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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Worry, Don't Worry and/or be Thankful: 'BradCast' 11/29/21
We're back! Setting the record straight with REAL news on the economy, COVID, Ukraine and more. Plus: Callers on all of the above...
More Thanksgiving Leftover Toons
Overstuff yourself with PDiddie's still tasty SECOND HELPING of T-Day week toons!...
Leftover Turkey Toons
Delicious toons with all the trimmings in PDiddie's Turkey Day toon collection...
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
Digging Deeper Into the Case for Homicide Charges Against Both Trump AND Pence: 'BradCast' 11/18/21
Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific Northwest; Admin's controversial oil and gas lease sale; F.T.C. to probe Big Oil corruption; PLUS: Biden promotes American-made EVs in Detroit...
Previous GNRs: 11/16/21 - 11/11/21 - Archives...
Deflating Inflation Panic: 'BradCast' 11/17
Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz on how it's misreported, good for many workers, bad for big banks; Also: 3+ years for 'QAnon Shaman'; Gosar censured; Biden' Big Oil probe; Sanders on 'Defense'...
The Unmistakable Drumbeat of Authoritarianism: 'BradCast' 11/16/21
Ominous warnings: Gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More on the attempt to steal 2020; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
'Green News Report' 11/16/21
U.N. climate summit ends with progress, compromise; Coal 'down' but not 'out' at Glasgow; PLUS: Biden signs landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal into law...
Long Roads to Accountability, Climate Action, Infrastructure: 'BradCast' 11/15
Bannon surrenders; COP26 concludes; Biden signs landmark, roads, bridges, enviro bill...
Sunday 'Big Bird, Little Bird' Toons
Flip on over to PDiddie's toon collection this week for the latest signs of the times...
Sports, Politics, Race and Florida:
'BradCast' 11/12/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Guber-natorial Candidate Annette Taddeo and The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!...
'Green News Report' 11/11/21
COP26 crunch time; Surprise US/China climate deal; Big EV agreement; Renewables rise in U.S.; PLUS: Nations under-reporting emissions, new analysis finds...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Legal expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: GOP gerrymandering getting worse, Dems running out of time to stop it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2021 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is a long list of pretty clear crimes that Donald Trump and his cronies have committed and might have been charged with by now. So far, however, a full year since he lost the election and nearly eight months since Merrick Garland was sworn in as President Biden's Attorney General, there is little sign of accountability for the disgraced former President at the federal level. Citing what they describe as a failure to meet this critical moment for the nation, some legal and Constitutional experts are now calling for Garland to resign. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

It's not as though the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't been busy in the wake of Trump's four years of undermining both the rule of law and the DoJ itself. They have, to date, brought charges against nearly 700 rioters incited by Trump to attack the U.S. Capitol in hopes of stealing the 2020 election somehow on January 6th.

In recent days, the Department has also filed two federal lawsuits against the state of Texas for their new voter suppression law and their clearly unconstitutional new law banning most abortions in the state. They've also brought suit against the state of Georgia in recent months, challenging their new voter suppression law as well.

Meanwhile, active investigations into Trump's potential violations of law are underway by state and local prosecutors both in New York and Georgia. But, at the federal level, there seems to be nothing, at least in sight, despite a laundry list of legal transgressions by the former President and his accomplices, dating well before his term in office and continuing right up through the very end.

"Over the past thirty years, Merrick Garland served with distinction as a federal prosecutor and then as an appellate judge," a new statement [PDF] and campaign by the nonpartisan legal advocacy nonprofit Free Speech for People (FSFP) begins. "Unfortunately, as Attorney General for the past eight months, he has failed to take any meaningful action to hold accountable former president Donald Trump and his co-conspirators for attempting to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021 and a flurry of criminal acts in the months and years leading up to that date. Instead, he has adopted indefensible positions of the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect Trump from accountability. Since Garland is unwilling to step up, it is time for him to step down."

