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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Seeing the (Burning) Forest for the (Giant) Trees: 'BradCast' 9/20/21
Guest: Dr. Christy Brigham, chief science officer at Sequoia National Park; Also: Late COVID news, democracy news, and callers...
Sunday 'End of the Roe' Toons
PDiddie's latest, timely, not-yet-banned collection of the week's best political toons...
It's The Fox 'News', Stupid! (Or, How a Fake News
Channel Broke America):
'BradCast' 9/17/21
Guest: Kevin Drum; Also: Catastrophic heat; Fires threaten Sequoia's 3,000-yr old giants...
Whitehouse Presses Wray on FBI Whitewash of Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Probe: 'BradCast' 9/16/21
Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; Unvaxxed surging hospital death panels...
'Green News Report' 9/16/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nicholas adds insult to injury in LA; Biden continues urgent climate action pitch; States hold plastic producers accountable; PLUS: VT latest to sue fossil fuel giants for lies...
Previous GNRs: 9/14/21 - 9/9/21 - Archives...
NEWSOM WINS LANDSLIDE, GOP'S CA RECALL FAILS: 'BradCast' 9/15/21
Guest: The Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' mandates hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
Repubs Threaten 'War' Over CA Recall and COVID, Dems Threaten Voting Rights for All: 'BradCast' 9/14/21
Elder's fraud lies; Dems' awesome new election bill; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust'...
'Green News Report' 9/14/21
Nicholas drowns Gulf Coast; Biden urges Congress to move on climate infrastructure; EPA protects drinking water; PLUS: Another nail in Pebble Mine's coffin...
Last Call Before Perils, Security Dangers of CA Recall Election: 'BradCast' 9/13/21
Also: No, we weren't 'united' after 9/11. My 'Presidential Speech', written 20 years ago this week. Plus: Callers...
Sunday 'Not Forgetting' Toons
PDiddie's latest, memorable collection of the week's best toons...
CA SoS Asks Election Experts to be 'Cheerleaders' for Recall Election Security Procedures: 'BradCast' 9/10/21
Guests: Emily Levy, Jim Soper; Also: GOP freakout over Biden vaccine mandate...
Thanks for the Death Panels, Anti-Vaxxers!:
'BradCast' 9/9/21
Hospitals now rationing healthcare as Delta surges, even among kids (as DeSantis tries to kill them); Better news in AK; Good jobs numbers; DoJ sues TX; More...
'Green News Report' 9/9/21
Biden presses infrastructure resilience after deadly Ida's devastation; Mindy forms and slams FL in mere hours; PLUS: World finally ends use of leaded gas...
'Too Much Hubris': CA Recall Officials Dismiss Experts' Warning After Software Theft: 'BradCast' 9/8/21
Guest: Dr. Duncan Buell; Also: Trump probe in GA; Pillow Guy is really REALLY stupid...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: The American Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' will mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2021 6:19pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: It takes a lot of chutzpah --- and plenty of confidence that corporate media is too cowed to call you out for it --- to continue calling your party a "conservative" one, after forcing state taxpayers to waste almost $300 million to run a special Recall Election that ends with almost the exact same results as the last time Republicans tried to defeat the popular Democratic Governor in an election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, yeah, that's what happened on Tuesday. With about three quarters of the vote now tabulated in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has clearly crushed the GOP's attempted Recall Election in California --- by a mile. As of now, the vote to keep the Governor in office is ahead by about 28 points, or 64% to 36%. That's almost the same margin by which President Biden annihilated Donald Trump in the state in 2020, and slightly smaller than Newsom first term victory in 2018. (Though the results may still widen for Newsom before all is said and done with the processing of late Vote-by-Mail ballots and Provisionals over the next few weeks.)

The Governor, who will face a normal reelection contest in just over a year, offered brief remarks after media called the race on Tuesday night. "'No' is not the only thing that was expressed tonight," Newsom told supporters. "I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic."

Along with a laundry list of rights and freedoms that progressive California voters "said yes" to, in contrast to the rightwingers hoping to end public health mandates and more, Newsom also noted the state "said yes to people's right to vote without fake fraud or voter suppression."

On Monday, the day before the Recall --- before any results were known at all --- the GOP's top candidate, far-right radio talk show host Larry Elder, unveiled a "Stop CA Fraud" website demanding a special session of the state legislature be convened to "investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election." That would have been unknown results, at the time, which he disingenuously charged included "improperly formed ballots"; "instances of undocumented ballots"; and "statistical analyses [that] have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor." Without such a special session --- presumably at an even higher "conservative" cost to taxpayers --- Elder's campaign threatened use of the "ammo-box."

Hours after most media outlets had called the race for Newsom on Tuesday night --- after Fox "News" had quickly pulled down all of their Election Night incoming results numbers in order to pretend there had been no election at all that day --- Elder finally conceded and encouraged supporters to be "gracious in defeat". But, after lying about "fraud" in the election and threatening use of the "ammo-box", he should receive zero credit for those remarks. He then pledged that, though he "may have lost the battle, we are going to win the war."

We're joined today by longtime Editor of The American Prospect, former Editor of L.A. Weekly and frequent Los Angeles Times contributor HAROLD MEYERSON. We discuss whatever lessons may be learned from the Recall for both Democrats and Republicans in the state, as well as across the nation, as we head into next year's mid-term elections and, as Meyerson writes at The Prospect today, "the California GOP has gone down the same rathole as the rest of the Trumpified horde."

"They're saying Larry Elder is now the dominant figure in the California Republican Party," Meyerson observes, regarding GOP hopes for a rematch against Newsom next year. "If you want your party leader, your standard bearer, your best electoral prospect to come into the next race trailing by four to five million votes --- okay! Take it away!"

We also discuss why and how California's 100-year old, once well-intentioned progressive Recall and Ballot Initiative process needs to be overhauled in the state, where it should have been done by Democrats years ago.

Finally, in a BradCast with way more good news than we are accustomed to these days, more good news on the Senate Democrats' newly unveiled election reform compromise bill known as the "Freedom to Vote Act". We summarized the wildly encouraging key points of the new bill, crafted by eight Senate Dems including Joe Manchin, on yesterday's program. But, we didn't have the legislative text at the time to report on whether the summary's promise of "Voter-Verified Paper Ballots," would truly offer the long-overdue right to a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters across the country, or whether the legislation would offer gaping holes on that point, as the Dems' otherwise excellent For the People Act --- on which the Freedom to Vote Act is based --- currently does.

On that point, now that we've seen the actual text of the proposed 592-page bill [PDF], we can happily report the good news that the new legislation does, on page 318, appear to promise long-overdue HMPBs for all "at every in-person voting location" in the country! Passage of this bill --- if Dems can figure out how to get Manchin's permission to reform the filibuster to do it --- would be the most transformative legislation for American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965...and could, arguably, even out do it!

Let's get the "Freedom to Vote Act" passed, ASAP!!!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Elder pretends to care about 'election integrity', lies about fraud before Election Day; Senate Dems reach fantastic election reform 'compromise'; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust' while inflaming the pandemic for all...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2021 6:57pm PT  

Get ready for another roller-coaster ride on today's BradCast, which also happens to be Recall Election Day in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As of airtime on Tuesday, we heard of no major reports of voting problems at the polls across the Golden State, though that may be thanks to so many already having voted by mail or during early voting. But, while pretending to support "election integrity" during an interview on MSNBC, Larry Elder, rightwing talk show host and GOP front-runner to become Governor if popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom loses on the ballot's first question, was busy lying about "fraud" and the "twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election" on his "Stop CA Fraud" website, before any results are known whatsoever. Oh, and he's also threatening the use of the "ammo box" if the results don't go his way.

(And, in related comment, we discuss why these "Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?" questions are really unfair and unhelpful gotcha questions, that it would be really nice if media stopped asking.)

In far brighter news, a group of eight U.S. Senators --- representing the broad political spectrum across the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber and including Joe Manchin --- announced a "compromise" election reform package with a ton of really really good stuff in it. Among the huge number of long overdue reforms in what they have dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act": Automatic and same-day voter registration for all; restoration of voting rights for former felons; federal minimum standards for absentee voting, drop boxes and early voting; an end to partisan gerrymandering; curbs on dark money in elections; the prevention of the ability of partisan state legislatures to overturn results derived by non-partisan election officials; new cybersecurity standards for computerized voting systems; and much much more.

The devil is often in the details, and I've yet to review the actual legislative text as of airtime, but from the summary description made available by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate committee that oversees federal elections and campaign law, almost any one of the items included in this proposed bill would be hugely good news. I'll need to review the specific language on the measure's requirements for hand-marked paper ballots to sign off on that part of the bill, but even the proposed requirements for Voter ID are very good ones. They will serve to force states with purposely restrictive Photo ID voting restrictions (enacted to suppress the vote, not to protect against fraud) to be much less onerous, while avoiding new restrictive mandates in the majority of states which already have reasonable ID rules or few at all.

