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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: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Lone Star State's corrupt Ken Paxton hopes to nullify millions of American votes in 4 states, undermine democracy, win a Trump pardon as prize...
By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2020 7:47pm PT  

"We will never surrender," Donald Trump told his brain-poisoned MAGA Mob over the weekend in Valdosta, Georgia after the American people decisively voted for him to lose the 2020 Election. "We will only win. We're gonna win. We always win. Somehow we find a way to win," he declared. Of course, a "win" for Trump, as we detail on today's BradCast, would require the nullification of tens of millions of lawful votes to undermine democracy and the will of the American people in order to steal the election. Trump is all in for that, as he made clear yet again today. [Audio link to full show is posted beneath summary.]

In the meantime, the Trump Campaign lost yet again in court on Tuesday night, as the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with a lower state court that there was no evidence of fraud that could have possibly reversed his loss to Joe Biden in the state by more than 33,000 votes. Team Trump has now lost more than 50 such cases in both state and federal court since Election Day, in no small part because they've failed to present any of evidence of "massive fraud" in any court, despite the false claims made by Trump dozens of times a day since then.

But he continues to try and strong-arm whoever he can --- the GOP leaders of the Michigan legislature, the Republican Governor of Georgia, the Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania House --- in hopes they will abet his unconstitutional coup. His latest "victory" in that Loser's Battle was a letter sent by about 70 members of the Pennsylvania legislature to the state's Congressional delegation to ask them to please disenfranchise every voter in the Keystone State by voting against accepting the state's 20 electors on January 6th. (Mark that day on your calendar, by the way. It's going to be a very long one. I explain why on today's show.) The Republican leader of the state Senate said she feared her house would be "bombed" if she had chosen not to sign the letter. (She didn't, but only because she wasn't given the chance.) Death threats come to all of those Republicans who do not cow to the MAGA Mob, no matter how Trumpy they may otherwise be, no matter how long they have already gamed the system to try and please him.

In Texas, the wildly corrupt, long-ago-indicted Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, the state's top "law enforcement" official, is already facing state charges for securities fraud felonies and, more recently, eight of his top, very rightwing staffers left the office and informed federal officials that Paxton has been violating the law by using his agency to do favors for a political donor. The FBI is reportedly investigating the charges of bribery and abuse of office. Paxton could probably really use a preemptive pardon and quickly from this outgoing President. This week, he came up with just the ticket that is very likely to win one for him!

Paxton filed a lawsuit on behalf of Texas directly with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to toss out the results of the elections in four states --- Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia --- claiming changes to their voting laws due to the COVID pandemic violated the U.S. Constitution. Coincidentally, there are just enough electors in those states that if they weren't allowed to vote, or if they voted for Trump instead, he could "win" the second term that he clearly lost.

We explain the ostensible basis for Paxton's suit today, which relies on a radical reading of the U.S. Constitution to nullify any and all votes cast by voters based on laws or rules or regulations set by state Governors or Secretaries of State or Boards of Elections or even state courts, rather than state legislatures only. Paxton also tosses in some long-ago debunked fraud claims that even the Trump Campaign hasn't tried to argue in their own failed lawsuits (no, there were no "suitcases full of ballots being pulled out from underneath tables" in Atlanta), and some bullshit "commonly accepted statistical tests," just for good measure, claiming, for instance, that the chances Joe Biden could win all four states against a titan of Great Americanism like Donald Trump "is less than one in a quadrillion" according to "expert analysis".

But, in the Trump Era, facts don't matter. Convincing, muscling, threatening, strong-arming Republican stooges into doing his bidding is all that matters, even if those stooges are on Trump's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. All nine Justices unanimously rejected another challenge that sought to toss out only 2.5 million votes in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Hopefully they see through this similarly transparent attempt to steal the election and/or win Paxton a preemptive pardon for his federal crimes.

Of note, the Texas state Solicitor General, who would normally take the lead on big cases to be argued before SCOTUS, didn't sign Paxton's 154-page complaint [PDF]. Only he and his new chief deputy (the last one left due to concerns about bribes the AG has allegedly taken) and a private, outside attorney were willing to do so. That attorney is presumably being paid by the taxpayer dollars of Texans who already employ hundreds of capable attorneys in the AG's office who wanted nothing to do with this case, apparently.

Nonetheless, the terrified incumbent Republican U.S. Senators in Georgia --- both facing serious challenges from Democrats in two runoff elections on January 5 that will determine control of the U.S. Senate --- issued a statement of support for the Texas Attorney General's attempt to rob Georgia's own voters, even as their own state's Republican Attorney General described the TX complaint as "constitutionally, legally and factually wrong."

In other news today that doesn't concern pathetic simpering Republicans kowtowing to a desperate, wannabe strongman, the comptroller of New York State has announced plans to divest the state's enormous, $226 billion pension fund from the fossil fuel sector, sending shockwaves through Wall Street and a jolt of excitement through the climate movement. Desi Doyen joins us to explain why this is such a big deal.

Finally, we close with our latest Green News Report on the globe's hottest November since record keeping began; the Trump EPA's decision to help kill tens of thousands of more Americans each year on their way out the door; Denmark's decision to leave the rest of their fossil fuels in the ground, and much more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Debunking wingnut 'voter fraud' nonsense while welcoming them to the fight against private voting vendors and inviting them to join our call for hand-marked paper ballots in GA's upcoming U.S. Senate runoffs...
By Brad Friedman on 11/9/2020 7:44pm PT  

Well, it took long enough --- much longer than media usually wait --- but by Saturday morning, they finally recognized the obvious by calling Pennsylvania, and thus the Presidential election, for Joe Biden. The Right --- from the religious wacko Right to the non-religious wacko Right --- are in the midst of some pretty serious denial about it all, as we share at the top of today's BradCast, along with a few quick headlines, some serious debunkery, an invitation to Republicans to join the election integrity movement, and a bunch of gleeful calls from listeners. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Among the quick headlines today: yet another rally on Wall Street in the wake of Biden's election; good news about a possible COVID vaccine (which Trump had nothing to do with!); Trump fires his Defense Secretary; more top Trump Administration officials test positive for the virus; and Biden's reported plans to issue a quick series of Executive Orders after being sworn in on January 20th to reverse some of the most egregious offenses of the Trump Era.

Then, we pick up today, somewhat, where we left off last week, debunking a number of the many absurd, evidence-free allegations of "voter fraud" being propagated by the deniers and conspiracy theorists on the Right --- from "SharpieGate" to false claims of "dead people" voting in Michigan to false claims (debunked by Fox "News"!) that Republicans were prevented from watching ballot tabulation --- as well as a look at one of the few legitimate concerns that have come to light since last Tuesday's Election Night. Namely, a concern about misreported vote tallies in Antrim County, Michigan, a small, heavily GOP-leaning area in the northern part of the state. According to the Democratic Sec. of State, the problem was due to a failure by Republican county officials to install a late update to their Election Management System software which is used to upload county results to the state at the end of the night. The problem resulted in Joe Biden momentarily appearing to have defeated Donald Trump by a landslide in the County. The error was quickly discovered, corrected and the posted results were properly reversed to reflect Trump's victory there.

