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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, February 1, 2023
'Clocks Striking Thirteen': Court Cites Orwell in Response to FL Republicans' 'Stop W.O.K.E. Act'
But DeSantis' totalitarian new law has even darker echoes, Ernest Canning explains...
Are You Okay, Chuck Todd?: 'BradCast' 1/31/23
Jordan's FBI lies called out on 'Meet the Press'; Also: Barr's weaponization of the DoJ; 'Red' state murder rates far exceed 'blue' states; More white people voter fraud in FL; Sore-loser Lake violates AZ election law...
'Green News Report' 1/31/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
Torrential flooding in NZ; New wind and solar projects now cheaper than existing coal plants; 1000s of abandoned wells in PA; PLUS: Admin blocks MN wildnerness mining for 20 years...
Recent GNRs: 1/26/23 - 1/24/23 - Archives...
Trump's 1/6 Attny Eastman Faces CA Disbarment Charges: 'BradCast' 1/30/23
Guest: Former UT Asst. A.G. Michael Teter of The 65 Project; Also: NY D.A. seeking criminal charges against Trump...
Sunday 'Bullet Points' Toons
PDiddie takes aim at the problem in this week's collection of targeted toons...
NJ 2022 Computer Mistally Means Loser Actually Won: 'BradCast' 1/26/2023
Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
'Green News Report' 1/26/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
Spate of new studies find climate impacts escalating; Logging banned (again) in Alaskan rainforest; PLUS: 'Doomsday Clock' moved closer than ever to 'midnight'...
Recent GNRs: 1/24/23 - 1/19/23 - Archives...
Republican Dark Money Group's Multi-Million Dollar 'Grassroots' Vote Suppression Scheme: 'BradCast' 1/25/23
Guest: Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-be-true Santos theory...
'Decisions are Imminent' in Trump Probe, Says Willis in GA: 'BradCast' 1/24/23
Also: Mass shooting spate; Pence found classified docs at home, returned them; Media still failing on Trump document theft story...
'Green News Report' 1/24/23
CA storm damage tops $1B; Offshore wind doesn't kill whales; Disasters displaced 3.3M in U.S. last year; PLUS: Hand-feeding manatees in FL appears to be saving them...
Callers Ring in on Everything. (Everywhere. All at Once.): 'BradCast' 1/23/23
From the debit limit to Biden/Trump docs to mass shootings to Ukraine and much more...
Million Dollar Sanction Underscores Trump's Seemingly Never-Ending Litigation Grift
Ernest A. Canning on why nothing less than a criminal prosecution will end it. (Maybe.)
Sunday 'Selective Focus' Toons
Keeping priorities straight in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP Targets Ballot Initiatives After 2022 Progressive Wins: 'BradCast' 1/20/23
Guest: Chris Melody Fields Figueredo of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Also: Judge orders Trump to pay Hillary, others nearly $1M...
OH's Completely Moderate, Not-Corrupt-At-All Republican Governor: 'BradCast' 1/19/23
Dark money fossil fuel bribery and disen-franchising military voters in the Buckeye State; Also: GOP's dangerous limit debt game...
'Green News Report' 1/19/23
EU's plan to compete with U.S. on renewables; Banks spend billions on fossil fuel despite pledges; PLUS: Dark money led OH to redefine NatGas as 'green energy'...
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...


But DeSantis' totalitarian new law has even darker echoes...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/1/2023 9:56am PT  

Late last year, by of way a blistering 139-page order [PDF], Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker agreed that a provision of Florida's totalitarian "Stop W.O.K.E. Act" pertaining to university professors and students should be blocked.

The acronym in the title of the bill --- also referred to, without apparent irony, as the Individual Freedom Act (IFA) --- stands for "Wrong to our Kids and Employees". But, turning to Judge Walker's decision in Pernell v. Fl. Bd. of Governors, it may be useful to understand the intended usage of the word "woke" in Act's title. As defined by Merriam-Webster, it means to be "aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)."

In pressing for passage and in signing this Act, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a current front-runner for the 2024 GOP Presidential nomination, vowed "to fight the woke" in our schools, businesses and government agencies. He and other Republican thought police have perniciously conflated the mere mention of historical truths about societal facts and issues relating to race or social justice with "indoctrination".

Last year, Judge Walker's order in response to the Stop W.O.K.E., aka Individual Freedom Act (IFA), hauntingly cited George Orwell's 1984...

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




Guest: Slate's legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Griner heading home; 'Respect for Marriage Act' to become law; Report: DoJ seeking to hold Trump in contempt in stolen docs case...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2022 5:54pm PT  

It could have been much worse. That seems to be the message from our guest on today's BradCast after yesterday's oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court case that could blow up everything we know about American elections, including some 233 years of otherwise settled election laws in all 50 states. We'll hope he's right. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, some less ambiguous good news to kick things off. WNBA star Brittney Griner is on her way home from Russia, where she has been held as a prisoner for at least 8 months after authorities found less than a gram of cannabis oil in a vape cartridge in her suitcase. Her release comes as a swap for a notorious Russian arms dealer, but fails to include the release of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned by Russia for nearly four years, who many hoped would also be included in the trade.

Griner's wife joined President Biden at the White House on Thursday to announce the good news, while urging the release of Whelan, whose brother praised the Administration for making "the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen."

Also on Thursday, more good news in D.C. as the U.S. House approved the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) with all Democrats voting in favor with almost 40 Republicans. Shamefully, 169 Republicans voted against recognizing the marriage rights of same-sex and interracial couples. The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate last week (also by all Democrats and opposed by the majority of Republicans) and now heads to the President's desk for his signature. Even though 2015's Obergefell ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states, federal lawmakers determined a statutory backstop was necessary after far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas called for reconsidering the Obergefell decision when he voted with the Court's corrupted rightwing majority to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

We're joined today by Slate's longtime legal journalist and SCOTUS expert MARK JOSEPH STERN. Last month, he responded to progressive critics of the RFMA who felt it should have gone farther to require all states to license same-sex marriages --- as Obergefell currently does --- rather than simply mandating that states legally recognize such marriages. Today, Stern breaks down his legal argument for why he believes those critics are wrong about the new, landmark federal statute and notes that, "as a progressive in a same-sex marriage, I feel like I have some skin in the game here."

But, our initial reason for booking Stern today was to discuss Moore v. Harper, the ridiculous --- if wildly dangerous --- case heard by the Supremes on Wednesday. As discussed on yesterday's show with FairVote's David Daley, who attended the oral argument, if a majority on the Court agrees with North Carolina Republican petitioners, the fallout for American elections from Moore will be "seismic".

The case argues that a fringe, so-called "Independent State Legislature" theory found in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause, means that only State Legislatures may craft specific state rules and laws for federal elections and may not be overruled or even reviewed by gubernatorial vetoes or state court review to ensure those laws meet requirements of state Constitutions. Even voter-approved ballot initiatives would be considered unlawful.

It would, in the case of Moore, allow North Carolina Republicans who control the gerrymandered majority in the evenly-divided state Legislature to gerrymander U.S. House districts however they like, even after the state Supreme Court determined their partisan gerrymander violated the state Constitution. By the same theory, a majority opinion in favor of the NC GOP, by the rigged 6 to 3 SCOTUS, could also allow state Legislatures to simply choose whichever Presidential Electors they preferred, even when voters voted otherwise. Yes, it's just that insane and, arguably, should never have even been heard at the High Court.

The good news today, is that, after yesterday's hearing --- when the "Court's most conservative justices got outplayed," as Stern reported at Slate --- he now believes the worst-case scenario is far less inevitable. "Those of us who’ve been ringing the alarm over this dangerous theory --- and who've been disgusted by the campaign to drag it from the far-right fringe all the way to the Supreme Court --- can take solace that these capable lawyers exposed [the Independent State Legislature theory] as an utter fraud," he wrote last night.

"Even though we have a ton of rules in every single state's Constitution that have been enforced for 230+ years, this theory says that all of those are invalid, we've been doing it wrong the whole time," Stern told me today, adding that he "heard maybe two votes for that position" during oral argument on Wednesday.

"But then, once you get into the more compromise positions, it gets harder to gauge," he warns. "I don't think the Court is going to totally cut out state Constitutions and state statutes from federal elections. I don't think that the Court is going to go as far as Republicans want. I think that there's a chance that the Court could issue a decision that is bad but not catastrophic, that essentially says that, as a general principle, state courts can regulate elections, but that federal courts get to double-check their work and decide if they got it wrong."