The legislation is based on Manchin's personal "compromise" version of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already been passed by the House. Manchin is one of the eight Senators who worked out this proposal, and is said to be reaching out to bring Republicans on board. Of course, even if all 50 Senators who caucus with the Dems vote in favor, as appears likely (Schumer says he is scheduling a vote for next week), it seems unimaginable that any Republicans will join them, much less the 10 that would be required to overcome a Senate filibuster. But with Manchin as a co-sponsor, it will now be on him to get the GOP votes needed for passage or face the prospect of no long-overdue election protection at all...UNLESS he is willing to support a "democracy reconciliation" carve-out to the Senate filibuster. It should be a very interesting, maddening and/or fantastic week or two. We'll be following it all very closely, of course.

And, as Dems are trying to improve representative Democracy in the U.S., Republicans are still, apparently, in the business of simply trying to kill as many Americans as they can to make some sort of twisted political point.

Yet another fervent, anti-vaxxer rightwing radio and TV host died from COVID over the weekend, the fifth in the past month and a half. And while we've had a modicum of sympathy for some of the others who have recently passed, as we explain, this one, 62-year old Bob Enyart, is very difficult to feel anything but contempt for.

We have slightly more sympathy, however, for the wildly misinformed and brainwashed 64-year old anti-vax QAnon supporter and highway overpass activist and YouTuber, Veronica Wolski who bragged last month on her final video about never having worn a mask in her life, and about the need to "NEVER COMPLY" with any COVID public health measures in order to "never give up your freedoms" so "you never have to fight to get them back."

She won't be fighting for anything anymore. Wolski died over the weekend from COVID-related illness in the ICU, but not before the QAnon dupes, led by disgraced Georgia attorney Lin Wood, sicced supporters on the hospital trying to save her life and threatened its workers with "murder" charges unless they agreed to treat her with Ivermectin, the horse deworming medicine not approved for treatment of COVID. That, before Wood declared on his Telegram channel to his more than 800,000 followers: "Now, we go to war."

Unfortunately, deadly climate change (not to mention COVID) is what wingnuts should be going to war against. As Desi Doyen explains in our latest Green News Report today, yet another massive tropical storm, Hurricane Nicholas, is now knocking out power (again) and drenching the U.S. Gulf Coast with some 20 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooded out in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and sections of Louisiana that were already still under water following last week's Hurricane Ida. President Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for action on climate in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and his EPA is taking several long-overdue actions on behalf of clean, non-toxic drinking water across the U.S., and an age-old salmon fishery in Alaska...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Vote system expert Dr. Duncan Buell; Also: GA's criminal Trump probe 'inches forward'; Pillow Guy says something really REALLY stupid...
By Brad Friedman on 9/8/2021 6:20pm PT  

It's an old cliche by now that every bad disaster movie begins with a scientist's warnings being ignored. We'll continue to hope, on today's BradCast, that California's Gubernatorial Recall election, with voting under way right now and Election Day next Tuesday, doesn't turn into a bad disaster movie...now that CA's Democratic Secretary of State seems to be ignoring the urgent warnings from a whole bunch of the nation's top computer scientists. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Several weeks ago, polling of likely voters in the GOP's sleazy attempt to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office in a special recall election, suggested a dead heat on the question of removal for the otherwise popular progressive Golden State Guv. Today, more recent polling suggest Newsom is up by more than 10 points among those considered to be likely voters, according to 538's average of recent surveys, and by about 8.5 points in RealClearPolitics' round-up. That, after the very Trumpy, far-right Republican radio host, Larry Elder, has emerged as Newsom's likely replacement if the Governor loses on the ballot's first question as to whether he should be recalled.

In the meantime, as we have been highlighting over the past month, California's state election officials should be very concerned about a new security threat to the election itself following the theft of Election Management System (EMS) software made by Dominion Voting Systems. The vendor's systems are used to run elections in nearly 60% of California jurisdictions. Copies of its EMS software were apparently purloined in the middle of the night by a far-right County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado last May before being released to the wilds of the Internet during MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's phony "cyber symposium" last month. That release now poses "critical new risks to the recall election," according to eight of the nation's top cyber security and voting system experts. They sent a chilling, 3-page warning letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber late last week, advising her to mandate a statewide Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) as the "one critical action" she can and should take immediately to try and mitigate against this "serious threat" which, the experts argue, warrants "emergency action" on the part of state officials.

One of the authors of that letter, DR. DUNCAN BUELL, Chair Emeritus in Computer Science and Engineering at University of South Carolina, joins us on today's show to explain the letter, the threat and the need for the SoS to take action now, rather than waiting until after Election Day.

"If the results are known first and then somebody says 'let's audit', there will always be some skepticism and some conspiracy theory that the reason for the audit is because the result came out different from somebody in power who wanted it to be a different result," Buell tells me. "You've got to mandate the audit before you have the result so the voters know that this is being done specifically for the right reasons."

He goes on to explain how the EMS software, which can now be downloaded and explored for vulnerabilities by anyone with an Internet connection, is "absolutely central to everything" when it comes to running elections on computer systems. "The EMS is almost certainly going to be configuring ballot styles --- even for hand-marked [paper] ballots, where the bubble is to be filled in, in terms of position on the page --- and it's going to be the system at the end of the day that does the tabulations. So anything that is that central is really critical."

When I ask if it's an overstatement to refer access to the EMS software as "the keys to the kingdom" when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems, Buell confirms: "I don't think that's an overstatement at all. That's very much the case."

Even with the recent shift in polling, suggesting a possible lead for Newsom in the Recall, Buell notes, "I don't necessarily think either side should be breathing a 'sigh of relief' because the problem really is that the election system needs to be secure, and the election process has to be done in a transparent way that voters can trust and understand. With the release of the [EMS] software, it's hard for anyone to really feel that what's going to happen is what ought to happen unless there is a statistically sound Risk-Limiting Audit conducted after the fact, just to make sure things got done right. This is a question of confidence, transparency, and the fact that we don't get to do elections over."

He offers much more insight on all of this during our conversation today, as based on his many years of experience with voting systems as both a Professor and expert witness in voting system related cases and challenges across the country. We discuss the lack of response the eight top experts have so far received from Sec. Weber in CA, and a dismissive --- and arguably naive --- statement given by her office to AP last week following the release of the letter.

"I have seen well-meaning election officials with too little skepticism and too much hubris," Buell warns. "I think that's a problem. We don't know what the results are going to be, so we don't know ground truth for what's going to come out of this recall election in California. We can't do it over. This means that, yes, all of the processes have to be rock solid. But it also argues that there needs to be a way, after the fact, to make sure that the outcome that you think you got is the outcome that you should have gotten. That's what one of these RLAs, Risk Limiting Audits, will do."

He also observers that California is lucky, in that the inventor of the RLA protocol, Philip Stark of U.C. Berkeley, is right here to help. Stark is also a signatory of the letter to Weber. He joined us on the show several weeks ago, just after the stolen Dominion EMS software was released, to explain the serious concerns at that time --- well before the national media had noticed any of this, and before CA's SoS got around to seemingly ignoring the warning and advice of the nation's top experts in the field.

Given that Donald Trump is already falsely and predictably claiming that the CA Recall is "a rigged election", as is Fox "News", it's even more imperative that Weber mandate a professional, publicly witnessed, statewide post-election audit now (as opposed to the type of scammy, secret, "audit" theater recently carried out by inexperienced, partisan, conspiracy buffoons in Maricopa County, Arizona, for instance) before the computer-tallied results of next week's critical Recall Election are known.

Speaking of fraud and conspiracy buffoons, we have a bit of fresh news this week about the slow, but still "ongoing" criminal investigation by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fanni Willis into the conspiracy led by Donald Trump to try and strong-arm Peach State officials into stealing the election on his behalf last year. That probe could also end up targeting fellow conspirators Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rudy Giuliani.

And then we close with the really really dumb comments from MyPillow conspiracy buffoon Mike Lindell, in which he recently seems to have thrown himself under the bus on his own streaming video channel, in regards to the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit he is currently facing from Dominion Voting Systems...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Open letter to CA's Sec. of State calls for 'urgent mitigating action' with an immediate mandate for statewide post-election Risk-Limiting Audits...
By Brad Friedman on 9/2/2021 11:35pm PT  

Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts warned in a letter sent to California's Secretary of State on Thursday night that "emergency action is warranted" in response to a recent leak of key voting system software used in nearly 60% of state jurisdictions amid CA's ongoing Gubernatorial recall election.

The bluntly --- and urgently --- worded, 3-page letter [PDF] from the longtime experts in this field to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber calls for a specific type of public, post-election audit as the "one critical action" that should be announced immediately, in response to software recently stolen from Mesa County, Colorado and Antrim County, Michigan. The software in question, Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS), was released over the Internet for broad download during a so-called "Cyber Symposium" run by Trump supporter, conspiracy theorist and pillow impresario, Mike Lindell three weeks ago. The EMS software, used in both CO and MI and many other states, including CA, is used to manage virtually every aspect of elections, from ballot creation to tabulation. Forty of California's 58 counties, according to AP's coverage of this matter tonight, use a version of the Dominion EMS that, according to the experts' letter, while "not identical" is virtually the same with only "relatively minor" differences.

"The release materially elevates threats to the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and to public trust in the election," the experts inform Weber, as they urge her to, in advance of the election, mandate a robust statewide post-election audit in each county in the state.

