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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 29, 2020
'Green News Report' 9/29/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Brain-eating amoeba in TX water; Trump opens largest protected forest to logging; Pebble Mine CEO caught on tape; PLUS: Trump SCOTUS nomine no friend to environment...
Previous GNRs: 9/24/20 - 9/22/20 - Archives...
'End of SCOTUS as We Know It'; Plus: GA Vote System Fails: 'BradCast' 9/28/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on Amy Coney Barrett: Also: GA SoS halts all pre-election testing after major statewide errors found...
Sunday 'Trump 200,000' Toons
You can keep counting on PDiddie's innumerable collections of the week's best political toons. Here's his latest...
Repub Atty Charges FCC Letting Sinclair Violate Ownership Rules w/ Sham Cmpnys: 'BradCast' 9/25/20
Guest: Former FCC official Art Belendiuk & media reformer Sue Wilson; MORE...
Yes, We Can...But Will We?: 'BradCast' 9/24/20
Staring down -- and making sense of -- Trump's cowardly threats against a peaceful transition and to democracy itself; Also: Accountability coming soon for Trump Family in NY; And, yes, even TX is now in play...
'Green News Report' 9/24/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
CA to end sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035; 'Alarming increase' in heat and drought in U.S.; PLUS: China announces bold pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2060...
Previous GNRs: 9/22/20 - 9/17/20 - Archives...
Why is Team Trump Joining PA's Dem SoS to Defend Unverifiable Touchscreen Voting?: 'BradCast' 9/23/20
Guest: Investigative journo Art Levine: Also: FBI's odd 'Announcement' on election fakery...
Why Does the FCC Allow Sinclair to Violate Ownership Rules in Baltimore?
A probe of FCC, SEC docs in citizen-filed 'Petition to Deny' licensing for three stations controlled by the media giant may help end 'sham' control of our public airwaves...
Law Prof: Dems' One Chance to Fix Our Broken Democracy is to Expand SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 9/22/2020
Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: 200,000+ dead; GOP's Supreme hypocrisy...
'Green News Report' 9/22/20
Hurricane Beta breaks records as it grinds into Gulf Coast; Smoke from Western fires causes health crisis; More mega-fires coming; PLUS: RBG's enviro legacy...
RBG RIP and the Fight Over What Happens Now: 'BradCast' 9/21/20
Her historic legacy and the unspeakable GOP hypocrisy over her replacement; Also: Callers ring in on what Dems must do next and on expanding the stolen SCOTUS...
Sunday 'Rest in Notorious Peace' Toons
So many cries for Justice in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'RECOUNTED' with Nils Gilman, Mark Joseph Stern: 'BradCast' 9/18/20
On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
Federal Court Blocks 'Politically Motivated' USPS Changes, Orders Equipment Restored
Judge charges Postmaster General mandates undermined integrity of 2020 election...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain; Mass bird die-off during Western fires; Climate denier named to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science mag's first-ever endorsement...
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: Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: Trump's coronavirus Death March continues; SCOTUS allows religious groups to discriminate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2020 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Things are going to get far worse before they finally get better. In this case, "worse" means far more deadly and "better" means an election this fall that somewhat accurately reflects the intent of the electorate. Donald Trump has now get the killing Americans part down, but he and his fixer/Attorney General are still feeling their way around how best to undermine the election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Just weeks ago, in late May, the Trump Death Cultists on Fox "News" and those entrusted to govern states like Florida, were railing against media, demanding apologies by those who warned that opening up for business prematurely amid a deadly viral pandemic was a terrible idea. Republican Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and hackish clowns like Sean Hannity of Fox "News" aren't asking for apologies anymore, it seems, as at least 56 Florida hospital ICUs across the state have now hit capacity, with dozens more nearly full as well. Florida is just one such GOP-led state whose political decisions in advance of the November election have had deadly consequences as 31 states are now seeing infections and hospitalizations rise.

The conservative projected death estimates put out by the infectious disease modelers at University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have once again been revised in the bargain. IHME now forecasts more than 208,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by November 1, while noting that some 45,000 lives could be saved over that same period if we all simply wore masks in public. Other experts believe the mortality number could be as high as 500,000 by the end of this year.

So, again, we ask: At what point does it become a CRIMINAL act when DeSantis and Donald Trump and Vice President Pence command schoolchildren, amid this out-of-control surging pandemic, back to in-person classes next month, under thread of financial penalty, and in defiance of CDC guidelines? At least the CDC guidelines based on science and health data, versus Pence's newly promised revised CDC guidelines that the Administration ordered to be cooked up after Trump found the real ones to be too "tough" and "expensive". When do these people become liable for criminal deadly negligence or even mass murder?

This scheming is nothing short of sick and twisted. We will soon look back on these days with ghastly horror at what they have done in short-sighted and ill-considered hopes of winning re-election this November.

Speaking of which, while Trump and his corrupt A.G. Bill Barr have been out lying about absentee voting amid the pandemic, it seems Republican strategists and candidates are becoming quite concerned that their voters may be actually be listening to them. Many GOP voters new believe that vote-by-mail ballots are all fraudulent, which could end up costing the GOP dearly this year.

At the same time, folks like EDDIE PEREZ, Global Director of Technology and Standards at the OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute, has been doing his level best to debunk many of the lies about mail-in voting being infectiously spread by Trump and his Attorney General who, for example, recently declared that "a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots" and use them to undermine our elections somehow. Perez explains (and here's a shorter Twitter version of his explanation) why such claims are largely nonsense, even if there are, in fact, some concerns about fraud in absentee voting --- just not the ones that Trump and Barr are mostly trumpeting.

As no fan of absentee voting myself --- other than in cases where voters literally cannot vote at the polls on Election Day, or are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems at the polling place, or when we find ourselves in the middle of an out-of-control deadly global pandemic --- I've got a few pointed questions for Perez on the reality of absentee ballot fraud.

Among the issues he speaks to: Whether ballots can really be counterfeited (by foreign or domestic actors alike); What security measures are in place to prevent someone from casting a ballot in someone else's name?; Should voters have confidence in signature matching by election officials who are not hand-writing experts? And more. "If nothing else," Perez tells me, "the country needs to realize --- and particularly election officials and Get Out The Vote organizations --- there are really, really good reasons to protect public health to make by-mail voting available to people, as one of several options. That's really critical. For November, you've got to have a balance. We need to pay attention to educating voters about what it's going to take to ensure that their ballot is accepted and counted."

Also, as Perez, before joining the non-profit OSET Institute, was a 15 year veteran of Hart-Intercivic, one of the nation's three major private voting system vendors (about whom we've reported a great deal of less than flattering things over the years), we take a few minutes today to discuss why private, for-profit vendors are ill-equipped to meet the critical needs of transparent, overseeable elections in support of American democracy. "I'll say that the one thing we can agree on," Perez notes, "is transparency in the voting process is what helps to build trust with the public. Transparency is what is going to produce confidence. And that's what we need in our democracy."

