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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, January 29, 2023
Sunday 'Bullet Points' Toons
PDiddie takes aim at the problem in this week's collection of targeted toons...
NJ 2022 Computer Mistally Means Loser Actually Won: 'BradCast' 1/26/2023
Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
'Green News Report' 1/26/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
Spate of new studies find climate impacts escalating; Logging banned (again) in Alaskan rainforest; PLUS: 'Doomsday Clock' moved closer than ever to 'midnight'...
Recent GNRs: 1/24/23 - 1/19/23 - Archives...
Republican Dark Money Group's Multi-Million Dollar 'Grassroots' Vote Suppression Scheme: 'BradCast' 1/25/23
Guest: Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-be-true Santos theory...
'Decisions are Imminent' in Trump Probe, Says Willis in GA: 'BradCast' 1/24/23
Also: Mass shooting spate; Pence found classified docs at home, returned them; Media still failing on Trump document theft story...
'Green News Report' 1/24/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
CA storm damage tops $1B; Offshore wind doesn't kill whales; Disasters displaced 3.3M in U.S. last year; PLUS: Hand-feeding manatees in FL appears to be saving them...
Recent GNRs: 1/19/23 - 1/17/23 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Just About Everything. (Everywhere. All at Once.): 'BradCast' 1/23/23
From the debit limit to Biden/Trump docs to mass shootings to Ukraine and much more...
Million Dollar Sanctions Ruling Underscores Trump's Seemingly Never-Ending Litigation Grift
Ernest A. Canning on why nothing less than a criminal prosecution will end it. (Maybe.)
Sunday 'Selective Focus' Toons
Keeping priorities straight in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP Targets Ballot Initiatives After 2022 Progressive Wins: 'BradCast' 1/20/23
Guest: Chris Melody Fields Figueredo of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Also: Judge orders Trump to pay Hillary, others nearly $1M...
OH's Completely Moderate, Not-Corrupt-At-All Republican Governor: 'BradCast' 1/19/23
Dark money fossil fuel bribery and disen-franchising military voters in the Buckeye State; Also: GOP's dangerous limit debt game...
'Green News Report' 1/19/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
EU's plan to compete with U.S. on renewables; Banks spend billions on fossil fuel despite net zero pledges; PLUS: Dark money led Ohio Repubs to redefine NatGas as 'green energy'...
Recent GNRs: 1/17/23 - 1/12/23 - Archives...
GOP's 'One-Two Punch to Shut Down' House Ethics Watchdog: 'BradCast' 1/18/23
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: VA Guv kills new EV battery plant, 2,500 new jobs; Kobach fined by FEC as he becomes KS A.G...
GOP Election Denialist Candidate Arrested in NM Shooting Spree: 'BradCast' 1/17/23
What did you THINK would happen?; Also: House GOP to crash economy over debt limit...
'Green News Report' 1/17/23
As CA recovers from epic storms, water wars in U.S. West just beginning; Massive boost to U.S. solar thanks to new Biden/Dem law; PLUS: 1970s Exxon scientists nailed it...
Sunday 'Documenting the Atrocities' Toons
PDiddie curates another first draft of history in his latest weekly toon collection...
Republican Federal Courts Take Aim at VRA Section 2: 'BradCast' 1/14/23
Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
Transparency and Public Oversight to the Rescue: 'BradCast' 1/12/23
Hand-count of 2020 Prez race in PA county confirms tally; Also: Garland taps Special Counsel in Biden docs case; Trump still obstructing justice in stolen docs case...
'Green News Report' 1/12/23
Extreme weather damage cost $1T in U.S. over past 7 years; Last 8 years hottest ever recorded; PLUS: Kitchen stove warning results in latest dumb Fox 'News' freak out...
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...


Also: Evacuations, flooding in CA; Brazil's MAGA-style coup; Prosecutors in GA, MI move closer to Trump/2020 accountability; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2023 6:13pm PT  

It's our first call-in show of the new year on today's BradCast, but we've got a lot of news to get to as well first. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the bevy of stuff covered on today's program...

  • Thousands in California face mandatory evacuations due to flooding and possible mudslides, with emergency declarations by the state's Governor and President Biden for more than a dozen counties. Some 8 inches of rain drenched some areas over the past 12 hours. A line of repeated deluges are expected to slam the otherwise drought-stricken state over the next week or more.
  • Over the weekend, thousands stormed government buildings in Brazil in a January 6, MAGA-style insurrection in support of former President Jair Bolsonaro who recently lost his election to former Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known simply as "Lula" by his countrymen). Bolsonaro has taken refuge near Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago in Florida, as nearly 1,500 of his supporters were rounded up and arrested after Sunday's attempted coup. Democratic leadership in the White House and Congress condemned the attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. Republican leadership had yet to say a word as of airtime today.
  • Speaking of Republican "leadership", GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy gave away the store to his farther right wing late on Friday to finally win the House Speakership after an embarrassing 15 rounds of voting. But at what cost? We discuss a number of his concessions, what they are likely to mean for McCarthy and his party, and for the rest of us going forward, with nation's debt ceiling and much more hanging in the balance. McCarthy's late night victory on Friday, January 6th 2023 (and into the early Saturday morning hours) came two years to the day after the Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It also came on the evening after Republicans failed to turn out for the second-year anniversary memorial, recognition event on the Capitol steps for 140 law enforcement officials who were injured or died during and after the Republican riot. During McCarthy's acceptance speech as Speaker, he also vowed to defund federal law enforcement. His GOP colleagues cheered in response.
  • As the 118th Congress finally got under way on Monday, Republicans are expected to use their very slim majority to investigate Joe Biden's family and the so-called "weaponization of the federal government" against Twitter and other social media outlets...ironically enough, from during the time that Trump controlled the FBI. As explained on today's show today briefly (and I suspect we'll have to offer more details in the weeks and months ahead), claims being made by the liars on the Right (and a few misled and/or confused folks on the Left, sadly) that "Twitter was paid to practice censorship by the government and ban people the government did not like," is evidence-free nonsense. But you'll be hearing a lot of those false claims, as based on the so-called "Twitter Files" they misleadingly cite as evidence. That, even though the files in question, at least to date, reveal nothing of the sort.
  • Relatedly, at least one of the far-right Freedom Caucus Members, its chair, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), hopes to sit on a new Congressional Committee to investigate the federal investigators probing Donald Trump's many crimes related to his attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election and his theft of classified White House documents. That, even though Perry has had his phone confiscated as evidence by the FBI and faces potential criminal charges for his role in the J6 insurrection. He sees no conflict of interest in sitting on that Congressional panel.
  • In Michigan on Friday, Attorney General Dana Nessel, tired of waiting for the Feds to act, has announced plans to reopen her own investigation into the fake electors plot in her state after referring the matter to the U.S. Dept. of Justice one year ago.
  • And in Georgia, the Special Grand Jury convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has now wrapped up its work. According to a state judge, they have delivered their report on who, if anyone, should be indicted in the broad conspiracy led by Donald Trump and many of his top supporters to strong-arm state officials into overturning the election he lost there in 2020. Special Grand Juries in the state may not issue not issue indictments. So Willis must now decide if she wishes to seek indictments from a regular grand jury, and the judge overseeing the matter must decide if the Special Grand Jury's report should be publicly released, as they have requested.
  • Finally, callers ring in on all of the above and more for the first time since the turn of the new year!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton joins us for our final show of 2022...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2022 6:54pm PT  

Before our Holiday Hiatus, we wrap up the year on today's BradCast with a look both back and forward along with one of our favorite regular guests. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, I've noticed a number of folks from what I describe as the Left's "Contrarian Industrial Complex" --- comprised of some of the same folks who, like most of the Right, also fell for Trump's cons about Russia, COVID, 2020 election fraud, etc. --- now falling for the many new cons and lies being propagated by Latter Day Trump, Elon Musk, on Twitter.

