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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, May 23, 2022
Sunday 'The Replacements' Toons
It's PDiddie's latest irreplacable collection of the week's best toons!...
Longtime Election Observers Barred from Wake County, NC Count, Threatened with Arrest: 'BradCast' 5/20/22
Guests: Lynn Bernstein, John Brakey; Also: GA officials debunk 2000 Mules vote fraud claims...
GOP Sen. Candidates Used 'Replacement' Rhetoric of NY White Supremacist Shooter: 'BradCast' 5/19/22
Also: Cruz TX disbarment sought for 2020 steal effort; Young voters eager for 2022; MORE...
'Green News Report' 5/19/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
New U.N. climate change warning; Fossil fuel air pollution kills 50,000 per year in U.S.; Bloomberg's new clean air initiative; PLUS: Wildfires force national forest closures...
Recent GNRs: 5/17/22 - 5/12/22 - Archives...
Did GOP Election Officials Facilitate Vote Software Theft in GA?: 'BradCast' 5/18/22
'The system has been breached' says Marilyn Marks; Also: Primary results in NC, KY, OR, ID, PA...
'Widespread' Primary Day Vote System Failures in PA Counties: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns racist lies spread 'for power, political gain and profit'...
'Green News Report' 5/17/22
U.S. wildfire risk doubling over next 30 years; Russia's energy and now food war; California hits 100% renewable electricity, as Texas struggles to keep the lights on...
'A Movement Not a Moment': Rev. Barber Says 'Consistency' Needed to Restore America: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign...
Sunday 'Undesirable Outcomes' Toons
You can chalk up PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection to the rightwing radicalism still unmooring our nation from facts and reality...
Attempted Stolen Election, Stolen Docs, and Murder: 'BradCast' 5/12/22
McCarthy's J6 subpoena; Trump's new fed grand jury; Eastman advised 2020 PA election theft; Trump, meat-packers collusion; DeSantis FL gerrymander nixed...
'Green News Report' 5/12/22
Great Barrier Reef bleaching again; Global warming and new diseases; Interior cancels offshore lease sales; PLUS: AZ, CA move to enact more severe drought restrictions...
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...


Guests: Lynn Bernstein of Transparent Elections NC, John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: GA law enforcement, election officials debunk 'voter fraud' claims in Trumpy propaganda documentary, '2000 Mules'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2022 6:50pm PT  

Compare and contrast on today's BradCast. Shoddy treatment of real election observers versus velvet glove treatment of wingnut con-artists claiming the 2020 election was stolen. In one case, longtime non-partisan election integrity observers are locked out from overseeing public election processing before this past week's critical primary elections in a North Carolina county. In the other, longtime phony GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters pretending to be election integrity advocates see their false claims in a propaganda film expensively debunked by both law enforcement and state election officials in Georgia. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, it's the fraudsters who recently released a propaganda documentary into theaters called 2000 Mules. We debunked the film's central claims in detail on this program when it was first released about two weeks ago, as it began trending in rightwing social media circles along with claims from many easily-duped folks that the film proves the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

A number of media outlets explained at the time why it doesn't even come close to doing any such thing. The film relies on cell phone geolocation tracking data and some security camera footage of absentee ballot drop-boxes in several swing states won by Joe Biden to claim that thousands of "ballot mules" illegally "harvested" tens of thousands of fake ballots (from somewhere or other) and deposited them unlawfully to steal the election from Trump. Supposedly, all of those ballots were unlawful votes for Biden, but there is no evidence for that either.

The film was produced and directed by a longtime rightwing activist named Dinesh D'Souza (who pleaded guilty to actual federal election fraud crimes some years ago, before being pardoned by Donald Trump). D'Souza highlights the claims of a longtime, dark money-funded, many times discredited, fake "election integrity" group from Texas calling themselves True the Vote. But, apparently, not mentioned in the film is that their cell phone "evidence" of repeated visits within 100 feet of drop-boxes and security camera footage was already reviewed and rejected by both the FBI and the Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) before the film was even released earlier this month. A September 30, 2021 letter from GBI Director D. Victor Reynolds explains that, after a full investigation, and consultation with the FBI, the data submitted "does not rise to the level of probable cause that a crime has been committed."

That finding was further buttressed this week when Georgia's state Board of Elections dismissed the groups allegations of fraud by tracking down those shown on camera as depositing multiple ballots into drop-boxes. As Washington Post reports, state investigators tracked down the voters shown in the film and were able to confirm the ballots they deposited were actually those of direct family members, which is perfectly lawful in the state.

It's unknown how many tax-payer dollars were wasted by state (and federal) officials on these wild goose chases into perfectly legal voting, based on D'Souza and True The Vote's absurd claims.

Meanwhile, things were very different this past week in North Carolina, where actual election integrity advocates were prevented from doing their work of overseeing elections on behalf of the public and were even threatened with arrest in Wake County, the closely divided swing-state's most populous county.

We're joined today by two guests we've known for a while and who have been on the show in the past. LYNN BERNSTEIN is the founder of Transparent Elections NC and JOHN BRAKEY is the Director of AUDIT-USA. (Listeners will remember Brakey as the guy who originally exposed on this program, and later in video that went viral, that election denialists in Maricopa County, Arizona last year were examining paper ballots under microscopes for evidence of bamboo fibers to prove their false claim that thousands of fraudulent ballots were somehow cast from someone or another in Asia. Brakey served for months as a public observer of that failed "forensic audit" by the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix.)

This week, the groups of both Bernstein and Brakey published a press release announcing that the two had been barred from the grounds of the Wake County Board of Elections in advance of last Tuesday's midterm primary tabulation. The announcement charged they "were threatened with arrest and prevented from observing routine election administration activities by Wake County election administrator Gary Sims, in violation of North Carolina State Election Law."

We've got audio clips today of the pair being told they were not allowed on the grounds of the Wake County BOE, and of Bernstein's husband Nick being escorted out during the public comment period by law enforcement at a BOE meeting on Monday.

So, what's going on here? Bernstein, an aerospace engineer, trained international election observer and longtime election integrity advocate, claims that "Sims has personally harassed me at Board of Elections meetings in front of the Board and he also threatened to call the police on me when I came to observe on Election Night for the 2020 primary, when I was an at-large observer for the Wake County Democratic Party." She says she and Brakey arrived outside the Wake BOE last week for only minutes before "the police arrived and said we were banned forever" from the grounds of the public facility.

Brakey, who was in town to help oversee tabulation and other often dull, but incredibly important public election oversight procedures, says "It's election time, and this is what I do. I travel the country and I try to work with and mentor other election transparency activists." He tells us that Sims was "out there in four minutes" after they arrived at the BOE and "he was steaming just having [Bernstein] there."

But why was all of this even happening? And why is Wake, according to Bernstein, the only county in the state that does not allow observers of the tabulation on Election Night? "If there's a motive behind all of this, it is not election fraud or anything like that," Brakey tells me. The pair speculate it has something to do with Sims hoping to move the County from their current hand-marked paper ballot system to an expensive, unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device computerized system for voters. Bernstein has long opposed moving to that type of system, as has Brakey (along with most cybersecurity and voting systems experts.)

Tune in for many more details on all of this, but I wanted to give this incident and both of these folks the highlight they deserve for what seems to be an outrageous attempt to prevent their important work bearing witness for the public when it comes to our public elections. "The actual act of voting is a secret process," Brakey notes. "Counting is a public process. It used to be, and it must be again."

We are more than happy, of course, to welcome Wake's Election Administration Gary Sims to respond on the program with his side of the story as well if he chooses to do so. We'd love to have him!

Finally, we close today with a few thoughts on all of the above, and a bit of listener email regarding trillions of tax-payer dollars in subsidies ("socialized welfare") to fossil fuel companies --- the most profitable companies in the world --- even as clean, renewable energy companies continue to struggle without the same kind of financial support from the government...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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'The system has been breached' says guest Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Primary results from NC, KY, OR, ID, PA...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2022 6:30pm PT  

We've got an amazing --- and chilling --- story for you on today's BradCast, about what has turned into a wave of proprietary voting system software theft in several key swing-states since Trump pretended the election was stolen in 2020. But the most disturbing part is that many of these thefts having been carried out by or with the help of actual elected GOP election officials in several states! And there is one in particular, in Georgia, which has just come to light which we focus on today, because our quick-thinking guest actually recorded a damning phone call she received from someone who claims to have been a part of that scheme. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get there today, however, we've got a very (too) quick round-up of results from Tuesday's primary elections in North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho and Pennsylvania, and some news on several of them that you may not have heard elsewhere. Among the most noteworthy of those races...

  • The loss of North Carolina's insurrectionist U.S. House Rep. Madison Cawthorn in his GOP primary, and what will now happen to the federal court case regarding Free Speech for People's challenge to his eligibility to run at all under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause." We've been covering that story closely in recent months and we've got comment today from the group's President on what may happen now in the federal case.
  • News on several apparent wins by progressive candidates for the U.S. House in PA and OR, including one that is set to result in the defeat of an incumbent establishment-backed Democratic Congressman and the other likely headed to a recount.
  • The good news for Democrats in the contest for PA Governor, as far-right Trump-endorsed insurrectionist wingnut state Sen. Doug Mastriano won the GOP nomination to run against state A.G. Josh Shapiro. Suffice to say for now, Republicans are not happy about their nominee.
  • And the critical race to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Pat Toomey, where progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman easily won the Democratic contest and the battle for the Republican nomination is likely headed to a recount between Trump-endorsed celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz and pretty-much-just-as-Trumpy former hedge-fund CEO Dave McCormack. Both are now waiting on late arriving mail-in ballots to be tallied in the exceedingly close race, even though Republicans in 2020 argued that late arriving mail-in ballots in the Keystone State were all illegal and should have been tossed out. Not anymore, apparently. (And we wonder how long it'll be before they notice yesterday's BradCast rounding up several Republican-leaning counties where voters were turned away for hours after polls opened, thanks to voting system failures.)

THEN, it's on to the remarkable story of GOP election insiders in critical swing-states such as Michigan, Colorado, Ohio and Georgia, who, following the 2020 election, conspired with a cabal of election denying Team Trumpers to breach secure facilities in elections offices. They made illegal image copies of hard drives from key voting system computers containing sensitive, proprietary software and voter databases in at least 8 counties across the country...for some reason.

