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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, April 6, 2020
Sunday 'Ratings to Die For' Toons
A lot of people are saying there are many many highly-rated 'cures' for coronavirus in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
U.S. ECONOMY CRATERING; Judge Allows WI Election to Proceed: 'BradCast' 4/2/20
Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' on new relief bill; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
'Green News Report' 4/2/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Critical UN climate conf. cancelled; Coal co. seeks to dump retired miner obligations; States criminalize pipeline protests; PLUS: Nat'l parks to stay open after workers test positive...
Previous GNRs: 3/31/20 - 3/26/20 - Archives...
Election Disaster Under Way in WI; Employer Health Plans Likely Worsened Pandemic: 'BradCast' 4/1/20
Guest: Former ins. exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: Depth of crisis emerging despite denial...
Media Industry Confronting 'Full Extinction Event': 'BradCast' 3/31/20
Guest: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
'Green News Report' 3/31/20
Trump kills Obama's mileage standards; EPA stops pollution enforcement during COVID-19 crisis; Big Plastic sees profit in pandemic; PLUS: Earth Day 2020 looms...
OH's New Primary Scheme Shows How to NOT Handle This Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/30/20
Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
Sunday 'Worse Than the Problem' Toons
We're open for business! Come on in and binge read PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Free Medicine in the Corona Zone:
'BradCast' 3/27/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter; Also: Some VERY much needed laughs!...
WI, GA Still Suppressing Votes, Even During COVID-19 Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/26/20
More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Historic jobless claims amid pandemic...
'Green News Report' 3/26/20
Good news and bad for energy in stimulus bill; Even COVID-19 can't stop EPA rollbacks; PLUS: Court win for Standing Rock Sioux over Dakota Access Pipeline...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guests: Filmmakers Simon Ardizonne and Russell Michaels...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2020 6:50pm PT  

Today, we devote the bulk of The BradCast to HBO's new documentary film, released just last week and considered important enough that the premium cable channel is now making it available, for free, through May 25th on their YouTube channel right here. (You can also watch a number of clips, teasers and extras from the film here.) [Audio link to today's full program is posted below.]

The new film is called Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections and it comes from the team who created the landmark, Emmy-nominated 2006 HBO doc Hacking Democracy.

The climax of that earlier film (you can watch just that key scene right here) featured the first known on camera hack of a Diebold optical-scan vote tabulation system, which changed the results of a mock election in which one question was asked on the ballot: "Can Diebold's optical-scan vote tabulators be hacked?" The votes, as we see them cast in the film on hand-marked paper ballots by Election Integrity advocates including Bev Harris of Black Box Voting in the office of then Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, are clearly 6 'NO' and 2 'YES'. But when the paper ballots are run through the tabulator, the results reported back by the computer are 1 'NO' and 7 'YES'. The tabulator had been hacked and only a hand-count of the hand-marked paper ballots would ever have revealed that it was, had it happened in an actual election. (Needless to say, almost no paper ballots are hand-counted by humans after elections in the U.S., including the 2016 Presidential election, to assure the computers are reported accurate results.)

The manipulation of the system at the time was carried out by legendary Finish cybersecurity and voting system expert Harri Hursti, who is the central character in this new follow-up film. It follows Hursti as he uncovers new and persistent revelations proving that U.S. elections remain far more vulnerable than many realize, and arguably no safer or more secure from manipulation --- by foreign or domestic actors --- than they were during the making of the 2006 film or even since the 2016 Presidential election. (Yes, the same optical-scanners hacked in the 2006 film are still in use in states around the country in 2020!) All of that, despite assurances from the U.S. Intelligence Community and bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia attempted to access elections systems in all 50 states in 2016 --- when Donald Trump is said to have won by a razor thin margin in three states that hadn't voted for a Republican candidate in decades. Those same institutions continue to warn us that Russia plans to do the same in 2020, though as the film shows, it does not take a nation-state in order to do so.

We're joined for today's special edition of The BradCast by SIMON ARDIZZONE and RUSSELL MICHAELS, the British directors of both 2006's Hacking Democracy as well as, with Sarah Teale, the follow-up Kill Chain out this week from HBO. We share a number of clips from the new film, which features at its climax a chilling interview with a foreign hacker, shot in silhouette, who explains that, before the 2016 election, he was able to take complete control of Alaska's entire election system --- from its online voter registration database to its vote tabulation system. The hacker, who goes by the name 'CyberZeist', claims he was able to gain access to every user name and password on the system and obtain root access to change anything he might have wanted to. "I could have made any changes in the system, like deleting the candidates. I could kick anyone out. I could alter any date, any vote." he claims. "It was such a rush that, at that particular moment, I felt like I was the God."

Ardizzone and Michaels offer insight on CyberZeist and why they believe his allegations to be very credible. But there are many other disturbing allegations and evidence to support them presented before that point in the movie, including Ion Sancho's reflections and continuing concerns 16 years after the first film, as he reports on the mandatory secret meeting that all Florida election supervisors were summoned to after the 2016 election, regarding a hack of VR Systems, the contractor which runs the voter registration system in the Sunshine State and others as well. That is the company --- and the spearfishing operation --- described in documents leaked to media in 2017 by DHS whistleblower Reality Winner, who is still serving 5 years in federal prison for having done so.

We also witness disturbing evidence of chicanery in the 2018 Gubernatorial election in Georgia, which was overseen by its eventual "winner" Brian Kemp. He served as Secretary of State at the time, responsible for programming the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and creating the electronic access cards needed to vote on it. The filmmakers were there and had their cameras rolling on Election Day in 2018 when those voter access cards failed, leading to hours-long lines to vote in one of the state's most Democratic-leaning counties. Kemp would eventually be named the winner of the election by little more than 1% over popular Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Longtime BRAD BLOG readers and BradCast listeners are likely to recognize a number of the featured players in the film, as many of them have been repeated guests on the program over the years. Ardizonne and Michaels share a number of insights on the making of the film today, such as why it took 14 years to follow-up the previous one and the mysteriously huge interest in the original online just before the 2016 election; they offer additional details on several disturbing discoveries made by hackers at DefCon's Voting Village in Las Vegas; they discuss how the private voting system vendors responded to invitations from the filmmakers to tell their sides of the story in the movie; what the reaction has been from law enforcement officials to CyberZeist's revelations since the film's premier last week; whether they believe the 2016 election results were legitimate; whether a move to Vote-by-Mail during the coronavirus crisis will help avoid any of these problems in 2020; and why the film is titled Kill Chain.