The computer scientists explain that "a statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA) of trustworthy paper ballots...can substantially mitigate these threats," as posed by the recent breach. They define "trustworthy" as hand-marked paper ballots with a secure chain of custody, and advise that Weber mandate RLA's to both to ensure accuracy of computer-tallied results of those ballots and to offer confidence to the public in the results, no matter the outcome of the September 14th GOP recall targeting Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

One of the letter's signatories, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC-Berkeley, is the inventor of the well-regarded RLA protocol. It consists of a manual, public tally of a certain percentage of ballots as devised by the protocol to gain scientific certainty in the computer-tallied results. Stark recently discussed the alarming new security breach on The BradCast, comparing this release of proprietary election software into the wild as akin to having a life-sized, identical version of a bank and its vault with which to practice breaking into it...

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




Guest: Heather Digby Parton on that, Afghanistan, phony 'conservatism', Trump accountability and more: Also: Good news in FL; Bad news in TX; Very disturbing news in Russia and New Orleans...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2021 6:40pm PT  

It's been a while since one of our favorite BradCast guests has joined us, and so we've got a lot to catch up with her on today, starting with the GOP's latest attempt to use "legal means to subvert democracy," as she describes it, out here in California. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first some very quick news items today, including good news in Florida, where a state judge has struck down Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' deadly ban on local and school district mask mandates as "illegal and unsupported"; Bad news in Texas, where three weak-kneed Democrats who returned to the state legislature after blocking a quorum for the last month, just allowed Republicans to adopt a sweeping new voter suppression law; Disturbing news in Russia, where massive wildfires are now said to be threatening a top-secret facility where nuclear war heads are made; Very disturbing news for New Orleans, where evacuations are underway with potentially killer Hurricane Ida quickly approaching; And some puzzling news out of Southern California, where a man was found by police with 300 stolen Vote-by-Mail ballots from California's Gubernatorial Recall election, which is now under way.

That's where we kick things off with award-winning Salon columnist, Hullabaloo blogger and fellow Californian HEATHER DIGBY PARTON today. For those who don't know, state Republicans received three extra months, due to the pandemic, to gather signatures for their attempted recall of the Golden State's popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a state where it is virtually impossible for the unpopular GOP to win normal statewide elections anymore. Vote-by-Mail ballots have been sent to all registered voters with two questions: 1) Should Newsom be removed from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? There are 46 candidates listed under the second question.

As Parton recently wrote at Salon and details today, Newsom could lose on question 1 with 49.9% of the vote, while current GOP front-runner and far-right, Trump-loving radio talk show host Larry Elder, could then "win" on the second question to become the Governor of the nation's most populous state with just 15 percent of the vote.

Why Democrats didn't reform the state's "archaic" recall system after a similar scam was carried out by the GOP in 2003 to oust then Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and replace him with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a mystery. Though it speaks to the fact that Democrats, in general, as Parton argues, "have failed to understand the political culture that we're dealing with now, and fail to grasp just how important it is that they look ahead and take steps to protect democracy."

"I would say wake up, because this is happening nationally. It's happening in blue states,  red states, and everywhere else --- which is an absolute assault on democracy that's coming from the right," she explains, citing the national consequences as well for the outcome of the Recall on September 14th. "We have an 88-year-old Senator" who may need to be replaced by the Governor at some point. If that Governor is Republican Larry Elder, he'd flip the majority in the U.S. Senate with his appointment and "Mitch McConnell would be laughing and laughing and laughing at the idea that Biden's agenda was completely derailed by the lazy people in California who didn't come out to vote."

In addition to the Recall, we also catch up with Parton on the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan, and the ridiculous way the media has been covering the largest and, so far, most successful U.S. airlift in history, even as they otherwise haven't paid attention to what has been going on for most of the last 20 years of America's longest war.

We discuss how the GOP's long con of claiming to be "small government conservatives" has been exposed by the big government authoritarian edicts of Governors like DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas.

And, as if that's not enough, she also offers thoughts on the growing attempts to bring accountability for Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, particularly by the U.S. House Select Committee examining the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. "What they seem to be putting together is the case that Trump was planning to steal the election, and he was using the power of the Presidency to do it."

So, yeah, there's a lot to catch up on today, in yet another very lively conversation with our friend "Digby"!...

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Trump lawyers sanctioned, will face disbarment probes; Capitol officers sue Trump; Terror suspect sentenced in MI Guv kidnap plot; House files massive 1/6 records requests; TX AG Paxton clears TX AG Paxton; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2021 6:57pm PT  

Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. We really must stop describing his efforts and those by his supporters as "questioning the results" or "claiming fraud" or "trying to overturn the election." The fact is, Trump tried to steal it. He used every means at his disposal to try and do so. Thankfully, he is largely a failure at pretty much everything, so it didn't work, though we now know it came exceedingly close. So, let's start calling it for what it is: An unprecedented attempted by a President of the United States to try and steal a Presidential election. To that end, accountability is now happening. Slowly but quite assuredly, along with a number of other related accountability stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Some of the breaking news on today's terror attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, which killed at least 13 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans and seriously injured many more. ISIS-K, an off-shoot of the Islamic State and an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack by two suicide bombers. If anything, Thursday's tragedy amidst the largest airlift in U.S. history --- following the swift takeover of the country by the Taliban --- simply serves to underscore even further why the U.S. pullout must continue, and why we certainly shouldn't have been there for 20 years (if at all);
  • In much less horrific news, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its 2020 post-election survey [PDF] of various voting and election-related data from all 50 states last year. While The Guardian's Sam Levine characterizes the report as proving the election was "a remarkable success", we explain why that may be a bit of an overstatement. That said, the data does reveal yet again that, while there were far too many rejections of absentee and mail-in ballots (as is always the case, but especially amid pandemic voting last year), there is still no evidence at all to even suggest that the Presidential election was stolen in any way, shape or form by Joe Biden, the Democrats or anyone else. Not that Donald Trump didn't try (and fail) to do exactly that, of course;
  • In much brighter related news, a federal judge in Michigan on Wednesday brought some serious accountability down on nine of the Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, who both helped Trump try to steal the 2020 election by filing fraudulent lawsuits, in this case in Michigan, fraudulently claiming that the election was stolen, using fraudulent claims about fraud. All nine lawyers were excoriated by U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker's scathing 110-page order [PDF], which should (hopefully) end each of the attorneys' careers as officers of the court. Parker mandated the Trump lawyers pay attorneys fees accrued by the city of Detroit and state of Michigan in defending against the "frivolous" so-called "Kraken" lawsuit; take 12 hours of legal classes each (including 6 on Election Law); and, most importantly, face investigations for possible suspension and/or disbarment by legal authorities in each of their home states;
  • More accountability for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, specifically for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that he incited as part of that effort. Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Trump, several far-right extremist groups charged with aiding the deadly plot, and even against Trump associates like Roger Stone. It is, as the New York Times describes it, "the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable." Trump is already facing two other similar lawsuits filed by the NAACP and by Rep. Eric Swalwell. But, no doubt, the disgraced former President and his supporters will see this new complaint differently, because it is filed by police officers and, as you know, Republicans always "back the blue", right?;
  • That lawsuit follows just one day after the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack issued a massive series of records requests to at least 8 different federal agencies for documents related to Trump's movements, actions and meetings on January 6th, and in the weeks and months both before and after. The requests were sent to, among others, the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and National Archives, where Presidential White House records are stored. Trump is apparently livid about the effort, describing it as a "partisan exercise" being carried out by a "Leftist" House Committee. (That may come as a surprise to "Leftist" Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger);
  • In still more accountability news today, tangentially related to Trump's attempt to steal last year's election in Michigan: The sentence for the first domestic terrorist, among some 13 charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, was handed down on Wednesday. A 25-year old man who, according to Justice Department prosecutors, cooperated with the investigation after initially pleading not guilty, changed his plea and was sentenced to more than 6 years in prison on charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. The failed conspiracy, according to the FBI and Whitmer, sprang from Trump's attempt to vilify the Governor for her science-based handling of the COVID pandemic, in a year in which Trump was willing to say and do anything to win the important battleground state. (He lost it by 150,000 votes instead);
  • In accountability news only spiritually related to Trump, a federal appeals court declined to overturn the sentence of the man who killed nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. The now-27-year old avowed white supremacist is the first person charged with a death sentence for committing a federal hate crime. While accountability is great, a life sentence would have been sufficient. Killing people is bad, as some of us learned even before Kindergarten. Apparently, the U.S. Government has yet to do so;
  • Only politically related to Trump, the Republican state Attorney General in South Dakota, Jason Ravnsborg, who fatally struck a pedestrian last year and left him to die, decided to take a plea deal rather than begin his trial today. Nonetheless, as of airtime, despite the hit and run fatality, Ravnsborg was still in office as the state's top law enforcement official;
  • And, in related corrupt Republican state Attorney General news, definitely politically related to Trump, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also still in office. That, despite being charged with multiple felonies for securities fraud some time ago (and, so far, evading trial on those years-old, but still-pending indictments); facing potential disbarment by the State Bar of Texas for his attempt to help Trump steal the election with a bogus, fraudulent, rejected lawsuit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to try and overturn results in four non-Texas states; and under investigation by the FBI after 7 top staffers in his office quit and filed a legal complaint detailing how AG Paxton was involved in a serious bribery and abuse of power scheme involving protection for one of his top donors and a scheme that involved having the man give a job to his mistress. Well, on that federal investigation, AG Paxton had some good news this week! In an unsigned 374-page report [PDF] published by AG Paxton's office on AG Paxton's letterhead, AG Paxton's own internal investigation found that "AG Paxton’s actions were lawful" and that "AG Paxton committed no crime". Phew! That was close! I'm sure the FBI is calling off their probe, even as we speak.
  • Finally, as a late brewing potential major hurricane (Ida) spins toward the Gulf Coast for possible landfall over the weekend, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with a suspiciously inordinate amount of encouraging news. But don't worry, there are a few items of the usual catastrophic nature GNR is known for as well. We'd hate to leave anyone disappointed...

