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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, June 24, 2021
'Not As Terrible As It Could Be': New SCOTUS Opinions Released: 'BradCast' 6/23
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: NYC's RCV results will take weeks; Socialist wins Buffalo upset; Dems 'not deterred' by filibuster...
The Heat Is On:
'BradCast' 6/22/2021
Guest: 'Climate Guy' Guy Walton on new climate extremes, smashed records; Also: NYC tries Ranked Choice Voting; Senate Dems battle to save American democracy -- will Manchin and Sinema join them?...
'Green News Report' 6/22/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
First named storm of 2021 turns deadly; U.S. Southwest much drier than just decades ago; Heat trapped by planet has doubled; PLUS: Sanders draws line on infrastructure taxation...
Previous GNRs: 6/17/21 - 6/15/21 - Archives...
First Court Hearing Set for Challenge to GA's New Anti-Voting, Anti-Press Freedoms Law: 'BradCast' 6/21/21
Guest: CGG's Marilyn Marks on that and suit against GA's unverifiable touchscreens...
Sunday 'Now Do Election Day' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly collection of long-overdue political toons...
The Once (and Future?) Cleveland Mayor, Dennis Kucinich is Back:
'BradCast' 6/18/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler speaks with Ohio's former Congressman...
SCOTUS Saves O'Care (Again); More Manchin Progress on Voting, Filibuster Reform: 'BradCast' 6/17/21
Also: Juneteenth! And SCOTUS permits discrimination against same-sex couples...
'Green News Report' 6/17/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat threatens TX power; Mega-drought stokes OR water war; Trump Judge blocks Biden's pause on oil and gas leasing; PLUS: CO approves slew of climate action legislation...
Previous GNRs: 6/15/21 - 6/10/21 - Archives...
Manchin Offers Voting Rights Bill Compromise!: 'BradCast' 6/16/21
Also: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler with 'perspective' on Trump DoJ 'spying' on Dem lawmakers, lessons Dems may learn from it...
'Garland's Tylenol Moment': Why Biden's AG Must Now Form a Trump Task Force at DoJ: 'BradCast' 6/15/21
Guest: Const'l Attorney John Bonifaz of FSFP on reversing 'the road to tyranny'...
'Green News Report' 6/15/21
G7 ends with pledges, few details; Early heat records; Chinese nuke plant mystery; AK's Pebble Mine really dead; PLUS: Biden restores Tongass 'roadless' rule...
Biden, G7 Seek to Restore Normalcy After Disastrous Trump Years: 'BradCast' 6/14
Also: Netanyahu out; China nuke plant leak?; 2016 whistleblower leaves prison; Callers...
Sunday 'Hee Haw on the Hill' Toons
Lessons in democracy from the esteemed gentlemen from Kentucky and West Virginia in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
America's Billionaire Tax Code Welfare Queens: 'BradCast' 6/11/21
Guest: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dem lawmakers in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
'Good Trouble' (or, Call for President Biden on Line 3): 'BradCast' 6/10/21
Huge, hard-fought KeystoneXL win; New fight in MN over another tar sands pipeline; Biden goes to Europe; TX A.G. in still more legal trouble...
'Green News Report' 6/10/21
KeystoneXL cancelled for good!; Arrests at MN pipeline protest; G7 spent big on fossil fuels in 2020; PLUS: GOP Infrastructure talks collapse, begin again...
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...


After WV's Dem Senator comes out against democracy and filibuster reforms, Democrats --- and democracy --- have a very real problem...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2021 5:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the bleak news about Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's willingness to participate in saving American democracy itself took its darkest turn to date over the weekend. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Republicans have absolutely no interest in cooperating with Democrats in the U.S. Senate on pretty much anything supported by Joe Biden or the Democrats, as Missouri's GOP Senator Roy Blunt (4th highest ranking Republican in the Senate) accidentally revealed on Meet the Press over the weekend. Few noticed, as they were distracted by Blunt's comments about Donald Trump's continuing lies about the 2020 election being stolen.

Nonetheless, President Biden is still going through the motions of negotiating with Republicans on his $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal (now negotiated down to $1 trillion in Biden's most recent offer/sacrifice to the GOP), and West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is still pretending that Republicans will somehow magically decide to cooperate with Democrats on anything in a bipartisan manner --- if only Democrats would just wish hard enough for it.

On Sunday, Manchin published an op-ed in the West Virginia Gazette-Mail, singing his own praises for overseeing election reforms with the addition of early voting in his state "in order to provide expanded options for those whose work or family schedule made it difficult for them to vote on Election Day," when he served as WV's Sec. of State. Nonetheless, in the same op-ed, he declared his opposition to mandating early voting for all 50 states by declaring his opposition to the For the People Act, despite all 49 of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate signing on as co-sponsors. That bill --- also known as H.R.1 and S.1 --- would mandate, in addition to early voting, no excuse absentee voting for all, an end to gerrymandering and place curbs on dark money in campaigns, along with a mountain of other long-overdue reforms to help counter many of the voter suppression laws now being moved by Republicans through dozens of states they control.

In the op-ed, Manchin argues correctly that "The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics" and "should never be done in a partisan manner." He even decries "state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting [and] politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections."

That, before he counterintuitively goes on to declare that he "will vote against the For the People Act" and "will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster" needed for its passage by a simple majority. Doing so, he argues, "will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy" and somehow violate our founders' "specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy."

But the founders said nothing about an undemocratic filibuster process in the Constitution. That Senate rule added and amended many times over the years, now mandates 60 votes for passage of any legislation, allowing the minority party to obstruct the will of the majority, even when that majority is attempting to protect voting rights being restricted on a partisan basis at the state level by Republicans.

If Manchin is unwilling to support the For the People Act or reform the filibuster to allow passage of measures like it with a simple majority, the hope for saving democracy at the federal level appear dead in the water for now, along with much, if not all, of the Biden Agenda from here on out through at least the 2022 elections.

Manchin does, however, support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the central provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, gutted by Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. He believes that bill can be passed on a bipartisan basis. His evidence? One single Republican --- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska --- has said she would be willing to support the measure. One Republican. That's great, Joe! Just 9 more such Republicans are needed to overcome the GOP's filibuster! We're not holding our breath. Manchin also told us he was confidence that 10 "patriots" from the Republican Party would come on board to support a commission to investigate the deadly January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol --- and democracy itself that day. Only 6 Republicans did. So the measure failed, even with a majority vote of 54 to 35 in favor.

So what can be done about this maddening, depressing, distressing --- and somewhat terrifying --- turn of events between now and next year's mid-term elections, which will otherwise be run under severe new state-level, partisan GOP voting restrictions, many of which will now allow Republicans to overturn results entirely on a whim? To be honest, I'm pretty much out of ideas at the moment, so we open up the phone lines to listeners to see if they might have any idea about how to move forward and save democracy in light of Manchin's obstruction on today's maddening BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Very good U.S. COVID news; More bad news for Exxon (but good news for the planet); Bad news for Postmaster General DeJoy...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2021 5:44pm PT  

We're old enough on The BradCast to remember the days when the news got really slow during the summer months after Memorial Day. These are no longer those days. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

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

  • Thanks to the Biden Administration's COVID vaccine efforts, infection rates in the U.S. are now as low as they have been since March of 2020 --- the very beginning of the pandemic --- and are still dropping. Death rates have plummeted as well. Infection and death rates elsewhere in the world, however, are still soaring. So, even while upping their efforts to get folks vaccinated in the U.S. in June, the Biden Administration is finally taking action to help the rest of the world as well, vowing to distribute 80 million doses to nations in need --- near and far --- over the next month.
  • On our Green News Report earlier this week, we reported on Big Oil's very bad day last week, which is now being referred to as "Black Wednesday" for the fossil fuel industry. It was the day that Shell, Chevron and Exxon each got very bad news in either the courtroom or the boardroom. While the news was bad for them, it was great for the planet and those of us concerned about global warming amidst our worsening climate emergency. For Exxon, the bad news was that two "activist" candidates for its Board of Directors were elected by shareholders to push the company toward a more sustainable business model. Two other climate advocate candidates, also backed by large, forward thinking hedge funds, were also on the ballot last week. But their contests, we were told, were too close to call. As of last night, Exxon announced a third activist candidate was indeed also elected to the company's 12-member board.
  • Bad news for Donald Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (who, unfortunately, is still somehow in charge of the U.S. Postal Service, despite his best efforts to dismantle it.) The FBI is now said to be investigating DeJoy for unlawful campaign fund raising for Trump and the GOP, after a report last year by the Washington Post revealed he had allegedly pressured employees at his company (before being appointed Postmaster) to give contributions to Republicans for which he would later paid them back. "Straw-donor" campaign finance schemes like that are unlawful. But while DeJoy has previously denied violating any campaign finance laws, his defense, since reportedly being subpoenaed recently by the FBI, has changed in a noteworthy way, which we explain.
  • That, of course, was just a preamble today for our coverage of the ongoing Texas Republican attempt to pass a massive new voter suppression law, known as Senate Bill 7 (or SB7). Yes, that's the measure that was blocked over the weekend, at least temporarily, when Democratic state lawmakers walked out at the end of the year's legislative session over the weekend, denying Republicans a quorum in the House and final passage of the bill for this session along with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Greg Abbot has vowed to call an "emergency" special session to get it passed in the near future.

