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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 13, 2021
'Green News Report' 4/13/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cutbacks; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
Previous GNRs: 4/8/21 - 4/6/21 - Archives...
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
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: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: TX Guv knew deaths would spike after reopening, did it anyway; Judge reinstates NY Dem Prez primary; MT's Bullock leading U.S. Senate race...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2020 7:00pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Mayor Louie Bonaguidi; Also: Infection, death rate rising across country as Admin plans to shut task force; Trump throws tantrum over ad by Republicans; USDA does something right...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rural America is under siege from the coronavirus, as the Mayor of one of the hardest hit small towns in the nation joins us to explain how they are coping with the massive outbreak and an unprecedented lockdown barring all traffic into the town. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

Vice President Mike Pence announced today that the White House Coronavirus Task Force may be disbanded within the month, due to the "tremendous progress we've made as a country." Actual reality, however --- as represented by statistics, health experts and scientists --- suggests otherwise. For example, a new analysis from Associated Press today finds that, with the New York metro area removed from the statistics, the rate of both infections and deaths across the country are increasing, not decreasing. Another study from the Kaiser Family Foundation also finds that infection and death rates, particularly in rural areas, are spiking. Infection numbers are up in recent days by 115% and the COVID death rate has jumped 169% in rural areas, with many of the worst outbreaks occurring in states where Republican Governors are now foolishly relaxing stay-at-home restrictions and allowing business to reopen prematurely. The increasing numbers are in line with private calculations from the CDC and FEMA obtained yesterday by the New York Times.

Despite all of that, Donald Trump declared today that "It's time to open it up. ... Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open." Opening the country prematurely is likely to costs tens of thousands of lives, but Trump has a re-election to worry about, after all.

Right now, one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the nation is happening in Gallup, New Mexico, in the rural western part of the state bordering the Navajo Nation, the country's largest Indian reservation. "As of Sunday," the Times reports today, "the Navajo Nation had reported a total of 2,373 cases and 73 confirmed deaths from the virus." The infection rate in the area is the third-highest of any metropolitan area in the U.S., following only New York City and Marion, Ohio, where there is a mass outbreaks in a large prison cluster. Over the weekend, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked, for the first time in state history, the state's Riot Control Act. That has locked down the entire city, including the closure of all roads leading in to the town of 22,000 where the virus, she said "is running amok".

We're joined today by Gallup's MAYOR LOUIE BONAGUIDI, who was sworn into office just five days ago. When I joked about his trial by fire upon becoming Mayor, he quipped: "In fact, the Governor called me and said, 'Congratulations on your win. But, then again, I have to tell you we're locking down your city.'" Nonetheless, Bonaguidi, as well as former Mayor Jackie McKinney and Navajo Nation tribal President Jonathan Nez, all support the extreme measure that includes city, state and county police as well as National Guardsman blocking exits off the freeway and smaller roads into the town from the Navajo Nation, where, on the first of the month, thousands flood into the city for supplies.

"We had to do something," he tells me, in explaining the reasons for the "drastic" action. "The numbers are unbelievable. Between thirty and fifty thousand people come into the community. That's a major influx. We're thinking to ourselves, well, if the virus is here, then they're going to be taking it home to their families. So that's one of the reasons we thought maybe we'd better do it now. We'd better stop it on the first of the month when all of these people are coming into the community."

Bonaguidi says, however, that the community has been very supportive of the roadblocks, bringing drinks, water and food to the officers. A lack of water, however, is perhaps one of the reasons for the outbreak in McKinney County that, by itself, accounts for 30% of the state's infections. Much of the tribal reservation still lacks running water --- a new waterline is under construction, but will take years to be completed --- so careful hygiene amid the epidemic is not easy for many in the Native American community.

The Mayor explains that their two local hospitals are now at capacity and a local high school was converted into a hospital with the help of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. They do not have enough masks or sanitizer, he tells me, and the slow pace of receiving test results has made things much more difficult. "The sad part about it is the tests take so long. They take two, two-and-a-half days before they get back to you whether you're positive or negative. If the tests were quicker, we could get a handle on this virus. But it really makes it rough when you have to wait that long. ... I understand there are faster tests coming out, but we definitely have not been able to get enough of them. There are 70,000 people in the county, and they've basically only tested about 6,000 at this point."

Bonaguidi cautions that many in his community and others around the state and country are not taking the threat seriously enough. "We're doing everything we can. And the Governor has gone way out of her way for us here. It's too bad we had to be as drastic as we are. But, if anything, it's going to get the awareness out to the rest of the communities --- rural, for that matter --- that it's a serious situation, and we've got to address it."

When I ask what, if anything, the rest of us in the country can do to help, he told me: "We're all in this together. The whole world is fighting a virus, and there's just so little known about it. We're doing whatever we can to curb it, to stop it. I guess we can ask for your prayers, if anything."

UPDATE 5/6/2020: The Mayor's office sent along these link to groups that are helping the residents of Gallup and McKinley County right now and welcome your support!...

The Community Pantry: Making sure families in McKinley and Cibola Counties are getting food, with on-site pick up and deliveries.
Life is Sacred (arm of the Knights of Columbus): Donations here go toward food boxes that are delivered across neighboring reservations.
Southwest Indian Foundation: Donations support the purchase of clothing, water barrels, school supplies, masks, cleaning supplies and more.

Also on today's program: Apparently Trump is really really REALLY upset by a new :60 second ad called "Mourning in America" from The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans touting his disastrous and deadly failures in response to the crisis. And the USDA finally invokes their 1930s-era authority that allows for food purchases to help both farmers and people in need after millions of tons of fresh food and milk has been dumped by food producers unable to sell it to schools, restaurants and other facilities that have been shut down due to the crisis.

While that bailout actually helps both the industry and regular Americans in desperate need of food, the Administration's secretive big bailout for Big Oil is another matter all together, as Desi Doyen reports in our latest Green News Report to close out today's show...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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New stats prove 'opening' the country now will be a deadly disaster; COVID death projection doubled; Also: Attorney Doug Ecks on new details about L.A. County's $300 million touchscreen voting system debacle...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2020 7:09pm PT  

I might have headlined this show "See? I told ya so!", except Rush Limbaugh ruined that phrase for all of us years ago. On today's BradCast: The Administration's persistent lies about coronavirus and Trump's pressure to "open" the country long before we should (since he's failed to marshal any national plan whatsoever for broad testing and contact tracing) will result in tens of thousands of more deaths than necessary. But we told you so long ago. Meanwhile, more evidence is in to prove Los Angeles County's new, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting systems was a disaster for voters (but we told you so there as well, long ago) even though Bernie Sanders was finally, officially, announced the winner of the California Presidential Primary --- two months after it was held on Super Tuesday. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

As we have been warning, there is currently no good reason to throw open the doors for business amid the coronavirus pandemic, other than Donald Trump really thinks that doing so will improve the economy and his chances of winning re-election. But Trump's Fantasy World beliefs that it is safe to do so are belied by more and more evidence in both this country and around the world --- and even from his own Administration's unreleased figures. The New York Times today reports on private projections by FEMA and the CDC that the daily death rate in the U.S. could reach as high as 3,000 deaths by June 1, particularly with the loosening of restrictions around the country by mostly Republican Governors. Perhaps that's one reason Trump, on Sunday, conceded that the death rate could reach 100,000 in the coming weeks after telling us just two weeks ago that he excepted about half that many deaths, around 50,000.

