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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, February 28, 2021
Sunday 'Party Unity' Toons
Let's all come together for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
SCOTUS Could Soon Kill the Voting Rights Act:
'BradCast' 2/26/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser...
Texans Pay Big Price for Enron-Like Deregulation
A Green New Deal didn't cause the Lone Star State's deadly power crisis, but it could help prevent the next one...
You Never Forget Your First: 'BradCast' 2/25/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with historian/author Alexis Coe...
'Green News Report' 2/25/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Historic Interior nom fends off GOP attacks; New USPS trucks won't be all-electric; TX deregulation cost users $28 billion; PLUS: TX refineries released tons of toxins during crisis...
Previous GNRs: 2/23/21 - 2/18/21 - Archives...
SCOTUS Puts Both Trump and Future Elections in Legal Peril: 'BradCast' 2/24/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Virginia is no longer for death penalty lovers...
Merrick Garland, Cyrus Vance and Trump Accountability: 'BradCast' 2/23/21
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: SCOTUS ends 2020 GOP election challenges; GA Repubs' vote suppression bills...
'Green News Report' 2/23/21
TX power returns, water crisis continues; Repubs who lied about wind energy got big bucks from Big Oil; PLUS: U.S. officially rejoins Paris Climate Agreement...
Seeking Environmental Justice in the 'ALONE' Star State: 'BradCast' 2/22/21
Guest: Dr. Robert Bullard of Nat'l Black Environmental Justice Network; Also: COVID kills 500k; SCOTUS denies Trump; Dominion sues MyPillow guy for $1.3B...
Sunday 'Kick the Can' Toons...
Kick back with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Cruz Deserts Texas, NASA Returns to Mars: 'BradCast' 2/18/21
Guest: Margot Paez, formerly of 'BradCast' and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab; Also: TX crisis spikes oil, gas prices...
'Green News Report' 2/18/21
Special Coverage: TX power grid devastated by deep freeze, death toll climbs, privatization to blame, RWers launch TX disinfo campaign to falsely blame wind power...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/18/2020 11:32am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Extreme weather broils the United States; Greenland ice sheet potentially hits 'point of no return,' study warns; PLUS: Trump Administration officially opens pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling (But don't tell Trump)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): White House To Withdraw Pendley's BLM Nomination; Seven Top Oil Firms Downgrade Assets by $87 Billion in Nine Months; Wind and Sun Killing Gas in Texas; China’s Summer of Floods is a Preview of Climate Disasters to Come; Walls or Wetlands? How Southeast Cities Are Grappling With Rising Seas... PLUS: How utilities use secret campaigns against climate action... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala as VEEP; Jeanne Dufort on why the Peach State's new, $100 million digital-scanners failed to count thousands of valid votes and how to fix it before November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2020 7:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two mysteries solved in one single, if hectic, show! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The first is the mystery of who presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden would select as his Vice-Presidential partner. Now we know. Less than an hour before showtime today, it was announced that California's first-term U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will become the first black woman (and first South Asian American woman) to be part of a major party's Presidential ticket. On short notice, we were able to scrounge up the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog to join us for her "top-line, knee-jerk, hot-take" response to the big news and how she thinks it will play both among the electorate at large and the far, FAR more picky progressive electorate.

Parton, a progressive herself, who says she was rooting for Elizabeth Warren to be named for the slot, describes Harris as a "a very skilled politician"; argues that her selection "says something nice about Biden"; discusses the "legitimate concerns that progressives have had about Harris"; and whether she believes "the Left" will be able to "put aside their differences" to get behind the ticket, before "going to fight tooth and nail about the things that we care about" in the event that Biden actually becomes President next January.

Today's other solved mystery is much trickier. And it has to do with Georgia, which is holding primary runoff elections today, along with state primary elections on Tuesday in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (We'll have noteworthy results from all of those states, as available, on tomorrow's BradCast, of course). Naturally, because it's Election Day in Georgia --- a key battleground state which some believe could finally flip from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time in decades --- there are problems at the polls. While hopefully not as terrible as the meltdown caused by the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks that resulted in hours-long lines in largely Democratic-leaning precincts during the state's June primary, we have early indications that the same, new, overly-complex, computerized voting systems failed voters again today in at least some of the 94 (of 159) counties participating in today's runoffs.

Despite that distressing (if unsurprising) news today in Georgia, there was some good-ish news from the State Elections Board (SEB) there. They met on Monday to adopt new procedures in advance of the November 3rd Presidential election. The SEB unanimously agreed to allow voters to request absentee ballots for November via a new online webpage to go live by the end of the month. That's good news for those who have easy online access. But, shamefully, it comes along with the news that Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, after successfully sending out Vote-by-Mail applications to all of the state's active registered voters before the June primary, will NOT be doing so before this year's Presidential election. Apparently, that plan worked too well and allowed too many to easily vote from home, when they might otherwise have had to struggle with long lines and Raffensperger's failed electronic voting systems at the polling place in the middle of an ongoing global pandemic.

Also at Georgia's SEB meeting on Monday, the Board agreed to make a change to the state's new computer-tabulation systems that scan and count those hand-marked paper absentee ballots. (Voters at the polls are forced to use unverifiable touchscreen systems.) The SEB's change to a software setting on the systems came about, thanks in no small part, to our guest today, JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance.