    In the meantime, the GOP claims that the new law is needed to combat "voter fraud" in the state, even after their own Secretary of State in March declared the 2020 election to have been "smooth and secure". That, after the state's Lt. Governor Daniel Patrick offered a $1,000,000 reward for evidence of voter fraud (still no takers, apparently), and the state's Attorney General Ken Paxton (indicted on multiple felony counts of securities fraud, but still somehow in office), logged 22,000 staff hours to sniff out voter fraud, coming up with barely a handful of cases out of more than 11 million ballots cast in 2020.

    The TX GOP's "voter fraud" claims are --- as they always have been --- built on a house of blatant lies. We walk you through the real facts about their phony "voter fraud" claims today and explain why they're really hoping to get this bill passed, above and beyond hoping to disenfranchise voters of color. Also, we offer a big hat-tip to CNN's Brianna Keilar who shut down some serious bullshit lies this week by her guest, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, the bill's lying lead sponsor.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, very busy, Green News Report, including news of a major ecological disaster in Sri Lanka; bad news about global warming and heat deaths; bad news regarding water in the U.S. Southwest; tragic news about the REAL death toll from Texas' winter storm and completely avoidable power blackouts; but good news for Alaska (and the nation), as the Biden Administration is now blocking the Trump-era scheme to lease oil and gas wells in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Preserve...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Political scientist David Faris; Also: FEC fines AMI for 2016 Trump hush-money conspiracy; Dem wins NM U.S. House special in 'landslide'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/2/2021 5:55pm PT  

We continue to do all that we can on The BradCast to sound the alarm about the perilous state of democracy in the U.S. right now, as Republicans around the country work to pass laws to make it harder for Democrats to vote and to allow Republicans to outright reverse election results if Plan A doesn't work. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The heroic Democratic Texas state law makers who walked out of the state's House of Representatives at the end of the legislative session over the weekend to prevent a quorum from passing a sweeping new GOP voter suppression bill, as detailed on yesterday's show, are begging lawmakers in Congress for a "national response" to protect voting rights. They can only hold off the suppression for so long in the Lone Star State, as other GOP-controlled states do the same, as Democrats in Congress are crippled by archaic institutional processes like the filibuster.

The situation has become dangerous enough that 100 academic democracy scholars on Tuesday issued a "Statement of Concern" about Republican "initiatives" around the country which the group describe as "transforming...states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections," leaving "our entire democracy...now at risk." One of those scholars joins us today to discuss those concerns, what can be done about them, and whether or not the American public and Democrats in Congress truly appreciate the dire state that the usually staid academics are now trying to sounds their own alarm about.

But, first, in some other democracy-related news today, the Federal Elections Commission announced they are fining American Media Inc., parent company of the National Enquirer, $187,500 for its role in the hush-money payments made to Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. The payments, like those made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, were meant to keep the women quiet about sexual affairs each say they had with Donald Trump.

The FEC fine is for the unlawful, unreported "in-kind contribution" to Trump's campaign, meant to "suppress" McDougal's story and "prevent" it from influencing the election, according to the settlement between the FEC and AMI. So, AMI has now been fined and Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to prison for his part in what both he and the Dept. of Justice described as a "conspiracy" that was "directed" by Trump. So far, however, the disgraced former President who orchestrated the entire scheme has yet to be held accountable for it. The DoJ has until August to do so, before the statute of limitations on Trump's crime runs out.

In other less-criminal democracy news today, New Mexico's Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury won a special election for the U.S. House on Tuesday in a "landslide victory" against her oil and gas industry supporting Republican opponent. The election was to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Deb Haaland, Joe Biden's new Interior Department chief. Republicans were hoping that the margin, even if they lost in a very Democratic-leaning jurisdiction, would be an encouraging bellwether in advance of the 2022 mid-terms. It didn't work out that way. While Biden won NM's 1st Congressional District in 2020 by 23 points and Haaland won her seat that same year by 16 points, Stansbury reportedly trounced Republican Mark Moores on Tuesday by nearly 25 points! If the race was a bellwether, it will be seen as very good one indeed for Democrats today.

Then we're joined by author, columnist and Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, a longtime friend of the show and one of the scholars who signed on to that previously mentioned "Statement of Concern" about American democracy, in which the group pleads for action at the federal level to save democracy, including passage of election reform and safeguards such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act.

Our conversation with Faris comes the day after President Biden, in Tulsa on Tuesday, called for "a month of action on Capitol Hill", calling out (if not by name), "two Senators" who are blocking critical election and campaign finance reform by refusing to reform the filibuster to allow passage of the sweeping Democratic bills that the scholars, the Texas lawmakers, and many others across the nation are begging for in advance of 2022. Those two Senators, of course, are West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, Democrats who are still refusing to reform the filibuster to allow passage of the election protection bills.

"My fear is that Democrats are going to lose the House and the Senate next year," Faris tells me, "which in and of itself is not the end of the world. But there's another catastrophe galloping towards us, which is this Republican plot to steal the 2024 election, with a newer, better, more invigorated version of Trump's sloppy plot to do it in 2020. The worst-case scenario here is Democrats lose Congress next year, they lose a bunch of critical governorships in the battleground states, and Secretary of State races [and] we have a very similar result in 2024 --- that is, close outcomes in the tipping point states in the Electoral College. And then Republican legislatures and Governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, who knows where else, simply send Republican electors to Congress instead of whoever was chosen by the voters themselves."

That, he explains, is what Republicans in those states are currently angling for, including with the passage of state laws to make all of it easier. If GOP state lawmakers are elected with a minority of votes thanks to gerrymandering (which would be prevented by the For the People Act), who then select slates of Presidential Electors that a minority of voters voted for, and federal laws to prevent that are blocked by a House and Senate with GOP legislators also elected by a minority of voters to install a President who received a minority of the vote, under laws approved by a U.S. Supreme Court with a GOP majority stolen and packed by both a Senate and President who received a minority of votes, it would be "a world-historical catastrophe for American democracy." Nonetheless, Faris and the others now very much see that as a possibility.

"We've graduated from routine Republican voter suppression and election interference, sort of low-level election theft, to what I think of as a more integrated plot to install their preferred candidate in 2024." It's something that Faris --- and his fellow scholars --- are now "increasingly worried about."

"I do think there is a sense among a majority of the Democratic caucuses in both chambers of Congress that reforms are important," he concedes. "I think that that they know that Republicans are up to no good. What I don't think they understand is that it is an existential problem at this point --- that we may have only one or two elections left before Republicans do so much damage to the institutions of democracy, or they do something so outrageous that it could lead to some kind of violent, or maybe non-violent, crackup of the country, which is what I'm most concerned about."

What, if anything can be done about it? Do Manchin and Sinema really care? Are Joe Biden and the Democrats doing all that they can to change what now appears to be a grim outlook for the chances of real reform? And, if that reform miraculously somehow happens, will it be enough to actually prevent the worst-case scenarios that Faris and his scholarly colleagues are now so alarmed about?

We discuss all of that and more on today's...as usual...somewhat alarming BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Powell and Flynn call for coup in U.S.; Big Oil's very (very) bad day...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2021 5:26pm PT  

Desi and I are back on today's BradCast, after a week of non-stop jackhammers outside of our studio. The construction is still ongoing, but the jackhammers, we are told, are mostly done. So, we're trying to work around the noise as best as possible this week. (Though if a rerun unexpectedly shows up, that will be why!) And, happily, we're back just in time to report on the fights both for and against democracy in the great state of Texas over this past Memorial Day weekend. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

To that end, the loudest noises heard across the nation over the weekend, weren't jackhammers, but the march of Democrats, fighting to save democracy in Texas by walking out of the state House of Representatives on Sunday night, leaving behind no quorum to pass the GOP's major anti-voting bill. In a state dominated by Republicans --- in the Governor's mansion and both chambers of the state legislature --- Democrats were successfully able to kill one of the most onerous pieces of voter suppression legislation introduced by any state following the 2020 elections, by running out the clock. At least for now.

In Texas last November, things went very well, with the Secretary of State's office declaring the 2020 elections had been both "smooth and secure". Donald Trump easily won the state by about 630,000 votes, and Republicans held on to their majorities in both houses of the state legislature.

Unfortunately for the GOP, however, voter turnout --- in one of the lowest turnout states in the nation --- actually increased last November, including in Democratic-leaning jurisdictions like Harris County (Houston). Well, Republicans can't have that! They see the writing on the wall! More people voting, means more Democrats winning and more Republicans losing. So, over the weekend, at the very end of this year's legislative session, Republicans in state House and Senate, deliberating in secret, produced a whopper of a voter suppression bill that would make it much more difficult to vote by mail (which is already extraordinarily restricted in the Lone Star State); shorten weekend voting hours, including those used by Souls to the Polls efforts by black churches; make it a jail felony for election officials to send absentee ballot request forms to voters; outlaw drive-thru and 24-hour voting sites (used by some 140,000 last year to vote in Houston, where turnout increased by 10%); outlaw driving more than two non-family members to the polls without permission from the government; and deeply lower the threshold for overturning an election based on fraudulent ballots, even if the ballots in question were not cast for the winner of the initial vote count. All of that, among other new restrictons to make it more difficult to vote in a state that a recent study found was already the most difficult state to vote in.

