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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Trump's Continuing Crimes and Consequences:
'BradCast' 8/15/22
Fallout from retrieval of stolen, classified docs at Mar-a-Lago; Also: 'Unprecedented' FBI threats; Giuliani now a 'target', Graham must testify in GA 2020 theft probe; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'A Fifth of Outrage' Toons
We've got nothing to say about PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons that wouldn't incriminate us...
Before FBI Search, Grand Jury Subpoenaed NatSec Docs Trump Stole from WH: 'BradCast' 8/11/22
RW political violence after Trump's Mar-a-Lago lies; Also: Midterms trend toward Dems...
'Green News Report' 8/11/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
South Korea latest victim of deadly flash floods; Repub state treasurers coordinate to block climate action by private companies; PLUS: Mexico emergency over drought protests...
Recent GNRs: 8/9/22 - 8/4/22 - Archives...
'If You're Innocent, Why Are You Taking the Fifth?' Great Question!: 'BradCast' 8/10/22
Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Randall D. Eliason; Also: Inflation slowing?; Noteworthy primary results from CT, MN, VT, WI (and WA)
What We Know (& Don't) About the FBI Search at Mar-a-Lago: 'BradCast' 8/9/22
Also: Late AZ, WA primary results; MI's GOP A.G. nominee facing criminal probe; Federal judges approve release of Trump taxes...
'Green News Report' 8/9/22
GNR Special Coverage: U.S. Senate Democrats pass landmark climate legislation, the first in U.S. history...
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Rejects Yet Another GOP Challenge to Absentee Voting
Ruling is good news for democracy and, perhaps, state Democrats...
Sunday 'Woke' Toons!
Wake up and smell PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
'Green News Report' 8/4/22
Back-to-back storms show U.S. not ready for impacts; Climate change raising humidity; Big biz targets Dem climate bill; PLUS: Nat'l EV charging network begins...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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The so-called 'pro-life' party is now anything but...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2020 6:47pm PT  

We've been hearing a lot of references to the GOP as a "death cult" of late. And while it sounds, at first, like little more than a partisan smear by Democrats, it's not. Just ask this longtime Republican. The description actually seems to be more and more apt with each passing day, as today's BradCast helps to make all too clear. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the many Death Cult GOP stories in evidence on today's program...

  • In March, a woman and mother of two in Texas took to Facebook to offer a rant on the global coronavirus pandemic as little more than a "media driven" hoax meant for "overthrowing Trump". She warned readers to "Wake up!!! This is what the beginning of socialism looks like," adding "You don't need hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and Lysol. You need common sense, a sense of direction, faith, a will to fight, and of course guns!" She died from COVID-19 just a few weeks later in April.
  • And just a few weeks after that, even as bodies continue to pile up in Texas, with it's coronavirus peak predicted to be still two weeks away, the state's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced on a Friday his plan to open the state back up for business. Among his plans for doing so: state parks will be opened on Monday and large venues such as restaurants and movie theaters could be re-opened as early as April 27.
  • Abbott's announcement follows a record 4,591 American deaths formally attributed to COVID-19 in a single 24 hour period, as the official death toll climbed above 33,000 as of Friday morning.
  • Even as the body count grows and Trump has backed off his claim of "total authority" to order Governors to end stay-at-home orders just a day earlier, leaving the decision to Governors instead, the President of the United States took to Twitter to seemingly call for violent overthrows of three states with Democratic Governors. "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," he tweeted. And later, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN". Followed by "LIBERATE VIRGINIA," adding "And save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!"
  • Yes. It's a death cult. But if you had any question about that, we review his EPA's latest rollback of environmental regulations, including today's which guts an Obama-era rule to curb the emissions of mercury and other toxins. It is just the latest rule overturned by the Trump Administration, following his recent reversal of vehicle mileage standards and the toxic emissions that would have been curbed with them and this week's decision to ignore the EPA's own scientists calling for the tightening of National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate pollution (soot) which might help lessen some 50,000 deaths per year. Each of those regulations save tens of thousands of American lives annually. But they are now quickly being overturned one after the next to not only help a few of his corporate campaign contributors, but also to avoid the Congressional Review Act which allows Congress to reverse regulations passed in the final six months of a President's term with a simple majority vote.
  • Not enough GOP Death Cultism for ya? Then we turn to elections once again, where Republicans continue to draw the battle-lines for 2020 with new efforts to force voters to choose between risking their lives to vote in person during a pandemic or losing their right to vote altogether. That, versus attempts by Democrats to make voting easier and safer for all. Yesterday we highlighted the fight in Texas where its Republican Attorney General has threatened criminal prosecution against those who advise voters to seek absentee ballots for fear of the coronavirus. Today's example comes out of Kentucky, where the GOP legislature has voted to override the veto of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in order to force the enactment of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions this November. Good luck to Kentucky voters who lack an ID in getting one. All of the state's driver's license offices are closed across the state due to the COVID crisis. Darn the luck, am I right GOPers? No worries, with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell on the ballot this year, locked in a potentially close fight with his likely challenger Amy McGrath, I'm sure everything will work out just fine.
  • And, yes, if all of this idiotic death and mayhem sounds like a terrible movie that couldn't get greenlighted in Hollywood, it's because it is...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Financial journalist David Dayen; Also: COVID economic numbers getting worse; TX judge allows absentee voting during pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2020 7:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More economic fallout and Administration failure amid the coronavirus crisis, but some good news for Texas voters...at least for now. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Devastating and unprecedented economic numbers continue to pour out from D.C. today, with new unemployment claims last week topping 5.2 million. That totals nearly 22 million new jobless claims over the past month, once again blowing away --- for the fourth week running --- the pre-COVID weekly jobless claims record of 695,000 in 1992. Economists now believe the U.S. unemployment rate is about 15%, rivaling numbers from the Great Depression.