Following the June primaries, Dufort was on a bi-partisan citizens' panel reviewing digital images of hand-marked paper absentee ballots on which the computerized digital-scanners believed there were over-votes with, for example, more than one oval in a single race seen by the computer as being filled in. State law requires manual examination of such ballots to determine if the voter's intent is discernible or not. While reviewing those ballots, Dufort and the other panelists in Morgan County noticed that the tabulation system had marked some clearly discernible votes on many of those same ballots as containing "no vote". Why were those votes not counted by the new, $100 million tabulation system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting? And would elections officials manually examine ALL of the hand-marked ballots to count those "lost" votes? As Dufort told us on this program at the time she discovered the problem after the June primary, there were potentially tens of thousands of perfectly legitimate votes that had gone uncounted.

Well, today we finally have the answer to the mystery of why the system had failed to count some of those votes. It has to do with a sensitivity setting on the digital optical-scan tabulators that the Secretary of State's office claims they did not originally know about when they initially dismissed Dufort's concerns back in June. That setting, apparently, directs the computer to ignore votes in which less than 12% of the bubble was filled in. (Often, instead of inking in the entire bubble, voters will use a check-mark or an X. While the voter's intent is easily discernible to the human eye, the new computers that tabulate votes were set to record such marks --- that filled less than 12% of the bubble --- as a "no vote".)

"It assigns it a 'percentage of fill'," Dufort tells me. "In our case in Georgia, what we later found out was that these Dominion factory settings said if a vote was deemed to cover more than 35% of that area...if the threshold percentage hit 35% or above, the system said, 'Yep, that's a vote! It counts!' If the threshold was between 12-35%, it said, 'that's ambiguous, I'm not sure something is there, better get a human to look at it.' If it fell below 12%, it said, 'I see that, but it's not a vote, so I'm going to label it unvoted, and I'm not even going to call it to the attention of the humans.'"

While Dufort says that it is good news that the SEB has now agreed to lower the bottom of the software sensitivity range setting to 10%, the longtime Election Integrity advocate says that she and others in the state believe it should be set lower still, to avoid more lost votes, in advance of the Presidential Election. "We think 10% is still too high," she says. "So we're going to be out talking to them. This rule is out for 30 days of public comment. We'll be saying thank you, but you really need to take it down to 5, which we have learned is what Colorado uses. And they've been doing hand-marked paper ballots statewide for a very long time. We think that's a good benchmark for Georgia."

She also observes that the the old settings, less sensitive settings, are still being used to tally today's runoff elections, which could be a problem in the event of close races. Moreover, she explains, "the color of the ink [and] the brand of the ink in your pen can change how the computer measures it." We discuss all of that, how the changes may affect results this November, and whether we should be worried that such a software setting could be abused by ill-intentioned election insiders (or hackers) in the critical battleground state (or others that use similar systems) during the Presidential election.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more deadly fossil fuel disasters, a warning about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season, and some very disturbing climate change news out of Canada, where the last intact ice shelf has finally collapsed and broken away...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/28/2020 10:40am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Two hurricanes hit the U.S. in one weekend, and make extreme weather history; California plugs in the world's largest battery; PLUS: Trump Administration takes major step toward approving controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Hundreds of toxic Superfund sites threatened by sea level rise; A Detroit soil experiment could unleash the power of urban soil; Kenya environmental defenders win landmark $12m court battle; Deutsche Bank says it won't finance any new Arctic region or oil sand projects; In North Dakota, towns flattened by oil bust; Migratory river fish populations plunge 76 percent in past 50 years... PLUS: Western Water: Interior moving to shift CA federal water projects to former clients of Interior Sec. Bernhardt... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Ray Lutz of Citizens' Oversight; Also: Rest in Power, John Lewis...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2020 6:54pm PT  

We kick off today's BradCast on a somber, if hopefully inspiring note, on the passing of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis who died on Friday after a battle with cancer. His decades-long fight for voting rights --- and the call to cause "good trouble, necessary trouble" --- has been an inspiration to this show and our work at BradBlog.com for many years. The best tribute we can offer to Rep. Lewis, of course, is to continue his fight as best we can. And so we do once again today. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

More than 100k absentee/Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots were rejected by election officials in the state of California after its March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, according to a new AP analysis. Many of the rejections were due to voter error, though not all. Some were also due perceived mismatched or missing signatures and a to a too-short statutory deadline (3 days) for VBM ballots to arrive after Election Day. The state has now increased that time to 17 days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be included in the final tally.

But, of course, various problems with VBM is why in-person polling places remain very necessary in CA and all states this year, even with expanded mail-in voting during the COVID crisis. That is true even in the Golden State, which will be sending VBM ballots directly to all active registered voters this year because of the pandemic. Here in Los Angeles County, however --- the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction --- the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has said that, for in-person voting, he will stick with the County's new, horribly failed $300 million unverifiable touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system this November, despite the disasters that resulted in 3, 4, and 5 hour lines to vote and an untold number of disenfranchised voters during the system's first county-wide use on March 3rd.

I discussed the decision by Logan to use L.A. voters, once again, as guinea pig beta testers this November, during the most critical election of our lifetimes, in a segment late last month on CBS2-LA News with investigative reporter David Goldstein. Incredibly, CA's Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have all apparently agreed to allow the failed system --- called "Voting Solutions For All People" or VSAP --- another try on November 3rd. What could possibly go wrong?

An L.A. County Civil Grand Jury --- which has also been investigating the VSAP failure --- thinks a lot could go wrong. The group's report on the VSAP failures [PDF] by both Logan and Padilla, entitled "Maybe I Voted?", demands answers from Registrar Logan as well as the state. Goldstein, who has been closely following the VSAP mess since a few weeks before the March 3rd election, followed up by covering the "scathing" L.A. Grand Jury report and called me once again to appear in that follow-up report on CBS2-LA as well.