But, after the wee-hours party-line passage of the 67-page bill, made public just before the final vote in the Senate late on Saturday night of the holiday weekend, the plan for final passage in the House went awry, thanks to a Democratic walk-out that left the chamber without the required two-thirds of its members needed for a quorum to hold a vote. As it happened on the last day for passage in the legislative session, the measure, Senate Bill 7 (obnoxously named the "Election Integrity Protection Act"), died a welcome death --- "welcome" at least to supporters of voting rights and democracy. Governor Greg Abbott (decidedly not such a supporter) was furious, and has threatened to withhold pay to legislators after the bill was killed. He has also declared the measure to be a "must pass" bill in a special emergency session he has vowed to call...at some point in near future.

The heroic Texas Democratic legislators who fought to keep democracy alive for another day in the Lone Star state by using the "last tool in [their] toolbox" to block the measure, subsequently pleaded with Congressional legislators in D.C. to pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act at the federal level, to help stave off the worst elements of the Texas bills, and others like it, which have already passed by some 14 states, with more on the way.

Those federal measures to protect democracy, rather than undermine it, are unfortunately being blocked first by Republicans in the U.S. Senate, and secondly by West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, the only Dem of 50 in the upper chamber to not yet sign on as co-sponsor of the For the People Act --- a sweeping bill to reform and protect elections and campaigns in all 50 states. That, as both Manchin and Arizona's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have been unwilling to reform the Senate filibuster in order to pass the critical election safeguards with a simple majority before 2022. Without filibusterer reform, Dems would somehow need to get 10 Senate Republicans on board to overcome a filibuster, an impossibility.

We explain all of this today in a fairly monster rant.

Next, in case it's still unclear what supporters of democracy are now being forced to contend with in these United States, we have a quick review of the weekend's three-day QAnon conspiracy conference in Dallas. Called "For God and Country: Patriot Roundup", the forum included an appearance by Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who called for the failed former President to be "reinstated" with a "new inauguration date" set, due to "abject fraud" and "obtaining a coup of the United States of America" last year. Of course, there is zero evidence of such fraud, despite her many failed lawsuits which falsely argued otherwise before being largely laughed out of court. As to a "coup", well, another featured guest at the Roundup called for exactly that. Literally.

When Trump's former National Security Advisor, Lt. General Michael Flynn (pardoned by Trump after he pleaded guilty to several criminal federal felonies last year), was asked by an audience member why we shouldn't have a military coup like the one under way in Myanmar. Flynn responded: "No reason," in stunning remarks captured on video tape. "I mean, it should happen here," he told the crowd. But, by Monday, after calls for Flynn to be held accountable for calling for the seditious overthrow of the United States, Flynn offered one hell of a walk back, claiming he didn't say at all what he very clearly said...as captured on video tape.

Finally, amidst the darkness of American democracy under assault as we've not seen since the Civil War itself, some good news. Ironically enough, it comes via our latest Green News Report, wherein Desi Doyen gets us caught up on a remarkably bad day for Big Oil last week, when the planet's three largest fossil fuel companies, Exxon, Chevron and Shell, all took big hits in either the boardroom or the courtroom. All of which is very helpful news indeed for our odds of mitigating the deadly climate emergency that all three companies spent so many years exacerbating and lying about. So, along with cheering on the heroic Dems in Texas, there's a bit more to be happy about as we walk out of today's BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: SCOTUS takes up abortion; Gaetz in trouble; Israel bombs AP's building in Gaza...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2021 6:54pm PT  

As AP reports today, a new lawsuit "against [Georgia's] secretary of state and the members of the State Election Board was filed in federal court in Atlanta by county election board members, individual voters, election volunteers, nonprofit organizations and a journalist." As broken on today's BradCast, that journalist is me. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I am one of the several named plaintiffs in the 200-page suit [PDF] filed in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking to block a number of outrageous and dangerous provisions in the state GOP's new voter-suppression bill. While the measure, SB202 [PDF], adopted by GA Republicans, does a lot of terrible stuff, some of which is well known by now (making it harder to vote by mail, banning absentee drop boxes, blocking the distribution of food or water on long voting lines), much of which will disproportionately suppress minority voters, there are a number of other provisions which are simply jaw-dropping, but have not yet been challenged in the several suits previously filed against the law by a number of civil rights and voting rights groups.

My part in the suit, filed today by the non-partisan, non-profit, indispensable Coalition for Good Governance, revolves around press freedoms which are outrageously and unconstitutionally trampled by SB202. In fact, as discussed on the show today with the Coalition's Executive Director, MARILYN MARKS, no small amount of the detailed reporting we have done here over the years focused on Georgia has now been criminalized by the new statute!

As detailed in the complaint (see the section on "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN" beginning on p. 101), it is now unlawful to report on "mail balloting discrepancies or security concerns that he or The BRAD BLOG or BradCast journalists may personally observe as members of the press"; "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN will be injured because the party appointed observers he has relied on to supply first-hand accounts...are are prohibited under penalty of misdemeanor from reporting their observations" on Georgia elections to me; As Marks explains, photographs that I or others may have taken in a polling place and used on the blog would be illegal; Observers from the media watching the tallying of absentee ballots will be committing a crime just by reporting on how many ballots they are "estimating" or "attempting to estimate" have been counted or are left to be tallied, according to the language of the hastily written SB2020 ("It's a thought crime!," Marks charges. "Literally, it says you cannot 'estimate' or 'attempt to estimate' anything about votes in the ballot processing room for mail ballots!"); Video interviews or photographs taken inside of counting rooms or in polling places in front Georgia's giant, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems could be evidence of a felony(!) under the new law, which poll workers, poll watchers, media observers and even voters could now be charged with under state law!

"On BRAD BLOG," Marks observes, "you frequently post a picture, many a picture of election activity, including people in the mail ballot rooms looking at hand-marked voted ballots. To take a picture of a ballot now is a misdemeanor." Yes, those posted photos would now be evidence of a crime. "You would not be permitted to take a picture of anonymous ballots. We see thousands of pictures, every election, of voted ballots being counted. But for some reason --- I guess we know what reason --- they are criminalizing it."

Yes, the photo used above, as taken from the complaint's numerous examples, of voters voting at Atlanta's State Farm Arena last year in Fulton County, could be used as evidence of a felony by the Reuters photo-journalist, Chris Aluka Berry, who took it.

As the suit notes, "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is already injured by SB202 because the criminalization of constitutionally protected activity has a chilling effect on his exercise of First Amendment rights" and because "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is threatened with injuries arising from SB202’s prior restraints on his First Amendment right of free speech and right of freedom of the press."

We have "reported on Georgia election integrity and election security hundreds of times over the last almost twenty years," the lawsuit accurately explains. Much of that coverage could now constitute a state crime under this horrible, unconstitutional law. "I have a feeling they will find any little tripwire they can about the two of us," Marks tells me. "If you were complimentary toward Georgia, I don't think you'd have any problems."

This BradCast, for example, from June of last year, featuring a Democratic Party post-election adjudication observer (and now co-plaintiff in this suit) Jeanne DuFort --- breaking the news of her discovery that GA's new Dominion tabulation computers were failing to count votes on tens of thousands of ballots --- would have been a crime in several ways, according to the state's new law.

There are other provisions in SB202 of concern as well --- beyond those being challenged in several of the voting rights lawsuits --- as Marks explains in the Coalition's press release today, from the law's "Takeover Provision" that permits bi-partisan County Elections Boards to be removed entirely and replaced by a single partisan, for virtually any reason (even minor infractions by a low-level worker up to four years ago!) to a few items we didn't have time cover on today's show, like the impossible new deadlines for requesting absentee ballots (in cases before a run-off election, the deadline to request such a ballot for it will now end before the original election is even certified to include a run-off!) and more.

As AP highlights in its report today, the suit argues: "Liberty requires at least three essential things — an unfettered right to vote, freedom of speech, and the meaningful separation of powers. This lawsuit is necessary to preserve individual constitutional rights, and constitutional government, against the attacks that SB202 makes on these three pillars of liberty."

Marks elucidates today on "Those three pillars of liberty: the right to vote, the right to free speech, and the right to separation of powers. What's happening here is the first one that they are violating is that separation of powers. That is a key one. Once they grab all of the powers, they close the doors. Yeah, they still have to deal with the pesky press and pesky watchers, but not anymore --- not if they criminalize your reports."

So, yeah. Even as its strange to become a part of a story I've been covering for so long, I am very proud to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit against SB202, which Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State falsely claim "makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat". In truth, Marks told me off air after the show, the opposite is true. "It makes it harder to vote and easier to cheat," she said.