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Guest: FSFP's Courtney Hostetler on federal suit challenging two new vote suppression laws in AZ; Also: John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act passed by House Dems; NC court restores voting rights to 50k...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was bad enough in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts gutted Section 5, the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That section prevented discriminatory voting laws before they could take effect. By the time Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 majority, legislated from the bench last month to create new tests for Section 2 of the VRA, pulled largely out of thin air, it felt like there was little left in the landmark 1965 federal legislation to protect voters. But voting rights champions are moving forward in courts, nonetheless, even as the battle for new federal voting rights legislation continues.

On Tuesday night, without a single Republican vote, Democrats in the House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The measure would fix much of the damage done to Section 5 of the VRA by the GOP Supremes in 2013, allowing laws with a discriminatory impact on minorities to be blocked in all fifty states before they can suppress voters. But that bill have to overcome a Senate filibuster by Republicans to become law. Still, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he support its passage, so perhaps he'll support the modification to the filibuster necessary to pass it. Given the federal lawsuit filed last week in Arizona against two new GOP voter suppression schemes in that state, perhaps AZ's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another opponent of filibuster reform --- even on behalf off democracy --- will rethink her position as well when the Senate returns from its August recess.

On Monday, however, there was some bona fide good news out of the very closely divided state of North Carolina, where a court overturned a century old law that prevented former felons from voting upon release from prison. The measure, originally enacted after the Civil War to stop access to the ballot box for black Americans, was finally overturned this week, allowing some 50,000 former felons to register to vote immediately. Of course, state Republicans are appealing the ruling.

And, despite good news last month from a Florida court, tossing a GOP cap on how much money can be donated to get initiatives onto the ballot in the Sunshine State, the effort to once again reenfranchise former felons in that state will now have to wait until the 2024 ballot. That, even after Florida voters already voted for exactly that in a landslide 65% to 35% victory in 2018. It seems Republicans will never run out of ways to prevent some 800,000 returning citizens in the state from being able to participate in their own democracy. It's what they do. It's also why it is so critical to adopt federal reforms, currently being blocked by Republicans and a couple of intransigent Democratic Senators.

In Arizona last week, several voting and civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit challenging two laws recently enacted by state Republicans aimed at suppressing the minority vote, according to our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan government watchdog Free Speech for People (FSFP). Her organization is litigating the case on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona. One law ends the state's very popular permanent early voting list, which allowed voters to receive Vote-by-Mail ballots automatically for every election. The other restriction requires voters who forgot to sign their VBM ballot to do so by 7pm on Election Night. That, even though voters judged to have a "mismatched" signature on their absentee ballot are allowed to "cure" the problem for up to five days after Election Day.

On the first restriction, Hostetler explains today that the permanent early voting list "is supposed to permanent. It's right in the name." But under the new law, she says, "if you don't vote in two consecutive election cycles, you're out. Two election cycles is not that many. There are local elections, many elections that happen. If you decide to skip two elections, for whatever reason, you're off this list and you might not realize it" until its too late.

On the second restriction, she describes that many voters are unlikely to be able to sign their ballot in time, or even be notified that there is a problem, particularly if they only dropped it off the day before the election and especially in the many cases where there is a two-hour, one-way trip for voters forced to use public transportation.

All of this is supposedly to prevent "voter fraud", according to Republicans in a state which has been unable to show any evidence of substantive fraud in past elections, much less fraud that would be prevented by the new restrictions. On the other hand, as Hostetler details, these laws --- which appear neutral on their face --- are specifically designed to "impact minority voters" in several different nefarious ways.

"We can't divorce this from the history of voting suppression in Arizona," she argues, listing many of the ways in which minorities will see a disparate impact from these laws. "Arizona has an unfortunate and long history of voter suppression of Latino, Black and Native American voters."

As the federal complaint [PDF] filed last week reads: "It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting --- the target of the new laws --- to help elect their candidate of choice."

But how can these restrictions be challenged in federal court, given Justice Alito's absurd, created-from-whole-cloth new "guideposts" for adjudicating Section 2 cases under the VRA, where, as we discussed on The BradCast last month, he literally conceded that discriminatory laws are okay, so long as they don't discriminated too much?

Hostetler explains the groups' strategy for challenging these laws under the VRA as well as Amendments 1, 14, and 15 of the U.S. Constitution which, she argues, these restrictions "clearly violate". She also speaks to the necessity of passage of new federal laws to give voting rights attorneys more tools to work with, since SCOTUS has twice gutted the VRA over the past decade. She similarly offers advice on and what we can all do --- as voters, as citizens --- to help reverse this cycle of insidious voter suppression now setting in across the country...especially in swing states like Kyrsten Sinema's Arizona...

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Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Deadly record flooding in TN and from Tropical Storm Henri; Another rightwing talker dies of COVID; And we win the first court victory against GA's anti-voting, anti-press freedom law!...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2021 6:15pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, important, helpful advice for progressives in California's Gubernatorial recall, and we win a first court victory against Georgia's new anti-voting and anti-press freedoms law! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on the record-smashing deluges in both Tennessee, where at least 22 are dead following 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, an all-time record and triple what had been forecast --- and on the Northeastern Seaboard where Hurricane (turned Tropical Storm, Turned Tropical Depression) Henri is wreaking absolute havoc. All just the latest examples of our worsening climate change emergency, as Desi explains.

Next, we had a court victory in Georgia on Friday! The first one, in fact, to knock down a provision of the state Republicans' abhorrent anti-voting bill, SB 202. And, I'm proud to say, it happens to be one of the provisions on which I am the named plaintiff representing the media. The lawsuit, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG), is one of eight suits currently challenging various provisions of the law. CGG's suit, among other things, challenges a number of anti-First Amendment press freedoms jammed into the statute, along with the voter suppression stuff and the provisions which allow the state to take over county boards of elections and subvert election results.

The specific provision struck down by the federal court [PDF] on Friday, criminalized all photography of voter ballots by the public and/or media. Given the state's new, huge touchscreen voting systems, it's now almost impossible to not see a voter's ballot when media or the public attempt to observe voting inside of Peach State precincts. Unfortunately, in addition to striking that one down, the judge allowed several other provisions in this early challenge to stand, though CGG Director (and frequent BradCast guest) Marilyn Marks told me over the weekend there will be much more to come in this case, as they are deciding whether to pursue reconsideration and/or appeal of several parts of the judge's early ruling. While a small victory, for now, it also establishes that the Coalition has standing to sue in this case and that, too, is encouraging good news.

Next, it's on to the ongoing, idiotic --- but deadly serious --- California Gubernatorial recall, in which Republicans, unable to win regular elections, are hoping to unseat popular progressive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is otherwise up for reelection next year anyway. Vote-by-Mail ballots have been sent to all registered state voters (at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks to those "conservative" Republicans), but, curiously, while Newsom and the Democrats are calling on voters to vote NO on the ballot's first question ("Should Newsom be recall and removed from office?"), they are calling on voters to leave the second question ("Who should replace him, if he loses on Question 1?") completely empty! "Vote No and go!," Newsom and state Dems have recommended.

As our guest today, ERNEST A. CANNING, a longtime progressive Democrat, both writes at The BRAD BLOG and explains on today's show, that strategy may be extraordinarily ill-considered and could backfire on Dems. Instead, after culling through the records (or lack thereof) of every non-Republican, non-Libertarian candidate on question two of the recall ballot (there are 46 candidates in total), Canning, in his "One Progressive's Guide to the CA Recall," explains why he believes the best strategy for progressives is to vote for the Green Party's Dan Kapelovitz on question two.

Both of the leading party candidates (far-right talk radio host Larry Elder for the Republicans and 29-year old real estate mogul and YouTube sensation Kevin Paffrath for the Dems), among other things, oppose Newsom's common-sense, life-saving mask and vaccine mandates and vow to lift them if elected.

Kapelovitz, on the other hand, a criminal defense attorney, both supports the Governor's science-based mandates that have been so successful in the state, and opposes the recall of Newsom itself on question one. He says he's running to stave off a worst-case scenario, according to Canning, should the currently "dead heat" first question result in the unthinkable removal of the Governor.

We also discuss the questionable Constitutionality of CA's more than 100-year old recall process (built into the state constitution by an anti-corporate Republican-turned-Progressive Party Governor in 1911) which could allow a new Governor to be elected to the nation's most populous state with far fewer votes than the current Governor actually receives to stay in office on the very same ballot. And, there's also the troubling matter that this election could have serious national ramifications. California's 88-year old U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein may need to be replaced at some point before her current term ends in 2024. If a Republican, like Elder, becomes Governor and appoints a fellow Republican to her seat, control of the U.S. Senate would immediately revert to Mitch McConnell and the GOP.

