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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 17, 2021
Taking the 'DUH' Out of Floriduh: 'BradCast' 4/16/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Rep. Ted Deutch and journalist Ryan Grim...
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
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
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cuts; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
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
The FCC, under Trump, created a Catch-22 on new rule, requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best 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...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
Biden on dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Abandoned oil, gas wells loom; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
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...


With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/6/2021 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Florida races to prevent massive toxic wastewater breach in Manatee County; Biden Administration pushes back on Republican opposition to infrastructure jobs package; Japan sees earliest cherry blossom peak in 1,200 years; PLUS: Victory for breathers in Springfield, Massachusetts... 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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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Trump Landfill Methane Emissions Rule Scrapped by Appeals Court; US, UAE say they'll invest in Middle East decarbonization; Fossil Firms Took Billions in Virus Aid but Still Cut Nearly 60,000 Jobs; Louisville’s Polluting Chemical Plant Emits Two Potent Greenhouse Gases; Canada's Herring Face Collapse, Say First Nations And Activists; Can Biden Change America's Preference For Cars Over Trains and Buses?; More U.S. Coal Power Retired Under Trump Than in Obama's Second Term; Our Last, Best Chance to Save Atlantic Salmon... PLUS: Test Flight for Sunlight-Blocking Research Is Canceled... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Sec. of State Katie Hobbs speaks with Nicole Sandler; Also: Brad's recent interview with former FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, recounted...
By Desi Doyen on 3/26/2021 2:25pm PT  

We had planned for NICOLE SANDLER to fill in for us on today's BradCast, to share her exclusive interview this week with Arizona's Democratic Secretary of State. Unfortunately, Nicole got hit pretty hard after her second COVID vaccine shot, so she's been a bit under the weather (but getting much better!). However, she was kind enough to share the interview with us anyway so we could share it with you on today's program. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

In her conversation with Nicole, AZ's Sec. of State KATIE HOBBS, among other things, debunks false claims of "fraud" in the Grand Canyon State's successful 2020 Presidential election, where Joe Biden became the first Democrat to win the state on the Presidential level in several decades. The Grand Canyon State also elected Democrat Mark Kelly for the U.S. Senate last November. He joins AZ's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, mirroring the case in Georgia, which also went "blue" for the first time in decades last year for Biden and elected two Dems to the U.S. Senate.

On Thursday night, Georgia's GOP rammed through sweeping new restrictions on voting that will curb voting rights and (as Brad discussed with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance earlier this week) allow the GOP-majority state legislature to undermine County Boards of Elections and even overturn election results, if they like. GA's former Republican Sec. of State and current Governor Brian Kemp signed the new anti-democracy measure last night almost immediately after it was passed in the Peach State's House and Senate at lightning speed on Thursday. Today, President Biden described the GA measure as an "atrocity".

On today's program, Hobbs speaks to similar efforts now under way by Arizona's GOP state lawmakers to roll back voting rights, including the state's popular mail-in voting options, despite last year's "very successful" election...or, perhaps, because of it. Hobbs describes the measures being pushed by state Republicans as "unprecedented" and "really dangerous in terms of voting rights, not just in Arizona but across the country."

She tells Nicole that these efforts, being sold in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that last year's election was stolen for Biden, are based on "a false premise. We do not have to make the choice between voter access and security. What we saw in the 2020 election proves that we can have both."

Finally today, in case you missed it previously or might like to hear it again, we revisit Brad's recent conversation from 3/15/2021 with Leon County, Florida's legendary, 30-year former Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO on similar GOP efforts to roll back voting rights in the Sunshine State and in neighboring Georgia...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: 30-year veteran Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: Callers ring in on that and Biden's progressive American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2021 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republican assault on voting rights is not only happening in states where the GOP lost, for the first time in many years, at the Presidential level in 2020, like Georgia. It's also happening in states that Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, like Texas. And, yes, it's also happening in the few states where Trump won in 2020 and actually increased his winning margin over 2016, like Florida. But in Florida, state elections officials, including Republicans, are furious about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While GOP state lawmakers are, right now, pushing hundreds of vote suppression bills in more than 40 states, based on Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election (he didn't), a very small handful of Republicans are pushing back. In Georgia, on Sunday, the state's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan appeared to decry at least some of the GOP efforts to curb voting rights in the Peach State. Last week, he walked out of the state Senate while presiding over a debate over passage of a new GOP bill that would disallow no-excuse absentee voting and implement many other restrictions. Over the weekend on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Duncan argued "Republicans don’t need election reforms to win, we need leadership."

Meanwhile, in Florida, where even Trump didn't forward phony claims about absentee fraud --- where he actually lauded their absentee vote system (in no small part because he voted illegally by absentee there) --- GOPers are, nonetheless, instituting new restrictions that would ban drop-boxes and remove the state's system that allows voters to sign up to be on the mail-in voting list for four years at a time. That, and other new restrictions on voting rights in the Sunshine State, are all included in an omnibus bill introduced by state Sen. Dennis Baxley called SB90. But, at least in Florida, state elections officials --- Democratic and Republican alike --- are pushing back.

Why, after the 2020 election, when even Republicans in the state like Gov. Ron DeSantis declared it to be one of the best and most secure elections in state history are GOPers now moving to restrict the franchise?

We're joined for some answers today by 30-year veteran Leon County (Tallahassee), FL Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO. The longtime, legendary champion of voting rights finally retired in 2016, after becoming so well respected by his fellow county elections officials, from all parties, that he was tapped to oversee the contentious and eventually aborted 2000 statewide recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

But now, the longtime Election Integrity champion says, he is furious at what Republicans are doing, and says that it's all about DeSantis' 2022 re-election hopes. "What's being overlooked by the national press," Sancho tells us today, "is that this issue, while framed nationally by the disgraced ex-President, is really being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in 2018 won by a scant 30,000 votes out of 8 million cast. He's scared to death because the Democrats right now have an over-half-a-million vote margin for individuals signed up to get that vote-by-mail ballot."

All of that plays into Republican fears of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, even though, as Sancho notes, they are far more secure than the U.S. mail, particularly after Republicans in the state's General Assembly previously adopted rules to ensure secure, manned drop-boxes in every county.

"Of the millions of Democratic voters that voted by mail, 1.5 million of them dropped them off in those vote-by-mail ballot drop-boxes before Trump laid out his plot to try to steal the election by damning vote-by-mail ballots," Sancho explains. "The Republican legislature, whose Republican base had always outvoted the Democrats from 2000 to 2020, required by law that each vote-by-mail ballot establishment have a drop -box."

"Then the bottom dropped out. COVID hit and the Democratic Party in the State of Florida said we don't want to subject our voters to go door to door, so they embarked on a phone program to enroll people in vote-by-mail . That was overwhelmingly successful, and vote-by-mail dramatically increased on the Democratic Party side to the point now that today, if Gov. DeSantis doesn't get rid of that list [of voters signed up for long-term absentee voting], he's facing a half a million vote margin to begin with. That's what's driving this particular bill this year." The new bill would wipe out the existing list and mandate that all voters re-sign up for it now, and then every two years thereafter.

