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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, October 25, 2020
Sunday 'Losing It' Toons
We're just trying to keep it all together in PDiddie's penultimate pre-election weekly toon collection....
Special Coverage: The Final 2020 Presidential Debate: 'BradCast' 10/23/20
Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'R.J.' Eskow decode Thursday's face-off in Nashville and our nightmares before (and after?) Halloween...
Trump, Barr, Wolf Sued for Unlawful Voter Intimidation: 'BradCast' 10/22/20
Guest: Attorney Ron Fein; Also: Biden's Court expansion plan; Graham breaks rules to approve Barrett; Bad news for AL voters; Admin says Iran behind Dem email threats?!...
'Green News Report' 10/22/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Another new record storm in a record-breaking hurricane season; Great Barrier Reef half dead; First all-climate campaign ad; PLUS: The Hummer is back, and now it's all-electric...
Previous GNRs: 10/20/20 - 10/15/20 - Archives...
Are Americans Ready (or Even Able) to Roll Back the GOP's 'Permanent Minority Rule'?: 'BradCast' 10/21/20
Guest: David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Fed court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots...
Good News, Bad News! It's 'The Caveat Show!': 'BradCast' 10/20/20
All sorts of reasons for Dems to feel good about Biden and re-taking the Senate...And plenty of reasons to remain concerned about both...
'Green News Report' 10/20/20
Massive CO wildfires; Trump flip-flops on disaster aid to CA; Wind, solar energy now the cheapest energy in the world; PLUS: Biden talks clean energy at ABC Town Hall...
Voting is Not Enough: How YOU Can Help Oversee and Protect Our Elections!: 'BradCast' 10/19/20
Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Bad news for MI voters; FL voting website fails...
Sunday 'A Bigger Boat' Toons
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth...PDiddie offers his latest collection of the week's best toons...
2020's Federal Court Voting Rights Roller Coaster: 'BradCast' 10/16/20
Guest: Election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire disaster relief roller coaster...
'Deranged Power Grab': Barrett SCOTUS Hearings Conclude: 'BradCast' 10/15/20
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: E-Pollbook systems fail in GA; FBI reports 'unauthorized access to elections systems'...
'Green News Report' 10/15/20
Barrett sounds like climate denier at Senate hearings; Sen. Whitehouse on dark-money polluter capture of judiciary; PLUS: Sept. 2020 hottest ever...
'Hypocrisy in Daylight? Look for Power in the Shadows': 'BradCast' 10/14/20
Guest: Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's revelations of GOP's $250M SCOTUS-packing coup; Also: Good voting news in VA, TX, AK!...
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
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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'...

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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
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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
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Biden's plan for SCOTUS expansion; Graham breaks rules to approve Barrett w/out Dems; SCOTUS blocks AL curbside voting; Admin claims Iran (not Russia, not Proud Boys) behind email threats to Dem voters...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2020 5:17pm PT  

Last week, Trump's new "sham" nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to not know if voter intimidation was even a violation of federal law. This week, as we report on today's BradCast, Trump and his henchmen find themselves facing a federal lawsuit over exactly that. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • First up, Joe Biden has finally stated his position on expanding the U.S. Supreme Court. That position? A bi-partisan commission to study reforms for the federal court system, to offer recommendations after six months...if Biden wins the White House and Dems take the Senate. We discuss what is probably a pretty smart political position for the former VP to take right now, considering that corporate media can't stop using the words "court packing" to describe long-overdue reforms after years of actual court packing by the GOP.
  • Speaking of which, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, led by South Carolina's increasingly vulnerable Sen. Lindsey Graham, broke their own rules today to ram through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett without a single Democrat present, after Dems refused to allow a quorum for today's vote. If she is confirmed by the full Senate on Monday, as Republicans currently plan, it will be one of the shortest confirmation processes and the closest to a Presidential Election Day for the seating of a Supreme Court Justice in the nation's history. That, after just 4 years ago Republicans blocked a Democratic SCOTUS nominee entirely for a full year, while vowing that a new Justice should never be seated during a Presidential election year. Republicans also changed the rules in the middle of that game as well, when they killed the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees after failing to get enough votes to pack Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee, onto the Court. Over the past five years, Republicans have succeeded at completely delegitimizing the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • The GOP's already-stolen Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with Alabama's dishonest, lying, somewhat deranged, unlawfully Twitter-blocking, Republican Sec. of State John Merrill to nix curbside voting in counties that wished to use it to help keep disabled voters safe during the COVID crisis, as recommended by the CDC and approved the U.S. Dept. of Justice as a way to prevent violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All three remaining Democratic appointees on the Court dissented, siding with the U.S. District Court and federal appeals court which, after a three day trial, found the now-scrapped accommodation to be a "modest" and "reasonable" way to avoid a potentially fatal illness for some voters.
  • In recent days, Democratic voters in Florida and several other battleground states have been receiving threatening warnings via email, instructing them to "Vote for Trump or else!" The body of the emails, which appear to come from a Trump-supporting extremist group, cite the recipient's name and addresses and promise to "come after you" if they do not change their party affiliation to Republican and vote as instructed. Incredibly, and with zero supporting evidence, Trump's "partisan hack" Director of National Intelligence John Ratclifffe hastily convened an absurd press conference on Wednesday night to declare that Iran was actually behind the threatening emails to Democrats. He claimed they were designed to "damage President Trump". He also muttered something about Russia. But, again, no actual specifics and no actual supporting evidence for his claim that both countries accessed voter registrations systems to obtain the data (most of which is publicly available without actually hacking into election-related systems). Suffice to say, I believe absolutely nothing from this Administration at this point, about any of it, and, short of independently verifiable information, neither should you.
  • Then, we are joined by the Legal Director at Free Speech for People, RON FEIN, to explain the federal lawsuit his non-partisan good government organization filed on Wednesday on behalf of the Latino civic engagement group Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and several voters, charging that Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Sec. of Homeland Security Chad Wolf are violating federal laws against voter intimidation.

    The complaint [PDF] and accompanying request for a preliminary injunction, as Fein details, alleges defendants have exhibited a pattern of intimidation against voters that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, and the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    As FSFP explains in their announcement of the suit, the complaint is "based on the defendants’ violent suppression of public protests opposing police brutality, the encouragement of white supremacist 'vigilantes,' threats to send 'sheriffs' and other law enforcement to the polls, the undermining of mail-in voting, and the rejection of the peaceful transfer of power, which, the complaint alleges, constitute illegal voter intimidation."

    Fein offers more details on what he describes as a "threatening pattern of conduct stretching over the past few months," that has resulted in the suit. "People understand what it means when the President talks about sending law enforcement...When he tells the Proud Boys to 'stand by,' people understand what that means...This is not one piece of conduct, one isolated statement. This is a months-long pattern that the President and his top officials have been involved in, that has the purpose and effect --- hopefully not successfully --- but it certainly has that effect, of intimidating people from voting either in person or by mail."

    Explaining the relief sought by the complaint, he tells me: "First of all, we want relief prohibiting the defendants from deploying armed federal agents at or near polling places; from ordering federal agents to block the delivery of ballots or interfere in the counting of ballots; from taking any actions that could limit with the speed or reliability of mail delivery. And specifically to Trump, prohibiting him from encouraging his supporters to bring weapons to polling places, block access to polling places, to question voters, or from using official government public communications channels --- which now includes his Twitter account --- to suggest that lawful votes will be scrutinized or challenged."

    He also discusses a somewhat related federal case also filed this week by FSFP on behalf of the Minnesota chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and League of Women Voters against a private mercenary contractor who has posted job listings, reported recently by the Washington Post, seeking to hire and deploy armed former special ops troops to patrol polling sites in the state.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on yet another record hurricane in an already-record season; the death of half of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the return of the Hummer, this time as an all-electric "supertruck"...

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

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Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer endorses Biden; And MUCH more you need to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2020 7:08pm PT  

As my rant near the top of today's BradCast makes clear --- there is a now mountain of madness emanating from the White House. All of it now going on at one time, as Donald Trump and the Republican Party become more desperate with each passing day before this year's election. And while the mountain of unfolding nightmarish stories I quickly cover in that rant are all terrible --- some of them horrific, in fact --- none of them matter, for the moment, as much as making sure that everyone is able to vote this safely this year and have their votes counted as cast in the November 3rd election. That is how we will keep ourselves and this republic alive, as this President and his Administration (and their party) appear to have no interest in that. I hope you'll enjoy the rant nonetheless. [Audio link to today's show follows below the summary.]