At the same time, several of the federal programs run by the Executive Branch meant to provide relief to individuals and small businesses amid the pandemic, are failing or have collapsed entirely. For example, the $350 billion appropriated to forgivable small business loans in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) included as part of the CARES Act is now completely gone, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Millions who applied for loans and grants under PPP have been shut out entirely.

Separately, while some have received their promised $1,200 individual payments also allocated by the Act, there are reports today that $500 payments included for dependent children have not been included for many, even as many more still wait for their payments entirely. (Some of which are likely delayed thanks to Donald Trump insisting his name be added to the paper checks being mailed out.)

"What you'll see if this continues for months and months, and people are still inside, are just closures of businesses," today's returning guest DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily, indispensable "Unsanitized" report tells me . "Right now, businesses are shuttered, they're looking for this CARES Act, the PPP loans. They're trying to figure out a way to stay alive, they'll just close if it's months before they can open."

He cites potential closures of as many as 60% of businesses in the retail sector and 70% in the restaurant sector who may soon be forced to simply shut down entirely. "That is absolute economic devastation. That's not something that you can easily come back from when you throw open the doors. If people can't stay in business right now, they're not going to be able to go back into business when everything opens."

But that is unlikely to happen on the schedule the President is pretending it will, says Dayen. "You can say 'we're going to re-open the economy', but a large segment of the American people aren't going to willingly go like lambs to the slaughter back to a restaurant if they expect that there is an outbreak that the government doesn't have a handle on. You see business executives saying to Trump, 'You can't do anything with this until you get massive testing in place.' And we just don't have that right now. So the economic pain and the public health hazard will continue until such time as we get our act together. That time has not yet been upon us."

All of this, of course, is even worse than it has to be, thanks to this disastrous Administration. A number of Dayen's recent scoops from his daily column at The Prospect have recently been picked up by the corporate media, including the New York Times Editorial Board which last night cited his coverage of a recording he obtained between Treasury Department officials and bank executives. The recording reveals the Trump Administration gave a green light to banks to withhold the money from those $1,200 payments sent to their customers who had unpaid fees and debts. That, despite the fact that Congress allowed Treasury to draft regulations to prevent the banks from stealing those emergency payments from customers.

Dayen further reports today that USAA, a bank which services many American veterans, has been stealing those funds from disabled vets and their families. Thanks to Dayen's reporting, however, the company has now announced they will reverse the practice.

In yet another scoop from Dayen's "Unsanitized" today, a new report from a number of non-governmental organizations suggests that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce --- the nation's largest, richest and most powerful lobbying organization, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Republicans across the country --- has been urging the White House against invoking the Defense Production Act to force the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as much-needed N95 masks to guard against the coronavirus pandemic. Why would they do that? Well, as Dayen explains, many of the companies who might be forced to comply with the Act to manufacture highly sought after protective gear and ventilators, etc. have top executive who sit on the Chamber's Board of Directors. That may very well answer the mystery of why the Trump Administration has been so hesitant to invoke the Korean War-era statute to help fight the alarming spread of COVID-19.