So, yes, this CA Recall, as dumb as it is, matters. And it's important for progressive voters to pay attention, fill out a hand-marked paper ballot, and hopefully deliver it in person to a polling location or a drop-box by September 14th.

Finally, speaking of rightwing talk radio hosts, we've been reporting on a number of them who used our public airwaves to spread disinformation about COVID deniers and its vaccines, before finding themselves hospitalized or killed by the disease in recent weeks. One of them we've covered since his hospitalization in mid-July is Nashville's popular, nationally-syndicated Phil Valentine. After spending months mocking the seriousness of the virus and making fun of the life-saving vaccines, Valentine was announced dead over the weekend, after weeks on a ventilator, on what was reportedly his 62nd birthday...

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Guest: UC-Berkeley's Philip Stark; Also: Deadly edicts by FL, TX Guvs and Recall candidate circus in CA underscore importance of defeating GOP attempt to unseat Newsom amid pandemic, climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2021 6:56pm PT  

California Republicans know they can't win normal statewide elections. Hence, the attempted Recall election of progressive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom amid several crises that the GOP candidates hoping to replace him will make considerably worse. But now, voting system and cybersecurity experts tell The BradCast there is reason to be very concerned about the voting and tabulation systems used in some 60 percent of the state, following the recent theft and release on the Internet of Election Management System software, allegedly by a far-right County Clerk in Colorado during the MyPillow CEO's so-called "Cyber Symposium" last week in South Dakota. One of those experts joins us to explain the concerns, and what can be done about it, today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But, first up, the circus of some 46 candidates on the ballot hoping to become Governor of the nation's most populous state, if Newsom is removed by the first question on the Recall ballot, serves as a reminder that this special election, while seemingly ridiculous, is also potentially deadly for residents of the Golden State. Nonetheless, recent polling suggests that it is currently a dead heat as to whether Newsom will be removed and then replaced by someone likely to get little more than 20% of the vote on the ballot's second question about who should take his place.

In the middle of a debate between several GOP "front-runners" on Tuesday in Sacramento, one of the candidates, multi-millionaire John Cox (the guy who actually campaigns with a grizzly bear), got served in a Court process as he was introducing himself, as "ordered" by a San Diego Superior Court Judge finding that he owes about $100,000 to a contractor the Republican businessman failed to pay during his failed run against Newsom in 2018.

While neither of the top Republican or Democratic candidates on question two of the ballot were at the debate (Trump-loving, climate change denying, woman-hating Rightwing radio talk-show host Larry Elder and Democratic real-estate millionaire Kevin Paffrath), both of them oppose Newsom's mask and vaccination mandates. The BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning, in a "Progressive's Guide to the California Recall" published today, explains why CA voters must vote "NO" on the Recall's first question, before he goes on to explain who he believes progressives should support on question two.

Sky-rocketing rates of infections, hospitalizations and deaths under GOP Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and Texas' Greg Abbott (who tested positive himself on Tuesday), should serve as another reminder of the importance of both elections and having Governors who do not place political ambition over science. Despite pleas to the contrary from health officials, both DeSantis and Abbott have issued edicts blocking local governments and school districts from instituting mask mandates, even as hospitals in both states are reaching or exceeding capacity, and children under 12 (unlike Abbott and DeSantis) are ineligible to become vaccinated. (Fortunately, President Biden reiterated today that the federal government will cover the salaries of school officials who chose to protect children, even if their paychecks are cut by the TX and FL Governors. And one school district in TX has come up with a very clever way of trying to get around Abbott's ban on mask mandates.)

Meanwhile, thanks to Newsom's various statewide mask and vaccine mandates here in California, infection, and death rates are all now coming back down once again.

Of course, facts such as these mean little to those pushing for the removal of Newsom, and many on the right have demonstrated of late that there is little they won't do in order to "win" an election. Thus, the theft and release of important voting system software by a far-right County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado last week during Mike Lindell's "cyber symposium" (at which he didn't release the promised "absolute proof" that China stole the 2020 election from Trump), has a number of actual cybersecurity and voting system experts very concerned today.

We've been covering this story in detail over the past week, as both the national media and California media haven't covered it at all. But they should. Colorado media finally jumped in, a bit, this week after their Sec. of State on Monday announced that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters --- who appeared on stage several times at Lindell's forum last week --- was behind the theft and copying of two hard drives at the Mesa County Election Division containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software.

Democratic CO Sec. of State Jenna Griswold's office, in a news release Monday night, explained how Peters pulled off the heist with two accomplices in the middle of the night back in May, before the software was released into the wild during last week's symposium. Since then, we have reported on this show about the concerns expressed by voting system and cybersecurity experts like Harri Hursti, who warns that the release of the critical software "lowers the barrier for attack planning and therefore increases the likelihood of future attacks." That, just after another top expert in the field, University of Michigan's J. Alex Halderman, filed a 50,000 word report in a long-running federal lawsuit in Georgia, which seeks to ban Dominion's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. The report, which he says [PDF] details disturbing, newly discovered vulnerabilities in those systems, which reportedly could allow votes to be changed without detection, has now been sealed by the federal judge due to its sensitivity --- even from the plaintiffs and defendants in the case!

Dominion's vulnerable touchscreens are used in several large jurisdictions in California, even as the recall is now ongoing, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside County. Their EMS software --- released to the Internet and downloaded by thousands just last week --- is used to tabulate votes, both hand-marked paper ballots and touchscreen votes, in every county where Dominion's systems are used. The software is used broadly in enough counties here that it could easily effect the computer-tallied results of the Recall election.

Another top expert who is worried about all of this joins us on today's program to explain why, and what can now be done about this serious security breach. University of California-Berkeley Professor PHILIP STARK is an expert witness in the Georgia case, the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit protocol, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

He joined Hursti this week in telling me that they were both dubious about vague claims from the CO Sec. of State's office that the U.S. Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was not particularly concerned about the leak of the Dominion software.

"It is a serious risk," Stark makes clear today. "The best metaphor I've been able to come up with is, if I were trying to break into a bank, how helpful would it be to have blueprints of the bank and the bank vault? How helpful would it be for me to have an actual exact copy of the bank, completely at my disposal, to try different ways of breaking in and so forth? Not even a scale model, but literally the exact same thing, just in a different place. That's what having a copy of these disks amounts to."

"To the extent that these systems were not that secure in the first place, this doesn't make the systems more vulnerable. But it gives a would-be evil-doer lots of help and information to plan an attack, figure out what's going to work, which then can be conducted later by someone with less technical skill," Stark warns.

He explains that "these Election Management Systems are used, among other things, to configure the ballot marking devices" as well as "results from the precinct-based scanners" and the high-speed centralized scanners used to tabulate Vote-by-Mail ballots. "The release of the EMS code gives someone a blueprint for how to write malware to infect the ballot marking devices, etc., when they're configured using these systems."

We go on to discuss what can and should now be done by California in regards the ongoing Recall election (as well as other jurisdictions, with elections coming up in November, where Dominion systems are used in more than a dozen states) to ensure that results are accurately tabulated and reported, and can be known by the public, after the election, as such. His recommendations include the use of both hand-marked paper ballots and a far more robust post-election audit process than is currently mandated by CA state law.

Moreover, he cites a critical lesson that should be learned from Tina Peters, the Republican County Clerk in Mesa, CO who is alleged to have brought accomplices into the Elections Division in the middle of the night on May 23rd, and turned off the security cameras in order to steal the software and copy it for release into the wild. (She is now under criminal investigation and has been relieved of her duties by CO's Secretary Griswold.) "This is a very clear reminder that insider threats are real," observes Stark. "This is a wake-up call. It is very difficult to mitigate insider threats."

We are still waiting for a response from the CO Sec. of State's office, as to who they spoke with at CISA and what exactly that person said, given that the cybersecurity folks I've spoken with are quite dubious that the nation's top cybersecurity watchdog actually downplayed this voting system breach. Or, if they did, that they fully understood it. Meanwhile, CA's Sec. of State, to my knowledge, has said nothing about any of this publicly. But that may be because neither state nor national media --- other than us --- have bothered to connect the dots between California and these very serious concerns...

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Cybersecurity and voting system expert confirms security breach, software authenticity to BRAD BLOG, as Mike Lindell's event to 'prove' stolen 2020 election, 'reinstate' Trump goes criminally off rails
Also: Rightwing radio hosts hospitalized, dying from COVID; Trump judge allows Dominion's defamation suit against Giuliani, Powell, Lindell to proceed; MUCH MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2021 6:51pm PT  

Okay. Now it's not just insane. It could also be criminal, as a leak of actual voting system software at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's three-day, so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota may have imperiled the security of the Gubernatorial Recall election now under way in California. We've got some exclusive details on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, before the details on what appears to have happened at Lindell's bizarre circus show in Sioux Falls, some very quick news, on the Census Bureau's release of 2020 data today and the GOP's plans to use it to gerrymander themselves into a U.S. House majority; U.S. plans to evacuate the embassy in Kabul as the Taliban retakes much of Afghanistan; Support from national teacher's unions to mandate vaccination or testing for the nation's school staff; and Rightwing radio host COVID and vaccine deniers findings themselves dead and/or hospitalized...with COVID.

Then, it's on to the 2020 "stolen election" Crazy Train still unfolding in MAGALand.

