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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Cannon's Corruption: 'BradCast' 7/16/24
Guest: Attorney Keith Barber; Also: Menendez 'guilty' on all counts...
'Green News Report' 7/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Texas grid buckles under multiple disasters; Hurricane Beryl damages now estimated at $3 billion; PLUS: Climate crisis flip-flopper J.D. Vance gets GOP Veep nod...
Previous GNRs: 7/11/24 - 7/9/24 - Archives...
Amid the Assassination Attempt Aftermath:
'BradCast' 7/15/24
Also: Trump Stolen Docs Case Dismissed; OH's J.D. Vance named as GOP Veep nom; Callers ring in on all of the nightmares...
Sunday Monday 'Google Project 2025' Toons
After a brief pause following Saturday's assassination attempt of Donald Trump, we are back with our latest collection of last week's best political toons...
Meanwhile... :
'BradCast' 7/11/24
Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
'Green News Report' 7/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Flooding, power outages, sweltering heat as deadly Beryl fallout continues; New FEMA flood risk standards; PLUS: House Republicans bravely seek Freedom for Refrigerators!...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/24 - 6/25/24 - Archives...
Paging 'Johnny Unbeatable'! Dems (Actually!) in Disarray!: 'BradCast' 7/10/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
SCOTUS Immunity Ruling 'As Bad as it Sounds', And Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; U.S. heat records smashed...
'Green News Report' 7/9/24
Beryl breaks records, slams TX; 140m in U.S. under heat advisories; Big SCOTUS gifts for polluters; PLUS: Biden unveils first-ever extreme heat protections for workers...
So, What Now?: 'BradCast' 7/8/24
Listeners have strong opinions about where we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and disastrous Presidential Debate...
Debunking MAGA Cult Xenophobia
CANNING: Throughout U.S. history, decent, hard-working immigrants (like me) have contributed to the economy and our nation's security: CANNING
Sunday 'Courting Disaster' Toons
THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! In our special SCOTUS-sized edition of the last impossible week's best political toons!...
Sunday 'Bad Medicine' Toons
THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ... and more in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
'Green News Report' 6/27/24
China flooding; Heatwave, crop failure in India; Disaster upon disaster in NM; On edge for SCOTUS decision; PLUS: Biden climate law creates 300,000 jobs!...
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...


Also: Turkey, Syria earthquake; Campaign finance limits raised; Koch Net to oppose Trump in 2024 primary; WI 2020 Trump campaign worked to 'fan flame' of fake fraud; Callers ring in before Tuesday's SOTU...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2023 5:55pm PT  

Breaking news today and a weekend full of otherwise dumb news resulted in a bit of a hodge-podge on today's BradCast. I hope you'll enjoy it anyway! [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

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

  • Rescue efforts continue in the aftermath of Sunday's horrific, pre-dawn, 7.8 magnitude earthquake --- and several huge aftershocks --- in Southern Turkey and Northern Syria. As we went to air, the death toll from both countries was more than 3,400. That tragic number is likely to continue to rise.
  • American Republicans are, no doubt, breathing easier today following the great Chinese Spy Balloon Crisis that gripped them with fear and threatened their very lives and those of their families for several days since last week. On Saturday, the U.S. military shot down the high altitude balloon off the coast of South Carolina and have been collecting its remnants for study. Thankfully, nobody was hurt throughout this days long national nightmare, and the Dept. of Defense suggests the U.S. gained more from the exercise, on balance, than China did. The DoD claims our borders were similarly breached by Chinese spy balloons three times during the Trump Administration. Despite fevered demands from some on the Right, neither President Biden nor Vice President Harris resigned in shame amid "the catastrophic Chinese Spy Balloon spectacle [that] clearly threatened American families" from coast to coast.
  • Great news for the wealthy! Thanks to campaign finance legislation adopted during the George W. Bush era in 2002, and huge inflation numbers in 2022, the amount of money that can now be donated to a single candidate for a single election has been increased from $2,900 to $3,300. The amount that can be given to national party committees, according to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has increased from $36,500 to $41,300 per year. And the amount allowed for payoffs to special national party committees, such as for national party conventions, has spiked from $109,500 to $123,900. Of course, those limits also apply to poor and working-class people instead. So, it's all totally fair and just some good ol' American "free speech" at work!
  • After declining to support Donald Trump's two Presidential runs in 2016 and 2020, the Koch Network is getting back in the game, vowing to oppose Trump this year by declaring their support for one non-Trump Republican by summer's end. We'll see if they have any better luck this year than their similar losing strategy back in 2016.
  • Despite conceding that Trump lost the 2020 election in Wisconsin, according to an audio recording obtained by AP, his campaign team in the Badger State vowed to help "fan the flame" of phony fraud as early as two days after Biden's win there.
  • Love him (or his policies) or hate him (or his policies), Joe Biden has accomplished more in the first two years of his Presidency than perhaps any other American President in history going back to at least FDR. Nonetheless, just one day before his second official State of the Union address on Tuesday, new polling out today from Washington Post and ABC News finds that 62% of Americans believe Biden has accomplished "not very much" or "little or nothing" in the first two years of his term. That may be an extraordinary failure by Democrats and the White House to get the word out about their own accomplishments. But the greatest indictment here should be for the corporate mainstream media whose only actual (Constitutionally-protected) job is to inform the public and educate the American electorate! Clearly, they have failed. Again. We discuss.
  • Finally, callers ring in today mostly on the topic of Biden's accomplishments or --- as several incorrectly see it --- lack thereof...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2023 6:44pm PT  

There's a reason I always warn, when reporting election results on The BradCast, that they have only been tallied by computers to date, and that errors in results often do not come to light until days, weeks or even months after elections...if ever. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST UP TODAY... Some thoughts on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' 'Doomsday Clock' which was, this week, ticked forward from '100 Seconds until Midnight' to just '90 Seconds until Midnight.' The main reason for the move, the first since 2020, as explained by The Bulletin, whose esteemed scientists, diplomats and Nobel Laureates take such decisions quite seriously, is thanks to "Russia's war on Ukraine," its "thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons," and for "violating international protocols and risking widespread release of radioactive materials" in bringing "its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites."

In response to the metaphorical clock --- first unveiled at the dawn of the Cold War in 1947 --- being moved closer than ever to a proverbial 'midnight', when humanity destroys itself, a Kremlin spokesperson said Wednesday that the move was "really alarming." (Really? You were "alarmed" by this, Russia? Really?!)

That, on the same day that the U.S. and nearly a dozen European countries finally agreed to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine so the sovereign former Soviet nation can better defend itself from the grotesque, ongoing, hostile invasion by it's empirical neighbor.

We take the opportunity today to explain why --- amid our years of (continuing) anti-war advocacy --- we, nonetheless, support Ukraine's right to defend itself against Russia's war crimes; agree with critical support being supplied by fellow democratic nations against an autocratic invader; and how we see many of those on the supposed Left in the U.S. that are echoing Kremlin propaganda by, among other things, demanding Ukraine declare a ceasefire and negotiate with their invaders, have been unhelpfully (and wildly) misled.

THEN... Yes, we likely drive regular listeners crazy when reporting results after elections and offering the caveat, over and over again, that reported results in the immediate aftermath are wholly unverified and only tallied by computers --- either correctly or incorrectly --- and that there is no way to know for certain either way unless and until results of hand-marked paper ballots are examined by actual human beings.

Last week, more than two months since the November midterm elections, we finally learned that a computer tabulator mistallied some of the results in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The error appears to have resulted in at least one loser being named as the winner in a School Board race in Ocean Township. After a probe into "an unrelated issue" caused the County's Board of Elections to notice potential problems in the tallies, an investigation reportedly found errors in six voting districts across four municipalities.