The continuing public prat falls from the world's previously richest man (at least until he bought Twitter for about $30 billion more than it was worth, began driving it into the ground, along with the stock price of Tesla) are too numerous and ridiculous to detail here tonight. But one of Musk's latest and greatest scams at his social media site since since taking it over and blowing it all up deserves quick notice today. Specifically, the scam that resulted in Musk's temporary "permanent suspension" of a number of top journalists late last week, including recent in-studio BradCast guest, Steve Herman of Voice of America.

As you probably know, those suspensions happened as part of the fallout from what Musk described as a stalker incident that threatened him and/or his family. He blamed it on a Twitter account that tracks the whereabouts of his private jet based on publicly available data. He likened the posting of that information as "assassination coordinates" and then banned journalists from Twitter who had simply reported on his original suspension of the @ElonJet account.

As it turns out, however, Washington Post dug into the story over the weekend to report that the original incident appears to have had absolutely nothing to do with that Twitter account. Two of its journalists, both of whom had also been suspended by Musk, report that the incident between the alleged stalker and a member of Musk's security team actually "took place at a gas station 26 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and 23 hours after the @ElonJet account had last located the jet’s whereabouts."

Moreover, The Guardian reports today that Musk's tweet about the "crazy stalker" who supposedly followed a car carrying one of his children, may have been even more misleading than previously known. According to their report of a statement obtained from the South Pasadena Police Department, "a member of Elon Musk’s security team is currently a suspect in the investigation, not a victim."

The full story --- and its subsequent fallout, including Musk holding a poll on his Twitter account on Sunday in which a majority of users voted for him to step down as Chief Twit --- is sort of the perfectly insane way to end 2022. Whether at the social media site at year's end or in the U.S. House of Representatives next month, when the GOP is set to regain a slim majority, "the inmates have literally taken over the asylum," as our guest notes today.

We're joined for our final show of the year by old friend, award-winning Salon columnist and Hullabaloo's OG blogger HEATHER DIGBY PARTON. She's been with us for post-game analysis following every single one of this year's ten or so hearings held by the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the former President's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election from the American people. She joins us once again today for that and more.

Among the topics of today's lively discussion...

  • The House J6 Committee's unprecedented referral of a former U.S. President on four criminal charges, including Insurrection, to the U.S. Dept. of Justice at their final hearing on Monday;
  • The critical importance to the nation of real accountability for Donald Trump;
  • Whether potential criminal charges against him will hurt or help his political fortunes for 2024;
  • The extraordinary success of the House J6 Committee as its mission comes to a close along with this session of Congress;
  • Whether GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy will actually be able to close the deal this time and win the Speakership in 2023 among his fractured caucus (and what may happen if his caucuses asylum inmates have their way);
  • What we should expect from the Democrats' new leader in the House, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries;
  • And how to make any sense at all of Elon Musk and his ever-increasing Twitter madness.

Finally, Desi Doyen delivers what is also our final Green News Report of 2022, with all of the good news and bad (even at holiday time!), that you've come to expect from the nation's preeminent, twice-weekly, six-minute environmental radio news feature.

Please enjoy the show. We'll see you next year. And here's to a happy and healthy holiday season for all and perhaps a less insane 2023...though I wouldn't count on it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Media activist (and Musk's former corporate PR trainer!) 'Spocko'; Also: Oregon Guv commutes all state death sentences; Schumer says ECA reform to be included in lame duck spending bill...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2022 6:36pm PT  

So, I've sorta been trying to avoid coverage on The BradCast of the idiocy underway at Twitter following Elon Musk's takeover of the social network for a ridiculous $44 billion six weeks ago. But today, as things are quickly turning much darker and dangerous, we're jumping down the rabbit hole. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, however, two much more encouraging stories from elsewhere. In Oregon, outgoing Democratic Governor Kate Brown, who will be replaced by Democratic Gov.-elect Tina Kotek in January, has commuted the death sentences of every prisoner in the state on death row! There are 17 of them in all. They will now face life without the possibility of parole instead of being murdered by the government. Brown has also ordered the dismantling of the state's execution chamber in hopes of ending the practice for good there, describing the gruesome punishment (correctly) as "both dysfunctional and immoral."

In other encouraging news before decks are shuffled in January following this year's midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced that the long-overdue Electoral Count Act reform measure (which we discussed on this program in detail back in February), as negotiated over the summer by a bipartisan group of Senators, will be included in the omnibus spending bill that lawmakers are scrambling to adopt this week before the deadline for a government shutdown.

The ECA reform measure, a version of which already passed in the House, would clarify the poorly-written 1887 law regarding procedures for certifying Electoral College votes following Presidential elections. In addition to making clear that a Vice President does not have the power to unilaterally toss out Electoral votes during the joint session of Congress to confirm Electoral College results, the bill would also raise the requirements for lawmakers to challenge slates of Electors and make it more difficult for a state Legislature to simply select different Electors than those chosen by state voters. All of that in response to Donald Trump's various attempts to exploit the original ECA on January 6th, 2021 to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Hopefully there are enough Republican votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, and House Democrats will find the Senate version acceptable during this lame duck period. Otherwise, it'll be next to impossible to adopt ECA reform in advance of the 2024 Presidential election after the GOP takes over the House majority in January.

Then, it's down the Elon Musk Twitter Rabbit Hole, but with an eye toward potential solutions to the increasingly dark chaos he's unleashed since taking over the once-popular social network. While we've largely been trying to ignore the idiocy and hard-right political turn by Musk in his six weeks since taking over Twitter, what has largely been dumb has now arguably turned dangerous.

Over the past week or so, Musk has given a few journalists selective access to internal communications of former Twitter executives, resulting in online stories he refers to as "The Twitter Files". Rightwingers have pretended the published threads somehow confirm some sort of political bias against Donald Trump and fellow political travelers. Trump is pretending they prove that the 2020 election was stolen. They don't. In fact, they largely show Twitter execs wrestling in good faith with difficult internal decisions.

At the same time, Musk has restored previously suspended accounts to many on the far-right, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis, QAnon conspiracists, COVID deniers and 2020 election fraudsters.