"We, actually, in a way, didn't want to make [Kill Chain," Ardizzone tells me. "The reason we made it was because we noticed a really sudden uptick in the number of people who were watching Hacking Democracy online. And a lot of our contacts started to get back in touch with us, saying, 'You know, even though you made that film, the problems are still there, and they're kind of worse now.' And this was before the elections in November 2016."

"I believe, to this day, no individual voting machines [from 2016] have been subpoenaed, sequestered and cyber-investigated by the Department of Homeland Security," Michaels says. "The scientists are screaming out, saying this is completely insecure, you must stop doing it. As far as I'm aware, no one is going to stop doing it in 2020. It's still going full steam ahead."

Of course, there is much much more. I believe you'll want to tune in for this conversation today.

Finally, we close today with a bit of listener mail regarding the ongoing and upcoming election disaster now underway in Wisconsin which is still set to hold its Presidential Primary this Tuesday. That, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Governor, a lack of poll workers willing to risk death by working the polls, and a flood of absentee ballot requests and incoming mail ballots that officials are finding impossible to keep up with given their current lack of resources.

If any bad guys out there were hoping to cause havoc and chaos in the American electoral system, well mission accomplished! Hopefully it won't result in too many people actually dying in Wisconsin, where the state's Republican-controlled legislature has repeatedly refused the Democratic Governor's pleas to postpone the election or change it to an all Vote-by-Mail election...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' from new relief measure; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2020 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, it is as bad as we warned it would be. And it is getting even worse. And the way some state officials are now behaving, even upcoming elections may be unable to reverse much of this madness. [Audio link to full program is posted at end of summary.]

On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department released gobsmacking statistics revealing that a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the past week. That follows more than 3 million doing so the week before. Both weeks blow to smithereens the previous all-time record high for weekly jobless claims since such records have been kept. That numbers was of 695,000, as set in 1982. We are quickly blowing past the disastrous economic tailspin of the 2008 Great Recession and moving into Great Depression territory.

In response, House Dems are attempting to move to another relief bill, in the form of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to follow up last week's $2.2 trillion stimulus/corporate bailout bill. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is, so far, rejecting Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to do so, while telling her to "stand down" as the GOP does nothing instead. That, as NBC News reports today that Americans may be waiting as long as five months for the paltry $1,200 check promised them by last week's emergency relief bill.

But, of course, Congressional Republicans aren't doing absolutely nothing. McConnell has vowed to continuing packing the federal courts with unqualified judges, even among this disaster. And several GOP members of the House and Senate are proposing a bill to punish those who disseminated false information about coronavirus or who profited from it --- so long as those people are from other countries. Luckily, Donald Trump's months of repeated and purposeful and deadly disinformation that he and his Administration fed to the American people about the pandemic is all cool! So, apparently, are any U.S. Senators who may have profited from early information about the virus by trading millions of dollars of stock based on insider information, including Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). Presumably, they will not be held to account by the GOP's proposal to punish anyone who "financially benefits from acts intended to deliberately conceal or distort information about a public health emergency of international concern."

In the House, at the same time, Pelosi has announced the formation of a new bipartisan Select Committee to oversee the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic and its use of the $2 trillion allocated by last week's relief package. The committee, she says, will have subpoena power. So, if there are any questions the panel may have for members of the Administration dolling out that record amount of tax payer funds, we're certain that all of the President's men will undoubtedly respect any lawful Congressional subpoena they may receive.

Meanwhile, we continue to keep our eyes on how to help to begin to end many of these ongoing nightmares, somehow, via the ballot box. Toward that end, the Democratic National Committee announced they are postponing their national nominating convention, previously scheduled for Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July, back to August instead, in hopes that it will be possible to gather in person by that time (it likely will not be.) It would be held the week before Republicans plan to hold theirs in Charlotte, North Carolina, which Trump has vowed to hold with delegates gathered in person in the final week of August.

But, we're still in utter disbelief that Wisconsin is actually --- seriously --- going to hold their Presidential Primary, statewide Supreme Court election and municipal contests NEXT TUESDAY on April 7, despite, as we noted yesterday, the ongoing unprecedented health emergency, statewide stay-at-home order, and "a massive shortage of poll workers across the state, with more than 100 communities having no poll workers at all as of [this past Tuesday, and] an overall shortage of some 7,000 workers in 60% of the state's municipalities."

As we reported Wednesday, the only thing set to stop this madness with both the state's Democratic Governor and Republican heads of the state House and Senate also on board, is a federal lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates. Well, U.S. District Judge Mark M. Conley issued his ruling on Thursday, declining to postpone the election, while making clear that though he disagrees with the state's decision to move forward, he does not have the authority to postpone it due to a health emergency in which, he suggested correctly, residents could die. "That may be something that happens," he said during closing arguments, adding "that would be outside my jurisdiction. But it will be on the hands of the legislature and the governor."

Yes, it will. Judge Conley did, however, extend a few deadlines for absentee balloting, which has also reportedly already overwhelmed local elections officials who are having trouble keeping up with incoming ballots as well as sending out a record number of requested ballots. The Wisconsin Election Commission has already stated that it is very likely, barring a legislative change by the Republican-controlled legislature, that many votes will not be able to be counted at all in time for the state's statutory deadline. Republicans appear to be very happy about that. Conley suggested he may rule again, if voting rights are seen as imperiled on Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with the U.N. cancelling its critical upcoming climate conference due to the corona virus pandemic; a bankrupt U.S. coal company attempting to pass its obligations to retired miners over to tax payers instead; several states use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to pass laws criminalizing pipeline protests; and Trump's Interior Dept. keeps national parks open despite worker illnesses and their pleas to close the parks in the name of public safety...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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: 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...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got a boatload of news and more listener calls from the Coronaverse today, as Republicans continue to try and game this year's elections, even amid a global pandemic. (Priorities, ya know!) [Audio for today's show is posted below.]

We start with a quick review of some of the news from over the weekend, as Trump finally gave up the ghost on his idiotic threat of reopening the country on Easter (April 12), even though has no authority to reopen something that he hasn't closed in the first place. Instead, it appears he's finally heard the advice from his medical experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans will die even "if we do things almost perfectly" and shut everything down (which we haven't yet in many places, though a number of additional states, under pressure, finally issued stay-at-home orders on Monday, including Arizona, Maryland and Virginia.) So Trump has reluctantly extended "federal guidance" to call for social distancing through the end of April for now.

But, there are a few glimpses of potentially good news --- as thin as the threads may be --- coming from South Korea, Seattle and California today, if otherwise grim case numbers and death continue to increase across the country and world. That "good news" finds that yes, social distancing does appear to be working. At least for now.