On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge appointed by Donald Trump, ruled that Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuits against Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and, yes, Mike Lindell, may proceed. Judge Carl J. Nichols' 44-page ruling [PDF] denied all parts of the defendants various Motions to Dismiss. Suffice to say it did not go well for them, on any front, leading former crack-addict and current phony stolen-election addict Lindell to declare the ruing "the worst decision a judge has made in the history of this country." (Which someone named Dred Scott would likely dispute.)

But the real madness has been unfolding in South Dakota this week, at Lindell's three-day "Cyber Symposium" that was promised to reveal "absolute proof" that the 2020 election was stolen through a massive, sophisticated cyberattack by China (I think.) Lindell's promised "proof" of the steal was so unimpeachable that it was to result, he's been declaring for weeks, in an immediate 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Trump to the White House this Friday the 13th!

It may not work out that way, however. The far-right newspaper Washington Times published a gob-smacking story on Wednesday, in which a cyber expert hired by Lindell himself to examine and explain the super-secret 37 terabytes of data --- said to have been captured from Internet transfers just days after the November election, revealing that China flipped millions of votes --- told the paper that the data and claims about them were illegitimate.

It's a simply coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs story --- again, from a Rightwing outlet --- detailing how none of Lindell's claims appear to be real, and seem to be sourced to a former Government contractor who was also the source of (false) claims that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016. But, as Lindell's own experts explained to the Washington Times, the data doesn't show what it is supposed to show...but that may only be because the source dude supposedly had a stroke the day before the symposium!

Lindell's expert, who says there still could be some evidence of something anyway in the data they did examine, told the paper: "We were handed a turd. And I had to take that turd and turn it into a diamond."

But now the loony toons story takes a potentially much darker turn, albeit a somewhat confusing one. Mother Jones' AJ Vicens does a fine job attempting to make at least some sense of what has happened with this part of the story over the last several days. It seems to involve an election official named Tina Peters, County Clerk of Mesa County, Colorado (who is now apparently being investigated by state law enforcement authorities), a guy named Ron Watkins, widely thought to be "Q" of the infamous Q-Anon MAGA conspiracy world, and potentially a former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). See Vicens for that part of the story.

The upshot is that duplicate images said to be of stolen hard drives containing actual, proprietary Dominion Voting System software, seemingly from Mesa County, was released at Lindell's Cyber Symposium and is now said to be out in the wild, as it was made available for download to pretty much anybody with the technical know-how to grab it.

This afternoon, we confirmed with legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, who is at South Dakota conference, apparently serving as an analyst for a news outlet, that the hard drives do, in fact, contain Dominion's Election Management System (EMS) software, though not its source code, as some have reported via Twitter. As Dominion explains on its website, the EMS "Drives the entire election project through a single comprehensive database...From election definition to results reporting." It is, in short, the heart of the entire Dominion election system suite.

"What was shared were 3 different images of installed EMS systems," Hursti told me via email from Sioux Falls. "I can confirm that those were circulated for copying. It [isn't] source code as such, but part of the code is interpreted code, there is human readable and editable things there."

Hursti is well known in the voting system world, where his most notorious "white hat" hack of a Diebold voting system was revealed in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy; He was also featured in their 2020 Emmy-nominated Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections; and, in what may have been Hursti's first American film interview, my own with him in 2010's award-winning Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. He also heads up the infamous DefCon Voting Village in Las Vegas each year, and most recently was tapped by the state of New Hampshire to oversee a very thorough, professional and transparent post-election audit to determine why the Diebold optical-scanners in the town of Windham miscounted several hundred votes in a State Representative race last November.

In other words, his credentials here are impeccable. Though what the dangers of the release of Dominion's software into the wild may be is still less than clear. Particularly as it pertains to the September 14th Gubernatorial Recall election now underway here in California. It's something that I am still trying to dig into. Dominion's EMS software is used in a number of large jurisdictions in the state, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside Counties.

Earlier this week, I spoke on The BradCast with cybersecurity and voting system expert Rich DeMillo, founder of Georgia Tech's School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, about serious vulnerability concerns that have recently emerged [PDF] in a long-running federal lawsuit seeking to ban Dominion's touchscreen vote systems across the state of Georgia. How this new security breach may now come into play in either that case, here in California, or in any of the other many jurisdictions which use the same software across the nation, is unclear at the moment. One expert I spoke with this afternoon, however, said it does seem to prove yet again that "security by obscurity" (attempting to keep vulnerable software safe by keeping it a secret) doesn't actually work, especially when it comes to voting systems.

More on this story, I suspect, in the days ahead.

Finally, we close today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as Senate Dems move forward with critical climate legislation in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, even as deadly, climate change-fueled wildfires, heat waves and floods continue to wreak absolute havoc around the globe this week...

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Also: $1T bipartisan infrastructure bill clears Senate; Dominion sues more wingnuts; MyPillow Guy's CNN nightmare...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2021 6:24pm PT  

As Desi notes on today's BradCast, the underlying theme to our boatload of stories is that "elections matter". Then again, that seems to pretty much be our underlying theme every day on this program. Glad she's finally noticed! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the too-many stories covered on today's show...

  • Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally resigns amid his sexual harassment scandal. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become New York's next Governor and the first woman to serve in that role;
  • $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill finally clears the U.S. Senate with a 69 to 30 vote (including 19 Repubs voting in favor with all of the Dems.) It's a big early victory for President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda and a feather in his cap. But there's a long way to go still, including an eventual vote in the House and, most importantly since everything hinges on it, agreement among Dems on the much larger $3.5 trillion, Dems-only reconciliation package paired to go with it. But, for now, so far so good;
  • Pandemic horrors continue to worsen in the U.S., despite easy availability of free, safe and effective vaccines to prevent it. The most devastated states are run mostly or completely by Republicans. Arkansas had just 8 ICU beds available in the entire state as of Monday, according to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, after throwing away 80,000 unused vaccine doses last week. Mississippi had 0 ICU beds open and more than 200 patients waiting in ERs for a room, with all numbers heading straight up. Louisiana hospitals have returned to the bad old pre-vaccine days, but Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is "praying and fasting", so that should help. Florida is smashing their pandemic records with hospitalizations at an all-time peak and young, healthy and unvaccinated residents now dying (many from the same church over the past two weeks.) At the same time, Texas is halting elective medical procedures and begging out-of-state health care workers to come to the state. But the Republican Governors in both TX and FL are banning school districts from requiring masks for staff and children (who, under 12, cannot be vaccinated!) in the new school year. Two of the largest districts in Texas are, thankfully, defying Gov. Greg Abbott's authoritarian order. Several districts in Florida are doing the same in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is now threatening to withhold salaries of Superintendents and School Board Members who ignore his tyrannical and deadly edicts;
  • In Wisconsin, where a Democratic Governor presides along side a gerrymandered GOP-controlled state legislature, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed several Republican absentee ballot voter suppression laws today, which would have affected disabled and elderly voters in particular, and challenged the state Assembly's schemes to carry out an Arizona-style post-election "audit";
  • Speaking of 2020 denialism, Dominion Voting Systems filed three more defamation lawsuits today, seeking $1.6 billion in damages each, against wingnut news outlets Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN), as well as Trump MAGA billionaire Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock CEO and a major financier of the AZ Audit and huckster of 2020 denialism and fetishist merchandise and media. Today's new legal complaints, filed in federal court, are in addition to previous similar ones filed against Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Fox "News". (Ever wonder why these "news" organizations are being sued by voting machines companies, but we haven't been, despite our nearly-20 years of critical reporting on them? There's a reason for that, as we also discuss today.);
  • And, speaking of the MyPillow Guy, CNN's Drew Griffin took apart his "Absolute Proof" of election fraud in an investigative report late last week. Even as Griffin made a few errors himself, suffice to say it didn't go well for MyPillow Guy, who is also reportedly having a tough time today kicking off his three-day "Cyber Symposium" in South Dakota, after which he has promised his "absolute proof" will result in a 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Donald Trump before the month is out! Sounds plausible;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N. declares "code red for humanity" in its latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), while apocalyptic wildfires and drought play out around the world at the very same time from Northern California to Greece. What an elaborate "hoax"!

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Also: GA SoS hid study finding voters don't check computer-marked ballots; CO Trump lawyers sanctioned; Abbott calls second 'suppression session' for TX legislature; Ossoff files 'Right to Vote' bill in U.S. Senate...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2021 7:04pm PT  

As it turns out, after so many years of warnings on The BradCast and at The BRAD BLOG, the local nightly news in Atlanta tonight sounds just like us, when it comes to concerns about the state's new touchscreen voting systems, and the same type of systems that are now used in at least 20% of the country. Of course, an urgent warning from one of the world's top experts, after examining GA's new electronic voting systems, finding they "suffer from specific, highly exploitable vulnerabilities that allow attackers to change votes" does get ones attention. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

But, first up, two Donald Trump attorneys in Colorado got sanctioned on Wednesday, bigly, for what the federal judge characterized in a brutal 68-page order, as a "frivolous", "not warranted", "bad faith" filing attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It was summarily tossed last year. The judge called out the two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, for their complaint which, though it included many "sworn affidavits" claiming the election was rigged, actually included "no firsthand knowledge" of any fraud at all. The duo also made no effort to verify an included claim from Trump himself that Dominion Voting Systems had "deleted 2.7 million Trump votes." Describing their effort as "one enormous conspiracy theory," the judge charged the evidence-free allegations amounted to "the stuff of which violent insurrections are made." He ordered the Trump attorneys to pay the legal fees of all 18 entities named as defendants in their suit. More such serious sanctions are likely coming soon for other Trump attorneys as well, including well-known ones, in other states.

