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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, September 18, 2020
More Wins in the War Against the War On Voting in PA, OH, SC & USPS: 'BradCast' 9/17/20
Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer plans to vote for Biden; Much more you need to hear...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain, floods; Fires in West behind mass bird die-off; Trump names climate denier to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science issues first-ever endorsement...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/20 - 9/10/20 - Archives...
GA's 'Experts' Flounder in Court Defending State's New Unverifiable Touchscreen Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 9/16/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Sally soaks AL, FL; Results of 2020's final primary in DE...
Mostly Good News in Battle-ground Ballot Battles in WI, OH, NV: 'BradCast' 9/15/20
Also: 175-yr old science mag issues first-ever endorsement; Corp. broadcast news outlets failing disastrously to inform electorate about our worsening climate crisis...
'Green News Report' 9/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Sally approaches, with more storms on the way; Deadly West Coast fires break more records; PLUS: Biden blasts 'climate arsonist' Trump and urges swift action...
Previous GNRs: 9/10/20 - 9/3/20 - Archives...
Fires and Liars and Modems, Oh My!: 'BradCast' 9/14/20
Guest: Jenny Cohn, election security advocate on 2020 hacking concerns; Also: Climate-fueled fires keep breaking records; More hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
Sunday 'Can't Trust the Media' Toons
But you CAN trust PDiddie to post the best of the past week's political toons in his latest collection...
GOP Gains Ground in Their War Against Voting and Voters in FL, WI, TX, NC, PA: 'BradCast' 9/11/20
Guest: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
Woodward Goes Wayward in 'Biggest Scandal in Modern Journalism': 'BradCast' 9/10
Guest: Journalist David Sirota; Also: DHS whistleblower and new report reveal U.S. Intel now fully corrupt, upside-down under Trump...
'Green News Report' 9/10/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
'Unprecedented' wildfires explode across Western U.S., man-made climate change is to blame; PLUS: Trolling for Florida votes, Trump flip-flops on offshore drilling ban...
Previous GNRs: 9/3/20 - 9/1/20 - Archives...
NC 'Secure White Supremacy' Law Struck Down, Freeing 100k Newly Eligible Voters: 'BradCast' 9/9/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern; Also: DoJ rescues Trump; Climate-fueled infernos in OR, WA, CA
Vet Group Cites Trump Attack on Troops as 'New Low' from 'Maniac in the Oval Office': 'BradCast' 9/8/20
w/ VoteVets' Will Goodwin; Record CA heat, fires; Ransomware specter; Kevin Zeese RIP...
Trump's 'Herd Immunity' Solution Could be as Lethal as Hitler's 'Final Solution'
Failure to contain the pandemic has led to a new White House plan to let millions of Americans die...
Sunday 'Postman Always Votes Twice' Toons
PDiddie gives his stamp of approval to all of the political toons in his latest collection of the week's best...
It's Reagan's Fault: 'BradCast' 9/4/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author/historian Rick Perlstein and Editor-in-Chief of 'The 19th', Andrea Valdez...
'Green News Report' 9/3/20
Climate champ Markey wins primary challenge; Admin racing to dismantle environmental protections; PLUS: Sign of the times -- ExxonMobil dropped from Dow...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/17/2020 11:27am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Sally batters AL, FL, GA with record rain, flooding; West Coast wildfires and climate change believed responsible for mass die-off of migratory birds in Southwest; Trump appoints notorious climate science denier to federal climate science agency; PLUS: 175-year-old science magazine issues first political endorsement ever... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Dual disasters: How is climate change worsening wildfires and hurricanes?; Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration; There is only one name left on the 2020 Atlantic hurricane list. So what's next?; Fives States Have Filed Climate Change Lawsuits, Seeking Damages From Big Oil and Gas... PLUS: Senate 2020: In Alabama, Two Very Different Views on Climate Change Give Voters a Clear Choice... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Marilyn Marks of plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Hurricane Sally drenches AL, FL; Results from 2020's final primary in DE...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2020 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last year, a federal judge in Georgia banned the state's 20-year old, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, finding them to be "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated" and, thus, effectively unconstitutional for use in federal elections. This week, that same federal judge held a hearing to determine whether the new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems Georgia has chosen to use this year for the first time are any better, or whether the Peach State should have listened to the cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged the state to move, instead, to a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, Hurricane Sally slammed ashore near the Alabama / Florida border this morning. As predicted, the very slow moving storm is packing a punch, with rainfall "measured in feet, not inches swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people as it pushed inland." Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on that slow moving disaster as water is quickly rising, rescues continue, the storm moves into Georgia, and as more hurricanes are already lining up behind it in an already record breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which still continues until late November!)

Even as that climate change-intensified disaster unfolds on the heels of Hurricane Laura just three weeks ago (with thousands still without power and in shelters in Louisiana), along with the record deadly climate-fueled wildfires out west, Donald Trump has chosen --- amid all of this --- a notorious climate science denier for a top position on "environmental observation and prediction" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If those stories don't underscore the existential importance of this year's elections, we don't know what would.

On that score, the final state Primary Elections of the 2020 season were held on Tuesday in Joe Biden's adopted home state of Delaware, with most ballots cast by mail, and with both masks and social distancing in place at the polls. Happily, there have been no reported voting problems to come to my attention yet and, as expected, there were few surprises in the reported computer-tallied results. Some of them, however, are either eyebrow raising, historic, or just plain fun. Among those categories is the QAnon conspiracist who is now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state; the first openly transgender person to (almost certainly) win a seat in a state Senate; and the 12-year, Democratic state legislator who opposed same-sex marriage being beaten soundly on Tuesday --- in a landslide --- by a local, gay, progressive drag queen!

And with the primaries finally (and thankfully!) out of the way, we move straight to the general elections and back to Georgia, which Democrats hope to flip from red to blue in the Presidential election this year for the first time in decades. But it's also a state where not one, but two vulnerable Republican U.S. Senators are facing tough re-election challenges from Democrats.

