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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, September 26, 2020
Repub Atty Charges FCC Letting Sinclair Violate Ownership Rules w/ Sham Cmpnys: 'BradCast' 9/25/20
Guest: Former FCC official Art Belendiuk & media reformer Sue Wilson; MORE...
Yes, We Can...But Will We?: 'BradCast' 9/24/20
Staring down -- and making sense of -- Trump's cowardly threats against a peaceful transition and to democracy itself; Also: Accountability coming soon for Trump Family in NY; And, yes, even TX is now in play...
'Green News Report' 9/24/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
CA to end sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035; 'Alarming increase' in heat and drought in U.S.; PLUS: China announces bold pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2060...
Previous GNRs: 9/22/20 - 9/17/20 - Archives...
Why is Team Trump Joining PA's Dem SoS to Defend Unverifiable Touchscreen Voting?: 'BradCast' 9/23/20
Guest: Investigative journo Art Levine: Also: FBI's odd 'Announcement' on election fakery...
Why Does the FCC Allow Sinclair to Violate Ownership Rules in Baltimore?
A probe of FCC, SEC docs in citizen-filed 'Petition to Deny' licensing for three stations controlled by the media giant may help end 'sham' control of our public airwaves...
Law Prof: Dems' One Chance to Fix Our Broken Democracy is to Expand SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 9/22/2020
Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: 200,000+ dead; GOP's Supreme hypocrisy...
'Green News Report' 9/22/20
Hurricane Beta breaks records as it grinds into Gulf Coast; Smoke from Western fires causes health crisis; More mega-fires coming; PLUS: RBG's enviro legacy...
RBG RIP and the Fight Over What Happens Now: 'BradCast' 9/21/20
Her historic legacy and the unspeakable GOP hypocrisy over her replacement; Also: Callers ring in on what Dems must do next and on expanding the stolen SCOTUS...
Sunday 'Rest in Notorious Peace' Toons
So many cries for Justice in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'RECOUNTED' with Nils Gilman, Mark Joseph Stern: 'BradCast' 9/18/20
On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
Federal Court Blocks 'Politically Motivated' USPS Changes, Orders Equipment Restored
Judge charges Postmaster General mandates undermined integrity of 2020 election...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain; Mass bird die-off during Western fires; Climate denier named to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science mag's first-ever endorsement...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Attorney, former FCC official Art Belendiuk and media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: FBI Director says no evidence of widespread ballot fraud; Federal Judge orders Census to continue until completed...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2020 7:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A good answer to the question of how the hell we got here. We have an FCC that appears fully captured by the very (rightwing) corporate entities it is supposed to be regulating while overseeing control of our public airwaves. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, before we get to our main story today, which is a scoop you probably haven't heard about elsewhere, Donald Trump's own FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday that he is unaware of any evidence to suggest widespread absentee ballot fraud is underway. That runs completely contrary to the President of the United States' continued, persistent, repeated, evidence-free claims that Democrats are running some kind of massive absentee ballot fraud scam to steal the election from Trump.

On the other hand, Donald Trump was and is trying to steal the U.S. Census from the people of the United States. But on Friday, a federal judge ordered a stop to it, based on testimony and email from Census Bureau officials revealing that the Commerce Department's order for the Constitutionally-mandated decennial head count to be prematurely ended this month would result in fatally flawed headcount data. The Trump Administration has been trying to complete the tally in time to turn it over to the President for final approval by the end of this year, to avoid the current deadline of April 2021 when Joe Biden could be in office to approve it instead. The attempt to force an under-count, according to critics, would bastardized U.S. House seat apportionment, as well as thousands of state legislative seats and the distribution of some $1.5 trillion in federal spending for the next ten years. It would also result in the under-count of minorities and the shifting of political power to white, rural Republican districts.

And speaking of politically captured federal agencies, earlier this week at The BRAD BLOG, award-winning journalist turned media reform activist SUE WILSON broke the story of a "Petition to Deny" license renewals filed against three broadcast television stations in the Baltimore market. The petition, filed by longtime, D.C.-based Republican communications attorney and former FCC official ART BELENDIUK, charges that the giant, rightwing corporate TV station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group is unlawfully violating the Telecommunications Act [PDF] by secretly owning or controlling three stations in the Baltimore market, when they are only allowed to own one.

Belendiuk and Wilson join me on today's program to explain how the far-right Sinclair, which own Baltimore's WBFF, also secretly controls the ownership of Cunningham Broadcast, which nominally owns WNUV and Deerfield Media, which holds the license to WUTB in the same market. Belendiuk explains how that violates federal restrictions on media ownership, while noting that his "Petition to Deny", filed in Baltimore in hopes of blocking the stations' licensing renewals, is just the first such Petition, given that Sinclair is pulling the same corporate shell game scam with stations all across the country.

"You can have relationships with other stations in the market, but they're carefully regulated by the FCC," Belendiuk tells me. "But Sinclair has gone way beyond that, down to the point of setting the salary of the president of Cunningham. That's not the kind of thing you do at arm's length. Cunningham, which is the main partner of Sinclair, has twenty stations in twenty different markets and they're all paired with Sinclair. So this isn't a Baltimore problem, it's just that the petition had to be filed in Baltimore because of FCC reasons. The first place you could file was in Baltimore."

Wilson detailed in her recent report how, under the FCC's regulation of the Telecommunications Act, "In a single local broadcast market, one company may apply to own two stations --- if there are nine or more stations in that market. [But] Baltimore has just eight stations, and three of them are actually owned by Sinclair."

Sinclair, which officially owns almost 200 hundred TV stations across the county in more than 100 markets, largely in the South and Midwest, first came to national prominence when they mandated their hundreds of otherwise trusted local TV news anchors to read a script on air about "fake news" being a threat to democracy, back in early 2018. As their stations are affiliated with various networks such as ABC, Fox and The CW, local viewers often have no idea they are actually watching a Sinclair station, with a far-right corporate owner controlling the local station's newsroom.

"What's really at stake here are the diversity of voices that we the people get to hear on our local TV stations," Wilson explains. "Local television news is really the medium that most of us trust more than any other today for our news. This is really cutting away at that kind of trust, when you allow one company to own so many stations." She says "the law is clear," but the FCC, whose chairman Ajit Pai was appointed by Donald Trump, is failing to enforce it, even though the details of the sham ownership of the stations and companies controlled by Sinclair were discovered in both FCC and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents, according to Belendiuk's petition

"The commission is aware of this," Belendiuk insists. "Enough is enough. it's time for the FCC to stop looking the other way."

The self-described "political conservative" also shares the progressive Wilson's concerns about the dangers of the lack of diversity over our public airwaves. "In many markets --- take Columbus, Ohio --- they own two major network affiliates, Fox and I believe an NBC station. That means every day at 6 o'clock there are two local newscasts going out holding one political view. That's not what the Communications Act intended. The Communications Act intended that there should be a diversity of views. If there's a Sinclair with a clear rightwing view, there should be another station that has a middle-ground view, and one that maybe has a leftwing view. There shouldn't be one voice."

He goes on to discuss the serious "impacts" all of this has on our politics and elections. "It really, really matters to the people of Columbus, Ohio. And they're being deprived of the information they need to vote for the candidate of their choice. Whether you're voting Republican or Democrat, that vote should be an informed vote. When you control the local news, which is really what I see as the problem, then I'm no longer getting that kind of information that I need to make an informed decision."

Belendiuk notes that station license renewals, which come up every eight years, will also be happening soon in other markets around the country where, he says, "any citizen can file a petition saying why they don't serve --- and this is in the Communications Act --- 'the public interest, convenience, or necessity'," before he details how Sinclair has been repeatedly fined by the FCC for other violations over the years when they were found to not be acting in the public interest as mandated.

Sinclair has until October 1 to respond to the Petition, after which the matter will either be decided by the FCC or, if they ignore or attempt to whitewash the complaint, by a federal Appeals Court, Belendiuk vows.

There is much more on all of this in today's show, including information on how you can reach him and take action locally if you feel, like he does, that "enough is enough".

Finally today, because this week has been more than "enough", we end with the overdue return of one of our favorite Trump-era musical satirists! Randy Rainbow sends us off into the weekend with a tune that we dare you to get out of your head after you hear it...

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

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Staring down --- and making sense of --- Trump's cowardly threats against a peaceful transition and to democracy itself; Also: Accountability coming soon for Trump Family in NY; And, yes, even TX is now in play...
By Brad Friedman on 9/24/2020 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: He wants you to be frightened. He wants to terrorize you. Don't let him. Vote instead. [Audio link to today's show.]

The fact that time is running out for the Trump Crime Family and their decades of fraud in New York --- as Eric also clearly knows --- is probably not helping, but Donald Trump is getting desperate. Hence, his refusal to commit, when when asked about it during a press briefing Wednesday at the White House, to a peaceful transfer of power after this year's Presidential election.

His excuse? "The ballots are a disaster...Get rid of the ballots....The ballots are out of control." While many have been discussing the disturbing options that some Republican controlled states may consider using to override the ballots by having their legislature select Electors to the Electoral College this year in defiance of voters, that's probably not what Trump was talking about yesterday when pretending "the ballots are out of control!"

