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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, October 22, 2021
The Good with the Bad: 'BradCast' 10/21/21
House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
'Green News Report' 10/21/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're making too much fossil fuel; Climate change imperils millions, study finds; CA expands drought emergency; PLUS: Cutting emissions is hard, but will lower energy bills...
Previous GNRs: 10/19/21 - 10/14/21 - Archives...
'A One-Way Ratchet': Biden's SCOTUS Comm. Does GOP's Bidding: 'BradCast' 10/20/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Manchin tosses hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/21 - 10/12/21 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Whether Ds Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's landmark climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Now Gerrymander 'Blue' States (and Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15/21
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
Why the Last Remaining 2020 Election Contest in GA Should Not Have Been Dismissed: 'BradCast' 10/14/21
Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be running in 2024...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Supply chain disruptions spike global energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Administration goes big on offshore wind...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/21 - 10/7/21 - Archives...
'Red' State Profs Fight for Masking at Universities: 'BradCast' 10/13/21
Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of UNG; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
'Green News Report' 10/12/21
'No climate, no deal!' on Build Back Better; Critical infrastructure facing flood, failure; 2021 extreme weather costs; PLUS: Biden restores national monuments...
'Change the Whole Process': CA Rep on Ending Big Oil After State's Latest Offshore Spill: 'BradCast' 10/11/21
Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Also: Trump's plan to steal 2024; Callers...
Sunday 'Privilege' Toons
You know you deserve PDiddie's collection of this week's best political toons...
Media Downplaying Trump, GOP's Threat to U.S. Democracy: 'BradCast' 10/8/21
Guest: Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores nat'l monuments; Trump hid losses at D.C. hotel...
Trump Didn't Try to 'Subvert Results', He Tried to Steal 2020!: 'BradCast' 10/7/21
Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Freedom of choice restored to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
'Green News Report' 10/7/21
Ship anchor may be cause of SoCal oil spill; Fossil fuel industry subsized $11 million every minute; PLUS: PA A.G. criminally charges notorious pipeline developer...
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...


Guests: L.A. County poll workers Larry Dilg and 'Doug'; Also: Biden's stunning wins over Sanders; Bloomberg quits; Warren reassesses...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2020 6:51pm PT  

Voting ground to a near halt on Super Tuesday in a number of states, most notably in major jurisdictions in Texas and California relying on electronic pollbooks and unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). Who could have predicted it? Oh, yeah. We did. Over and over again on The BradCast. Not that many in the corporate media heeded our warnings. We know elections officials certainly didn't. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In Texas, the main problems seem to revolve around a lack of poll workers due to coronavirus fears and, most notably, a lack of voting machines for Democratic voters in many areas, since the Republican Party was unwilling to share their state-mandated even number of voting machines with voters from the other party. Obscene wait times as long as 6 or 7 hours to vote were reported in some locations in the Lone Star State.

In California, many counties did away with precinct based voting for the first time this year in favor of a Voting Center model. That meant that voters could cast their ballot at any of a smaller number of voting centers which took the place of community-based precincts. In Los Angeles County, for example, there were about 1,000 voting centers, compared with 5,000 precinct polling places in previous years. In order to accomplish this new paradigm, and allow voters same-day registration and party switching, computerized electronic pollbooks were used to check in voters. The systems check records against the state voter registration database in order to sign in voters before they can vote. But those computers had trouble in more than a dozen counties syncing up with the state database for some (still-unexplained) reason. That resulted in hours-long lines and voters forced to cast provisional ballots in many locations.

But the worst situation was undoubtedly in L.A. County, where a brand-new, 100% unverifiable, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system manufactured by a company named Smartmatic was also deployed countywide for the first time. It did not go well. Voters across the nation's largest voting jurisdiction were stuck in two to four hour lines in many cases at voting centers where the e-pollbooks slowed down to a crawl and/or where BMDs failed to work, reportedly flipped votes, or had their paper ballot summaries become jammed in the new computer systems. A County spokesperson estimated on Tuesday that 20% of the new "Voting Solutions for All People" (VSAP) BMDs had failed. (By the way, that link to the main VSAP website at vsap.LAVote.net, singing its praises and listing its many partners who signed on to it, now appears to be down, even as the regular LAVote.net site seems to be working fine. A telling omen?)

As one Twitter listener quipped on Tuesday night: "#ShouldaListenedToBrad". (Anyone feel like making t-shirts for a fund raiser?)

We're joined today by two longtime L.A. County election workers, LARRY DILG and "DOUG", after their impossibly long days of service over this past week. We discuss what went wrong (and right) at their respective voting centers using L.A. County's new voting system --- ten years in development by Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, and warned against for most of those years by yours truly, for many of the reasons which revealed themselves to all on Tuesday.

"I think we faced into the problems pretty well," Dilg tells me. "We had 25 machines in our room. The machines would sometimes stop working, or get quirky --- paper jams and stuff like that. I thought it went pretty well, actually, considering. The big thing I experienced was there were many more voters than we've ever seen in our center before."

"I think we had one or two machines that just were down for the count," he continued. "Other than that, it was almost like they got overloaded for awhile and needed a rest. We'd give them a rest, then reboot them, and they were back up and running." He pegged the failure rate at closer to 10% for the BMDs at his voting center.

"Doug" reports: "I had eight BMDs, and two of them broke, ultimately with paper jams, and I had to take them out of action. Smartmatic people came and fixed those two." For the record, while the VSAP systems were designed and supposedly owned by the County, they were manufactured by Smartmatic, a voting machine company with a dubious history. I was surprised to hear that their employees were here and allowed to directly service the machines mid-election, much less at all.

As to the e-pollbooks, "Doug" reports: "They seemed to get worse and worse, over time. The problem with them is that they have to re-sync periodically with headquarters in Norwalk, to update themselves so that they know who has voted and who hasn't voted. According to my worker, the machine was updating about every 15 minutes, so every 15 minutes, it was down for two or three minutes ... So the problem was this updating was taking quite a bit of a long time and it seemed to get worse and worse as more people voted. We only had two pollbooks at my location, and sometimes they were both updating at the same time, which meant that anybody you tried to process during that period had to vote with a provisional ballot."