But, as health and science experts have been at pains to try and tell us, nothing has actually changed to make opening up any safer now that it was back in March, when the epidemic caught fire in the U.S. In fact, infection rates have been spiking in many areas, particularly in rural regions of the country. The newly unearthed FEMA/CDC docs forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of this month in the U.S., as compared to the current rate of about 25,000 confirmed new infections per day.

New statistics coming in from countries around the world which have begun opening up their economies again, show the number of infections and deaths beginning to spike there again. And today, the model at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has been revised. Their previous projections of an estimated 70,000 U.S. deaths by August has now been doubled to nearly twice number that at 135,000, due, they announced, to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility. The IHME model has long been used by the White House and others, and we have long told you that it was extremely conservative in its projections. (So, again, yeah, told ya so.) Even a Republican Governor, Mississippi's Tate Reeves, wisely decided late Friday to hold back for the moment on the further loosening of restrictions in his state. The announcement cane during a press conference where he had originally planned to do so. That, due to a spike in the state's infection and death rate after he lifted some restrictions prematurely on April 24.

All told, that's a helluva lotta dead Americans piling up all so that Trump and Republicans can try to stay in power.

In related news, we have a quick follow-up today on a new poll we covered last week that found Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in Texas(!) by 1 point, essentially a tie. As we mentioned last week, that poll from Public Policy Polling could simply be an outlier. But, over the weekend a second poll, this one from the Dallas Morning News/University of Texas, also finds Biden and Trump deadlocked in the Lone Star state with 43% a piece among registered voters. Maybe those polls are not outliers and Texas could finally be a battleground state that could flip "blue" this year for the first time since 1976. November is a thousand years away of course, but, once again, it all underscores that every vote in every state will count this year. Thus, the fight now playing out over how people will be able to vote in both upcoming primary elections around the country and in this November's critical Presidential election.

We've been reporting in recent weeks on a spate of lawsuits around the country and both good and bad news --- depending on the state and county --- regarding moving away from dangerous, disease vector touchscreen voting systems and towards much safer absentee ballots. Another new lawsuit toward that end was filed in Tennessee over the weekend by the National Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, challenging what they describe as "some of the most restrictive absentee voting rules in the nation".

But here in Los Angeles, the County's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to require that a Vote-by-Mail ballot be automatically sent to every registered voter in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction this November. That is encouraging news, given that the County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has been clinging to his new, failed $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system that crashed and burned so spectacularly during the March 3 Super Tuesday Primary in the state.

On that score, we have the "breaking" news late Friday from CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, certifying that Bernie Sanders defeated Joe Biden by 8 points (36 to 28%) on March 3rd, after the Golden State's already 30-day long counting and certification period was extended to two months due to the COVID crisis. In Los Angeles County, Sanders enjoyed an 11 point win over the former Vice President and now presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee. So, no, despite what some in the media had irresponsibly told you, California was not stealing the election from Bernie (nor does any evidence persuasively show that they did so in 2016 either.)

We do, however, have more information today on the boondoggle "VSAP" (or Voting Solutions for All People) voting system that Logan forced on L.A. voters for the first time --- and, hopefully, the last --- on March 3rd. We're joined today by DOUG ECKS, a private attorney who, with Katherine McNenny, filed a public records request with Logan's office after the election to learn the number of new touchscreen voting systems that failed and the number of new electronic pollbooks that did the same, leading to hours-long voting lines in Los Angeles. They also sought copies of problem report records from poll workers.

While the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office failed to respond with any hard numbers on system failures (Ecks says he may sue to get that information), they did provide hundreds of page of problem reports from poll workers that Ecks and McNenny recently wrote about at Medium. Ecks joins us to detail some of those findings today and to discuss the importance of public oversight of our elections.

Among the news from their records request: the systems failed all across the county, often spectacularly. One problem report he notes, for example, found that 11 of 30 voting machines failed at a single voting location. That's an extraordinary failure rate for the brand-new tablet-style systems, developed over 10 years at extraordinary expense to tax-payers by Logan. When I asked Ecks today if, based on his findings, he thought the systems should be used again in the future, he answered with his own question: "If you bought 30 gallons of milk and 11 were spoiled, would you go back to that store?"

We finish up today with a few quick thoughts from callers...

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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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Biden takes OH; Mfume wins in MD; Yang sues NY state; MI's Amash likely running for Prez; Kobach loses again in KS; Also: Trump and economy sink like stones and a NYer on the government's f**ked up response...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2020 6:51pm PT  

We've got a boatload of news today (for a change) on The BradCast. And yes, we still need a much bigger boat. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Democrat Kweisi Mfume surprises nobody by winning back his old seat in the U.S. House in Maryland's special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings in Baltimore (according to incomplete, unverified results.);
  • Joe Biden surprises nobody by winning the first quickly conceived and rescheduled statewide almost-all absentee ballot primary election during the COVID era in Ohio (according to incomplete, unverified results.);
  • Donald Trump's approval rating for his handling of the COVID crisis plummets in new poll, though his national head-to-head numbers against Biden remain the same;
  • Andrew Yang sues New York state over this week's cancellation of the Democratic Presidential Primary by two Democrats on the State Board of Elections;
  • In what could be game-changing news for the Presidential race (though how it will change the game precisely is still unclear), Michigan's Republican-turned-independent U.S. House Rep. Justin Amash announces likely plans to run for President on the Libertarian Party ticket;
  • Kansas' former Secretary of State, long time GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and current Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kris Kobach loses again, this time at a U.S. court of appeals which upheld a lower court ruling finding Kobach's "papers please" proof-of-citizenship voter registration law to be in violation of the Constitution's Equal Protection clause and the National Voter Registration Act, after it prevented 30,000 legal Kansas voters from voting;
  • New numbers from the Commerce Department confirm that the U.S. economy is in big BIG trouble;
  • Steven Colbert explains why Trump can't lie his way out of the coronavirus disaster;
  • And New York comedian Vic DiBitetto offers a rant FOR THE AGES (the uncensored version we couldn't play on air is here) in response to the federal government's pathetic response to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus...in a way that only a real New Yorker can...

