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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, August 14, 2020
Trump Admits to Crippling USPS In Hopes of Stealing the Election: 'BradCast' 8/13/20
President of the United States holds trillions of dollars in emergency relief hostage to prevent Dems from safely casting ballots in November...
'Green News Report' 8/13/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden taps enviro justice champ Harris for VP; Trump EPA rolls back methane rules for industry; Good news for nation's birds; PLUS: Another new fossil fuel spill, this time in PA...
Previous GNRs: 8/11/20 - 8/6/20 - Archives...
GOP Secretaries of State Crank Up Mail-in Vote Suppression in GA, KY, OH: 'BradCast' 8/12/20
Guest: Howie Klein on primaries in MN, GA, elsewhere; Also: Kamala debuts with Biden...
BIDEN PICKS HARRIS; Also: 'Lost' GA Vote Mystery Solved: 'BradCast' 8/11/20
Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala; Jeanne Dufort on GA's scanner fail that missed 1000s of valid votes & how to fix it before Nov...
'Green News Report' 8/11/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
More deadly fossil fuel disasters in Baltimore, off island of Mauritius; Get ready for hyperactive hurricane season; Record July 2020 heat; PLUS: Canada's last intact ice shelf collapses...
Previous GNRs: 8/6/20 - 8/3/20 - Archives...
Failed PR Primary; 100k Infected Kids in 2 Weeks; Trump's Pretend 'Exec Orders': 'BradCast' 8/10/20
Also: 'Back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
Overcoming Trump's Vote-By-Mail Obstacles
How states, counties and YOU must help defend our 'last firewall'...
Sunday 'Is What' Toons
This week's toon collection from PDiddie is what it is...
'Mail is Being Slowed Down... Everywhere' Warns Postal Union Prez: 'BradCast' 8/7/20
Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist 'wins' TN's Dem U.S. Senate nom after being outspent 250 to 1...
National Ripoff Association: NY A.G. Sues NRA for Fraud, to Dissolve Org: 'BradCast' 8/6/20
Also: Trump in NY legal trouble too; Economy over a cliff as White House, Repubs dither...
'Green News Report' 8/6/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump signs major land bill; Fertilizer caused Beirut explosion; Electricity shutoff ban ending; Shell's offshore hybrid wind farm; PLUS: Northeast climate pact causes healthier kids...
Previous GNRs: 8/3/20 - 7/30/20 - Archives...
Progressive Victories (and Losses) in MO, MI, AZ, WA, KS Primaries: 'BradCast' 8/5/20
Guest: Howie Klein; Also: Disgraced Kobach and Watkins lose in KS; Disgraced Arpaio in running in AZ; GOP Guv restores IA voting rights to former felons...
Death and Destruction; Hope and Change: 'BradCast' 8/4/20
Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 8/4/20
Isaias hits NC amid a pandemic, makes history; Rising seas pushing storms further inland, study warns; PLUS: 15 states clear the air, move to all-electric trucks and buses...
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money: 'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
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: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala as VEEP; Jeanne Dufort on why the Peach State's new, $100 million digital-scanners failed to count thousands of valid votes and how to fix it before November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2020 7:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two mysteries solved in one single, if hectic, show! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The first is the mystery of who presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden would select as his Vice-Presidential partner. Now we know. Less than an hour before showtime today, it was announced that California's first-term U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will become the first black woman (and first South Asian American woman) to be part of a major party's Presidential ticket. On short notice, we were able to scrounge up the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog to join us for her "top-line, knee-jerk, hot-take" response to the big news and how she thinks it will play both among the electorate at large and the far, FAR more picky progressive electorate.

Parton, a progressive herself, who says she was rooting for Elizabeth Warren to be named for the slot, describes Harris as a "a very skilled politician"; argues that her selection "says something nice about Biden"; discusses the "legitimate concerns that progressives have had about Harris"; and whether she believes "the Left" will be able to "put aside their differences" to get behind the ticket, before "going to fight tooth and nail about the things that we care about" in the event that Biden actually becomes President next January.

Today's other solved mystery is much trickier. And it has to do with Georgia, which is holding primary runoff elections today, along with state primary elections on Tuesday in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (We'll have noteworthy results from all of those states, as available, on tomorrow's BradCast, of course). Naturally, because it's Election Day in Georgia --- a key battleground state which some believe could finally flip from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time in decades --- there are problems at the polls. While hopefully not as terrible as the meltdown caused by the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks that resulted in hours-long lines in largely Democratic-leaning precincts during the state's June primary, we have early indications that the same, new, overly-complex, computerized voting systems failed voters again today in at least some of the 94 (of 159) counties participating in today's runoffs.

Despite that distressing (if unsurprising) news today in Georgia, there was some good-ish news from the State Elections Board (SEB) there. They met on Monday to adopt new procedures in advance of the November 3rd Presidential election. The SEB unanimously agreed to allow voters to request absentee ballots for November via a new online webpage to go live by the end of the month. That's good news for those who have easy online access. But, shamefully, it comes along with the news that Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, after successfully sending out Vote-by-Mail applications to all of the state's active registered voters before the June primary, will NOT be doing so before this year's Presidential election. Apparently, that plan worked too well and allowed too many to easily vote from home, when they might otherwise have had to struggle with long lines and Raffensperger's failed electronic voting systems at the polling place in the middle of an ongoing global pandemic.

Also at Georgia's SEB meeting on Monday, the Board agreed to make a change to the state's new computer-tabulation systems that scan and count those hand-marked paper absentee ballots. (Voters at the polls are forced to use unverifiable touchscreen systems.) The SEB's change to a software setting on the systems came about, thanks in no small part, to our guest today, JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance.