"This is deja vu all over again," rails Sancho who charges "this slander" that "has caused people to doubt the veracity of elections" has made him "very angry." He draws a bead on Republican state Senator Baxley, the sponsor of SB90, charging this is not his "first drive-by shooting on carrying the Republican voter suppression. In 2010 he was author of [a bill] which dramatically curtailed early voting, because Obama carried early voting here in Florida [in 2008] by such a large margin that an actual majority of all African-Americans in this state voted at an early voting location. This is a tried-and-true playbook with the same characters involved."

As usual, there is much more in our conversation, including Sancho's take on the evidence-free, post-2020 GOP attacks on the Dominion Voting Systems company. Sancho has been a longtime thorn in the side of private elections vendors and their computerized voting and tabulation systems. He played a starring role in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, when he oversaw what became the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan tabulator, as depicted live, as it happened, in the film's climactic finale.

"It's been rigged here," he tells me flatly. "Again, I've been watching these 'How can we curtail this? How can we do that?', and it's been going on since 2000."

Finally, we open the phones up for a few minutes for listener feedback on all of the above (including one fun Trump-supporting caller who is hopping mad about the conversation with Sancho!), and on my contention last week that Joe Biden and the Democrats' massive, progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, could finally signal the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Ronald Reagan Era in this country...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Several victories for pro-democracy forces in MN, TX; FL Guv's registration hacked in voter database; VT Sec. of State demands correction from SCOTUS following Kavanaugh's error-filled WI opinion...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2020 7:05pm PT  

As I discuss near the top of today's BradCast, we are now in what amounts to a Cold Civil War on Democracy in this nation. The greatest direct threat we have ever faced to our Constitutional Republic since the Civil War is now playing out in our ongoing election. [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

As it turns out, that threat to what Joe Biden describes as "the soul of our nation", does not come from a foreign power, but from the President of the United States himself and his party of henchmen and supporters who are now attacking the very core of our Republic: the right to vote and to have that vote counted as cast. That right is now under direct assault in a way not seen since the Jim Crow era. And while the GOP has been using the guise of preventing "voter fraud" to wage similar battles in recent years, they aren't even trying to hide their direct assault on democracy anymore. They are simply using every (so far, peaceful) means possible --- legal and extra-legal --- to try and prevent legal voters from voting and lawfully cast ballots from being counted.

Unfortunately, they have packed enough stooges onto their stolen U.S. Supreme Court at this point, that they may pull it off...unless the pro-democracy forces simply overwhelm them between now and the close of polls next Tuesday night. Get busy, people. Only the fate of the Republic and...yes, human civilization, as Desi Doyen highlights yet again in our Green News Report today, are at stake.

Among the stories reported on today's show, as our trench warfare coverage continues...

  • Good news for democracy in Minnesota! A federal judge has ordered a mercenary contractor hiring armed para-militia to stalk polling places to stand down after violating federal voter intimidation laws. The company, Atlas Aegis, must also reveal who has been funding their program. The case is a victory for plaintiffs including the Minnesota chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and League of Women Voters, as well as the group Free Speech for People (FSFP) whose lawyers brought the case. We spoke with FSFP attorney Ron Fein last week on the show, the day after the voter intimidation suit was filed in federal court;
  • Good news for voters in Texas! A Trump-appointed federal judge has found Gov. Greg Abbott's exemption for voters and pollworkers to his statewide mask mandate to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Masks must be worn inside of all polling places across the Lone Star state of today's ruling. The victory comes not a moment too soon, after several polling officials have already become sickened, poll sites were closed due to sick workers, and maskless poll watchers were said to have been using their presence to intimidate minority voters. That, in a state where the Republicans who have long controlled it went all the way to the Supreme Court to deny almost all voters under the age of 65 the right to request an absentee ballot due to fear of the spiking coronavirus pandemic. It's also another victory --- and a reversal of fortunes --- for the good folks at FSFP, including Senior Counsel Courtney Hostetler, who spoke with us on the show about their case in September, when its outlook then appeared grim;
  • More good news for democracy in Texas! A $31 million effort to improve access to the polls in the nation's third-largest voting jurisdiction, Harris County, which includes Houston, appears to have paid off big time. NBC News reports that more voters have now cast ballots there during early voting than were cast in the entire 2016 election. The increased turnout is thanks to expanded and innovative voting options, such as Early Voting sites that stay open later, some that stay open for 24 hours, and drive-thru polling places. The County's stunning turnaround in a state with notoriously low voter turnout comes after Dems won every countywide office in 2018, increased the elections budget from $4 million under GOP control to $31 million now, and with the hiring of innovative, 33-year old County Clerk Chris Hollins in late summer. Naturally, state Republicans have been challenging virtually every innovation to make it easier for voters to vote in the state's largest county. And while Gov. Greg Abbott has succeeded in limiting ballot drop-off locations to just one per county (from a dozen previously planned for sprawling Harris County, which is larger than Rhode Island), GOP attempts to block drive-thru voting have been denied by the state's all-Republican Supreme Court. Another new case was filed by Republicans this week, however, seeking to actually invalidate the votes of more than 100,000 voters who lawfully cast drive-thru votes during Early Voting.
  • On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court's issued an appalling ruling that blocks tens of thousands of lawfully cast mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day from being counted in Wisconsin if they arrive after Election Day due to, for example, slowdowns in U.S. Postal Service delivery by Trump's new Postmaster General. Criticism from legal experts and voting rights advocates of the embarrassingly error-riddled concurring opinion filed by GOP operative turned GOP activist Justice Brett Kavanaugh was swift. We discussed that factually deficient and laughable concurrence with Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern in detail on yesterday's show. Among the egregious errors in the opinion was Kavanaugh's citing of Vermont's election laws. The Sec. of State of Vermont has now written a letter to the Court in response, demanding that the opinion be corrected to include actual facts about the state's voting laws, instead of the phony claims Kavanaugh made as he works toward using his lifetime appointment on the Court to steal this year's election on behalf of the man who appointed him to it;
  • Finally, as mentioned, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as a record fifth hurricane in a single season slams storm-weary Louisiana today; Trump opens the nation's last protected tropical rain forest to commercial logging; China and Japan vault ahead of the U.S. in their pledges to reach net-zero carbon emissions; and the case is made for Joe Biden to expand the Supreme Court if we are to have any chance of combating our swiftly worsening climate crisis.
  • P.S. The charming animated video of the Lincoln Project "Fairy Tale" we played at the top of today's show is here.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it was not a good day for those who believe in free, fair, honest, overseeable and safe democracy. On the other hand, it was a great day for Republicans! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We've got a boatload of court rulings from almost half a dozen states to try and make sense of today. A few of them are good. Most of them are not. But we've got some expert help in making sense of several of them, and she tells us the fight is nowhere near over.