Meanwhile, a group of Election Integrity advocates in the state sent an open letter [PDF] late last week to Gov. Gavin Newsom (and Sec. of State Padilla), seeking an Executive Order for important improvements to the state's 1% post-election audit process. We're joined today by RAY LUTZ, longtime Election Integrity advocate and the founder and Executive Director of CitizensOversight.org. His organization won a ruling in a lawsuit several years ago that would have required all Vote-by-Mail ballots to be included as part of the pool from which the random sample of ballots are drawn when determining which of them will be hand-counted after an election to assure the accuracy of the state's computerized optical-scan ballot tabulators.

When Lutz filed suit in San Diego after the 2016 election, that County's Registrar, Michael Vu, was drawing only from votes cast at the precinct or absentee ballots that were counted early for inclusion in the 1% post-election spot check. As the groups notes in their press release [PDF] announcing the letter to Newsom, that resulted in some 285,000 ballots that were automatically excluded from the mandatory "audit" in 2016. Lutz' win in the courts, however, was short-lived after Padilla (with support from L.A. County's Logan) lobbied the CA state legislator to specifically allow Registrar's to ignore late mail-in ballots all together during post-election audits. Leaving those ballots out of the audit, Lutz argues, means that nefarious actors "can just move ballots --- ten thousand, twenty thousand at a time --- from one candidate to another and no one would be the wiser because they wouldn't have that check." That, he says, is a virtual roadmap for election theft.

His group's letter asks the Governor to declare that all ballots should be included in the potential audit sample pool in this November's elections, particularly now that some 90% of votes are likely to be cast as mail-in ballots for the first time this year, due to the Governor's previous Executive Order to send VBM ballots to all this year.

Moreover, Lutz echoes frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (which is suing Georgia to force hand-marked paper ballots for all) in her important tweeted concerns last night observing that both major political parties are utterly failing to ensure proper public oversight of absentee ballot handling and tabulation. Marks complained that Elections officials across the country (and definitely in Georgia!) are "working overtime to block transparency, block access, block observation, work[ing] behind closed doors, etc. This, of course, plays into Trump's hands in that if he wants to claim 'rigging,' the Dems will have little evidence documented to rebut the claim."

Lutz agrees with her thinking. California is "not a battleground state," he says, "but remember, the popular vote is always a big issue in the Presidential election. And as you remember last time, Trump made a big deal about 'illegal voter fraud' and all these 'million illegals are voting'. So we have to have our act together for this election to defend against those claims. If we do what we're doing now, we're going to have up to six million ballots that are completely unaudited and can be flipped. Six million votes is a lot. So we need to have this change."

The issue, he goes on to explain, is not only important in California. "Any state that expands their vote-by-mail or absentee voting right now probably is not auditing those ballots." Lutz points listeners to the letter to Newsom, suggesting others push for similar improvements to post-election audits in other states as well, given that, as bad as CA's processes are, they are still better than many states where no computer-tallied votes are ever examined by any human beings at all before election results are certified. "We can't rely upon the election officials, or really anyone, to do this job for us," he argues. "The public has to do its own oversight of its elections. No one can be trusted. We have to do it ourselves. This is where we really call on the citizenry to stand up and really take a look at this. Because the most important thing we can do is to make sure these elections are sound."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Case may persuade state Dems to nix restrictions on Nov. mail-in voting...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/17/2020 11:35am PT  

As recently observed in a Hartford Current editorial by Shari Cantor, the Mayor of West Hartford, Connecticut, her state's residents face some of the most restrictive Vote-by-Mail (VBM) requirements in the nation. She notes, in her op-ed calling for an expansion of absentee voting in the Constitution State, that voters "may not obtain an absentee ballot unless they are a poll worker, an active member of the military, sick, out of town during all hours of voting, physically disabled or prevented by their religion."

In response to the restrictions, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of an individual voter and the Connecticut branches of the NAACP and League of Women Voters, have now filed a federal complaint [PDF] seeking to compel the state to allow every lawfully registered voter to cast a VBM ballot during the November 3rd general election.

CT's extraordinarily restrictive "Excuse Requirement" for voting via absentee, according to the complaint, combined with the fact that state election law does not provide for early in-person voting, forces the electorate to choose this year between exercising the franchise and the very real risk of contracting (and subsequently spreading) the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Because the restrictions on mail-in voting forces the electorate to choose between voting and a risk of death --- a choice CT's Democratic Secretary of State Denise Merrill, the only named Defendant in the case, conceded voters should "never" have to make --- the complaint alleges CT's Excuse Requirement, if applied during the Nov. 3rd general election, would impose an unreasonable burden on the right to vote in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The complaint separately alleges that CT's restrictive VBM Excuse Requirement denies or abridges the right to vote on account of race because the combination of greater obstacles to in-person voting and COVID-19's disparate impact on the African-American community "interacts with social and historical conditions to cause inequality in the opportunities enjoyed by Black and White voters to elect their preferred representatives. [Appellate court citation]." This, the complaint alleges, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The 42-page federal complaint is replete with references to scientific facts and law that make it a compelling legal pleading. There's a very good chance, however, that a federal judge will never have to render a decision on the merits of the case. CT's Democratic leaders, including its Governor, Ned Lamont, may find those arguments persuasive and act accordingly...