While Doug is "concerned about the tally of the votes", Dilg, a self-identified "idealist" believes "it's a really good system", even with all of the problems revealed on Super Tuesday. "I have to say yesterday was a very positive experience because there were people doing good things, all around the room, and feeling good about being citizens in a democracy. That kind of civic experience is very different from a rally, and it's a beautiful experience." Both say they will work again as pollworkers, and urge others to do the same.

And, oh, yeah. We also discuss the reported results across the country from Super Tuesday, where Joe Biden stunned the pundits with many unexpected victories in 10 states, including in Texas and Elizabeth Warren's home state of Massachusetts (where she placed third according to computer-tallied results!) and where Bernie Sanders won four states, including the day's richest prize of California (presuming the many weeks of counting ahead in the Golden State don't result in a change to the current standings in its partial tallies).

Also, NYC's billionaire former Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg dropped out of the Democratic Presidential race and endorsed Joe Biden, after dumping half a billion dollars to win zero states. And Elizabeth Warren, the only other remaining candidate in the race to have won delegates, is reportedly assessing the outlook on how and if she will move forward in what now appears to be a two-man race for the Democratic nomination...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Coronavirus tanking markets, wingnuts lie about it; Buttigieg 'wins' Iowa!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2020 6:34pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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Prez issues crony pardons; Calls for Barr resignation grow, DoJ crisis worsens; Bloomberg, Sanders rising; NV Caucus meltdown worries...
By Brad Friedman on 2/18/2020 6:34pm PT  

We've got a lot to catch up on on today's BradCast after a long holiday weekend, as the crisis of rot and corruption inside the once-revered U.S. Dept. of Justice continues to metastasize under Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr; as billionaire Michael Bloomberg buys his way into shaking up the 2020 Democratic Presidential race; as the Nevada Caucuses may be heading toward another embarrassing meltdown this weekend; and as our ongoing, literal planetary meltdown continues. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Amid an already deepening crisis at the Justice Dept., Trump went on a "clemency spree" on Tuesday, issuing pardons to a long list of crooks, cronies and n'er do wells --- many of them personal friends of the Prez, natch --- from former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (who attempted to sell a U.S. Senate seat), to Rudy Giuliani pal and former NYPD Commission Bernie Kerik (who lied to the Dept. of Homeland Security), to the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers (who bribed a Louisiana Governor for a riverboat casino gambling license.) Those are just some of the liars, tax frauds and scam artists like Trump who received get-out-of-jail free cards today, in hopes, we surmise, that someone may do the same for Trump some day, once the law finally catches up with him. And it will;
  • With the American system of justice now in full and active breach at the DoJ under Barr's corrupt leadership, the calls for his resignation have grown impossible to ignore in the wake of his unprecedented overruling of career line prosecutors' recommendations for criminal sentencing of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (among other wildly corrupt actions he's taken of late and since taking office last year.)

    Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, appointed by George H.W. Bush, describes "Bill Barr's America" as "a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen," in a new Atlantic op-ed while calling for a "public uprising demanding that Bill Barr resign immediately, or failing that, be impeached."

    More than 2,000(!) former DoJ officials, both Democratic and Republican, have now signed on to a Sunday public letter declaring Trump and Barr "have openly and repeatedly flouted" the concept of equal justice in the U.S., and demanding Barr step down, citing "damage" that Barr's actions "have done to the Department of Justice's reputation for integrity and the rule of law."

    And, in the wake of all of this --- and the President's continuing Twitter attacks on the U.S. District Court Judge overseeing Roger Stone's case and upcoming sentencing --- the Federal Judges Association, a group of more than 1,000 jurists, has now called an "emergency meeting" for Wednesday to discuss related issues that, according to its President, George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, "could not wait" until the group's spring conference scheduled for April;

  • Meanwhile, the Democratic and democratic efforts to replace Trump in November's election continue apace, as Nevada Democrats address security concerns about their upcoming Saturday caucuses by switching to electronic voters! (Okay, that one's from The Onion, but still, it shouldn't be long);
  • The Dominican Republic sets an example that Americans might want to pay attention to, by suspending their weekend election just a few hours after polls opened due to failed electronic voting systems. (Who could have seen that coming?);
  • Billionaire Michael Bloomberg turned Presidential candidate turned self-declared reformed racist and misogynist, buys his way onto Wednesday's Democratic Presidential Debate stage in Las Vegas, even though he will not be on the ballot at Saturday's caucus there. Bloomberg, it was announced on Tuesday, will appear at the forum, after qualifying in several national polls, including a second place finish in a new NPR/PBS/Marist national poll and a virtual tie for second with Joe Biden in a new NBC News/WSJ survey. In both of those national polls, Biden has plummeted and current front-runner Bernie Sanders has taken double-digit leads over his nearest competitor;
  • But, according to news reports from Washington Post, Politico and others over the weekend, the Nevada Caucuses could be a "complete disaster" mirroring Iowa's just two weeks ago. Under-trained caucus leaders, a lack of communication between the state party and the candidates' campaigns about the complicated process, and the use of an iPad "Caucus Calculator" could lead to a meltdown, many fear. If the hours-long lines at last weekend's Early Voting sites are any indication, state Dems may, once again, be in way over the heads. But we'll see;
  • In slightly brighter primary news, late last week California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a last-minute bill into law that will allow Golden State voters to change party registration up to and on Election Day itself. That seemingly very smart move may help the state avoid some, if not all, of the expected confusion and potential meltdowns at their own March 3rd Super Tuesday primary in the state with the most Democratic delegates at stake (415 of them) in this year's nominating contest;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Antarctica breaks another stunning heat record, Mississippi gets swamped, Trump's EPA allows the return of toxic mercury even though the Obama-era regulation was a tremendous success and the utility industry doesn't even want him to, and some very big news from CNBC's Wall Street guru Jim Cramer declaring fossil fuels "over!"...