We begin today with the breaking news out of Florida, where the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that had found the state's new "pay-to-vote" law constitutional. Apparently, the five new federal jurists that Donald Trump has added to the court all agreed, in a 6-4 ruling, that poll taxes are just fine by them. They approved the law enacted by the state's GOP legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year that undermines Amendment 4 of the state constitution. That Amendment was adopted in a bipartisan, 65-35 percent landslide in 2018 to restore voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons in the state, including about one quarter of the state's voting age black men.

The law specifically passed to undermine Amendment 4 requires all court-imposed fines and fees to be payed before a former felon may register to vote. So, if you have enough money, you can vote. If you don't, too bad. Also, good luck to former felons even figuring out if they owe any money at all. Florida doesn't keep track. That means many newly eligible voters won't bother to register, rather than risk being sent back to jail for violating this new law. It was passed along partisan lines last year by Florida and is virtually identical to the 150-year old statute struck down just last week by a North Carolina state court. As revealed during the course of the NC suit, the law, according to its legislative champion following post-Civil War Reconstruction, was specifically adopted to "secure White Supremacy" by preventing "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro." Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern derides today's Florida ruling as "one of the most dishonest, misleading, and despicable voting rights opinions I have ever read" and "an affront of the very notion that Americans have a right to vote". The ACLU Voting Rights Project's attorney Julie Ebenstein argues "the gravity of this decision cannot be overstated," describing it as "counter to the foundational principle that Americans do not have to pay to vote" and "an affront to the spirit of democracy".

In another afront to democracy, Wisconsin's rightwing state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state's 1850 separate municipalities to immediately stop sending out absentee ballots to the, so far, about 1 million voters who have requested them. The court's 4 to 3 partisan ruling is meant to allow it's rightwing majority time to decide if the Green Party's Presidential ticket should be added to the ballot, despite the state Election Commission, in a deadlocked 3 to 3 vote, determining that the party's Presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and Vice Presidential Nominee Angela Walker did not receive enough signatures to qualify.

At issue is hundreds of petitions that listed the Milwaukee native Walker's address as a motel in South Carolina. Why the Party used two different addresses for Walker is unclear, but the result was the WI State Election Commission --- which the GOP state legislature recently created to replace the previous non-partisan commission with a partisan one built to create such deadlocks --- followed state law. That prevented the Greens from making the ballot. After a two week delay and 378,000 absentee ballots already mailed out, the Green Party decided to sue, even though election officials from across the state say their will be no time to design, print up, test and mail out out new ballots before both state and federal statutory deadlines require them to do so next week. They also have no idea how to avoid people voting twice with two separate ballots they may receive for the same election. So, chaos reigns yet again in the election in the key battleground state where Donald Trump is said to have won in 2016 by less than one single percentage point, when the Green candidate that year received more votes than Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton.

The voting news out of Texas this week is only slightly better. First, the good news: A federal judge there has ordered state election officials to notify voters within one day after a "perceived signature mismatch" is determined on absentee ballots, and to allow voters a "meaningful opportunity" to correct the issue. Previously, after officials, who are not handwriting experts, decided a signature was not a match to the voter's registration application (often years old), the ballot was simply rejected without notifying voters until 10 days after the election. In other good voting news from the Lone Star state, a state judge has determined that the Clerk in Harris County (Houston) is, in fact, allowed to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the nation's 4th largest city. The state's Republican Attorney General had sued to block the effort. I suspect he'll appeal, but we'll see.

But the war on voting in the Lone Star State doesn't stop with those two victories for democracy, unfortunately. The Mayor of Houston wants to know why more than a dozen local U.S. Post Offices have refused to allow volunteers from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to make multilingual voter registration materials available at those facilities.

And our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan Free Speech For People, joins us to explain the disappointing decision from a federal judge this week in response to a recent lawsuit filed by FSFP on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and the Texas NAACP seeking to address what the groups describe as "unsafe and unequal voting conditions" in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit seeks a Preliminary Injunction in challenging the state's "insufficient number of polling places"; "its limited and inaccessible early voting locations"; a lack of social distancing requirements; Gov. Greg Abbot's statewide mask mandate which allows an exception for voters and pollworkers; and the dangerous "reliance on repeat-touch voting machines" amid the deadly pandemic, among other concerns. All of which, the complaint argues, "will result in unsafe voting conditions and increased risk of coronavirus transmission, which in turn will result in voter suppression." Moreover, as Hostetler explains today, "the health risks and adverse impact of these policies will place an undue burden on the right to vote and be borne disproportionately by voters of color, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law, and the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment."

Texas has some of the most restrictive absentee voting requirements in the nation, so the dangers at polling places --- in this case, unequal ones --- are no small matter. "The real crux of the Constitutional issues at stake here," Hostetler tells me, "is that people won't show up to vote because they can't risk getting COVID-19 and dying. They can't risk not being able to work for 3 weeks if they get it...This is what's at stake, and the burden is not shared equally in Texas. It's both unconstitutional and it violates the Voting Rights Act." She says the federal judge, rather than deciding the case on its merits, determined that the matter is a political one, rather than an issue to be decided by the courts. While the case is still live, the judge has denied the group's motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which likely pushes the matter back until after the election. But the groups today decided that they will file an appeal.

In Pennsylvania this week, a state court judge also ruled against a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a similar suit filed by FSFP and the Pennsylvania NAACP "to establish safe and equal voting procedures for the upcoming general election." There too, the groups plan to appeal.

And in North Carolina, where FSFP filed a suit last April to block the use of new "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" touchscreen voting machines with the NC NAACP, the groups late last week filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court after a lower court denied their original complaint.

The appeal is "alleging imminent risk to voters' right to free elections and equal protection under the laws if they are required to vote on the [ES&S] ExpressVote touch screen ballot marking device this November". The complaint, as we discussed with Hostletler last spring when it was initially filed, "alleges the new [touchscreeen] system is vulnerable to security threats and its results are unverifiable, in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law." She says that though this matter will no longer be decided before this year's election, "the case is still live, and we are ready and preparing to litigate this fully and pursue this case through trial, because it does have long term implications for the state of North Carolina, because these machines are utterly unreliable and unverifiable";

So, yeah, a rough week for those who favor voting, voting rights and free, fair and safe democracy. But, as Hostetler argues today: "Every time there's an effort to push back against free and fair elections, there are people who are saying 'No, I'm going to fight you on that." She urges voters to fight like hell to make sure that they cast their ballot this year and vote as safely as they can, while letting her group or others know when and if they run into barriers.

"Know that there are people across the country who are fighting to change these policies," she says. "Nobody is alone in this. There are a lot of people fighting, and we can always use more"...

