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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, April 16, 2021
Corporations Pretend to
Stand Up for Democracy:
'BradCast' 4/15/21
Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning biz journalist Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown detail on alleged 2016 election interference...
'Green News Report' 4/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
US threat assessments finds climate change a clear, present danger; Japan to dump radio-active water in ocean; Biden undoing Trump damage; PLUS: France to ban short flights...
Previous GNRs: 4/13/21 - 4/8/21 - Archives...
Biden's Infrastructure Plan Begins End of Govt Socialism for Fossil Fuel Industry: 'BradCast' 4/14/21
Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: DHS knew Capitol was 'target'; Biden to end 'forever war'...
'Both Sides'? Really, Liz?: 'BradCast' 4/13/21
New data shows stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video shows VA cops pepper-spraying black service member in car...
'Green News Report' 4/13/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cutbacks; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
Previous GNRs: 4/8/21 - 4/6/21 - Archives...
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: SCOTUS expert, author Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon unionization vote goes down in AL, union cries foul; Biden creates commission to study SCOTUS reform; Everyone loves hating on Cruz and Graham...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2021 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.

The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."

For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.

Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.

As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.

But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."

Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.

"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing.  They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.

"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.

He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."

So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.

Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2021 7:05pm PT  

We try like crazy to avoid sleazy, tabloid sensationalism on The BradCast. But, at this point at least, the Republican Party has made that pretty much all but impossible. Just covering any of the latest actual, legitimate news from the party which seems to be in free fall right now, necessarily requires a whole bunch of sleazy, cheap, tawdry stories that sound sensationalistic and tabloidy...but that's only because they are...whether we like it or not. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

On the way to the central story in our A Block today, regarding the stunning crash and burn of Alabama's Sec. of State who, until late yesterday was likely to have been a front-runner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican Senator Richard Shelby, we are forced to reference a number of the sleazy cheap stories that have now become central to the GOP itself...above and beyond their nationwide attempt to suppress Democratic-leaning voters in a democracy...

  • Over the weekend, the New York Times exposed how the Trump Campaign ripped of its own donors before and after last year's election, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by pre-checking checkboxes that were difficult to notice. That would turn one-time donations into recurring monthly or even weekly donations, when many if not most donors did not even notice. Donor credit cards were unwittingly maxed out and bank accounts were drained by the Trump scheme. But, even after the Times' exposé, it appears that the Republican Party itself, via its U.S. House fundraising arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is now using that same sleazy trick to rip off its donors as well! They're arguably making it even worse by telling donors (all-caps in the original): "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR."
  • Then of course, there's the ongoing sleazy story about Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of Trump's top supporters in the U.S. House, who is reportedly being investigated for alleged sex trafficking of a minor. Today, several outlets are reporting that Gaetz' pal, Joel Greenberg, the former Tax Collector in FL's Seminole County, is now cooperating with prosecutors. Greenberg has already been charged with sex trafficking of a minor and more than 30 other federal charges, including stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, bribery, theft of government property, conspiracy to bribe a public official and creating fake IDs. Suffice to say, if it's true that he's cooperating, that is likely very bad news for Gaetz.
  • But today's sleaziest story concerns Alabama's Republican Sec. of State John Merrill. Long time readers and listeners may recall my bizarre run-in with Merrill back in 2017, when, after politely pointing out on Twitter that Merrill was wrong about the way Alabama's voting systems actually worked, the Secretary blocked him on the social media platform and left bizarre messages on Brad's cell phone. Later, when a federal court ruled in a lawsuit against Trump that public officials were violating First Amendment rights by blocking people on Twitter, I sought comment from Merrill's office to see if, like Trump had been ordered, Merrill planned to unblock the many constituents and election experts he had blocked on Twitter over the years. Not only did Merrill himself make it very clear to me that he had no intention of doing so, the entire matter devolved into a wildly bizarre email attack by Merrill. That all played out in 2017 and 2018.

    Move the clock forward to 2020, and Merrill, using his powers as Alabama's top election official, prevented Counties in his state from offering safe, curbside voting for those who feared exposure to the coronavirus inside polling places. Despite a state court order to allow it, Merrill refused and took the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was ultimately victorious in his efforts to suppress Alabama voters who feared for their lives and were forced to choose between staying safe and casting a vote inside the polls during last year's Presidential election.

    And now, the clock turns forward to yesterday when, on Wednesday morning, Merrill --- who is married with two children and who had already begun his campaign for the GOP nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Sen. Shelby --- denied an extra-marital affair with a 44-year old women that he described as a "stalker" who had been "harassing" him. Just hours later, however, by Wednesday afternoon, Merrill admitted to his years long involvement with the woman after AL.com played him a portion of a salacious phone call between him and her that she had provided to the media outlet. Yes, we share part of that call on today's show. Yes, we told you this was all sleazy. Yes, the story is actually much sleazier than we are sharing with you on air today. And, yes, there is something very wrong with Merrill, as we had repeatedly tried to explain over the years ever since my first bizarre encounter with him.

    Merrill, who is already well known for his anti-LGBTQ statements, has denied describing African-American judges and voters --- whose rights he's supposed to be protecting --- as "the coloreds," as the woman also alleges. We'll let you decide if you'd like to believe him or not. He says he is seeking help from "the Lord". He has yet to resign from his role as the state's chief election official or from his position as Chair of the Republican Secretaries of State Executive Committee.

  • In much less sleazy --- if still somewhat depressing news --- President Biden announced a number of new Executive Orders related to gun safety during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday. The President, accurately characterizing America's gun epidemic as an "international embarrassment" and "public health crisis", noted that between the mass killings at Atlanta massage parlors and the Boulder, Colorado grocery store shooting last month, there were more than 850 additional shootings that killed 250 and injured 500 in the U.S. In his own remarks at the ceremony, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland noted that "so far this year, guns have taken the lives of 11,000" in this country. While Biden's Executive Actions (which we detail during the show) are likely to have a marginal effect in curbing our nation's gun violence epidemic, they are no replacement for real legislation that might actually have a measurable effect on decreasing gun violence.
  • Of course, given that Republicans refuse to support any measures proposed by Democrats in the U.S. Senate --- much less regarding gun safety, God forbid, no matter how popular such measures are, even with Republican voters --- it will be impossible to pass any such legislation unless the filibuster in the Senate is either ended or reformed. Key to that, however, is the Democratic Senate's most conservative member, West Virginia's Joe Manchin. On Wednesday, pathetically enough, Manchin penned an op-ed at Washington Post declaring: "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster." He went on to offer a few twisted, counterfactual reasons as to why, and even suggested he may block further legislation from passing via the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules which allow for passage of certain budget related matters with a simple majority vote. Yes, today is that kind of a day. For what it's worth, the White House seems less bothered about Manchin's statements than we are.
  • Finally, with marginally brighter news scattered throughout, Desi Doyen's got our latest Green News Report, with details of the Biden Administration's pushback against silly GOP critiques of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal; a new warning about a wave of abandoned oil and gas mines; and General Motors' plans to go all in on electric vehicles, including with their first all-electric pickup truck!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst. for Responsible Statecraft; Also: 10 more Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon unionization vote in Alabama...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2021 6:43pm PT  

