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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, January 18, 2022
GOP Gerrymanders 'Not So Bad' for Dems This Year? Think Again, Argues Expert: 'BradCast' 1/18/20
Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li: Also: No fraud found in AZ; TX rejecting VBM requests...
Sunday 'National Treasure' Toons
Be sure to steal a moment for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
DOJ 'Turning the Screws' on Path to Trump with Oath Keepers Sedition Charges: 'BradCast' 1/14/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WI judge bans drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP maps...
SCOTUS Blocks OSHA Experts from 'Protecting General Welfare' of Workers Amid Pandemic: 'BradCast' 1/13
Also: Oath Keepers charged with 'sedition'; Bernstein: 1/6 'cover-up' exceeds Watergate...
'Green News Report' 1/13/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Offshore wind on NY, NJ horizons; Oceans in 2021 warmest ever recorded; Extreme weather spikes food, commodity prices; PLUS: Biden EPA cracks down on toxic coal ash ponds...
Previous GNRs: 1/11/22 - 1/6/22 - Archives...
Prepare for 'Juristocracy' and Literal 'Destruction of the Administrative State': 'BradCast' 1/12/22
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 1/6 Comm seeks McCarthy; GA D.A.'s Trump probe...
The Hilarious Death of the Pathetic Cyber Ninjas: 'BradCast' 1/11/22
Also: Biden finally calls for U.S. Senate filibuster reform to pass voting rights and election protection legislation...
'Green News Report' 1/11/22
U.S. emissions spiked in 2021, the 5th hottest year on record; U.S. weather disasters cost $145B in 2021; PLUS: NY's new Guv goes big on climate and clean energy...
Should We Feel Better About Merrick Garland Yet?: 'BradCast' 1/10/22
Omicron rising; Emissions rising; Calls for Trump accountability rising...
Sunday 'First Anniversary' Toons
Commemorating the week that was in PDiddie's latest collection of toons...
Protecting Democracy from the 'Re-Emerging Demons of Hell': 'BradCast' 1/7/22
Guest: Dr. Nils Gilman; Also: Arbery murderers sentenced; CyberNinjas fined, shut down...
1/6 Anniv: 'I Will Allow No One to Place a Dagger at the Throat of Our Democracy': 'BradCast' 1/6/22
Repubs still disinformed; Biden calls out 'lies for profit, power'; American democracy in peril...
'Green News Report' 1/6/22
Germany shuts nuke plants; Trump EPA chief, coal lobby-ist tapped as VA environment chief; Big EV news; PLUS: San Fran gets world's first hydrogen powered ferry...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li; Also: AZ County finds no 2020 voter fraud; TX counties rejecting absentee applications under new law; Giuliani, other Trump fraudsters subpoenaed by House Jan. 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The ongoing GOP effort to undermine American democracy by making it harder to vote and easier to cheat in elections continues amid the fallout from Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. While you might think Republicans would pay a price for joining him in that effort, its Democrats --- and voters in general and American democracy itself --- paying the price, even as the Big Lie continues to fall further apart with each passing day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As you know, Republicans have been using false claims of massive (and, apparently, evidence-free) "voter fraud" in the 2020 election as a pretext to adopt new voter suppression and election subversion laws in GOP controlled states. The fruits of those corrupt efforts are already paying off. In Texas, for example, County Clerks across the state are reporting that the state's new anti-voting law, S.B.1, is forcing them to reject hundreds of legitimate absent ballot applications in one of the most difficult states in the nation to vote by mail already.

New I.D. requirements for ballot applications have resulted in rejections of nearly half of the absentee applications in Travis County, home to the state's capital of Austin. Worse, the state's Secretary of State has yet to issue rules for how County Clerks may legally notify or help the rejected voters to cure their applications in advance of the state's March mid-term primaries. (The application deadline is Feb. 18.)

Many of the rejected applications are from voters that have been voting by mail for years. But the new state law now requires applicants to include either a drivers license number or state I.D. number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application. While some don't notice the new requirement and are rejected on that basis, others do include one of those numbers, but are still being rejected! Why? As Democrats had warned when trying to block the bill, the TX law now requires that whichever number a voter uses on their application must match the number on their voter registration form, many of them completed years ago. If the voter includes a drivers license number on their application, for example, but their registration includes a State I.D. number instead --- or no number at all (as is the case with millions of voter registrations in the Lone Star State) --- their applications must now be rejected. Mission accomplished?

Meanwhile, the GOP's Big "voter fraud" Lie continues to fall apart in Arizona, where Joe Biden has been confirmed many times over to have lawfully defeated Trump in 2020. On Friday, in the second largest county in the state, Pima (home to Tucson), the Pima County Attorney's Office determined that, of the 151 cases referred to them as possible cases of voter fraud after 2020, ZERO actually merited criminal charges. There remain a handful of possible fraud cases elsewhere in a the state (less than 50). But, of course, if all known cases of possible fraud in Arizona turned out to be actual fraud and all of those votes were somehow in favor of Biden, there still wouldn't be nearly enough fraudulent ballots to reverse his 10,000+ vote victory out of about 3.2 million ballots cast in the state. Nonetheless, in AZ as well, Republicans are using their lies about "voter fraud" to make it harder to vote and easier for them to cheat in elections.