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Also: Courts continue to save nation on COVID dangers, voting, more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2020 6:28pm PT  

I'll be brief in today's BradCast summary, because I've got to head back into Day 2 of the bizarre dystopian nightmare known as Donald Trump's Republican National Convention. We're watching it so you don't have to. You're welcome. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Two nightmare storms slamming the Gulf Coast in the same week as the biggest and more dangerous of the two, Hurricane Laura, is gunning for the Louisiana/Texas border, likely as a Category 3;
  • A Florida judge puts the brakes on Gov. Ron DeSantis' demand that all public schools open five days a week for in-person classes by the end of this month. He says the state's plan "disregards safety" amid a still roiling --- if slightly easing (for now) --- pandemic in the Sunshine State;
  • Highlights (low lights?) from Day 1 of the RNC, in which every speaker sounded as if their remarks were either written by the same person, or simply ripped straight off of Fox "News". As ridiculous as the evening was --- featuring enough dangerous lies about Trump's mishandling of the COVID crisis that MSNBC had to break in with a doctor for some serious fact-checking; a couple of accused felons warned Democrats will "“abolish the suburbs altogether"; a seemingly stoned Don Jr. and his seemingly insane former Fox "News" host girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle --- we determined that ridicule was the best was to cover it. So we called in Stephen Colbert for some assistance.
  • Good news, for now, for voters in Pennsylvania. A Trump-appointed federal judge forced the Trump Campaign to make fools of themselves by demanding they present evidence of voter fraud via secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in Pennsylvania, where they are suing to prevent the use of the convenient devices during this year's general election. The plaintiffs were unable to to present any such evidence.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more on the twin storms pummeling the Gulf Coast and the raging fires in California (both amid a global pandemic making evacuating shelters very tricky for social distancing), the Trump Administration puts a pause on it's approval for the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska after Don Jr. and Fox "News" decide maybe they're against it after all, and a quick review of last week's virtual Democratic National Convention where Joe Biden and many others promised action on climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Media Matters' Zachary Pleat; Also: If MLB can't avoid COVID, how's your local school district going to?; Trump's pathetic Fauci envy...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2020 6:44pm PT  

We're getting our sea legs back n today's BradCast, after a few days off (thanks, Nicole Sandler for filling in for us!) Luckily it's been a slow few new days since we last spoke. Sigh... [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Anyway, among the stories covered on today's program...

  • How pathetic is malignant narcissist, Donald Trump? So pathetic that he completely made up an invitation to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game after the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was invited to toss the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener last week;
  • Well, that didn't take long. Now 17 members of the Florida Marlins are said to be infected with the coronavirus, leading Major League Baseball to suspend the Marlins' season through at least this Sunday along with the cancellation of three games this week between the Yankees and Phillies. All of this comes just days after MLB opened for a truncated 60 game season. They didn't make it past Day 3 without an outbreak;
  • If MLB and its billions of dollars can't keep its player safe, how do you suppose your local school district is gonna fare next month if they are ordered to re-open for in-person classes? That is still the plan for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who is bravely risking the lives of his state's children and their teachers in hopes that somehow that will help Donald Trump get re-elected in 98 days. We wonder if he's noticed that the infection and hospitalization rate for KIDS in the hot-spot Sunshine State is now exploding, with more than 31,000 cases of COVID-19 for Floridians under the age of 18 as of late last week --- a 34% increase in cases and a 23% increase in hospitalizations since the week prior. More than 300 children in Florida are now hospitalized with the virus, with one-third of them between the ages of 14 and 17, and 67 cases of hospitalization for those younger than one year old. That, after Donald Trump told the nation last week at a White House coronavirus briefing that school age kids "don’t catch it easily; they don’t bring it home easily";
  • Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the nation's most corrupt Attorney General in history, Bill Barr, testified for the first time ever before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as federal troops wreak chaos on American streets and after interceding in criminal cases on behalf of Trump's convicted felon friends, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone. Both were found guilty of lying to federal investigators during Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It was a contentious hearing that seems to have accomplished little. Though it did include a moment when Barr, who pretended to be concerned about the rule of law, seemed to suggest it might be just fine for the President to solicit and/or accept foreign assistance in an election. For the record, that remains illegal --- at least for those who actually do care about the rule of law --- whether Barr actually enforces such things or not;
  • Then, the disinformation wars continue, as led by the President of the United States and his more-than-willing accomplices. One of which, naturally, is his eldest son and namesake Don Jr., who ended up in "Twitter Jail" today for retweeting a video by Breitbart "News" that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube consider to be "false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19."
  • But, of course, Trump Sr. has many such accomplices in the rightwing media. Unfortunately, that isn't limited only to wingnut propaganda cable channels like Fox "News" or Internet propaganda outlets like Breitbart. It also includes the second largest owner of local television stations in the nation. Late last week Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which is allowed to own nearly 200 local stations in more than 100 markets, was shamed into temporarily pulling an episode of American This Week, as hosted by disgraced and fired Fox "News" personality Eric Bolling. (While texting unsolicited photos of one's genitalia is apparently enough to get ya fired by Fox, Sinclair doesn't seem to mind it all!)

    The episode in question featured an interview with a dubious, self-proclaimed "expert in virology" who, among other thing, claims that wearing a mask causes COVID-19, that Dr. Fauci "manufactured" the virus and sent it to Wuhan, China for some reason, and that an eventual coronavirus vaccine will "kill millions". After light was spread on the false claims featured in the episode, Sinclair pulled it for retooling. Today, CNN reports, they will not be airing it at all anymore. The Media Matters Senior Researcher who first exposed the Sinclair conspiracy propaganda, ZACHARY PLEAT, joins us on today's show to explain what happened and why Sinclair's pro-Trump propaganda --- hidden in plain sight, often coming out of the mouths of your favorite trusted local news anchors --- is arguably more insidious than even Fox "News".

    Moreover, that rightwing propaganda is being spread over OUR PUBLIC AIRWAVES in dozens of mostly southern and midwestern states across the country, on stations owned by Sinclair with frequencies licensed (for free) to them by the federal government in exchange for serving "in the public interest". Hopefully the FCC, during the next Administration, will take a long hard look at Sinclair's licensing agreements next time they come up for renewal;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with two surprise hurricanes in two different U.S. states over just one weekend; more environmental destruction by the Trump Administration on (hopefully) their way out the door; and the installation of the world's largest battery now set to power tens of thousands of homes with clean, renewable energy in Southern California...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and healthcare advocate Laura Packard...
By Nicole Sandler on 7/27/2020 5:08pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back to guest host today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Today we learned that Florida is now considered the epicenter of the global pandemic. Lucky me, I live in South Florida, where we've had more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases reported every day for the past five days. Things are especially bad in Miami-Dade County, the hardest-hit part of the hardest-hit state. I give the credit for our position to our Governor, a smarmy, unqualified man named Ron DeSantis who's earned his new nickname, Ron DeathSentence.