One candidate named as a loser after November 8 last year appears to have won his race by a single vote after results were correctly re-tallied. But a bunch of races had been mistallied originally thanks to results from at least one precinct being uploaded more than once to the Election Management System's central tabulator from a USB memory stick.

While there is no evidence of nefariousness in the matter, a spokesperson from the County's private election vendor, ES&S (the nation's largest), attempted to downplay what happened as "a human procedural error". But the fact that it is even possible to upload the same results more than once without a system warning is disturbing. Longtime election and voting system experts have expressed horror at the problem, if not surprise, given the woeful state of NJ's post-election audit protocols and the nature of proprietary computerized voting system software.

Since the problem has come to light, one state lawmaker has called for passage of a measure that would mandate Open Source software on all voting and tabulation systems in the Garden State, along with the use of paper ballots at polling places. I explain today why Open Source systems (while a fine idea if we must tally ballots with computers) is no panacea, and why the state Senator's call for "paper ballots" --- as opposed to HAND-MARKED paper ballots --- will likely ensure that 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, still shamefully used across most of the state at the polls on Election Day, will continue to undermine confidence in NJ elections.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a spate of troubling new studies on the deteriorating state of our climate, but also with a number of stories detailing some good news, of late, in response to it!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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Guest: Campaign finance expert Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-possibly-be-true George Santos theory...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2023 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast we focus on two different rightwing scammers: The Heritage Foundation and George Santos. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The Heritage Foundation's decades-long effort to suppress the vote received a multi-million dollar boost following the 2020 election. Also, there is some new news today on what appears to be a fairly huge campaign finance violation by newly-elected Republican pathological liar, Rep. George Santos. But is it possible that Santos' scam is larger than anybody seems to yet appreciate?

We're joined today to discuss both scammers by BRENDAN FISCHER, one of the nation's foremost campaign finance experts who now serves as Deputy Executive Director for Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism organization.

For some time, Fischer's group has been digging into and exposing the multi-state, multi-million dollar campaign by the rightwing Heritage Foundation's political action offshoot, Heritage Action. The "dark money" group has been pushing new voter suppression bills through swing-state legislatures with copy and paste "model legislation" in the wake of false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election. Their work is often disguised --- as Executive Director Jessica Anderson was caught boasting to donors about in a 2021 video tape --- to have that "grassroots, ya know, from the bottom-up type of vibe."

Documented recently unearthed Heritage's four-page "Election Integrity Plan" [PDF] from 2021. It details the effort to push restrictions on voting through state legislatures after "in some cases, we actually draft" the bills for them, as Anderson, a former Trump official, is seen bragging to donors on that tape.

"Iowa's the first state that we got to work in," she explains, "and we did it quickly and we did it quietly. Honestly? Nobody noticed!" Anderson also cites "eight key provisions" the group supposedly was able to get into Georgia's controversial 2021 voter suppression measure, SB202, which was quickly signed into law --- supposedly at Heritage's urging --- by Gov. Brian Kemp.

IA and GA were two of "19 states [that] passed 34 laws restricting access to voting" in 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice that year, more than in any year since they began tracking such legislation in 2011.

Earlier this month, in addition to obtaining and publishing Heritage Action's "Election Integrity Plan", Fischer joined with Ed Pilkington at The Guardian to detail the organization's previously-unreported tax filings from 2021 [PDF], detailing more than $5 million in outside lobbying services in at least 24 states. That, after spending $0 on outside lobbying the previous year. The anti-democracy "dark money" outfit also spent more than $6 million on contractors for "marketing and advertising" in 2021, a substantial increase from the year before. The expenditures including more than a million dollars spent in support of GA's bill alone. In all, as Fischer and Pilkington report, Heritage's "Election Integrity Plan" earmarked at least $24 million to push these measures in at least eight swing-states over the past two years.

In addition to efforts to adopt restrictions on voting in the states, Heritage also worked to block legislation that would protect voting rights at the federal level. "The millions of dollars that Heritage Action spent in 2021 included substantial expenditures to pressure [Senators Joe] Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema in order to not reform the filibuster and thwart democracy reform legislation," Fischer tells me today.

"In West Virginia, in particular, they also did it with drummed-up fake grassroots activity," he explains. "Heritage Action and other groups organized buses to bus activists from out of state to West Virginia for a rally that was intended to 'save the filibuster' and protest Manchin's potential openness to changing the filibuster rules." It worked. Manchin and Sinema refused to reform the Senate's anti-democratic filibuster rule to pass the landmark Freedom to Vote Act in 2021. That measure would have been the most comprehensive voting rights and campaign finance reform measure since the 1960s. And, yes, as Fischer notes, the bill would have also "ended dark money!"

We've got a lot more to discuss along those lines with Fischer today. But, as long as he was here, there was an unrelated matter I wanted to get his thoughts on.

On Tuesday night, newly elected Republican Congressman and unrepentant liar George Santos amended several of his campaign finance disclosure documents. Santos had previously claimed in FEC disclosures that he had loaned his own campaign some $700,000. That was already suspicious, given that two years earlier, Santos claimed to have been making about $50,000/year. But, as The Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger noticed on Tuesday, his amended forms now claim the funds did not come from him personally --- though they don't explain where the money actually did come from. Any campaign donation that large from someone other than the candidate would be an unlawful contribution.

While the Santos campaign seems to be admitting to what Josh Marshall characterizes as "major crimes" in their new filings, I have a different, completely ridiculous, couldn't-possible-be-true theory to ask Fischer about today: Is it possible that nobody actually gave $700,000 to Santos' campaign? That it was a paper claim only? There was no such loans at all?

Of course, that seems absurd, but this is George Santos we're talking about. More to the point, it should be noted that last year Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) successfully won a case at the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court which held that personal loans made to campaigns by candidates could actually be paid back after the election, in unlimited amounts, by anyone else. Lobbyists, etc. Is it even possible that Santos could have claimed to have made those personal loans to his campaign but that no money was actually ever given to his campaign at all? Allowing him to be "repaid" later by others after the election? It would certainly be a swell way for a wayward conman like Santos to make a cool $700,000, no?

I pose the question about this to Fischer with the full expectation that I'll be told there's no way something like that could have happened without it being discovered by officials long ago. Tune in to hear his response...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Chris Melody Fields Figueredo of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Also: Trump sanctioned by federal judge, ordered to pay Hillary Clinton and others nearly $1 million...
By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2023 5:56pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Naturally. Now they're coming for citizen ballot initiatives too. They really do hate democracy, don't they?

But, first up today... As we await several criminal indictments hopefully headed the way of our failed, twice-impeached former President, an order released by a federal Judge in Florida last night was particularly satisfying.

It came in response to a motion for sanctions by Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and more than a dozen other defendants in a failed lawsuit filed by Donald Trump and his latest foolish attorney/sucker, Alina Habba, last year. In fact, the first version of Trump's suit was so deficient and devoid of facts or even actual charges, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks was kind enough to allow them to refile it before dismissing the second, longer, but no better version with prejudice.

On Thursday night, Judge Middlebrooks, in a blistering (and I mean blistering) 46-page order [PDF], explained why he was granting the defendants' request for sanctions. He began thusly: "This case should never have been brought. Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim. ... Thirty-one individuals and entities were needlessly harmed in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative. A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm."

And that's just the first two paragraphs! It gets even more brutally scathing from there, before concluding with an order for Trump and Habba to pay nearly $1 million to the defendants for the "completely frivolous bad faith" suit brought for "an improper purpose" amounting to "abusive litigation tactics." Perhaps most fun: the single biggest award of fees for a single defendant went to Clinton, who Trump must now pay almost $172,000!