All of which underscores that this is likely to go on much longer than officials are currently making clear, or have any really plans for, particularly with absolutely nobody --- nobody --- steering the ship at the national level.

And, in turn, that underscores the importance of this year's Presidential election, as if Trump's appearance on Fox "News" this morning saying the quiet parts out loud didn't already give the game away. In complaining about the $4 billion that Democrats had hoped to include for improved security for running elections during a global pandemic in last week's $2.2 trillion stimulus/corporate bailout package, Trump told Fox: "They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." Well, there ya go. He just said out loud that if everyone was allowed to vote in this country, Republicans would be in big, big trouble. He gets something right every now and again, but its usually the things that he's not supposed to be saying.

New York, with the most concentrated health emergency and most cases in the nation right now, has finally postponed its planned April 28 Presidential primary to June 23. But, as Wisconsin Republicans are cool with the state's plan to hold its election next week (April 7!), and as Georgia's Republican Sec. of State has come up with a scheme to pretend to be doing the right thing by sending absentee ballot applications to "active" voters (not all voters, just ones he deems as active), Ohio's GOP legislature and Governor aren't even trying to hide their contempt for democracy.

Despite OH's Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose stating clearly that "No date before June 2nd is logistically possible" to hold Ohio's rescheduled primary, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill last week to hold it a month earlier on April 28. Moreover, LaRose's suggestion to send a postage-paid absentee ballot application to all registered voters was also ignored. Instead, the legislation --- now signed by Governor Mike DeWine --- requires the Sec. of State to send a postcard to every voter letting them know how to get an absentee application themselves (and, unconstitutionally, find postage needed to mail it back in.) Furthermore, all of that has to happen, plus ballots must get to those voters with time to send it back postmarked by April 27. Good luck Ohio voters! It wouldn't be an election year with a voting disaster in the Buckeye State! That, even after the Republican Sec. of State has already stated that plan is not "logistically possible"! In short, Ohio is demonstrating to the country how NOT to reschedule elections during a pandemic...unless your actually hope, like the President's, is to keep "levels of voting" as low as possible in hopes of helping Republicans win elections. Voting Rights groups in Ohio: Start your lawsuits!

Finally, we open up the phones to stay-at-homers to say hello and for any good news stories they may have to offer. We find a "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" instead, a bit of good news, and some much less than good news. But we hope you find it to be a good show nonetheless, to help keep you company at home while become a smarter world citizen in the bargain...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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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More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Jobless claims skyrocket amid coronavirus pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2020 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With the frantic, if justifiable, move towards Vote-by-Mail in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one shouldn't underestimate the GOP scheming going on right now to figure out how to make sure that their efforts at vote suppression can continue none the less. [Audio link to show follows below.]

That's especially true since broad Vote-by-Mail programs are likely to increase Democratic "turnout" in many, if not most jurisdictions. (That, even as many Democrats, for their part, are underestimating the amount of fraud that can happen with broad Vote-by-Mail programs if safeguards are not carefully instituted. Such precautions are easy, given the rushed deadlines and lack of needed funding and manpower in most jurisdictions right now.)

Our elections this year are most definitely in peril. Even as many states have now rescheduled primaries, optimistically, until June 2nd. Georgia has rescheduled its primaries for May 19 (the date which was originally scheduled to hold Kentucky's primary as well, though they have smartly pushed theirs further down the road).

Perhaps most troubling of all at the moment, Wisconsin will hold primaries and a state Supreme Court election on April 7! That just over a week and a half from today, despite the Governor having shut down all non-essential businesses and ordering residents to stay-at-home through at least April 24! Election officials in several Badger State jurisdictions are complaining they will be unable to find enough pollworkers (resulting in much longer --- and dangerous --- lines); at least one major city is suing, declaring it "functionally impossible" to carry out the election while allowing voters and pollworkers to maintain necessary social distancing; and the County Clerk in for the state's capital (in one of the most Dem-leaning counties in the state) is seeing voters threatened with legal challenges if they follow his advice to declare themselves "indefinitely confined" in order to request an absentee ballot online without uploading a Photo ID, which many seniors are finding difficulty to do.

Nonetheless, the state's Democratic Governor is allowing the April 7 elections to move forward, and the Republicans in the state legislator --- who would be needed to take action in order to postpone it or change it to an all-VBM election --- are applauding the Governor. Now why would they do that?

In Georgia, meanwhile, don't be fooled by the Republican Sec. of State's lofty, high-minded explanation for mailing an absentee application to every "active" voter in the state. While that might otherwise be a very good thing, what about all of those voters who are still registered and eligible to vote this year, even if they have been marked "inactive" by the same Secretary of State?

None of this is particularly encouraging. Though neither is the fact that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this past week, shattering the decades-old record of 695,000, with likely many more who were not able to file this past week because state websites and phone systems were overwhelmed, crashing and freezing up.

But, don't worry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the quintupling of the all-time weekly unemployment record is "not relevant", thanks to the emergency stimulus bill passed by the Senate 96 to 0 on Wednesday night and now waiting for passage in the House, most likely on Friday. Of course, it's not only Mnuchin misleading Americans on behalf of the Trump Administration, the New York Times did a pretty good job of it as well recently.

All of which should serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting independent local journalism, with alt-weeklies dropping like flies (with no ad revenue to support them since restaurants, theaters, concerts, and other social gatherings are mostly shut down), even as their online readership is way up during the crisis, and local, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations also having a similarly difficult time keeping their transmitters humming during this pandemic.

We discuss all of that and more today, before closing with Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report, which, along with some good and bad news on the stimulus bill and some bad news about the Trump Administration's continuing rollback of public safety regulations even during the crisis, actually includes some bona fide good news from a federal court regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ongoing battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline...

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Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2020 6:45pm PT  

Is Bernie "unelectable" as many well-paid pundits and columnists have argued? We take an evidence based approach to that question on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, with the end of the Public Comment period for certification of Los Angeles County's $300,000,000 boondoggle of a new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system coming to a close next Monday, Jan 20th (Martin Luther King Day holiday!) at 5pm PT, it's great to see Libby Denkmann's comprehensive piece at LAist, on the potential nightmares for L.A. voters in the making. Her piece is headlined "LA's New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried". She picks up on many of the points we highlighted when we broke the story earlier in the week of more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards discovered by the independent testing team hired by the CA Sec. of State during the certification process.