I reached out to an old friendly acquaintance, DAN GELBER, who is the mayor of Miami Beach. We spoke about his many challenges, including the pandemic that's threatening to shut down his city again, plus the threat of a major storm hitting at this horrible time. It is, after all, hurricane season, and Miami Beach is a barrier island.

As millions of Americans are now without health insurance as a result of losing their jobs due to the pandemic, I spoke with healthcare advocate LAURA PACKARD, who reminded me that three years ago tonight (or three years ago in the very early hours of tomorrow morning), John McCain came to our rescue!

Laura and I are both cancer survivors. I fought lung cancer four years ago; Laura was undergoing chemotherapy three years ago when the Republicans' latest effort to overturn what's left of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, made it to the Senate floor for a vote. We needed three courageous Republicans to vote with the Democrats to avoid losing access to insurance. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins had already voted no. And John McCain stepped up to do the right thing and saved the program so that those of us with pre-existing conditions still had the right to pay through the nose for health insurance.

Laura's spending this anniversary helping to put together a healthcare Town Hall with Senators Debbie Stabenow, Tammy Baldwin, Bob Casey and Amy Klobuchar with a bunch of other health care advocates and activists that will be archived here.

As usual, we began with the latest news you need to get you through the day, and a bit of humor in a song by Lauren Mayer too.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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RNC cancelled in FL; Another COVID breakout at White House; FL Guv wobbles on school reopening; Jobless claims continue to break records; Congressional GOP in disarray over emergency relief; Trump's federal storm troopers tear gas Portland mayor; And too much more!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was some weeks ago that we warned listeners to "buckle up" for what was to come over the next several month in the lead up to Election Day (and for whatever nightmares are likely to come thereafter). Today's BradCast provides ample evidence that we were right to issue that warning --- which remains in effect for the foreseeable future. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Breaking at top of show - Trump cancels plans for Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida due to out-of-control coronavirus surge in the Sunshine State. That, after previously moving the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Democratic Governor wouldn't allow a maskless deathtrap convention;
  • Federal Judge orders former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be released from prison, citing "retaliation" by the federal government after he was removed from home detention and locked back up for refusing to sign a document vowing he wouldn't write a book or speak to the media about Trump. Cohen had previously been furloughed from prison and placed into home detention after one year of his three year sentence for lying to Congress to protect Donald Trump and participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by the President, according to both him and federal prosecutors. Trump remains uncharged and at large despite running the conspiracy Cohen was imprisoned for in paying off porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to keep quiet before the 2016 election sexual affairs with Trump. The judge excoriated the DoJ and Bureau of Prisons for violating Cohen's First Amendment right to free speech;
  • Trump sycophant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally begins to wobble on his demand that schools in the state reopen next month for five days a week in-person classes, despite explosion of coronavirus cases. Tells Fox "News" that parents should have the "option" of sending kids to class, but offers no such "option" to teachers, whose union is now suing DeSantis;
  • Republicans are in disarray in Congress and at the White House after denying (for months) the need for additional emergency economic relief amid the pandemic. That, as expanded unemployment benefits --- one of the few actions taken by Congress that has successfully helped to avoid a complete economic collapse over the past 6 months --- are set to run out at week's end;
  • Breaking mid-show - New Fox "News" poll finds Joe Biden leading Trump, beyond the margin of error, in the key battleground states of Michigan (by 9 points) , Minnesota (by 13 points) and Pennsylvania (by 11 points);
  • Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler was among those tear-gassed by Donald Trump's federal stormtroopers on Wednesday night. The Mayor, whose local police force had previously tear-gassed protesters who have been gathering nightly for more than a month following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, now claims to be rethinking his own tactics while decrying "flat out urban warfare, being brought on the people of this country by the President of the United States";
  • In response to the violence being perpetrated by Trump's federal goon squad, John McCain's former Campaign Manager and longtime Republican campaign consultant Steve Schmidt unleashes a Twitter thread calling for Congressional investigations, cites Trump's use of the military against phony threats by "caravans" at the U.S. southern border before the 2018 election, and compares Trump's tactics, applauded by rightwing media, to those of Hitler's Nazi brownshirts;
  • Finally, a delightfully light-hearted Green News Report with Desi Doyen! Sort of. Other than a story about cow farts and Burger King, we also highlight the stunning arrest this week of Ohio's Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, nabbed as the ringleader of a $61 million conspiracy to funnel a $150 billion bailout to utility company FirstEnergy to prop up two failing nuclear plants and two aging, hyper-polluting coal plants at the expense of the state's rate-payers and renewable energy and efficiency initiatives in the Buckeye State. In a quick follow-up today, the company's stock price has plunged following the federal arrests this week, but questions remain about the company's own complicity in the scheme and the involvement of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in last year's passage of HB6, the controversial boondoggle of a bill that resulted in Householder lining his pockets with millions in dark money from FirstEnergy and other utility company interests.

Hopefully your seatbelt is still on and will remain locked and in place until the chaos comes to a complete and full stop...if it ever does...

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GOP lawmaker, 4 co-conspirators face racketeering charges for billion dollar nuke plant bailout conspiracy; Also: 31 states smash COVID records; MO Guv okay with school kids getting infected...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2020 7:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Five arrests and a massive, $61 million criminal bribery scheme allegedly headed up by Ohio's Republican House Speaker in cahoots with GOP lobbyists and dirty energy company payouts help explain, yet again, why we can't have nice things. That's especially true for residents of the Buckeye State who keep electing Republican officials who play them for chumps, take all their money, and make them sick in the bargain. It's also true for Floridians, Georgians, Texans and now Missourians, but we'll get there as well today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

"We're here today to announce the arrest of Larry Householder, the speaker of the House of the state of Ohio and four other defendants for racketeering in relation to what is likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme every perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio," announced U.S. Attorney David DeVillers during a news conference in Columbus on Tuesday afternoon. "The conspiracy was to pass and maintain a $1.5 billion bailout in return for $61 million in dark money that was used for various things. One: to line the pockets of defendants. Two: to build a power base for Larry Householder. And three: to further the conspiracy. That is to further the affairs of this Enterprise."

The explosive story is rocking Ohio today, though many should have seen it coming. A year ago, in July of 2019, Vox's longtime energy and climate reporter David Roberts wrote a must-read deep-dive article on the passage of House Bill 6 (HB 6) --- the legislation at the center of this massive con --- describing it at the time as "the most counterproductive and corrupt piece of state energy legislation I can recall in all my time covering this stuff."

The measure forced Ohio's ratepayers to subsidize bailouts of two supposedly failing nuclear plants (the Davis-Besse plant near Oak Harbor and the Perry plant east of Cleveland) owned by FirstEnergy and two failing coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (a collective owned by several large utilities), while wiping out previously successful state incentives for renewable energy and efficiency projects that saved the state's ratepayers both money and lives.