"But we have to be, when this decision comes down, really vigilant about drawing any conclusions before we figure out exactly where they land." If Federal courts can review state court rulings that are regarded as "egregious," Stern says he could live with that. But if they allow state courts only "mild deference," he explains, "that's no good, because that is really not how we do things in this country. State courts have the final say over the meaning of state law in almost all circumstances. And if we take that away, then it is just empowering this conservative super-majority on SCOTUS to decide all these cases in favor of Republicans."

Given the ridiculous basis for the Independent State Legislature theory --- that we've been doing it all wrong for more than 230 years since the nation's founding, but nobody noticed until now --- there would be hundreds of election laws in all 50 states that could then be challenged in federal courts. It's all somewhat ironic given that this fringe interpretation of the Elections Clause was, itself, built on "a fraudulent document that purported to be an account of the Constitutional Convention" that, as early as the 1800's, was described as "fake" by James Madison, "who actually did write the definitive account of the Constitutional Convention," notes Stern.

Much more on all of that today and, before he leaves, a quick explanation of how "stupid" the case heard earlier this week by SCOTUS regarding a web designer in Colorado who refuses to design a website for same-sex marriages actually is. Hint: She "has never been asked by any couple, gay or straight, to make a wedding website for them. Yet she sued before anyone could ask her, and argued that Colorado's civil rights law was infringing on her freedom of speech."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with both good and bad news, as per usual, when news broke late from CNN that, according to their sources, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has asked a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena ordering him over the summer to turn over classified records he stolen upon leaving the White House.

It turns out that it may have been an even better day today than we originally thought...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Republicans move quickly to protect the families of SCOTUS Justices, but not yours...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2022 5:57pm PT  

For years, as I told my guest on today's BradCast, I've wondered if we were being too alarmist during his many appearances on the show. But now I'm starting to wonder if we haven't been alarmist enough. "I would say that you and I have been the exact right amount of alarmist," he tells me in response. "Time and time again, the Court has proved that it is going rogue, that it is lawless, that it is really corrupted by partisan politics." If the nation hasn't noticed by now, it is likely about to. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that cheery conversation, a couple of quick news items today, as voters in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina headed to polls on Tuesday for critical mid-term elections. (Also in Texas, where there is a special election to fill a vacated Democratic U.S. House seat.) Results of note on tomorrow's program.

Wednesday's scheduled hearing in the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and related Donald Trump crimes has been postponed until, presumably, next week. The Wednesday hearing had been set to focus on Trump's failed effort to decapitate the Dept. of Justice in order to install a low-level flunky with a scheme to help him steal the 2020 election by lying to state legislatures that the DoJ had found massive fraud in swing-states. Committee members claim the delayed hearing is only due to a need to give time to their over-worked understaffed video crew. Meanwhile, Thursday's scheduled hearing, focused on the pressure Trump placed on Vice President Pence to help steal the election for him on January 6, is still said to be on track.

In Congress today, the House passed a bill previously adopted by the U.S. Senate to extend security protections to family members of Supreme Court Justices. It's remarkable how quickly Republicans can act to pass laws to protect certain people that they give a damn about from gun violence. Every other family in America is on their own apparently. Best of luck.

And, speaking of SCOTUS, as their term comes to a close over the next two weeks, we catch up with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Supreme Court expert at Slate.com, on a whole passel of recent and coming-soon opinions that are currently shaking and set to shake the American legal and judicial system to its core

The outlook, as suggested by my opening graf above, is not encouraging. "I don't know what to tell you except that madness is coming," warns Stern. Tune in for real facts and hard truths about what is coming. But, by way of preview of some of the cases and issues discussed today...

  • The tragic case of Terence Andrus, soon to be put to death, and what could represent the end of the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of competent legal representation, particularly in death penalty cases. Perhaps even more astounding, the Court's ruling on Monday directly contradicts their own ruling on the very same case in 2020 when, just two years ago, they sent the matter back down to the Texas State Court, which has since apparently decided that they needn't follow SCOTUS orders. And now, incredibly, with the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, SCOTUS agrees! "There can be no 'settled law' when SCOTUS lets rogue judges flout its own rulings and get away with it," Stern wrote in his coverage on Monday. Today he warns that with the Supreme Court failing to enforce its own precedents, "it really does send this message, a kind of wink and a nod, to lower courts that they can start defying these disfavored precedents, start nullifying these disfavored Constitutional rights, and get away with it. And that is a scary new phase."
  • The coming-soon overturning of Roe v. Wade. We haven't spoken to Stern since the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion by the GOP's corrupt, packed and stolen majority which is set to end 50 years of Constitutional freedoms and privacy rights established by the landmark 1973 opinion. He explains that the Court has since cracked down on all such leaks, but that even in a best-case scenario where the final opinion is somewhat softened, the ruling is certain to be "tragic". Moreover, he warns that overturning the privacy rights of Roe will "cast a lot of doubt on decisions protecting the right to privacy --- for gay people, for interracial couples, for people who use contraception --- and lower courts will seize upon that language and use it to start overturning those rights." That is just one reason why the Andrus ruling described above is so wildly dangerous.
  • Ending local government's right to protect residents from gun violence. The Court is set to issue its opinion on a challenge to New York's more-than-100-year old requirement that those seeking to carry concealed firearms apply for a special permit to do so. As soon as next week, despite the Second Amendment's mandate that the right to bear arms should be "well-regulated," the NY law is likely to be struck down by SCOTUS. "We should expect the Supreme Court to declare that there is a Second Amendment right, in every state in the country, to carry a concealed weapon in public spaces, even if you have no particularly good reason to want one. And that right cannot be infringed without a very strong interest from the government, which the Court will then explain does not really exist. And, in doing so, will unleash, I think, a wave of violence --- in states like California and New York that have pretty strict limits on concealed carry --- that will be attributable to the Supreme Court," Stern predicts. "But of course the Court will be in its own palace, surrounded by guards and fences, and the Justices will not have to face the lethal consequences of their own ruling."
  • West Virginia v. EPA The courts, long ago, placed a stay on President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which would have incentivized the transition from polluting coal-fired power plants to clean, renewable energy production. Then those regulations were replaced entirely by Trump's energy plan. And now, despite absolutely nobody required to follow the Obama EPA's regulations on this, the corrupted SCOTUS decided to take up WV's original challenge to the Obama plan. "This case is incredibly bizarre," Stern rails. "Because right now there is no rule --- I repeat, no rule --- no regulation, that is limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. None. And yet, the Supreme Court is deciding whether the Biden Administration can issue a rule limiting carbon emissions. You might be asking how could it possibly be that the Supreme Court will rule on a regulation that does not yet exist, that may in fact never exist? The answer is that the usual rules about actually taking a live controversy do not seem to apply when the conservative super-majority really wants to kneecap the Biden Administration's regulatory agenda. So, even though the Court has nothing to strike down, it will almost certainly issue a decision purporting to strike down a regulation that doesn't even exist."

As to what Stern has to say about some cases that the Court is likely to pick up for its next term, particularly on something called the Independent State Legislature doctrine --- which doesn't actually exist either, but may very well soon, and will "either limit or abolish the ability of anyone other than a state legislature to set the rules for federal elections" --- well, I don't have the heart to go into the details here. But tune in if you want to be informed about what is coming next...and just in time for the 2024 Presidential election.

Stern has been warning about the opinions set to drop shortly for a very long time on this program. I leave it to you if you want to know what he warns is coming next.

"I don't know what to tell you except that madness is coming, and all we can do is try to prepare for it as best we can," he tells me. "Because this is the direction that the conservative Justices are moving in. They have telegraphed it very clearly, and they are moving us there just on schedule."

I wish I could say we close out today's show by cheering you up with our latest Green News Report, but we pride ourselves in telling listeners the truth, no matter how grim...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Cruz TX disbarment sought for 2020 steal efforts; GOP Sen. booed in WY; Young voters eager for 2022; Record majority for abortion rights...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2022 7:19pm PT  

What's the difference between a white supremacist mass murderer in Buffalo, NY and a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate? Well, in terms of their racist rhetoric not a heck of a lot, it seems. That and many more reasons to both pay close attention and be skeptical of "conventional wisdom" regarding this November's critical midterm elections on today's BradCast, as American Democracy v. Violent Strongman Authoritarianism is most definitely on the ballot in every state this year. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories underscoring all of that on today's program...