Next, we return to the growing fight over how Americans will be allowed to vote during the pandemic, with some Republicans taking extraordinary measures to prevent voters from being able to vote by absentee ballot this year, despite the dangers now presented by in-person voting amid stay-at-home orders across the country. In Texas, the Attorney General is attempting to block Lone Star State voters from requesting absentee ballots based on their fear of contracting coronavirus at the polls. The AG recently declared [PDF] that such concerns do not meet the state's statutory requirement that a voter must have a "physical condition" that constitutes a "disability" in order to apply for an absentee ballot. Moreover, the AG's office declared that third parties who recommend voters take advantage of that option, without an actual physical disability that prevents them from going to the polls, could be held criminally liable for doing so.

Thankfully, a state District Court judge on Wednesday, in a suit filed by the Texas Democratic Party with a number of voting rights groups, ruled that all Texas voters may legally apply for mail-in ballots due to social distancing restrictions and the risk of contracting the virus. At least for now. That good news is tempered by the fact that the Republican Attorney General has made clear that the case is likely to be appealed to a higher state court. That, ironically enough, as the TX AG who is still facing his own felony indictments on securities fraud, declared after the judge's ruling that "The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our legislature must be followed consistently."

The legal fight in Texas, however, clearly illustrates the battle lines now being drawn between Democrats and voting rights advocates hoping to make it easier for Americans to vote amid a pandemic in this year's critical elections and Republicans who are attempting to suppress as many voters as they can --- even if it means forcing their own voters to choose between risking their lives or losing their right to vote.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with some more good news out of now "blue" Virginia, some more disturbing news from the Trump EPA (which is also happy to allow Americans to die unnecessarily), some good global news regarding renewable energy, and a look back at the BP Gulf Oil Spill ten years ago this week, where the damage persists even a full decade after the nation's worst fossil-fuel disaster...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Alexander Sammon of The American Prospect; Also: Some much brighter news about voting in Virginia...and even Pennsylvania!
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2020 5:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. and world economies continue to collapse amid ridiculous happy talk largely from the President and his GOP pals, as the suffering of millions of Americans grows amid the coronavirus pandemic and, incredibly enough, millions of tons of fresh food being destroyed by farmers and other food producers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Why are farmers and dairy producers doing that? The American Prospect's ALEXANDER SAMMON joins us today to explain how "Coronavirus has Broken America's Food Supply", and how, amazingly enough, the federal government (including the President who pretends to love farmers...especially in swing states) appears to be doing absolutely nothing about about a collapsing supply chain.

To be fair, neither party seems to be loudly pressing for action here, according to Sammon. But, as we discuss, this is a problem that could pretty easily be solved by the federal government. American families are running out of money as workers are being laid off. The Government is sending them a paltry $1,200 check (which may be delayed for many, because Trump is insisting on his name appearing on the checks), which many are likely to use to buy food. At the same time, food and milk created for commercial use in sectors which have collapsed (restaraunts, hotels, schools) is being destroyed. The Government could be buying that food (delivering much-needed relief to struggling farmers and food producers) and use the storied logistics skills of the U.S. Military to help deliver it to people in desperate need all over the country and around the world.

"It's one of those things where we've seen the President basically almost allergic to using federal authority, the national authority that is at his disposal to make these things right," Sammon explains. "Here is something he could do, well within the capacity of the federal government and the military, but there's been no indication they're going to pursue that. I think that's a pretty astounding political failure, at a very basic level."

Sammon goes on to describe the worsening conditions for food producers and the laborers in the industry who are becoming sick at an alarming rate, as "a very troubling sign for farmers and the food supply chain going forward."

"There's going to be a lot of farmers entering in to bankruptcy," he tells me. "The jolt to the system is not going to be immediate. But a year from now we could be looking at diminished supply at a pretty significant level. That could result in much higher prices. If we're emerging from a global recession, where we're talking about forecasts of 30% unemployment, potentially, at some point later in the year, the notion of having escalating food prices is certainly not something that's going to take the edge off of that."

