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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Media Industry Confronting 'Full Extinction Event': 'BradCast' 3/31/20
Guest: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
'Green News Report' 3/31/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump kills Obama's mileage standards; EPA stops enforcement of pollution laws during coronavirus crisis; Plastics industry sees profit in pandemic; PLUS: Earth Day 2020 looms...
Previous GNRs: 3/26/20 - 3/24/20 - Archives...
OH's New Primary Scheme Shows How to NOT Handle This Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/30/20
Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
Sunday 'Worse Than the Problem Itself' Toons
We're open for business! Come on in and binge read PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Free Medicine in the Corona Zone: 'BradCast' 3/27/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter; Also: Some VERY much needed laughs!...
WI, GA Still Suppressing Votes, Even During COVID-19 Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/26/20
More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Historic jobless claims amid pandemic...
'Green News Report' 3/26/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Good news and bad for energy in stimulus bill; Even COVID-19 can't stop Trump's rollbacks; PLUS: Federal court win for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe over Dakota Access Pipeline...
Previous GNRs: 3/24/20 - 3/19/20 - Archives...
$2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill Proves It's Not About Lack of Money: 'BradCast' 3/25/20
Guest: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the record spending bill; Guvs dismissing our idiot President...
The President Should Not Be Worse Than the Disease: 'BradCast' 3/24/20
Guest: David Dayen on stimulus/bailout, Trump's deadly lies; Also: India's lockdown; NY screams for help; Dems stay united against WH/GOP bailout 'slush fund' scheme...
'Green News Report' 3/24/20
Coronavirus and air pollution; Locust swarms spread; Midwest to see major flooding in spring; PLUS: CA's largest utility co. guilty of involuntary manslaughter...
Calls From the Coronaverse:
'BradCast' 3/23/20
News headlines and then, most importantly, live callers -- some of them heartbreaking -- on The BradCast, your 'Stay-at-Home' Radio Companion...
Sunday 'Roll Models' Toons
Once again, PDiddie hordes the best of this week's political toons in his latest collection...
Can Trump Cancel the 2020 Election?: 'BradCast' 3/20/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on that and pandemic affects on immigration, prisons, Judiciary; Also: 'Stay-at-home' mandates; Mask shortages; Socialist Trump unglued...
'Green News Report' 3/19/20
Crashing oil prices; Melting ice caps and rising sea levels; Demands for climate action in coronavirus bailout bill; PLUS: Perverse COVID-19 silver linings...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and pandemic affects on immigration courts, prisons and the Judiciary; Also: Statewide 'stay-at-home' mandates; Mask shortages and price gouging; More postponed primaries; and socialist Trump comes unglued at WH presser...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Governors in California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania are among the first to issue statewide "stay-at-home" orders, though more are likely to do so very soon as the nation begins to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. But is it possible, legal or Constitutional that Donald Trump could exploit this serious public health crisis to postpone or cancel this November's critical Presidential election? We gets some legal and Constitutional answers to that question today and the answers are both comforting and not comforting at all. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, CA Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a letter to Donald Trump, warned that, without mitigation efforts, including help from the federal government, as many as 56% of the Golden State's population (or 25.5 million people here) could become infected over the next two months.

At the same time, a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers has led to price-gouging by the nation's medical supply companies, according to a GA healthcare CEO who says he is being charged $7 a piece for critical masks that usually cost .58 cents each. But why do we even have a shortage, given that we've known about this matter for months and Trump has now supposedly invoked the Defense Production Act, allowing the federal government to commandeer manufacturing facilities to meet critical needs for the nation's security?

At the same time, just days after the Republican Party had been tarring the Democratic Party as "socialists", Republicans are now calling for major socialist giveaways to combat the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, Trump is even calling for the federal government to take ownership in private corporations that may soon be receiving yet another socialist bailout. That's right, according to the President, Republicans like him now support the very definition of socialism wherein the government takes control of the means of production.

Then again, based on the President's unhinged behavior at today's White House press briefing, which we share on the show, he may be losing track of reality even faster than previously.

All the while, states around the nation continue to postpone previously scheduled Presidential primary elections, with Connecticut and Indiana over the past 24 hours joining more than a half dozen states who have already done so. But, never mind the primaries. With a desperate, already-unbalanced President like Trump, would anybody be surprised if he attempted to invoke national emergency powers amid a global pandemic to try and cancel this November's Presidential election all together? And, if he wanted to, does either federal law or the U.S. Constitution allow him to do so?

Slate's ace legal and court reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN has been looking into that point which, he tells us, might have seemed crazy just a few weeks ago, but no longer. The short answer is no, Trump can't do it on his own, not without Congress agreeing. But there are enough "red" states with a mechanism for doing so that, under this Presidency, you'd be ill-advised to keep your guard down. He explains the no-longer-unimaginable circumstances that could occur.

He also details how the Trump Administration recently ordered immigration judges to remove CDC posters warning about the coronavirus epidemic from their courtrooms, as crowded detention centers become breeding grounds. Stern says that, at this point, with this crisis and some 50,000 jammed into crowded, unsanitary detention camps, "the entire system is in total disarray."

Stern has also been reporting of late on how it's not only the Executive Branch that has monumentally failed to take appropriate action for weeks to prevent the spread of the virus --- the Judicial Branch, headed up by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, has failed mightily on that score, as both courtrooms and prisons have turned into viral petri dishes over the past several weeks. "It is a mess, because the chief judge of every different district court is making these decisions on the fly," he tells me. "Unfortunately, people are still being exposed to this virus in federal courtrooms right now. "

But at least Roberts has cancelled oral arguments before his own Court this month, including cases regarding whether Trump must release his taxes to law enforcement officials and whether or not Presidential Electors in states across the country must, in fact, vote the way their state's have when those electors cast their lot with the Electoral College. That question --- if SCOTUS ever reconvenes and issues an opinion on it --- may play a key role in the question regarding the ability of this President to effectively cancel this year's Presidential election.

All of those issues, and many others today, in another don't-miss, news-packed BradCast!...