Then, in more serious news today... Progressive citizen ballot initiatives did exceptionally well in 2022, on everything from abortion rights to the legalization of marijuana to the expansion of health care. Yes, even in so-called "red" states. As it turns out, progressive ideas seem to be wildly popular among voters of all stripes! And there is likely much more to come in 2023 and 2024, on abortion rights, minimum wage, gun safety, independent redistricting commissions and much more.

Therefore, in a number of states where Republicans have locked themselves into power with gerrymandered legislatures, they are moving toward making such statewide exercises in "direct democracy" more difficult to get onto the ballot in the first place, and hoping to make them harder to adopt by raising the threshold for passage, for example, from 50% to 60% where they can get away with it.

We're joined today by CHRIS MELODY FIELDS FIGUEREDO, Executive Director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center to discuss both progressive successes on statewide ballot measures around the country in 2022 and what the GOP is now doing to try and prevent those successes from happening again.

"That was a huge moment last year in a trend that I know is going to continue as we look at 2023 and '24, where we really see, in many states, that our elected officials are out of touch with the people," Figueredo tells me. "And in most states where they tried to limit the ability of the people to bring forth issues to their community through the ballot measure process, in most cases those were rejected in the states. So there's a lot of opportunity ahead of us."

But, she cautions, "We are seeing a direct backlash to what is happening across the country, of progressive issues winning when they're put before the voters. We're not seeing those changes, which the people say are urgent and important, through our representatives in government, whether it's at city council, whether it's at the state legislative level, and even in the federal government."

We've got a lot to discuss on all of this, including where the direct democracy ballot initiative process has seemingly been captured by corporate interests (in states like California) and about the dozens of states which still don't even allow citizens to place measures on the statewide ballot at all.

I'm also curious how much of the new blowback against such initiatives Figueredo attributes to the number of them in recent years that have instituted independent redistricting commissions in hopes of breaking gerrymandered strangleholds that the GOP still has on many state legislatures. "You have to connect the dots," Figueredo responds. "I think this is ultimately the question that is before us right now in our democracy. Is it of, for and by the people? And who ultimately has the power to make decisions for all of us? That's what's at stake right now."

"It's ultimately this question about power. You can connect the dots. And if we are looking at the ballot initiative process, or the initiatives in general, as a tool for power in our democracy, then yes, if you are an elected official who does not agree with people who may be your constituents and it doesn't fit your agenda, then your next step would be to undermine or weaken the will of the people."

There is much more in our conversation today, including what the U.S. Supreme Court may soon do to gut all such statewide initiatives regarding elections in their upcoming Moore v. Harper decision. Please tune in!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Dark money fossil fuel bribery and disenfranchising military voters in the Buckeye State; Also: GOP House continues dangerous debt limit game...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2023 6:13pm PT  

Is there any amount of blatant corruption that would result in Ohio voters finally turning against Republicans? As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, state GOP lawmakers seem to really be testing that question at this point. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, speaking of testing voters, the Treasury Department made it official today. The U.S. Government has now hit its current, statutory borrowing limit. We are now officially using "extraordinary measures" to continue paying our bills to avoid defaulting on our debts. But that can only go on for so long. At this point, according to Treasury's best guess, the U.S. will see its first-ever default "before early June" unless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his Republicans in Congress cast a simple vote to raise the amount we are allowed to borrow so that we can pay for all the stuff that Congress and Presidents of both parties long ago agreed to pay for.

It's not hard. It's been done about 80 times since the 1960s, mostly without a problem. But now, with a Democrat in the White House and radicalized Republicans in control of the U.S. House, GOP hard-liners seem determined to play a dangerous game that could result in a national or even world-wide recession or depression. They are pretending to care about the national debt, after years of voting to increase spending while reducing revenue with huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Their performative actions now --- as they hold the nation hostage, demanding cuts to Social Security and Medicare --- will only make the national debt worse. Will voters remember, the next time they go to the voting booth, the damage the GOP seems hell-bent on causing?

We can only hope there will be some not totally insane, "moderate" Republicans left in Congress to join with Democrats to end this madness before its too late, because nobody knows how bad the damage will soon be if they don't. They are likely to run this up to the wire. Again. So, buckle up.

Meanwhile, there's Republican-controlled Ohio, with its totally not insane, supposedly "moderate" Republican Governor, Mike DeWine. He just signed legislation, passed by the GOP state legislature, redefining natural gas --- one of the worst causes of global warming --- as "green energy" under state law. Not insane or corrupt at all, right?

As it turns out, DeWine and state Republicans, once again, seem to be participants in another dark money corruption scandal courtesy of the fossil fuel industry. That, as the state's Republican former House Speaker, Larry Householder, begins his $60 million federal bribery trial next week. That, after Householder, former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges, three others and a dark money political group controlled by Householder participated in "an elaborate scheme, secretly funded by FirstEnergy, to secure Householder's power, elect his allies, pass legislation containing a $1 billion bailout for two aging nuclear power plants, and then vex a ballot effort to overturn the bill with a dirty tricks campaign," according to prosecutors.

Householder shepherded the 2019 passage of the bill to bailout the nuke plants (and a coal-fired power plant) owned by FirstEnergy, a huge energy and fossil fuel conglomerate based in Akron. The bailout was to have been paid for with an additional fee on the utility bills of Buckeye State rate payers, according to the legislation that was signed be DeWine just hours after passage.

And now, it seems, DeWine has done it again. This time on behalf of the natural gas industry. But, why not? Last November, Ohio voters said they didn't mind all the corruption. DeWine easily won a second term in office and state GOP lawmakers increased their super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

But, just in case the voters get wise, DeWine recently signed a major overhaul of state election laws, implementing a series of new restrictions on voters. One of those restrictions, however, will make it more difficult for active-duty military members overseas to cast their votes without being disenfranchised. Oops. Military families are said to be furious. But do Republicans actually care about that either? Why would they?

Finally, Desi Doyen joins for our latest Green News Report with more details on DeWine's friendly payback to the natural gas industry; the European Union's new plan to try and compete with renewable energy incentives in the U.S. adopted last year by Democrats; and Germany's recent crack down on anti-coal protesters...

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What did you THINK would happen?; Also: House GOP plans to crash economy over debt limit. We should believe them on that too...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2023 5:48pm PT  

Seriously, what did you think was eventually going to happen after years of Republicans being lied to that elections were being rigged against them? Lots to discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The shooting spree for now --- we hope --- has come to an end in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) New Mexico with the arrest of a Trump fan boy and failed Republican state House candidate who lost his election last November by nearly 50 points. With the help of four others, he's allegedly been shooting at the houses of local and state Democratic elected officials over the past month and a half. He was finally nabbed on Monday night. Luckily, no one was killed in the at least four houses he visited and targeted.

Today, we tell the story and detail how elections work in the state (after their disastrous use of touchscreens back in 2000, they now use hand-marked paper ballots tallied by computer tabulators with results confirmed, theoretically, by hand-counted, post-election audits); how the shooter should have been more of a concern much earlier (even before Republicans nominated this dude who only recently ended a 7-year prison sentence); and the fact that none of what happened over the past coupla months in the state's most populous Dem-leaning County should really have come as a surprise. After more than two years of Donald Trump lying about "rigged" elections --- and the state Republican party lying along with him --- it's almost more surprising that this hasn't happened sooner.

It was, as Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller observed at a news conference on Monday night after the arrest, "what we had all feared and what we had suspected --- that these shootings were indeed politically motivated." He correctly added: "They were dangerous attacks not only to these individuals … but, fundamentally, also to democracy. ... This was about a rightwing radical, an election denier ... And someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence."

