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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Sunday 'Read the Room' Toons
The writing (and much more) is on the wall in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
WARNING: SCOTUS Takes Case to Legitimize Fringe 'Indpndnt State Legislature' Doctrine!: 'BradCast' 7/1/22
Corrupt Court may legalize election theft; Also: Ginni lies; Fox defamation; CA Internet Voting...
Activist SCOTUS Torches EPA's 'Clean Air Act' Mandate to Regulate Carbon Pollution: 'BradCast' 6/30/22
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on that, much more on the final day of the corrupt Court's term...
'Green News Report' 6/30/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Rightwing SCOTUS guts EPA's power to regulate carbon emissions; Residential gas stoves leak carcinogens; PLUS: Clean energy jobs booming! Fossil fuel jobs not so much...
Recent GNRs: 6/28/22 - 6/23/22 - Archives...
Tuesday's Election Results
and the Tea Leaves of 'UNconventional Times': 'BradCast' 6/29/22
What to glean from the first midterm primaries and special elections after the fall of 'Roe'...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 6): Meadows' Top WH Aide Offers Insider Trump Bombshell After Bombshell: 'BradCast' 6/28/22
Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony w/ John Amato and Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/28/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Cause of NM's largest-ever wildfire revealed; Japan's grid straining under extreme heat; Colombia's new Prez a climate hawk; PLUS: Americans' high cost of extreme weather...
Recent GNRs: 6/23/22 - 6/21/22 - Archives...
After Corrupt Reversal of 'Roe', What Now? What Next?: 'BradCast' 6/27/22
Callers ring in; Also: Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping mall; Surprise J6 hearing announced; SCOTUS further erodes separation of church and state with new ruling...
Sunday 'Supremely Unjust' Toons
PDiddie's latest radical collection of this extremist week's most activist and supremely corrupted toons...
SUPREME CORRUPTION: 'BradCast' 6/24/22
Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 5): Trump's Failed DoJ Coup and 'How Close We Came to Losing it All': 'BradCast' 6/23/22
With former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/23/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden calls for temporary gas tax cut; Arctic warming really fast; New management for national monument; PLUS: IEA warns Europe about Russian gas exports this winter...
Recent GNRs: 6/21/22 - 6/16/22 - Archives...
Rebutting Raffensperger's 'Recount', Calling Out His Coffee County 'Cover-Up':
'BradCast' 6/22/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: DoJ broadens fake Trump electors probe...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 4): Trump Threatened, Targeted, Terror-ized State Officials, Election Workers: 'BradCast' 6/21/22
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of the Pro Left Podcast...
'Green News Report' 6/21/22
Deadly heat in Europe, U.S.; Catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh; Climate change a 'public health crisis'; PLUS: Corrupt SCOTUS set to undermine EPA...
A Conservative Appeal to Repubs to Save America, End Uncivil War on Democracy: 'BradCast' 6/20/22
Also: More Americans seek Trump J6 accountability; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Right-Wing Freakout' Toons...
PDiddie apologizes to Dad for ruining his day, in his latest weekly toon collection...
Can Our Democracy Survive All of This?: 'BradCast' 6/17/22
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ The Nation's John Nichols...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 3): Trump, Eastman Knew VP Scheme Unlawful, Pressured Pence Anyway: 'BradCast' 6/16/22
Guests: Former DoJ fraud prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/16/22
'Delusional' rush to new fossil fuel supplies; A surprising source of pollution; 'World's first zero emissions cement'; PLUS: TX grid saved by wind, solar...
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: Elections results from ME, NV, ND, SC, TX; Vote system prob leads to IA recounts; MAGA County Commission in NM refuses to certify June 7 primaries...Just cuz...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2022 6:13pm PT  

With the bipartisan January 6 Committee having postponed today's hearing, we take the opportunity on today's BradCast to spend some time rebutting the disgraced former President's supposed rebuttal to the two damning hearings held to date. But, of course, we've got much more as well, including election results from Tuesday and evidence of both voting system problems and bad faith elected MAGA officials already trying to disenfranchise 2022 voters. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • An error caused by paper jams during ballot scanning on Election Day at the precincts on the state's computer tabulators in Iowa during their June 7 primaries has reportedly resulted in a whole bunch of recounts across the state. Cedar Rapid's KCRG cites an email from the Sec. of State's office which has lead to those recounts, in hopes of reconciling the number of ballots misreported by the scanners as cast with the number of voters who actually signed in to vote.
  • Noteworthy election results from four states which held primaries on Tuesday (Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina) and one (Texas) which purposely held a low-turnout U.S. Special Election yesterday, instead of at the same time as their regular primaries in March or primary runoffs in May. While we cover a lot of Tuesday's races, and why they matter (or don't), the most disturbing one is likely the Secretary of State's race in Nevada, where a 2020 election denialist by the name of Jim Marchant has apparently won a 38% plurality to become the GOP's nominee to become the critical swing-state's chief election official in advance of the 2024 election.
  • The dangers of an election denier like Marchant, who served as one of the state GOP's fake electors in 2020, and who has said he wouldn't have certified Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump that year had he been SoS at the time, is a stark warning of what lies ahead. But we're already seeing the dangers of brain-poisoned MAGA Mobsters in positions of elected authority. The three-person County Commission in a very right-leaning rural county in New Mexico, is refusing to certify results from their June 7 primary. Even though votes are cast on hand-marked paper ballots across the state, the County Commission unanimously voted against certification of primary results, citing distrust of the County's digital ballot scanners made by Dominion Voting. They have no evidence of fraud, which might otherwise allow a court to order the hand-count they are seeking. They just don't trust the results in the County where Trump won 62% of the vote in 2020. The Republican County Clerk is furious and the Democratic Sec. of State is now suing the County Commission ahead of this Friday's deadline for County certification. Expect much more of this in the months and years ahead. We've long warned about exactly this type of fallout from our irresponsible rush to the use secret vote casting and counting systems made by private vendors and the avenues it opens for opportunists to claim fraud without any evidence of same.
  • On Monday night, after the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and other efforts by Trump to steal the 2020 election, our corrupt former President issued a 12-page rebuttal [PDF] to the Committee's first two hearings. We rebut his dumb rebuttal today. It leans heavily on tired, long-ago debunked nonsense, such as his lead in some swing-states on Election Night "inexplicably" disappearing (after heavily-Republican polling place ballots were quickly tallied before the arduous task of opening and verifying and counting heavily-Democratic vote-by-mail ballots one-by-one) and how thousands attended his rallies, while Biden chose not to hold super-spreader events during the worst pandemic in 100 years. Much of Trump's (ghost-writer's) claims were already debunked during the Committee hearings to date, which he seems to presume that his supporters didn't watch or are too dumb to understand.

    Trump's ghost-writer spends most of the rebuttal ink citing what is laughably described as "indisputable proof" of "Ballot Trafficking" presented in the repeatedly debunked 2000 Mules movie. That's a pretend documentary film created by a long-discredited GOP "election integrity" group named True the Vote and a rightwing activist named Dinesh D'Souza who actually pleaded guilty himself to several federal election fraud crimes before he was later pardoned by Trump.