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Now that Repubs have rigged Impeachment, the 2020 election stands as America's last defense against full-on authoritarianism...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2020 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Following Friday's shameful vote in the U.S. Senate, where just two Republican Senators were able to muster up the courage to vote against completely blocking all witnesses and documents in the Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump, we now have just one firewall left against our slide into full authoritarianism: This November's election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

If a President can't be indicted, as the Dept. of Justice falsely claims, and a Republican Senate is more than happy to blatantly rig an impeachment "trial" against a Republican President, the only American firewall left against the collapse of representative democracy as we've known it in this nation is your vote --- and those of every eligible citizen you know --- cast this year and counted as intended. That, as we have warned for many years, is now more difficult than ever in many jurisdictions. Nonetheless, that fight begins tonight in Iowa. (We'll have full coverage of Iowa results on Tuesday's BradCast.)

On today's program, related to all of the above, and before we open up the phones to callers on all of it...

  • We are "flying blind" as we head into the Iowa Caucuses after the weekend cancellation of the final "gold standard" Des Moines Register poll, due to a procedural error. Though Bernie Sanders, according to other last-minute polling, is believed to be the front-runner on the Democratic side as caucusing begins. That said, the Iowa Caucuses are complicated and notoriously difficult to predict, for some of the reasons we explain on today's program;
  • Millions of Vote-by-Mail ballots are, as of today, according to a media statement from the California Sec. of State, now on their way to Golden State voters for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, when more than a dozen states will be voting in their 2020 primaries all at once. We, again today, endeavor to explain the complicated procedures that are (sadly) necessary in the Golden State to make sure you are able to vote in the party primary of your choosing, as well as the steps you need to take to make sure you do so on a hand-marked paper ballot in order to maximize the odds of your vote actually being counted as cast.

    To avoid having to cast a 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote if you live in Los Angeles County (where that will be forced upon you at our new "voting centers") or anywhere else where touchscreens are your only choice at the polling place, PLEASE contact your County and ask for a hand-marked paper Vote-by-Mail ballot. Then, PLEASE deliver it IN PERSON to your polling place or County headquarters on Election Day or as close to it as possible. (Check your local jurisdiction to make certain they will accept hand-delivered vote-by-mail ballots!) To check your voter status --- how and if you are registered, and whether you are signed up for Vote-by-Mail --- please see the CA Sec. of State website's Voter Status page here. To request a Vote-by-Mail ballot in L.A. or request a specific party's primary ballot, go to LAVote.net;

  • Everyone must be on board and educated about all of this, this year. With the stakes we are now facing, there is ZERO room for error. Please share good information far and wide, and help your friends and neighbors to register, to vote, and to help spread the word to others about how to do the same thing;
  • Yet another reason for voting on hand-marked paper: I am terrified, for good reason, about the possibility of a ransomware attack that could prevent voters in jurisdictions that now (foolishly and dangerously) rely on computers at the polls for voters to be able to vote at all. One of the latest such attacks/reminders is currently crippling services in Tillamook County, Oregon, where all County computer servers were shut down as of last week due to such an attack. Tillamook is just the latest of dozens of jurisdictions --- states, counties, large and small metropolitan areas --- to be hit by ransomware attacks over the past year. If one occurs on or before Election Day in a county (like L.A.) that now relies on computer pollbooks and voting systems, we will have a disaster on our hands in the upcoming elections;
  • Of course, such a disaster is exactly what Donald Trump is hoping for, given his unpopularity and his repeated attempts to rig both the 2016 and now 2020 elections in his favor through any means necessary. He is now being aided in that effort not only by Republicans in the Senate, but by the Dept. of Justice itself, which is unlawfully withholding documents that prove, yet again, that Trump directed Administration officials to freeze hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine in a pressure campaign to force them to help him cheat in the 2020 election;
  • All of this, as investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald warned in a chilling Twitter thread on Friday after the vote to block all witnesses and documents in Trump's Impeachment Trial, is why "we are in an extremely terrifying moment in American history." Eichenwald cautions that, because Presidential "emergency powers" have never been defined ("because no one ever imagined a situation like this"), Trump could even attempt to cancel this year's election if he wanted and, like Hitler, could even imprison political opponents such as Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders "if he further advances his argument that he [has] absolute unquestionable control of government."

Far fetched? Please tune in to today's show and then let us know, as callers did in the second half of today's program...

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Also: Fall out from yesterday's exclusive news on major security failures discovered in Los Angeles' new $300M voting system, and much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2020 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as we wait for the House to send Donald Trump's Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, and we wait for the Senate to begin his impeachment trial, and we wait for Tuesday's night final Democratic Presidential debate before the Iowa Caucuses, and we wait for primary voting to begin in earnest next month, the fight for voting rights and for the way voters will cast their votes has been long underway, and it cannot wait any longer. [Audio link to complete show is posted below summary.]

We've got several major court victories today in the fight for voting rights, and a follow-up to yesterday's exclusive revelations of the massive failures discovered in the new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems set for first-time use in the critical 2020 Presidential election cycle in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction.

First up today, a Wisconsin state courts of appeals panel has stepped in to put a freeze on the massive voter purge of some 200,000 voters, as demanded by a rightwing legal outfit and a state court judge who was apparently willing to do their bidding. A three-judge panel on Wisconsin's District 4 Court of Appeals put the brakes on Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy's order to immediately remove the voters and on his $250/day fine against each of the three Democratic appointees to the state's Elections Commission who oppose the purge.

The voters who failed to respond to a verification postcard sent by the Commission were disproportionately found to be located in the state's most Democratic-leaning jurisdictions. They had been initially set for removal from the rolls in 2021, until Wisconsin's so-called Institute for Law and Liberty filed suit and found a very friendly judge in Malloy. He recently ordered the immediate removal of the voters, despite opposition from both the Democratic Commissioners and the state's Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. The ruling by the appellate court to protect as many as 200,000 voters is key in a battleground state said to have been won by Trump by just 23,000 voters in 2016.

