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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Cannon's Corruption: 'BradCast' 7/16/24
Guest: Attorney Keith Barber; Also: Menendez 'guilty' on all counts...
'Green News Report' 7/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Texas grid buckles under multiple disasters; Hurricane Beryl damages now estimated at $3 billion; PLUS: Climate crisis flip-flopper J.D. Vance gets GOP Veep nod...
Previous GNRs: 7/11/24 - 7/9/24 - Archives...
Amid the Assassination Attempt Aftermath:
'BradCast' 7/15/24
Also: Trump Stolen Docs Case Dismissed; OH's J.D. Vance named as GOP Veep nom; Callers ring in on all of the nightmares...
Sunday Monday 'Google Project 2025' Toons
After a brief pause following Saturday's assassination attempt of Donald Trump, we are back with our latest collection of last week's best political toons...
Meanwhile... :
'BradCast' 7/11/24
Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
'Green News Report' 7/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Flooding, power outages, sweltering heat as deadly Beryl fallout continues; New FEMA flood risk standards; PLUS: House Republicans bravely seek Freedom for Refrigerators!...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/24 - 6/25/24 - Archives...
Paging 'Johnny Unbeatable'! Dems (Actually!) in Disarray!: 'BradCast' 7/10/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
SCOTUS Immunity Ruling 'As Bad as it Sounds', And Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; U.S. heat records smashed...
'Green News Report' 7/9/24
Beryl breaks records, slams TX; 140m in U.S. under heat advisories; Big SCOTUS gifts for polluters; PLUS: Biden unveils first-ever extreme heat protections for workers...
So, What Now?: 'BradCast' 7/8/24
Listeners have strong opinions about where we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and disastrous Presidential Debate...
Debunking MAGA Cult Xenophobia
CANNING: Throughout U.S. history, decent, hard-working immigrants (like me) have contributed to the economy and our nation's security: CANNING
Sunday 'Courting Disaster' Toons
THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! In our special SCOTUS-sized edition of the last impossible week's best political toons!...
Sunday 'Bad Medicine' Toons
THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ... and more in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
'Green News Report' 6/27/24
China flooding; Heatwave, crop failure in India; Disaster upon disaster in NM; On edge for SCOTUS decision; PLUS: Biden climate law creates 300,000 jobs!...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Slate's legal and justice reporter Dahlia Lithwick; Also: Pence Press Sec., Stephen Miller's wife, tests positive for coronavirus...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2020 6:54pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: This week the Republican's stolen U.S Supreme Court took a huge step forward toward public transparency by live-streaming their oral arguments for the first time in history. No, it wasn't on video. It was via telephonic conference call. But one step at a time, I guess. There's something, anyway, to thank the coronavirus for. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We're joined today by Slate's Supreme Court legal expert and justice reporter DAHLIA LITHWICK to discuss the first-ever oral arguments by phone for the Court and the first to be broadcast live to the nation. It was also the week when the nation's heart skipped a beat or two for a short time upon learning that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been "hospitalized with an infection". Turns out the infection was thankfully not COVID-19, but a gallbladder matter which left the 87-year old Justice able to participate in the week's historic telephonic arguments from her hospital bed in Maryland.

"It reminds us," Lithwick says, "pinning all of our hopes on an octogenarian...is a pretty scary way to be doing justice. But in a really profound way, it kind of reminds us that the people who are getting shredded by this virus are that generation" and "It does make you realize how unbelievably susceptible the bulk of the Supreme Court is right now."

Beyond that, Lithwick, who hosts her own Slate podcast, AMICUS, sees this week's live broadcasted SCOTUS hearings as an encouraging step toward transparency for a Court that has been frustratingly camera shy. She also cautions, however, that the live broadcasts allowing Americans to hear how our laws are adjudicated at the nation's highest court in real time may not last after the pandemic subsides.

However, the week's historic hearings went well enough, she reports, even if the structure required to carry out oral argument by conference call necessarily changed the way in which cases have traditionally been argued in person, as Justices were not able to interrupt each other to press various arguments as they have always done --- and even as someone on the call forgot to mute their phone during a toilet flush heard during one of the first day's hearings.

Yes, we get to the straight poop on who may have been behind "the flush heard round the world" today, before turning to the substance of the actual cases heard before the Court. One was a fairly straightforward case on trademarks. Another was a much less simple one on whether religious groups and even private businesses have their religious rights infringed by being allowed to opt out of the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Yes, plaintiffs in this case --- including the Little Sisters of the Poor, a small group of nuns in Pennsylvania --- argue that being allowed to opt out of having their insurance provider offer contraceptive care to their employees somehow violates their religious and "moral" freedoms (whatever "moral" freedoms may be.)

We also discuss how the Court has selectively decided which of the many previously postponed cases from March and April (cancelled until the Justices figured out how to dial a telephone) would be rescheduled for this session versus the next one, where opinions will not come out until well after the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We then move on to an important (if too brief) conversation about how rightwingers seem to misunderstand the actual meaning of their favorite words "freedom" and "liberty", as invoked by the slave-holding founders of our Constitution. That, as anti-lockdown protesters haul semi-automatic rifles into state legislatures to demand the lifting of stay-at-home restrictions, shoot people who ask them to follow the law by wearing face masks inside stores, cite "tyranny" and invoke Japanese internment camps (as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice recently did) and call for the "LIBERATION" of states with Democratic Governors (as the President of the United States recently did.)

In her most recent column on this point, Lithwick flagged an essay by Ibram X. Kendi at the Atlantic which speaks to the "long-standing difference between core notions of what he calls freedom to and freedom from". The latter is seemingly being pushed out of the public square in favor of the former.

We discuss what Lithwick describes as "the movement out there that says, 'I don't have to wear a mask,' 'I have a Constitutional right to carry a gun into the capitol,' those are 'freedom to' values, but they subordinate huge masses of people who actually want to be free from those very things. These are a lot of the same arguments that people make about the Second Amendment. That they want to be free to parade around a restaurant, open carrying, and they don't realize that freedom for a lot of Americans is freedom from the terror of that act."

"I think that is a really emblematic new trend, where we're seeing these religious claims that say my freedom to X somehow subordinates and dominates your freedom to, in the Little Sisters context, have access to a statutory entitlement to contraception. My freedom to X, discriminate against people that I don't want to bake a wedding cake for, somehow is more important than your freedom from discrimination based on any identifiable class," Lithwick tells me. "I think this is a tension that is permeating how the courts are looking at a lot of values."

"It probably goes without saying, but let's go ahead and say it --- that it does seem as though if you are a straight, white Christian male, you have a lot of 'freedom to'. Even now, if you are protesting in the capitol in Michigan, if you're a white guy with a gun, your freedom to XYZ is predominant. And if you are an African-American out for a jog, your freedom from being executed summarily doesn't seem to matter. So I think part of the problem with this thumb on the scale for "freedom to" claimants is that it's not distributed equally across race, class, gender, or economic well-being."

Please tune in for that conversation --- and/or read Lithwick and Xendi at the links above --- for more than I have space or time to break down here for the moment on that important discussion.

Finally today, some quick news, an update, and some listener mail. The news is about the coronavirus working its way into the White House via Donald Trump's personal valet who tested positive this week and via Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, who tested positive today. After being in close contact with Pence and members of the press, it should also be noticed that Miller is married to Trump's Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, who is in close regular contact with the President of the United States. Will we see a change in the Administration's rush to reopen the country long before health experts say it is safe to do so if COVID begins to find its way into the White House --- and, perhaps, even the Oval Office?

The update is on the decision by Arizona's Health Department to reverse its cancellation earlier this week of the work by state university scientists on COVID-19 modelling.