The long, necessary and arduous 'Clean up on Aisle 45' isn't only a domestic challenge. The disgraced former President also left a disastrous mess behind in hard won foreign alliances and unilaterally broken international agreements. On today's BradCast, we dive back into the landmark, 7-party nuclear accord with Iran which Donald Trump not only violated and broke, but specifically sabotaged thereafter in order to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for future American Presidents to restore. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But before we dive into that foreign mess today, the domestic disaster Trump unleashed on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol continues to reverberate. On Wednesday, 10 more members of Congress joined the federal civil suit filed against the former President in February by Mississippi's Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. The suit charges Trump violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 by inciting his supporters to block Congress from carrying out its Constitutional duty of counting and ratifying the Electoral College vote from the 2020 Presidential election.

The newly amended complaint, filed by the NAACP, also names Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, the white supremacist group The Proud Boys (and several newly formed entities created after the legal dissolution of that extremist organization), as well as the Oath Keepers as defendants. It details the trauma suffered by the Congressional members during the deadly attack and in the days that followed.

In February, a 57-43 majority of the U.S. Senate, including 7 Republicans, found Trump guilty of "Incitement of Insurrection" during his historic second impeachment trial. The plaintiffs in the amended Thompson complaint seek both compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, with the dollar amount to be determined by jurors at a D.C. federal court trial.

Coincidentally today, the New York Times obtained an excerpt from a new book by former Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner who correctly writes that his party has been taken over by "whack jobs" and cites Trump as having "incited that bloody insurrection," charging him with "stoking the flames of conspiracy that turned into violence in the seat of our democracy."

Next, we turn to one of Trump's (many) foreign disasters, as talks began this week in Vienna, through intermediaries for the U.S. and Iran, in hopes of finding a way toward restoration of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between the two countries. The pact was struck after years of delicate negotiation by the Obama Administration along with China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany. As you'll recall, Trump unilaterally violated the otherwise successful deal that curbed Iran's nuclear program and removed stockpiles of uranium from the country in exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Even though the Trump Administration confirmed Iran's compliance with the terms of the deal, the 45th President nonetheless violated it by by pulling the U.S. out and re-imposing punishing sanctions. According to our guest today, however, that's not all he did. Trump also imposed additional punishing sanctions and did so in a way that would cripple the ability for any future President to lift them and return to the agreement.

We're joined today by DR. TRITA PARSI, Middle East foreign policy expert and Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Parsi, who also co-founded the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization in the U.S., worked as an advisor to the Obama White House during the complicated negotiations for the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA). He documents those efforts in his book, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy.

Today, Parsi details Trump's sabotage of the JCPOA, and the clever trick employed by the Administration to make it far more difficult to lift the "sanctions wall" they imposed. While his Administration was a failure at just about everything else, Parsi quips, "I don't think anyone actually has accused them of being bad at destruction. At destruction they actually excelled quite well, and in almost an unprecedented and unparalleled way."

During the conversation, he goes on to explains the clear --- if difficult --- road back toward restoration of the accord; discusses the week's encouraging news out of Vienna; outlines the urgency of the talks just two months before new elections are held in Iran; and offers insight on the price the U.S. may now have to pay in order to win back the trust of the Iranians after the U.S. violated the hard-won terms of the agreement.

"To put it into context," Parsi tells me, "the Iranians just signed a 25-year agreement with the Chinese. The Iranians probably do not care at all who comes in and replaces [Chinese President] Xi, they don't care who is the head of the Communist Party, because they have confidence that the Chinese are going to keep their word. Whereas on our end, unfortunately, we couldn't keep an agreement for two years, even one that we were the lead negotiator of."

In some related-ish news which broke during our conversation with Parsi, the Biden Administration announced plans to restore some $325 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance to Palestinians which had been terminated by the Trump Administration.

Finally, we close today with an update on the landmark unionization vote at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, at what would be the first such facility in the U.S. for the retail giant where workers win collective bargaining rights. Voting in the mail-in election ended about a week and a half ago. So what's the delay in learning the results? I explain the complicated process the federal National Labor Relations Board must carry out in tallying the secret ballots from the company's 5,800 warehouse workers in Bessemer. Long story short: We may be hearing news of the results fairly soon...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Heroes and heartbreak in Boulder; Filibuster reform inches forward; Response to Siegelman interview, Repub recall of CA's Dem Governor...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While U.S. flags were already at half-staff following last week's mass killings in Atlanta, another mass shooting erupted on Monday in Boulder, Colorado. On Tuesday, President Biden called for the flags to remain lowered, for the U.S. Senate to pass two bills already approved by the U.S. House to close loopholes in our federal background check system; and to restore the ban on assault weapons that helped keep down such mass casualty events before the George W. Bush Administration allowed it to expire. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

"We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a Senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again," the President urged in his brief remarks at the White House. "This is not and should not be a partisan issue; this is an American issue. It will save lives --- American lives --- and we have to act."

Today, we cover some of the reaction following the latest mass shooting in the U.S., which took 10 lives at a supermarket in Boulder yesterday. We honor the heroes that include not only the police who responded --- one of whom, who had seven children, was killed during the shooting --- but also the grocery store workers who courageously helped to save customer lives in the store and, as their union has noted, have been risking their lives for all of us every day over the past year, as essential workers during the pandemic.

We also note the reactions from those who have spent years working to support the ability of terrorists to easily acquire weapons of mass destruction --- such as CO's Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and the Colorado State Shooters Association --- who suddenly feel that this is no time to talk about guns. "Congressman" Boebert, who appears with guns in virtually appearance, says she "refuses" to use this shooting "to advance a political agenda." And the Shooters Association informs us that "Today is not a day to cloud our remembrance with ... emotional sensationalism."