I'm short on time tonight. So to find out my thoughts on any or all of the stories above, you'll have to tune in. Enjoy!

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert on press coverage of the President's historically unparalleled failure and knee-jerk 'Dems in disarray!' narrative; Also: OH, MD elections; Trump ignored intel warnings on Coronavirus...
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2020 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As of today, more than one million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 58,000 in the U.S. have been killed by it, according to official counts (which are likely no more than half of the real number of those who have died either directly or indirectly because of COVID-19.) More Americans have been killed by the virus over the past two months than all of those who were killed throughout all of the years of the Vietnam War. The unprecedented crisis has also resulted in unemployment numbers on par with, and potentially worse than, the Great Depression. So, given the historic enormity of this moment, are the mainstream corporate media covering the failure of the Donald Trump Presidency with the unprecedented historic context warranted by what my guest today describes as 'Trump's Vietnam'? [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Before we answer that question and many related others, a quick update on the voting that is concluding today in two different states. In Maryland's 7th Congressional District there was a Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. In Ohio, voting is concluding across the state for the Democratic Presidential Primary, hundreds of local ballot issues, and a number of contested Congressional primaries in a state where, thanks to extreme gerrymandering of its 16 Congressional Districts, primaries often determine who goes to the U.S. House to represent the Buckeye State. The elections in both states (each with Republican Governors) are being held almost entirely by mail, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Complete results are unlikely to be known for several days as ballots are being quarantined for 24 hours in MD and may still arrive by mail for 10 more days in OH. Both cases, however, offer a glimpse of what elections are likely to look like in about 20 states which still have primary elections upcoming in the next several months, and potentially in all 50 states this November.

Then, we're getting a glimpse of how COVID infection rates could soon begin increasing again as some Republican Governors begin taking Donald Trump's advice to start lifting stay-at-home restrictions to allow businesses to reopen. Germany began lifting similar restrictions just last week, and early evidence suggests infections may be on the rise again there already.

Washington Post is reporting today that U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned Trump about the threat of the virus to the health of Americans and to its economy in "more than a dozen classified briefings" prepared for him in January and February. Despite the "drumbeat" of warnings reportedly in those Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs), Trump publicly ignored them and/or downplayed the dangers of the virus throughout those months and even into March. WaPo's report, based on sources that include "current and former U.S. officials", provides yet another data point underscoring the epic failure of Trump to protect the American people when he had the chance to prepare for and hope to contain the deadly pandemic.

We're joined today by longtime media analyst ERIC BOEHLERT, who, in his new thrice-weekly free newsletter, PressRun.Media, has been comparing this historic moment to the failure of leadership and years of deceptions presented to the media during the Vietnam War. Given that far more Americans have already been killed by the virus in about six weeks --- versus the 9 years of that tragic conflict --- the comparison seems apt, especially during an election year for reasons we also discuss today. "No President, obviously, in the history of our country, has ever tried to run for re-election with those staggering statistics on his resume," Boehlert explains, as he has been reporting on the media's failure to adequately cover "the truly historic and once-in-a-century events that have quickly unfolded this year" or even just how "unhinged the Trump Presidency has become."

We also discuss the corporate media's years-long and still-continuing obsession with reporting their "Dems in Disarray!" narrative, despite facts suggesting otherwise --- or, at least in comparison to their years-long downplaying of a Republican Party that is literally falling apart before our eyes with a President facing historically low approval numbers and his continuous losses in head-to-head polling with the Democrats' presumptive Presidential nominee.

Boehlert cites "this drumbeat of Joe Biden stories," from the New York Times and others. "'Joe Biden doesn't have enough money,' 'Joe Biden doesn't have enough YouTube followers'. Those are all fair topics, but when you do it against backdrop of a pandemic, and you do it against the backdrop of a sitting President with 30 million lost jobs, that seems pretty trivial. But they are just determined to stick with it," he says, before offering evidence from the Obama years and the Clinton impeachment of "the epic double standard that [the media have] used for years."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as the U.S. oil industry continues its stunning collapse and as the Trump Administration desperately tries to find a way to employ Big Government Socialism to try and bail it out...

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Guest: Investigative journalist David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden leads Trump by 8 in MI and PA, according to Fox 'News' poll...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2020 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start with good news for Democrats and Joe Biden before moving to the bad for Nancy Pelosi and her puzzling pick for a key oversight panel and seemingly terrible negotiation skills on emergency relief bills. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below.]

On Wednesday, moments after we got off air yesterday, Donald Trump tossed his sorry pal Brian Kemp, Georgia's dumb-as-dirt and illegitimate Governor, under the bus, by pretending that he "disagreed strongly" with and felt it was "too soon" for Kemp's scheme to re-open nail salons, barber shops, tattoo and massage parlors and more in the Peach State as of Friday. That, even though Trump had reportedly called Kemp the day before to congratulate him on the move. At the same time, he was condescendingly tweeting about how much he cares about the old people who will be killed when Republican Governors across the country begun re-opening their states against the advice of health experts.

Trump's latest reversal is likely for good reason. One, the top health officials on his coronavirus task force pretty much insisted that he condemn Kemp's deadly decision and two, older voters --- a key part of his base --- appear to be abandoning Trump in droves thanks to his terrible response to the virus. New polling from Trump's favorite source, Fox "News", now shows Joe Biden beating Trump by 8 points in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that are crucial to Trump's hopes of being re-elected. The Democratic Governors of both states, according to Fox, are very popular while Trump is decidedly not. In both states, large majorities of voters strongly support current stay-at-home restrictions, even if it continues to damage the economy.

The information in those polls amounts to the good news today for Dems. Then we turn to the mess that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to be creating in D.C., while members are back in their districts and she is left to negotiate new relief bills, largely by herself with Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of the upcoming book, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, joins us again today to catch us up on just some of the very important scoops he has been churning out each day in his daily, must-read "Unsanitized" report at The Prospect.

He has been causing a lot of problems for Pelosi of late, after exposing her embarrassingly poor pick for the four-person Congressional oversight board created by the CARES Act to oversee trillions of dollars of corporate bailouts and giveaways in the bill. Each of the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate get to pick one member each for the panel. Freshman oversight bulldog Rep. Katie Porter (CA) --- who would be perfect for the job --- had made clear she was hoping to get it. Nonetheless, Pelosi selected her friend, freshman Rep. Donna Shalala (FL), who has absolutely no experience in financial oversight. Worse, much worse, as Dayen first revealed last weekend, Shalala, who previously served as Bill Clinton's Health and Human Services Secretary and CEO of The Clinton Foundation, had mountains of conflicts due to stock investments in dozens of companies whose bailout funds she was being asked to oversee.