Before and after today's rant...

  • We kick off our show with the new ad from Republican Voters Against Trump, featuring Olivia Troye, a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence as his homeland security advisor and his lead staffer on the White House Coronavirus Task Force "from day one". Troye, who left the White House in July, announced today that she is endorsing Joe Biden and explains why in the video ad that excoriates Trump for not wanting to hear about the pandemic back in February "because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year and how was this going to effect his record of success." She goes on to charge that Trump "doesn't care about anyone else but himself" and once described his supporters during a task force meeting as "disgusting people";
  • Then, a bit of testimony from Donald Trump's FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a hearing today before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in which the man Trump hired to replace the fired James Comey explains that Russia is currently undertaking "very active efforts...to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more than malign foreign influence". He testified that the Russian effort underway is meant to denigrate Joe Biden;
  • But, as noted in our rant, ultimately, none of it matters unless American voters can safely vote and have their vote counted as cast. Toward that end, we have several stories of mostly good news for voting rights, beginning with the federal judge in Washington State who issued a nationwide preliminary injunction today to block what he describes as "a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service" before the November election. The injunction was sought in a suit filed by 14 states against the Trump Administration and the U.S. Postal Service. It seeks to block measures implemented by new Postmaster General and major Trump/RNC donor Louis DeJoy which slowed down mail delivery in advance of an election that will see record mail-in voting due to Trump's failure to control the coronavirus pandemic;
  • That is hardly the only effort underway by Trump and his party to make voting by mail more difficult this year. But we've got mostly good news to report today from the Supreme Court in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. The high court approved the use of absentee ballot drop-boxes and is allowing ballots received by elections officials to be tallied if they arrive as late as three days after Election Day and are postmarked by November 3rd. The setback for Team Trump in the state Court's series of rulings on Thursday also included upholding a state requirement that poll watchers must live in the county where they are poll watching (while that's not optimal in most cases, it may be necessary this year to prevent the GOP from bringing in people to intimidate voters. We explain why that is.)

    In more good Keystone State news for Democrats, the state Supremes also ruled that the Green Party failed to qualify for this year's Presidential ballot. In better news for Trump and the GOP --- though not good news for voting rights advocates --- the Court denied a Democratic request for voters to be notified to come in and cure absentee ballot deficiencies --- such as missing or perceived mismatched signatures or missing secrecy envelopes --- before those ballots are rejected. Hopefully this serves as a warning to voters in PA (and everywhere else!) to follow all the rules for absentee voting carefully before mailing --- or, better yet --- dropping off ballots in person this year, where allowed. A lawsuit challenging some of the same issues has been filed by the Trump Campaign in federal court, where the Trump-appointed judge in charge of that case has put it on hold as the state cases moved forward. We'll see what that federal judge does now.

  • The embarrassing battle over absentee ballot drop-boxes continued today in the longtime battleground state of Ohio, leading the Republican Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court to excoriate her own party for attacks they leveled against Democratic Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye after he found in favor of Democrats earlier this week in the state suit they filed against Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose. In that case, Frye found that state law allows Counties to deploy as many secure mail-in ballot drop-boxes as they'd like.

    Longtime "conservative stalwart" and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor issued a blistering rebuke against state Republicans for their response to Frye's finding, calling the GOP's allegations "disgraceful" and "deceitful" and "a blatant and unfounded attack". Nonetheless, even after Frye's finding, LaRose has so far declined to lift his August directive mandating only one drop-box in each of the Buckeye State's 88 counties and has vowed to appeal Frye's ruling. That turns out to be in contradiction of what the Secretary indicated previously, when he told many people --- including a top labor official in the state (via text messages) as well as a federal judge in a parallel federal suit --- that he would be happy to change his order once a Court clarified if it was allowable under state law. But LaRose, apparently, is a liar...or a coward cowed by his own party;

  • In our final War on Voting story for today (yes, there will be many more to come in the days ahead, sadly), South Carolina's Republican Governor signed a law this week that will allow any state voter to vote by absentee ballot this year, no excuse needed, in response to the nation's still-out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic. That's good news. But the legislation adopted this week by the GOP-dominated state legislature failed to include several provisions sought by Democrats, including the use of secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots and the waiving of a requirement for a witness to sign the mail-in ballot. The changes to state election law come as incumbent Republican U.S. Senator and Trump lackey Lindsey Graham is said to be TIED in pre-election polling with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in the Palmetto State in what could be a stunning upset this November...if ALL voters in the state are allowed to vote and to see their votes counted as cast;
  • Finally today, in a brief respite from the War Against the War on Voting, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some of the ongoing brutal news this week in the war against our ever worsening and deadly climate crisis and those who continue to pretend it doesn't exist...even in a week like this one...

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: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it was not a good day for those who believe in free, fair, honest, overseeable and safe democracy. On the other hand, it was a great day for Republicans! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We've got a boatload of court rulings from almost half a dozen states to try and make sense of today. A few of them are good. Most of them are not. But we've got some expert help in making sense of several of them, and she tells us the fight is nowhere near over.

We begin today with the breaking news out of Florida, where the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that had found the state's new "pay-to-vote" law constitutional. Apparently, the five new federal jurists that Donald Trump has added to the court all agreed, in a 6-4 ruling, that poll taxes are just fine by them. They approved the law enacted by the state's GOP legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year that undermines Amendment 4 of the state constitution. That Amendment was adopted in a bipartisan, 65-35 percent landslide in 2018 to restore voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons in the state, including about one quarter of the state's voting age black men.

The law specifically passed to undermine Amendment 4 requires all court-imposed fines and fees to be payed before a former felon may register to vote. So, if you have enough money, you can vote. If you don't, too bad. Also, good luck to former felons even figuring out if they owe any money at all. Florida doesn't keep track. That means many newly eligible voters won't bother to register, rather than risk being sent back to jail for violating this new law. It was passed along partisan lines last year by Florida and is virtually identical to the 150-year old statute struck down just last week by a North Carolina state court. As revealed during the course of the NC suit, the law, according to its legislative champion following post-Civil War Reconstruction, was specifically adopted to "secure White Supremacy" by preventing "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro." Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern derides today's Florida ruling as "one of the most dishonest, misleading, and despicable voting rights opinions I have ever read" and "an affront of the very notion that Americans have a right to vote". The ACLU Voting Rights Project's attorney Julie Ebenstein argues "the gravity of this decision cannot be overstated," describing it as "counter to the foundational principle that Americans do not have to pay to vote" and "an affront to the spirit of democracy".

In another afront to democracy, Wisconsin's rightwing state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state's 1850 separate municipalities to immediately stop sending out absentee ballots to the, so far, about 1 million voters who have requested them. The court's 4 to 3 partisan ruling is meant to allow it's rightwing majority time to decide if the Green Party's Presidential ticket should be added to the ballot, despite the state Election Commission, in a deadlocked 3 to 3 vote, determining that the party's Presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and Vice Presidential Nominee Angela Walker did not receive enough signatures to qualify.

At issue is hundreds of petitions that listed the Milwaukee native Walker's address as a motel in South Carolina. Why the Party used two different addresses for Walker is unclear, but the result was the WI State Election Commission --- which the GOP state legislature recently created to replace the previous non-partisan commission with a partisan one built to create such deadlocks --- followed state law. That prevented the Greens from making the ballot. After a two week delay and 378,000 absentee ballots already mailed out, the Green Party decided to sue, even though election officials from across the state say their will be no time to design, print up, test and mail out out new ballots before both state and federal statutory deadlines require them to do so next week. They also have no idea how to avoid people voting twice with two separate ballots they may receive for the same election. So, chaos reigns yet again in the election in the key battleground state where Donald Trump is said to have won in 2016 by less than one single percentage point, when the Green candidate that year received more votes than Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton.

The voting news out of Texas this week is only slightly better. First, the good news: A federal judge there has ordered state election officials to notify voters within one day after a "perceived signature mismatch" is determined on absentee ballots, and to allow voters a "meaningful opportunity" to correct the issue. Previously, after officials, who are not handwriting experts, decided a signature was not a match to the voter's registration application (often years old), the ballot was simply rejected without notifying voters until 10 days after the election. In other good voting news from the Lone Star state, a state judge has determined that the Clerk in Harris County (Houston) is, in fact, allowed to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the nation's 4th largest city. The state's Republican Attorney General had sued to block the effort. I suspect he'll appeal, but we'll see.