Their statement this week concludes: "As long as Trump and his co-conspirators walk free, American democracy is in danger. We need an Attorney General who understands that danger and is willing to take action to protect democracy and the rule of law. Merrick Garland must resign."

In response to FSFP's campaign launched on Thursday, Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School's renowned legal scholar and Professor Emeritus, tweeted out on Thursday night that while he was "not ready to join this movement", he believes it is "worth noting" as it comes from "serious and responsible" people. "DOJ must take note," he warned.

Joining us to discuss their call for Garland to step down is FSFP's "serious and responsible" Co-Founder and President, JOHN BONIFAZ, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional expert, author and accountability champion. Back in January, before Garland was even sworn in as Attorney General, FSFP led a campaign with nearly a dozen other good government groups and some 200,000 individuals who signed on, calling for the nation's top cop, once sworn in, to form an independent task force to investigate "any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates."

Now, months later, with no sign of any such task force OR investigation, FSFP has regrettably determined that Garland is not up to the task, with Bonifaz citing the apparent lack of charges --- at least so far --- against former Trump advisor Steve Bannon as "the last straw". Bannon was referred by the U.S. House for criminal Contempt of Congress to the DoJ two weeks ago. But as the group's statement observes, after detailing a panoply of apparent, if uncharged Trump-era crimes: "The last time that the House referred a contempt of Congress charge to DOJ, then-President Reagan’s prosecutors immediately brought the matter to a grand jury; it returned an indictment just nine days after the House vote."

In response to my questions as to whether federal probes could be ongoing at DoJ, but we simply don't know about them yet, Bonifaz cites the agency's prosecution of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for charges related to a criminal conspiracy the DoJ declared at the time was "directed" by Trump, and the ten or more instances of Obstruction of Justice by the then-sitting President, as cited by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation. While it has been DoJ's (ridiculous) policy that sitting Presidents may not be indicted while in office, that excuse is long gone, Bonifaz argues. "The fact that there's been no action whatsoever on any of these offenses, including the ones that were well-established the moment that Garland took office as Attorney General --- that is deeply concerning, and signals that they ultimately do not intend to engage in holding him accountable. We're ready to be surprised, but at this point, nine months after he has taken office, we need new leadership at the Dept. of Justice, in our view, to ensure that the rule of law is enforced."

Does Bonifaz believe that Biden's DoJ may be trying to protect the office of the President itself from charges of political bias or from the DoJ being used as --- or being seen as being used as --- a political weapon? "What is at issue is that the Donald Trump Administration and Donald Trump himself used the Dept. of Justice as his own private agency to cover up. So what's critical now is that the Justice Department establish itself as an independent agency that's not going to carry out the political agenda of the President. If anything, doing what they're doing, in this particular instance, indicates somehow that they may have political considerations at stake," he contends. "That they may not want to engage in indicting a former President because of the impact it will have on the current President and his own political agenda --- that is just as wrong as a decision by Donald Trump to misuse the Justice Department for his own political purposes."

"There is no get-out-of-jail-free card because it's hard for the nation to handle it, or because we somehow need to come up with this fiction that the President is protected in a special way than others are," he asserts. "He's a former President, and if he engaged in these federal crimes, he needs to be held accountable."

There is, of course, MUCH more from Bonifaz today on all of this, including whether he thinks folks like Harvard's Tribe and other accountability groups may sign on to FSFP's effort) they are collecting signatures on a petition at GarlandMustResign.org); the outrage of actual legal protections the DoJ has been offering on Trump's behalf in court; and whether he believes that state prosecutors in New York and Georgia, at this point, are more likely to ultimately bring at least some accountability for at least some of Trump's many crimes.