But the biggest story on today's BradCast involves gerrymandering, perhaps the most critical reason our federal government and our democracy has become so seemingly irreparably broken. Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week have combined the combined Freedom to Vote Act (which, among many other critical election reforms, makes partisan gerrymandering unlawful in all 50 states) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (which restores the requirement for federal pre-clearance of new election laws in states with a history of racial discrimination in elections after SCOTUS gutted the landmark provision) into one single bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. All 50 Democrats in the majority claim to support the newly combined bill. Zero Republicans do. But unless two Democratic Senators (Sinema and Manchin) agree to modify the Senate filibuster rule to allow democracy-saving legislation to be adopted with a simple majority vote, none of it will become law and the GOP efforts to game elections will be largely free and clear through 2022.

For several years, experts have been warning that, following the 2020 Census, the new round of redistricting was going to be very bad for Democrats in GOP-controlled states. That, after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and later declared that federal courts may have no say at all on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, But, with about half of the new maps now redrawn by states in advance of the 2022 mid-terms (with several being challenged in state courts), are they as bad as many pundits had foretold?

A number of redistricting experts of late have suggested that the new maps aren't nearly as bad for Dems as they might have been. But is that true? We're joined today by Brennan Center's Senior Counsel for its Democracy Program, MICHAEL LI, who serves as the non-partisan organization's redistricting expert.

Last week, in an op-ed for Washington Post, Li describes the notion that gerrymandering hasn't been too bad for Democrats this year as a "misleading narrative" for a host of reasons. Experts, he notes, had predicted a bunch of safe Democratic seats would be remapped into Republican districts. "They expected Democratic seats to fall," Li explains. "But instead, what Republicans are doing is shoring up the disproportionate advantages they already hold" following the extreme partisan gerrymanders from 2011.

"In Texas, under the old maps, Democrats have 36% of the seats. Under the new maps they have 37% of the seats, so very little change," he tells me by way of just one example. "But the competition is gone. So whereas under the old maps there were competitive districts, under the new maps, even if Democrats got 58% of the vote [across the state], they would still have the same 37% of the seats, which hardly seems fair. Even if Texas turned deep blue, Republicans would have almost a 2-to-1 advantage. That's the perniciousness of the state's gerrymander."

There are other examples, in North Carolina for instance, where the maps are currently being challenged in state courts. We also discuss how the Supreme Court's unwillingness to hear partisan gerrymandering cases has affected all of this and whether or not the Court will similarly begin to turn away racial gerrymander cases as well in the not too distant future.

Li goes on to explain why the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- if Republicans or Manchinema were to allow it to be passed into law --- "would be a game-changer" on this issue. It "would transform redistricting. There would be a ban against partisan gerrymandering in Congressional redistricting. It would be easy to calculate and figure out whether a map violates that and, if a map does, then it's blocked from use pretty automatically, perhaps even in time for 2022 if Congress were to pass it soon."

But, alas, unless there are some surprises in the Senate this week, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. So, what's left? Should Democratic-controlled states, in order to save democracy itself before the 2024 elections, gerrymander their own maps as aggressively as Republicans have? As much as it pains me to do so, I have previously argued that they should. Does Li agree? Tune in to find out!

Finally, before we go, the mid-show breaking news that Rudy Giuliani and a number of others who were very close to the disgraced former President as he was attempting to steal the 2020 election have now been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: WI judge bars all ballot drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP-gerrymandered state, U.S. House maps...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2022 6:45pm PT  

We're fighting again today on The BradCast to prevent the murder of American democracy. Lord knows Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin don't seem to give a damn about it. As usual these days, that means looking both forward and back. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Thursday in Wisconsin, as Election Law Blog described it, a rightwing Circuit Court Judge "suddenly discovers that, despite years of use, absentee ballot drop boxes are actually unlawful." He is now ordering that ballots may be returned only in person (not by family members or neighbors) or by much less secure U.S. Postal Service boxes. Unless overturned on appeal, the ruling could have a chilling effect on critical Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections in the Badger State this year, after some 500 secure drop boxes were successfully deployed across the state without incident in 2020.

There is better news for democracy's future this week out of Ohio (of all places). The Republican majority state Supreme Court, in two 4 to 3 rulings --- with the GOP Chief Justice serving as swing-vote with the court's three Democrats --- struck down new maps for both state House and Senate districts, as well as the one drawn up for Congress by Ohio's new Redistricting Commission.

The Commission was created as part of a Constitutional amendment adopted by 71% of voters in 2015, in hopes of doing away with far-right partisan gerrymandering in the Buckeye State. Their constitution now requires maps reflect the general partisan makeup of the state, which the court found leaned 54% to 46% toward the GOP in statewide elections over the past decade. But the Republicans who currently control the Redistricting Committee drew up maps that lean well over 2 to 1 in favor of their own party!

"When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins," the court majority wrote. "[T]he evidence in these cases makes clear beyond all doubt that the General Assembly did not heed the clarion call sent by Ohio voters to stop political gerrymandering." Despite the state's narrow GOP advantage, the Congressional map proposed by the Commission would have given Republicans a 12 to 3 advantage over Democrats in U.S. House races! Shamefully, Justice Pat DeWine --- son of Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine (who, himself, sits on the Redistricting Commission!) --- refused to recuse himself from the vote --- just to give you an idea of how much the GOP is hoping to murder democracy in Ohio. Happily, it didn't work, and Democrats are likely to pick up several U.S. House seats when real maps are drawn up to meet the state constitution's (and voters!) requirements and the Supreme Court's approval.