Today's decision in WI somewhat echoes a ruling by a federal judge in New York State late last week, who ordered that voters determined to be "inactive" due to a failure to respond to mailings or bad information from the U.S. Postal Service, must be listed in poll books on Election Day. A failure of so-called "inactive" voters to appear in poll books at state precincts led to chaos and disenfranchised voters during the 2016 election in New York.

During the course of last year's trial in this matter, it was revealed that both members of the State Board of Elections and New York City Board of Elections found that many voters on the "inactive" list should not have even been on the list in the first place. Federal District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan ruled that State Board of Elections' procedures were in violation of both the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Then, we turn to some of the fall-out from the hornets nest we helped kick over on Monday's BradCast, when we detailed major security defects discovered by state certification testers in Los Angeles' new "Voting Solutions for All People" (or VSAP) voting system. The brand-new $300 million system, as we discussed in details on yesterday's program, is yet to be certified for use in California by Sec. of State Alex Padilla, but he is expected to sign off of it despite the massive failures discovered by the analysts that could put the 2020 elections in jeopardy in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, thanks to the completely unverifiable and highly flawed new touchscreen voting systems.

Today, we share some of the responses we've received following yesterday's blockbuster show and some of the public comments sent by listeners to the Sec. of State seeking rejection of the new system in favor of hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Letters must be sent to VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov before the Public Comment period for certification ends this Monday, January 20, at 5pm Pacific Time!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report, with some news on a family feud and potential climate change shake-up at Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp in the wake of the devastating Australian bushfires that have ravaged the country for weeks; new details on the extraordinary costs of our climate crisis; and the weekly arrests of climate action champion Jane Fonda...

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Trump chooses deadly confrontation with Iran to distract from his impeachment, callers ring in on it; Also: Bolton willing to testify in Senate 'if subpoenaed'; A voter registration heads-up for California!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2020 5:56pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much needed holiday break! (Thanks to the great Nicole Sandler for helping us to sneak in some down time!) Sadly, things are much worse --- and more dangerous --- now than they were before the end of the new year, thanks to Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani, placing the U.S. --- and the world --- on the brink of yet another potential war. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

The Germans were right last year. Donald Trump is the greatest threat to world peace. Far greater than Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, or Iran's Ayatollah. By far.

The bulk of today's program is devoted to developments and fall-out since Trump's ill-considered attack on Soleimani late last week --- including the tens of millions of Iranians who Trump helped unify to turn out for Soleimani's funeral processions; Trump's threat of war crimes against Iran should they dare to retaliate against what is likely already a war crime; Iran's declaration that the 2015 anti-nuclear agreement which Trump pulled the U.S. out of is now all but dead; Iraq's Parliamentary resolution to throw all U.S. forces out of the country, and Trump threat of sanctions against them if they do; Trump's 2011 (and 2012 and 2013) false predictions that Obama would start a war on Iran to win reelection "because of his inability to negotiate properly"; and calls from listeners on all of the above.

Of course, the real reason Trump decided to kill Soleimani is almost certainly to distract from his end of year impeachment and upcoming trial in the U.S. Senate. On that front, we covered former National Security Advisor John Bolton's announcement today that he would testify as a witness in the trial, if subpoenaed by the Senate (which Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are still blocking, along with all first-hand eye witnesses requested by Democrats).

And also, a few heads-ups regarding voter registration in California (and elsewhere) in advance of March 3rd's Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. If you live in California, and are registered as a "No Party Preference" voter, you will either have to request a Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent Presidential ballot, or register yourself as a Republican, Green Party or Peace and Freedom Party member if you wish to vote in one of their primaries. Otherwise, in California, if you are a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter, you will receive a ballot in the mail without any Presidential options. Tune in to today's show for more details on that and what you need to do about it....very soon! (At least if you wish to avoid voting on 100% unverifiable touchscreens here in Los Angeles County and elsewhere on Primary Election Day!)

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Speaker holds back Trump impeachment articles to force McConnell to allow witness testimony; Also: Goods news for NJ, GA voters; Update on VerifiedVoting.org controversy; Two important new e-voting exposés...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2019 5:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As messy as the process of passing two Articles of Impeachment against rogue President Donald J. Trump was, the post-impeachment phase got messier still on Thursday, as Democrats stood strong --- at least so far --- in their fight for a fair impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. We've also got some important election integrity and voting rights news, along with our final Green News Report of the year. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to today's impeachment standoff, we finish out a few points from shortly after we left air on Wednesday night, including a review of the late vote on those historic Impeachment Articles in the House --- and some thoughts on Tulsi Gabbard's less than courageous vote of "present" --- as well as the surprising emergence of the backbone being displayed at the moment by House Democrats.

In a blistering response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's repeated admissions in recent days that he is working hand-in-glove with the White House and has no intention of serving as an impartial juror in the Senate trial to decide whether the President should be removed from office, despite his Constitutional mandate to do so, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday: "Our Founders, when they wrote the Constitution, suspected that there could be a rogue President. I don't think they suspected that we could have a rogue President and a rogue Leader in the Senate at the same time."

We do our best today to bring you up to date on the ugly and quickly moving story of what has come today from McConnell's --- and, shamefully, fellow juror, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)'s --- attempt to make a mockery of the Senate trial by rigging it in favor of the White House in refusing to allow first-hand testimony from witnesses of Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors. That, despite Graham's own insistence from 1998, when he served as a House Manager for Bill Clinton's impeachment, that "in every trial that there has ever been in the Senate regarding impeachment, witnesses were called. When you have a witness telling you about what they were doing and why, it's the difference between getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Those archival video-taped remarks came courtesy of an ad released on Wednesday from Republicans for the Rule of Law to call out Graham. It is in response to McConnell and Graham's refusal to allow testimony from a number of top Administration officials who were first-hand witnesses, but who failed to answer lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents in the U.S. House. The witnesses sought by Democrats and by a huge majority of Americans of all parties (including 64% of Republicans and 72% of independents) include Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Then, we move to some quick election integrity and voting rights news as the first votes in the 2020 elections are now just weeks away. In New Jersey this week, the Democratic Governor signed a bill to restore voting rights to 73,000 people across the state who are currently on parole or probation.