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




Record surges in FL, TX, elsewhere; CA Guv re-closes bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, salons; Callers ring in on Trump's 'genocide'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2020 6:14pm PT  

We raise a whole bunch of topics and news from the weekend for conversation with listeners on The BradCast today, but most wanted to only to discuss the Trump Administration's twisted demand that schools reopen next month for in-person classes, even as COVID-19 cases are now exploding around the country. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Florida, on Sunday, reported a record 15,300 cases. That's a larger single day record than any state in the nation. It is more than either California at its recent peak or New York at its peak back in April. The news of Florida's quickly worsening crisis comes just days after the state announced that all schools in Florida must reopen for in-person classes for all, five days a week, despite concerns expressed by local school officials.

As Florida shattered the national record, many states, most controlled by Republican Governors, continue to hit new seven-day rolling average records of new cases (even as testing plateaus or even decreases in some states), California, with its Democratic Governor is spiking as well. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State on Monday declared that bars, indoor dining at restaurants, hair and nail salons, churches and gyms would all be shut down again in counties that are the hardest hit. Los Angeles and San Diego County both announced that the school year will reopen with remote learning instead of in-person classes, to the great relief of teachers who are, overwhelmingly, against reopening school campuses.

Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, meanwhile, appeared (poorly) on the Sunday news shows, to insist that schools must reopen, or face lost federal funding, while admitting she has absolutely no federal plan for what do when coronavirus spikes occur. That, she said, should be left to local officials --- the same local officials that she and Trump are hoping to force to reopen schools next month, even as a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds nearly 1.5 million teachers (one in four) are older than 65 or have health conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

At the same time, oddly enough, Admiral Brett Giroir, the federal government's coronavirus testing coordinator, warned on ABC News' This Week on Sunday that the U.S. shouldn't even be thinking about how to get kids back into the classroom until we get the virus under control. "When we get the virus more under control," he said, "then we can really think about how we put children back in the classroom." We suspect the Admiral may not be in his position very much longer. People who tend to tell the truth are not particularly welcome in the Trump Administration.

Getting the virus under control, of course, as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out over the weekend, is made all the more difficult, if not impossible, because the federal government is still failing --- more than four months into this crisis --- to ensure adequate testing kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) as cases spike, hospitalizations surge and the death rates began to climb in every region of the country over the past two weeks.

Trump's plan to pretend that everything is somehow normal in time for the November 3rd Presidential Election is beginning to look a whole lot like genocide or at least mass murder, as a whole bunch of callers today seem to agree. (I wanted to hear from those who disagreed with me. None of them were willing to call in for some reason, even though they frequently email me after the show. Cowards.)

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explains today's rulings; Also: Two conditions on Biden's debates with Trump?; Continuing COVID-19 havoc...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2020 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: They were the last major decisions of the term for the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. And at least all of the Justices seemed to mostly agree that Presidents are not above the law, even if this one was allowed to buy some time before facing accountability. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Lucky for Donald J. Trump, that extra time granted by two remands to lower courts by SCOTUS today will almost certainly prevent the public from seeing his tax returns and other likely fraudulent financial documents from the years before his Presidency, before he must stand for re-election on November 3rd. Despite those considerable gifts from SCOTUS today, Donald Trump went off on an incomprehensible Twitter tantrum in response. For some, I guess, too much is never enough.

"Not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in one of Thursday's long-awaited 7 to 2 opinions [PDF]. Citing 200-year old remarks by Chief Justice John Marshall, Roberts observed: "We reaffirm that principle and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." Even accused sexual assaulter Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed in a concurring opinion that "no one is above the law."

While no one may be above the law, Trump received two extraordinary gifts from the court today. One opinion, Trump v. Vance [PDF] effectively postpones the disclosure of his dubious financial documents to the Manhattan District Attorney for a criminal grand jury investigation until, mostly likely, after the November election. The other, Trump v. Mazars [PDF] prevents several Congressional Committees from seeing similar documents that they subpoenaed from Trump's accounting firm, also until after the election --- and maybe never if the clock runs out on the end of the Congressional session in December. It will likely take at least that long to work through the courts with SCOTUS' newly-raised bar for such subpoenas of the Executive Branch by Congress.

We're joined once again today, at the last minute, by Slate's great court reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer his ever-helpful clarity and context to today's complicated opinions, which one attorney today described thusly: "The ruling is 'No president is above the law', but they post-dated it to the Biden administration".

"I think he just doesn't really understand how the Court gave him a gift," Stern explains, in response to my questions about Trump's whining, incoherent Twitter response to today's ruling. "These decisions are wrapped up in a lot of language that pointedly reduces the President's immunity and executive privilege from oversight and investigations. And announces or reaffirms some crucial principles, like, of course a state can subpoena a President's records for a grand jury proceeding and, yes, Congress can also subpoena the President and his confederates and businesses if it seeks to get that information to pass legislation."

"But the Court said 'We are going to draw a line because we're not so sure that here, either the New York grand jury or the House of Representatives checked all the boxes that we think they needed to in order to get this information.' So, there's going to be a run-down-the-clock thing now, where Trump tries to keep fighting this in the lower courts --- at least through the November election --- and that means we may never actually get to see these records that the Supreme Court said, theoretically, we could have a right to see."

Stern observes: "It was almost like it was a carefully brokered compromise to reach this exact result and then work backwards for the reasoning." Nonetheless, Stern notes, even if his financial firms are allowed to escape subpoenas by Congress, "the writing is on the wall" for the subpoenas filed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. "I think the lower court is going to very quickly say, 'Yep, these records can go to the grand jury.' And that's going to be that. It could happen in a matter of weeks."

