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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, August 14, 2020
Trump Admits to Crippling USPS In Hopes of Stealing the Election: 'BradCast' 8/13/20
President of the United States holds trillions of dollars in emergency relief hostage to prevent Dems from safely casting ballots in November...
'Green News Report' 8/13/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden taps enviro justice champ Harris for VP; Trump EPA rolls back methane rules for industry; Good news for nation's birds; PLUS: Another new fossil fuel spill, this time in PA...
Previous GNRs: 8/11/20 - 8/6/20 - Archives...
GOP Secretaries of State Crank Up Mail-in Vote Suppression in GA, KY, OH: 'BradCast' 8/12/20
Guest: Howie Klein on primaries in MN, GA, elsewhere; Also: Kamala debuts with Biden...
BIDEN PICKS HARRIS; Also: 'Lost' GA Vote Mystery Solved: 'BradCast' 8/11/20
Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala; Jeanne Dufort on GA's scanner fail that missed 1000s of valid votes & how to fix it before Nov...
'Green News Report' 8/11/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
More deadly fossil fuel disasters in Baltimore, off island of Mauritius; Get ready for hyperactive hurricane season; Record July 2020 heat; PLUS: Canada's last intact ice shelf collapses...
Previous GNRs: 8/6/20 - 8/3/20 - Archives...
Failed PR Primary; 100k Infected Kids in 2 Weeks; Trump's Pretend 'Exec Orders': 'BradCast' 8/10/20
Also: 'Back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
Overcoming Trump's Vote-By-Mail Obstacles
How states, counties and YOU must help defend our 'last firewall'...
Sunday 'Is What' Toons
This week's toon collection from PDiddie is what it is...
'Mail is Being Slowed Down... Everywhere' Warns Postal Union Prez: 'BradCast' 8/7/20
Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist 'wins' TN's Dem U.S. Senate nom after being outspent 250 to 1...
National Ripoff Association: NY A.G. Sues NRA for Fraud, to Dissolve Org: 'BradCast' 8/6/20
Also: Trump in NY legal trouble too; Economy over a cliff as White House, Repubs dither...
'Green News Report' 8/6/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump signs major land bill; Fertilizer caused Beirut explosion; Electricity shutoff ban ending; Shell's offshore hybrid wind farm; PLUS: Northeast climate pact causes healthier kids...
Previous GNRs: 8/3/20 - 7/30/20 - Archives...
Progressive Victories (and Losses) in MO, MI, AZ, WA, KS Primaries: 'BradCast' 8/5/20
Guest: Howie Klein; Also: Disgraced Kobach and Watkins lose in KS; Disgraced Arpaio in running in AZ; GOP Guv restores IA voting rights to former felons...
Death and Destruction; Hope and Change: 'BradCast' 8/4/20
Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 8/4/20
Isaias hits NC amid a pandemic, makes history; Rising seas pushing storms further inland, study warns; PLUS: 15 states clear the air, move to all-electric trucks and buses...
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money: 'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
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...


President of the United States holds trillions of dollars in emergency relief hostage to prevent Democrats from safely casting ballots in November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2020 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Well, at least he's saying it out loud now. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The President of the United States is rejecting the plea --- from his own personally-appointed, Republican-majority, Postal Board of Governors for $25 billion to save the U.S Postal Service from collapse and a $3.5 billion request from the nation's bi-partisan elections officials to help harden election infrastructure for security purposes and to accommodate a huge Presidential election in the middle of a deadly global pandemic --- because he is trying to steal the election. While he doesn't use the words "steal the election", he and his administration are now making very clear they are trying to do just that. And, of course, ham-fistedly lying about it at the same time by claiming that Democrats, somehow, are hoping to "rig" the election.

The Trump/GOP megadonor, Louis DeJoy, just appointed as Trump's Postmaster General in June, has been busy issuing directives to slow down mail delivery, despite the explosion in Vote-by-Mail expected during this November's election, as necessitated by Trump's own failed coronavirus response. This week we have also learned that DeJoy has removed or reassigned some 23 top USPS officials who manage mail delivery and that 19 huge postal sorting machines, which process some 35,000 pieces of mail an hour, have now been removed or are scheduled to be removed from at least 19 different mail distribution sites across the country. That was confirmed by Motherboard today after initially being reported on NPR by the President of the Iowa Postal Worker's Union.

It is happening in plain sight. On Wednesday at his White House presser, and again on Thursday, Trump conceded that if he doesn't agree to a new COVID-19 emergency relief bill to help the nearly 30 million now-unemployed Americans; cash-strapped states and cities; hospitals; schools; and, yes, elections officials and the U.S. Post Office itself, he believes he will stop voters from successfully casting a ballot through the mail this November.

That works great for him, because he's hoaxed his own GOP supporters into believing absentee voting is fraudulent (except in Florida, where he, himself, does it ILLEGALLY) or unnecessary, because the virus is "disappearing, like a miracle." Many duped Republicans will now needlessly risk infection and death to vote for him at the polling place on Election Day, while huge numbers of NOT-disinformed Democrats are expected to use Vote-by-Mail to avoid potential death from voting in-person. Trump will then declare himself the winner on Election Night, with more Republican votes quickly counted from in-person voting, before declaring the slower-to-tally absentee ballots (which need to be manually authenticated one-by-one before they can be run through computer tabulators --- if they even arrive on time to be counted after the USPS slowdowns) as "fraudulent". Attempts to count all lawfully cast ballots after Election Day will then be characterized as an attempt by Democrats to steal the election. That's the plan. It's simple, evil, anti-American, and its happening right before your eyes.

Even one of Trump's top White House economic advisers admitted on CNBC today that "we don't want to have voting rights." That, said Larry Kudlow, out loud, about the effort by Democrats to include election and USPS funding in their emergency relief proposal is "not our game and the President can't accept that kind of deal."

Voting rights advocates, supporters of democracy, and Democrats in Congress are hopping mad, as they should be. So is one of the nation's largest veterans groups. But, of course, Trump knows that, as a failed President, if he doesn't rig the election to steal it he is very likely to lose it. So, yes, he is attempting to steal a Presidential election right before our eyes.

We break down ALL of that down --- in much more detail --- on today's show, along with at least one bit of good news on elections today coming from the U.S. Supreme Court, of all places, if you can believe it.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen (whose name keeps popping up in the strangest places these days) and our latest Green News Report with a review of presumptive Democratic Veep candidate Kamala Harris' record on environmental justice; the Trump EPA's rollback of Obama-era methane pollution rules at the request of the oil and gas industry; some very good news for the nation's migratory birds; and yet another fossil fuel disaster, this time in Pennsylvania...

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

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Guest: Howie Klein on Tuesday's primary results in MN, GA, elsewhere; Also: Kamala's first appearance as Biden's running mate...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we look at noteworthy results after Tuesday's state primary elections in Minnesota, Georgia, Wisconsin, Vermont and Connecticut. But we begin with problems voting on Tuesday in (where else?) Georgia, and the quickly expanding efforts by Republican Secretaries of State in key battlegrounds to make mail-in voting as difficult as possible this November, as per Donald Trump's bidding.

In Georgia, as we noted on yesterday's show, despite a successful program to help keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic by sending absentee ballot applications to all active registered voters during the June primary, their Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger has decided not to do so again before the November general elections, despite the spike in COVID infections and deaths in the state since then. A record 5 million Georgians are expected to vote (or try to) this year, when the battleground state is hoped by Democrats to finally flip from "red" to "blue for the first time in decades in the Presidential race and when there are not one, but two vulnerable GOP U.S. Senate Seats on the ballot as well.