"Despite a tsunami of dark money supporting the bill," Roberts reported last year, "HB 6 was overwhelmingly opposed by ratepayer groups, business groups, free market conservative groups, environmental groups, and Ohioans generally. Its only support came from its only beneficiaries: the utilities that own the bailed-out plants, the employees of the bailed-out plants, the communities where the bailed-out plants are located, and possibly President Trump, who doesn't want to see coal plants closing during his reelection campaign."

Well, apparently there were a few more "beneficiaries": Ohio's House Speaker Householder and his political allies inside and out of the state legislature. That "tsunami of dark money", as it turns out, was used to blanket the airwaves with propaganda in support of HB 6 --- describing it misleadingly as a fight for jobs and "clean energy" in a battle between "Big Oil and Ohio" --- by a group calling itself Generation Now. That dark money group, as it turns out, was run by Householder himself with "bags of cash" from the nuke plants' supposedly bankrupt owners, FirstEnergy of Ohio. According to today's criminal complaint [PDF], his "Enterprise" used a series of unregulated passthroughs to move millions and "freely spent the bribe payments to further the Enterprise's political interests and to enrich themselves" with "unlimited" funds that came in to Generation Now from FirstEnergy in payments described by one of the defendants as "Monopoly money."

Despite the wildly unpopular HB 6's narrow passage in the state legislature, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed it quickly after passage. He was not indicted today, though he did cancel a scheduled COVID-19 press conference after the announcement, before calling for Householder's resignation.

It's an incredibly sordid story which we report in detail today. It's also one that should remind everyone exactly what they can expect when they put corrupt politicians like this in power who did the bidding of major corporate interests, rather than the public's.

In not entirely unrelated news today, Couy Griffin, the idiot who heads up a group called "Cowboys for Trump", is calling for Americans to take their masks off because they --- as opposed to the coronavirus --- are making everybody sick. And while we'd love to ignore Griffin and the "Cowboys," it turns out he's also an elected Republican official in New Mexico and the same jerk who posted a video back in May which began by announcing that "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat." And while we'd love to ignore that as well, that video was then retweeted by the President of the United States that month, along with the message "Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!"

Idiot elected "cowboys" and Presidents of the United States may be one thing we've come to expect by now. But with the coronavirus smashing records in at least 31 states, we'd hoped we'd get better from the Governors who have been left to handle the pandemic after Trump decided he had better things to do, despite some 4 million infected Americans and 144,000 U.S. deaths now from COVID-19 over the past six months.

But our hopes have been dashed. By Florida's very Trumpy Governor Ron DeSantis who's made a jackass of himself over the past month as cases, hospitalizations and deaths skyrocket in his state --- now overwhelming hospitals with at least 50 having run out of ICU beds --- while ordering kids back to in-person classes next month; By Georgia's Trumpy Governor Brian Kemp, who is suing cities in the state for instituting mask mandates as the Peach State also breaks single-day case records and death records; By Texas' Trump-loving Governor Greg Abbot, who wonders where he went wrong in reopening up the state so early, now that hospitals in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere are overwhelmed and calling in refrigrator trucks to serve as overflow morgues to hold all of the extra dead bodies.

But now we now have Missouri's woeful Governor Mike Parson declaring he's just fine with kids in his state becoming infected in the classroom. "These kids have got to get back to school," Parson told a local radio station recently. "They're at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will --- and they will when they go to school --- they're not going to the hospitals. They're not going to have to sit in doctor's offices. They're going to go home and they're going to get over it."

Whether Parson, who replaced the state's previous Republican Governor after he resigned in a sexual coercion, abuse and blackmail scandal, realizes that those kids go home to parents and grandparents who they will infect in turn (not to mention all of the teachers and staff at those schools) is unclear. Hopefully Missourians, however, understand it by now, and will consider replacing Parson this November with state Auditor Nicole Galloway, the Democratic candidate for Governor. Maybe then the good folks of Missouri can begin to have nice things again.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a few too many disasters than we can possibly detail at the end of a summary like this one...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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SCOTUS blocks 1.4M potential new voters in FL; Tough choice for TX voters diagnosed with COVID; Absentee ballots returned to Dallas voters; MI court blocks counting of tens of thousands of mail-in ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2020 6:51pm PT  

I'm calling them Democracy Wars today. But I could just as easy call them Infinity Wars --- as the fight by so many for the right to vote and the fight by others to prevent them from voting at all --- never seems to end. But the name Infinity War may already be otherwise spoken for. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

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

  • A couple in Ohio sends their kids to summer camp, with masks and social distancing in an area of the country with a very low infection rate. Days later, predictably, COVID breaks out at camp, kids and counselors get sick, everyone becomes terrified, overwhelmed and is quarantining. Just a preview of what you will begin to see when/if schools are ordered to prematurely reopen for in-person classes as soon as next month, as Trump and his Republicans are pushing for;
  • In Texas, Republicans recently went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to make sure only voters over 65 or those actively infected with COVID can vote by absentee ballot (with a doctor's order). Last Tuesday, the Lone Star state held its primary runoffs, but 68,0000 Texans were diagnosed with the virus after the deadline for registering to vote absentee and before the actual election. How many of them were then forced to endanger everyone else at the polling place or lose their right to vote? One couple's story of the difficult choices they were forced to make after recently contracting the virus after the deadline, and the nightmares they confronted in order to try and safely cast a vote (or not) under the state's absurdly restrictive absentee ballot laws;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court blocks a compromise today by a U.S. District Court judge in Florida that would have allowed as many as 1.4 million former felons to register to vote this year, after the state's Republican Governor and legislature passed a law to undermine the state constitutional amendment, adopted statewide in 2018 by an overwhelming 65 to 35 percent of the vote, to allow exactly what the GOP is now blocking. Hundreds of thousands will not be able to vote in the state's August primary, thanks to the stolen Republican majority at SCOTUS. That voter suppression may continue in the Sunshine State even through November's critical Presidential Election unless the new Republican majority on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals works very quickly. But why would they? Expect much more of this between now and November. And it's a good time to familiarize yourself with the absurd, so-called "Purcell Principle", if you haven't already;
  • A three judge panel on a state court in Michigan, by a vote of 2 to 1 this week, has ruled that absentee ballots which arrive after the close of polls may not be counted. That, after voters expanded absentee voting via a statewide Constructional ballot measure in 2018 that allowed for voters to vote by mail during the 40 days prior to an election. If not overturned by the state Supreme Court, the ruling --- which seems wildly wrong on the law --- could result in tens of thousands of votes, cast and postmarked by Election Day, not being counted in November, in a state which Trump is said to have won by just over 10,000 votes in 2016. (That's especially troubling given this week's directive from Donald Trump's new Postmaster General to all USPS postal workers to slow mail delivery down, please!);
  • And then, quickly back to Texas, where absentee voters, prior to Tuesday's Primary Runoff Election Day, were mysteriously receiving their voted and mailed ballots back in the mail, for reasons still unknown;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Joe Biden announces a major progressive proposal to fight climate change and create millions of jobs, while Donald Trump rolls back yet another landmark environmental law.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: High School senior Shourya Seth, COO of Project Paralink; Also: Admin's top-to-bottom failures in managing COVID crisis continue; Biden proposes 100% carbon-free power by 2035, millions of jobs with it...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2020 6:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: How bad is Donald Trump's Administration response to the COVID-19 crisis? Bad enough that "a guerrilla network" of high school kids seem to be doing a better job of getting some much-needed life-saving protective gear to medical workers than the federal government itself, at least in one state so far. [Audio link to show follows below.]