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

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Guest: Montgomery County, MD Dep. Election Dir. Alysoun McLaughlin; Also: Progressive U.S. House candidate wins in IL; With all market gains since inauguration gone, Trump declares self a 'wartime president'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Former Vice President Joe Biden trounced Bernie Sanders in three more states on Tuesday. The coronavirus pandemic continued to spread as all of the stock market gains since Donald Trump's inauguration were finally wiped out. And the nation's elections officials --- at least some of them --- began eyeing the need to move to Vote-by-Mail elections as a temporary mitigation for the foreseeable future. But is that a good idea? Are we ready for it? [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

First up, however, some good news, believe it or not! Marie Newman, a progressive challenger to far-right anti-abortion Democratic U.S. House Rep. Dan Lipinski, appears to have won her primary race against the conservative eight-term Congressman in Illinois 3rd Congressional district. The victory in the very "blue" suburbs of Chicago virtually guarantees Newman's election to the House in November, mirroring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' 2018 defeat of longtime (if less execrable) Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in New York.

Beyond that, Biden appears to have delivered a thumping to Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, increasing his lead in the nominating contest to a seemingly insurmountable 300 delegates. All three states held low-turnout primaries on Tuesday amid warnings from health officials to avoid large gatherings, polling places that were closed or moved at the last minute, and a shortage of pollworkers due to cancellations in the wake of coronavirus concerns. Ohio, which was also supposed to vote on Tuesday, postponed its Presidential primary until June at the very last minute.

Both Biden and Sanders addressed supporters on Tuesday night via live Internet streams due to the cancellation of live rallies. They both focused mostly on actions needed to address the pandemic. Despite rumors throughout the day on Wednesday, and the cancellation of online digital ads, the Sanders campaign maintains that they are not suspending, but reassessing their campaign with three more weeks until the next scheduled primary, given all of the various states which have now postponed elections amid the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate finally passed an emergency relief measure adopted by the U.S. House last week to guarantee paid sick leave and expanded unemployment benefits to certain workers, while extending some food security programs, even as a FAR larger stimulus package will be required in response to the ongoing crisis, as markets fell again on Wednesday, reversing all of the gains since Trump took office. For his part, the President vowed to invoke the Defense Production Act to allow the federal government to commandeer private U.S. facilities to manufacturer various needed medical supplies such as masks and ventilators. With the economy in tatters and after weeks of bungled responses, Trump has now declared himself a "wartime president", even as he continues to attack his perceived political enemies and employ racist terms to describe the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid all of this, the nation's elections officials are turning their efforts toward quickly devising ways to safely hold upcoming primary elections as well as the general election in November. On Tuesday, the Governor of Maryland postponed the state's April 28 primary elections until June 2, but allowed the scheduled U.S. House Special Election to fill the Baltimore seat of the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings to proceed as an all-mail contest. Joining us today to discuss the efforts now underway to quickly move to Vote-by-Mail elections in Maryland (and elsewhere) is ALYSOUN MCLAUGHLIN, longtime Deputy Election Director for Montgomery County, MD. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and as Vice Chair of the National Association of Counties.

Following her Governor's executive order postponing the statewide primary while calling for an all-mail U.S. House Special Election next month, McLaughlin explains some of the many challenges officials face in turning to VBM elections in the state. "The way we see it, we don't have a choice. The way we see it, there's a whole lot of really challenging problems in conducting an election under these circumstances right now, and the best way for us to serve everyone --- and to serve everyone avoiding the kinds of stresses and strains that we saw on polling places on Tuesday --- is for us to mail everyone a ballot. And immediately that takes the pressure off of the polls. That allows us to deal with the fact that our workforce is so significantly diminished in staffing a polling place election."

She tells me that officials in all 24 counties in the state feel the move to mail every registered voter a ballot is necessary for the newly-reschedule primary, though the state Board of Elections will still need to approve the plan. At the same time, there are many challenges and concerns in turning to such a system, particularly in such short order. We discussed a number of them on yesterday's program and Washington Post's Cybesecurity 202 column detailed several more. I've laid out even more such concerns over many years counseling caution, as I have long opposed VBM elections except where voters were unable to vote at the polls on Election Day or where a jurisdiction forces voters to vote by unverifiable, unsecure --- and, yes, germy --- touchscreen voting systems at the polls. (Thankfully, Maryland, which, with Georgia, was first in the nation to adopt statewide touchscreen voting in 2002, no longer does so, having moved recently, and sensibly, to hand-marked paper ballots for all.)

My conversation with McLaughlin today highlights some of those concerns, including questions about signature verification which, she says, her state does not use at all in determining if absentee ballots are to be included in the tally or rejected from the count. It's an eye-opening and important discussion that we will, necessarily, continue to have, in hopes that states adopt new temporary election practices in line with recommendations from health experts, even while observing best practices required to make sure VBM elections are secure, inclusive and publicly overseeable...

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

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Guest: Legendary FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More states postpone primaries, consider moving to Vote-by-Mail; GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 11 months...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: America continues to adjust to the pandemic, as the most critical election in our nation's history is now threatened by a virus, even as voters in three major states hit the polls on Tuesday. At least some of them did. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

We begin another bizarre day in the Coronavirus Era with just a spot of good news. California's wildly corrupt GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., who, with his wife, was charged with more than 60 felonies, but pleaded guilty to just one in a deal last December after it became clear his wife would testify against him, was sentenced to 11 months in prison today. The couple had stolen as much as a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal luxuries during Hunter's six elected terms before he finally resigned in disgrace in January. He, along with New York's GOP Congressman Chris Collins (who was recently sentenced to 26 months for insider trading), were the first two members of the U.S. House to endorse Donald Trump's run for the Presidency.

And with that somewhat good news out of the way, it's on to the more disturbing news we must try and make sense of today. Even as Florida, Illinois and Arizona all decided to hold their Presidential primary elections on Tuesday amid quarantines, closures, lock-downs and social distancing directives, other states continued to take more responsible measures.

Ohio, which was also scheduled to vote on Tuesday, postponed their primary election today amid no small amount of chaos, with the state's Governor taking extraordinary measures to do so late Monday night after initially being blocked by a state court.

Maryland's Governor today announced that his state would join others, such as Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky in postponing their primary until June. It was previously scheduled for April 28. They will, however, still hold the April 28 Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. That election, however, will now be an all Vote-by-Mail (VBM) election. That as other states consider either postponing or changing to all-VBM elections for the foreseeable future during the virus outbreak.

The affects of the pandemic were seen in all three states which voted today, including poll closures, low turnout, and shortages of poll workers, many of whom are elderly and the most susceptible to the worst affects of the virus. Hundreds of them in South Florida, for example, decided to cancel at the last minute rather than be exposed to hundreds of people all day in crowded polling locations left open despite the CDC's recommendation to avoid all crowds larger than 10 at this time.