And, in another example today of why, when Republicans tell us what they are going to do, we should believe them: the GOP economic terrorists in the U.S. House, as Washington Post reported on Friday, are now making plans for crashing the nation's (and world's) economy by refusing to increase the U.S. debt limit this year.

Hopefully, there will be a large enough handful of not-insane Republicans in the House to work with Dems to raise it in order to pay for what the U.S. (Congress and Presidents of both parties) have already bought, so that we can avoid a first-ever default of U.S. Government debt payments. But, even the dangerous game that the hard-right, radical extremist Republicans are preparing for could send markets --- and the credit rating of the U.S. --- plummeting. As TPM's Josh Marshall smartly headlined a short item on some of these points over the weekend, paraphrasing an infamously ignored Presidential Daily Briefing from August of 2001: "House GOP Determined to Strike US".

Finally, with the seemingly endless storms in California finally ended, for now, we're back to the continuing water woes in the U.S. West. And it's not looking good for Arizona right now. Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on that and U.S. solar manufacturing seeing a massive boost, thanks to legislation passed by Dems and signed by President Biden last year (and opposed by all Congressional Republicans); and Exxon scientists from the 70s, sadly, are proven to have been exactly right in their warnings about climate change. Unfortunately, Exxon paid millions to make sure you never heard about those warnings...

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Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2023 6:17pm PT  

What a way to "celebrate" Martin Luther King Day this year on The BradCast. Fifty-eight years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act and 10 years since the rightwingers on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted one of its central provisions, our even farther rightwing courts now appear to be gunning for much of the rest of the landmark civil rights voting law. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, while GOP-appointed federal judges are finding new ways to allow racial discrimination at the voting booth, Republicans --- including a top election official in upstate New York, and the wife of a U.S. House candidate in Iowa --- are nabbed by the Justice Department for committing mass vote fraud with absentee ballots.

The DoJ announcements in those cases come after a year in which Republicans filed a record number of anti-voting lawsuits --- in hopes of preventing (certain) voters from voting and/or having their votes counted as cast --- under the pretend guise of fighting fraud. They also come just days after Ohio's supposedly "moderate" GOP Governor signed new legislation to make it more difficult for (certain) voters to vote at all in upcoming elections.

Voting rights advocates in the Buckeye State charge the new measure will create barriers to the ballot for the elderly, rural voters and members of the military. But if it makes it more difficult for minority voters to vote, it may soon be impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters or the NAACP or the ACLU to file lawsuits charging violations of anti-discrimination laws under the Voting Rights Act.

When SCOTUS gutted Section 5 of the VRA in 2013 --- the part that required new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place to be precleared by federal authorities before they could go into effect --- the rightwing majority on the High Court claimed the provision was antiquated and no longer necessary. Besides, even though thousands of discriminatory laws had been blocked by Section 5 since 1965, there was always Section 2, which blocks racially discriminatory voting laws in all 50 states.

After all, as an ACLU attorney was forced to point out during a federal appeals court hearing this week: “For over 40 years, dozens of federal courts have heard hundreds of Section 2 claims brought by federal plaintiffs.”

Unfortunately, that lawyer was defending the use of Section 2 before a three-judge panel, where she had to add that, “In that time, not one court denied the plaintiffs their day in court because of a lack of private action.”

The hearing in question came this week after a lower, federal district Court judge in Arkansas tossed out a challenge to a new state House district map implemented by state Republicans. The map includes 11 black majority districts, when the population of the state suggests there should be 16 such districts.

But Judge Lee Rudofsky, a Donald Trump appointee, dismissed the challenge to the new map, declaring that Section 2 of the VRA does not allow private individuals and groups, like the ACLU or NAACP, to file suit against such laws. Only the U.S. Attorney General may do so, he held.

As our guest explains today, Rudofsky's court "the first court in the history of the country to find that there is no private right of action" in Section 2. For a host of reasons, it's an absurd argument. And yet, this week at the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to CNN, two of the three judges on the appeals panel (all of them are Republican appointees) appeared open to the idea that there is no right to private action under Section 2, because the federal statute doesn't specifically say as much. Never mind that private parties have been suing for decades under Section 2, including at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Justices never said a word against it.

We're joined to explain this newly-attempted GOP voter suppression nightmare by JONATHAN TOPAZ, the ACLU Voting Rights Project staff attorney who served as the trial attorney on the initial case that was tossed by Judge Rudofsky last year.

"I think it's hard for most people to fathom that this is a question that needs to be litigated in 2023," Topaz tells me. "There have been hundreds of cases over the course of Section 2's history litigated by private plaintiffs, and many of those cases --- at least 10 at the Supreme Court, and at least 18 in the 8th Circuit where we were arguing earlier this week --- were brought by private plaintiffs."

"Congress had opportunities --- in 1982 when they amended the Voting Rights Act, as recently as 2006 when they reauthorized the Voting Rights Act --- to correct any mistakes it saw out there as private plaintiffs brought cases across the country, which would have been purportedly in open defiance of what Congress had intended, and Congress never saw fit to correct anyone," he explains.

Topaz goes on to cite a case as recently as 1996 when "five justices of the Supreme Court --- so, a majority --- held that there was a private right of action under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act." Of course, our newly corrupted, stolen, and extremist rightwing majority on the High Court has had no trouble of late reversing its own precedents whenever they feel like it. So this case, which will almost certainly end up at SCOTUS no matter what happens at the 8th Circuit, could tee up a potentially near-fatal blow to the already teetering VRA.

"Section 2 is one of the crown jewels of American legislative history," Topaz argues today. "It's one of the finest statutes ever passed. Section 2 is absolutely essential in terms of ensuring equal voting access around the country. And we will do everything we can do defend it."

In the meantime, as he observes, this particular fight has prevented the courts from deciding on the merits of the original case, which means that --- even if it's ultimately settled at SCOTUS in favor of the ACLU --- "there will have been several elections taking place with discriminatory maps in Arkansas."

In 1957, in his "Give us the Ballot" speech eight years before passage of the VRA, MLK reportedly said: "So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind --- it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact --- I can only submit to the edict of others."

Happy Martin Luther King Day. It's on Monday.

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Hand-count of 2020 Presidential race in PA county appears to confirm original tally; Also: Garland taps Special Counsel in Biden docs case; Trump continues to obstruct justice in his stolen documents case...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2023 6:12pm PT  

Today's BradCast --- from questions about classified Presidential documents to this week's hand-count of 2020 ballots in a swing-state county --- is ultimately about transparency and sunshine as the best disinfectants when it comes to politics and the necessity of public oversight for the health of American democracy. Even when it may seem annoying to some at first blush.

Much of the corporate media has been doing a fairly lousy job of allowing disingenuous rightwing opportunists to turn the recent reported discoveries of some classified documents said to have been found in old boxes at a Joe Biden office and one of residents into the very same thing that Donald Trump is facing potential felony charges for. In his case, any charges will most likely come in response to blatant disregard for the rule of law and the continuing-to-this-day obstruction of justice in his case of thousands of pages of stolen classified documents.

There is little comparison between the two matters, but the comparisons are being made anyway. Sometimes helpfully, sometimes lazily and destructively. In any event, Robert Hur, a former U.S. Attorney appointed by Donald Trump was designated on Thursday by Biden's Attorney General Merrick Garland to serve as Special Counsel in the matter of the Biden documents. That is a good thing, as it will ultimately serve to either expose crimes (unlikely, based on the currently known evidence, but always a good thing if there are any actual crimes) or end with a report from the Special Counsel finding no violations of the law by the President. A normal, non-Special Counsel probe by DoJ would end in either indictments or no comment, allowing false claims to be made forever.