Despite that grim news and the horrific economic numbers released on Wednesday regarding retail sales --- (yes, CONSUMERS, as it turns out, are the backbone of the nation's economy...They are the job creators, not the parasitic corporations and executives who pretend to be) --- we've got some more good news today for those who can't wait to vote this November. It'll much easier --- and safer --- to do that in Virginia this year, thanks to a series of important election reforms signed into law over the weekend by the state's Democratic Governor. Among the many long-overdue reforms: No-excuse absentee voting; Automatic voter registration at the DMV; Repeal of Photo ID voting restrictions; Expanded early and Election Day voting hours; and Election Day will now be a state holiday, while the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, celebrating Confederate Generals who attacked the U.S., will no longer be celebrated.

All of those reforms come thanks to the Democratic majorities won for the first time in years in both the Commonwealth's Senate and House last year. And that is thanks, in no small part, to the court-ordered UNgerrymandering of Virginia last year.

But that's not all the good news about upcoming elections today. The Republican National Committee, according to mailers they paid for and sent out to Republican voters in Pennsylvania, has declared that absentee voting is "easy, convenient and secure"! Yes, the word "secure" was made bold on the "Official Republican Party Mail-in Ballot Application" sent out to voters in the Keystone State this week.

So, apparently, we can all happily ignore the President and other high-profile Republicans around the country who claim that Vote-by-Mail is a vector for fraud. Their own party, it seems, has just made liars of them! (Though that's not particularly difficult to do these days.)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: WI's John Nichols on a huge win for progressives in the Badger State amid last week's disastrous and dangerous GOP-forced election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2020 6:58pm PT  

We catch up with a bit of listener mail at the top of today's BradCast before moving on to the huge story out of Wisconsin, where, according to results finally announced Monday night, a progressive-supported state Supreme Court candidate has apparently unseated a rightwing Scott Walker-appointed, Donald Trump-endorsed Justice following last Tuesday's disastrous and dangerous election in the Badger State. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Judge Jill Karofsky reportedly trounced incumbent GOP-backed Justice Daniel Kelly by more than 10 points (or more than 163,000 votes of about 1.5 million cast) to win a 10 year term on the state Supreme Court. The stunning upset victory reduces the longtime rightwing partisan bent of the court from 5 to 2, to just 4 to 3, with a real chance to flip the court's balance to progressives in the state when the next seat either opens up for an appointment (with Democratic Governor Tony Evers having ousted the far-right Walker in 2018) or in the next Supreme Court retention election. The next such election is scheduled for 2023.

What makes Karofsky's win all the more remarkable, of course, is the horrific circumstances under which Republicans forced their own Wisconsin voters to the polls last week amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Republicans in the gerrymandered state legislature, along with the Republicans on the state Supreme Court and on the U.S. Supreme Court's stolen Republican majority all conspired to prevent the election from being postponed or changed to an all Vote-by-Mail election, despite Evers several attempts to do so in response to the COVID epidemic.

Hundreds of thousands of voters and poll workers were forced instead to choose between risking their lives to vote or having their votes suppressed, after tens of thousands of absentee ballots did not reach voters in time to be returned by the April 7th Election Day mandated by SCOTUS as the deadline. That, despite lower federal courts previously allowing for a 6-day extension for the return of absentee ballots, given the extraordinary circumstances. With the two Supreme Courts rulings, voters were forced to wait hours in line to cast in-person ballots in the April 7 election, with hundreds of polling sites closed, while enduring rain and hail and possible coronavirus infection to cast their votes, after Republicans decided that mandating an in-person election during a pandemic, while suppressing the votes of tens of thousands of absentee voters, was their only chance to maintain their 5 to 2 advantage on the state Supreme Court.

We're joined to talk about all of this victory amidst outrage today by WI native son and progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and of Madison's Capital Times. He tells me that Karofsky's election in WI right now "is the biggest deal of anything we have talked about" on the show, adding that "you and I go back a long way."

He charges "the Republicans ginned up their entire voter suppression operation. They put it on 11. They went for everything they could" and then they "weaponized coronavirus", but were still unable to defeat the dedicated Wisconsin voters who delivered "a true rebuke of the people who tried to suppress the vote."

We discuss both the important victory on the state Supreme Court as well as several other contests where the GOP was rebuked, along with the stain of last week's election and what all of this means for Wisconsinites and Americans going forward. There are more than 20 states still to hold primaries in the months ahead. All 50 states must figure out how to hold the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history this November. And the desperate Republican Party is hoping to bring chaos to all of it.