We're joined today by a guest well-accustomed to both chaos and elections. ION SANCHO is Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida's former longtime Supervisor of Elections as well as a champion voting rights advocate and opponent of private voting system vendors. During his nearly 30 years as one of the state's (and nation's) most respected election officials, he has held elections amid hurricane catastrophes and political ones. He was tapped by his fellow state officials in 2000 to oversee the eventually-aborted Presidential election recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Sancho has plenty of thoughts and insight to offer today amid the current chaos and challenges now faced by elections officials and voters alike. We discuss the likely necessity of all states moving to VBM elections for the duration of the crisis, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure such elections are carried out with integrity.

"The entire primary and elections process is going to have to be re-examined, given this crisis," he tell me. "This pandemic provides a challenge like no other in my lifetime. Mail ballots may be the way out of this, but mail ballots require machinery. Mail ballots require high-speed counting devices. It can be done, and it can be done excellently, but it can't be done cheaply. So if that's something we're going to need to go to, we're need to prepare for that." He warns that voters, many of whom do not bother to change their address on their registration when they move within a county, should check their registration record to assure it's up to date immediately, or else they risk not receiving a ballot at all, when and if states begin moving to VBM.

And while money will need to be spent to transition to high-speed optical-scanners to tally hand-marked mail-in paper ballots in many locations, the cost and benefits would still be far greater for voters than in jurisdictions such as Georgia which recently spent more than $100 million dollars for new equipment that will force all voters at the polls to vote on new, germy, unverifiable, touchscreen voting systems which violate voters' privacy by revealing secret ballots to everyone in the polling place. "The COVID-19 virus may be a blessing in disguise for the citizens of Georgia," Sancho explains. "Using a hand-marked paper ballot system is not only more secure, it's three to ten times more inexpensive to operate and maintain."

But in addition to money, guidance will be needed on the federal level to ensure a move to mail-in voting is done in a way that doesn't disenfranchise voters, since, he explains, it is so much easier for VBM ballots to be rejected by officials for dubious reasons and without notifying voters so that they have sufficient time to cure any perceived deficiencies on their ballots. VBM would be a "fair solution [during this crisis] if you have fair elections administration. Jurisdictions like Oregon, for example, which has pioneered mail voting in the United States, provide 14 days for an individual to present themselves to cure a problem, a deficiency, in the mail ballot. States like Arizona, Washington and California provide 2-3 weeks of days to allow the voter to cure a problem. Then you run into states like Florida, that had to be sued to allow voters to cure their ballot after the election. The deadline for Florida to cure all deficiencies --- so how could you know about it? --- is the day before the election."

While some elections officials, he believes, would be careful to institute best practices, others, he warns, would not. "They don't concern themselves with how actual machinery is working in other places. They just depend upon their voting vendor to tell them what to do. We don't really have any kind of mechanism nationally to provide the best practices, to give guidance. Our national elections administration is a debacle," he says, along with much more that you'll want to hear.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the coronavirus epidemic has now cleared the air in both China and Italy, at least as far as toxic greenhouse gas emissions go, and has given Donald Trump yet another excuse to try and shore up the oil industry amid crashing prices. And, though much of it has now been lost to time and the global pandemic, we also examine the substantive debate on Sunday night between Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders regarding our climate crisis...

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

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Coronavirus, lack of leadership, wreak dangerous havoc on country and economy amid most important Presidential election in nation's history...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

To quote Donald Trump when he thought the cameras had stopped rolling after his disastrous Oval Office address last week: "Oooookaaay...." So, we are now living in a new world. For the time being. Millions are being instructed to stay home from work. Markets are tanking. Major states and cities are shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters and casinos. Some are instituting full "stay at home" lock-down orders. And Congress is scrambling to pass emergency legislation to try and help displaced workers and families as the coronavirus crisis threatens to shut down the nation entirely for weeks, months or longer. All of this amidst a Presidential election under the most dangerously inept and dishonest Administration in the history of the nation.

On today's BradCast, we try to get you caught up with the unfolding, bizarre and disorienting mess that we are all going through together in hopes of "flattening the curve" of the rate of infections to try and ensure that the U.S. hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed with patients. Like you, we have no idea how this is supposed to work, but we're all working through it together, even as Trump literally told the nation's Governors today they are on their own in coming up with enough respirators and other medical equipment to keep their residents alive, and as he continues to lie to the country about the availability of testing and eventual arrival date of a vaccine (which is most likely more than a year from now, even as a single live test began today).

And, speaking of that Presidential election, states --- particularly those which are touchscreen-voting heavy, like Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio --- are beginning to announce postponements of their primary elections. Ohio's Governor has attempted to do so before tomorrow's planned election that was to be held along with Florida, Illinois and Arizona. But a state judge, late today (minutes ago, justt after we got off air) has now blocked the Republican Ohio Governor's attempt to postpone. So, full-on chaos for a change in the Buckeye State tonight. The other three big states (at least at this hour) are planning to go through with their own elections tomorrow, even as polling sites at senior citizen centers are requiring last-minute relocation and frequently-elderly poll workers are (justifiably) calling in to cancel.

Other states, such as New York are considering postponement, while Maryland considers moving to all-Vote-by-Mail primaries. More than a dozen states, such as Texas, do not even currently offer no-excuse absentee voting. That needs to change. [CORRECTION: I had initially cited Pennsylvania as one of those states that do not allow no-excuse absentee voting. In fact, no-excuse absentee voting was instituted late last year as part of a package of election reforms in the Keystone State. My apologies for the error!]

We cover all of that AND wave very briefly at Sunday's Presidential Debate (which we hope to revisit in a bit more detail soon - but we'll see) before opening the phones to check in with callers today, including one from Minneapolis who describes the situation there as dire, others from Southern California who wonder where the head of the CDC has disappeared to, and another who questions both the threat and infection numbers currently being reported. All of that and way too much more on today's BradCast...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Coronavirus tanking markets, wingnuts lie about it; Buttigieg 'wins' Iowa!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on world markets, we finally have a definitive "winner" of the Iowa Caucuses, and a raft of good news voting rights court rulings in several key battleground states! [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start with some "breaking news" today: Pete Buttigieg has won the Iowa Caucuses! Barely. And only as long as you consider the winner of the most delegates to be the "winner". Following both partial recanvassing and recounts requested by both the Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg campaigns in a number of precincts on the heels of the flawed reporting of Iowa Caucus results three weeks ago, the Iowa Democratic Party has finally concluded that Buttigieg won a literal fraction more of the State Delegate Equivalents (SDEs). Buttigieg took 562.954 to Sanders' 562.021.