More disturbing, however, are Musk's own recent tweets. They've grown darker and increasingly menacing, with attacks on transgender people, the revival of long-debunked COVID conspiracies and false accusations of pedophilia against named Twitter employees. One former top executive was reportedly forced to flee his home this week in response to growing threats. On the same day, Musk suddenly dissolved the company's volunteer Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group which AP describes as "around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform."

That's just a taste of how all of this is quickly devolving. We're joined today by longtime media activist and pseudonymous progressive blogger 'SPOCKO', who has some thoughts on how people can push back against all of this. As it turns out, Spocko, who has worked to organize campaigns against a number of Rightwing media outlets and personalities over the past two decades, actually worked directly with Musk before he became unspeakably wealthy with the creation of PayPal.

At the time, Spocko was helping to train high-tech execs on how to speak to media, customers and investors. He shares his thoughts today on what he learned about Musk even back in the 1990s, when he was called in because Musk wouldn't listen to the female communications experts initially hired to help him.

Now, Spocko explains, "the thing we are talking about with Musk is what do you do when somebody has so much money and so much power, and then he gets rid of the checks and balances?" That becomes dangerous, especially for someone like Musk who he describes as a liar who "makes promises that he doesn't keep."

We discuss a number of campaigns --- both potential and underway --- to hold Musk to account for his increasingly threatening behavior, including the use of "free speech" tools that the billionaire claims to believe in (despite evidence showing he actually doesn't) to target advertisers that Twitter relies on to survive as well as companies like Apple, whose app store is critical to that survival, and the potential filing of civil lawsuits to hold Musk to account for defamation. There are also international efforts underway in places like Europe where the EU has informed social media networks that, by law, they must have measures in place to reduce potential harm or face being cut off entirely.

There is lots to dig into on today's program, whether we're happy to dig into it or not...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman, live in studio; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive in Ukraine; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2022 7:11pm PT  

Of course, just as COVID and other respiratory viruses are surging in L.A. (and California, and much of the rest of the country), we have our first in-studio guest on The BradCast since the pandemic. Oh, well. Wish us luck! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're joined today by the great STEVE HERMAN of Voice of America who spent some 26 years covering various regions in Asia and serving as VOA correspondent and Bureau Chief in India, Korea, Thailand. In 2016, he returned stateside to serve as VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, for a brief stint, before becoming the eight decade-old, U.S. funded media outlet's White House Bureau Chief. After serving 4 totally easy-peasy years at the White House during the Trump Administration and several months during Biden's, Herman is now on the road as VOA's Chief National Correspondent covering the 2024 campaign. (I know, I know...we're not even done with 2022 around here!)

In a broad, in-studio conversation today --- including questions from listener callers --- we cover, among many other things...

  • Herman's initial visit to the Fukushima nuclear plant just after the 2011 meltdown disaster...without any sort of physical protection! (That was when he first appeared as a guest on our program.)
  • How VOA stands virtually alone as a state-funded news outlet given its special charter, a "firewall" enshrined by federal statute that prevents the government from meddling in its coverage. "The White House, or even the head of our parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, cannot tell me or my editors what we have to report or cannot report. They cannot be involved editorially," says Herman.
  • How and why that makes VOA different from state-funded propaganda outlets in Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere. "I like to say VOA is probably the only news organization in the world that is mandated by law to be fair and effective," Herman explains. "In that charter it says we must reflect the different views of what's going on in the United States."
  • "Facts are facts," he tells me, regarding so much mis- and disinformation by both the Right and Left. "What they are reporting at RT [Russia Today] and Sputnik is not factual, especially about the war in Ukraine. ... It's a situation that we see from Chinese state media and Iranian state media. And this goes back all the way to why VOA was created after the start of World War II, because you had Nazi Germany on the airwaves, uncontested to a great degree, spitting out anti-American and pro-Nazi propaganda. What VOA was set up to do was to tell the audiences, initially in German and also in Japanese, what's going on with the war, whether it's good or bad."
  • The efforts by the Trump Administration, while Herman served as VOA's WH Bureau Chief, to affect the agency's news coverage and attempts to pressure Herman himself. "When these things have happened over the decades in various administrations, it also demonstrates that VOA is not a propaganda service," he argues. "If it were a propaganda service, we would not be getting complaints from within the United States government on some of the stories we've been doing."
  • - Herman's thoughts on the insane response by Donald Trump over the weekend to Matt Taibbi's "Twitter Files" thread detailing internal discussion/debate among Twitter executives in the run-up to the 2020 election when deciding whether or not to suppress questionably sourced reporting on Hunter Biden's laptop.
  • All of that and much more, including praise for sushi in Los Angeles from a guy who worked for decades in Asia!

Also covered today, a few news headlines at the top of the show...

  • Flu, COVID and other respiratory illness is "off the charts" in California, Los Angeles County and elsewhere around the country.
  • Russia's latest missile assault on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and the nearly 600 documented cases of apparent war crimes by the aggressor nation since Putin's invasion in February.
  • The apparent coordinated domestic terror attacks on electric substations in Moore County, North Carolina that has knocked out power and water to tens of thousands of residents.
  • Early voting is over and Election Day now awaits on Tuesday in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed sociopathic liar Hershel Walker.
  • The weekend's aforementioned insane (and largely pointless) Twitter thread by Matt Taibbi, how it has been misreported by MAGA Republicans including Donald Trump, who dishonestly represented the reporting in order to call for "termination" of the U.S. Constitution (seriously!) in its wake...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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




Guest: Longtime election expert Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: PA Supremes cause absentee ballot chaos; Judge blocks armed AZ voter intimidation; Rightwing NV hand-counters halted after exposing results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2022 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue to focus on the critical November 8 midterms as we will most likely be doing between now and then and --- given how important and close many key races are expected to be --- probably well beyond Election Day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We're joined today by EDDIE PEREZ, who has spent more than 20 years focused on elections in various capacities. He spent some 15 years at the Austin, Texas-based Hart-Intercivic, one of the big three private voting system vendors in the U.S. He moved on to become Global Director of Technology and Standards at the nonpartisan, nonprofit Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Institute before, last year, becoming Twitter's Director of Product Management for Societal Health, where he played a role in fighting against mis- and disinformation at the beleaguered social media site. He left the company recently (before Elon Musk's takeover) and remains a Board Member at OSET.

Perez has been writing, blogging and tweeting of late on what he sees as "manufactured chaos" by Republicans in advance of the 2022 midterms, calling the threat they pose a "a knife at democracy's throat" and charging that the chaos is now "on a collision course" with next week's elections.

He worries and warns, both in his writing and on today's program, of "coordinated attempts to interfere with or potentially overwhelm what can broadly be regarded as normal election administration processes."

As usual, when Perez is kind enough to join us, he (a former voting system vendor) and I (a long time Election Integrity journalist and critic of vulnerable, difficult-to-oversee voting systems) both tussle and find common ground on many of these topics. We also discuss concerns about "manufactured chaos" on Twitter as well, now that Musk has reportedly withdrawn access to content moderation tools previously used by staffers to help curb toxic disinformation.