All of that, after a state judge, just 10 days ago, struck down a law adopted unanimously by the Boulder City Council in 2018 to ban assault weapons in the city, after years of similar massacres in the Centennial State and elsewhere. The Colorado State Shooters Association was one of the plaintiffs in that case, which was "celebrated" just last week by the disgraced, terrorist-supporting NRA, because local laws supported by residents in the CO town were preempted by Big Government at the state and federal level.

But, despite urging from the President on Tuesday, if Republicans won't even agree to allow an up or down vote on background checks, the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to gun safety reforms, it seems impossible to imagine they would ever agree to restoring the federal assault weapons ban. That, no matter how many American lives it might save, no matter how many of their own constituents continue to be massacred in these tragic events.

In response to GOP intransigence, conservative, institutionalist Democrats in the U.S. Senate late last week and over the weekend, continued to inch toward support for filibuster reform --- the only way that gun safety reform and most of the rest of the Democrats' ambitious, progressive agenda will ever be adopted. So there's a small amount of encouraging news on another dark day.

Also today, some response from listeners to our interview with Alabama's former Democratic Governor, Don Siegelman on yesterday's BradCast and his response --- as someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on popular Democratic Governors --- to the attempted recall of California's progressive Governor, Gavin Newsom.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as yet another natural disaster befalls Australia; our global climate crisis becomes the top cause for refugees worldwide; and the Biden White House begins to unveil its promised massive, long-overdue, nearly $4 trillion infrastructure (and climate) plan...

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'It reeks of politics,' says Don Siegelman, citing Repub campaign 'laced with racism,' aimed at sabotaging 'a rising star in the Democratic Party'
Also: Siegelman on Biden and hopes for criminal justice reform; The Amazon unionization vote near Birmingham; And whether he might run for public office again in the future...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2021 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.

It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.

When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic GOV. DON SIEGELMAN who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.

Siegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called STEALING OUR DEMOCRACY: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.

"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."

Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."

"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor.  That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."

"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."

"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."

We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)

Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation; And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)

Finally, we close with a few calls from listeners in response to all of the above --- or try to, anyway...as we find ourselves forced to work to overcome a few phone hook-up snafus here at the station today...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/18/2021 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. extreme weather whiplash: blizzards in the north, extreme tornado outbreaks in the south; Drought deepens in the Western U.S. and Europe; Corporate broadcast media coverage of climate change plummeted in 2020; PLUS: Top Texas utility regulator caught on tape promising to protect investors over consumers... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Saving the Climate in a Triple Crisis: A moon shot model for the transformation of capitalism; Oil firms knew decades ago fossil fuels posed grave health risks, files reveal; Biden Administration Wants Financial Sector To Face Up To Climate Risk; Bottom trawling releases as much carbon as air travel, landmark study finds; Eight States Are Seeding Clouds to Overcome Megadrought; Seaweed: A planet-saving, anti-burping drug for cows; As endangered birds lose their songs, they can’t find mates ... PLUS: EV Turning Point: Momentum Builds for US Electric Vehicle Transition... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara; Also: Biden's hugely progressive $1.9T 'American Rescue Plan' receives final Congressional approval; And Randy Rainbow needs a vaccine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden has been winning quite a bit lately. Today was no exception. So, can he turn that winning streak into a win for labor unions and keep his campaign promise to be "the most pro-union President you've ever seen"?  As of now, he's on track for that as well, according to historians and labor leaders --- even if that's admittedly not a very high bar. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

On Wednesday, Biden saw three more of his cabinet picks nominated on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will become the first African American woman to lead the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in 40 years, after vowing to address systemic racial inequities at the federal agency. Michael Regan was confirmed as the first black man to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. And Merrick Garland received his long awaited confirmation as our new Attorney General, as the widely-respected, veteran federal judge takes on the tall task of fulfilling Biden's promise to restore independence to the Dept. of Justice.

None of those, however, were Biden's biggest wins of the day, as the U.S. House gave final approval for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The massive COVID relief and stimulus package now heads to the White House for his signature on what some describe as one of the most progressive bills to ever come out of Congress. $1,400 checks to individuals and a $300/week extension of unemployment benefits is just a small part of the bill, which also includes annual payments of up to $3,600 per child, in a provision which policy experts say will cut child poverty in half and adult poverty by a quarter. It will reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, lower the rate for Black people by as much as 42%, 39% for Hispanics and 34% for white people. In addition, the measure will send $130 billion to reopen schools safely, $34 billion will expand Obamacare subsidies to many more people, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $14 billion will help to speed vaccine distribution, among many other such initiatives. That, on a day that Biden also announced he was securing another 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson.

No wonder Republicans have no clue how to oppose the plan (other than with obviously ridiculous and silly lies), after the package received zero votes from GOPers in either the House or Senate. Democrats own this one, and they should do so loudly and proudly. The additional good news here for now is that even Chuck Schumer finally seems to "get it". There is no upside to negotiating with Republicans if they are going to be doing so in bad faith, as they did on the stimulus bill under Obama in response to the Great Recession.

But the central focus of our show today is on a couple of moves by the President that labor leaders, experts, and academics are citing to describe Biden as, so far, the most pro-worker, pro-labor, pro-union President in decades, and maybe ever.

Last week, he surprised a lot of folks on the left by tweeting a direct, unambiguous video message of support for workers who are now voting on whether to unionize at an Amazon warehouse outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It would be the first such facility to do so in the nation. Biden's two and a half message lauded unions for creating the middle class and spoke to American workers' rights under the law to organize for collective bargaining without corporate interference.

And this week, he issued a direct, unambiguous statement of support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act before its passage in the House on Tuesday. Labor leaders describe the initiative as the most progressive, pro-union bill in 80 years. Of course, now all it has to do is overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

We're joined today by longtime labor historian and author NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Distinguished Professor at UC-Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Lichtenstein explains both the importance of the PRO Act and the ongoing vote to unionize Amazon down in Alabama. He also addresses the question as to whether Biden could become the most pro-union President in modern times, or even in history.

"The bar is very low," Lichtenstein concedes, in comparing Biden to recent Presidents who may have supported unions with words --- though none as directly as we've seen from Biden to date --- but not necessarily with their actions. "Biden is saying all the right things, but this will all fade unless there actually is legislation that is passed in some form" that turns "the reality on the ground" into a "revival of trade unionism."

"It's one thing to say terrific things --- and I'm not being cynical, all power to him  --  but history will judge him by whether or not there is in fact an increase in real wages, an increase in union membership, an increase in the power of organized labor."