Also on today's show, more troubling evidence of outrageously extreme partisan gerrymandering being enacted as we speak by Republican-controlled states around the country, and the need --- for the survival of democracy itself --- for Democrats to step up in response, whether by partisan gerrymandering states that they control or, preferably, by passage of federal voting rights and election reform legislation in Congress, such as the Freedom to Vote Act, to ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states prior to the 2022 midterm elections...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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FL blocks Univ. of Florida profs from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state; SCOTUS may be having second thoughts about TX' unconstitutional anti-abortion law; And more chilling stories of democracy dying before our eyes...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2021 6:23pm PT  

The through-line for today's BradCast comes courtesy of Meathead. Actor and director Rob Reiner was arguing, via Twitter over the weekend, that "until Donald Trump is prosecuted for leading a deadly Insurrection to overthrow the Government and Voting Rights are passed," we are witnessing the death of Democracy.

He was much more correct than he may have realized. But the stories we cover today --- only half of those we had hoped to get today, and none of which directly covered the two issues Reiner was referring to --- underscore that theme. If it's not immediately obvious, tune into today's show to find out how.

Among the stories covered, discussed, explained, warned about, expounded and ranted upon on today's program (along with listener calls throughout)...

  • Election Day is Tuesday in states across the country. As discussed last week, democracy itself is on the ballot in New York state. But most attention on Tuesday has been going to Virginia, where Trump-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has now taken a lead in FiveThirtyEight's pre-election polling average over VA's former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. We explain why history is on Youngkin's side. Perhaps by Wednesday we'll find out if the voters in Virginia are as well, as democracy is not yet dead (hopefully) in some pockets of the nation.
  • In Florida, a simply remarkable and, yes, chilling story. The University of Florida has barred three professors --- each one an expert in democracy and voting rights (two of whom have appeared on The BradCast multiple times over the years) --- from testifying as expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in a challenge to the state's new voter suppression law passed earlier this year. The measure, signed on Fox "News" by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by Trump supporters and with local media locked out entirely, restricts the use of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, while making it more difficult to obtain Vote-by-Mail ballots and harder to register to vote, among other democracy killing provisions. The university (whose Board of Trustees is headed up by a close DeSantis confidante and major GOP donor) claims that testifying against a state law would represent a conflict of interest for UF. That's an idea that is unheard of, frankly, and would prevent experts in their fields from being able to testify on their expertise in states in which they live and work. The same profs were never prevented from doing so in the past and experts on academic freedom describe this novel notion as unprecedented. A lawsuit seeking the review of documents from DeSantis on this matter, to determine his involvement in the University's decision, was filed on Friday.
  • At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the new "unprecedented" anti-abortion law in Texas, barring the otherwise Constitutionally protected medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even known they are pregnant, was heard on SCOTUS' rocket docket just two months after they'd allowed it to take effect in the Lone Star State. The matter in question is whether a case filed by abortion providers in the state and another by the U.S. Department of Justice should be allowed to proceed, despite the virtually unquestioned matter of the new state law, S.B. 8, violating Roe v. Wade. The reason the question even arises is because Texas purposely structured the law in a way that hopes to side-step any and all judicial review of the law. That is done by the statute empowering members of the public with a right to file a civil lawsuit against anyone who, in any way, aids a woman in receiving an abortion after six weeks. Under S.B. 8, plaintiffs may even sue an Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000, and the State argues that because they are not enforcing the law, members of the public are doing so, the law cannot be challenged in either federal or state court.

    But even far-right Republican Justice Brett Kavanaugh (and, of course, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) was able to put two and two together during today's hearing to realize that if this type of law is allowed to go forward, states could adopt laws that effectively outlawed many other long-settled Constitutional rights, and avoid judicial oversight in the bargain. So, yes, California could adopt a law similar to S.B. 8 that makes owning a gun a civil violation for which anyone in the public could sue a gun owner for, say, a million dollars. Are the Justices on the High Court --- who allowed this law to take effect two months ago, ending almost all abortions for now in TX --- sure they want the nation to go down this path?