"It's genuinely not really clear whether Elon Musk fully appreciates the harm that can come from a social media platform, particularly in the realm of elections," Perez frets, adding that "we have seen this spin off in to political violence." He notes "the concerns are very real," but believes the "wheels haven't fallen off Twitter", at least not yet, assuring that there are "still good people there."

He warns, however, "it's a fragile time" and says it's good to have "conversations like this so that we can talk to your listeners about what they should be paying attention to and what they can maybe do to cut through some of the noise."

We discuss examples of chaos that most worry him and how no small part of the lack of confidence Americans now have in our election system may actually be due to the way voting system vendors and election officials have spent years preventing oversight by the public. Of course, much of it is due to Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election. But Perez concedes that insiders, in fact, now pose a unique threat to democracy, as demonstrated by GOP officials facilitating the breach of voting system hardware and software in several different states and releasing its proprietary software to potentially nefarious individuals. Can that previously secret code now be used to undermine those systems next week? If so, how so?

"It has certainly not helped public trust in the machinery of democracy that voting technology is limited to as few companies as it is," Perez concedes, citing the proprietary software now used to run elections and tally votes in almost every jurisdiction in the country. "There is no doubt that having that whole ecosystem --- that can fairly be called a 'black box' --- is not helping. It is a kind of tinder box and has turned into a vacuum of information that a lot of conspiracy theorists have been happy to fill."

"On something as essential as the legitimacy of the outcomes in our public elections --- which, again, involves process and involves voting technology --- we can never ever discount the importance of transparency and accountability," he tells me, citing some of my own advocacy and criticism of voting systems and vendors over the years. "In that sense, I don't think it's unreasonable for some people to say that was a collective failure and, yes, that has contributed to us having a lot of the challenges that we're in today."

Of course, we also discuss what Americans can do now --- from voters to election officials to journalists --- to gird for the chaos that is almost certain to come and how best to defend against it.

Also today, several recent legal rulings in response to an explosion of election law challenges manufacturing more chaos around the 2022 elections...

  • Our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court, along with the unexpected death of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Chief Justice, allows Republicans to obtain a ruling that may allow them to reject thousands of completely legitimate absentee ballots across the Keystone State, due to missing or incorrect dates written on their outer envelopes.
  • A Trump-appointed federal judge in Arizona issues a ruling [PDF] to block voter intimidation near absentee ballot drop boxes, where masked rightwingers, toting guns and clad in tactical gear, have been menacing and photographing voters dropping of their ballots.
  • Nevada's Sec. of State shuts down a slapdash, nascent rightwing effort in Nye County to hand-count early and absentee ballots after the hand-counters were said to be revealing results to the public during their tally in defiance of a state Supreme Court order. Thankfully, given the very few ballots they were able to count before being shut down (just 50 on their first day, in a County with some 30,000 voters), the damage was contained. But expect more such "manufactured chaos" between now and next Tuesday and, almost certainly, well beyond...

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Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, David Faris of Roosevelt University...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2022 6:43pm PT  

It was Day 7 of public hearings for the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee probe of Donald Trump's January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential Election. We've got full Special Coverage once again on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

If you've been turning away over the past week or so, we've got a quick recap of "our story so far" at the top of today's show, summing up the key elements of the six previous public hearings by the Committee. In short, to sum up that summary, Donald Trump knew everything and was personally involved in everything. He knew there was no fraud of note in the 2020 election, as all of his top advisers and legal experts told him as much, but he continued to lie about it anyway. He knew that his efforts to reverse election results to steal the election from Joe Biden in various swing-states and at the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 were unlawful and/or Constitutional. Again, we've been shown that all his top advisers told him as much. He relentlessly pushed for it anyway. And he knew that calling his supporters to D.C. on January 6 and directing them to march on the Capitol would result in violence led by armed extremist groups. He was advised against it, but he did it anyway.

Today's hearing picked up on Trump's "call to arms" to his supporters. It came in the middle of the night in his now-infamous "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" tweet, issued just hours after an insane, "unhinged", hours-long December 18, 2020 White House meeting with his personal crackpot attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, his felonious former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne (for some reason) and a bunch of White House attorneys. The latter angrily tried to derail the MAGA coup plotters plans to have the President issue an Executive Order to seize the nation's voting machines and install Powell as a Special Counsel to investigate fraud and issue arrests. Even Trump loyalist and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone --- who finally testified to the Committee last Friday --- said he "vehemently opposed" the "terrible idea." That, after repeatedly asking for any evidence of fraud and being shown none at all.

That bonkers meeting, and its fallout --- resulting in the tweet that "electrified and galvanized" his supporters immediately thereafter --- was detailed in the first part of today's hearing, with mountains of evidence and video-taped testimony. The second part covered what happened next, as the extremist groups which supported Trump, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (the leaders of which have already been indicted for seditious conspiracy), descended on D.C., planning for the violence --- and much worse --- that eventually occurred.

The Committee shared video of Trump's media supporters, immediately after his "will be wild!" tweet, calling on their own followers to join them in D.C., including rightwing conspiracy radio host Alex Jones and others. One called for "storming right into the Capitol," noting "the rules of engagement: If you have enough people, you can push down any fence or wall." Another vowed "There are gonna be a million, geeked-up armed Americans" coming to occupy D.C. in response to Trump's call.

All of that, weeks before Trump eventually directed them to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 in what, the Committee showed through several draft tweets and speeches, was absolutely not a spontaneous ad-lib made by Trump during his remarks on the Ellipse. The armed march on the Capitol was the plan all along.

On the night before the attack, according to White House call logs obtained and revealed by the Committee today, Trump's disgraced former aide Steve Bannon took to his "War Room" podcast just after a conversation with the then President to declare: "All hell is going to break lose tomorrow. It's all converging and now we're on the point of attack. It's not gonna happen how you think it's going to happen. It's gonna be quite extraordinarily different and all I can say is strap in."

One witness at the end of today's hearing were Jason Van Tatenhove, an independent journalist turned self-described Oath Keepers propagandist, who says he left the group 5 years ago after seeing them become more and more racist and violent. The other was Stephen Ayers, a January 6 rioter and Trump believer. He was not tied to any of the extremist groups. He was just a guy, "a family man" who answered Trump's call to come to D.C. and "fight like hell" to "save the country" as he believed Trump needed him to do. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct at the Capitol and now regrets every part of it, believes it was all a con, but has since lost his job and much more after having fallen for Trump's Big --- violent, deadly --- Lie.

Today's hearing came to a close with another Liz Cheney cliff-hanger. This time she revealed that Trump had attempted to contact one of the Committee's witnesses following their last hearing. "We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously," vowed the Committee's Republican Vice Chair, adding that the Justice Department had been notified about the apparent witness tampering by the disgraced former President.

Joining us to make sense of all of this today are, once again, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo, joined this time by DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of Political Science at Roosevelt University and a contributor to both Newsweek and The Week.