If what happened in Wisconsin is any indication, the GOP may have their work cut out for them, however, this year. But, as we also discuss, they may even be willing to bring down the U.S. Postal Service to do it.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report following deadly tornadoes in the South, wildfires now threatening Chernobyl, and some good news about yet another coal plant closure in Kentucky...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Trump dreaming about 're-opening'; Many waiting for checks that won't come; Some good news about Biden; And a happy ending...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2020 6:03pm PT  

What a week. We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, with much of it not good news at all. But we do try to offer a few bright spots along the way, and finish with a song, to make the stories you need to know about slightly less maddening. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

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

  • Biden leads Trump by 11 points in a new NATIONAL poll taken before Sanders dropped out;
  • Tuesday's shameful, disastrous and, likely, deadly "shit show" of an election in Wisconsin --- with in-person voting forced in the middle of a global pandemic by Republicans in the state legislature, state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court --- was even worse and more disenfranchising than previously known. Officials are now calling for an investigation from the U.S. Postal Service to explain why thousands of absentee ballots, many sent far in advance of Election Day, never arrived for many voters in Milwaukee, and as Republican state Sen. Dan Feyen now hypocritically wants an extension to vote for some voters in his district after several tubs of absentee ballots were discovered at a postal facility undelivered. (That, after he and his GOP colleagues in the state legislature repeatedly prevented a postponement of the election and applauded the SCOTUS ruling that prevented a 6-day extension for tens of thousands of voters to return their absentee ballots after having not even received them at all before the April 7 Election Day.);
  • And, in very related news, the U.S. Postal Service is now apparently on the brink of complete shutdown, as early as June, thanks to a decrease in mail delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats on Capitol Hill are begging for a short term bailout [PDF] for the quasi-independent federal agency that otherwise receives no tax-payer dollars. Republicans, however, blocked the effort to include $25 billion to save the USPS in the recent $2.2 Trillion emergency relief/corporate bailout CARES Act (which included $500 billion for private corporations). That, as millions rely on the USPS for prescription drugs and states across the country hope to rely on the Post Office for Vote-by-Mail primary elections in June and perhaps in all 50 states this November. Republicans also refused to include $4 billion needed to help states conduct elections during a pandemic, but they did include $400 million which, since there are few, if any, restrictions on that money, states are already using it for other things instead;
  • Finally, we end with a song and a laugh (cuz we really need both at the end of this week as much as you do), as Randy Rainbow plays us out with a tribute to his new favorite Governor...

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Also: Petulant criminal Trump begins purge of Inspectors General...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2020 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Reprehensible and morally unjustifiable rulings by the Republican majorities on both the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts over the past 24 hours have resulted in tens of thousands of voters forced to choose between risking their lives to cast their ballots or face voter suppression today in Wisconsin. The GOP Justices on both courts now have blood on their hands. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

WI's Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes was being overly polite when he tweeted today: "Good morning and welcome to the Shit Show! Today's episode has been produced by the Supreme Court and directed by the incomparable Speaker and Senate Majority leader duo," before adding: "Buckle up, this one's sure to disappoint!" He was being too kind in his reference to the 4 to 2 party-line vote that yesterday evening overturned an Executive Order that would have postponed today's election in the Badger State until June, as issued by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. The case which blocked that order was brought to the state Supreme Court by GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald, both representing "majorities" in their respective state chambers thanks to Republican gerrymandering that prevented Democrats from controlling the state legislature despite receiving more votes than Republicans.

The state court's decision assured that WI voters faced potential death if they chose to vote in person at polling places (if they could find one open) in the middle of a deadly pandemic on Tuesday. The immoral decision was made even worse by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court who, even later last night, in an unsigned 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] overturned a lower federal court judge's ruling [PDF] which had allowed 6 extra days for voters to return absentee ballots, given that tens of thousands of state voters have yet to even receive theirs due to the influx of requests amid the pandemic. Somehow, those voters are supposed to postmark or return them by today to be counted, even though many won't even receive the ballots for days after the April 7 election. It was, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern writes, "one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern history."

Thus, tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters are now certain to be disenfranchised, thanks to the repugnant rulings by every Republican on both Courts. WI voters and those who know them may consider themselves lucky if voter suppression is the ONLY thing that happens to them after being forced to stand in lines that snaked for blocks and blocks (and blocks) before being forced to crowd into consolidated polling places for lack of poll workers willing to risk their own lives. (In Milwaukee, for example, instead of 182 polling places, there were just FIVE today.)