There is a lot riding politically on the state of Georgia this year, which makes this week's much-anticipated three-day virtual hearing in an Atlanta federal court all the more critical. When the second day of the three-day hearing which wrapped up this week, regarding the security of the state's vulnerable new computer voting, pollbook and tabulation systems was interrupted --- "Zoom bombed" --- with photos of the 9/11 attacks, swastikas and pornography posted by a user calling him or herself "Osama", it would have been impossible for U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg to miss the irony.

"It was a very sobering reminder of just how vulnerable electronics are, and just how targeted the United States and our elections are right now," says MARILYN MARKS, our guest today. She is Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, a lead plaintiff in the long-running case. She says it served as a reminder of the need to "get hand-marked paper ballots that are verifiable and auditable."

The Coalition is suing for a ruling that would find Georgia's new, unverifiable, $100+ million touchscreen voting system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting Systems to be an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. That would be a similar finding to the one Totenberg issued last year, effectively banning and decertifying the state's 20-year use of its previous insecure, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold.

In addition to hoping to see those systems replaced with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, the Coalition is asking the judge to order backup paper pollbooks at every polling place, after the new electronic pollbook systems failed during the state's June primary elections, leading to hours-long lines, largely in minority voting districts. The plaintiffs are also calling for oversight of the state's optical-scan tabulation systems which failed to tally thousands of votes on absentee ballots during the state's recent primaries. (We interviewed Jeanne DuFort, who discovered that problem, and is also a plaintiff in this case on several recent programs.)

Marks shares her observations from this week's hearings, including on the testimony and cross-examination of the Coalition's cybersecurity and voting systems expert witnesses (many of whom have also appeared multiple times on this show, including Univ. of Michigan's Alex Halderman, UC-Berkley's Philip Stark, expert data researcher Kevin Skoglund and legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti). Similarly, Marks offers her thoughts on the state's, um, less-than-expert witnesses and responds to a number of allegations made by the attorney representing Georgia and its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, who selected this new, "Rube Goldberg" computerized voting system despite the urging of experts and voters alike.

Among the stunning points noted by Marks was the testimony from the man who led the certification testing of this system for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Marks reports the witness seemed "quite confused about the technology" and "admitted to having no real security background and not really any long-term established security people on his team." She says his testimony "made it clear that security is really not a top priority for the certification of voting systems" at the federal level, adding, "It was really kind of unbelievable."

While transcripts may be available from the hearing soon (we'll update with a link to them here when they are), Marks noted some portions will be redacted, since the state argued privately in front of the judge on certain issues that even the plaintiffs were not allowed to witness. (Though I wonder whether "Osama" did?)

"The public learned a lot from these expert witnesses about just how seriously vulnerable the Georgia election system is," she tells me. "The expert witnesses gave extremely compelling testimony during the direct examination by our attorneys. But when the state's attorneys got them up on the stand for cross-examination, they were equally strong. Quite frankly, the state was really not able to get in any type of evidence --- because there is none --- that would help get anyone comfortable with their equipment."

When it came to the witnesses from the state and the voting system vendors, she says, her attorneys explained to the court that those "experts have not been able to tell the court just the basic fundamental operational and security details --- the plaintiffs have been the ones who bring all the information. The state basically had no one with any independence. Every expert witness they had had a financial interest in ballot-marking devices. Two of the expert witnesses are [voting system] vendors, three of the expert witnesses are vendors of ballot-marking device suppliers. So they were hardly considered independent, at least by the laymen who were watching."

While Marks says she does not know when Totenberg will issue her ruling, it is likely to be soon. Reports from the virtual courtroom via AP suggest Judge Totenberg appeared concerned by points made by the plaintiffs and may be forced to implement changes --- if she determines there is time to do so with Early Voting beginning in just four weeks in the Peach State. Marks believes there is plenty of time to make the state's elections more secure and overseeable, though the state begs to differ. Soon we'll learn how the Judge feels.

During closing arguments, according to AP's coverage, Robert McGuire, an attorney for the Coalition and individual voter plaintiffs, "recalled Totenberg's prior admonitions to the state" by noting that "Totenberg previously told the state that a new voting system should address the need for 'transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes that guarantee each citizen's fundamental right to cast an accountable vote.'" But the state's new computerized Ballot Marking Device system "satisfies none of these requirements," McGuire said...

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

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Guest: Jenny Cohn, attorney, election security advocate; Also: Climate-fueled West Coast fires keep breaking records; More new hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2020 6:21pm PT  

Today's BradCast in a nutshell: Elected officials lie, corporate media misinforms, people die. We try again to combat all of the above today. Wish us luck. [Audio link to today's show follow below.]

First up today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on the deadly, devastating, climate changed-fueled wildfire infernos wreaking havoc up and down the West Coast and on the new record hurricanes that are heading our way at the same time. With more than 3 million acres now burned, hundreds of structures destroyed in California alone, and at least 35 dead from the record blazes so far, Donald Trump went to the state on Monday and told fire officials not to worry. "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch," the President told California state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, who was urging him to not ignore science and "recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests." Trump's response: "Well, I don't think science knows, actually."

So, don't worry! Just as Trump repeatedly promised COVID would "just go away," (more than 190,000 Americans have been killed by it since he pulled that phony promise out of his ass), apparently the same is true for our climate crisis! Of course, our corporate media have made it much easier for Trump to misinform the nation with his lies because the corporate media have done --- and are still doing --- an horrendous job of educating the electorate about the real reasons the western fires have become so horrific and why we are now up to "V" in the named storms so far this year, with a month and half still to go in the storm season and two and a half months remaining in the wildfire season.