Part of this story is newly revealed evidence about one such a case in Coffee County, Georgia, which includes a damning recorded phone call received by our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance. The caller admits to an elaborate scheme to copy and analyze hard drive data from the county that Trump is said to have won by about 40 points. He also told Marks that he hacked into her legislative filings in her long-running lawsuit against the state, which seeks to replace Georgia's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with simple, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots.

You'll need to tune in for the full details on this story. It's broad and, at times, complicated. And, yes, we share some of the disturbing audio from that phone call to Marks from an Atlanta bail bondsman by the name of Scott Hall who brags about chartering a jet to Coffee County with a group that "scanned all the equipment, imaged all the hard drives and scanned every single ballot" with "the entire elections committee there" who, he claims on the call, said "we give you the permission. Go for it."

We pull together a bunch of threads from a bunch of investigative news sources (as well as some of our own reporting) on all of this, on the broad scheme carried out by some of Trump's top "Stop the Steal" compatriots and the almost inconceivable lack of apparent investigation --- or worse, cover-up --- by GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger regarding the still mysterious incident in Coffee County.

As noted, you'll need to tune in for the full details, but among the stories and recent detailed investigative reports referenced and/or cited in our coverage today...

  • Mesa County Court Judge Removes Peters as Designated Election Official for the 2022 Election (CO SoS)
  • Trump allies breach U.S. voting systems in search of 2020 fraud ‘evidence’ (Reuters)
  • PRESIDENTIAL FINDINGS TO PRESERVE COLLECT AND ANALYZE NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION REGARDING THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION (Draft Executive Order)
  • Georgia county under scrutiny after claim of post-election breach (Washington Post)
  • Georgia’s Alleged Dominion Voting System Breach (Coalition for Good Governance)
  • Building the "Big Lie": Inside the Creation of Trump’s Stolen Election Myth (ProPublica)
  • The Plot to Overturn the Election (PBS' Frontline and ProPublica)

Among the questions discussed with Marks: What the hell is going on here? Is it a violation of state and/or federal law to make discreet imaged copies of this software? Why was Team Trump doing it in the first place? Is Sec. Raffensperger's office investigating what happened in Coffee County, GA or not (they are offering conflicting statements, including in Marks' legal case challenging the use of the state's Dominion touchscreens)? What kind of threat does all of this pose to elections around the county in 2022 and 2024 in Georgia (their midterm primaries are next week) and in the many other states which use the very same software --- now stolen by these people --- to run their elections?

"Certainly they were violating state and federal laws," Marks tells me. "The difficult part of this is It puts virtually all states that are using the Dominion system --- without doing thorough audits and [using] hand-marked paper ballots --- it puts all of these at risk."

"If what Scott Hall and other have said happened truly happened, then there are people who have unauthorized copies of software off the server and off of all of the components," she explains. "These people can now craft and test malware and how to exploit the vulnerabilities in an election."

Marks believes the initial effort was meant "to try to find evidence or perhaps even fabricate evidence," regarding the 2020 election. But it has since gone far beyond that.

Raffensperger, she says, is offering "nothing but stonewalling" and "is telling different things to different people." She notes there is "no record of opening an investigation" in Coffee. That, as the Secretary's second-in-command, Gabe Sterling, seemed to suggest in a recent court deposition that there WAS an investigation of the server in Coffee, that it was actually quietly seized by the state, but that he "can't remember" the findings from the inquiry.

"There are many mysteries to unfold here. We don't know who has been in the system and how far any malware may have spread if it were implanted." She warns the Secretary's office and state Elections Board "want to hide their heads in the sand despite" the mounds of recent investigative reporting (as linked above) on what is going on here.

"The system has been breached," Marks cautions chillingly, before explaining what must be done now to safeguard our elections --- including from insider election officials who have now put our entire democracy at very serious risk. Even hand-marked paper ballots, she notes, are still tabulated by these same computer systems.

"Remember, the remedy we are seeking [in our suit] is not simply hand-marked paper ballots but hand-marked paper ballots with very thorough audits. IF we get the audits, yeah, there can be hacking but any outcome-changing hack will be detected and can be corrected," Marks argues. "While you can't get rid of the risk, you can remedy that risk."

Again, much more detail on today's show. It's a doozy. Please tune in...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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J6 Comm subpoenas McCarthy, four other Reps; Fed grand jury probes Trump handling of classified docs; Eastman advised how to steal PA's 2020 election; House finds meatpackers colluded with Trump Admin for deadly COVID Exec Order; DeSantis' FL gerrymander nixed by judge...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2022 6:55pm PT  

It's another one of those BradCasts where our disgraced former President casts a very long shadow. We've got way too much breaking news, as one accountability story after another broke today. Theoretically, that's a good thing. But you may need to take notes. We've got a lot to cover. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • First up, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently overruled his own far-right state legislature's already-gerrymandered new U.S. House map in favor of his own even more extreme gerrymander, a state judge that HE appointed has shut that whole thing down. For now. On Wednesday, Judge J. Layne Smith determined DeSantis' map --- which could give Republicans a 20 to 8 advantage in the their U.S. House delegation --- violates the state Constitution's 2010 Fair Districts Amendment "because it diminishes African Americans' ability to elect the representatives of their choice." Of course, that was the whole point when DeSantis --- who won his race for Governor in 2018 by less than one percentage point --- nixed two black majority districts in the state (one of which was created by the state Supreme Court the last time the map was challenged.) DeSantis believes his own state Constitution violates the U.S. Constitution. (So much for the states' rights he used to pretend to believe in.) So, Florida will now be paying for an appeal to fight for the voter disenfranchisement.
  • The House January 6 Committee on Thursday subpoenaed House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. The Committee says they each "participated in meetings at the White House" and/or "had direct conversations with President Trump leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol." All five were previously invited to voluntary speak to the Committee. They didn't. Now they are receiving what appear to be unprecedented Congressional subpoenas to members of Congress from the bipartisan panel probing Trump's 2021 insurrection and his attempt to steal the 2020 election.
  • The New York Times is reporting today that federal prosecutors have opened a grand jury probe into whether laws were violated when Trump absconded with 15 boxes full of items and documents --- including some marked as classified national security documents --- when he left the White House for Mar-a-Lago. The items belong to to the American people under the Presidential Records Act, but the larger question is about his treatment of boxes and boxes of classified documents. (Recall he used to pretend to care about such things. In 2016, when running against Hillary Clinton, he called for her to be "locked up" because she lawfully used a private email server and received or forwarded several documents with classified material in them.) A grand jury convened by DoJ would suggest this matter has advanced very quickly.
  • Speaking of grand juries, just a friendly reminder that Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis convened her Special Grand Jury last week on Monday, May 2. She's investigating Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in Georgia, following his infamous and threatening call to the state's Sec. of State, instructing him to "find" just enough votes to name Trump the winner there. The probe could bring charges any day now (not that we have any insider knowledge) of a criminal conspiracy that includes Trump, his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even North Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, all of whom participated in strong-arming the Sec. of State and other officials to steal the election for Trump who lost the state by about 10,000 votes.
  • Emails unearthed by the Denver Post and reported by Politico this week from Trump's MAGA attorney John Eastman (who spoke at Trump's rally on January 6 and wrote the memos calling for VP Mike Pence to ignore the Electoral College votes to steal the election for Trump), reveal that he also advised a Pennsylvania state legislator how to steal the election for Trump in the state by tossing out legal votes and using absurd pretend math to declare Joe Biden lost, even though he won there by about 85,000 votes. Eastman told PA state Rep. Paul Diamond how Republicans in the legislature could change the results to "provide cover" for choosing Trump electors instead of the ones for Biden who the voters actually elected.
  • Trump's corruption was also deadly for hundreds of thousands when it came to the COVID pandemic. As President Biden marked the passing of one million Americans due to coronavirus at the White House on Thursday, a new report from a House Select Subcommittee finds the nation's meat packing industry hyped "baseless" concerns about shortages and colluded with top Trump Admin officials --- including Meadows, Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue --- to invoked an Executive Order. The order, which the industry drafted, invoked the Defense Production Act to bar state officials from shutting down meatpacking plants during the first year of the pandemic. At least 269 industry workers died, 59,000 were infected, and an estimated 334,000 infections nationwide were tied to meatpacking plants where workers were forced to work in dangerous, close conditions. The industry got their Executive Order from Trump, barring plant shutdowns under the lie that the nation's food supply was at risk. As the Committee's report finds, in fact, the five major companies which comprise the industry in the U.S. saw record profits during the pandemic, and saw pork exports at a three-year high during the first three quarters of 2020 when they sent more than 300% more pork to China than in normal years. There ought to be a lot of criminal charges --- including for homicide --- brought here. We'll see if anyone pays a price for it.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia's Great Barrier Reef is hit with yet another climate change-induced mass bleaching event; a new study finds climate change is a key concern regarding the emergence of new viruses and pandemics; new severe drought restrictions are enacted in Arizona and California...but last year, at least, was a very good one for renewable energy across the globe...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Convicted election fraudster D'Souza makes a pretend documentary on 2020 election fraud; Also: Actual white GOP voter fraud criminal gets no jail time for voting twice; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2022 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The lengths Donald Trump's supporters will go to to justify his sore loser attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election is amazing. Now they've got a pretend documentary in hundreds of actual movie theaters which turns out to prove nothing. All of it, naturally, is nonsense. We explain why today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

Folks on the right were celebrating on social media over the weekend in the wake of the release of a film named (somewhat offensively) 2000 Mules. It was somehow released into more than 250 theaters across the nation last week. The film was made by Rightwing activist Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to federal election fraud crimes back in 2014 --- before being pardoned for them by Trump in 2018. That's the guy who has now made a "documentary" claiming millions of votes were stuffed into absentee ballot drop-boxes in swing states to steal the election for Joe Biden in2020. Sounds legit.