I didn't have the heart or time to respond that "trust" has nothing to do with Americans elections. But, other than that, on the need for transparent oversight to build confidence among the electorate, he is spot on.

Finally, two objectionable SCOTUS opinions were handed down today, allowing religious organizations to, among other things, ignore any and all state or federal anti-discrimination laws, because "freedom of religion", apparently, also now includes the freedom to take actual freedoms away from everyone else...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on new Court opinions on 'faithless electors', Obamacare and the GOP's ongoing (and now deadly) war on voting...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a bit of a roller coaster today between good news and terrible news on today's BradCast. But that's life in the times of Trump and the coronavirus, I guess. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, the COVID-19 crisis continues to gravely worsen in the U.S., with new record infections and hospitalizations now pretty much every day for the past month. Despite the increasingly desperate concerns expressed by health experts, especially for hotspots where Governors reopened states far too early, some Republicans from the President of the United States on down are calling for measures that will only increase infection rates, hospitalizations and, yes, death.

Florida's Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday, for example, declared that all public schools must reopen next month to all students for in-person classes five days a week. His emergency order notes that reopening schools is critical to "a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride". That, despite more than 200,000 confirmed cases and new record daily infection rates each day for weeks now in the Sunshine State.

At the same time, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Donald Trump held a White House event to demand the reopening of schools and to praise Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis for a "terrific job" in ordering them to open. Trump claimed that schools have been closed elsewhere for "political reasons" and added that "we are very much going to put pressure on Governors and everybody else to open the schools." This is now a death march being led by the President of the United States.

But if Republican politicians are fine sending children and their teachers and their families to their potential deaths, how do you think federal judges appointed by Trump or sympathetic to his political cause are going to react to measures being taken to try and make voting safer for Americans on November 3rd? We're joined again today by Slate's ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss Monday's opinions released by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a disturbing pattern of rulings at both SCOTUS and on the appellate level over the past two weeks that bodes darkly for this year's crucial Presidential election.

First, Monday's new opinions: The Court decided unanimously that states may prevent so-called "faithless electors" from casting their vote in the Electoral College for someone other than the Presidential candidate chosen by the state's popular vote. The issue stemmed from two combined cases of "faithless electors" in 2016, one of which was brought by plaintiff Michael Baca against Colorado. Baca appeared on The BradCast in December of 2016 to explain the reasons for his planned "faithless" vote in the Electoral College that year, before he was later prevented by the state from casting it.

While that opinion, written by Justice Elana Kagan received most of the media attention on Monday, another opinion handed down by the Court that day is likely of far greater import. The Court's 6 to 3 decision, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing for the majority in a case concerning robocalls made to cell phones, actually reveals some very encouraging news regarding a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that will be heard next session by the Court. Kavanaugh's opinion, striking down one element of a robocall law as unconstitutional while upholding the rest of the law, suggests the challenge to Obamacare by GOP-controlled states and the White House --- seeking to strike down the entire health care law as unconstitutional based on the constitutionality of one single, now meaningless, provision --- is likely to fail.

As Kavanaugh crucially noted in his opinion, in words that will be remembered next year during the ACA case: "Constitutional litigation is not a game of gotcha against Congress, where litigants can ride a discrete constitutional flaw in a statute to take down the whole, otherwise constitutional statute."

"It's important to note that seven justices agreed with [Kavanaugh] on that particular point," Stern tells me. "Only Thomas and Gorsuch disagreed."

And with that seemingly very good news out of the way, we turn to a flurry of recent decisions by both SCOTUS and a number of federal appeals courts that are extremely concerning and revealing as to how right-wing controlled federal courts will be dealing with voter suppression cases and measures intended to make voting easier during the pandemic this November. Recent court rulings in cases out of Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas, as Stern explains, are very troubling indeed and suggest we could be in for no small amount of chaos, disenfranchisement and, yes, deadly disease, in this year's critical general elections.

There are more opinions to come from the Court before they are finished for the summer. Quips Stern darkly today: "We've got a handful left, and we will see if the Supreme Court breaks our democracy before the end of the term."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with a bit more news out of SCOTUS and lower federal courts, including some surprisingly very good news on several controversial oil and gas pipelines!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/7/2020 11:18am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Big and bad news for pipelines, good news for those who oppose them; Japan reeling from another round of record rains and catastrophic floods; Warren Buffett bids to control nearly 20 percent of nation's natural gas storage; PLUS: House Democrats unveil comprehensive proposal to reach net zero emissions by 2050... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate Activists See ‘New Era’ After Three Major Oil and Gas Pipeline Defeats; Climate change denial expands on Facebook as scientists face restrictions; Grim Day for Pipelines Shows They’re Almost Impossible to Build; US signs order for first West Coast gas-export terminal; Rapid Arctic Meltdown In Siberia Alarms Scientists... PLUS: Think Covid-19 Disrupted the Food Chain? Wait and See What Climate Change Will Do... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Non-U.S nations getting COVID-19 under control; SCOTUS rules on robocalls, 'faithless electors'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2020 6:15pm PT  

Donald Trump celebrated the national 4th of July holiday weekend by using the backdrop of our national monuments to try and "gaslight" the nation again on coronavirus while hoping to spark a race war to jump-start his flagging re-election effort. So, how did your Independence Day weekend go? But, first up on today's BradCast...[Audio link to show is posted below summary]...

A number of countries around the world have now all but defeated the COVID-19 virus within their borders. In the U.S., on the other hand, thanks to our failed/non-existent national strategy, new infections and hospitalizations continue to explode, hitting new records for each of the past 27 days. That, as Trump and his White House continue to hope that by ignoring the pandemic, it will simply go away or that Americans will simply "grow numb to the escalating death toll" by Election Day. Good luck with that.

His own FDA Commissioner didn't have the courage over the weekend to contradict Trump's false claim at the White House on July 4 that, for 99% of people who contract the virus, it's "totally harmless". Iowa Sen. Jodi Ernst (R), who described President Obama's eradication of the Ebola epidemic in the U.S. with just two deaths as "failed leadership", didn't have the courage to describe Trump's leadership as "failed", despite nearly 3 million confirmed cases now in the U.S. and more than 130,000 deaths from COVID-19. Ernst is up for re-election in the Hawkeye State in just four months. Hopefully voters will keep her cowardice and its deadly consequences in mind.

Former Trump National Security Advisor Tom Bossert, however, came much closer to telling the truth to the American people on Sunday, by warning that "We are in trouble." And that if the virus continues on its current trajectory in the U.S., "we could top 500k US deaths this year." Good luck ignoring or becoming numb to that.