The media have been similarly disastrous in their education of the electorate when it comes to our woeful election system. Sadly, too many top government officials --- Democratic and Republican ones alike --- share in that blame, as we're reminded in our guest today, JENNY COHN's new short #RemoveTheModems video, warning voters about the modems that are present in voting and tabulation systems in key states --- including battlegrounds Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin --- making our entire electoral system vulnerable to hackers.

Citing the comments from officials back in 2016 falsely telling America that our voting and tabulation systems are "never connected to the Internet" (they are), so can't be hacked (they can), Cohn tells me: "I'm very worried that we're going to be gaslit again in 2020. If the electronic totals somehow favor Trump, we're going to be told to pack up and go home there's nothing to see here, he just won, 'he's a legitimate president', period."

That year, even after Democrats promised "hundreds of attorneys" on the ground to assure a legitimate election (exactly as Joe Biden's campaign did again today), the DNC and Clinton Campaign refused to demand the hand-count of ballots in the three key states (MI, WI and PA) which barely flipped to the Republican candidate for the first time in decades. That, despite the fact that had an average of just two votes been recorded for Clinton instead of Trump in each precinct in those states that year, she, not he, would have won.

"What really concerns me is the blind spot that the Democratic Party seems to have for the electronic component of potential for cheating," says Cohn. She believes, however, that at least Clinton has learned her lesson. Based on a conversation she says she had with the 2016 Democratic candidate recently, Cohen tells me: "I do believe that Hillary Clinton understands it now, and I think she understands the importance of the Democrats not boxing themselves into a corner, where they will look like hypocrites if they need to file an election challenge based on the electronic totals, or any other aspect of the election."

Whether Clinton has enough power to convince the Biden Campaign and the rest of the Party of that, Cohn suggests, is a separate question.

Cohn, an attorney, election security advocate and Twitter activist, is calling for the modems cited in her video to be removed from the systems in states which use them before the November election. As journalist Kim Zetter reported last year, many of the election officials in those states don't even realize when their private election vendor has hooked their systems up to the Internet --- some of them she reports researchers discovered, are on the net all year around!

"I have no doubt that what the Trump team wants to do is win the electronic vote on Election Day, and then try to run out the clock or do something else with the [absentee ballot] signature match, so that we don't get all of them counted," she tells Cohn argues. "Or, if it goes to a recount, it gets shut down prematurely," she says, noting correctly that Vote-by-Mail ballots are also "sent to that electronic management system too."

Cohn also discusses some of her worst fears about this year's elections (and I share some of mine, several of which are similar, especially regarding electronic pollbooks which often have no paper backup) before we take a few phone calls from listeners on the topic, with Election Day now just 50 days away. "It's going to be ugly, no matter what the official result is," she says, noting: "My biggest concern --- the overarching concern that I think we both share --- is that there won't be any transparency about the results, and therefore we'll never really know."

Cohn has posted a bunch of helpful "Tips to Mitigate Threats to Our Votes and Voter Registrations Before November" that I'd urge you to check out and share as well, even though we didn't get time to discuss them. Just a good reason to have Jenny back. Please follow her on Twitter until then!...

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

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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"...

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Guest: Journalist David Sirota; Also: DHS whistleblower and new report reveal U.S. Intelligence now fully corrupt, upside-down under Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 9/10/2020 6:59pm PT  

We warned you weeks ago to "buckle up" for what was to come between then and Election Day. On today's BradCast, a mountain of reminders as to why we issued the warning, as we hope that everyone remains buckled up until the madness comes to a full and complete stop. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

We begin today with the news that rocked the nation on Wednesday and continues reverberating today. Excerpts of audio recordings from Bob Woodward's eighteen separate interviews with Donald Trump for his new book revealed (among many other things) that the President was fully aware of the dangers of the coronavirus crisis as early as the beginning of the year, even while he was misleading the public about it. During one recording on February 7th this year, Trump told the Washington Post's Watergate journalist that the virus was transmitted through the air, was "more deadly than your strenuous flues" and was "deadly stuff". By March 19th, he is heard on tape telling the best-selling author that the COVID-19 disease was also affecting "plenty of young people" and that he "wanted to play it down" because, according to the recordings, he didn't "want to create a panic".

At the exact same time that he was telling Woodward one thing, Trump was lying about the virus publicly as more than 190,000 Americans have now died in the months since he first made clear to Woodward that the disease was wildly contagious and lethal. In mid-March, when he explained his strategy of down-playing the virus, only 150 Americans had died. Still, Woodward sat on the information until this week.

No doubt you've seen the reactions by now from many Democrats, including Joe Biden and even from anti-Trump Republicans. But what of the responsibility that Woodward himself had to warn the public about what Trump knew but was refusing to acknowledge publicly --- and, in fact, was lying publicly about?

We're joined today by investigative journalist DAVID SIROTA, former speech-writer for Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign and now founder of the "Too Much Information" (TMI) newsletter. On Wednesday, in his TMI column, Sirota charged (as we long have) that Trump's actions constitute "a horrific crime against humanity," but, he adds, "it was aided and abetted by the popular face of investigative journalism: Mr. All The President's Men himself."

"The President of the United States said something to the nation's most famous reporter, and the most famous reporter sat on that information for seven months while tens of thousands of people died," Sirota says today. "Donald Trump committed a crime against humanity and Bob Woodward drove the getaway car."

Sirota is not the only journalist, progressive or otherwise, who has been highly critical of Woodward over the past 24 hours. So has Esquire's Charlie Pierce. So has The American Prospect's David Dayen. So has even the Washington Post's own Margaret Sullivan. And so are we.

"As a journalist, your job is to get the news from elected officials and to, at minimum, report what they say, and certainly report discrepancies in what they are saying," Sirota argues. "Your job is not to suppress that information, to hold that information while tens of thousands of people die, and to hold it to juice your book sales later on at a more opportune time. That is what happened."