  • One of the other several stories we quickly covered of democracy dying today, referenced the newly gerrymandered maps for the four U.S. House seats in Iowa. Last week, after Republicans rejected a new map that would have split the state into two districts that voted for Biden last year and two that voted for Trump, they instead approved a second version of a map in which Trump won all four districts. One expert in redistricting describes the new maps as "a dream Republican map." Yes. That is yet another way in which democracy dies...unless we fight like hell to prevent it from doing so.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2021 6:06pm PT  

We covered a whole bunch of stories on today's BradCast. You'll have to tune in to find out what I have to say about most of them. Suffice to say there was a lot of both good news and bad. Often at the same time. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

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

  • The full U.S. House voted to recommend criminal contempt charges to the DoJ for Steve Bannon's refusal to answer his subpoena for documents and testimony from the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6th insurrection.
  • California certifies the results from last month's GOP Gubernatorial recall election, with the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom winning by the exact same percentages --- to the decimal --- that he won his first term back in 2018. Money well spent, Repubs! And thanks for wasting $300 million taxpayer dollars.
  • Five veteran advisors to Arizona's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have had enough. They quit her advisory board for service members with a blistering letter citing her obstruction of democracy and the Biden agenda. The progressive veterans group Common Defense has now turned the letter into a TV ad with a seven figure buy to condemn the obstructionist Dem.
  • MoJo's David Corn reports that West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has a plan to quit the Democratic Party altogether. Manchin disputes the report. Corn stands by it. Either way, it should serve as a reminder of how fraught things are in the Senate right now, how narrow the Democratic majority is, and how the Senate could see Mitch McConnell and the GOP back in control, literally, at any moment. That, of course, would immediately end any hope of passing any part of the Biden, Democratic and/or progressive agenda. Perhaps there's good reason that President Biden isn't calling out Manchin by name for failing to reform the filibuster as many progressive voting rights activists have been demanding?
  • The GOP's ongoing assault on American democracy continues apace, as they plan to gerrymander their way into the House majority in 2022, and then use that control --- along with new election subversion laws in states they control --- to try and steal the 2024 Presidential election in a way they weren't prepared to do in 2020. All of which should serve as a reminder to every democracy loving American that it's time to step up --- even if it means reconsidering long-held, rock-solid beliefs. For example, that extreme partisan gerrymandering is wrong. It is. But is it wrong if it's needed to actually save American democracy? In Texas, new Republican-adopted Congressional (and state legislative) maps steal seats from minorities, despite the fact that the state's population growth --- and two new U.S. House seats to go with it --- is due almost entirely to minorities. Happily, states like Illinois are not taking the matter (entirely, anyway) lying down.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Author, gerrymandering expert David Daley of Fair Vote; Also: Hope springs eternal for Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate; And GOP bathtub climate change physics in Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2021 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below. ]

Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.

Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.

In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.

That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.

While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.

I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.

Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."

But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.

Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Maricopa 'audit' insider and 'bamboo guy' John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Congressional GOP pushing the U.S. government toward default and global economic disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2021 6:39pm PT  

As we head into a week of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi understated over the weekend as "a time of intensity", we cover that on today's BradCast along with a bit of postmortem mop-up following last week's spectacular fail by the dopey Cyber Ninjas in their Maricopa County, Arizona "audit" of the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

This week, Congress --- and the Democratic Party which is now, apparently, being forced to run it all by themselves --- is facing several precarious moment on a number of fronts. For a start Congress must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operating after September 30th, when the current fiscal year ends. Even more importantly, to avoid a "financial calamity", they must pass a resolution to suspend or raise the statutory debt limit --- the amount of money the nation can borrow to pay for spending that has already been approved by Congress --- before the country defaults on its loans for the first time in history at some point in October.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are blocking Democrats from doing either of those things at the moment, in what Pelosi describes as brinkmanship that is "irresponsible beyond words". That, after Democrats voted with Republicans time and again (three times during the Trump Administration alone) to suspend the debt ceiling in order to pay for much of the $8 trillion in debt that was run up with Republican approval over the past 4 years when Donald Trump was in the White House and they controlled Congress.