The claim is made along with fellow GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters from a long-discredited Texas group named True the Vote. Apparently, the group paid millions to obtain publicly available, anonymized cell phone geolocation data that purportedly shows where cell phones were from October 1 through Election Day in 2020. Using that data, TTV claims in the film that thousands of so-called ballot "mules" were being paid by unnamed non-profit organizations (why didn't they name them?) to collect illegal ballots for Joe Biden and deliver them into ballot drop boxes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If all of this sounds absurd, it's because it is. The data can't actually be tied to any voter --- and is only accurate to about 100 feet, according to experts --- meaning that anytime someone drove past a drop box, or walked passed it (the drop-boxes are often placed in high traffic areas) on their way to and from work or something, they are a "mule" for stuffing ballot boxes for Joe Biden! Sorry about that delivery guys and mail men and election workers and students who just happen to walk or drive by each day on their way to classes! You're all now "mules" for Biden!

Who paid all of these "mules"? And how did this conspiracy involving tens of thousands of people stay so quiet without any participants blowing the whistle? And what actual, ya know, evidence do D'Souza and True the Vote have that crimes were actually committed here? Well, that's where it gets a bit dicier. And, by dicier, I mean made up out of whole cloth with no actual proof of anything whatsoever. But they have video of people dropping ballots into those drop-boxes! (Which, of course, is perfectly legal. In most states, folks can delivery ballots of family members and disabled voters, etc. Perhaps that's why the filmmakers thought it wise to blur out the faces of those voters?) There seems to be no actual proof of crimes here, including who supposedly paid these people (or even that anybody was paid at all!)

Still, it was enough to cause easily-duped Rightwingers to become very excited about over the weekend, as the #2000Mules hashtag trended on social media. So today, we debunk the nonsense in some detail with an assist from AP, who finds "gaping holes" in the film's claims, and from Greg Palast, who explains the "belly laughs" provided by the film's "proof" of fraud.

"D’Souza’s charge is mind-blowing. He claims that there are as many 54,000 mules that were organized and paid in at least five big cities. In Fulton County (Atlanta), he tells us 92,670 ballots were stuffed illegally into drop boxes," Palast reports. "That’s astonishing --- because there were only 79,000 ballots cast in drop boxes in Fulton County!"

"And in Detroit, it was worse," he adds. "'Mules' stuffed 226,590 ballots into Detroit area drop boxes --- way more than the total number of all mail-in ballots --- about three times the number of ballots in drop boxes."

Of course, none of these facts kept Trump from holding a fancy premiere screening at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and declaring the pretend documentary exposed "great election fraud"! It's all so ridiculously silly, that we'd rather ignore it. But since it's in 270 theaters, brought in a million bucks on its first day, and has a bunch of duped wingnuts declaring they finally have "evidence" that the election was stolen in 2020...it seemed a good idea to help you understand this latest con so you can explain it to your duped friends, families, neighbors and co-workers in turn when they shout "2000 Mules!" at you in the days ahead.

As to actual election fraud (not unlike the type that the filmmaker D'Souza admitted to committing), last week a women in Arizona was sentenced on voter fraud charges after being convicted by the state's Republican Attorney General. She cast two ballots in 2020, one for herself and another for her dead mother. They were both Republicans. And when interviewed by investigators she claimed she didn't do it, but was certain that massive voter fraud was definitely going on and that the criminals who do it should be locked up!

Well, the nice white Republican voter fraudster woman was found guilty and, despite the prosecutors asking for at least 30 days in jail, the judge let the woman, 64-year old, Tracey Kay McKee --- who knew she was violating the law and then lied to officials about it --- off the hook with probation, some fines and community service.

Compare her case to Crystal Mason's --- a black mother of three in Texas --- who had the book thrown at her last year. She was on federally supervised release from jail and was never told she couldn't vote while on release. When she went to her precinct to vote, she was told she was no longer on the rolls. A helpful poll worker directed her to fill out a provisional ballot, which she did. The ballot was never tallied, but Mason was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison last year for attempting to vote while on supervised release when she believed she could do so legally. That'll teach her to be black and to try to vote in this country!

We've got some time for a few quick calls at the end of today's show too. Enjoy!...

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Also: More record job growth under Biden; More lousy media coverage of it; Huge majorities want climate change action, clean energy...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2022 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Guilty pleas for voter fraud in a Trump stronghold in Florida. The Colorado state GOP endorses a federally-indicted election tamperer for Sec. of State. Trump's Chief of Staff is removed from the voter rolls amid a state probe into his own apparent voter fraud after he tried to steal the 2020 Presidential election. And yet the fraudulent GOP 'voter fraud' industry continues raking in the cash and making it harder for certain people to vote by pretending that Democrats are committing massive voter fraud. Quite a racket. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Perhaps you haven't heard, but new weekly jobless claims haven't been this low since 1968, with companies increasing wages to hang on to their employees. Sounds terrible. No wonder Biden's approval ratings are so low. (Of course, in addition to downplaying such stories or not covering them at all, some in the corporate media have turned this great news for American workers into terrible news for businesses, focusing on "labor shortage" and "high costs" of maintaining workers.)
  • New polling from Gallup finds Americans overwhelmingly support Biden's proposals to tackle climate change and move the nation to clean renewable energy. Huge --- and I mean huge-- majorities support stuff like tax credits for Americans to install solar power at home; incentives for businesses to move to renewable energy; increasing mileage standards on cars and trucks; major investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Most of those wildly popular ideas (all mercifully attacked by the America haters at Fox "News") were in the Biden/Democrat Build Back Better bill, which every Senate Republican plus the corrupt Joe Manchin helped to kill last year.
  • Then there's the never-ending GOP "voter fraud" industrial complex which is having another terrific year! Brain-poisoned suckers, terrified about non-existent massive voter fraud by Democrats, continue to send their money and votes to the scammers who are actually committing the fraud while making it harder for certain Americans to vote at all.

    In Florida, a bunch of old, white Republican retirees in The Villages have been indicted for and/or pleaded guilty this week to double voting in the Trump stronghold. Because they're white and Republican, they're getting off with slaps on the wrist. (Contrast that with folks like Crystal Mason, a black woman from Texas who didn't know she wasn't allowed to vote after being released from jail before casting a provisional ballot at the direction of a poll worker. Her vote was never counted --- unlike the double voters in FL --- but she's been sentenced to five years in prison. The Trump/DeSantis voters who pleaded guilty for voting in two different states in 2020, are getting off with no jail time at all.)

    In Colorado, the state Republican Party held its big confab over the weekend. They endorsed a candidate for U.S. Senate who told them this week that Trump won in 2020, while comparing the election to what "we felt after 9/11". But the CO GOPers really went all in for Tina Peters, the Clerk of Mesa County who snuck into a secure storage area in the middle of the night last year along with accomplices with fake IDs, turned off the security cameras and made unlawful copies of sensitive voting system software before releasing it to the public over the Internet. She's now been charged with a 10-count federal indictment for her election tampering. But the CO Republican delegates over the weekend rewarded her with an overwhelming majority endorsement to become the state's chief election official in her bid to become CO's next Secretary of State. Don't worry. If Peters wins, the state Republicans' choice for Governor told the crowd this weekend that he'd pardon her. (Cuz, Rule of Law, Law and Order and all that. Also: unclear if he knows Governors can't pardon federal felons.)

    And, just to top off the madcap fraudulent fun, Mark Meadows --- Donald Trump's Chief of Staff who tried to help him steal the 2020 Presidential election --- has now been removed from the voting rolls in North Carolina, where the former Congressman and "election integrity" warrior appears to have been unlawfully registered. In a mobile home where he never spent a night and may have never even visited. Even as he was registered to vote --- and voting --- in Virginia. (Add him to a long list of high-profile GOP voter fraud fraudsters we've covered over the years, including Ann Coulter, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and MANY more!)

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with news of climate change-fueled, catastrophic rains and deadly flooding which killed hundreds in South Africa this week; new science finding that our climate crisis is supercharging hurricane rainfall; and some brighter news on wind energy which hit a remarkable new milestone last week! (Don't tell Trump! He's still pretending that windmills cause cancer!)

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Also: Brooklyn subway shooting; NY Lt. Gov. indicted; What you don't know about inflation; Biden taps ethanol to further lower gas prices...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2022 7:22pm PT  

We've got a very busy and eclectic BradCast for you today. For good or ill. You'll decide. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Another mass shooting today, this time in a crowded subway train in Brooklyn. At least 10 were shot and 17 injured. Reportedly, however, even with 5 victims said to be in critical condition, authorities say none of the injuries are life-threatening. The gunman, wearing a gasmask and releasing smoke bombs to add to the nightmarish chaos, appears to have used a semi-automatic handgun with several large magazines and was only stopped, after at least 33 shots, when one of the cartridges is believed to have jammed. The suspect was still on the run as of airtime.
  • Also in New York, recently-minted Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and indicted on several federal felony charges related to bribery, fraud and falsification of records on Tuesday, in an alleged scheme during his time as a state Senator involving campaign payoffs from a real estate developer (who was previously arrested, but is not Donald Trump). Among the records Benjamin is said to have falsified are the vetting documents used by Gov. Kathy Hochul when selecting him for the job of Lt. Gov. after she ascended from that job in the wake of the resignation of the previous Democratic Governor, the scandal-plagued Andrew Cuomo. Benjamin resigned late today. But getting him off the June primary ballot, where he was set to run for election against two other Democrats, is a different matter.
  • You may have heard today via screaming headlines that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on finds inflation in March was at 8.5% over the past year. It is the highest rate since December of 1981 when that failed, one-term President Ronald Reagan was in the final month of his first year in office. There's probably a bunch of other stuff you haven't heard today beyond the screaming "Inflation hits 40-year high!" headlines from our corporate media. We help you understand some of that stuff.
  • President Joe Biden's recent action to release a million barrels of oil a day, for the next six months from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve immediately helped to lower gas prices at the pump. They've been falling pretty much every day since that unprecedented move, though they remain high thanks to Russia's war in Ukraine and the oil industry's continued profiteering. Today, in a bid to further lower gas prices, Biden announced a plan to waive the ban on summer use of E15 gasoline, which contains a 15% ethanol blend. Desi Doyen helps us make sense of that news and why it is both good and bad.
  • Last week, following a months-long investigation, Arizona's very MAGA, vote-suppressing Attorney General Mark Brnovich, finally released a report [PDF] on his probe of allegations of fraud in Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2020 Presidential election. That probe was requested by the very MAGA state Senate after the exceedingly MAGA Cyber Ninjas failed to find any evidence of fraud in their own months-long so-called "audit" in the state's largest county, where Joe Biden won by some 45,000 votes, delivering the state to a Democrat for the first time in decades.