And the listener mail regards a local postmaster who says he's decided to retire earlier than planned after "hatred" directed at his staff "by the segment of our town who watch Fox News" who are now "yelling" at Postal Workers for wearing masks on the job. Yes, it's an insane way to end another insane week in these "United" States of America...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Mayor Louie Bonaguidi; Also: Infection, death rate rising across country as Admin plans to shut task force; Trump throws tantrum over ad by Republicans; USDA does something right...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rural America is under siege from the coronavirus, as the Mayor of one of the hardest hit small towns in the nation joins us to explain how they are coping with the massive outbreak and an unprecedented lockdown barring all traffic into the town. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

Vice President Mike Pence announced today that the White House Coronavirus Task Force may be disbanded within the month, due to the "tremendous progress we've made as a country." Actual reality, however --- as represented by statistics, health experts and scientists --- suggests otherwise. For example, a new analysis from Associated Press today finds that, with the New York metro area removed from the statistics, the rate of both infections and deaths across the country are increasing, not decreasing. Another study from the Kaiser Family Foundation also finds that infection and death rates, particularly in rural areas, are spiking. Infection numbers are up in recent days by 115% and the COVID death rate has jumped 169% in rural areas, with many of the worst outbreaks occurring in states where Republican Governors are now foolishly relaxing stay-at-home restrictions and allowing business to reopen prematurely. The increasing numbers are in line with private calculations from the CDC and FEMA obtained yesterday by the New York Times.

Despite all of that, Donald Trump declared today that "It's time to open it up. ... Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open." Opening the country prematurely is likely to costs tens of thousands of lives, but Trump has a re-election to worry about, after all.

Right now, one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the nation is happening in Gallup, New Mexico, in the rural western part of the state bordering the Navajo Nation, the country's largest Indian reservation. "As of Sunday," the Times reports today, "the Navajo Nation had reported a total of 2,373 cases and 73 confirmed deaths from the virus." The infection rate in the area is the third-highest of any metropolitan area in the U.S., following only New York City and Marion, Ohio, where there is a mass outbreaks in a large prison cluster. Over the weekend, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked, for the first time in state history, the state's Riot Control Act. That has locked down the entire city, including the closure of all roads leading in to the town of 22,000 where the virus, she said "is running amok".

We're joined today by Gallup's MAYOR LOUIE BONAGUIDI, who was sworn into office just five days ago. When I joked about his trial by fire upon becoming Mayor, he quipped: "In fact, the Governor called me and said, 'Congratulations on your win. But, then again, I have to tell you we're locking down your city.'" Nonetheless, Bonaguidi, as well as former Mayor Jackie McKinney and Navajo Nation tribal President Jonathan Nez, all support the extreme measure that includes city, state and county police as well as National Guardsman blocking exits off the freeway and smaller roads into the town from the Navajo Nation, where, on the first of the month, thousands flood into the city for supplies.

"We had to do something," he tells me, in explaining the reasons for the "drastic" action. "The numbers are unbelievable. Between thirty and fifty thousand people come into the community. That's a major influx. We're thinking to ourselves, well, if the virus is here, then they're going to be taking it home to their families. So that's one of the reasons we thought maybe we'd better do it now. We'd better stop it on the first of the month when all of these people are coming into the community."

Bonaguidi says, however, that the community has been very supportive of the roadblocks, bringing drinks, water and food to the officers. A lack of water, however, is perhaps one of the reasons for the outbreak in McKinney County that, by itself, accounts for 30% of the state's infections. Much of the tribal reservation still lacks running water --- a new waterline is under construction, but will take years to be completed --- so careful hygiene amid the epidemic is not easy for many in the Native American community.

The Mayor explains that their two local hospitals are now at capacity and a local high school was converted into a hospital with the help of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. They do not have enough masks or sanitizer, he tells me, and the slow pace of receiving test results has made things much more difficult. "The sad part about it is the tests take so long. They take two, two-and-a-half days before they get back to you whether you're positive or negative. If the tests were quicker, we could get a handle on this virus. But it really makes it rough when you have to wait that long. ... I understand there are faster tests coming out, but we definitely have not been able to get enough of them. There are 70,000 people in the county, and they've basically only tested about 6,000 at this point."

Bonaguidi cautions that many in his community and others around the state and country are not taking the threat seriously enough. "We're doing everything we can. And the Governor has gone way out of her way for us here. It's too bad we had to be as drastic as we are. But, if anything, it's going to get the awareness out to the rest of the communities --- rural, for that matter --- that it's a serious situation, and we've got to address it."

When I ask what, if anything, the rest of us in the country can do to help, he told me: "We're all in this together. The whole world is fighting a virus, and there's just so little known about it. We're doing whatever we can to curb it, to stop it. I guess we can ask for your prayers, if anything."

UPDATE 5/6/2020: The Mayor's office sent along these link to groups that are helping the residents of Gallup and McKinley County right now and welcome your support!...

The Community Pantry: Making sure families in McKinley and Cibola Counties are getting food, with on-site pick up and deliveries.
Life is Sacred (arm of the Knights of Columbus): Donations here go toward food boxes that are delivered across neighboring reservations.
Southwest Indian Foundation: Donations support the purchase of clothing, water barrels, school supplies, masks, cleaning supplies and more.

Also on today's program: Apparently Trump is really really REALLY upset by a new :60 second ad called "Mourning in America" from The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans touting his disastrous and deadly failures in response to the crisis. And the USDA finally invokes their 1930s-era authority that allows for food purchases to help both farmers and people in need after millions of tons of fresh food and milk has been dumped by food producers unable to sell it to schools, restaurants and other facilities that have been shut down due to the crisis.

While that bailout actually helps both the industry and regular Americans in desperate need of food, the Administration's secretive big bailout for Big Oil is another matter all together, as Desi Doyen reports in our latest Green News Report to close out today's show...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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...And ensure the former Veep keeps his promise for 'one of the most progressive administrations since Roosevelt'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/24/2020 11:05am PT  

While it might appear counterintuitive, if a significant number of people vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the remaining primaries, that could enhance former Vice President Joe Biden's chances to defeat President Trump this November.

Let there be no mistake as to the tactical reasoning behind this assertion.

As observed recently by one of the Left's foremost intellectuals, Prof. Noam Chomsky, the U.S. 2020 Presidential Election will be "the most crucial election in human history." The re-election of Donald J. Trump, whom Chomsky describes as a "sociopath" and a "gangster", would produce an "indescribable disaster." It would threaten the survival of constitutional democracy and rule of law in these United States. Citing the climate crisis and an enhanced threat of nuclear war, Chomsky also argued that Trump's re-election would threaten the very survival of humanity.

It is vital that Trump be defeated. Basic math tells us that the only way sensible Americans --- Democrats, Independents and sane Republicans --- can avert Chomsky's "indescribable disaster" is to unite in support of the Democratic Party Nominee. There is virtually no chance that a third party candidate can win the 2020 election. Disaster cannot be averted by refusing to vote as a form of ill-considered protest.

Basic delegate math also reveals that, as Sanders clearly asserted, Biden will be the nominee. He offered that assessment, first, when he announced his decision to suspend his campaign and, again, during a joint, must-watch livestream endorsement. (See video posted below).

In Chomsky's view, there are "many enormous differences" between the presumptive empathetic Democratic Party Presidential Nominee and the "sociopath" who now occupies the White House.

As demonstrated by the President's asinine and unlawful decision to cut Congressionally authorized funding of the World Health Organization in the midst of a deadly global pandemic, Trump is impervious to either legality or political pressure. That stands in stark contrast to Biden, who, over his decades-long tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee, demonstrated a basic commitment to the rule of law, and who, per Chomsky, can be "pushed" to accept a progressive agenda.

So why does a vote for Sanders now help Biden win this fall?...