In U.S. Supreme Court news on Monday, the Justices on the Republicans' stolen Court released two interesting opinions on Monday. In a 6 to 3 ruling, the Supremes struck down a statutory exemption written into the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 that allows for the federal government to make otherwise banned robocalls on cellphones. The court found that exemption unconstitutional, but allowed the rest of the law to stand in what could be a good omen for a challenge coming up next year at the High Court to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And, in a unanimous decision today, SCOTUS found that states may bar so-called "faithless electors" from casting votes at the Electoral College that contradict the popular will of state voters. We'll discuss more about both opinions on tomorrow's BradCast.

Today, however (amid a tribute to the late great Ennio Marricone) we're left to make sense of Trump's astonishing, aggressive, political, campaign-style rallies held on the 3rd and 4th of July at Mount Rushmore and at the White House in which he, according to our guest today, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, all but ignored the deadly coronavirus pandemic, along with its accompanying economic disaster, to offer "angry declarations of war against fellow Americans on the day the country celebrates freedom and independence."

By declaring war on what he described in the shadow of our nation's founders as "far-left fascism" and a "merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children" by "unleash[ing] a wave of violent crime in our cities," Parton concedes that at least he's being transparent. "If nothing else, I think we can see what the contours of the next four months of the Presidential campaign are going to be," she tells us, "and how he and his people have decided that they are going to deal with the real crises that are manifesting themselves in the country --- the obvious one is COVID-19 and the rapid spread of it throughout the country, and the other is the ongoing protest of unarmed black men being killed by police and systemic racism in general." That, as we discuss, instead of offering actual Presidential leadership during the most deadly pandemic in more than a century which might have otherwise assured his re-election.

Parton also offers her thoughts on last week's mind-blowing allegations that Russian military intelligence paid bounties to members of the Taliban in exchange for dead U.S. troops in Afghanistan while Trump has done absolutely nothing in response, and the too-overlooked story from Carl Bernstein late last week in which former Senior White House officials, from Trump's former SecDef, Sec. of State, Chief of Staff, two National Security Advisors and others confirm that Trump was "uninformed" and "delusional" during phone calls with world leaders; never got better at it over the years; was sycophantic in dealing with adversarial autocrats; and "near-sadistic" in his treatment of U.S. allies, especially the female leaders of the U.K. and Germany who he called "stupid" during at least one of the phone calls.

That conversation and few listener calls round out the hour, as we are now exactly 120 days from Election Day, November 3rd...not that anyone's counting...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler w/ Elie Mystal on SCOTUS, DOJ corruption...
By Nicole Sandler on 7/1/2020 4:17pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, your faithful guest host filling in for Brad and Desi today on the BradCast.

Our Justice Department is horribly corrupt with an Attorney General who really has taken on the role of Donald Trump's 'Roy Cohn'. We're also at the official end of this term of the Supreme Court. I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather speak to about both of these issues other than ELIE MYSTAL, the informative and always-entertaining justice correspondent for The Nation magazine.

Of course with all the madness in our world, we begin with the latest news...From the coronavirus --- the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the United States has gone up 80% in the past two weeks, adding to the country's record of confirmed cases, which is the worst in the world. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, warned on Tuesday that the United States could see more than a doubling of current tallies of new cases every 24 hours --- with 100,00 new cases each day a definite possibility.

Then there's the bombshell report on the Russians paying bounties on American lives to Taliban aligned fighters in Afghanistan. For the doubters out there, the NY Times is following the money, reporting "American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia's military intelligence agency --- the GRU --- to a Taliban-linked account, evidence that supported their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan."

And we run down the U.S. Supreme Court cases that were announced over the past week, and let you know which ones we're still waiting on.

There's certainly no shortage of news as we head into the 4th of July holiday!...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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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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Also: Carl Reiner, RIP...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2020 6:34pm PT  

In case you need something to celebrate this July 4th, it will be just 200 days exactly from that date until Donald Trump will no longer be the President of the United States next January! ... Presuming he is not able to somehow steal a second term anyway. Let's not let him. Therefore, go celebrate Independence Day in advance this Saturday on July 4th!

In the meantime, as we work our way towards that glorious day, a few related news items of note on today's BradCast [Audio link to full show follows summary below]...

  • Wyoming Republicans are beating themselves up over...well, apparently being Republicans. Literally! A fist-fight broke out over the weekend at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Gillette, as the party's extremist and less extremist factions duke it out, with one County Party chair who wielded an ax-handle and a pistol, versus another drunk County Party chair who ended up unconscious and in need of surgery as the whole debacle is investigated by local police. Grab your popcorn, because it's as insane as it sounds. We've got the blow-by-blow details!;
  • As to the battle between the Democratic Party's progressive and conservative wings, that appears to be playing out a bit more peacefully, at the ballot box instead. AP has now called a winner in Kentucky's Democratic U.S. Senate Primary a week after it was held. The delay was due to absentee ballot counting in two of the state's largest and most diverse counties, Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington). Neither released any results from the state's June 23 primaries until today. If the reported results are accurate, it appears that party establishment-supported former fighter pilot Amy McGrath will be the Democratic nominee to take on GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this November. She is said to have narrowly edged out progressive African-American state legislator Charles Booker, who surged to mount a serious challenge to McGrath and her large campaign war chest at the end of the campaign during protests for racial justice in the state. In the end, if the computer-tallied results are accurate, Booker's late surge --- as a Sanders/Warren/AOC-endorsed supporter of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal --- came up just short of the votes needed to defeat the front-runner who had been the presumptive nominee since being recruited by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last summer. We'll see if McGrath also has what it takes to take down McConnell this fall. That, according to recent polling, will be no easy feat in a state that went for Trump by 30 points in 2016. But it will be well worth the effort in trying;
  • The National Republican Committee, the Trump Campaign and several sitting GOP Congressmembers are now filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania, claiming that their use of secure absentee ballot drop-off boxes somehow violates the U.S. Constitution, even though absentee voting was approved last year by the state's GOP-majority legislature and the use of drop-off boxes is a recommended best practice by vote-by-mail experts and the federal government alike;
  • We'll see if the Republicans' federal lawsuit in PA has any better chances for success than a similar attempt by the GOP and Trump Campaign to sue California in an effort to prevent absentee ballots being mailed to all active registered voters. That initiative was mandated by Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent Executive Order in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a subsequent Republican-supported bill passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor;
  • And here's that article I referenced by Ernie Canning on the other Dept. of Justice whistleblower who testified in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee last week about Bill Barr's abuse of the DoJ's Antitrust division to harass California and automakers who are working with the state (to the consternation of Donald Trump) and legal cannabis companies (perhaps to prevent the division from being able to probe real antitrust issues and anti-competitive monopolies in the banking, Big Tech, and telecom sectors.);
  • Then, we've got a brief and heart-felt tribute to the legendary and much-beloved Carl Reiner --- creator of the Dick Van Dyke Show, the 2000 Year Old Man with Mel Brooks and much more --- who passed away today at the age of 98. From nothin'.;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with news on a fracking giant filing for bankruptcy, SCOTUS signing a death warrant for endangered species and new data finding that millions of U.S. homes, far more than previously thoughts, are now at risk of flooding thanks to climate change...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

PLEASE NOTE: Desi and I are checking out for a few days of MUCH needed down time before the holiday. Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us until we see ya next Monday! Until then, please stay safe, healthy and don't forget to celebrate independence from the Trump Presidency in just 200 days as of July 4th!