Also today, the GOP's packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court announced it's taking up Mississippi's restriction on abortion rights that was blocked by a lower court. This is not good news for freedom lovers and those who oppose Big Government coming between a woman and her doctor; A former elected Florida official who is a buddy of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to a federal plea deal that requires he tells federal prosecutors all that he knows about Gaetz' alleged sex trafficking of a minor; And in Gaza City over the weekend, Israel outrageously targeted and destroyed a 12-story high-rise building housing AP's office for the past 15 years. It's top floor cameras have been the eyes for the world, witnessing, as the news agency reported this weekend, "24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week."

Those cameras will no longer be there to bear witness to the world. As AP's President noted in a statement describing the attack as "shocking and horrifying" on Saturday, "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

And, in Georgia, if SB202 is allowed to stay in place, the world will know less about what is happening in the Peach State's elections because of it. As in Gaza, I suspect that is the point...

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Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter; Also: Judge nixes NRA's 'bad faith' bankruptcy; New AZ law will purge voters from mail-in ballot list...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we slide down the slippery, oil-soaked slope of increasingly dangerous ransomware attacks with, as our guest warns today, "nothing" to stop one from taking out an election in the not-too-distant future.

But, first up, some better news out of a federal courtroom in Texas this afternoon, where a judge has nixed the National Rifle Association's attempt to escape accountability for massive corruption and self-dealing in New York, where state Attorney General Letitia James is suing the 150-year old "charitable" group to dissolve it. The NRA had filed for bankruptcy protection in order to duck NY's lawsuit and re-charter itself in the Lone Star State, where apparently they welcome corrupt "charitable" organizations. As we discussed on the show last week, with NRA expert and author Igor Volsky, the group's leader Wayne LaPierre, remarkably, filed for Chapter 11 protection without the knowledge of its Board of Directors or General Counsel. The judge described that as "shocking" and found that the NRA was unlawfully hoping to use the bankruptcy proceedings to avoid the NY state litigation. Judge Harlin Hale didn't buy it, however, and dismissed the "bad faith" filing today after an 11-day trial. The NRA will now have to face the music in NY, where the state AG declared in response: "No one is above the law." (We'll hope that's also true in her ongoing probe of bank and tax fraud by Donald Trump and his Trump Organization as well. She already succeed in shutting down HIS phony "charity", calling itself the Trump Foundation.)

Also today, more breaking news out of Arizona. Despite claims from some state Republican Senators that they are embarrassed by the clown show currently playing out in Phoenix with the Cyber Ninjas' "audit" theater of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 Presidential election in Maricopa County, (one such GOP Senator who voted for the exercise now laments, "It makes us look like idiots"), the same Senators passed legislation on Tuesday to make it harder for some 140,000 Arizonans to vote. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the new law today, less than an hour after passage, which would purge voters from the permanent mail-in ballot list if they fail to vote in two elections in a row and then fail to return a letter within 90 days of it being sent to them. Democrats and some businesses charge that the measure disproportionately targets voters of color. But, of course, that's a feature, not a bug for the state GOP, still smarting from having lost the Presidential election and both of its U.S. Senate seats to Democrats.

Then, we're joined by longtime cybersecurity and national security journalist KIM ZETTER to discuss the ransomware attack which has led to the shut down of the Colonial Pipeline. The company's network supplies nearly half of the gas, jet fuel and diesel used on the Eastern Seaboard, as is snakes some 5,500 miles from Texas to New Jersey.

Zetter explains how this attack, attributed to a Russia-based group calling themselves DarkSide, was apparently able to burrow its way into Colonial's corporate IT computer network, if not to the operational computer network that actually controls the pipeline system, as well as why the company quickly decided to shut down the pipeline itself anyway.

After sharing some details she has gleaned from sources, including pipeline customers and suppliers, we discuss the recent rise of ransomware attacks which are extraordinarily effective and difficult to prevent. Many companies and organizations --- businesses large and small, hospitals, banks, and both state and local governments --- are now forced to pay the ransom demanded by the cyber-terrorists. Even today, news broke that negotiations between ransomware attackers and the D.C. Metropolitan Police have broken down, with the attackers now threatening to publicly release a sensitive list of police informants if more money is not offered. (The group is demanding $4 million, but claims the Department has offered only $100,000.)

"Unfortunately, this is an industry now," Zetter explains, describing the firms that now specialize in serving as negotiators with the hackers, while helping the crippled companies restore their systems with decryption tools supplied by the hackers once ransom has been paid.

Zetter is also one of the few journalists in the nation that has been covering concerns and vulnerabilities in computerized voting and tabulation systems as long as me. I spent many a sleepless night last year concerned about the possibility of a ransomware attack on wildly vulnerable state and county elections systems. "Nothing" can prevent such an attack, warns Zetter, especially on systems that are often left exposed and vulnerable on the Internet all year around, even when there are no current elections under way (as we discussed in detail with Zetter in 2019.)

As you may imagine, we've got lots to talk about with Zetter today. She has written for years on these matters at outlets such as Wired, Politico, New York Times, Vice's Motherboard and is the author of the book Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon. She also now writes her own newsletter called Zero Day, covering all of these topics and more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, with more on how the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest such network in the nation, is crippling the fuel supply on the East Coast; how a new study finds air pollution from farms causes thousands of premature deaths each year in the U.S.; more ominous signs of the worsening drought in California; and some much better news regarding electric vehicles and action being taken by the Biden Administration to restore landmark federal protections for migratory birds after the Trump Administration had dismantled them...

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Guest: L.A. Times energy reporter Sammy Roth; Also: DeSantis signs new FL voter suppression bill on Fox 'News'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2021 7:23pm PT  

We apologize in advance for any whiplash induced by today's BradCast. The continuing madness and unending idiotic fallout from Donald Trump's Big Lie about a "stolen" 2020 election forces us to keep an eye on the MAGA Mob in the rear view mirror, even as we continue to try to look forward to Joe Biden's long-overdue efforts to save humanity by ensuring a livable planet...even for insane people. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Join us for today's sunbelt trip from Sunny Florida to Sunny Arizona to Sunny California. Do buckle up first.

First up, Florida's new voter suppression bill --- which we discussed in detail with longtime, legendary Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho earlier this week --- was signed into law today by the man Sancho warned is "far sharper than our ex-President" though "more vile, because he understands what he is doing". That would be the state's Republican Governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. And he signed the bill to make mail-in voting harder live on Fox "News"! Locking out his own local media from the ceremony in the bargain. That story should tell you just about everything you need to know about what the GOP has now come to. And what you can look forward to before 2024.

Next, the good news is that the rest of the media, and elected officials in Arizona, and even federal law enforcement officials at the U.S. Dept. of Justice are finally catching up with much of what we have been warning over the past week or two about what is going on in the "audit" theater circus show happening right now in Maricopa County (Phoenix). We told you on last Wednesday's BradCast --- via an exclusive, hour-long interview with two election integrity experts who had spent time inside the secret, tax-payer funded "audit" of the county's 2.1 million ballots by Cyber Ninjas, the private rightwing company with no experience in elections or voting systems --- about the lack of public or media oversight; lack of security of ballots (which, according to federal law, are supposed to remain in secure election official custody for 22 months after an election); lack of public tracking of tallies by the paid counters; ever-changing counting methods that couldn't possibly be completed by May 14th, when the Ninjas lose access to the rented Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum; and much more, including the news that ballots were being examined under microscopes and UV lights for evidence of things like missing folds in mail-in ballots and...yes, bamboo fibers in the ballot paper, which the QAnon folks carrying out this "audit" believe would be an indication that the ballots came fraudulently from China.

We then warned you on Monday's BradCast that the procedures document [PDF] turned over by the Ninjas in response to a court order after they argued their "audit" processes were "trade secrets", would allow them to change a minimum of 42,000 votes without setting off any mistally alarm bells inside the secret count. That, despite Biden having been certified as the winner of the state by just over 10,000 votes. I'm not sure that anybody else has noticed that part yet.

But the good news is that --- thanks to another court order --- some media and some officials (including a few from the AZ Sec. of State's office) are finally being allowed into the venue for limited observation of this GOP state Senate sponsored scam. AZ's Democratic Sec. of State Katie Hobbs has now sent a "sharply-worded" letter [PDF] with a litany of concerns --- many of which we've been trying to alert the world to --- to the defendants in the state lawsuit (the Ninjas, the state Senate President, and the Senate's liaison to the "audit", former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett), who must now reply, as per a settlement struck in court this week. The Dept. of Justice has also taken notice of what's going on, and has sent a letter [PDF] regarding some of the potential violations of federal law (such as the 22-month ballot retention issue.)

But it was some out-of-context remarks from John Brakey --- a longtime Democratic election integrity expert, founder of AUDIT USA, and my guest last week on The BradCast --- which seem to have set off the loudest alarms in the Twittersphere and Mediasphere. Dennis Welch, Political Editor for Arizona's CBS5 News and TV3, shamefully posted a truncated, minute and a half long clip of Brakey, who is observing the "audit" and assisting Bennett (for free, with no NDA!) describing what the wingut Ninjas are seeking in their search for bamboo fibers in the ballots.