But the incident (as well as the apparent losses of both MI and Georgia for the Republicans) has helped fuel a push from the Right toward demonizing Canadian-based Dominion Voting System --- the private voting system vendor in Antrim and other MI counties. While the Trumpers are falsely attacking the company as a tool of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton (even though Republican lobbyists work for the firm which has donated to Republicans), we're happy to join the critique in as much as no private company should have so much control over what are supposed to be our public elections. A call for an independent investigation and a hand-count of the county's paper ballots would be perfectly appropriate there.

Dominion is also the company which runs Georgia's elections, with a new $100+ million contract to supply 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems for in-person voting at the polls across the entire state and scanners for the state's hand-marked paper absentee ballots --- scanners which were found to have skipped counting many votes during the state's June primary.

While Biden appears to have won the state of Georgia by some 12,000 votes as of airtime (and, in Michigan, by about 150,000 votes), I invited Republicans via Twitter over the weekend (in a short threat that has gone mildly viral) to get rid of Dominion's influence over elections all together by joining me in demanding hand-marked paper ballots, publicly hand-counted, for the state's critical upcoming U.S. Senate runoff elections. Those two runoff elections will determine which party controls the upper chamber of Congress for first two years of the Biden presidency.

If the GOPers --- including folks like Eric Trump --- are serious about their concerns that "software from hell!" as Eric called it, made by Dominion somehow stole the election for Biden, they will join those of us in the fight for real Election Integrity in that call. So far, they haven't. But we can still hope.

Finally today, we open the phones for listeners to ring in following this weekend's huge news --- to gloat, to express their joy, their concerns, and much more --- as we begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of our long, if still-ongoing, national nightmare...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on Kavanaugh's terrifying, error-riddled opinion in the case that blocks WI from counting thousands of timely cast mail-in ballots; Also: Trump's very VERY bad day...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a very very bad day for Donald J. Trump and for his odds of winning re-election. At least on paper. Don't get too excited just yet. (But please do vote, ASAP, if you have not done so already! And if you're voting by mail-in ballot, do not mail it in! Deliver it in person, at this point!) [Audio link to full show is posted beneath summary.]

Among the very bad news for our failed President on Wednesday...

  • 'Anonymous' was revealed to have been the Chief of Staff of his own Dept. of Homeland Security, who has now endorsed Joe Biden;
  • The stock market --- the only thing that Trump has left to crow about --- plummeted on concerns about the startling third-peak surge in the U.S. COVID pandemic, thanks to Trump's bungled response, with the Dow falling more than 950 points;
  • Hackers defaced the Trump Campaign website;
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released an embarrassing document detailing the Trump Administration's "accomplishments", leading off with "Ending the COVID-19 pandemic"! If you have any doubts about that, they quote noticed science and technologist Ivanka Trump as supporting evidence;
  • 20 former Republican U.S. Attorneys, serving in Presidential administrations from Eisenhower to George W. Bush came out with their "strongest endorsement" for...Joe Biden. (So much for Trump as the self-proclaimed "law and order President");
  • Hundreds of Trump supporters were left stranded by the Trump Campaign in frigid temps on an airstrip in Omaha, Nebraska on Tuesday night, after Trump's latest super-spreader rally. Seven supporters were hospitalized "with a variety of medical conditions" as they waited in the dark until after midnight for buses to arrive to drive them back three miles to their cars;
  • And, all the while, the polling both nationally and in battleground states continues to appear bleak for Trump, including one (frankly, hard-to-believe) new poll from ABC News/Washington Post finding Biden up by 17 points in Wisconsin.

As noted, it was a very bad day for Donald Trump's reelection effort. At least in theory. But he still has a few Trump Cards that he believes --- with good reason --- he may be able to play at his stolen and corrupt U.S. Supreme Court. That effort will involve preventing timely cast ballots from being tabulated at all following Election Day.

If the concurrence filed in a Wisconsin case on Monday night by former GOP operative turned GOP activist Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, however, is any indication of how this scheme will work, you should plan to either laugh or cry yourself to death in the coming days.

We're joined today once again by Slate's brilliant legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to explain which of those two options is more likely at this point. Or, as he says today, "be the 'Angel of Doom' on your show, here to deliver some bad news from the heavens and generally terrify you about what's coming from our Supreme Court in the coming weeks and months."

On Monday night, the Supremes issued an order that blocked a lower federal court's ruling allowing the counting of mail-in ballots postmarked in the Badger State by Election Day that arrive up to six days after November 3rd. The opinion was a party-line 5 to 3 vote, with Kavanaugh issuing an extraordinary 18-page concurrence [PDF] with his majority vote to nullify potentially hundreds of thousands of legitimate ballots. The concurrence, however, was full of demonstrable, laughable, egregious errors of fact, including the claim that states like to declare winners on Election Night (zero of them actually do, as Stern correctly notes) and that counting ballots after Election Day might "potentially flip the results of an election."

Since elections are never certified by states on Election Night --- only the media declare "winners", in that sense --- official state results cannot be "flipped" with the counting of ballots after Election Day. It takes anywhere from days to weeks to tally ballots and certify winners even when we're not in the middle of an horrific pandemic that has resulted in an all-time record use of vote-by-mail options across the country.

That said, as insane as Kavanaugh's opinion was, both he and Trump's first stolen Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, offered a "totally deranged attempt", as Stern described it, to hew to a rejected opinion from the Bush v. Gore case in 2000 that handed the Presidency to George W. Bush. Though it came from a minority of Justices at the time --- in an opinion that specifically said it could never be used as a precedent in any other case --- it does now seem to be one of the Trump Cards that could be played to try and steal this year's election.

As Stern explains today, the portion of Bush v. Gore cited by Kavanaugh (inaccurately claiming it was from a unanimous majority opinion when it was neither unanimous nor in the majority!) was so radical at the time that even Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy refused to concur with it. Nonetheless, incredibly enough, there are now three Republican Party attorneys who worked on that Florida case in 2000 on behalf of Bush --- John Roberts, Kavanaugh and now Amy Coney Barrett --- actually sitting on the Court as Justices. That means anything could now happen, depending on how things work out as of next Tuesday night. So buckle up, as Stern details why all of this could come into play week and in the future, "because if this comes down to a few thousand or a few hundred ballots --- hoo boy --- it's going to make Bush v. Gore look like a warmup act for what's coming next."

We also get some reaction from Stern on Biden's recently stated position to call for a bi-partisan panel of Constitutional scholars to make recommendations for Court reform and/or expansion (presuming Biden wins and Dems take back the Senate), and a federal court's rejection this week of the DoJ's absurd attempt to dismiss a defamation lawsuit against Trump, filed in NY state court by columnist E. Jean Carroll who alleges he raped her in the 1990's.

Finally, we use a few minutes to name the "winner" of our recent bumper music trivia "contest" from Monday, when our guest was Ion Sancho (the legendary former Florida election official who oversaw the aborted 2000 "recount") and then, just in case you needed any more inspiration today to help ensure a landslide next week, we close with a parody song performed by Lauren Myers with lyrics written by our friend and regular guest-host Nicole Sandler!