We will see. Or not.

Next, a few more accountability odds and ends today. Trump received another gift this week in the form of a second --- and still-unexplained --- extension of the deadline for the release of his annual financial disclosure statement. Speaking of, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman thinks that Joe Biden should refuse to debate Trump (who now needs the debates more than Biden does) unless Trump releases his tax returns from his years as President, since he promised to do so in 2016, and Biden has already done so. Friedman has one other condition as well that he suggest Biden place on the debates before agreeing to participate this year.

On the COVID-19 front today, the CDC is now claiming they are not planning to rewrite guidance for the reopening of schools after Vice President Mike Pence indicated yesterday they would be doing so following Trump's complaint that their original recommendation for opening schools safely was "very tough and expensive". And, whaddaya know? There's a surge of COVID cases in Tulsa following Trump's unmasked super-spreader campaign rally there in late June, according to the city's top health official.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with record-breaking Siberian wildfires; a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which only just kicked off!); the new natural gas bomb trains the Trump Administration has just approved to move through your hometown; and some good truckin' news for breathers in California!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/9/2020 11:09am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Siberian fires set new pollution record; Atlantic hurricane season breaks new records; Trump Administration approves natural gas bomb trains; PLUS: California mandates zero-emission trucks and buses by 2045... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The scariest thing about global warming (and Covid-19); Sunrun and Vivint form new solar Goliath to challenge Tesla; Virginia joins Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; PA's GOP state legislature curbs state's ability to join RGGI; The next 5 pipelines facing legal trouble; Sanders-Biden Climate Task Force calls for carbon-free power by 2035; Endangered CA condors found in Sequioa NP for first time in 50 years; Ninth Circuit restores protections for Yellowstone grizzlies... PLUS: Humpback Chub 'Alien Abductions' Help Frame the Future of the Colorado River... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: Trump's coronavirus Death March continues; SCOTUS allows religious groups to discriminate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2020 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Things are going to get far worse before they finally get better. In this case, "worse" means far more deadly and "better" means an election this fall that somewhat accurately reflects the intent of the electorate. Donald Trump has now get the killing Americans part down, but he and his fixer/Attorney General are still feeling their way around how best to undermine the election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Just weeks ago, in late May, the Trump Death Cultists on Fox "News" and those entrusted to govern states like Florida, were railing against media, demanding apologies by those who warned that opening up for business prematurely amid a deadly viral pandemic was a terrible idea. Republican Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and hackish clowns like Sean Hannity of Fox "News" aren't asking for apologies anymore, it seems, as at least 56 Florida hospital ICUs across the state have now hit capacity, with dozens more nearly full as well. Florida is just one such GOP-led state whose political decisions in advance of the November election have had deadly consequences as 31 states are now seeing infections and hospitalizations rise.

The conservative projected death estimates put out by the infectious disease modelers at University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have once again been revised in the bargain. IHME now forecasts more than 208,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by November 1, while noting that some 45,000 lives could be saved over that same period if we all simply wore masks in public. Other experts believe the mortality number could be as high as 500,000 by the end of this year.

So, again, we ask: At what point does it become a CRIMINAL act when DeSantis and Donald Trump and Vice President Pence command schoolchildren, amid this out-of-control surging pandemic, back to in-person classes next month, under thread of financial penalty, and in defiance of CDC guidelines? At least the CDC guidelines based on science and health data, versus Pence's newly promised revised CDC guidelines that the Administration ordered to be cooked up after Trump found the real ones to be too "tough" and "expensive". When do these people become liable for criminal deadly negligence or even mass murder?

This scheming is nothing short of sick and twisted. We will soon look back on these days with ghastly horror at what they have done in short-sighted and ill-considered hopes of winning re-election this November.

Speaking of which, while Trump and his corrupt A.G. Bill Barr have been out lying about absentee voting amid the pandemic, it seems Republican strategists and candidates are becoming quite concerned that their voters may be actually be listening to them. Many GOP voters new believe that vote-by-mail ballots are all fraudulent, which could end up costing the GOP dearly this year.

At the same time, folks like EDDIE PEREZ, Global Director of Technology and Standards at the OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute, has been doing his level best to debunk many of the lies about mail-in voting being infectiously spread by Trump and his Attorney General who, for example, recently declared that "a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots" and use them to undermine our elections somehow. Perez explains (and here's a shorter Twitter version of his explanation) why such claims are largely nonsense, even if there are, in fact, some concerns about fraud in absentee voting --- just not the ones that Trump and Barr are mostly trumpeting.

As no fan of absentee voting myself --- other than in cases where voters literally cannot vote at the polls on Election Day, or are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems at the polling place, or when we find ourselves in the middle of an out-of-control deadly global pandemic --- I've got a few pointed questions for Perez on the reality of absentee ballot fraud.

Among the issues he speaks to: Whether ballots can really be counterfeited (by foreign or domestic actors alike); What security measures are in place to prevent someone from casting a ballot in someone else's name?; Should voters have confidence in signature matching by election officials who are not hand-writing experts? And more. "If nothing else," Perez tells me, "the country needs to realize --- and particularly election officials and Get Out The Vote organizations --- there are really, really good reasons to protect public health to make by-mail voting available to people, as one of several options. That's really critical. For November, you've got to have a balance. We need to pay attention to educating voters about what it's going to take to ensure that their ballot is accepted and counted."