The story gets even worse, however, as Shalala first claimed she had sold most (if not all) of those stocks, before Dayen found that, if she had, she failed to publicly report those transactions as mandated by the federal STOCK Act, as her office had previously tried to claim she had. After another day or so of this fact-pummeling by Dayen at The Prospect --- eventually picked up by the corporate media --- Shalala was forced to admit that she, in fact, failed to file those mandatory disclosures. She apologized, claiming she had failed to understand the requirements of the Act, despite it being incredibly simple --- unlike the task of overseeing trillions of dollars in loans and grants by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, as required by the oversight panel on which she is now seated.

"How is Donna Shalala going to be in a hearing with the Federal Reserve, asking them about the rules and procedures of the corporate bailout, when she couldn't follow the most simple, basic step required of her as a member of Congress?," Dayen wonders.

Not a promising sign, even as Dayen reports that Shalala continues to have large holdings in a health care company that would also be subject to oversight by her panel. "The one stock she did not sell was in United Health, the health insurance company that she was on the board of for several years. She still holds that now. So she is a walking conflict of interest even in her normal duties in Congress," he tells me.

Nonetheless, nearly a week into Dayen's coverage, after a belated apology from Shalala for her violations of federal law, Pelosi continues to stand by her poor selection. Why? Well, Dayen discusses that and much more on today's show (including the much better selection of former Elizabeth Warren protege, Bharat Ramamurti, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the same panel.)

We also discuss what is --- and, more disturbingly, is NOT! --- in the nearly $500 billion bailout bill passed by the House on Thursday, after largely being crafted by Mitch McConnell in the Senate as Dems continue to give away pretty much all of the leverage they may have had for a list of things Dayen argues they should have fought for, including: "State and local government funding...Payroll support along the lines of just having the government operate these payrolls rather than having people laid off...Money for the Postal Service, which is about to go under...Health insurance expansion for the duration of the crisis...Rent relief...foreclosure relief...Nor did they guarantee Vote-By-Mail for every American during the November election."

It's a very lively and troubling conversation, with lots of stuff --- maddening, amusing and informative --- including why Congress has failed to adopt some way of remote voting so that they can somehow continue to carry on the people's business, even during the need for physical distancing.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (believe or not) and bad in the age of the coronavirus...as well as some swingin' music to take us out for the day!...

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Guest: Attorney Courtney Hostetler; Also: Studies find COVID deaths twice as high as thought, infections 25 to 80 times higher; And 'final dagger in heart of U.S. shale oil industry'?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2020 7:08pm PT  

We've got a whole lot jammed into one single hour of The BradCast today. So let's take this one step at a time and hope for the best. You may wish to stay away from anything that is breakable over the course of the hour. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

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

  • Hydroxychloroquine, the magical "100% cure!" for COVID-19 that Fox "News" promoted endlessly for weeks on end along with their stooge President in the White House, is, according to a new study of hundreds of patients at Veterans Health Administration medical centers across the country, not a cure at all. In fact, 28 percent of infected patients given the malaria drug along with regular care died, while only 11 percent who received the same care but without the hydroxychloroquine died. That's just one of the reasons you likely haven't heard either Fox or Trump, who encouraged folks to take it ("What do you have to lose?," he repeated over and again) mention it at all lately;
  • A new analysis of UK data by the Financial Times finds the number of coronavirus-related deaths there are likely more than twice as high as the officially confirmed count, which only tallies those who have died in hospitals after testing positive for the virus. The analysis confirms other similar studies of inexplicably high death rates (for any reason) in countries around the world, far in excess of average numbers this time of year, even after official COVID-19 are removed from the statistics;
  • While that study and others like it suggest the NUMBER of deaths, both directly and indirectly attributable to the pandemic, are likely at least twice as high as officially recognized, the death RATE for the coronavirus may be much smaller. A new study by USC and Los Angeles County, examining those with antibodies for the virus present in their systems, suggest that infections are far more widespread than previously understood. Infection rates appears to be as much as 28 to 55 times higher than previously understood in L.A. That study appears to confirm a similar one in Santa Clara County in Northern California, finding the rate of infection there to be as much as 50 to 80 times higher than previously known;
  • In short, there is a LOT that is not understood about this deadly virus, making it all the more insane that Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp (now followed by several other GOP Governors across the country) is planning to re-open the state's hair salons, tattoo shops, bowling alleys, massage parlors and other places of business this Friday, with movie theaters and restaurants set to be opened on Monday. During his stunning Monday announcement, Kemp claimed that "health care professionals" agreed with his action, even though members of his state's own COVID-19 task force and the mayors of its largest cities were never consulted and are reportedly furious. CNN reported on Wednesday morning that both Trump and Vice President Pence called Kemp on Tuesday to express their support for the move (even though mere seconds after we got off air today, Trump apparently flip-flopped during the White House briefing to claim he "strongly disagreed" with Kemp and thought it was "too soon" to reopen.);
  • Definitely not consulted in any of this were the state's front-line health care workers like Lawrenceville, GA physician Dr. Karla Lorraine. We share her moving "viral" video --- shot at work, while still in some of her personal protective equipment after hearing news of Kemp's announcement --- in which she begs people, through her own tears, to "please stay home!";
  • Next, as we do, we turn to what the hell people can do about all of this madness, beginning with VOTING these madmen out of office this year. To that end, we're joined today by attorney COURTNEY HOSTETLER, counsel at Free Speech for People, one of the groups representing the NAACP in a new lawsuit filed in North Carolina to prevent the use of new, "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" (yes, now infectiously dangerous) touchscreen voting systems in more than 20 counties across the very closely divided battleground state this November.

    The lawsuit [PDF] is one of many being filed in state after state as jurisdictions move to change voting procedures in the wake of a global pandemic. Aside from being a vector for spreading disease in many rural and urban counties (including Mecklenberg, the state's largest, most diverse and Democratic-leaning) Hostetler explains how the specific new systems in question, the ES&S ExpressVote, creates barcoded "paper ballot" summary cards that can never be verified as accurately reflecting the intent of any voter. The same systems, she explains, are also insecure and prone to failure, as seen in several states where those systems and very similar ones made by ES&S --- the nation's top supplier of voting systems and the largest private vendor in the country --- have failed in recent elections and were found vulnerable to hacking and manipulation in test labs.

    She also details a number of other maddening reasons that these expensive, dangerous, insecure and unverifiable new voting machines must be replaced with hand-marked paper ballot systems before the state's critical Presidential election this November.

  • Finally today, a few thoughts on crashing oil prices amid a worldwide glut that has led producers to literally pay people to take oil off their hands for lack of storage. One analyst suggests this moment is "probably going to be the final dagger in the heart of the U.S. shale oil industry." Yes, he means this could be the end of fracking in the U.S., at least for oil, if not natural gas. So, maybe something good after all can come out of all of our ongoing disasters...