Oh, and P.S., if you want to share that absolutely bone chilling Lincoln Project ad we opened today's show with, it's right here.

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Guest: 28-year former Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho; Also: Coronavirus begins third U.S. peak; Ransomware attack hits GA county's election infrastructure...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're now just one week from Election Day. But as today's guest underscores, we may be much farther away from knowing who actually won it, given disturbing vulnerabilities that remain in our nation's voting system, beginning --- if not ending --- in the battleground state of Florida. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the Trump Administration announced over the weekend, via White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that it is no longer even trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with Meadows telling CNN that "we aren't going to control the pandemic." Rather, he said, they'll work on mitigating its effects, eventually, through the development of therapies and vaccines.

That, as the U.S. hit its third peak of infections over the weekend, with new daily records that outpaced those from the June-July peak, which previously outpaced those from the original March-April peak. The pandemic is getting far worse, not better, and it's now being super-spread by the President of the United States himself at maskless rallies around the country. The virus which has now killed almost a quarter of a million Americans in the past six months is also being similarly spread by Vice President Mike Pence at rallies, even after five of his top staffers and advisers, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short, were revealed over the weekend to have tested positive.

On Monday morning, Trump actually tweeted that reporting on COVID numbers should now be outlawed. At the same time, talks on a new emergency relief package for the American people, between the White House and Democrats in the U.S. House, collapsed yet again. And, in response to all of the above, the Dow plummeted 650 points on Monday.

Things are not going well, just one week out from Election Day, even after some 60 million Americans have already cast their vote this year, outpacing all early voting from 2016.

But, if you think Election Day will be the answer to all of our woes --- while I pray you are right --- you may want to hedge that bet. One of my greatest fears about the election, a ransomware attack, appears to already be playing out in one county in the battleground state of Georgia. In Hall County, a ransomware attack has hit the county's elections infrastructure by taking out its voter signature database and a precinct map hosted on its website. If a similar attack were to occur on or before Election Day, in any one of the thousands of counties which now rely on the Internet or networked computers to allow voters to cast a vote at all, we could see absolute chaos. This President, of course, is all to ready to exploit such a case to his advantage with the help of gerrymandered Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country and a compliant (and stolen) U.S. Supreme Court (made even more stolen today by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in the U.S. Senate.)

Down in the critical battleground of Florida, as my guest explains today, voters may never even know if the election is stolen from them. That guest today is the legendary, former 28-year Supervisor of Elections in Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida, ION SANCHO, who was so well-respected by his peers on both the right and left he was appointed to oversee the eventually-aborted year 2000 recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush in the Sunshine State.

On Friday, Sancho sent an urgent letter [PDF] to the Supervisors of Elections in 47 of Florida's 67 counties which use wireless cellular modems to transmit precinct election results to county headquarters after the close of polls on Election Night. The letter warns that those modems --- and the Internet connections to them at the counties' central tabulators --- can be easily hacked "from anywhere in the world." If they are, he explains on today's program, it's very likely that such a hack, changing election results, would never be noticed by election officials.

"The issue is that we’re using equipment that is not secure," Sancho tells me. "To quote Sen. Marco Rubio, 'Many Florida election officials are arrogant over their belief that they can’t be touched, that they are secure.' And this is a state that does not compare the numbers that we generate on those electrical optical scanners to the actual, physical votes on the piece of paper. We’re completely dependent upon those electronic totals on Election Night."

Manual examination of hand-marked paper ballots in Florida, to make sure the reported computer tabulation was correct, is prohibited by state law. Sancho details his concerns about those modems --- which are not federally certified for use in elections --- and how the state's election officials can avoid the threat posed by this very serious vulnerability to the state's election infrastructure. Making matters worse, he notes, "We do not audit the paper ballots to confirm that the election totals are correct. And that’s a huge, huge problem – not just in Florida, but everywhere in the country."

"Most of the election officials were not even aware that their systems were connected [to the Internet], because the vendor [in this case, ES&S, the nation's largest] never told them. You’re almost 100% dependent upon the vendor for the information about your system. So our most public process – our elections process, which is public – really are controlled by private entities."

"The worst-case scenario," with the modems now used in the systems in Florida, "is that a man-in-the-middle attack could actually intercept the totals that are being electronically-transmitted over the Internet, and manipulate them --- not only to the central tabulator, but re-routing back into the actual digital voting machine and altering the results in that device," he warns. "You could have a complete disaster here."

Sancho may be familiar to some listeners from his landmark appearance in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, in which he allows an experiment by "white hat" Finnish hacker Harri Hursti. In the film's climactic scene, we see an actual hack of one of Leon County's optical scan systems, as carried out by Hursti in a mock election. The hack flips the results of the election in a way that would never be noticed by elections officials, save for a manual examination of the hand-marked paper ballots cast.

Sancho also offers his concerns today about whether the 2020 Presidential election could become a redux of what played out in Florida in 2000, when a weeks-long battle to determine who would be President of the United States was kicked off on Election Night, after an optical-scan tabulator --- for reasons still unknown to this day --- recorded negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County. The election was ultimately decided in favor of Bush by an "official" margin of just 527 votes, thanks to a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court which stopped Sancho's statewide hand recount from ever being completed...

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On safeguarding the 2020 election and worsening economic inequailty...
By Desi Doyen on 7/24/2020 3:33pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Then, Brad's conversation on 6/12/2020 with voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones, on the fight against Republicans' new surge of voter suppression during the coronavirus pandemic and steps we can take to prevent a stolen election this November.

We'll be back soon!

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Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

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Surprise! The Peach State's new $104 million, unverifiable touchscreen vote system melts down in its first statewide election; Also: IPS' Chuck Collins on inequality and the 'Wall Street casino' coronavirus jackpot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have predicted it? Another Election Day meltdown in Georgia? Even with the brand new, $104 million, unverifiable, disease-vector touchscreen voting system the state's Republican Secretary of State forced every voter in the state to use at the polls for the first time during Tuesday's twice-postponed Presidential primary in the critical battleground state? Yup. And what has been happening on Wall Street of late underscores how perilous this moment is, and the need to save the voting system in the battleground Peach State before the critical November 3rd elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Yes, as we've been warning for years now, the roll out of Secretary Brad Raffensperger's new computerized voting system would be a disaster for Georgia voters --- at least for those in or near Atlanta in some of the most heavily Democratic, heavily minority counties in the state. Voters reported wait times as long as 2, 3 and 4 hours in precinct after precinct, to cast their votes today --- even those who showed up before 6am in hopes of being first in line!

New computerized electronic poll-books failed. New computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed. New optical-scan computers used to scan the unverifiable ballots printed out by the $4,000 electronic pens (BMDs) failed. What didn't fail was Raffensperger's propensity to blame county officials and poll workers who risked their lives to help voters vote during a deadly pandemic for his own failures to implement a simple, verifiable and much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system.

