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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, June 30, 2022
Tuesday's Election Results
and the Tea Leaves of 'UNconventional Times': 'BradCast' 6/29/22
What to glean from the first midterm primaries and special elections after the fall of 'Roe'...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 6): Meadows' Top WH Aide Offers Insider Trump Bombshell After Bombshell: 'BradCast' 6/28/22
Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony w/ John Amato and Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/28/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Cause of NM's largest-ever wildfire revealed; Japan's grid straining under extreme heat; Colombia's new Prez a climate hawk; PLUS: Americans' high cost of extreme weather...
Recent GNRs: 6/23/22 - 6/21/22 - Archives...
After Corrupt Reversal of 'Roe', What Now? What Next?: 'BradCast' 6/27/22
Callers ring in; Also: Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping mall; Surprise J6 hearing announced; SCOTUS further erodes separation of church and state with new ruling...
Sunday 'Supremely Unjust' Toons
PDiddie's latest radical collection of this extremist week's most activist and supremely corrupted toons...
SUPREME CORRUPTION: 'BradCast' 6/24/22
Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 5): Trump's Failed DoJ Coup and 'How Close We Came to Losing it All': 'BradCast' 6/23/22
With former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/23/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden calls for temporary gas tax cut; Arctic warming really fast; New management for national monument; PLUS: IEA warns Europe about Russian gas exports this winter...
Recent GNRs: 6/21/22 - 6/16/22 - Archives...
Rebutting Raffensperger's 'Recount', Calling Out His Coffee County 'Cover-Up':
'BradCast' 6/22/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: DoJ broadens fake Trump electors probe...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 4): Trump Threatened, Targeted, Terror-ized State Officials, Election Workers: 'BradCast' 6/21/22
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of the Pro Left Podcast...
'Green News Report' 6/21/22
Deadly heat in Europe, U.S.; Catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh; Climate change a 'public health crisis'; PLUS: Corrupt SCOTUS set to undermine EPA...
A Conservative Appeal to Repubs to Save America, End Uncivil War on Democracy: 'BradCast' 6/20/22
Also: More Americans seek Trump J6 accountability; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Right-Wing Freakout' Toons...
PDiddie apologizes to Dad for ruining his day, in his latest weekly toon collection...
Can Our Democracy Survive All of This?: 'BradCast' 6/17/22
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ The Nation's John Nichols...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 3): Trump, Eastman Knew VP Scheme Unlawful, Pressured Pence Anyway: 'BradCast' 6/16/22
Guests: Former DoJ fraud prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/16/22
'Delusional' rush to new fossil fuel supplies; A surprising source of pollution; 'World's first zero emissions cement'; PLUS: TX grid saved by wind, solar...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: 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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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.)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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