Woodward has attempted to defend himself in several interviews since WaPo released the stunning recordings (which also reveal much more than Trump's secret views and/or knowledge about COVID-19). Sirota responds to Woodward's limp defense and to Trump's use of Woodward as "a human shield" today, when the President tweeted that Woodward's failure to release the information earlier was evidence that Trump's remarks were not "bad or dangerous," otherwise Woodward would have "immediately report[ed] them in an effort to save lives."

Sirota describes the entire fiasco as a "collision of both the corrupt political system and a deeply corrupt media culture" and tells me: "I genuinely believe that this is the biggest scandal in modern journalism."

As journalists, he asserts, we have "a duty to warn". Ironically, as the Poynter Institute, a journalism think-tank and fact-checking organization, reports in its own story asking "Was it unethical for Bob Woodward to withhold Trump’s coronavirus interviews for months?", Woodward himself is very aware of that duty --- if, perhaps, not for himself. "Woodward will be on CBS’s '60 Minutes' Sunday," Poynter's Al Tompkins reports. "In an excerpt of that interview, Woodward told CBS’s Scott Pelley, 'The president of the United States has a duty to warn.'"

Next up --- if you're still buckled in --- a new report from Microsoft today finds that Russia's military intelligence agency, the G.R.U., the same group alleged to have hacked and leaked email from the Hillary Clinton Campaign in 2016, is back at work in 2020 and has become more adept at covering their tracks. Moreover, the findings of the report contradict the Trump Administration's claims about both Russia and China. And for good reason. The Administration has corrupted U.S. intelligence to report what Trump wants the public to believe, rather than actual facts.

The new report alleges that Russia is attempting to access material from both the Trump and Joe Biden campaigns, and that China --- which Trump and the White House National Security Advisor and the U.S. Attorney General all claimed to be a greater threat to the 2020 election than Russia --- is actually focused on hacking Biden, not Trump. The Administration has claimed, falsely apparently, that China prefers Biden over Trump. Today's report, however, suggests just the opposite.

Given the extraordinary whistleblower report released on Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee from one of Trump's senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security, none of this should be a surprise. The official, Brian Murphy, details in his complaint how he was instructed to change intelligence to remove references to Russian interference and add threats from China and Iran instead, because Russian interference in the U.S. election "made the president look bad," according to complaint.

Murphy's complaint also details how he and others were instructed to change intelligence assessments to match Trump's misleading claims and rhetoric regarding "antifa", to minimize the greater threat of White Supremacy groups, and to downplay anything about Russia all together. He says he was also instructed to change data to match the Administration's false narrative about terrorists coming across the U.S.-Mexico border, and about the dismal conditions in Central America that were undermining the Trump Administration's asylum policies. The result, Murphy charges, is intelligence assessments that "more closely resemble a policy document...than an intelligence document.”

As noted on today's show, this is decidedly not how intelligence gathering and analysis is supposed to work. In fact, it's the exact opposite. Murphy refused to make the changes mentioned, and he was eventually cut out from work on the national Homeland Threat Assessment and demoted from Deputy Under Secretary in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis to a position in the agency's Management Division.

Finally, as if all of this wasn't nightmarish enough, the delightful Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the man-made climate change-fueled wildfires now exploding up and down the West Coast, the media's failure to tie them to our climate crisis, and Trump's pre-election flip-flop on offshore oil drilling to try and win votes in the battleground state of Florida...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/10/2020 11:16am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: "Unprecedented" wildfires explode across the Western U.S.; Yes, man-made climate change is to blame; PLUS: Trump trolls for votes in Florida by flip-flopping on offshore drilling ban... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The 'Straightforward' Link Between Climate and California's Fires; Climate crisis could displace 1.2bn people by 2050, report warns; World's wildlife populations fell 68 percent since 1970; Antarctica and Greenland Are on Track for the Worst-Case Climate Scenario; 'Doomsday Glacier' Vulnerability Seen In New Maps; Illegal Devices That Bypass Vehicle Emissions Controls Spread Across US... PLUS: Experts Question Truth Of Indonesia’s Claim Of Avoided Deforestation... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Will Goodwin of VoteVets.org; Also: Record climate change-fueled heat and fires in CA; The ransomware election specter; Barr's election fraud lie; Progressive champion, Kevin Zeese, passes away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/8/2020 6:51pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast, after surviving a long hot holiday weekend here in California (with huge thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) [Audio link to today's show is posted below summary.]

Amid record heat in Southern California --- with one city in L.A. County city topping out at a record 121 degrees on Sunday! --- fires raged and continue to do so, up and down the state. Nearly 300 people stranded by smoke and fires in various parts of the Golden State needed to be rescued by helicopters over the past four days as climate change-fueled blazes have, so far, chewed through a record 2 million acres in the state, destroying more than 3,300 structures in 900 different fires since mid-August. The scariest part: the worst months for California's ever-lengthening fire season are usually September and October. So, even after the worst fire season now on record, the worst may still be yet to come this year, as our climate crisis continues to intensify and a climate change denier is once again heading up the Republican Party's Presidential ticket.

It would be nice if we weren't one of the few media outlets connecting those particular dots. Absentee ballots have now begun to ship out to voters in states like North Carolina which has, itself, been ravaged in recent years by various climate related crises, from hurricanes to toxic coal ash spills to ever-rising sea levels. As voting for the general election finally begins there and in other battleground states, the corporate media would help us all if they focused (or even mentioned!) so many of the very real issues that are at stake in this year's critical Presidential election, including the devastation of climate change!

Speaking of which, a new story today gives me reason once again to cite one of my worst fears for this November's elections, as the Hartford Public School District in Connecticut was forced to cancel its first day of classes today. The cancellation was not due to the continuing COVID crisis, but caused by a ransomware attack that crippled the District's computer networks. That attack echoes a series of attacks against the Miami-Dade County Public School system in Florida last week, and could foreshadow trouble to come on November 3rd. Because so many voting jurisdictions now foolishly rely on computer networks and the Internet to cast, count and even check people in to vote on electronic pollbooks, a ransomware attack before or on Election Day would be devastating.