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

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Guest: Attorney Courtney Hostetler; Also: Studies find COVID deaths twice as high as thought, infections 25 to 80 times higher; And 'final dagger in heart of U.S. shale oil industry'?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2020 7:08pm PT  

We've got a whole lot jammed into one single hour of The BradCast today. So let's take this one step at a time and hope for the best. You may wish to stay away from anything that is breakable over the course of the hour. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

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

  • Hydroxychloroquine, the magical "100% cure!" for COVID-19 that Fox "News" promoted endlessly for weeks on end along with their stooge President in the White House, is, according to a new study of hundreds of patients at Veterans Health Administration medical centers across the country, not a cure at all. In fact, 28 percent of infected patients given the malaria drug along with regular care died, while only 11 percent who received the same care but without the hydroxychloroquine died. That's just one of the reasons you likely haven't heard either Fox or Trump, who encouraged folks to take it ("What do you have to lose?," he repeated over and again) mention it at all lately;
  • A new analysis of UK data by the Financial Times finds the number of coronavirus-related deaths there are likely more than twice as high as the officially confirmed count, which only tallies those who have died in hospitals after testing positive for the virus. The analysis confirms other similar studies of inexplicably high death rates (for any reason) in countries around the world, far in excess of average numbers this time of year, even after official COVID-19 are removed from the statistics;
  • While that study and others like it suggest the NUMBER of deaths, both directly and indirectly attributable to the pandemic, are likely at least twice as high as officially recognized, the death RATE for the coronavirus may be much smaller. A new study by USC and Los Angeles County, examining those with antibodies for the virus present in their systems, suggest that infections are far more widespread than previously understood. Infection rates appears to be as much as 28 to 55 times higher than previously understood in L.A. That study appears to confirm a similar one in Santa Clara County in Northern California, finding the rate of infection there to be as much as 50 to 80 times higher than previously known;
  • In short, there is a LOT that is not understood about this deadly virus, making it all the more insane that Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp (now followed by several other GOP Governors across the country) is planning to re-open the state's hair salons, tattoo shops, bowling alleys, massage parlors and other places of business this Friday, with movie theaters and restaurants set to be opened on Monday. During his stunning Monday announcement, Kemp claimed that "health care professionals" agreed with his action, even though members of his state's own COVID-19 task force and the mayors of its largest cities were never consulted and are reportedly furious. CNN reported on Wednesday morning that both Trump and Vice President Pence called Kemp on Tuesday to express their support for the move (even though mere seconds after we got off air today, Trump apparently flip-flopped during the White House briefing to claim he "strongly disagreed" with Kemp and thought it was "too soon" to reopen.);
  • Definitely not consulted in any of this were the state's front-line health care workers like Lawrenceville, GA physician Dr. Karla Lorraine. We share her moving "viral" video --- shot at work, while still in some of her personal protective equipment after hearing news of Kemp's announcement --- in which she begs people, through her own tears, to "please stay home!";
  • Next, as we do, we turn to what the hell people can do about all of this madness, beginning with VOTING these madmen out of office this year. To that end, we're joined today by attorney COURTNEY HOSTETLER, counsel at Free Speech for People, one of the groups representing the NAACP in a new lawsuit filed in North Carolina to prevent the use of new, "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" (yes, now infectiously dangerous) touchscreen voting systems in more than 20 counties across the very closely divided battleground state this November.

    The lawsuit [PDF] is one of many being filed in state after state as jurisdictions move to change voting procedures in the wake of a global pandemic. Aside from being a vector for spreading disease in many rural and urban counties (including Mecklenberg, the state's largest, most diverse and Democratic-leaning) Hostetler explains how the specific new systems in question, the ES&S ExpressVote, creates barcoded "paper ballot" summary cards that can never be verified as accurately reflecting the intent of any voter. The same systems, she explains, are also insecure and prone to failure, as seen in several states where those systems and very similar ones made by ES&S --- the nation's top supplier of voting systems and the largest private vendor in the country --- have failed in recent elections and were found vulnerable to hacking and manipulation in test labs.

    She also details a number of other maddening reasons that these expensive, dangerous, insecure and unverifiable new voting machines must be replaced with hand-marked paper ballot systems before the state's critical Presidential election this November.

  • Finally today, a few thoughts on crashing oil prices amid a worldwide glut that has led producers to literally pay people to take oil off their hands for lack of storage. One analyst suggests this moment is "probably going to be the final dagger in the heart of the U.S. shale oil industry." Yes, he means this could be the end of fracking in the U.S., at least for oil, if not natural gas. So, maybe something good after all can come out of all of our ongoing disasters...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: GA's Gov. Kemp plays politics with the health of state residents...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desperate to salvage Donald Trump's re-election chances, the White House and several GOP Governors are apparently now set on putting hundreds of thousands of Americans in their own states at grave risk. But, hey, this year's critical Presidential election ain't gonna just win itself, ya know! [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

We start today with some very smart "math and reality" from BradCast commenter "ComputerGeek" at DailyKos. Last Friday, he or she, posted a lengthy comment in response to our show on the emerging Death Cult that the GOP --- the formerly self-proclaimed "pro-life" party --- has now clearly become, in their latest twisted efforts to retain power at all costs.

ComputerGeek broke down the number of daily tests for coronavirus in the U.S. that would be needed, according to health experts, to re-open the economy safely. He/she put the number at anywhere from 11.6 million tests per day, to a much more conservative 1.1 million tests per day, depending on if you wanted to test the entire population every two weeks or just 10% of it. Either way, the numbers are insanely higher than the average 150,000 tests per day currently being carried out across the country, and bragged about by the President and Vice President alike. As they claimed during a briefing last week --- in defiance of reality-based health experts --- those testing numbers are now sufficient to allow states to begin gradually reopening once they reach a decline in documented cases over two weeks.

But "ComputerGeek" is just an anonymous Internet commenter. We can safely ignore his/her numbers asserting that anywhere from 1 to 12 million tests are needed daily, right? Wrong. A new study [PDF] out on Monday from a Harvard University panel of more than 45 experts in health, science and economics warns that 5 million tests per day by early June are necessary to ensure a safe reopening of portions of the economy, and that number "will need to increase over time (ideally by late July) to 20 million a day to fully remobilize the economy," according to the authors. Even then, they warn, it might not be enough to "protect public health".

The Director of Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which released the report, argues "This Roadmap is the only approach to BOTH contain the virus and ramp back up to vibrant economic life." Of course, we are nowhere near those kind of testing numbers in the U.S., as we have barely checked 4 million people in total since the pandemic began several months ago. Moreover, most of the nation's Governors reject the absurd advocacy from Trump and Pence, which contradicts their own health and science experts.

But not all of the Governors favor math and reality! Following a weekend of small protests by Trump supporters --- egged on by Rightwing astroturf groups, Fox "News" and the President himself --- objecting to continuing stay-at-home restrictions issued by Democratic Governors, a number of Republican Governors have decided its time to put their state's residents at increased risk of death by opening back up for business before virtually anybody believes it is safe to do so. Leading that list is Georgia's illegitimate, dumb-as-dirt Republican Governor Brian Kemp. After insisting just last week that it was too early to determine whether restrictions should be relaxed, Kemp announced on Monday that he is throwing the doors open for gyms, hair and nail salons and bowling alleys on Friday of this week and restaurants, movie theaters and churches by Monday! Moreover, he declared when making his surprise announcement yesterday --- without having bothered to consult with either of the Mayors of his state's two largest cities first --- that he "don't give a damn about politics right now." Sure ya don't, Guv.

But, speaking of politics in Georgia, voters soon to be at risk anew from the coronavirus under Kemp's dangerous new political scheme, are figuring out how to (literally) survive the state's upcoming primary elections now rescheduled for June 9th. That, after troubling (if predictable) data has begun to emerge from the state of Wisconsin, which held in-person elections two weeks ago after being forced to do so by the Republicans in their state legislature and on both the state and U.S. Supreme Courts. According to Milwaukee's Health Commissioner, at least 7 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed as having been tied to the state's April 7th election, with only 30% of the data so far reviewed following the two week incubation period for the virus. Six voters and one poll worker, to date, are known to have become infected after voters were forced to wait on hours-long lines and crowd into just 5 polling places in the city which usually offers 182 locations.