More disturbing, the outrageous (if predictable) catastrophic failures of his new systems --- featuring touchscreens made by Canada's Dominion Voting Systems --- come even after Raffensperger ordered absentee ballot applications sent to each of the state's 6.9 million active registered voters (whatever "active" means in his assessment) to help mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 on state voters. Many of those in the same counties which saw huge lines at a reduced number of polling places on Tuesday reported never receiving their requested absentee ballots in the mail.

Today, we detail just some of the hundreds of reported nightmares voters faced trying to vote on Tuesday in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Muscogee and other counties in the Peach State, as voting equipment was missing altogether at some polling places when they opened; as hand-marked paper ballots quickly ran out at precincts where electronic voting systems couldn't be booted up or failed to work properly once they were turned on; as County officials called for official investigations; and as Raffensperger tried to blame it all on everyone but himself. Yes, we have spent many months (in fact, years now) detailing the lawsuits filed against him, as voters (and some counties) begged him to to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system instead.

Then: No, you are not crazy. You are not imagining it. Yes, up is down and down is up right now. Coronavirus infection rates are, indeed, spiking in a whole bunch of states that have opened up for business around the U.S., despite many collectively pretending the nightmare is over. It isn't. But much of the nation, encouraged by Donald Trump and his supporters, is now pretending otherwise. Similarly, on Wall Street, investors are pretending that the economy is great and the worst of the coronavirus pandemic's shock to the U.S. financial system is over. Of course, we now know the economy had already gone into recession as of February, even before the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns had begun, ending an 11-year economic expansion that started during Barack Obama's administration and ended under Trump's.

But Wall Street is decidedly not the economy, where, back here in the real world, tens of millions of Americans are newly jobless amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Nonetheless, on Wall Street, the Nasdaq closed at a record high on Tuesday and both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes have rallied back in recent days to near the record highs they were at before the economy crashed. Billionaires on Wall Street are so drunk with irrational exuberance and flush with decades of sweet sweet tax cut cash that they are even beginning to buy up shares in companies that have filed for bankruptcy amid the crash.

According to the Institute of Policy Study's updated "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report, between March 18 (roughly the start of the pandemic shutdown), through the fist week of June, "U.S. billionaire's total wealth surged by over $565 billion," even as 42.6 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment. What explains the obscene inequality between the billionaire oligarch class and all of the rest of us?

We're joined today by CHUCK COLLINS, co-author of the IPS study as Director of their Program on Inequality and the Common Good, where he co-edits Inequality.org, to explain what happened and how we can --- and must --- begin to correct the absurd, decades-long and still-growing imbalances in our economy.

"Only 14% of Americans have direct investments in stock," Collins explains. "So this tells us the story of how the top ten percent --- and in this case, how the billionaires --- are seeing their wealth surge during an unfortunate time for everyone else."

"We're now at the culmination of four decades of growing income and wealth inequality. As we went into the pandemic, we were at maybe our greatest unequal level since the Gilded Age. And the reality is, since 2009, only about 20 percent of households have recovered where they were in terms of savings and net worth prior to the Great Recession of 2008. So, think about that --- 80 percent of households went into the pandemic with an economic hangover, still not really fully back on their feet in the last eleven years. This recession and pandemic are going to supercharge the existing income and wealth inequalities that we are already living through."

Collins charges that "we're just absorbing now the pre-existing condition of extreme inequality in America," while reminding us that America did manage to "reverse the first Gilded Age" about 100 years ago. But, he cautions, "It required the fight of our lives. And that's what we're heading into."

As you might suspect, the solutions begin (though do not end) at the ballot box. But, he says, as he details a number of programs that could reverse our current Gilded Age, "the pressure is building" and "people understand the rich have been gaming the system." But, the reversal will not come easily, as "we're living in an oligarchy where the rich use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the 2020 hurricane season is already breaking records; as the Trump Administration is using coronavirus Shock Doctrine politics to roll back tons of public health and endangered species protections while few are noticing; and as record warmth in May has resulted in a catastrophic oil spill on the melting permafrost in Siberia...

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Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen; Also: PA Repubs kept COVID infection a secret from Dems; Absentee ballot applications for all in WI...
By Brad Friedman on 5/28/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's concierge service from the Fed for Wall Street during the crisis, as American workers are left fighting for table scraps to stay alive. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

New weekly unemployment numbers out on Thursday from the U.S. Dept. of Labor suggest that while new jobless claims are beginning to slow, they are still coming in each week at all-time record numbers. Another 2.1 million Americans filed new claims last week, bringing the number of unemployed to Great Depression era levels of nearly 41 million Americans out of work. Another way to look at it is that a staggering one in four working Americans has filed for unemployment over the past 10 weeks since the COVID-19 crisis began in earnest in the U.S. Those official government numbers [PDF], however, are still lower than the real unemployment numbers, as millions are believed still stuck in line or having trouble getting through to still-overburdened state unemployment offices.

"A closer depiction of reality in the crisis," our guest DAVID DAYEN of The American Prospect, reports today, is a recent Census Bureau survey finding "that nearly half of all households have lost income" since the crisis struck in mid-March. At the very same time, however, as jobs are still disappearing and S&P 500 companies report an average 13% loss in profits during the first quarter of the year, the stock market has been soaring of late. Even with today's record jobless numbers, the market continued to rise (though it dropped a bit just before today's close) with the Dow up over 1,000 points in the past three days and the S&P 500 reporting record gains over the past month.

Another study cited by Dayen today comes from the Institute for Policy Studies, finding that "since March 18, as 100,000 died from COVID-19 and 40 million lost their jobs, billionaires in America have added $485 billion in wealth." Must be nice. So why is this happening? Why does the economy appear to be tanking everywhere except for on Wall Street?

Dayen, who, in his daily "Unsanitized" columns at The Prospect has been reporting for weeks on the "$4.5 trillion money cannon" unleashed by the Federal Reserve, with the approval of Congress in the CARES Act. He explains how that relief bill gave the go-ahead for the Fed to signal in late March, for the first time in history, that they will backstop corporate debt for huge companies. Without spending a dime, the signal the Fed gave on March 23rd is that investors didn't have to worry about about any risk associated with buying bonds from those companies. The Fed would back them up in the event the companies failed. So, as Dayen detailed this week, troubled firms like Carnival Cruise Lines, which is unable to make a penny now in the cruise line business, and Boeing, which was already in trouble before the coronavirus crisis began, are still raking in tens of millions (even billions) of dollars in the bargain. And, since the funding is coming from private equity firms and hedge funds (as guaranteed by the federal government), that "mothers milk", as Dayen describes it, is coming with no strings attached, unlike direct loans from the Government's CARES Act might have. That means, he says, that at least 49 major companies have brought in enormous sums of money during the crisis this way, even as they've laid off tens of thousands of workers at the very same time while using their windfall of cheap money to pay executive bonuses and purchase stock buybacks as working class American suffer in a way they haven't since the Great Depression.