He has been complaining for months about states that are automatically sending absentee ballots to all active registered voters this year. He is pretending this is "out of control" and a "scam" by Democrats to somehow steal the election. In fact, as we break down on today's show, Trump's complaints are, themselves, a scam.

In short, 5 states (Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii) have long sent all voters absentee ballots, whether they request one or not. Of those, only Utah is a so-called "red" state, and none of them are seen as anywhere close to likely to flip their Presidential vote from the way they voted in 2016. So, Trump is almost certainly not complaining about those five states.

But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that Trump failed so disastrously to control, 5 other states (California, Vermont, New Jersey, Montana and Nevada) will also be sending mail-in ballots to all voters. Of those, the first three are very reliably Democratic states in Presidential elections. Trump won Montana by some 20 points in 2016. So, of those five, only Nevada (whose Republican Secretary of State is in charge of the election) could be considered, in any sense, a swing-state --- though it hasn't elected a Republican nominee for President since 2004, and a new Fox "News" poll out this afternoon shows Trump trailing Joe Biden there by 11 points.

If somehow, magically --- due to some imagined massive Democratic fraud --- both Montana and Utah suddenly flipped to Biden this year, but Trump managed to hold all the same other states he won in 2016 (none of which have instituted universal Vote-by-Mail this year), Trump would still win the Electoral College.

So what is he pretending to be so bothered by? Actually, nothing. He is simply desperate to win and, as his chances of doing so are dwindling, he's desperately grasping to pretend there is a massive Democratic scheme to cheat him out of that win with universal Vote-by-Mail. There isn't.

But make no mistake, he will do nearly anything to come up with a way to get a "win" --- as long as it's other people who will risk their lives for it. That, of course, is also why he is hoping to further pack an already stolen, 5 to 3 rightwing U.S. Supreme Court, and why he is signaling that there may not be a peaceful transfer of power in the event that he loses.

Despite his threats, Trump is a coward. Bullies want you to be afraid of them, when, in fact, they are terrified of you. As well he now should be.

This nation is about to be tested in a way that we haven't seen since at least the Civil War. But, as we discuss today --- and in agreement with both Nancy Pelosi's and Bernie Sanders' responses today to Trump's Briefing Room thuggery --- the solution is the vote. An overwhelming landslide of a vote, which is now completely possible if we all step up and do our duty to save this democracy. To paraphrase Barack Obama: Yes, we can!...But will we?

We will find out over the next six weeks...and beyond. We offer both advice and encouragement to that end on today's show.

Also today, just a few more reasons for Trump's increasing panic, in addition to the New York State Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney both quickly closing in on Trump Organization crimes in two separate probes: A federal court this week tossed out the Trump/RNC lawsuit in Nevada seeking to block their Vote-by-Mail election, despite legislation adopted by the state legislature and signed by its Governor; And the news that even Texas could now be in play, with a record 1.6 million newly registered voters, Democrats spending millions on TV ads in a state long previously considered to be a Republican state, the Biden Campaign hiring on-the-ground staffers, and CBS' latest Battleground Tracker poll finding Trump leading Biden by just two points in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic nominee for President since 1976. Oh, and Republicans appear so frightened about what could happen if voters are allowed to cast their votes in Texas this year, that a bunch of them are suing their own Republican Governor to roll back his tepid expansion of Early Voting in response to the coronavirus.

Finally, Desi Doyen has quite a bit of "big" and, yes, very good news for us today (for a change) in our latest Green News Report...

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: Investigative journalist Art Levine: Also: No charges for Breonna Taylor killing; FBI issues curious 'Announcement' on election fakery...
By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: So, Donald Trump's campaign, as well as the National Republican Committee and the Pennsylvania state GOP, are battling it out with state Dems and the state's Democratic Secretary of State over pretty much all aspects of absentee mail-in voting in the key battleground state. But, for some reason, as our guest reports today, Trump and the GOP are actually joining forces with Dem Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to defend the use of brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the most Democratic-leaning part of the state. Now why would they be doing that?

Before we get there today, however, some quick news on today's announcement on the lack of charges brought against the Louisville, Kentucky police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 36-year old African-American emergency medical specialist, in her apartment in the middle of the night this past March.

Also, some thoughts on a somewhat odd "Public Service Announcement" issued on Tuesday by the FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency regarding "foreign actors and cybercriminals" who might take advantage of the necessary delay in tallying absentee ballots in the days following Election Day on November 3rd. The federal agencies warn that bad actors could "create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions." The announcement warns that malicious individuals could propagate false information about vote counts and other disinformation "that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections' illegitimacy." It's an odd "announcement" that focuses largely on foreign actors, while warning the public "to seek out reliable and verified information from trusted sources, such as state and local election officials." They say nothing about domestic bad actors, nor do they recommend federal sources as "trusted". We discuss.

Then, in Pennsylvania, Republicans have told the state Supreme Court that they plan to appeal last week's rulings against them to the U.S. Supreme Court. The news follows the Keystone State's high court determination that mail-in ballots can be counted if they arrive up to three days after Election Day; that absentee ballot drop-boxes are perfectly legal; and that state law bars poll watchers who come from outside of the county where they plan to observe. At the same time, the Trump Campaign is suing the state in federal court over many of the same issues in a suit that could also find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That may be just one of the reasons that Republicans are pushing so hard to seat a replacement so quickly for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As VP Mike Pence told Fox 'News' on Tuesday, "there is a possibility that election issues may come before the Supreme Court in the days following the election, and all the more reason why we should have nine Justices on the Supreme Court to be able to resolve any issues that may arise ." (Notably, this is something Republicans didn't seem to care about in the least before the 2016 election, when they were blocking Barack Obama's nominee from filling the late Justice Scalia's seat for a full nine months before the election.)

But for all the legal fights that Republicans are carrying out to block the use of, delivery of, and counting of verifiable hand-marked paper mail-in ballots in PA, for some reason the Trump Campaign is intervening in a court case to side with the Democratic Secretary of State there to defend the use of 100% unverifiable touchscreens in Philadelphia, the most Dem-leaning part of the state. Trump's intervention is in a suit filed by the NAACP (which we discussed with the attorney working on the case in a recent show) against the PA SoS, which seeks to block the state's use of the new computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). It's curious, to say the least, that Team Trump is supporting SoS Boockvar's use of the new, unverifiable devices, which are being forced for universal-use in all Philly polling places this year.

We're joined today by longtime investigative journalist and author ART LEVINE to discuss his detailed report today at Washington Monthly, headlined "Donald Trump's Favorite Voting Machines: Ballot-marking devices in key swing states could give him the perfect excuse to contest the election." In the article, and on today's show, Levine describes the boondoggle e-voting systems that have been installed for first time use this year in a number of key battleground states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and, yes, Pennsylvania. They are remarkably expensive, produce ballots that can never be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter who used one, and they have failed disastrously in multiple ways in several states (including PA) during their first-time use in primaries earlier this year.

Sadly, it's not only Trump and PA's Democratic Sec. of State who are defending or otherwise quietly allowing the use of these dangerous new voting systems. So are many Democratic officials and election watchdog organizations that have historically been critical of electronic voting systems. "They've been absolutely radio silent --- except for Ohio Democrats --- at the state and national level about the risks of this voting technology," charges Levine. Even here in Los Angeles, our Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla has been very supportive of the $300 million dollar boondoggle touchscreen BMD system installed this year, disastrously, by Los Angeles County's Democratic Registrar of Voters, Dean Logan.

Levine's new investigative report today explores many of these various strange bedfellows in detail.

"I hope I can shed further light on the tangled, unbelievable, nutty mess in Philadelphia that is emblematic of the kind of challenges that other swing states --- statewide in Georgia and in some key Democratic cities in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and so on --- will be facing. It's a nightmare beyond the already-other nightmares that we're aware of," he explains, describing a potential disaster with these systems that adds "kindling" for "a Constitutional crisis...if Trump doesn't win on Election Night."

Recent studies [PDF] reveal that 93% of voters do not notice when a BMD has changed one of their selections on the paper "ballots" printed out by these touchscreen systems. Moreover, the tallies created by optically-scanning those "ballots" (with yet another computer) are not even based on the human-readable printout that voters may or may not bother --- or be able --- to successfully verify as reflecting their intent. Instead, it is a barcode or a QR code, which can't be read by voters, that is also printed on the "ballots" and used by the scanning computers to tally the votes. But, still worse, even if everything works perfectly --- if the machines don't break down as they did during the primaries, causing hours-long lines, and if they aren't hacked or misprogrammed and everyone somehow manages to verify them accurately --- there is still no way for anybody to know after the election that any of those ballots accurately reflect the will of any voter.

As Levine warns in his report today: "Let's say the November election is close, and Donald Trump comes up short in Pennsylvania or Georgia or North Carolina, or all of them, and loses the Electoral College vote. ... It would make perfect sense for him and his lawyers to seize on the ambiguities of BMDs to argue that the voting was rigged and illegitimate. And Democrats would be hard-pressed to prove Trump wrong --- especially since some of their own elected officials and allies have been relatively quiet about the BMDs' shortcomings, and in some cases have even been at the forefront of pushing for the machines' use."