    As noted, the film has been repeatedly debunked, including by us, several times by now. Months before it was even released, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) and FBI concluded the group's claims about cell phone data purporting to reveal evidence of "ballot harvesting" by "mules" of tens or hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots cast in drop-boxes, in fact, reveals no crimes at all. A GA state Board of Elections investigation after the movie's release found that supposed "ballot mules" in Atlanta, shown via security camera footage in the film, were just regular voters legally casting their own ballot and those of direct family members. None of the "mules" are ever seen in the film visiting a drop-box or multiple boxes more than once.

    But, perhaps the most stinging rebuttal came from Trump's own Attorney General, Bill Barr this week. During sworn testimony to the J6 Committee, shared by the panel on Monday, Barr laughed out loud at even the mention of the name of the film, before going on to explain how he found it to be "singularly unimpressive," "indefensible," and that it failed to "establish widespread illegal harvesting." That, of course, is a long way from the "indisputable proof" Trump's dumb rebuttal claimed it to be.

  • Finally, speaking of the House J6 Committee, Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney released a video teaser on Tuesday for its next upcoming hearing scheduled for Thursday. This one will focus on the pressure Trump placed on Vice President Mike Pence to help him steal the 2020 election by tossing out valid Electoral College votes on January 6, 2021. Cheney's teaser video includes testimony from one of Trump's top White House attorneys who says he warned outside lawyer John Eastman, who developed the scheme for Pence to toss out the votes, to "get a great f'ing criminal defense lawyer," adding "you're gonna need it."

Special Coverage of tomorrow's J6 Hearing, of course, on tomorrow's BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Nancy Wang of Voters Not Politicians; Also: MI GOP Guv candidate arrested for Jan. 6 crimes; NY GOP Councilwoman pleads guilty to voter fraud in 'widespread' federal probe...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2022 4:02pm PT  

As we were forced to ask several times on today's BradCast: What the hell is up with Republicans and election fraud in Michigan?! But it's not only in Michigan today, as it turns out. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

In upstate New York, in a Rensselaer County city named Troy on Wednesday, a Republican city councilwoman named Kim Ashe-McPherson pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the submission of three fraudulent absentee ballots in both her primary and general election last year. It's a somewhat remarkable and expansive story of apparently a whole bunch of Republican criming going on in Troy and Rensselaer County, with the Albany Times Union describing Ashe-McPherson as "the first person snared in a federal grand jury investigation examining widespread ballot-fraud allegations in Rensselaer County."

Another separate probe by State Police appears to be examining fraud in Troy's Mayoral race, while the GOP Mayor and a whole bunch of GOP County officials have been subpoenaed and/or had their phones seized by law enforcement in recent months. Ashe-McPherson's absentee ballot fraud was apparently carried out with the help of an unnamed insider official at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections. "Earlier this year," the paper notes, "Jason Schofield, the Republican commissioner for the county's Board of Elections, was subpoenaed in connection with the federal investigation." But there's a whole lot of other GOPers who also seem tied into this, and may end up in handcuffs in the days ahead.

Is it any wonder that Republicans accuse Democrats of voter fraud all the time, given that Republicans seem to be constantly committing it themselves?

But things are even more insane in the great state of Michigan. You'll recall that recently, 5 of 10 Republican Gubernatorial candidates vying for the GOP nod to take on Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this November were disqualified from the ballot, after the state Bureau of Elections discovered they had submitted some 68,000 fraudulent petition signatures between them in an attempt to qualify for the ballot. Well, the trouble continues for at least one of the remaining candidates who did manage to qualify without cheating.

All of the GOP gubernatorial hopefuls in MI are 2020 election deniers (despite Joe Biden having defeated Donald Trump in the state by about 150,000 votes, as confirmed by a months long investigation by the GOP-controlled state Senate). But one of the most ardent of the deniers --- and a leading candidate now that the others have been disqualified --- 40-year old Ryan Kelley, was arrested and charged by federal officials on Thursday for his role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Kelley stands accused, according to the criminal complaint, of disruptive conduct, injuring public property and entering restricted space without permission. Documents filed in court allege he is seen on video that day waving crowds into the Capitol after police lines were defeated. He faces up to a year in prison and a fine as high as $100,000. Perhaps this will actually help his bid for the GOP nomination on August 2nd!

But that's not all we have to report out of MI today, particularly when it comes to GIO election fraud.

Last week, the organizer of a GOP petition effort to qualify a ballot initiative known as "Secure MI Vote", announced they missed the deadline to submit the number of signatures needed. Why did the effort behind this scheme to supposedly curb election fraud with severe new restrictions on voting fail? Election fraud, of course! The organizers discovered some 20,000 signatures they had gathered were fraudulent! (Hey, at least they checked them before turning them in, unlike those 5 GOP Gubernatorial candidates!)

The scheme, however, is even slimier than it sounds. Most of the provisions in the so-far-failed initiative had already been passed by the GOP state legislature, but vetoed by Democratic Gov. Whitmer. But, thanks to a loophole in MI state law, once a ballot initiative qualifies for the ballot, the Legislature is then welcome to pass it into law on a simple, veto-proof majority vote. That was the plan that seems to have failed here.

We're joined today to discuss the entire fine mess by NANCY WANG, Executive Director of the non-partisan, pro-democracy group Voters Not Politicians which, in 2018, enlisted volunteers (rather than corrupt paid contractors) to collect more than 400,000 signatures to place an initiative on MI's ballot for an Independent Redistricting Commission. The measure was successfully adopted by state voters.

"There are so many things wrong right now with the GOP and what they're trying to do with voting rights in Michigan," Wang explains. "What's really caught them is this mixture of incompetence and hypocrisy. They're selling themselves to the voters as the party that's going to 'protect' us from fraud. The only fraud they can demonstrate in our election is what they have inside their own camp. It's ironic, at the very least, that they have been the victim of their own fraud, when they've tried to victimize voters with all of these shenanigans."

Wang walks us through those "shenanigans" and various "loopholes" in state law that allow, for example, petition gathers to be paid by the signature and to lie to voters about the initiative they are asking them to sign on to. In this case, while the GOP group was clear that this measure would never actually be on the ballot, signature gatherers reportedly told prospective signers that the plan was simply to put these issues --- like instituting extreme Photo ID restrictions and restricting absentee voting --- before voters.

"This group is headed by the GOP, funded by the GOP, and they're using the citizens' petition process, lying to voters to sign this thing so that they can do an end-run around the voters," charges Wang. "They're never going to put these provisions on the ballot, they were very clear about that. They were just going to ride this loophole to the legislature to get these voter suppression measures passed." Not that that's what their signature gatherers told people on the ground, however.

"It's about dishonesty. It's about misleading voters. It's about trying to game the system of citizens' petitions. I don't think you could put anything in place that would stop people who don't have any limits whatsoever, any standards that they'll abide by, to further their agenda," Wang tells me.

