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, says he won't run again in 2020. The stunning announcement Thursday night represents a huge pickup opportunity for Dems in a state slowing turning "blue", and just the latest in a quickly growing string of GOPers calling it quits in the House;
  • On Friday, Donald Trump abruptly pulled his 5-day old nomination of TX Rep. John Ratcliffe to become the nation's next spy chief. Ratcliffe, after attacking former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during hearings in the House last week, was tapped by the President to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who publicly contradicted Trump on Russian interference in U.S. elections, Iran compliance with the landmark nuclear pact that Trump violated and pulled out of, and on the national security threat of climate change, among other things. Ratcliffe, however, was revealed to have had no previous intelligence experience, as required by statute for the DNI role overseeing the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, and was found to have lied about past claims to have prosecuted terrorists;
  • And, in more bad news for Trump on Friday, a majority of House Democrats have now publicly called for an official impeachment inquiry of the President. CA Rep. Salud Carbajal became the 118th out of 235 House Dems to publicly call for an inquiry to begin. With the majority of her caucus now supporting impeachment proceedings, it remains to be seen if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will finally modify her current position to allow Dems only to "legislate, investigate and litigate". House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler recently filed a court motion seeking grand jury information from the Mueller investigation which, for the first time, referenced a need for the documents due to Congressional consideration of impeachment proceedings.

Then, several (occasionally amazing) follow-ups to stories we broke earlier in the week regarding the citizen-led fights for publicly overseeable elections and hand-marked paper ballots in two key swing states.

First, on Tuesday's program we detailed what appeared to be a "win", if a short-lived one, by election integrity advocates in North Carolina, after they'd convinced the state Board of Elections, in a 3 to 2 vote, to adopt a resolution effectively blocking the certification of a 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device made by ES&S, the nation's largest (and sleaziest) private voting vendor. That vote, if finalized next month, would likely result in hand-marked paper ballots across the entire state in next year's crucial Presidential election. The powerful ES&S is currently the only voting system vendor certified to do business in the closely divided battle ground state.

But, in reporting that story on Tuesday, we also broke the news that one of the three "yes" votes on the resolution blocking ES&S, Republican David Black, had changed his mind, leading to a new meeting --- and a revote on the resolution --- called for Thursday. Black's reversal would mean a 3 to 2 vote in FAVOR of ES&S' new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems for counties currently serving some 2.5 million voters whose current, older 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are set to be certified, by state law, at year's end.

But, a funny thing happened before the Thursday revote, after the state Board's Chairman, Democrat Robert Cordle --- who had voted against the resolution on Monday --- told a wildly inappropriate joke to open a state conference of some 600 election officials. He was subsequently forced to resign by the Governor, resulting in Thursday's re-vote becoming a 2 to 2 deadlock, leaving the initial vote, which could lead to hand-marked paper ballots for all NC voters, in place.

There will be yet another vote --- the formal vote on the resolution --- on August 23rd, when whoever Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper names as the new Chair to the beleaguered 5-person Board, will be able to cast the decisive vote to determine if the key swing state will have verifiable elections in 2020 or not. And, yes, we share the "dirty joke" in question, about a woman and a cow, on today's program;

Then, we also have a follow-up to a story we broke on Monday's BradCast, regarding the federal lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before the 2020 Presidential election. On Monday, plaintiff Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, joined us on the show to describe a revelation from a court hearing latest last week in which a witness from Georgia's Sec. of State's office revealed that all voting machines across the state in 2018 were programmed, without oversight, by three independent contractors working for ES&S out of their garages, using unsecured home WiFi.

Last night, the UK's Guardian picked up the story about the state's fully-outsourced elections, confirming our reporting from earlier in the week and adding a number of additional disturbing details. Among those new details: Georgia's entire voter registration system was similarly outsourced to a private company which even contractually disallowed the Sec. of State's office from having access to the network. More alarmingly, however, as the Guardian's Jordan Wilkie reports, during security penetration tests, a third-party (fourth-party?) cybersecurity company contracted by the state, found that it was able to "take over the entire network". Moreover, in November of 2018, a year later, in a second round of testing just before last year's midterms, many of the vulnerabilities discovered during the initial test remained unresolved.

Until last week's hearing, when much of this information was revealed on the stand for the first time during questioning of the Sec. of State's chief information officer, the state had completely misled the federal court about all of the above and more.

Finally today, some very grim news out of the Arctic, where Greenland, over the past week, has gone through an extraordinary melt event, with record high temperatures --- 10 to 30 degrees above the normal average --- resulting in the loss of some 10 billion tons of ice over the past day or two, with nearly 200 billion tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean during the month of July. How's that for a cheery way to end the week? You're welcome!