"They've been setting up the various strands," Parton explains, describing today's hearing focused on Trump's directives to his violent supporters, as she cited Andrew Weissman's recent "'hub and spoke' conspiracy" op-ed at NYTimes. "There were a number of different spokes going out from the Oval Office, which included the 'voter fraud,' the fake electors, the DOJ, Mike Pence. This was one of the spokes, and it's a huge one, because it is the spoke that leads from the White House and the Oval Office to the insurrection on January 6th. That part of the whole coup plot, the conspiracy to keep Trump in office come what may, that was a huge one."

"Big picture, I think these hearings have a number of different purposes. One is to provide concrete evidence of a systematic and sustained effort to extra-constitutionally overturn the results of the 2020 election," Faris observes. "Stealing the election. That's a coup. We've learned a lot more during these hearings about the mechanics of the coup. The bottom line is that the people who were putting these plans into motion knew perfectly well that they were illegal."

He also notes that he believes these hearings are likely to spur the DoJ into action. "There are a lot of little Trump lieutenants running for office who are planning to do things like manipulate the vote in 2024, or use extra-constitutional procedures to install a Republican candidate for President into office," Faris tells us. "There are a lot of people who are contemplating committing crimes in another conspiracy against the United States, and if you do not show them there are consequences to the people who did it the first time, I don't see how those people can draw any other conclusion then that they'll get away with it. I wish that we were not in this position where we have to talk about indicting a former President. It's not great. But I don't think he can be allowed to skate without really jeopardizing our democracy."

Lots more on today's show, of course, from the hearing itself and via smart analysis from Parton and Faris as, yes, the walls continue to close in on Donald J. Trump...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/28/2022 10:49am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Russia cuts off natural gas to two NATO countries; 'Unprecedented' water restrictions on tap for Southern California; Record-breaking heat wave broils India and Pakistan; PLUS: Ford officially launches the all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 13 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): U.S. Identifies Possible Wind Power Areas Off Oregon, Atlantic Coasts; Biden Administration Allows Additional Natural Gas Exports; UN Report Says Humanity Has Altered 70 Percent of the Earth’s Land, Putting the Planet on a 'Crisis Footing'; Mystery fires at sensitive facilities compound Russia’s war challenge; How U.S. Gas Exports to Europe Could Lock in Future Emissions; 50bn tonnes of sand and gravel extracted each year, finds UN study... PLUS: Too many new coal-fired plants planned for 1.5C climate goal, report concludes' ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Don't be afraid to keep your mask on! Also: Twitter bans climate change denialist ads. Will 'free speech absolutist' Musk keep the ban in place?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2022 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When the hot debates die down, the liars, of late, having been trying to claim (false) victory. Let's not let them, shall we? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're seeing a lot of that in recent days when it comes to, for example, Russia's help for Donald Trump election in 2016 (yes, it actually happened, despite the disinformed denialists now opportunistically claiming otherwise) and, as we focus on today's program, on those pretending that the CDC and other public health officials had it all wrong about COVID. They didn't. And just because we're all really sick and tired of the continuing pandemic and discussion of COVID in the news has largely been overtaken by other pressing matters, the deadly virus is still killing hundreds of Americans each day. That, after nearly 1,000,000 Americans were killed over the past two and half years. Please don't let the anti-mask and anti-vaccine bullies mislead or cow you.

We never enjoy being the bearer of bad news (it just seems to be our lot in life of late), but a new COVID sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2.12.1, is apparently the most transmissible yet, and it is quickly rising across the nation (and world). Some facts you may want to know about that today, why you should get your shots if you haven't already, and why you shouldn't bow to pressure from anyone to not wear a mask indoors if you damned well feel like it.

Also, the Vice President tested positive today. Thankfully, because she is double-vaccinated and boosted, she is, so far at least, said to be asymptomatic. Many others are not quite as lucky, particularly the unvaccinated, many children, and, in particular, those who live in states run by Republicans like Florida Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. He is still turning up the heat on his lies that critics of his failed COVID policies --- the state banned mask mandates and forced schools to remain open when they shouldn't have --- were wrong, and that he was right.

Well, if death rates in states like Florida and Georgia last year, which were two to three times those in blue states per capita, are considered to be "right", then I guess I'm glad I don't live in such states. But I'd still like to help those who do. Yes, as Axios reported late last month, based on then-new CDC numbers, "America's political divisions are now on display in mortality rates."

Sadly, Florida, with its more than 73,000 COVID deaths, is a perfect example. As Axios Tampa Bay reported, "Death rates in Florida and Georgia (more than 200 deaths per 100,000) were much higher than in states with largely vaccinated populations such as New York (112 per 100,000), New Jersey (73 deaths per 100,000), and Massachusetts (50 per 100,000)." And, based on data comparing deaths that would normally be expected, "Between August and December 2021, Florida experienced more than triple the number of excess deaths (29,252) as New York (8,786), despite both states having similar population counts."

That didn't stop DeSantis, during his State of the State address earlier this year, from lying to his constituents: "We would not allow fear or politics to harm our kids. We were right and they wrong and millions of families in Florida are better for it." Sure. Unless you count the tens of thousands of Florida families mourning the unnecessary loss of their loved ones thanks to DeSantis' deadly lies and horrific COVID policies.

In other news of note late last week, on Earth Day, Twitter announced a long overdue policy banning advertisements purchased to push climate change denialism. We'll see if they actually carry it out. But, perhaps more of note, since Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of the social media company was announced on Monday, it will be interesting to see if the self-proclaimed "free speech absolutest" and CEO of Tesla, the company almost single-handedly responsible for kicking off the planet's electric vehicle revolution, will keep the ban in place as he takes the company private to use as his own personal plaything. (P.S. The entire story of Musk's purchase of Twitter serves as still more evidence that taxes are way way too low for rich people and corporations!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a chocked-full-o'-news Green News Report, as we try to get you all caught up with all of the climate related stuff of note that you missed while we dared take a much-needed Spring Break last week...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Kate Neiswender and Kim Andrew Elliott on a U.S. crowd-funded grassroots effort reviving Cold War tech to counter propaganda inside Putin's new Iron Curtain; And, yes, Russians love their children too...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2022 6:18pm PT  

In what would be a dream world for our previous President, who declared the media to be "the enemy of the people" just before his infamous 2018 meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Russia has now criminalized pretty much any and all independent media. But our guests on today's BradCast have a really cool and, yes, retro idea about how to help counter Russia's media blackout. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among other restrictions, Putin's new censorship law, adopted just after his invasion of Ukraine, mandates harsh penalties, including jail time, for the crime of reporting on the invasion as an "invasion" or "war". Independent outlets have been forced to shutter or have stopped covering the war at all. Western media outlets have pulled their reporters and Russia has closed Internet access to websites of foreign state-run media outlets such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, the BBC and Deutsche Welle.

Kremlin-approved propaganda is now all that many Russians have access to, where they are being told that Russia's barbaric military assault on its sovereign neighbor --- including its civilian population --- is little more than a minor, "special military operation" meant to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine. Civilians are not being harmed, and anyone who says otherwise is reporting "fake news," the Kremlin insists.