Also, as Perez, before joining the non-profit OSET Institute, was a 15 year veteran of Hart-Intercivic, one of the nation's three major private voting system vendors (about whom we've reported a great deal of less than flattering things over the years), we take a few minutes today to discuss why private, for-profit vendors are ill-equipped to meet the critical needs of transparent, overseeable elections in support of American democracy. "I'll say that the one thing we can agree on," Perez notes, "is transparency in the voting process is what helps to build trust with the public. Transparency is what is going to produce confidence. And that's what we need in our democracy."

I didn't have the heart or time to respond that "trust" has nothing to do with Americans elections. But, other than that, on the need for transparent oversight to build confidence among the electorate, he is spot on.

Finally, two objectionable SCOTUS opinions were handed down today, allowing religious organizations to, among other things, ignore any and all state or federal anti-discrimination laws, because "freedom of religion", apparently, also now includes the freedom to take actual freedoms away from everyone else...

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Also: Carl Reiner, RIP...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2020 6:34pm PT  

In case you need something to celebrate this July 4th, it will be just 200 days exactly from that date until Donald Trump will no longer be the President of the United States next January! ... Presuming he is not able to somehow steal a second term anyway. Let's not let him. Therefore, go celebrate Independence Day in advance this Saturday on July 4th!

In the meantime, as we work our way towards that glorious day, a few related news items of note on today's BradCast [Audio link to full show follows summary below]...

  • Wyoming Republicans are beating themselves up over...well, apparently being Republicans. Literally! A fist-fight broke out over the weekend at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Gillette, as the party's extremist and less extremist factions duke it out, with one County Party chair who wielded an ax-handle and a pistol, versus another drunk County Party chair who ended up unconscious and in need of surgery as the whole debacle is investigated by local police. Grab your popcorn, because it's as insane as it sounds. We've got the blow-by-blow details!;
  • As to the battle between the Democratic Party's progressive and conservative wings, that appears to be playing out a bit more peacefully, at the ballot box instead. AP has now called a winner in Kentucky's Democratic U.S. Senate Primary a week after it was held. The delay was due to absentee ballot counting in two of the state's largest and most diverse counties, Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington). Neither released any results from the state's June 23 primaries until today. If the reported results are accurate, it appears that party establishment-supported former fighter pilot Amy McGrath will be the Democratic nominee to take on GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this November. She is said to have narrowly edged out progressive African-American state legislator Charles Booker, who surged to mount a serious challenge to McGrath and her large campaign war chest at the end of the campaign during protests for racial justice in the state. In the end, if the computer-tallied results are accurate, Booker's late surge --- as a Sanders/Warren/AOC-endorsed supporter of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal --- came up just short of the votes needed to defeat the front-runner who had been the presumptive nominee since being recruited by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last summer. We'll see if McGrath also has what it takes to take down McConnell this fall. That, according to recent polling, will be no easy feat in a state that went for Trump by 30 points in 2016. But it will be well worth the effort in trying;
  • The National Republican Committee, the Trump Campaign and several sitting GOP Congressmembers are now filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania, claiming that their use of secure absentee ballot drop-off boxes somehow violates the U.S. Constitution, even though absentee voting was approved last year by the state's GOP-majority legislature and the use of drop-off boxes is a recommended best practice by vote-by-mail experts and the federal government alike;
  • We'll see if the Republicans' federal lawsuit in PA has any better chances for success than a similar attempt by the GOP and Trump Campaign to sue California in an effort to prevent absentee ballots being mailed to all active registered voters. That initiative was mandated by Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent Executive Order in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a subsequent Republican-supported bill passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor;
  • And here's that article I referenced by Ernie Canning on the other Dept. of Justice whistleblower who testified in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee last week about Bill Barr's abuse of the DoJ's Antitrust division to harass California and automakers who are working with the state (to the consternation of Donald Trump) and legal cannabis companies (perhaps to prevent the division from being able to probe real antitrust issues and anti-competitive monopolies in the banking, Big Tech, and telecom sectors.);
  • Then, we've got a brief and heart-felt tribute to the legendary and much-beloved Carl Reiner --- creator of the Dick Van Dyke Show, the 2000 Year Old Man with Mel Brooks and much more --- who passed away today at the age of 98. From nothin'.;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with news on a fracking giant filing for bankruptcy, SCOTUS signing a death warrant for endangered species and new data finding that millions of U.S. homes, far more than previously thoughts, are now at risk of flooding thanks to climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

PLEASE NOTE: Desi and I are checking out for a few days of MUCH needed down time before the holiday. Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us until we see ya next Monday! Until then, please stay safe, healthy and don't forget to celebrate independence from the Trump Presidency in just 200 days as of July 4th!

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The OTHER Department whistleblower's astonishing testimony of gross misconduct by Trump's corrupt U.S. Attorney General
UPDATE 7/2/20: Barr Impeachment Inquiry Resolution introduced...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/29/2020 11:05am PT  

Last Wednesday, the mainstream media paid scant attention to the damning testimony provided to the House Judiciary Committee by John W. Elias, a career attorney at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Elias revealed astonishing details on the corrupt manner in which Attorney General William Barr and the "political leadership" of the DOJ's Antitrust Division abused our antitrust laws; corruptly ordering career staff to open unwarranted but burdensome, politically-motivated antitrust investigations.

It's not that Elias' testimony was unimportant. His words were simply drowned out by the testimony provided by other witnesses about other Barr/DOJ misconduct, and by a separate, but related event. The combined effect of the other testimony provided to the the Judiciary panel and the separate news event was nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Still, Elias' previously unthinkable allegations were, in fact, no less so...