But the war on voting in the Lone Star State doesn't stop with those two victories for democracy, unfortunately. The Mayor of Houston wants to know why more than a dozen local U.S. Post Offices have refused to allow volunteers from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to make multilingual voter registration materials available at those facilities.

And our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan Free Speech For People, joins us to explain the disappointing decision from a federal judge this week in response to a recent lawsuit filed by FSFP on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and the Texas NAACP seeking to address what the groups describe as "unsafe and unequal voting conditions" in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit seeks a Preliminary Injunction in challenging the state's "insufficient number of polling places"; "its limited and inaccessible early voting locations"; a lack of social distancing requirements; Gov. Greg Abbot's statewide mask mandate which allows an exception for voters and pollworkers; and the dangerous "reliance on repeat-touch voting machines" amid the deadly pandemic, among other concerns. All of which, the complaint argues, "will result in unsafe voting conditions and increased risk of coronavirus transmission, which in turn will result in voter suppression." Moreover, as Hostetler explains today, "the health risks and adverse impact of these policies will place an undue burden on the right to vote and be borne disproportionately by voters of color, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law, and the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment."

Texas has some of the most restrictive absentee voting requirements in the nation, so the dangers at polling places --- in this case, unequal ones --- are no small matter. "The real crux of the Constitutional issues at stake here," Hostetler tells me, "is that people won't show up to vote because they can't risk getting COVID-19 and dying. They can't risk not being able to work for 3 weeks if they get it...This is what's at stake, and the burden is not shared equally in Texas. It's both unconstitutional and it violates the Voting Rights Act." She says the federal judge, rather than deciding the case on its merits, determined that the matter is a political one, rather than an issue to be decided by the courts. While the case is still live, the judge has denied the group's motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which likely pushes the matter back until after the election. But the groups today decided that they will file an appeal.

In Pennsylvania this week, a state court judge also ruled against a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a similar suit filed by FSFP and the Pennsylvania NAACP "to establish safe and equal voting procedures for the upcoming general election." There too, the groups plan to appeal.

And in North Carolina, where FSFP filed a suit last April to block the use of new "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" touchscreen voting machines with the NC NAACP, the groups late last week filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court after a lower court denied their original complaint.

The appeal is "alleging imminent risk to voters' right to free elections and equal protection under the laws if they are required to vote on the [ES&S] ExpressVote touch screen ballot marking device this November". The complaint, as we discussed with Hostletler last spring when it was initially filed, "alleges the new [touchscreeen] system is vulnerable to security threats and its results are unverifiable, in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law." She says that though this matter will no longer be decided before this year's election, "the case is still live, and we are ready and preparing to litigate this fully and pursue this case through trial, because it does have long term implications for the state of North Carolina, because these machines are utterly unreliable and unverifiable";

So, yeah, a rough week for those who favor voting, voting rights and free, fair and safe democracy. But, as Hostetler argues today: "Every time there's an effort to push back against free and fair elections, there are people who are saying 'No, I'm going to fight you on that." She urges voters to fight like hell to make sure that they cast their ballot this year and vote as safely as they can, while letting her group or others know when and if they run into barriers.

"Know that there are people across the country who are fighting to change these policies," she says. "Nobody is alone in this. There are a lot of people fighting, and we can always use more"...

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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Two storms in the Gulf as RNC begins; Trump's sister calls him a liar; Former GOP lawmakers endorse Biden; Former Republican NatSec officials endorse Biden; Repubs fail to create a platform at national convention, party now officially a cult of personality...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2020 5:39pm PT  

Everything is now happening all at once. So, we couldn't get through half of what we would have liked to have covered while still having enough time left to open phones on today's BradCast to thoughts from listeners on last week's Democratic National Convention and this week's GOP version. [Audio link to show follows below.]

So, before we opened the phones to a bunch of great calls, we covered, among other things...

  • Last week, Donald Trump claimed Joe Biden will "hurt God" if he's elected. But it seems that God may have already chosen sides in this year's Presidential election. As if the COVID crisis derailing Trump's plans for rallies and a national convention in two different cities wasn't enough, this year's record Atlantic Hurricane season continues with not one but two storms in the Gulf (Marco and Laura) at the same time, both gunning for Louisiana and/or Texas this week as the Republican National Convention finally gets under way. Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on that;
  • Even Donald Trump's own family doesn't trust Donald Trump. We already know his niece, Mary Trump --- who recently released a best-seller about him --- thinks he's a lying, fraudulent, menace. But so too, apparently, does Donald's own sister, former federal Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who is heard during secretly recorded conversations with Mary describing her brother, the President, as stupid, cruel, phony and a liar, among other nice things from a family member who knows him best. We share some of those audio recordings released over the weekend today;
  • Also parting ways with Donald Trump today, more than two dozen former Republican Senators and Congressmen, including Arizona's former Sen. Jeff Flake, who announced their endorsement of Joe Biden just hours before the Republican National Convention was to get under way on Monday;
  • That follows a group of more than 70 longtime national security officials who served under Trump and other Republican Administrations who issued an open letter on Friday endorsing Joe Biden and describing Trump as "dangerously unfit to serve another term";
  • But, of course, all of this is just part of the GOP's long spiral into a party that believes in absolutely nothing at all other than clinging to power any way that they can and, of course, cult-worshiping Trump, as Politico Magazine's Tim Alberta details in a new piece today headlined "The Grand Old Meltdown: What happens when a party gives up on ideas?" As one longtime Congressional GOP stalwart laments in Alberta's piece, "Owning the libs and pissing off the media. That's what we believe in now. There's really not much more to it.";
  • One thing that happens when a party gives up on ideas is they are unable to even craft a policy platform for their party. That is --- other than officially selecting a nominee for President --- the whole point of holding a national convention in the first place. But with a complete dearth of legitimate policy proposals, the RNC on Sunday essentially admitted as much by announcing they would not be producing a platform at all this year for the first time in....ever?;
  • Then, after a few words about the ongoing fight against the attempt by Trump and his Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to steal the election by slowing down the mail during the largest Vote-by-Mail election of all time, we open the phones to listeners with their thoughts on all of the above and much more...

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Multi-State legal challenges expose illegality, but it may be too late to fully repair damage even if Trump's Postmaster General is ordered to do so...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/24/2020 7:35am PT  

Even if several multi-state legal challenges result in a federal court order directing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to repair the damage wrought by his allegedly "illegal" sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service's mail delivery capabilities, absent significant additional funds, it's unlikely DeJoy could fully comply with that order.

The facts laid out in one of the recently filed cases and echoed in the others, along with subsequent developments, suggest that DeJoy was, at best, disingenuous when, in an August 18 formal statement [PDF], he claimed he was "suspending" his nationwide mail sorting, labeling and delivery changes until after the Nov. 3 Presidential Election.

The complaint describes how, pursuant to an Equipment Reduction Plan [PDF], Defendants removed, dismantled and/or destroyed 671 high-speed sorting and labeling machines that had a combined hundreds of millions of dollars in value. As a result, the States allege, "some major cities have already had their ability to sort mail reduced by hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail per hour." (Emphasis in original text).

On the same day that DeJoy issued his "suspension" statement, emails were submitted by Kevin Couch, the USPS Director of Maintenance Operations, informing Maintenance Managers that, irrespective of instructions from their plant managers, they must not reconnect or reinstall sorting machines that had previously been disconnected absent approval from USPS HQ.

Last Friday, while testifying before the U.S. Senate, DeJoy made it clear that he has "has no intention" of reinstalling the sorting machines, even as he claimed that election related mail would receive top priority from the Postal Service. Contrary to DeJoy's rosy predictions, however, the USPS's own Service Performance memo reflects a significant drop in overall performance which precipitated a USPS warning to 46 states that their deadlines for Vote-by-Mail ballots "might impede the timely delivery of mail-in ballots, possibly disenfranchising millions of voters"

While there's ample reason for a court to order reinstallation, absent significant additional USPS funding, which Trump opposes, it is doubtful that DeJoy could fully undo the damage even if he were ordered to do so.