    As it turns out, Brnovich failed to uncover any evidence of fraud or any other crimes, though he did pretend to find "serious vulnerabilities" in the County's elections procedures. But those "serious vulnerabilities", according to the Chair of the County's Republican Board of Supervisors, the County's Republican Controller (its chief election official, who won his position during the same 2020 election), the County's former Democratic Controller (who lost that year), and the state's Democratic Sec. of State are all calling out Brnovich for a BS report that fails to find any evidence of any problems in the election at all, even while using words that help Fox "News" and the losing former President and all his MAGA friends pretend that he did. (Brnovich is in a contested primary race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, after all.)

    We let you know what Brnovich actually found (and didn't), even if none of it prevented the MAGA state Senate President who helped kick off all this madness from from claiming the report finds "fraud" (it doesn't) or one of the most rightwing MAGA state Senators from taking to her Twitter account in response to the report to call it "flaccid" and to insist that "WE WANT ARRESTS NOW." --- For what exactly? That part remains unclear. It may take a few more months or years and more millions of dollars of tax-payer money spent by "conservatives" in the state to get to the bottom of it.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen brings our latest Green News Report with some troubling new news on methane and climate change, as well as microplastics now being found in human blood and lungs. But she's got some better news on new mileage standards from Biden's Dept. of Transportation and on the electrification of tens of thousands of government vehicles and school buses in Los Angeles and Boston...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation; Also: State Dept. has no records of gifts to Trump; Don Jr. plotted to steal 2020 two days after the election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2022 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The corruption never ends and will only get far worse until someone finally faces accountability. Whether it's Donald Trump for his unspeakable corruption and attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election or Justice Clarence Thomas, whose corruption has been well-documented for decades now, as he appears to have joined the effort to help Trump steal that election --- or, at the very least, avoid accountability for trying. Thomas needs to be impeached, argues our guest today, or we might as well put our Constitution "through the shredder." [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

As to Trump's unspeakable corruption, yes, we are still learning about much more of it. As TPM reported over the weekend, apparently the State Department is now reporting they have no records of gifts given to Trump (or Vice President Mike Pence and other Administration members) by foreign leaders during Trump's final year in office. Worse, according to the State Dept.'s report, the Office of the Chief of Protocol's Gift Unit reports no records of any gifts at all from January 20, 2017 (the day Trump took office) until the end of his first failed term in January of 2020. No record of what the President of the United States received from Foreign Leaders?! Um, that's not good.

We've come to expect this kind of grotesque corruption from Trump and his family members. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn over the weekend, as we did via CNN, that Don Jr. was texting then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows just two days after Election Day in November of 2020 --- before the race had even been called or all of its votes tallied --- to detail one way after another that the election could and should be stolen for his father. "We control them all," Don Jr. told Meadows, while describing the way that state legislatures or Congress, or even the judiciary could help steal the election before Team Trump even knew for certain they had lost. "We have operational control Total leverage....POTUS must start 2nd term now," Trump Sr.'s corrupt son instructed the White House Chief of Staff on November 5th, 2020, according to messages obtained by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

It's troubling enough that the man and his party who are planning to steal the 2024 election, if necessary, have yet to be held to account. It is no less troubling that at least one member of the U.S. Supreme Court is corrupt enough to help them. Outrage over Ginni Thomas, the far-right activist wife of far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas, having texted Meadows dozens of times after the election, encouraging the Administration to steal the election for Trump, faded quickly after it was initially reported just over two weeks ago by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Sure, there is a war in Europe and Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, but a corrupt sitting Supreme Court Justice --- willing to be the lone dissenting vote to potentially keep his own wife's text messages out of the hands of House J6 Committee is impeachment-worthy, according to my guest today, JOHN NICHOLS, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation.

The news about corruption of Clarence and Ginni is just the latest apparent law-breaking by the couple. We've been reporting on it for more than a decade. So has Nichols, who tells me he reported on conflicts of interest regarding Ginni's far-right activism 22 years ago. "Ginni Thomas was already working with the Bush-Cheney Administration at the same time that Clarence Thomas joined in that closely divided decision to close down [the 2000 Presidential] recount," he notes today. "So this woman has a quarter century of engagement in politics in a way that should not only have led to recusals by her husband, but ultimately, when he didn't recuse, should have led to his removal from the Supreme Court."

But enough is enough. And it would nice if both the corporate media (which has largely ignored this matter) and elected Democrats (who have tepidly called for Thomas to recuse himself from 2020-related cases) starting doing something about it. "We have reached that point," Nichols argues, when asked if Justice Thomas needs to be held to account for "seri­ous ethical or crim­inal miscon­duct" after the House Select Committee gathered evidence of his wife's texts to the White House Chief of Staff. "Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election in what can accurately be referred to only as a coup attempt. And he sought to hold office illegally. That is a coup. When you are investigating something of that consequence, if there is even the slightest possibility that a member of the U.S. Supreme Court used his position to try to undermine or limit that investigation --- because his wife was a co-conspirator, because his political allies were involved in the issue --- that has to be investigated. It is best investigated, in my opinion, in an impeachment inquiry."

"We're having a discussion about recusal at this point for Clarence Thomas? This is absurd!," Nichols insists. "This guy isn't going to recuse. He's made it absolutely clear. This is like saying, 'At the very least, Jesse James should recuse himself from robbing banks.' The crime has already been committed! The notion that we would now say 'Oh, he should recuse himself going forward' doesn't get to the heart of the matter, and it doesn't get to the reality. The only option we have in this case is impeachment."

But, of course, even if Democrats in the House stepped up to do the right thing, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would never remove Thomas from the High Court, right? "For those who say, 'Oh, we can't do that because Mitch McConnell might not let us,' then you might as well take the Constitution out of the National Archives and put it through the shredder. What's the point of having an impeachment power if you don't use it in a moment like this?"

Good argument. And we've got much more along those lines with Nichols today, including some of his thoughts on the huge hole left behind in the progressive media following last week's tragic loss of longtime media critic Eric Boehlert, and on whether he believes Attorney Merrick Garland and the DoJ are taking the appropriate steps to hold Trump and the rest of his cabal to account for their part in the insurrection (as discussed last Thursday on this show with former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason) and the broader attempt to steal a Presidential election before our very eyes...

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Also: Situation devolves in Ukraine under Russia's 'barbaric' assault...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2022 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's been a very bad week for the pretend "law and order" rightwingers dumb enough to have been suckered by Donald Trump's 2020 "election fraud" hoax. But it's likely to get still worse for them in the days ahead. That's fine by us. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After a quick update today on the latest grim, and getting grimmer, news out of Ukraine as Russia's Vladimir Putin begins his third week of unspeakable barbarism, here are some of the much less grim stories we actually enjoyed covering today...

  • Yesterday, we reported on the ongoing challenge (and emergency appeal filed after a bizarre ruling by a Trump-appointed judge) to North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election this year. The challengers, including our guest, Constitutional law expert Ron Fein of Free Speech for People, contend that Cawthorn is ineligible to run for federal office, after having violated the 14th Amendment's ban on those who "have engaged in insurrection" after taking an oath to defend the Constitution. But, no sooner did we get off air when news broke that Cawthorn was charged in NC with driving with a revoked license. Apparently, this is the second time he has been charged with the same crime. Will he face any real accountability for it this time around? The max sentence for that is 20 days in jail in NC.
  • On the federal level, Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted today that his Justice Department will "not shy away from cases that are controversial or sensitive or political," telling reporters that "to do that would undermine an element of the rule of law." Glad to hear it. His comments came in response to questions about the DoJ's January 6th investigation and whether Trump and those around him would ever face accountability, as hundreds of low-level insurrectionists have faced charges for storming the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, after being being incited by the disgraced former President and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
  • Tina Peters, a Colorado elections official arguably incited to criminal acts by Trump's lies, is now facing state charges for them. She is the very Trumpy Republican Mesa County Clerk who recently announced her intention to run for Secretary of State. Peters turned herself into custody on Wednesday night after being indicted this week on 10 counts related to elections tampering. (A perfect resume for a GOP Sec. of State contender!) We've been reporting in detail on Peters over the past year, after she allegedly snuck into a secure facility where voting systems are stored in Mesa County along with accomplices (one of them her Deputy, who was also charged this week), turned off the security cameras, and then made copies of hard-drives with critical and proprietary Dominion Voting System software on them. Dominion's Election Management System software from Mesa was subsequently released, along with passwords to the system, to the Internet a few months later during one of conspiracy theorist and pillow magnate Mike Lindell's "election fraud" symposiums, just as Peters was speaking at the forum. The serious security breach with the public release of that software led to a bit of havoc in California's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later, where the same Dominion systems were used in several counties. We revisit the sprawling story of how we got here, as the loony Peters finally appears set to pay a very high price for being dumb enough to buy into Trump's con.
  • And then there was more bad news this week for Fox "News" and several of the top clods and dupes who host programs on their various channels. A New York judge denied the motions to dismiss filed by Fox and a number of their top anchors, such as Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, in the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against them and conspiracy theorist/grifter attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell by voting system company Smartmatic. "At a minimum," the judge found in his 61-page ruling, "Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth." That means the case against most of them will now move forward toward discovery and trial. (Several of those "inherently improbable" claims were based on The BRAD BLOG's own accurate, exclusive reporting back in 2010, which Powell, et al, bastardized to fit their pretend theories about massive election fraud.) Interestingly, the judge also cites a bit of accidentally responsible reporting from Fox star Tucker Carlson to underscore just how irresponsible the others were, in the judge's "finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice." The New York ruling follows a similar one from a judge in Delaware last December, who also rejected motions to dismiss from many of the same clowns in Dominion Voting Systems' separate $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
  • In Texas, which held this year's first-in-the-nation midterm primary elections last week, AP finds that an extraordinary 27,000 mail ballots --- from both Democrats and Republican voters --- were flagged for rejection under the Lone Star State's new voter suppression law passed last year in pretend response to Trump's claims about a stolen 2020 election. The initial rejection rate was approximately 17% statewide and substantially higher in a number of large, Democratic-leaning counties. That, compared with a statewide rejection rate of about 1% of absentee mail ballots back in 2020.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more disturbing fallout (and, maybe, some theoretical upsides) regarding energy and security in the wake of Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine...