In Kentucky, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a challenge from Democratic former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, we're seeing an echo of Raffensperger's attempt to suppress the vote in November. Despite a largely successful June primary, when there were no restrictions on which voters were allowed to request an absentee ballot, the state's Republican Sec. of State Michael Adams on Tuesday submitted a plan to the Governor to restore restrictions, limiting absentees largely to the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. That, despite the widely praised procedures used in June in the Bluegrass State, where the rate of infections and deaths has also spiked since the mid-summer primary. Adams' absurd excuses for the proposed restrictions on Vote-by-Mail reveal that this is much more about suppression than safety or efficiency. For example, while claiming that election officials and the U.S. Postal Service will be overwhelmed in processing the number of absentee ballots if Kentucky again allows no-excuse absentee voting, Adams is also proposing that only ballots that arrive by Election Day may be counted. Previously, officials had a week after Election Day to process ballots post-marked by then, but which arrived in the days following. Luckily, Kentucky now has a Democratic Governor who may need to approve (or veto) Adams' plan before it can be enacted.

In the neighboring perennial swing-state of Ohio, where Joe Biden and Donald Trump are believed to be neck-and-neck this year, Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose announced on Wednesday that he is barring county Boards of Election from offering more than one single secure drop-box per county for depositing Vote-by-Mail ballots. After waiting for three weeks for an opinion from the Republican Attorney General as to whether the state's 88 counties could legally deploy extra drop-boxes, LaRose announced today that he could wait no longer. He says he believes it is now too late to make any changes to how the election will be administered. So there must only be one drop-box outside of each County's elections office. He also claimed that adding extra drop-boxes would result in lawsuits like the one filed by the Trump Campaign in late June in Pennsylvania, which argues that the use of drop-boxes in that key battleground state --- where they were successfully deployed without problem during the state's June primary --- is actually unconstitutional.

These are voter suppression attempts, period. Trump and his cronies are attempting to steal the election in plain sight. Don't. Let. Them. Inform yourself and make plans for safely voting this year NOW.

Then, we're joined once again by HOWIE KLEIN of the "Down With Tyranny!" blog and the progressive BlueAmerica PAC. He has been offering analysis on the show of late, from a progressive perspective, on the late season state primary results. Today, after sharing his thoughts on Joe Biden's new running-mate Kamala Harris (he is "not a fan") and who he might like to see appointed to fill her U.S. Senate seat if Democrats win, we cover freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar's win in the Democratic Primary in Minnesota 5th Congressional District on Tuesday against an AIPAC-supported challenger.

Then we discuss the win by Marjorie Taylor Greene --- a QAnon conspiracy theorist who has proudly made racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic statements --- in the Republican primary run-off in Georgia's 14th Congressional District. For some reason, AIPAC did not fund her challenger, despite her unapologetic anti-Semitic remarks, and the fact that she is most likely headed to Congress after easily winning her runoff in a very Republican district.

Nor did AIPAC manage to fund a challenger to 25-year old Republican Madison Cawthorn, an apparent Nazi sympathizer in North Carolina who Klein writes about today, and who appears likely to win the seat vacated by Trump's latest Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows this November. "They love him on the right," says Klein. "They're already seeing him as a future US Senator."

Klein also offers a preview of next Tuesday's state primaries in Florida where a progressive group outside of the state Democratic Party has worked, for the first time, to recruit Democratic candidates to run in each of the Sunshine State's 27 Congressional districts. "I always say the Florida Democratic Party is lucky that there's an Ohio Democratic Party, because otherwise the Florida Democratic Party would be the worst, instead of the second worst in the country," he says. "So the environmental caucus recruited all of these great candidates. The Democratic Party flipped out. ... But there's a really, really good roster of state legislative candidates and, on top of that, there are several excellent Democrats running for the U.S. Congress," he tells me, specifically citing Adam Christensen in Florida's 3rd Congressional District.

Finally, we close with a bit of Kamala Harris' remarks today from Delaware, where she and Biden appeared together for the first time since he named her as his running mate for the 2020 Democratic Presidential ticket...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala as VEEP; Jeanne Dufort on why the Peach State's new, $100 million digital-scanners failed to count thousands of valid votes and how to fix it before November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2020 7:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two mysteries solved in one single, if hectic, show! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The first is the mystery of who presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden would select as his Vice-Presidential partner. Now we know. Less than an hour before showtime today, it was announced that California's first-term U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will become the first black woman (and first South Asian American woman) to be part of a major party's Presidential ticket. On short notice, we were able to scrounge up the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog to join us for her "top-line, knee-jerk, hot-take" response to the big news and how she thinks it will play both among the electorate at large and the far, FAR more picky progressive electorate.

Parton, a progressive herself, who says she was rooting for Elizabeth Warren to be named for the slot, describes Harris as a "a very skilled politician"; argues that her selection "says something nice about Biden"; discusses the "legitimate concerns that progressives have had about Harris"; and whether she believes "the Left" will be able to "put aside their differences" to get behind the ticket, before "going to fight tooth and nail about the things that we care about" in the event that Biden actually becomes President next January.

Today's other solved mystery is much trickier. And it has to do with Georgia, which is holding primary runoff elections today, along with state primary elections on Tuesday in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (We'll have noteworthy results from all of those states, as available, on tomorrow's BradCast, of course). Naturally, because it's Election Day in Georgia --- a key battleground state which some believe could finally flip from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time in decades --- there are problems at the polls. While hopefully not as terrible as the meltdown caused by the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks that resulted in hours-long lines in largely Democratic-leaning precincts during the state's June primary, we have early indications that the same, new, overly-complex, computerized voting systems failed voters again today in at least some of the 94 (of 159) counties participating in today's runoffs.

Despite that distressing (if unsurprising) news today in Georgia, there was some good-ish news from the State Elections Board (SEB) there. They met on Monday to adopt new procedures in advance of the November 3rd Presidential election. The SEB unanimously agreed to allow voters to request absentee ballots for November via a new online webpage to go live by the end of the month. That's good news for those who have easy online access. But, shamefully, it comes along with the news that Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, after successfully sending out Vote-by-Mail applications to all of the state's active registered voters before the June primary, will NOT be doing so before this year's Presidential election. Apparently, that plan worked too well and allowed too many to easily vote from home, when they might otherwise have had to struggle with long lines and Raffensperger's failed electronic voting systems at the polling place in the middle of an ongoing global pandemic.

Also at Georgia's SEB meeting on Monday, the Board agreed to make a change to the state's new computer-tabulation systems that scan and count those hand-marked paper absentee ballots. (Voters at the polls are forced to use unverifiable touchscreen systems.) The SEB's change to a software setting on the systems came about, thanks in no small part, to our guest today, JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance.

Following the June primaries, Dufort was on a bi-partisan citizens' panel reviewing digital images of hand-marked paper absentee ballots on which the computerized digital-scanners believed there were over-votes with, for example, more than one oval in a single race seen by the computer as being filled in. State law requires manual examination of such ballots to determine if the voter's intent is discernible or not. While reviewing those ballots, Dufort and the other panelists in Morgan County noticed that the tabulation system had marked some clearly discernible votes on many of those same ballots as containing "no vote". Why were those votes not counted by the new, $100 million tabulation system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting? And would elections officials manually examine ALL of the hand-marked ballots to count those "lost" votes? As Dufort told us on this program at the time she discovered the problem after the June primary, there were potentially tens of thousands of perfectly legitimate votes that had gone uncounted.