The colorful professor has much more to say that I can possibly do justice to here, so please tune in. But, after we discuss how it just so happens that the most prosperous period in history for the American middle class also coincides with the era when trade unionism and collective bargaining were at their zenith, I ask if there is any actual historical economic data in support of the notion that unions are somehow either bad for business or workers, as folks on the right would have you believe, and as all too many in this country have fallen for after decades of corporate, anti-union propaganda.

"No," Lichtenstein answers emphatically. "There is no support for that. It is good both economically, in an immediate sense, and even more important, politically, because it helps sustain a social democratic ethos and policy block in the country." He goes on to add: "One of the reasons for the deterioration in America of everything --- from race relations to stagnating living standards --- is because of the weakness of unions in the last forty, fifty years."

As noted, do yourself a favor and tune in for our conversation. I learned a lot and suspect you may as well. And, as a gift, we close today with arguably the ONLY good thing to come out of the Trump years: national treasure Randy Rainbow returns with another new tune that may keep you humming all night...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on recent cases, Bill Barr, Kris Kobach and accountability for TX' attempt to overturn the election; Also: GOP now eating its own with GA's U.S. Senate runoffs underway...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2020 7:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While the GOP's packed and stolen 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court did the right thing last Friday in unanimously rejecting [PDF] indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's attempt to steal the 2020 election (and receive a Presidential Pardon for his thanks), there remains the question of accountability for those who signed on to the frivolous and arguably "seditious" attempt to undermine democracy. Especially from the 19 wingnut state Attorneys General who should both have known better and, according to our guest today, have a legal obligation to do so. In the meantime, SCOTUS made a couple of other rulings this week that have received far less notice, but that are also surprisingly good, given the Court's radical, far-right majority. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, a few quick observations on the Republican Party that now seems to be eating itself alive in the wake of Trump's loss. On yesterday's BradCast we noted the weekend MAGA Mob rally in D.C., where angry brain-poisoned Trump supporters broke into chants of "Destroy the GOP!" before booing Georgia's incumbent Republican U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue who are facing tough runoffs against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for contests that will determine control of the U.S. Senate on January 5.

Today, sore loser Donald Trump, who has been attacking Georgia's extremely Trumpy Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for weeks in order to (absurdly) blame them, instead of himself, for losing the election in the state, upped the stakes considerably. He retweeted a message from a mentally unbalanced Georgia attorney and conspiracy theorist calling for Kemp and Raffensperger to be jailed. The post also includes Photoshopped graphics of Kemp and Raffensperger --- both of whom are Trump supporters that have faced death threats since Trump turned on them --- wearing masks with Chinese flags on them.

But, hey, at least Mitch McConnell finally recognized the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris today, after Monday's Electoral College vote confirmed their "landslide" victory. Also, one "courageous" and very rightwing House Republican, on Monday, decided he has finally had enough of his colleagues' attacks on democracy itself and has announced he is officially becoming an "independent"...now that he'll be leaving Congress at the end of the year anyway.

Then its on to a number of not horrible things done over the past several days by the U.S. Supreme Court, as we are delighted to be joined once again by one of our very favorite legal reporters, MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate.

On Monday, SCOTUS rejected an appeal by the state of Indiana in a years-long case brought by a number of married lesbian couples regarding marriage rights. The couples all had children using artificial insemination, but Indiana law had forced the spouses of the women who gave birth to go through onerous, expensive adoption procedures in order to become a legal parent. There is no such requirement for men in opposite-sex marriages to do so in similar situations. Happily, the Court dismissed Indiana's challenge to lower courts which found the state's law unconstitutional, in what might have been the first chance to roll back marriage equality protections since Amy Coney Barrett was rammed onto the Court.

Also on Monday, SCOTUS put a merciful end, once and for all, to the voter suppression law written by disgraced former Kansas Sec. of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach requiring proof of citizenship papers when registering to vote in the state. The 2013 law would have disenfranchised tens of thousands of legal Kansas voters and was found unconstitutional by court after court. The SCOTUS decision to not hear the case finally makes Kobach's unnecessary law a dead letter, though Stern says he believes it's likely to pop up again in similar forms from other states, given the radical, anti-voter, anti-immigrant, anti-democracy fever running rampant right now in the GOP.

In addition to a eulogy, of sorts, for the pathetic "clownish" legacy of Kansas' failed former Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and failed Senatorial candidate, Kobach --- who is also now mixed up with an anti-immigrant "Build the Wall" group facing fraud charges with Steve Bannon --- Stern unloads with another eulogy for the legacy of another similarly disgraced rightwinger today, U.S. Attorney General and Trump fixer Bill Barr. Trump tweeted on Monday that Barr would be leaving DoJ just weeks before the one-term President leaves office, after Barr had the temerity to admit that there is no known evidence of mass voter fraud that stole the election for Biden.

Barr, Stern argues, is "more offensive, terrifying and obnoxious" than Trump himself, because he is "
a creature of the Republican Establishment, a creature of the conservative legal movement. Bill Barr is at the heart of it." He believes "Barr did immense damage to the rule of law" and "may have permanently hobbled the Justice Department's integrity and legitimacy." That's just part of Stern's invective for Barr, who he describes as "just an awful person, and I wish him nothing but bad luck for the rest of his life."

Finally, we dig into the mess surrounding the shameless attempt to win a Presidential Pardon by TX Attorney General Paxton, who, as he filed his suit last week, was also subpoenaed by the FBI in a bribery and abuse of power investigation by the FBI. His lawsuit [PDF] filed with SCOTUS on behalf of Texas, sought to nullify all of the votes --- some 20 million of them --- in four different states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia) in a fruitless attempt to steal the election for Trump. We've got lots to discuss on this today. The radical legal concept at the center of Paxton's case (and several others which similarly failed over the past month) would nullify all election laws, rules and regulations not expressly enacted by state legislatures and ONLY state legislatures. In addition to turning centuries of American democracy and voting rights on its head, this literal, radical, ill-considered, "textualist " or "originalist" reading of the Constitution's Elections Clause --- arguing that Governors, Secretaries of State and even state courts may have no say at all over election rules --- would have broad ramifications for all sorts of other laws. For example, as we discuss, if Governors may no longer veto State Legislatures regarding election laws, does that mean a President may not veto Congress on tax laws, given they are granted the power of taxation in the Constitution by a similarly literal reading?

While SCOTUS rejected Paxton's case on jurisdictional grounds Friday night, many of the failed cases brought by Team Trump hoping to overturn the election results over the past month similarly relied on that radical theory. They were tossed before that question could be answered by the courts, however. So, will Republicans continue to push for a SCOTUS opinion on this matter from the high court in the months and years ahead? Stern believes that, before Amy Coney Barrett was added to the Court, there were at least four Justices who had signaled willingness to support the radical theory.