While both candidates actually lost a small number of SDEs during the partial recounts, Buttigieg's margin of victory (0.003%) was increased to "a commanding 0.04% win" after the recounts. That translates into 14 national delegates for the former South Bend, Indiana Mayor to Sanders' 12 out of the Hawkeye State, where the Vermont Senator nonetheless won the never-really-in-question overall popular vote by several thousand more votes in both the initial and realignment rounds of voting at the state's February 3rd caucuses.

With that finally out of the way, we offer a quick update on the havoc the coronavirus --- and the Trump Administration's bungled response to it --- is causing for world markets, with the Dow plummeting for a 7th straight day on Friday, resulting in a 3,500 point drop over the past week. It was the worst week for Wall Street since the 2008 global financial crisis and the fastest loss of four months of gains for the S&P 500 since 1928. That, as the deadly virus continues to spread and fears mount that it will result in a global recession and full blown pandemic.

In the U.S. however, rightwingers like Rush Limbaugh are using our public airwaves to "inform" Americans that the virus "is the common cold" in one breath, and seemingly contradicting that by falsely describing it as "a ChiCom laboratory experiment...being weaponized" in the next. But, despite the fact that it could result in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. (the virus is currently 20 times more fatal than the flu, which killed approximately 34,000 Americans last season), Limbaugh is using our public airwaves to propagandize listeners that Bernie Sanders and the "Democrat Party...pose a much greater threat to this country than the coronavirus does."

So, yes, we continue to keep our eyes on the most important election in the nation's history in hopes of curbing at least some of this madness. To that end, as South Carolina prepares to vote on new, !00% unverifiable, germy touchscreen voting systems across the state in their Democratic primary on Saturday, and voters in many of the 14 state primaries ending on Super Tuesday three days later do the same, we focus on a number of recent encouraging court rulings that will help protect their right to cast a vote at all.

For that, we are blessed on today's BradCast with the long-overdue return of the great Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN! And we've got a lot to catch up with him on, from just over the past few weeks, when it comes to both state and federal courts stepping in to do the right thing in protecting voter's rights --- at least for now.

  • Recently, both a federal district court and a state Court of Appeals in North Carolina blocked the Tar Heel State GOP's new Photo ID voting restriction, finding it (once again) was designed to disproportionately target minorities for suppression.
  • In Florida, a federal Court of Appeals has blocked the Republican state legislature and Governor's attempt to gut 2018's landmark state constitutional Amendment 4, granting the right to vote to former felons who have completed their sentences.
  • In Missouri, the state's Supreme Court not only blocked a "Catch-22" Photo ID voting restriction that required those without very specific types of Photo IDs to actually commit a felony by lying on an affidavit form in order to legally cast a vote, the Court also carved out a right to vote for many trans and non-binary voters who, in MO, thanks to more bad laws, are literally barred from obtaining the requisite ID that would be needed for them to vote legally under the statute that the court has now struck down. (That, after more than a decade of GOP attempts in the Show-Me State to try and institute Photo ID voting restrictions, no matter who it would prevent from casting a legal vote.)
  • In Arizona, with its own long history of racial discrimination, a federal Court of Appeals struck down two measures adopted by state Republicans, finding both of them to have been racially motivated attempts to suppress nonwhite voters. One had mandated that provisional ballots be discarded if they were cast in a different precinct from where the voters was supposed to be voting, the other outlawed the third-party collection of absentee ballots (which Fox "News" and, therefore, all Republicans falsely denigrated as "ballot harvesting" by "illegal immigrants".)

Many of these very good news court rulings, however, could still be reversed during additional appeals, thanks to the Republican court-packing in recent years, particularly if the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court decides to pick and choose which decisions they will and won't apply their so-called "Purcell Principle" to, with elections imminent in all of those states.

And, we also discuss a Trump judge's recent move to prevent voters from being able to sue for their rights at all under the Voting Rights Act. So, yes, MUCH to catch up on today with Stern, who explains all of these cases and where they go from here, in his usual, clear, informative and even amusing way!

Finally, a quick program announcement after a listener comment on voter registration concerns: We will be LIVE and taking your calls both Monday and Tuesday next week, opening up the phone lines to hear from voters and early voters about any problems they may have encountered, and to answer any questions listeners may have about voting and voting systems before the Super Tuesday election polls close next week! If you don't get The BradCast LIVE where you are, please remember to tune in to the live stream at KPFK.org on Monday and Tuesday next week at 3pm PT/6p ET and give us a shout!...

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Guest: David Dayen of American Prospect; Also: Good voting rights news in FL and NC; Warren joins Sanders in being erased by corporate media...
By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2020 5:50pm PT  

In the hours just before former Republican and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg makes his bought-and-paid-for debut on the Democratic debate stage in Las Vegas, our guest on today's BradCast has a bit of a disturbing scoop about Bloomberg's past comparisons between the AARP and the NRA! [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But, first up first up today, some good news from the courts on voting rights in two different key Presidential battleground states! In Florida, a federal appeals on Wednesday sided with ex-felons suing the state to block a law that prevented many of them from having their voting rights restored after the landslide passage of state constitutional Amendment 4 in 2018. After the landmark measure passed with big bi-partisan support to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons (including 1 of 4 African-American men in the state) upon completion of their sentences, the state's new Republican Governor and GOP legislature muscled through legislation to block those former felons from voting until all court fees and fines have been paid off.

Today's federal appeals court ruling blocks that voter suppression measure, finding that "denying access to the franchise to those genuinely unable to pay solely on a account of wealth" is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection clause.

There is similarly good news today from the state Court of Appeals in North Carolina, which ruled the Photo ID voting restrictions enacted by Republicans (a measure vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor last year, but overridden by the gerrymandered GOP majorities in both statehouse chambers) disproportionately disenfranchises poor and minority voters.