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 6/30/2020 11:25am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. fracking pioneer Chesapeake Energy files for bankruptcy; BP warns investors of a future with less oil; Sorry, endangered species, U.S. Supreme Court won't stop Trump's border wall for you; PLUS: Flood risks to U.S. homes far higher than previously estimated... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): House Democrats unveil ambitious climate package, steering toward a net-zero economy by 2050; South Pole warmed three times the global rate in last 30 years; PGE first major utility to support bans on natural gas; Democrats’ infrastructure bill has a special delivery: Electric mail trucks; Clean Energy Milestone: First offshore wind installed in U.S. federal waters; China’s CO2 emissions surged past pre-coronavirus levels in May... PLUS: Space agencies unveil site showing lockdown changes to Earth... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Slate's SCOTUS reporter Mark Joseph Stern on the 'canny legal' maneuverings of the Chief Justice; Also: MS votes to dump Confederate flag; Trump Campaign removed social distancing stickers before Tulsa Death Rally; COVID-19 now ravaging all but two states...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2020 7:04pm PT  

As life in the U.S. continues to get grimmer, we find a few much-needed points of light during today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, the GOP-controlled Mississippi state legislature finally voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to remove the offensive Confederate flag symbol from their own state flag. Both the Governor and Lt. Governor support the move and the bill will be signed. Yes, the ongoing uprising against systemic racism in the U.S. continues to bring about long-overdue positive change! Also, there was (mostly) good news in a long-awaited abortion case at the U.S. Supreme Court today, but we'll get there in a second.

Before that, we've been arguing in recent days that Donald Trump should eventually be brought up on charges for what amounts to mass murder in his purposefully and criminally delinquent and negligent handling of the COVID crisis. More evidence of that affirmative endangerment of the public was reported over the weekend by the Washington Post, which obtained video evidence that the Trump Campaign, just hours before his June 20 campaign rally in Oklahoma, removed thousands of social distancing stickers placed on seats at Tulsa's BOK Center venue by its management. As the city's health director pleaded with the campaign to postpone the rally amid spiking infections rates, and local residents and business owners went all the way to the state's Supreme Court to try and block it, the Trump Campaign was purposely making it less safe for rally attendees. The infection rate in Tulsa has continued to spike since Trump's under-attended Death Rally (where he had falsely bragged in advance that there wouldn't be "an empty seat"), as infection rates now continue to rise in at least 36 states after the largest single day increase across the nation on Friday.

Florida, Texas and Arizona, with Republican Governors who were among the first to reopen, are now seeing among the largest growth in infections and hospitalizations in the country. That, despite Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' hubris-filled attacks on the media just weeks ago following an initial lack of new confirmed cases after reopening for Memorial Day and a now-embarrassing rant from Sean Hannity on Fox 'News' claiming that FL and NY "got it right", states like NY got it wrong (NY's infection rate was just 6% of Florida's on Friday) and that "the mob and the media....owe Gov. DeSantis a huge apology." Well, that didn't age well.

Then back to a bit more good(ish) news as the U.S. Supreme Court's Chief Justice John Roberts, for the third time in as many weeks, joined the Court's liberal wing on yet another major case --- well, mostly. It was enough, at least, to strike down an extremist anti-abortion measure in Louisiana, in any case. Had the attempt by state Republicans to insert Big Government in-between a woman and her doctor been upheld by the Court, it would have left the entire state of 4.6 million with just one single doctor legally allowed to perform the still-Constitutionally protected medical procedure.

We're joined today by one of our favorite SCOTUS corespondents, MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate, to explain today's 4 to 1 to 4 opinion which resulted in the end of the state law requiring abortion doctors to unnecessarily obtain difficult-to-receive hospital admitting privileges. While abortion rights activists are breathing a sign of relief today, Stern explains, they likely won't have long to enjoy it. The Court with a stolen Republican Majority still appears hell bent on rolling back Roe v. Wade, he says.

While Roberts, in his own concurring opinion [PDF], effectively joined the liberals again today in striking down the Louisiana law --- again, maddening the right-wingers in the bargain --- he "is a very canny legal strategist, who still quite obviously opposes the Constitutional right to an abortion," Stern warns. In fact, what Roberts opinion today did was "leave us with a state of abortion jurisprudence that sort of rewinds the clock back to maybe 1992. Whereas, for the past four years, at least in theory, we have had a more robust protection of Constitutional rights."

With Roberts' new opinion, Stern reports, abortion rights proponents have actually lost some ground, even while the second "admitting privileges" law to find its way to the Court in four years was again struck down --- just like the previous virtually identical one out of Texas in 2016 (which Roberts then voted to uphold.)

The Chief Justice also voted recently with the Court's Democratic appointees to ban LGBTQ employment discrimination and in striking down Trump's rollback of DACA protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrant children who were brought here by their parents. So, why has Roberts seemingly become a "liberal squish" on three important landmark cases this session? Stern argues that he hasn't at all. Another ruling today regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in which the Court's rightwing 5 to 4 majority dreamed up new (non-existent) Constitutional powers for the Presidency, and a SCOTUS decision over the weekend to block absentee voting for all voters --- not just those 65 and older --- in Texas, in the middle of a pandemic, and in clear violation of the 26th Amendment, is just more evidence that the Republicans' stolen SCOTUS majority is still anything but "liberal", even after these three recent surprise opinions on LGBTQ rights, DACA and abortion.

Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Roberts would be voting as he has been of late if Justice Anthony Kennedy was still on the Court as its swing vote, and whether all of this suggests that the Court should now be expanded in response to theft of what should have been an actual liberal majority by now...