We have been warning as much for years. I'm happy to see Levine picking up those serious concerns and amplifying them. Please read his important article in full and then listen to today's show --- or vice versa.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some quick --- but VERY big --- news today out of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced plans to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in the state by 2035. That's right! If his initiative is successful --- and it is bound to be challenged and hated by Trump and the fossil fuel industry --- the Golden State may be selling nothing but electric cars at new car dealers in as little as 15 years!...

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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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Jenny Cohn, attorney, election security advocate; Also: Climate-fueled West Coast fires keep breaking records; More new hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2020 6:21pm PT  

Today's BradCast in a nutshell: Elected officials lie, corporate media misinforms, people die. We try again to combat all of the above today. Wish us luck. [Audio link to today's show follow below.]

First up today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on the deadly, devastating, climate changed-fueled wildfire infernos wreaking havoc up and down the West Coast and on the new record hurricanes that are heading our way at the same time. With more than 3 million acres now burned, hundreds of structures destroyed in California alone, and at least 35 dead from the record blazes so far, Donald Trump went to the state on Monday and told fire officials not to worry. "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch," the President told California state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, who was urging him to not ignore science and "recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests." Trump's response: "Well, I don't think science knows, actually."

So, don't worry! Just as Trump repeatedly promised COVID would "just go away," (more than 190,000 Americans have been killed by it since he pulled that phony promise out of his ass), apparently the same is true for our climate crisis! Of course, our corporate media have made it much easier for Trump to misinform the nation with his lies because the corporate media have done --- and are still doing --- an horrendous job of educating the electorate about the real reasons the western fires have become so horrific and why we are now up to "V" in the named storms so far this year, with a month and half still to go in the storm season and two and a half months remaining in the wildfire season.

The media have been similarly disastrous in their education of the electorate when it comes to our woeful election system. Sadly, too many top government officials --- Democratic and Republican ones alike --- share in that blame, as we're reminded in our guest today, JENNY COHN's new short #RemoveTheModems video, warning voters about the modems that are present in voting and tabulation systems in key states --- including battlegrounds Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin --- making our entire electoral system vulnerable to hackers.

Citing the comments from officials back in 2016 falsely telling America that our voting and tabulation systems are "never connected to the Internet" (they are), so can't be hacked (they can), Cohn tells me: "I'm very worried that we're going to be gaslit again in 2020. If the electronic totals somehow favor Trump, we're going to be told to pack up and go home there's nothing to see here, he just won, 'he's a legitimate president', period."

That year, even after Democrats promised "hundreds of attorneys" on the ground to assure a legitimate election (exactly as Joe Biden's campaign did again today), the DNC and Clinton Campaign refused to demand the hand-count of ballots in the three key states (MI, WI and PA) which barely flipped to the Republican candidate for the first time in decades. That, despite the fact that had an average of just two votes been recorded for Clinton instead of Trump in each precinct in those states that year, she, not he, would have won.

"What really concerns me is the blind spot that the Democratic Party seems to have for the electronic component of potential for cheating," says Cohn. She believes, however, that at least Clinton has learned her lesson. Based on a conversation she says she had with the 2016 Democratic candidate recently, Cohen tells me: "I do believe that Hillary Clinton understands it now, and I think she understands the importance of the Democrats not boxing themselves into a corner, where they will look like hypocrites if they need to file an election challenge based on the electronic totals, or any other aspect of the election."

Whether Clinton has enough power to convince the Biden Campaign and the rest of the Party of that, Cohn suggests, is a separate question.

Cohn, an attorney, election security advocate and Twitter activist, is calling for the modems cited in her video to be removed from the systems in states which use them before the November election. As journalist Kim Zetter reported last year, many of the election officials in those states don't even realize when their private election vendor has hooked their systems up to the Internet --- some of them she reports researchers discovered, are on the net all year around!

"I have no doubt that what the Trump team wants to do is win the electronic vote on Election Day, and then try to run out the clock or do something else with the [absentee ballot] signature match, so that we don't get all of them counted," she tells Cohn argues. "Or, if it goes to a recount, it gets shut down prematurely," she says, noting correctly that Vote-by-Mail ballots are also "sent to that electronic management system too."

Cohn also discusses some of her worst fears about this year's elections (and I share some of mine, several of which are similar, especially regarding electronic pollbooks which often have no paper backup) before we take a few phone calls from listeners on the topic, with Election Day now just 50 days away. "It's going to be ugly, no matter what the official result is," she says, noting: "My biggest concern --- the overarching concern that I think we both share --- is that there won't be any transparency about the results, and therefore we'll never really know."

Cohn has posted a bunch of helpful "Tips to Mitigate Threats to Our Votes and Voter Registrations Before November" that I'd urge you to check out and share as well, even though we didn't get time to discuss them. Just a good reason to have Jenny back. Please follow her on Twitter until then!...

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Guest: Will Goodwin of VoteVets.org; Also: Record climate change-fueled heat and fires in CA; The ransomware election specter; Barr's election fraud lie; Progressive champion, Kevin Zeese, passes away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/8/2020 6:51pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast, after surviving a long hot holiday weekend here in California (with huge thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) [Audio link to today's show is posted below summary.]

Amid record heat in Southern California --- with one city in L.A. County city topping out at a record 121 degrees on Sunday! --- fires raged and continue to do so, up and down the state. Nearly 300 people stranded by smoke and fires in various parts of the Golden State needed to be rescued by helicopters over the past four days as climate change-fueled blazes have, so far, chewed through a record 2 million acres in the state, destroying more than 3,300 structures in 900 different fires since mid-August. The scariest part: the worst months for California's ever-lengthening fire season are usually September and October. So, even after the worst fire season now on record, the worst may still be yet to come this year, as our climate crisis continues to intensify and a climate change denier is once again heading up the Republican Party's Presidential ticket.

It would be nice if we weren't one of the few media outlets connecting those particular dots. Absentee ballots have now begun to ship out to voters in states like North Carolina which has, itself, been ravaged in recent years by various climate related crises, from hurricanes to toxic coal ash spills to ever-rising sea levels. As voting for the general election finally begins there and in other battleground states, the corporate media would help us all if they focused (or even mentioned!) so many of the very real issues that are at stake in this year's critical Presidential election, including the devastation of climate change!

Speaking of which, a new story today gives me reason once again to cite one of my worst fears for this November's elections, as the Hartford Public School District in Connecticut was forced to cancel its first day of classes today. The cancellation was not due to the continuing COVID crisis, but caused by a ransomware attack that crippled the District's computer networks. That attack echoes a series of attacks against the Miami-Dade County Public School system in Florida last week, and could foreshadow trouble to come on November 3rd. Because so many voting jurisdictions now foolishly rely on computer networks and the Internet to cast, count and even check people in to vote on electronic pollbooks, a ransomware attack before or on Election Day would be devastating.

But don't worry! Your U.S. Dept. of Justice in on the job! Ya know, the one led by Donald Trump's fixer and Attorney General Bill Barr who lied to CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week about massive absentee ballot fraud, claiming a 2017 "indictment" in Texas for the theft of 1,700 mail-in ballots. After the actual state prosecutors called BS on Barr's claim's, the DoJ was forced to admit it was false. Ironically, Barr also claimed that "people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government." That would be more likely, of course, if we didn't have a U.S. Attorney General willing to casually forward two year old false claims about election fraud on major cable news networks.

Then we move to the biggest story over the holiday weekend, the report from The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that Donald Trump regards members of the military, including those were killed or captured and tortured during their service, as "losers" and "suckers". Goldberg's reporting has now been independently confirmed by multiple other media outlets, including even Fox "News", while Trump and the White House unconvincingly describe the detailed and independently corroborated reporting as "fake news". In his attempt to distract from that story on Monday, Trump attacked his own top military brass, claiming that too much is spent on defense contractors --- even after Trump has spent years citing his own increases to defense spending as one of his Administration's top accomplishments.

We're joined today by WILL GOODWIN, U.S. Army veteran, West Point grad and now Director of Government Relations for VoteVets.org, the nation's largest progressive veterans organization, founded in 2006, and now representing more than 500,000 vets, families and supporters. In the wake of the stunning (if not surprising) reports of Trump's disparagement of military members --- from the captured and tortured Vietnam War prisoner of war John McCain, to the shot down WWII fighter pilot George H.W. Bush, to the 1,800 U.S. Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood during WWI --- as "losers" and "suckers" all, VoteVets has now released several different video ads in response.

In one, family members of those who lost loved ones in recent wars respond to the President's remarks and, in another, a 98-year old WWII veteran, captured and forced into slave labor for 42 months, encourages Americans to vote for Joe Biden and against "other politicians if they continue to support Donald Trump."