The state-by-state, court case-by-court case slog to preserve democracy will now continue, as the two obstructionist Democrats in the Senate, Sinema and Manchin, show no signs of defending it in the U.S. Senate. A debate on the two critical federal voting rights and election protection bills they both claim to support --- the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- will receive a vote next week, thanks to some parliamentary maneuvering to avoid a GOP filibuster to hold a debate. But they are likely to with zero Republican votes for either measure (ten would be needed to overcome the Senate's 60-vote filibuster threshold) unless Sinema and Manchin do the right thing and vote to reform the undemocratic Senate rule. No one believes they will. But at least they'll be on record so voters can hold them accountable --- or try to.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, don't tell Brit Hume, but Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and ten of his henchmen were charged with seditious conspiracy for their part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The deadly assault was in hopes of preventing the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as part of Donald Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election.

We're joined again today by MARCY WHEELER, longtime independent investigative national security journalist at Emptywheel.net, to discuss what the new charges may mean as the Dept. of Justice moves up the chain of command in their investigation --- their largest in history --- of the Jan 6. insurrection and how, and if, this brings them closer to the kingpin, our failed former President.

Over the holidays, Wheeler joined guest host Nicole Sandler to lay out a persuasive case that Merrick Garland and the DoJ are, in fact, vigorously working from the bottom up to potentially reach Trump. She described how they are making headway in that regard. Today, Wheeler explains how the new charges are likely to move the DoJ closer to several main instigators of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack, including Trump's right-hand men like Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani and Alex Jones.

"What the [charge of] seditious conspiracy does, for Rhodes in particular, is it broadens what he was doing and really implicates his efforts to arm everyone," she tells me. "We knew that these efforts continued after January 6th. They still thought that Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act. So they were all gathering in Texas and acquiring arms to do that. That shows the continuity of plans beyond just January 6th."

She notes the new charge of sedition also "shuts up the Republicans," who have increasingly claimed the attack wasn't particularly violent, dangerous or any big deal --- and many in the media, naturally, have been going along with that idea. But with charges of sedition "the media is finally paying attention. I've had conversations with about 5 CNN people who, for the last month and a half, were saying 'Nothing was happening,' [but] now are like, 'Wow! Big news!'"

"The real point of this indictment is to turn the screws on the people that are charged to try and get them to flip," Wheeler contends, as prosecutors work their way up from those who committed lesser crimes, through the more violent and pre-planned ones, up to those behind it all.

In addition to the seditious conspiracy charges, prosecutors have added "another conspiracy for interrupting a government official's duty," she observes. "The reason I'm interested in that is when you look at these conspiracies, every single one that has ever been written in this investigation could plunk Trump right into the middle of it."

"But with Stewie [Rhodes], you go beyond January 6th. You start talking about an attack on Joe Biden. That's what I think makes it seditious conspiracy. But the added conspiracy charge of interrupting a government official, that's something Trump did," she argues. "One of things that DOJ has been focused, laser sharp since very early, is the way in which all of these rioters were targeting Mike Pence."

"DoJ is turning the screws," Wheeler claims. "They're trying to get these people to flip. That's what I think you would need to get through to Roger Stone and, beyond him, to others."

As usual with our friend Marcy, there is lot to discuss and digest. She follows all of these cases --- hundreds of them brought so far --- likely as close or closer than anyone in the country. Tune in today for much more on all of this!

Finally, just to leave today on one more encouraging note...Last week, we reported that Virginia's GOP Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin had tapped coal lobbyist turned Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as his new Secretary of Natural Resources. But, on Friday, more than 150 former EPA officials who served under both Democratic and Republican Administrations sent a blistering letter to the commonwealth's Democratic-majority state Senate, urging them to reject Wheeler's confirmation. If Ds stick together, they would be able to use their 21-19 majority to stop Wheeler's confirmation dead in his corrupt, coal-dusted tracks...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Dems continue legislative struggle to protect voting rights, Repubs face new legal woes for trying to steal 2020; Also: More results from 2021 elections; Progress at U.N. climate summit in Glasgow...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2021 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast": Despite what you may hear from certain elements of the media, the differences between the two parties when it comes to democracy and voting rights could not be more stark. Democrats are currently trying (and still failing, so far) in Congress, to protect voting rights for all voters. Republicans, meanwhile, are undermining those most basic of American rights around the country, even while facing mounting legal problems for having been gullible enough to play along with Donald Trump's Big Lie effort to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But we've got a lot more than that on today's program. Among the many stories covered...