  • A number of the attorneys who helped Donald Trump try to steal the 2020 election have had their law licenses suspended or are facing permanent disbarment. One attorney who has yet to be held accountable in any way, however, is Sen. Ted Cruz, who volunteered to represent Trump in two different bogus election challenges before the U.S. Supreme Court; knowingly spread false claims of fraud; and then voted against certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory even after Trump's deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A bipartisan group is now hoping to change that. This week, they filed a complaint with the State Bar of Texas, seeking an investigation into possible disbarment for the sleazy Texas Senator/still-licensed attorney.
  • Speaking of sleazy still-licensed Texas attorneys, the state's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Ken Paxton now says he has been sued by the Texas State Bar for misconduct. Paxton has already been charged with several securities fraud felonies; is being investigated by the FBI for abuse of power and bribery after a federal criminal complaint by eight of his top former deputies; and brought a laughable case to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to toss the 2020 election results in four states that were not Texas. It is for his help in trying to steal the election for Trump at SCOTUS that has resulted in the state Bar's lawsuit against him. Paxton is running for re-election anyway. On Tuesday he's in a runoff election with the state's Land Commissioner George P. Bush (the very Trumpy son of Jeb and nephew of the guy who made "one of the biggest Freudian slips of all time" at Southern Methodist University yesterday.) No sooner did Paxton get sued by the state bar then he turned around and opened an investigation into the Texas Bar Foundation for "facilitating mass influx of illegal aliens" --- ya know, the stuff that racist "great replacement" conspiracy theories are made of.
  • And speaking of the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, as repeatedly cited by the white supremacist domestic terrorist who murdered 10 and wounded 3 others in a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood last weekend, a whole bunch of Republicans running for the U.S. Senate this year have been using nearly identical rhetoric to that racist murderer for a very long time. The once-fringe, now mainstream rightwing theory claims that Democrats are hoping to replace white American voters with immigrants, Jews and people of color to control the electorate with one-party rule. Or something. And, in the wake of Trump's embrace of white nationalism as President, AP highlighted a bevvy of mainstream GOP Senate candidates this year --- either running for reelection or for the party's nomination --- whose rhetoric on immigration directly echoes the same baseless, racist fear-mongering. Their list includes Blake Masters in Arizona; A.G. Eric Schmitt and disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens in Missouri; GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance in Ohio; and two-term U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The full list of elected and hopeful GOP officials who also espouse rhetoric shared by rightwing domestic terrorists is obviously much, much longer.
  • And speaking of domestic terrorists, the U.S. House passed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (again) on Wednesday. All Democrats voted for it. Every Republican, except for retiring Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, voted against it. Democrats vow to bring it up in the Senate next week. It may be a heavy lift over the undemocratic 60-vote filibuster threshold in the upper chamber. Too bad it wasn't called the Domestic Terrorism by Non-White People Prevention Act. It might have easily passed in both chambers, as most legislation related to terrorism that doesn't target white supremacists tends to.
  • And, speaking of extremism, on Thursday, the Oklahoma legislature passed a new law that, if signed by the Governor, would ban nearly all abortions starting at fertilization, which would make it the nation's strictest abortion law. It would also, in turn, make certain forms of birth control --- like IUDs, The Bill, Plan B, which don't necessarily prevent fertilization, but prevent implantation of a fertilized egg --- a form of "abortion" or, in Oklahoma, a homicide. More Republican-controlled states are likely to follow suit, despite the vast majority of Americans who support abortion rights. Please keep all of this in mind in November.
  • And, speaking of this November, polling last month from the Harvard Youth Poll suggests --- contrary to "conventional wisdom" --- that young voters are very eager to vote this year. The number who say they are "definitely" voting in the 2022 election is almost identical to the number who said same before the 2018 "blue wave" election. That could be good news for Democrats. Again, please ignore "conventional wisdom" in these decidedly unconventional times.
  • And, speaking of young people, even in deep "red" Wyoming, they don't dig attacks on LGBTQ+ people --- yes, even trans people --- as the state's U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis found out the embarrassing way during a commencement address she gave over the weekend at the University of Wyoming. It took a while, but now she "apologizes" if she offended anyone with her remarks that were broadly booed during the speech at the school once attended by Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was brutally beaten and left to die on a fence nearly 25 years ago. He became one of the namesakes of the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
  • And, speaking of civil rights for all --- and of keeping Big Government and the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court out of our bedrooms and doctor's offices --- support for abortion rights has reached a record high in a new NBC News poll following the leak of SCOTUS' draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade and its 50 years of protection for reproductive rights. The poll also finds support for same-sex marriage (perhaps next on the chopping block after Roe's Constitutionally established right to privacy is killed) at an all time high, while approval for the High Court is at an all time, 30-year low in this particular poll.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on KBJ, the EPA, dark money in the federal judiciary and much more; Also: Latest good-ish news and bleak news out of Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2022 6:34pm PT  

We continue the impossible balancing act on today's BradCast between coverage of the chilling news out of Ukraine and the somewhat less grim --- but still (mostly) grim --- news out of the federal judiciary in our own teetering democracy. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, in our quick round-up of the latest developments in Russia's horrific assault against Ukraine:

  • Some good-ish news as the second round of peace talks results in a "possible temporary ceasefire" to establish humanitarian corridors in some areas of Ukraine to allow safe evacuation out of the country and for food and medical supplies to be brought in.
  • The UN says 1 million refugees have already fled Ukraine over the past week, a record for number to leave any nation that quickly this century. But, they warn, the number of displaced residents could rise to more than 4 million, and potentially as high as 10 million as the unspeakable violence continues.
  • More good-ish news in that the Pentagon has reportedly established a direct line of communication with the Russian defense ministry. The so-called "de-confliction line" has been established "for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation," as AP is reporting.
  • The International Criminal Court is said to have opened an investigation into Russian war crimes and atrocities.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron, after a "not-so-friendly" call with Vladimir Putin, reports "the worst is yet to come" in the conflict.
  • According to its Mayor, Russian troops have finally taken control of a major city in Ukraine, the city of Kherson on the Black Sea near Crimea. Russian troops are said to be "laying siege" to the key nearby Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pleading for more international assistance and calling on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country. That, however, would directly pull both U.S. and NATO into direct military conflict with Russia, sparking WWIII in the bargain.
  • And, in the U.S. House on Wednesday, a bipartisan, non-binding resolution "Supporting the people of Ukraine" and its sovereign territory, condemning Russia, was approved by an overwhelming 426 to 3 vote. The three members voting against were all Republicans: Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Rosendale of Montana. The explanations from all three are appalling.

NEXT, it's back to U.S. news focused on the federal judiciary, with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, who, on the day that Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court back in January, told us that his "likely" successor would be Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Last week, she was nominated by President Biden to the High Court.

Among the many court-related matters discussed with Stern today (including several of them in a lightning round, as we tried to catch up with a boatload of news that has otherwise been overshadowed by the war in Eastern Europe)...

  • His thoughts on Judge Jackson, why he predicted back in January that she'd be nominated, what difference she can make on the GOP's stolen and packed Court, and what, if any, roadblocks may stand in the way of her confirmation as the first black woman to sit as a Justice.
  • This week's SCOTUS hearing on West Virginia v. EPA, a challenge by "red" states and the fossil fuel industry to President Obama's Clean Power Plan (which never went into effect) and Trump's subsequent program that replaced it (which was rolled back by the Court and also never went into effect). So why did the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS shock Court watchers by deciding to hear this case at all, since nobody has actually been harmed in any way? We discuss. But it's about not only gutting the EPA's statutory ability in the near future to regulate greenhouse gas emissions causing our deadly climate crisis, but also about undermining regulatory actions by all Executive Branch agencies (at least when a Democrat is in control of them.)
  • While the role of dark money in campaigns and elections is fairly well understood, how dark money affects appointments to the federal judiciary and the cases they hear is much less appreciated. Stern explains some of the many ways this has poisoned the U.S. judicial system.
  • Last week, SCOTUS turned away a challenge to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, filed by plaintiffs seeking a religious exemption. Why has the Court been allowing some state and local mandates to proceed, even without religious exemptions, while blocking others imposed by the Biden Administration? Stern explains.
  • Remember that 2018 decision by SCOTUS regarding a baker who didn't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado? His bigotry was allowed, but for largely technical reasons. Now the Court has decided to hear yet another challenge to Colorado's anti-discrimination law from a woman who is considering expanding her web design business to create wedding sites. But, if she does, she doesn't want to create them for same sex weddings, in violation of CO's law. Stern explains that idiocy as well.
  • And, finally, in perhaps the most insane court story we discuss today, this one out of the far-right 5th federal Circuit. The lede from Stern's coverage at Salon this week should give you a taste of just how insane it actually is: "On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stunning decision transferring control over the Navy’s special operations forces from the commander in chief to a single federal judge in Texas. The 5th Circuit’s decision marks an astonishing infringement of President Joe Biden’s constitutional authority over the nation’s armed forces, directing him to follow the instructions of an unelected judge—rather than his own admirals—in deploying [Navy] SEALs. High-ranking military personnel have testified under oath that this power grab constitutes a direct threat to the Navy’s operational abilities. As Russia invades Ukraine and declares a nuclear alert, Donald Trump’s judges are actively threatening America’s national security."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for an only slightly less insane Green News Report: On Biden's SOTU, on Russia's oil and gas industry getting pummeled because of its attack on Ukraine; and some VERY encouraging news about wind energy...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Juneteenth now a federal holiday! And SCOTUS allows religious discrimination against same-sex couples, but it could have been worse...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2021 6:43pm PT  