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State legislature codifies Governor's Executive Order, Voting Rights Groups' Motion to Intervene upends Republican 'voter fraud' allegations...
UPDATE 7/10/20: After voluntarily dismissing its lawsuit, GOP falsely declares victory...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/24/2020 10:35am PT  

In a recent article, we described the GOP's legal challenge to the Executive Order issued by California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom --- directing CA election officials to timely submit vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots to every active registered CA voter for the November general election --- as "dubious", at best.

We noted that the GOP plaintiffs lacked standing to sue in federal court because Republicans cannot show they suffered a legally cognizable injury. We also noted that the GOP's core legal challenge --- that the Elections Clause to the U.S. Constitution only permits state legislatures, not Governors, to set the time and manner of conducting federal elections --- was at odds with settled Supreme Court case law and that legislative approval for the Governor's pandemic-related emergency Executive Order can be found within the provisions of the CA Emergency Services Act.

Last week AB-860 was passed by the state legislature (even with support from Republicans) to codify Newsom's Executive Order by specifically providing that VBM ballots be timely sent to every active registered voter in the state, even if the voter did not request one. It was signed into law this week by the Governor, rendering the GOP's core legal argument moot.

The new law will not only mandate a dismissal of the GOP legal filing but also eliminate the need for the court to grant the Motion to Intervene [PDF] that was recently filed by several voting rights organizations opposing the challenge by a number of Republican groups, including the California Republican Party.

CA Common Cause, League of Women Voters of CA and the Community Coalition seek to be added as Party Defendants in order to counter the GOP's effort to compel in-person voting --- a GOP effort that, if successful, would dangerously and unnecessarily expose the state's electorate to the risk of contracting a deadly virus, COVID-19. The portion of those organizations' motion, which demolishes the GOP's VBM "voter fraud" lies, however, warrants verbatim coverage...

[Republicans'] allegations echo long-debunked claims that associate mail-in ballots with voter fraud. In reality, mail vote fraud is virtually non-existent. Millions of Americans vote by mail --- one in four voters did so in the last two federal elections. Yet an exhaustive investigation found only 491 instances of mail vote fraud committed between 2000 and 2012, a period in which billions of votes were cast.

UPDATE 7/10/20: After U.S. District Court Judge Morrison England, Jr. dismissed the GOP's frivolous legal challenge following a Republican filing of a voluntary Notice of Dismissal, GOP Chairwoman Rona McDaniel falsely proclaimed that the Republican Party "scored a major victory against Gov. Gavin Newsom's illegal executive order." She attempted to bolster this falsehood with another lie --- that, before the GOP filed its legal challenge to VBM in CA, "Democrats planned to automatically send ballots to inactive voters, including people who have moved or died."

As we observed in a 6/5/20 update to an article that had covered the "dubious" GOP legal challenge, the Office of CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla stated that, pursuant to the Executive Order which Padilla and Gov. Newsom issued, VBM ballots would only be mailed to "active" registered voters.

"Only active registered voters will be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot. That is and has been the practice in California," Padilla's spokesman Sam Mahood said. Under California's Elections Code, Mahood added, "'voters with an inactive voter registration status do not receive elections materials.' That includes vote-by-mail ballots."

The only change to CA Election Law as it existed at the time the Executive Order was issued was the elimination of the requirement that voters first request a VBM ballot before one would be mailed to an
active" registered voter. Thus, at best Rona and the GOP had erected a straw man; erroneously claiming that the Executive Order required submission of VBM ballots to "inactive" voters.

* * *
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, and Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). He previously served as a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. Canning has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing




Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves; Also: COVID-19 still spreading at record rates and much MUCH more...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're gonna need a bigger front page in this country, given all the huge news that only served to cancel out all of the other huge news this weekend. All of which, we suspect, is just the way Donald Trump likes it. But don't worry. The most important news of the weekend --- the first failed attempt and second successful attempt by corrupt U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr to fire the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (likely unlawfully) is the eventual focus of today's show, with our guest, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General herself. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

But first, some of that other news that only served to crowd out all that other other news over the weekend. After a few quick words and warnings about tomorrow's primary elections in New York and Kentucky (expect very long lines) and some new news on Los Angeles County's new and already failed touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system (which we'll have to offer in detail on another day), we take a look at the still burgeoning COVID-19 crisis. Despite Trump's attempts to pretend it away, infection rates are still increasing in at least 23 states, holding steady in 10, and only decreasing in 17 --- if, in fact, it's actually even decreasing in those states. All of this after many states reopened for business far earlier than health experts advised would be safe.

Then its on to Donald Trump's embarrassingly fizzled return to the campaign trail on Saturday, when his campaign's promise of more than 1,000,000 tickets registered for his "Great American Comeback Celebration" rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, turned into just over 6,000 supporters at the indoor venue/coronavirus super-spreader event. The arena was barely half full, if that. Trump was reportedly furious, according to much of the brutal news coverage of his rambling, nearly two-hour remarks on Saturday, during which he admitted that he told his "people, 'Slow the testing down, please!'" Yes, the President of the United States, during a global pandemic, actually ordered his staff to try and test fewer people for the deadly disease in hopes that it might make him look like less of a failure. It has done just the opposite.

It also did not help the 6 members of his own campaign advance team in Tulsa who tested positive for COVID just before the event, or the two that have tested positive since. We should have expected as much from the guy who told reporters last week that "over one million people" were planning to attend and that "we expect to have like a record setting crowd. We've never had an empty seat and we certainly won't in Oklahoma." Even as he boarded the helicopter on the way to the Tulsa event Saturday, he lied to reporters that the "crowds are unbelievable" in Oklahoma. "They haven't seen anything like it." The operative word there is "unbelievable."