Late on Monday, our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, announced the filing of a 132-page federal lawsuit [PDF] against Georgia's Secretary of State which, she quips, could have been filed as just one page reading: "Don't be Wisconsin!"

In fact, the complaint includes more than 30 demands sought by the group to help ensure safety for the Peach State's voters during the primary. The complaint seeks to move the election from its currently scheduled June 9th date to June 30th in order to buy three more weeks of time in hopes of seeing the state's infection numbers come down. "Given the foolishness and recklessness that [Kemp] engaged in yesterday," she tells me, "it is probably now even more important to get that additional time to get more preparations." The June 9th date was already a replacement date after the state's initially-planned vote on April 28 was postponed due to the crisis.

The suit also seeks to force Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger to send absentee ballot request forms to 625,000 registered voters to whom he previously sent them to the wrong addresses, and to allow counties to use hand-marked paper ballots if they choose in order to avoid dangerous new touchscreen voting systems mandated across the state, despite the devices having become a vector for spreading disease during a pandemic. "It really doesn't take an epidemiologist to tell us that viruses are going to travel on those machines," Marks argues. It's not only the voting machines themselves, when using touchscreens, that presents a health hazard, as this graphic she posted last night on Twitter makes very clear.

Other changes sought by the Coalition --- which has successfully sued the state in the past to decertify touchscreen voting systems and prevent the rejection of absentee ballots, among other things --- include curbside voting for all ("Think of it as a kind of Sonic Drive-In form of voting"), personal protective equipment for poll workers, masks for voters and other demands which, remarkably, have not yet already been enacted by the state. The list of changes sought in the complaint also provides a useful template for voters in other states who may wish to hold officials accountable for doing the right thing, as more than 20 states still have upcoming primaries and all 50 will somehow have to figure out a way to hold safe elections this November.

"Look at Wisconsin," Marks reminds us. "They didn't start getting serious until it was too late. We're not seeing these kind of changes take place in other states as fast as we should. States should be enacting these things now."

(By the way, keep an eye out for Marilyn in HBO's disturbing new documentary Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections! You can watch it for free on HBO's YouTube channel through the end of May right here. And listen to my recent interview with the filmmakers right here.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report in which oil prices have now crashed so low --- actually into negative territory! --- that some companies are literally paying people to take oil off their hands! Also, the Trump EPA is setting new standards for poisoning Americans, even during a pandemic, and Earth Day celebrants are trying to figure out how to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the annual event tomorrow amid stay-at-home orders, a global pandemic, and a still-worsening climate crisis...

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Guest: Lulu Friesdat of SmartElections.us; Also: GA to open for businesses this week as infections increase; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2020 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The chaos continues...along with our efforts to try and bring common sense to the madness. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

Rates of COVID-19 infections are still getting worse, not better, in much of the country, particularly in rural areas and states not currently under statewide stay-at-home orders. At the same time, the President of the United States is citing those very areas as places that should be viewed as a model for ending stay-at-home restrictions as soon as the end of the month or earlier.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, on Monday afternoon, announced plans to do exactly that, with theaters and restaurant set to be opened back up in the Peach State as soon as this coming Monday. According to medical experts, however, opening up the country without much more testing and contact tracing in place is a recipe for disaster, even as there appear to be no such plan in place, and testing remains vanishingly rare in much of the nation.

Meanwhile, the results of the first major antibody test in the nation on Friday, revealed that hundreds of thousands if not millions of more people may have actually contracted the virus without even realizing it. Nonetheless, Rightwingers, egged on by Fox "News" and Donald Trump and funded by the same Rightwing outfits that fomented the so-called "Tea Party" protests against Barack Obama years ago, have now been protesting against state closures in recent days around the country --- largely in states controlled by Democratic Governors. On Sunday, front-line healthworkers in Denver were forced to clash with protesters who told them, as the nurses stood up to the protesters cars in their masks and scrubs: "Go to China if you want communism!"

Amid all of this, we are somehow supposed to hold safe and inclusive elections this year, with more than 20 states set to hold primary elections in coming weeks (Ohio will hold its previously postponed primary next Tuesday) and all 50 set to hold the critical Presidential general election on November 3rd. Many Democrats and voting rights advocates are calling for Vote-by-Mail ballots to be sent to all registered voters without restrictions. Many Republicans around the country are going to extraordinary measures to make it harder, not easier, to vote during the pandemic.

In New Mexico last week, the state's Supreme Court rejected the proposal by all 27 County Election Directors and NM's Secretary of State to send absentee ballots to all registered voters. Republicans opposed the plan and the court split the difference by mandating that absentee ballot applications be sent to all registered voters instead.

SmartElections.us, a "non-partisan project dedicated to elevating the issue of election reform to an urgent national priority," recently released an open letter signed by more than 50 election integrity groups and voting rights advocates calling on restrictions to be included with any federal funding that may be offered to states to help them manage elections amid the pandemic. While some of the larger voting rights groups across the country are calling for as much as 4 or 5 billion dollars to be allocated by Congress to the states, Smart Elections' co-founder LULU FRIESDAT joins us today to remind us --- as does the group's letter to Congressional lawmakers --- about the disastrous consequences of the last time Congress appropriated nearly $4 billion for "upgrading" elections

That was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, which allowed private electronic voting system vendors to swoop in and essentially privatize our public elections with voting systems that were vulnerable to manipulation and prone to failure. The group's open letter produced by Friesdat and the other election experts, calls for specific restrictions to be placed on the use of any federal funding sent to states and counties to help them move to more accessible absentee ballot-based elections this year, including requirements that allow for voters to be notified and cure ballots rejected by officials (for any of various reasons) and to make the request for absentee ballots easier for voters. At the same time, it also calls for restrictions that prevent the process from being opened up to potential fraud. In other words, they are calling for sensible processes that allow more access for voters without procedures that allow for easy voter fraud or that hand over hundreds of millions to private companies to further bar public oversight of elections.

The letter is a common sense reaction to the chaos that is currently underway...even if common sense and measured responses are not normally what one expects from talk radio and cable news in the middle of highly-partisan election made even more chaotic due to a deadly global pandemic.

Finally, today, we open the phones to listeners --- many of whom in our Southern California listening area, have been following stay-at-home orders as long or longer than most in the rest of the country --- to see how they're doing, and if they agree that it's time to open the country back up for business....no matter how many Americans will end up being unnecessarily killed in the bargain...

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Guest: Former health insurance exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: Depth of unprecedented crisis slowly coming to light despite 'World of Pure Imagination' from White House to Wall Street...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2020 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We are finally beginning to hear, at least from some in the media, about the unprecedented and nearly inconceivable depth of the crisis that coronavirus will wreak on both the lives of Americans and the U.S./world economy. But, for the moment, it's already wreaking havoc on the Presidential Primary election astonishingly still scheduled for this Tuesday in Wisconsin! And, in not unrelated news, employee health care plans, so zealously guarded during the peak of the Democratic Presidential Primary earlier this year, may have actually helped make the pandemic worse than it needed to be in the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of article.]

First up, Florida's mini-Trump Governor Ron DeSantis finally gave up the Fox "News" denial ghost on Wednesday and issued a statewide Stay-at-Home order for the Sunshine State. How many lives might have otherwise have been saved had he acted sooner, as health experts had been long imploring, remains to be seen.

But it's not only Republican Governors who appear in denial about the issue. Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, while responsibly issuing a statewide Stay-at-Home order on March 24, has nonetheless been supportive of the state holding its Presidential Primary, statewide Supreme Court election and municipal contests as scheduled NEXT TUESDAY, on April 7, in the middle of a global pandemic! (Not to mention amid his own Stay-at-Home order!) While Evers says that only the Republican-majority legislature has the legal authority to postpone it or mandate an all-mail election, state GOPers have agreed with the Governor's plan to move forward as scheduled. The result is already catastrophic.