I suspect many Dems will be annoyed by the appointment of a Special Counsel in the Biden case. But it is ultimately be better than the alternative. Transparency, sunshine and independent oversight are always good things.

In a similar vein, the second major story we focus on today involves a hand-count of hand-marked paper ballots from the 2020 Presidential election taking place this week in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. It's a county where Trump won by more than 40 points in both 2016 and 2020, but where many Republicans have been conned into believing there was some sort of fraud that decreased Trump's win from 44.2 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016 to "only" 41.4 points over Biden in 2020.

There is zero evidence of fraud or programming error or mistally of any kind, but local Republicans --- hoaxed by opportunistic national liars --- have collected thousands of signatures to demand a public hand count. The County's of Board of Supervisors ultimately agreed late last year to allow one.

Some of the few covering the count at all in the national media this week have been snarky, snide or dismissive (MSNBC's Alex Wagner, for example, and the very computer voting and tabulation friendly media outlet VoteBeat). But, as it turns out, the count appears to be going smoothly, is reportedly confirming the original results, and was largely completed in just three days rather than the three weeks VoteBeat had suggested it might take, as they offered readers false and misleading claims about hand-counting. (They believe computers are more reliable for that sort of thing, even though the only way to know if computers have tallied paper ballots accurately is to...hand count them.)

But whether there is legitimate cause to be concerned about the results of a Presidential election two years ago in a far-right leaning swing-state county, and while even a hand-count is unlikely to persuade the most brain-poisoned of Republicans, public oversight of vote counting is ultimately a very good thing for democracy. In fact, in all of my years on this beat, I am convinced it is the only thing that can keep it viable and continuing here in the U.S. As you may have noticed, for good reasons and bad, confidence in democracy and election results have taken quite a beating in this country in recent years. That is good for nobody other than the charlatans and autocrats. Public oversight of election results, on the other hand, particularly if they confirm the original counts, can only help to shore up confidence by the electorate. Democracy needs that to thrive and survive

Once again, sunshine, transparency and oversight to the rescue...whether some may be annoyed by it or not.

Finally, we finish out today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, including some disturbing new climate data from NOAA and the latest dumb pretend freak-out by Fox "News"...

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Guest: Media activist (and Musk's former corporate PR trainer!) 'Spocko'; Also: Oregon Guv commutes all state death sentences; Schumer says ECA reform to be included in lame duck spending bill...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2022 6:36pm PT  

So, I've sorta been trying to avoid coverage on The BradCast of the idiocy underway at Twitter following Elon Musk's takeover of the social network for a ridiculous $44 billion six weeks ago. But today, as things are quickly turning much darker and dangerous, we're jumping down the rabbit hole. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, however, two much more encouraging stories from elsewhere. In Oregon, outgoing Democratic Governor Kate Brown, who will be replaced by Democratic Gov.-elect Tina Kotek in January, has commuted the death sentences of every prisoner in the state on death row! There are 17 of them in all. They will now face life without the possibility of parole instead of being murdered by the government. Brown has also ordered the dismantling of the state's execution chamber in hopes of ending the practice for good there, describing the gruesome punishment (correctly) as "both dysfunctional and immoral."

In other encouraging news before decks are shuffled in January following this year's midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced that the long-overdue Electoral Count Act reform measure (which we discussed on this program in detail back in February), as negotiated over the summer by a bipartisan group of Senators, will be included in the omnibus spending bill that lawmakers are scrambling to adopt this week before the deadline for a government shutdown.

The ECA reform measure, a version of which already passed in the House, would clarify the poorly-written 1887 law regarding procedures for certifying Electoral College votes following Presidential elections. In addition to making clear that a Vice President does not have the power to unilaterally toss out Electoral votes during the joint session of Congress to confirm Electoral College results, the bill would also raise the requirements for lawmakers to challenge slates of Electors and make it more difficult for a state Legislature to simply select different Electors than those chosen by state voters. All of that in response to Donald Trump's various attempts to exploit the original ECA on January 6th, 2021 to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Hopefully there are enough Republican votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, and House Democrats will find the Senate version acceptable during this lame duck period. Otherwise, it'll be next to impossible to adopt ECA reform in advance of the 2024 Presidential election after the GOP takes over the House majority in January.

Then, it's down the Elon Musk Twitter Rabbit Hole, but with an eye toward potential solutions to the increasingly dark chaos he's unleashed since taking over the once-popular social network. While we've largely been trying to ignore the idiocy and hard-right political turn by Musk in his six weeks since taking over Twitter, what has largely been dumb has now arguably turned dangerous.

Over the past week or so, Musk has given a few journalists selective access to internal communications of former Twitter executives, resulting in online stories he refers to as "The Twitter Files". Rightwingers have pretended the published threads somehow confirm some sort of political bias against Donald Trump and fellow political travelers. Trump is pretending they prove that the 2020 election was stolen. They don't. In fact, they largely show Twitter execs wrestling in good faith with difficult internal decisions.

At the same time, Musk has restored previously suspended accounts to many on the far-right, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis, QAnon conspiracists, COVID deniers and 2020 election fraudsters.

More disturbing, however, are Musk's own recent tweets. They've grown darker and increasingly menacing, with attacks on transgender people, the revival of long-debunked COVID conspiracies and false accusations of pedophilia against named Twitter employees. One former top executive was reportedly forced to flee his home this week in response to growing threats. On the same day, Musk suddenly dissolved the company's volunteer Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group which AP describes as "around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform."

That's just a taste of how all of this is quickly devolving. We're joined today by longtime media activist and pseudonymous progressive blogger 'SPOCKO', who has some thoughts on how people can push back against all of this. As it turns out, Spocko, who has worked to organize campaigns against a number of Rightwing media outlets and personalities over the past two decades, actually worked directly with Musk before he became unspeakably wealthy with the creation of PayPal.

At the time, Spocko was helping to train high-tech execs on how to speak to media, customers and investors. He shares his thoughts today on what he learned about Musk even back in the 1990s, when he was called in because Musk wouldn't listen to the female communications experts initially hired to help him.

Now, Spocko explains, "the thing we are talking about with Musk is what do you do when somebody has so much money and so much power, and then he gets rid of the checks and balances?" That becomes dangerous, especially for someone like Musk who he describes as a liar who "makes promises that he doesn't keep."

We discuss a number of campaigns --- both potential and underway --- to hold Musk to account for his increasingly threatening behavior, including the use of "free speech" tools that the billionaire claims to believe in (despite evidence showing he actually doesn't) to target advertisers that Twitter relies on to survive as well as companies like Apple, whose app store is critical to that survival, and the potential filing of civil lawsuits to hold Musk to account for defamation. There are also international efforts underway in places like Europe where the EU has informed social media networks that, by law, they must have measures in place to reduce potential harm or face being cut off entirely.

There is lots to dig into on today's program, whether we're happy to dig into it or not...

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Guest: Slate's legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Griner heading home; 'Respect for Marriage Act' to become law; Report: DoJ seeking to hold Trump in contempt in stolen docs case...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2022 5:54pm PT  

It could have been much worse. That seems to be the message from our guest on today's BradCast after yesterday's oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court case that could blow up everything we know about American elections, including some 233 years of otherwise settled election laws in all 50 states. We'll hope he's right. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, some less ambiguous good news to kick things off. WNBA star Brittney Griner is on her way home from Russia, where she has been held as a prisoner for at least 8 months after authorities found less than a gram of cannabis oil in a vape cartridge in her suitcase. Her release comes as a swap for a notorious Russian arms dealer, but fails to include the release of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned by Russia for nearly four years, who many hoped would also be included in the trade.

Griner's wife joined President Biden at the White House on Thursday to announce the good news, while urging the release of Whelan, whose brother praised the Administration for making "the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen."