We explain the incredibly dangerous (and hypocritical) game that Mitch McConnell and the GOP are currently playing with the world economy, even as Democrats face their own internecine battles over how to pass final approval for the Biden Build Back Better agenda, including a bi-partisan $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill (which Dems can pass by themselves, if they can agree on it) to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long-overdue action to address on climate emergency.

Next, BradCast listeners last week may know that we were the first in the nation to break the news that the phony, so-called "audit" of the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial election results in Maricopa (Phoenix), AZ by the partisan, conspiracy theorist Cyber Ninjas outfit ended up proving that the Dominion Voting Systems computer tabulators used to tally results in the state's largest county did so accurately. That, according to the Ninjas' own hand-count [PDF] of some 2.1 million ballots. In fact, in a spectacular and hilarious failure, the Ninjas count found the margins of victory for the Democrats in both Joe Biden's Presidential contest and Mark Kelly's Senatorial race, were actually larger than those certified by the County and state officials last year.

But, while the Ninjas tried (unsuccessfully) to bury that embarrassing finding, they also tried to flood the zone with smoke and mirrors about tens of thousands of ballots that they suggested were either illegal or fraudulent in their three-volume report on the audit, and a three-hour presentation last Friday to the GOP-controlled AZ state Senate. There too, they failed spectacularly with one outlet after another, including the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, fact-checking, debunking and explaining the so-called "critical" claims made by the Ninjas.

It seems the Ninjas never bothered to check with any actual election administration professionals, else most of their concerns would likely have been explained to them.

We're joined today for a postmortem debrief by an insider to much of the past five months of "audit" clown show theater in Maricopa,. You know him as that "bamboo guy". We have known him for many years as the longtime progressive election transparency advocate JOHN BRAKEY of AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us previously at the beginning of the "audit" for an insider view, and as it continued on for months past its initially planned three weeks, after comments of his taken out of context by a local reporter went viral, reporting that Brakey was looking for bamboo in the ballots, suggesting they were fraudulent and stuffed into the ballot box by China (as many in the MAGA set falsely claimed). In fact, as the later posted full context of his remarks reveals, Brakey was explaining what the Ninjas believed, not him, and that he was participating in the effort in hopes of "ungaslighting" the public about false and otherwise evidence-free claims being made by Trump supporters about the election results.

Brakey worked --- for free, while also refusing to sign the Ninjas' non-disclosure agreement --- with AZ's former Sec. of State, Ken Bennett, a Republican, who was tapped by the GOP state Senate to serve as their liaison to the "audit".

"The whole thing was a grift. Okay?," Brakey tells me today after the audits conclusion. "They didn't want people to know how screwed up they were. They're the best talkers but the worst producers. They pretend to know what they were talking about." But, as Brakey explains again today, they didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Among the many questions of mine that Brakey speaks to today:

  • Were his efforts to "ungaslight" the public by working on the audit successful or was it a mistake on his part to lend his credibility?
  • Does he believe the minds of any of the MAGA Mob were ultimately changed through this exercise?
  • As a long time election transparency and integrity champion, was there anything that the Ninjas DID uncover that was actually troubling and needs to be addressed or corrected by election officials?
  • Will the AZ "audit" make similar post-election reviews more or less likely elsewhere in the country?
  • What is the AZ Senate hiding by failing to release thousands of public documents and communications between them and the Ninjas (including emails and texts from Brakey), as ordered by a state judge?
  • And much more, including whether or not the Ninjas ever found that elusive "bamboo" in Maricopa County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among our stories today...