We also follow up on Denkmann's scoop from earlier in the week, regarding the Beverly Hills City Council's recent vote to explore a lawsuit against Los Angeles County because the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system forces voters to notice a "MORE" button if they wish to see more than the first four candidates listed on the ballot in any particular race. That button is right next to the "NEXT" button that would take voters to the next race without seeing all of the candidates in the current race. A listener writes in with a couple of solutions to that huge design flaw on these incredibly expensive "electric pens" that L.A. is investing in, instead of a much cheaper, much more secure and reliable, overseeable HAND-MARKED paper ballot system.

Then, with many in the pundit class helpfully informing us that candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are just too progressive to be elected in the 2020 general election (many of these same pundits also told us Donald Trump could never be elected, by the way), we take an evidence-based look at those claims.

The question, however, begins with dismantling the notion that pack journalism and "conventional wisdom" on such matters should be trusted. For example, conventional wisdom tells us that members of the active-duty military will be big supporters of Trump's again this year. Actual evidence, such as the annual opinion poll of active-duty subscribers to Military Times, reveals a very different set of data than that presented by much of the media. That poll, taken at the end of last year, finds that half of respondents view Trump unfavorably, with 45% viewing him "VERY unfavorably". His overall ratings have dropped dramatically since the military publication's first annual poll in 2016. Moreover a plurality back impeachment for their Commander-in-Chief! (And today's Washington Post story on Trump railing at his Generals as "a bunch of dopes and babies" probably won't help him much either.)

In fact, as we discuss with our guest, historian, author and election fraud investigator RICHARD HAYES PHILLIPS, nobody really knows anything. At least when it comes to the paid pundits substituting their opinions for actual facts. Phillips published a fact-based analysis of the questions regarding Sanders electability at The BRAD BLOG on Friday, based on known raw numbers from the 2016 primary (with a particular eye on the "Blue Wall" states of WI, MN, PA, MI, IA and OH) and what can be gleaned from opinion polls today.

While avoiding punditry and predictions, Phillips' findings --- at least based on what we know at this time --- suggest that Sanders is, indeed, electable. Whether he would still be by the time Republicans got finished with him, or whether he is more electable than someone like Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, remains unknown no matter what the TV talking heads tell you. "Take your pick," he tells me when I ask whether his analysis today will hold up even after Trump and the GOP media turn their fire on Sanders if we wins the Democratic nomination. "Which three words do you want to hear Donald Trump say over and over again in the same sentence 10,000 times? Do you want to hear 'Biden Ukraine corrupt'? Do you want to hear 'Bernie crazy socialist'? Do you want to hear 'Pocahontas crazy socialist'? I don't even want to think about what he would say about Pete Buttigieg. I'm not going to go there."

Noting that his work "is based upon numbers and not opinions," he suggests voters should vote for who they like in the primary and forget about "electability", before adding his key takeaway: "The lesson to this is that the most important thing that Democrats can do is to unite behind the winner and not split the opposition. Trump's best scenario is a 3rd party candidate on the Left siphoning enough votes from whoever wins the Democratic nomination to throw the election to Trump."

Phillips argues: "My advice is that Democrats should not be afraid of a spirited primary contest between two or more viable candidates. What they need to do, as recent polling data also reveal, is united behind the ultimate winner. You can't just take your ball and go home and mope because your candidate didn't get the nomination. That's what Trump wants you to do."

It is certainly true that Republicans will say anything, do anything, to win the general election against whichever Democratic candidate ends up winning the nomination. We close with one amazingly audacious recent clip from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Fox "News" that underscores precisely that point...

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Analysis of 2016 primary election numbers in three key battleground states appears to counter the allegation...
By Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D. on 1/17/2020 9:35am PT  

"They wanted substantive change and were willing to burn it all down to get it." These words, from a neighbor in the rural north country of New York, describe the thinking of some who voted for Donald Trump. Some of these same voters had supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary (more on that below).

Four years later, some have suggested we should shy away from Sanders, on the grounds that he cannot beat Trump. Election statistics, however, as well as current polling, reveal that he would, in fact, be a viable candidate. This is not the same thing as saying he will win. But, based on actual existing hard numbers that we can examine, he is certainly not "unelectable" as some critics have charged.

Bernie Sanders, having run for President in 2016, is the only Democratic candidate with a recent track record in presidential politics that can be used as a yardstick, unlike several of the other current front-runners such as Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg. So, let's look at what the raw numbers tell us about Sanders' electability against Trump, bearing in mind that this all could change when full-throated attacks are unleashed against him, as they inevitably will be against whoever wins the Democratic nomination...

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




Also: Fall out from yesterday's exclusive news on major security failures discovered in Los Angeles' new $300M voting system, and much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2020 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as we wait for the House to send Donald Trump's Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, and we wait for the Senate to begin his impeachment trial, and we wait for Tuesday's night final Democratic Presidential debate before the Iowa Caucuses, and we wait for primary voting to begin in earnest next month, the fight for voting rights and for the way voters will cast their votes has been long underway, and it cannot wait any longer. [Audio link to complete show is posted below summary.]

We've got several major court victories today in the fight for voting rights, and a follow-up to yesterday's exclusive revelations of the massive failures discovered in the new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems set for first-time use in the critical 2020 Presidential election cycle in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction.

First up today, a Wisconsin state courts of appeals panel has stepped in to put a freeze on the massive voter purge of some 200,000 voters, as demanded by a rightwing legal outfit and a state court judge who was apparently willing to do their bidding. A three-judge panel on Wisconsin's District 4 Court of Appeals put the brakes on Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy's order to immediately remove the voters and on his $250/day fine against each of the three Democratic appointees to the state's Elections Commission who oppose the purge.

The voters who failed to respond to a verification postcard sent by the Commission were disproportionately found to be located in the state's most Democratic-leaning jurisdictions. They had been initially set for removal from the rolls in 2021, until Wisconsin's so-called Institute for Law and Liberty filed suit and found a very friendly judge in Malloy. He recently ordered the immediate removal of the voters, despite opposition from both the Democratic Commissioners and the state's Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. The ruling by the appellate court to protect as many as 200,000 voters is key in a battleground state said to have been won by Trump by just 23,000 voters in 2016.

Today's decision in WI somewhat echoes a ruling by a federal judge in New York State late last week, who ordered that voters determined to be "inactive" due to a failure to respond to mailings or bad information from the U.S. Postal Service, must be listed in poll books on Election Day. A failure of so-called "inactive" voters to appear in poll books at state precincts led to chaos and disenfranchised voters during the 2016 election in New York.