In Georgia, after Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger was allowed to purge more than 300,000 voters earlier this week amid an ongoing lawsuit to prevent the removal of at least 120,000 of them, his office was forced to admit today that at least 22,000 had been wrongly removed due to what Raffensberger's office describes as an error in the state's screening process. The Admission came just hours before another hearing in federal court, leading plaintiff Fair Fight Action to demand that "every voter purged this week" should be "reinstated immediately."

We also have a quick update on the recent internecine battle at e-voting watchdog VerifiedVoting.org after the courageous resignations of now two well-respected members of their Boards of Directors and Advisors. (We interviewed the first of those to quit, Prof. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley on a BradCast last week, after which the resignation of the second, Prof. Rich DeMillo of Georgia Tech --- who we have also interviewed a number of times --- was made public as well.)

The public resignations were in response to Verified Voting's disturbing years of support for 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 elections, and their frequently misleading information about how post-election audits could be used to verify results on such unverifiable systems. This week, the group finally responded to the embarrassing and costly pushback they have been receiving from Election Integrity advocates.

There were also two very important stories published this week on the very serious concerns about e-voting systems in advance of 2020. The first, "How New Voting Machines Could Hack Our Democracy," by attorney and Twitter activist Jenny Cohn at New York Review of Books, is a disturbing and encyclopedic exposé on the dangers and failings of BMDs, the Election Integrity groups such as Verified Voting who have failed to adequately warn against their use in American elections, and the private vendor/election official revolving doors and payoffs that have brought us to this perilous moment.

The second investigative article, out today from NBC News, reviews the shady ownership and shadowy manufacturing processes that runs through China and the Philippines at the nation's largest electronic voting company, Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) of Omaha, Nebraska.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (our last one of the year!), with more disturbing news out of Australia, more bad news for our oceans, troubling news about the disturbing high costs of fracking and, shockingly, some kind words about global financial services behemoth Goldman Sachs!...

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Climate crisis; Impeachment madness; 2020 debates; GOP voter purges...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2019 6:45pm PT  

The gods must be angry. But they have very good cause. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • At least four were killed and dozens injured as some 27 tornadoes reportedly ripped across the Deep South causing "total chaos" on Monday and Tuesday. In December. Is that normal?;
  • DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez steps in to help resolve a labor union dispute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles that had threatened to derail Thursday's 2020 Presidential Debate. Now, it won't. And the union workers got a great deal out of it;
  • Nine Democratic Presidential candidates, led by Sen. Cory Booker (who did not qualify for Thursday's debate), petition the DNC to relax qualification thresholds for upcoming Presidential debates. The Party says it won't;
  • Another former Trump campaign officials is heading to jail. Rick Gates, Trump's former Deputy Campaign Chair and a top Transition official, receives 45 days in jail, three years of probation and a $20,000 fine for fraud and lying to federal investigators --- to which he pleaded guilty last year. His sentence comes despite prosecutors seeking no jail time after Gates had cooperated with federal officials in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, by helping to to secure guilty verdicts against Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and longtime Trump associate Roger Stone;
  • Donald Trump unleashed a bizarre, blistering, six-page, single-spaced, Donald Trumpian rant, disguised as a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [PDF] on Tuesday, decrying his looming impeachment as a "perversion of justice" by Democrats. The jokes seem to write themselves here, but for how pathetically sad, dangerous and threatening to our Constitutional order the behavior of this President of the United States now actually is;
  • That threat continues to spread to Congress, where the House Rules Committee on Tuesday set terms for Wednesday's House Floor debate on the two Articles of Impeachment against the President, as Rep. Jim McGovern, Chair of the Committee said he looks at Trump's attempt to use Ukraine to help him win the 2020 election as "a crime in progress", with Democrats "trying to prevent the President from rigging the next election";
  • While over in the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused a request from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena the testimony of four top Trump officials who were first-hand witnesses to Trump's Ukraine extortion plot. The officials, whose testimony is sought for the almost certain upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate --- in which Senators are supposed to serve as impartial jurors to determine whether Trump should be removed from office --- include Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor;
  • As McConnell continues to rig the Senate trial on behalf of Trump, Plan B for the removal of this President involves the ballot box. There too, Republicans are attempting to rig next year's election results. In Wisconsin, which Trump reportedly won by just 23,000 votes in 2016, a Republican-appointed Circuit Court Judge ordered the removal of more than 200,000 voters from the voting rolls before the 2020 election. The voters were previously set for removal in 2021 as the Wisconsin Elections Commission had planned, and as the League of Women Voters had argued in favor of. A rightwing group sued to have them removed before 2020 instead, and the GOP-appointed judge agreed. Dems vowed today to re-register them;
  • In Georgia, a federal judge allowed the purge of more than 300,000 voters identified by the Republican Sec. of State for moving or failing to vote in recent elections. But voting rights advocates argue that approximately 120,000 of them should not be on the list at all. The judge allowed the mass removal to move forward on assurances from the state those voters can be quickly restored after further hearings on the matter;
  • But, it's not just rightwing controlled states where voter registration concerns are rearing their ugly (if expected) head before 2020. Due to what is being described as a "computer glitch" related to the state's new, automatic registration system, as many as 100,000 voters in California may have had their party preference incorrectly changed on their registration files in advance of next year's upcoming March 3rd Presidential primary. The state's rules for who can vote in which party primary are particularly confusing. So, its a very good idea for residents who believe they are registered to check their registration at VoterStatus.SOS.CA.GOV to make sure they are still registered, and for the party they think they are. Those who are registered as permanent "No Party Preference" vote-by-mail voters but who wish to vote for a Presidential candidate in a party primary on March 3rd, will need to make that request with their County Registrar very soon or will receive a vote-by-mail ballot with no Presidential candidate options!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the U.N. climate talks in Madrid end without an agreement, but with much disappointment and rancor, thanks in no small part to sabotage by the U.S., and a new report finds the Greenland ice melt is on track for scientists worst case-scenario predictions of catastrophic sea level rise by the end of the century.