Down in Texas, meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott has called a second emergency special session of the state legislature to begin on Saturday, as the current one ends on Friday. The session is largely meant to force through a voter suppression bill that has now been blocked twice by state Democratic lawmakers who walked out to block a quorum that would allow passage of the measure in the GOP-controlled legislature. The state Democrats remain, for now, in D.C., where they are pleading with Congress to pass federal voting rights protections, as they remain out of reach of Texas state troopers who have been ordered by the Governor to arrest them and force them to attend what one lawmaker described as Abbot's "suppression session" in the Statehouse.

As a number of Democratic members of Congress call for their August recess to be cancelled, in order to allow passage of both Biden's landmark infrastructure passage and critical voting rights measures at the federal level, Georgia's Senator John Ossoff on Wednesday filed a federal Right to Vote Act. Currently, unbeknownst to many, there is no U.S. law or Constitutional mandate for such an affirmative right to vote for every eligible citizen. Add Ossoff's new measure (and matching legislation filed by Rep. Mondaire Jones in the House) to the list of measures that urgently need passage in advance of 2022 to counter GOP suppression efforts at the state level. Unfortunately, it's also another measure --- along with the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- that will require reform of the filibuster first, since the Republican Party has now become little more than a Rightwing Authoritarian party that would never support an Right to Vote law in Congress.

Speaking of Georgia, there has been several remarkable developments over the past several days in the lawsuit by the Coalition for Good Governance seeking to bar the use of Dominion Voting Systems Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) for all voters at the polling place. The Coalition's suit, which previously succeeded in winning a ruling in federal court that banned the state's 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems, hopes to replace Secretary of State's 100% unverifiable new touchscreen systems, made by Dominion, with verified hand-marked paper ballots before elections in the state this Fall.

Last week, Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Mark Neisse uncovered a secret study carried out by Raffensperger during the 2020 election finding that the vast majority of voters (81%) forced to use the touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices, didn't bother to review the computer-marked printouts before casting them for more than five seconds. A smaller majority (51%) either looked at their ballots for less than one second or not at all (20%) before casting their vote. In all, just 19% of voters, according to the Secretary's own taxpayer-funded study of more than 4,000 voters in 39 precincts last November, reviewed their computer-printed ballots to ensure accuracy for more than 5 seconds!

Remarkably, after AJC's Neisse obtained the study's results via GA's Open Records Act, Raffensperger, in a jaw-dropped Orwellian perversion of reality, claimed: "This research shows voters do indeed review their ballots for accuracy before casting them," before falsely asserting the study was "proof the votes that were counted were for the candidates the voters intended." Of course, if the results were so wonderful, it begs the questions as to why Raffensperger kept the study, and its results, a secret from the public.

Making matters even worse, one of the Coalition's own experts --- world-class voting system authority J. Alex Halderman, Director of the Center for Security and Society at the University of Michigan --- was granted access to the Dominion BMDs used in Georgia (as well as other jurisdictions, such as San Diego County, CA) to examine them for vulnerability to hacking and manipulation as part of the court case.

The results of his findings, the Coalition's Executive Director Marilyn Marks tells me, are so damning that the federal judge has refused to unseal them, even to the plaintiffs who hired Halderman! His report is currently sealed to all but the judge and the attorneys on both sides of the case. Neither the defendant, Raffensperger, or the vendor who manufactures and sells the systems, Dominion, according to Marks, have asked the judge to allow them to review the findings. They do not want to see them, for some reason. (Likely, because both would then be legally required to take action on the damning, 25,000-word report.)

For his part, while his specific findings are sealed right now by the court, Halderman has filed an urgent declaration [PDF] about the report, explaining that his findings must be "urgently" addressed by Raffensperger.

"My testing has shown that the BMDs used in Georgia suffer from specific, highly exploitable vulnerabilities that allow attackers to change votes despite the State's purported defenses," Halderman warns in the public declaration.

"Established practice in the security field would require State Defendants to promptly subject Georgia's voting system to rigorous testing in response to my report, to assess the extent and significance of each of the vulnerabilities I described, and to identify and promptly implement specific measures (where possible) to eliminate or mitigate each of those vulnerabilities." [Emphasis in original.]

The alarming declaration was enough, apparently, to spark the attention of local television media to finally cover the story that we've been warning about for more years than we can now count. We share 11-Alive (WXIA)'s very good coverage of this breaking and disturbing news from Wednesday night.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, including news on the record heat wave accelerating in Europe and sparking scores of deadly wildfires; as a tourist town in California is now nearly out of water; and much more disturbing news from the bleeding edge of our worsening global climate emergency...

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Guest: Author, analyst, researcher Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed his DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden's DoJ confirms law requires IRS to turn Trump tax docs over to Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today's BradCast should serve as yet another wake up call for those of us who may need one. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, Washington Post revealed on Friday that Donald Trump, late last year, attempted to order his acting Attorney General to declare that the 2020 election was "corrupt". To his credit, the acting AG refused to, since there was no evidence of systemic fraud that might have reversed Trump's painful loss to Joe Biden. And, to the credit of the acting AG's staff, all of this was documented in real time with contemporaneous hand-written notes --- from that call and similar ones that reportedly took place on a near daily basis --- with the desperate loser President calling with fraudulent information from the Internet about "fraud". Those notes from the DoJ have now helpfully been handed over to Congress, so there will likely be more to come.

Of note, however, was Trump's response when he was told there was no evidence that would "change the outcome of the election." According to the hand-written notes of senior DoJ staff, Trump replied: "Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Congressmen."

It was enough, for Trump's dishonest purposes, for the DoJ to simply say the election was "corrupt", even though there was no such evidence to support such a claim. It was similar to how, as we learned during his first impeachment, he wanted the President of Ukraine to say they were investigating Joe Biden and his family for corruption, even though they actually weren't. This is how a liar and a con-man and, yes, how a wannabe autocrat works.

But where Trump's pathetic attempt to stay in power failed last time, that may not be the case in the near future, as many respected voices are now warning. Fox "News" may say the Left is a bunch of autocrats and fascists, but that's only because they hope you won't notice that the Republican Right actually is, and becoming more so by the day. Many respected scholars and pundits from both the Left and the not-insane Right, such as David Frum and Steve Schmidt, are trying to warn about exactly that in advance of the 2022 mid-terms. Schmidt, John McCain's former Campaign Manager, asserted in a Twitter thread this past week, for example, that Trump will be the GOP nominee in 2024, adding that "the Pro-Democracy coalition is sleep walking into the ‘22 election and the stakes couldn’t be higher."

U.S. Naval Academy and Air Force Institute of Technology graduate BRYNN TANNEHILL, who served as a longtime naval aviator, with deployments to the Adriatic, Middle East and North Atlantic, says today that she shares a number of Schmidt's concerns. Her recently published book, hoping to call attention to the unprecedented perils the nation is now facing, is called American Fascism: How the GOP is Subverting Democracy. She joins us on today's show for a chilling, if insightful conversation.

As an investigator of shoot-downs in the military, she explains that she decided to approach this topic not unlike the NTSB might investigate a crash scene, examining every single potential factor that could have played a role in the disaster. "My book traces back some of the roots of the modern Republican Party all the way back to slavery and the Civil War," she explains, "to kind of give an historical sense of where this came from. [It] looks holistically at a lot of the different factors, including the media, loss of faith in science, how white evangelicals are different, how the system has been manipulated, the role of wealth inequality," examining "like an NTSB investigation, as many of the driving factors behind where we are today as possible."

But her clarion warning of where we now are is as chilling as her comparison of the Trump-incited failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th with Hitler and the Nazi's failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. "What Republicans can take away from [Jan. 6] is that even when there is a naked attempt at a coup, it costs them nothing. If they attempt to steal democracy by simply overturning an election, there's going to be even less consequences. That's our lesson."

Her book documents (and explains) what she describes as the rise of "competitive autocracy" in the U.S. or "managed democracy" as Russian President Vladimir Putin refers to it. "It's a type of government that has emerged since the end of the Cold War. Essentially, you have a democracy, or something close to a democracy, and then one party wins an election and then changes the rules, such that the incumbent party can essentially never be removed from power.  There are still elections. They are still very often 'free' in the sense that anybody can vote, and there's not just one person on the ballot. But the election through various means has been rigged such that the playing field has been so tilted that you can't remove the incumbent party from power."

We are seeing exactly that, as GOP-controlled states are changing the rules of elections right now, not only to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to vote next year and in 2024, but to allow them to replace election officials with partisans who can reverse election results no matter how the electorate actually votes. (See, for example, my conversation last week with now-former Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections member and longtime voting rights champion Helen Butler who was just removed from her seat on the Board by the partisan County Board of Supervisors after 10 years, following the approval of the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp.)