"What idiot would send money to Carnival Cruise lines right now?," Dayen quips, before explaining how the Fed's announcement gave the go ahead to private equity firms to invest in the company anyway. "What they're saying is 'We're going to support the entire market'. ... They're essentially saying to investors, we will take care of you, we will do whatever it takes. The markets take that as a signal that they're going to be coddled, they're going to be protected, and that's all it takes."

This was all done with the approval of both parties in Congress, even as some Dems are now beginning to regret giving no-string attached approval to Donald Trump's Treasury Dept./Federal Reserve money cannon. "When you defer to the Fed as your main policy-making engine in the country, you're going to get disproportionate responses, because the Fed deals with banks and they deal with large corporations. And that's who is going to get the relief. Not the average person on the street."

"When ordinary people, 40 million strong, have to go on to the unemployment lines, they get limited, temporary relief that will probably go away very soon, and they struggle to obtain food and figure out how to maintain their shelter," Dayen explains. "The problem is not that large companies got a bailout from something that wasn't of their own making --- the coronavirus crisis --- the problem is that there's one system for elite investors and large corporations and one system for everybody else."

How long can this last? Dayen discusses that as well, as states and municipalities around the country are themselves facing massive revenue shortages and fiscal year budget deadlines by July 1 in many cases. Without Congress enacting another relief bill for those states and municipalities, critical local services will soon be slashed. Cops, firefighters, teachers, and even medical workers will be laid off amid the continuing global pandemic, gutting revenue to those states even further. Democrats in the House have already passed a $3 trillion bill to help out state and local governments. Republicans in the Senate, however, have said they are in no rush to take any further action for now.

We also discuss the unimaginable politicization of this pandemic, where even the idea that measures to keep Americans alive has now become a political hot potato just five months before the crucial November elections.

That unimaginable politicization is now on full display in Pennsylvania, where a Republican state lawmaker disclosed on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. While he had known for at least ten days, he told only his Republican colleagues in the House. Democrats were left in the dark, even as GOPers in the gerrymandered House demanded in-person committee hearings where Dems were unknowingly put in contact with colleagues who had been in contact with the infected Rep and didn't even bother to wear masks during hearings demanding the reopening of businesses in the state. One Democratic Representative from Philadelphia unleashed a tirade during a Facebook Live video Wednesday night (which we share on today's show), calling on the GOP Speaker of the House to resign and for the state Attorney General to consider prosecution of those members who endangered the others along with their families. All of which underscores, yet again, the importance of the upcoming election and the reckoning that should come with it.

To that end, we've got some good news out of the state of Wisconsin (for a change), where the bi-partisan state Election Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to send absentee ballot applications to all of the Badger State's 2.7 million registered voters before the November election. That, in hopes of avoiding the nightmarish consequences of the state's April 7th primary when GOP state lawmakers refused to agree to the Democratic Governor's attempt to postpone the election or extend absentee balloting to keep residents safe during the crisis. So, will Donald Trump threaten to cut off funding to WI as he did last week when Michigan announced their intention to also sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters? Stay tuned.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with troubling predictions from NOAA for hurricane season; the plague of locusts spreading from Africa to India; New York and New Jersey reject a proposal for a new fracked-gas pipeline; and a new $14 million ad campaign ties Trump's deadly coronavirus denial to his long-standing deadly denial of our climate crisis...

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* If 'Greatness' means record unemployment and tens of thousands of unnecessarily dead Americans..
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2020 6:59pm PT  

Remember waaay back on Monday when we warned you to take the news from biotech company Moderna about their self-proclaimed early success in tests of a coronavirus vaccine with a huge grain of salt? The announcement that spiked their stock price some 50% in one single day and resulted in a 900 point rally for the Dow? Well, the market is still enjoying its irrational exuberance, but Moderna's stock price is largely back to where it was before Monday's "science by press release". Not to be a party pooper before the Memorial Day weekend, but that seems an apt analog, somehow, for much of what we cover/warn about on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]

Donald Trump and his Republican henchmen in Congress are running into a problem. Pretending the coronavirus crisis away only goes so far. Sure, you can announce that you have "reopened" for business, but that doesn't mean anybody will show up. Even with all 50 states now relaxing various restrictions, demand remains low and, therefore, unemployment remains high and is still getting higher each week.

New numbers from the U.S. Dept. of Labor report that 2.4 million Americans filed new unemployment claims last week. It is the ninth week in a row of new claims higher than 2 million --- some weeks were larger than 6 million --- even though the all-time weekly record, prior to COVID-19, was less than one million. Even during the 2008 Great Recession, initial claims for unemployment insurance never topped one million. The good news is the number of new filers has been decreasing in recent weeks. The bad news is that almost all of those people, nearly 40 million of them, remain out of work. For now, however, they have been able to rely on expanded benefits enacted by Congress that offer an additional $600 a week through the end of July. The program was designed to, yes, keep people at home in order to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Those payments have, by and large, prevented the U.S. economy from tanking entirely. And now, Republicans in Congress are insisting that they will not extend those benefits, as they join Trump in trying to convince themselves and the nation that the crisis is over. It isn't. Not by a long shot. Ending that expansion of unemployment right now in hopes of forcing workers back to their jobs --- where they may well get sick and die, just as had been happening before the shutdowns --- in hopes of restarting the economy, is likely to kill the economy entirely, according to economists, anyway. But what do they know? We discuss.

In lieu of an actual plan --- versus a Jedi Mind Trick --- to prevent a new rise in infections and deaths, Trump and his GOP pals seem prepared to hide the statistics and otherwise distract us with things like a new, wholly (and statutorily) unqualified Director of National Intelligence! Gutting a long-standing arms control deal with Russia! And trying to blame Obama for all sorts of imaginary scandals in hopes of harming presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden.

It shouldn't work. But, given our gullible corporate media, who knows? Satirist Randy Rainbow, however, has a new musical take on it all for us today.

While Republicans on Fox "News" are instructing their "patriotic" American cult members to get out there and get back to work, their star anchors continue to do so from the safety of their own home studios, where Fox Corp has directed them to remain for at least another month. YOU are supposed to die for the economy and the President's reelection! Not THEM!

And the irrational exuberant premature reopenings could well make a huge difference in the ultimate COVID-19 death toll, if a new study about the timing of the initial lockdowns from Columbia University disease modelers tells us anything. They find that a heart-breaking 36,000 fewer Americans would have died if the country had implemented stay-at-home restrictions just one week earlier in March. Moreover, the researchers found, had shutdowns occurred on March 1 the vast majority (83%) of deaths would have been avoided. Each single day that Trump and Governors around the country ignored or refused too take the crisis seriously resulted in the unnecessary loss of thousands of American lives.Depending on how quickly and/or irresponsibly states now lift restrictions, many more thousands of lives could be lost. Given the way a number of GOP-run states are now attempting to hide or censor infection and death rates, the cost could ultimately become unspeakable.