Following the June primaries, Dufort was on a bi-partisan citizens' panel reviewing digital images of hand-marked paper absentee ballots on which the computerized digital-scanners believed there were over-votes with, for example, more than one oval in a single race seen by the computer as being filled in. State law requires manual examination of such ballots to determine if the voter's intent is discernible or not. While reviewing those ballots, Dufort and the other panelists in Morgan County noticed that the tabulation system had marked some clearly discernible votes on many of those same ballots as containing "no vote". Why were those votes not counted by the new, $100 million tabulation system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting? And would elections officials manually examine ALL of the hand-marked ballots to count those "lost" votes? As Dufort told us on this program at the time she discovered the problem after the June primary, there were potentially tens of thousands of perfectly legitimate votes that had gone uncounted.

Well, today we finally have the answer to the mystery of why the system had failed to count some of those votes. It has to do with a sensitivity setting on the digital optical-scan tabulators that the Secretary of State's office claims they did not originally know about when they initially dismissed Dufort's concerns back in June. That setting, apparently, directs the computer to ignore votes in which less than 12% of the bubble was filled in. (Often, instead of inking in the entire bubble, voters will use a check-mark or an X. While the voter's intent is easily discernible to the human eye, the new computers that tabulate votes were set to record such marks --- that filled less than 12% of the bubble --- as a "no vote".)

"It assigns it a 'percentage of fill'," Dufort tells me. "In our case in Georgia, what we later found out was that these Dominion factory settings said if a vote was deemed to cover more than 35% of that area...if the threshold percentage hit 35% or above, the system said, 'Yep, that's a vote! It counts!' If the threshold was between 12-35%, it said, 'that's ambiguous, I'm not sure something is there, better get a human to look at it.' If it fell below 12%, it said, 'I see that, but it's not a vote, so I'm going to label it unvoted, and I'm not even going to call it to the attention of the humans.'"

While Dufort says that it is good news that the SEB has now agreed to lower the bottom of the software sensitivity range setting to 10%, the longtime Election Integrity advocate says that she and others in the state believe it should be set lower still, to avoid more lost votes, in advance of the Presidential Election. "We think 10% is still too high," she says. "So we're going to be out talking to them. This rule is out for 30 days of public comment. We'll be saying thank you, but you really need to take it down to 5, which we have learned is what Colorado uses. And they've been doing hand-marked paper ballots statewide for a very long time. We think that's a good benchmark for Georgia."

She also observes that the the old settings, less sensitive settings, are still being used to tally today's runoff elections, which could be a problem in the event of close races. Moreover, she explains, "the color of the ink [and] the brand of the ink in your pen can change how the computer measures it." We discuss all of that, how the changes may affect results this November, and whether we should be worried that such a software setting could be abused by ill-intentioned election insiders (or hackers) in the critical battleground state (or others that use similar systems) during the Presidential election.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more deadly fossil fuel disasters, a warning about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season, and some very disturbing climate change news out of Canada, where the last intact ice shelf has finally collapsed and broken away...

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: Mark Joseph Stern on new Court opinions on 'faithless electors', Obamacare and the GOP's ongoing (and now deadly) war on voting...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a bit of a roller coaster today between good news and terrible news on today's BradCast. But that's life in the times of Trump and the coronavirus, I guess. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, the COVID-19 crisis continues to gravely worsen in the U.S., with new record infections and hospitalizations now pretty much every day for the past month. Despite the increasingly desperate concerns expressed by health experts, especially for hotspots where Governors reopened states far too early, some Republicans from the President of the United States on down are calling for measures that will only increase infection rates, hospitalizations and, yes, death.

Florida's Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday, for example, declared that all public schools must reopen next month to all students for in-person classes five days a week. His emergency order notes that reopening schools is critical to "a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride". That, despite more than 200,000 confirmed cases and new record daily infection rates each day for weeks now in the Sunshine State.

At the same time, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Donald Trump held a White House event to demand the reopening of schools and to praise Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis for a "terrific job" in ordering them to open. Trump claimed that schools have been closed elsewhere for "political reasons" and added that "we are very much going to put pressure on Governors and everybody else to open the schools." This is now a death march being led by the President of the United States.

But if Republican politicians are fine sending children and their teachers and their families to their potential deaths, how do you think federal judges appointed by Trump or sympathetic to his political cause are going to react to measures being taken to try and make voting safer for Americans on November 3rd? We're joined again today by Slate's ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss Monday's opinions released by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a disturbing pattern of rulings at both SCOTUS and on the appellate level over the past two weeks that bodes darkly for this year's crucial Presidential election.

First, Monday's new opinions: The Court decided unanimously that states may prevent so-called "faithless electors" from casting their vote in the Electoral College for someone other than the Presidential candidate chosen by the state's popular vote. The issue stemmed from two combined cases of "faithless electors" in 2016, one of which was brought by plaintiff Michael Baca against Colorado. Baca appeared on The BradCast in December of 2016 to explain the reasons for his planned "faithless" vote in the Electoral College that year, before he was later prevented by the state from casting it.

While that opinion, written by Justice Elana Kagan received most of the media attention on Monday, another opinion handed down by the Court that day is likely of far greater import. The Court's 6 to 3 decision, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing for the majority in a case concerning robocalls made to cell phones, actually reveals some very encouraging news regarding a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that will be heard next session by the Court. Kavanaugh's opinion, striking down one element of a robocall law as unconstitutional while upholding the rest of the law, suggests the challenge to Obamacare by GOP-controlled states and the White House --- seeking to strike down the entire health care law as unconstitutional based on the constitutionality of one single, now meaningless, provision --- is likely to fail.

As Kavanaugh crucially noted in his opinion, in words that will be remembered next year during the ACA case: "Constitutional litigation is not a game of gotcha against Congress, where litigants can ride a discrete constitutional flaw in a statute to take down the whole, otherwise constitutional statute."

"It's important to note that seven justices agreed with [Kavanaugh] on that particular point," Stern tells me. "Only Thomas and Gorsuch disagreed."