As you might imagine, my head has been repeatedly exploding over the past 24 hours. We describe on today's show what happened on Tuesday, why the state Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: it was to and ensure Republican majority control of the same state Supreme Court which issued this horrific ruling, for as far as the eye can see), why the U.S. Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: they invoked their absurd "Purcell Principle" in order to allow voter suppression to continue across the country this fall and beyond), and what all of this now horrendously portends for upcoming elections in the 20+ states which previously postponed their primaries due to the COVID-19 crisis and for the 50 states that will be running the most critical election in our nation's history --- pandemic or no pandemic --- this November 3rd.

None of this is a good sign for free and fair elections in a supposed representative democracy. All of it brings shame and disgrace to the GOP and their followers...if they are capable of either.

Then, as if everything else wasn't already bad enough, Donald Trump is now on a tear to purge independent Inspectors General from the U.S. Government, including even long time career officials and those he appointed himself, because he's an unstable, insecure, dishonest, criminally unfit, petulant little man-baby President. We tell the stories today of the Intelligence Community IG he fired late last Friday night for having followed the rule of law in reporting the whistleblower complaint to Congress during Trump's attempt to extort Ukraine to help him win this year's election; his new threats to and blatant lies about the Health and Human Services Dept. IG who reported on Monday that the federal government bears some of the responsibility for a lack of personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing kits at hospitals across the country; and his removal on Tuesday of the longtime, well-respected career Pentagon and State Department IG who was recently elected by his peers as chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency as he was set to oversee the Administration's distribution of $2.2 trillion recently allocated by the emergency coronavirus relief bill enacted just over one week ago.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with the brightest and best news of the day. And none of it is good either.

As the WI Lt. Governor said: Welcome to the Shit Show!...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was an action-packed BradCast today, though not in a good way, unfortunately, thanks to Republicans and their state Supreme Court majority in Wisconsin. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, as we've been telling you for weeks, there is absolutely no plan at the federal level for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic --- on either a medical level or an economic level --- even months after the Trump Administration first learned about it. The $2.2 trillion so-called Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, hastily adopted by Congress and signed by the President just over a week ago is a mess.

Individual checks for $1,200 may take months to get to many Americans (if they get them at all) and the process for doling out $350 billion allocated by the measure towards immediate relief for small businesses via forgivable loans is even more of a disaster out of the gate. Banks, serving as middlemen, are not set up for the onslaught of applications that began on Friday, with many applicants being turned away entirely by the largest banks, and with nowhere near enough money included in the pool to serve the 30 million companies considered eligible small businesses. Our guest today suggests that no more than 5% of businesses who need help under the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are likely to receive the immediately needed loans before the funding runs out.

Moreover, there is still no nationalized plan by the Trump Administration to ensure that states have all of the basic equipment they need --- from masks, gloves and gowns to ventilators and test kits --- as supply chains have become an all out "Wild West show, with middlemen and drop points and plane rescues," according to our guest DAVID DAYEN, financial investigative journalist and Executive Editor of The American Prospect. He is now producing his indispensable "Unsanitized: Covid-19 Daily Report" column and newsletter at The Prospect.

He reports that it is not only states competing with other states and the federal government for critical life-saving equipment, but that the federal government (FEMA) is also competing with the federal government (the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS), bidding up the same gear! All of this as U.S. deaths officially attributed to COVID-19 blew past the 10,000 mark on Monday, with a week ahead that could include a "9/11 attack worth of Americans" dying, day after day, for 10 days in a row beginning in the next few days, according to one of the more conservative data projections.

Dayen offers detail on much of the above and the problem that many Americans are also now facing in their attempts to file for bankruptcy protection --- at a time that many desperately need to do so --- with courthouses shutdown around the country, and only those lucky enough to be able to afford an attorney able to file electronically.

As CNN's Jake Tapper made clear on Sunday: there is no plan for any of this. It is a disaster that is likely to continue for months (at least) with no competent officials leading the way at the federal level, and absolutely no ultimate plan to help us get out, eventually, from under what is likely to be as bad or worse than the Great Depression. That, despite the "irrational exuberance" exhibited today by a Wall Street that seems to be in utter denial.