Despite little or no evidence of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud such laws could possibly prevent --- the NC GOP has been trying since at least 2013 to impose such discriminatory voting restrictions in the Tar Heel state. Their most notorious attempt, in 2013, was eventually nixed by a federal court which found the law was specifically designed to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision" and to "impose cures for problems that did not exist." Another similar ruling recently against the state's new measure by a federal court, blocked the law from taking effect before NC's March 3rd Primaries. The new state appeals court decision is likely to also bar the measure until after the 2020 general election in one of the nation's most closely divided battleground states.

Then, it's on to electoral politics, with still more new national polling today showing Bernie Sanders vaulting into double-digit leads over all of his Democratic Presidential rivals. And while Sanders is frequently dismissed by corporate media, even as the front-runner (as we demonstrate again today), an even more curious case of the erasure of Elizabeth Warren by corporate media has made itself maddeningly clear in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out this week.

We explain how Warren was disappeared, in part, from a key question in that poll, despite placing third in the national delegate race to date and largely tying for second or third place in most of the recent national surveys. That, while candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg continue to receive a great deal of media attention while still polling only in single digits nationally.

Meanwhile, having no trouble at all receiving national coverage of late, is former Republican, recently-declared Democrat, and longtime billionaire Michael Bloomberg. While Sanders has skyrocketed in polling, Joe Biden has taken a dive, and Bloomberg appears to be surging at his expense. That is thanks, in no small part, to the former NYC Mayor's unprecedented blanketing of the national airwaves with his political propaganda ads. With his late polling surges, Bloomberg will appear, for the first time, on the Democratic debate stage tonight in Las Vegas before this Saturday's Nevada Caucuses (where he isn't even on the ballot.)

We are joined today by investigative financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN, who has been covering Bloomberg's long and disturbing record quite closely. Earlier this week, Dayen detailed how Bloomberg's life and career mirrors Donald Trump's in a number of disturbing ways, while cautioning about the dangers to both democracy and the Democratic Party itself of the "plutocrat-on-plutocrat election" that would be in store if Bloomberg wins the nomination.

"This is a hostile take-over of the Democratic Party. Much like Trump was a hostile take-over of the Republican Party," Dayen argues today. "I'm worried about the shell-shocked nature of the Democratic electorate that has given up on democracy and thinks the only way to beat their plutocrat is with our plutocrat. That concerns me for more reasons than just the Bloomberg nomination. It concerns me that people are so despondent that they think democracy doesn't work anymore. That leads us down a very dark road."

Dayen also has a scoop today, as published with Alexander Sammon at The Prospect, on Bloomberg's recent history of comparing the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to the National Rifle Association (NRA), as part of his "decade-long history of promoting cuts to the social safety net" in his advocacy to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as deficit reduction measures.

All of which raises serious questions about what the Democratic electorate must be thinking in their current, apparently growing support for Bloomberg to become the Party's standard-bearer in 2020. Dayen has many thoughts on that, as do I on today's program...

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Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on 'insane' legal and campaign finance assertions by Dershowitz, Philbin in Senate Impeachment trial...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2020 5:28pm PT  

Day two --- the final day --- of the Questions phase in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump was perhaps best characterized by lead House Manager Adam Schiff on Thursday, when he described the new defenses offered by the White House Counsel's team as "a descent into Constitutional madness" and "the normalization of lawlessness." Those comments were echoed by the former chair of the Federal Election Commission, who joins us on today's BradCast. She called Trump's new line of defense as "insane". [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

On Wednesday, the first day of written Questions from the U.S. Senators, as read to both legal teams by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Trump's defense attorney Alan Dershowitz made an extraordinary argument: "If a President does something which he believes will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment." He went on to offer an analogy. "If a hypothetical President of the United States said to a hypothetical leader of a foreign country, 'unless you build a hotel with my name on it, and unless you give me a million dollar kickback, I will withhold the funds'." That, he said, would be an "easy case" and "purely corrupt". However, he continued, a more complex case was one where a President says: "I want to be elected. I think I'm a great President. I think I'm the greatest President there ever was and if I'm not elected the national interest will suffer greatly. That cannot be an impeachable offense."

In other words, he seemed to argue, it's just fine for a President to solicit a foreign power for help in an election (which is a violation of the law), so long as he or she believed it was in the best national interest for him or her to be elected. Dershowitz has spent a lot of time since those remarks, on Twitter and elsewhere, attempting to defend himself by saying that he did not say what he said. But he absolutely did say it, and so we share audio of some of his extended argument saying as much today, so you can hear it for yourself.

It wasn't the only way in which Trump's team of defense counselors moved the goal posts to accommodate his well-documented Abuse of Power, the basis for the first Article of Impeachment against him. Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin on Wednesday astonishingly charged that "mere information" about a political opponent, even from a foreign source, "is not something that would violate the campaign finance laws."

“Apparently it’s okay for the President to get information from foreign governments in an election," House Impeachment Manager Zoe Lofgren responded with alarm. The California Democrat who worked on the Judiciary Committee during the Nixon Impeachment added, "That's news to me!" The new lines of argument from the President's team is what led Schiff to charge Trump's defense has become "a descent into Constitutional madness," adding "that way madness lies," before citing a similar, then-rejected defense from Richard Nixon who claimed "when a President does it, it's not illegal," before he eventually resigned the Presidency in disgrace. "Have we learned nothing in the last half century?," asked Schiff in response to Dershowitz today.

We share all of those assertions and counter-assertions today, before we turn to someone with no small amount of authority on all of this, ANN RAVEL, who served four years on the Federal Election Commission and as its Chair for two years before leaving her post in 2017. Prior to that, she chaired a similar state commission overseeing campaign finance matters in California.

"There are so many things wrong with [Dershowitz'] argument it's hard to know where to start," she tells me, charging that the claim that a quid pro quo is "somehow justified because it's important for the nation is ridiculous. It would be like saying, for any elected public official, that because it's so important for them to be re-elected that they can commit any criminal act. That's not what the framers of the Constitution intended with regard to the Presidency, and it's exactly why they have the laws relating to impeachment procedures."

"The law does not have an exception for people who think they are so important, that their worth is necessary for the whole country and therefore they can act with illegality and with impunity," she opines, before similarly torching Philbin's argument that there is nothing unlawful about soliciting a thing of value from a foreign power --- an express violation of campaign finance law.