Next, a story we ran out of time for on our previous BradCast, covering results and other fallout from Tuesday's midterm primaries in seven states. You may recall our coverage of a voting system disaster in Clackamas County, Oregon a couple of weeks ago, where a problem with smeared barcodes printed on vote-by-mail ballots resulted in them being rejected by the computer tabulators. The local County Clerk, in that case, ordered tens of thousands of those otherwise perfectly valid ballots to be duplicated by hand, one-by-one, so they could be run through the tabulators, rather than simply counting them in public by hand.

Well, guess what? It appears the very same thing happened in San Joaquin County, California this week, with 25 to 30% of the County's mail ballots being rejected by the computer scanners. And, once again, rather than hand-counting them, the County is duplicating each and every one of them by hand, this time with the help of about 13 employees from the printing company who screwed up in the first place.

I don't know about you, but I don't want my ballot "remade" behind closed doors by either a County election official OR some schmoe from a commercial printing outfit. But maybe that's just me. In any event, San Joaquin voters may have to wait a bit longer than usual this year for final results in their critical midterm primaries.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with great news for war profiteering Big Oil companies (if terrible news for the rest of us); lousy news about snow disappearing from the previously snow-covered Alps; but some better news regarding the Biden Administration's move to create a new marine sanctuary and end the use of single-use plastic in our national parks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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State's latest GOP fraud includes 68,000 forged petition signatures from 5 of 10 Guv candidates; Also: GA website change blocked thousands of voter registrations last year; Another horrific school shooting in TX...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2022 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's hardly the first time this has happened in Michigan. But now it may take down a whole bunch of the GOP's top nominees for Governor in 2022 all at once. If you're wondering where the "massive election fraud" is, look no further than the Republican Party in Michigan. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, it's midterm primary day in Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia, with a couple of midterm primary runoffs of note in Texas. We'll have full results (or, at least, noteworthy and available ones) on tomorrow's show.

The good news today is that we've found few reports, so far, of voting or voting system problems in the states holding elections on Tuesday, though there were a few reported failures, naturally, of GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the Peach State, preventing some from voting when polls opened in several different (Democratic-leaning) counties.

In other GA-related election news today, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that a change made in January last year to the website at the state's Department of Driver Services resulted in a huge drop-off of new voter registrations. State law requires automatic registration on the Department's website whenever someone applies for a new license or changes their address. The program had been a tremendous success when first implemented in 2016. Last year, however, the Department changed the format from an automatic registration, unless the user chooses to "opt-out", to a form where users are asked to chose "yes" or "no" to register. This March, after reports of registrations at the site falling over a cliff in 2021, the old "opt-out" format was restored and registrations immediately sky-rocketed in April. Nonetheless, Raffensperger, as he runs for reelection this year, has called for doing away with automatic voter registration entirely.

Shamefully, that would make it both more difficult to register and more difficult to keep voter rolls up to date with accurate addresses as voters move around the state. Keeping registrations in sync with voters' latest address is a good thing for those of us who believe in accurate rolls. Apparently, if Raffensperger's recent comments on this are any indication, Republicans only pretend to care about such things.

They also only pretend to care about election fraud, it seems, if the enormous election fraud scandal breaking wide open this week in Michigan is any indication.

Ten years ago we reported on a signature petition forgery scandal by a sitting U.S. Congressman in Michigan. Four of his top staff members were found to have falsified most of the 1,000 signatures needed for his reelection bid (which he eventually abandoned after not receiving enough valid signatures). The staffers of then-U.S. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter were charged at the time with a total of 12 felonies and 21 misdemeanor election fraud charges.

Now, a decade later, complaints were filed last month against three top GOP Gubernatorial candidates charging that their petition signatures were riddled with forgeries, including people who had died. On Monday, the state's Bureau of Elections, after investigating the complaints, issued a shocking report finding that that 68,000 fraudulent signatures had been submitted by ten GOP Gubernatorial campaigns! At least five of them appear not to have submitted enough legitimate signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The Bureau's investigation [PDF] found the two front runners for the Republican nomination each appear to have failed to submit the 15,000 legitimate signatures needed to qualify for this year's ballot. The campaign of James Craig, formerly Detroit's Police Chief, submitted more than 11,100 fraudulent signatures, and businessman Perry Johnson's campaign allegedly submitted more than 9,000 forgeries. Though both submitted more signatures than needed to qualify, neither were able to turn in 15,000 valid ones.

The Bureau also found that Gubernatorial hopefuls Michael Brown, Michael Markey and Donna Brandenburg also fell short of the required 15,000 valid signatures, with each submitting more than 10,000 fraudulent ones on their petitions.

This Thursday, Michigan's four-person Board of State Canvassers meets to determine which candidates will be allowed on the state's August 2nd midterm primary ballot. The Board is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats. Candidates will need at least three votes of the Board to qualify. As one of the original Democratic complainants said, "All indications are, it's going to be a long meeting Thursday."

(All of this comes, ironically enough, after a "crazy" state GOP convention last month where party officials selected two Trump-backed 2020 election deniers to be the party's nominees for Sec. of State and Attorney General. Each maintain that the election was stolen in Michigan from the disgraced former President, who was defeated by Joe Biden there by more than 150,000 votes.)

Next time you are told that Democrats are committing "massive election fraud" (despite the lack of evidence to support the claim) feel free to point them toward this matter, after 5 of the 10 Republicans running for Governor in Michigan in 2022 were all found to have submitted thousands of fraudulent signatures in hopes of qualifying for the ballot. Or, you can point them to the story we wrote ten years ago about the same problem in Michigan back then. That report also included evidence of election fraud crimes by a whole bunch of other top Republicans at the time, from then-former MI Governor, now Utah's U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to Indiana's former Sec. of State Charlie White, to former GOP superstar Ann Coulter (and many others).

We had hoped to wrap up today's show with our latest Green News Report, which includes some very good news indeed about a huge increase in the sale of electric vehicles and even better news about climate and last weekend's Australian elections. Unfortunately, news of the latest horrific school shooting in Texas broke while we were on air, and we close today with some of that tragic, breaking news...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Convicted election fraudster D'Souza makes a pretend documentary on 2020 election fraud; Also: Actual white GOP voter fraud criminal gets no jail time for voting twice; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2022 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The lengths Donald Trump's supporters will go to to justify his sore loser attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election is amazing. Now they've got a pretend documentary in hundreds of actual movie theaters which turns out to prove nothing. All of it, naturally, is nonsense. We explain why today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

Folks on the right were celebrating on social media over the weekend in the wake of the release of a film named (somewhat offensively) 2000 Mules. It was somehow released into more than 250 theaters across the nation last week. The film was made by Rightwing activist Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to federal election fraud crimes back in 2014 --- before being pardoned for them by Trump in 2018. That's the guy who has now made a "documentary" claiming millions of votes were stuffed into absentee ballot drop-boxes in swing states to steal the election for Joe Biden in2020. Sounds legit.