Well, today we finally have the answer to the mystery of why the system had failed to count some of those votes. It has to do with a sensitivity setting on the digital optical-scan tabulators that the Secretary of State's office claims they did not originally know about when they initially dismissed Dufort's concerns back in June. That setting, apparently, directs the computer to ignore votes in which less than 12% of the bubble was filled in. (Often, instead of inking in the entire bubble, voters will use a check-mark or an X. While the voter's intent is easily discernible to the human eye, the new computers that tabulate votes were set to record such marks --- that filled less than 12% of the bubble --- as a "no vote".)

"It assigns it a 'percentage of fill'," Dufort tells me. "In our case in Georgia, what we later found out was that these Dominion factory settings said if a vote was deemed to cover more than 35% of that area...if the threshold percentage hit 35% or above, the system said, 'Yep, that's a vote! It counts!' If the threshold was between 12-35%, it said, 'that's ambiguous, I'm not sure something is there, better get a human to look at it.' If it fell below 12%, it said, 'I see that, but it's not a vote, so I'm going to label it unvoted, and I'm not even going to call it to the attention of the humans.'"

While Dufort says that it is good news that the SEB has now agreed to lower the bottom of the software sensitivity range setting to 10%, the longtime Election Integrity advocate says that she and others in the state believe it should be set lower still, to avoid more lost votes, in advance of the Presidential Election. "We think 10% is still too high," she says. "So we're going to be out talking to them. This rule is out for 30 days of public comment. We'll be saying thank you, but you really need to take it down to 5, which we have learned is what Colorado uses. And they've been doing hand-marked paper ballots statewide for a very long time. We think that's a good benchmark for Georgia."

She also observes that the the old settings, less sensitive settings, are still being used to tally today's runoff elections, which could be a problem in the event of close races. Moreover, she explains, "the color of the ink [and] the brand of the ink in your pen can change how the computer measures it." We discuss all of that, how the changes may affect results this November, and whether we should be worried that such a software setting could be abused by ill-intentioned election insiders (or hackers) in the critical battleground state (or others that use similar systems) during the Presidential election.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more deadly fossil fuel disasters, a warning about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season, and some very disturbing climate change news out of Canada, where the last intact ice shelf has finally collapsed and broken away...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Plus 'back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: This is not a drill. In my nearly-two decades of covering elections, I've never been as concerned about attempts to undermine an election than I now am regarding this year's Presidential election on November 3rd. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last Friday's BradCast interview with American Postal Worker Union President Mark Dimondstein, regarding the mandates by Louis DeJoy, Trump's newly-appointed Postmaster General, to slow down the mail "everywhere" --- and DeJoy's Friday Night Massacre that took place moments after we got off air --- are just some of the huge reasons for my concern. Please make sure that you are prepared, well in advance, for this year's election, and that you know how to not only receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot, as necessary for many due to the pandemic, but that you know what the deadlines are for registering to vote, requesting a VBM ballot, and where and how to drop it off IN PERSON, so your ballot doesn't get lost in Trump's USPS slowdown. Once you've learned all of that, please make sure everyone you know does the same. Ernie Canning has written a helpful article at Bradblog.com with some important related tips, and 2020VotersCalendar.org is a very helpful new website resource with specific information along these lines for voters in each of the 50 states.

Over the weekend, Puerto Rico's primary was a disaster, as ballots did not arrive at all --- or far too late for many to vote --- in 50 out of 110 voting centers across the island. A second make-up election is now being planned, hopefully, for next Sunday. If something like that happens on November 3rd, of course, all may be lost.

In the meantime, just days after Donald Trump falsely claimed that children were "almost immune" to the coronavirus, a new report finds that nearly 100,000 children in the US tested positive for it in just the last two weeks of July alone. That's a 40% increase in child coronavirus cases during those two weeks in the U.s. jurisdictions researchers examined. At least 86 children have died from COVID-19 since May, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association also finds, including a 7-year old with no pre-existing conditions in Georgia last week.

This coincides with the mind-boggling push by Trump to reopen schools for in-person classes immediately, as a number of states run by Trumpy Governors press forward with plans to do so. One such state is Georgia, where some schools opened for the new term already last week and saw photos of crowded hallways and maskless children go viral on social media almost immediately (before suspending the student who posted them). Now that same school is returning to distance learning this week after six students and three staff members at the school tested positive. Other school districts in the state reported even worse numbers.

In Florida, where two teenagers have died so far this month, at least 12 counties are reopening schools this week, more than 17% of tests are now coming back positive. The CDC recommends schools only reopen where the positive test rate is lower than 5%, yet at least 9 of the 12 school districts planning to open in the Sunshine State are currently seeing rates much higher than that. That, as nearly 165,000 are confirmed to have died from COVID in the U.S. and new data from the CDC finds 200,000 more deaths since mid-March than would normally be expected at this time of year, based on recent trends before the pandemic.

As bad as its all getting, the White House appears unwilling to compromise with Democrats on a new COVID emergency relief bill, despite tens of millions of Americans who saw their expanded federal unemployment benefits from an earlier relief bill expire at the end of July. In response, rather than negotiate or demonstrate the art of his pretend deal-making prowess, Trump spent the weekend playing golf and signed one Executive Order and three Executive Memos that pretend to do a whole bunch of stuff that they actually don't and are most likely unconstitutional to boot. One of his executive actions, to temporarily defer payroll taxes for those who are working (the taxes will have to paid at the end of the year instead), would actually cut funding to Social Security and Medicare. Another would take money from FEMA to restore some of the expanded unemployment benefits, but slash them by a third, prevent them from being paid to the lowest-income earners, and require cash-strapped states pay 25% percent of the expanded payments.

Yet, there is no effort in his executive actions to bailout states and cities who are now completely out of money due to their COVID-related crash in revenues. Many couldn't help fund the expanded unemployment even if they wanted to. Similarly, there is no effort to fund the Post Office with the $25 billion that its GOP-dominated Board of Governors has requested to keep the USPS running. And no effort to give $4 billion to election officials around the country to help upgrade their systems to help manage the huge influx of absentee voting due to COVID or even to help make in-person voting safer, as election officials across the country have long sought.

In short, the weekend's news was terrible and the news ahead is likely to get nothing but worse for a while. But we thought you should know it, since the President of the United States --- who said his executive actions this weekend "will take care of pretty much this entire situation, as we know it" --- continues lying to the nation in hopes that it will somehow help him get reelected. It won't. But stealing the election remains completely on the table and actively under way.

Finally, we open up the phones to callers on all of the above. And, though I specifically asked several times, I couldn't seem to find one listener willing to call in and explain why they would be happy to send their kids back to in-person classes right now. Go figure.

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

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How states, counties and YOU must help defend our 'last firewall'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/10/2020 10:05am PT  

This will not be easy. It never is. But, this year, we are facing obstacles to voting that we have never seen before. Not only from the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, which is already difficult enough, but from those who hope to exploit the pandemic along with their access to the levers of power to make voting --- by some --- as difficult as possible. It is now up to all of us to overcome those obstacles.

President Trump is, by no means, the first right-wing Republican to recognize that he can't win if voters turn out in large numbers.