Ravel, who is currently running for office herself in the California State Senate, laments the fact that "there is no FEC in existence now" with only three members currently seated on the six-person panel, and at least four required for a quorum to vote on enforcement of federal law. Similarly, she warns that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, responsible for overseeing criminal violations of campaign finance regulations, "is not acting as an Attorney General who would act with integrity to enforce the laws fairly and evenly. Instead, he seems to be biased in favor of assuring that he supports this President, so he remains in office I presume. As a result, we do not have any enforcement whatsoever of campaign finance laws."

Ravel offers alarming insight and a grim assessment as voting in the critical 2020 Presidential election begins just days from now in Iowa. "This is like sending a flare up indicating it's open season for illegality in our electoral process," she warns, along with many other thoughts, including on what she has come to learn about elections now that she is on the other side of the issue as a candidate herself. Running for office, Ravel tells me, has led her to be believe that "more constraints" are needed on electoral campaign finance, not less. She would like to see publicly financed elections in the future.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with a few encouraging signs (though not nearly enough) on how some institutions are attempting to step up and deal with our worsening climate crisis, both in the U.S. and around the globe...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 1/30/2020 11:59am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Climate change could blow up the global economy, and the world's banks aren't ready; U.S. banking system isn't ready for climate change, either; 'Coronavirus' dampening global demand for oil; New Jersey requires developers to design for climate impacts; PLUS: House Democrats roll out massive climate change legislation... 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): The climate crisis is about right and wrong; How the environmental lawyer who won a massive judgment against Chevron lost everything; Trump Administration moves to ease rules against killing birds; Indiana bill would make it harder to close coal plants; Is banning fossil fuel ads really the fix activists think it is?; 14 states sue EPA over chemical safety regulations rollback; U.S. carbon emissions will fall just 4 percent By 2050: EIA... PLUS: Missing Monarch Butterfly Activist Found Dead In Mexico... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Election and criminal justice expert Daniel Nichanian; Also: House schedules new impeachment hearing as Trump appeals federal ruling finding 'Presidents are not kings'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/26/2019 6:44pm PT  

At the BRAD BLOG and on today's BradCast, we'll even fight for Donald Trump's right to vote --- even from prison, should he find himself there at any time in the near-ish future. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a bit of impeachment-related news, even as Congress is on recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. The House Judiciary Committee (as opposed to the House Intelligence Committee) has announced a new impeachment hearing for next Wednesday. Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to the President on Tuesday, inviting him and his counsel to attend and potentially question witnesses in the hearing titled Titled "The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment." Along with his invitation, Nadler also offered a warning about the White House's continued refusal to make witnesses and documents available to the Constitutional proceedings in the U.S. House.

In related news, Trump's Dept. of Justice on Tuesday filed for a stay to a blistering federal court ruling ordering that former White House Counsel Don McGahn appear for scheduled testimony in response to a lawful Congressional subpoena regarding the House's examination of the Robert Mueller investigation. McGahn played a key role in the probe, helping to detail Trump's multiple attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Team Trump's cooperation with the effort.

The DoJ is now seeking a pause pending an appeal to U.S. District Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown's scathing 121-page ruling [PDF] issued on Monday, in which she eviscerated the DoJ argument that Presidents and their current and former White House officials enjoy "absolute immunity" from Constitutionally-mandated Congressional oversight. "Stated simply," the Judge wrote, "the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings."

Trump, however, appears to feel otherwise. In addition to appealing the order, Trump tweeted today that "The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress," adding that while he "would love" to have top Executive Branch officials like Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton testify in impeachment hearings in the Ukraine bribery affair, he is only "fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify."

But whether Trump wins his "absolute immunity" defense while President, it is unlikely to help him once he is out of office. To that end, yes, we'd hate to see him lose his right to vote if he ever should find himself imprisoned for any of his countless crimes. In the meantime, however, there are millions in prison who have already lost that right --- a right, not a privilege, even if many treat it that way --- while behind bars. There has been some noteworthy successful (and even bi-partisan in some cases) efforts of late in a number of states to help enfranchise former felons or those out of jail on probation or parole though state constitutional amendments, legislation or executive actions. But when it comes to the right to vote for those still in prison, the debate has been slower and more contentious. Currently, only Maine and Vermont allow prisoners to vote, a policy which Vermont's U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders strongly defended during a CNN Presidential Candidate Town Hall earlier this year.

At the same time, as our guest today, DANIEL NICHANIAN, Editor of The Appeal Political Report (better known as @Taniel on Twitter) points out, lawmakers in eight states and D.C. have filed legislation this year to allow people behind bars to exercise the right to vote. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has done the same at the federal level.

After a Republican New York state Assemblyman recently described a state Senate bill there that would enfranchise convicts as "insulting [to] members of law enforcement and the criminal justice system who worked diligently to get these dangerous predators off the street," Nichanian reached out to prosecutors, correctional facility officers and elected officials in Maine and Vermont to see if they agreed. You'll be surprised to learn that not one of them did, with almost all either finding it to be no problem or, more frequently, lauding the connection to "the real world" that voting allows imprisoned citizens as they pay their debt to society.

Nichanian, a Senior Fellow at the Justice Collaborative and expert on criminal justice reform and mass incarceration, shares insight from the officials he spoke with, and explains why reform on this issue (which disproportionately affects minorities) --- and a number of related topics --- is long overdue.

"We are not treating the right to vote as an inalienable, fundamental right of U.S. democracy, as a right that every citizen should have, and have protected," he tells me, explaining why "ending felony disenfranchisement would also mean that law enforcement professionals are no longer the arbiters of who gets to exercise democratic rights."

Nichanian notes that "the way in which we talk about people who are incarcerated, it would seem like we forget that these people have families, they have kids who go to school, and the school board elections matter to them. They have families who also need to care about their elected officials."

"There's all sorts of arguments of whether people are worthy of voting or not, whether people have shown enough civic capacity to vote or not," he argues. "And I find all of that universe of questions to be questionable, because we are claiming for ourselves the power and authority to decide whether our fellow citizens should have the same rights as us. I find that to be a problematic question. And I think that's just the bottom line: whether we want the right to vote to be a protected right for all U.S. citizens."

He says that "we are definitely seeing the criminal justice reform conversation encompass these issues of rights restoration, as a tool of re-entry, as a tool of thinking about how people remain human, as a way of thinking about economic justice and racial justice throughout the process." But whether that, theoretically bipartisan effort will ultimately become a fight for re-enfranchising felons remains to be seen.