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Biden ends Russian imports, destroys Fox/GOP/Big Oil lies; Jan 6. insurrectionist 'guilty' on all counts; 'Proud Boy' indicted for U.S. Capitol conspiracy; Pardoned GOPer indicted for funneling Russian money to Trump 2016; Another former 'BradCast' guest indicted...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2022 7:10pm PT  

As the horrors of war continue in Ukraine today, we focus on the latest efforts to counter it by ending --- or trying to --- Russian oil and gas imports to the EU and US, and as we enjoy more accountability for GOP election fraudsters and insurrectionists, including one who funneled Russian money to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and another who used to appear on The BradCast from time to time. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Fossil fuel profiteer Shell Oil apologizes after getting caught secretly buying cheap Russian oil, even after pretending last week that it was ending its business with the country after their invasion of Ukraine. Does it smell "like Ukrainian blood?," Ukraine's Foreign Minister wonders.
  • On Tuesday, after nearly two hellish weeks of unspeakable humanitarian suffering in Ukraine and pressure from the public to do the right thing, several more major American companies --- McDonald's, Starbucks, Coke and Pepsi --- finally decided to "pause" doing business in Russia.
  • The European Union, which has made the mistake of becoming reliant on Russia for about 45% of its gas imports, announced plans to try and wean themselves off two-thirds of it by year's end. Hopefully this will help hasten their move to clean, renewable energy.
  • President Biden announced today that the U.S. will halt all imports of Russian oil and gas. Hopefully this will help hasten our move to clean, renewable energy.
  • Also, both White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and President Biden pushed back hard against the obnoxiously phony claims by Republicans, Fox "News" and the oil industry that opening up more public land to oil and drilling leases and permits would lower surging U.S. gas prices. As both Psaki and Biden point out, Big Oil is already sitting on some 9,000 currently unused permits on millions of acres of land, as is. The GOP/Fox "News"/Big Oil axis of evil is really hoping that Americans don't know that, so they can blame Biden for the surge in global oil and gas prices...even as new polling finds American majorities are willing to pay more at the pump to help Ukraine and they want to expand renewable energy development, not fossil fuels.
  • The International Energy Agency (IAE) has a list of 10 things the EU can do to decrease gas use by at least 10% before year's end. Many of those things the U.S. can do as well. One thing many of us could and should do to lower the cost of gas in a big way during Russia's war on Ukraine --- since many of us already did it for much of the past two and a half years anyway, cleaning the skies and drastically lowering gas prices in the bargain --- WORK AT HOME AGAIN if possible!
  • The first January 6th insurrectionist to stand trial before a jury, was found guilty on all five felony counts today. (He's a helluva guy, apparently. Threatened to kill his own teenage children if they told on him. Ya know, as "patriots" do.) The DoJ hopes the result may lead other Trump insurrectionists to plead guilty. We hope it leads the DoJ to keep working their way up to the top of the insurrectionist cabal.
  • The leader of the violent rightwing street gang calling itself Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio --- who wasn't even at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 (because he was in police custody on a separate crime) --- was indicted, with several others in his gang of white hoodlums, on conspiracy charges related to their violent, coordinated attack on the Capitol. Tarrio had reportedly met with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes in a parking garage in the hours before the Republican assault on American democracy. Rhodes and several other Oath Keepers were also recently indicted on seditious conspiracy charges. And Rhodes, like another rightwing hoodlum facing new felony indictments in a separate matter (discussed below), had been a guest on The BradCast several years ago.
  • This story is amazing. Jesse Benton, a longtime Republican operative and former campaign manager for Senators Rand Paul (in 2010) and Mitch McConnell (in 2014), has already been pardoned for felony election fraud once, by Donald Trump in the closing days of his Administration. Now Benton has been indicted again, for more election fraud, and along with another former guest on The BradCast! Tune in for the full story, but Benton was originally charged and convicted some years ago for buying away an endorsement for about $75,000 from a Michele Bachmann supporter during the GOP Iowa Caucus in the 2012 Presidential campaign. At the time, he worked for Rand's father Ron Paul's Presidential campaign. Benton was sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine just days before the scheme he has now been indicted for which includes receiving $100,000 from an unnamed Russian national, keeping $75,000 for himself, and giving $25,000 of it to the campaign of "Political Candidate 1" in his own name, an unlawful straw donation to avoid laws barring foreign money in American elections. Benton promised a meeting with "Political Candidate 1" in Philadelphia on September 22, 2016, the day that Donald Trump happened to be holding a fundraiser there. They all took pictures together, according to the September indictment unsealed on Monday, along with Doug Wead, a GOP Presidential historian and, in recent years, far-right operative who appeared a number of times on this program some years ago. Wead, a Senior Advisor to Ron Paul's 2012 campaign was indicted as a co-conspirator with Benton. They both face the potential of a lot of time in prison. Each of the six counts charged against both of them carries sentencing of 5 to 20 years. But, yup, more Russian money in Donald Trump's 2016 election. Who could have guessed it?
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which we can barely keep up with Russia/Ukraine related events in the energy industry (including nuclear) and as the U.N. offers some good news for a change, in this case regarding global plastic pollution.

All of the above is much funnier, outraging, and/or more enlightening when heard in full on today's surprisingly lively BradCast (given what we have to work with at times like these)...

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Guest: Grace Panetta of Business Insider; Also: Dem Senator hospitalized with stroke; Manchin's big 'Build Back Better' lie; NY state redistricting adds 3 new Dem House districts...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2022 6:51pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump and his democracy-hating supporters hoped to exploit the vagaries of the horribly written Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 --- along with several vagaries of the U.S. Constitution itself --- to try and steal the 2020 President election during the joint session of Congress meant to affirm the state certified results of the Electoral College. Now, there is an ongoing bipartisan effort in Congress to modernize and reform the ECA to prevent a similar nightmare in 2024 or beyond. But will even that reform, if successfully adopted, be able to prevent a political party from acting in bad faith to steal a Presidential election in plain sight in the future? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, before we get to the ECA, Democrats are down to just 49 voting members of the Senate at the moment, after New Mexico's 49-year old Senator Ben Ray Luján, his office announced on Tuesday, has been hospitalized with a stroke after experiencing dizziness and fatigue last week. The statement suggests a full recovery is expected, even as the incident serves as a reminder of the Party's tenuous 50-vote majority in the Senate...as long as everyone is well and Vice President Kamala Harris is there to break any ties. Dems seem to think that Luján will recover in time to support Joe Biden's eventual nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer in June.

Also, speaking of the U.S. Senate, we've got a minor update on the landmark Build Back Better proposal that had served for months last year as the $1.7 trillion centerpiece of President Biden's agenda: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says that "it's dead". That, after he killed it at the end of last year following months of negotiations and citing several ridiculous reasons. And while Democrats are hopefully they may still be able to pass Manchin-approved chunks of the bill in the future, I remain dubious that Manchin --- whose family rakes in millions from their coal business, supplying just one single coal plant with waste coal in West Virginia --- will ever allow the measure's critical $555 billion in environmental spending to help tackle climate change to be adopted.

Manchin spent months last year pretending to negotiate "in good faith" on the bill, even claiming repeatedly to support its climate provisions which incentivize the nation's power plants to move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Even in recent days, Democrats have repeated the notion that Manchin supports at least those provisions of the sweeping measure that would have also expanded healthcare, education, child care, elder care and much more. But if you believe Manchin supports BBB's environmental initiatives, I've got a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia to sell ya. Of course, I hope to be wrong. But I haven't been, so far, on this matter unfortunately.

Next, it's on to the ridiculously written Electoral Count Act (ECA) which was adopted, as our guest today, GRACE PANETTA of Business Insider detailed in her deep-dive report this week, "following the disputed 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of Black voters." The ECA was passed at the time to help clarify certain aspects of the U.S. Constitution's mandated 12th Amendment process for counting and determining the eligibility of Electoral College votes. But it is so vaguely written --- Panetta cites an ECA scholar who notes that "many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long" --- that Trump and his corrupt team of advisors were able to claim that the ECA allowed for Vice President Pence to pretty much name anybody he liked as the winner of the 2020 election during the joint session of Congress on January 6th.

This week, several coalitions in the Senate --- one, a group of three Democrats; the other, a bipartisan group of 16 Senators including nine Republicans --- are working to rewrite the measure in hopes of both clarifying it and preventing it from being exploited to steal a Presidential election. At least in theory.

As I've discussed on several shows of late, I often go to bed at night pondering the many ways that a political party prepared to act in bad faith --- in this case, Republicans --- can quite easily steal a Presidential election via the Electoral College with literally nothing more than norms, traditions and good faith to stop them. That's a fact, no matter what happens at the precinct level in each state, no matter who is and isn't allowed to vote, and no matter how those votes may be tallied. A party acting in concert in bad faith can steal an American Presidential election and there is little if anything in current law or the Constitution to prevent it.

Moreover, depending on how the ECA is rewritten --- if Republicans allow such a rewrite to be passed in both chambers and signed by the President --- it may still leave the door open for a rogue state legislature or even a single Governor acting in bad faith to steal an election, in what one ECA expert that Panetta cites describes as "the Swing State Governor's Gambit".

Panetta, a senior politics reporter at Insider, joins us from the Senate Gallery today to explain what the ECA is supposed to do; how Trump attempted to abuse it to steal the 2020 election; how reform can hopefully prevent that from happening in the future; and what the chances currently are that this new reform movement in the Senate will be successful.

She also makes clear --- in response to Trump's idiotic statement (admission?) on Sunday, claiming Pence had "the right to change the outcome" of the election --- that "the ECA does NOT give the Vice President the authority to unilaterally decide which electoral votes to count or not."

"The ECA as it exists, in its imperfect, flawed form, does NOT give the Vice President this authority," Panetta reiterates. "At the same time, however, I think what both the bipartisan group and another trio of Democratic Senators who introduced an ECA reform bill yesterday are trying to do is even more clearly state, clearly clarify in 21st-century language, that single slates of electors sent to Congress should be treated as final and the Vice President really has no role to adjudicate this."