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Guests: David Dayen and Jacki Schechner on surprises from Wed. night, clarity on real 'costs' of Medicare-for-All, thoughts on Yang's plan for $1000/month Universal Basic Income, and Harris' record as CA AG...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2019 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage --- and a lot of smart information --- on Night Two of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate in Detroit, as hosted by CNN. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The ten candidates featured during the second night's combative, two-and-a-half-hour long festivities were: former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Former HUD Sec. Julian Castro; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; WA state Gov. Jay Inslee; CO Sen. Michael Bennet and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

As during night one, the broad array of topics about which CNN's moderators worked hard to create confrontation between the candidates included healthcare (again leading the debate at the top and in the length of time spent on the issue), immigration, race, the climate crisis, the economy, foreign policy and, unlike the first night, even a question or two on how the candidates might take on Donald Trump and whether he should be held accountability for his crimes with impeachment.

Biden, the perceived front-runner, seemed at least slightly more prepared and less frail than in his first outing during the June debate in Miami, while finding his policies as a Senator over the last many decades and as President Obama's Veep sharply attacked by a number of the other participants. For her part, Harris --- who seemed to get the best of Biden in a number of exchanges during the June forum, seeing her fortunes rise thereafter --- was met with tough attacks from both Biden and several of the other candidates hoping to grab the spotlight. Booker stood out in a number of exchanges, including several with the former Vice President. Other candidates had their moments as well, as we discuss, even as the field for the next debates in September may now be cut by half or more.

We're joined today, once again, by two guests for our special coverage. Journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER is back with us again today, and we're also joined by prolific investigative financial journalist and award-winning author DAVID DAYEN, who now also serves as Executive Editor for The American Prospect.

Their smart analysis and insight today focuses on, among other things...

  • Whether CNN improved on its questioning and format for night two after facing sharp criticism for their opening round on Tuesday (Schechner saw moderate improvement, Dayen saw none);
  • which candidates, if any, stood out over their past performances (Booker and Inslee receive the most noteworthy nods on that score);
  • whether or not proposals by a number of the more progressive candidates for a Medicare-for-All style single-payer universal coverage system is actually affordable, or if the more modest proposals to build on the existing Affordable Care Act with a so-called "Public Option", as sought by the more conservative candidates like Biden, is actually more realistic. (Dayen describing the "entire conversation about costs" as "a complete red herring", offers a more concise, clear answer to that question than any of the 20 candidates over the past two nights! In short, he explains: "A Medicare For All system would save money. We know that because the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, which put together the very study that Joe Biden and these others are quoting, said that a system where the government would cover all medical costs would actually cost $32 trillion dollars over a ten-year period, but doing nothing right now would cost Americans, through their total national health expenditures, $34 trillion. So the overall savings to America from moving into a single payer system is two trillion dollars over ten years.");
  • how Democrats seem to be pulling their punches when it comes to one of the largest cost drivers of healthcare;
  • whether debates over these weedy details are helpful or even necessary right now, or if they should take a back seat for the moment to the question of who can best defeat Donald Trump in 2020. (The conversation now simply "muddies the waters" and is "totally unecessary," Shechner argues. "We need to bring this up to a higher level at this point, and say, 'You're going to have a choice in the election between somebody who wants to do something about the broken healthcare system and somebody who doesn't care about the broken healthcare system, has no plan for it, has no interest in fixing it, and is simply interested in dismantling anything that President Obama put into place.")
  • how Yang's interesting proposal for a $1000/month Universal Basic Income for every American would (or wouldn't) actually work;
  • and a number of concerns about Harris' record as CA's Attorney General before she became a U.S. Senator. That as she cited her record as a prosecutor taking on the Big Banks during her closing statement on Wednesday night.

All of that and much more is covered during our lively --- and, I believe, quite enlightening --- conversation on today's BradCast special coverage...

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Guests: Jacki Schechner and David Faris on CNN's misfires, the party's divides, the candidates' substantive policies and the necessity of fearlessness in winning and taking down Donald Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2019 4:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage of Night One of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate. This one was broadcast from the Fox Theater in Detroit and hosted by CNN. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Featured on the first night's debate stage were VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; MN Senator Amy Klobuchar; former MD Rep. John Delaney; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former CO Gov. John Hickenlooper; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MT Gov. Steve Bullock (in his first Dem Debate appearance) and author/spiritual guru Marianne Williamson.