"I don't want everybody to vote," Paul Weyrich, the GOP's notorious godfather of right-wing voter suppression infamously quipped during a 1980 address to a group of evangelical Christian ministers. "In fact, our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added, after denigrating those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation, as people who suffer from "goo goo syndrome".

(The soaring pandemic death toll and an unprecedented 32.9% annualized second quarterly plunge in the GDP, serve as testament to what happens when We the People allow those opposed to "good government" to be placed in charge of our political economy.)

Trump's repeated attempts to suppress voter turnout are by no means novel --- as amply demonstrated during our two-part coverage (here and here) of the 2011 U.S. Senate hearings concerning a spike in GOP-engineered, state voter suppression laws. During those hearings nearly a decade ago, civil rights litigator Judith Browne Dianis described that spike as "the largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era."

What makes our current circumstance both novel and extraordinarily dangerous is that an authoritarian-wannabe Donald Trump is the first Republican President who has been positioned to weaponize a pandemic by forcing voters to choose between exercising their fundamental right to vote and the risk of contracting a deadly virus. Instead of simply relying upon state voter suppression laws, Trump has aspired to engage in wholesale suppression on a national scale. Operating through a major GOP/Trump donor-turned-Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Trump seeks to actively sabotage the social distancing protection that Vote-by-Mail (VBM) affords by creating delays in U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries.

Last Friday, during a must-listen-to segment of The BradCast, Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), confirmed that mail slow-downs were "happening across the country" at a time in which the USPS was already in "crisis mode" as a result of the dangers posed by COVID-19. In his view, the Post Office is now at the "epicenter" of the 2020 battle over "voting rights", noting that "without Vote-by-Mail people aren't going to be able to vote."

Thus, in addition to fending off "dubious" Republican legal challenges to mail-in voting expansion, democracy's defenders --- which, in this case, includes We the People --- must now double our own efforts to navigate Trump's sabotage of mail delivery. This, at a time when election officials in states that have not previously engaged in near-universal VBM must upgrade their electoral infrastructure in order to accommodate and tabulate an unprecedented volume of hand-marked paper VBM ballots.

But there are proactive steps that jurisdictions --- and, yes, you! --- can take to maximize the odds that your ballot is tallied this year...

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




Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist reportedly wins Dem U.S. Senate nomination in TN after being outspent 250 to 1...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2020 7:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Never mind the pre-election polling numbers you are hearing. Given the way Donald Trump and his Administration and acolytes around the country are actively working to undermine this year's November 3rd general elections, you'd make a mistake to place Joe Biden's odds of being declared the winner at any better than 50/50 at best at this point. Disturbing comments from our guest today only underscore that concern yet again. [Audio link for today's must-listen show is posted at bottom of article.]

But first up today --- after quick news that, contrary to yesterday's reporting, a second COVID test for the Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine appears to show he is actually, and happily, negative for the coronavirus --- we cover the stunning election news out of Tennessee on Thursday night. If the computer-tallied results of the Democratic Primary yesterday for U.S. Senate there can be believed, Marquita Bradshaw, a progressive African-American environmental activist supporting Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, has won the party's nomination to run for the seat being vacated by TN's longtime GOP Senator Lamar Alexander this November.

Bradshaw's campaign raised less than $10,000, according to FEC records, yet she reportedly defeated the Dem establishment-backed James Mackler who, with the support of Chuck Schumer's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had raised more than $2 million for his campaign while only managing to come in THIRD in yesterday's contest! That's right, Bradshaw was outspent 250 to 1, but appears at least, to have easily defeated both Mackler and everyone else in the race according to the still-unofficial results.

Unless an error in tabulation is discovered, Bradshaw will go on to challenge Trump's former Ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, in November. He overcame a serious challenge in a contest that placed the Trump and Mitch McConnell-endorsed Hagerty against the Ted Cruz and Rand Paul-endorsed Manny Sethi. The far-rightwing Hagerty recently resigned from the board of a brokerage firm after they expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. He will now run against a black activist in TN, which has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1990. But, if Bradshaw could win after being outspent 250 to 1, who knows what may happen in November?

That said, the GOP dirty tricks this year are already underway. According to an email from our friend Tom Sullivan, a longtime blogger at Digby's Hullabaloo from the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina, some Democratic voters are now reportedly receiving phone calls purporting to be from the Board of Elections, falsely telling them they "no longer need to request an absentee ballot." That is completely false. If NC voters wish to vote by mail this year in the Tarheel State, they WILL need to request an absentee ballot --- though they can deliver their ballot by hand at county Boards of Elections, or even vote in-person later if they change their mind.

Dirty tricks from Republican activists, sadly, is nothing new, but bad enough. Especially in NC! But when the dirty tricks are coming from inside the White House itself, that is a matter of entirely different proportions. Shamefully, even as the President of the United States continues to make false claims about absentee voting (after fraudulently doing so himself!), Donald Trump's recently appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, is now undermining the U.S. Postal Service itself in advance of what will be, by far, the largest Vote-by-Mail elections in all 50 states in the nation's history. The Republican Trump mega-donor DeJoy, with no previous USPS experience, issued several directives upon taking office in June that have resulted in the slow down of mail delivery. And while both DeJoy and other leadership at the 250-year old Postal Service (whose first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin) have claimed the new directives are not aimed at slowing down mail or doing Trump's bidding to undermine absentee voting, our guest today, MARK DIMONDSTEIN, President of the American Postal Workers Union and Postal Service worker since 1983, charges that is exactly what is happening.

The new directives, purportedly meant as efficiency measures to curb overtime costs, "can't do anything but slow down mail," says Dimondstein. "Our understanding is that it's really happening all over the country, and it needs to be reversed. It needs to be stopped." The APWU chief, representing more than 200,000 postal workers, charges the new measures, which direct carriers to leave mail behind at sorting stations if waiting for it will delay their route, "runs counter to our DNA. Our DNA as a postal worker is to serve the customer, leave no mail behind, treat it as if it is our own."

The USPS is in crisis mode now, as coronavirus lockdowns have severely curbed regular mail delivery --- though package delivery has increased, he tells me, helping to mitigate that loss somewhat. The Post Office is funded entirely by postage, not tax payer dollars, but its Republican-dominated Board of Governor's, he says, unanimously voted to request a $25 billion emergency bailout from Congress earlier this year. While almost every other company in the nation has received crisis funding during the pandemic, Republicans in Congress and the White House have continued to block the request. "The Post Office does not run on tax dollars in normal times, it runs off the revenue. So if the revenue is not there, then the Post Office will run out of money," Dimondstein warns. "It's not a question of if, it's a question of when."

He goes on to respond to a host of questions, including on the safety (and necessity) of Vote-by-Mail and the President's attempts to undermine it. "Vote-by-Mail is nothing new for postal workers. We've been doing this for generations. Military personnel have been voting by mail since the days of the Civil War...And of course now, with the pandemic, it's a question of access to the ballot box at all for tens of millions of people who want to vote safely," he tells me, noting ironically that "Trump trusts us to deliver his mail-in ballot!"

We discuss what he describes as the "tremendous impact of COVID on the workforce," which has seen 40,000 workers quarantined and more than 2,500 who have tested positive, and why Donald Trump has had it out for so long --- even before the coronavirus --- for the Postal Service, which Trump has called "a joke". Contrary to popular speculation, Dimondstein doesn't believe Trump's antagonism is due to his dispute with Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon which works closely with USPS. He believes it's based on little more than interest by Trump and other corporatists to privatize and profit from the massive customer base served by the USPS every day at all 160 million addresses across the country, six days a week.