There is a massive shortage of poll workers across the state, with more than 100 communities having no poll workers at all as of yesterday, with an overall shortage of some 7,000 workers in 60% of the state's municipalities. Evers has now called in the National Guard to work the polls, but it appears to be too little too late. The matter now comes down to the decision of a federal judge as to whether to postpone or not, as the Wisconsin Election Commission argues that large numbers of absentee ballots may never arrive in time for voters, and might never be counted at all, due to a simultaneous deluge of incoming absentee ballots that officials appear wildly unprepared to handle.

I only hope that the more than twenty states which have postponed their primaries (somewhat optimistically) to May or June are taking note of the ongoing meltdown in the Badger State, and that all 50 states get to work NOW to figure out how to safely, transparently and accurately manage the likely need for Vote-by-Mail elections across the nation for the never-more-critical Presidential election on November 3rd.

As we have been trying to underscore in recent days, the effect of the novel coronavirus is likely to be far more extensive --- both medically and economically --- than almost anybody has been discussing out loud, especially our national leaders and the media. Donald Trump and his White House have, of course, been in criminally obscene denial from the jump, but members of Congress and even presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden have not been much better at telling the truth to the American people about how deeply devastating this crisis is going to be to the economy and how long it is likely to continue.

Today, the New York Times finally began doing so, a bit, in two different articles. One from Jim Tankersley reveals that top White House economists on the National Security Counsel warned about exactly this scenario in a study published last September, long before Trump and his public-facing economic team repeatedly lied to the media about the virus being under control and no threat to the economy. The other Times piece, from reporter Peter Goodman, details how the economic downturn is likely to continue "into next year, and even beyond" and why the almost certainly lengthy "abrupt halt of commercial activity threatens to impose economic pain" that could take years to recover from in what is shaping up to be "a financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions". One result, according to a recent analysis by the St. Louis Fed, is that as many as 47 million Americans could find themselves unemployed soon. (That amounts to an approximately 32% jobless rate, compared to 25% during the Great Depression and 10% in the 2008 Great Recession.)

So, how are those employer-based health care plans looking right about now for millions of Americans who have already or are about to lose both their jobs AND their health care insurance? At the height of the still-ongoing Democratic Primary, the case was made by candidates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigeig and Amy Klobuchar that such plans were just too good for Americans to give up in favor of a single-payer, government-funded, cradle-to-grave, Medical-for-All type plan, like that proposed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. But our guest today, former healthcare insurance executive turned political columnist and host of The Zero Hour, RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW, argues at The American Prospect that the structure of many of those employer-based plans --- and the way most such coverage has been structured since the 1980s in the U.S. --- may have resulted in the pandemic's spread being worse than it might otherwise have been in this country, were it not for "a plot twist worthy of H.G. Wells".

Eskow explains how the timing of the viral spread in the U.S. --- at the beginning of the year, instead of year's end, after costly deductibles may have already been covered by many --- might have prevented thousands from seeking care earlier.

"You have 70%, according to polls, of Americans saying they don't have $1000 on hand for an emergency, and you have deductibles on average that are higher than that," he says. "Most people don't meet their deductibles in the first quarter of the year. The pandemic struck in the first quarter of the year. They literally have to pay 100% out-of-pocket at this point. Maybe they'll get reimbursed someday, but remember, they don't have the cash on hand. So we have a situation where people almost certainly are not getting checked out as quickly as they should be, which is promoting the spread of the disease and worsening the progression of the disease for people who have it."

He also details how the cost-sharing structures of most "health benefit plans" --- requiring co-pays, deductibles, premiums and other out-of-pocket "cost sharing" expenses, as implemented by employers and health insurance companies to actually discourage care-seeking ("skin in the game", as many have referred to the concept over recent decades) --- has further helped to unnecessarily worsen the crisis in a way that a Medicare-for-All styled system might have helped to avoid.

Eskow, who served as a Senior Writer and Editor for Sanders' 2016 Presidential campaign, also discusses what effect, if any, all of this may be having on the Vermont Senator's insistence on remaining in the race until a nominee is officially chosen, somehow, at some version of a Democratic National Convention this year...

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Guest: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the news remains largely grim --- we'd expect no less during a global pandemic --- but there continue to be signs of light, way, way...way down at the end of the tunnel. For many in the journalism industry, however, the tunnel may be far too long and dark to make it out to the other side. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, thanks to an entirely dysfunctional, entirely failed Presidential Administration, things that should already be getting better --- the easy stuff, like testing, personal protective equipment and ventilator shortages --- shamefully, do not appear to be getting better in many parts of the country. The death toll in the U.S. has now officially surpassed both China's and our own on 9/11.

But we see more and more signs each day that at least physical distancing appears to be working as hoped --- slowly, but with unmistakable progress in locations where it is being dutifully practiced. But there remains a long way to go, and a dark tunnel to get through until we see that full light.

With nobody on the federal level leading the way, states and cities continue to do so as best as they can. But it is difficult if not impossible for them, or the news media, to know what to even expect on a macro level as the economy heads into completely unknown territory. According to at least one new economic analysis from the St. Louis Fed, unemployment rates could end up dwarfing even the highest levels of the Great Depression, much less the Great Recession.

And with that cheery news, we're joined today by longtime media industry expert CRAIG SILVERMAN, BuzzFeed News' Media Editor, to discuss the troubling outlook for independent local media as well corporate media amid the coronavirus pandemic. The industry is one of the first to feel the brunt of a nearly national shutdown. Ironically enough, the readership for many news outlets has "skyrocketed across the board" online, he says. "People are hungry for the latest quality information about what's going on with the coronavirus, and they're going to news organizations to get that information."

At the same time, however, ad revenue has collapsed and the same outlets across the country (and world) seeing a spike in readership are being forced to shut down the print sides of their publications, lay off journalists, and otherwise scale back reporting at a time that good local journalism is needed more than ever.

A number of alt-weeklies have already gone under, as their ad revenue is based almost entirely on industries like restaurants, bars, movie theaters, concerts and live events that have all been forced to shut down. "The alternative weeklies are kind of canaries in the coal mine. A lot of alt-weeklies have already gone out of business in Canada and the United States," Silverman warns. "A lot of the very small newspapers, especially that are part of chains, or had debt, they may not be able to come back."

"Now, we've got some of the biggest newspaper chains in the US, like Gannett [publisher of USA Today and more than a dozen other major papers], yesterday they announced they're doing unpaid newsroom furloughs for one week a month. Los Angeles Times is significantly cutting back on its print sections Monday to Friday. Other newspapers are getting rid of print editions," he tells me.

Silverman explains what one journalism industry analyst is describing as a "full extinction event" for many outlets, and the millions of dollars in lost revenue for some of the largest ones, thanks to a bizarre ad blocking scheme that some major brands are instituting on coronavirus related news stories.

We also discuss what you, dear readers and listeners, can do to help. "This is the moment for you to pay for the media that you care about," he says. "It's about people deciding for themselves what media they want to support. It may not be a big national outlet. If you have money right now --- and that is a big 'if', a lot of people are struggling --- but if you have money and you can afford maybe $5, $10, $15 a month, this is the time to stand up and show that support. A lot of people in newsrooms who are getting laid off, furloughed, who are getting pay cuts, this can make a difference if enough people step up and start to do it."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report as Trump's EPA, even in the middle of an unprecedented health crisis, has now officially reversed landmark Obama-era mileage standards for cars that, in addition to combating climate change and lowering gas prices, would have also helped prevent some 1,400 unnecessary American deaths per year. But that's not all the Administration is doing to undermine the planet's climate and the health of Americans while most folks are looking the other way, and as the plastic industry is hoping to find profit in a pandemic...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with insurance industry whistleblower Wendell Potter; Also: Some much needed laughs!...
By Nicole Sandler on 3/27/2020 5:02pm PT  

Greetings from the coronavirus zone, aka planet earth. It's NICOLE SANDLER back today to guest host the BradCast.