Also on Thursday, more good news in D.C. as the U.S. House approved the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) with all Democrats voting in favor with almost 40 Republicans. Shamefully, 169 Republicans voted against recognizing the marriage rights of same-sex and interracial couples. The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate last week (also by all Democrats and opposed by the majority of Republicans) and now heads to the President's desk for his signature. Even though 2015's Obergefell ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states, federal lawmakers determined a statutory backstop was necessary after far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas called for reconsidering the Obergefell decision when he voted with the Court's corrupted rightwing majority to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

We're joined today by Slate's longtime legal journalist and SCOTUS expert MARK JOSEPH STERN. Last month, he responded to progressive critics of the RFMA who felt it should have gone farther to require all states to license same-sex marriages --- as Obergefell currently does --- rather than simply mandating that states legally recognize such marriages. Today, Stern breaks down his legal argument for why he believes those critics are wrong about the new, landmark federal statute and notes that, "as a progressive in a same-sex marriage, I feel like I have some skin in the game here."

But, our initial reason for booking Stern today was to discuss Moore v. Harper, the ridiculous --- if wildly dangerous --- case heard by the Supremes on Wednesday. As discussed on yesterday's show with FairVote's David Daley, who attended the oral argument, if a majority on the Court agrees with North Carolina Republican petitioners, the fallout for American elections from Moore will be "seismic".

The case argues that a fringe, so-called "Independent State Legislature" theory found in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause, means that only State Legislatures may craft specific state rules and laws for federal elections and may not be overruled or even reviewed by gubernatorial vetoes or state court review to ensure those laws meet requirements of state Constitutions. Even voter-approved ballot initiatives would be considered unlawful.

It would, in the case of Moore, allow North Carolina Republicans who control the gerrymandered majority in the evenly-divided state Legislature to gerrymander U.S. House districts however they like, even after the state Supreme Court determined their partisan gerrymander violated the state Constitution. By the same theory, a majority opinion in favor of the NC GOP, by the rigged 6 to 3 SCOTUS, could also allow state Legislatures to simply choose whichever Presidential Electors they preferred, even when voters voted otherwise. Yes, it's just that insane and, arguably, should never have even been heard at the High Court.

The good news today, is that, after yesterday's hearing --- when the "Court's most conservative justices got outplayed," as Stern reported at Slate --- he now believes the worst-case scenario is far less inevitable. "Those of us who’ve been ringing the alarm over this dangerous theory --- and who've been disgusted by the campaign to drag it from the far-right fringe all the way to the Supreme Court --- can take solace that these capable lawyers exposed [the Independent State Legislature theory] as an utter fraud," he wrote last night.

"Even though we have a ton of rules in every single state's Constitution that have been enforced for 230+ years, this theory says that all of those are invalid, we've been doing it wrong the whole time," Stern told me today, adding that he "heard maybe two votes for that position" during oral argument on Wednesday.

"But then, once you get into the more compromise positions, it gets harder to gauge," he warns. "I don't think the Court is going to totally cut out state Constitutions and state statutes from federal elections. I don't think that the Court is going to go as far as Republicans want. I think that there's a chance that the Court could issue a decision that is bad but not catastrophic, that essentially says that, as a general principle, state courts can regulate elections, but that federal courts get to double-check their work and decide if they got it wrong."

"But we have to be, when this decision comes down, really vigilant about drawing any conclusions before we figure out exactly where they land." If Federal courts can review state court rulings that are regarded as "egregious," Stern says he could live with that. But if they allow state courts only "mild deference," he explains, "that's no good, because that is really not how we do things in this country. State courts have the final say over the meaning of state law in almost all circumstances. And if we take that away, then it is just empowering this conservative super-majority on SCOTUS to decide all these cases in favor of Republicans."

Given the ridiculous basis for the Independent State Legislature theory --- that we've been doing it all wrong for more than 230 years since the nation's founding, but nobody noticed until now --- there would be hundreds of election laws in all 50 states that could then be challenged in federal courts. It's all somewhat ironic given that this fringe interpretation of the Elections Clause was, itself, built on "a fraudulent document that purported to be an account of the Constitutional Convention" that, as early as the 1800's, was described as "fake" by James Madison, "who actually did write the definitive account of the Constitutional Convention," notes Stern.

Much more on all of that today and, before he leaves, a quick explanation of how "stupid" the case heard earlier this week by SCOTUS regarding a web designer in Colorado who refuses to design a website for same-sex marriages actually is. Hint: She "has never been asked by any couple, gay or straight, to make a wedding website for them. Yet she sued before anyone could ask her, and argued that Colorado's civil rights law was infringing on her freedom of speech."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with both good and bad news, as per usual, when news broke late from CNN that, according to their sources, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has asked a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena ordering him over the summer to turn over classified records he stolen upon leaving the White House.

It turns out that it may have been an even better day today than we originally thought...

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Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
By Brad Friedman on 12/2/2022 6:37pm PT  

Nope. We're still not done with the 2022 Elections on The BradCast. And that's without even including next Tuesday's U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to a number of election-related items today...

  • Some thoughts on the bill signed on Friday by President Biden to help avert a national rail strike and economic catastrophe along with it. I've seen a lot of misinformation out there from progressives over the past 24 hours or so about the political strategy employed by the White House and Congressional Dems. So I try to clear up a few points today, explain why what happened happened, and how the focus must now turn toward ensuring that Biden includes paid sick days for federally contracted rail workers in an Executive Order.

As to the continuing 2022 midterm elections...

  • A teenage election worker, campaigning for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in Savannah, Georgia ahead of Tuesday's runoff against Herschel Walker (R), was shot while knocking on doors on Thursday. He was shot through a closed door and is being treated for what is described as "non-life threatening injuries". The Savannah Police Dept. has arrested the alleged shooter and claims that "At this point, there is no indication the shooting was politically motivated." Okay. Just shooting people randomly through front doors then?
  • Colorado Sec. of State Jena Griswold has officially ordered a mandatory recount in the 3rd U.S. House District race between incumbent far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) and challenger Adam Frisch (D) because the final margin was smaller than 0.5%. Boebert was certified to have won the race by just 550 votes out of more than 327,000 cast across the 27 counties that comprise the 3rd District which blankets almost all of western CO. This race, according to the nation's election forecasters, wasn't even supposed to have been close. Obviously, it was. Sadly, according to state law, all counties must now re-tally ballots in the recount by the same method used to count them originally. That means that all but one county in the state will tally their hand-marked paper ballots on the same optical-scan computers that tallied them the first time, either correctly or incorrectly. The only way to know for sure, of course, is to hand-count them. San Juan County will be the only one to do so, since that's how they originally tallied their voters' ballots.
  • An even closer race will soon be recounted statewide in Arizona, where Democrat Kris Mayes will be certified on Monday by the state as having defeated Trump-backed MAGA Republican Abe Hamadeh in the Attorney General's race by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast. That's a margin of just two one-hundredths of a percentage point! As in Colorado, Arizona, shamefully, recounts by computer as well.
  • A recount is only allowed in Arizona when the margin is less than 0.5%. But if the Republicans on the Cochise County Board of Supervisors had their way, there probably wouldn't be a recount at all in the razor-close AG's race, because Hamadeh would have lost by much more. Also, one U.S. House race would have flipped from a Republican victory to a Democratic victory, and the Dem, not the Republican would have been the winner in the state's school superintendent race. That's because the MAGA Republican dupes on the Cochise Board tried to avoid certifying their county's election results entirely, despite any evidence of fraud or miscount or anything else. Luckily for the County's 46,000 mostly-Republican voters, Democratic Sec. of State and soon-to-be Governor Katie Hobbs sued the county to force them to certify. On Thursday, a state judge ordered them to certify results immediately, preventing the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters (from all parties).
  • Cochise had a difficult time finding an attorney willing to represent them in the above-mentioned matter, after the County attorney refused, citing his original advise to the Board that refusing to certify was unlawful. Even the attorney for the buffoonish Cyber Ninjas turned them down! But attorneys thinking twice about taking lousy election cases is probably a good idea. At least a federal judge in Arizona thinks so, and is trying to make that point loud and clear. On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi sanctioned the attorneys representing failed Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and failed Sec. of State candidate Mark Finchem --- Trump-backed MAGA Republicans and election liars both --- for frivolous their frivolous complaints challenging the election systems in Maricopa (Phoenix) and Pima (Tucson) Counties. As Judge Tuchi made clear in his order for sanctions [PDF], it was meant to "penalize specific attorney conduct with the broader goal of deterring similarly baseless filings initiated by anyone, whether an attorney or not" and to "make clear that the Court will not condone litigants ... furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process."