The claim is made along with fellow GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters from a long-discredited Texas group named True the Vote. Apparently, the group paid millions to obtain publicly available, anonymized cell phone geolocation data that purportedly shows where cell phones were from October 1 through Election Day in 2020. Using that data, TTV claims in the film that thousands of so-called ballot "mules" were being paid by unnamed non-profit organizations (why didn't they name them?) to collect illegal ballots for Joe Biden and deliver them into ballot drop boxes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If all of this sounds absurd, it's because it is. The data can't actually be tied to any voter --- and is only accurate to about 100 feet, according to experts --- meaning that anytime someone drove past a drop box, or walked passed it (the drop-boxes are often placed in high traffic areas) on their way to and from work or something, they are a "mule" for stuffing ballot boxes for Joe Biden! Sorry about that delivery guys and mail men and election workers and students who just happen to walk or drive by each day on their way to classes! You're all now "mules" for Biden!

Who paid all of these "mules"? And how did this conspiracy involving tens of thousands of people stay so quiet without any participants blowing the whistle? And what actual, ya know, evidence do D'Souza and True the Vote have that crimes were actually committed here? Well, that's where it gets a bit dicier. And, by dicier, I mean made up out of whole cloth with no actual proof of anything whatsoever. But they have video of people dropping ballots into those drop-boxes! (Which, of course, is perfectly legal. In most states, folks can delivery ballots of family members and disabled voters, etc. Perhaps that's why the filmmakers thought it wise to blur out the faces of those voters?) There seems to be no actual proof of crimes here, including who supposedly paid these people (or even that anybody was paid at all!)

Still, it was enough to cause easily-duped Rightwingers to become very excited about over the weekend, as the #2000Mules hashtag trended on social media. So today, we debunk the nonsense in some detail with an assist from AP, who finds "gaping holes" in the film's claims, and from Greg Palast, who explains the "belly laughs" provided by the film's "proof" of fraud.

"D’Souza’s charge is mind-blowing. He claims that there are as many 54,000 mules that were organized and paid in at least five big cities. In Fulton County (Atlanta), he tells us 92,670 ballots were stuffed illegally into drop boxes," Palast reports. "That’s astonishing --- because there were only 79,000 ballots cast in drop boxes in Fulton County!"

"And in Detroit, it was worse," he adds. "'Mules' stuffed 226,590 ballots into Detroit area drop boxes --- way more than the total number of all mail-in ballots --- about three times the number of ballots in drop boxes."

Of course, none of these facts kept Trump from holding a fancy premiere screening at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and declaring the pretend documentary exposed "great election fraud"! It's all so ridiculously silly, that we'd rather ignore it. But since it's in 270 theaters, brought in a million bucks on its first day, and has a bunch of duped wingnuts declaring they finally have "evidence" that the election was stolen in 2020...it seemed a good idea to help you understand this latest con so you can explain it to your duped friends, families, neighbors and co-workers in turn when they shout "2000 Mules!" at you in the days ahead.

As to actual election fraud (not unlike the type that the filmmaker D'Souza admitted to committing), last week a women in Arizona was sentenced on voter fraud charges after being convicted by the state's Republican Attorney General. She cast two ballots in 2020, one for herself and another for her dead mother. They were both Republicans. And when interviewed by investigators she claimed she didn't do it, but was certain that massive voter fraud was definitely going on and that the criminals who do it should be locked up!

Well, the nice white Republican voter fraudster woman was found guilty and, despite the prosecutors asking for at least 30 days in jail, the judge let the woman, 64-year old, Tracey Kay McKee --- who knew she was violating the law and then lied to officials about it --- off the hook with probation, some fines and community service.

Compare her case to Crystal Mason's --- a black mother of three in Texas --- who had the book thrown at her last year. She was on federally supervised release from jail and was never told she couldn't vote while on release. When she went to her precinct to vote, she was told she was no longer on the rolls. A helpful poll worker directed her to fill out a provisional ballot, which she did. The ballot was never tallied, but Mason was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison last year for attempting to vote while on supervised release when she believed she could do so legally. That'll teach her to be black and to try to vote in this country!

We've got some time for a few quick calls at the end of today's show too. Enjoy!...

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Longtime, very conservative federal judge warns GOP planning to steal 2024; Where the hell is Transnistria and why does it matter in Putin's war?; Biden asks Congress for $33 billion to help arm Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2022 6:33pm PT  

When we've got to turn to our Green News Report on any given BradCast for some good news, it's probably a fairly grim BradCast, as is the case today. Still, it includes a lot of stuff that you need to know about. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, a very conservative, well-respected and longtime federal appellate court judge has issued a stark warning about what he describes as "The Republican blueprint to steal the 2024 election." Again, this is from a very conservative Republican-appointed federal judge who then VP Mike Pence turned to for advice before January 6th, 2021 to learn if it would be legal for him to unilaterally reject the 2020 Electoral College results as Team Trump advocated for under a rag-tag opportunistic combination of several arcane and century-old laws and untested Constitutional theories.

In his must-understand opinion piece at CNN, Judge J. Michael Luttig explains why Republicans are now "obsessed about making the 2024 race a referendum on the 'stolen' election of 2020, which even they know was not stolen." But, as Luttig warns, their "objective is not somehow to rescind the 2020 election, as they would have us believe. That's constitutionally impossible. Trump's and the Republicans' far more ambitious objective is to execute successfully in 2024 the very same plan they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest."

"The last presidential election," he warns, "was a dry run for the next." He goes on to explain what the "independent state legislature" doctrine is and why you should become very aware of its meaning, sooner, rather than later, before its adopted as a legitimate thing by the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court (which Luttig was twice considered for, by the way, by George W. Bush.)

"Forewarned is to be forearmed," Luttig correctly argues. We try to help with both today.

Next, in a similar vein, we discuss what Russia --- now regrouping its forces in the south and east of Ukraine --- may be planning next. If you've heard of a place called "Transnistria" in recent days, and wondered where and what the hell it is, we help explain where that is and why it (may) matter to what happens next in Putin's horrific ongoing attack on its sovereign neighbor.

And, toward that end, at the White House today, President Biden offered remarks to explain his request for $33 billion from Congress to help further arm Ukraine to defend itself against Russia's onslaught and provide much-needed humanitarian aid at the same time. We share his remarks on that, and discuss why the aid is so vitally important right now, as peace talks appear all but stalled out and as Russian media and military are beginning to frame the conflict as an existential "holy war."

Finally, Desi Doyen leads our latest Green News Report, with more on Russia's (ill-considered) gambit to use fossil fuels as a weapon of blackmail against NATO nations; 'unprecedented' water restrictions in Southern California; record-breaking heat in South Asia; and, mercifully, some very good news on Ford's not-a-moment-too-soon unveiling of their new, all-electric, F-150 pickup truck...