For his part, Goodwin shares his thoughts in response to the reported insults by the Commander-in-Chief --- who he regards as "a maniac in the Oval Office" --- and how they are likely to affect the votes cast by members of the nation's armed forces this year. Despite popular belief that the military tends to support the Republican candidate, Goodwin cites polling to suggest the opposite --- polling completed before last week's news from The Atlantic. He says that Goldberg's report "is nothing new from Donald Trump when it comes to his hatred toward the military, towards military families, and towards our veterans, but somehow it's a new low." Goodwin goes on to describe Trump's tenure as "four years of failed leadership as Commander-in-Chief," before detailing a seemingly endless list of ways in which Trump has failed our troops, our veterans, our Gold Star Families, as well as the nation's security and standing on the world stage.

"Our allies have turned away from us --- they do not know how to work with a maniac in the Oval Office like Donald Trump --- and our enemies and adversaries are emboldened. They're emboldened to continue attacking the very integrity of our democracy and going after our elections infrastructure. And, frankly, they have taken more direct actions, escalating military tensions. The Russian buzzing US Navy ships, intercepting our aircraft. The continued expansion of the Chinese footprint in various places around the world," Goodwin argues. "We have seen Democrats across the board, including in [Congressional] seats where Donald Trump may be popular, standing up once again and speaking the truth on how disgusting this is. And we're seeing the same failure from Republicans to speak up at all. Republicans who represent massive military and veteran populations...refusing to condemn the President."

Finally today, we close on a very sad note, with the news that Kevin Zeese, longtime progressive activist, attorney, fighter for universal healthcare, fair elections, racial and economic justice and peace, passed away suddenly on Sunday from what appears to have been a heart attack as he slept. Kevin was also a friend of both The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast, having joined on us on air on many occasions while taking on our nation's worst failures and most insidious corporate oligarchs. We share several thoughts on his passing from a number of other progressive activists today. Zeese was 64 and will be dearly missed...as his good fight for a better and more just world will, and must, continue...

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Foreign and domestic election interference continues. So does our effort to help you make sense of what's actually going on...
By Brad Friedman on 9/1/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a lot to get to on today's BradCast, as voters in Massachusetts go to the polls today with a couple of very interesting primary races (results tomorrow!), and as the rest of us are now counting the days (63 of them), until general Election Day, with both hope and trepidation. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Among the mountains o' stuff covered on today's program...

  • After years of our reporting on the very successful, perhaps irreversible, decades-long effort by the Right to brainwash its followers, we open today with a few thoughts about a similar, if not quite as successful (though it's getting closer), effort to brainwash those on the Left. That effort to brainwash the Left, like the scheme on the Right, is also carried out by folks on the Right or those who support them. (And yes, that means we have a few words today about the still-misreported facts regarding the Hillary/Bernie race from 2016);
  • We have more evidence of attempts to manipulate the Left in today's announcement from Facebook that, based on a tip from the FBI, the social media outlet has shut down several fake accounts created to support a Russia-related propaganda scheme targeting the Left in hopes of undermining Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The operation reportedly included a phony media outlet calling itself "Peace Data", in hopes of appealing to progressives in advance of this year's election;
  • Information of that sort, as we discuss, is --- or should be --- useful to voters. Nonetheless, with just over two months until Election Day, with Donald Trump's top intelligence officers having recently warned that Russia is taking active measures, once again, to undermine the Presidential election in support of Trump, his recently-appointed Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe notified Congress over the weekend that he will no longer offer in-person briefings to lawmakers regarding foreign attempts to interfere in the election. The claim, offered by Trump himself without facts to back it up, is that members of Congress were illegally leaking certain information from the intelligence community, and that the information leaked was also "wrong". No evidence was given to support that charge, and while Trump claimed the decision to end intelligence briefings to Congress was made by him and Ratcliffe, evidence suggests that it was, instead, a directive from Trump himself. For some reason;
  • Speaking of the November 3rd election, the dirty tricks are now underway, as revealed by a new robocall to some Democratic-leaning Michigan voters falsely warning that signing up to vote by mail will result in voters contact information being added to a database for tracking down arrest warrants, credit card debt collection and "mandatory vaccines". None of that is true. Though you should expect much more of it in the weeks ahead;
  • Also in Michigan, the state's Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, recently won a court case filed by rightwingers attempting to prevent her from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's 7.7 million voters. The ruling --- in a state which Trump is said to have won by just over 11,000 votes in 2016 --- comes in the wake of his misfired threat to withhold federal funding from Michigan in a tweet in which he falsely claimed the "rogue Secretary of State" was planning to send out actual ballots (as opposed to applications) to all voters;
  • And while Trump and his minions have been suing in state after state in (usually failed) efforts to make voting more difficult during the global pandemic that he failed to control --- even attempting to block the use of secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in key battleground states like Pennsylvania --- another newly elected Democratic Sec. of State, Jena Griswold in Colorado, announced today that her state will offer "at least 368 mail ballot drop boxes for the General Election, an increase of 49% since I was elected in 2018!";
  • Also today, a somewhat bizarre comment from a reader/listener in response to our coverage yesterday of L.A. County's disastrous, unverifiable new touchscreen voting system, in which the commenters offers several odd allegations amid of my nearly 20 years of critical coverage of e-voting and asks "whose side are you on?";
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report in the wake of catastrophic week for the climate and the Republican National Convention...

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President of the United States holds trillions of dollars in emergency relief hostage to prevent Democrats from safely casting ballots in November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2020 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Well, at least he's saying it out loud now. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The President of the United States is rejecting the plea --- from his own personally-appointed, Republican-majority, Postal Board of Governors for $25 billion to save the U.S Postal Service from collapse and a $3.5 billion request from the nation's bi-partisan elections officials to help harden election infrastructure for security purposes and to accommodate a huge Presidential election in the middle of a deadly global pandemic --- because he is trying to steal the election. While he doesn't use the words "steal the election", he and his administration are now making very clear they are trying to do just that. And, of course, ham-fistedly lying about it at the same time by claiming that Democrats, somehow, are hoping to "rig" the election.

The Trump/GOP megadonor, Louis DeJoy, just appointed as Trump's Postmaster General in June, has been busy issuing directives to slow down mail delivery, despite the explosion in Vote-by-Mail expected during this November's election, as necessitated by Trump's own failed coronavirus response. This week we have also learned that DeJoy has removed or reassigned some 23 top USPS officials who manage mail delivery and that 19 huge postal sorting machines, which process some 35,000 pieces of mail an hour, have now been removed or are scheduled to be removed from at least 19 different mail distribution sites across the country. That was confirmed by Motherboard today after initially being reported on NPR by the President of the Iowa Postal Worker's Union.

It is happening in plain sight. On Wednesday at his White House presser, and again on Thursday, Trump conceded that if he doesn't agree to a new COVID-19 emergency relief bill to help the nearly 30 million now-unemployed Americans; cash-strapped states and cities; hospitals; schools; and, yes, elections officials and the U.S. Post Office itself, he believes he will stop voters from successfully casting a ballot through the mail this November.

That works great for him, because he's hoaxed his own GOP supporters into believing absentee voting is fraudulent (except in Florida, where he, himself, does it ILLEGALLY) or unnecessary, because the virus is "disappearing, like a miracle." Many duped Republicans will now needlessly risk infection and death to vote for him at the polling place on Election Day, while huge numbers of NOT-disinformed Democrats are expected to use Vote-by-Mail to avoid potential death from voting in-person. Trump will then declare himself the winner on Election Night, with more Republican votes quickly counted from in-person voting, before declaring the slower-to-tally absentee ballots (which need to be manually authenticated one-by-one before they can be run through computer tabulators --- if they even arrive on time to be counted after the USPS slowdowns) as "fraudulent". Attempts to count all lawfully cast ballots after Election Day will then be characterized as an attempt by Democrats to steal the election. That's the plan. It's simple, evil, anti-American, and its happening right before your eyes.

Even one of Trump's top White House economic advisers admitted on CNBC today that "we don't want to have voting rights." That, said Larry Kudlow, out loud, about the effort by Democrats to include election and USPS funding in their emergency relief proposal is "not our game and the President can't accept that kind of deal."

Voting rights advocates, supporters of democracy, and Democrats in Congress are hopping mad, as they should be. So is one of the nation's largest veterans groups. But, of course, Trump knows that, as a failed President, if he doesn't rig the election to steal it he is very likely to lose it. So, yes, he is attempting to steal a Presidential election right before our eyes.

We break down ALL of that down --- in much more detail --- on today's show, along with at least one bit of good news on elections today coming from the U.S. Supreme Court, of all places, if you can believe it.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen (whose name keeps popping up in the strangest places these days) and our latest Green News Report with a review of presumptive Democratic Veep candidate Kamala Harris' record on environmental justice; the Trump EPA's rollback of Obama-era methane pollution rules at the request of the oil and gas industry; some very good news for the nation's migratory birds; and yet another fossil fuel disaster, this time in Pennsylvania...

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Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist reportedly wins Dem U.S. Senate nomination in TN after being outspent 250 to 1...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2020 7:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Never mind the pre-election polling numbers you are hearing. Given the way Donald Trump and his Administration and acolytes around the country are actively working to undermine this year's November 3rd general elections, you'd make a mistake to place Joe Biden's odds of being declared the winner at any better than 50/50 at best at this point. Disturbing comments from our guest today only underscore that concern yet again. [Audio link for today's must-listen show is posted at bottom of article.]