The news just isn't slowing down in these "slow news days of summer". At least not on today's BradCast. But at least much of that news is actually good, including more progress today toward protecting democracy in the U.S., as per the shifting whims of Lord and Senator Joe Manchin. [Audio link to full program follows below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's news-chocked program...

  • Who says Congress can't move something quickly when they want to? Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865 --- albeit at least two and a half years after it was supposed to have ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, is now an official federal holiday. President Biden signed the new law for our nation's 12th federal holiday on Thursday, after the U.S. House overwhelmingly adopted the measure on Wednesday (with all but 14 shameful, white, male Republicans voting in favor), after unanimous passage in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Since June 19thfalls on a Saturday this year, the new holiday will officially be observed tomorrow! That was fast! See? Congress CAN move quickly when they try! Unless you consider the hundreds of years of slavery in this country and the more than 150 years it took for a holiday to commemorate its final end. Never mind that comment earlier about Congress moving "quickly."
  • The latest attempt by shameful white, male Republicans to kill the popular Affordable Care Act (better known as ObamaCare) was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court today. The law has helped tens of millions of Americans obtain access to heath care, and hundreds of millions more Americans by, among other things, making it unlawful for insurance companies to reject customers due to pre-existing conditions. The stupid attempt by a bunch of GOP-Controlled states to find the entire bill unconstitutional was rejected by SCOTUS today with a 7 to 2 vote, after finding the states represented by white, male Republicans were not harmed by the law and, therefore, had no standing to challenge it. That, after a series of white, male Republican lower court judges had used a ridiculous claim made by the GOP states --- and countered by the actions of REPUBLICANS in Congress themselves(!) --- to strike down the entirely of the landmark 2010 law as unconstitutional. We explain how this third attempt to have SCOTUS do what Congress would not, has gone down, yet again, in flames.
  • Meanwhile, the fight to pass federal voting rights protections to counter new GOP voter-suppression laws at the state level moved one small step forward again today. Yesterday, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin --- the only Dem in the Senate who is not a co-sponsor of the sweeping election and campaign reform bill known as the For the People Act (even though he co-sponsored the same legislation in 2019) --- offered a compromise proposal [PDF] for the bill that he recently declared that he opposed. As we discussed on yesterday's show, his compromise proposal is not horrible and Dems should work quickly to get some version of it to a floor vote! UC-Irvine's election law expert Rick Hasen last night penned a column at Slate which sounded almost exactly like our coverage yesterday, urging Dems to leap at this opportunity, with his first paragraph arguing: "Democrats should grab the deal, even though it is not perfect, is still unlikely to pass, and doesn’t yet address the greatest threat in upcoming elections: the danger of election subversion."

    As we discuss today, the original For the People Act, already passed by the House, doesn't "address...the danger of election subversion" either, as that danger is being baked into GOP voter suppression bills around the country, allowing Republican state Legislatures to reverse election results for virtually any reason they like. We explain why Hasen's argument --- at least on that one narrow point --- is a bit misleading, while he is otherwise right on the money.

    At the same time, Georgia's voting rights champion Stacey Abrams has also come out in favor of Manchin's compromise proposal and speaks, as we did yesterday, to the concerns that some may have about Manchin's inclusion of a "Voter ID" provision. She explains, as we did, that his provision on Voter ID is not really a huge concern --- as some Dems and/or voting rights advocates may view it --- in that Manchin's proposal allows other means for voters to identify themselves beyond a strict, small, very limited list of acceptable Photo IDs. He cites, for example, "utility bill, etc." as acceptable means of identification to vote, in line with the already-existing rules in a majority of states. Such reasonable requirements that do not prevent voters from voting are a far cry from the strict Photo ID restrictions adopted by some GOP states meant not to prevent fraud, but to prevent voting (by certain people who may lack the specific type of ID that Republicans are purposely requiring in hopes of disenfranchising them.)

    Of course, even if all 50 Senate Dems come to an agreement on a version of For the People that they can accept, it would still require 10 Republicans coming on board in the Senate to defeat a GOP filibuster. As that remains a virtual impossibility, reform of the filibuster would still be needed for passage of this bill, and, unfortunately Manchin leads the opposition on that as well. However, as a recording of a Zoom teleconference with the so-called "centrist" group No Labels (actually a big money conservative Dem and moderate-ish Republican business group) reveals, Manchin is not quite as against filibuster reform as he has made out publicly, at least when he is not speaking to big money business donors. Lee Fang and Ryan Grim from The Intercept obtained audio from that Zoom session, wherein Manchin suggests his potential openness to lowering the filibuster threshold from 60 to 55, or to force a 41 person minority to stand up and make their case against a bill they oppose and explain what they object to, rather than require those in favor of the bill to come up with 60 votes.

    Again, more progress. Too slow, to be sure --- especially with the dangers of the 2022 mid-terms looming --- but progress nonetheless, which those claiming to be progressives should certainly be in favor of!

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report which, like the rest of today's show, is simply chocked full of news, both good and bad, as the fight against our ongoing climate emergency continues...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with historian/author Alexis Coe...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/25/2021 5:13pm PT  

I'm back! It's Nicole Sandler, filling in for Brad and Desi for a couple of days so they can celebrate Desi's birthday. Any excuse for some downtime. Welcome to today's BradCast.

It was another busy news day, as confirmation hearings continue for Biden's cabinet picks.The Equality Act passed the House today, but not before Rand Paul went on a homophobic rant, aimed at the first transgender woman to be nominated for a Senate-confirmed federal position. In this case, it was a confirmation hearing for Dr. Rachel Levine, the nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health, and Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General Nominee. And Rand Paul just couldn't help himself. He went off on her. And in the House, Marjorie Taylor Greene put up an ugly sign to counter her across-the-hall neighbor Marie Newman, who put out an equality flag to celebrate her transgender daughter and the Equality Act, which would be voted on later in the day. So much for unity.

This country has been through some trying times, and we've survived. Today, we went back to the beginning with historian ALEXIS COE, author of You Never Forget Your First: A History of George Washington.

And before she left to celebrate her birthday, Desi left us with a new edition of the Green News Report...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern on Amy Coney Barrett; Also: GA SoS orders pre-election testing stopped on new, touchscreen voting systems after major errors found affecting all 159 counties...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2020 6:49pm PT  

If you haven't already heard about the huge news regarding Donald Trump's taxes, I strongly recommend you go read it, because it's quite stunning. And yet, we didn't have enough time on today's BradCast to more than wave at that news at the top of the show. That's because the news at the U.S. Supreme Court is about to change this nation for a generation, according to our guest today, and perhaps forever. And not for the better. Also, we've got news that broke late Friday night out of Georgia that you almost certainly haven't heard about, but that is jaw-dropping and could result in an absolute disaster for every voter who chooses to vote at the polls in all 159 counties in the key battleground state this year. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

So, with that encouraging warm up, we turn first to the weekend's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett by Donald Trump to become the sixth rightwing justice on the U.S. Supreme Court following the recent death of progressive icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Before Ginsburg was even buried (her funeral is scheduled later this week), Trump wasted no time in naming Barrett, a proud disciple of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, to the high court. That as more than 20 states are already voting in this year's Presidential election. No nominee has ever been named this close to a Presidential election, and Republicans vow to have her seated before Election Day, even though they refused to even give Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing after Scalia died almost 300 days before the 2016 election. Republicans claimed at the time that "the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," since voting had already begun in the primaries that year. At the same time, as multiple polls make clear, huge majorities of Americans believe whoever is elected in November should be the one to name the next Justice to SCOTUS.