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Also: More record job growth under Biden; More lousy media coverage of it; Huge majorities want climate change action, clean energy...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2022 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Guilty pleas for voter fraud in a Trump stronghold in Florida. The Colorado state GOP endorses a federally-indicted election tamperer for Sec. of State. Trump's Chief of Staff is removed from the voter rolls amid a state probe into his own apparent voter fraud after he tried to steal the 2020 Presidential election. And yet the fraudulent GOP 'voter fraud' industry continues raking in the cash and making it harder for certain people to vote by pretending that Democrats are committing massive voter fraud. Quite a racket. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Perhaps you haven't heard, but new weekly jobless claims haven't been this low since 1968, with companies increasing wages to hang on to their employees. Sounds terrible. No wonder Biden's approval ratings are so low. (Of course, in addition to downplaying such stories or not covering them at all, some in the corporate media have turned this great news for American workers into terrible news for businesses, focusing on "labor shortage" and "high costs" of maintaining workers.)
  • New polling from Gallup finds Americans overwhelmingly support Biden's proposals to tackle climate change and move the nation to clean renewable energy. Huge --- and I mean huge-- majorities support stuff like tax credits for Americans to install solar power at home; incentives for businesses to move to renewable energy; increasing mileage standards on cars and trucks; major investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Most of those wildly popular ideas (all mercifully attacked by the America haters at Fox "News") were in the Biden/Democrat Build Back Better bill, which every Senate Republican plus the corrupt Joe Manchin helped to kill last year.
  • Then there's the never-ending GOP "voter fraud" industrial complex which is having another terrific year! Brain-poisoned suckers, terrified about non-existent massive voter fraud by Democrats, continue to send their money and votes to the scammers who are actually committing the fraud while making it harder for certain Americans to vote at all.

    In Florida, a bunch of old, white Republican retirees in The Villages have been indicted for and/or pleaded guilty this week to double voting in the Trump stronghold. Because they're white and Republican, they're getting off with slaps on the wrist. (Contrast that with folks like Crystal Mason, a black woman from Texas who didn't know she wasn't allowed to vote after being released from jail before casting a provisional ballot at the direction of a poll worker. Her vote was never counted --- unlike the double voters in FL --- but she's been sentenced to five years in prison. The Trump/DeSantis voters who pleaded guilty for voting in two different states in 2020, are getting off with no jail time at all.)

    In Colorado, the state Republican Party held its big confab over the weekend. They endorsed a candidate for U.S. Senate who told them this week that Trump won in 2020, while comparing the election to what "we felt after 9/11". But the CO GOPers really went all in for Tina Peters, the Clerk of Mesa County who snuck into a secure storage area in the middle of the night last year along with accomplices with fake IDs, turned off the security cameras and made unlawful copies of sensitive voting system software before releasing it to the public over the Internet. She's now been charged with a 10-count federal indictment for her election tampering. But the CO Republican delegates over the weekend rewarded her with an overwhelming majority endorsement to become the state's chief election official in her bid to become CO's next Secretary of State. Don't worry. If Peters wins, the state Republicans' choice for Governor told the crowd this weekend that he'd pardon her. (Cuz, Rule of Law, Law and Order and all that. Also: unclear if he knows Governors can't pardon federal felons.)

    And, just to top off the madcap fraudulent fun, Mark Meadows --- Donald Trump's Chief of Staff who tried to help him steal the 2020 Presidential election --- has now been removed from the voting rolls in North Carolina, where the former Congressman and "election integrity" warrior appears to have been unlawfully registered. In a mobile home where he never spent a night and may have never even visited. Even as he was registered to vote --- and voting --- in Virginia. (Add him to a long list of high-profile GOP voter fraud fraudsters we've covered over the years, including Ann Coulter, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and MANY more!)

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with news of climate change-fueled, catastrophic rains and deadly flooding which killed hundreds in South Africa this week; new science finding that our climate crisis is supercharging hurricane rainfall; and some brighter news on wind energy which hit a remarkable new milestone last week! (Don't tell Trump! He's still pretending that windmills cause cancer!)

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Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

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The President takes on Big Oil, 'Putin's price hike' at the pump; DeSantis' new voting law struck down, found unconstitutional, racially motivated...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2022 6:53pm PT  

We cover two big stories in depth on today's BradCast. One out of the White House which effects the world. The other out of Florida, which effects the rest of the nation...or, at least, it should. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

President Biden, on Thursday, announced that he is releasing one million barrels of oil, per day, for the next 180 days, from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve in hopes of lowering gas prices for Americans in response to what he described as the "Putin Price Hike".

In addition to the unprecedented release from the Reserve, Biden called out Big Oil companies for keeping prices high (previously known as war profiteering) as they see record profits and pad the pockets of investors and executives, even as Putin's war inflates prices on global energy markets. He also called on Congress to pass a "Use it or Lose it" law that would charge a fee to oil and gas producers who are sitting on as many as 9,000 unused drilling permits on more than a million acres of land, as prices rise for Americans at the pump.

At the same time, Biden announced his plan to invoke the Defense Production Act to encourage American production of minerals that are needed for electric vehicle battery production.

We share the President's remarks today at the White House and Desi Doyen helps us unpack what it all means --- for gas prices and for our climate crisis.

Next, the big news out of Florida. A federal judge on Thursday struck down parts of a new state law that makes voting much harder for many in the Sunshine State, finding it unconstitutional and racially motivated. Moreover, he invoked a key provision of the Voting Rights Act to prevent more such measures for the next ten years.

FL's Senate Bill 90 was adopted by the state's Republican legislature last year in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence free claims about fraud in the 2020 election. That, despite Florida's claims that the election was well run and free of fraud or other problems. The new law limits the use of drop boxes; adds more ID requirements for those requesting absentee ballots; restricts who may collect and drop off ballots; further restricts third-party voter registration; and makes it a crime to give voters food or water to voters as they wait in line to cast their ballot, among other restrictions challenged by the League of Women Voters of Florida and other voting rights advocates.

In his 288-page order [PDF], U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker slammed parts of the measure as racially motivated and little more than a law enacted "to improve the Republican Party's electoral prospects." His ruling quotes Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. throughout, while asserting that plaintiffs "allege that SB 90 runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters --- all to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power...Having reviewed all the evidence, this Court finds that, for the most part, Plaintiffs are right."

But the most noteworthy element of this story is that Judge Walker also invoked a little used provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act to "bail-in" the state of Florida to the VRA's preclearance requirement for the next 10 years. That provision, used against repeat violators of the VRA, will force the state to obtain approval from the U.S. Dept. of Justice or a three-judge federal panel before new voting laws that may have a racially disparate effect on voters can be implemented.

As UC-Irvine election law expert Rick Hasen described the ruling as "quite a blockbuster" and a "a huge deal." He told the New York Times, "This is an opinion that full throatedly reads the Voting Rights Act in the expansive way that Congress intended it to be read, and essentially dares the higher courts to overrule it." He also believes that "conservative 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court" is likely to do so, even though "the district court's analysis is probably right."

Florida Republicans are furious. Gov. Ron DeSantis calls the ruling "performative partisanship". The State's Republican Senate President calls it "highly unprofessional, inaccurate, and unbecoming of an officer of the court." That, as the League of Women Voters celebrated the ruling against "an anti-voter measure that raised barriers to voting with specific impacts on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students, and communities of color."

"State legislatures everywhere should recognize that anti-voter laws like SB 90 violate the fundamental rights of their constituents," said the LWV's Chief Counsel, adding: "We call on legislatures around the country to stop making laws that impede the rights of the people they are elected to protect and serve."

Naturally, Florida Republicans say they intend to appeal, and many think that our right-leaning federal appeals courts and/or our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Judge Walker's landmark ruling. For now, however, it's a critical one that should be echoed against many of the intentionally discriminatory laws that have been adopted by GOP-controlled states over the past year.