Should Texas' election results also be thrown out under Paxton's theory, given that its Governor Greg Abbott, without legislative approval, limited mail-in dropboxes to just one per county for November? How about Alabama's results, where its Republican Sec. of State John Merrill decreed curbside voting to be unlawful in a case which was met with approval by SCOTUS earlier this year?

Also, what of the 18 state Attorneys General who signed on to Paxton's cuckoo complaint, who are members of the bar and officers of the court with a duty to not bringing frivolous, much less arguably "seditious" (as Pennsylvania's defendant AG described it) lawsuits. Should they be punished in some way? Can they be sanctioned for their actions? And, as one caller asked during yesterday's show, should all of these repeated attempts filed by Republicans in hopes of overturning a legitimate Presidential election be regarded as "treasonous"? (My answer yesterday was "no", but does Stern agree?)

All of that and much more on today's very lively --- and, hopefully, informative --- BradCast!...

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Also: Judge nixes GOP attempt to toss 127k votes in Houston; Power outages plague southern states with computer voting systems following hurricanes; Trump Camp operative gives away plan to steal the election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, on the final day before the deadline for casting a ballot in this year's elections (previously known as Election Day), we open the phones to listeners with their questions and concerns about this remarkable election, in which the President of the United and his party are actively filing lawsuit after lawsuit to try and have legally cast ballots thrown out. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

The Republican Party and Trump Campaign are hoping those cases make it all the way to Donald Trump's packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, where four Justices have already indicated they are willing to buy into a radical extremist legal theory that only state legislatures may create any rule or law when it comes to voting.

Thus, Republicans have filed in federal court in Texas to toss some 127,000 ballots already legally cast via drive-thru sites in Harris County (Houston), despite previous approval for this innovate voting plan (during a pandemic!) from the Republican Sec. of State and from several challenges heard by the state's all-Republican state Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the federal lawsuit filed by GOP activists late last week, seeking to toss those ballots, was dismissed today by a very rightwing U.S. District Court judge. The Republicans who filed the case, however, have announced they are appealing to the very rightwing 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This comes as top Trump Campaign spokesperson Jason Miller over the weekend, lied on ABC's This Week on Sunday about how electoral votes worked, and declared that Democrats plan to "steal" the election after Election Day. We explain his brazen lie and how even a number of his fellow Republicans are calling him out for it.

Also today, power outages following Hurricanes Zeta and Laura are still imperiling voting in a number of vote centers across the southern U.S., including in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Sadly other than in Alabama, the vast majority of voters in those states (and in LA and GA, all of them, shamefully) are forced to use 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems when voting at the polling place, which require power in order for voters to vote at all. Just another reason why using computers instead of hand-marked paper ballots at the polls is idiotic.

After that, we open the phones to callers with questions about problems voting, concerns about the electoral college, and explanations as to why some of them are either planning to not vote at all or have decided to vote third-party this year (which also seems insane, given the situation this country, and planet along with it, are now in.)

And we also share one comment from this weekend from longtime, non-partisan Election Integrity champion Jim Soper of CountedAsCast.org and the National Voting Rights Task Force that is worth taking note of: "If you are finding it difficult to vote, vote on behalf of the 225,000 who can no longer vote. Or vote on behalf of our murdered brothers and sisters. Or vote on behalf of the billions of people world-wide who would love to have your American privilege, but don't. Or vote on behalf of Mother Earth. She's dying. ... Vote in their place. Think of it as their vote. A proxy vote, not your vote. Ask, how would they vote? Then honor them. Please vote, because they can't."

Well said, Jim. Thank you...Please vote. And don't fall for Trump's gaslighting about results at the end of Election Night. Thank you.

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Guest: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Biden's plan for SCOTUS expansion; Graham breaks rules to approve Barrett w/out Dems; SCOTUS blocks AL curbside voting; Admin claims Iran (not Russia, not Proud Boys) behind email threats to Dem voters...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2020 5:17pm PT  

Last week, Trump's new "sham" nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to not know if voter intimidation was even a violation of federal law. This week, as we report on today's BradCast, Trump and his henchmen find themselves facing a federal lawsuit over exactly that. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • First up, Joe Biden has finally stated his position on expanding the U.S. Supreme Court. That position? A bi-partisan commission to study reforms for the federal court system, to offer recommendations after six months...if Biden wins the White House and Dems take the Senate. We discuss what is probably a pretty smart political position for the former VP to take right now, considering that corporate media can't stop using the words "court packing" to describe long-overdue reforms after years of actual court packing by the GOP.
  • Speaking of which, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, led by South Carolina's increasingly vulnerable Sen. Lindsey Graham, broke their own rules today to ram through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett without a single Democrat present, after Dems refused to allow a quorum for today's vote. If she is confirmed by the full Senate on Monday, as Republicans currently plan, it will be one of the shortest confirmation processes and the closest to a Presidential Election Day for the seating of a Supreme Court Justice in the nation's history. That, after just 4 years ago Republicans blocked a Democratic SCOTUS nominee entirely for a full year, while vowing that a new Justice should never be seated during a Presidential election year. Republicans also changed the rules in the middle of that game as well, when they killed the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees after failing to get enough votes to pack Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee, onto the Court. Over the past five years, Republicans have succeeded at completely delegitimizing the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • The GOP's already-stolen Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with Alabama's dishonest, lying, somewhat deranged, unlawfully Twitter-blocking, Republican Sec. of State John Merrill to nix curbside voting in counties that wished to use it to help keep disabled voters safe during the COVID crisis, as recommended by the CDC and approved the U.S. Dept. of Justice as a way to prevent violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All three remaining Democratic appointees on the Court dissented, siding with the U.S. District Court and federal appeals court which, after a three day trial, found the now-scrapped accommodation to be a "modest" and "reasonable" way to avoid a potentially fatal illness for some voters.
  • In recent days, Democratic voters in Florida and several other battleground states have been receiving threatening warnings via email, instructing them to "Vote for Trump or else!" The body of the emails, which appear to come from a Trump-supporting extremist group, cite the recipient's name and addresses and promise to "come after you" if they do not change their party affiliation to Republican and vote as instructed. Incredibly, and with zero supporting evidence, Trump's "partisan hack" Director of National Intelligence John Ratclifffe hastily convened an absurd press conference on Wednesday night to declare that Iran was actually behind the threatening emails to Democrats. He claimed they were designed to "damage President Trump". He also muttered something about Russia. But, again, no actual specifics and no actual supporting evidence for his claim that both countries accessed voter registrations systems to obtain the data (most of which is publicly available without actually hacking into election-related systems). Suffice to say, I believe absolutely nothing from this Administration at this point, about any of it, and, short of independently verifiable information, neither should you.
  • Then, we are joined by the Legal Director at Free Speech for People, RON FEIN, to explain the federal lawsuit his non-partisan good government organization filed on Wednesday on behalf of the Latino civic engagement group Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and several voters, charging that Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Sec. of Homeland Security Chad Wolf are violating federal laws against voter intimidation.