While disingenuous, duplicitous, dishonest, hypocritical Republicans lied in 2016 about that, they couldn't care less in 2020. So they are planning to ram Barrett through the confirmation process as quickly as possible, according to our guest today, Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN, so that she will be seated in time for the Court to throw the election to Trump as needed. "Donald Trump has selected her for the express purpose of handing him the election by nullifying enough Democratic votes to secure him a second term," Stern makes clear at the outset. "He has said that out loud on multiple occasions. We have every reason to believe that was his chief criterion in selecting Barrett."

Beyond that, as to what Barrett's vote on the Court on other issues will mean for this nation, for health care, for abortion rights, for gun rights, for voting rights, for the environment, for LGBTQ rights, for immigration rights and much more, Stern pulls no punches today. The outlook is bleak. Very bleak.

"She is going to allow states to ban abortion, to punish and prosecute women who terminate their pregnancies, and even to let Congress ban abortion nationwide so that no state can give people access to the procedure," Stern details in his no-uncertain-terms litany of what Americans can expect under a 6 to 3 Court led by Barrett. "She isis against almost any kind of gun control law, including basic gun safety laws that keep violent criminals from obtaining firearms. ... She does not believe in the right to vote. She believes that states should be able to strip individuals of their right to participate in democracy for arbitrary and discriminatory reasons. ... She does not support LGBTQ equality. She rejects the idea of same-sex marriage. She does not even believe it's real marriage, so far as we can tell. ... She is going to strip our federal laws of all environmental and labor regulations that have any effect. She is going to abolish the federal government's ability to regulate carbon emissions, mercury, lead, to protect workers from labor exploitation," he explains before summing up: "She is going to remake this entire country's law in a way that might satisfy a robber baron of the 1800s, but will make every one else feel --- rightly --- like they're living in the dark ages."

Other than that, she's great! Actually, that's just a partial list of what he says should be expected if/when she is confirmed.

But he's equally clear about what he sees as the only way that Democrats --- and the nation itself --- can now be preserved. And that is the expansion of the Supreme Court with the addition of 4 more seats to restore the Court majority to liberals who should rightly have it after the GOP stole the Court majority from them in 2016. Presuming Dems take the White House and Senate majority this year, Stern argues: "Nothing else the Democrats do is going to matter if they don't begin here first. This is it. This is the test. If Democrats fail this, there might not be any coming back from it."

Would such a "radical" move make things worse? Will it lead to an endless cycle of SCOTUS Wars and the delegitimization of the Court itself? Stern speaks to all of that and much more today. Please tune in.

Then, the news that you almost certainly haven't heard out of Georgia. On Friday night, the Secretary of State's office informed elections officials in all 159 counties that they should immediately stop pre-election testing of the state's brand-new, $100 million, unverifiable touch-screen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting system due to what Election Director Chris Harvey described in an email as "an error in the November database which will require every county to get a new database for the November 3, 2020 election."

"I am very sorry to have to tell you this," Harvey continued, somewhat understating how serious this matter is. "I know that everyone is working as hard as they can to be prepared. We will do everything we can to minimize the delay this will cause. I will give you an update Monday on any ETA for your new database."

While it's still unclear when the corrected databases (or whatever the problem actually is) will be available, the Coalition for Good Governance, which has a long-running federal lawsuit to block the use of the state's new unveriflable touchscreen voting systems --- which every voter in the state is forced to use at the polling place, instead of safer, verifiable, hand-marked paper ballots --- filed a motion on Friday night explaining to the court that it is simply too late to properly test the 80,000 or so separate pieces of the system, as required by law, before Early Voting begins in two weeks.

"[U]nder the current plan," the Coalition spells out in the filing, pre-election "Logic and Accuracy testing is required for 34,000 touchscreens, 34,000 BMD [Ballot Marking Device] printers, 8,600 pollPads [electronic pollbooks], 3,800 precinct scanners, and 175 high volume mail ballot scanners," adding that "A far more manageable, realistic, and safe solution for an orderly and defensible November election is to use hand marked paper ballots instead of the BMD touchscreens and printers, while maintaining a single BMD in every polling place for accessibility needs, to satisfy the requirements of HAVA [the federal Help America Vote Act]."

The federal judge who found the state's previous, 20-year old touchscreen systems to be unsecure, unverifiable and, therefore, unconstitutional, is set to make a ruling at any moment on whether the new systems are equally unconstitutional and should be banned like the old ones were last year. She called all the parties in the case to an emergency hearing on Monday following Friday's stunning news, placing into question whether the state will be able to use the systems at all this November.

We will have much more on this disturbing story as it develops in coming days. But this is just another reason why it is insane to use these types of systems in any election, much less the most critical one in this nation's history. In addition to the entire state of Georgia --- a key battleground state this year --- similar unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device systems are being used for the first time this year in many of the most Democratic-leaning counties in key battleground states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, among others, not to mention Los Angeles County in California, the most populous voting jurisdiction in the nation...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Hurricane Sally drenches AL, FL; Results from 2020's final primary in DE...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2020 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last year, a federal judge in Georgia banned the state's 20-year old, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, finding them to be "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated" and, thus, effectively unconstitutional for use in federal elections. This week, that same federal judge held a hearing to determine whether the new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems Georgia has chosen to use this year for the first time are any better, or whether the Peach State should have listened to the cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged the state to move, instead, to a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, Hurricane Sally slammed ashore near the Alabama / Florida border this morning. As predicted, the very slow moving storm is packing a punch, with rainfall "measured in feet, not inches swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people as it pushed inland." Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on that slow moving disaster as water is quickly rising, rescues continue, the storm moves into Georgia, and as more hurricanes are already lining up behind it in an already record breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which still continues until late November!)

Even as that climate change-intensified disaster unfolds on the heels of Hurricane Laura just three weeks ago (with thousands still without power and in shelters in Louisiana), along with the record deadly climate-fueled wildfires out west, Donald Trump has chosen --- amid all of this --- a notorious climate science denier for a top position on "environmental observation and prediction" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If those stories don't underscore the existential importance of this year's elections, we don't know what would.

On that score, the final state Primary Elections of the 2020 season were held on Tuesday in Joe Biden's adopted home state of Delaware, with most ballots cast by mail, and with both masks and social distancing in place at the polls. Happily, there have been no reported voting problems to come to my attention yet and, as expected, there were few surprises in the reported computer-tallied results. Some of them, however, are either eyebrow raising, historic, or just plain fun. Among those categories is the QAnon conspiracist who is now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state; the first openly transgender person to (almost certainly) win a seat in a state Senate; and the 12-year, Democratic state legislator who opposed same-sex marriage being beaten soundly on Tuesday --- in a landslide --- by a local, gay, progressive drag queen!

And with the primaries finally (and thankfully!) out of the way, we move straight to the general elections and back to Georgia, which Democrats hope to flip from red to blue in the Presidential election this year for the first time in decades. But it's also a state where not one, but two vulnerable Republican U.S. Senators are facing tough re-election challenges from Democrats.

There is a lot riding politically on the state of Georgia this year, which makes this week's much-anticipated three-day virtual hearing in an Atlanta federal court all the more critical. When the second day of the three-day hearing which wrapped up this week, regarding the security of the state's vulnerable new computer voting, pollbook and tabulation systems was interrupted --- "Zoom bombed" --- with photos of the 9/11 attacks, swastikas and pornography posted by a user calling him or herself "Osama", it would have been impossible for U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg to miss the irony.

"It was a very sobering reminder of just how vulnerable electronics are, and just how targeted the United States and our elections are right now," says MARILYN MARKS, our guest today. She is Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, a lead plaintiff in the long-running case. She says it served as a reminder of the need to "get hand-marked paper ballots that are verifiable and auditable."

The Coalition is suing for a ruling that would find Georgia's new, unverifiable, $100+ million touchscreen voting system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting Systems to be an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. That would be a similar finding to the one Totenberg issued last year, effectively banning and decertifying the state's 20-year use of its previous insecure, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold.