"The idea that the Postal Service is a joke is an insult to every dedicated postal worker. 600,000 plus strong," says Dimondstein. "Out here in this pandemic, on the front lines, can you imagine how we all feel hearing that? And it's an insult to the customers. 91% of the people in this country, in the latest Pew Research Poll [support USPS]. The Postal Service always rates the highest. This year, it was the highest ever, I think out of a deeper appreciation for the role of postal workers in this pandemic."

"The country just laid to rest John Lewis," Dimondstein notes. "His historic role in this country, courageously done, was the question of voting rights for African-Americans in the South of the United States. And it was courageous. He was almost beaten to death. Voting rights now is right here at the epicenter of what's going on right now, and the Post Office is right in the middle of this thing. Because without Vote-by-Mail, people aren't going to be able to vote. It's as simple as that. Tens of millions of people, from seniors to young people, just will not be able to vote during this pandemic if they don't have good access to Vote-by-Mail and don't have the states step up. We have to worry about some of these states that don't want people to vote. That's the reality."

When asked how long before Election Day Dimondstein would advise voters get their absentee ballot into the mail to ensure it arrives n time to be counted, he recommends that if you haven't mailed it by the Tuesday or Wednesday before Election Day, you'd be wise to try and drop it off in person at your precinct or local County headquarters. (Check your own jurisdiction to find out what is allowed, as the laws are different in each state and sometimes each county or municipality.)

There's much more in our conversation, but you get the idea. Please tune in for the full conversation.

Finally today, with the actual President of the United States now actively attacking the Post Office, the U.S. Census and democratic elections themselves --- all three, core elements of American democracy, each specifically cited by the U.S. Constitution itself! --- can there be any better reason to defend the nation and its Constitution by voting this guy out of office? With that in mind, we end with a bit of inspiration from satirist Roy Zimmerman's brand-new, updated version of his already-classic ear-worm parody tune, "Vote Him Away!"...

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

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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Guest: David Dayen on Wednesday's 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and new book 'Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power'; Also: Herman Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2020 7:01pm PT  

The day began with a middle of the night earthquake here in Los Angeles. It was the least turbulent part of the day. We open with some grim news on today's BradCast before moving on to some shockingly encouraging news out of....wait for it....Congress of all places! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

First up today, former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain succumbed to the coronavirus. As co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, the 74-year old Cain attended Donald Trump's controversial mask-free rally in Tulsa on June 20. By July 2nd he was hospitalized with COVID-19 and now dead a month later. He wasn't the only high profile Republican to pass away from the coronavirus today. Bill Montgomery also died. He was the 80-year old co-founder of the rightwing "student group" (yes, a GOP student group founded by an 80-year old!) called Turning Point USA. The organization hosted Trump's second, similarly mask-free rally after Tulsa in Phoenix. Despite claims by both Cain and Montgomery's group that hydroxychloroquine was "100% effective" in treating coronavirus, turns out, as the FDA has emphasized, it isn't.

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was finally laid to rest on Thursday in Atlanta, where he was eulogized by three former Presidents. Trump did not attend after also failing to pay his respects while Lewis lay in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week. President Obama, however, offered stirring remarks in memoriam, calling for the expansion of voting rights which Lewis spent a lifetime --- and no small amount of blood --- fighting for.

The former President's remarks came shortly after our current President feebly suggested on Twitter that the November election should be delayed "until people can properly, securely and safely vote," charging that "2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history" due to the use of mail-in ballots needed to counteract the dangers of in-person voting during the pandemic that Trump utterly failed to control. That controversial call for delaying the election --- immediately and universally rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike --- was largely to a) further propagandize Trump's supporters into believing the November election results will be illegitimate and, more immediately, b) distract from the horrific economy news released by the federal government just minutes before Trump's tweet.

The news he was hoping to distract from: The U.S. economy plunged a staggering, unprecedented, annualized 32.9% in the second quarter of this year. By way of comparison, it took three years before the economy fell 30% during the Great Depression. This has happened in months, as another 1.4 million workers filed for new unemployment claims last week. It was the 19th week in a row of record-shattering 1 million plus applicants, leaving some 30 million Americans now jobless, as Republicans in Congress have failed to extend the expanded unemployment payments from he CARES Act. Those benefits have expired as of this week, and neither Congressional Republicans nor the White House appear to have an acceptable plan to replace them. House Democrats passed their own $3 trillion HEROES Act several months ago to continue those payments and much more critical relief to workers, states and cities, hospitals, homeowners, the U.S. Post Office and many others through the end of the year. Republicans appear to be in stultifying disarray.

But there is some good news today and, believe it or not, it comes out of Congress! The U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday held a five-hour hearing on Big Tech monopolies, featuring the CEOs of Amazon (Jeff Bezos), Apple (Tim Cook), Google (Sundar Pichai) and Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) as witnesses. All of them were grilled by Democrats and, yes, even Republicans alike for years of runaway, anti-competitive business practices. Progressive Matt Stoller's coverage of the hearing at The Guardian was headlined "Congress forced Silicon Valley to answer for its misdeeds. It was a glorious sight." Our guest today, DAVID DAYEN, author, investigative financial journalist and Executive Editor of the progressive American Prospect, filed a piece with the exhuberant hed: "The Triumphant Return of Congress," following up his 175-tweet live thread from his Wednesday coverage.

Dayen tells me today that it was "probably the most consequential hearing on corporate power in decades," where one CEO after another was called on the carpet to answer for years of crushing, anti-competitive practices in their sectors. He reports that the "members of that subcommittee," headed up by Democratic Chair David Cicilline of Rhode Island, "knew exactly what they wanted to talk about. They knew who they wanted to target. This is the culmination of a year-long investigation and these members had an incredible amount of knowledge about the harms that these four large corporations have been causing through the exertion of their power."

"They really extracted confessions from Bezos and Zuckerberg and others about the practices they engage in which really are illegal," he says. The hearing couldn't have been better timed for Dayen, coming just a week or so after the publication of his new book Monoplized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power documenting the breathtaking reach of unchecked corporate mergers and consolidation over the past four decades. He explains on today's show, as he does in the book, how century old anti-trust laws were turned on their head during the Reagan Administration, when a theory promoting the idea that monopolies are actually good for consumers was advanced by one Robert Bork. The theory would eventually prove untrue by its own standards. It was not good for consumers and, Dayen describes, failed to take into account the damage that anti-competitive practices actually wrought on small business, employees and the supply chain itself --- leading directly to some of the dangerous consequences and ridiculous shortages we've seen during the COVID crisis in everything from toilet paper to critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment.

"This hearing was a complete indictment of the Federal Trade Commission and the anti-trust division of the Justice Department, who had access to all this information that the subcommittee had. They had all of these documents. They had all of the ability to conduct an investigation. In fact, it's their job to do so," Dayen observes. "They did not do that, and waved through merger after merger after merger, and the people who had that authority, under Democratic administrations and Republican administrations, who were responsible for this failure should not be listened to again, and they should not hold power again."

Dayen is hopeful that Wednesday's hearing may actually spur action --- grant permission, if you will --- to the FTC and DOJ to start upholding those unenforced anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws and regulations that remain on the books. "The only way that gets done is that the momentum from this hearing is built, where a popular movement to understand and work against the power of monopolies is what is going to carry us forward. It has in the past. That's how we got these laws in the first place, because people demanded the political system respond, and it's how we're going to get them now."