  • More ballot initiative results from Tuesday's off-year elections, including out of Tucson, Arizona where voters, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, approved a new minimum wage of $15/hour. The victory for some 85,000 workers in the state's Democratic stronghold comes just months after its Senior Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, infamously thumbs-downed her own parties efforts to raise the federal minimum wage nationally to $15/hour. Hoping she noticed what happened in Tucson on Tuesday, because we're betting the folks in Tucson noticed her thumbs-down.
  • In New York state, all three election and voting rights reform propositions placed on the ballot by the Democratic legislature failed by wide margins. Republicans opposed all three and mounted an aggressive campaign to defeat them. Prop 1 involved redistricting reform. Prop 3 would have allowed same-day registration. Prop 4 would have allowed for no-excuse absentee voting in the Empire State. We discussed all three with two longtime NY election integrity advocates last week. Even though there was disagreement on several of measures, it's still a bit of a surprise that all three went down. That, even as Prop 2, a very progressive proposition on the same ballot establishing "the Right to clean air, water and a healthful environment" in the state's Constitution, did pass, by a more than 2 to 1 margin. Hmmm.
  • On Wednesday, back in D.C., a Senate vote on whether to proceed to debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- which restores much of what the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted in recent years from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- was blocked by Republicans. All Democrats voted in favor (including Joe Manchin) and even one Republican for a change (Lisa Murkowski). But as with the similarly Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act two weeks ago, a majority vote was not enough to overcome yet another GOP filibuster in the U.S. Senate, requiring 60 votes to even move to debate. So now we seem to be getting to the point where both Manchin and Sinema may need to put up or shut up on reforming the filibuster to allow for passage of these bills to help save democracy itself. In the meantime, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are vowing to "restore the Senate", whatever that may end up meaning, in order to push election and voting reform through. We'll see if that happens, because...
  • ...As New York Times reports late today, the Democrats' big money donors are getting restless. They are whining that Joe Biden isn't giving them enough attention (good!) and that they are very unhappy about the party's seeming inability to adopt critical voting rights legislation. One major donor has gone so far as to vow to withhold any more money until election reform is passed. The pressure, even from wealthy donors, is welcome and could be helpful. Though what they believe President Biden is actually able to do if two intransigent Democratic Senators refuse to change Senate rules for passage is a separate question. Hopefully these donors also give to Manchin and Sinema and are cutting them off as well while they refuse to stand up and do the right thing for the country.
  • On the other side of the political aisle, it's just nothing but ugly when it comes to democracy. Though some of our stories today may be worth popping some popcorn for. The Smartmatic voting tech company filed two new lawsuits on Wednesday against two "right-wing U.S. television networks," as Reuters properly describes them. One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are being sued for false claims made against the company, including that Smartmatic --- which doesn't have any election business in the U.S. at all other than a recent contract in Los Angeles County --- helped steal the election from Donald Trump in 2020. (And, yes, the fact that Smartmatic was brought into this at all is largely thanks to my series of exclusives from some years ago involving that company and its competitor Dominion Voting Systems, which Trump's dupes have happily misinterpreted and bastardized for their dumb corrupt purposes. You're welcome!) The two complaints are the latest billion dollar lawsuits filed by both Smartmatic and Dominion against the two right-wing networks, Fox "News", as well as Trump friends and attorneys like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Pillow Guy Mike Lindell. We wish them all the worst of luck.
  • Even wingnut Erick Erickson has had enough of the "Stop the Steal" falderal --- at least when he's drunk enough to say so after his party won a few elections on Tuesday night. His rant to his fellow Republicans includes stuff like this: "You idiots have spent a year peddling the fiction the 2020 election was stolen because you were so busy humping Trump's leg that you never really even tried to convince persuadable voters to vote. ... either admit the election wasn't stolen or STFU from here on out. ... And if you really have clung to the 2020 was stolen mythology that lets you sleep well at night as a professional victim, please unfriend me and unfollow me because your presence is needed in Neverland and not here in reality."
  • And, back in Arizona, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be threatening and/or turning on the Cyber Ninjas they hired for their pretend audit of Maricopa County's 2020 election earlier this year. Or, at least, they are play-acting as much for the benefit of a judge as the Senate is facing potential sanctions for failing to turn over public documents related to the phony audit which claims to have found that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by an even larger margin than originally certified in the state. But, as it turns out, even those numbers appear to have been "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, according to experts who looked a bit closer. This could get ugly. At least we hope so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen's got some seemingly good news for us coming out of the critical U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland in our latest Green News Report, along with results of a number of environment and climate related issues that were on the ballot across the country in Tuesday's off-year elections...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation on what went right and wrong; Also: E-Pollbook failures in NJ open door for loser to challenge results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on BradCast: No, Tuesday's off-year elections were not nearly as disastrous for Democrats as the national media seems to want to insist. But there were both red flag warnings and important lessons they should absolutely pay attention to, and quickly. There were also wholly avoidable voting system failures which, unfortunately, open the door for some results to be challenged. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the latest summary on the marquee Gubernatorial races that seemed to encompass the entirety of the national media's coverage on Tuesday and into Wednesday. In Virginia, decades of modern history repeated itself, as the party that didn't win the White House last year appears to have taken control of the Governor's mansion this year. Trump-endorsed businessman and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin was declared the narrow winner over VA's Democratic former Gov. Terry McCauliffe, after Youngkin dog-whistled his kinder, gentler not-Donald-Trump-at-all act into office.

His campaign leaned heavily on pretend, Fox "News"-generated phony outrage issues like opposition to teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools, even though there are no public schools in VA who actually teach it. But fake issues are much easier for Republicans to run on than the unpopular ones they actually support. So, with that, it appears Republicans may also have narrowly taken back majority control of the Commonwealth's House of Delegates, though those final numbers were still too close to call as of airtime.

In New Jersey, it appears that history will not repeat itself. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was declared the unofficial winner by media outlets late during today's show. If officially certified, Murphy will have defeated Republican John Ciaterelli to become the first Democrat to win a second term in the Garden State since the 1970s. But Ciaterelli made clear on Election Night that he plans to challenge the results. Reported electronic pollbook failures across the state on Tuesday (little noticed by most of the media, though we covered the pretty serious issue in some detail on our previous BradCast) may well give him an opening to mount such a challenge --- not that Republican election challengers these days generally need real problems to buttress false claims of fraud when they lose. If Murphy ends up falling behind again, he too could use the failure in his own contest.

We detail what appears to have happened across the state, preventing many voters from being able to vote at the polls for several hours on Tuesday morning, and why we've been warning about issues exactly like this for years when it comes to electronic voting, tabulation and pollbook issues that continue to threaten democracy itself.