But first up today --- after quick news that, contrary to yesterday's reporting, a second COVID test for the Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine appears to show he is actually, and happily, negative for the coronavirus --- we cover the stunning election news out of Tennessee on Thursday night. If the computer-tallied results of the Democratic Primary yesterday for U.S. Senate there can be believed, Marquita Bradshaw, a progressive African-American environmental activist supporting Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, has won the party's nomination to run for the seat being vacated by TN's longtime GOP Senator Lamar Alexander this November.

Bradshaw's campaign raised less than $10,000, according to FEC records, yet she reportedly defeated the Dem establishment-backed James Mackler who, with the support of Chuck Schumer's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had raised more than $2 million for his campaign while only managing to come in THIRD in yesterday's contest! That's right, Bradshaw was outspent 250 to 1, but appears at least, to have easily defeated both Mackler and everyone else in the race according to the still-unofficial results.

Unless an error in tabulation is discovered, Bradshaw will go on to challenge Trump's former Ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, in November. He overcame a serious challenge in a contest that placed the Trump and Mitch McConnell-endorsed Hagerty against the Ted Cruz and Rand Paul-endorsed Manny Sethi. The far-rightwing Hagerty recently resigned from the board of a brokerage firm after they expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. He will now run against a black activist in TN, which has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1990. But, if Bradshaw could win after being outspent 250 to 1, who knows what may happen in November?

That said, the GOP dirty tricks this year are already underway. According to an email from our friend Tom Sullivan, a longtime blogger at Digby's Hullabaloo from the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina, some Democratic voters are now reportedly receiving phone calls purporting to be from the Board of Elections, falsely telling them they "no longer need to request an absentee ballot." That is completely false. If NC voters wish to vote by mail this year in the Tarheel State, they WILL need to request an absentee ballot --- though they can deliver their ballot by hand at county Boards of Elections, or even vote in-person later if they change their mind.

Dirty tricks from Republican activists, sadly, is nothing new, but bad enough. Especially in NC! But when the dirty tricks are coming from inside the White House itself, that is a matter of entirely different proportions. Shamefully, even as the President of the United States continues to make false claims about absentee voting (after fraudulently doing so himself!), Donald Trump's recently appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, is now undermining the U.S. Postal Service itself in advance of what will be, by far, the largest Vote-by-Mail elections in all 50 states in the nation's history. The Republican Trump mega-donor DeJoy, with no previous USPS experience, issued several directives upon taking office in June that have resulted in the slow down of mail delivery. And while both DeJoy and other leadership at the 250-year old Postal Service (whose first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin) have claimed the new directives are not aimed at slowing down mail or doing Trump's bidding to undermine absentee voting, our guest today, MARK DIMONDSTEIN, President of the American Postal Workers Union and Postal Service worker since 1983, charges that is exactly what is happening.

The new directives, purportedly meant as efficiency measures to curb overtime costs, "can't do anything but slow down mail," says Dimondstein. "Our understanding is that it's really happening all over the country, and it needs to be reversed. It needs to be stopped." The APWU chief, representing more than 200,000 postal workers, charges the new measures, which direct carriers to leave mail behind at sorting stations if waiting for it will delay their route, "runs counter to our DNA. Our DNA as a postal worker is to serve the customer, leave no mail behind, treat it as if it is our own."

The USPS is in crisis mode now, as coronavirus lockdowns have severely curbed regular mail delivery --- though package delivery has increased, he tells me, helping to mitigate that loss somewhat. The Post Office is funded entirely by postage, not tax payer dollars, but its Republican-dominated Board of Governor's, he says, unanimously voted to request a $25 billion emergency bailout from Congress earlier this year. While almost every other company in the nation has received crisis funding during the pandemic, Republicans in Congress and the White House have continued to block the request. "The Post Office does not run on tax dollars in normal times, it runs off the revenue. So if the revenue is not there, then the Post Office will run out of money," Dimondstein warns. "It's not a question of if, it's a question of when."

He goes on to respond to a host of questions, including on the safety (and necessity) of Vote-by-Mail and the President's attempts to undermine it. "Vote-by-Mail is nothing new for postal workers. We've been doing this for generations. Military personnel have been voting by mail since the days of the Civil War...And of course now, with the pandemic, it's a question of access to the ballot box at all for tens of millions of people who want to vote safely," he tells me, noting ironically that "Trump trusts us to deliver his mail-in ballot!"

We discuss what he describes as the "tremendous impact of COVID on the workforce," which has seen 40,000 workers quarantined and more than 2,500 who have tested positive, and why Donald Trump has had it out for so long --- even before the coronavirus --- for the Postal Service, which Trump has called "a joke". Contrary to popular speculation, Dimondstein doesn't believe Trump's antagonism is due to his dispute with Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon which works closely with USPS. He believes it's based on little more than interest by Trump and other corporatists to privatize and profit from the massive customer base served by the USPS every day at all 160 million addresses across the country, six days a week.

"The idea that the Postal Service is a joke is an insult to every dedicated postal worker. 600,000 plus strong," says Dimondstein. "Out here in this pandemic, on the front lines, can you imagine how we all feel hearing that? And it's an insult to the customers. 91% of the people in this country, in the latest Pew Research Poll [support USPS]. The Postal Service always rates the highest. This year, it was the highest ever, I think out of a deeper appreciation for the role of postal workers in this pandemic."

"The country just laid to rest John Lewis," Dimondstein notes. "His historic role in this country, courageously done, was the question of voting rights for African-Americans in the South of the United States. And it was courageous. He was almost beaten to death. Voting rights now is right here at the epicenter of what's going on right now, and the Post Office is right in the middle of this thing. Because without Vote-by-Mail, people aren't going to be able to vote. It's as simple as that. Tens of millions of people, from seniors to young people, just will not be able to vote during this pandemic if they don't have good access to Vote-by-Mail and don't have the states step up. We have to worry about some of these states that don't want people to vote. That's the reality."

When asked how long before Election Day Dimondstein would advise voters get their absentee ballot into the mail to ensure it arrives n time to be counted, he recommends that if you haven't mailed it by the Tuesday or Wednesday before Election Day, you'd be wise to try and drop it off in person at your precinct or local County headquarters. (Check your own jurisdiction to find out what is allowed, as the laws are different in each state and sometimes each county or municipality.)

There's much more in our conversation, but you get the idea. Please tune in for the full conversation.

Finally today, with the actual President of the United States now actively attacking the Post Office, the U.S. Census and democratic elections themselves --- all three, core elements of American democracy, each specifically cited by the U.S. Constitution itself! --- can there be any better reason to defend the nation and its Constitution by voting this guy out of office? With that in mind, we end with a bit of inspiration from satirist Roy Zimmerman's brand-new, updated version of his already-classic ear-worm parody tune, "Vote Him Away!"...

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on an extraordinary new Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at and covering his wannabe dictatorial tweets!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2020 6:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the grifts continue --- huge new ones that few yet know about --- but too many are focused on Donald Trump's latest distractions to notice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: Please stop taking Trump's bait. His tweet on Thursday suggesting the postponement of the November election was little more than an attempt to distract from the day's very real news, including the horrific numbers from the Commerce Department (finding that the U.S. economy had plunged a record, unprecedented, staggering annualized 33% in the second quarter.). It worked. Media fell for it, and so did you, even though the President of the United States has no power to change the date of the Presidential election. The tweet not only helped to flip the entire day's news cycle, it also further terrorized the nation and helped to reinforce his desperate narrative that the 2020 election will be "the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history."

Democrats need to stop cowering in fear at Trump's wannabe dictatorial pronouncements. As Josh Marshall correctly wrote in response, "I understand everyone is afraid. But this is loser talk." The anti-Trump Republicans at the Lincoln Project ain't buying it. And the co-founder of the far-right Federalist Society has called for Trump's immediate impeachment because of it. Media need to learn to stop allowing Trump to hijack the news cycle and Americans need to learn to stop cowering in fear of Trump, despite his only actual talent: masterfully tricking both you and the media into falling for his pathetic manipulation.

Next up, the powerful Republican Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, who was arrested and charged last week by federal prosecutors in a massive, $60 million bribery, money laundering and racketeering scheme, has now been removed from the Speaker position in a unanimous bipartisan vote of the Buckeye State's House of Representatives. Householder and four others (including a senior aide, a former state GOP chair, and two top energy industry lobbyists) were charged in a racketeering scheme funded by FirstEnergy. The scheme was used to force a wildly unpopular bill through the state legislature last year that raised electricity bills on Ohio ratepayers to bail out two failing, hyper-polluting coal plants and two failing nuclear plants, while gutting the state's successful renewable energy and efficiency programs.

Despite the felony charges and lost speakership, Householder has yet to resign, the corrupt $1.5 billion House Bill 6 is still on the books, and Ohio's Republican Governor, Mike DeWine, who quickly signed the measure, still has some explaining to do. But while that scheme, described by federal prosecutors last week as the "the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio," allegedly netted Householder some $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy, laundered through a non-profit front group, it may pale in comparison to what one good government group now charges the Trump reelection campaign is doing.