We explain what it all means and why it matters on today's program.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report, recorded today before Biden's big White House announcement (though we anticipated it). We also detail Europe prepares for energy shortages, Poland's decision to ban Russian energy imports and much more, including a major milestone for solar power!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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Also: GOP's KBJ confirmation idiocy; KY's anti-marriage equality clerk finally found guilty; 23,000 mail ballots rejected under new TX law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2022 6:47pm PT  

There were a surprising number of callers into yesterday's program who seemed to believe that if the U.S. simply left Ukraine to its own devices, somehow there wouldn't be a massive genocide and destruction of the Ukrainian state by Russia, and that it wouldn't somehow lead to WWIII. Those callers are wrong, I'm sorry to say. And I'm even sorrier that many of them are on the left. On today's BradCast we spend some time explaining how many have come to misunderstand a lot of bad and (often purposely) misleading information out there, and how deeply-ingrained (and well-justified!) anti-war sentiments against the U.S. war machine are now ill-serving some on the supposed left now that Russia is the actual aggressor. We also cover several ongoing fights for our own struggling democracy here at home --- in the U.S. Senate, at SCOTUS, and in both Kentucky and Texas. [Audio link to today's show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered or referenced today...

  • A quick review of Day 2 of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans are spending their time questioning the first black female nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court as a way to improve their own electoral ambitions and/or nab an appearance on Fox "News". ("Do you believe babies are racist, Ms. Jackson?") Since we don't care to privilege the lies, we don't spend much time on that idiocy, though there were some important exchanges with some of the Democratic Senators, including Jackson's thoughts on the importance of respecting long-settled issues of law and civil rights. That, as the GOP's current stolen, packed and bought majority on the High Court begins dismantling decades of well-established and critical legal precedents.
  • Then, some thoughts on some of our callers and emailers on yesterday's program, when we opened the phone lines up to listeners on why they believe President Biden's approval ratings remain low, even as his actions in response to Russia's barbaric attack on Ukraine are so wildly popular among Americans of all parties. We discuss why we believe those callers who want the U.S. to stop supporting Ukraine are deadly wrong about that, and why an emailer who cites Putin's pretext about "de-Nazification" in Ukraine has been wildly misled.
  • That conversation also includes some audio from an interview with a Rabbi in Odesa by NPR's investigative correspondent in Ukraine, Tim Mak. He is told by Rabbi Avraham Wolf, during the interview in a synagogue built by his wife's great great grandfather in 1898, that he believes talk about Nazis in Ukraine is "stupid" and that he has "never in 30 years" experienced any anti-semitism in Odesa.
  • The conversation on all of this also includes this weekend's remarks on ABC News from the courageous Marina Ovsyannikova, a producer at Russia's state-run Channel One, describing her "spontaneous decision" to appear on air with a "NO WAR" protest sign during a news report recently. "I could see what in reality was happening in Ukraine, and what we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality," she explained on Sunday following her arrest, as she still faces a potential 15 years in prison under Putin's new censorship law. While she claims that most Russians oppose Putin's "gruesome war," Ovsyannikova determined that her televised protest might "show to the Russian people that [the state-run media outlet's reports were] just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war."
  • Then, it's back to our own faltering democracy in the U.S., but with a bit of long-awaited good news for a change. After seven years of delays in court --- thanks to a well-moneyed far-right legal outfit --- Kim Davis, the infamous and Fox-famous Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who cited "religious beliefs" for her refusal to issue marriage licenses after SCOTUS established the right to marriage equality in 2015, was finally found to have violated the law. In a lawsuit filed by several couples who were refused licenses to marry, a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge held that Davis "cannot use her own constitutional rights as a shield to violate the constitutional rights of others while performing her duties as an elected official.” A jury will determine the financial penalty for Davis, who lost her re-election bid in 2018. Of course her wingnut attorneys will attempt to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (even though they already rejected one of Davis' previous arguments...at least before Republicans stole their 6 to 3 majority on the High Court.)
  • In far less encouraging news, an AP analysis has determined that some 23,000 absentee voters in Texas' first-in-the-nation 2022 mid-term primaries on March 1, had their ballots rejected and never counted. AP finds roughly 13% of mail ballots were discarded under the TX GOP's new voter restriction law, SB 1, that they claimed would make it "easier to vote and harder to cheat". That, compared to the 2% of mail ballots that were rejected during the state's previous mid-term primaries in 2018. Thousands of voters in both Republican- and Democratic-leaning counties alike were disenfranchised under the first election held under the new law, though rejection rates were slightly higher in larger, more Dem-leaning counties. Mail voters in Harris County (Houston), for example, saw a gobsmacking rejection rate of 19%! In the weeks and months ahead, primaries will be held in some 17 other states where Republicans have passed new laws making it harder to vote in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Finally, and also speaking of Texas, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with out-of-control climate change-fueled wildfires spreading across the Lone Star State; unbelievably warm and unprecedented simultaneous extreme heat waves at both the North and South poles, and how KBJ's Senate confirmation reminds us yet again that elections (and voting!) have critical consequences...

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Guest: 30-year Florida elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More signs of new COVID variant rising; Russia's war crimes against Ukraine continue; Fox 'News' journalists killed while reporting on war...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2022 7:11pm PT  

As difficult as it has historically been to recruit competent, non-partisan election officials and pollworkers, a new survey suggests its about to become much worse. As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, that is thanks, in no small part, to persistent threats by Trump's MAGA Mob against local election officials in the wake of his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It's made even worse by state GOP officials translating that lie into new laws that further undermine America's democratic experiment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But FIRST UP today, a quick follow up underscoring our reporting on yesterday's program, warning about the rise of a new COVID variant (known as BA2, or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron") that many seem to be wanting to imagine away. Also several quick updates on the latest news from Russia's relentless bombing and war crimes against Ukraine, as peace talks inch forward, and as at least two Fox "News" journalist are confirmed to have been killed outside of Kyiv.

THEN, on to our main story today. In recent months, Reuters has been unfolding a series of excellent investigative reports on the various, horrific threats issued against election officials by those who bought into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But GOP state lawmakers have been ignoring those menacing threats and using the Big Lie to create actual legislation allowing them to purge dedicated, non-partisan election officials --- including Republicans seen as not Republican enough --- from their roles and replacing them with partisan operatives.

Brennan Center's recent survey of local election administrators finds that, more than a year after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in six officials say they "have experienced threats because of their job." More than half of respondents are "concerned about the safety of their colleagues"; 30 percent "know of one or more election workers who have left at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation"; and, perhaps most troubling, 20 percent of them now plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election, with many "citing political leaders’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest as one of their top reasons for leaving."

Meanwhile, many officials who would like to continue in their jobs are being pushed out thanks to new laws allowing partisan County Commissions in Georgia, for example, to replace longtime Board of Elections officials like Georgia's civil rights icon Helen Butler (who we interviewed about this late last year) in Morgan County, and 27-year Floyd County Board of Elections veteran Vanessa Waddell, who, with the entire Board in the deeply Republican County, was removed from her post, as documented by WaPo yesterday. That, even after she successfully oversaw last year's U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state amid persistent death threats that resulted in some officials in her office deciding they needed to come to work with pepper spray and stun guns to stay safe.