We're in the middle of a universally shared experience unlike anything in our lifetimes. People all over the world are dealing with the same crisis-- this new, very contagious and quite deadly disease for which there is no vaccine, no cure, and no prescribed treatment. All over the world, we're practicing social distancing and trying to stay safe.

Worldwide, we're coping in various ways; many are harnessing their creativity and the power of music and the internet and creating some fun and very funny music parody videos. Today, with the belief (which apparently even AP agrees with) that laughter is the best medicine, we'll share some that I've discovered over the past week or so with you. As an added bonus, I'll post the videos of the songs featured on the show today at the bottom of this article.

Now for the serious stuff. Last weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. I was on the air at Air America while that legislation was being written, rewritten, and debated ad nauseum. It was during that time that we first met WENDELL POTTER, still the only former health insurance industry executive with the integrity to come forward to admit what he had done and try to fix the very flawed system.

Today, Wendell Potter is president of both Medicare for All Now and Business For Medicare For All, and he joins me to talk about the lack of progress in the past 10 years, and how the coronavirus crisis proves how necessary Medicare for All is for our survival, telling me: "People are going to avoid getting the care they need because they just simply don't have the money to pay for treatment even if they have insurance because of the high deductibles that most of us are in now. And it’s important to note that we're alone in the developed world in having a system like this. ... Yes, other countries are dealing with this crisis too, but we have this particular problem of having almost 30 million people in this country who don't have insurance, another 60 million who are underinsured, who don't have enough money in the bank to cover the out-of-pocket expenses even with insurance to get the care that they need."

Here's the link to audio of today's show! The video versions of the parody songs we played today are embedded below it...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

The video versions of the parody songs I shared on today's BradCast are embedded below, since laughter --- especially now! --- really is the best medicine...

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

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Guest: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the bill? Who's now holding it up? And how Governors are dismissing our idiot President...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Avery important lesson from the coronavirus crisis for progressives and for all Americans that I hope we are all able to remember once this crisis has finally ended. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article. Please click it!]

Britain's 71-year old Prince Charles, 71-year old Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and 81-year old playwright Terrence McNally all tested positive. The prolific playwright succumbed on Tuesday in Florida. They were all able to get tested for coronavirus. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans still cannot. Add it to the list of national disgraces we are collectively enduring as we stay-at-home as much as possible in hopes of slowing the spread to keep our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.

That said, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have come to an agreement on another emergency spending bill to address a bit more of the growing fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. The bill, if allowed to pass in the Senate by four Republicans now blocking it, and if House Democrats can pass a similarly acceptable bill, will cost a record $2 trillion. That's half the size of the nation's annual $4 trillion annual federal budget, and many experts agree, there will need to be much more spending hereafter.

And yet, nobody --- not Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives or White House --- seems to be complaining that we don't have the money to pay for it, or that we must cut somewhere else or raise taxes to be able to afford it. It is as if, as our guest today, Stony Brook University Professor of Economics and leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory STEPHANIE KELTON notes, we are able to just "conjure into existence, in a matter of days, a couple of trillion dollars," enough money for the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And, as it turns out, she is right!

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted recently in response to the sudden disappearance of so-called "Deficit Hawks" on Capitol Hill: "It's actually a fascinating progressive moment, because what it's shown is that all of these issues have never been about 'how are you going to pay for it?' It's never been about whether we have the capacity to do these things. All of these excuses that we have been given as to why we can't treat people humanely have suddenly gone up in smoke. And what has been revealed is that all of these issues were really about a lack of political will and who you deemed worthy to be in an emergency or not."

Kelton, the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has been trying to make these points of late in Twitter threads, New York Times op-eds, and her upcoming book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy. As she tells me today, "Congress will always find the funds to accomplish the things that it considers a priority. If that's tax cuts, then that's the priority, and the money will be there. If it's wars, that's the priority. If it's dealing with a global pandemic, then that suddenly becomes a priority."

She laments that Democrats, over months on the Presidential campaign trail, have not been able to educate the American public about these facts and how difficult it has now become --- after years of phony claims from politicians (of both parties) that the U.S. was going broke or that government should be run by the same fiscal rules that govern households and businesses --- "to disabuse people of these myths that we have heard from our politicians, pundits and reporters."

She argues "There is a time and a place for offsets. It's not a free lunch", but Bernie Sanders' call for "canceling $81 billion of medical debt is nothing. It's everything to the people who have medical debt. But from the perspective of the federal budget, it's practically a rounding error, it's so trivial. We could have done that and not offset it," she says. "The federal government's finances don't work like ours. They're not subject to the same constraints as a household or a private company. Once you get your head around that, a lot of other things follow."

"A year ago, could we have just done free college or Medicare For All or whatever? The answer is yes. Congress can write and pass any bill it chooses, period. The risk, though, is that if you don't include offsets, and you're simply authorizing these huge spending bills left and right, at some point you're going to eat up all of the fiscal space left in the economy. In other words, it's going to become inflationary. So there is a time and a place for offsets." That time, apparently, is not now, however. And she hopes that after this emergency finally passes, enough Americans will remember what happened here, how easy it was to "find" all the money when it was needed, to finally do away with the notion that endless wars and corporate subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy are the only things we can afford to spend money on to "promote the general welfare" of the American people.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including details on what the proposed Phase III emergency coronavirus spending bill will and won't pay for, and the good news that America's Governors --- both Democratic and Republican --- seem to be rejecting our corrupt, man-child President when it comes to his dangerous coronavirus idiocy.

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Guest: Financial journalist David Dayen on 'Phase III' stimulus/bailout, Trump's deadly lies; Also: India's total lockdown; NY screams for help; Dems unite against $500B White House bailout 'slush fund' scheme...
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2020 6:32pm PT  

As Congress fights over its promised $2 trillion "Phase III" relief bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we've got some dumb questions for our guest about it all on today's BradCast.

But first, some of the latest news from around the world and the nation. India announced a 21-day lockdown for all residents, including "a total ban on venturing out" of the house, according to President Narendra Modi on Tuesday. That lockdown for all of India's 1.3 billion citizens, in a nation with three of the world's 10 most densely populated cities, comes after just 469 identified cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths there.

That is by way of contrast with New York, where its "only" 20 million residents are now facing more than 25,000 reported cases and at least 157 deaths, as the number of cases is now reportedly doubling every three days. The most infections are in New York City, which does not even make the list of the world's 10 mostly densely populated cities. The state's Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday is expressing growing frustration with the federal government, after they received just 400 ventilators in New York City, despite a need for as many as 30,000. They also estimate that as many as 140,000 hospital bed will be needed for virus patients, while only 53,000 are currently available. The state, the Governor says, has not "flattened the curve," which he describes as "actually increasing" despite the statewide stay-at-home order issued late last week.

At the same time, Donald Trump is attacking Cuomo for some reason or another, while lying about GM, Ford and Tesla "right now" making ventilators "FAST!". They are not and likely will not be doing so for a number of weeks or even months at earliest.

Nonetheless, on Tuesday, Trump suggested that by Easter (April 12), he hopes to roll back the current White House recommendations for social distancing in order to try and save the economy --- apparently no matter how many Americans he helps kill in the bargain. And it could be millions dead if he follows up with the action that he and Fox "News" have been suggesting and threatening of late, while the President of the United States continues to misleadingly argue that "we can't let the cure be worse than the problem." The "problem" for Trump, in this case, is not dead Americans. It's a tanking economy that he fears may harm his reelection chances.