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The so-called 'pro-life' party is now anything but...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2020 6:47pm PT  

We've been hearing a lot of references to the GOP as a "death cult" of late. And while it sounds, at first, like little more than a partisan smear by Democrats, it's not. Just ask this longtime Republican. The description actually seems to be more and more apt with each passing day, as today's BradCast helps to make all too clear. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the many Death Cult GOP stories in evidence on today's program...

  • In March, a woman and mother of two in Texas took to Facebook to offer a rant on the global coronavirus pandemic as little more than a "media driven" hoax meant for "overthrowing Trump". She warned readers to "Wake up!!! This is what the beginning of socialism looks like," adding "You don't need hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and Lysol. You need common sense, a sense of direction, faith, a will to fight, and of course guns!" She died from COVID-19 just a few weeks later in April.
  • And just a few weeks after that, even as bodies continue to pile up in Texas, with it's coronavirus peak predicted to be still two weeks away, the state's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced on a Friday his plan to open the state back up for business. Among his plans for doing so: state parks will be opened on Monday and large venues such as restaurants and movie theaters could be re-opened as early as April 27.
  • Abbott's announcement follows a record 4,591 American deaths formally attributed to COVID-19 in a single 24 hour period, as the official death toll climbed above 33,000 as of Friday morning.
  • Even as the body count grows and Trump has backed off his claim of "total authority" to order Governors to end stay-at-home orders just a day earlier, leaving the decision to Governors instead, the President of the United States took to Twitter to seemingly call for violent overthrows of three states with Democratic Governors. "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," he tweeted. And later, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN". Followed by "LIBERATE VIRGINIA," adding "And save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!"
  • Yes. It's a death cult. But if you had any question about that, we review his EPA's latest rollback of environmental regulations, including today's which guts an Obama-era rule to curb the emissions of mercury and other toxins. It is just the latest rule overturned by the Trump Administration, following his recent reversal of vehicle mileage standards and the toxic emissions that would have been curbed with them and this week's decision to ignore the EPA's own scientists calling for the tightening of National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate pollution (soot) which might help lessen some 50,000 deaths per year. Each of those regulations save tens of thousands of American lives annually. But they are now quickly being overturned one after the next to not only help a few of his corporate campaign contributors, but also to avoid the Congressional Review Act which allows Congress to reverse regulations passed in the final six months of a President's term with a simple majority vote.
  • Not enough GOP Death Cultism for ya? Then we turn to elections once again, where Republicans continue to draw the battle-lines for 2020 with new efforts to force voters to choose between risking their lives to vote in person during a pandemic or losing their right to vote altogether. That, versus attempts by Democrats to make voting easier and safer for all. Yesterday we highlighted the fight in Texas where its Republican Attorney General has threatened criminal prosecution against those who advise voters to seek absentee ballots for fear of the coronavirus. Today's example comes out of Kentucky, where the GOP legislature has voted to override the veto of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in order to force the enactment of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions this November. Good luck to Kentucky voters who lack an ID in getting one. All of the state's driver's license offices are closed across the state due to the COVID crisis. Darn the luck, am I right GOPers? No worries, with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell on the ballot this year, locked in a potentially close fight with his likely challenger Amy McGrath, I'm sure everything will work out just fine.
  • And, yes, if all of this idiotic death and mayhem sounds like a terrible movie that couldn't get greenlighted in Hollywood, it's because it is...

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Guest: Financial journalist David Dayen; Also: COVID economic numbers getting worse; TX judge allows absentee voting during pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2020 7:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More economic fallout and Administration failure amid the coronavirus crisis, but some good news for Texas voters...at least for now. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Devastating and unprecedented economic numbers continue to pour out from D.C. today, with new unemployment claims last week topping 5.2 million. That totals nearly 22 million new jobless claims over the past month, once again blowing away --- for the fourth week running --- the pre-COVID weekly jobless claims record of 695,000 in 1992. Economists now believe the U.S. unemployment rate is about 15%, rivaling numbers from the Great Depression.

At the same time, several of the federal programs run by the Executive Branch meant to provide relief to individuals and small businesses amid the pandemic, are failing or have collapsed entirely. For example, the $350 billion appropriated to forgivable small business loans in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) included as part of the CARES Act is now completely gone, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Millions who applied for loans and grants under PPP have been shut out entirely.

Separately, while some have received their promised $1,200 individual payments also allocated by the Act, there are reports today that $500 payments included for dependent children have not been included for many, even as many more still wait for their payments entirely. (Some of which are likely delayed thanks to Donald Trump insisting his name be added to the paper checks being mailed out.)

"What you'll see if this continues for months and months, and people are still inside, are just closures of businesses," today's returning guest DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily, indispensable "Unsanitized" report tells me . "Right now, businesses are shuttered, they're looking for this CARES Act, the PPP loans. They're trying to figure out a way to stay alive, they'll just close if it's months before they can open."

He cites potential closures of as many as 60% of businesses in the retail sector and 70% in the restaurant sector who may soon be forced to simply shut down entirely. "That is absolute economic devastation. That's not something that you can easily come back from when you throw open the doors. If people can't stay in business right now, they're not going to be able to go back into business when everything opens."

But that is unlikely to happen on the schedule the President is pretending it will, says Dayen. "You can say 'we're going to re-open the economy', but a large segment of the American people aren't going to willingly go like lambs to the slaughter back to a restaurant if they expect that there is an outbreak that the government doesn't have a handle on. You see business executives saying to Trump, 'You can't do anything with this until you get massive testing in place.' And we just don't have that right now. So the economic pain and the public health hazard will continue until such time as we get our act together. That time has not yet been upon us."

All of this, of course, is even worse than it has to be, thanks to this disastrous Administration. A number of Dayen's recent scoops from his daily column at The Prospect have recently been picked up by the corporate media, including the New York Times Editorial Board which last night cited his coverage of a recording he obtained between Treasury Department officials and bank executives. The recording reveals the Trump Administration gave a green light to banks to withhold the money from those $1,200 payments sent to their customers who had unpaid fees and debts. That, despite the fact that Congress allowed Treasury to draft regulations to prevent the banks from stealing those emergency payments from customers.

Dayen further reports today that USAA, a bank which services many American veterans, has been stealing those funds from disabled vets and their families. Thanks to Dayen's reporting, however, the company has now announced they will reverse the practice.

In yet another scoop from Dayen's "Unsanitized" today, a new report from a number of non-governmental organizations suggests that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce --- the nation's largest, richest and most powerful lobbying organization, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Republicans across the country --- has been urging the White House against invoking the Defense Production Act to force the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as much-needed N95 masks to guard against the coronavirus pandemic. Why would they do that? Well, as Dayen explains, many of the companies who might be forced to comply with the Act to manufacture highly sought after protective gear and ventilators, etc. have top executive who sit on the Chamber's Board of Directors. That may very well answer the mystery of why the Trump Administration has been so hesitant to invoke the Korean War-era statute to help fight the alarming spread of COVID-19.