The gods have very good reason indeed to be angry again today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Donald Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; And what YOU must now do about all of it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's Election Day today, and not going well in several states. But it's also Election Day one year from today, for President, and we've got some very timely advice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Voter are voting, or trying to, in dozens of states around the country today. And, like clockwork, voting systems --- particularly newly installed touchscreen and electronic pollbook systems --- are failing and causing long voting times in a number of states (like New York, Virginia, and Indiana --- where "about 30% of the 93 precincts in St. Joseph County" had touchscreen problems, according to its County Clerk), even in sparsely attended off-year elections. We'll have more such problems as they come to light, undoubtedly, along with noteworthy results of Tuesday's elections across the nation, on tomorrow's BradCast.

But, while we're waiting, as we are now exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, there is every reason to imagine (foolishly, we'll add here) that Donald Trump will be wiped out in a landslide next year. All things being equal, on a level playing field and sane world, he would be. But we live in neither these days. Even setting aside his ongoing impeachment, his last week has been an embarrassment of failures.

  • His withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement has now resulted in Iran installing at least 60 new, modern, high-speed centrifuges to enrich uranium, which had been previously banned under the pact --- until Trump broke it.
  • An analysis of U.S. troops now both coming and going in Syria following Trump's sudden declaration that the U.S. was pulling out of the warn torn nation and his subsequent announcement that he was sending troops in to defend oil field left abandoned by our fleeing Kurdish allies, means that when all is said and done, the U.S. will have 900 troops in the country. That, versus the 1,000 that were there previously. And with all of that, "the United States has deserted its pivotal Kurdish ally; ceded territory the Kurds had controlled to Syria, Turkey and Russia; and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence" as hundreds of ISIS prisoners were able to escape in the Trump-created confusion.
  • At the same time, back home, we've learned that Trump's "impenetrable" border wall, built with $10 billion in tax-payer dollars (not Mexican pesos), is anything but impenetrable, as smugglers are said to be breaching it with a simple power tool available for under $100 at Home Depot.
  • And while he hasn't cancelled Native American Heritage Month, as some on the Internet were reporting on Monday, he has declared November, awkwardly, for the first time, to also be National American History and Founders Month, a pet White Powery swamp project of one of his top campaign funders.

With all of that failure and ineptitude and embarrassment and corruption --- from just the past several days alone --- you'd think this guy would be heading toward a blow-out landslide loss next year to whichever candidate or ham sandwich Democratic voters nominate to run against him in 2020. Indeed, Washington Post and ABC News today published new polling showing that, among currently registered voters, all five leading Democratic candidates (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Harris) crush Trump in head-to-head national match-ups next year by anywhere from 17 to 9 points. While that could ultimately turn out to be true, that polling --- and a lot of similar surveys you will hear over the next year --- are of NATIONAL polling. We do not run national elections in this country. We run state-by-state electoral college elections for President.

And, on that score, the New York Times has a much more sobering --- and even chilling --- preview of where they find that things currently stand in the six battleground states (MI, PA, WI, FL, AZ and NC) that were said to have decided the election in Trump's favor in 2016. In those states, Trump is currently believed to be even with or defeating the top Democrats, according to the new polling, which may be either right or wrong.

There are many caveats on that poll as well. Either way, it should serve as a very loud, screaming, red flag, siren alarm bell for those who believe Trump couldn't possibly win re-election next year. Given the more-art-than-science nature of such polling and our incredible fragile and vulnerable electoral systems, he absolutely could win the election again next year (just as we warned, to little avail or notice, in 2016.) Thus, NOW is a great time to take action: What are YOU going to do next year to help voters vote? We discuss and offer a few ideas. It's time to take action.

Finally, speaking of still more Trump failures, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the President's ridiculous withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, yet another new oil spill on the Keystone Pipeline, and much more as we approach our 1000th episode of the GNR! (For which we humbly thank you for supporting through your donations at BradBlog.com/Donate! If you haven't done so lately, now would be a really great time to stop by with a one-time or recurring donation of any amount you like. Thank you!)

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Guest: Media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: Preemptive blackouts threaten CA elections; GOP tries denial as impeachment defense; Trump Campaign has bought 69,000 Facebook ads since May...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2019 6:24pm PT  

Right in the middle of today's BradCast, as we were discussing the very topic, Twitter announced that they would be blocking all political ads before 2020 from their massive social media site. As our guest today explains, however, Facebook, still refuses to even fact-check political ads purchased on their site, no matter how demonstrably false and misleading they are. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, as fires rage up and down the great state of California due to climate change-fueled winds, heat, tinderbox dry conditions and preemptive power blackouts by private, for-profit utility companies who failed to heed early warnings, it's become clear that elections in the Golden State are now also endangered. Exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, a number of large counties in the state, most notably here in Los Angeles (the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction) are moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems, rather than verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, and to e-pollbook systems at Voting Centers which rely on the Internet to establish voter eligibility before voting, rather than old school paper pollbooks.

Both new systems also require electricity for voters to be able to cast their votes at all. But what if power companies are forced, at this very same time next year, to once again preemptively shut down power to avoid the threat of utility line sparked wildfires? We have queried L.A.'s County Clerk and Registrar Recorder's office seeking information on what their backup plans are for such a situation, should it occur, next year. We'll let you know what, if anything, we hear back from Registrar Dean Logan or his office on an upcoming show.

Then, today's impeachment update includes a look at another one of the Republicans' latest attempts to find a way --- some way, any way! --- to defend Donald Trump's well-documented quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military assistance in hopes of forcing Ukraine's President to commit to a probe of Trump's 2020 political rival Joe Biden. After eviscerating, on yesterday's program, the disingenuous cries from GOPers in recent days that the inquiry was unfair to the President for lack of "due process," today we highlight several of the attempts by a number of Republicans to simply deny the entire matter even exists. From Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner's recent claim that the impeachment is little more than a "silly game" because the President "hasn't done anything wrong", to Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)'s refusal to answer even the simplest questions about Trump's documented behavior, to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)'s admission that he hadn't even attended a single impeachment inquiry hearing session, despite being a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of three that has been taking depositions behind closed doors from witnesses in the Ukraine affair over the past several weeks.