In addition to hoping to see those systems replaced with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, the Coalition is asking the judge to order backup paper pollbooks at every polling place, after the new electronic pollbook systems failed during the state's June primary elections, leading to hours-long lines, largely in minority voting districts. The plaintiffs are also calling for oversight of the state's optical-scan tabulation systems which failed to tally thousands of votes on absentee ballots during the state's recent primaries. (We interviewed Jeanne DuFort, who discovered that problem, and is also a plaintiff in this case on several recent programs.)

Marks shares her observations from this week's hearings, including on the testimony and cross-examination of the Coalition's cybersecurity and voting systems expert witnesses (many of whom have also appeared multiple times on this show, including Univ. of Michigan's Alex Halderman, UC-Berkley's Philip Stark, expert data researcher Kevin Skoglund and legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti). Similarly, Marks offers her thoughts on the state's, um, less-than-expert witnesses and responds to a number of allegations made by the attorney representing Georgia and its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, who selected this new, "Rube Goldberg" computerized voting system despite the urging of experts and voters alike.

Among the stunning points noted by Marks was the testimony from the man who led the certification testing of this system for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Marks reports the witness seemed "quite confused about the technology" and "admitted to having no real security background and not really any long-term established security people on his team." She says his testimony "made it clear that security is really not a top priority for the certification of voting systems" at the federal level, adding, "It was really kind of unbelievable."

While transcripts may be available from the hearing soon (we'll update with a link to them here when they are), Marks noted some portions will be redacted, since the state argued privately in front of the judge on certain issues that even the plaintiffs were not allowed to witness. (Though I wonder whether "Osama" did?)

"The public learned a lot from these expert witnesses about just how seriously vulnerable the Georgia election system is," she tells me. "The expert witnesses gave extremely compelling testimony during the direct examination by our attorneys. But when the state's attorneys got them up on the stand for cross-examination, they were equally strong. Quite frankly, the state was really not able to get in any type of evidence --- because there is none --- that would help get anyone comfortable with their equipment."

When it came to the witnesses from the state and the voting system vendors, she says, her attorneys explained to the court that those "experts have not been able to tell the court just the basic fundamental operational and security details --- the plaintiffs have been the ones who bring all the information. The state basically had no one with any independence. Every expert witness they had had a financial interest in ballot-marking devices. Two of the expert witnesses are [voting system] vendors, three of the expert witnesses are vendors of ballot-marking device suppliers. So they were hardly considered independent, at least by the laymen who were watching."

While Marks says she does not know when Totenberg will issue her ruling, it is likely to be soon. Reports from the virtual courtroom via AP suggest Judge Totenberg appeared concerned by points made by the plaintiffs and may be forced to implement changes --- if she determines there is time to do so with Early Voting beginning in just four weeks in the Peach State. Marks believes there is plenty of time to make the state's elections more secure and overseeable, though the state begs to differ. Soon we'll learn how the Judge feels.

During closing arguments, according to AP's coverage, Robert McGuire, an attorney for the Coalition and individual voter plaintiffs, "recalled Totenberg's prior admonitions to the state" by noting that "Totenberg previously told the state that a new voting system should address the need for 'transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes that guarantee each citizen's fundamental right to cast an accountable vote.'" But the state's new computerized Ballot Marking Device system "satisfies none of these requirements," McGuire said...

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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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News headlines and then live callers --- some of them heart-breaking --- on The BradCast, your 'Stay-at-Home' Radio Companion...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2020 6:05pm PT  

After a glitchy start with a skeleton crew at KFPK in Los Angeles, today's BradCast was a reminder, for me at least, of why radio over our public airwaves is so essential, especially now. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

After a few news headlines on the latest from our horrifying global pandemic --- more state Governors, thankfully, issuing "stay-at-home" orders; more coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. and around the world; more screwups from our imbecilic President regarding his "great friends" in Congress who have now contracted COVID-19; more fights in Congress about a $1.8 trillion relief package meant to save the economy and the American people (or, if left to the Republicans, to save Donald Trump and their favored companies, unless Dems continue to hold strong and not fall for another bailout con); and my own suggested Bipartisan Stimulus Relief Plan (the one that should be adopted immediately) --- we open the phones to callers who have been enduring "stay-at-home" orders now for days in California, as well as elsewhere around the country.

I thought today would be a good moment to touch base with folks to see how everyone is doing, how they are holding up in these circumstances. Right now, radio and radio stations are considered an essential service as part of our federal Critical Communications Infrastructure (a designation we take seriously.) So we hope to stay on the air as long as possible, with as much live radio as we can.

Today's callers help underscore why I believe that's so important. Among the many great calls today:

  • The 80-year old from L.A. who lives alone with his dogs and is having trouble getting food for them;
  • The blind caller from Lake Elsinore who is "terrified";
  • The caller from Minneapolis who felt he has never had to lock his doors at night, until now;
  • The millennial (and former associate producer of our show!) who reports that few in Atlanta outside her window seem to be following the Democratic Mayor's "stay-at-home" order, as the state's wingnut Republican Governor refuses to issue one;
  • The woman who believes we should call it the "Stable Genius Virus";
  • And many others, including the last caller of the day who....well, we'll let you listen, but it's a bit heartbreaking, and I wish I could have said more, though the show was ending and I had few words to help, I fear...

Hopefully, we can all come together with love at this difficult and extraordinary moment of necessary physical distancing, as opposed to social distancing... And thank you for taking the time to join us for The BradCast during this unprecedented time in history...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump lauds socialism at 'campaign kickoff'; WH, DoJ nix Hicks testimony in House; Trump EPA to help kill thousands with new roll back of Obama coal regs...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after what seems like a too-long absence, we're joined again today by Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN for insight on the first batch of U.S. Supreme Court opinions issued at term's end this week. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, mercifully brief coverage of Donald Trump's re-election campaign launch in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday night. While the rally followed the same tired pattern of pretty much all of the campaign rallies he's held non-stop since becoming President --- (Remember when the GOP and Fox 'News' used to complain that Obama was holding campaign rallies as President, rather than governing? That was darling.) --- the usual recitation of Trump lies and nonsense also included a fascinating reference to Republican opposition to "socialism" just one mere breath before Trump (falsely) touted GOP support for protecting much-beloved socialist programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The irony, no doubt, was lost on most of his brain-poisoned followers on hand or watching via the Fox "News" disinformation channel.

On Capitol Hill today, Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee finally heard testimony from a former Trump official in the aftermath of the damning Robert Mueller Special Counsel report. Longtime Trump aid Hope Hicks --- who worked with him before his campaign, during it, during the transition and in the White House --- cooperated with the Mueller probe and is cited within it as a witness about 180 times. She agreed to testify today, though only behind closed doors, with a transcript to be released later. However, White House and DoJ Attorneys were also on hand to continue what Committee member Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) described as "obstruction of justice in action". The lawyers issued objections to any and all questions related to Hicks' service with Trump as President, asserting "absolute immunity" from such questions. That is a newly invented "privilege" from the White House and DoJ which Lieu described as "not a thing. It doesn't exist." Lawmakers suggest the result will be court action to force Hicks' testimony on her time at the White House, now that she is a private citizen (who works for Fox "News"). Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is still opposed to opening an official impeachment inquiry, reportedly described the new White House offensive as "obstruction of justice", which --- in case she needs a reminder --- is one of the offenses included in the Articles of Impeachment for both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Also in D.C. today, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by "former" coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, officially replaced President Obama's Clean Power Plan, meant to curb global warming greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, with a new rule that makes the reduction of emissions optional for states. Even while coal plants have been shutting down across the country over the past two years in favor of cheaper, cleaner natural gas and renewable energy production, the Administration is implementing the new rule which, according to the EPA's own analysis, will result in thousands of unnecessary deaths per year. The new rule parallels a similar effort by the Trump Administration to roll back new mileage standards implemented by Obama with the cooperation of the auto industry, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says will save thousands of lives as well. So, yes, Trump is now purposely killing Americans and lying about it by claiming U.S. air and water has never been cleaner. That, according to actual findings from the Government, is also untrue, as pollution has increased over the past two years since Trump became President.

We're then joined by Slate's Stern for a review of this week's SCOTUS rulings and an explanation for some of the "strange bedfellow" partnerships found in several of them. Among the opinions discussed today...