But while many Democrats have been beside themselves since the polls closed on Tuesday night, wondering where they went wrong --- at least in those statewide contests --- in truth, if you dig below the national headlines, progressives had a bunch of victories on Tuesday in local races and on ballot initiatives.

We're joined today by one of our favorite post-election guests (following both good and bad nights for Democrats over the years), progressive champion, JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for for The Nation, longtime contributor to The Progressive and Associate Editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. We try to make sense of where both Dems and national media went both right and wrong during both the election and its aftermath. Why, for example, in both VA and NJ, where Democrats held control and adopted a host of very popular progressive policies in the past several years, did they have such a difficult time turning that record into victories yesterday? We also discuss several progressive wins that flew beneath the radar, and what Dems in D.C. and across the nation should take from what happened on Tuesday.

Finally, we close with a boatload of under-reported progressive wins in Tuesday's elections across the country, including historic mayoral victories from Boston to Pittsburgh to Albuquerque to Cincinnati to Durham, NC and beyond, along with a number of local ballot initiatives that defy the media narrative of the past 24 hours which seems to be arguing that Dems must immediately start acting more like Republicans if they hope to have any chance of victory during next year's critical 2022 mid-terms...

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Guests: Dr. Virginia Martin, former Columbia County, NY Election Commissioner and Allegra Dengler of Citizens for Voting Integrity NY; Also: Taxing U.S. billionaire pandemic profiteers...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2021 6:13pm PT  

It's Election Day in America once again next Tuesday, whether you've noticed or not. In New York, democracy itself is on the ballot, even as longtime election and democracy champions (real ones, not the phony, post-2020 MAGA Mob fakers) differ on how to vote next week on three different democracy- and elections-related Constitutional amendments. On today's BradCast, we discuss all three proposed measures which will have far-reaching consequences for voters both in New York and across the nation. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, very quickly at the top of today's show...As Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) continue to obstruct and, actually, shred the bulk of the far-reaching, long-overdue progressive social safety net and climate change agenda of Joe Biden and pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Congressional caucus, we offer a friendly reminder.

Dems insist on making their Build Back Better package fully paid for (unlike the deficit spending in the separate bipartisan roads and bridges infrastructure deal supported by Manchin, Sinema and a bunch of Republicans). But Sinema has nixed her own party's plan for a tiny tax increase on corporations and the wealthy, even though, in 2017, she voted against the $2 trillion Trump/GOP tax cuts for those same people.  One alternate "pay-for" mechanism now being proposed by Dems is a wealth tax on those worth more than a billion dollars or who made $100 million for three consecutive years in a row. On Wednesday, however, Manchin was suggesting such a tax might be too divisive for his tastes, by "targeting" certain people.

So, here's the reminder, courtesy of Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality: There were 614 U.S. billionaires before the pandemic and 745 of them now. Billionaires have seen their wealth grow 70%(!) since the start of the pandemic, to more than $5 trillion. The money they made during the pandemic alone --- from March of 2020 through last month --- would fully cover the cost of Biden's entire 10-year spending plan in the Build Back Better Act, to offer a transformative expansion of healthcare, education, child care and take on climate change for every person in the nation, more than 330 million of us. Meanwhile, a White House analysis last month found that the wealthiest 400 families in the country paid an average federal income tax of 8.2%. (How much did you pay last year?)

Anyway, that's just a reminder as this madness continues. We'll likely discuss all of that more in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, voters --- at least some of them --- are heading to the polls for off-year elections on Tuesday. The neck-and-neck race for Governor in Virginia is receiving much of the attention, but we have our eyes elsewhere today --- on the great state of New York, one of the nation's, theoretically, most "liberal" states which has some of its most restrictive voting policies.

There are several important state constitutional measures on the ballot this year, with three of them having a direct effect on elections in the Empire State and even democracy across the nation.

  • Prop 1 would make it easier for the majority party in Albany (currently Democrats) to approve new legislative and Congressional maps for redistricting following the 2020 Census. That, as Republicans pretend to be furious about the notion that it might allow partisan gerrymandering in the state (which we no longer oppose, for reasons explained again today --- at least until federal legislation bars it in all 50 states.)
  • NY's Prop 3 would abolish the 10-day Constitutional deadline for voter registration before elections, paving the way for eventual election-day registration at the polls.
  • And Prop 4 will remove restrictions on absentee voting in the state, where voters are currently required to attest to being out of town on Election Day or being too ill to go to the polls in order to vote by mail. The hope for proponents is that this will allow for no-excuse absentee voting in the future, as currently available in the majority of states.

While I suspect many believe that folks on the left side of the political aisle might favor all three propositions, that's not actually true, as discussed today with two of New York's longtime champions of election integrity. We walk through all three propositions with them to explain what each may or may not mean for voters and election integrity.

We're joined by DR. VIRGINA MARTIN, who served for 11 years, until 2020, as the Democratic Election Commissioner of the Columbia County, NY Board of Elections and ALLEGRA DENGLER, a longtime election security advocate with Citizens for Voting Integrity NY.

You may be shocked to learn that all three of us do not actually agree on how voters should vote on each of these measures. They each offer their own well-informed and nuanced opinions on the issues at stake in each ballot proposition. We hope this is helpful not only for NY voters, but for others around the nation, where similar issues are being addressed and debated at both the state and local levels, not to mention in proposed federal legislation.