Next, we return to the growing fight over how Americans will be allowed to vote during the pandemic, with some Republicans taking extraordinary measures to prevent voters from being able to vote by absentee ballot this year, despite the dangers now presented by in-person voting amid stay-at-home orders across the country. In Texas, the Attorney General is attempting to block Lone Star State voters from requesting absentee ballots based on their fear of contracting coronavirus at the polls. The AG recently declared [PDF] that such concerns do not meet the state's statutory requirement that a voter must have a "physical condition" that constitutes a "disability" in order to apply for an absentee ballot. Moreover, the AG's office declared that third parties who recommend voters take advantage of that option, without an actual physical disability that prevents them from going to the polls, could be held criminally liable for doing so.

Thankfully, a state District Court judge on Wednesday, in a suit filed by the Texas Democratic Party with a number of voting rights groups, ruled that all Texas voters may legally apply for mail-in ballots due to social distancing restrictions and the risk of contracting the virus. At least for now. That good news is tempered by the fact that the Republican Attorney General has made clear that the case is likely to be appealed to a higher state court. That, ironically enough, as the TX AG who is still facing his own felony indictments on securities fraud, declared after the judge's ruling that "The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our legislature must be followed consistently."

The legal fight in Texas, however, clearly illustrates the battle lines now being drawn between Democrats and voting rights advocates hoping to make it easier for Americans to vote amid a pandemic in this year's critical elections and Republicans who are attempting to suppress as many voters as they can --- even if it means forcing their own voters to choose between risking their lives or losing their right to vote.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with some more good news out of now "blue" Virginia, some more disturbing news from the Trump EPA (which is also happy to allow Americans to die unnecessarily), some good global news regarding renewable energy, and a look back at the BP Gulf Oil Spill ten years ago this week, where the damage persists even a full decade after the nation's worst fossil-fuel disaster...

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An exclusive conversation with AL's former Dem Governor and former federal (political) prisoner; Also: Sanders suspends Presidential run...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sanders is out, and a former federal prisoner tries to sound the alarm about deplorable and deadly conditions in our nation's prison system as coronavirus turns jail sentences, even for non-violent offenders, into death sentences --- not to mention the dangers posed to prison workers and their families in the bargain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: And then there was one. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his Presidential campaign on Wednesday, leaving Joe Biden the last man standing from about 25 or so Democratic men and women vying for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. In a live-streamed announcement, Sanders said he was leaving the race, though staying on the ballot in the remaining primary states (if they are ever able to vote amid the coronavirus pandemic) in hopes of leveraging as many delegates as possible at the Democratic National Convention (if it is ever able to happen) to continuing moving his progressive agenda forward. We share an extended portion of Sanders statement today, in which he announces his support for Biden, if not yet an explicit endorsement.

Next: While most Americans continue to hunker down in their homes and maintain physical distancing while outside of the home as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, there are millions held in state and federal prisons (as well as immigration detention centers) who are unable to physically distance themselves from others. The result, not unexpectedly, is an explosion of infections and deaths for both prisoners and prison staff around the country, even as some states have released thousands of non-violent offenders to try and ease over-crowding that is exacerbating the problem and turning incarceration into a potential death sentence for many.

Former Alabama Governor DON SIEGELMAN contacted us last week in hopes of trying to get the word out about the problem, including at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, where the former Democratic Governor (and "political prisoner") served five years of time before his long-overdue release in 2017.

The minimum security facility at Oakdale has seen an explosion of COVID-19 cases and, according to suspiciously low numbers being reported by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP), currently has more reported cases (35) and deaths (5) than any other federal facility. (Curiously, on its website, the BOP is reporting just 253 federal inmates and 85 BOP staffers infected as of today at more than 40 federal facilities across the country. At the same time, as the NYTimes reported this afternoon, the Cook County jail in Chicago alone has at least 387 cases linked to that one county facility.)

Siegelman, who has been in touch with some of his former cellmates who are now pleading for help, details the conditions that prisoners at the Oakdale facility are forced to live under. "The conditions at Oakdale were bad before the virus started," he tells me. "If people can imagine living stacked, one on top of the other, basically a warehouse."

He details one of the areas he was housed in that inmates call "the submarine room" because bunks are stacked three high and it is like living in a submarine. The bunks, he says, are "so close together you can actually reach out and touch the other inmates if you wanted to. It was so crowded. There's no ventilation. The doors are shut, the windows are locked. There's nothing to protect an inmate from breathing what other inmates exhale." With inmates "in such close proximity, there is no way to protect themselves from someone who has the virus, who is a carrier. For the virus, it's going to be like shooting fish in a barrel."

Siegelman explains that he has been told the facility has not made adequate changes to deal with the outbreak, which is why the ACLU has filed a lawsuit in hopes of allowing many of the non-violent offenders to be released from the facility. While that has happened in a number of state prisons, the federal system is moving intolerably slowly in taking any action at all. In many cases, Siegelman says, prisoners are locked up during pre-trial, before they've been found guilty of anything. In others, they are forced to stay in these dangerous conditions longer than they might otherwise, since many probation and parole boards have been unable to meet due to the pandemic.

He is calling for non-violent offenders, particularly those late in their sentences, to be released immediately. "My question is, why are they there in the first place? If they pose no threat to public safety, if they're non-violent offenders, if they have only a few months remaining on their sentence, if they are at risk because of health reasons, why not let them out? They should have been out already."

The once very popular southern state Governor served from 1999 to 2003, after serving as Alabama's Sec. of State, Attorney General and Lt. Governor. He was charged with bribery-related offenses in which he never received a dime on charges that more than 100 former Democratic and Republican state Attorneys General described as something that was never considered to be a crime until Siegelman was charged with it. He was sentenced by a federal judge who was later arrested and removed from the bench after being found to have beaten his wife.

The evidence suggests, as we've covered his story over the years on air at The BRAD BLOG, that it was a political prosecution which included major prosecutorial misconduct during the George W. Bush era, when Siegelman's Republican rival, Gov. Bob Riley, worked closely with longtime Alabama GOP operative Karl Rove to take him down by any means necessary. That included an almost-certainly stolen election on a Diebold optical-scan tabulator on which results were flipped against him in the middle of the night. All of which Siegelman details in his upcoming book, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.