But don't worry! Your U.S. Dept. of Justice in on the job! Ya know, the one led by Donald Trump's fixer and Attorney General Bill Barr who lied to CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week about massive absentee ballot fraud, claiming a 2017 "indictment" in Texas for the theft of 1,700 mail-in ballots. After the actual state prosecutors called BS on Barr's claim's, the DoJ was forced to admit it was false. Ironically, Barr also claimed that "people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government." That would be more likely, of course, if we didn't have a U.S. Attorney General willing to casually forward two year old false claims about election fraud on major cable news networks.

Then we move to the biggest story over the holiday weekend, the report from The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that Donald Trump regards members of the military, including those were killed or captured and tortured during their service, as "losers" and "suckers". Goldberg's reporting has now been independently confirmed by multiple other media outlets, including even Fox "News", while Trump and the White House unconvincingly describe the detailed and independently corroborated reporting as "fake news". In his attempt to distract from that story on Monday, Trump attacked his own top military brass, claiming that too much is spent on defense contractors --- even after Trump has spent years citing his own increases to defense spending as one of his Administration's top accomplishments.

We're joined today by WILL GOODWIN, U.S. Army veteran, West Point grad and now Director of Government Relations for VoteVets.org, the nation's largest progressive veterans organization, founded in 2006, and now representing more than 500,000 vets, families and supporters. In the wake of the stunning (if not surprising) reports of Trump's disparagement of military members --- from the captured and tortured Vietnam War prisoner of war John McCain, to the shot down WWII fighter pilot George H.W. Bush, to the 1,800 U.S. Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood during WWI --- as "losers" and "suckers" all, VoteVets has now released several different video ads in response.

In one, family members of those who lost loved ones in recent wars respond to the President's remarks and, in another, a 98-year old WWII veteran, captured and forced into slave labor for 42 months, encourages Americans to vote for Joe Biden and against "other politicians if they continue to support Donald Trump."

For his part, Goodwin shares his thoughts in response to the reported insults by the Commander-in-Chief --- who he regards as "a maniac in the Oval Office" --- and how they are likely to affect the votes cast by members of the nation's armed forces this year. Despite popular belief that the military tends to support the Republican candidate, Goodwin cites polling to suggest the opposite --- polling completed before last week's news from The Atlantic. He says that Goldberg's report "is nothing new from Donald Trump when it comes to his hatred toward the military, towards military families, and towards our veterans, but somehow it's a new low." Goodwin goes on to describe Trump's tenure as "four years of failed leadership as Commander-in-Chief," before detailing a seemingly endless list of ways in which Trump has failed our troops, our veterans, our Gold Star Families, as well as the nation's security and standing on the world stage.

"Our allies have turned away from us --- they do not know how to work with a maniac in the Oval Office like Donald Trump --- and our enemies and adversaries are emboldened. They're emboldened to continue attacking the very integrity of our democracy and going after our elections infrastructure. And, frankly, they have taken more direct actions, escalating military tensions. The Russian buzzing US Navy ships, intercepting our aircraft. The continued expansion of the Chinese footprint in various places around the world," Goodwin argues. "We have seen Democrats across the board, including in [Congressional] seats where Donald Trump may be popular, standing up once again and speaking the truth on how disgusting this is. And we're seeing the same failure from Republicans to speak up at all. Republicans who represent massive military and veteran populations...refusing to condemn the President."

Finally today, we close on a very sad note, with the news that Kevin Zeese, longtime progressive activist, attorney, fighter for universal healthcare, fair elections, racial and economic justice and peace, passed away suddenly on Sunday from what appears to have been a heart attack as he slept. Kevin was also a friend of both The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast, having joined on us on air on many occasions while taking on our nation's worst failures and most insidious corporate oligarchs. We share several thoughts on his passing from a number of other progressive activists today. Zeese was 64 and will be dearly missed...as his good fight for a better and more just world will, and must, continue...

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Guest: Aklima Khondoker of All Voting is Local; Also: Hurricane Laura to slam Gulf Coast; White vigilante arrested for killing Kenosha protesters; Trump's violations of law at RNC Day 2 reveal 'The Audacity of the Grift'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast we head back to Georgia --- yes, again! --- for yet more new evidence highlighting the state as offering arguably the worst --- and most racist --- voting system in the nation. But we begin with breaking news today. Too much of it. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

First up, Hurricane Laura is now a monster storm, currently a Category 4, and headed for landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border. The National Hurricane Center warns it will be "unsurvivable" and could submerge entire towns near the coast, with a storm surge as high as 20 feet and a menace to cities as far as 200 miles inland. A massive evacuation is now under way in both states, though avoiding the COVID pandemic in evacuation shelters may be very tricky, even as some areas in the storm's target zone have recently seen high positive test rates.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests continued for a third straight night following the outrageous police shooting, caught on tape, of African-American father Jacob Blake, two protesters were killed by a gunman on Tuesday. The alleged shooter, according to police, is a white 17-year old police fan boy from across the border in Illinois. Tuesday's shootings were also caught by cell phone video, not long after the suspected gunman was seen on video with a group of armed vigilantes being thanked by local police for their presence. After he had shot at least three protesters and was identified to police by others, the cops reportedly allowed him to walk right past them, assault rifle in hand, as they focused on the victims instead. The man was arrested today in Illinois.

Then --- after still more breaking news that the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks were boycotting their playoff game today to protest the shooting of Blake, leading the NBA to cancel all of tonight's playoff games --- we get to what necessarily became our truncated coverage of Day 2 of the Republican National Convention.

It was a stunning evening, in which one law after another was proudly broken or flaunted as the White House, U.S. Marines, the Acting Sec. of Homeland Security, a tax-payer funded trip by the Sec. of State to Israel, and the Presidential Seal were all used for political purposes, during the convention itself, so that Donald Trump could ironically be declared "the Law and Order President" by one hypocritical speaker after another.