Given Martin's decade-long personal experience as an election official, we also take a few minutes to discuss her thoughts on the ongoing nationwide assault and threats against election officials and poll workers in the wake of sore loser Donald Trump's evidence-free false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election and the very real concerns (as opposed to the MAGA Mob's) when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems. Martin made a name for herself amongst election integrity advocates when, in 2010, she joined with her Republican counterpart on Columbia County's Board of Elections to carry out full, transparent hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots in the county. That, after --- and despite of --- the state's mandate for optical-scan computerized tabulation systems in all of New York's 57 counties...

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Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be planning to run in 2024 after all...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2021 6:29pm PT  

From legal and election wonkery to supply chain wonkery, there is no wonkery that is too wonky for today's BradCast! But I suspect (or, at least, hope) you'll find it a pretty good show nonetheless. And you'll even find out why I actually agree (mostly, sort of) with not one, but two of Donald Trump's dumb, manipulative, self-serving statements he released yesterday! [Audio link to full show is posted below at end of this summary.]

  • First up, Steve Bannon is in trouble. He has no legitimate legal claim to not answer the subpoena of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack for both testimony and documents. Yet he's taking his (bad) legal advice from the disgraced former President and may wind up in jail because of it. If --- and it's still a big if --- Attorney General Merrick Garland is up to the job he was appointed to. We bring you up to date on all of the Committee's subpoenas to date, and who, other than Bannon, may also soon be facing criminal contempt charges.
  • Then, on Wednesday, Trump issued two dumb statements that we, shockingly. can (mostly, sort of) get behind. The first one was simply this: "If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do." --- Of course, there has been zero evidence of election fraud of any note from 2020 documented thoroughly or otherwise. But we definitely agree his Republican supporters should absolutely stay home during next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential election. It's just the right thing for Republicans to do. That said, I also explain why this statement may suggest that Trump, contrary to conventional wisdom of late, may not be planning to run for President again.
  • Next, on Wednesday, a state Superior Court judge in Georgia (I misspoke on the show, describing this as a federal case) dismissed [PDF] the last major legal challenge still pending to the 2020 Presidential election in the state. It's a civil complaint filed by lead petitioner Garland Favorito of VoterGA. He has been on this show several times over the years, and who I've known him as an election integrity advocate long before Trump decided to pretend to be one. As explained, while I've got some problems with Favorito's lawsuit and, in fact, a number of claims he's made regarding the 2020 election since being discovered by the MAGA Mob (who, like Trump, also had zero interest in actual election integrity until now --- and still don't, to be frank), his lawsuit should not have been dismissed. At least not on the grounds that the Judge Brian J. Amero did so.

    The petition, seeking a physical inspection of absentee ballots in Fulton County (Atlanta), charges, among other things, that "pristine" counterfeit ballots --- never folded and bubbled in perfectly, as if by a computer --- were discovered during one of three statewide post-election "audits" last year. The evidence for the claim is largely based on allegations made by a woman who participated in the state-run hand-count "audit", though the affiant reportedly never brought the matter to the attention of officials during the audit and her story has changed somewhat over time, as she received attention from the MAGA media.

    Nonetheless, investigators from Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office told the court this week that they examined the ballots in question, and reported to the judge that they could find no such "pristine" counterfeit ballots in the batches specified by the complaint. While the judge says he reviewed that report by the state investigators, he says his dismissal is for a different reason. He held that the petitioners had no legal standing to sue, since they could show no "particularized injury," affecting them "in a personal and individual way". In other words, while their complaint could be true, it affected all Fulton voters, not just Favorito and friends.

    It's not Judge Amero's fault. The judicial theory is absurd, but it is based on a ruling by the state's 11th Circuit Court earlier this year. It was used as the basis to dismiss a separate attempt to overturn Georgia's 2020 elections results filed by L. Lin Wood, one of several Trumpy attorneys who, like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, have had laughable, evidence-free 2020 "fraud" cases tossed out of courts and have been sanctioned for filing them. But the notion that a petitioner can't sue in Georgia, essentially because everyone has been affected by a certain alleged wrong, is a very bad precedent. And it's likely to harm other important and actually legtiimate lawsuits in the Peach State.

    More to the direct point here for now, as Favorito correctly noted in response to the ruling, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "All citizens of Georgia have a right to know whether or not counterfeit ballots were injected into the Fulton County election results. It is not adequate for any organization [in this case, the inspectors at the Sec. of State's office] to secretly tell us there are no counterfeit ballots and refuse to let the public inspect them."

    He is right. And so was Trump --- accidentally and disingenuously, of course --- in his own dumb, self-serving response to the court's ruling on Wednesday when he correctly asked "Why can't the public see the ballots?" (Most of the rest of his statement was either wrong or ridiculous.) Favorito says he will appeal.

    As explained on the show in more detail, public elections belong to the public. And only public oversight of public elections offer any chance of avoiding the situation we are now in where dishonest cretins, like Trump and his supporters, can falsely claim fraud. Secret vote counting by computers and ballots kept beyond the (controlled) reach of the public will guarantee that such claims --- legitimate or otherwise --- will continue to be made in future elections. That is a grave threat to democracy itself --- just in case you haven't noticed. It is the one we are now facing. And it can only have a chance of being cured by public oversight. Favorito and the public should be allowed to visually inspect the actual physical ballots --- so long as he pays for the effort and the ballots stay in the custody of public officials (unlike what happened in the Cyber Ninjas' clown show "audit" in Maricopa County, AZ). If it reveals counterfeit ballots, good. We should know that. If it doesn't, even better. The claim can be, hopefully, put to bed.