Citing similar democracies-turned-autocracies, she points to Russia, Hungary, Poland and others countries, noting that once a nation has headed down the path we are now on, historically, none of have been able to reverse course. "Hungary is absolutely a fascist movement," Tannehill points out, following the 2010 election of Victor Orbán, "and they have absolutely ended democracy there. That's a real danger, in the sense that we have a party that regards democracy as a hindrance to their goals, and their goals of establishing a particular kind of country is more important than the democracy itself."

So does the U.S. stand a chance of turning the tide? "The problem is the system is broken," she argues. "it is so easy to thwart solutions, via Congress, the Presidency, the courts, that it's really unlikely that a lot of the necessary solutions could ever happen.  For example, Senators representing only 19% of the American population can block virtually any legislation that they want to in the Senate."

"To an extent," Tannehill tells me today, the Founders, who thought their system of democracy would prevent a wholly unqualified person from being able to become President, "never dreamed that their vision for a country would be so corrupted that you would have legislators who would overturn elections based off of lies. They also never dreamed that the parties would become so powerful that they would pick the electors for the Electoral College.  The Electoral College was meant to prevent people like Trump."

There is much more to today's conversation, including a bit of hope. No, all is not necessarily lost, as grim as all of this sounds. But unless folks begin to appreciate the dangers of this moment in history, things could get very much worse --- and soon --- before they get better...if they ever do.

Finally, following that dark (if enlightening) conversation, some slightly more encouraging news. After Trump's DoJ spent years ignoring the plain text of the rule of law --- as authoritarian administrations do --- in refusing to enforce the federal statute requiring the IRS to share Trump's tax returns with Congress, Biden's DoJ has reversed course. In a memo issued today by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the Department has declared that, in fact, the Treasury Dept. must turn over those long-sought documents to the House Ways and Means Committee after their lawful requests beginning in 2019. Better late than never anyway. And it's nice to see an Administration with some apparent actual respect for law and order once again.

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Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' continues to fall apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2021 6:23pm PT  

Today's BradCast, by and large, serves as another fine example of why we fight, and what we fight for. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • We've got an update following yesterday's lively interview with John Brakey, the longtime, progressive Election Integrity and audit expert who has been serving as an observer and advisor at the Maricopa County, Arizona 2020 election "audit", alongside the state's Republican former Sec. of State Ken Bennett. Bennett was tapped by the GOP state Senate in April to serve as its liaison to the ill-considered clown show "audit" they hired the inexperienced, partisan, conspiracy theorist company named Cyber Ninjas to carry out. Last week, Bennet was shamefully locked out of the building after he'd shared information from the third count of the County's ballots with experienced outside experts who seem to confirm that the Ninjas' original ballot tally was wrong. In fact, they suggest that the original County count was accurate (as expected, by all by the Trump MAGA mob). As of yesterday's show, Brakey had confirmed that Bennett was resigning his post after the dust up. But shortly after we got off air, Brakey reports, Bennett met with Senate President Karen Fann and, essentially, unresigned. We explain what happened and what may happen next, as even Republican members of the state Senate are now describing the effort as "botched" and turning hard against both the Ninjas for their incompetency and Fann for her folly in having hired them.
  • Despite the obvious failure of the Ninja's disastrous pretend "audit" in Arizona, Republicans across the country are noticing the millions of dollars raised by the grifters running that spectacle, and have decided they'd like some of that sweet sweet "audit" theater in their own home states. But on Wednesday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice issued new guidance documents, warning that they intend to enforce federal laws that may be violated by such exercises.
  • In separate, but related guidance on Wednesday, the DoJ also also made clear they intend to enforce federal voting rights laws against states enacting new voter suppression measures, as GOP-controlled legislatures are now doing all over the country. That, even as recent rulings by the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS has made such enforcement much more difficult, in lieu of new federal laws needed to protect the franchise.

    To that end, the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday held a hearing on, among other things, the Texas state legislature's attempt to adopt such a bill. Texas Democrats left the state two weeks ago to prevent the quorum needed to pass such a bill during the ongoing special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott to do just that. And today, 82-year old state Rep. Senfronia Thompson --- the longest serving woman and African-American woman in Texas history, now in her 25th term --- offered moving testimony about her and her family's personal experiences with Jim Crow voter suppression laws in the Lone Star State. We share some of her must-listen remarks in response to GOP Congressmembers at the hearing who downplayed the difficulty of minority voters to exercise their right to vote.

  • With COVID surging again, thanks to the Delta variant and those who have refused to get life-saving vaccinations, President Biden announced new initiatives at the White House today, following impassioned remarks to encourage Americans to get their shots. "This is an American tragedy," he said. "People are dying --- and will die --- who don't have to die. If you're out there unvaccinated, you don't have to die," the President pleaded before detailing the new incentives. Among them: Paying the unvaxxed $100 to get their shots; Expanding federal reimbursement for employers and employees to take time off to get both themselves and their families inoculated; and a new requirement for federal workers and contractors to either get vaccinated or face regular testing and other restrictions.

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Guest: Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: COVID vaccine deniers now learning they were wrong...the hard way...
By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2021 6:25pm PT  

We've spent many years on The BradCast and at The BRAD BLOG explaining why touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, like those used across the entire state of Georgia and in Los Angeles County, can never be known to accurately reflect the intent of any voter. We've also spent some time discussing why Voting Centers --- where voters in a county may vote at any center, rather than at their precinct --- may be convenient for voters, but are otherwise a terrible idea. As today's guest illustrates, those two terrible ideas came crashing down together at the expensive of election integrity and citizen oversight in a ballot measure election in Long Beach, California last November. And he's got the lawsuit and incredibly close election results to prove it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the tragic stories from the COVID vaccine denier set, who are realizing --- only once it was too late --- that their denialism was, to say the least, ill-considered, continue to roll in. A state lawmaker in Missouri. A Trump-supporting couple in Sacramento. A rightwing radio host from Tennessee. A 34-year old anti-vaxxer in Los Angeles. Those who survived have come to regret their denialism. The families of those who didn't survive are now wishing their loved ones had taken their shots, and hope that you will do so now, if you haven't already.

The stories are tragic. But if continuing to tell them may help save a life, I'm happy to keep doing so on the air, as COVID spikes across the nation, almost entirely among the unvaccinated. That is thanks to the delta variant of the coronavirus and the 97% of the hospitalized who dreamt up all sorts of reasons to not take readily accessible and highly safe and effective vaccines. Many of their reasons for having failed to do so are based on misinformation spread by power hungry and/or ignorant politicians and personalities. The results are deadly and affect all of us, even the vaccinated.

In the meantime, thanks to the vaccine refuseniks, the vaccine mandates are now coming. Not a moment too soon. In New York City. In California. At the federal Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Then, we've spent years reporting on California's election recount laws. In one sense, they are very good in that they allow any voter in the state to request a hand-count of any race, in any precinct or precincts they like, as long as they pay for it. (They are refunded if the count reverses the certified results.) But the law also allows each county Registrar of Voters to determine the price for those counts. As we've reported over and again for the past 15 years or more, the state law results in County Clerks arbitrarily and capriciously setting prices to pretty much anything they like, with a huge disparity among counties. It may cost a few cents per ballot to hand-count in Orange County, while Los Angeles is now charging well over two dollars per ballot.

The price in L.A. County, set by Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, has just sky-rocketed, thanks to Logan's new touchscreen voting systems and the ill-considered use of Vote Centers that allow voters to vote at any Center they like, rather than the old precinct model of voting. One of the many problems with Voting Centers is that they make it almost impossible for Election Integrity advocates and the public in general to oversee tallies to ensure they are accurate and ballots are not stuffed into the boxes.

Another problem became crystal clear when the City of Long Beach held a ballot referendum last November to extend a city sales tax. The initiative, Measure A, passed by just 16 votes out of some 100,000 cast. When a group of citizens who opposed the measure sought a recount (California has no automatic recount law, no matter how small the margin, and though Logan could have chosen to recount it himself, he did not), they were in for a shock.

The County Clerk's handbook published before the election suggested that the count would cost them around $50,000, which they raised to pay for the count. That was before Logan informed them, just before the hand recount was to begin, that the cost would actually be closer to the $200,000 range, putting any kind of oversight out of reach to the local activists.

Why the change in pricing? Thanks to Vote Centers, ballots cast across L.A.'s county of some 4 million voters, are not sorted by precinct, even though state law requires that recounts be done by precinct. That means the County must spend HOURS sorting through millions of ballots to find the ones that included Long Beach's Measure A. Logan, who developed both the new touchscreen systems and the Vote Center model here, is charging the recount requesters for those hours, due to his failure to create an overseeable, sorted system of ballot tracking.

We're joined today by IAN PATTON, co-founder and executive director of the Long Beach Reform Coalition, to explain what happened, why the group was forced to call off their request for a recount, and why they are now suing the County instead, to charge them the original price they had expected to pay.

"This has been really eye-opening to me. Like waking up out of a slumber to a nightmare," Patton, who used to work as a staffer in Congress tells me today. "A paper trail is useless if you can't actually count it."

As the Long Beach Press-Telegram suggests in its reporting on this, the "Future of LA County election recounts could hinge" on this suit. It will be heard next month. But the future of Vote Centers, not just in Los Angeles, but across the country, where a number of jurisdictions are moving to them or considering the model, could also be affected by what goes on in L.A., the nation's most populous county...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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