    The complaint [PDF] and accompanying request for a preliminary injunction, as Fein details, alleges defendants have exhibited a pattern of intimidation against voters that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, and the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    As FSFP explains in their announcement of the suit, the complaint is "based on the defendants’ violent suppression of public protests opposing police brutality, the encouragement of white supremacist 'vigilantes,' threats to send 'sheriffs' and other law enforcement to the polls, the undermining of mail-in voting, and the rejection of the peaceful transfer of power, which, the complaint alleges, constitute illegal voter intimidation."

    Fein offers more details on what he describes as a "threatening pattern of conduct stretching over the past few months," that has resulted in the suit. "People understand what it means when the President talks about sending law enforcement...When he tells the Proud Boys to 'stand by,' people understand what that means...This is not one piece of conduct, one isolated statement. This is a months-long pattern that the President and his top officials have been involved in, that has the purpose and effect --- hopefully not successfully --- but it certainly has that effect, of intimidating people from voting either in person or by mail."

    Explaining the relief sought by the complaint, he tells me: "First of all, we want relief prohibiting the defendants from deploying armed federal agents at or near polling places; from ordering federal agents to block the delivery of ballots or interfere in the counting of ballots; from taking any actions that could limit with the speed or reliability of mail delivery. And specifically to Trump, prohibiting him from encouraging his supporters to bring weapons to polling places, block access to polling places, to question voters, or from using official government public communications channels --- which now includes his Twitter account --- to suggest that lawful votes will be scrutinized or challenged."

    He also discusses a somewhat related federal case also filed this week by FSFP on behalf of the Minnesota chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and League of Women Voters against a private mercenary contractor who has posted job listings, reported recently by the Washington Post, seeking to hire and deploy armed former special ops troops to patrol polling sites in the state.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on yet another record hurricane in an already-record season; the death of half of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the return of the Hummer, this time as an all-electric "supertruck"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks on election havoc in the Peach State, and lack of national media coverage; Also: Trump loses, voters win in court absentee ballot rulings in WI, IN, MT, AL, and maybe NC...
By Brad Friedman on 10/1/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got good news for voters from a bunch of courts today --- including in both battleground and "red" states --- when it comes to the absentee mail-in voting that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are working so hard to block. But we've also got some very disturbing news out of the state of Georgia in a story that nobody other than us seems to be covering for reasons we can't quite explain. Especially since it now involves installing all brand-new, untested, and uncertified software --- at the very last minute, just days before Early Voting is to start --- on every touchscreen voting system used across the state. [Audio link to full show follows below summary]

But first, the good court rulings coming out of several states so far this week...

  • A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court judge's six-day extension beyond Election Day for the receipt of incoming absentee ballots postmarked by November 3rd in the critical battleground state of WISCONSIN. The unanimous ruling comes from a panel of three Republican-appointed judges, including one nominated by Trump, in a state which he is said to have barely flipped to "red" in 2016, for the first time in decades, by just over 20,000 votes out of millions cast. Republicans could appeal to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court. That's just one of the reasons they are trying to pack the Court with Trump's nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, in record time before the election;
  • Similarly good news out of Mike Pence's home state of INDIANA, where a federal judge rejected a deadline of noon of Election Day for absentee ballots to be received. The ruling will allow ballots postmarked by November 3rd to be counted if they arrive by November 13. The judge says the extra days do not benefit any particular party or candidate and "should in fact help assuage" concerns about the legitimacy of election results in the Hoosier State;
  • In the state of MONTANA, a federal judge blocked an effort by the Trump Campaign and other GOP groups to prevent counties from automatically sending absentee ballots to all active registered voters as they did during this year's June primary elections. That, after the plaintiffs were unable to "point to a single instance of voter fraud in Montana in any election during the last 20 years," according to the judge who described concerns about widespread fraud as "a fiction". While the state went to Trump by some 20 points in 2016, its Democratic Governor Steve Bullock won re-election on the same statewide ballot that year, and is now running for the U.S. Senate to unseat incumbent Republican Steve Daines;
  • In ALABAMA, a federal judge ruled that the state may not block counties from offering curbside voting and that witness signature requirements and Photo ID requirements for absentee voters during the COVID-19 pandemic are unconstitutional for certain voters. Their Republican wingnut Sec. of State John Merrill says he will appeal all the way to the stolen Supreme Court if necessary;
  • And in the closely divided battleground of NORTH CAROLINA, a proposed settlement between the state and plaintiffs will allow for absentee ballots to be "cured" by voters if they lack proper signatures; voters will be able to use secured drop-boxes for mail-in votes; and for ballots postmarked by Election Day may be received until November 12. But this week, a letter has been sent by the Trump Campaign to Republican officials on County Boards of Elections instructing them to ignore guidance from the State Board of Elections! The NC SBE has had to send a letter in response to those same officials, warning them that they are required to follow state guidance and that guidance from "a political party or other source should not be considered or followed." The extraordinary situation has led one international expert on election security from Duke University to (accurately) opine: "It comes down to the fact that this President is not actually trying to win this election – this President is trying to not have to concede this election. That’s what going on." That expert is right on the money.

Then, to the extraordinarily disturbing story out of GEORGIA, which our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition of Good Governance, describes as "scandalous". As we reported during Monday's show, last Friday, the Secretary of State's office quietly sent a notice to elections officials in all 159 counties telling them to immediately stop their pre-election "Logic and Accuracy" testing of the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that all voters are currently forced to use at the polling place. The reason, as the office explained, was due to "an error in the November database which will require every county to get a new database for the November 3, 2020 election."