And with that seemingly very good news out of the way, we turn to a flurry of recent decisions by both SCOTUS and a number of federal appeals courts that are extremely concerning and revealing as to how right-wing controlled federal courts will be dealing with voter suppression cases and measures intended to make voting easier during the pandemic this November. Recent court rulings in cases out of Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas, as Stern explains, are very troubling indeed and suggest we could be in for no small amount of chaos, disenfranchisement and, yes, deadly disease, in this year's critical general elections.

There are more opinions to come from the Court before they are finished for the summer. Quips Stern darkly today: "We've got a handful left, and we will see if the Supreme Court breaks our democracy before the end of the term."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with a bit more news out of SCOTUS and lower federal courts, including some surprisingly very good news on several controversial oil and gas pipelines!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Government whistleblower slams Trump's disastrous response; Dems ditch proposed give-away to 'dark money' groups; WI Supremes endanger state again; Trump voters now more at risk of virus...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2020 6:22pm PT  

As ever (but especially on Fridays!), we try to find some good news where we can on The BradCast. It's been slim pickings of late, but we work with what we've got. We don't create the news. We just report it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We start off with what progressive journalist and former Bernie Sanders staffer David Sirota describes as "Some actual good news". It picks up on an issue we discussed with The American Prospect's David Dayen, who has also been reporting on the same issue, on yesterday's show. House Democrats have been putting together their proposal for the next round of coronavirus emergency funding. Their so-called Heroes Act bill amounts to about $3 trillion of spending in response to the crisis, including a curious expansion of the Paycheck Protection Act for small businesses. The expansion would allow for certain non-profit organizations who were not previously eligible to take advantage of the program.

Among the expanded groups are industry trade groups (lobbyists!) and dark money campaign organizations, which both Davids --- Dayen and Sirota --- strongly objected to. (As noted with Dayen yesterday, and again today, I'm not quite as vehemently against it, for reasons which I explain in a bit more detail on today's program.) In any event, as Sirota reported late on Thursday, it appears that House Democrats heard the complaints, thanks to the handful of independent progressive media outlets reporting on it, and quietly amended the measure to ensure that PPP recipients do "not make a contribution, expenditure, independent expenditure, or electioneering communication."

After that "good news" section of the program, we move on to the lesser good news. Though anytime whistleblowers are able to shine sunlight on corruption and failure that's actually pretty good news as well. On Thursday, longtime federal government career official Dr. Rick Bright --- formerly Deputy Asst. Secretary of Health and Human Services for Preparedness and Response, and Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) --- testified to a U.S. House Committee on the unspeakable failures of the Trump Administration in their early response to the virus, when it could have saved tens of thousands of lives, and even now, after more than 86,000 Americans have been killed.

Bright, who, until last month, had been leading the Government's effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine, was demoted after the Trump Administration became unhappy about him questioning the use of an unproven anti-viral drug (hydroxychloroquine) that Trump was pushing to treat COVID-19. Bright has now filed a whistleblower complaint to get his old job back, alleging he was moved out of his post for opposing "efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections."

Today, we share some key parts of his more than three-hour long testimony on Thursday, in which he warned that the U.S. lacks any plan at all to battle the virus or even a strategy to produce or distribute a vaccine once one is eventually developed. He blames the Administration for months of failure to obtain and distributing adequate personal protective equipment for medical workers and testing kits for all. He told lawmakers that a shortage of simple but critical supplies like syringes could become catastrophic and cautions that we could be looking at "the darkest winter in modern history" in 2020 if action is not taken very quickly by a dreadfully inept federal Administration.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump told Fox "News" on Thursday that a vaccine will be available by "the end of the year"! And that "we will give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly." So, who ya gonna believe?

Well, apparently, there are a lot of folks in Wisconsin who believe the President, because they were out in droves at bars this week --- crowded together without masks in tiny spaces --- in some parts of the Badger State within minutes after the state's rightwing Supreme Court struck down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' "Safer at Home" order.

The timing was perfect, as a new study from a researcher at Brookings Institution this week finds that COVID-19 is now spreading at an alarming rate in less populated rural areas (including across Wisconsin) as the rate of infections is declining in the nation's urban centers which were initially hit hard. The study finds that earlier in the crisis, at the end of March, counties won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 amounted to the majority of "high prevalence" COVID-19 counties. As of mid-May, however, that has flipped. It is now people in suburban and rural counties that supported Trump who are more likely to be become infected at an alarming rate. That said, as of May 10, according to the study, some 72% of the nation's population was living in a "high prevalence" county, though only 23% of them were in urban areas.

So, good luck, Trump voters! Donald Trump has a special song for you today!

Finally today, we close with Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report which we ran out of time for yesterday, in which we find another "bright" side to the crisis, along with the usual amount of otherwise disastrously troubling environmental news...

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

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Guest: Howie Klein on progressive Dem win in NE, establishment Dem loss in CA; Also: Trump voted illegally in FL and ... 'OBAMAGATE'!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, committed voter fraud while serving as President of the United States. And, speaking of elections, we had a few on Tuesday in California, Wisconsin and Nebraska. [Audio link to full show is conveniently posted below.]

But first up today, if Trump is accusing someone else of doing something, it's a near certainty it's because he's doing it himself. While he's been busy pretending in recent weeks that Democrats steal elections by absentee voting, it turns out it was Trump himself who actually committed voter fraud in the state of Florida this year when he voted in the Sunshine State's primary election in March by absentee ballot. No, voting by absentee is not a crime or fraud in and of itself (as he continues to claim). But voting in the state of Florida --- in-person or via absentee --- without having a lawful permanent domicile there is, in fact, a felony.