It was only later that Welch posted the next sentence or two from Brakey (all 33 seconds of it) in which he explains: "I don't believe any of that" and that he hopes this "audit" will eventually "ungaslight" people who have been conned by the rightwingers. (Much as he had told us on the show last week.)

Unfortunately, more than a million viewers have seen the first clip on Twitter. That's more than ten times the number who saw the second one. So, Brakey --- who I had personally warned many times shouldn't be involved with these folks operating who are operating in bad faith, for exactly this reason --- was unfairly tarred by many as a QAnon conspirator. He isn't. At all. But that hasn't stopped some idiots --- some of whom should know better --- from attacking him as such and refusing to correct or remove their attacks even after learning they were wrong. John was explaining it, not supporting it!

In any event. At least BambooGate has got people noticing the Maricopa scam. We'll hope our friend and longtime colleague Brakey doesn't pay too high of a price for it.

Then, we finally get to look forward for a few blessed minutes today! President Biden recently doubled down on President Obama's pledge to cut deadly emissions that cause global warming, by vowing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half (as compared to 2005 levels) by 2030. That ambitious goal is paired with an even more ambition pledge to reach net-zero emissions, economy wide in the U.S., by 2050!

While that seems difficult to imagine, perhaps it shouldn't be. As our guest today, SAMMY ROTH, energy reporter for Los Angeles Times details, the state of California's main grid actually reached 95% renewable energy usage for the first time one week ago Saturday! The milestone didn't happen long, and it was on a sunny, mild weekend day. Still, it's an encouraging sign for what is now quietly being done in the nation's most populous state.

The state grid, however, does not include the cities of Los Angles and Sacramento, which use their own power supplies. And Los Angeles is actually still using some energy created by coal. But Roth has good news there as well, after a landmark new report commissioned by L.A. from the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory lays out a road map for how one of the nation's largest cities could be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035!

And, of course, if CA and Los Angeles can do it, so can the rest of the nation --- if they (and we) can overcome the political obstacles and dead-end fossil fuel industry money --- so that we can all safely survive to continue bickering about evidence-free claims of "massive voter fraud" for generations to come!...

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Guest: 30-year former Leon County, FL elections chief, Ion Sancho; Also: L.A. County records zero COVID deaths two days in row while California infection, hospitalization, death rates fall dramatically...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2021 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're happy to begin with just about the best news we could expect to stumble across these days. Happily, not everything goes down hill from there. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

There has been a stunning drop in COVID infections, hospitalization and death numbers in California. Just 15 deaths were reported on Monday across the entire state of 40 million people. Perhaps even more incredibly, ZERO deaths were reported in all of Los Angeles County --- the most populous in the nation, with 10 million people --- on either Sunday or Monday. We have not had two straight days here without COVID deaths in this County since the pandemic began in mid-March of 2020. Officials caution, however, that some of the drop in numbers could be due to slow reporting over the weekend.

Still, the Golden State is certainly doing something right, as both the state and L.A. County also clock in with among the lowest test positivity rates in the nation. Moreover, Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that COVID-related hospitalizations are at their lowest, by far, since the pandemic began. (And, keep in mind that state Republicans are citing his handling of the pandemic as reason he should be recalled from office.)

But while California also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, like the rest of the nation, the number of shots being administered has fallen off sharply of late. Today, President Biden announced a plan to increase vaccine numbers, targeting adults who need more convincing; those who have struggled with availability; and, after expected FDA approval next week, adolescents aged 12 to 15. His new goal is deliver at least one dose to 70% of American adults by July 4th.

At the same time, the American Rescue Plan (adopted by Democrats in Congress without one single vote from any Republican) will now cover paid days off to get shots, as well as for the number of days needed to recover from them. The ARP has also dramatically lowered monthly health care premiums for those receiving federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). With, so far, wildly successful programs like the $1.9 trillion ARP, and hoped for passage of massive jobs and care bills like the proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which Repubs have vowed to obstruct as well, is it any wonder they hope to simply block grateful voters from being able to cast a vote at all in next year's elections?

Last week, on the heels of similar measures in states like Georgia and Iowa, GOP state lawmakers in Florida adopted yet another sweeping voter restriction bill, even after claiming a wildly successful and secure election in 2020, when Donald Trump won the state by 3 points. The new bill --- passed in the Senate last week on Florida's Confederate Memorial Day --- is expected to target new voters, younger voters and, specifically, African American voters. It restricts mail-in voting after GOP lawmakers had spent decades expanded it in Florida. To their chagrin, apparently, after years of no-excuse absentee voting being predominantly used by Republicans (including Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis last year), more Democrats than GOPers took advantage of the option during the 2020 election. Therefore, it must be cut back. With the Sunshine State's traditionally close statewide elections, GOP lawmakers went to work. Senate Bill 90 now requires long-time mail-in voters request such ballots every single election cycle. It mandates new ID requirements for even requesting such ballots, severely restricts the use of absentee drop-boxes, and adds many other restrictive measures, such as a provision to prevent the distribution of food or water to voters waiting in long lines in the hot Florida sun.

While some Republicans are now reportedly concerned that the measure may prevent many of their own voters from casting a vote, our guest today has an additional serious concern with SB90. We're joined again today by former 30-year Leon County (Tallahassee) elections chief, ION SANCHO, who cites the way this bill --- and others being adopted by GOPers around the country --- specifically targets elections officials with threats of job loss and fines. The Florida bill, in fact, authorizes a personal, $25,000 fine against County Supervisors of Elections (who are elected in the Sunshine State) for failing, in any way, to follow every provision of the state's ever-changing elections code, even in cases of emergencies that otherwise might prevent voters from being able to cast their ballots.

"The larger, unstated thing here that, quite frankly, bothers me the most --- not only about Florida, Georgia, Iowa or Arkansas, you name it, it's happening in Republican-dominated legislatures --- is the fact that this is an attack on non-partisan, professional elections administration, all across the country," Sancho tells me. "It didn't begin in 2020, but 2020 has clearly lit the fuse."

In addition to noting that SB 90 has "made it more difficult for ALL citizens to request a vote-by-mail ballot," Sancho observes that all of the new, unnecessary measures are "providing more hoops to jump through for citizens." But, in particular, he cites, "best practices for elections are being thrown out by Republican legislatures, who are now inserting themselves much more directly into the elections process --- a reversal of the trend that we saw in the latter half of the 20th century when citizens demanded fairer elections. The trend to try to professionalize and get a higher class of election officials that act on a fair and non-partisan basis, that's what's being attacked in all of this legislation. That's what's got me concerned."

All of it, he opines, is part of "The Big Lie" (Trump's unsubstantiated claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election he lost) now being used as cover to pass these new restrictions. "In fact, it is Gov. DeSantis, not the ex-President, who is pushing for these changes in Florida. He's on the ballot [in 2022], and the fact that a million and a half more citizens have registered to vote by mail as Democrats than Republicans has caused this attack on vote-by-mail balloting. Gov. DeSantis is, I will tell you, far sharper than our ex-President.  In my opinion, more vile, because he understands what he's doing. I'm not sure the ex-President did."

Sancho --- who was so well respected by his peers in Florida that he was selected by them to oversee Florida's eventually aborted statewide Presidential recount in 2000 --- also confirms that in that same year, Republicans sent absentee ballot applications to every single Republican in the state. Now, they are trying to shut down much of the entire process that made voting easier there, even for many of their own voters. "This continual erosion is, in my view, disgraceful, disgusting, and un-American. But it's happened, and we have to deal with this."

We have much to discuss on that front on today's program.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, which, much as our program began, finishes things off with quite a bit of surprisingly very good news, this time for climate hawks...

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Guest: Jordan Blair Woods of Univ. of Arkansas School of Law; Also: CHAUVIN 'GUILTY' ON ALL COUNTS; MT's new vote suppression laws...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2021 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A day in which a cop was finally found guilty of the murder of a hand-cuffed black man is probably a good day to discuss an important idea for long-overdue police reforms that could help keep people alive and allow police to do more of what they should be doing and less of what they are not needed to do. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

Just before airtime today, the verdict was announced in the trial of white, 45-year old former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was notoriously seen on video last year with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year old handcuffed black man. After more than 9 minutes, Chauvin choked the life out of Floyd and was found guilty today on all three counts of 2nd and 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter by a unanimous jury in Minneapolis. In a state already on edge from the killing of a 20-year old motorist by a 26-year veteran white cop just over a week ago in neighboring Brooklyn Center, MN, the state and the nation exhaled a collective sigh of relief as the judge announced the jury found Chauvin guilty on all counts before he was handcuffed and marched off to prison.

Before speaking to our guest on a related note today...Republicans at the state level in Montana are the latest to pass new laws to restrict access to the voting booth (for certain voters) on the heels of Donald Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Two new provisions were adopted in MT on Monday under the guise of preventing fraud, despite Republicans in the state being unable to cite any examples at all of voter fraud there in modern history. One bill would end same-day voter registration, which has been a problem-free success in the state since its broad bipartisan passage in 2005. The other measure enacts new Photo ID restrictions at the polling place by, among other things, disallowing student IDs as an acceptable form of ID for voting, despite 20 years of zero problems or fraud with such IDs. The bills were signed by the Governor yesterday, and the state was sued by Democrats in response today. Montana becomes the third state to adopt newly restrictive voting laws following the 2020 election, after Iowa and Georgia did so previously. All three are now be forced to defend their new suppression laws in court.