I should note here that I make a personal cameo appearance in Dayen's new book (beginning on page 85, if you must know) discussing my own personal experience with the anti-competitive monopoly practices in the media industry, and how the unchecked "sale" of our public airwaves to a handful of mega-media corporations has led directly to all of the various disasters --- political, economic, societal and, yes, medical --- that are now rending apart our very republic.

Dayen, whose indispensable daily "Unsanitized" column at The American Prospect chronicles the continuing eroding state of our national battle with the global coronavirus pandemic and its ever-worsening toll on our economy, closes by bringing us up to date on the disastrous Republican effort to craft a new emergency relief bill in Congress, as expanded unemployment benefits expire and the U.S. Postal Service faces implosion just months away from the largest vote-by-mail election in the nation's history...

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

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On safeguarding the 2020 election and worsening economic inequailty...
By Desi Doyen on 7/24/2020 3:33pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Then, Brad's conversation on 6/12/2020 with voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones, on the fight against Republicans' new surge of voter suppression during the coronavirus pandemic and steps we can take to prevent a stolen election this November.

We'll be back soon!

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

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Guest: Ray Lutz of Citizens' Oversight; Also: Rest in Power, John Lewis...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2020 6:54pm PT  

We kick off today's BradCast on a somber, if hopefully inspiring note, on the passing of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis who died on Friday after a battle with cancer. His decades-long fight for voting rights --- and the call to cause "good trouble, necessary trouble" --- has been an inspiration to this show and our work at BradBlog.com for many years. The best tribute we can offer to Rep. Lewis, of course, is to continue his fight as best we can. And so we do once again today. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

More than 100k absentee/Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots were rejected by election officials in the state of California after its March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, according to a new AP analysis. Many of the rejections were due to voter error, though not all. Some were also due perceived mismatched or missing signatures and a to a too-short statutory deadline (3 days) for VBM ballots to arrive after Election Day. The state has now increased that time to 17 days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be included in the final tally.

But, of course, various problems with VBM is why in-person polling places remain very necessary in CA and all states this year, even with expanded mail-in voting during the COVID crisis. That is true even in the Golden State, which will be sending VBM ballots directly to all active registered voters this year because of the pandemic. Here in Los Angeles County, however --- the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction --- the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has said that, for in-person voting, he will stick with the County's new, horribly failed $300 million unverifiable touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system this November, despite the disasters that resulted in 3, 4, and 5 hour lines to vote and an untold number of disenfranchised voters during the system's first county-wide use on March 3rd.

I discussed the decision by Logan to use L.A. voters, once again, as guinea pig beta testers this November, during the most critical election of our lifetimes, in a segment late last month on CBS2-LA News with investigative reporter David Goldstein. Incredibly, CA's Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have all apparently agreed to allow the failed system --- called "Voting Solutions For All People" or VSAP --- another try on November 3rd. What could possibly go wrong?

An L.A. County Civil Grand Jury --- which has also been investigating the VSAP failure --- thinks a lot could go wrong. The group's report on the VSAP failures [PDF] by both Logan and Padilla, entitled "Maybe I Voted?", demands answers from Registrar Logan as well as the state. Goldstein, who has been closely following the VSAP mess since a few weeks before the March 3rd election, followed up by covering the "scathing" L.A. Grand Jury report and called me once again to appear in that follow-up report on CBS2-LA as well.

Meanwhile, a group of Election Integrity advocates in the state sent an open letter [PDF] late last week to Gov. Gavin Newsom (and Sec. of State Padilla), seeking an Executive Order for important improvements to the state's 1% post-election audit process. We're joined today by RAY LUTZ, longtime Election Integrity advocate and the founder and Executive Director of CitizensOversight.org. His organization won a ruling in a lawsuit several years ago that would have required all Vote-by-Mail ballots to be included as part of the pool from which the random sample of ballots are drawn when determining which of them will be hand-counted after an election to assure the accuracy of the state's computerized optical-scan ballot tabulators.

When Lutz filed suit in San Diego after the 2016 election, that County's Registrar, Michael Vu, was drawing only from votes cast at the precinct or absentee ballots that were counted early for inclusion in the 1% post-election spot check. As the groups notes in their press release [PDF] announcing the letter to Newsom, that resulted in some 285,000 ballots that were automatically excluded from the mandatory "audit" in 2016. Lutz' win in the courts, however, was short-lived after Padilla (with support from L.A. County's Logan) lobbied the CA state legislator to specifically allow Registrar's to ignore late mail-in ballots all together during post-election audits. Leaving those ballots out of the audit, Lutz argues, means that nefarious actors "can just move ballots --- ten thousand, twenty thousand at a time --- from one candidate to another and no one would be the wiser because they wouldn't have that check." That, he says, is a virtual roadmap for election theft.

His group's letter asks the Governor to declare that all ballots should be included in the potential audit sample pool in this November's elections, particularly now that some 90% of votes are likely to be cast as mail-in ballots for the first time this year, due to the Governor's previous Executive Order to send VBM ballots to all this year.

Moreover, Lutz echoes frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (which is suing Georgia to force hand-marked paper ballots for all) in her important tweeted concerns last night observing that both major political parties are utterly failing to ensure proper public oversight of absentee ballot handling and tabulation. Marks complained that Elections officials across the country (and definitely in Georgia!) are "working overtime to block transparency, block access, block observation, work[ing] behind closed doors, etc. This, of course, plays into Trump's hands in that if he wants to claim 'rigging,' the Dems will have little evidence documented to rebut the claim."

Lutz agrees with her thinking. California is "not a battleground state," he says, "but remember, the popular vote is always a big issue in the Presidential election. And as you remember last time, Trump made a big deal about 'illegal voter fraud' and all these 'million illegals are voting'. So we have to have our act together for this election to defend against those claims. If we do what we're doing now, we're going to have up to six million ballots that are completely unaudited and can be flipped. Six million votes is a lot. So we need to have this change."

The issue, he goes on to explain, is not only important in California. "Any state that expands their vote-by-mail or absentee voting right now probably is not auditing those ballots." Lutz points listeners to the letter to Newsom, suggesting others push for similar improvements to post-election audits in other states as well, given that, as bad as CA's processes are, they are still better than many states where no computer-tallied votes are ever examined by any human beings at all before election results are certified. "We can't rely upon the election officials, or really anyone, to do this job for us," he argues. "The public has to do its own oversight of its elections. No one can be trusted. We have to do it ourselves. This is where we really call on the citizenry to stand up and really take a look at this. Because the most important thing we can do is to make sure these elections are sound."