Another new study from the University of Wisconsin and Ball State University offers a real life example of all of this. The analysis found that last month's primary election in Wisconsin --- when the state's rightwing Supreme Court blocked attempts by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to postpone the election or switch it to an all Vote-by-Mail election --- resulted in a "statistically and economically significant association between in-person voting and the spread of COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election." They found that WI counties "with higher levels of in-person voting per polling location led to increases in the weekly positive rate of COVID-19 tests. Furthermore, counties with higher absentee voting participation had lower rates of detecting COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election."

Yes, these decisions matter. Lives hang in the balance. No matter the Jedi Mind Trick Trump was hoping to pull off when he recently declared: "We're opening up; the states are opening up. It's a transition to greatness!" Perhaps "greatness" is now just another word for mass murder.

Finally today, a bit of email from a listener in the Badger State who now regards it as "Wississippi," and Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with ongoing climate disasters --- yes, our climate crisis continues even as the coronavirus has temporarily cleared the air a bit --- from the state of Michigan to the Bay of Bengal...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

P.S. By the way, we are ducking out early for some much needed Memorial Day weekend down time. Yes, my brain actually hurts each day these days. Hopefully a few days off will help. See ya on the other side! Stay safe and healthy until then!

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Trump fires another IG, this one investigating Pompeo; Amash declines to run for Prez; MO allows absentee voting for all (sort of); CA relaxes reopen rules; Anti-lockdown protester threatens journo; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2020 6:20pm PT  

It's a race to stupid. And we're all winning! Or losing. Depends on how you choose to look at, apparently. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • The stock market soars on the barest of evidence that a vaccine could be on the way. Eventually. But irrational exuberance is...well...irrational;
  • Trump fired the State Department Inspector General on Friday night. It was the fourth independent executive agency watchdog that Trump has axed over the past six weeks as he continues to dismantle all governmental oversight of the Executive Branch and what is virtually the last firewall against corruption by the most corrupt Administration in the history of the nation. In this case, the firing seems to have been carried out unlawfully by the President at the request of Sec. of State Mike Pompeo who is under investigation by the IG for forcing agency personnel to run personal errands for him and his wife, as well as for his part in funneling some $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia under the guise of Trump's phony "Emergency Declaration". The sales are in contradiction to a bipartisan vote by Congress last year, specifically denying the appropriation;
  • Former Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan decided over the weekend that he will not run for President on the Libertarian Party ticket after all;
  • In Missouri, under pressure from an ACLU lawsuit, the GOP-dominated state legislature passed a law on Friday allowing all registered voters to vote with an absentee ballot if they so choose. That's good. However, those who are not either ill or at "high risk of serious complications from COVID-19" must still have their ballot verified by a Notary Public before it may be sent or counted. So, yeah, voters will still be forced to put themselves at risk in order to vote in the Show-Me state this November;
  • And in Long Island, New York, anti-lockdown protesters threatened a journalist reporting on their protests by running at him without masks on. "No," one of the jackasses is seen saying as he charges the reporter, "I got hydroxychloroquine! I'm fine!";
  • We then open the phones to listeners to ring in on all of the above as well as on an interesting question the BBC posed to its audience over the weekend: "If you could go back to the start of the year and give yourself some pre-lockdown advice, knowing what was about to happen, what advice would that be?". Tune in for the answers!...

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Burr gets served; Barr gets blowback; Flynn gets a new 'prosecutor'; Trump gets overturned; Also: American Prospect's David Dayen on coronavirus economics and what Congress is (and isn't) doing about it...
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2020 7:01pm PT  

It's another one of those days on The BradCast when we've got more news than we can adequately handle. On the upside, much of it is actually encouraging news for a happy change! At least for those of us who have yet to give up on the idea of accountability for corrupt, very very bad people. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • The FBI served a warrant on Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) Wednesday night, seizing his cell phone as part of an investigation into a huge number of stocks he unloaded on a single day before the stock market crashed on bad coronavirus news which he received early as the Chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee and a member of the Committee overseeing health care issues. On Thursday, amid what appears to be a very serious scandal, Burr "temporarily" stepped down as head of the bipartisan Intel Committee. But there may be much more behind this otherwise seemingly good news of a Republican Senator actually being held accountable for something. We discuss;
  • The federal judge overseeing the case against Donald Trump's first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is not taking the DoJ's unprecedented recent motion to dismiss all charges against him at face value. Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to FBI officials about his contacts with Russians before Trump's inauguration and about secretly serving as a Turkish agent even while serving as National Security Advisor in the White House may not yet be off the hook. That, even after Trump's corrupt AG/fixer Bill Barr is attempting to toss two years of DoJ prosecution, without the approval of the actual DoJ career prosecutors, in hopes of keeping Trump's pal out of jail. The federal judge on the case has appointed a bulldog former prosecutor and federal judge to argue against the DoJ's new position after Barr merged it with that of Flynn's Defense team. Judge Emmet Sullivan has also asked the newly retained Judge John Gleeson to investigate whether Flynn committed perjury by lying to the court when he twice admitted lying to federal officials;
  • Still more encouraging accountability news came out of a federal appeals court in Virginia today, with the Fourth Circuit reversing a ruling from a three-judge panel (of Republican-appointed judges) last year. The full en banc panel held, in a 9 to 6 ruling, that the smaller group of judges had wrongly dismissed a Constitutional Emoluments Clause lawsuit filed against Trump. The complaint was brought by the Attorneys General of Maryland and D.C., arguing that Trump's hotel in the nation's capital --- now a favorite spot of world diplomats and others seeking favor from the Administration --- violates the Constitutional prohibition against President's receiving "any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state" or any state in the U.S. Naturally, the DoJ is now vowing to appeal to the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court;

From all of that (potentially) encouraging accountability news, we move on to....the economy and DAVID DAYEN of The American Prospect. First, new jobless numbers from the Labor Department once again highlight the crushing toll that the COVID-19 crisis is taking on the nation's economy, with nearly 3 million having filed for unemployment last week. We have now seen two straight months of unprecedented new weekly jobless claims from 3 to 6.5 million each and every week. The previous weekly record, before this crisis, was less than one million. The official unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April, the highest since the Great Depression, after more than 20 million jobs --- a decade's worth or job growth --- simply vanished over the past two months. Economist believe the actual unemployment rate, including those not currently looking for work or who are still unable to access overburdened state facilities to apply for unemployment --- is closer to 24%. At the same time, a new Kaiser Family Foundation report estimates that 27 million Americans have lost their employer-based health insurance due to the crisis, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is calling for much more money to be appropriated by Congress to "avoid long-term economic damage". That, even after Congress already appropriated a record $2 trillion in stimulus and relief packages and the Fed itself has committed nearly $4 trillion to shore up companies and, in theory, the economy.

Dayen, an author and investigative financial journalist, has been documenting the stumbling Congressional responses to the crisis in his daily "Unsanitized" column and newsletter, and explains how the massive unemployment numbers we are now seeing was largely by Congressional design. He also details the state of play today for the next Congressional relief package, including a mini uprising from progressives on Nancy Pelosi's Democratic side in the House and the complete inaction on the Republican side from Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Trump in the White House. Dayen details the "laundry list of ideas" included in Pelosi's $3 trilion Heroes Act, which may come up for a vote on Friday in the House, though is unlikely to get much further as is, and a disturbing provision in the measure that would actually serve as a bailout for lobbyists and dark money groups. We debate whether that would be a good or bad idea and exactly why. (David calls it "insane", I'm not quite as certain...)