  • A Supreme Court "punt if I've ever seen one," according to Stern, on a case involving yet another bigoted baker, this time in Portland, who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The Justices sent that case back down to the lower court for review, though Stern suggests they are largely buying time before being forced to determine, once and for all, whether discrimination against LGBTQ people is Constitutional. "The Court can't duck this forever," says Stern;
  • The largely good news ruling of the week is for voters in Virginia, where a 5 to 4 majority opinion results in new, fairer, more competitive legislative districts in advance of the Commonwealth's statewide elections this November. The Justices held that the GOP-gerrymandered House of Delegates did not have standing to appeal new legislative maps implemented by lower courts to correct 11 districts found to have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered following the 2010 Census. Only the state's Attorney General, a Democrat, who initially challenged the ruling on behalf of the state but later declined to appeal the lower court's ultimate ruling, has such standing, the majority determined.

    But the majority opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was joined, unsurprisingly, by Justices Elana Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, and much more surprisingly by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch! Moreover, the minority dissent, penned by rightwing Justice Samuel Alito was also joined by the normally progressive Stephen Breyer. Stern offers an explanation for what appears to be very strange bedfellows on this opinion, and whether the ultimate outcome --- while very good news for Democrats who hope to take control of one or both chambers in the VA legislature this November --- will be good news or bad news for Democrats and Republicans in the future;

  • We then move to what Stern describes as "a tough but interesting case", for his explanation of the Court's affirmation of what has long been considered a loophole in the U.S. Constitution allowing an exception to its restriction on double-jeopardy cases. In fact, as the Court held in a 7-2 decision, virtually identical indictments may be brought against the same person, for the same crime, so long as they are brought in separate State and Federal jurisdictions, which are considered to be "separate sovereigns". On the minority in this case was another odd couple, Ginsberg and Gorsuch, while Thomas --- who previously decried the Double-Jeopardy Loophole by calling for a "fresh examination" of it --- chose not to vote for ending it when he had the opportunity. He did, however, take the opportunity to write a concurrence in the case, calling for reversing other long-held SCOTUS precedents, such as those which allow women the right to choose to have an abortion. "He used his opinion to launch into this crazy attack on precedent, that was clearly laying the groundwork for an attack on cases like Roe. vs. Wade" and marriage equality;
  • Finally, Stern offers some thoughts on the Court's expected opinion, due any day now, regarding the Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That determination is still expected, despite evidence unearthed after oral argument that proves the Administration lied about their reasons for adding the question, which, according to the Census Bureau itself, will reduce participation. That, in turn, is expected to radically shift government funding and citizen voting power from Democrats and minorities toward white Republican jurisdictions. We discuss that bizarre matter --- and how SCOTUS can possibly rule on the case now, given the new evidence revealed from the hard drive of a now-deceased GOP gerrymandering expert following the Court's hearing months ago --- and a few of the other expected important decisions to come in the next two weeks before the Justices leave town for Summer vacation...

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Court punts on discrimination case, allows VA racial gerrymander fix, leaves Constitution's double-jeopardy loophole in place; Also: Iran pushes back; More bad 2020 news for Trump; Confused anti-choicer rings in...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2019 6:57pm PT  

Catching up with a weekend's worth of news in the Trump era plus the new Supreme Court decisions dropped on Monday is no easy feat. But we do our best, on today's BradCast, to get you up to speed after all of that and the madness yet to come (no doubt) this week. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A quick update on the case of anti-authoritarian author and journalist David Neiwert who we interviewed on Friday. Incredibly, his Twitter account is still suspended almost a full week since Twitter first took him down due to his use of a graphic on his profile from the cover of his most recent book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. The image is a Ku Klux Klan mask over each of the white starts on the U.S. flag, which the anti-KKK author is being told he must remove because it's considered a hate symbol. He still refuses to do so, and Twitter has yet to reassess it's ill-considered policy;
  • Next, Iran has announced that, in the next 10 days, it is speeding up nuclear enrichment and will exceed the levels of uranium allowed under the landmark seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement brokered during the Obama Administration, following the Trump Administration's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty last year and his subsequent violations in restoring crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic. With what had been a very good deal now broken by Trump, the Administration continues to saber rattle against Iran, with AP reporting late today that the U.S. plans to send an additional 1,000 troops to the Gulf;
  • Back home, the U.S. Supreme Court has begun releasing its end of term opinions. Among those released today, the Court ducked a ruling concerning yet another baker --- this time in Portland, Oregon --- who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Sending the case back down to the lower court also likely means they will avoid having to make a decision on it during their next term, which ends smack dab in the middle of the 2020 Presidential election season;
  • More substantively, for the moment, good news for Democrats as the Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand in Virginia, where Republicans were found to have used unlawful racial gerrymanders in drawing state legislative seats after the 2010 census. The lower court has imposed fairer maps that will now be used, for the first time, in the Commonwealth's statewide elections this November. (VA holds "off-year" elections, so the entire House of Delegates will be on the ballot when one or both of the General Assembly's chambers could finally be taken over by Democrats with new, fairer maps in place.) The Supremes let the lower court ruling stand after determining that the gerrymandered GOP House of Delegates did not have standing to intercede after the state's Democratic Attorney General chose not to appeal the new maps mandated by the lower court. The 5 to 4 decision, however, was a mix of very strange bedfellows, with liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing for the majority and supported by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan (not a surprise) along with Thomas and Gorsuch (very much of a surprise!). That also left the usually progressive Stephen Breyer siding with the rest of the Court's right-wingers. Though we speculate on that strange mix of votes, we hope to have more insight later this week;
  • And in the last of the SCOTUS matters for today, the Court also ruled on a case of double-jeopardy regarding a man facing prison time from both the state of Alabama and the federal government for the same crime. What has become a loophole in the U.S. Constitution's restriction against being tried twice for the same crime will remain in place, despite the dissent from --- another odd couple --- Ginsburg and Gorsuch who both dissented. But that bad news for civil libertarians who had hoped to close that Constitutional loophole once and for all with this case, is good news for those who fear Donald Trump may pardon members of his crime syndicate, like his former campaign chair Paul Manafort. He is currently facing years in federal prison, unless pardoned by Trump. But, due to the Constitutional exception that allows similar crimes to be tried against the same person at both the state and federal level, even if pardoned, Manafort would be forced to face the fraud charges currently filed against him by the state of New York;
  • And, speaking of politics and Trump-related criminality, a new survey by the President's favorite fake news outlet, Fox "News", finds at least five of the top 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates are defeating him in NATIONAL polling, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders currently dusting Trump by about ten points each. Also besting Trump in the new national poll currently --- well over a year out from the actual election --- are Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, as well as South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, though their leads are within the poll's margin of error. The new Fox poll echoes similar findings from Quinnipiac last week. So we offer similar warnings about the misleading nature of national polls (we don't have a national election! Just ask Hillary Clinton!), especially those taken 17 months before Election Day and before Democrats have even held their first debate (scheduled for next week);
  • In perhaps more noteworthy polling news, there has been a steep and quick rise in support for official impeachment hearings --- at least among Democrats --- as revealed by a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. And, with that, pressure for impeachment continues to rise in Congress as well, according to comments from Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who discussed the matter over the weekend on ABC's This Week. We share part of her remarks from Sunday in which she (correctly) argues that "impeachment is incredibly serious and this is about the evidence the President may have committed a crime, in this case, more than one." Rebutting the political considerations that have, so far, prevented U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from allowing the Democratic caucus to begin an official impeachment inquiry in the House, AOC adds: "Our decision on impeachment should be based in our Constitutional responsibilities and duties and not in elections or polling";
  • Finally, with the little time we have left today, we open up the phones to some calls, which is mostly eaten up by a woman who appears to be very confused in her "pro-life" anti-abortion argument about how conception actually occurs, as she cites her Christian religion for why women should not be able to decide for themselves regarding personal health care decisions.

Good luck with that! And enjoy today's program...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump panics over impeachment, sets course for Constitutional crisis by blocking lawful subpoenas...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Administration is now barreling the nation towards one or more unprecedented Constitutional crises as he panics about the possibility of impeachment. But the fruits of the GOP's labor in violating Constitutional norms to steal a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court may now finally be set to pay off for them for at least the next decade. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

First up today, however, some quick election results following a few contests around the country on Tuesday. In a Special Election for a vacated state Senate seat in Tennessee, Republican Bill Powers reportedly defeated Democrat Juanita Charles. The result wasn't a surprise in a state where the GOP now enjoys a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly. But Powers is said to have won by just under 10 points. That's a 13-point swing towards the Democrats in a very Republican district from what would normally be expected.