Earlier this week, the non-partisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center (CLC), headed up by a former Republican Chair of the Federal Elections Commission, filed a new complaint with the FEC charging that the Trump Campaign and a joint fundraising committee is violating federal law by "laundering" nearly $170 million in campaign spending through firms headed up by Trump's former campaign manager, Brad Parscale (pictured above). The money, according to my guest today, CLC's Director of Federal Reform, BRENDAN FISCHER, is secretly being funneled to Trump associates and even family members.

"We've never seen anything like this. The scope and scale of this secrecy scheme is unprecedented," Fischer says, explaining how tens of millions of dollars in campaign ad buys and other large campaign expenses are all being run through two companies created by Parscale. One is called American Made Media and the other is Parscale Strategies. The campaign has claimed the companies are being used to save money by cutting out middle-man vendors, but CLC has discovered that the companies are being used as pass-throughs, and that sub-contracted vendors are making ad buys on behalf of the Trump Campaign anyway. Moreover, those vendors are not being disclosed, as required by campaign finance law, on the Campaign's financial disclosure forms. That, as Fischer tells me, means that payments are being hidden for campaign work, including potentially millions of dollars siphoned to groups with whom it is unlawful for the Campaign to coordinate efforts, and even to Trump associates and family members like Lara Trump (Eric Trump's wife) and former Fox "News" host Kimberly Guilfoyle (Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend).

"These two Parscale firms are being used only as pass-throughs to disguise the ultimate recipients of the money," Fischer and the CLC complaint alleging civil violations of campaign finance laws charge. "If the Trump Campaign gets away with this, it's just going to become a common practice. It's going to get replicated by campaigns, both Democrat and Republican, to disguise all of their political spending," he warns, adding that "if there was evidence that the violation was knowing and willful, there potentially could be criminal penalties."

Fischer offers many more details on what CLC knows and, due to the purposeful obfuscation through campaign finance records, what they still don't know, but hope that FEC investigators will be able to find out. We also discuss the dysfunction of the impossibly broken FEC and how that may affect action on this new and very serious complaint.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on Trump's visit to Texas to help sell dirty oil while undermining the state's growing wind industry and lying about Joe Biden. Also, we cover the latest storm now barreling towards Florida as this year's record Hurricane Season continues and those "mystery seeds" that many are reporting as showing up in the mail from China...

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Guest: Constitutional attorney Thomas Wolf of Brennan Center's Democracy Program; Also: America STRONGLY against Trump school reopening plan during COVID surge; And, Kris Kobach for Senate!
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: the COVID crisis continues to get worse, Americans wise up on reopening schools, potential hope for Kansas, and Donald Trump becomes a laughing stock. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last week, during his rambling, wildly political Rose Garden "press conference" (it was really a political rally), Trump promised that over the next eight weeks, we would be seeing "things that nobody has even contemplated, thought about, thought possible," and that "nobody's ever going to see eight weeks like we're going to have." While, I think it was meant as a rallying cry for a bunch of initiatives he plans to pretend to invoke during desperate days in advance of the November election, it sure sounded like a threat to me. Either way, we suspect he's right about what we will see. He suggested he would be "taking on immigration, taking on education" and that it all would start "some time on Tuesday."

On Tuesday, Trump unveiled something that had to do with immigration, which we discuss with our guest today (see below). As to "taking on education", that part remains somewhat less clear. But if it has to do with insisting that school kids go back to in-person classes next month in the middle of a deadly and worsening pandemic, the American people are decidedly not with him on that one. A new poll out today from AP/NORC finds that just 8% of Americans believe K-12 schools should reopen this Fall for normal, in-person instruction. Nonetheless, Trump is still threatening to take away federal money for special ed to those schools who do not obey his command.

That command is still in place --- and being ignored by most of the nation's largest school districts --- as more than 1,000 Americans died from COVID-related illnesses on Tuesday alone. It was the first time since May that that has happened, as mountains of evidence --- including 59,000 hospitalizations on Tuesday --- underscore, yet again, that the U.S. is headed in decidedly the wrong direction in dealing with the crisis. These will be a very difficult eight weeks indeed. There are fifteen weeks until the November 3rd Presidential election.

And, speaking of elections, state primaries are still ongoing, with statewide contests in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washingtonstate coming up on August 4th. We take some time to focus on Kansas today, where notoriously failed GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and the state's former Sec. of State Kris Kobach is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, in hopes of filling the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. It has been an embarrassing few days for Kobach, after his friend Rep. Steve Watkins was indicted last week on 3 felony counts and 1 misdemeanor charge related to voter fraud. As we reported last week, Watkins was charged for doing precisely what Donald Trump did. He unlawfully registered to vote at an address where he did not live, and then he unlawfully voted in an election using that unlawful address. Watkins has been indicted in Kansas. Trump is still a Florida voter fraud criminal at large at this hour.

Kobach, who built his entire two-term career as Sec. of State by promising to stamp out rampant "voter fraud" in Kansas by Democrats and non-citizens, was able to bring only 15 prosecutions during his eight years in office, obtaining convictions on fewer than 10 of them, with nobody receiving any jail time. Virtually all of the convictions were against people who voted twice in two separate states, because they owned homes in both, with many not realizing that was against the law. Nonetheless, Kobach prosecuted people who did the same thing that Watkins (and Trump) did. But, when asked by the Kansas City Star for comment after Watkins' indictment, Kobach offered a bizarre reason why he disagreed with the charges.

All of which helps underscore the fact that the fraud Kobach --- after losing to a Democrat during his 2018 run for Governor in Kansas --- is now hoping to secure the GOP nomination for the Senate. He is running in a field of 11 candidates seeking the honor and we completely endorse him! So, apparently, does his presumptive Democratic challenger, Barbara Bollier, who, in the second quarter of this year, according to AP, "raised almost $1.3 million more than the top-tier Republican primary candidates combined."

Could a Democrat actually flip the Kansas Senate seat from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time since 1932? Bollier was a moderate Republican until she became so embarrassed by Trump and her own party that she became a Democrat at the end of 2018. We'll will find out in about 15 weeks. But a Kobach win in the August 4th primary would certainly help, as Kobach is far "too conservative" for Kansas.

Finally, back to Trump's promise to "take on immigration" on Tuesday, when he unveiled an Executive Memorandum (not an Executive Order, but a memo...not sure if he knows the difference), declaring it to be the position of the United States that immigrants in this country should not be counted when determining the next Congressional apportionment that is to occur after the completion of the 2020 Census. That, despite the very plain language of the 14th Amendment which reads: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state".

We're joined today by Constitutional law expert THOMAS WOLF of Brennan Center's Democracy Program, where he specializes in the Census, redistricting, and immigrant rights. He tells me, quite bluntly, that "the memorandum [issued by Trump] is not worth the paper its printed on. The Constitution's plain text is very clear: every person counts. 'Persons' means persons and 'persons' means everyone. That means that everyone is to be counted."

Even Bill Barr, when he was Attorney General the first time, back in 1989, agreed!

"The memorandum that President Trump issued yesterday," Wolf continues, "assumes that President Trump has the power to decide who counts and who doesn't. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of the country, the Constitution has already made that decision for him, and the Constitution decided that all people count."

In case he was unclear about that, Wolf adds later: "From the top, there is no legitimacy to this order." But, if so, what was the point of Trump issuing the memo that obviously tries to reverse the 14th Amendment adopted during Reconstruction to do away with the Constitution's previous clause declaring that some people in America --- slaves --- were to be counted by the Constitutionally-mandated decennial Census as three-fifths of a person? Wolf offers insight and answers to that question, as well as how to help counter Trump's plan which, as he notes, "is so patently unconstitutional, it's astonishing."

(Hint: One of the ways to counter it, argues Wolf, is to "Get counted! That's how we push back against this." If your household has yet to do so, please go and fill out a Census form today at 2020Census.gov!)

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Guest: Ray Lutz of Citizens' Oversight; Also: Rest in Power, John Lewis...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2020 6:54pm PT  

We kick off today's BradCast on a somber, if hopefully inspiring note, on the passing of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis who died on Friday after a battle with cancer. His decades-long fight for voting rights --- and the call to cause "good trouble, necessary trouble" --- has been an inspiration to this show and our work at BradBlog.com for many years. The best tribute we can offer to Rep. Lewis, of course, is to continue his fight as best we can. And so we do once again today. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

More than 100k absentee/Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots were rejected by election officials in the state of California after its March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, according to a new AP analysis. Many of the rejections were due to voter error, though not all. Some were also due perceived mismatched or missing signatures and a to a too-short statutory deadline (3 days) for VBM ballots to arrive after Election Day. The state has now increased that time to 17 days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be included in the final tally.

But, of course, various problems with VBM is why in-person polling places remain very necessary in CA and all states this year, even with expanded mail-in voting during the COVID crisis. That is true even in the Golden State, which will be sending VBM ballots directly to all active registered voters this year because of the pandemic. Here in Los Angeles County, however --- the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction --- the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has said that, for in-person voting, he will stick with the County's new, horribly failed $300 million unverifiable touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system this November, despite the disasters that resulted in 3, 4, and 5 hour lines to vote and an untold number of disenfranchised voters during the system's first county-wide use on March 3rd.