If you tried to fail any worse than the Trump Administration and his GOP acolyte Governors around the nation (Hello, Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis!), you'd be hard-pressed to fail as thoroughly as Trump has managed to, in virtually every aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. His deadly incompetence is continuing to help drive up infection rates, hospitalization rates and deaths in the U.S., even now, some five months into the pandemic. In Florida, the state's incompetent and very Trumpy Governor is at least finally admitting that they do not have nearly enough rapid tests to keep up with the explosion of new cases in the state after DeSantis reopened opened businesses far too early in the spring. But, even as FL hit a national record on Sunday of 15,300 newly confirmed cases in a single day on Sunday (more than most entire nations!), he continues to keep hospitalization rates a secret, despite promising last week to begin reporting them transparently to the public.

For their part, the Trump Administration is at least pulling back on one element of their shambolic crisis management. After being sued by 17 states this week, the Administration has walked back its vow to withdraw visas from foreign exchange students attending schools which refuse to open their classrooms to deadly in-person classes five days a week beginning next month. Other than that, the Administration response continues to go from horrific to even more horrific, if that's even imaginable.

NBC News reports today that, according to internal Health and Human Services documents they've obtained, shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) persist across the country as cases and hospitalizations and death rates continue to surge in major metropolitan cities and rural areas alike. The Strategic National Stockpile and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are still only able to fulfill about 30% of the requests for PPE for front-line medical and long-term care facility workers across the country, according to the federal documents, despite the President's ability to invoke the Defense Production Act to commandeer manufacturing facilities to meet the nation's needs.

Meanwhile, some high school kids in Atlanta, Georgia have taken it upon themselves to actually do something about the problem. We're joined today by SHOURYA SETH, high school senior and Chief Operating Officer for Project Paralink, a grassroots organization built with his friends to combat the coronavirus pandemic with the decentralized production producing and distribution of PPE to health workers. So far, they've managed to manufacture and donate more than 420,000 units of PPE, from face-shields to masks to more than 1,500 locations.

They've also gained some corporate support for their efforts, which are now joined by nearly 1,000 volunteers in the work to distribute much-needed protective gear in at least four states, to date. Seth says they have distributed to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama, though he tells me today they've recently begun working with California, New York, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation as well, for what they describe as "decentralization for social good" and "localized disaster relief".

Recently, he explains, "some hospitals had gone back to the position where they were only left with one week of supplies. And it was just, you know, really frustrating to see that the federal government was not doing anything about it." The project's ultimate goal, Seth explains, is to replace, or at least augment, FEMA's efforts with "Parapod Relief Stockpiles" all over the nation. He describes the project as "a guerrilla network of sorts [to] get the PPE supplies delivered faster than the federal supply chain." He also tells me that Paralink has already even outpaced FEMA in at least one respect in Georgia.

"Recently we actually passed FEMA in the donation of face shields," says Seth. "We didn't really see any coordination, at least on the gubernatorial level or the city level. On June 11th, FEMA put out a public press release, giving out state-by-state PPE data. When we looked at Georgia, what we found out was that FEMA had, at that time, only been able to produce 189,000 face shields, while we had been able to produce 370,000 face shields, essentially doubling the output. And the funny part is, some of the donations we made were to FEMA! So while we had been overproducing we had also been donating to FEMA!"

Seth tells us how how the project came about as an effort to improve food delivery logistics before the COVID crisis struck. They then decided to modify their algorithms to turn to PPE manufacturing and delivery.

"Just before the surge of cases, we started to notice a very, very slow downward trend in the cases. And we realized a lot of people, like Dr. Fauci, were talking about a second wave of the pandemic coming during the winter. We wanted to create the stockpiles in states to prepare for the future," he says. "A lot of the Republican-controlled state governments were ignoring those warnings, but we understood according to virologists, according to common sense, the cases were going to rise again." So, they sprung into action.

Seth also offers his own feelings about whether schools should be opened for in-person classes, as the Administration is now insisting upon, and asks for your help in growing the project. "If you have any sort of questions, inquiries, or ways that you can help us out, reach out to us!"

So, if you're worried about the next generation, today's conversation is likely to make you feel much better about their ability to handle --- and fix --- so much that we've already screwed up for them.

Then, another bit of encouraging and progressive news, this time from the Joe Biden Campaign today. The presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee announced a massive climate plan aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth by overhauling America's energy industry with a proposal to achieve carbon-free renewable power across the entire country by 2035. The ambitious plan echoes that offered during the Democratic primary campaign by then rival Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington state. The ambitious progressive plan would more than doubles the resources and halve the time-frame that Biden had previously proposed during the campaign. The effort to tackle our climate crisis would also, as Desi Doyen explains today, serve as a massive infrastructure jobs engine to help the U.S. climb out of the pandemic, it's accompanying economic crisis, and systemic racism, as the proposal requires that 40 percent of the money spent on clean energy deployment goes to historically disadvantaged front line communities, which have been among the worst and first victims of the climate crisis. It's a New Deal-like proposal that some might even call a Green New Deal --- if that phrase didn't startle delicate Republicans so.

Finally, we close with our latest Green News Report, as the nation attempts to deal with an extended extreme heat wave amidst our coronavirus crisis; as oil and gas companies go belly up, while both leaving environmental disasters for tax-payers to clean up and making sure their executives get huge bonuses on the way out the door; and as one venerable environmental group goes all in on ad buys highlighting Trump's deadly, parallel denial of both COVID-19 and climate change...

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Record surges in FL, TX, elsewhere; CA Guv re-closes bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, salons; Callers ring in on Trump's 'genocide'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2020 6:14pm PT  

We raise a whole bunch of topics and news from the weekend for conversation with listeners on The BradCast today, but most wanted to only to discuss the Trump Administration's twisted demand that schools reopen next month for in-person classes, even as COVID-19 cases are now exploding around the country. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Florida, on Sunday, reported a record 15,300 cases. That's a larger single day record than any state in the nation. It is more than either California at its recent peak or New York at its peak back in April. The news of Florida's quickly worsening crisis comes just days after the state announced that all schools in Florida must reopen for in-person classes for all, five days a week, despite concerns expressed by local school officials.