But while Trump is busy lying and misleading in televised briefings and Fox interviews, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are trying to pass a record $2 trillion emergency relief package and claim they are close to reaching an agreement. That, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, frustrated with GOP intransigence on the Senate side on Monday night, released their own 1,400 page proposal called "The Take Responsibility for Workers & Families Act" which would pump hundreds of billions toward hospitals, health care workers and emergency medical coverage while expanding unemployment insurance, medicaid, food assistance programs, offering $500 billion in loans and grants to small businesses, help on some student loan debt, and immediate cash assistance to everyone in America.

We're joined today by The American Prospect's Executive Editor, longtime financial journalist DAVID DAYEN to explain the proposed bills and answer several "dumb questions" of mine about how the bailout programs might be structured to actually ensure help to individual Americans rather than corporate interests. One is my question about his thoughts on my own bipartisan stimulus proposal for a bailout that would let corporations keep the huge tax cuts they received in 2017 (stimulus that many of them have squandered) in exchange for the same amount of direct cash payments to individuals now and in the future, until such time as both can be stopped when the emergency is over.

Another question is whether all rent and mortgages can simply be paused until the crisis is over. Dayen tells me that is called "forbearance" and a version of it was actually included in the proposal Pelosi introduced last night. Whether it will remain in the Senate bill, of course, remains to be seen.

Dayen, who wrote an award-winning book on the 2008 financial meltdown, also offers a likely explanation for Trump's threatened plan to try and re-open the country for business after Easter, and whether the economic damage wrought by the current pandemic is likely to be even worse than the 2008 mortgage disaster.

Also, the two excellent recent stories by David at The Prospect that I quickly referenced on today's show:

  • "Mind the Trust Gap" - The story of scarce face masks during a pandemic points to a greater failing: Government has placed corporate greed above the public good.
  • "An Iowa-Style Voting Disaster in Los Angeles": A new voting system led to a debacle on Super Tuesday in the City of Angels. With similar machines in critical states like Georgia, election experts are raising alarm. (As noted, I am liberally quoted throughout that one, but it is an excellent piece anyway!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report in these grim times, with a few more "bright" lessons we can take from the coronavirus fallout around the globe, several ongoing and pending climate crisis-related disasters in African and the U.S. Midwest, and California's largest utility company pleading guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter. (Told ya these were grim times!)

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and pandemic affects on immigration courts, prisons and the Judiciary; Also: Statewide 'stay-at-home' mandates; Mask shortages and price gouging; More postponed primaries; and socialist Trump comes unglued at WH presser...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Governors in California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania are among the first to issue statewide "stay-at-home" orders, though more are likely to do so very soon as the nation begins to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. But is it possible, legal or Constitutional that Donald Trump could exploit this serious public health crisis to postpone or cancel this November's critical Presidential election? We gets some legal and Constitutional answers to that question today and the answers are both comforting and not comforting at all. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, CA Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a letter to Donald Trump, warned that, without mitigation efforts, including help from the federal government, as many as 56% of the Golden State's population (or 25.5 million people here) could become infected over the next two months.

At the same time, a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers has led to price-gouging by the nation's medical supply companies, according to a GA healthcare CEO who says he is being charged $7 a piece for critical masks that usually cost .58 cents each. But why do we even have a shortage, given that we've known about this matter for months and Trump has now supposedly invoked the Defense Production Act, allowing the federal government to commandeer manufacturing facilities to meet critical needs for the nation's security?

At the same time, just days after the Republican Party had been tarring the Democratic Party as "socialists", Republicans are now calling for major socialist giveaways to combat the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, Trump is even calling for the federal government to take ownership in private corporations that may soon be receiving yet another socialist bailout. That's right, according to the President, Republicans like him now support the very definition of socialism wherein the government takes control of the means of production.

Then again, based on the President's unhinged behavior at today's White House press briefing, which we share on the show, he may be losing track of reality even faster than previously.

All the while, states around the nation continue to postpone previously scheduled Presidential primary elections, with Connecticut and Indiana over the past 24 hours joining more than a half dozen states who have already done so. But, never mind the primaries. With a desperate, already-unbalanced President like Trump, would anybody be surprised if he attempted to invoke national emergency powers amid a global pandemic to try and cancel this November's Presidential election all together? And, if he wanted to, does either federal law or the U.S. Constitution allow him to do so?

Slate's ace legal and court reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN has been looking into that point which, he tells us, might have seemed crazy just a few weeks ago, but no longer. The short answer is no, Trump can't do it on his own, not without Congress agreeing. But there are enough "red" states with a mechanism for doing so that, under this Presidency, you'd be ill-advised to keep your guard down. He explains the no-longer-unimaginable circumstances that could occur.

He also details how the Trump Administration recently ordered immigration judges to remove CDC posters warning about the coronavirus epidemic from their courtrooms, as crowded detention centers become breeding grounds. Stern says that, at this point, with this crisis and some 50,000 jammed into crowded, unsanitary detention camps, "the entire system is in total disarray."

Stern has also been reporting of late on how it's not only the Executive Branch that has monumentally failed to take appropriate action for weeks to prevent the spread of the virus --- the Judicial Branch, headed up by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, has failed mightily on that score, as both courtrooms and prisons have turned into viral petri dishes over the past several weeks. "It is a mess, because the chief judge of every different district court is making these decisions on the fly," he tells me. "Unfortunately, people are still being exposed to this virus in federal courtrooms right now. "

But at least Roberts has cancelled oral arguments before his own Court this month, including cases regarding whether Trump must release his taxes to law enforcement officials and whether or not Presidential Electors in states across the country must, in fact, vote the way their state's have when those electors cast their lot with the Electoral College. That question --- if SCOTUS ever reconvenes and issues an opinion on it --- may play a key role in the question regarding the ability of this President to effectively cancel this year's Presidential election.

All of those issues, and many others today, in another don't-miss, news-packed BradCast!...

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Guest: Montgomery County, MD Dep. Election Dir. Alysoun McLaughlin; Also: Progressive U.S. House candidate wins in IL; With all market gains since inauguration gone, Trump declares self a 'wartime president'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Former Vice President Joe Biden trounced Bernie Sanders in three more states on Tuesday. The coronavirus pandemic continued to spread as all of the stock market gains since Donald Trump's inauguration were finally wiped out. And the nation's elections officials --- at least some of them --- began eyeing the need to move to Vote-by-Mail elections as a temporary mitigation for the foreseeable future. But is that a good idea? Are we ready for it? [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

First up, however, some good news, believe it or not! Marie Newman, a progressive challenger to far-right anti-abortion Democratic U.S. House Rep. Dan Lipinski, appears to have won her primary race against the conservative eight-term Congressman in Illinois 3rd Congressional district. The victory in the very "blue" suburbs of Chicago virtually guarantees Newman's election to the House in November, mirroring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' 2018 defeat of longtime (if less execrable) Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in New York.

Beyond that, Biden appears to have delivered a thumping to Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, increasing his lead in the nominating contest to a seemingly insurmountable 300 delegates. All three states held low-turnout primaries on Tuesday amid warnings from health officials to avoid large gatherings, polling places that were closed or moved at the last minute, and a shortage of pollworkers due to cancellations in the wake of coronavirus concerns. Ohio, which was also supposed to vote on Tuesday, postponed its Presidential primary until June at the very last minute.