Then, with the Trump Campaign having purchased some 69,000(!) micro-targeted Facebook ads since May alone, many of them either entirely false or horrifically misleading (and amounting to more ads in total than all 18 current Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates combined!) we're joined by SUE WILSON, former Emmy and AP-award winning broadcast journalist turned media reform activist and founder of the Media Action Center, to discuss the controversial refusal by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to fact-check political ads purchased on his enormous social media site.

Wilson recently wrote at The BRAD BLOG about the controversy, sparked by Zuckerberg's refusal to block a clearly false Trump ad which CNN refused to air, and a subsequent false ad by Elizabeth Warren that she purposely ran at Facebook (and admitted was false) in order to press the point. That column, critiquing Zuckerberg's claim to be following local broadcaster ad standards (despite not being a broadcaster) as an important issue of "free speech", was published prior to some 200 employees of the social media giant signing a public letter this week calling for a number of the same reforms cited by Wilson in her recent op-ed.

"Personally, I'm offended by the idea that lying ads are the same as free speech," she tells me. "That is not free speech. It is paid speech, paid-to-misinform-people speech."

Wilson describes the breaking news about Twitter as "wonderful", adding: "It's kind of ironic that it's taking Facebook for us to start looking at these political ads that are allowed to lie to us. Not only should Facebook ban all political ads, but we should rewrite the laws so that broadcasters ban all political ads. This is a giant industry which promotes misinformation, and this is one very good way to start telling the truth to America."

Wilson debunks a number of Zuckerberg's claims about his ill-considered policy decision to allow all paid political propaganda ads by campaigns to run, no matter how many lies are included in them, and explains the arcane, nearly century-old federal requirements regarding which political ads broadcasters (versus cable channels and television networks) are allowed to prevent from running and which ones they may not censor, no matter how demonstrably false they may be.

Today's conversation with Wilson makes clear that Facebook needs to, as its own employees advise, rethink its current policy, at a minimum, before the platform is further "weaponized" by political campaigns with "destructive misinformation" that threatens our very democracy, even as concerns about political censorship by huge media outlets remains a concern. Hope you'll tune in for this important discussion in advance of next year's critical Presidential election!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges prevented in Ohio; The return of 'GNR'!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2019 4:31pm PT  

Our long road toward catching up with a month's worth of news continues on today's BradCast, with voting news out of Battleground Ohio, the latest on Trump's impeachment and chaos in Syria (and the thing that ties them together), as well as the latest environmental and climate news after a month away. [Audio link to show posted at end of summary.]

First up today: Some surprisingly good news for voters out of Ohio! The biggest surprise, perhaps, is that it comes, at least in part, thanks to the state's new Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose, who had the good sense to check with voting rights groups beforewrongly purging some 40,000 perfectly active and eligible voters from the rolls who should never have been flagged for removal in the first place! Most of his fellow Republicans are likely not happy about that.

Then, we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss the latest impeachment news and Trump's deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syrian.

The impeachment inquiry over Trump's attempt to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for its President's trumped-up state investigation of Joe Biden and the 2016 election continues to gain steam, with half a dozen or more current and former Executive Branch officials now lining up to testify --- and not in favor of Trump or his lackey lawyer Rudy Giuliani --- to Congressional investigators. Trump's former Russia and Europe expert, Fiona Hill, testified for some ten hours on Monday, reportedly citing Giuliani's shadow foreign policy schemes meant to undermine U.S. foreign policy and personally enrich the President in some way.

According to reports of her deposition, her superior on the National Security Counsel, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, was so alarmed by Giuliani's efforts he described the former NYC Mayor turned Fox 'News' conspiracist as a "hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up". Bolton reportedly tried to warn White House attorneys about Giuliani's many attempts to undermine U.S. Ukraine policy. Bolton himself, the unlikeliest of heroes in this shameful saga, may soon be called to testify to Congress in coming days, along with a long list of other State, Defense and National Security officials who now seem eager to defy the White House's strategy of denying both documents and testimony in the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. "They're defying the White House telling them not to go testify," Parton observes, "That is a change. That is different than what we've seen. Suddenly that stonewall is crumbling."

We also discuss Parton's reasonable theory as to why this matter has finally resulted in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving full permission to her caucus to proceed with impeachment, where clear evidence of felony obstruction of justice from Robert Mueller's report and Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn stars to help win the 2016 Presidential election did not. "This is the same kind of stuff that Trump was accused of [in 2016], that we all suspected him of doing, colluding with a foreign government to sabotage his rival's campaign. Here he is [with Ukraine] doing it in real time. I think that's really what has made the difference."

In not-at-all-unrelated news, Parton goes on to discuss her latest Salon column in which she details how Trump's Syria pullout appears to be anything but an impulsive decision after a recent phone call with Turkish President Erdogan, as many in the media are still describing the disastrous move. She explains how the U.S. abandonment of our Kurdish allies with the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Northern Syria is of a piece with Trump's feckless Ukraine policy. In both cases, she explains, there is one unavoidable fact in common --- even for those of us who may not be Russia hawks: both actions, like so many other controversial policies of the Trump Administration, are in the clear and direct interest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finally, we close today with the long-awaited return of the Green News Report, which we had been forced to suspend over the past month due to my family emergency. Somehow or another, Desi Doyen manages to fit in a month's worth of green news into the latest GNR in just six minutes. Buckle up --- and stay that way!...