During the course of last year's trial in this matter, it was revealed that both members of the State Board of Elections and New York City Board of Elections found that many voters on the "inactive" list should not have even been on the list in the first place. Federal District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan ruled that State Board of Elections' procedures were in violation of both the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Then, we turn to some of the fall-out from the hornets nest we helped kick over on Monday's BradCast, when we detailed major security defects discovered by state certification testers in Los Angeles' new "Voting Solutions for All People" (or VSAP) voting system. The brand-new $300 million system, as we discussed in details on yesterday's program, is yet to be certified for use in California by Sec. of State Alex Padilla, but he is expected to sign off of it despite the massive failures discovered by the analysts that could put the 2020 elections in jeopardy in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, thanks to the completely unverifiable and highly flawed new touchscreen voting systems.

Today, we share some of the responses we've received following yesterday's blockbuster show and some of the public comments sent by listeners to the Sec. of State seeking rejection of the new system in favor of hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Letters must be sent to VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov before the Public Comment period for certification ends this Monday, January 20, at 5pm Pacific Time!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report, with some news on a family feud and potential climate change shake-up at Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp in the wake of the devastating Australian bushfires that have ravaged the country for weeks; new details on the extraordinary costs of our climate crisis; and the weekly arrests of climate action champion Jane Fonda...

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Climate crisis; Impeachment madness; 2020 debates; GOP voter purges...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2019 6:45pm PT  

The gods must be angry. But they have very good cause. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • At least four were killed and dozens injured as some 27 tornadoes reportedly ripped across the Deep South causing "total chaos" on Monday and Tuesday. In December. Is that normal?;
  • DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez steps in to help resolve a labor union dispute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles that had threatened to derail Thursday's 2020 Presidential Debate. Now, it won't. And the union workers got a great deal out of it;
  • Nine Democratic Presidential candidates, led by Sen. Cory Booker (who did not qualify for Thursday's debate), petition the DNC to relax qualification thresholds for upcoming Presidential debates. The Party says it won't;
  • Another former Trump campaign officials is heading to jail. Rick Gates, Trump's former Deputy Campaign Chair and a top Transition official, receives 45 days in jail, three years of probation and a $20,000 fine for fraud and lying to federal investigators --- to which he pleaded guilty last year. His sentence comes despite prosecutors seeking no jail time after Gates had cooperated with federal officials in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, by helping to to secure guilty verdicts against Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and longtime Trump associate Roger Stone;
  • Donald Trump unleashed a bizarre, blistering, six-page, single-spaced, Donald Trumpian rant, disguised as a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [PDF] on Tuesday, decrying his looming impeachment as a "perversion of justice" by Democrats. The jokes seem to write themselves here, but for how pathetically sad, dangerous and threatening to our Constitutional order the behavior of this President of the United States now actually is;
  • That threat continues to spread to Congress, where the House Rules Committee on Tuesday set terms for Wednesday's House Floor debate on the two Articles of Impeachment against the President, as Rep. Jim McGovern, Chair of the Committee said he looks at Trump's attempt to use Ukraine to help him win the 2020 election as "a crime in progress", with Democrats "trying to prevent the President from rigging the next election";
  • While over in the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused a request from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena the testimony of four top Trump officials who were first-hand witnesses to Trump's Ukraine extortion plot. The officials, whose testimony is sought for the almost certain upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate --- in which Senators are supposed to serve as impartial jurors to determine whether Trump should be removed from office --- include Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor;
  • As McConnell continues to rig the Senate trial on behalf of Trump, Plan B for the removal of this President involves the ballot box. There too, Republicans are attempting to rig next year's election results. In Wisconsin, which Trump reportedly won by just 23,000 votes in 2016, a Republican-appointed Circuit Court Judge ordered the removal of more than 200,000 voters from the voting rolls before the 2020 election. The voters were previously set for removal in 2021 as the Wisconsin Elections Commission had planned, and as the League of Women Voters had argued in favor of. A rightwing group sued to have them removed before 2020 instead, and the GOP-appointed judge agreed. Dems vowed today to re-register them;
  • In Georgia, a federal judge allowed the purge of more than 300,000 voters identified by the Republican Sec. of State for moving or failing to vote in recent elections. But voting rights advocates argue that approximately 120,000 of them should not be on the list at all. The judge allowed the mass removal to move forward on assurances from the state those voters can be quickly restored after further hearings on the matter;
  • But, it's not just rightwing controlled states where voter registration concerns are rearing their ugly (if expected) head before 2020. Due to what is being described as a "computer glitch" related to the state's new, automatic registration system, as many as 100,000 voters in California may have had their party preference incorrectly changed on their registration files in advance of next year's upcoming March 3rd Presidential primary. The state's rules for who can vote in which party primary are particularly confusing. So, its a very good idea for residents who believe they are registered to check their registration at VoterStatus.SOS.CA.GOV to make sure they are still registered, and for the party they think they are. Those who are registered as permanent "No Party Preference" vote-by-mail voters but who wish to vote for a Presidential candidate in a party primary on March 3rd, will need to make that request with their County Registrar very soon or will receive a vote-by-mail ballot with no Presidential candidate options!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the U.N. climate talks in Madrid end without an agreement, but with much disappointment and rancor, thanks in no small part to sabotage by the U.S., and a new report finds the Greenland ice melt is on track for scientists worst case-scenario predictions of catastrophic sea level rise by the end of the century.

The gods have very good reason indeed to be angry again today...

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A day full of both historic and chilling news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2019 6:28pm PT  

Today's BradCast offers some historic news and some chilling news. And some that may be both. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she is directing House Democrats to move forward to draw up Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump. It is only the fourth time in our nation's history for such an action. We share Pelosi's somber announcement and the history lesson that it includes, as well as the reaction from the White House, from Trump himself, and the steps that lie ahead in the House Judiciary Committee as we move toward a trial in the U.S. Senate for removal of the President.

The historic action, which reportedly may include as many as four different Articles of Impeachment --- Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair) and Obstruction of Justice (in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe) --- has become necessary, according to Pelosi, to save the republic in light of Trump's recently revealed attempts to undermine the 2020 election with help, once again, from a foreign nation.

Then, the Dept. of Justice on Thursday announced two indictments of Russian hackers --- whose whereabouts are currently unknown --- as part of what officials describe as one of the largest cybercrime sprees in U.S. history. The sweeping criminal conspiracy was allegedly led by the two men, who officials have tied to Russian security services. It involves malware designed to defeat anti-virus software distributed by a group named Evil Corp (seriously) and used to siphon more than $100 millions dollars from the bank accounts of companies and even school districts in at least 11 states. The malware phishing schemes reportedly even targeted a small organization of nuns in Chicago.