Right now, she warns, "the groundwork is being laid at the state level for state officials --- like Governors, like Secretaries of State --- to overturn elections. In short, a Governor could submit an illegitimate slate of electors that does not reflect the popular vote in the state, and candidates could try in federal court to compel a Governor to send the correct slate, but that's no guarantee that that would fully work." So, yes, getting ECA reform right is now more critical than ever.

Finally today, some good news --- at least as I see it. New York's legislature has approved a new Congressional map for the state that will most likely add three additional Democratic members of Congress from the Empire State. New York Republicans are hopping mad about what they describe as an outrageous partisan gerrymander by Democrats. Ya know, just like the even more egregious ones being carried out by Republicans in GOP-controlled states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, where population growth was due almost entirely to minority voters, and yet state Republicans removed minority voting districts to add GOP seats. While I certainly would have opposed such efforts by Dems in the past (many redistricting experts still do), given the efforts right now by Republicans to undermine American democracy itself, I'm just fine with what NY is doing. If Republicans oppose it, they can (and should!) take it to court. Unfortunately, they won't be able to take it to federal court, because their own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority recently declared that federal courts may play no part in adjudicating partisan state gerrymanders. SAD!...

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Guest: Const'l attorney John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Trump more involved in 2020 gambit to seize voting machines than previously known...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Self-declared Republican "Constitutionalists" may not turn out to be huge fans of the written text of the U.S. Constitution after all. Particularly Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those "who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States...to support the Constitution of the United States...engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same." [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

That's turning out to be very bad news right now for North Carolina's Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn. It could also turn out to be bad news in the not too distant for other members of the MAGA Caucus in Congress and even our disgraced former President --- even if that might be good news for the rest of the nation.

Last month, an official complaint [PDF] was filed by voters with NC's State Board of Elections, charging that Cawthorn must be disqualified from running for re-election this year in the Tar Heel State. The freshman Congressman reportedly participated in planning meetings for the rallies in advance of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 and spoke at the rally on the Eclipse in front of the White House prior to Donald Trump's speech directing supporters to head to the Capitol and "fight like hell". Cawthorn also joined dozens of other members of the House and Senate that day in voting against Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, despite the lack of evidence of fraud that might have changed the certified results of the election in any state.

The effort to block Cawthorn's candidacy in NC is the first official volley in the 14Point3.org campaign created by good government groups Free Speech for People and Our Revolution. NC state law requires that candidates must meet all requirements for office as detailed in the U.S. Constitution and further requires potential candidates to disprove any challenges to those qualifications, such as their age, legal residency, citizenship status or, in this case, whether or not they've "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the U.S. Constitution.

We're joined today by longtime Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, co-founder and President of the non-partisan, non-profit Free Speech for People, to discuss this rather amazing and actually quite serious challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy and perhaps additional challenges to other insurrectionist candidates such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and potentially even one Donald J. Trump.

"It's a 'novel' challenge in the sense that it's the first such challenge since the Reconstruction Era," Bonifaz tells me, while noting that "during that time, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was applied to many Confederates who remained in positions of government power." But, he explains, "the Framers of the 14th Amendment were clear that if you take an oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution, and then you turn around and engage in insurrection or give aid and comfort to it, then you are prohibited from holding future public office. Now, we have the second insurrection in our nation's history and those who incited the insurrection or gave aid or comfort to it must also face accountability under that mandate."

The challenge is serious enough that, on Monday, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of quashing the inquiry into his role on January 6th. His lawsuit claims that the State Board has no authority to keep him off the ballot. Bonifaz describes the claim as absurd. "If Madison Cawthorn were ten years old and seeking to be on the ballot in North Carolina, there'd be no question that he's ineligible to be placed on the ballot because he doesn't meet the age qualification for a member of Congress. This is another qualification requirement --- you cannot take an oath of office, as Madison Cawthorn did on Jan. 3, 2021, and then turn around and engage in insurrection and hold public office again."

"Instead of complying with the process that is laid out under state law, he has now rushed to federal court with his attorney to try to completely declare the whole process by which candidate qualifications are brought to be unconstitutional" Bonifaz contends. "If it's so hard for him to prove that he's not an insurrectionist, maybe the real question is why Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should not be applied to him."

"If he's really nervous about appearing before the State Board of Elections, that may be a real indication that the Board needs to act in the voters' favor. But the very fact that he's doing an end run around the state process and rushing into federal court ought to tell you a lot about whether Madison Cawthorn wants to appear before the State Board of Elections to defend himself."

Cawthorn's attorney has also offered another unique defense. He charges that the last part of Section 3 states that "Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability" and that the Amnesty Act of 1872 declared just that. Yes, Cawthorn is relying on the dispensation given specifically to former Confederate rebels in 1872 to try and remain on the ballot in 2022. Bonifaz explains on today's program why he is less than impressed with that defense.

For the moment, while there is a separate legal challenge to NC's newly gerrymandered Congressional maps, the qualifications process for all candidates in the state is on hold. Once the maps are settled, however, Bonifaz says the Board's "longstanding process by which voters can bring these kinds of challenges" includes creating a panel that will have 20 days to hear the case in which Cawthorn will have to defend himself, before the matter goes to the full Board and then, potentially, to state court on appeal.

One way or another, the matter must be settled in a few months before the state's primary election. It has resulted in a fascinating conversation among Constitutional law experts on the matter of what it means to "engage" in an insurrection. Bonifaz explains why he believes that conviction for sedition or insurrection in a court of law is not necessary to trigger the Constitutional clause. And if Cawthorn is, in fact, disqualified from running in North Carolina based on restrictions in the U.S. Constitution, what will that mean for other such insurrectionist candidates in other states in 2022 and, indeed, for Trump himself, if and when he attempts to become a candidate on the ballot again in the critical and closely divided swing-state in 2024? All of that, and much more is discussed on today's program.

Also today, speaking of insurrectionist Trump, new exclusives late last night from both CNN and the New York Times suggest that the disgraced, twice-impeached former President was much more personally involved in the attempt to seize the nation's voting machines following the 2020 election than previously reported. Also, that his efforts were far broader than previously known. CNN reports that there were actually two different Executive Orders drafted up for Trump's use. One was recently obtained by Politico, which we discussed last week. That one would have ordered the Department of Defense to seize the machines. The other order would have directed the Department of Homeland Security to do so. Team Trump was reportedly told by DHS that the federal agency lacked the authority to impound the voting systems.

But the Times offers new details on a third effort, which included a personal appeal by Trump in the Oval Office to his then Attorney General Bill Barr to have DOJ impound the voting systems. Barr, to his credit, is said to have immediately shot down the idea, telling the desperate loser that, since there was no evidence of fraud on the systems, the DoJ had no probable cause to believe they had been used in any crime. Trump's A.G. tendered his resignation shortly thereafter.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with bad news for fans of winter sports and good news for opponents of more deadly oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico...

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Guest: Lynn Bernstein of Transparent Elections NC on intimidation and an independent review of unverifiable ES&S vote systems; Also: Major media failures at Fox 'News', CNN and Washington Post...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2022 7:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we are bound and determined to take back the real fight for Election Integrity from the MAGA "Stop the Steal" loons and dupes who have no such interest in anything of the sort, as the Right has attempted to co-opt the idea of "Election Integrity" as part of Donald Trump's efforts to steal the election in 2020...and/or to steal the next one. But even too many weak-kneed Democrats have been frightened off of the fight to secure our nation's vulnerable voting and tabulation systems and ensure public oversight of election results for fear of offering fodder to the MAGA Mob. We're not playing that game. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up, some pretty dreadful media failures from both the wingnut Right and the non-wingnut Corporate Media. First, after a deteriorating, 50-year old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, ironically enough just hours before President Biden's planned appearance in the city to tout his recently signed $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, one Fox "News" host may have jumped the shark when it comes to disinformation from the propaganda news outlet. (Which is not easy!)

Longtime Fox host and news anchor Julie Banderas went off on an embarrassing tear about how "President Biden has been making promises over promises over promises and, as you've noticed, none of them have come true," as she asserted to four others appearing with her, each in their own little silent box. "Back in June of 2021 he started talking about his bipartisan infrastructure deal," she sneered derisively. "There's nothing bipartisan about it! If it was bipartisan, it would have been passed by now!," she continued cluelessly in her rant, slamming the President for failing his vow to "reach across the aisle" to make policy with Republicans. That, she insisted, "has clearly not happened." She was quickly followed by Kayleigh McEnany who concurred. "That might have been the biggest fairy tale of them all," said Trump's former White House Press Secretary.

In fact, Joe Biden's landmark, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill --- which he was in Pittsburgh to discuss on Friday, fer chrissake --- was passed with nineteen Republicans voting with all the Democrats in the Senate. It was signed into law a full two and a half months ago --- even if word of that promise-kept has yet to pierce the Fox "News" reality bubble.

Sadly, non-wingnut news outlets are not a whole lot better in too many cases of late. On Thursday, a federal judge invalidated the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in the nation's history. 1.7 million acres were recently auctioned in the Gulf of Mexico after a different federal judge last year, one appointed by Donald Trump, blocked Biden's Executive Order pausing new fossil fuel leases, forcing the Biden Administration to sell off the Gulf. That, even after a scam environmental analysis by Trump's Department of Interior claimed that it would be worse for the climate if Big Oil was not allowed to buy up the leases and expand their drilling there. The Biden Justice Dept. sued to prevent the sale and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made clear to reporters back in November that the President opposed the auction, but was left no option by the Trump-appointed Judge to carry it out.

So, Thursday's ruling was a welcome victory for the Administration. But one would have to read the actual stories from outlets like Washington Post and CNN to learn that, because both of those outlets sent out news alerts to mobile phones telling a very different story. CNN's alert screamed: "A federal judge invalidated the Biden administration's oil and gas leases for 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, citing climate change," while WaPo misinformed its readers by declaring "Federal judge throws out Biden administration's massive Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale, faulting its climate analysis."