As Washington Post recently documented, thanks to some digging by attorneys, historians and neighbors of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump signed an agreement in 1993 that turned Mar-a-Lago from a single family residence into a commercial club. It cannot be both at the same time under state law, despite Trump's recent assertion on a Palm Beach application for approval of a boat dock at his seaside club that the club was his "personal residence".

As the facts started coming out that Trump's claim to have moved his residence from New York to Florida last year was, in fact, unlawful, he quietly rescinded the application for a new dock this week. But he can't rescind the fact that he committed voter fraud in the state of Florida by falsely claiming residency there and then voting unlawfully in their March primary elections. If it was anyone else (any Democrat, anyway), charges would be brought. But, like former GOP superstar Ann Coulter, who also blatantly and knowingly committed voter fraud in Palm Beach, Florida (as The BRAD BLOG meticulously and indisputably documented years ago), Trump will probably find a way to eventually get off the hook for his voter fraud crimes as well. He shouldn't. Even if that means waiting until he's out of office to bring criminal charges against him. Republicans have jailed, fined, deported and otherwise thrown the book at others for far lesser election-related crimes in recent years.

That, as Trump is claiming a bogus (if unspecified) crime by former President Obama that he and Fox "News" have now dubbed "OBAMAGATE" in apparent hopes of tarring Trump's presumptive Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, somehow. The pretend scandal seemly has something to do with Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to federal officials about his contact with Russian agents prior to Trump's inauguration and about being an undeclared agent of Turkey even while serving as National Security Advisor. But, despite Trump describing "OBAMAGATE" as the "biggest political crime in American history, by far!," so big, in fact, that it "makes Watergate look small time", neither the President nor Fox "News" seem to be able to explain either what the crime is, or why Trump says that his own Constitutional powers as President allow him to commit any crime he wants, while that same Constitution didn't apply to President Obama apparently (even as there is no evidence to demonstrate that Obama committed any such crime.) It was, however, quite amusing when a guest on Fox "News" recently pointed out that little problem with Trump's otherwise ingenious plan.

Then, we're joined by longtime, champion progressive blogger HOWIE KLEIN of Down With Tyranny to discuss Tuesday's Special Elections for the U.S. House in California and Wisconsin and a big win for progressives in Omaha during yesterday's primary elections in Nebraska. Progressive Democrat Kara Eastman trounced former Republican Ann Ashford, wife of former conservative Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, to win the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District. Eastman will run against hard right Republican Trump loyalist Donald Bacon in November, after the incumbent Congressman defeated her by about 2 points in 2018. Klein argues that it sometimes takes a couple runs at it before progressive candidates are able to unseat incumbents. He believes Eastman, a strong supporter of a Medicare for All single-payer universal health care system, has a very good shot at flipping the seat from red to blue this year, fueled by the populist progressive grassroots support that lead to her landslide win on Tuesday

Meanwhile, the news was not as good for Democrats in the two U.S. House Special Elections yesterday. In Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District (so gerrymandered by Republicans that it stretches across 26 different rural counties!), Republican Tom Tiffany easily defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker by about 15 points. As Klein tells me, however, she did better than Clinton in that district, which went for Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012 and to Trump by about 20 points in 2016.

The most stinging loss of the night for Dems had to be in California's 25th Congressional District, where establishment-backed Democratic candidate Christy Smith appears to have lost to Republican Mike Garcia by about 12 points (at least with 82% of ballots now tabulated). This is the seat vacated late last year by freshman Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned amid a revenge porn and ethics scandal. Klein explains how and why the Democrats lost on Tuesday, and blames much of it on a lack of support --- and, at times, opposition --- from the conservative Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). That election, by the way, is the one that Trump and Republicans were pretending over the weekend was being "stolen by Democrats!"

As co-founder of the BlueAmericaPAC with Heather Digby Parton of Hullabaloo and John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Klein also details several progressive U.S. House candidates today who could use your support in upcoming primaries around the country. Several of them are facing contests with incumbent establishment Democrats over the next two months as nearly 20 different states have yet to hold their primary elections this year...

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

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Admin pretends otherwise as infections spike; Also: SCOTUS divided on Trump subpoenas; Trump, GOP falsely declare 'rigged election' in CA-25...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2020 7:06pm PT  

It was another impossible news day to cover on today's BradCast, but we did our best with two historic hearings happening in D.C. at the very same time and a few special elections around the country just to keep us on busy. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

One hearing was on Capitol Hill and the other was at the U.S. Supreme Court --- or, at least, on the live-streamed telephone conference call that has now replaced traditional in-person oral argument at the actual Court, thanks to the still worsening coronavirus pandemic.

We begin today with the SCOTUS hearing. Two of them, in fact. Both on the attempts by federal and state officials to obtain Donald Trump's financial records stretching back 10 years from before he became President. One case concerns subpoenas from three different U.S. House Committees to Mazars USA, the President's longtime accounting firm, as well as to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One, with whom Trump has done business. The other case is over a subpoena by by the Manhattan District Attorney for many of the same documents and tax records from the same financial institutions. That document demand is part of a state grand jury investigation related to unlawful hush money payoffs Trump gave to two women in advance of the 2016 election, and his convicted lawyer Michael Cohen's allegation that Trump and his companies fraudulently inflated and deflated his net worth when applying for loans or filing taxes.

Trump is not actually a party to the subpoenas, but is suing the financial institutions to prevent them from responding to the lawful subpoenas. To date, he has lost every hearing in the cases in lower Courts, where his lawyers actually argued that a sitting U.S. President could shoot people on 5th Avenue and could not be stopped, arrested or investigated for doing so. While the Justices didn't seem to entertain that argument, several of them, particular the Republican-appointees, seemed to be trying to find a way to help Trump out of this jam. We discuss what seems likely to result in either a split on the two different cases --- with the Court blocking the Congressional subpoenas while allowing the ones in the state criminal investigation in NY --- and/or one or both cases being remanded back to lower courts for a more narrow reconsideration that would likely prevent Trump's tax returns and other financial records from being released in advance of the 2020 election.