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SCOTUS blocks 1.4M potential new voters in FL; Tough choice for TX voters diagnosed with COVID; Absentee ballots returned to Dallas voters; MI court blocks counting of tens of thousands of mail-in ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2020 6:51pm PT  

I'm calling them Democracy Wars today. But I could just as easy call them Infinity Wars --- as the fight by so many for the right to vote and the fight by others to prevent them from voting at all --- never seems to end. But the name Infinity War may already be otherwise spoken for. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

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

  • A couple in Ohio sends their kids to summer camp, with masks and social distancing in an area of the country with a very low infection rate. Days later, predictably, COVID breaks out at camp, kids and counselors get sick, everyone becomes terrified, overwhelmed and is quarantining. Just a preview of what you will begin to see when/if schools are ordered to prematurely reopen for in-person classes as soon as next month, as Trump and his Republicans are pushing for;
  • In Texas, Republicans recently went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to make sure only voters over 65 or those actively infected with COVID can vote by absentee ballot (with a doctor's order). Last Tuesday, the Lone Star state held its primary runoffs, but 68,0000 Texans were diagnosed with the virus after the deadline for registering to vote absentee and before the actual election. How many of them were then forced to endanger everyone else at the polling place or lose their right to vote? One couple's story of the difficult choices they were forced to make after recently contracting the virus after the deadline, and the nightmares they confronted in order to try and safely cast a vote (or not) under the state's absurdly restrictive absentee ballot laws;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court blocks a compromise today by a U.S. District Court judge in Florida that would have allowed as many as 1.4 million former felons to register to vote this year, after the state's Republican Governor and legislature passed a law to undermine the state constitutional amendment, adopted statewide in 2018 by an overwhelming 65 to 35 percent of the vote, to allow exactly what the GOP is now blocking. Hundreds of thousands will not be able to vote in the state's August primary, thanks to the stolen Republican majority at SCOTUS. That voter suppression may continue in the Sunshine State even through November's critical Presidential Election unless the new Republican majority on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals works very quickly. But why would they? Expect much more of this between now and November. And it's a good time to familiarize yourself with the absurd, so-called "Purcell Principle", if you haven't already;
  • A three judge panel on a state court in Michigan, by a vote of 2 to 1 this week, has ruled that absentee ballots which arrive after the close of polls may not be counted. That, after voters expanded absentee voting via a statewide Constructional ballot measure in 2018 that allowed for voters to vote by mail during the 40 days prior to an election. If not overturned by the state Supreme Court, the ruling --- which seems wildly wrong on the law --- could result in tens of thousands of votes, cast and postmarked by Election Day, not being counted in November, in a state which Trump is said to have won by just over 10,000 votes in 2016. (That's especially troubling given this week's directive from Donald Trump's new Postmaster General to all USPS postal workers to slow mail delivery down, please!);
  • And then, quickly back to Texas, where absentee voters, prior to Tuesday's Primary Runoff Election Day, were mysteriously receiving their voted and mailed ballots back in the mail, for reasons still unknown;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Joe Biden announces a major progressive proposal to fight climate change and create millions of jobs, while Donald Trump rolls back yet another landmark environmental law.

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Guest: Longtime Koch researcher Lisa Graves; Also: Biden, Obama, Gates Twitter accounts hacked, but Nov. voting should be fine; KS Repub Congressman indicted on four voter fraud counts! Trump should be next...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2020 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: New insight on the nearly 50-year long effort to abolish and/or privatize one of the nation's most-beloved, 250-year old institutions. Just another disaster waiting to happen under the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, however, today's show is once again shaken up by breaking news. But some of it, at least regarding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg --- who has now been released from the hospital and said to be "doing well" --- is good news. The hack of top Twitter accounts today, including Joe Biden's, Barack Obama's, Bill Gates', Elon Musk's and many others, is not such good news. If a multi-billion dollar company like Twitter can't protect its own servers from hackers, how do you suspect local election officials will be doing this November when it comes to protecting complicated computerized voting, tabulation and registration systems?

Speaking of elections, first-term Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas was charged on Tuesday night with three felonies charges and a misdemeanor related to voter fraud after he registered to vote (and then did so) using an address at a Topeka UPS store, where he obviously does not actually live.

Donald Trump committed nearly identical voter fraud crimes. Last year, he also specified an address where he does not live --- a commercial business in Florida (Mar-a-Lago) --- as his "legal address" for voting purposes on his voter registration application [PDF] in the Sunshine State, and unlawfully voted via absentee ballot there this year. Rep. Watkins may go to jail for the same crimes that Trump committed. Will Trump be charged with felonies as well?

And, speaking of voting by mail (lawfully or otherwise), that may also be threatened this year, even as states are expanding access to mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new, Trump-appointed (and wholly unqualified) Postmaster General has just been seated and, this week, sent a series of disturbing memos to all Postal Workers directing them, essentially, to slow down mail delivery and stop all overtime work, even with package delivery (often of much-needed medication and other quarantine-necessary supplies) rapidly increasing during the COVID crisis.

Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and our new Postmaster General, has postal workers, including hundreds of thousands of union workers, up in arms about the new mandated slowdowns that will accomplish little more than giving a competitive boost to FedEx and UPS, two of the USPS' top private competitors. That, as it turns out, is likely the whole point, according to our guest today, LISA GRAVES of True North Research. Last week, Graves published an 18-page brief [PDF] at In The Public Interest on the billionaire who has been behind what is now a nearly 50-year effort to privatize the Postal Service.

That billionaire is none other than Charles Koch who has spent decades recruiting a rogues gallery of hard-right "libertarians" and Republicans, beginning in the 1970s, up through the Reagan and Bush Administrations, and now into the Trump Administration, to undermine the USPS despite its mandates specified by the U.S. Constitution and the fact that it is among the most popular and important institutions in the nation.

"Charles Koch has mapped out a very dystopian view of America, and has tried to push it into reality," Graves says, and he and his cronies have been successful. "They oppose having public transportation. They have oppose Amtrak, and any kind of public train system. They want public airports to be sold to the highest bidder and operated by the private sector. It's just one thing after another, including public parks! National parks, local parks, public parks --- these are all anathema to these very fringey rightwing libertarians who have been fueled and funded and stoked by Charles Koch and his billions from Koch Industries."

Graves, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, has been researching and documenting the billionaire Koch's rightwing ideological agenda for years, as he and his late brother David, have worked to undermine and/or buy our democracy and most important public institutions. Her new exposé on Koch and cronies' decades-long effort to kill and/or privatize the USPS is another critical chapter of that important work, and one that highlights, as she describes it today, a perfect "marriage between [his] ideological agenda and greed".

With the USPS now on the brink of insolvency, thanks to the COVID crisis --- and, even more, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), championed at the time by Koch-backed Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), which handcuffed the independent federal agency --- things could get much worse for the Service very quickly.

Describing Louis DeJoy, Graves tells me today, "It's irresponsible and reckless for them to have put this partisan hack, this Republican fundraiser, at the helm of the Postal Service at the time that it's facing such a great need to have a leader who is committed to it as a truly public institution, versus someone who is behaving in this predatory way to try to basically ruin the Postal Service and push it toward the idea that it should be a for-profit company. It's in the worst possible hands at the worst possible time." But, of course, that is largely the point.

"If it's destabilized right before the election, that sort of destabilization could not happen at a worse time. But it would be convenient for a Trump ally to destabilize it, since Trump is trying to attack the very idea of Vote-by-Mail," Graves warns, along with much more in a must-listen conversation today.

Finally, a few quick words on Tuesday's primary election and runoff results in Alabama, Texas and Maine where, by the way, Sen. Susan Collins will be facing her most difficult re-election bid ever this November against Democrat Sara Gideon, who appears to have sealed up the Democratic nomination to run against Collins in Maine on Tuesday...

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Record surges in FL, TX, elsewhere; CA Guv re-closes bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, salons; Callers ring in on Trump's 'genocide'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2020 6:14pm PT  

We raise a whole bunch of topics and news from the weekend for conversation with listeners on The BradCast today, but most wanted to only to discuss the Trump Administration's twisted demand that schools reopen next month for in-person classes, even as COVID-19 cases are now exploding around the country. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Florida, on Sunday, reported a record 15,300 cases. That's a larger single day record than any state in the nation. It is more than either California at its recent peak or New York at its peak back in April. The news of Florida's quickly worsening crisis comes just days after the state announced that all schools in Florida must reopen for in-person classes for all, five days a week, despite concerns expressed by local school officials.