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Guest: Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute; Also: Bolton book confirms what every honest person already knows...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is one thing that Donald Trump excels at: screwing up. Despite his promises to his nativist racist base to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, even his stolen U.S. Supreme Court had to concede his attempt to do so was unlawful and unconstitutional [Audio link to full show is posted below]

It was the second such defeat for the haters this week, after Trump's own appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, found it unlawful in his 6-3 majority opinion to fire someone simply because they are gay or trans, as had been legal in most states before this week's landmark ruling. Today's defeat for our feckless President was found in the 5-4 majority opinion [PDF] authored by Chief Justice John Roberts who, with the Court's four Democratic appointees, held that, in Trump's haste to end the program that protects from deportation nearly 800,000 people brought here by their parents as children, the Administration did so in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

No, Roberts isn't turning into a liberal squish, despite the blustered outrage from rightwingers today. The APA statute requires a reasonable explanation for overturning Executive Actions by previous Presidents, and the Roberts majority determined --- as with Trump's botched attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census last year --- the Administration couldn't even muster up one.

We're joined by SARAH PIERCE, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, to describe the "surprise", if narrow, opinion, that protects DREAMers for now, but allows Trump to try again if his Administration can figure out how to do it legally. "No one expected the Supreme Court to rule against the Trump Administration and how it went about ending DACA. We're all extremely surprised by this decision --- and happy, because this is a large group of young people we're talking about in the United States that contribute a lot to our country, and society, and economy. So it's good news all around," she tells me.

In addition to the good news that these folks --- some 20,000 of whom are now working in the health care industry during the pandemic, many others in the U.S. military, many more now married with U.S. citizen children --- will not be ripped out of their communities and sent back to countries they don't remember or even speak the language, the economy will also not have to suffer another $300 billion blow. That is just one of the costs cited by Roberts in his opinion as unlawfully ignored by the Administration when they violated the law in trying to reverse DACA.

Naturally, Trump played the victim, describing this week's two SCOTUS verdicts that did not go his way as "horrible & politically charged decisions" and "shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives." He then pitifully asked: "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?" No. But pretty much nobody else does.

For his part, President Obama lauded the decision, citing DACA as having "protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation." He called for Joe Biden to be elected with "a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that's truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all."

As Pierce explains on today's show, Congress has, for years, been on the verge of passage of an immigration bill to protect DREAMers. Those efforts, however, are inevitably scotched by Trump and the GOP, who seem to prefer a political issue they can raise money on to an actual permanent solution to the problem.

"We've always gotten a lot of mixed messages on this, not only from Donald Trump's statements but from his actions, as well," says Pierce, referencing his 2017 tweet when he asked: "Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?," followed by his tweet two years later when he referred to some DREAMers as "far from 'angels" and "very tough, hardened criminals."

"Both the Senate and the House took time to seriously consider passing legislation on DREAMers," Pierce notes. "And the White House really torpedoed that, both times, by adding a bunch of demands that were just unsuitable for Democrats to take on. So we have them moving one step forward, clearly with the interests of DACA recipients interests in mind, and then taking two steps back. They're all over the place."

Whether these failures harm or hurt Trump's reelection chances remains to be seen. He is already demanding "more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else." But, of course, as his former National Security Advisor John Bolton's new book makes clear --- according to reporting on copies obtained by media before next week's official publication date --- everything Trump does, every decision he makes as President, is not based on how it might help Americans, but on how it might help his reelection chances. That includes an attempted quid pro quo scheme, according to Bolton, to lift U.S. sanctions against China in exchange for their purchase of soybeans and wheat to help voters in the Midwest that Trump believes he needs to win in 2020.

The conversation described by Bolton between Trump and Chinese President XI Jinping mirrors the extortion scheme with Ukraine's President that resulted in Trump's impeachment last year. Shamefully, though Bolton would have bolstered the Democrats' case against Trump in the impeachment trial, he chose to hold his revelations for his new book. Please don't buy that book, even as everything so far described from it regarding Trump's failures and fecklessness as both a President and a human being sounds 100% plausible.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as the corporate person known as California utility company PG&E admits guilt to 84 counts of manslaughter (don't worry, despite all the deaths they admit to causing, nobody will actually go to jail); as new analyses find the nation could move to 90% renewable electricity in just 15 years and save money doing it; and as the 2020 wildfire season sparks up with an ominous beginning...

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Anticipated court rulings will determine whether Trump's corrupt political influence will expand from a compromised DOJ to the Judiciary...
UPDATE : Sharply divided Appellate Panel orders District Court to dismiss Flynn case. UPDATE 7/10/20: District Court petitions full DC Circuit for en banc rehearing. UPDATE 7/30/20: DC Circuit grants en banc review; vacates panel's order. UPDATE: 9/2/20 DC Circuit denies Flynn's writ petition...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/17/2020 11:33am PT  

This is about far more than the fate of Michael Flynn.

Last week, in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief [PDF], former federal prosecutor John Gleeson, a retired federal judge, together with a number of renowned attorneys and constitutional scholars, offered a scathing condemnation of the William Barr-led Department of Justice. Gleeson denounced the DOJ's "corrupt" and "politically motivated" effort to dismiss the long-running case against Flynn, Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor, who, the brief describes as a "political ally of the President."

The issue at stake in this case is not only on a matter of accountability for Trump's disgraced former National Security Advisor. It also entails a question of whether the corrupt political influence the President has exerted over an ethically compromised Attorney General will now flow into and compromise a co-equal branch of government, the federal Judiciary...

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Guest: Univ. of Arizona infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Purnima Madhivanan on AZ's 'crisis mode' surge in COVID cases, state officials' deadly denial since prematurely reopening, and 'believing in science'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/16/2020 7:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are ramping up efforts to pretend, lie and try to distract their way out of the coronavirus crisis in advance of their re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday. The virus doesn't care. As our guest today notes, "the virus is non-partisan." [Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

Even as COVID-19 cases are spiking around the country --- including in OK, where new cases surged 68% in the second week of June and where Tulsa's top health official and major newspaper are both begging Trump to call off this Saturday's planned campaign rally --- both men are now lying about both the growth in infections and in hospitalizations since states have begun reopening for business over the past several weeks.

They are both falsely explaining away the rise in confirmed infections in more than a dozen states as due to increased testing. It isn't. What epidemiologists are worried about is the rise in the percentage rate of positives tests, no matter the increase or decrease in the number of tests performed and about rising hospitalization rates, which are the best indicator of the increasing virulence of the pandemic in various parts of the country.

Pence reportedly instructed Governors, during a phone call on Monday, to lie about both matters, stating "the magnitude of increase in testing" explains the rise in positive cases and that increased hospitalizations are only because "people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery." But hospitalizations for elective procedures are decidedly not what infectious disease specialists are worried about, nor are they included in the spiking and often record rates of hospitalizations being seen right now for COVID-19 infections.