And finally, today...

  • Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with good news for water drinkers in Mississippi; bad news for polluting oil and gas drillers in the U.S.; and disturbing news for everyone who lives near the rising seas on our coastlines...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppression scammers; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump stolen documents case...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2022 5:49pm PT  

We've been telling you since Thanksgiving on The BradCast that Accountability Season is finally beginning to get underway as Election Season almost wraps up. Today's show is pretty much nothin' but accountability. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summer.]

Earlier this week, in the first of several conspiracy trials scheduled for far-right, white nationalist militia groups, the Dept. of Justice notched guilty verdicts for Seditious Conspiracy charges in relation to the Trump-incited January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III (a one-time guest on this program!) and its Florida chapter head, Kelley Meggs, were both found guilty by a jury on Tuesday. They and three co-defendants were also convicted of Obstructing an Official Government Proceeding and other charges related to the effort to block the peaceful transfer of Presidential power in a failed attempt to help Trump steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Each of the five defendants found guilty on several charges each this week are facing maximum sentences of anywhere from 40 to 86 years in prison for their crimes. So, what does this mean going forward for the other upcoming sedition trials and for those yet to be charged for the same felony crimes, such as Roger Stone, Alex Jones and...yup...Trump himself?

We're joined today by national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel to discuss all of that and much more! Among the related topics discussed...

  • Why the convictions this week were important, and how the several trials of Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are being approached by DoJ as "interlocking conspiracies". In turn, they may result in similar indictments eventually against Trump insiders like Stone and Jones for seditious conspiracy and/or conspiracy to obstruct the government's peaceful transfer of power.
  • Whether Trump will eventually face same charges and how much it matters whether he is indicted for Sedition versus Obstruction, both of which carry the same 20-year max sentences attached to them.
  • Whether Merrick Garland's recent appointment of Jack Smith as Special Counsel overseeing both the federal January 6 probe and their criminal investigation of the classified and other documents stolen by Trump and obtained by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago is a good or bad idea. On that, she points out that Smith's mandate may eventually require a decision on whether to bring charges against Republican member of Congress like Reps. Scott Perry (PA) and Jim Jordan (OH). As she reported at Emptywheel recently, with a razor thin majority for the GOP in the House next year, such decisions could end up flipping control of the House from Republican to Democratic. Therefore, it may prove critical to have someone overseeing these investigations who is not a political appointee of President Biden.
  • In the event that Trump is charged for any of these crimes, will it even be possible to find a jury that doesn't include a MAGA Republican willing to block any and all charges against the former President? On that, she notes, she is less concerned about such jurists than about Trump's skills as "a mob boss".

"Let me put it this way," Wheeler tells me on that point, "I'm far more worried about obstruction than I am about a jury. He's a mob boss. I think virtually all people really, really underestimate the degree to which he obstructed [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller in 2020 after Bill Barr came in. Barr got away with so much that people just can't conceive how effectively he killed the Mueller investigation and any other investigation that tied to him. So, he's not President, but he's still a mob boss." And that, she says, worries her more "than that a jury won't do their sworn duty."

And, in more Accountability Season news on today's program...

  • Trump-backed U.S. Senate loser and former celebrity TV Doctor Mehmet Oz is apparently not welcome back on TV and can't find a job. Sad!
  • Two longtime GOP operatives/yutzes, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, who sent out tends of thousands of robocalls to black voters in five states before the 2020 election, trying to hoax them about phony dangers of voting by mail (and turning over their information to "The Man" in the process), were sentenced in Ohio this week. Their sentence, somewhat hilariously, includes 500 hours of voter registration work in low-income D.C. neighborhoods.
  • And BREAKING just as were finishing up today: In a stinging loss for Trump, a three-judge panel (including two judges he appointed) on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, nixed the Special Master named by Judge Aileen Cannon (also a Trump appointee) to review the stolen government documents retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago. The court ruled Cannon had no jurisdiction to make any such appointment which served only to help the Mob Boss slow down the DoJ's investigation of Trump's theft of records, and apparent violations of the Espionage Act, the Presidential Records Act, and obstructions of justice...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: GA election integrity expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2022 6:24pm PT  

As early voting records are smashed and lines are obscenely long once again in advance of Tuesday's U.S. Senate Runoff Election Day, today's BradCast offers a maddening reminder of why we've been covering Georgia elections, in such detail, for so many years. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Thanks to state Republicans who cut the time for runoff elections by more than half after the 2020 elections, voters across the GA are now forced to wait in hours-long lines to vote early this week in the contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed former football player and unapologetic liar Herschel Walker. While early voting records are being broken, as we detailed yesterday, much of that is thanks to the GOP's SB202 voter suppression bill [PDF], adopted last year by the state legislature, supported by its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and signed by its Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Where Peach State voters had as many as 17 early voting days in the November 8 elections, they now have no more than 7. And with the compressed time between the general and the runoff, few are able to request, receive and return absentee mail ballots in time. Instead, voters are now being forced to stand in line to vote at polling places on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems.

We're joined today to discuss that and much more by longtime election integrity champion JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance. Dufort has served as Georgia election observer for many years, representing both the Democratic and Libertarian Parties at various times in the Peach State's rural, Republican-leaning Morgan County. She is also a named plaintiff (Full Disclosure: Along with me!) in the Coalition's lawsuit challenging several of the many disturbing provisions of SB202.

Dufort offers insight today from on the ground on how things went for voters on November 8, with most of SB202's voting restrictions in place; why it's now so difficult to vote there once again in the runoff; and why voters should be concerned about the ability to know if results reported next week by Raffensperger's insecure and unverifiable touchscreen systems --- forced on voters at every polling place, instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots! --- will actually reflect the intent of state voters.

"You can break all the daily [early voting] records that you want and still not have enough capacity for everybody who wants to vote," she explains. "All of the bottlenecks are at check-in. They haven't been able to figure out how to get enough check-in stations to get 17 days-worth of early voting, plus people who would prefer to vote by mail but don't think they can" into the short early voting period now allotted by SB202. "Compressing all that into these seven days is ten pounds in a five pound sack."

In addition to check-in bottlenecks, the computerized voting systems don't make any of it easier or faster, particularly in an election with one single race on most ballots across the state. "It would be faster if they handed them a ballot and just marked it. That would be faster than putting the card into the machine, bringing it up, tabbing through the things, do the check and waiting for the printer. It's just stupid. When you think about marking a ballot by a pen and then watch the process on a machine, it seems amazing that somebody would spend $3,000 on a machine to do what a $1 pen would do. But here we are."

As usual, there is much much more to discuss with Dufort about all of this today!

Also on today's program...