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

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

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

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Guest: Voting rights champion Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, after her GOP removal from Morgan County, GA's Board of Elections; Also: More tragic ends for COVID vaccine refusers; More evidence that AZ's election 'auditers' are clueless...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2021 6:49pm PT  

We've been reporting for months on the voter suppression laws being adopted by Republican-controlled states around the nation. But, in addition to disproportionately blocking minority groups from access to the ballot, we've also warned that many of these GOP state laws allow for the removal of qualified election officials, for virtually any reason, and replacement with partisans who may now undermine election laws and overturn election results. One of those longtime election officials who has just been removed in Georgia following the passage of the state's SB202 suppression law --- a woman who also happens to be a fierce, longtime voting and civil rights champ --- joins us on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, however, it's like the early days of the pandemic all over again in a number of very sad ways. Today, we have more sad news of misinformed, Trump-loving Republican COVID deniers and vaccine refusers who believed the pandemic was a hoax, and who are now tragically --- an unnecessarily --- being felled by the virus, despite the widespread availability of life-saving vaccines in the U.S. One doctor in Alabama wrote this week about sick patients begging for the vaccine, just before being intubated and told "it's too late."

Next, we add one important point to our detailed fact-check on yesterday's program in response to Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan's ridiculous (and uninformed) suggestions that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes may have been cast last year in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. His remarks were offered to a state GOP Senate panel last week, after the three month-long (and counting) "audit" theater his company was contracted to carry out of last year's election results, despite their lack of experience in elections or knowledge of voting systems. Those comments were then misinterpreted and amplified by the former President of the United States to falsely suggest the election in Arizona was stolen from him last November.

But there was one point from last week's forum that we didn't have time for yesterday. It included testimony claiming that Maricopa's computer voting and tabulation systems were wildly unsecure because their operating systems and anti-virus software hadn't been updated since the day Dominion Voting System's software was installed on the machines. It's true that those computers had not had security updates and patches applied since their first use in 2019. It's true that that is a "tremendous vulnerability" for those systems, as claimed at the forum. And it's also true that there is a very good reason why the software has not been updated since then --- which, had the AZ GOP Senate hired people who actually knew anything about voting systems, they would already have understood. We explain.

The story underscores the value of election officials --- and election auditors --- who are actually experienced and qualified for the job. Unfortunately, since Donald Trump launched his evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen from him, Republicans have been adopting laws in several states making it easier to remove experienced election officials and replace them with partisan patsies.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the great state of Georgia, where the GOP-controlled state legislature recently adopted SB202 in order to prevent certain voters from easy access to the ballot. That law, and others being adopted locally around the state, have resulted, according to the New York Times last month, in "members of at least 10 county election boards [who] have been removed, had their position eliminated or are likely to be kicked off...they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."

HELEN BUTLER was one of them. She is one of the state's most prominent advocates for voting rights and the award-winning Executive Director of The Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, founded by the late civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr.) She is also a ten-year veteran of the bipartisan Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections in the Republican-leaning rural enclave east of Atlanta. Or, at least, she used to be. After approval by the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, Butler and the rest of the Board Members were replaced at the end of last month. The Board Members will all now be selected by the partisan County Commission, instead of built from members selected by local political parties.

On today's show, Butler, who testified on voting rights at a U.S. Senate Rules Committee field hearing this week in the state, explains the reason the Commission voted to remove the Board, claiming that it was "dysfunctional", but never explaining what that meant. "We were never brought up for any Secretary of State's violations as long as I was a member of the Board," she explains. In short, Butler suggests, she was removed because the Board hired a diverse group of pollworkers and worked hard to make sure everyone, of all parties in the County, could vote and that their votes were counted as cast.

SB202, among other things, now makes it harder to vote by mail, bans absentee drop boxes, and blocks the distribution of food or water on long voting lines. Eight different lawsuits, including those filed by The People's Agenda and the U.S. Dept. of Justice (as well as the Coalition for Good Governance, for which, FULL DISCLOSURE, I am serving as a named plaintiff representing media) have now been filed in hopes of blocking the law for a host of reasons, including the disproportionate difficulties that will now be faced by minority voters. Butler describes SB202 as a "voter suppression takeover".