As we have been explaining on the show in recent days, as rates rise in Texas and Florida and Arizona (all three hit records for single day increases today) and elsewhere since Governors in those states prematurely reopened and are now seeing skyrocketing rates of illness since doing so, there is still no treatment, no cure, and no vaccine for the coronavirus. Lifting lock-down orders, failing to wear masks, and ignoring social distancing as many have now done, is little different than had we all done so in March and April as the virus first emerged.

In fact, as one of the very conservative COVID models --- one cited by the White House --- was adjusted today to predict more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by the first of October, our guest today explains why she believes "we are in a worse situation now" than we were back in March and April.

"We have a lot of infectious people in the community that we didn't have earlier on," notes DR. PURNIMA MADHIVANAN, infectious disease epidemiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. "I would say it's Phase 2 in that regard. We have a lot more people who are infectious, who are shedding the virus, than when we had started earlier on."

Describing ICU beds, particularly in Phoenix, at near-capacity rates just one month after reopening, Madhivanan, Director of her school's Global Health Training Program, says the state of Arizona is in "crisis mode. We need to be doing something, like, yesterday." That, as Republican Governor Doug Ducey --- who abruptly announced reopening plans early last month on the same day as a visit to the state by Donald Trump --- continues to downplay the state's worsening predicament, despite a 76% increase in cases since the end of May and records of new cases and hospitalizations being consistently topped in recent days.

Madhivanan tells me she sees the state running out of ICU space within a week. "We have a crisis situation right here in Phoenix. And if [Ducey] were smart, he would close off the borders to Phoenix yesterday." This is not a so-called "second wave," she cautions. "We haven't even peaked with the first wave yet. We are number 42 among all states in terms of testing rates. So we haven't even gotten to the level where we can say our testing rates are good. And we've not even mentioned contact tracing yet. That's practically non-existent, and a huge concern."

It didn't have to be this way, Madhivanan explains, but for Ducey's abrupt reversal in early May. "What we had actually projected and predicted was we would get to the peak around the end of June, if everything had gone the way we had predicted with all the physical distancing in place, stay-at-home orders. But when the stay-at-home orders were not followed through, that peak came much, much earlier, and we are still continuing up on that wave. We have not come down yet."

This is an important, must-listen, detailed conversation which extends well beyond Arizona. I couldn't even begin to adequately summarize it here. We discuss the denialists and claims from mostly non-epidemiologists and ideologists who charge that lock-downs have made the situation worse, asserting that allowing for "herd immunity" to develop would have been a smarter strategy. She details why she strongly disagrees, explaining that it would have taken years and resulted in exponentially more deaths, in the millions, here in the U.S. Madhivanan further says containment, unlike during the SARS crisis of 2003-2004, became impossible "because we have an uncoordinated and poorly managed COVID response" at the federal level.

That means the only option left is shutdowns, mask wearing (which, she argues, makes a huge difference in mitigating spread of the virus), hand-washing and physical distancing. But, she laments, there is now very little, if any, of that being done in her state. Ducey has never mandated masking, for example, even as "masks are our lowest-hanging fruit and one of the most economical interventions. If all of us did it, we can dramatically bring down the number of infections."

She warns things are going to get much worse before they get better anytime soon. "If we had used the period of the shutdown to put comprehensive testing and tracing protocols in place, this investment would have paid off in the long run. But we failed to do that. So we only delayed the day of reckoning for us."

"At some point people need to start believing in science, is all I can say. We have the data, we have the evidence, and the science is pretty clear about this. We were not ready and we should not have opened," Madhivanan insists.

Finally, after a bit more news on the 28 states in the U.S. where infection rates are decidedly NOT falling, no matter how hard the Administration and his supporters are still trying to pretend it all away, we've got a bit of breaking news that came just before air time on Donald Trump hoping to sue John Bolton's upcoming new book away.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. That, of course, as usual, includes nothing but lots of much-needed sunshine and flowers! (Hey, if Trump and Pence can lie about absolutely everything, we can too, right?)

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Guest: Jeanne DuFort, who discovered state's massive counting error
Also: FDA bars Trump's magical mystery cure for COVID; TX seeing record hospitalizations; Stunning surprise ruling from SCOTUS on LGBTQ rights...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You've almost certainly heard by now about Georgia's disastrous primary election last week, when new computer voting systems, shuttered polling places and thousands of absentee ballots that never arrived to voters resulted in hours-long voting lines, disproportionately in heavily-minority areas of the state. You may not have heard, however, that the new computer scanners the state's Republican Secretary of State forced all counties to use to tally hand-marked paper absentee ballots on June 9th appear to have failed to tally potentially thousands of votes across the state. We're joined today by the woman who first discovered the gob-smacking --- and still unexplained --- failure in GA's new, failed, statewide voting systems last week. [Link to audio of full show is posted below.]

But first up, a few noteworthy breaking news items today...

  • The FDA has revoked emergency use authorization of the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, finding the serious and potentially deadly dangers of the drugs outweigh any potential, unproven benefits. These are the drugs that non-health expert Donald Trump (and Fox "News") repeatedly encouraged Americans to take, pressuring the FDA in the early days of the coronavirus to approve for broad use. Trump repeatedly declared, "What do you have to lose?" in taking it. The answer: potentially your life, according to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health as of today;
  • The coronavirus still continues to spread across the U.S., with infection rates and hospitalizations spiking in many places across the nation, particular where businesses have been allowed to reopen too early. Texas, for example, has continued to break its own hospitalization records, day-after-day over the past week. All of that since GOP Gov. Greg Abbot allowed many business to reopen on Memorial Day weekend and for Phase III of the state's reopening plan (allowing some restaurants to fill up to 75% of capacity) to go into effect on Friday, despite the deadly and continuing surge of new cases and hospitalizations;
  • Stunning and great news on Monday, shockingly enough, from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 6-3 that employers may not discriminate against LGBTQ people. Republican-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority(!), said that firing gay or trans people because they are gay or trans amounts to unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex. That is forgidden by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The ruling is a huge victory for the civil rights community and those of us who believe in freedom and liberty and the rule of law;
  • More good news from the Court today. SCOTUS declined to hear about a dozen different cases appealed to the Court by gun rights activists hoping to further broaden the 2nd Amendment.

Then, a bit of very rare good news out of last week's disastrous GA primary: Overall turnout was way up as compared to 2016's primary, and especially among Democrats where three times as many voted in the state's U.S. Senate primary than did so four years ago. Moreover, curiously enough, many more Republicans voted in last week's uncontested GOP U.S. Senate primary for Sen. David Perdue than voted for Donald J. Trump in his own uncontested Presidential primary in a state that many believe could flip from red to blue in November for the first time in decades. But that's the end of the "good news" out of Georgia's horrific election last week.