Among the speakers were Trump's daughter Tiffany, his wife Melania and his son Eric who followed former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi making the case --- with a straight face --- that Joe Biden's family members were involved in some sort of criminal nepotism. Trump's son Eric, who serves as Executive Vice President for his father's company, was sued this week by the New York State Attorney General for failing to respond with documents and testimony to a lawful subpoena amid an investigation into bank and tax fraud by his father and the Trump Organization where Eric works. All of that as Trump's senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow pretended that the COVID pandemic --- which has so far killed at least 178,000 Americans, including more than 1,100 on Tuesday alone --- was over, thanks to Donald Trump's quick response.

As usual, all of these nightmares underscore the need to prevent Trump from winning a second term. But it won't be easy, as we learn again today with yet another story of targeted voter suppression out of Georgia. We have spent a disproportionate amount of time in recent years on this program reporting on the disastrous state of voting in Georgia. It is thought possible that the battleground state could finally flip to "blue" for this year's Presidential election and its TWO U.S. Senate races, but it continues to feature arguably offer the worst voting system in the nation.

By way of very quick summary of just a few data points to back up that allegation:

  • In 2016, after a huge purge of voters from the roles, we would learn after the Presidential election that Georgia's then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor, Brian Kemp, left the entire voter database and passwords to its voting systems unprotected online for download by anyone. When caught, he lied about it and wiped the entire server despite an ongoing lawsuit.
  • In 2018, a federal judge found the state's nearly 20-year old, unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems, mandated for use at the polling place in every county, to be outdated, insecure and unverifiable.
  • In that year's election, overseen by Kemp himself, he was narrowly found (by those same failed systems) to have "won" the Governor's race in a contest that his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, regards as illegitimate due to, among other things, the purges and disproportionate rejection of absentee ballots cast by African-Americans.
  • Also in 2018, some 250,000 votes in the Lt. Governor's race inexplicably disappeared in black precincts.
  • In 2019, the federal judge ruled the state's voting system so insecure and unverifiable that they were, in fact, unconstitutional. She banned them from further use and ordered the system to be replaced by a new one.
  • In 2019, the new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger ordered new, similarly unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems to replace the old systems found to be unconstitutional, rather than move to a cheaper, VERIFIABLE, hand-marked paper ballot system recommended by voting and computer experts. The new $130 million systems failed in their first outing late last year and again during primaries this year, leading to hours-long voting lines in the Peach State, once again, largely in minority areas.
  • And we would also later learn that the new digital optical-scan computers used to tally hand-marked absentee ballots in the Peach State had skipped counting unknown thousands of votes during the June primaries, due to a software setting that allows election officials or the private voting system vendor or even hackers to dial up or down the sensitivity setting to determine which votes are counted or not.

All of which brings us to this week, as the Georgia chapter of All Voting Is Local unveiled a new analysis of rejected vote-by-mail ballots from the June primary elections in the state. You'll be shocked to learn that in the three counties they examined, the mail-in ballots from black voters were rejected at disproportionately higher rates than others. For example, in the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, Black voters submitted 24 percent of the absentee ballots requested but accounted for 38 percent of mail-in ballots rejected by the County.

We're joined today by AKLIMA KHONDOKER, former ACLU attorney, now Georgia State Director for All Voting is Local, to explain her group's analysis and why the rates of absentee ballot rejection are so high for black voters in Georgia and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic and Asian voters as well. Khondoker warns that while the group only looked at three counties in Georgia --- finding similarly alarming statistics in each --- the problem likely extends not only to the rest of the state, but likely to many others around the nation.

"I don't think this is unique to Georgia. This is likely something we would see nationwide," she argues, citing the "institutional and structural racism that has led to the wealth of problems that we see in our elections. There is no way to cleave the two. Because we have a clear system that has always worked for one and not the other." She goes on to explain how this new analysis is just one more data point underscoring evidence that institutional racism "undercuts everything in our election systems."

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Also: Courts continue to save nation on COVID dangers, voting, more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2020 6:28pm PT  

I'll be brief in today's BradCast summary, because I've got to head back into Day 2 of the bizarre dystopian nightmare known as Donald Trump's Republican National Convention. We're watching it so you don't have to. You're welcome. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Two nightmare storms slamming the Gulf Coast in the same week as the biggest and more dangerous of the two, Hurricane Laura, is gunning for the Louisiana/Texas border, likely as a Category 3;
  • A Florida judge puts the brakes on Gov. Ron DeSantis' demand that all public schools open five days a week for in-person classes by the end of this month. He says the state's plan "disregards safety" amid a still roiling --- if slightly easing (for now) --- pandemic in the Sunshine State;
  • Highlights (low lights?) from Day 1 of the RNC, in which every speaker sounded as if their remarks were either written by the same person, or simply ripped straight off of Fox "News". As ridiculous as the evening was --- featuring enough dangerous lies about Trump's mishandling of the COVID crisis that MSNBC had to break in with a doctor for some serious fact-checking; a couple of accused felons warned Democrats will "“abolish the suburbs altogether"; a seemingly stoned Don Jr. and his seemingly insane former Fox "News" host girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle --- we determined that ridicule was the best was to cover it. So we called in Stephen Colbert for some assistance.
  • Good news, for now, for voters in Pennsylvania. A Trump-appointed federal judge forced the Trump Campaign to make fools of themselves by demanding they present evidence of voter fraud via secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in Pennsylvania, where they are suing to prevent the use of the convenient devices during this year's general election. The plaintiffs were unable to to present any such evidence.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more on the twin storms pummeling the Gulf Coast and the raging fires in California (both amid a global pandemic making evacuating shelters very tricky for social distancing), the Trump Administration puts a pause on it's approval for the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska after Don Jr. and Fox "News" decide maybe they're against it after all, and a quick review of last week's virtual Democratic National Convention where Joe Biden and many others promised action on climate change...