As those arguments were playing out today, the heads of Trump's CDC, FDA and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. They did so remotely from their homes, where they are each self-quarantining after recently coming into contact with infected individuals at the White House. One of those individuals was Vice President Mike Pence's Press Secretary who tested positive on Friday, just before Pence appeared at a meeting with food producers in Iowa. As the company CEOs waited for the round-table discussion with Pence to begin, they were asked by an aide to the Vice President to remove their masks! That, despite advice from health officials (including the White House's own), and even though two of the executives run meatpacking plants where thousands of workers have contracted COVID-19. One represents Tyson Foods where more than 1,000 workers --- a third of its workforce --- at a meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa have now tested positive. At least three workers at the plant have died.

Rural counties, especially in the heartland --- many with meatpacking plants and prisons --- are seeing a spike in cases of late, along with metropolitan areas where mostly Republican Governors have begun to prematurely lift stay-at-home orders to try and help the economy recover. An unreleased White House document prepared by the CDC and Department of Homeland Security, obtained by NBC News on Sunday, details hotspots all over the country, with many "red" states and counties seeing huge increases in cases over the past week. For example, last Friday, Arizona saw its largest single-day increase in cases, just about a week after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey began reopening the state.

A separate analysis of infections by the Associated Press today finds increasing cases in many of the same hotspots cited by the unreleased White House document, while noting that thousands of people are now getting sick from COVID-19 at their workplaces, including in recently reopened sectors such as construction workers in Austin, TX. At the same time, health workers continue to be hit especially hard, with more than 28,000 now having tested positive with more than 230 deaths in the industry. That, as well over 81,000 Americans have now been killed by the virus over the past two months.

No doubt, all of this is why Fauci warned Senators today of "really serious" consequences, including "suffering and death that could be avoided", if businesses reopen too soon. "There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control," he cautioned. "Which, in fact, paradoxically would set you back. Not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery because it would almost turn the clock back, rather than going forward."

But Donald Trump has an election to win this November, and it appears no number of dead Americans will get in his way of winning a second term. On that note, it's Election Day in several states today. And Trump was offering a preview of this November by lying over the weekend about today's Special Election for the U.S. House in California's 25th Congressional District. On Saturday, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a memo to House Republicans with an "urgent call to arms", telling them to "raise hell" because Democrats in California were "doing all they can do to steal the election". Naturally, Trump took the lie and ran with it, tweeting about the addition of an extra in-person polling place for early voting over the weekend in a diverse part of the District, opened at the request of the city's REPUBLICAN Mayor!

Trump falsely claimed the polling place was added by the state's Republican Governor Gavin Newsom. (It wasn't, it was added by L.A. County --- at the request OF THE REPUBLICAN MAYOR who, while supporting the Republican in the race, was furious there was no polling place within his city's boundaries.) Trump falsely declared a "Rigged Election!" and lied to his Twitter followers that the election "was supposed to be mail in ballots only". That is also untrue. For the record, last Friday, Newsom did announce that every registered voter in the state would be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot for the November Presidential election. The move is said to be for safety reasons due to the pandemic --- the pandemic which Trump originally ignored, made much worse, and is now pretending to be over.

Finally today, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report, as the Administration reopens national parks despite the growing risks of coronavirus; as tax-payers are forced to pay for cleaning up old wells of bankrupted oil companies; and as France offers an airline bailout in exchange for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Now there's an idea...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: GA's Gov. Kemp plays politics with the health of state residents...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desperate to salvage Donald Trump's re-election chances, the White House and several GOP Governors are apparently now set on putting hundreds of thousands of Americans in their own states at grave risk. But, hey, this year's critical Presidential election ain't gonna just win itself, ya know! [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

We start today with some very smart "math and reality" from BradCast commenter "ComputerGeek" at DailyKos. Last Friday, he or she, posted a lengthy comment in response to our show on the emerging Death Cult that the GOP --- the formerly self-proclaimed "pro-life" party --- has now clearly become, in their latest twisted efforts to retain power at all costs.

ComputerGeek broke down the number of daily tests for coronavirus in the U.S. that would be needed, according to health experts, to re-open the economy safely. He/she put the number at anywhere from 11.6 million tests per day, to a much more conservative 1.1 million tests per day, depending on if you wanted to test the entire population every two weeks or just 10% of it. Either way, the numbers are insanely higher than the average 150,000 tests per day currently being carried out across the country, and bragged about by the President and Vice President alike. As they claimed during a briefing last week --- in defiance of reality-based health experts --- those testing numbers are now sufficient to allow states to begin gradually reopening once they reach a decline in documented cases over two weeks.

But "ComputerGeek" is just an anonymous Internet commenter. We can safely ignore his/her numbers asserting that anywhere from 1 to 12 million tests are needed daily, right? Wrong. A new study [PDF] out on Monday from a Harvard University panel of more than 45 experts in health, science and economics warns that 5 million tests per day by early June are necessary to ensure a safe reopening of portions of the economy, and that number "will need to increase over time (ideally by late July) to 20 million a day to fully remobilize the economy," according to the authors. Even then, they warn, it might not be enough to "protect public health".

The Director of Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which released the report, argues "This Roadmap is the only approach to BOTH contain the virus and ramp back up to vibrant economic life." Of course, we are nowhere near those kind of testing numbers in the U.S., as we have barely checked 4 million people in total since the pandemic began several months ago. Moreover, most of the nation's Governors reject the absurd advocacy from Trump and Pence, which contradicts their own health and science experts.