VOTERS BEWARE: Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by DeJoy's "suspension" of changes at the USPS until after Election Day, or by his unsupported assurance that USPS can timely process and deliver every ballot. The wiser course, as laid out in our previously related article, is to deposit your mail-in ballots in secure, state-supplied drop-boxes (where available) or at designated drop-off locations. Check your local jurisdictions to learn what options may be available where you live. In some jurisdictions, voters can deposit their mail-in ballots at the polls either during early voting or on Election Day. In some jurisdictions, voters can link to election official websites to track the processing of their own ballots as well...

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




Winning the Right to Vote; DeJoy to DeCongress; Repub Led Senate Report on Team Trump Lies About 2016 Russia Interference; Former DHS Official Calls Trump 'Terrifying', Lawless; Highlights from DNC Day 1...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2020 6:25pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, it is what it is. But we're here to cover it. And so we do. In the most information-packed broadcast you're likely to find anywhere. At least for the price. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the MANY stories covered today...

  • It's been 100 years since women won the right to vote, as the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920. They were not granted the right. They fought like hell for generations and won it for themselves. Sadly, thanks to Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, too many are still fighting like hell to keep it;
  • Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned lawmakers back to D.C. to pass a law this Saturday to roll back efforts by Donald Trump's donor and newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, to slow down mail delivery in advance of the November election. On Monday, he and U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chair --- and former RNC Chair --- Robert Duncan, agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next week. Today, DeJoy also agreed to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and, clearly under pressure and facing lawsuits by 20 different state Attorneys General, DeJoy agreed to pause his new directives at the USPS...if you believe him;
  • The Republican-led U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a damning, nearly 1000-page report today on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the Trump Campaign's cooperation with the effort. The bipartisan report, described as more expansive than the one by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, highlights, among many other things: Trump's criminal lies to Mueller about conversations he "did, in fact" have with convicted felon Roger Stone (and multiple other campaign staffers) concerning the publication of stolen emails by WikiLeaks before the 2016 election; convicted Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort's collusion with a Russian intelligence agent described as a "grave counterintelligence threat"; the Russian "influence operation" after the election to claim that it was Ukraine, not Russia, which interfered in 2016 on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump --- a claim for which the Senate Committee found "no reliable evidence" despite more than 200 interviews over three years of fact-finding, including with Trump family members and top campaign officials;
  • Just hours before the Democratic National Committee's Convention was to convene on Monday night, the group Republican Voters Against Trump released a damning video featuring Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff at Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security, who describes Trump's incompetence as "terrifying", detailing frequently "illegal" orders from the President who, he says, often attempted to exploit the DHS for his own political purposes and personal benefit. Taylor said today we should expect more insiders coming forward with similarly disturbing revelations in coming days;
  • Then, we move to the first night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention with a few thoughts about the format (a "convention" without the actual convening part) and the high-profile Republicans --- including Ohio's former Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich --- who spoke in support of Joe Biden on the Dems' opening night. We also share the segment featuring Kristin Urquiza, whose Trump-supporting father believed the coronavirus to be a hoax, until we was killed by it. We then play extended excerpts from former Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' full-throated endorsement of Biden, making the progressive case for his Presidency, and finally an extended portion of the killer keynote remarks by former First Lady Michelle Obama, detailing Trump's irreparable failures as President and why the nation needs to replace him with Biden. Both Sanders and Obama made excellent arguments for why neither progressives nor Democrats nor the country nor the planet could endure four more years under the most inept, corrupt, dishonest, failed President in the history of the nation;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, incredibly jam-packed Green News Report, as extreme weather broils the U.S., Greenland's ice sheet faces its final days, and the Trump Administration opens up the previously pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to commercial oil drilling...even though Donald Trump apparently does not even know what it is.

But, of course, it is what it is...

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President of the United States holds trillions of dollars in emergency relief hostage to prevent Democrats from safely casting ballots in November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2020 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Well, at least he's saying it out loud now. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The President of the United States is rejecting the plea --- from his own personally-appointed, Republican-majority, Postal Board of Governors for $25 billion to save the U.S Postal Service from collapse and a $3.5 billion request from the nation's bi-partisan elections officials to help harden election infrastructure for security purposes and to accommodate a huge Presidential election in the middle of a deadly global pandemic --- because he is trying to steal the election. While he doesn't use the words "steal the election", he and his administration are now making very clear they are trying to do just that. And, of course, ham-fistedly lying about it at the same time by claiming that Democrats, somehow, are hoping to "rig" the election.

The Trump/GOP megadonor, Louis DeJoy, just appointed as Trump's Postmaster General in June, has been busy issuing directives to slow down mail delivery, despite the explosion in Vote-by-Mail expected during this November's election, as necessitated by Trump's own failed coronavirus response. This week we have also learned that DeJoy has removed or reassigned some 23 top USPS officials who manage mail delivery and that 19 huge postal sorting machines, which process some 35,000 pieces of mail an hour, have now been removed or are scheduled to be removed from at least 19 different mail distribution sites across the country. That was confirmed by Motherboard today after initially being reported on NPR by the President of the Iowa Postal Worker's Union.

It is happening in plain sight. On Wednesday at his White House presser, and again on Thursday, Trump conceded that if he doesn't agree to a new COVID-19 emergency relief bill to help the nearly 30 million now-unemployed Americans; cash-strapped states and cities; hospitals; schools; and, yes, elections officials and the U.S. Post Office itself, he believes he will stop voters from successfully casting a ballot through the mail this November.

That works great for him, because he's hoaxed his own GOP supporters into believing absentee voting is fraudulent (except in Florida, where he, himself, does it ILLEGALLY) or unnecessary, because the virus is "disappearing, like a miracle." Many duped Republicans will now needlessly risk infection and death to vote for him at the polling place on Election Day, while huge numbers of NOT-disinformed Democrats are expected to use Vote-by-Mail to avoid potential death from voting in-person. Trump will then declare himself the winner on Election Night, with more Republican votes quickly counted from in-person voting, before declaring the slower-to-tally absentee ballots (which need to be manually authenticated one-by-one before they can be run through computer tabulators --- if they even arrive on time to be counted after the USPS slowdowns) as "fraudulent". Attempts to count all lawfully cast ballots after Election Day will then be characterized as an attempt by Democrats to steal the election. That's the plan. It's simple, evil, anti-American, and its happening right before your eyes.

Even one of Trump's top White House economic advisers admitted on CNBC today that "we don't want to have voting rights." That, said Larry Kudlow, out loud, about the effort by Democrats to include election and USPS funding in their emergency relief proposal is "not our game and the President can't accept that kind of deal."

Voting rights advocates, supporters of democracy, and Democrats in Congress are hopping mad, as they should be. So is one of the nation's largest veterans groups. But, of course, Trump knows that, as a failed President, if he doesn't rig the election to steal it he is very likely to lose it. So, yes, he is attempting to steal a Presidential election right before our eyes.

We break down ALL of that down --- in much more detail --- on today's show, along with at least one bit of good news on elections today coming from the U.S. Supreme Court, of all places, if you can believe it.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen (whose name keeps popping up in the strangest places these days) and our latest Green News Report with a review of presumptive Democratic Veep candidate Kamala Harris' record on environmental justice; the Trump EPA's rollback of Obama-era methane pollution rules at the request of the oil and gas industry; some very good news for the nation's migratory birds; and yet another fossil fuel disaster, this time in Pennsylvania...

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Guest: Howie Klein on Tuesday's primary results in MN, GA, elsewhere; Also: Kamala's first appearance as Biden's running mate...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we look at noteworthy results after Tuesday's state primary elections in Minnesota, Georgia, Wisconsin, Vermont and Connecticut. But we begin with problems voting on Tuesday in (where else?) Georgia, and the quickly expanding efforts by Republican Secretaries of State in key battlegrounds to make mail-in voting as difficult as possible this November, as per Donald Trump's bidding.

In Georgia, as we noted on yesterday's show, despite a successful program to help keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic by sending absentee ballot applications to all active registered voters during the June primary, their Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger has decided not to do so again before the November general elections, despite the spike in COVID infections and deaths in the state since then. A record 5 million Georgians are expected to vote (or try to) this year, when the battleground state is hoped by Democrats to finally flip from "red" to "blue for the first time in decades in the Presidential race and when there are not one, but two vulnerable GOP U.S. Senate Seats on the ballot as well.