We also discuss how the imprisoned population is used in the fight over apportionment, with the incarcerated counted in the census and for redistricting purposes, even while that huge chunk of the population is disallowed from exercising any real political power through the vote. "The time to address it is literally now, because the next round of redistricting and map-drawing is coming up. If this is going to be reformed, it has to be in the next couple of years, or else we'll have ten more years of problems on this."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report as "climate emergency" is named "Word of the Year" by the Oxford Dictionary and, unfortunately, for very good reason...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Election Integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn; Also: Judge blocks FL GOP's attempt to disenfranchise felons (for now); MO's largest county finally moves to hand-marked paper ballots!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2019 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the catch-up work continues! In the week since returning from my month-long forced hiatus due to a family emergency, we've been so busy with Donald Trump's insanity and impeachment inquiry and withdrawal of troops from Syria and attempt to award himself the contract for the G7 Summit at his own Florida resort (which he retracted over the weekend under pressure from Republicans), that we haven't had any time to discuss concerns about "Plan B". Specifically, concerns about voting systems in a whole bunch of states and counties where elections officials are, insanely, moving towards vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of 2020. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We make up for a month's worth of lost time on today's show. But first, some actually encouraging news out of two different states. On Friday, a federal court judge placed a temporary injunction on Florida's new Republican-adopted law that prevents former felons from registering to vote, unless they've paid off all court-imposed fines and fees first. The judge ruled the GOP law, enacted by state lawmakers just after state voters overwhelmingly adopted a new Constitutional amendment to re-enfranchise former felons last November, essentially amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax. The ruling, for now, is limited and has a few caveats, but voting rights activists are hailing the decision.

In still more good news for voters, this time in Missouri, the St. Louis County Board of Elections last month (where I was born and raised), unanimously voted to move the state's largest county to a new, hand-marked paper ballot system for all voters, other than those disabled voters who choose to use an assistive electronic system, beginning this November. The move comes as a welcome safeguard for voters after the County allowed voters over the past decade to choose between touchscreens or hand-marked paper ballots at the polls, while subtly (and not-so-subtly) encouraging voters to use the unverifiable touchscreens. That good news would also make my late father very happy, given that he was also a proponent for hand-marked paper ballots, as made clear in an amusing 2006 BRAD BLOG entry, which we share on today's show.

The move in St. Louis, however, is contrary to similar choices being made in a number of key jurisdictions around the country, where officials are moving to unverifiable and hackable BMD systems before 2020. States such as Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, and New Jersey are moving to these expensive and vulnerable systems, as well as key cities and counties in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia!), North Carolina (Mecklenberg County, the state's most populous) and California (Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous!)

We're joined today by journalist, attorney, Election Integrity advocate and Twitter activist JENNIFER COHN --- who has a new video presentation out today on the many concerns about private voting system vendors who have taken over our public elections, and on the desperate need for hand-marked paper ballots --- in hopes of beginning to catch up on much of the voting system news we missed over the past month!

Unfortunately, as Cohn details, other than in St. Louis, the outlook is pretty grim between now and next year, as even leading Democrats (hello, Sen. Amy Klobuchar!) seem to have a very difficult time fighting for the real security improvements necessary to protect our election system from adversaries --- both foreign and domestic --- before next year's critical Presidential election.

Cohn makes the crucial point that phrases other than "HAND-MARKED paper ballots" are, essentially, code words for unverifiable, hackable, computer-marked paper ballot summaries. Phrases often used by vendors, as well as election and elected official to confuse voters include: Voter-marked paper ballots, voter-verifiable (as opposed to veriFIED) paper ballots, back-up paper ballots (hello again, Sen. Klobuchar!) or simply "paper ballots", without using "hand-marked" before it. If you don't hear them say "hand-marked" first, they either don't know what they're talking about, or they're trying to put something over on you.

And, as Cohn notes, if they promise post-election audits to protect the integrity of the vote, but are doing so without using hand-marked paper ballots to "audit" with, they are also trying to scam you. At least according to the actual inventor of the post-election Risk-Limited Audit (RLA) protocol, Prof. Phil Stark of UC-Berkley, an opponent of universal use BMDs. He describes RLAs of computer-marked ballots as "worthless" and little more than putting "lipstick on a pig"...

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Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Republican worms turning on impeachment after Mulvaney 'confession'?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2019 5:51pm PT  

The outlook for Donald Trump appears grimmer by the day, but the systemic institutional problems that brought him to office and have now helped bring him to the brink of impeachment are of even larger concern on today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's program is posted below.]

First up, the latest in the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry, as the worm may --- emphasis on 'may' --- be turning, following Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's nationally-televised admission that the Administration withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aide to Ukraine in an effort to strong-arm the former Soviet nation into investigating Democrats and the 2016 election. Mulvaney's "confession", as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described it, of a pretty clear quid pro quo has knocked several Republicans off their footing, as they struggle to find ways to defend the President's actions.

A number of Congressional Republicans in both the House and the Senate now appear troubled by the admission (which Mulvaney attempted to walk back just hours later) and it has led Ohio's former Republican Governor John Kasich to concede on Friday that he now supports the impeachment and removal of Trump based on the latest information.

Then, we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in Washington D.C., which filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in July of 2018, detailing serious campaign fiance law violations by Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The Soviet-born Ukrainian-Americans were dramatically arrested and indicted at Dulles International Airport just over a week ago by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, as they were attempting to flee the country with one way tickets to Vienna. Parnas and Fruman were charged [PDF] with using a fake shell corporation to illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars from an unknown source to Republicans, including Trump's America First Action SuperPAC, in a successful effort to gain political power.

They also paid some $500 thousand to Giuliani --- who is working, for free, as Trump's personal lawyer --- and donated to Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, all in an effort to act on the conspiracy theories used by Trump and Giuliani to strong-arm Ukraine. As Fischer lays out in a piece at CLC detailing the backstory of the arrests of the two Trump donors, "Working closely with the president’s personal attorney, Giuliani, their efforts touched two branches of U.S. government, two presidential administrations in Ukraine, at least five countries, numerous individuals in and out of government, and, now, an impeachment inquiry into the U.S. President himself."