Of late, however, as Julia Davis reported yesterday at The Daily Beast, some cracks are beginning to appear, even on Kremlin-approved television, including one of Moscow's most popular evening news programs, whose Putin-friendly host has been sanctioned by the EU and where nightly broadcasts frequently end with clips of monologues by Fox 'News' star Tucker Carlson.

For most Russians, however, there is very little access to independent, outside reporting to counter the official state media narrative. Our guests today, attorney KATE NEISWENDER and former longtime Voice of America employee and shortwave radio enthusiast KIM ANDREW ELLIOTT are part of a small, grassroots effort aiming to revive a Cold War technology in hopes of helping counter the information desert inside of Putin's new Iron Curtain.

Dubbed #ShortwavesForFreedom on social media, the new project has begun raising money to fund re-broadcasts of Voice of America (VOA) programming into Ukraine and Russia via shortwave frequencies. While the BBC World Service announced this week they were reviving their old shortwave broadcasts into the former Soviet Union, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty --- both managed by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) --- have declined to do so, at least so far.

Neiswender, Elliott and a number of other VOA veterans and supporters aim to fill that gap with a crowd-funded effort. The group has already raised enough over just the past week or so to get up and running --- rebroadcasting some of VOA's programming (which is all public domain) --- into Europe via shortwave transmission from Florida station, WRMI Radio Miami International.

They both join us today to explain, among other things: How this effort came together in just over a week's time; how they hope to expand from English-language programming to broadcasts in both Ukrainian and Russian; why they believe VOA (actually, USAGM) has yet to take this step themselves; and how a very small amount of money can go a very long way in this project, as they seek additional broadcasters to help transmit shortwave programming from both the U.S. and Europe.

Does anyone in Russia still even have access to the equipment needed to listen to the broadcasts? "Well, nowadays for sure, fewer people will be listening to shortwave and fewer people have shortwave radios," Elliott explains. "But, when the Internet is cut, squeezed, blocked, and at some point maybe even with lines into the country cut off, radio will be the only way to get in to the country. And then, the people in those countries will have to try to find their old Soviet-era shortwave radios." He believes "that audience can pass the information on to the larger audience in those countries."

Will Russian audiences have any more confidence that what they are hearing from Western state-run outlets like VOA is any more reliable than what their own state-approved outlets are telling them? "VOA and RFE (Radio Free Europe) have a government-imposed, in-the-code-written-by-Congress, can't-get-around-it mandate to be fair," Neiswender argues. She's referring to USAGM's Charter, adopted during the Ford Administration, which one VOA journalist has explained to me, means that, "We're probably the only news organization in the world that is mandated to be fair, objective and unbiased."

Whether VOA and RFE's reports are perceived as such by listeners inside of Russia and Ukraine is another matter, but their broadcasts did serve as an information lifeline to many behind the old Iron Curtain for many decades of the Cold War.

For now, the effort is already working. Elliott, who spent more than 30 years as a broadcaster and audience analyst at VOA tells us that "the signal is getting through to a very large extent, and sometimes with really good reception quality. Direct feedback from the audience, that will take some days and weeks as the word gets around that these transmissions are available. Already, WRMI received a note from a diplomat in Egypt who heard the Russian transmission. It is getting through."

Neiswender says that the project's success is only a matter of raising funds to keep going and expand their reach. The effort is crowdsourced with a fund raiser at Fundrazr.com/RadioWaves. A very small amount of money goes a long way here, she insists. They are already up and broadcasting after raising just over $6,000.

All of the money, "goes directly to the stations. No one is getting a dime from this that is organizing it or running it. Every cent of the money that is coming in is going directly back out to fund these transmissions," she notes.

It's a fascinating conversation about a fascinating project that I believe is well worth your time today, even as these are very strange days indeed.

Finally, we close with one more fascinating story, and a song. The story comes, ironically enough, courtesy of Fox "News", regarding Marina Baronova, the now-former Managing Editor of Russia's state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT). She resigned her post last week in protest of Putin's invasion of Ukraine. She now fears for her life, though not necessarily for the reasons you may assume. And her interview with Fox concludes with this message: "Russians love their children, too."

As it happens, Grammy-winner Sting, last weekend, posted an Instagram video singing his 1985 tune called "Russians" which, he says, he has rarely sung since the end of the Cold War. Now, as you'll hear, it has new relevance. Apparently even for Baronova...

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New Trump subpoenas; Climate change devastation in CO; Twitter ban for MTG; Hope for accountability as 'Every Day is Jan. 6 Now'; Plus: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2022 6:33pm PT  

Well, we're back! That may or may not be good news depending on who you are and how you choose to look at it. Either way, we're getting our sea legs back on today's BradCast after a week off between the holidays (thanks, Nicole Sandler for covering for us for much of that time!), but it looks like the new year may not be much different than the old one. At least not necessarily better. At least not immediately. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful since it beats the alternative. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories and news both good and bad on today's program...

  • A document unsealed by the New York Supreme Court on Monday confirms that not only was Donald Trump subpoenaed for testimony and documents last month by state Attorney General Letitia James, so were his son and daughter Don Jr. and Ivanka. (Eric had already been subpoenaed and forced to give testimony in late 2020.) James is running a civil investigation into years of alleged bank and tax fraud by Trump and his Trump Organization. The District Attorney's office in Manhattan is also probing similar matters in a criminal investigation that James is partnering with, so there's a lot on the line and all of the Trumps, naturally, will try to quash and/or evade their lawful subpoenas. Like Eric, they will likely fail. The Manhattan DA is now Alvin Bragg as of this past weekend. He replaced the previous DA over the weekend, after Cyrus Vance, Jr. decided not to run for reelection last year. Vance's --- now Bragg's --- office has already brought criminal fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, for running a tax-avoidance scheme that paid executives benefits that remained off the books and untaxed.
  • In less bright news to start the year (and end the last one), Colorado officials now say that nearly 1,000 homes and other structures were destroyed and hundreds more damaged during a massive December wildfire among hurricane-force wind gusts last Thursday in the now well-populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder. Desi Doyen joins us to explain the climate change-related conditions --- unusual warmth, extreme drought, historic lack of snow and rain --- that made the fire so damaging.
  • The news got a bit brighter --- again, depending on how you look at it --- after Twitter permanently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)'s personal account over the weekend. The far rightwinger has long used the social media service to spread lies, fraud and nonsense and, in this case, violated the company's COVID-19 misinformation policy for a fifth time. Her fifth and final strike was a tweet falsely citing "extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths", citing the CDC's self-reported VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systems) database frequently and misleading cited by anti-vaxxers. Anyone is able to (and frequently does) add records to the public-facing database falsely claiming injuries or deaths related to COVID vaccines. Greene's Congressional Twitter account has not (yet) been banned, and we discuss the pros and cons of giant social media companies being able to permanently suspend users like the Congresswoman or even the former President, as they did last year. (And, yes, I have some experience in facing down Twitter, even when they inaccurately block the posting of accurate and independently verifiable reporting.)
  • But with all that is going on, none is more important than saving our faltering democracy from those on the Right in the MAGA Mob who are scheming to completely undermine it. On New Year's Day, the New York Times' Editorial Board published a must-read editorial headlined "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". They are absolutely right. "In short," they argue, "the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends." They conclude...