In Kentucky, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a challenge from Democratic former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, we're seeing an echo of Raffensperger's attempt to suppress the vote in November. Despite a largely successful June primary, when there were no restrictions on which voters were allowed to request an absentee ballot, the state's Republican Sec. of State Michael Adams on Tuesday submitted a plan to the Governor to restore restrictions, limiting absentees largely to the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. That, despite the widely praised procedures used in June in the Bluegrass State, where the rate of infections and deaths has also spiked since the mid-summer primary. Adams' absurd excuses for the proposed restrictions on Vote-by-Mail reveal that this is much more about suppression than safety or efficiency. For example, while claiming that election officials and the U.S. Postal Service will be overwhelmed in processing the number of absentee ballots if Kentucky again allows no-excuse absentee voting, Adams is also proposing that only ballots that arrive by Election Day may be counted. Previously, officials had a week after Election Day to process ballots post-marked by then, but which arrived in the days following. Luckily, Kentucky now has a Democratic Governor who may need to approve (or veto) Adams' plan before it can be enacted.

In the neighboring perennial swing-state of Ohio, where Joe Biden and Donald Trump are believed to be neck-and-neck this year, Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose announced on Wednesday that he is barring county Boards of Election from offering more than one single secure drop-box per county for depositing Vote-by-Mail ballots. After waiting for three weeks for an opinion from the Republican Attorney General as to whether the state's 88 counties could legally deploy extra drop-boxes, LaRose announced today that he could wait no longer. He says he believes it is now too late to make any changes to how the election will be administered. So there must only be one drop-box outside of each County's elections office. He also claimed that adding extra drop-boxes would result in lawsuits like the one filed by the Trump Campaign in late June in Pennsylvania, which argues that the use of drop-boxes in that key battleground state --- where they were successfully deployed without problem during the state's June primary --- is actually unconstitutional.

These are voter suppression attempts, period. Trump and his cronies are attempting to steal the election in plain sight. Don't. Let. Them. Inform yourself and make plans for safely voting this year NOW.

Then, we're joined once again by HOWIE KLEIN of the "Down With Tyranny!" blog and the progressive BlueAmerica PAC. He has been offering analysis on the show of late, from a progressive perspective, on the late season state primary results. Today, after sharing his thoughts on Joe Biden's new running-mate Kamala Harris (he is "not a fan") and who he might like to see appointed to fill her U.S. Senate seat if Democrats win, we cover freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar's win in the Democratic Primary in Minnesota 5th Congressional District on Tuesday against an AIPAC-supported challenger.

Then we discuss the win by Marjorie Taylor Greene --- a QAnon conspiracy theorist who has proudly made racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic statements --- in the Republican primary run-off in Georgia's 14th Congressional District. For some reason, AIPAC did not fund her challenger, despite her unapologetic anti-Semitic remarks, and the fact that she is most likely headed to Congress after easily winning her runoff in a very Republican district.

Nor did AIPAC manage to fund a challenger to 25-year old Republican Madison Cawthorn, an apparent Nazi sympathizer in North Carolina who Klein writes about today, and who appears likely to win the seat vacated by Trump's latest Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows this November. "They love him on the right," says Klein. "They're already seeing him as a future US Senator."

Klein also offers a preview of next Tuesday's state primaries in Florida where a progressive group outside of the state Democratic Party has worked, for the first time, to recruit Democratic candidates to run in each of the Sunshine State's 27 Congressional districts. "I always say the Florida Democratic Party is lucky that there's an Ohio Democratic Party, because otherwise the Florida Democratic Party would be the worst, instead of the second worst in the country," he says. "So the environmental caucus recruited all of these great candidates. The Democratic Party flipped out. ... But there's a really, really good roster of state legislative candidates and, on top of that, there are several excellent Democrats running for the U.S. Congress," he tells me, specifically citing Adam Christensen in Florida's 3rd Congressional District.

Finally, we close with a bit of Kamala Harris' remarks today from Delaware, where she and Biden appeared together for the first time since he named her as his running mate for the 2020 Democratic Presidential ticket...

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Plus 'back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: This is not a drill. In my nearly-two decades of covering elections, I've never been as concerned about attempts to undermine an election than I now am regarding this year's Presidential election on November 3rd. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last Friday's BradCast interview with American Postal Worker Union President Mark Dimondstein, regarding the mandates by Louis DeJoy, Trump's newly-appointed Postmaster General, to slow down the mail "everywhere" --- and DeJoy's Friday Night Massacre that took place moments after we got off air --- are just some of the huge reasons for my concern. Please make sure that you are prepared, well in advance, for this year's election, and that you know how to not only receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot, as necessary for many due to the pandemic, but that you know what the deadlines are for registering to vote, requesting a VBM ballot, and where and how to drop it off IN PERSON, so your ballot doesn't get lost in Trump's USPS slowdown. Once you've learned all of that, please make sure everyone you know does the same. Ernie Canning has written a helpful article at Bradblog.com with some important related tips, and 2020VotersCalendar.org is a very helpful new website resource with specific information along these lines for voters in each of the 50 states.

Over the weekend, Puerto Rico's primary was a disaster, as ballots did not arrive at all --- or far too late for many to vote --- in 50 out of 110 voting centers across the island. A second make-up election is now being planned, hopefully, for next Sunday. If something like that happens on November 3rd, of course, all may be lost.

In the meantime, just days after Donald Trump falsely claimed that children were "almost immune" to the coronavirus, a new report finds that nearly 100,000 children in the US tested positive for it in just the last two weeks of July alone. That's a 40% increase in child coronavirus cases during those two weeks in the U.s. jurisdictions researchers examined. At least 86 children have died from COVID-19 since May, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association also finds, including a 7-year old with no pre-existing conditions in Georgia last week.

This coincides with the mind-boggling push by Trump to reopen schools for in-person classes immediately, as a number of states run by Trumpy Governors press forward with plans to do so. One such state is Georgia, where some schools opened for the new term already last week and saw photos of crowded hallways and maskless children go viral on social media almost immediately (before suspending the student who posted them). Now that same school is returning to distance learning this week after six students and three staff members at the school tested positive. Other school districts in the state reported even worse numbers.

In Florida, where two teenagers have died so far this month, at least 12 counties are reopening schools this week, more than 17% of tests are now coming back positive. The CDC recommends schools only reopen where the positive test rate is lower than 5%, yet at least 9 of the 12 school districts planning to open in the Sunshine State are currently seeing rates much higher than that. That, as nearly 165,000 are confirmed to have died from COVID in the U.S. and new data from the CDC finds 200,000 more deaths since mid-March than would normally be expected at this time of year, based on recent trends before the pandemic.

As bad as its all getting, the White House appears unwilling to compromise with Democrats on a new COVID emergency relief bill, despite tens of millions of Americans who saw their expanded federal unemployment benefits from an earlier relief bill expire at the end of July. In response, rather than negotiate or demonstrate the art of his pretend deal-making prowess, Trump spent the weekend playing golf and signed one Executive Order and three Executive Memos that pretend to do a whole bunch of stuff that they actually don't and are most likely unconstitutional to boot. One of his executive actions, to temporarily defer payroll taxes for those who are working (the taxes will have to paid at the end of the year instead), would actually cut funding to Social Security and Medicare. Another would take money from FEMA to restore some of the expanded unemployment benefits, but slash them by a third, prevent them from being paid to the lowest-income earners, and require cash-strapped states pay 25% percent of the expanded payments.

Yet, there is no effort in his executive actions to bailout states and cities who are now completely out of money due to their COVID-related crash in revenues. Many couldn't help fund the expanded unemployment even if they wanted to. Similarly, there is no effort to fund the Post Office with the $25 billion that its GOP-dominated Board of Governors has requested to keep the USPS running. And no effort to give $4 billion to election officials around the country to help upgrade their systems to help manage the huge influx of absentee voting due to COVID or even to help make in-person voting safer, as election officials across the country have long sought.

In short, the weekend's news was terrible and the news ahead is likely to get nothing but worse for a while. But we thought you should know it, since the President of the United States --- who said his executive actions this weekend "will take care of pretty much this entire situation, as we know it" --- continues lying to the nation in hopes that it will somehow help him get reelected. It won't. But stealing the election remains completely on the table and actively under way.

Finally, we open up the phones to callers on all of the above. And, though I specifically asked several times, I couldn't seem to find one listener willing to call in and explain why they would be happy to send their kids back to in-person classes right now. Go figure.