For now, however, Siegelman is fighting for criminal justice reform and imploring listeners to "call your mayors, your governor, and Members of Congress to keep the pressure on to get these people out of jail and out of prisons that pose no public safety risk. They need to say that inmates that are non-violent, that pose no public safety risk, need to be released --- or at least placed in another facility where they are separate from other inmates. .... We would hope that the President of the United States would get on board and take this a little more seriously. But don't hold your breath."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guests: Filmmakers Simon Ardizonne and Russell Michaels...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2020 6:50pm PT  

Today, we devote the bulk of The BradCast to HBO's new documentary film, released just last week and considered important enough that the premium cable channel is now making it available, for free, through May 25th on their YouTube channel right here. (You can also watch a number of clips, teasers and extras from the film here.) [Audio link to today's full program is posted below.]

The new film is called Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections and it comes from the team who created the landmark, Emmy-nominated 2006 HBO doc Hacking Democracy.

The climax of that earlier film (you can watch just that key scene right here) featured the first known on camera hack of a Diebold optical-scan vote tabulation system, which changed the results of a mock election in which one question was asked on the ballot: "Can Diebold's optical-scan vote tabulators be hacked?" The votes, as we see them cast in the film on hand-marked paper ballots by Election Integrity advocates including Bev Harris of Black Box Voting in the office of then Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, are clearly 6 'NO' and 2 'YES'. But when the paper ballots are run through the tabulator, the results reported back by the computer are 1 'NO' and 7 'YES'. The tabulator had been hacked and only a hand-count of the hand-marked paper ballots would ever have revealed that it was, had it happened in an actual election. (Needless to say, almost no paper ballots are hand-counted by humans after elections in the U.S., including the 2016 Presidential election, to assure the computers are reported accurate results.)

The manipulation of the system at the time was carried out by legendary Finish cybersecurity and voting system expert Harri Hursti, who is the central character in this new follow-up film. It follows Hursti as he uncovers new and persistent revelations proving that U.S. elections remain far more vulnerable than many realize, and arguably no safer or more secure from manipulation --- by foreign or domestic actors --- than they were during the making of the 2006 film or even since the 2016 Presidential election. (Yes, the same optical-scanners hacked in the 2006 film are still in use in states around the country in 2020!) All of that, despite assurances from the U.S. Intelligence Community and bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia attempted to access elections systems in all 50 states in 2016 --- when Donald Trump is said to have won by a razor thin margin in three states that hadn't voted for a Republican candidate in decades. Those same institutions continue to warn us that Russia plans to do the same in 2020, though as the film shows, it does not take a nation-state in order to do so.

We're joined for today's special edition of The BradCast by SIMON ARDIZZONE and RUSSELL MICHAELS, the British directors of both 2006's Hacking Democracy as well as, with Sarah Teale, the follow-up Kill Chain out this week from HBO. We share a number of clips from the new film, which features at its climax a chilling interview with a foreign hacker, shot in silhouette, who explains that, before the 2016 election, he was able to take complete control of Alaska's entire election system --- from its online voter registration database to its vote tabulation system. The hacker, who goes by the name 'CyberZeist', claims he was able to gain access to every user name and password on the system and obtain root access to change anything he might have wanted to. "I could have made any changes in the system, like deleting the candidates. I could kick anyone out. I could alter any date, any vote." he claims. "It was such a rush that, at that particular moment, I felt like I was the God."

Ardizzone and Michaels offer insight on CyberZeist and why they believe his allegations to be very credible. But there are many other disturbing allegations and evidence to support them presented before that point in the movie, including Ion Sancho's reflections and continuing concerns 16 years after the first film, as he reports on the mandatory secret meeting that all Florida election supervisors were summoned to after the 2016 election, regarding a hack of VR Systems, the contractor which runs the voter registration system in the Sunshine State and others as well. That is the company --- and the spearfishing operation --- described in documents leaked to media in 2017 by DHS whistleblower Reality Winner, who is still serving 5 years in federal prison for having done so.

We also witness disturbing evidence of chicanery in the 2018 Gubernatorial election in Georgia, which was overseen by its eventual "winner" Brian Kemp. He served as Secretary of State at the time, responsible for programming the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and creating the electronic access cards needed to vote on it. The filmmakers were there and had their cameras rolling on Election Day in 2018 when those voter access cards failed, leading to hours-long lines to vote in one of the state's most Democratic-leaning counties. Kemp would eventually be named the winner of the election by little more than 1% over popular Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Longtime BRAD BLOG readers and BradCast listeners are likely to recognize a number of the featured players in the film, as many of them have been repeated guests on the program over the years. Ardizonne and Michaels share a number of insights on the making of the film today, such as why it took 14 years to follow-up the previous one and the mysteriously huge interest in the original online just before the 2016 election; they offer additional details on several disturbing discoveries made by hackers at DefCon's Voting Village in Las Vegas; they discuss how the private voting system vendors responded to invitations from the filmmakers to tell their sides of the story in the movie; what the reaction has been from law enforcement officials to CyberZeist's revelations since the film's premier last week; whether they believe the 2016 election results were legitimate; whether a move to Vote-by-Mail during the coronavirus crisis will help avoid any of these problems in 2020; and why the film is titled Kill Chain.

"We, actually, in a way, didn't want to make [Kill Chain," Ardizzone tells me. "The reason we made it was because we noticed a really sudden uptick in the number of people who were watching Hacking Democracy online. And a lot of our contacts started to get back in touch with us, saying, 'You know, even though you made that film, the problems are still there, and they're kind of worse now.' And this was before the elections in November 2016."

"I believe, to this day, no individual voting machines [from 2016] have been subpoenaed, sequestered and cyber-investigated by the Department of Homeland Security," Michaels says. "The scientists are screaming out, saying this is completely insecure, you must stop doing it. As far as I'm aware, no one is going to stop doing it in 2020. It's still going full steam ahead."

Of course, there is much much more. I believe you'll want to tune in for this conversation today.

Finally, we close today with a bit of listener mail regarding the ongoing and upcoming election disaster now underway in Wisconsin which is still set to hold its Presidential Primary this Tuesday. That, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Governor, a lack of poll workers willing to risk death by working the polls, and a flood of absentee ballot requests and incoming mail ballots that officials are finding impossible to keep up with given their current lack of resources.

If any bad guys out there were hoping to cause havoc and chaos in the American electoral system, well mission accomplished! Hopefully it won't result in too many people actually dying in Wisconsin, where the state's Republican-controlled legislature has repeatedly refused the Democratic Governor's pleas to postpone the election or change it to an all Vote-by-Mail election...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the news remains largely grim --- we'd expect no less during a global pandemic --- but there continue to be signs of light, way, way...way down at the end of the tunnel. For many in the journalism industry, however, the tunnel may be far too long and dark to make it out to the other side. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, thanks to an entirely dysfunctional, entirely failed Presidential Administration, things that should already be getting better --- the easy stuff, like testing, personal protective equipment and ventilator shortages --- shamefully, do not appear to be getting better in many parts of the country. The death toll in the U.S. has now officially surpassed both China's and our own on 9/11.