But not all of the Governors favor math and reality! Following a weekend of small protests by Trump supporters --- egged on by Rightwing astroturf groups, Fox "News" and the President himself --- objecting to continuing stay-at-home restrictions issued by Democratic Governors, a number of Republican Governors have decided its time to put their state's residents at increased risk of death by opening back up for business before virtually anybody believes it is safe to do so. Leading that list is Georgia's illegitimate, dumb-as-dirt Republican Governor Brian Kemp. After insisting just last week that it was too early to determine whether restrictions should be relaxed, Kemp announced on Monday that he is throwing the doors open for gyms, hair and nail salons and bowling alleys on Friday of this week and restaurants, movie theaters and churches by Monday! Moreover, he declared when making his surprise announcement yesterday --- without having bothered to consult with either of the Mayors of his state's two largest cities first --- that he "don't give a damn about politics right now." Sure ya don't, Guv.

But, speaking of politics in Georgia, voters soon to be at risk anew from the coronavirus under Kemp's dangerous new political scheme, are figuring out how to (literally) survive the state's upcoming primary elections now rescheduled for June 9th. That, after troubling (if predictable) data has begun to emerge from the state of Wisconsin, which held in-person elections two weeks ago after being forced to do so by the Republicans in their state legislature and on both the state and U.S. Supreme Courts. According to Milwaukee's Health Commissioner, at least 7 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed as having been tied to the state's April 7th election, with only 30% of the data so far reviewed following the two week incubation period for the virus. Six voters and one poll worker, to date, are known to have become infected after voters were forced to wait on hours-long lines and crowd into just 5 polling places in the city which usually offers 182 locations.

Late on Monday, our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, announced the filing of a 132-page federal lawsuit [PDF] against Georgia's Secretary of State which, she quips, could have been filed as just one page reading: "Don't be Wisconsin!"

In fact, the complaint includes more than 30 demands sought by the group to help ensure safety for the Peach State's voters during the primary. The complaint seeks to move the election from its currently scheduled June 9th date to June 30th in order to buy three more weeks of time in hopes of seeing the state's infection numbers come down. "Given the foolishness and recklessness that [Kemp] engaged in yesterday," she tells me, "it is probably now even more important to get that additional time to get more preparations." The June 9th date was already a replacement date after the state's initially-planned vote on April 28 was postponed due to the crisis.

The suit also seeks to force Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger to send absentee ballot request forms to 625,000 registered voters to whom he previously sent them to the wrong addresses, and to allow counties to use hand-marked paper ballots if they choose in order to avoid dangerous new touchscreen voting systems mandated across the state, despite the devices having become a vector for spreading disease during a pandemic. "It really doesn't take an epidemiologist to tell us that viruses are going to travel on those machines," Marks argues. It's not only the voting machines themselves, when using touchscreens, that presents a health hazard, as this graphic she posted last night on Twitter makes very clear.

Other changes sought by the Coalition --- which has successfully sued the state in the past to decertify touchscreen voting systems and prevent the rejection of absentee ballots, among other things --- include curbside voting for all ("Think of it as a kind of Sonic Drive-In form of voting"), personal protective equipment for poll workers, masks for voters and other demands which, remarkably, have not yet already been enacted by the state. The list of changes sought in the complaint also provides a useful template for voters in other states who may wish to hold officials accountable for doing the right thing, as more than 20 states still have upcoming primaries and all 50 will somehow have to figure out a way to hold safe elections this November.

"Look at Wisconsin," Marks reminds us. "They didn't start getting serious until it was too late. We're not seeing these kind of changes take place in other states as fast as we should. States should be enacting these things now."

(By the way, keep an eye out for Marilyn in HBO's disturbing new documentary Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections! You can watch it for free on HBO's YouTube channel through the end of May right here. And listen to my recent interview with the filmmakers right here.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report in which oil prices have now crashed so low --- actually into negative territory! --- that some companies are literally paying people to take oil off their hands! Also, the Trump EPA is setting new standards for poisoning Americans, even during a pandemic, and Earth Day celebrants are trying to figure out how to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the annual event tomorrow amid stay-at-home orders, a global pandemic, and a still-worsening climate crisis...

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Guest: Alexander Sammon of The American Prospect; Also: Some much brighter news about voting in Virginia...and even Pennsylvania!
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2020 5:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. and world economies continue to collapse amid ridiculous happy talk largely from the President and his GOP pals, as the suffering of millions of Americans grows amid the coronavirus pandemic and, incredibly enough, millions of tons of fresh food being destroyed by farmers and other food producers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Why are farmers and dairy producers doing that? The American Prospect's ALEXANDER SAMMON joins us today to explain how "Coronavirus has Broken America's Food Supply", and how, amazingly enough, the federal government (including the President who pretends to love farmers...especially in swing states) appears to be doing absolutely nothing about about a collapsing supply chain.

To be fair, neither party seems to be loudly pressing for action here, according to Sammon. But, as we discuss, this is a problem that could pretty easily be solved by the federal government. American families are running out of money as workers are being laid off. The Government is sending them a paltry $1,200 check (which may be delayed for many, because Trump is insisting on his name appearing on the checks), which many are likely to use to buy food. At the same time, food and milk created for commercial use in sectors which have collapsed (restaraunts, hotels, schools) is being destroyed. The Government could be buying that food (delivering much-needed relief to struggling farmers and food producers) and use the storied logistics skills of the U.S. Military to help deliver it to people in desperate need all over the country and around the world.

"It's one of those things where we've seen the President basically almost allergic to using federal authority, the national authority that is at his disposal to make these things right," Sammon explains. "Here is something he could do, well within the capacity of the federal government and the military, but there's been no indication they're going to pursue that. I think that's a pretty astounding political failure, at a very basic level."

Sammon goes on to describe the worsening conditions for food producers and the laborers in the industry who are becoming sick at an alarming rate, as "a very troubling sign for farmers and the food supply chain going forward."