    Whatever happens in Washington, in the months and years to come, Americans of all stripes who value their self-government must mobilize at every level — not simply once every four years but today and tomorrow and the next day — to win elections and help protect the basic functions of democracy. If people who believe in conspiracy theories can win, so can those who live in the reality-based world.

    Above all, we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country. Countless times over the past six years, up to and including the events of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump and his allies openly projected their intent to do something outrageous or illegal or destructive. Every time, the common response was that they weren’t serious or that they would never succeed. How many times will we have to be proved wrong before we take it seriously? The sooner we do, the sooner we might hope to salvage a democracy that is in grave danger.

  • The Times' warning is on the money. New polling from ABC-Ipsos finds that not nearly enough Americans understand the very real threat posed to American democracy by Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election through violence at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6, nor the GOP efforts to make such an attempted theft all but impossible to prevent in 2024. On a related note, a new Morning Consult survey finds the Republican Party has paid no price among GOP voters --- and even all voters --- for either the Jan. 6 attack or the party's subsequent efforts to pass new voter suppression laws that also allow partisan officials to overturn legitimate election results for purely partisan reasons.
  • But on that matter too, there is hope as the new year begins. Members of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack are united in their efforts to expose what happened, who is responsible for it, and any laws they feel may have been broken in the bargain. Over the weekend, Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) detailed the panel's ongoing plans to hold public hearings in the new year to help detail all of the above, as based on more than 300 witness interviews and some 35,000 pages of documents, texts, emails, etc. Cheney explained on ABC's This Week program on Sunday that then President Trump watched the entire attack unfold on television from the dining room just off the Oval Office while ignoring threats from GOP House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and from his own daughter Ivanka to take action to take action to quell the insurrection that he incited. She even went as far as to say that Trump is "clearly unfit for future office" and "clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again." She even went as far as to say she agrees with Hilary Clinton that if Trump runs and wins next time, "that could be the end of our democracy."
  • There was much more today, of course, but that gives you an idea of where we are as the new year begins. And callers also rang in throughout today's program with their own thoughts on all of the above and here is that must-listen interview I mentioned from Nicole Sandler last week with investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, offering her very well-documented argument that no one should yet give up hope for accountability for Trump from the DoJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland (which we hope to discuss in more detail in the days ahead)...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Progressive columnist, broadcaster Richard 'RJ' Eskow on Trump's bitter end, Biden's difficult new beginning, America's challenges ahead...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2021 6:17pm PT  

It's our final BradCast with Donald Trump still serving as President of the United States! Though it's likely to take a while before the stink fully dissipates. [Audio link to the show follows below the summary.]

The soon-to-be-former President is said to have been in a foul mood all weekend (SAD!) as he prepares, reportedly, to announce as many as 100 or more last minute Presidential Pardons. Reporting today suggests he will not issue pardons for either his family or himself (or even for the under-indictment Steve Bannon or the reportedly under-federal investigation Rudy Giuliani). Color us dubious about that, however.

The failed President's mood was undoubtedly not brightened by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who --- while convening the Senate for what is likely his last full day as Majority Leader --- declared that Trump "provoked" the violent attack and riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. That may not be a good sign for the disgraced man who will face an Impeachment Trial in that same Senate in coming days, as the first ever twice-Impeached President.

The fact that few wish to show up to send Trump off from Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning, or that tons of A-List stars are showing up for Joe Biden's inauguration, probably hasn't made Trump any less bitter. So at least America can be happy about that. Trump did release a video today in which he bid "farewell" to the nation (promises, promises), and --- without mentioning Joe Biden's name --- said out loud that there would be a "new administration" as of Wednesday.

That may still come as a shock to many of those gullible supporters of his to whom he's spent the last several months lying about that fact. But since he's been banned from Twitter, according to new research, misinformation about the election has plummeted on social media sites, along with hate speech and calls for violence. Go figure.

Still, as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris held a moving memorial service for the more than 400,000 Americans killed by COVID-19 thanks to Trump's delinquent response, the streets of D.C. are otherwise locked down tight today in advance of Wednesday's inauguration.

We're joined from D.C. today by progressive columnist and broadcaster RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour to discuss a whole bunch of related stuff. Our conversation ranges from the on-edge mood in the nation's capitol on the eve of an unprecedented Inauguration Day lockdown to Eskow's concerns about Big Tech's muzzling of political viewpoints (even Trump's) to questions of accountability for the outgoing President and to what the former health insurance executive and senior writer for Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign thinks of Biden's cabinet selections and stated agenda to date.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our last Green News Report of the Trump Presidency, with some good news on Biden's economic recovery plan and his intention to reverse a host of environmental rollbacks by the previous Administration; some good news on the zombie Keystone XL pipeline, and; some very good news from the courts, late today, regarding the Trump EPA's failed attempt to allow coal-fired power plants to continue to pollute and contribute to deadly global warming.

Yes, it's the end of an error...with a lot of cleaning up to do in the days, weeks, months and, sadly, years ahead. But at least we will soon have all of that to look forward to, with the nation's worst ever President, hopefully, becoming nothing more than a terrible terrible memory...

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Guest: Former federal prosecutor Ben Clements; Also: Capitol Police officer dead after riot; Pelosi demands Trump resign or face second impeachment; Dominion files $1.3B defamation suit against Powell...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2021 8:24pm PT  

The walls are closing in very quickly now --- even throughout our hour today --- on the man who President-elect Joe Biden correctly, if generously, described today as "not fit to serve" and "one of the most incompetent Presidents in the history of the United States of America." As we go to air, Donald Trump is still in office. We can't tell you for certain if that will still be the case by the time you hear today's BradCast. [Audio link is posted at bottom of article.]

On Thursday night, U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick succumbed to injuries sustained during the attempted coup at the Capitol on Wednesday, as incited by Trump. He was the fifth person to have died amid the mayhem wrought by our outgoing criminal President. Sicknick's death, which Trump didn't bother to mention today, may add yet another crime --- conspiracy to incite murder or manslaughter --- to Trump's quickly growing rap-sheet.

On Friday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued an ultimatum. Either Trump resigns now or new Articles of Impeachment will be filed on Monday. That, as the Administration rats continue to flee his sinking ship, with more resignations and the welcome news that sore loser Trump will not attend Biden's inauguration and plans to leave D.C. as of the day before. "Good riddance," we say, in echoing the two word statement issued by the American Federation of Teachers last night upon the news that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was also quitting (though only after four convicted murderers and war criminals who worked for her brother received Presidential Pardons.)

More on Trump's growing legal perils and calls for accountability with my guest today, but first a few words on the news that Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against Team Trump attorney  and his fellow perpetual liar and con-artist Sidney Powell. The private voting systems vendor charges Powell led a campaign to spread "wild" and "demonstrably false" claims about the company, including lies about their voting systems being developed with communist money in Venezuela by the late Hugo Chavez and, with the help of George Soros and China and Cuba, being used to steal the election for Biden.