Both Biden and Sanders addressed supporters on Tuesday night via live Internet streams due to the cancellation of live rallies. They both focused mostly on actions needed to address the pandemic. Despite rumors throughout the day on Wednesday, and the cancellation of online digital ads, the Sanders campaign maintains that they are not suspending, but reassessing their campaign with three more weeks until the next scheduled primary, given all of the various states which have now postponed elections amid the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate finally passed an emergency relief measure adopted by the U.S. House last week to guarantee paid sick leave and expanded unemployment benefits to certain workers, while extending some food security programs, even as a FAR larger stimulus package will be required in response to the ongoing crisis, as markets fell again on Wednesday, reversing all of the gains since Trump took office. For his part, the President vowed to invoke the Defense Production Act to allow the federal government to commandeer private U.S. facilities to manufacturer various needed medical supplies such as masks and ventilators. With the economy in tatters and after weeks of bungled responses, Trump has now declared himself a "wartime president", even as he continues to attack his perceived political enemies and employ racist terms to describe the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid all of this, the nation's elections officials are turning their efforts toward quickly devising ways to safely hold upcoming primary elections as well as the general election in November. On Tuesday, the Governor of Maryland postponed the state's April 28 primary elections until June 2, but allowed the scheduled U.S. House Special Election to fill the Baltimore seat of the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings to proceed as an all-mail contest. Joining us today to discuss the efforts now underway to quickly move to Vote-by-Mail elections in Maryland (and elsewhere) is ALYSOUN MCLAUGHLIN, longtime Deputy Election Director for Montgomery County, MD. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and as Vice Chair of the National Association of Counties.

Following her Governor's executive order postponing the statewide primary while calling for an all-mail U.S. House Special Election next month, McLaughlin explains some of the many challenges officials face in turning to VBM elections in the state. "The way we see it, we don't have a choice. The way we see it, there's a whole lot of really challenging problems in conducting an election under these circumstances right now, and the best way for us to serve everyone --- and to serve everyone avoiding the kinds of stresses and strains that we saw on polling places on Tuesday --- is for us to mail everyone a ballot. And immediately that takes the pressure off of the polls. That allows us to deal with the fact that our workforce is so significantly diminished in staffing a polling place election."

She tells me that officials in all 24 counties in the state feel the move to mail every registered voter a ballot is necessary for the newly-reschedule primary, though the state Board of Elections will still need to approve the plan. At the same time, there are many challenges and concerns in turning to such a system, particularly in such short order. We discussed a number of them on yesterday's program and Washington Post's Cybesecurity 202 column detailed several more. I've laid out even more such concerns over many years counseling caution, as I have long opposed VBM elections except where voters were unable to vote at the polls on Election Day or where a jurisdiction forces voters to vote by unverifiable, unsecure --- and, yes, germy --- touchscreen voting systems at the polls. (Thankfully, Maryland, which, with Georgia, was first in the nation to adopt statewide touchscreen voting in 2002, no longer does so, having moved recently, and sensibly, to hand-marked paper ballots for all.)

My conversation with McLaughlin today highlights some of those concerns, including questions about signature verification which, she says, her state does not use at all in determining if absentee ballots are to be included in the tally or rejected from the count. It's an eye-opening and important discussion that we will, necessarily, continue to have, in hopes that states adopt new temporary election practices in line with recommendations from health experts, even while observing best practices required to make sure VBM elections are secure, inclusive and publicly overseeable...

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Coronavirus, lack of leadership, wreak dangerous havoc on country and economy amid most important Presidential election in nation's history...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

To quote Donald Trump when he thought the cameras had stopped rolling after his disastrous Oval Office address last week: "Oooookaaay...." So, we are now living in a new world. For the time being. Millions are being instructed to stay home from work. Markets are tanking. Major states and cities are shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters and casinos. Some are instituting full "stay at home" lock-down orders. And Congress is scrambling to pass emergency legislation to try and help displaced workers and families as the coronavirus crisis threatens to shut down the nation entirely for weeks, months or longer. All of this amidst a Presidential election under the most dangerously inept and dishonest Administration in the history of the nation.

On today's BradCast, we try to get you caught up with the unfolding, bizarre and disorienting mess that we are all going through together in hopes of "flattening the curve" of the rate of infections to try and ensure that the U.S. hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed with patients. Like you, we have no idea how this is supposed to work, but we're all working through it together, even as Trump literally told the nation's Governors today they are on their own in coming up with enough respirators and other medical equipment to keep their residents alive, and as he continues to lie to the country about the availability of testing and eventual arrival date of a vaccine (which is most likely more than a year from now, even as a single live test began today).

And, speaking of that Presidential election, states --- particularly those which are touchscreen-voting heavy, like Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio --- are beginning to announce postponements of their primary elections. Ohio's Governor has attempted to do so before tomorrow's planned election that was to be held along with Florida, Illinois and Arizona. But a state judge, late today (minutes ago, justt after we got off air) has now blocked the Republican Ohio Governor's attempt to postpone. So, full-on chaos for a change in the Buckeye State tonight. The other three big states (at least at this hour) are planning to go through with their own elections tomorrow, even as polling sites at senior citizen centers are requiring last-minute relocation and frequently-elderly poll workers are (justifiably) calling in to cancel.

Other states, such as New York are considering postponement, while Maryland considers moving to all-Vote-by-Mail primaries. More than a dozen states, such as Texas, do not even currently offer no-excuse absentee voting. That needs to change. [CORRECTION: I had initially cited Pennsylvania as one of those states that do not allow no-excuse absentee voting. In fact, no-excuse absentee voting was instituted late last year as part of a package of election reforms in the Keystone State. My apologies for the error!]

We cover all of that AND wave very briefly at Sunday's Presidential Debate (which we hope to revisit in a bit more detail soon - but we'll see) before opening the phones to check in with callers today, including one from Minneapolis who describes the situation there as dire, others from Southern California who wonder where the head of the CDC has disappeared to, and another who questions both the threat and infection numbers currently being reported. All of that and way too much more on today's BradCast...

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Prime-time Oval Office speech goes disastrously, markets plunge, almost all gains under Trump wiped out, major league seasons called off, Biden and Sanders step up, even as critical elections threatened by virus...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's error-laden prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday night did little to ease the nation's anxieties over the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it appears to have made things much worse in a number of ways.

The Dow Futures market plummeted as his remarks began, with the DJI closing down more than 2,300 points on Thursday. In all, after hitting a record high just weeks ago, the markets have lost nearly 90% of the gains they've seen since Trump took office in January of 2017. One more day like this and all of those gains will be lost. So much for "rocket fuel to the economy".

Fortunes on Wall Street, however, may be the least of the country's problems right now. Trump's announcement on Wednesday night called for a travel ban from all European countries other than the United Kingdom (for reasons that no one seems able to explain) and for the payroll tax cut he's been seeking for months (long before the virus), which few experts believe will be much help amidst this worsening epidemic. Moreover, no sooner did Trump finish his teleprompter remarks than the White House had to begin issuing corrections to them. No, trade and cargo would not actually be banned from Europe, as Trump claimed, and the health insurance industry didn't actually agree to offer free coronavirus treatments to all as the Liar-in-Chief claimed Wednesday night.

Europe was blindsided by the announcement, and it was left to Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to try and calm an anxious nation today with their own speeches addressing the crisis as Trump continues to refuse to declare a national emergency because it would reveal he had lied about the epidemic for weeks. (And apparently he needs to get Jared's permission first.)

The NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball all announced they are suspending their seasons, the NCAA cancelled their March Madness tournaments, Disneyland will be closing their doors, and Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife Rita Wilson have both contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

But what about the upcoming primary and general elections? Are we really going to continue asking voters to stand in long lines with hundreds of people to vote on potentially virus-infected touchscreen voting systems? As it turns out, hand-marked paper ballots still moist from hand-sanitizer also caused problems this week in New Hampshire's municipal elections, jamming optical-scan tabulators at precincts.

The U.S. Vote Foundation, led by former GOP Chair Michael Steele, is now calling on Congress to immediately pass legislation requiring every state in the union to allow no-excuse absentee/Vote-by-Mail ballots for all voters. And while I am no fan of Vote-by-Mail usually (other than in jurisdiction where voters are forced to vote on touchscreen voting systems at the polls), it's looking more and more like we are all going to be voting via VBM this year if the virus continues on its current trajectory.

We cover all of that and much more on today's show, before ending on a "lighter note"...with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report (which, believe it or not, actually has a quite a bit of welcome good news today...at least once we get past the coronavirus part of it anyway.)

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