All of that, however, helped to obscure the remarkably corrupt and seemingly unprecedented events that took place very late Friday night when AG Barr falsely announced that Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, had resigned. Turned out he hadn't, and he said as much in a stunning statement minutes later, declaring that he'd only learned of his own "resignation" via Barr's press release.

Berman, a 2016 Trump Campaign donor and member of his Transition team, said he refused to step down until he was replaced by a Senate-confirmed nominee. Since he was not appointed by the President, but by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (the Senate would have had trouble approving him), he cannot be removed by firing without cause. According to law, a USA appointed by the courts can only be replaced by a Senate-confirmed nominee. Berman's U.S. Attorney's office at SDNY is known for its independence from Main Justice. It has prosecuted allies of Trump and was believed to be investigating more of them, including Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the Trump Organization itself. After Berman's brief overnight stand against Barr, he agreed to stand down on Saturday morning, after he said Barr agreed to allow Berman's Deputy to replace him as Acting USA (as is the normal practice), rather than install the U.S. Attorney from New Jersey (as Barr had announced in his false statement on Friday), which is decidedly not normal practice.

Yes, the Barr/Trump authoritarian strongman move is all at least as corrupt and unprecedented as it sounds. Thus, we are joined today by a guest with no small amount of insight into just how wildly corrupt and unprecedented all of this is. LISA GRAVES is a former Deputy Asst. AG at the U.S. Justice Dept., a former Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate. She is also a former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. She is now Founder of True North Research, a good government watchdog group "researching the forces distorting our democracy."

Graves describes the Barr/Trump/Berman mess as "a debacle in terms of rule law." Ironic, she notes, coming from a man claming to be running for re-election as the "Law and Order President".

"This all smells. It reeks," she tells me. "It's really a terrible crisis for the Department of Justice, for the US Attorney's office in New York, and for the very rule of law. You cannot have a President who fires people who are investigating him or who are investigating his associates. You have to have a President who is as far away as possible from even appearing to interfere in that sort of investigation or any investigation that might touch on him."

As to what can be done about it and whether or not Barr actually broke the law himself with his initial attempt to remove Berman --- and whether Trump actually fired him on Saturday morning, as Barr contends (only to be contradicted by Trump himself) --- and who would prosecute Barr if, in fact, he did violate the law...well, you'll have to tune in to find out what Graves says about all of that and whether we will ever be able to restore justice to the Department of Justice after Donald Trump is eventually gone...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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WATCH: Brad on CBS2-LA follow-up on County-mandated postmortem promising Registrar will totally make sure it all works this time!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2020 3:57pm PT  

On March 3rd's Super Tuesday primary elections, Los Angeles County's new, $300 million, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems and electronic pollbooks failed catastrophically. The disaster resulted in hours-long lines to vote at new Voting Centers in the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction leaving untold thousands unable to cast a vote at all.

It was all completely predictable. In fact, I had been predicting --- and warning --- about such a disaster like that with this system, dubbed Voting Solutions for All People (or VSAP) by the County, for pretty much the entirety of the 10 years it had been in development.

Few seemed to care until just before the March election, after we reported that the system had failed certification testing by the state on more than 40 points.

Following the March 3rd disaster, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, pretending to be furious about it, ordered L.A. County's Registrar-Record/County Clerk Dean Logan (the system's brainchild, who stopped coming on The BradCast or even answering any of my questions about the new system in the months before Election Day), to investigate himself and create a report on what when wrong and what needs to be done about it.

Logan's 135-page report is posted here [PDF].

In short, it says: "Here's what we think went wrong and here's how we're gonna fix it for next time. We'll take care of it by November 3rd. Trust us! Just like you did last time!"

What it should say, is: "We're sorry. We screwed up. We wasted $300 million in tax-payer dollars, so we're gonna trash the incredibly complicated, flawed, and wholly unverifiable voting system and vulnerable electronic pollbooks that disenfranchised thousands of L.A. voters on March 3rd, restore the thousands of precincts we foolishly shut down in favor of 'Voting Centers', and move back to a simple, inexpensive, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system at all community-accessible polling places for this year's critical general election."

Why the L.A. County Board of Supervisors isn't now demanding that, I couldn't tell you. Why California Sec. of State Alex Padilla isn't demanding the same, I couldn't tell you either. Except that all of them had been all-in for years with Logan on the new VSAP system. Nobody, apparently, is accountable for anything.

Instead, L.A. County voters will once again serve as guinea pig beta testers for Logan's obscenely expensive, already-failed new computer voting system during another LIVE election again this year, which just happens to arguably be the most critical in the nation's history. What could possibly go wrong?

One saving grace may be that the Governor has ordered all active registered voters to be mailed absentee ballots before this November's election due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In the week's prior to the March 3rd election, I was interviewed by CBS2-LA's David Goldstein about the new system. When he asked me how much confidence voters should have in it, I answered bluntly: "None." Logan was also interviewed in the same report and was asked the same question. His answer: "Voters can have a great deal of confidence."

You can decide who called that one correctly. Goldstein called me up again on Thursday afternoon to ask me to join him for a quick follow-up interview via FaceTime regarding Logan's postmortem report on what went wrong. CBS2 ran their follow-up report on Thursday night. Their story is now here. Goldstein's follow-up video report from last night's 6:00 news is posted below. (He called me just before airtime for my radio show, so please pardon the lack of shaving and really bad iPhone sound on my end!)...

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