(Her absurd Venezuela/Chavez claims are bastardized and re-imagined versions of my detailed, accurate, exclusive investigative reporting at The BRAD BLOG from approximately 2008 to 2010. And, while I've been wildly critical for many years of Dominion's unverifiable voting systems, as deployed by Georgia's Republican Sec. of State, there is nothing to support Powell's fantastical claims, including her evidence-free assertions that the state's SoS and Governor received kickbacks from the company to deploy their machines in the Peach State, for the first time, in 2020.)

Dominion, which previously warned they were likely to sue for slander and defamation if Powell did not retract her false claims (she refused and "doubled down" instead, according to the 124-page complaint [PDF]), also has sent similar warnings to other Team Trump liars such as Rudy Giuliani, Fox "News", Newsmax and One America News. They suggest they may even sue Trump himself. We'll hope they do, even if I'm called to testify by the private election vendor which should have no place in our public election system.

But, for now, according to our guest today, Constitutional expert and former federal prosecutor BEN CLEMENTS, Board Chair and Senior Legal Advisor of the non-partisan government accountability group, Free Speech for People (FSFP), it's accountability for the "seditious" President of the United States that is of the greatest immediate concern.

Clements, along with FSFP's  John Bonifaz and Ron Fein, filed an op-ed in the Boston Globe on Tuesday --- the day before the Trump-instigated insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday --- calling for Trump to be immediately impeached for a second time.

"At the time we wrote the op-ed, we were only dealing with the first major set of felonies that the President committed this week, in the effort to falsify the Georgia election results in his favor," he tells me today, referring to last Saturday's phone call by the President to GA's Sec. of State, cajoling and threatening him to "find" enough votes to steal the election for him there. (Yes! That was just this past week as well!) "At this point, we obviously have a second set of felonies in connection with his incitement of a seditious mob on Congress, which creates an even greater urgency."

But the reason Clements is calling for a second impeachment this late in Trump's term is because, as he explains: "There is really, for the most part, only one sure way to ensure that Donald Trump is not permitted to again run for office in this country...And that way is through the impeachment power.   If the Senate convicts, an official can be removed, but they can also be disqualified from ever holding federal office again. Aside from removal, which is now needed more urgently than ever, there is the need to disqualify him, to prevent him from running in 2024, or from running for anything else at any time in the federal government."

With just 12 days left before Biden's Inauguration, is there even enough time for such a proceeding?  As Clements, who authored a book with Bonifaz and Fein called The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, details that impeachment and a Senate trial can happen even after an official is out of office. Indeed, as he (and his op-ed) recounts, there is even historical precedent for it.

We also discuss whether the Constitution allows for a Presidential self-pardon, whether Trump will try to execute one, whether lawful or not, and as FSFP called for yesterday, the need for Joe Biden's Attorney General-designate, Judge Merrick Garland, to immediately empanel an independent task force, once confirmed, to coordinate and investigate "any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates."  Clements argues that, without public pressure, Democratic Administrations have had a tendency in the past, when taking office "after a corrupt and sometimes lawless Republican administration" to make a "a quick call to 'turn the page.'"

"We are hearing those calls broadly already," he says. But "if we really want to move forward, if we really want to restore the integrity of the Department of Justice, there must be accountability for the crimes of this Administration and particularly of Donald Trump. And there must be accountability for the destruction that he created to our democracy and to the Department of Justice. The reason we're calling for this is there is a risk that there will be this temptation to say 'he's out of office and let's move on.' And I think that would be a GRAVE mistake that will invite more lawless activity, that will invite more of the kind of activity that we saw on Wednesday with the attack on the Capitol."

As we chatted, news came in that Alaska's Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski, is now calling for Trump to resign, declaring "I want him out" and threatening to leave her party if they continue to align with him. And Twitter finally did the right thing (years belatedly) by permanently banning Trump, citing the risk of further incitement of violence.

It's going to be a very dark weekend for Trump. But, for us, we close a dark week today with a long overdue, brand new and hilarious parody tune for the seditious moment, from the great Randy Rainbow! Enjoy!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, David Faris of Roosevelt Univ.; Also: Suspended on Twitter because I tweeted completely accurate news about GA's flawed touchscreen voting system...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2020 5:35pm PT  

Before we get to our otherwise previously-scheduled Special Coverage of Wednesday night's Vice Presidential debate, we open today's BradCast with the news that Twitter has suspended TheBradBlog's account for posting a 100% accurate tweet regarding Georgia's new touchscreen voting systems. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

I laid out the entire, maddening story regarding the tweet in question in a BRAD BLOG item today, since I can't post at all right now on Twitter, while they review my "appeal" to their finding that a two week old, demonstrably accurate tweet is in violation of the service's "rules against posting misleading information about voting." As you can imagine, my tweet is well supported, as its based on email from the GA Sec. of State's office sent to all 159 counties regarding an error discovered in the state's new touchscreen voting systems used by every voter at every polling place in the state. The email I cite is from the SoS and was published in a federal court filing (also linked with the tweet!) as part of a long-running lawsuit challenging the use of those machines, which we've reported on here for years now. The lawsuit seeks hand-marked paper ballots for voters at the polling place instead. The full story of what happened with Twitter, including screenshots and links to the federal filing and SoS email is posted here.

Then its on to last night's refreshingly dull and normal(ish) Vice Presidential Debate from Salt Lake City, Utah between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Veep nominee Sen. Kamala Harris. We're joined today for analysis and commentary by award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo, along with author and political scientist DAVID FARIS of Roosevelt University and The Week.

While the debate may have been dull --- save for the fly --- there was much revealed (and much evaded) and much to discuss about it in today's very lively show, including, near the end, whether there will be any more debates at all this year.

I'd say more about today's fun (and, at times, funny) show, but I've got to get back to fighting with Twitter now, apparently. Since I'm not allowed to post there for the time being --- unless I delete a completely accurate and newsworthy tweet --- please feel free to share today's show over there yourself! Thanks!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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The tweet in question and federal court evidence proving it's true..
[FINAL UPDATE 10/11/2020: Faced with no good options, I've relented and deleted the tweet.]
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2020 11:38am PT  

[Ed Note 10/11/2020: After waiting more than 72 hours for a reply to my second "appeal" from Twitter, I've had no choice but to delete the accurate tweet in question, because, after a long weekend without access, simply need to get back on it. Much of my work happens via that social media service right now, unfortunately. See the final UPDATE at bottom of story for a full explanation of why I finally had to relent, and a few thoughts about what it portends moving forward. - BF]

* * *

Well, I woke up this morning to find that Twitter had restricted/suspended my account due to what they describe as my having violated the service's "rules against posting misleading information about voting" with a 100% accurate tweet from two weeks ago, which reported on a federal court filing...

Here's a screenshot of the (apparently-still-available?) tweet in question, which they claim to be in violation of their rules, along with the evidence from the federal court filing proving that it's completely accurate...

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




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