But we see more and more signs each day that at least physical distancing appears to be working as hoped --- slowly, but with unmistakable progress in locations where it is being dutifully practiced. But there remains a long way to go, and a dark tunnel to get through until we see that full light.

With nobody on the federal level leading the way, states and cities continue to do so as best as they can. But it is difficult if not impossible for them, or the news media, to know what to even expect on a macro level as the economy heads into completely unknown territory. According to at least one new economic analysis from the St. Louis Fed, unemployment rates could end up dwarfing even the highest levels of the Great Depression, much less the Great Recession.

And with that cheery news, we're joined today by longtime media industry expert CRAIG SILVERMAN, BuzzFeed News' Media Editor, to discuss the troubling outlook for independent local media as well corporate media amid the coronavirus pandemic. The industry is one of the first to feel the brunt of a nearly national shutdown. Ironically enough, the readership for many news outlets has "skyrocketed across the board" online, he says. "People are hungry for the latest quality information about what's going on with the coronavirus, and they're going to news organizations to get that information."

At the same time, however, ad revenue has collapsed and the same outlets across the country (and world) seeing a spike in readership are being forced to shut down the print sides of their publications, lay off journalists, and otherwise scale back reporting at a time that good local journalism is needed more than ever.

A number of alt-weeklies have already gone under, as their ad revenue is based almost entirely on industries like restaurants, bars, movie theaters, concerts and live events that have all been forced to shut down. "The alternative weeklies are kind of canaries in the coal mine. A lot of alt-weeklies have already gone out of business in Canada and the United States," Silverman warns. "A lot of the very small newspapers, especially that are part of chains, or had debt, they may not be able to come back."

"Now, we've got some of the biggest newspaper chains in the US, like Gannett [publisher of USA Today and more than a dozen other major papers], yesterday they announced they're doing unpaid newsroom furloughs for one week a month. Los Angeles Times is significantly cutting back on its print sections Monday to Friday. Other newspapers are getting rid of print editions," he tells me.

Silverman explains what one journalism industry analyst is describing as a "full extinction event" for many outlets, and the millions of dollars in lost revenue for some of the largest ones, thanks to a bizarre ad blocking scheme that some major brands are instituting on coronavirus related news stories.

We also discuss what you, dear readers and listeners, can do to help. "This is the moment for you to pay for the media that you care about," he says. "It's about people deciding for themselves what media they want to support. It may not be a big national outlet. If you have money right now --- and that is a big 'if', a lot of people are struggling --- but if you have money and you can afford maybe $5, $10, $15 a month, this is the time to stand up and show that support. A lot of people in newsrooms who are getting laid off, furloughed, who are getting pay cuts, this can make a difference if enough people step up and start to do it."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report as Trump's EPA, even in the middle of an unprecedented health crisis, has now officially reversed landmark Obama-era mileage standards for cars that, in addition to combating climate change and lowering gas prices, would have also helped prevent some 1,400 unnecessary American deaths per year. But that's not all the Administration is doing to undermine the planet's climate and the health of Americans while most folks are looking the other way, and as the plastic industry is hoping to find profit in a pandemic...

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Guest: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the bill? Who's now holding it up? And how Governors are dismissing our idiot President...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Avery important lesson from the coronavirus crisis for progressives and for all Americans that I hope we are all able to remember once this crisis has finally ended. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article. Please click it!]

Britain's 71-year old Prince Charles, 71-year old Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and 81-year old playwright Terrence McNally all tested positive. The prolific playwright succumbed on Tuesday in Florida. They were all able to get tested for coronavirus. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans still cannot. Add it to the list of national disgraces we are collectively enduring as we stay-at-home as much as possible in hopes of slowing the spread to keep our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.

That said, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have come to an agreement on another emergency spending bill to address a bit more of the growing fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. The bill, if allowed to pass in the Senate by four Republicans now blocking it, and if House Democrats can pass a similarly acceptable bill, will cost a record $2 trillion. That's half the size of the nation's annual $4 trillion annual federal budget, and many experts agree, there will need to be much more spending hereafter.

And yet, nobody --- not Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives or White House --- seems to be complaining that we don't have the money to pay for it, or that we must cut somewhere else or raise taxes to be able to afford it. It is as if, as our guest today, Stony Brook University Professor of Economics and leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory STEPHANIE KELTON notes, we are able to just "conjure into existence, in a matter of days, a couple of trillion dollars," enough money for the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And, as it turns out, she is right!

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted recently in response to the sudden disappearance of so-called "Deficit Hawks" on Capitol Hill: "It's actually a fascinating progressive moment, because what it's shown is that all of these issues have never been about 'how are you going to pay for it?' It's never been about whether we have the capacity to do these things. All of these excuses that we have been given as to why we can't treat people humanely have suddenly gone up in smoke. And what has been revealed is that all of these issues were really about a lack of political will and who you deemed worthy to be in an emergency or not."

Kelton, the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has been trying to make these points of late in Twitter threads, New York Times op-eds, and her upcoming book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy. As she tells me today, "Congress will always find the funds to accomplish the things that it considers a priority. If that's tax cuts, then that's the priority, and the money will be there. If it's wars, that's the priority. If it's dealing with a global pandemic, then that suddenly becomes a priority."

She laments that Democrats, over months on the Presidential campaign trail, have not been able to educate the American public about these facts and how difficult it has now become --- after years of phony claims from politicians (of both parties) that the U.S. was going broke or that government should be run by the same fiscal rules that govern households and businesses --- "to disabuse people of these myths that we have heard from our politicians, pundits and reporters."

She argues "There is a time and a place for offsets. It's not a free lunch", but Bernie Sanders' call for "canceling $81 billion of medical debt is nothing. It's everything to the people who have medical debt. But from the perspective of the federal budget, it's practically a rounding error, it's so trivial. We could have done that and not offset it," she says. "The federal government's finances don't work like ours. They're not subject to the same constraints as a household or a private company. Once you get your head around that, a lot of other things follow."

"A year ago, could we have just done free college or Medicare For All or whatever? The answer is yes. Congress can write and pass any bill it chooses, period. The risk, though, is that if you don't include offsets, and you're simply authorizing these huge spending bills left and right, at some point you're going to eat up all of the fiscal space left in the economy. In other words, it's going to become inflationary. So there is a time and a place for offsets." That time, apparently, is not now, however. And she hopes that after this emergency finally passes, enough Americans will remember what happened here, how easy it was to "find" all the money when it was needed, to finally do away with the notion that endless wars and corporate subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy are the only things we can afford to spend money on to "promote the general welfare" of the American people.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including details on what the proposed Phase III emergency coronavirus spending bill will and won't pay for, and the good news that America's Governors --- both Democratic and Republican --- seem to be rejecting our corrupt, man-child President when it comes to his dangerous coronavirus idiocy.

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