But the ability to remove and replace long-serving, qualified election officials with partisan appointees who can refuse to certify elections is certainly among the most chilling aspects of the law, Butler warns. She argues that, had these new laws been in place last year, Trump's attempt to "find" enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden in the Peach State --- as we all heard in his recorded (possibly illegal) telephone call with Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger --- would have been easy.

Our broad conversation, on a lot of these issues, also includes her thoughts on the ongoing investigation by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney into Trump's attempt to overturn the election. Butler also offers her plea for federal legislation, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to help overcome the state-based attacks on voting.

The delightfully optimistic Butler then ends our discussion with an ominous warning: "This is our darkest hour," she tells me. "This is our Selma moment, and we must act.  This is not just for black people or people of color. It's for all of us, for all Americans to have equal access to the ballot. Democracy is at stake here.  So people have to understand it's not about black people voting, this is about democracy. This is the moment. We really need to be paying attention and act to get the right people elected that will preserve democracy for America."

Please tune in for today's important show...

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Also: New analysis finds fewer than 200 POTENTIAL cases of voter fraud in AZ last year...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2021 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not only Trumpers who are wildly misinformed when it comes to the COVID vaccines. Callers ring in today (many who claim they are not Trumpers) to explain their reasons...as deadly and misinformed as they may be. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up, however, as the clown show "audit" theater by the Cyber Ninjas continues into its third month in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, Associated Press has published their own analysis of voter fraud in the state last November, as based on actual evidence. Through public records requests filed in each of AZ's 15 counties, the news organization has found there is evidence for fewer than 200 potential cases of voter fraud last year out of more than 3 million votes cast. That's a very far cry from the "massive voter fraud" our disgraced former President has claimed was carried out to give Joe Biden his 10,400 vote victory in the state. The evidence comes via both Democratic and Republican County and State officials, including investigations currently under way by Arizona's Republican state Attorney General. To date, indictments have been filed in just four (4) cases. Two of those cases involve Democrats, two involve Republican voters. Most of the known cases are unlikely to result in charges, as many of them could be book-keeping errors or innocent mistakes by voters who attempted to vote twice (once by mail and once in person, or even in two different states) for perfectly understandable reasons we discuss on today's show.

Then, as the Delta variant of the coronavirus tears through largely unvaccinated pockets of the country, COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates are on the rise again in the U.S. While the vast majority of those who become severely ill and/or die are unvaccinated (more than 95%), the threat of new variants which may not respond as well to existing vaccines looms --- as mask mandates are being restored in some places and as the nation's economy is once again under threat.

We recently covered heart-breaking stories of deadly --- because they were completely unnecessary and avoidable --- spikes in Trump-supporting states like Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. Today, Arkansas is taking the lead in new cases for no good reason other than usually misinformed, unvaccinated residents in the rural areas of the state. The New York Times, over the weekend, ran a devastating report out of the state, detailing the surge in severely ill patients and hospitalizations --- almost all of them unvaccinated and many of them now MUCH younger than during previous COVID surges.

But, it's not only in Trump Country. Even here in Los Angeles County, there are many among the vaccine hesitant. Over the weekend, L.A. chose to reinstate its indoor mask mandate as rates, even here, are beginning to increase again.

We wondered why this is, and what sort of information people are receiving that would lead them to avoid the live-saving vaccines, so we opened up the phones to exactly that today. The reasons, apparently, are many and varied. Some are certain that Big Pharma is pulling a hoax on all of us. (Though one caller cited information from "the inventor of the mRNA vaccines," Robert Malone, who, as it turns out, isn't the inventor at all, despite his claim. One wonders why anybody would therefore take his advice --- that the mRNA vaccines are dangerous --- seriously.) Others cite racial elements, buttressed by the tragic Tuskegee Experiment. But, as one caller notes, the tragedy of that study occurred because black men were not given life saving medicine as part of the study.