As Florida shattered the national record, many states, most controlled by Republican Governors, continue to hit new seven-day rolling average records of new cases (even as testing plateaus or even decreases in some states), California, with its Democratic Governor is spiking as well. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State on Monday declared that bars, indoor dining at restaurants, hair and nail salons, churches and gyms would all be shut down again in counties that are the hardest hit. Los Angeles and San Diego County both announced that the school year will reopen with remote learning instead of in-person classes, to the great relief of teachers who are, overwhelmingly, against reopening school campuses.

Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, meanwhile, appeared (poorly) on the Sunday news shows, to insist that schools must reopen, or face lost federal funding, while admitting she has absolutely no federal plan for what do when coronavirus spikes occur. That, she said, should be left to local officials --- the same local officials that she and Trump are hoping to force to reopen schools next month, even as a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds nearly 1.5 million teachers (one in four) are older than 65 or have health conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

At the same time, oddly enough, Admiral Brett Giroir, the federal government's coronavirus testing coordinator, warned on ABC News' This Week on Sunday that the U.S. shouldn't even be thinking about how to get kids back into the classroom until we get the virus under control. "When we get the virus more under control," he said, "then we can really think about how we put children back in the classroom." We suspect the Admiral may not be in his position very much longer. People who tend to tell the truth are not particularly welcome in the Trump Administration.

Getting the virus under control, of course, as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out over the weekend, is made all the more difficult, if not impossible, because the federal government is still failing --- more than four months into this crisis --- to ensure adequate testing kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) as cases spike, hospitalizations surge and the death rates began to climb in every region of the country over the past two weeks.

Trump's plan to pretend that everything is somehow normal in time for the November 3rd Presidential Election is beginning to look a whole lot like genocide or at least mass murder, as a whole bunch of callers today seem to agree. (I wanted to hear from those who disagreed with me. None of them were willing to call in for some reason, even though they frequently email me after the show. Cowards.)

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Guest: Sen. Timothy Wirth; Also: Following infection and hospitalization spikes, COVID-19 deaths now surging, as predicted, in GOP-run states...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2020 6:55pm PT  

Some pretty scary topics on today's BradCast. But don't worry! There's a Rainbow at the end of this pot of gold to help make it all just a tiny bit better! [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

First up: As we've been reporting for weeks, coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations have been surging across much of the country, particularly in states with Republican Governors who reopened far too early, despite warnings to the contrary from health experts. Throughout this epic failure, however, there has been one statistic these sociopaths have been repeatedly clinging to in recent weeks to justify their ill-considered orders to try and goose the economy in the short-term before the election by reopening, despite the obvious dangers: mortality rates from COVID-19 had not been increasing along with the spike in infection rates

Of course, as we've also been reporting for weeks, the death rate is a lagging indicator that, sure enough, follows the increase in hospitalizations. And now, especially in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and others where Republican Governors put their perceived (and twisted) political interests ahead of the health and lives of their actual constituents, death rates are now beginning to swell as expected. That, even as Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the head of his so-called White House Coronavirus Task Force, continue to mislead the public about such facts. "We are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady," Pence lied to reporters at the White House this week, while vowing to strong-arm schools into reopening for in-person classes next month --- including in Florida, where, as in Texas and Arizona, ICUs are now at capacity in much of the state, hospitals are running out of test kits and the Republican National Committee plans to hold its nominating coronation for Trump next month as well.

Governors Ron DeSantis (FL), Greg Abbott (TX), Doug Ducey (AZ) and others like them share the same buckets of blood on their hands with Trump, Pence, and the other rightwing death cultists, like Sean Hannity at Fox "News".

Then --- in even cheerier news --- it is now "not just possible but increasingly probable" that Donald Trump will steal the election, according to our guest, Colorado's former U.S. SENATOR TIM WIRTH! Writing recently at Newsweek with Editor-at-Large Tom Rogers, Wirth --- who has served in various branches of government since the Johnson and Nixon Administrations --- details a scenario in which Trump could lose not only the popular vote, but also the Electoral College votes of enough swing states to lose in a rout, but still manage to remain in office!

And, as they detail in 12 simple steps, it can all be done "legally" thanks to some obscure emergency powers granted by Congress decades ago to the President, some help from a compliant and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, and the shameless Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In short, the example scenario proffered by Wirth and Rogers involves the invocation of Presidential powers to launch an investigation into dubious claims of election fraud in several battleground states. That prevents the certification of results in those states which, as SCOTUS has previously ruled, would mean their electoral votes would not ultimately be included in the final tally. If the result was a tie or challenge to the final electoral count, the winner of the Presidential contest would, as specified by the Constitution, be determined by state delegations in the U.S. House, where Republicans currently hold the controlling majority in a majority of states (26).

While the specific scenario they spell out might seem unimaginable, their very specific step-by-step plan is both entirely plausible and, theoretically, perfectly legal. It is no more unimaginable than the idea that Donald Trump could become President of the United States in the first place.

So, Wirth warns we would be wise to begin imagining it --- and making plans for how to counter it --- immediately. "We can't wait until the middle of October or early November to ring the alarm bells," he tells me. "The alarm bells, in our opinion, have to go off now."

The scenario, as he details it, is as chilling as it sounds --- and completely imaginable under this President, who, Wirth explains, is already busily laying the ground work for such a coup. "If you look at Trump and what we've learned in the last 3 and a half years, this is a man who is absolutely deathly afraid of the word 'loser'," he argues. "He does not want to go down in history as the biggest loser in American political history. He will do everything he possibly can to avoid that and to stay in office."

"Effectively, under Article II of the Constitution, he can do practically anything that he wants to do. There are no constraints on his use of these emergency powers," says Wirth. "There is no review of these powers. The Congress actually knows very little about them. They are in statute, but held by the Justice Department and by the White House. The Congress has had little or no attention to these. They have not heard hearings about them, they don't know what's in these emergency powers, they have not reviewed them."

"Trump has no constraints on these. The Congress doesn't have any authority to check these powers. People can say, 'Well, it would go to court!' Who's going to take it to court? Barr, the Attorney General? Are they going to challenge what Trump says he's going to do?"

"The more you know, the worse it is. The more you know about these emergency powers, the more you sketch out what he may do, the more you see what he's doing in all of these swing states, how they're trying to discourage vote by mail, how he's making all kinds of wild statements about how corrupt electoral voting would be if its conducted by mail," the former Democratic Senator explains. "It would really take a failure of imagination not to begin to think... that this is not just possible, but probable. Let's connect the dots."

Wirth connects a bunch of those dots on today's show, adding to his opinion piece at Newsweek and another related warning he penned at Politico with former CO Senator Gary Hart and Carter and Clinton Administration officials Joel McCleary and Mark Medish, telling me today: "There is a danger in our system, and we have to build public attention to this, so that it doesn't happen...We should be alert to it, and aware of it, thinking about it, talking about it, and building the firewall against it."

Finally, because we suspect you need as much help as we do at shaking off today's nightmares --- and all of the ones we've endured over the past week (or even 3 an a half years) --- we close with some important advice from the great musical satirist, Randy Rainbow...

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Guest: Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: Trump's coronavirus Death March continues; SCOTUS allows religious groups to discriminate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2020 6:14pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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expert on issues of election integrity,
and a Commonweal Institute Fellow.

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...And is featured in these documentary films...

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