On the federal level, Democrats in the House have passed several laws which would counter many of the new restrictions being pushed forward by Republicans at the state level. But filibustering Republicans and the refusal by Democrats like West Virginia's Joe Manchin to reform or kill the undemocratic Senate rule are preventing passage of those landmark measures that would protect voters and elections nationally. Today, during a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote," ranking Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley made clear how out to lunch he is and how disingenuous his party is in supporting these new restrictions on the franchise. Among Grassley's embarrassing comments at today's hearing: His contention that Major League Baseball pulling their All-Star game out of Atlanta is "likely to cost the city's economy 100 million jobs" (there are fewer than 11 million people in the entire state) and that corporations and voters exercising their free speech rights to decry vote suppression amounts to "economic terrorism".

Then, it's back to policing with our guest today, JORDAN BLAIR WOODS, criminology expert and Associate Professor of Law at University of Arkansas' School of Law. Amid outrage over a seemingly never ending series of incidents revealing cops assaulting and/or killing motorists --- usually black ones --- following otherwise routine traffic stops, the demands for policing reforms grow seemingly louder each day.

Woods has been writing at a number of law journals for several years now about one seemingly simple reform that could save lives and prevent so many traffic stops from turning deadly: replace traffic stops by armed police with unarmed traffic monitors. According to the Dept. of Justice [PDF], more Americans, 24 million, come into contact with police via traffic stops than by any other means each year. Routine stops for a missing tail light, an expired tag or even an air freshener hanging from a rear view mirror too often turns unnecessarily deadly. As Woods detailed in a 2019 Michigan Law Review article [PDF], this can be attributed to cops being trained to believe that every traffic stop could turn deadly in seconds (even though that is decidedly not the case.)

As he tells me today, "One of the key reasons why we see officers having so much authority to do what they're able to do during traffic stops really rests on this myth that traffic stops are especially dangerous settings for police officers.  But what we're seeing play out, and what empirical research has really documented, is that when we're thinking about who is harmed during traffic stops, it's those who are from communities of color that are disproportionately stopped, frisked, cited, arrested and ultimately subjected to force. And, unfortunately, too many times it results in their death during traffic stops."

Reporting on this same topic earlier this year at The Appeal, Meg O'Connor notes: "Black drivers are 20 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers, and as much as twice as likely to be searched, according to a study of 100 million traffic stops conducted by the Stanford Open Policing Project. And 11 percent of all fatal shootings by police in 2015 occurred during traffic stops, according to a Washington Post database of police killings."

So, what if cops were taken out of that equation entirely? In his recent Stanford Law Review article, Woods offers a framework for doing just that. "The basic idea behind the framework," he explains, "is that we know that tens of millions of traffic stops occur every year. Many of these are for run-of-the-mill traffic violations. I argue in my framework that we don't really need police to be involved in this type of enforcement. So it creates new public agencies that are completely separate from the police, work independently from the police.  Their basic role is to enforce traffic and not to conduct criminal investigations, which is really where we see a lot of problems during traffic stops today come from."

He calls for traffic agencies to be created and manned by "unarmed traffic monitors to essentially do routine traffic enforcement. They wouldn't be armed, they wouldn't have the typical police powers to search or arrest. It really bring the traffic stop to being just about traffic."

"One of the advantages I see to having non-police agencies and non-police traffic monitors conducting these types of stops, is that we could really use discretion to only be enforcing traffic laws in situations where we think there's a notable safety threat, and eliminating these situations that we are seeing now over air fresheners. We know that these minor infractions are being used for pre-textual reasons by police to pull people over. We avoid that by at least moving to a regime where police are not handling this type of work," Woods argues.

But would such a system place unarmed traffic monitors in harms way during stops? Would it cut off a necessary crime fighting tool for police? Can much of this work simply be automated to remove many of the face-to-face confrontations in the first place? And, given that Wood's proposition seems like such a no-brainer reform, frankly, what legitimate objections might police or lawmakers have to such a new framework?

We discuss all of that and much more with Woods today, who also comments on similar reforms recently enacted in places like Berkley, California and elsewhere, as many cities and towns across the nation seek reforms to help stem the tide of our excruciating epidemic of unnecessarily violent and systemically racist policing.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report. As usual, she rings the alarm bell on new studies warning of our worsening climate emergency, even while sharing some exceptionally encouraging news today, including word that the nation's largest coal mining union now appears to be on board with Joe Biden's plan to find new work in renewable energy for those whose jobs in dying fossil fuel industries will necessarily be displaced in the critical effort to mitigate the most deadly effects of our ever-warming climate.

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Guest: L.A. Times' Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown details on 2016 election interference...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2021 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump.  At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.

But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services.  If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services.  Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?"   So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration?  It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.

In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward.  All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020.  Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.

While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.

I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.

But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.

In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so.  But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."

Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to.  And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'.  So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."

Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."

There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...

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Guest: Climate and energy journalist David Roberts of Volts; Also: MN cop charged in shooting; FBI, DHS knew Capitol was the 'target' on Jan. 6; Biden declares 'It's time to end the forever war'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2021 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden is on a "go big" roll that has stunned even many long time progressives. Another one of them joins us on today's show to sing the praises (mostly) of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal known as the American Jobs Plan. It will be paid for --- at least in very small part --- by ending long time direct subsidies (yes, government socialism) to the Fossil Fuel Industry. But, even on that, the industry is getting a break that they shouldn't. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, some noteworthy news headlines...

  • The white Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer who resigned yesterday after shooting black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after days of protest and unrest. The city's Police Chief, who also resigned on Tuesday, has said that the 26-year veteran officer, Kim Potter, meant to taze the 20-year old Wright, but shot him instead.
  • A scathing new Inspector General's report finds that U.S. Capitol Police were instructed by leadership not to use their best crowd-control weapons on January 6th, despite clear intelligence from the FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security warning that "Congress itself is the target" for protests by Donald Trump supporters who were scammed by his false claims that the Presidential election was stolen. In the days before the assault, pro-Trump social media sites included explicit details regarding plans by MAGA Mob extremists to target both the Capitol and members of Congress, including maps of underground tunnels at the Capitol building and threats calling for "violence" and "war". While DHS and the FBI were aware of these threats --- and, therefore, so was Trump --- for reasons that still remain unclear, the Capitol Police were left wildly unprepared for the deadly siege.
  • And, in perhaps the most critical news of the day, President Biden announced, in no uncertain terms, his plans to remove all U.S. troops (other than those needed to protect diplomats) from Afghanistan no later than September 11th of this year, the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He explained his reasoning and responded to critics of the move in remarks at the White House today, declaring that "It's time to end the forever war." We share extended excerpts from his address.

Then, we're joined by the great energy and climate journalist DAVID ROBERTS --- formerly of Vox, now publishing his own must-read newsletter called "Volts" --- for insight into Biden's plans to pay for what Roberts characterizes as a remarkably progressive infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal.

Introduced two weeks ago, the American Jobs Plan is to be paid for largely by an increase on the corporate tax rate. But, as Roberts detailed in a recent Volts article, it will also include a repeal of some of the permanent subsidies to the Fossil Fuel industry which they have enjoyed for decades, as written into the tax code. While many progressives are pleased about that, including Roberts, the fact is that those direct subsidies to the industry, as he points out, amount to a very small fraction of the cost of Biden's ambitious plan. Indeed, at some $35 billion for the entire industry, spread out over ten years, it also amounts to a very small amount of the true cost of the "indirectsubsidies" or "externalities" which the public pays for to boost profits for the polluting industry.

The direct subsidies, says Roberts, are "a drop in the bucket" compared to "the total amount of money that would be raised if you went after the indirect subsidies" with a carbon tax that accounts for the true cost of the industry's "products that produce a lot of social harm.  Harm in terms of air pollution that they generate, which then produces health costs, and people miss work. There's the climate damages that they do when they're burned. There's land pollution. There's abandoned oil and gas wells at the end of their life. Those cost a lot of money" to clean up, which the companies rarely, if ever, do.

"The oil and gas industry itself doesn't pay any of those costs. So when your product imposes all these costs and you don't pay them, the public steps in and pays them. Like the kids with asthma who are paying, rather than the fossil fuel companies." Roberts suggests "those externalities, as they're called, have always been the premise for a carbon tax, why we would want to put a tax on carbon so that you can recoup all these damages that the oil and gas industry are not paying for."

Still, setting aside how the package is to be paid for, Roberts concedes that he is "pleasantly surprised" about the "super-big and ambitious" package which includes, as he also details, a whole bunch of cool stuff that has received little coverage, since there is actually so much packed into the sweeping, long-overdue proposal.