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen on the failure of coronavirus relief measures and 'Great Depression II'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Don't believe a word you are being told by the Administration or Wall Street. Actual facts and data suggest its almost entirely all bullshit. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The economic outlook in the U.S. continues to quickly degrade in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with another record 6.6 million applying for unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total number of jobless claims to an unheard of 17 million or so in the past three weeks alone, with millions more unable to even apply for benefits due to still-overloaded websites and continuously busy phone lines at states across the country. The all-time weekly record for jobless claims, until three weeks ago, was 695,000. Over the past three weeks it has been 3.2 million, followed by 6.6 million, followed again by another 6.6 million.

The numbers are stultifying. For example, that 17 million figure is more than the total number of jobs added since 2013; far more than the total number of jobs in the 20 smallest U.S. states combined; and far more than every single job in the state of Texas, which has the 2nd largest state workforce in the country. The unemployment rate, believed to now be at least 12%, goes far beyond the worst days of the Great Recession and are now in Great Depression territory, with some independent economists refering to what we are now looking at as "Great Depression II". (Check out the two gobsmacking charts in WaPo's coverage today.)

And, yet, despite those data, and still climbing coronavirus cases and deaths, we are getting a whole lot of happy talk from the Administration. And not just from our desperate, pathetic Liar-in-Chief, from whom we'd expect it, but from folks like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who absurdly suggested today on CNBC that America "could be open for business" by May! Donald Trump's Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell assured the Brookings Institution that the "strong economic footing" before the COVID-19 crisis will support a "robust" recovery, as if we could expect one any day now! All of which was enough to continue the recent Wall Street rally that resulted in the biggest weekly jump in the S&P 500 since 1974!

Everything must be going great! But, of course, it isn't. At least not back here in Realityville, where the "irrational exuberance" (as long-ago Fed Chair Alan Greenspan once described it) of the Administration and Wall Street is nowhere near seeing its way to Main Street. That, even though the Fed announced $2.3 trillion in new funding schemes --- creating money out of nowhere (no Congress needed, thanks!) --- in hopes of offsetting the impact of the pandemic on the economy. The Fed initiative includes something they are calling the "Main Street Lending Program" to shovel money to "Main Street" companies with up to 10,000 workers and less than $2.5 billion in revenue. Ya know, like most of those business on your friendly local "Main Street".

At the same time, none of the promised, measly $1,200 checks for individuals from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act have made their way to Americans yet (Mnuchin says "next week!"), and the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the same emergency relief package adopted by Congress two weeks ago is still said to be mired in bureaucratic red tape at the commercial banks tapped to hand out the money (and take a cut in the bargain). There is little if any money actually getting to people and small businesses that need it most at the moment, even as Congress was bickering again on Thursday about adding another $250 billion to the program which will still be woefully underfunded even then.

But, somehow, Wall Street and the Administration are sending the message that all will be well, with America "back in business" as early as May! Don't count on it.

Investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily and indispensable "Unsanitized" report (which warned about all of these matters before they happened today and were only then picked up by the corporate mainstream media) joins us again to help unpack the details on all of the above, more related failures, and a few that we should be expecting in the days ahead, as the dire situation gets worse and the irrational exuberance and happy talk from D.C. and Wall Street continues impotently.

"John Edwards used to talk about the 'Two Americas'," Dayen notes. "Those two sets of statistics couldn't be starker about the Two Americas. Investors are letting the good times roll, while ordinary Americans are losing their jobs in numbers with a speed that we have never seen before."

"The difference between 2008 and today is that, in 2008, the institutions that were getting this largess were largely responsible for the downturn, whereas these businesses pretty much aren't responsible for the coronavirus. When you look at the proportionality of the response --- when you look at the neighborhood pizza shop or the neighborhood dry cleaner, and what they have to go through to survive in this Second Depression --- and you look at a 'main street' business with 10,000 workers, or the airlines, or some other large businesses, the velvet rope service they are getting, it is obviously very disproportional," he tells me.

"So let's not say nobody has been helped. We sped relief where we could, to the people who this bill was for, and that's investors on Wall Street."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, with some actual good news --- even if it is paired, as usual, with her usual dose of much less than good news...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was an action-packed BradCast today, though not in a good way, unfortunately, thanks to Republicans and their state Supreme Court majority in Wisconsin. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, as we've been telling you for weeks, there is absolutely no plan at the federal level for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic --- on either a medical level or an economic level --- even months after the Trump Administration first learned about it. The $2.2 trillion so-called Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, hastily adopted by Congress and signed by the President just over a week ago is a mess.

Individual checks for $1,200 may take months to get to many Americans (if they get them at all) and the process for doling out $350 billion allocated by the measure towards immediate relief for small businesses via forgivable loans is even more of a disaster out of the gate. Banks, serving as middlemen, are not set up for the onslaught of applications that began on Friday, with many applicants being turned away entirely by the largest banks, and with nowhere near enough money included in the pool to serve the 30 million companies considered eligible small businesses. Our guest today suggests that no more than 5% of businesses who need help under the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are likely to receive the immediately needed loans before the funding runs out.

Moreover, there is still no nationalized plan by the Trump Administration to ensure that states have all of the basic equipment they need --- from masks, gloves and gowns to ventilators and test kits --- as supply chains have become an all out "Wild West show, with middlemen and drop points and plane rescues," according to our guest DAVID DAYEN, financial investigative journalist and Executive Editor of The American Prospect. He is now producing his indispensable "Unsanitized: Covid-19 Daily Report" column and newsletter at The Prospect.

He reports that it is not only states competing with other states and the federal government for critical life-saving equipment, but that the federal government (FEMA) is also competing with the federal government (the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS), bidding up the same gear! All of this as U.S. deaths officially attributed to COVID-19 blew past the 10,000 mark on Monday, with a week ahead that could include a "9/11 attack worth of Americans" dying, day after day, for 10 days in a row beginning in the next few days, according to one of the more conservative data projections.

Dayen offers detail on much of the above and the problem that many Americans are also now facing in their attempts to file for bankruptcy protection --- at a time that many desperately need to do so --- with courthouses shutdown around the country, and only those lucky enough to be able to afford an attorney able to file electronically.

As CNN's Jake Tapper made clear on Sunday: there is no plan for any of this. It is a disaster that is likely to continue for months (at least) with no competent officials leading the way at the federal level, and absolutely no ultimate plan to help us get out, eventually, from under what is likely to be as bad or worse than the Great Depression. That, despite the "irrational exuberance" exhibited today by a Wall Street that seems to be in utter denial.

Then, where we had hoped when today's show began to bring you the long overdue good news that Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers finally did the right thing on Monday morning by issuing an Executive Order to postpone tomorrow's Presidential Primary, state Supreme Court election and municipal races until June 9, we were forced to change course mid-show after the state's Rightwing Supremes blocked Evers' order along a 4 to 2 party line vote.