    Anyway, more detail and explanation on all of this on today's program.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the disrupted global supply chain amid the pandemic resulting in a huge spike in energy prices and some very good climate news for both California under Gov. Gavin Newsom and the United States under President Joe Biden...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Maricopa 'audit' insider and 'bamboo guy' John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Congressional GOP pushing the U.S. government toward default and global economic disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2021 6:39pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump lawyers sanctioned, will face disbarment probes; Capitol officers sue Trump; Terror suspect sentenced in MI Guv kidnap plot; House files massive 1/6 records requests; TX AG Paxton clears TX AG Paxton; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2021 6:57pm PT  

Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. We really must stop describing his efforts and those by his supporters as "questioning the results" or "claiming fraud" or "trying to overturn the election." The fact is, Trump tried to steal it. He used every means at his disposal to try and do so. Thankfully, he is largely a failure at pretty much everything, so it didn't work, though we now know it came exceedingly close. So, let's start calling it for what it is: An unprecedented attempted by a President of the United States to try and steal a Presidential election. To that end, accountability is now happening. Slowly but quite assuredly, along with a number of other related accountability stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Some of the breaking news on today's terror attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, which killed at least 13 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans and seriously injured many more. ISIS-K, an off-shoot of the Islamic State and an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack by two suicide bombers. If anything, Thursday's tragedy amidst the largest airlift in U.S. history --- following the swift takeover of the country by the Taliban --- simply serves to underscore even further why the U.S. pullout must continue, and why we certainly shouldn't have been there for 20 years (if at all);
  • In much less horrific news, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its 2020 post-election survey [PDF] of various voting and election-related data from all 50 states last year. While The Guardian's Sam Levine characterizes the report as proving the election was "a remarkable success", we explain why that may be a bit of an overstatement. That said, the data does reveal yet again that, while there were far too many rejections of absentee and mail-in ballots (as is always the case, but especially amid pandemic voting last year), there is still no evidence at all to even suggest that the Presidential election was stolen in any way, shape or form by Joe Biden, the Democrats or anyone else. Not that Donald Trump didn't try (and fail) to do exactly that, of course;
  • In much brighter related news, a federal judge in Michigan on Wednesday brought some serious accountability down on nine of the Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, who both helped Trump try to steal the 2020 election by filing fraudulent lawsuits, in this case in Michigan, fraudulently claiming that the election was stolen, using fraudulent claims about fraud. All nine lawyers were excoriated by U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker's scathing 110-page order [PDF], which should (hopefully) end each of the attorneys' careers as officers of the court. Parker mandated the Trump lawyers pay attorneys fees accrued by the city of Detroit and state of Michigan in defending against the "frivolous" so-called "Kraken" lawsuit; take 12 hours of legal classes each (including 6 on Election Law); and, most importantly, face investigations for possible suspension and/or disbarment by legal authorities in each of their home states;
  • More accountability for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, specifically for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that he incited as part of that effort. Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Trump, several far-right extremist groups charged with aiding the deadly plot, and even against Trump associates like Roger Stone. It is, as the New York Times describes it, "the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable." Trump is already facing two other similar lawsuits filed by the NAACP and by Rep. Eric Swalwell. But, no doubt, the disgraced former President and his supporters will see this new complaint differently, because it is filed by police officers and, as you know, Republicans always "back the blue", right?;
  • That lawsuit follows just one day after the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack issued a massive series of records requests to at least 8 different federal agencies for documents related to Trump's movements, actions and meetings on January 6th, and in the weeks and months both before and after. The requests were sent to, among others, the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and National Archives, where Presidential White House records are stored. Trump is apparently livid about the effort, describing it as a "partisan exercise" being carried out by a "Leftist" House Committee. (That may come as a surprise to "Leftist" Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger);
  • In still more accountability news today, tangentially related to Trump's attempt to steal last year's election in Michigan: The sentence for the first domestic terrorist, among some 13 charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, was handed down on Wednesday. A 25-year old man who, according to Justice Department prosecutors, cooperated with the investigation after initially pleading not guilty, changed his plea and was sentenced to more than 6 years in prison on charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. The failed conspiracy, according to the FBI and Whitmer, sprang from Trump's attempt to vilify the Governor for her science-based handling of the COVID pandemic, in a year in which Trump was willing to say and do anything to win the important battleground state. (He lost it by 150,000 votes instead);
  • In accountability news only spiritually related to Trump, a federal appeals court declined to overturn the sentence of the man who killed nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. The now-27-year old avowed white supremacist is the first person charged with a death sentence for committing a federal hate crime. While accountability is great, a life sentence would have been sufficient. Killing people is bad, as some of us learned even before Kindergarten. Apparently, the U.S. Government has yet to do so;
  • Only politically related to Trump, the Republican state Attorney General in South Dakota, Jason Ravnsborg, who fatally struck a pedestrian last year and left him to die, decided to take a plea deal rather than begin his trial today. Nonetheless, as of airtime, despite the hit and run fatality, Ravnsborg was still in office as the state's top law enforcement official;
  • And, in related corrupt Republican state Attorney General news, definitely politically related to Trump, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also still in office. That, despite being charged with multiple felonies for securities fraud some time ago (and, so far, evading trial on those years-old, but still-pending indictments); facing potential disbarment by the State Bar of Texas for his attempt to help Trump steal the election with a bogus, fraudulent, rejected lawsuit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to try and overturn results in four non-Texas states; and under investigation by the FBI after 7 top staffers in his office quit and filed a legal complaint detailing how AG Paxton was involved in a serious bribery and abuse of power scheme involving protection for one of his top donors and a scheme that involved having the man give a job to his mistress. Well, on that federal investigation, AG Paxton had some good news this week! In an unsigned 374-page report [PDF] published by AG Paxton's office on AG Paxton's letterhead, AG Paxton's own internal investigation found that "AG Paxton’s actions were lawful" and that "AG Paxton committed no crime". Phew! That was close! I'm sure the FBI is calling off their probe, even as we speak.
  • Finally, as a late brewing potential major hurricane (Ida) spins toward the Gulf Coast for possible landfall over the weekend, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with a suspiciously inordinate amount of encouraging news. But don't worry, there are a few items of the usual catastrophic nature GNR is known for as well. We'd hate to leave anyone disappointed...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Chair of Trump Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, arrested, charged with acting as foreign agent, lying to FBI...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2021 6:44pm PT  