Wow, if we didn't know better --- or hadn't clicked through to read the actual stories --- it sure would sound like Joe Biden is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he claims to care about climate change and transitioning off of fossil fuels, while carrying out the nation's largest-ever sale of drilling leases in the Gulf! With non-wingnut corporate media like ours, no wonder his approval ratings continue to plummet (despite the fastest growth in the economy since 1984, as the media has also been failing to adequately report, as discussed on yesterday's program!)

NEXT UP...The Department of Justice on Thursday announced that its Election Threats Task Force, formed seven months ago, has made its second arrest. They indicted a 50-year old Nevada man who had repeatedly called the Nevada Secretary of State's office with violent threats on January 7, 2021, just one day after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, promising they were "all going to fucking die". That, after hundreds, if not thousands of similar and worse threats have been issued since the 2020 election against elections officials across the country.

But its not only elections officials forced to face down such attempted intimidation. One longtime Election Integrity advocate, who joins us on today's show, says she has faced similar nightmares in response to her work in a critical swing state, resulting in both in-person intimidation to herself and her family, and a chilling attempt to hack into her home security system.

Our guest is LYNN BERNSTEIN, an aerospace engineer with an expertise in testing satellite systems, who has, in recent years, turned her skills toward fighting for evidence-based elections as founder of Transparent Election NC in North Carolina. The non-partisan group's mission, according to its website, "is to confirm that every eligible vote is counted as the voter intended by working with elections officials to ensure that elections are secure, transparent, robustly audited, and publicly verified."

But, Bernstein contends, there are some in her state who may not like that idea. She has become a critic of North Carolina's recently approved, unverifiable computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by ES&S, the nation's largest private voting system vendor. Bernstein went public last month on Twitter with some of the threats she began to face after she (a registered and active Democrat) found common ground with the state's Libertarian Party. She helped convince them to exercise their right, under state law, to seek an independent source code and security review of ES&S' unverifiable BMD voting and tabulation systems.

Bernstein offers several chilling details on the intimidation she has faced since the Libertarian Party announced their plans to seek an independent source code review, which will be overseen by the excellent University of South Carolina computer science and voting system expert Dr. Duncan Buell (who has also been a guest on this program). "Elections officials have been in the news a lot about being harassed and threatened," she says. "It seems though that the intimidation of election advocacy leaders happens way more than the public is aware of. I work with people all across the country and privately we discuss it among ourselves, but most won't publicly disclose that they've been hacked or intimidated before."

She also shares her well-researched concerns about the state's controversial new ES&S voting equipment --- which are also used in many other states --- and which experts had strongly advocated against certifying in the closely divided swing-state. "I'm a big proponent of hand-marked paper ballots," says Bernstein. "I think it's just the best record of voter intent. It's a very direct record." She explains how the ES&S BMD systems print out bar-coded paper ballots, supposedly representing voter's touchscreen selections. But those ballots cannot be verified by any voter as actually reflecting their intent. "North Carolina law says that a voter must be able to verify their ballot before casting it. With ES&S's barcode system, it doesn't actually allow the voter to verify their vote before casting it."

During our conversation, Bernstein also offers an endorsement of the state's Libertarian Party chairman who explained in his Party's December press release announcing the review, that "this is not about litigating the 2020 election." She claims that "one of the reasons why he's the perfect person to do this" is because "he has done forensic examinations before" as a former fraud investigator. "When I let him know that this particular ES&S system has never undergone a truly independent source code review, a full comprehensive one, he was shocked, as I think most of us are when we learned of these things."

There's a lot to discuss here, including whether both the state and ES&S will allow the state-mandated review, as we recommit to working to reclaim the real fight for Election Integrity around the nation.

Finally, when it comes to election fraud --- and, arguably, voter fraud --- nobody holds a candle to what Trump and the GOP tried to pull off in 2020. So it's nice to see that the January 6th Committee in the House on Friday, subpoenaed 14 Republicans from seven different states --- all of them won by Biden in 2020 --- who signed their names as duly-sworn "electors" for Trump, on documents fraudulently sent to Congress and the National Archives, in one of the most brazen (and, thankfully, failed) election fraud schemes in the history of this nation...

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Record U.S. corruption; Biden economy booming (don't tell the media!); Snowflake Youngkin's 'tip-line' pratfall; 'Maus' banned in TN before Holocaust Remembrance Day; Internet's dumbest man strikes again...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2022 7:17pm PT  

Today, The BradCast is more than just a grab bag of American corruption. It's also topped off with several heaping helpings of rising rightwing autocracy and fascism! Enjoy! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A new report ranking corruption among 180 countries ranks the U.S. as the 27th least corrupt in the world. In 2021, we fell to our worst score ever --- tied with Chile --- in Transparency International's index. For some reason or another, that's a fall from our previous (less corrupt) high in 2015. Whatever could have happened between then and now to make us more corrupt? The group suggests new efforts already under way by the Biden Administration to tackle corporate corruption could "significantly enhance" our ranking in future surveys. But, for now, they chalk up the nations new record low to, among other things, "persistent attacks against free and fair elections, culminating in a violent assault on the US Capitol, and an increasingly opaque campaign finance system."
  • You may or may not have heard the news --- it disappeared off of AP's front page as quickly as it was posted there today --- but the U.S. economy under Joe Biden in 2021 was absolutely booming. New Commerce Department numbers released Thursday finds that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's Presidency. The economy expanded by 5.7% in 2021, the best calendar year growth since 1984. Based on 4th quarter numbers, however, GDP was growing at an even faster, 6.9% annualized pace. You sure wouldn't know it from corporate media coverage, however, focused as it is on things like inflation (due, in no small part, to the exploding consumer demand). All of this is akin to AP's recent ridiculous reporting on new jobs numbers, even amid decades-low unemployment numbers and rising wages. Their headline under Trump in February of 2018, for example: "U.S. Employers Added a Robust 200,000 Jobs in January". Compare that to their December 2021 headline under Biden: "U.S. Employers Added a Sluggish 210,000 Jobs in November." (Yes, you read those correctly.)
  • Corruption takes many forms and has many different effects on a nation, none of them good. Some of them, however, can be quite amusing, even when it comes from the clumsy rightwing spread of autocracy and facism, such as that playing out under the freshly sworn in Republican Governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He announced this week that he has created a tip-line for folks to report teachers who might teach anything objectionable. That might include, for example, anything that may have to do with systemic racism (in Virginia, of all places!) or that could be perceived as making (white) children uncomfortable (aware of) our nation's past (and present). But, "Whatever you do," one Virginia lawyer and former Democratic Congressional candidate hilariously cautioned this week in a viral Twitter thread, "don't make a mockery of this with fake tips" sent to the state's helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov email tip line! He even provided some examples of several fake racism tips that should absolutely not be sent to that address!
  • As amusing as that might be, the rising tide of Republican snowflakes seeking safe spaces is also taking darker turns. This week --- just before today's Holocaust Remembrance Day, as irony would have it --- the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board voted 10 to 0 to ban Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel MAUS: A Survivor's Tale from the school's 8th grade curriculum. The remarkable (beautiful, touching, terrifying, horrifying and even hilarious at times) story of Spiegelman's relationship with his parents, both Holocaust victims, relating their stories and his mother's horrible suicide with Jews drawn as mice and Nazis as cats, should be read by everyone. It's unclear if the County School Board is aware of the irony of banning books about Nazis who famously banned books, but the entire affair has left the author Spiegelman baffled and concerned about the rise of "autocracy and fascism" in the U.S., akin to what his parents eventually escaped in Europe. But it serves as another reminder of how important it is --- as discussed on yesterday's BradCast with Run For Something's Amanda Litman --- that more pro-democracy, anti-Nazi candidates need to run for local office everywhere! Including school boards!
  • And just one more for you today on the corruption of the media --- or at least, the fake, if wildly popular, disinformation propaganda site called Gateway Pundit. We usually try to ignore them and the clownish stuff they post. But they are behind about 90% of the phony wingnut "fraud" claims used by Trump and his gullible MAGA dupes to try and steal the 2020 election. This week, the website's super genius proprietor, Jim Hoft, posted a 100% phony story claiming that the Wisconsin state Assembly voted "unanimously" on Tuesday night to advance a resolution to decertify the Badger State's 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden from 2020. That, because they "were certified under fraudulent purposes." And because MAGA dupes are dupes, the story went viral, natch. As it turns out, one single state legislator in WI tried to introduce that resolution, with zero co-sponsors, was rejected, and it received zero votes in the Assembly. In fact, it wasn't allowed up for a vote at all. But don't tell the dopey propagandist/yutz Hoft, who still has the story posted on his site --- along with years of other phony, discredited, false stories --- two days after publishing it, even after USA Today's fact check thoroughly and verifiably showed it to be completely fake news. Sigh...
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some actual and verifiable news in our latest Green News Report, with a new report on the costs of reaching net zero emissions; another finding air pollution to be much deadlier than previously known; the Biden Administration revoking controversial mining permits in Minnesota; and both McDonald's and KFC each offering a new, plant-based menu item which may, or may not, move you to want to eat it...

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Also: The Prospect's Harold Meyerson on how Biden and Dems can build back 'Build Back Better' before mid-terms; And: Shell's billion dollar Canadian 'carbon capture' facility EMITS more than it captures!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2022 6:50pm PT  

Trump's never-issued draft Executive Order to seize the nation's voting machines in December of 2020 has now been released, and it contains a surprise or two that may sound familiar to BradCast listeners! Also today, some thoughts from our guest on how President Biden and Democrats may still be able to salvage the critical Build Back Better agenda recently blocked by Lord Manchin and Lady Sinema. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the National Archives is believed to have turned over most of the hundreds --- and perhaps thousands --- of documents subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election with his attack on the U.S. Capitol and other actions. The documents from the Trump White House were handed over to the Committee this week following the crushing, 8 to 1 defeat [PDF] issued to the disgraced former President by his own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

One of the many documents we've been looking forward to seeing was said to be a never-issued draft Executive Order on "Election Integrity", supposedly directing the Dept. of Defense to seize the nation's computerized voting and tabulation systems on the baseless premise that they had all been hacked or manipulated in some fashion, and to establish a Special Counsel to investigate and prosecute the criminals responsible.