At least one caller believes evolution should be allowed to run its course, no matter how many tens or hundreds of millions are likely to die on the long and deadly road to "herd immunity".

In any event, it was an interesting hour (we hope) that may shed some light on the mess we are now in, as the nation --- with plenty of life-saving vaccine for all --- could, nonetheless, soon find itself locked down all over again due to massive misinformation that continues to pollute the body politic...

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Also: The 2020 Election Night genesis of Trump's 'Big Lie'; And heroic Texas state Dems land in D.C. to press Senate for federal reform...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2021 6:22pm PT  

As noted during today's BradCast, we've been fighting to protect, expand and shore up democracy for nearly 20 years on this program and at The BRAD BLOG. For the first time in all of those years, however, it now really feels as if we are in a battle to save democracy itself in America. So it was very good to hear the President of the United States today stand up and clearly spell out what is now at stake in that fight. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up today, Washington Post published a BradCast">fascinating excerpt on Tuesday from a new book by the Post's D.C. correspondents Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, named I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year. The lengthy excerpt details the tumultuous, chaotic and dysfunctional 2020 Election Day and Night inside the White House, as Trump discovered he was likely to lose his reelection race. We focus specifically on Leonnig and Rucker's reporting on what seems to have been the genesis of Trump's Big Lie, as it developed that night, reportedly as the brain child of his tipsy personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. His idea, rejected at first by Trump's advisors, was to simply say "we won" in every battleground state, despite mounting --- and, eventually, solid --- evidence to the contrary.

The Big Lie, adopted by Trump that night during his false "victory" speech in the wee hours, claiming the election was stolen and that "frankly, we did win this election," has poisoned the nation's soul ever since. At least the Republican part of the nation --- if they have a soul --- as GOP state lawmakers have opportunistically exploited that Big Lie in recent months to adopt severe new restrictions on voting and to institute provisions that allow partisan officials to overturn election results for virtually any reason.

Just before airtime on Monday's show, Democratic state lawmakers from the Texas House of Representatives left the state on two chartered planes to break the House quorum during a special session in the state legislature. The session was called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to force through a voter suppression bill that failed to pass when Democrats walked out on the last day of the regular session last May, also denying the GOP of a quorum to conduct business at the time. Now, the state Democrats have gone to D.C. for what they describe as "the fight of our lives." They hope to stop all business in the Republican-dominated state House during the 30-day emergency session and to press Senate Democrats to adopt the For the People Act at the federal level to help counter at least some of the restrictions Republicans are attempting to impose on Lone Star State voters, as well as those elsewhere in the country.

The heroic Dem state lawmakers, who face likely arrest upon returning home, deserve our support for their extraordinary attempted effort to save democracy in Texas. They say they plan to stay in D.C. throughout the 30-day session and lobby Senate Democrats like WV's Joe Manchin and AZ's Kyrsten Sinema to reform the filibuster to allow passage of For the People with a simple majority, as their only hope. Abbott, however, is able to call as many special sessions as he likes upon their eventual return. So, time is now very much of the essence.

At the same time today, President Biden was also using his bully pulpit to press for the protection of voting rights and American democracy itself. In a stirring speech at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, he outlined what is now at stake, declaring that "we are facing the most significant test of democracy since the Civil War." In remarks that would have sounded right at home during one of my rants on this he program, he noted bluntly, "the Big Lie is just that: a big lie." Biden described passage of federal voting rights legislation as "a national imperative," warning of the measures that are being enacted to not only suppress the vote at the state level, but overturn results.

"If you vote, they want to be able to tell you your vote doesn't count for any reason they make up," Biden charged, adding ominously (if correctly), "They want the ability to reject the final count and ignore the will of the people if their preferred candidate loses."

We share the President's speech in full today (transcript here, video here), as his important remarks are worth paying close attention to.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a dozen states in the West are now facing unprecedented heat, fire, drought and a serious stress test of the electrical grid, as our climate emergency becomes ever more apparent in very real, and very stark terms...

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