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Guests: FL-3's presumptive Democratic nominee Adam Christensen and Progressive blogger Howie Klein; Also: Some highlights from DNC Day 2...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A new effort by grassroots progressive activists to make sure all 27 U.S. House races and all 141 state House and Senate races on the ballot are competitive this year in the state of Florida is already yielding encouraging results. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

But, first up today, a few thoughts and a quick review of some highlights from the second night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, including some mainstream media abetted confusion about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' role in the very cool 50-state-plus-several-territories Roll Call vote on Tuesday and more. Bottom line: to the surprise of nobody, Joe Biden is now officially the Party's Presidential nominee this year. At the same time, voters in Wyoming, Alaska and Florida took to the polls on Tuesday for statewide primary elections, which received much less coverage than they might otherwise have.

The good news, for a start: there have been few, if any, problem reports for voters at the polls in all three states as of today. That's particularly surprising for Florida, where there always seems to be one disaster or another. But, whether it's because so many ballots were already cast by mail in the Sunshine State in advance of Election Day or some other reason, it's always good news when voters aren't (to my knowledge) being disenfranchised due to chaos and failures at the polling place. As to the results, we focus today on several interesting races in Florida, the mother of all swing-states, which will once again play an out-sized role in the critical November elections.

One race was the Democratic primary contest won by former Republican software designer turned whistleblower Clint Curtis. Longtime BRAD BLOG readers will remember him well, as we broke his story in 2004 when he filed a sworn affidavit alleging that he was asked by a man named Tom Feeney --- Florida's then powerful state House Speaker (later U.S. House Rep and always close friend of the Bush Family) --- to create prototype software to flip an election on touchscreen voting systems without detection. With much less funding than his Democratic opponent, Curtis reportedly won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House in Florida's very Republican 6th Congressional District. He'll likely face an uphill climb this year to oust first-term incumbent Michael Waltz. But, if Curtis could defeat his Democratic opponent who outspent him by about 5 to 1, anything could happen this November.

To discuss some of the other races in the rest of the state, we're joined once again today by progressive "Down With Tyranny" blogger and co-founder of the progressive BlueAmericaPAC, HOWIE KLEIN who brought along a SPECIAL GUEST today!

Last week on this show, Klein discussed an effort by activists in Florida to make sure there would be no Republicans running for office at the state or federal level without Democratic competition on the ballot. As Klein emphasizes at his blog today, in response to ABC News which finally noticed the effort as of Election Day morning, it was not the state or national party which undertook this effort, but outside activists who watched some 21 state House and Senate races go uncontested all together by Democrats in 2016. That, Klein and his special guest argue today, means that in huge swaths of the state, Democrats (who, theoretically, outnumber Republicans in Florida) don't bother to turn out at all for elections at the state level. In a state which Donald Trump is said to have won in 2016 by just 130,000 votes out of millions of registered voters, the ill-considered strategy by the Florida State Democratic Party to sit out all together in many places, has arguably been a costly one. The GOP has dominated both the state legislature and Governor's mansion for years now.

On Tuesday, thanks to the activists, Democrats were on the Florida ballot from top to bottom, including 140 out of 141 state House and Senate contests. (One candidate, who his now suing, was disqualified due to a technicality in her filing paperwork.) Klein details just some of the several actually progressive candidates who will now be competitive on this November's ballot --- even in so-called "red" districts --- and perhaps provide additional reason for Democrats to show up and vote in some cases where they may not have.

One of those candidates who won an astonishingly tight three-way primary race for the Democratic U.S. House nomination in FL's 3rd Congressional District was Howie's special guest on today's program, 26-year old businessman and very impressive progressive candidate, ADAM CHRISTENSEN. The first time candidate, who'd be perhaps the youngest ever sworn in to the U.S. House if he's successful in November, is running to fill the seat being vacated by far-Right GOP Trumper, Rep. Ted Yoho (perhaps most famous for recently verbally assaulting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building.)

I must say I was exceedingly impressed with Christensen --- one of BlueAmericaPAC's endorsed progressive candidates in FL --- and his unflinching run for the seat in what has traditionally been a very "red" district. "If it was ever going to happen," he tells me today, "if this seat was ever going to flip, it was this year. So I jumped in, and a bunch of people realized we have a shot at this."

He has also taken a leadership role in the effort to run competitive candidates at the state level. "We were able to get House district candidates for every single district in the state of Florida to be able to run, so that we could actually go on a broad-based attack to be able to try to flip the Florida House. We partnered with four out of the five House candidates in our Congressional District to number one, try to turn out the vote, and number two, to try to make sure that we ran viable candidacies and we were able to cut the margins in some of the rural counties and actually win the rural counties." He cites that as one of the reasons he was "able to pull off an upset last night", with all three candidates in his race winning between 32.3 and 34.5% of the vote. Christensen came out on top by about 800 votes out of some 61,000 cast.

"There is a way that these districts can never be won, and that's if you don't run candidates in them," Klein argues. "If you don't run candidates, you don't win. And, also, if you don't run candidates the party starts to die. People don't even know what the Democratic Party means in some of these places. If you're running candidates, they're going to enthuse voters who will vote down ballot. These voters who come in are going to vote for Biden [and Biden voters will] vote for someone like Adam. That's why it pays, always, to have these candidates."

Christensen echoes Klein's thinking. "If you go on a full, broad-based attack and make them spend time, resources and energy in places that they don't want to, you are going to win. Politics is a game of attrition, and if you don't treat it that way, you will lose. If you do not run candidates everywhere, you will lose," he says.