  • "Dems in array!" In a rare display of unity on the left, House Democrats voted unanimously on Wednesday for their new leadership beginning in January. New York's Rep. Hakeem Jeffries will be the first black American to head up a major political party in Congress, taking the reigns following Nancy Pelosi's historic tenure as she and the rest of the party's longtime leadership team step aside to allow a new, younger generation to take over. All of that by way of contrast with the chaos on the GOP side and whether Rep. Kevin McCarthy will be able to muster enough votes from his own caucus to become the new Republican House Speaker next year.
  • With Pelosi still serving as Speaker in the lame duck session of Congress, the House passed two bills today to try and help avert a rail strike that would cripple the nation's economy. With 4 of 12 rail unions opposing a new contract negotiated with the help of the White House in September --- granting a 24% pay raise to workers, but failing to allow for paid sick days --- a bipartisan bill would force the agreement to be adopted. A second bill passed by all Democrats and only three Republicans in the House on Wednesday would mandate seven paid sick days per year. Whether either measure can now be passed in the Senate, where approval by 10 Republicans would be needed to overcome a filibuster, remains to be seen.
  • And, in a unanimous three-paragraph ruling late Tuesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Trump's last Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, to testify before the Special Grand Jury in Atlanta convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to probe the Trump-lead conspiracy to strong-arm GA election officials into changing the 2020 results in his favor. Meadows argued he didn't have to testify due to executive privilege. SC's Supreme Court tersely responded in their order: "We have reviewed the arguments raised by [Meadows] and find them to be manifestly without merit." Ouch...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ's Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising themselves...
By Brad Friedman on 11/29/2022 6:36pm PT  

It's another crazy day in MAGA Land on today's BradCast, as Accountability Season gets a very good start even before the 2022's Election Season fully wraps up. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among our stories today from Accountability Season...

  • BREAKING at the top of today's program: Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath Keepers clan (and former BradCast guest!) is found guilty of seditious conspiracy for his involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Fellow Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs was found guilty as well. Both now face as much as 20 years in prison on the sedition charges alone. They, and others, were also charged with Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and more. Perhaps our former President who inspired them should begin to be concerned.
  • Speaking of the former guy... Earlier this month, Kremlin-linked Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's Chef", boasted on social media that "we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere" with U.S. elections. "Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do." A week or two later, longtime GOP operative Jesse Benton --- who worked for Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, among others --- was found guilty on six counts related to money laundering some $100,000 for another Russian businessman before the 2016 election. He was charged with helping to funnel money to both the Trump campaign and RNC that year. As it happens, both Benton and seditious conspirator Rhodes both got their start in politics working as aides for Rep. Ron Paul. Benton is now married to Paul's granddaughter. He was charged last year (along with yet another BradCast guest --- who died shortly after being charged) just months after Trump had pardoned Benton for separate charges against him regarding campaign finance violations and bribery during the 2012 election. We 'splain the full sordid story and Russian collusion along with wistful memories of Tibetan monks and nuns and Al Gore from back in the day when Republicans used to pretend to care about unlawful campaign donations from foreign sources.

And from Election Season...

  • Welp, the days are getting crazier and crazier in Arizona. On Monday, the deadline for counties there to certify election results before the state certifies all results next Monday, the Board of Supervisors in Cochise County voted against doing so. They claim they will reconsider the matter on Friday. That, despite any evidence of fraud or voting system failure in the Republican-leaning county. Katie Hobbs, the state's Democratic Sec. of State and apparent Governor-elect, quickly went to court yesterday in an attempt to force Cochise to certify their result as, she argues, they are required by law. If they don't, all of the county's voters may be disenfranchised and the results of at least one U.S. House race would flip from Republican to Democratic, along with the statewide contest for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Moreover, any remaining chance for Abe Hamadeh, the GOP candidate running for Attorney General, to overcome his current 510-vote deficit against Democrat Kris Mayes, would almost certainly be gone. As the Arizona Republic's EJ Montini snarks today, if Hobbs was gaming the system to somehow help state Dems this year, as MAGA Republicans baselessly claim, "she really, really stinks at cheating"!
  • Meanwhile, Georgia voters are proving to be really, really good at early voting. They shattered all-time records for doing so on Sunday and again on Monday of this week, outpacing both Presidential and other general elections alike in the state's current runoff election between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R) for \ U.S. Senate. The big turnout could be a good sign for Democrats, though that's not certain. The long wait times it is causing for many voters around the Peach State, however, is a certain disgrace. (More on all of that, I hope, on tomorrow's show.)

And in other matters...

  • A bipartisan "Respect for Marriage" bill has been passed by the lame duck U.S. Senate to protect same-sex marriages following corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' recent opinion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade arguing that marriage equality should be one of the next rights stolen by the Court from the American people.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
By Brad Friedman on 11/28/2022 6:29pm PT  

We're back for today's BradCast after some much-needed down time last week over the holiday when we tried to look the other way for a few minutes. We've got a lot of catching up to do.

Among the stories we try to catch up with today...

  • The independent Special Counsel appears to be wasting no time. Even on a holiday. Prosecutor Jack Smith, recently tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee two Trump-related criminal probes by the Dept. of Justice --- on the January 6th insurrection and the classified documents stolen by the former President upon leaving office --- jumped into the documents case on Thanksgiving Day. While we were eating turkey, Smith was filing a one paragraph argument with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals calling out Trump's attorneys for lying during a hearing earlier in the week. That hearing didn't go well for Team Trump, despite being heard by two Trump-appointed federal judges and one appointed by George W. Bush. Smith did not make things any better for them. We explain.
  • Two Trump-backed candidates in Alaska were each declared losers in the U.S. House [PDF] and U.S. Senate [PDF] races last week after weeks of counting in the state's Ranked Choice Voting midterm elections. Democrat Mary Peltola will fill the seat in the U.S. House previously held by the late Rep. Don Young, a Republican who occupied the state's only House seat for nearly 50 years. She defeated the failed former President's choice, the state's failed former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as well as two other candidates. And, moderate Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to remove Trump from office during his second impeachment trial last year, was declared to have defeated Trump-endorsed GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka. Dems will hold a narrow majority in the Senate next year no matter how the U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Trump-endorsed Herschel Walker (R) works out next Tuesday. But, if yet another candidate supported by the disgraced former President crashes and burns next week too, the extra seat in the upper chamber could make a huge difference for Democrats.
  • Meanwhile, in Arizona, former TV news anchor and Trumpette, Kari Lake, is still pretending that she must have won the Governor's election. All of the available evidence suggests Democratic Sec. of State Katie Hobbs was the winner, albeit by less than one percent. The narrow margin, however, is just a bit higher than the trigger for a statewide recount. So, Lake is now suing the Republicans who run Maricopa County (Phoenix), on the basis that the County's print-on-demand ballot system prevented voters from voting. It didn't. Though some GOP voters reportedly chose not to cast their ballots after being told the precinct-based scanners couldn't read the hand-marked paper ballots printed at a number of the County's voting centers. Those ballots were placed into a locked box and scanned back at County HQ. On Monday, the County certified their results, and the usual parade of deplorables issued threats to the officials for doing so. The state is scheduled to certify results next week, which will be followed by a recount in the incredibly tight Attorney General contest. It is currently led by Democratic candidate Kris Mayes over Trump-endorsed Abe Hamadeh who trails by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast in the state's November midterms.
  • Meanwhile, the world's largest volcano, Mauna Loa, is erupting again in Hawaii...for the first time in nearly 40 years.
  • Finally, we open the phone lines today for a bit of a "reverse BradCast," where callers ring in with stuff they want me and/or the world to know about. Among the topics raised by callers: Israel, Julian Assange, accountability for Don Jr. and Eric, democracy beyond elections, and more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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