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

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How states, counties and YOU must help defend our 'last firewall'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/10/2020 10:05am PT  

This will not be easy. It never is. But, this year, we are facing obstacles to voting that we have never seen before. Not only from the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, which is already difficult enough, but from those who hope to exploit the pandemic along with their access to the levers of power to make voting --- by some --- as difficult as possible. It is now up to all of us to overcome those obstacles.

President Trump is, by no means, the first right-wing Republican to recognize that he can't win if voters turn out in large numbers.

"I don't want everybody to vote," Paul Weyrich, the GOP's notorious godfather of right-wing voter suppression infamously quipped during a 1980 address to a group of evangelical Christian ministers. "In fact, our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added, after denigrating those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation, as people who suffer from "goo goo syndrome".

(The soaring pandemic death toll and an unprecedented 32.9% annualized second quarterly plunge in the GDP, serve as testament to what happens when We the People allow those opposed to "good government" to be placed in charge of our political economy.)

Trump's repeated attempts to suppress voter turnout are by no means novel --- as amply demonstrated during our two-part coverage (here and here) of the 2011 U.S. Senate hearings concerning a spike in GOP-engineered, state voter suppression laws. During those hearings nearly a decade ago, civil rights litigator Judith Browne Dianis described that spike as "the largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era."

What makes our current circumstance both novel and extraordinarily dangerous is that an authoritarian-wannabe Donald Trump is the first Republican President who has been positioned to weaponize a pandemic by forcing voters to choose between exercising their fundamental right to vote and the risk of contracting a deadly virus. Instead of simply relying upon state voter suppression laws, Trump has aspired to engage in wholesale suppression on a national scale. Operating through a major GOP/Trump donor-turned-Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Trump seeks to actively sabotage the social distancing protection that Vote-by-Mail (VBM) affords by creating delays in U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries.

Last Friday, during a must-listen-to segment of The BradCast, Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), confirmed that mail slow-downs were "happening across the country" at a time in which the USPS was already in "crisis mode" as a result of the dangers posed by COVID-19. In his view, the Post Office is now at the "epicenter" of the 2020 battle over "voting rights", noting that "without Vote-by-Mail people aren't going to be able to vote."

Thus, in addition to fending off "dubious" Republican legal challenges to mail-in voting expansion, democracy's defenders --- which, in this case, includes We the People --- must now double our own efforts to navigate Trump's sabotage of mail delivery. This, at a time when election officials in states that have not previously engaged in near-universal VBM must upgrade their electoral infrastructure in order to accommodate and tabulate an unprecedented volume of hand-marked paper VBM ballots.

But there are proactive steps that jurisdictions --- and, yes, you! --- can take to maximize the odds that your ballot is tallied this year...

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




Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist reportedly wins Dem U.S. Senate nomination in TN after being outspent 250 to 1...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2020 7:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Never mind the pre-election polling numbers you are hearing. Given the way Donald Trump and his Administration and acolytes around the country are actively working to undermine this year's November 3rd general elections, you'd make a mistake to place Joe Biden's odds of being declared the winner at any better than 50/50 at best at this point. Disturbing comments from our guest today only underscore that concern yet again. [Audio link for today's must-listen show is posted at bottom of article.]

But first up today --- after quick news that, contrary to yesterday's reporting, a second COVID test for the Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine appears to show he is actually, and happily, negative for the coronavirus --- we cover the stunning election news out of Tennessee on Thursday night. If the computer-tallied results of the Democratic Primary yesterday for U.S. Senate there can be believed, Marquita Bradshaw, a progressive African-American environmental activist supporting Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, has won the party's nomination to run for the seat being vacated by TN's longtime GOP Senator Lamar Alexander this November.

Bradshaw's campaign raised less than $10,000, according to FEC records, yet she reportedly defeated the Dem establishment-backed James Mackler who, with the support of Chuck Schumer's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had raised more than $2 million for his campaign while only managing to come in THIRD in yesterday's contest! That's right, Bradshaw was outspent 250 to 1, but appears at least, to have easily defeated both Mackler and everyone else in the race according to the still-unofficial results.

Unless an error in tabulation is discovered, Bradshaw will go on to challenge Trump's former Ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, in November. He overcame a serious challenge in a contest that placed the Trump and Mitch McConnell-endorsed Hagerty against the Ted Cruz and Rand Paul-endorsed Manny Sethi. The far-rightwing Hagerty recently resigned from the board of a brokerage firm after they expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. He will now run against a black activist in TN, which has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1990. But, if Bradshaw could win after being outspent 250 to 1, who knows what may happen in November?

That said, the GOP dirty tricks this year are already underway. According to an email from our friend Tom Sullivan, a longtime blogger at Digby's Hullabaloo from the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina, some Democratic voters are now reportedly receiving phone calls purporting to be from the Board of Elections, falsely telling them they "no longer need to request an absentee ballot." That is completely false. If NC voters wish to vote by mail this year in the Tarheel State, they WILL need to request an absentee ballot --- though they can deliver their ballot by hand at county Boards of Elections, or even vote in-person later if they change their mind.

Dirty tricks from Republican activists, sadly, is nothing new, but bad enough. Especially in NC! But when the dirty tricks are coming from inside the White House itself, that is a matter of entirely different proportions. Shamefully, even as the President of the United States continues to make false claims about absentee voting (after fraudulently doing so himself!), Donald Trump's recently appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, is now undermining the U.S. Postal Service itself in advance of what will be, by far, the largest Vote-by-Mail elections in all 50 states in the nation's history. The Republican Trump mega-donor DeJoy, with no previous USPS experience, issued several directives upon taking office in June that have resulted in the slow down of mail delivery. And while both DeJoy and other leadership at the 250-year old Postal Service (whose first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin) have claimed the new directives are not aimed at slowing down mail or doing Trump's bidding to undermine absentee voting, our guest today, MARK DIMONDSTEIN, President of the American Postal Workers Union and Postal Service worker since 1983, charges that is exactly what is happening.

The new directives, purportedly meant as efficiency measures to curb overtime costs, "can't do anything but slow down mail," says Dimondstein. "Our understanding is that it's really happening all over the country, and it needs to be reversed. It needs to be stopped." The APWU chief, representing more than 200,000 postal workers, charges the new measures, which direct carriers to leave mail behind at sorting stations if waiting for it will delay their route, "runs counter to our DNA. Our DNA as a postal worker is to serve the customer, leave no mail behind, treat it as if it is our own."

The USPS is in crisis mode now, as coronavirus lockdowns have severely curbed regular mail delivery --- though package delivery has increased, he tells me, helping to mitigate that loss somewhat. The Post Office is funded entirely by postage, not tax payer dollars, but its Republican-dominated Board of Governor's, he says, unanimously voted to request a $25 billion emergency bailout from Congress earlier this year. While almost every other company in the nation has received crisis funding during the pandemic, Republicans in Congress and the White House have continued to block the request. "The Post Office does not run on tax dollars in normal times, it runs off the revenue. So if the revenue is not there, then the Post Office will run out of money," Dimondstein warns. "It's not a question of if, it's a question of when."

He goes on to respond to a host of questions, including on the safety (and necessity) of Vote-by-Mail and the President's attempts to undermine it. "Vote-by-Mail is nothing new for postal workers. We've been doing this for generations. Military personnel have been voting by mail since the days of the Civil War...And of course now, with the pandemic, it's a question of access to the ballot box at all for tens of millions of people who want to vote safely," he tells me, noting ironically that "Trump trusts us to deliver his mail-in ballot!"

We discuss what he describes as the "tremendous impact of COVID on the workforce," which has seen 40,000 workers quarantined and more than 2,500 who have tested positive, and why Donald Trump has had it out for so long --- even before the coronavirus --- for the Postal Service, which Trump has called "a joke". Contrary to popular speculation, Dimondstein doesn't believe Trump's antagonism is due to his dispute with Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon which works closely with USPS. He believes it's based on little more than interest by Trump and other corporatists to privatize and profit from the massive customer base served by the USPS every day at all 160 million addresses across the country, six days a week.

"The idea that the Postal Service is a joke is an insult to every dedicated postal worker. 600,000 plus strong," says Dimondstein. "Out here in this pandemic, on the front lines, can you imagine how we all feel hearing that? And it's an insult to the customers. 91% of the people in this country, in the latest Pew Research Poll [support USPS]. The Postal Service always rates the highest. This year, it was the highest ever, I think out of a deeper appreciation for the role of postal workers in this pandemic."