I'd encourage you to click below to tune in for the full conversation with the candidate, as he explains how he is unflinchingly prepared to take his case --- for progressive platforms like the Green News Deal and Medicare for All --- to those who have, for years, called themselves Republicans because they (falsely) believe the party is "conservative". For example, as he explains, he supports "middle class tax cuts" because, as he details today and on his website's platform page, Americans are burdened with PRIVATE taxes such as insurance for health care and costs for universal childcare. Providing those services by public means would ultimately lower costs ("private taxes") on the middle class.

"What we do is speak in the language of Republicans, of independents. We use the terms 'middle class tax cuts', 'small business tax cuts'. What I mean by that is we are going to reduce the amount of taxes --- private taxes --- that everyone has to pay," says Christensen. "We are going to get rid of the insurance companies from the health industry --- which is a small business tax cut, because small businesses pay eight grand per employee, and 30% of that goes to an insurance company. That is a tax cut. Get rid of those, that is a tax cut. Use those terms."

Both Klein and Christensen argue that there are a lot of independent voters in the District who, along with Democrats, may go with Christensen and pull off an upset against Kat Cammack --- Yoho's Chief of Staff and the apparent winner of the 10-candidate free-for-all on Tuesday to win the GOP nomination for the 3rd District seat.

Christensen, who was raised as a Republican, also understands --- as I have long discussed --- the need to take the fight straight to them on the Right, to not flinch from the Fox "News" phony attack squad, but meet them where they live and explain, as he does in very astute detail today in response to my questions, how progressive policies are, yes, even good for Republicans!

So, can a true progressive win in a very so-called "conservative" Congressional district on his first try, without moderating his views --- but expound on them clearly to explain how they would help even so-called "conservatives --- during a general election contest? We may found out in just over 70 days. Klein points out that Rep. Katie Porter, in what had long been deep "red" Orange County, California, already proved it can be done. But I think Christensen's story, and his run --- staffed by volunteers who are all 23-years old or younger! --- should be an inspiring one for a lot of folks around the country considering the possibility of doing the exact same thing in the future, even in what are seen as so-called "red" areas of the country...

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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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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: Howie Klein of Down With Tyranny; Also: Disgraced Kobach and Watkins lose in KS; Disgraced Arpaio in the running in AZ; GOP Guv restores voting rights to former felons in IA...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2020 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a big day for progressives on Tuesday in a number of state primaries held in Missouri, Michigan, Arizona, Washington state and Kansas. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Surprisingly, among the biggest victories for progressives, believe it or not, came in the otherwise "red" state of Missouri, where voters adopted a statewide ballot measure to finally expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to more than 200,000 residents. The state's GOP-majority legislature had immorally blocked that expansion of health care to the Show-Me state's neediest residents for the past decade. MO now becomes the 6th GOP-controlled state to expand Medicaid via voter referendum.

But that was hardly the only big win for progressives in my old home state on Tuesday, as longtime progressive Ferguson and Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush defeated 10-term U.S. Congressman William Lacy Clay for the Democratic nomination. Clay, with his father before him, had controlled the state's 1st Congressional District seat since 1969! With her apparent win on Tuesday in a very Democratic district that reaches from the City of St. Louis out through the sprawling St. Louis County, Bush --- a single mother of two children --- is now all but certain to become the first African-American woman sent to the U.S. House from Missouri.

We're joined today by HOWIE KLEIN, founder of the longtime progressive blog "Down with Tyranny!" and co-founder of the BlueAmericaPAC, which raises money to support progressive Democratic candidates for Congress. Klein walks us through both wins and losses for progressives from all five states on Tuesday, and what they are likely to mean going forward, with still more statewide primaries to go in the weeks ahead of our critical general elections on November 3rd.

He explains, among many other things, why Bush, who lost to Clay (who Klein describes as "corrupt") by 20 points in 2018, appears to have been victorious on Tuesday, when the Medicaid expansion measure also won. "The reason that this won was because of a huge turnout in St. Louis County and St. Louis City," he tells me. "One of the reasons why that turnout was so big was because of Cori Bush being on the ballot. Now, you could also say that one of the reasons that she won was because the turnout for expanding Medicaid was so big. Both are true. By her putting up such a vigorous campaign, campaigning on expanding health care, that's where the votes came from."

"That it was her second time running and she had the name recognition," was also a major factor, he says. "I can't emphasize that enough. It's very, very tough --- not impossible --- but very tough to win a primary the first time you go up against an entrenched incumbent. Because Cori was strong, a powerful woman who wasn't going to give up after being defeated by a lot the first time, she already had name recognition. She was able to build on that to win the second time. I think that's the most important aspect of her winning." He adds that he believes she'll become the fifth member of "The Squad" in Congress, along with NY's Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, MN's Rep. Ilhan Omar, MA's Rep. Ayanna Pressley and MI's Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who also appears to have easily won her re-nomination on Tuesday. "She's going to get to Congress," says Klein. "She's gonna kick ass."

We also discuss much more today, including what the predictable loss of disgraced former Kansas Secretary of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach in that state's GOP U.S. Senate Primary means to Democrats hopes of retaking the majority in the upper chamber next year and how the Republican and Democratic party's are each changing amid the Trump Era.

Also today, 88-year old disgraced GOP felon and former Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio may still be in the running for his old job, even after being convicted of contempt of court and corruptly pardoned by Donald Trump; Indicted GOP Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas, who was recently charged with three felony counts related to voter fraud (almost the exact same crimes Trump committed himself in Florida), loses his Republican primary in the state; and Iowa's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds does the right thing for a change in signing an Executive Order to end the permanent loss of voting rights for (most) former felons in the Hawkeye State, after the Republican-controlled state Senate blocked a more permanent state Constitutional measure and as other states seek to further expand the franchise for felons both in and out of prison around the country.

Finally, it was announced today that Joe Biden would not be traveling to Milwaukee to give his party's nomination acceptance speech, due to the COVID crisis, at the their virtual convention, and Trump announced he was considering giving his own acceptance speech (unlawfully?) from the White House...

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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!...

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

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