That startling news late on Friday night resulted in an emergency filing by the Coalition with U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, who has been overseeing their long-running lawsuit to block the use of unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots at the polls. On Monday, Totenberg called an emergency hearing for all parties to the suit, during which the Secretary of State's office and the state's new private vote system vendor and ballot programmer, Dominion Voting, claimed that new databases (which contain the programming for all contests in each county) were not actually needed to correct an error that prevented some U.S. Senate candidates from appearing on the touchscreen in certain cases. In fact, what they planned to do instead was to change the code used on the voting machine software itself, and install new software onto all 34,000 touchscreens in the state. All of this, just days before Early Voting is to begin, and now just over one month before Election Day.

As Marks notes, the new software to be installed on every voting machine in Georgia has not been certified for use --- or even tested --- by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) as required by state law. But this story is even more scandalous in several ways that we discuss on today's program, after another emergency hearing was called by the judge today, following another emergency filing from the Coalition on Wednesday night regarding an apparent change of plans by the Secretary of State.

"It's outrageous. They're wiping all of the software," Marks tells me, and installing "new software that's just been written, has not been tested, and has not been certified by the Elections Assistance Commission. As far as we know, it has not even been submitted for approval. This is federal certification, and Georgia, like most states, is not supposed to be using systems not certified by the federal government."

"They've written this over a weekend, and have not thoroughly tested it. There's been no user testing. The number of things that can go wrong will take up more time than your show permits," she says. "They might as well have gone out and said, 'we're going to buy the Lucy and Ethel software, and put it in.'"

While that is troubling enough, Marks also notes that the programming is not even being done by public state officials, but by private contractors at the Canadian-based firm from whom GA purchased the systems for more than $100 million for first time use this year. "This election has been completely outsourced to Dominion Voting Systems. They are a third party profit-making corporation and, essentially, Georgia has just said, 'Take it and do with it as you will, Dominion!'"

Marks says it is all "outrageous and preposterous," telling me, "Like you, I am shocked that the national media has not picked up on this more, because we're talking about the votes of 7 million voters here."

"I thought that I was beyond having anything that could shock me anymore," she continues. "But I have to say, my jaw is still on the floor from this week. And the fact that the media is not covering it, I don't understand. I can only surmise that they are still in disbelief. Maybe the facts just aren't fully out yet. That's the only thing I can come up with. This is scandalous. "

Please tune in for the full story --- there is much more to it. But, suffice to say for now, it IS a scandal that WE have been covering this story and this lawsuit for at least three years, while the mainstream corporate media seems to be ignoring it almost entirely, even with the possibility that the Peach State could flip from red to blue this year in the Presidential race for the first time in decades, and that there is not one, but two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot there this November, both of which are currently held by Republicans and believed to be endangered by Democratic challengers.

Finally, we close today with our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of the surprise --- and surprisingly substantive --- discussion of climate change in this week's otherwise off-the-rails Presidential Debate in Cleveland, OH...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/17/2020 11:27am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Sally batters AL, FL, GA with record rain, flooding; West Coast wildfires and climate change believed responsible for mass die-off of migratory birds in Southwest; Trump appoints notorious climate science denier to federal climate science agency; PLUS: 175-year-old science magazine issues first political endorsement ever... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Dual disasters: How is climate change worsening wildfires and hurricanes?; Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration; There is only one name left on the 2020 Atlantic hurricane list. So what's next?; Fives States Have Filed Climate Change Lawsuits, Seeking Damages From Big Oil and Gas... PLUS: Senate 2020: In Alabama, Two Very Different Views on Climate Change Give Voters a Clear Choice... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Hurricane Sally drenches AL, FL; Results from 2020's final primary in DE...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2020 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last year, a federal judge in Georgia banned the state's 20-year old, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, finding them to be "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated" and, thus, effectively unconstitutional for use in federal elections. This week, that same federal judge held a hearing to determine whether the new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems Georgia has chosen to use this year for the first time are any better, or whether the Peach State should have listened to the cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged the state to move, instead, to a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, Hurricane Sally slammed ashore near the Alabama / Florida border this morning. As predicted, the very slow moving storm is packing a punch, with rainfall "measured in feet, not inches swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people as it pushed inland." Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on that slow moving disaster as water is quickly rising, rescues continue, the storm moves into Georgia, and as more hurricanes are already lining up behind it in an already record breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which still continues until late November!)

Even as that climate change-intensified disaster unfolds on the heels of Hurricane Laura just three weeks ago (with thousands still without power and in shelters in Louisiana), along with the record deadly climate-fueled wildfires out west, Donald Trump has chosen --- amid all of this --- a notorious climate science denier for a top position on "environmental observation and prediction" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If those stories don't underscore the existential importance of this year's elections, we don't know what would.

On that score, the final state Primary Elections of the 2020 season were held on Tuesday in Joe Biden's adopted home state of Delaware, with most ballots cast by mail, and with both masks and social distancing in place at the polls. Happily, there have been no reported voting problems to come to my attention yet and, as expected, there were few surprises in the reported computer-tallied results. Some of them, however, are either eyebrow raising, historic, or just plain fun. Among those categories is the QAnon conspiracist who is now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state; the first openly transgender person to (almost certainly) win a seat in a state Senate; and the 12-year, Democratic state legislator who opposed same-sex marriage being beaten soundly on Tuesday --- in a landslide --- by a local, gay, progressive drag queen!

And with the primaries finally (and thankfully!) out of the way, we move straight to the general elections and back to Georgia, which Democrats hope to flip from red to blue in the Presidential election this year for the first time in decades. But it's also a state where not one, but two vulnerable Republican U.S. Senators are facing tough re-election challenges from Democrats.

There is a lot riding politically on the state of Georgia this year, which makes this week's much-anticipated three-day virtual hearing in an Atlanta federal court all the more critical. When the second day of the three-day hearing which wrapped up this week, regarding the security of the state's vulnerable new computer voting, pollbook and tabulation systems was interrupted --- "Zoom bombed" --- with photos of the 9/11 attacks, swastikas and pornography posted by a user calling him or herself "Osama", it would have been impossible for U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg to miss the irony.

"It was a very sobering reminder of just how vulnerable electronics are, and just how targeted the United States and our elections are right now," says MARILYN MARKS, our guest today. She is Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, a lead plaintiff in the long-running case. She says it served as a reminder of the need to "get hand-marked paper ballots that are verifiable and auditable."

The Coalition is suing for a ruling that would find Georgia's new, unverifiable, $100+ million touchscreen voting system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting Systems to be an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. That would be a similar finding to the one Totenberg issued last year, effectively banning and decertifying the state's 20-year use of its previous insecure, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold.