"The country just laid to rest John Lewis," Dimondstein notes. "His historic role in this country, courageously done, was the question of voting rights for African-Americans in the South of the United States. And it was courageous. He was almost beaten to death. Voting rights now is right here at the epicenter of what's going on right now, and the Post Office is right in the middle of this thing. Because without Vote-by-Mail, people aren't going to be able to vote. It's as simple as that. Tens of millions of people, from seniors to young people, just will not be able to vote during this pandemic if they don't have good access to Vote-by-Mail and don't have the states step up. We have to worry about some of these states that don't want people to vote. That's the reality."

When asked how long before Election Day Dimondstein would advise voters get their absentee ballot into the mail to ensure it arrives n time to be counted, he recommends that if you haven't mailed it by the Tuesday or Wednesday before Election Day, you'd be wise to try and drop it off in person at your precinct or local County headquarters. (Check your own jurisdiction to find out what is allowed, as the laws are different in each state and sometimes each county or municipality.)

There's much more in our conversation, but you get the idea. Please tune in for the full conversation.

Finally today, with the actual President of the United States now actively attacking the Post Office, the U.S. Census and democratic elections themselves --- all three, core elements of American democracy, each specifically cited by the U.S. Constitution itself! --- can there be any better reason to defend the nation and its Constitution by voting this guy out of office? With that in mind, we end with a bit of inspiration from satirist Roy Zimmerman's brand-new, updated version of his already-classic ear-worm parody tune, "Vote Him Away!"...

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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Guest: Longtime Koch researcher Lisa Graves; Also: Biden, Obama, Gates Twitter accounts hacked, but Nov. voting should be fine; KS Repub Congressman indicted on four voter fraud counts! Trump should be next...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2020 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: New insight on the nearly 50-year long effort to abolish and/or privatize one of the nation's most-beloved, 250-year old institutions. Just another disaster waiting to happen under the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, however, today's show is once again shaken up by breaking news. But some of it, at least regarding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg --- who has now been released from the hospital and said to be "doing well" --- is good news. The hack of top Twitter accounts today, including Joe Biden's, Barack Obama's, Bill Gates', Elon Musk's and many others, is not such good news. If a multi-billion dollar company like Twitter can't protect its own servers from hackers, how do you suspect local election officials will be doing this November when it comes to protecting complicated computerized voting, tabulation and registration systems?

Speaking of elections, first-term Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas was charged on Tuesday night with three felonies charges and a misdemeanor related to voter fraud after he registered to vote (and then did so) using an address at a Topeka UPS store, where he obviously does not actually live.

Donald Trump committed nearly identical voter fraud crimes. Last year, he also specified an address where he does not live --- a commercial business in Florida (Mar-a-Lago) --- as his "legal address" for voting purposes on his voter registration application [PDF] in the Sunshine State, and unlawfully voted via absentee ballot there this year. Rep. Watkins may go to jail for the same crimes that Trump committed. Will Trump be charged with felonies as well?

And, speaking of voting by mail (lawfully or otherwise), that may also be threatened this year, even as states are expanding access to mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new, Trump-appointed (and wholly unqualified) Postmaster General has just been seated and, this week, sent a series of disturbing memos to all Postal Workers directing them, essentially, to slow down mail delivery and stop all overtime work, even with package delivery (often of much-needed medication and other quarantine-necessary supplies) rapidly increasing during the COVID crisis.

Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and our new Postmaster General, has postal workers, including hundreds of thousands of union workers, up in arms about the new mandated slowdowns that will accomplish little more than giving a competitive boost to FedEx and UPS, two of the USPS' top private competitors. That, as it turns out, is likely the whole point, according to our guest today, LISA GRAVES of True North Research. Last week, Graves published an 18-page brief [PDF] at In The Public Interest on the billionaire who has been behind what is now a nearly 50-year effort to privatize the Postal Service.

That billionaire is none other than Charles Koch who has spent decades recruiting a rogues gallery of hard-right "libertarians" and Republicans, beginning in the 1970s, up through the Reagan and Bush Administrations, and now into the Trump Administration, to undermine the USPS despite its mandates specified by the U.S. Constitution and the fact that it is among the most popular and important institutions in the nation.

"Charles Koch has mapped out a very dystopian view of America, and has tried to push it into reality," Graves says, and he and his cronies have been successful. "They oppose having public transportation. They have oppose Amtrak, and any kind of public train system. They want public airports to be sold to the highest bidder and operated by the private sector. It's just one thing after another, including public parks! National parks, local parks, public parks --- these are all anathema to these very fringey rightwing libertarians who have been fueled and funded and stoked by Charles Koch and his billions from Koch Industries."

Graves, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, has been researching and documenting the billionaire Koch's rightwing ideological agenda for years, as he and his late brother David, have worked to undermine and/or buy our democracy and most important public institutions. Her new exposé on Koch and cronies' decades-long effort to kill and/or privatize the USPS is another critical chapter of that important work, and one that highlights, as she describes it today, a perfect "marriage between [his] ideological agenda and greed".

With the USPS now on the brink of insolvency, thanks to the COVID crisis --- and, even more, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), championed at the time by Koch-backed Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), which handcuffed the independent federal agency --- things could get much worse for the Service very quickly.

Describing Louis DeJoy, Graves tells me today, "It's irresponsible and reckless for them to have put this partisan hack, this Republican fundraiser, at the helm of the Postal Service at the time that it's facing such a great need to have a leader who is committed to it as a truly public institution, versus someone who is behaving in this predatory way to try to basically ruin the Postal Service and push it toward the idea that it should be a for-profit company. It's in the worst possible hands at the worst possible time." But, of course, that is largely the point.

"If it's destabilized right before the election, that sort of destabilization could not happen at a worse time. But it would be convenient for a Trump ally to destabilize it, since Trump is trying to attack the very idea of Vote-by-Mail," Graves warns, along with much more in a must-listen conversation today.

Finally, a few quick words on Tuesday's primary election and runoff results in Alabama, Texas and Maine where, by the way, Sen. Susan Collins will be facing her most difficult re-election bid ever this November against Democrat Sara Gideon, who appears to have sealed up the Democratic nomination to run against Collins in Maine on Tuesday...

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Guest: Slate's legal and justice reporter Dahlia Lithwick; Also: Pence Press Sec., Stephen Miller's wife, tests positive for coronavirus...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2020 6:54pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: This week the Republican's stolen U.S Supreme Court took a huge step forward toward public transparency by live-streaming their oral arguments for the first time in history. No, it wasn't on video. It was via telephonic conference call. But one step at a time, I guess. There's something, anyway, to thank the coronavirus for. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We're joined today by Slate's Supreme Court legal expert and justice reporter DAHLIA LITHWICK to discuss the first-ever oral arguments by phone for the Court and the first to be broadcast live to the nation. It was also the week when the nation's heart skipped a beat or two for a short time upon learning that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been "hospitalized with an infection". Turns out the infection was thankfully not COVID-19, but a gallbladder matter which left the 87-year old Justice able to participate in the week's historic telephonic arguments from her hospital bed in Maryland.

"It reminds us," Lithwick says, "pinning all of our hopes on an octogenarian...is a pretty scary way to be doing justice. But in a really profound way, it kind of reminds us that the people who are getting shredded by this virus are that generation" and "It does make you realize how unbelievably susceptible the bulk of the Supreme Court is right now."

Beyond that, Lithwick, who hosts her own Slate podcast, AMICUS, sees this week's live broadcasted SCOTUS hearings as an encouraging step toward transparency for a Court that has been frustratingly camera shy. She also cautions, however, that the live broadcasts allowing Americans to hear how our laws are adjudicated at the nation's highest court in real time may not last after the pandemic subsides.

However, the week's historic hearings went well enough, she reports, even if the structure required to carry out oral argument by conference call necessarily changed the way in which cases have traditionally been argued in person, as Justices were not able to interrupt each other to press various arguments as they have always done --- and even as someone on the call forgot to mute their phone during a toilet flush heard during one of the first day's hearings.

Yes, we get to the straight poop on who may have been behind "the flush heard round the world" today, before turning to the substance of the actual cases heard before the Court. One was a fairly straightforward case on trademarks. Another was a much less simple one on whether religious groups and even private businesses have their religious rights infringed by being allowed to opt out of the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Yes, plaintiffs in this case --- including the Little Sisters of the Poor, a small group of nuns in Pennsylvania --- argue that being allowed to opt out of having their insurance provider offer contraceptive care to their employees somehow violates their religious and "moral" freedoms (whatever "moral" freedoms may be.)