Therefore, unless something changes, where Badger State voters can find an open polling place tomorrow (scores of municipalities found zero poll workers willing to face death to man the polls, and Milwaukee's usual 180 polling sites are being reduced to just 5!), voters will have to risk their lives to cast a vote in person on Tuesday. After Republicans had their way with the state Supremes, they have also filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an order by a federal judge last week that allowed 6 extra days for voters to turn in absentee ballots, many of which have not yet even arrived to voters on the day before the Election (when they would otherwise be due.) After air time, it appears that the stolen Republican Majority on SCOTUS has also decided with their GOP brethren in WI, and voted along party lines to overturn the federal judge's extension of the deadline for absentee ballots. Tens of thousands will be disenfranchised in the bargain.

It is a chaotic mess and electoral disaster. But, more to the point, it is a DEADLY disaster in the making, with Republicans in the state all too happy to condemn voters to potential death because they think more Democrats will be affected and possibly killed, and they hope that their incumbent Republican state Supreme Court Justice, who is on the ballot on Tuesday, will prevail under these conditions. It is appalling and Americans should get ready for much more of this in the months ahead, with more than 20 states still to cast their postponed primary votes, and all 50 states preparing to figure out how to run an election during a deadly pandemic this November. One of the two major parties has made clear that they are more than happy to place their retention of political power over the lives of actual American citizens.

Finally, today, we open up the phones to allow a few callers from the coronaverse to ring in....

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Guest: Former health insurance exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: Depth of unprecedented crisis slowly coming to light despite 'World of Pure Imagination' from White House to Wall Street...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2020 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We are finally beginning to hear, at least from some in the media, about the unprecedented and nearly inconceivable depth of the crisis that coronavirus will wreak on both the lives of Americans and the U.S./world economy. But, for the moment, it's already wreaking havoc on the Presidential Primary election astonishingly still scheduled for this Tuesday in Wisconsin! And, in not unrelated news, employee health care plans, so zealously guarded during the peak of the Democratic Presidential Primary earlier this year, may have actually helped make the pandemic worse than it needed to be in the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of article.]

First up, Florida's mini-Trump Governor Ron DeSantis finally gave up the Fox "News" denial ghost on Wednesday and issued a statewide Stay-at-Home order for the Sunshine State. How many lives might have otherwise have been saved had he acted sooner, as health experts had been long imploring, remains to be seen.

But it's not only Republican Governors who appear in denial about the issue. Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, while responsibly issuing a statewide Stay-at-Home order on March 24, has nonetheless been supportive of the state holding its Presidential Primary, statewide Supreme Court election and municipal contests as scheduled NEXT TUESDAY, on April 7, in the middle of a global pandemic! (Not to mention amid his own Stay-at-Home order!) While Evers says that only the Republican-majority legislature has the legal authority to postpone it or mandate an all-mail election, state GOPers have agreed with the Governor's plan to move forward as scheduled. The result is already catastrophic.

There is a massive shortage of poll workers across the state, with more than 100 communities having no poll workers at all as of yesterday, with an overall shortage of some 7,000 workers in 60% of the state's municipalities. Evers has now called in the National Guard to work the polls, but it appears to be too little too late. The matter now comes down to the decision of a federal judge as to whether to postpone or not, as the Wisconsin Election Commission argues that large numbers of absentee ballots may never arrive in time for voters, and might never be counted at all, due to a simultaneous deluge of incoming absentee ballots that officials appear wildly unprepared to handle.

I only hope that the more than twenty states which have postponed their primaries (somewhat optimistically) to May or June are taking note of the ongoing meltdown in the Badger State, and that all 50 states get to work NOW to figure out how to safely, transparently and accurately manage the likely need for Vote-by-Mail elections across the nation for the never-more-critical Presidential election on November 3rd.

As we have been trying to underscore in recent days, the effect of the novel coronavirus is likely to be far more extensive --- both medically and economically --- than almost anybody has been discussing out loud, especially our national leaders and the media. Donald Trump and his White House have, of course, been in criminally obscene denial from the jump, but members of Congress and even presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden have not been much better at telling the truth to the American people about how deeply devastating this crisis is going to be to the economy and how long it is likely to continue.

Today, the New York Times finally began doing so, a bit, in two different articles. One from Jim Tankersley reveals that top White House economists on the National Security Counsel warned about exactly this scenario in a study published last September, long before Trump and his public-facing economic team repeatedly lied to the media about the virus being under control and no threat to the economy. The other Times piece, from reporter Peter Goodman, details how the economic downturn is likely to continue "into next year, and even beyond" and why the almost certainly lengthy "abrupt halt of commercial activity threatens to impose economic pain" that could take years to recover from in what is shaping up to be "a financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions". One result, according to a recent analysis by the St. Louis Fed, is that as many as 47 million Americans could find themselves unemployed soon. (That amounts to an approximately 32% jobless rate, compared to 25% during the Great Depression and 10% in the 2008 Great Recession.)

So, how are those employer-based health care plans looking right about now for millions of Americans who have already or are about to lose both their jobs AND their health care insurance? At the height of the still-ongoing Democratic Primary, the case was made by candidates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigeig and Amy Klobuchar that such plans were just too good for Americans to give up in favor of a single-payer, government-funded, cradle-to-grave, Medical-for-All type plan, like that proposed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. But our guest today, former healthcare insurance executive turned political columnist and host of The Zero Hour, RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW, argues at The American Prospect that the structure of many of those employer-based plans --- and the way most such coverage has been structured since the 1980s in the U.S. --- may have resulted in the pandemic's spread being worse than it might otherwise have been in this country, were it not for "a plot twist worthy of H.G. Wells".

Eskow explains how the timing of the viral spread in the U.S. --- at the beginning of the year, instead of year's end, after costly deductibles may have already been covered by many --- might have prevented thousands from seeking care earlier.

"You have 70%, according to polls, of Americans saying they don't have $1000 on hand for an emergency, and you have deductibles on average that are higher than that," he says. "Most people don't meet their deductibles in the first quarter of the year. The pandemic struck in the first quarter of the year. They literally have to pay 100% out-of-pocket at this point. Maybe they'll get reimbursed someday, but remember, they don't have the cash on hand. So we have a situation where people almost certainly are not getting checked out as quickly as they should be, which is promoting the spread of the disease and worsening the progression of the disease for people who have it."

He also details how the cost-sharing structures of most "health benefit plans" --- requiring co-pays, deductibles, premiums and other out-of-pocket "cost sharing" expenses, as implemented by employers and health insurance companies to actually discourage care-seeking ("skin in the game", as many have referred to the concept over recent decades) --- has further helped to unnecessarily worsen the crisis in a way that a Medicare-for-All styled system might have helped to avoid.

Eskow, who served as a Senior Writer and Editor for Sanders' 2016 Presidential campaign, also discusses what effect, if any, all of this may be having on the Vermont Senator's insistence on remaining in the race until a nominee is officially chosen, somehow, at some version of a Democratic National Convention this year...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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