The lively and often substantive debate was, nonetheless, frequently truncated by CNN moderators, who seemed to work hard to force confrontation between the candidates, while framing many of the evening's debate topics as if they were Republican talking points and otherwise trying to highlight the divide between the progressive and conservative wings of the party. Among the many issues raised during the two and a half hour debate on Tuesday night were healthcare (a nearly 25 minute discussion, highlighting the party's many different and often controversial approaches to achieving universal coverage, from 'Medicare-for-All' to the Public Option, and their effects on private insurance), immigration, gun safety legislation (and the corporate forces that prevent it and many of the other issues discussed), the climate crisis, issues regarding race, the economy, the cost of college and student loans, foreign policy and nuclear weapons, and --- one of many Rightwing memes that CNN seemed to be pushing throughout the evening: whether the Democratic Party has moved too far to the Left.

We're joined today for discussion on as many of the above matters as we can fit in --- as well as some thoughts on what was not covered --- by journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER and Roosevelt University political scientist and contributor at The Week, DAVID FARIS, author of the recently published book, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics.

Each offer smart analysis and insight on the substantive policy issues raised last night, as well as both the political and media aspects of night one of the latest two night Democratic debate, some six months before voting is set to begin next February at the Iowa Caucuses...

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Public pressure in NC almost results in statewide hand-marked paper ballots --- almost; WI's Scott Walker files suit to undermine MI democracy; And many others reasons to fight for your democracy right NOW...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2019 4:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The hack of over 100 million personal financial records of those who applied for credit cards at Capital One, one of the nation's largest financial institutions, underscores yet again how insane it is that we are relying on proprietary, un-overseeable computer systems "overseen" by Mr. and Ms. County Clerk to safeguard free and fair elections with results that can be known by the public to be accurate. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The Capital One hack did not take a nation-state like, say, Russia, to accomplish. It was allegedly pulled off by one woman hacker who lives with cats in an apartment in Seattle. But if Capital One can't protect its data --- even from a lone hacker in Seattle --- what chance do you really think your local county clerk or even state election official has in protecting the votes of millions of voters? Should you be concerned about those three guys who, according to testimony last week in federal court from a Georgia Sec. of State's official --- as discussed on our show yesterday --- program every voting machine in the state, without oversight, from their garage?

Georgia, of course, is not the only swing state right now considering the purchase of millions of dollars of new, if 100% unverifiable, computer voting systems for use in the crucial 2020 Presidential election. The closely divided North Carolina is doing the same. Thanks to public pressure from a lot of folks on the ground in NC, however, the State Board of Elections appeared, as of Monday night, to be on the verge of a resolution that would effectively mandate hand-marked paper ballot systems across the state.

That decision however, as we report today --- with some new details from those carrying out the fight locally in the state --- may now be on very shaky ground after possible pressure on State Board officials applied by ES&S, the nation's largest voting vendor and, currently, the only vendor certified to do business in the Tar Heel State. A new meeting is now scheduled for Thursday to consider rescinding the motion passed by the Board on Monday night.

The fight for free, fair and publicly overseeable elections in North Carolina, Georgia and many other states and counties around the country is taking place right now. As in previous years, waiting until after the election will be, once again, too late to do anything about whatever may happen. We try to give you the information you need every day here to fight for your publicly overseeable democracy. What you do with that information, however, in your own locality, is up to you. And you are really needed right now.

Meanwhile, after Florida Republicans recently undermined a landmark state Constitutional Amendment adopted in a landslide by voters last November to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons, a similarly popular state Constitutional Amendment adopted in 2018 by Michigan voters is also now under fire by Republicans. Amendment 2, adopted by 61% of statewide voters last November, creates an independent redistricting commission to draw fair state legislative and U.S. House maps after the 2020 Census. The effort came in response to the state's wildly gerrymandered 2011 maps which have kept Republicans in the majorities in the state legislature and U.S. House delegations, despite receiving fewer votes than Democrats statewide. Though federal courts found MI's maps to be unconstitutional, an opinion by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court killed that ruling in June, with Chief Justice John Roberts declaring federal courts may have no say in partisan gerrymandering cases, while citing, among other things, the citizen-led effort to create an independent redistricting commission last November in Michigan as an alternate solution to unfair partisan maps.

But, on Tuesday, a Republican group led by Wisconsin's former Gov. Scott Walker --- who approved similarly gerrymandered maps in that state before eventually being voted out of office last November --- filed suit in federal court to kill Michigan's Prop 2. The group claims the Amendment violates the Free Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. We explain and discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news for California in its fight against Donald Trump over new vehicle mileage and emissions standards; cable networks announce 2020 Democratic climate change forums; and professional Republican climate change denier and pollster Frank Luntz announces he has a change of heart...

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