I discussed the decision by Logan to use L.A. voters, once again, as guinea pig beta testers this November, during the most critical election of our lifetimes, in a segment late last month on CBS2-LA News with investigative reporter David Goldstein. Incredibly, CA's Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have all apparently agreed to allow the failed system --- called "Voting Solutions For All People" or VSAP --- another try on November 3rd. What could possibly go wrong?

An L.A. County Civil Grand Jury --- which has also been investigating the VSAP failure --- thinks a lot could go wrong. The group's report on the VSAP failures [PDF] by both Logan and Padilla, entitled "Maybe I Voted?", demands answers from Registrar Logan as well as the state. Goldstein, who has been closely following the VSAP mess since a few weeks before the March 3rd election, followed up by covering the "scathing" L.A. Grand Jury report and called me once again to appear in that follow-up report on CBS2-LA as well.

Meanwhile, a group of Election Integrity advocates in the state sent an open letter [PDF] late last week to Gov. Gavin Newsom (and Sec. of State Padilla), seeking an Executive Order for important improvements to the state's 1% post-election audit process. We're joined today by RAY LUTZ, longtime Election Integrity advocate and the founder and Executive Director of CitizensOversight.org. His organization won a ruling in a lawsuit several years ago that would have required all Vote-by-Mail ballots to be included as part of the pool from which the random sample of ballots are drawn when determining which of them will be hand-counted after an election to assure the accuracy of the state's computerized optical-scan ballot tabulators.

When Lutz filed suit in San Diego after the 2016 election, that County's Registrar, Michael Vu, was drawing only from votes cast at the precinct or absentee ballots that were counted early for inclusion in the 1% post-election spot check. As the groups notes in their press release [PDF] announcing the letter to Newsom, that resulted in some 285,000 ballots that were automatically excluded from the mandatory "audit" in 2016. Lutz' win in the courts, however, was short-lived after Padilla (with support from L.A. County's Logan) lobbied the CA state legislator to specifically allow Registrar's to ignore late mail-in ballots all together during post-election audits. Leaving those ballots out of the audit, Lutz argues, means that nefarious actors "can just move ballots --- ten thousand, twenty thousand at a time --- from one candidate to another and no one would be the wiser because they wouldn't have that check." That, he says, is a virtual roadmap for election theft.

His group's letter asks the Governor to declare that all ballots should be included in the potential audit sample pool in this November's elections, particularly now that some 90% of votes are likely to be cast as mail-in ballots for the first time this year, due to the Governor's previous Executive Order to send VBM ballots to all this year.

Moreover, Lutz echoes frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (which is suing Georgia to force hand-marked paper ballots for all) in her important tweeted concerns last night observing that both major political parties are utterly failing to ensure proper public oversight of absentee ballot handling and tabulation. Marks complained that Elections officials across the country (and definitely in Georgia!) are "working overtime to block transparency, block access, block observation, work[ing] behind closed doors, etc. This, of course, plays into Trump's hands in that if he wants to claim 'rigging,' the Dems will have little evidence documented to rebut the claim."

Lutz agrees with her thinking. California is "not a battleground state," he says, "but remember, the popular vote is always a big issue in the Presidential election. And as you remember last time, Trump made a big deal about 'illegal voter fraud' and all these 'million illegals are voting'. So we have to have our act together for this election to defend against those claims. If we do what we're doing now, we're going to have up to six million ballots that are completely unaudited and can be flipped. Six million votes is a lot. So we need to have this change."

The issue, he goes on to explain, is not only important in California. "Any state that expands their vote-by-mail or absentee voting right now probably is not auditing those ballots." Lutz points listeners to the letter to Newsom, suggesting others push for similar improvements to post-election audits in other states as well, given that, as bad as CA's processes are, they are still better than many states where no computer-tallied votes are ever examined by any human beings at all before election results are certified. "We can't rely upon the election officials, or really anyone, to do this job for us," he argues. "The public has to do its own oversight of its elections. No one can be trusted. We have to do it ourselves. This is where we really call on the citizenry to stand up and really take a look at this. Because the most important thing we can do is to make sure these elections are sound."

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Guest: Longtime Koch researcher Lisa Graves; Also: Biden, Obama, Gates Twitter accounts hacked, but Nov. voting should be fine; KS Repub Congressman indicted on four voter fraud counts! Trump should be next...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2020 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: New insight on the nearly 50-year long effort to abolish and/or privatize one of the nation's most-beloved, 250-year old institutions. Just another disaster waiting to happen under the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, however, today's show is once again shaken up by breaking news. But some of it, at least regarding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg --- who has now been released from the hospital and said to be "doing well" --- is good news. The hack of top Twitter accounts today, including Joe Biden's, Barack Obama's, Bill Gates', Elon Musk's and many others, is not such good news. If a multi-billion dollar company like Twitter can't protect its own servers from hackers, how do you suspect local election officials will be doing this November when it comes to protecting complicated computerized voting, tabulation and registration systems?

Speaking of elections, first-term Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas was charged on Tuesday night with three felonies charges and a misdemeanor related to voter fraud after he registered to vote (and then did so) using an address at a Topeka UPS store, where he obviously does not actually live.

Donald Trump committed nearly identical voter fraud crimes. Last year, he also specified an address where he does not live --- a commercial business in Florida (Mar-a-Lago) --- as his "legal address" for voting purposes on his voter registration application [PDF] in the Sunshine State, and unlawfully voted via absentee ballot there this year. Rep. Watkins may go to jail for the same crimes that Trump committed. Will Trump be charged with felonies as well?

And, speaking of voting by mail (lawfully or otherwise), that may also be threatened this year, even as states are expanding access to mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new, Trump-appointed (and wholly unqualified) Postmaster General has just been seated and, this week, sent a series of disturbing memos to all Postal Workers directing them, essentially, to slow down mail delivery and stop all overtime work, even with package delivery (often of much-needed medication and other quarantine-necessary supplies) rapidly increasing during the COVID crisis.

Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and our new Postmaster General, has postal workers, including hundreds of thousands of union workers, up in arms about the new mandated slowdowns that will accomplish little more than giving a competitive boost to FedEx and UPS, two of the USPS' top private competitors. That, as it turns out, is likely the whole point, according to our guest today, LISA GRAVES of True North Research. Last week, Graves published an 18-page brief [PDF] at In The Public Interest on the billionaire who has been behind what is now a nearly 50-year effort to privatize the Postal Service.

That billionaire is none other than Charles Koch who has spent decades recruiting a rogues gallery of hard-right "libertarians" and Republicans, beginning in the 1970s, up through the Reagan and Bush Administrations, and now into the Trump Administration, to undermine the USPS despite its mandates specified by the U.S. Constitution and the fact that it is among the most popular and important institutions in the nation.

"Charles Koch has mapped out a very dystopian view of America, and has tried to push it into reality," Graves says, and he and his cronies have been successful. "They oppose having public transportation. They have oppose Amtrak, and any kind of public train system. They want public airports to be sold to the highest bidder and operated by the private sector. It's just one thing after another, including public parks! National parks, local parks, public parks --- these are all anathema to these very fringey rightwing libertarians who have been fueled and funded and stoked by Charles Koch and his billions from Koch Industries."

Graves, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, has been researching and documenting the billionaire Koch's rightwing ideological agenda for years, as he and his late brother David, have worked to undermine and/or buy our democracy and most important public institutions. Her new exposé on Koch and cronies' decades-long effort to kill and/or privatize the USPS is another critical chapter of that important work, and one that highlights, as she describes it today, a perfect "marriage between [his] ideological agenda and greed".

With the USPS now on the brink of insolvency, thanks to the COVID crisis --- and, even more, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), championed at the time by Koch-backed Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), which handcuffed the independent federal agency --- things could get much worse for the Service very quickly.

Describing Louis DeJoy, Graves tells me today, "It's irresponsible and reckless for them to have put this partisan hack, this Republican fundraiser, at the helm of the Postal Service at the time that it's facing such a great need to have a leader who is committed to it as a truly public institution, versus someone who is behaving in this predatory way to try to basically ruin the Postal Service and push it toward the idea that it should be a for-profit company. It's in the worst possible hands at the worst possible time." But, of course, that is largely the point.

"If it's destabilized right before the election, that sort of destabilization could not happen at a worse time. But it would be convenient for a Trump ally to destabilize it, since Trump is trying to attack the very idea of Vote-by-Mail," Graves warns, along with much more in a must-listen conversation today.

Finally, a few quick words on Tuesday's primary election and runoff results in Alabama, Texas and Maine where, by the way, Sen. Susan Collins will be facing her most difficult re-election bid ever this November against Democrat Sara Gideon, who appears to have sealed up the Democratic nomination to run against Collins in Maine on Tuesday...