While that attack has been broad and ongoing over many months, a seemingly separate scheme, also tied to Russians criminals, crippled technology services to more than 100 nursing homes across the U.S. with a ransomware attack on the company that provides the tech services to those facilities. Following a successful emailed phishing attack on November 18, that someone within the company appears to have clicked on, the network of the Milwaukee-based firm was infected, leading the cybercriminals to demand $14 million for the restoration of access to at least 100 hijacked servers. Reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday suggests the company will rebuild their servers rather than pay the ransom. But, in the meantime, some of the nursing homes serviced by the company were unable to access patient records, use the internet, pay employees or order medications. AP reports that ransomware attacks of this kind have been on the rise in 2019, particularly those that target critical public services, with some 70 such attacks in the first half of the year targeting more than 50 cities.

Another victim --- and here's where it begins to get even more chilling --- was the state of Louisiana. They appear to have been attacked on the same day as the Milwaukee tech services company. What makes this attack far more unnerving is that it took place just two days after Louisiana's recent gubernatorial run-off election on November 16.

While the state was quick to stop the spread of the virus, they had to shut down vital state services at dozens of agencies, including the Office of the Governor, the Louisiana State Legislature, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and others, such as the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on the heels of the major runoff elections just two days earlier. Hundreds of computers were affected in the state overall, including those offering elections results to the public at the Secretary of State's website. Had the attack come just days earlier, it might have been devastating for the state's elections, which shamefully require all voters at the polls to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems. Had those been knocked out --- or the electronic pollbook systems required to use them --- chaos might have ensued in the closely watched statewide election.

Nonetheless, dozens of other states and counties around the country (many of them battlegrounds and/or highly-populated) are currently moving --- right now! -- to similar computer touchscreen voting systems that rely on working computer networks in advance of the critical 2020 elections. Those systems will be wildly vulnerable next year, where unhackable hand-marked paper ballot systems would not be. Are we insane?

Finally Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with even more chilling news. Though, in this case, it's about the warming of the globe and the GOP Senate confirming yet another lobbyist to a top Trump cabinet seat. Happily, there is a bit of good news in today's GNR as well, regarding California's ban on new fracking, and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's safe arrival back in Europe for this year's U.N. climate conference in Spain...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs suppressing the 2020 student vote, Dems push-back in TX; Katie Hill's final floor speech...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Progressive 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finally releases her detailed proposal explaining how she plans to pay for "Medicare for All" with "not one penny in middle-class tax increases" and Democrats begin their push-back against a coordinated national GOP effort to curb surging turnout by young voters who, for some reason, tend to lean strongly Democratic when they are allowed to vote. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, we're joined by longtime health care reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Politico to break down the pay-fors and the politics of Warren's newly introduced details on how she hopes to fund her $52 trillion single-payer Medical for All plan without raising taxes on the middle class. Warren, in a 9,300-word Medium post on Friday, explained that "Medicare for All is about the same price as our current path --- and cheaper over time." The difference with our current path and her plan, she says, is that her plan covers everyone and even includes new benefits for dental, vision and long-term care, without spending more money than Americans pay overall right now for care that is twice as expensive as the rest of the developed world, but with worse outcomes.

Where fellow progressive Bernie Sanders has emphasized that middle class taxes would necessary increase under his version of Medicare for All while overall costs to Americans would be lower (thanks to no more monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.), and where more centrist 2020 Dems like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris have argued that it would be impossible to find the trillions needed for such universal single-payer plans, Warren laid out her proposal for covering everyone with better care, doctors of their choice, and no increases in taxes on the middle class. The burden as she describes will fall largely on corporations and the top 1% of taxpayers.

"It's interesting that there's been so much focus and pressure on her to produce a plan to pay for a plan that she didn't write --- it's Bernie's plan. But she has embraced it, and since she has made her personal brand being the woman with a plan for everything, it makes sense why she was pressed on this, and why she felt that she had to put something serious out there," Ollstein tells me.

Warren's plan, as Ollstein reports, even offers incentives for business to unionize in order to save money for both workers and companies, while companies are required to pay no more for health care than they already do. Effectively, argues Ollstein, Warren's expansive proposal is effectively "trying to flip the tables" back on her opponents to demonstrate how either she is wrong about her plan, or how their own plans might offer better coverage to all for less money.

Her Democratic competition, however, are not the only ones currently gunning for both her as she continues to rise in the polls, and the others seeking to improve our woeful health care system. "The medical providers have been mobilizing all year long, not just against Medicare For All but for all of the more incremental reforms, as well. They do not want to take a haircut on any of this. And this would be far more than a haircut. This would be a very deep cut."

The debate over Warren's extraordinary ambitious proposal, however, and those of other Democratic candidates, will continue for some time, even if one of them is elected. "What ends up getting actually debated and passed will not look like what we're talking about now," Ollstein predicts. "How close it looks like to what we're talking about will depend on who turns out to vote in 2020, and who sits in those seats in the House and Senate. Because, man, elections matter."

Yes, they do. And Republicans know it. And the GOP effort to prevent Warren or any other Dem who wants to improve health care for Americans from taking ofice is already well under way in a number of battleground states, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, where Republican lawmakers have been instituting particularly insidious measures to make it much harder for young voters, in particular, to cast a vote at all next year. We detail some of those anti-democratic and anti-Democratic measures today, along with some of the first of the push-back from Dems, who filed suit this week against a recently adopted Texas law that effectively shuts down voting all together on many college campuses. That, as voters in Texas and a number of other states, including Virginia, head to the polls for important elections this coming Tuesday.

In related breaking news as well today, Democratic 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas announced that he would be dropping out of the Presidential nominating contest.

Finally, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill of California offered her final U.S. House floor speech on Thursday, following the vote on rules for the process of impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Her remarks come after announcing her abrupt and surprise resignation last weekend in the wake of an ugly divorce battle, an ethics investigation regarding an affair with a staffer (which she denies), and nude photos of her being published by rightwing websites. She suggests those photos were given to her opponents by her "abusive" husband. In her fiery final floor remarks, Hill excoriates what she describes as a double-standard for women who are victimized by revenge porn, even as men who are credibly accused of sexual assault and violence, like the President of the United States (and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices) remain happily in office...