Leon County, Florida's now-retired 30-year veteran Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO, is furious about all of this. He joins us today to discuss these growing threats to our teetering American democracy. Sancho, who retired in 2016, is one of our nation's great election officials. He was so well-regarded by his peers, of all political persuasions, that he was tapped to oversee the wildly contentious and eventually-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in Florida. He was also a central figure in HBO's landmark, 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary, Hacking Democracy, detailing the first public hack of a computerized voting tabulator.

What is going on today, he explains, makes him both angry and deeply concerned about American democracy. "Election officials all over the country, irrespective of partisan affiliation, have been tragically attacked because of our ex-President's lie. The most horrible lie about our elections, frankly, in my lifetime," he tells me, adding that it makes his "head explode".

"It's not being dealt with at all. That's why election officials are subject to the most vile attacks, because the supporters --- the cultists, if you want to call them that --- believe that election was stolen, and this is such a bald-faced lie. It's a tragic lie. It's a stupid lie. And it demonstrates the ignorance of the American citizenry about our elections."

Sancho argues that "we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan election administration that has taken decades to build."

"Most election officials are administrators, not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process, except as standing away from it and facilitating elections. We take oaths to be non-partisan," he continues. "One of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of codes and conduct for the Elections Center, to apply to all national election officials, putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else."

Of course, over The BRAD BLOG's nearly 20 years of reporting on elections and voting processes and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems --- much of which Sancho has followed closely over those years --- we've had our own fair share of criticism for some election officials (not to mention almost every voting system vendor). Some of that has resulted in occasional criticism that we are "attacking" election officials or pollworkers ourselves. So, how is our attempt to hold feet to the fire any different from what Sancho sees coming from the American MAGA Right?

"The difference is that you are focusing on specific issues of provable fact," Sancho responds. "That's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now. Your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And where we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. It's being destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth."

Sancho has MUCH more to say on all of this, including thoughts on new legislation heading to Florida's Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis that would give him what Sancho describes as "the Governor's private police force on elections."

"That's part of the intimidation," he argues. "Now we're seeing a secret police in the state of Florida for elections. Florida is, unfortunately, one of the leaders of this effort nationally to change non-partisan fair elections into something else."

Sancho concedes "it's hard for me to see how we get around this," though he does offer at least some ideas for solutions to find our way out of this nightmare, including laws to specifically prevent threats against election administrators. "It should be illegal to threaten an election official for the purposes of intimidating them from doing their job and counting the votes. That should be illegal, and it is not."

"We've got to turn this around," Sancho insists. "ALL legal citizens should have the right to vote accessibly, and have that vote counted as they intended, and then we should audit the elections to confirm the validity of that election. That's as simple as it can be, and yet we're very far away from that, as you know."

"What were supposed to be laboratories of democracy," he charges, are now "50 citadels of repression." As suggested, we think Sancho is an American hero. He's on fire today and, as ever, worth tuning in to hear in full.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report today, with bad news for climate changed Australia and our global fossil fuel dependence, highlighted yet again by Russia's war on Ukraine. She also has a bit of good news for breathers, however, as President Biden's EPA announces critical new regulations on smog and vehicle emissions that will save thousands of American lives...

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Also: Situation devolves in Ukraine under Russia's 'barbaric' assault...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2022 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's been a very bad week for the pretend "law and order" rightwingers dumb enough to have been suckered by Donald Trump's 2020 "election fraud" hoax. But it's likely to get still worse for them in the days ahead. That's fine by us. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After a quick update today on the latest grim, and getting grimmer, news out of Ukraine as Russia's Vladimir Putin begins his third week of unspeakable barbarism, here are some of the much less grim stories we actually enjoyed covering today...

  • Yesterday, we reported on the ongoing challenge (and emergency appeal filed after a bizarre ruling by a Trump-appointed judge) to North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election this year. The challengers, including our guest, Constitutional law expert Ron Fein of Free Speech for People, contend that Cawthorn is ineligible to run for federal office, after having violated the 14th Amendment's ban on those who "have engaged in insurrection" after taking an oath to defend the Constitution. But, no sooner did we get off air when news broke that Cawthorn was charged in NC with driving with a revoked license. Apparently, this is the second time he has been charged with the same crime. Will he face any real accountability for it this time around? The max sentence for that is 20 days in jail in NC.
  • On the federal level, Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted today that his Justice Department will "not shy away from cases that are controversial or sensitive or political," telling reporters that "to do that would undermine an element of the rule of law." Glad to hear it. His comments came in response to questions about the DoJ's January 6th investigation and whether Trump and those around him would ever face accountability, as hundreds of low-level insurrectionists have faced charges for storming the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, after being being incited by the disgraced former President and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
  • Tina Peters, a Colorado elections official arguably incited to criminal acts by Trump's lies, is now facing state charges for them. She is the very Trumpy Republican Mesa County Clerk who recently announced her intention to run for Secretary of State. Peters turned herself into custody on Wednesday night after being indicted this week on 10 counts related to elections tampering. (A perfect resume for a GOP Sec. of State contender!) We've been reporting in detail on Peters over the past year, after she allegedly snuck into a secure facility where voting systems are stored in Mesa County along with accomplices (one of them her Deputy, who was also charged this week), turned off the security cameras, and then made copies of hard-drives with critical and proprietary Dominion Voting System software on them. Dominion's Election Management System software from Mesa was subsequently released, along with passwords to the system, to the Internet a few months later during one of conspiracy theorist and pillow magnate Mike Lindell's "election fraud" symposiums, just as Peters was speaking at the forum. The serious security breach with the public release of that software led to a bit of havoc in California's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later, where the same Dominion systems were used in several counties. We revisit the sprawling story of how we got here, as the loony Peters finally appears set to pay a very high price for being dumb enough to buy into Trump's con.
  • And then there was more bad news this week for Fox "News" and several of the top clods and dupes who host programs on their various channels. A New York judge denied the motions to dismiss filed by Fox and a number of their top anchors, such as Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, in the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against them and conspiracy theorist/grifter attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell by voting system company Smartmatic. "At a minimum," the judge found in his 61-page ruling, "Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth." That means the case against most of them will now move forward toward discovery and trial. (Several of those "inherently improbable" claims were based on The BRAD BLOG's own accurate, exclusive reporting back in 2010, which Powell, et al, bastardized to fit their pretend theories about massive election fraud.) Interestingly, the judge also cites a bit of accidentally responsible reporting from Fox star Tucker Carlson to underscore just how irresponsible the others were, in the judge's "finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice." The New York ruling follows a similar one from a judge in Delaware last December, who also rejected motions to dismiss from many of the same clowns in Dominion Voting Systems' separate $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
  • In Texas, which held this year's first-in-the-nation midterm primary elections last week, AP finds that an extraordinary 27,000 mail ballots --- from both Democrats and Republican voters --- were flagged for rejection under the Lone Star State's new voter suppression law passed last year in pretend response to Trump's claims about a stolen 2020 election. The initial rejection rate was approximately 17% statewide and substantially higher in a number of large, Democratic-leaning counties. That, compared with a statewide rejection rate of about 1% of absentee mail ballots back in 2020.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more disturbing fallout (and, maybe, some theoretical upsides) regarding energy and security in the wake of Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine...