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Guest: Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: Trump's coronavirus Death March continues; SCOTUS allows religious groups to discriminate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2020 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Things are going to get far worse before they finally get better. In this case, "worse" means far more deadly and "better" means an election this fall that somewhat accurately reflects the intent of the electorate. Donald Trump has now get the killing Americans part down, but he and his fixer/Attorney General are still feeling their way around how best to undermine the election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Just weeks ago, in late May, the Trump Death Cultists on Fox "News" and those entrusted to govern states like Florida, were railing against media, demanding apologies by those who warned that opening up for business prematurely amid a deadly viral pandemic was a terrible idea. Republican Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and hackish clowns like Sean Hannity of Fox "News" aren't asking for apologies anymore, it seems, as at least 56 Florida hospital ICUs across the state have now hit capacity, with dozens more nearly full as well. Florida is just one such GOP-led state whose political decisions in advance of the November election have had deadly consequences as 31 states are now seeing infections and hospitalizations rise.

The conservative projected death estimates put out by the infectious disease modelers at University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have once again been revised in the bargain. IHME now forecasts more than 208,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by November 1, while noting that some 45,000 lives could be saved over that same period if we all simply wore masks in public. Other experts believe the mortality number could be as high as 500,000 by the end of this year.

So, again, we ask: At what point does it become a CRIMINAL act when DeSantis and Donald Trump and Vice President Pence command schoolchildren, amid this out-of-control surging pandemic, back to in-person classes next month, under thread of financial penalty, and in defiance of CDC guidelines? At least the CDC guidelines based on science and health data, versus Pence's newly promised revised CDC guidelines that the Administration ordered to be cooked up after Trump found the real ones to be too "tough" and "expensive". When do these people become liable for criminal deadly negligence or even mass murder?

This scheming is nothing short of sick and twisted. We will soon look back on these days with ghastly horror at what they have done in short-sighted and ill-considered hopes of winning re-election this November.

Speaking of which, while Trump and his corrupt A.G. Bill Barr have been out lying about absentee voting amid the pandemic, it seems Republican strategists and candidates are becoming quite concerned that their voters may be actually be listening to them. Many GOP voters new believe that vote-by-mail ballots are all fraudulent, which could end up costing the GOP dearly this year.

At the same time, folks like EDDIE PEREZ, Global Director of Technology and Standards at the OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute, has been doing his level best to debunk many of the lies about mail-in voting being infectiously spread by Trump and his Attorney General who, for example, recently declared that "a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots" and use them to undermine our elections somehow. Perez explains (and here's a shorter Twitter version of his explanation) why such claims are largely nonsense, even if there are, in fact, some concerns about fraud in absentee voting --- just not the ones that Trump and Barr are mostly trumpeting.

As no fan of absentee voting myself --- other than in cases where voters literally cannot vote at the polls on Election Day, or are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems at the polling place, or when we find ourselves in the middle of an out-of-control deadly global pandemic --- I've got a few pointed questions for Perez on the reality of absentee ballot fraud.

Among the issues he speaks to: Whether ballots can really be counterfeited (by foreign or domestic actors alike); What security measures are in place to prevent someone from casting a ballot in someone else's name?; Should voters have confidence in signature matching by election officials who are not hand-writing experts? And more. "If nothing else," Perez tells me, "the country needs to realize --- and particularly election officials and Get Out The Vote organizations --- there are really, really good reasons to protect public health to make by-mail voting available to people, as one of several options. That's really critical. For November, you've got to have a balance. We need to pay attention to educating voters about what it's going to take to ensure that their ballot is accepted and counted."

Also, as Perez, before joining the non-profit OSET Institute, was a 15 year veteran of Hart-Intercivic, one of the nation's three major private voting system vendors (about whom we've reported a great deal of less than flattering things over the years), we take a few minutes today to discuss why private, for-profit vendors are ill-equipped to meet the critical needs of transparent, overseeable elections in support of American democracy. "I'll say that the one thing we can agree on," Perez notes, "is transparency in the voting process is what helps to build trust with the public. Transparency is what is going to produce confidence. And that's what we need in our democracy."

I didn't have the heart or time to respond that "trust" has nothing to do with Americans elections. But, other than that, on the need for transparent oversight to build confidence among the electorate, he is spot on.

Finally, two objectionable SCOTUS opinions were handed down today, allowing religious organizations to, among other things, ignore any and all state or federal anti-discrimination laws, because "freedom of religion", apparently, also now includes the freedom to take actual freedoms away from everyone else...

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

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Guest: Voting rights journalist Ari Berman on the many ways Republicans are working to undermine 2020 and how you can help stop them...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the conversation that everyone in America who gives a damn about democracy needs to be having. And, not in the days just before this November's election --- when it will be too late to do anything about it --- but RIGHT NOW. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

In Florida, the top Democrat in the state's House of Representative is sounding an "urgent" alarm. He says that absentee ballots in the perpetual swing-state could be gamed by the Trump Administration using the U.S. Postal Service to slow the return of ballots. In the Sunshine State, any ballots that don't arrive at County Headquarters by 7pm on Election Day may not be included in the results. Minority Leader Kionne McGhee is calling for barcodes to be added to absentee ballots so that voters can track whether they have been received by election officials, so that they may otherwise vote in person on Election Day if necessary.

While calling on the state's Republican Governor to take action that would also help Republicans (who voted at a higher rate by mail than Democrats in 2018), a Trump Campaign spokesperson dismissed McGhee's concerns as "an absolutely bogus conspiracy theory by Democrats." (And you know how Trump hates conspiracy theories.) Of course, Republican willingness to commit fraud, especially in Florida elections, is anything but a "conspiracy theory". In fact, Donald Trump himself, just this year, has already committed absentee ballot voter fraud in the state. So, apparently, has his Press Secretary Kayleigh MacEneny. Former GOP superstar Ann Coulter definitely did so. And so, it seems, did Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop charged with the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin, a property owner in Florida, where he is also a member of the state Republican Party, reportedly voted in the state's elections in 2016 and 2018, despite working and living in Minnesota, in what a Florida attorney and candidate for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections this year describes as a third-degree felony.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been jailed for much less than what both Trump and Chauvin are accused of having done in Florida.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is similarly worried about what the current President and his party may do to undermine the 2020 contest, telling The Daily Show's Trevor Noah this week that his "single greatest concern" is that "this President is going to try to steal this election."

Stolen or not, despite Trump's plummeting favorability ratings, this year's critical general elections will be anything but a cakewalk for Democrats amid the added challenge of coronavirus. Tuesday's disastrous primary election in Georgia was just one example of how Republicans are able to disenfranchise tens, if not hundreds of thousands of votes through the use of overly complicated, faulty and unverifiable touchscreen voting machines and electronic pollbooks in combination with poll closures and mail-in ballots that never reach voters at all or fail to arrive back at county headquarters in time to be legally tallied.

Moreover, as a new study [PDF] out this week from the Center for Election Innovation and Research finds, new voter registration rates in 13 different states they examined --- many of them key battlegrounds --- have fallen dramatically since the virus emerged in March and April. After all of those states saw increases in registrations in January, as compared to the same month in 2016, the numbers fell over a cliff compared to the same months four years ago. With DMVs closed in many states, automatic voter registrations have also not occurred since the virus emerged, and many states still fail to offer online voter registration. At the same time, voter registrations by third-party groups have similarly all but vanished as organizations have been unable to carry out their planned spring outreach campaigns.

Longtime voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones joins us on today's program to discuss all of this and much more. His latest article for the magazine, headlined "How the Coronavirus Handed the GOP New Ways to Squash the Vote," details some of the extraordinary measures that Republicans around the country, in state after state, are attempting in hopes of suppressing the vote in 2020. That, combined with the challenges of a global pandemic, could result in big trouble for voters of all stripes this year.

Citing the recent primary election disasters in Georgia, Washington D.C., Wisconsin and Nevada (where, he says, polling place consolidation resulted in the last vote being cast during last Tuesday's primary after 3am on Wednesday!), he warns: "If we don't figure out how to do Vote-by-Mail efficiently, and also how to vote in person efficiently, and also how to do this in a pandemic, we're looking at a possible and likely disaster in November."

We discuss the "ridiculous law" in Texas that disallows voters under 65 years of age from citing fear of coronavirus as a lawful excuse for requesting an absentee ballot; the effort by Republicans in the Iowa legislature this week to prevent their own Republican Sec. of State from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's registered voters this November (in hopes of avoiding the very well run primary last week in which he did exactly that); and other ways in which the 2020 elections --- our last firewall against full-on authoritarianism --- could become the nation's latest nightmare. Berman tells me "litigation alone" by Democrats is "not going to be sufficient" to solve this perfect storm of problems.

"These conversations have to happen now," he cautions. "States are running out of time. They're running out of money. Coronavirus is increasing in a lot of places. So I'm really, really concerned," he says. Join the club, Ari. On the upside, Berman also discusses how you can help RIGHT NOW to overcome many of these shameful challenges.

Finally, after all of those pleasant thoughts, we end today with a much-needed song by satirist Roy Zimmerman about a "liar" who needs to be voted away. Of course, whether that is even possible remains to be seen. But the song should keep your humming for a while...

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

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