"There's going to be a lot of farmers entering in to bankruptcy," he tells me. "The jolt to the system is not going to be immediate. But a year from now we could be looking at diminished supply at a pretty significant level. That could result in much higher prices. If we're emerging from a global recession, where we're talking about forecasts of 30% unemployment, potentially, at some point later in the year, the notion of having escalating food prices is certainly not something that's going to take the edge off of that."

Despite that grim news and the horrific economic numbers released on Wednesday regarding retail sales --- (yes, CONSUMERS, as it turns out, are the backbone of the nation's economy...They are the job creators, not the parasitic corporations and executives who pretend to be) --- we've got some more good news today for those who can't wait to vote this November. It'll much easier --- and safer --- to do that in Virginia this year, thanks to a series of important election reforms signed into law over the weekend by the state's Democratic Governor. Among the many long-overdue reforms: No-excuse absentee voting; Automatic voter registration at the DMV; Repeal of Photo ID voting restrictions; Expanded early and Election Day voting hours; and Election Day will now be a state holiday, while the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, celebrating Confederate Generals who attacked the U.S., will no longer be celebrated.

All of those reforms come thanks to the Democratic majorities won for the first time in years in both the Commonwealth's Senate and House last year. And that is thanks, in no small part, to the court-ordered UNgerrymandering of Virginia last year.

But that's not all the good news about upcoming elections today. The Republican National Committee, according to mailers they paid for and sent out to Republican voters in Pennsylvania, has declared that absentee voting is "easy, convenient and secure"! Yes, the word "secure" was made bold on the "Official Republican Party Mail-in Ballot Application" sent out to voters in the Keystone State this week.

So, apparently, we can all happily ignore the President and other high-profile Republicans around the country who claim that Vote-by-Mail is a vector for fraud. Their own party, it seems, has just made liars of them! (Though that's not particularly difficult to do these days.)

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

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Guest: WI's John Nichols on a huge win for progressives in the Badger State amid last week's disastrous and dangerous GOP-forced election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2020 6:58pm PT  

We catch up with a bit of listener mail at the top of today's BradCast before moving on to the huge story out of Wisconsin, where, according to results finally announced Monday night, a progressive-supported state Supreme Court candidate has apparently unseated a rightwing Scott Walker-appointed, Donald Trump-endorsed Justice following last Tuesday's disastrous and dangerous election in the Badger State. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Judge Jill Karofsky reportedly trounced incumbent GOP-backed Justice Daniel Kelly by more than 10 points (or more than 163,000 votes of about 1.5 million cast) to win a 10 year term on the state Supreme Court. The stunning upset victory reduces the longtime rightwing partisan bent of the court from 5 to 2, to just 4 to 3, with a real chance to flip the court's balance to progressives in the state when the next seat either opens up for an appointment (with Democratic Governor Tony Evers having ousted the far-right Walker in 2018) or in the next Supreme Court retention election. The next such election is scheduled for 2023.

What makes Karofsky's win all the more remarkable, of course, is the horrific circumstances under which Republicans forced their own Wisconsin voters to the polls last week amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Republicans in the gerrymandered state legislature, along with the Republicans on the state Supreme Court and on the U.S. Supreme Court's stolen Republican majority all conspired to prevent the election from being postponed or changed to an all Vote-by-Mail election, despite Evers several attempts to do so in response to the COVID epidemic.

Hundreds of thousands of voters and poll workers were forced instead to choose between risking their lives to vote or having their votes suppressed, after tens of thousands of absentee ballots did not reach voters in time to be returned by the April 7th Election Day mandated by SCOTUS as the deadline. That, despite lower federal courts previously allowing for a 6-day extension for the return of absentee ballots, given the extraordinary circumstances. With the two Supreme Courts rulings, voters were forced to wait hours in line to cast in-person ballots in the April 7 election, with hundreds of polling sites closed, while enduring rain and hail and possible coronavirus infection to cast their votes, after Republicans decided that mandating an in-person election during a pandemic, while suppressing the votes of tens of thousands of absentee voters, was their only chance to maintain their 5 to 2 advantage on the state Supreme Court.

We're joined to talk about all of this victory amidst outrage today by WI native son and progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and of Madison's Capital Times. He tells me that Karofsky's election in WI right now "is the biggest deal of anything we have talked about" on the show, adding that "you and I go back a long way."

He charges "the Republicans ginned up their entire voter suppression operation. They put it on 11. They went for everything they could" and then they "weaponized coronavirus", but were still unable to defeat the dedicated Wisconsin voters who delivered "a true rebuke of the people who tried to suppress the vote."

We discuss both the important victory on the state Supreme Court as well as several other contests where the GOP was rebuked, along with the stain of last week's election and what all of this means for Wisconsinites and Americans going forward. There are more than 20 states still to hold primaries in the months ahead. All 50 states must figure out how to hold the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history this November. And the desperate Republican Party is hoping to bring chaos to all of it.

If what happened in Wisconsin is any indication, the GOP may have their work cut out for them, however, this year. But, as we also discuss, they may even be willing to bring down the U.S. Postal Service to do it.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report following deadly tornadoes in the South, wildfires now threatening Chernobyl, and some good news about yet another coal plant closure in Kentucky...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/14/2020 11:02am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly tornadoes hammer the South, complicating coronavirus emergency response; Farmers forced to dump fresh milk, destroy food crops, as coronavirus upends U.S. food system; Wildfires burn through radioactive forests near Chernobyl nuclear disaster; PLUS: Historic deal reached to cut global oil production... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): One weird trick to achieve American 'energy dominance'; Thirst for oil vanishes, leaving industry in chaos; With boats stuck in harbor because of COVID-19, will fish stocks recover?; Methane levels reach all-time high; Olive oil industry under increasing threat from 'olive leprosy'; A decade after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, offshore drilling is still unsafe... PLUS: Decades of climate science denial has led to denial of the coronavirus pandemic... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Also: Trump dreaming about 're-opening'; Many waiting for checks that won't come; Some good news about Biden; And a happy ending...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2020 6:03pm PT  