In Tampa, Florida former police Chief Jane Castor was elected by a 73% landslide to become the city's first openly gay Mayor, the first to lead a major city in the U.S. Southeast. The victory comes less than one month after the openly gay Lori Lightfoot was elected Mayor in Chicago. Castor was outspent 2 to 1 by her opponent, David Straz, a 76-year old banker who wasted $5 million of his own money on the race and also outspent the other seven candidates combined in last month's primary.

Back in D.C., the U.S. House General Counsel filed a motion in federal court seeking to block Trump's re-appropriation of some $6 billion from the Defense Department to build his wall on the Southern border. The House --- which voted, along with the Senate, to block Trump's "national emergency" declaration and his re-allocated spending, only to be vetoed by the President --- argues that Trump's actions are unconstitutional as contracts are being awarded and money spent to build and repair border barriers with funding that "Congress did not appropriate for that purpose."

But federal judges who actually believe in following the Constitution may be in shorter supply these days, as Trump and the GOP have packed the courts with "conservatives" of convenience --- jurists who claim to believe in one set of principles but follow a radically different path when it suits their political whims. Trump is counting on such activist judges as he announces his Administration is now blocking all White House and other executive agency officials from responding to lawful document demands and subpoenas issued by Congress. In just the past 24 hours, the Administration has directed several current and former officials to not respond to lawful Congressional subpoenas for testimony and has denied statutory requests for financial documents of Trump and a number of his companies. Trump also, on another Twitter tear today, vowed to seek help from his stolen SCOTUS in the event that he is impeached.

Our guest today, MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter for Slate, offers insight on all of the above, before we focus on the even more disturbing news regarding Tuesday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the Commerce Department's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census.

Stern, who was present at the Court for argument on Tuesday, suggests the outlook is not encouraging. He tells me he counted five rightwing Justices who appear eager to overturn three lower court rulings which found Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about his reasons for unlawfully directing the Census Bureau to add the question despite objections from career Census professionals who advise that the question would result in a massive under-count of Hispanic and immigrant populations.

The decennial count of all "persons" in the U.S., (as the Constitution requires), may be off by as many 6.5 million people if the question is added, largely in areas that tend to vote Democratic, according to the experts. The result would be felt for the next decade --- particularly in Democratic-leaning cities and states --- as the Census is used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending, as well as how Congressional and state legislative districts are mapped and residents represented, and even how electoral votes are to be allocated.

"This was just a real bloodbath for the plaintiffs here," Stern tells me about Tuesday's oral argument. "This case should have been so simple. Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce lied about his reason for including a citizenship question on the Census. He lied, and he got found out. He is the one who asked the Justice Department to create some pretext for the citizenship question. And beyond that, Ross busted through a bunch of statutory roadblocks that are supposed to prevent the inclusion of gratuitous questions on the Census."

"The lower court in this case said, 'I count Wilbur Ross violating the law in at least six separate ways.' The Supreme Court only has to find one of those ways to be compelling to stop the citizenship question and say no," Stern laments. "But I don't think a majority of the court is willing to step in and stand up for the law. And I fear the reason is because they know exactly why the Trump Administration wants the citizenship question on the Census."

Stern details what he describes as hypocrisy displayed by the Court's five Republican Justices during argument, as they cited everything from the Voting Rights Act (which they voted to gut) to international law (which they have dismissed as having no basis in U.S. law) to deference to federal agencies (which they have famously undermined in recent years when it comes to environmental regulations and other disputes where courts had traditionally deferred to executive agency expertise) in posing questions that indicate they plan to approve the new question meant to rig the Census. "It was a very bad day for truth at the Supreme Court," Stern reports.

"Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to capture what this is," he argues. "I can only hope that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch begin to apply international law in death penalty cases, as well. But something tells me this is a ticket good for one ride only."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (after we ran out of time for it yesterday) with another troubling mix of both good news and bad for the nation and the planet...

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Finds Russians implanted malware, but didn't check if results affected
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, new details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report supporting the argument we've been trying to make for the last two years: Nobody ever checked the results of the 2016 election to make sure they were correct! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, we open with an avalanche of important news headlines breaking today and over the weekend, including the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka; A TV comedian becoming the next President of Ukraine by a landslide; Trump's latest vow to impose sanctions on allies who purchase oil from Iran; Woefully unqualified Federal Reserve Board candidate and alleged sexual harasser Herman Cain withdrawing his name from Trump's consideration; The GOP's stolen Supreme Court announcing plans to take up cases to determine whether LGBTQ people may be covered by anti-discrimination civil rights employment laws this Fall; and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton jumping into the crowded Democratic Presidential nomination contest.

Then we move to our all too brief commemoration of Earth Day's 49th Anniversary on Monday, wherein our own Desi Doyen details how and why the annual celebration first came about beginning in 1970. Of course, as we like to say on our Green News Report, every day is Earth Day for us! Nonetheless, sticking with that theme today --- for those who only notice it once a year --- we share "A Message from the Future from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" in which the freshman NY Democratic Congresswoman, from a couple of decades in the future, looks "back" on the world-changing successes of her Green New Deal program, as recently introduced with veteran Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). The charming animated video, with illustrations by Molly Crabtree, is a thought experiment of sorts worth watching and/or listening to, as it helps explain how the GND would work to curb many of the worst effects of climate change, while providing millions of jobs and healthcare for all, as climate scientists have repeatedly warned the world must do within the next decade or face unstoppable consequences that threaten the entirety of human civilization.

Then, we move on to the revelation from the redacted Mueller Report [PDF] which has caused my Twitter feed to go somewhat bonkers since I cited it over the weekend. As the Special Counsel's report reveals (Vol. 1, pages 51-52, in the section entitled "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), Russian intelligence operatives at the GRU targeted and infiltrated "individuals and entities involved in the administration of the [2016] elections. U.S. state and local entities, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and county governments, as well as individuals who worked for those entities. The GRU also targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations."

In other words, voter registration databases AND voting systems, such as voting machines and tabulators. Mueller's report goes on to concede that though the GRU was successful in implanting malware on a number of the targeted computers, "the [Special Counsel's] Office did not investigate further [and] did not, for instance, obtain or examine servers or other relevant items belonging to these victims." Instead, as Mueller writes, "The Office understands that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the states have separately investigated that activity".

Only problem with that? As we have reported repeatedly over the past two years, Jeanette Manfra, the top DHS official in charge of overseeing cyber-intrusions of critical infrastructure such as voting and tabulation systems, conceded during a June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that her department had not, in fact, conducted any forensic analyses of computer voting and tabulation systems or servers following the 2016 Presidential election. We play a clip from her Senate testimony to that end.

As far as we can tell, this means that nobody has ever conducted such an analysis, despite the stunning results of the 2016 Presidential election. That remains very troubling, considering that Trump reportedly won, very narrowly, by less than 80,000 votes total in the key swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, none of which had voted GOP in a Presidential election for decades until 2016. The margins --- as reported by computers, but never verified by humans --- were close enough in each of those states that, had an average of just two votes in each precinct in each of those states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, she, not he, would be President now.

Moreover, as the Mueller Report also documents, Trump's then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort offered briefings and internal polling data to his business associate Konstanin Klimnik, a Ukrainian national tied to Russian intelligence, "on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort's plan to win the election," including what Manafort's partner Rick Gates described to the Special Counsel as "discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota."

So, at this point, that means nobody still knows whether Donald Trump was actually the legitimate choice of the voters who comprise the Electoral College. (We already know he lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes.) Most of those very same computer systems will be used once again in the 2020 Presidential election, though some --- for example in Philadelphia, the entire state of Georgia, Los Angeles County and elsewhere --- are being replaced with newer systems that are even more difficult for the public to oversee to ensure reported results reflect actual voter intent.

And, with all of that today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for thoughts on whether --- given the findings of the Mueller Report, including Trump's well-documented and repeated attempts to unlawfully obstruct the investigation itself --- Democrats in Congress should begin impeachment hearings or not. So far, Democrats are somewhat split on the issue, with a number of freshmen in the House calling for impeachment proceedings to begin and, so far, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among the current Presidential candidates offering a clarion call for members of Congress to meet their Constitutional duties by officially investigating Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors via an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House and a vote on whether to convict and remove Trump from office in the U.S. Senate. Our callers offer somewhat mixed feelings as well, as you'll hear on today's very busy and fast-moving BradCast!...

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