We also discuss how the Court has selectively decided which of the many previously postponed cases from March and April (cancelled until the Justices figured out how to dial a telephone) would be rescheduled for this session versus the next one, where opinions will not come out until well after the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We then move on to an important (if too brief) conversation about how rightwingers seem to misunderstand the actual meaning of their favorite words "freedom" and "liberty", as invoked by the slave-holding founders of our Constitution. That, as anti-lockdown protesters haul semi-automatic rifles into state legislatures to demand the lifting of stay-at-home restrictions, shoot people who ask them to follow the law by wearing face masks inside stores, cite "tyranny" and invoke Japanese internment camps (as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice recently did) and call for the "LIBERATION" of states with Democratic Governors (as the President of the United States recently did.)

In her most recent column on this point, Lithwick flagged an essay by Ibram X. Kendi at the Atlantic which speaks to the "long-standing difference between core notions of what he calls freedom to and freedom from". The latter is seemingly being pushed out of the public square in favor of the former.

We discuss what Lithwick describes as "the movement out there that says, 'I don't have to wear a mask,' 'I have a Constitutional right to carry a gun into the capitol,' those are 'freedom to' values, but they subordinate huge masses of people who actually want to be free from those very things. These are a lot of the same arguments that people make about the Second Amendment. That they want to be free to parade around a restaurant, open carrying, and they don't realize that freedom for a lot of Americans is freedom from the terror of that act."

"I think that is a really emblematic new trend, where we're seeing these religious claims that say my freedom to X somehow subordinates and dominates your freedom to, in the Little Sisters context, have access to a statutory entitlement to contraception. My freedom to X, discriminate against people that I don't want to bake a wedding cake for, somehow is more important than your freedom from discrimination based on any identifiable class," Lithwick tells me. "I think this is a tension that is permeating how the courts are looking at a lot of values."

"It probably goes without saying, but let's go ahead and say it --- that it does seem as though if you are a straight, white Christian male, you have a lot of 'freedom to'. Even now, if you are protesting in the capitol in Michigan, if you're a white guy with a gun, your freedom to XYZ is predominant. And if you are an African-American out for a jog, your freedom from being executed summarily doesn't seem to matter. So I think part of the problem with this thumb on the scale for "freedom to" claimants is that it's not distributed equally across race, class, gender, or economic well-being."

Please tune in for that conversation --- and/or read Lithwick and Xendi at the links above --- for more than I have space or time to break down here for the moment on that important discussion.

Finally today, some quick news, an update, and some listener mail. The news is about the coronavirus working its way into the White House via Donald Trump's personal valet who tested positive this week and via Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, who tested positive today. After being in close contact with Pence and members of the press, it should also be noticed that Miller is married to Trump's Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, who is in close regular contact with the President of the United States. Will we see a change in the Administration's rush to reopen the country long before health experts say it is safe to do so if COVID begins to find its way into the White House --- and, perhaps, even the Oval Office?

The update is on the decision by Arizona's Health Department to reverse its cancellation earlier this week of the work by state university scientists on COVID-19 modelling.

And the listener mail regards a local postmaster who says he's decided to retire earlier than planned after "hatred" directed at his staff "by the segment of our town who watch Fox News" who are now "yelling" at Postal Workers for wearing masks on the job. Yes, it's an insane way to end another insane week in these "United" States of America...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: TX Guv knew deaths would spike after reopening, did it anyway; Judge reinstates NY Dem Prez primary; MT's Bullock leading U.S. Senate race...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start and finish today with some good news. Everything else inside that sandwich may be a different matter. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, a federal judge has ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate all candidates to the ballot who have not asked to be removed for the state's June 23 Democratic Presidential primary. The order is in response to a lawsuit filed by former candidate Andrew Yang following the state Board's effective cancellation of the primary --- ostensibly to lower polling place turnout to make it safer voters. The move last week angered the Bernie Sanders campaign, his supporters and, yes, Yang. That seemingly good news for voters is tempered by the fact that the NY Board says they plan to appeal the decision.

In less good news today, the coronavirus infection and death rate in Texas has --- completely predictably --- spiked with thousands of new cases after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted restrictions in the Lone Star State last week for businesses. Even more disturbingly, Abbott knew that it would happen, but did it anyway. An audio recording of a private phone conversation of Abbott speaking to other lawmakers released on Tuesday appears to contradict the Governor's public statements about what would happen after the state reopened all businesses.

Our guest today, The American Prospect's Executive Editor and investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN is not happy with public officials who are standing by while the nation is prematurely reopened for business, even as the COVID-19 infection and death rate continues to increase --- not decrease --- across the country. "Anyone working in the federal government on pandemic response right now who doesn't want to be known historically as a mass murderer should probably resign," he recently wrote in one of his must-read daily "Unsanitized" columns.

Dayen speaks to that ("The administration has pretty clearly signaled they are done with pandemic response. They're over it. ... This is a prescription for tens of thousands of people unnecessarily dying. And we should be really clear about that."); the disastrous roll-out of the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), meant to provide short-term relief to small businesses; the far smoother roll-outs of big bailouts for huge corporations; how the federal coronavirus financial relief response compares to the programs implemented in response to the 2008 mortgage crisis and Great Recession (about which Dayen wrote an award-winning book); and his scoop today regarding the U.S. Postal Service.

As we've discussed on the show previously, the USPS is in trouble, thanks to the crash in postal deliveries with so many businesses shut down. The Post Office does not receive any tax-payer dollars. It runs solely on the postage it sells as it delivers to every address in the nation, six days a week. It is also responsible for delivering absentee ballots in all 50 states amid the ongoing global pandemic and will be crucial to our ability to hold something that resembles a legitimate Presidential election this November. But now the Service has said they may have to stop operating entirely as early as June without an infusion of cash.

Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump in the White House have refused, so far, to provide a bailout to the Postal Service as they have for thousands of other private companies. But Congress did approve a $10 billion extension of credit for the USPS, to allow them to borrow more money to weather the crisis. However, the Treasury Department is holding up the increase in the USPS credit limit in hopes of forcing a bunch of conditions on them first.

"The Treasury Department, which offers that line of credit, has signaled that they will use that to make major policy changes," Dayen explains. "In other words, you want that $10 billion? You're going to have to pay the Piper. You're going to have to bust your unions, you're going to have to get some give backs on pay and benefits. You're going to have to do what we want in terms of package delivery. Specifically, making sure Amazon pays through the nose --- this is the thing Donald Trump is obsessed with, because he hates Jeff Bezos --- and you're going to have to institute a bunch of policy changes and give us some decision-making authority on personnel, including the Postmaster General. And that's just to get the loan. ... It's really an imposition into the authority of the Postal Service, which is an independent entity that is self-sufficient."

With that explained, Dayen's scoop today is that the Administration's strong-arming appears to be working. That insight is based on the recently revealed resignation from the USPS Board of Governors by David C. Williams, the former longtime Inspector General and the Democratic appointee to the Board. A longtime champion of the Postal Service (and its return to postal banking --- which could, on its own, save the Service, as we also discuss), Williams' departure, Dayen reports, is a very bad sign that the Republican appointees who control the Board are on the precipice of winning this battle.

What it may mean for the near future of the USPS and its union workers is ominous. All of this is made even worse because Democrats have now given away much, if not all, of their negotiating leverage in Congress to include a bailout for the USPS by kicking the can down the road in earlier emergency relief bills, even as Republicans got just about everything they wanted already in those measures. All and all, this will not be good for the American people in a multitude of ways.

Finally, we close with some slightly better news as promised. According to a new poll in Montana, the state's very popular Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is up by 6 points (46% to 39%) at the moment in his U.S. Senate race against the Montana's GOP incumbent Sen. Steve Daines. A once-longshot win for Democrats in the U.S. Senate, flipping a seat in Montana this year would go a long way towards flipping control of the upper chamber of Congress from red to blue this November. The state which went for Trump by more than 20 points in 2016 (on the same statewide ballot where Bullock won reelection the same year) is also now trending toward Biden, as the same poll from Montana State University finds Trump with only a 5 point lead (45% to 40%) over the former Vice President right now. Of course, it's only May. But we'll take our encouraging news where ever we can find it these days...

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