With voters (mostly in Democratic-leaning areas) forced to wait in hours-long lines at the polls, where the final votes was cast well after midnight on Wednesday, election integrity advocates have now learned that things are even worse than previously known.

During mandated bi-partisan county reviews of ballots identified by the state's new absentee ballot computer scanners as having potential over- or under-votes, our guest today discovered that the computer tally systems were failing to count votes at all in certain races on an untold number of ballots. Election Integrity advocate JEANNE DUFORT, was reportedly the first to notice that the digital computer scanners were simply failing --- inexplicably --- to count completely countable votes on ballots she reviewed while serving on a bi-partisan three-person review panel in her county. Dufort has served as a plaintiff in a number of successful legal complaints brought by the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, challenging the horrific computerized voting and tallying systems (both old and new) forced on all 159 counties in the state by its Republican Secretary of State.

After first spotting the apparently uncounted votes, she says on today's program, "we checked the audit trail. The computer said, 'unvoted.' But we're looking at a voter mark. No confusion that it's a vote." The same problem was subsequently discovered on a huge proportion of ballots reviewed in DeKalb, Clarke and Cherokee Counties. According to voting systems experts, the uncounted votes are likely to be found in every county in the state, since they were all forced to use the same new systems this year. (A system which, by the way, even the state of Texas refused to certify for use there, finding it to be "fragile and error prone.")

Despite rates of anywhere from 5 to 10% of ballots discovered in the initial four counties to have had valid untallied votes on them, DuFort says that while the votes on ballots they reviewed were added to the results, Morgan County's Board of Elections voted against an examination of the county's other 3,000 absentee ballots. She describes that vote by the Board as a "huge disappointment," telling me that "head in the sand is not a good strategy when a problem materializes." But that appears to be the state of Georgia's strategy on just about everything these days. The Secretary of State's office initially denied there was any problem at all, dismissing DuFort as a partisan "activist". In fact, while she serves as the 1st Vice Chair of the Morgan County Democratic Party, she works with the Coalition for Good Governance whose Founder and Executive Director, Marilyn Marks, is both a frequent guest on The BradCast and a registered Republican.

Since the discovery and confirmation of the massive computer counting flaw --- which could affect untold thousands of votes across the state --- the Coalition has called for a "thorough transparent investigation and correction of the vote count [which] must be immediately undertaken and completed prior to certification of the election results." DuFort, however, tells us that "so far, the state has not shown an interest in investigating it. It's shown an interest in denying there's a problem."

"We're calling on counties all over the state, before they certify, to do a human eyeball review to see what other votes are out there that are embedded in ballots that have just plain not been counted and should have been counted," she says about the problem that one panelist in a different county said was discovered "by sheer luck" during the review of ballots flagged by the computer system for other reasons.

DuFort suggests that some of the candidates who ran in last week's contested statewide Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate, for example, may be able to take legal action, since Georgia law "is clear on this" that votes must be counted. Citing several voting system and computer science experts who have verified the flaw, DuFort argues: "Folks who know about these things tell us that what we've seen with our own eyes is likely a bug. Bugs can happen. [In a] big, first-time statewide rollout, you can have a bug. Nobody's complaining that there's a bug. But you've got to be interested enough to go and find it and fix it. We've got a big consequential race coming up in Georgia in November, and you better learn from this experience and fix it before then."

Whether the state will learn anything or not remains to be seen as this story continues to develop and explanations are sought for what happened and how large the problem actually is. We will cover it, of course, as it continues to do so...

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Admin pretends otherwise as infections spike; Also: SCOTUS divided on Trump subpoenas; Trump, GOP falsely declare 'rigged election' in CA-25...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2020 7:06pm PT  

It was another impossible news day to cover on today's BradCast, but we did our best with two historic hearings happening in D.C. at the very same time and a few special elections around the country just to keep us on busy. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

One hearing was on Capitol Hill and the other was at the U.S. Supreme Court --- or, at least, on the live-streamed telephone conference call that has now replaced traditional in-person oral argument at the actual Court, thanks to the still worsening coronavirus pandemic.

We begin today with the SCOTUS hearing. Two of them, in fact. Both on the attempts by federal and state officials to obtain Donald Trump's financial records stretching back 10 years from before he became President. One case concerns subpoenas from three different U.S. House Committees to Mazars USA, the President's longtime accounting firm, as well as to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One, with whom Trump has done business. The other case is over a subpoena by by the Manhattan District Attorney for many of the same documents and tax records from the same financial institutions. That document demand is part of a state grand jury investigation related to unlawful hush money payoffs Trump gave to two women in advance of the 2016 election, and his convicted lawyer Michael Cohen's allegation that Trump and his companies fraudulently inflated and deflated his net worth when applying for loans or filing taxes.

Trump is not actually a party to the subpoenas, but is suing the financial institutions to prevent them from responding to the lawful subpoenas. To date, he has lost every hearing in the cases in lower Courts, where his lawyers actually argued that a sitting U.S. President could shoot people on 5th Avenue and could not be stopped, arrested or investigated for doing so. While the Justices didn't seem to entertain that argument, several of them, particular the Republican-appointees, seemed to be trying to find a way to help Trump out of this jam. We discuss what seems likely to result in either a split on the two different cases --- with the Court blocking the Congressional subpoenas while allowing the ones in the state criminal investigation in NY --- and/or one or both cases being remanded back to lower courts for a more narrow reconsideration that would likely prevent Trump's tax returns and other financial records from being released in advance of the 2020 election.

As those arguments were playing out today, the heads of Trump's CDC, FDA and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. They did so remotely from their homes, where they are each self-quarantining after recently coming into contact with infected individuals at the White House. One of those individuals was Vice President Mike Pence's Press Secretary who tested positive on Friday, just before Pence appeared at a meeting with food producers in Iowa. As the company CEOs waited for the round-table discussion with Pence to begin, they were asked by an aide to the Vice President to remove their masks! That, despite advice from health officials (including the White House's own), and even though two of the executives run meatpacking plants where thousands of workers have contracted COVID-19. One represents Tyson Foods where more than 1,000 workers --- a third of its workforce --- at a meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa have now tested positive. At least three workers at the plant have died.

Rural counties, especially in the heartland --- many with meatpacking plants and prisons --- are seeing a spike in cases of late, along with metropolitan areas where mostly Republican Governors have begun to prematurely lift stay-at-home orders to try and help the economy recover. An unreleased White House document prepared by the CDC and Department of Homeland Security, obtained by NBC News on Sunday, details hotspots all over the country, with many "red" states and counties seeing huge increases in cases over the past week. For example, last Friday, Arizona saw its largest single-day increase in cases, just about a week after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey began reopening the state.