That draft EO was obtained and published today by Politico's Betsy Woodruff Swan. The 3-page order [PDF], dated December 16, 2020, directs the Secretary of Defense, "effective immediately", to "seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under" the federal law related to the preservation of election materials.

Happily, the Order was never actually issued. But, as we detail today, it's still stunning on several levels. For one, it quotes at some length from a 2020 ruling [PDF] by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg in the long-standing federal lawsuit challenging Georgia's use of new, unverifiable computerized Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by Dominion. That lawsuit was filed years ago by the non-profit Coalition for Good Governance.

If that all sounds familiar, it may be because we have covered that specific case on this program for many years now, as filed by the Coalition headed up by founder and longtime election security champion Marilyn Marks. She has joined us countless times on this program to discuss it, including after the complaint saw its biggest victory when Totenberg banned the state's 20-year old touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold, after she ruled them to be unverifiable, unsecure and, therefore, unconstitutional. Shamefully, Georgia's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger subsequently replaced them with Dominion's equally unverifiable and vulnerable touchscreen systems, despite many warnings from voting system and cybersecurity experts. Totenberg's 2020 ruling, quoted in the draft Trump EO, allowed those new systems to be used for the first time that year anyway, despite the vulnerabilities, while issuing clear notice that she may well end up banning their use as well in the future.

The unidentified Trumpers who wrote the draft Executive Order titled "PRESIDENTIAL FINDINGS TO PRESERVE COLLECT AND ANALYZE NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION REGARDING THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION", peppered the draft with lies about evidence of "probable cause" that Dominion's systems --- (as well as those made by about 8 other companies, several of which don't even deploy voting systems in the U.S., much less in the states Trump was challenging) --- were manipulated by "a massive cyber-attack by foreign interests". The Trumpers used the 2020 federal court ruling out of Georgia to further their evidence-free claims and even lied to say that "Every defect and hazard of which Judge Totenberg warned happened in Georgia."

If so, there is absolutely zero evidence to that end, according to one of the Coalition's experts on the case, Dr. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley. He told me today via email that while "the vulnerabilities undeniably exist" in those Dominion voting systems, "there is (so far) no evidence that they were exploited in 2020 --- contrary to the claims in the draft EO."

In addition to misidentifying voting system vendors (and some of their actual correct names), the Order would have also directed the Sec. of Defense to compile an assessment of the matter in 60 days which, as Woodruff Swan observes, "could have been a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February of 2021."

The unissued Order is dated just two days before a much-reported, lengthy, reportedly "bonkers" meeting in the Oval Office with Trump, his disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne (for some reason), and loony conspiracist attorney Sidney Powell, who reportedly hoped to be named as a Special Counsel to oversee this emergency "national security" matter after the systems were seized. The final directive in the draft EO calls for the appointment of "a Special Counsel to oversee this operation and institute all criminal and civil proceedings [and to be] provided all resources necessary to carry out her duties." [Emphasis added.]

All of this underscores at least two important things. 1) Just how close this country under Trump came to an actual military coup ordered by the President of the United States to undermine and steal a Presidential election. And 2) The warnings that we have issued for nearly two decades now about how computerized voting systems that are so opaque and impossible for the public to actually oversee when they create and/or tally votes in secret, that --- even when they work as designed --- still allow for disingenuous cretins and liars like Team Trump to claim that they did not. That, in and of itself, as we have long warned, poses a grave threat to democracy and, clearly, national security. This matter should finally make that point crystal clear.

Before that story broke this afternoon, we had planned for our lede story today to be about how (and if) Joe Biden and Democrats can retrench and get their transformative Build Back Better agenda back on course, after both it and critical voting rights and election protection legislation were all blocked by Senate Republicans and Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

We're joined today by HAROLD MEYERSON, longtime progressive columnist and editor at The American Prospect to discuss just that. He wrote about it earlier this week, before his suggestion for breaking up the Build Back Better act into small chunks (and hold votes to put everyone on record for the stuff that was being blocked) was echoed by President Biden during his press conference two days later.

As usual, it is an insightful and very lively conversation on all of that and more with the delightful Meyerson today.

Finally, we close with a story out of Canada on the billion dollar "carbon capture" facility built by Shell as a demonstration for how their new technology could remove dangerous emissions from the air and allow for the continued use of fossil fuels in a climate changed world. As it turns out, according to a new report this week, the facility actually emits more greenhouse gasses than it captures. Go figure!...

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Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li; Also: AZ County finds no 2020 voter fraud; TX counties rejecting absentee applications under new law; Giuliani, other Trump fraudsters subpoenaed by House Jan. 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The ongoing GOP effort to undermine American democracy by making it harder to vote and easier to cheat in elections continues amid the fallout from Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. While you might think Republicans would pay a price for joining him in that effort, its Democrats --- and voters in general and American democracy itself --- paying the price, even as the Big Lie continues to fall further apart with each passing day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As you know, Republicans have been using false claims of massive (and, apparently, evidence-free) "voter fraud" in the 2020 election as a pretext to adopt new voter suppression and election subversion laws in GOP controlled states. The fruits of those corrupt efforts are already paying off. In Texas, for example, County Clerks across the state are reporting that the state's new anti-voting law, S.B.1, is forcing them to reject hundreds of legitimate absent ballot applications in one of the most difficult states in the nation to vote by mail already.

New I.D. requirements for ballot applications have resulted in rejections of nearly half of the absentee applications in Travis County, home to the state's capital of Austin. Worse, the state's Secretary of State has yet to issue rules for how County Clerks may legally notify or help the rejected voters to cure their applications in advance of the state's March mid-term primaries. (The application deadline is Feb. 18.)

Many of the rejected applications are from voters that have been voting by mail for years. But the new state law now requires applicants to include either a drivers license number or state I.D. number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application. While some don't notice the new requirement and are rejected on that basis, others do include one of those numbers, but are still being rejected! Why? As Democrats had warned when trying to block the bill, the TX law now requires that whichever number a voter uses on their application must match the number on their voter registration form, many of them completed years ago. If the voter includes a drivers license number on their application, for example, but their registration includes a State I.D. number instead --- or no number at all (as is the case with millions of voter registrations in the Lone Star State) --- their applications must now be rejected. Mission accomplished?

Meanwhile, the GOP's Big "voter fraud" Lie continues to fall apart in Arizona, where Joe Biden has been confirmed many times over to have lawfully defeated Trump in 2020. On Friday, in the second largest county in the state, Pima (home to Tucson), the Pima County Attorney's Office determined that, of the 151 cases referred to them as possible cases of voter fraud after 2020, ZERO actually merited criminal charges. There remain a handful of possible fraud cases elsewhere in a the state (less than 50). But, of course, if all known cases of possible fraud in Arizona turned out to be actual fraud and all of those votes were somehow in favor of Biden, there still wouldn't be nearly enough fraudulent ballots to reverse his 10,000+ vote victory out of about 3.2 million ballots cast in the state. Nonetheless, in AZ as well, Republicans are using their lies about "voter fraud" to make it harder to vote and easier for them to cheat in elections.

But the biggest story on today's BradCast involves gerrymandering, perhaps the most critical reason our federal government and our democracy has become so seemingly irreparably broken. Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week have combined the combined Freedom to Vote Act (which, among many other critical election reforms, makes partisan gerrymandering unlawful in all 50 states) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (which restores the requirement for federal pre-clearance of new election laws in states with a history of racial discrimination in elections after SCOTUS gutted the landmark provision) into one single bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. All 50 Democrats in the majority claim to support the newly combined bill. Zero Republicans do. But unless two Democratic Senators (Sinema and Manchin) agree to modify the Senate filibuster rule to allow democracy-saving legislation to be adopted with a simple majority vote, none of it will become law and the GOP efforts to game elections will be largely free and clear through 2022.

For several years, experts have been warning that, following the 2020 Census, the new round of redistricting was going to be very bad for Democrats in GOP-controlled states. That, after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and later declared that federal courts may have no say at all on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, But, with about half of the new maps now redrawn by states in advance of the 2022 mid-terms (with several being challenged in state courts), are they as bad as many pundits had foretold?

A number of redistricting experts of late have suggested that the new maps aren't nearly as bad for Dems as they might have been. But is that true? We're joined today by Brennan Center's Senior Counsel for its Democracy Program, MICHAEL LI, who serves as the non-partisan organization's redistricting expert.

Last week, in an op-ed for Washington Post, Li describes the notion that gerrymandering hasn't been too bad for Democrats this year as a "misleading narrative" for a host of reasons. Experts, he notes, had predicted a bunch of safe Democratic seats would be remapped into Republican districts. "They expected Democratic seats to fall," Li explains. "But instead, what Republicans are doing is shoring up the disproportionate advantages they already hold" following the extreme partisan gerrymanders from 2011.

"In Texas, under the old maps, Democrats have 36% of the seats. Under the new maps they have 37% of the seats, so very little change," he tells me by way of just one example. "But the competition is gone. So whereas under the old maps there were competitive districts, under the new maps, even if Democrats got 58% of the vote [across the state], they would still have the same 37% of the seats, which hardly seems fair. Even if Texas turned deep blue, Republicans would have almost a 2-to-1 advantage. That's the perniciousness of the state's gerrymander."

There are other examples, in North Carolina for instance, where the maps are currently being challenged in state courts. We also discuss how the Supreme Court's unwillingness to hear partisan gerrymandering cases has affected all of this and whether or not the Court will similarly begin to turn away racial gerrymander cases as well in the not too distant future.

Li goes on to explain why the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- if Republicans or Manchinema were to allow it to be passed into law --- "would be a game-changer" on this issue. It "would transform redistricting. There would be a ban against partisan gerrymandering in Congressional redistricting. It would be easy to calculate and figure out whether a map violates that and, if a map does, then it's blocked from use pretty automatically, perhaps even in time for 2022 if Congress were to pass it soon."

But, alas, unless there are some surprises in the Senate this week, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. So, what's left? Should Democratic-controlled states, in order to save democracy itself before the 2024 elections, gerrymander their own maps as aggressively as Republicans have? As much as it pains me to do so, I have previously argued that they should. Does Li agree? Tune in to find out!

Finally, before we go, the mid-show breaking news that Rudy Giuliani and a number of others who were very close to the disgraced former President as he was attempting to steal the 2020 election have now been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol...

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