In addition to hoping to see those systems replaced with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, the Coalition is asking the judge to order backup paper pollbooks at every polling place, after the new electronic pollbook systems failed during the state's June primary elections, leading to hours-long lines, largely in minority voting districts. The plaintiffs are also calling for oversight of the state's optical-scan tabulation systems which failed to tally thousands of votes on absentee ballots during the state's recent primaries. (We interviewed Jeanne DuFort, who discovered that problem, and is also a plaintiff in this case on several recent programs.)

Marks shares her observations from this week's hearings, including on the testimony and cross-examination of the Coalition's cybersecurity and voting systems expert witnesses (many of whom have also appeared multiple times on this show, including Univ. of Michigan's Alex Halderman, UC-Berkley's Philip Stark, expert data researcher Kevin Skoglund and legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti). Similarly, Marks offers her thoughts on the state's, um, less-than-expert witnesses and responds to a number of allegations made by the attorney representing Georgia and its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, who selected this new, "Rube Goldberg" computerized voting system despite the urging of experts and voters alike.

Among the stunning points noted by Marks was the testimony from the man who led the certification testing of this system for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Marks reports the witness seemed "quite confused about the technology" and "admitted to having no real security background and not really any long-term established security people on his team." She says his testimony "made it clear that security is really not a top priority for the certification of voting systems" at the federal level, adding, "It was really kind of unbelievable."

While transcripts may be available from the hearing soon (we'll update with a link to them here when they are), Marks noted some portions will be redacted, since the state argued privately in front of the judge on certain issues that even the plaintiffs were not allowed to witness. (Though I wonder whether "Osama" did?)

"The public learned a lot from these expert witnesses about just how seriously vulnerable the Georgia election system is," she tells me. "The expert witnesses gave extremely compelling testimony during the direct examination by our attorneys. But when the state's attorneys got them up on the stand for cross-examination, they were equally strong. Quite frankly, the state was really not able to get in any type of evidence --- because there is none --- that would help get anyone comfortable with their equipment."

When it came to the witnesses from the state and the voting system vendors, she says, her attorneys explained to the court that those "experts have not been able to tell the court just the basic fundamental operational and security details --- the plaintiffs have been the ones who bring all the information. The state basically had no one with any independence. Every expert witness they had had a financial interest in ballot-marking devices. Two of the expert witnesses are [voting system] vendors, three of the expert witnesses are vendors of ballot-marking device suppliers. So they were hardly considered independent, at least by the laymen who were watching."

While Marks says she does not know when Totenberg will issue her ruling, it is likely to be soon. Reports from the virtual courtroom via AP suggest Judge Totenberg appeared concerned by points made by the plaintiffs and may be forced to implement changes --- if she determines there is time to do so with Early Voting beginning in just four weeks in the Peach State. Marks believes there is plenty of time to make the state's elections more secure and overseeable, though the state begs to differ. Soon we'll learn how the Judge feels.

During closing arguments, according to AP's coverage, Robert McGuire, an attorney for the Coalition and individual voter plaintiffs, "recalled Totenberg's prior admonitions to the state" by noting that "Totenberg previously told the state that a new voting system should address the need for 'transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes that guarantee each citizen's fundamental right to cast an accountable vote.'" But the state's new computerized Ballot Marking Device system "satisfies none of these requirements," McGuire said...

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Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2020 6:49pm PT  

Yes, we've got a little something for everyone today on The BradCast. We even crank things up to 11 at one point. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program (as voters headed to the "polls" on Tuesday in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state --- available unofficial results on tomorrow's program!)...

DEATH & DESTRUCTION

  • The latest on the record-breaking Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaias. It slammed ashore in the southern part of North Carolina as a Cat 1 on Monday night and has been ripping straight up the East Coast ever since, drenching state after state as well as knocking out power for millions and spawning punishing tornadoes in several states along the Eastern Seaboard on its way toward New England;
  • On Monday night, Donald Trump signed an Executive Memo to slash federal funding for the National Guard's response to the crisis. The Guard has been operating testing sites, distributing food and medical supplies and helping to expand hospitals across the country, but will now receive 25% less federal funding under Trump's new order in most states. In some states, however, such as Texas and Florida (key to Trump's reelection hopes) the deployed troops will still enjoy full federal through the end of the year;
  • A stunning interview with the President by Jonathan Swan of Axios on HBO --- that many are comparing to the satirical VEEP today or even the classic mockumentary This is Spinal Tap --- aired last night. We share one of the gobsmacking portions of the interview featuring Trump's embarrassing, grade school-like excuses regarding the continuing national rise in COVID-19 deaths. And then the short, classic scene from Spinal Tap that so many are aptly comparing it to today;
  • As the virus moves from major urban hot-spots into more rural (and less medically well-equipped) areas of the nation, The Prospect's David Dayen reminds us in his latest column that consolidation of hospital networks over the past decade has resulted in the closure of hospitals in many of those same, rural, under-served areas. 120 "unprofitable" hospitals in low-income communities have been shuttered since 2010, a crushing moral failure in the current American healthcare system that began long before Donald Trump came along to break it even more...along with everything else.

HOPE & CHANGE!

  • Sen. Martha McSally remains on track to be the first Republican to lose not one but two U.S. Senate seats to Democrats in Arizona. New polling shows her trailing substantially behind presumptive Democratic nominee Mark Kelly this November, even as state Republicans appear set on Tuesday to nominate the woman appointed to fill the seat of the late John McCain in 2019 instead of her GOP primary rival who polls better against Kelly. But Kelly's lead over McSally is tightening according to some recent surveys;
  • Senator Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Tommy Tuberville in Alabama, according to new polling, both now enjoy double-digit leads against their Democratic opponents this November. That would be Amy McGrath in KY and Sen. Doug Jones in AL. But with McConnell's national approval ratings slipping as he fails to coalesce his GOP caucus in Congress around another round of desperately needed coronavirus emergency relief, anything could still happen;
  • And, speaking of how anything could happen, one of Trump's top acolytes in the U.S. Senate, Lindsey Graham, is now statistically tied with his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. Yes, in South Carolina! The incumbent Graham currently holds just a 1-point lead over Harrison in a new Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday. That is well within the poll's 4-point margin of error. Other recent polls give Graham a wider lead over Harrison, though not an insurmountable one, as the once long-shot Democratic challenger continues to out-raise Trump's toady in the Palmetto State.

DEATH & DESTRUCTION + HOPE & CHANGE!

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the record-breaking Hurricane Isaias; Disturbing news about storm impacts now moving further inland as the climate changes; and 15 states are now giving Donald Trump a sad by mandating a move to all-electric trucks and buses...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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