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Special coverage with guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Richard 'RJ' Eskow of 'The Zero Hour'; Also: TX primary results, election probs...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2022 5:37pm PT  

"Democracies are rising to the moment," President Biden forcefully asserted during his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night. "And the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security." Is he right? We discuss that and much more on Biden's impossible address last night on today's BradCast.

Before we jump in, however, it was also Election Day in Texas on Tuesday, the nation's first primaries of the 2022 mid-term cycle. We briefly cover the reported results of the top-line races for Governor and Attorney General, as well as some interesting House races with progressive challengers on the Democratic side. There were also several curious anomalies we are looking into out Houston's Harris County, regarding the reported shutdown of some polling places to Democrats (and others, purportedly, shut down to Republican voters); some post-election squabbles on delayed results from the County, reportedly due to problems tallying long ballots on their new, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems; and continuing concerns about thousands of rejected vote-by-mail ballots thanks to new restrictions on absentee voting enacted by the Republican lawmakers last year in the state's newly adopted SB1 law.

Our main focus today, of course, is on Biden's first SOTU. This one, amid a newly raging war on Ukraine, as the autocratic Russia continues its appalling attack on its democratic sovereign neighbor, and as the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Russia's aggression and atrocities by a lopsided 141 to 5 vote. There were 35 abstentions (including China) and support for Russia offered from Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

As if Biden didn't already have enough to worry about with the continuing, if waning (for now), pandemic; an insurrectionist and obstructionist Republican Party; two obstructionist Democrats blocking the bulk of his domestic agenda; and both an opposition party and corporate media hell-bent on weaponizing predictable post-pandemic inflation, even amid a booming economy with growing wages, record corporate profits, record low unemployment, and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s. All of which has resulted, reasonably or not, resulted in Biden's approval ratings plummeting in advance of this year's critical mid-terms.

Any one of those issues (and, yes, there are more!) would be enough for one State of the Union address. Biden, somehow, had to deal with them all on Tuesday night.

We're joined today for our special coverage by fellow longtime progressive troublemakers and muckrakers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour.

There is a lot to discuss today, as we break down key moments from Biden's remarks. But, just for a taste, while they both Parton and Eskow laud the President for rising to the moment and bringing the world together regarding Russia, on the domestic front, political trouble may loom.

"Democrats always have this problem," Parton notes. "The historical pattern here is clear. The Republicans come in and they wreck the place, and Democrats come in and have to clean up the mess. And in the first two years, it's really hard."

"He's not getting a break from the media," Eskow argues. "I think people are also terribly sick of COVID, and he's had to bow to that fatigue. On the grand scheme of things, the big lesson here is the limits of Presidential power, and the fact that he would love to be doing a lot more. Here's a man who spent 50 years running for President, now he's got it, and I feel sorry for him."

Did last night serve to help Biden and the Democrats change their trajectory as we head toward a mid-term election which the media continues to remind voters is (almost always) a historically difficult one for the party in power? Tune in for our special coverage and conversation on that and much, much more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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And other troubling war news; Also: GOP Congressmembers speak at pro-Putin White Supremacist rally; Huge percentage of TX mid-term ballots rejected under new GOP absentee ballot restrictions...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2022 6:17pm PT  

Gotta keep this very brief as tonight's State of the Union address begins shortly (full coverage on tomorrow's BradCast), but the madness of Putin's war on Ukraine continues today, as some Republicans here at home seem to be rooting both for him and against democracy itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We begin again today with coverage of the latest noteworthy news out of Russia/Ukraine, along with a few warnings about propaganda from all sides and the potential for erroneous reports amid the fog of war. Among the many stories covered today...

  • The office of the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is reporting today that Russian bombs fell on Babi Yar, a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv where some 34,000 Ukrainians were slaughtered by Nazis during one 48 period in 1941. The news offers a bizarre twist on the "denazification" that Vladimir Putin used as a phony pretext --- along with false claims of stopping a "genocide" --- when he launched his unprovoked attack on Ukraine last week.
  • Nearly 700,000 refugees have reportedly fled the country, with tens of thousands still trying to get out. But more than 40 million men, women and children remain, and are still facing bombardment while valiantly defending the country and its major cities. For now.
  • Swiss authorities report that the firm responsible for running the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany on behalf Gazprom, the Russia-controlled gas giant which owns the pipeline, have been laid off and the company overseeing the project is either in or near bankruptcy. That, after Germany stopped certification of the new pipeline as Russia launched its war last week and as sanctions have resulted in the pipeline firm being unable to pay its workers.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA)'s 31 member countries, including the U.S., declared they will be releasing 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves in hopes of preventing global shortages and to ease the soaring price of crude. Knowing Big Oil and fossil fuel market speculators, its unlikely to have much effect. Though moving the world off of fossil fuels MUCH faster just might help!
  • In a kind of amazing story, a Russian government climate scientist publicly apologized to Ukrainian scientists over the weekend during the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s final session to complete the group's latest blockbuster report released on Monday. The Russian scientist offered his "apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict," adding that "all of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine."
  • Those remarks echo some points we tried to make on yesterday's BradCast in response to a few on the left (hopefully very few) who seem to be placing inappropriate blame on the U.S. and NATO for Russia's outrageous aggression and war crimes. While the U.S. and NATO have made a number of missteps since the fall of the Soviet Union, only Russia can be blamed for the deadly, unprovoked military assault now underway on an unthreatening neighboring sovereign nation. Here is a very short and helpful metaphor to help folks understand all of this, casting Ukraine as a woman trying to break up with her abusive ex.
  • And, while the fight for democracy overseas is at a perilous moment, the Republican Party here at home continues to have completely lost its way. (Or, maybe, has finally found it.) Far-right Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) both appeared at a white nationalist rally over the weekend, where the leader of the group praised their "secret sauce" of "young white men" as the crowd cheered for Putin just before MTG took the podium. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) condemned both of his colleagues on CNN on Sunday, noting, "I've got morons on my team." One of those morons, as we also discuss after playing some audio of his comments on the House floor today, is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
  • It's mid-term primary Election Day in Texas today and, as we discussed last week with the President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, the state's new GOP-adopted voting restrictions are resulting in a huge percentage of absentee ballots being rejected --- nearly 30%, for example, in Houston's Harris County. By way of contrast, the last mid-term elections in Texas in 2018, saw a 1% rejection of vote-by-mail ballots statewide. Some late absentee voters may still have until March 7 to cure any ballot deficiencies if they can get to the County Clerk's office in person to do so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report, with more news on energy related sanctions and Russia; the disturbing new, 4,000 page IPCC report; and the U.S. Supreme Court's latest attempt to gut the EPA's statutory power to regulate deadly fossil fuel emissions...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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