Among the many sad legacies of the awful Donald Trump years, is how angry everyone has become in its wake. For always-angry Trumpers, ticking off "the libs" is a feature, not a bug. For progressives, however, while there is much to be justifiably angry about, we are wise to hold our outrage for points that actually matter...and happen to be true. We've got plenty of both on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, shortly before airtime today, the Dept. of Justice arrested and charged Trump's longtime friend, advisor and top fund-riser, Tom Barrack, who chaired the disgraced former President's corrupt Inaugural Committee in 2017. Barrack was charged on seven federal counts, including using his access to Trump to lobby for the United Arab Emirates and lying about it to federal agents. As an unregistered agent for the UAE, Barack allegedly lobbied both the Trump Campaign and Administration on their behalf, joining a growing list of Trump friends, officials and associates found to have unlawfully lobbied the so-called "America First" Administration on behalf of foreign nations like Turkey, Ukraine and the UAE, before lying about it to the FBI.

In other news out of Joe Biden's Dept. of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland, on Monday, issued a new policy prohibiting federal prosecutors from seizing phone, text and email records from journalists, with a few reasonable exceptions. While the Obama Administration did some of that, the Trump Administration took it to new heights, secretly spying on reporters at Washington Post, New York Times and CNN --- as well as Democratic members of Congress, their aides and even their family members --- all considered (by Trump) to be his political enemies. Freedom of Press advocates applauded Garland's "historic" Monday memo [PDF], as the A.G. also called for federal legislation to buttress the new DoJ policy.

That rather important story was somewhat overshadowed on Monday, however, by outrage from the progressive Left over a misreported story about the DoJ's failure to file charges against Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who, the agency's Inspector General found, lied twice to Congress about his roll in unsuccessfully attempting to add a question on immigration status to the 2020 U.S. Census. After the IG's investigation, which began in 2019, the office referred the matter to the DoJ for criminal prosecution.

Progressives were up in arms yesterday after it was inaccurately reported by several legit outlets, including Government Executive and AP, that Biden's DoJ, under the direction of A.G. Garland, had declined to prosecute Ross. However, as both outlets later acknowledged with corrections to their stories, it was actually the Trump DoJ which refused to prosecute Ross. He was at least the fifth Trump Cabinet member to have been referred for criminal prosecution to Trump's corrupt DoJ. (The others include his Interior Dept. chief Ryan Zinke, his HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Trump's second Secretary of Veteran's Affairs Robert Wilkie and his Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who happens to be Mitch McConnell's wife. They all skated.) Whether Biden's A.G. can or will revive those recommendations to bring charges is a separate matter --- and there is plenty of other stuff to be disappointed and/or outraged about regarding some of Garland's seemingly inscrutable decisions since taking the helm at the Department --- but the outrage on Monday from progressives over the declination to charge Ross appears to have been both premature and misdirected.

Next, speaking of fact-checking and going off half-cocked (or, in Trump's case, fully-cocked), late last week, Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the rightwing, conspiracy-promoting company contracted by the Arizona state Republican Senate to carry out a post-election "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2.1 million ballots cast last year, offered public testimony on the progress of his three-month (and continuing) efforts to date.

Logan's remarks vividly demonstrated the dangers of hiring someone who knows absolutely nothing about elections or voting systems (or audits, for that matter) to carry out, in secret, what should have been a fully public exercise. It has been referred to as a "fraudit" and clown show by critics, including both Republican and Democratic state and county officials.

The former President offered three statements on Logan's remarks over the ensuing two days, the most detailed of which charged, falsely, that Logan's testimony "showed 168,000 fraudulent ballots printed on illegal paper (unofficial ballots), 74,000 mail in ballots received that were never mailed (magically appearing ballots), 11,000 voters were added to the voter rolls AFTER the election and still voted, all the access logs to the machines were wiped, and the election server was hacked during the election."

You'll be shocked to learn that absolutely NONE of Trump's claims are actually true.

Over the weekend, AP, CNN and others published lengthy fact-checks responding to the false claims by Logan and the wildly inaccurate nonsense from Trump. Today, we walk through some of false claims, detailing how both Trump and Logan got pretty much everything completely wrong, in the state where Joe Biden was certified by the Republican Governor to have defeated Trump by more than 10,400 votes last November. To date, there has been zero legitimate evidence to suggest otherwise in AZ or any of the other several states that flipped in 2020 from Republican to Democratic after four hellish years of the failed Trump Presidency.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on last week's catastrophic flooding in Germany and Central Europe, wildfires continuing to explode in the parched U.S. West, and disturbing news regarding both the Amazon rainforest and the near future of high-tide flooding...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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