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Guest hosted by Angie Coiro with Patrick Poblete and Richard Clarke on UAW Strike, Wisconsin Voting Machines, Cybersecurity...
By Angie Coiro on 9/16/2019 5:27pm PT  

Welcome to another BradCast! I'm in for Brad and Desi today - Angie Coiro, heard on some of these same stations and streams with my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Best wishes to Brad and Desi while they take care of family business. If you haven’t read Brad’s post about what’s going on, please do. There’s no better time than now to support the Blog in every way you can.

First up is what I imagine would be Brad's headline story, too: the latest in the ongoing Wisconsin voting machine drama. PATRICK POBLETE from WisPolitics covers the story. The jawdropper: state officials felt they had bigger priorities than to check out reports of potential vote-hijacking.

A big fat news roundup includes two Elizabeth Warren stories: her campaign's endorsement by the WFP, and her newly-announced plan to attack DC corruption. Some of it strikes me as a bit pie-in-the-sky, but why not aim high?

Then a long excerpt from my interview earlier this year with RICHARD A. CLARKE, about his book The Fifth Domain.

And more more more. Check it all out!...

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Trump steals millions from hurricane ravaged bases; Creepy Fox 'News' zombie host; GOP scraps primaries for Trump; NC Special Elections threatened by Dorian; More House Repubs quit; And a musical happy ending...
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2019 5:52pm PT  

We catch up on a whole bunch of stuff on today's BradCast, from Trump's ransacking of military hurricane recovery funds in order to pay for his border wall --- as Hurricane Dorian slams a military base in North Carolina that is still crippled from last year's Hurricane Florence --- to both the Horse Races and the Track Conditions for a bunch of upcoming elections between next week and next year. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

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

  • Dorian ravages parts of the East Coast as the death toll rises in The Bahamas, and the President of the United States continues to spend time on his twisted, bizarre lies about his erroneous claims that it was going to hit Alabama;
  • At the same time, while an actual national emergency plays out, Trump's Administration is stealing $3.6 billion under the phony pretense of a "national emergency" in order to build his wall on the southern border. Hundreds of millions are being stolen from construction projects meant to help rebuild military bases in Florida, North Carolina and Puerto Rico after devastation from previous hurricanes over the past two years. That, as Camp Lejeune in NC hunkers down as Dorian hits, with blue tarps still serving as roofs on hundreds of structures there after Hurricane Florence last year. Lejeune is just one of scores of bases that Trump is robbing to pay for his wall, and there are bases in many other states losing millions as well, including in six states with Republican Senators facing reelection next year after voting for Trump's fake "national emergency". They will have to explain to voters why millions of dollars will not be coming into their local economies as previously allocated by Congress;
  • But, while those Senators may have trouble in their reelection bids, Team Trump is working to smooth his path to the GOP nomination. Politico reports the likely cancellation of GOP Presidential primaries and caucuses in at least four states next year where Trump might have faced embarrassing loses to several Republican challengers;
  • One of Trump's primary challengers, former Illinois Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh is none too happy about the GOP's attempt to rig the nominating contest next year for Trump by scrapping primaries and caucuses. Nonetheless, we congratulate the newly-reformed former Rep. both for his righteous efforts to call Trump out for the danger he poses to the nation, and for his somewhat chilling recent appearance on Fox Business Channel earlier this week with "Stepford" Stuart Varney, whose astonishing insistence that Trump has never lied to the American People is something that needs to be seen (or heard) to be believed;
  • Also, as Dorian strikes, voters in NC's 3rd and 9th Congressional districts are Early Voting in advance of next Tuesday's two U.S. House Special Elections there. Or, they are trying to, at least. We've got an update on poll closures due to the storm, extended hours set for this weekend, and some questions about whether either or both election may need to be postponed yet again because of the hurricane;
  • In California, a Democratic Congressman is facing an interesting challenge from a man with the exact same name...which leads us down a fascinating rabbit hole into instances when this has happened before (last year in another U.S. House race in Kansas, and way back in 2001, in fascinating local election in California);
  • Speaking of the U.S. House, GOP incumbents are racing for the exits, with yet another Texas Congressman announcing this week he will not seek re-election (the fifth to do so, so far, in the Lone Star State) and longtime Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner announcing his retirement as well. We've got memories, fond and otherwise, to share on the retiring Wisconsin Congressman (the state's second to call it quits this cycle.) So far, 13 House GOPers have announced they are getting out while the getting's good;
  • And, speaking of quitting, former Starbucks CEO and billionaire Howard Schultz officially declares that he is nixing his plans to run for President as a "centrist" independent, which many Democrats feared might help pave the way for a Trump re-election in 2020;

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter on her jaw-dropping new exclusive finding battleground election systems vulnerable on the Internet despite claims to the contrary by elections officials, private vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections officials seem to be panicking around the country, and for good reason. But their concerns may be coming a bit late...perhaps a decade or so too late, as virtually every aspect of our "public" elections in the U.S. --- from ballot programming to registration to voting to vote tabulation to election results reporting --- has now been allowed to have become largely taken over by private vendors and contractors, with little or no oversight from either state or federal officials. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at end of article.]

An exclusive analysis last month by AP found that virtually all voting systems currently in use in the nation's 10,000 separate voting jurisdictions in all 50 states run on software --- Windows 7 or earlier --- that will no longer be supported by Microsoft with regular security updates and patches as of January. That includes systems certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) from the nation's largest private elections vendors as recently as this year. Those newly certified systems still use Windows 7, which was released a decade ago in 2009.

Of course, the EAC's certification process --- for the few states which choose to follow federal voluntary (yes, voluntary) guidelines --- has been laughable for years. It focuses on usability and functionality, not security. Most systems in the U.S., if they are EAC certified at all, were tested to guidelines published by the EAC in 2005.

At a summit this week of elections officials and vendors, hastily convened by the EAC in Maryland in response to the disturbing AP analysis, officials complained about the lack of federal support and standards, and that financially strapped and technologically challenged elections divisions at both the state and local level are realizing only now that they are being asked "to take part in what is national security" with little or no help from the federal government. One official at the EAC confab reportedly complained: "We are talking about local communities having trouble funding roads and water bills, and now we want them to take part in defense against foreign and state actors."

Of course, it is not only nation-states like Russia that pose a threat to the security of America's vulnerable, computerized and privatized public elections, so do regular old Americans, as the recent hack by a woman in Seattle of more than 100 million customer records at Capitol One proved, along with the vulnerabilities in brand new voting and registration systems discovered by hackers in a few hours at the DefCon Voting Village convention last weekend in Las Vegas.

All of this comes on the heels of Thursday's federal court ruling finding Georgia's voting systems to be so "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack" that the judge declared the systems (which are similar to ones used in several other states) a violation of voters' Constitutional right to have their votes counted as cast.