"The big giving opened a lot of doors," Fischer tells me. "It got them into political fundraisers where they rubbed shoulders with President Trump's inner circle. That money allowed them to build and deepen a relationship with Giuliani. And they were able to leverage that relationship in order to advance this narrative about Ukraine --- the same narrative about Ukraine that President Trump espoused in his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, which has now led to this impeachment inquiry."

In other words, despite the ongoing mysteries behind the true source of their funding, they got a lot of bang for their campaign finance bucks used to buy influence with GOP officials and effect actual U.S. foreign policy in the bargain. But, as Fischer explains on today's program, had they not used a phony corporation to do it with someone else's money (and lied about that to the FEC), everything they did appears to be largely perfectly legal under U.S. campaign finance laws! Yes, apparently if you have enough money, you are allowed to use it to buy a major political influence operation that can directly effect U.S. foreign and domestic policy, even out of the White House.

Fischer explains how the dark money operation --- which didn't even include all that much money --- is still being unraveled by federal investigators as the probe (which could even nab Giuliani) continues and, perhaps even more importantly, how it may represent just be the tip of a campaign finance iceberg that illustrates the dangers of our disgraceful campaign finance laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010.

"The indictment makes clear that the purpose of the political contributions that Parnas and Fruman made was to buy access and to build influence with powerful political officials in order to advance their own personal financial interests," says Fischer. "But that is not what they are being indicted for. They were indicted because they laundered the funds through shell corporations and then lied about it." So, had they actually been rich dudes who used their own money for this scheme, it would have been just fine? "Yes, it would have been just a beautiful expression of their First Amendment right to free speech."

“This indictment of Parnas and Fruman is really an indictment of our big money political system. It lays out very clearly how powerful political figures operate on this cash-for-access practice. It's become entirely commonplace for wealthy political actors to buy their way into Congressional offices and into the President's inner circle. If you don't have money, your voice does not get heard in our democracy.”

Finally, longtime good government watchdog Fischer also rings in on Mulvaney's stunning announcement that the Administration has officially selected Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Florida as the location for next year's G-7 Summit of world leaders, despite the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution which strictly bans payments to the President from foreign officials --- a point that even Fox "News" (well, at least some there) appear to have a problem with as well...

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Guest: Veteran Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton...
By Brad Friedman on 9/3/2019 6:34pm PT  

There were a number of bullets dodged in the past few days, literal and otherwise, and some that, tragically, were not. We cover them on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Most of Florida appears to have dodged a bullet --- though Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina aren't in the clear yet --- after the deadly and incredibly slow-moving Hurricane Dorian, once a Category 5, heads to the north, grazing the coast of the Sunshine State after catastrophically devastating several large islands in The Bahamas. We're joined today by Atlanta-based, 30-year Weather Channel meteorologist GUY WALTON, who now tracks extreme weather and our worsening climate crisis at his website, GuyOnClimate.com. He offers insight into what has made Dorian such an unusual, deadly, and wildly unpredictable storm.

"Steering currents are being affected by climate change and, as more warmth gets put into the atmosphere, the weaker those steering currents are going to be," Walton, who has written a children's book on the climate crisis, tells me in explaining the "$250 billion question" about "where the storm is going to be going." He says the weakened steering currents are what allow storms like Harvey in Houston two years ago and now Dorian to basically stand in place. "Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, and in this case, that was extremely bad for The Bahamas but good for Florida. It's very unusual to have a system just stall like that."

"We're getting more Category 4s and 5s forming in the Atlantic basin, and they're forming quite rapidly. Dorian formed near Puerto Rico and it did give them some tropical storm force winds, but it was only a Cat 1 at the time, and it really didn't take it more than about 24 hours to become a Cat 5," he observes, citing the increased effect of climate change on these storms. "We've had four out of the last five years seeing Cat 5s. We've had Dorian, Michael, Maria, Irma, and Matthew. And two of the storms --- Michael and Maria --- hit the United States as 5s."

A number of Texas residents were much less lucky than Floridians over the Labor Day holiday weekend, as actual bullets were flying yet again in the Lone Star state in yet another mass shooting by another young American white man. This one in the West Texas towns of Odessa and Midland resulted in 7 killed, more than 20 injured, a cowardly, sputtering President of the United States who clearly hasn't a clue what to do about it, and a cowardly Texas Governor who, after recently loosening gun restrictions in Texas to allow weapons of mass destruction in public schools and churches, suggests he might finally be willing to take action that might actually help protect Texans for a change by curbing the scourge of gun massacres in the state since he's taken office. We wouldn't hold our breath for that action, however. Texas Governor Greg Abbot, like Donald Trump, is a Republican who lives in fear of the terrorist-enabling NRA and places his own political career over the actual lives of the people he is sworn to protect and serve.

Democratic voters in the 2020 caucus states of Iowa and Nevada, meanwhile, may have dodged figurative bullets thanks to a few experts who managed to hack a recent closed telephone conference call by the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee as they were considering approval of plans by those two states to add unsecure remote telephone voting options to next February's caucuses there. The new plans were being prepared in answer to the DNC's mandate enacted after the contentious 2016 primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in hopes of encouraging states to hold more inclusive primary elections rather than caucuses. If state parties chose to hold caucuses, however, the DNC is requiring them to add some form of remote voting option for those unable to attend hours-long, in-person caucuses. The remote voting plans in Iowa and Nevada, however, now appear all but dead, at least for 2020.

And, as we were just finishing up today's show, some more good news for Democrats --- and for all voters who believe in fair elections --- as North Carolina's State Superior Court issued a 357-page [PDF] ruling finding the state's GOP-gerrymandered legislative districts are unconstitutional and ordering new maps to be drawn before the 2020 elections in the closely divided battleground state. (Much more on that last story, undoubtedly, on tomorrow's BradCast!)

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

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Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with journalists Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, Brian Karem of Playboy and CNN...
By Nicole Sandler on 8/28/2019 2:54pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER again, holding down the BradCast fort as Brad Friedman and Desi Doyen take a much-needed few days off. Today, we take a dive into journalism in the age of Trump, and during another Presidential election cycle.

My first guest today is MATT TAIBBI who's covering the 2020 elections for Rolling Stone. He's written quite a bit about the "Bernie Blackout" happening in the mainstream, corporate media.

Also today, a return visit from Playboy's and CNN's BRIAN KAREM, who had his White House Press Pass suspended for 30 days. He's suing over it, and was in court today.

Plus, a look at the latest news of the day too, as Hurricane Dorian hits Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!




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