What a week. We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, with much of it not good news at all. But we do try to offer a few bright spots along the way, and finish with a song, to make the stories you need to know about slightly less maddening. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

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

  • Biden leads Trump by 11 points in a new NATIONAL poll taken before Sanders dropped out;
  • Tuesday's shameful, disastrous and, likely, deadly "shit show" of an election in Wisconsin --- with in-person voting forced in the middle of a global pandemic by Republicans in the state legislature, state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court --- was even worse and more disenfranchising than previously known. Officials are now calling for an investigation from the U.S. Postal Service to explain why thousands of absentee ballots, many sent far in advance of Election Day, never arrived for many voters in Milwaukee, and as Republican state Sen. Dan Feyen now hypocritically wants an extension to vote for some voters in his district after several tubs of absentee ballots were discovered at a postal facility undelivered. (That, after he and his GOP colleagues in the state legislature repeatedly prevented a postponement of the election and applauded the SCOTUS ruling that prevented a 6-day extension for tens of thousands of voters to return their absentee ballots after having not even received them at all before the April 7 Election Day.);
  • And, in very related news, the U.S. Postal Service is now apparently on the brink of complete shutdown, as early as June, thanks to a decrease in mail delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats on Capitol Hill are begging for a short term bailout [PDF] for the quasi-independent federal agency that otherwise receives no tax-payer dollars. Republicans, however, blocked the effort to include $25 billion to save the USPS in the recent $2.2 Trillion emergency relief/corporate bailout CARES Act (which included $500 billion for private corporations). That, as millions rely on the USPS for prescription drugs and states across the country hope to rely on the Post Office for Vote-by-Mail primary elections in June and perhaps in all 50 states this November. Republicans also refused to include $4 billion needed to help states conduct elections during a pandemic, but they did include $400 million which, since there are few, if any, restrictions on that money, states are already using it for other things instead;
  • Finally, we end with a song and a laugh (cuz we really need both at the end of this week as much as you do), as Randy Rainbow plays us out with a tribute to his new favorite Governor...

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

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Also: Petulant criminal Trump begins purge of Inspectors General...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2020 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Reprehensible and morally unjustifiable rulings by the Republican majorities on both the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts over the past 24 hours have resulted in tens of thousands of voters forced to choose between risking their lives to cast their ballots or face voter suppression today in Wisconsin. The GOP Justices on both courts now have blood on their hands. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

WI's Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes was being overly polite when he tweeted today: "Good morning and welcome to the Shit Show! Today's episode has been produced by the Supreme Court and directed by the incomparable Speaker and Senate Majority leader duo," before adding: "Buckle up, this one's sure to disappoint!" He was being too kind in his reference to the 4 to 2 party-line vote that yesterday evening overturned an Executive Order that would have postponed today's election in the Badger State until June, as issued by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. The case which blocked that order was brought to the state Supreme Court by GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald, both representing "majorities" in their respective state chambers thanks to Republican gerrymandering that prevented Democrats from controlling the state legislature despite receiving more votes than Republicans.

The state court's decision assured that WI voters faced potential death if they chose to vote in person at polling places (if they could find one open) in the middle of a deadly pandemic on Tuesday. The immoral decision was made even worse by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court who, even later last night, in an unsigned 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] overturned a lower federal court judge's ruling [PDF] which had allowed 6 extra days for voters to return absentee ballots, given that tens of thousands of state voters have yet to even receive theirs due to the influx of requests amid the pandemic. Somehow, those voters are supposed to postmark or return them by today to be counted, even though many won't even receive the ballots for days after the April 7 election. It was, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern writes, "one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern history."

Thus, tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters are now certain to be disenfranchised, thanks to the repugnant rulings by every Republican on both Courts. WI voters and those who know them may consider themselves lucky if voter suppression is the ONLY thing that happens to them after being forced to stand in lines that snaked for blocks and blocks (and blocks) before being forced to crowd into consolidated polling places for lack of poll workers willing to risk their own lives. (In Milwaukee, for example, instead of 182 polling places, there were just FIVE today.)

As you might imagine, my head has been repeatedly exploding over the past 24 hours. We describe on today's show what happened on Tuesday, why the state Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: it was to and ensure Republican majority control of the same state Supreme Court which issued this horrific ruling, for as far as the eye can see), why the U.S. Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: they invoked their absurd "Purcell Principle" in order to allow voter suppression to continue across the country this fall and beyond), and what all of this now horrendously portends for upcoming elections in the 20+ states which previously postponed their primaries due to the COVID-19 crisis and for the 50 states that will be running the most critical election in our nation's history --- pandemic or no pandemic --- this November 3rd.

None of this is a good sign for free and fair elections in a supposed representative democracy. All of it brings shame and disgrace to the GOP and their followers...if they are capable of either.

Then, as if everything else wasn't already bad enough, Donald Trump is now on a tear to purge independent Inspectors General from the U.S. Government, including even long time career officials and those he appointed himself, because he's an unstable, insecure, dishonest, criminally unfit, petulant little man-baby President. We tell the stories today of the Intelligence Community IG he fired late last Friday night for having followed the rule of law in reporting the whistleblower complaint to Congress during Trump's attempt to extort Ukraine to help him win this year's election; his new threats to and blatant lies about the Health and Human Services Dept. IG who reported on Monday that the federal government bears some of the responsibility for a lack of personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing kits at hospitals across the country; and his removal on Tuesday of the longtime, well-respected career Pentagon and State Department IG who was recently elected by his peers as chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency as he was set to oversee the Administration's distribution of $2.2 trillion recently allocated by the emergency coronavirus relief bill enacted just over one week ago.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with the brightest and best news of the day. And none of it is good either.

As the WI Lt. Governor said: Welcome to the Shit Show!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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