But all of that might ultimately be small potatoes in light of longtime cybersecurity journalist and author KIM ZETTER's recent exclusive at VICE's Motherboard, finding that "Critical U.S. Election Systems Have Been Left Exposed Online Despite Official Denials". Zetter, one of the only journalists in the nation who has been covering these matters as long or longer than we have at this point, joins us on today's program to explain her jaw-dropping article which begins this way: "For years, U.S. election officials and voting machine vendors have insisted that critical election systems are never connected to the internet and therefore can't be hacked. But a group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties --- all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections. Some of the systems have been online for a year and possibly longer."

In many cases, she tells me, the elections officials seemed to have no idea that their systems were connected to the Internet by their vendors. As for the vendors' part --- in this case, the nation's largest, ES&S --- Zetter explains their bizarre claim that voting and backend tabulation and reporting systems connected around the clock for years at a time aren't really connected to the Internet at all --- and, even if they are, they are perfectly secure. Zetter and the data researchers found otherwise.

The systems found vulnerable on the net, she details, would allow a malicious actor to change unofficial election night results, official results, and the public reporting of the results themselves. Moreover, she explains, access to the exposed backend portions of these systems over the Internet could also result in malware being transferred to voting machines themselves. And all of this was discovered by a small team of researchers with little or no funding. No nation-state required, she confirms.

"If it was just a box on the Internet that was receiving the votes transmitted [on Election Night from the precinct] that would be a security problem in itself, not only because you could potentially alter those votes. They are unofficial results on Election Night --- and the officials results are taken from the actual memory cards in the voting machines. But if you can alter the unofficial results, that's going to create a lot of mistrust in the final outcome if they don't match," she says.

"But even if you don't alter those votes, that communication over the phone between the voting machine in the field and that backend server that's on the Internet creates a channel for infecting those voting machines. So, someone who could actually install that malware on that system on the Internet can design it in such a way that it downloads to the voting machines when they connect to that system. So the attackers can alter that voting machine in preparation for a future election."

"But that's not the only problem," she continues. "If that was the only thing that was on the Internet, that would be a concern in itself. What was remarkable is that ES&S acknowledged to me that they don't just put an empty box on there to receive the votes. Also connected to that Internet connection is the backend system for tabulating both the unofficial results on Election Night, and those official results that are later taken from the memory card."

"And the Election Management System is also connected. The Election Management System is used to do a lot of functions in elections. Among them is the actual programming of these voting machines before each election. So, if you don't get to the machines through that little receptacle that's connected to the Internet, you can get to that backend Election Management System and put in malicious code that then gets transferred directly to the voting machines before the next election."

But, of course, other than that, why worry, right? Well, Zetter has much more to say on that as well, including about Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's continuing efforts to block any and all election security measures in the Senate that might help shore up at least some of these concerns, including bills already passed by the House that would mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Even that, at this point, wouldn't fully protect against attacks on computer optical-scanners currently used in all 50 states to tabulate those ballots with little or no post-election audits to make sure they did so accurately...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Public pressure in NC almost results in statewide hand-marked paper ballots --- almost; WI's Scott Walker files suit to undermine MI democracy; And many others reasons to fight for your democracy right NOW...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2019 4:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The hack of over 100 million personal financial records of those who applied for credit cards at Capital One, one of the nation's largest financial institutions, underscores yet again how insane it is that we are relying on proprietary, un-overseeable computer systems "overseen" by Mr. and Ms. County Clerk to safeguard free and fair elections with results that can be known by the public to be accurate. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The Capital One hack did not take a nation-state like, say, Russia, to accomplish. It was allegedly pulled off by one woman hacker who lives with cats in an apartment in Seattle. But if Capital One can't protect its data --- even from a lone hacker in Seattle --- what chance do you really think your local county clerk or even state election official has in protecting the votes of millions of voters? Should you be concerned about those three guys who, according to testimony last week in federal court from a Georgia Sec. of State's official --- as discussed on our show yesterday --- program every voting machine in the state, without oversight, from their garage?

Georgia, of course, is not the only swing state right now considering the purchase of millions of dollars of new, if 100% unverifiable, computer voting systems for use in the crucial 2020 Presidential election. The closely divided North Carolina is doing the same. Thanks to public pressure from a lot of folks on the ground in NC, however, the State Board of Elections appeared, as of Monday night, to be on the verge of a resolution that would effectively mandate hand-marked paper ballot systems across the state.

That decision however, as we report today --- with some new details from those carrying out the fight locally in the state --- may now be on very shaky ground after possible pressure on State Board officials applied by ES&S, the nation's largest voting vendor and, currently, the only vendor certified to do business in the Tar Heel State. A new meeting is now scheduled for Thursday to consider rescinding the motion passed by the Board on Monday night.

The fight for free, fair and publicly overseeable elections in North Carolina, Georgia and many other states and counties around the country is taking place right now. As in previous years, waiting until after the election will be, once again, too late to do anything about whatever may happen. We try to give you the information you need every day here to fight for your publicly overseeable democracy. What you do with that information, however, in your own locality, is up to you. And you are really needed right now.

Meanwhile, after Florida Republicans recently undermined a landmark state Constitutional Amendment adopted in a landslide by voters last November to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons, a similarly popular state Constitutional Amendment adopted in 2018 by Michigan voters is also now under fire by Republicans. Amendment 2, adopted by 61% of statewide voters last November, creates an independent redistricting commission to draw fair state legislative and U.S. House maps after the 2020 Census. The effort came in response to the state's wildly gerrymandered 2011 maps which have kept Republicans in the majorities in the state legislature and U.S. House delegations, despite receiving fewer votes than Democrats statewide. Though federal courts found MI's maps to be unconstitutional, an opinion by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court killed that ruling in June, with Chief Justice John Roberts declaring federal courts may have no say in partisan gerrymandering cases, while citing, among other things, the citizen-led effort to create an independent redistricting commission last November in Michigan as an alternate solution to unfair partisan maps.

But, on Tuesday, a Republican group led by Wisconsin's former Gov. Scott Walker --- who approved similarly gerrymandered maps in that state before eventually being voted out of office last November --- filed suit in federal court to kill Michigan's Prop 2. The group claims the Amendment violates the Free Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. We explain and discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news for California in its fight against Donald Trump over new vehicle mileage and emissions standards; cable networks announce 2020 Democratic climate change forums; and professional Republican climate change denier and pollster Frank Luntz announces he has a change of heart...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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