How to get it passed, however --- and, specifically approved by "our emperor and benefactor Joe Manchin, long may He reign" --- is another matter, which we discuss in detail today as well.

"Where we are is so ludicrously far away from where we need to be, that it becomes difficult to judge anything in the middle," Roberts argues. "Is this a good big step or is it a grossly inadequate step? Yes. It's both. Everything we're going to do on climate change for the next decades will fit that description. It's going to be big and not big enough."

We then close today with a quick thought or two on a new statement from hundreds of companies and corporate executives in opposition to the GOP attempts to restrict voting rights around the country. We hope to have more time to discuss the matter on tomorrow's BradCast...

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Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our lonely fight to save what is left of our public airwaves continues, as mainstream media outlets continue to benefit from --- and therefore do not bother to report on --- the march toward full corporate ownership of what were once our prized and protected airwaves. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, the breaking news on that nation's latest school shooting. Today it was in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Next, the vaccination of the nation continues apace, with about 36% of adult Americans now having received at least one shot. This week, many more states will open eligibility to all adults 16 years of age and older in advance of Joe Biden's national date for doing so in all 50 states next Monday (April 19). Here in Los Angeles, all adult residents will be eligible as of Tuesday. We offer a few tips for how to get an appointment quickly. (Specifically, Kaiser-Permanente appears to have tons of available appointments, for members and non-members alike, via their website at KP.org.)

While vaccinations are proceeding at an impressive pace, hitting another 24-hour record of 4.6 million shots on Saturday, the race to outpace the spread of variants continues. While much of the nation is plateauing in case numbers at high levels or even surging slightly upward, a number of states, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest are surging quite steeply. The most disturbing case at the moment, by far, is in Michigan, where its Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been begging the Biden Administration for a vaccine surge in response to a spike that is as bad there as it was last Fall. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the Administration has offered additional vaccinators and test kits, but not additional vaccine as of now. The CDC Director said on Monday that what is needed in MI's case is not more vaccine, but lockdowns. However, one of the reasons the state is in such bad shape now is because Trump-incited rightwingers last year not only rebelled against Whitmer's mandatory lockdowns, but even hatched a plot to kidnap her after Trump tweeted to "Liberate Michigan!"

What happens in Michigan, unfortunately, won't stay in Michigan. Their surge will spread elsewhere unless someone figures out how to get it under control. Similarly, what happens in Georgia will absolutely not stay in Georgia, as Republican lawmakers across the country are continuing to push voter suppression measures akin to the suppressive law adopted by Republicans in the Peach State last month.

The corporate pushback against Georgia's anti-voting law and those in other states continues to grow. Over the weekend, 100 corporate executives held a Zoom meeting to discuss how they planned to respond. On Monday, the first major Hollywood production --- Will Smith's "Emancipation" film --- previously set to film in Georgia, announced they were pulling production from the state due to the new law. Other productions could follow suit, given that Georgia has become a bit of a filmmakers Mecca by offering generous tax breaks to Hollywood production teams.

In addition to the group of corporate execs planning their own actions against anti-democracy laws, a group of some 60 law firms is reportedly teaming up to take action as well. That said, it's pathetic that the citizenry has to rely on corporations to become angry enough that Republicans might pay attention to their concerns --- the same concerns that the GOP ignored when they came from the citizenry itself before Georgia adopted its new law. In today's America, the citizenry don't seem to matter. It's corporate dollars to (or withheld from) Republicans that appears to be our only chance of convincing desperate Republicans to block or rollback these onerous restrictions on access to the ballot box. We're happy to see companies jumping in, but its absurd that we need to rely on them to somehow save "democracy".

Speaking of the need to save democracy, we're then joined by media reform activist SUE WILSON of the Media Action Center. Late last year, she and former Republican FCC official Art Belendiuk joined us on the program to discuss actions they were taking to expose the fact that rightwing media behemoth Sinclair Broadcasting appeared to be blatantly violating FCC ownership rules by taking secret ownership of more than one television station in a number of major markets, using sham front companies to skirt federal scrutiny.

At the same time, as Wilson reports today at BradBlog.com, the FCC has been attempting to change its own media ownership rules to allow for more corporate consolidation by granting major broadcasters the right to own more than one TV station in any given market. The FCC's initial attempt to change the rule preventing companies from controlling all of the public airwaves in major markets was blocked by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in not carrying out proper studies to determine the effects of the rule change on broadcast outlets owned by women and minorities. SCOTUS heard the FCC's appeal in the case on January 19th (Trump's last full day in office). The Court handed down its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project on April 1, overturning the lower court to allow the FCC's new, relaxed ownership rule, even as Justice Kavanaugh, in his opinion for the unanimous Court, conceded that the record evidence relied on by the FCC was "sparse". But, he held on behalf of the Court, the rules in question, now changed by the FCC, "were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals."

As Wilson found, however, the reason the record was so sparse was because the FCC had carried out no studies of its own to determine the adverse effect of consolidation on minority owned business before formalizing their new rules. They relied instead on private organizations to present evidence as to why the consolidation would harm minority broadcasters. But private organizations did not have access to much of the FCC's public information, because the federal agency hasn't collected the information from stations around the country.

It all amounts to what Wilson describes as a Catch-22 that ill-serves the public, and further undermines our public airwaves, handing off even more control to corporate interests, rather than we, the people. "This is the worst decision that nobody knows about," Wilson tells me. And, of course, they don't know about it, because mainstream corporate broadcasters benefits from the rule change, so they haven't bothered to mention much about it to any of their listeners or viewers.

Wilson argues that Congress needs to take action, and asks listeners to contact their members of Congress. "We're finding that Republicans and Democrats are very interested in this [because] this is bad for our whole country."

Finally, we open up the phones for a few quick minutes today, to hear from listeners on both the FCC's latest boondoggle and with more thoughts on vaccination nation...

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Guest: Susan Greenhalgh, Senior Election Security Advisor at Free Speech for People; Also: Officer killed in new U.S. Capitol attack; MLB pulls All-Star game out of GA; Boehner's message for Cruz...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2021 7:37pm PT  

We've got another sorry tale on today's BradCast of yet another federal "watchdog" agency clearly captured by the industry corporations that it is supposed to be overseeing and/or regulating. This time, democracy itself is at stake. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, we had quite a bit of breaking news just before airtime. For a start, the U.S. Capitol was locked down on Friday after two Capitol Police officers were rammed in a violent attack with a vehicle. One of the officers, an 18-year veteran, was killed. The other was said to be "fighting for his life" as of airtime. After ramming the officer, the assailant is said to have "lunged" at officers with a knife and was subsequently shot and killed. The assault was the most serious threat on the Capitol since the Donald Trump-incited insurrection on January 6th, which killed five, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer. Two more officers took their lives in the ensuing days after that attack by Trump supporters attempting to stop Congressional ratification of Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory.

That attack --- and Trump's evidence-free Big Lie about his loss being the result of "fraud" --- continues to reverberate almost three months since the MAGA Mob's assault on U.S. democracy. Last week, Georgia's Republican-dominated state legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that will make it more difficult to vote by, among other things, requiring additional forms of ID for mail voting, limiting absentee ballot drop-boxes and early voting hours, and banning the distribution of food or beverages to voters forced to wait hours on line. It would also allow partisan GOP officials to undermine County Boards of Election and even overturn results. The state's Governor, Brian Kemp (R), signed the sweeping bill almost immediately after it passed both chambers of the state legislature in a matter of hours.

This week, after some 70 Black corporate executives spoke out against the transparent attempt to making voting more difficult for minorities in the state, a cascade of other corporate entities --- including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, both based in Atlanta --- finally decided to speak out in favor of democracy and against voter suppression. And then, on Friday, shortly before today's show, Major League Baseball announced they will be moving the All-Star Game and MLB Draft, previously set for July in Atlanta, to another state in response to the GOP attack on voting.

And, as Georgia Republicans pushed back on Delta Airlines this week for belatedly standing up for the right to vote, Gov. Kemp took his shot at the company by accusing its CEO of "false attacks" by claiming misleadingly in a statement: "The last time I flew Delta I had to show my ID."

But Kemp, the state's former Sec. of State, certainly knows that flying is a privilege, where voting is a right. He also likely knows that, no, an ID is not required to fly on Delta or any other airline. As clearly explained on the TSA.gov website...

In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification...you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed [to fly].

In the meantime, as to real --- versus imagined or opportunistic and partisan --- threats of fraud in our elections, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the federal agency tasked with overseeing voting system security standards, is continuing the woeful job it has done since its creation by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Since its inception, as we have documented at The BRAD BLOG for almost 20 years, the EAC has largely been captured by the private voting system vendors whose systems they are supposed to be testing, overseeing, regulating and certifying as meeting minimal standards.

For years, the EAC has consistently helped mislead the public regarding the dangers of modems inside of computer voting and tabulation systems. The EAC's original Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), created about 15 years ago, allowed for use of the devices which cybersecurity experts have long warned can be used to introduce malware into systems that could disrupt elections or change results.