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Guest: SMART Elections co-founder, documentarian Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB treated for pancreatic cancer; David Koch dies; Trump blows up markets, trade war with China; Amazon burning...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2019 6:38pm PT  

Just before airtime for today's BradCast, everything seemed to blow up at once (figuratively!) But we do our best to navigate through the most important explosions, including one that is likely receiving little coverage around the country. An astounding vote by the North Carolina Board of Elections --- led by a new appointee of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper --- has allowed the certification of controversial, new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the state for the 2020 elections. The Board's vote was 3 to 2 against a motion that would have blocked the dangerous and expensive voting systems made by ES&S, with the newly-appointed Democratic chair voting with the Board's two Republicans to kill the motion. It had been put forward and supported by the two Democratic Commissioners and supported by virtually every public commenter who packed today's SBE meeting. We discuss that remarkable news and much more with our guest today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first, a few of the other items blowing up in today's news that you have likely heard a bit more about than the very bad news out of NC today. The U.S. Supreme Court released a statement that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has completed radiation therapy for a malignant cancerous tumor discovered on her pancreas at the end of July, but that there is no evidence of the disease remaining in her body at this time. The 86-year old Justice underwent surgery for lung cancer in December and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Rightwing billionaire David Koch has died, according to his brother Charles. Collectively, the pair had raised and spent about $1 billion on elections and in support of almost exclusively Republican candidates and causes in recent years. Just last week, brother Charles was allowed to absurdly opine in a Washington Post op-ed that "both sides" of the political spectrum "have made it harder to come together as a country."

And, the Dow Jones took another 600+ point dive on Friday, after China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods and as Donald Trump pitched a tirade on Twitter in response. Not only did he announce intentions to double-down several times in kind today, but he also attacked his own Fed chair Jerome Powell by calling him an "enemy" of the U.S. and comparing him to China's Chairman Xi. But, that's not all. He then absurdly declared that he has "hereby ordered" U.S. companies to stop doing business with China and their 1.4 billion consumers. White House officials, as well as Republicans in Congress and rightwing business groups were reportedly left dumbstruck by the President's latest and increasingly unhinged Twitter pronouncements as he headed off to France for a G-7 summit with allies --- and as the market headed sharply "south" in response to it all.

With the figurative national cancer in the White House seemingly metastasizing quickly at this point, and with corporate media focused almost exclusively on the horse race elements of the 2020 Presidential election, we look once again toward the quickly deteriorating track conditions on which next year's horses will be running. That issue has received a lot of coverage on The BradCast over the past several weeks, if not from the rest of the media, including news of the federal judge finding Georgia's entire touchscreen voting system unconstitutional; voting and tabulation systems discovered online in at least ten states, including several battleground states, despite claims by elections officials and private vendors that the systems were never connected to the Internet; ransomeware attacks that have shutdown city government computer systems in 22 Texas municipalities over the past week; and the successful efforts by citizens in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia to demand new security reviews of recently certified, hackable touchscreen voting systems.

But the wild twists and turns in the battle against the new systems in the battleground state North Carolina came to a shocking and disappointing conclusion today, after scores of citizens spoke out against the dangers of the new computer-printed, barcoded ballot system being unleashed in the state. While largely the only person to testify in favor of the systems was a representative of the company selling and servicing them, the State Board of Elections certified them for use anyway, with the help of the Board's new Democratic chair voting with its Republican Commissioners in a series of stunning 3 to 2 votes.

We spoke to a number of folks on the ground in NC today, who testified against the new systems, and they were both stunned and furious. Frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (a plaintiff in the successful federal case against Georgia's touchscreen voting machines) is a North Carolina resident who testified today. She sent me a statement just before airtime: "As a North Carolina voter I am embarrassed by the level of ignorance shown by three of the five members of the Board. The arguments they made wouldn't pass muster in fifth grade civics class." Another opponent of the new systems, Lynn Bernstein, an election security advocate, aerospace test engineer and ardent supporter of hand-marked paper ballot systems also spoke today and told me afterward that the new Chairman Damon Circosta "couldn't cite a single reason" for his vote, "other than he has confidence the new system will be fine."

We're joined today by longtime, award-winning journalist, columnist, documentarian and SMART Elections co-founder LULU FRIESDAT for her response to today's stunning news from NC, which she says she regards as a "coup" that will allow the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems next year in the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina as well as other jurisdictions such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles, unless the public can rollback this alarming trend.

"We have state after state after state --- we have this in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, we've had it in New York, they had it in Kansas --- it's the same ES&S machines. And now you're seeing it in North Carolina, where you have a vast majority of citizens coming to these Board of Election meetings saying 'We want hand-marked paper ballots! We want voting systems that we can trust! We don't want touchscreen barcode systems!' And the election officials are putting in place those electronic touchscreen barcode systems that are the exact ones that people are protesting against."

She cites broad donations by vendors to many of the officials tasked with selecting the systems and passing statutes which allow them.

We also discuss the disturbing news out of DefCon's Voting Village a week ago, where she witnessed new voting and electronic pollbook systems --- like the ones now set for use in NC --- being easily hacked by attendees in minutes time. "This is the third year that they've had a Voting Village, where they have voting machines that are in use in the United States available there. And each year it becomes more clear that really, every system is extremely vulnerable. There was not a single system there, to my knowledge, that was not penetrated in some way, or they didn't find vulnerabilities," Friesdat tells me.

And, finally, we discuss her newly-launched effort at SmartElections.US to help train and organize voters nationally to help oversee our own public elections via her new #CountTheVote citizens initiative to help people "get involved on a very local level" .

CountTheVote will be "training people who care across the country, in county by county, especially targeting states where we know this is really going to come down to the wire, swing-states, giving people the toolkits that they need and the skills and information they need.," she explains. "You can have conversations with your election officials to try to influence them to purchase secure voting equipment. Get other groups involved to start pressuring them. This is happening all over the country."

Finally, if it seems that the world is on fire of late, that's because it is --- both figuratively (see everything above) and literally, from the Arctic to the Amazon. We close with a few words on the troubling developments in the Brazilian rainforest where that country's Trump-like authoritarian climate science-denying leader, Jair Bolsonaro, is actually blaming non-profit groups fighting to save the Amazon rainforest for the global warming conditions and Bolsonaro policies that are actually helping to spark the massive fires in a region of the world that otherwise helps turn climate warning C02 into oxygen. At least it did before the record fires have become to consume the region...

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