A separate analysis of infections by the Associated Press today finds increasing cases in many of the same hotspots cited by the unreleased White House document, while noting that thousands of people are now getting sick from COVID-19 at their workplaces, including in recently reopened sectors such as construction workers in Austin, TX. At the same time, health workers continue to be hit especially hard, with more than 28,000 now having tested positive with more than 230 deaths in the industry. That, as well over 81,000 Americans have now been killed by the virus over the past two months.

No doubt, all of this is why Fauci warned Senators today of "really serious" consequences, including "suffering and death that could be avoided", if businesses reopen too soon. "There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control," he cautioned. "Which, in fact, paradoxically would set you back. Not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery because it would almost turn the clock back, rather than going forward."

But Donald Trump has an election to win this November, and it appears no number of dead Americans will get in his way of winning a second term. On that note, it's Election Day in several states today. And Trump was offering a preview of this November by lying over the weekend about today's Special Election for the U.S. House in California's 25th Congressional District. On Saturday, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a memo to House Republicans with an "urgent call to arms", telling them to "raise hell" because Democrats in California were "doing all they can do to steal the election". Naturally, Trump took the lie and ran with it, tweeting about the addition of an extra in-person polling place for early voting over the weekend in a diverse part of the District, opened at the request of the city's REPUBLICAN Mayor!

Trump falsely claimed the polling place was added by the state's Republican Governor Gavin Newsom. (It wasn't, it was added by L.A. County --- at the request OF THE REPUBLICAN MAYOR who, while supporting the Republican in the race, was furious there was no polling place within his city's boundaries.) Trump falsely declared a "Rigged Election!" and lied to his Twitter followers that the election "was supposed to be mail in ballots only". That is also untrue. For the record, last Friday, Newsom did announce that every registered voter in the state would be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot for the November Presidential election. The move is said to be for safety reasons due to the pandemic --- the pandemic which Trump originally ignored, made much worse, and is now pretending to be over.

Finally today, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report, as the Administration reopens national parks despite the growing risks of coronavirus; as tax-payers are forced to pay for cleaning up old wells of bankrupted oil companies; and as France offers an airline bailout in exchange for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Now there's an idea...

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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...

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Guest: Slate's legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: U.S. economy plummeting at staggering rate; One Fox 'News' host pushes back (a bit)...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2020 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The number of lawsuits being filed by voters and voting rights advocates across the country is increasing with incredible speed as the coronavirus crisis continues and as we race toward the most critical Presidential election in the history of the nation on November 3rd. A new suit filed in federal court in Texas this week raises a very good and important challenge, arguing that the state (and 6 others with similarly restrictive state absentee voting laws) appears to be in strict violation of the U.S. Constitution. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, speaking of Texas, a new poll finds presumptive Democratic Party Presidential nominee Joe Biden now leading Donald Trump in the Lone Star state by 1 point. While that's within the poll's margin of error, that and other recent polls suggest Texas is most definitely in play this year for Democrats and underscores the importance of a number of lawsuits currently working through that state and other battlegrounds in hopes of ensuring that every legal voter who wishes to vote is able to do so (and without risking their lives in the bargain.)

Next, new weekly unemployment claim numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor today are bad. Really bad. All time record bad. Again. For the sixth week in a row. A staggering and unprecedented 30 million Americans have now filed new jobless claims over the past six weeks alone, with researchers finding that as many as 50% more have been unable to file a claim due to overloaded state agencies that are supposed to handle them. Moreover, according to figures released today from the Commerce Department, consumer spending plummeted 7.5% in March, the sharpest drop on record as the real Job Creators (that would be workers whose spending comprises 70% of the American economy!) have simply stopped spending as they were laid off or furloughed amid to the COVID-19 pandemic. That was in a month where only half of it was disrupted. April's numbers when available will likely be far worse.

And, with those numbers --- and still absolutely no plan to contain the virus at the federal level after all of these months and deaths --- Republicans are nonetheless attempting to fling open the doors to business, end stay-at-home requirements and social distancing measures across the country. But while the Republican propaganda hosts at Fox "News" tend to march in lock-step to encourage Americans (other than them) to stand up to restrictive measures meant to slow the spread of the virus, one host of Donald Trump's favorite morning show pushed back a bit today against her dangerously misinformed co-hosts.

Then, we're joined by Slate's ace legal reporter, MARK JOSEPH STERN, who has been focusing, of late, on the many voting rights battles now playing out across the country. He brings us up to date on a fascinating new federal lawsuit filed this week in Texas, charging that the state's law allowing no-excuse absentee voting for those aged 65 and older --- with severe restrictions on Vote-by-Mail balloting for anyone who is younger --- is in strict violation of the U.S. Constitution's 26th Amendment. Ratified in just 100 days in 1971, the Vietnam-era Amendment lowered the federal voting age from 21 while guaranteeing "The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged."

The suit argues that the TX absentee voting law, in fact, does abridge that right. Stern also explains that similar state laws restricting the right to vote by mail based on age in Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky do the exact same thing. The issue, which few have noticed following the ratification of the rarely-pondered 26th Amendment, is now more germane than ever given the deadly threat of the coronavirus to those required in such states to cast a ballot in-person at the polling place.

"Texas is one of seven states that grants special privileges to older voters," Stern says. "You are allowed to vote absentee if you qualify. But, to qualify, you have to either have a serious medical illness or be over the age of 65. If you are 64, you have no such luxury. You have to expose yourself to the coronavirus. If you are over a certain age, you get a privilege, and if you are under a certain age, you essentially get a burden. And that is exactly the kind of thing that the 26th Amendment was passed to try to abolish."

Though the Constitutional challenge is "a really cut-and-dry case" based on a very conservative, strict, textualist reading of the text of the "unambiguous" Amendment, defenders of the law in Texas (and elsewhere) may have a difficult time doing so without undermining their own defenses of the 2nd Amendment at the same time, as I discuss Stern.

But, while that federal complaint moves forward --- and faces anticipated procedural roadblocks to run out the clock from the very rightwing 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Texas (featuring what Stern describes as "some of the worst, most outwardly-partisan, hackish, nihilistic judges that this country has ever seen in its entire history sitting on that bench") and the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court --- voting rights champions have begun to open up another avenue in hopes of guaranteeing voting rights for all and saving the 2020 election: legal challenges in state courts based on the many state Constitutions which expressly guarantee "free and fair" elections.

If the stolen GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is going to continue their open hostility toward voting rights that they've displayed since the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, challenges at the state Constitutional level could prove to be very fruitful, says Stern. "Voting rights advocates are marching into state courts and saying, 'Look, this election cannot be free and fair if people have to make the choice between risking their lives and exercising their Constitutional rights."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report with the usual number of disturbing developments, but also a surprise happy ending today courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court! Yes, that U.S. Supreme Court!...

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