In August of 2019, as we detailed on the program at the time with cybsersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, a group of security and voting systems experts discovered "nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states" such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida. In January of 2020, almost six months after Zetter's exclusive and disturbing report, Cynthia McFadden followed up with her own report at NBC News, in which, despite federal officials repeatedly and falsely declaring that "U.S. voting systems are never connected to the Internet," the President of the nation's largest vendor, Elections Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), conceded that at least 14,000 of the company's modems were being used in vulnerable voting and tabulation systems across the country, even as the 2020 election cycle was getting under way.

Nonetheless, over the last five years, the EAC has been working with stakeholders --- from elections officials to cybersecurity experts to vendors --- to develop new minimum security standards for the nation's voting systems, which they call VVSG 2.0. The good news is that the draft of those final standards for the VVSG 2.0, made available for public comment last Summer, included a ban on modems and other wireless communications devices in computerized voting and tabulation systems.

The bad news: After the public comment period and before the new standards were officially adopted by the EAC Commissioners, they apparently met in secret with several vendors and quietly changed the new standards to once again allow for modems and other wireless communications devices in new voting systems.

After the standards changed and weakened without public notice, the non-partisan government watchdog, Free Speech for People (FSFP), filed public records requests for documentation of the non-public meetings between EAC officials and the voting machine companies. Despite acknowledging hundreds of pages of existing documents responsive to the request, according to our guest today, the EAC failed to turn over any of it to the group. Now, FSFP is suing the EAC for those documents.

We're joined today by longtime election integrity advocate SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at FSFP, to explain the organization's lawsuit [PDF], and the latest, extraordinary failure to protect our elections by the corporate-captured EAC.

"We have a real lack of leadership from the federal agency that's supposed to be helping assist election officials run election more efficiently, securely, accessibly and transparently at the EAC," Greenhalgh explains, charging "they're letting the vendors help weaken the standards directly."

"The EAC is way, way too deferential to the vendors," she says. "They need to either do the right thing and do their job, or they need get out of the lane and come up with some other way. Because there's an expectation by members of Congress that this is being taken care of, that the EAC is doing their job, they're developing the standards, they're testing voting systems. Unless you scratch the surface and find out what's really going on, you might think on the outside that they're doing their job, and they're not. They're taking up that space, and that makes us all less safe and secure in our elections."

There is, as you might guess, much more that Greenhalgh has to explain about this ongoing mess and FSFP's legal efforts to crack open the EAC blockade.

Finally, we close today with a rather hilarious audio message from former, George W. Bush-era Republican House Speaker John Boehner, to Texas' Trumpy, conspiracy-loving U.S. Senator Ted Cruz...

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Also: Drought returns to CA; De-Trumpification of the EPA...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2021 6:50pm PT  

If only lawmakers in GOP-run states gave as much of a damn about their own residents as they do for the corporations which fund their campaigns. If only those corporations gave as much of a damn about their own customers as they do about the possibility of being boycotted and losing profits. Or, as my dad used to say, if only the Queen had balls she'd be the King. [Audio link to today's full BradCast is posted below this summary.]

It's a very busy and very lively show today. Among the stories we cover, if you are clever enough to tune in...

  • The growing cost of climate change continues, as California, just a few years after the end of a punishing five-year drought, appears to be headed back into another. Thanks to investments and conservation techniques enacted last time, perhaps this one won't be as bad. We'll see. But it won't keep the wingnuts from whining about it and trying to falsely blame Democrats anyway.
  • Emails obtained by Documented and reported by NBC News today reveal that talking points circulated by a climate change denying fossil fuel industry lackey were behind the misinformation spread by Texas officials falsely blaming wind and solar energy when the state's power system froze up and collapsed during a winter storm in February. The false claims were spread at lightning speed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the fully captured Commissioners on the state's utility board, the wingnut media and, of course, other oil and gas lobbyists. Aside from billions of dollars in damages, the state's own failures in deregulation and privatization (and lack of winterization) of its electric grid, resulted in the deaths of at least 111 Texans according to the state's newly revised --- and nearly doubled --- death toll. Many of them died from hypothermia in their own homes. And no, it was not the fault of clean, renewable energy in any way.
  • Meanwhile, in Georgia, pushback against a massive voter suppression law enacted in record time last week by Republicans in the state legislature is bringing shame not only to GOP lawmakers and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, but to the major corporations --- some headquartered in the state --- which failed to take action to speak out against the democracy-undermining measure until it was too late. Or, at least until boycott efforts against the companies began to emerge. Over the past 24 hours, following a statement of outrage by more than 70 Black corporate executives decrying GA's new law, companies such as Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Apple have all begun falling over themselves to express the "outrage" they failed to muster before passage of the bill --- or even in the full week since it was signed into law. In the wake of the new corporate blowback, rather than take actions to rollback the voter suppression, Republican state legislators have decided to attack the companies for (belatedly) coming out in support of democracy. The GOP-dominated state House of Representatives even went so far as to abuse their power on Wednesday night to adopt a punitive tax increase on one of the GA-based companies which belatedly decided to speak up against voter suppression.
  • Even as the blowback came fast and furious against Georgia's Republicans over the past 24 hours, the great, deregulated state of Texas decided they wanted some of that "love" as well. Republicans in their state legislature are now moving to enact similar voter suppression schemes to the ones decried in the Peach State. Will the corporations stand up against such laws in the Lone Star State and elsewhere before they're adopted this time? We hope so, but we'll see. Obviously these politicians don't give a damn about their actual constituents. But maybe they'll pay attention to their corporate funders who have now been forced by those constituents to at least pretend they give a damn about democracy.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of President Biden's popular, new, sweeping, long-overdue, "once in a generation", $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal introduced on Wednesday as the American Jobs Plan...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Secret audio reveals 'conservatives' support Dems' For the People Act (H.R.1); Also: Economists giddy about Biden's infrastructure, jobs and climate plan; Third lawsuit filed against GA's new vote suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2021 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More evidence that the rightwing billionaire Koch network really needs a better security plan. And Republicans really need a more popular agenda. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

We now have still more audio that has leaked out of a super-secret Koch Network event. The latest is embarrassing yet again for them, as it reveals that even Republican voters want corrupting "dark money" out of politics. Sorry, Koch folks like Mitch McConnell and all of the other elected GOPers who owe their corrupt careers (and votes in Congress) to whatever it is that the Koch Network wants from them! Looks like they'll need to rely on out-and-out lies about what is actually in the Democrats' popular election and campaign finance reform bill known as H.R.1 (the For the People Act) in order to undermine it. But they've become very good at that sort of thing by now.

On Monday, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer published a story about audio she obtained from a super-secret conference call in which the guy running a Koch-backed effort to figure out how to message against H.R.1 concedes that even "conservative" voters appear to like the proposal, which includes disclosure requirements for donations larger than $10,000 to "dark money" non-profit groups like the dozens of "non-partisan" groups run and funded by billionaire donors to the Koch Network.

As Mayer reports: "The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill's provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn't worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress."

The research director for a Koch-run advocacy group is heard explaining on the call, which reportedly included a partisan representative from McConnell's office, that when even "conservative" voters hear that the legislation "stops billionaires from buying elections," they support it. "Unfortunately," he tells the group somewhat sheepishly, "we've found that that is a winning message, for both the general public and also conservatives."

We share the full audio disclosed by Mayer on today's program. (And, since I referenced it it today, here's a link to my 2011 exposé of the Koch Brothers' super-secret billionaire confab at a resort near Vail, CO. The first, to my knowledge, to include audio from one of the group's meetings. The several-part exposé I published at Mother Jones and at The BRAD BLOG at the time included audio I obtained revealing the undisclosed keynote speech by NJ's then Gov. Chris Christie, as well as remarks from Charles Koch and others at the highly secured --- but not highly enough secured --- event.)

Also today, Axios reports that economists are very excited about the approximately $3 trillion infrastructure, jobs and, yes, climate plan that Joe Biden is set to roll out in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He previewed a bit of that plan during his press conference last week. The plan, in theory, will create millions of new, high paying jobs repairing, improving and building roads, bridges, electrical grids and other infrastructure that has been dilapidating for years, while hardening it all for climate resilience in a dangerously warming world. The Koch Network and Congressional Republicans are likely to have a hard time messaging against that long-overdue proposal as well. But we'll find out as much after Biden introduces the plan tomorrow.

Then, a bit of a follow-up to my conversation with Caren Short, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Monday's show, about Georgia's sweeping new voter suppression bill. Yesterday, I had asked Short whether SPLC was planning to join either of the so-far two different lawsuits filed by civil rights groups just after the controversial GOP measure was passed by both houses in the state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last Thursday, all within a 7-hour time span. She told me the group was looking closely at the suits, but had made no decision yet. Today, SPLC touched base with the news announcing a third suit [PDF] now filed in federal court against the GA law. This one has been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and others on behalf of several Black, Latino and Muslim organizations in the Peach State.

Finally today, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with more news on Biden's infrastructure plan; deadly storms in Nashville; a disturbing update to the death toll in Texas after last month's winter storm; and more...some of it actually good enough news that we close with a song that many of you likely hoped we'd have forgotten by now. But, sorry not sorry...we didn't!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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