As Florida shattered the national record, many states, most controlled by Republican Governors, continue to hit new seven-day rolling average records of new cases (even as testing plateaus or even decreases in some states), California, with its Democratic Governor is spiking as well. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State on Monday declared that bars, indoor dining at restaurants, hair and nail salons, churches and gyms would all be shut down again in counties that are the hardest hit. Los Angeles and San Diego County both announced that the school year will reopen with remote learning instead of in-person classes, to the great relief of teachers who are, overwhelmingly, against reopening school campuses.

Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, meanwhile, appeared (poorly) on the Sunday news shows, to insist that schools must reopen, or face lost federal funding, while admitting she has absolutely no federal plan for what do when coronavirus spikes occur. That, she said, should be left to local officials --- the same local officials that she and Trump are hoping to force to reopen schools next month, even as a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds nearly 1.5 million teachers (one in four) are older than 65 or have health conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

At the same time, oddly enough, Admiral Brett Giroir, the federal government's coronavirus testing coordinator, warned on ABC News' This Week on Sunday that the U.S. shouldn't even be thinking about how to get kids back into the classroom until we get the virus under control. "When we get the virus more under control," he said, "then we can really think about how we put children back in the classroom." We suspect the Admiral may not be in his position very much longer. People who tend to tell the truth are not particularly welcome in the Trump Administration.

Getting the virus under control, of course, as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out over the weekend, is made all the more difficult, if not impossible, because the federal government is still failing --- more than four months into this crisis --- to ensure adequate testing kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) as cases spike, hospitalizations surge and the death rates began to climb in every region of the country over the past two weeks.

Trump's plan to pretend that everything is somehow normal in time for the November 3rd Presidential Election is beginning to look a whole lot like genocide or at least mass murder, as a whole bunch of callers today seem to agree. (I wanted to hear from those who disagreed with me. None of them were willing to call in for some reason, even though they frequently email me after the show. Cowards.)

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Guest: Sen. Timothy Wirth; Also: Following infection and hospitalization spikes, COVID-19 deaths now surging, as predicted, in GOP-run states...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2020 6:55pm PT  

Some pretty scary topics on today's BradCast. But don't worry! There's a Rainbow at the end of this pot of gold to help make it all just a tiny bit better! [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

First up: As we've been reporting for weeks, coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations have been surging across much of the country, particularly in states with Republican Governors who reopened far too early, despite warnings to the contrary from health experts. Throughout this epic failure, however, there has been one statistic these sociopaths have been repeatedly clinging to in recent weeks to justify their ill-considered orders to try and goose the economy in the short-term before the election by reopening, despite the obvious dangers: mortality rates from COVID-19 had not been increasing along with the spike in infection rates

Of course, as we've also been reporting for weeks, the death rate is a lagging indicator that, sure enough, follows the increase in hospitalizations. And now, especially in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and others where Republican Governors put their perceived (and twisted) political interests ahead of the health and lives of their actual constituents, death rates are now beginning to swell as expected. That, even as Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the head of his so-called White House Coronavirus Task Force, continue to mislead the public about such facts. "We are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady," Pence lied to reporters at the White House this week, while vowing to strong-arm schools into reopening for in-person classes next month --- including in Florida, where, as in Texas and Arizona, ICUs are now at capacity in much of the state, hospitals are running out of test kits and the Republican National Committee plans to hold its nominating coronation for Trump next month as well.

Governors Ron DeSantis (FL), Greg Abbott (TX), Doug Ducey (AZ) and others like them share the same buckets of blood on their hands with Trump, Pence, and the other rightwing death cultists, like Sean Hannity at Fox "News".

Then --- in even cheerier news --- it is now "not just possible but increasingly probable" that Donald Trump will steal the election, according to our guest, Colorado's former U.S. SENATOR TIM WIRTH! Writing recently at Newsweek with Editor-at-Large Tom Rogers, Wirth --- who has served in various branches of government since the Johnson and Nixon Administrations --- details a scenario in which Trump could lose not only the popular vote, but also the Electoral College votes of enough swing states to lose in a rout, but still manage to remain in office!

And, as they detail in 12 simple steps, it can all be done "legally" thanks to some obscure emergency powers granted by Congress decades ago to the President, some help from a compliant and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, and the shameless Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In short, the example scenario proffered by Wirth and Rogers involves the invocation of Presidential powers to launch an investigation into dubious claims of election fraud in several battleground states. That prevents the certification of results in those states which, as SCOTUS has previously ruled, would mean their electoral votes would not ultimately be included in the final tally. If the result was a tie or challenge to the final electoral count, the winner of the Presidential contest would, as specified by the Constitution, be determined by state delegations in the U.S. House, where Republicans currently hold the controlling majority in a majority of states (26).

While the specific scenario they spell out might seem unimaginable, their very specific step-by-step plan is both entirely plausible and, theoretically, perfectly legal. It is no more unimaginable than the idea that Donald Trump could become President of the United States in the first place.

So, Wirth warns we would be wise to begin imagining it --- and making plans for how to counter it --- immediately. "We can't wait until the middle of October or early November to ring the alarm bells," he tells me. "The alarm bells, in our opinion, have to go off now."

The scenario, as he details it, is as chilling as it sounds --- and completely imaginable under this President, who, Wirth explains, is already busily laying the ground work for such a coup. "If you look at Trump and what we've learned in the last 3 and a half years, this is a man who is absolutely deathly afraid of the word 'loser'," he argues. "He does not want to go down in history as the biggest loser in American political history. He will do everything he possibly can to avoid that and to stay in office."

"Effectively, under Article II of the Constitution, he can do practically anything that he wants to do. There are no constraints on his use of these emergency powers," says Wirth. "There is no review of these powers. The Congress actually knows very little about them. They are in statute, but held by the Justice Department and by the White House. The Congress has had little or no attention to these. They have not heard hearings about them, they don't know what's in these emergency powers, they have not reviewed them."

"Trump has no constraints on these. The Congress doesn't have any authority to check these powers. People can say, 'Well, it would go to court!' Who's going to take it to court? Barr, the Attorney General? Are they going to challenge what Trump says he's going to do?"

"The more you know, the worse it is. The more you know about these emergency powers, the more you sketch out what he may do, the more you see what he's doing in all of these swing states, how they're trying to discourage vote by mail, how he's making all kinds of wild statements about how corrupt electoral voting would be if its conducted by mail," the former Democratic Senator explains. "It would really take a failure of imagination not to begin to think... that this is not just possible, but probable. Let's connect the dots."

Wirth connects a bunch of those dots on today's show, adding to his opinion piece at Newsweek and another related warning he penned at Politico with former CO Senator Gary Hart and Carter and Clinton Administration officials Joel McCleary and Mark Medish, telling me today: "There is a danger in our system, and we have to build public attention to this, so that it doesn't happen...We should be alert to it, and aware of it, thinking about it, talking about it, and building the firewall against it."

Finally, because we suspect you need as much help as we do at shaking off today's nightmares --- and all of the ones we've endured over the past week (or even 3 an a half years) --- we close with some important advice from the great musical satirist, Randy Rainbow...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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