Then, where we had hoped when today's show began to bring you the long overdue good news that Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers finally did the right thing on Monday morning by issuing an Executive Order to postpone tomorrow's Presidential Primary, state Supreme Court election and municipal races until June 9, we were forced to change course mid-show after the state's Rightwing Supremes blocked Evers' order along a 4 to 2 party line vote.

Therefore, unless something changes, where Badger State voters can find an open polling place tomorrow (scores of municipalities found zero poll workers willing to face death to man the polls, and Milwaukee's usual 180 polling sites are being reduced to just 5!), voters will have to risk their lives to cast a vote in person on Tuesday. After Republicans had their way with the state Supremes, they have also filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an order by a federal judge last week that allowed 6 extra days for voters to turn in absentee ballots, many of which have not yet even arrived to voters on the day before the Election (when they would otherwise be due.) After air time, it appears that the stolen Republican Majority on SCOTUS has also decided with their GOP brethren in WI, and voted along party lines to overturn the federal judge's extension of the deadline for absentee ballots. Tens of thousands will be disenfranchised in the bargain.

It is a chaotic mess and electoral disaster. But, more to the point, it is a DEADLY disaster in the making, with Republicans in the state all too happy to condemn voters to potential death because they think more Democrats will be affected and possibly killed, and they hope that their incumbent Republican state Supreme Court Justice, who is on the ballot on Tuesday, will prevail under these conditions. It is appalling and Americans should get ready for much more of this in the months ahead, with more than 20 states still to cast their postponed primary votes, and all 50 states preparing to figure out how to run an election during a deadly pandemic this November. One of the two major parties has made clear that they are more than happy to place their retention of political power over the lives of actual American citizens.

Finally, today, we open up the phones to allow a few callers from the coronaverse to ring in....

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Guests: Filmmakers Simon Ardizonne and Russell Michaels...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2020 6:50pm PT  

Today, we devote the bulk of The BradCast to HBO's new documentary film, released just last week and considered important enough that the premium cable channel is now making it available, for free, through May 25th on their YouTube channel right here. (You can also watch a number of clips, teasers and extras from the film here.) [Audio link to today's full program is posted below.]

The new film is called Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections and it comes from the team who created the landmark, Emmy-nominated 2006 HBO doc Hacking Democracy.

The climax of that earlier film (you can watch just that key scene right here) featured the first known on camera hack of a Diebold optical-scan vote tabulation system, which changed the results of a mock election in which one question was asked on the ballot: "Can Diebold's optical-scan vote tabulators be hacked?" The votes, as we see them cast in the film on hand-marked paper ballots by Election Integrity advocates including Bev Harris of Black Box Voting in the office of then Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, are clearly 6 'NO' and 2 'YES'. But when the paper ballots are run through the tabulator, the results reported back by the computer are 1 'NO' and 7 'YES'. The tabulator had been hacked and only a hand-count of the hand-marked paper ballots would ever have revealed that it was, had it happened in an actual election. (Needless to say, almost no paper ballots are hand-counted by humans after elections in the U.S., including the 2016 Presidential election, to assure the computers are reported accurate results.)

The manipulation of the system at the time was carried out by legendary Finish cybersecurity and voting system expert Harri Hursti, who is the central character in this new follow-up film. It follows Hursti as he uncovers new and persistent revelations proving that U.S. elections remain far more vulnerable than many realize, and arguably no safer or more secure from manipulation --- by foreign or domestic actors --- than they were during the making of the 2006 film or even since the 2016 Presidential election. (Yes, the same optical-scanners hacked in the 2006 film are still in use in states around the country in 2020!) All of that, despite assurances from the U.S. Intelligence Community and bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia attempted to access elections systems in all 50 states in 2016 --- when Donald Trump is said to have won by a razor thin margin in three states that hadn't voted for a Republican candidate in decades. Those same institutions continue to warn us that Russia plans to do the same in 2020, though as the film shows, it does not take a nation-state in order to do so.

We're joined for today's special edition of The BradCast by SIMON ARDIZZONE and RUSSELL MICHAELS, the British directors of both 2006's Hacking Democracy as well as, with Sarah Teale, the follow-up Kill Chain out this week from HBO. We share a number of clips from the new film, which features at its climax a chilling interview with a foreign hacker, shot in silhouette, who explains that, before the 2016 election, he was able to take complete control of Alaska's entire election system --- from its online voter registration database to its vote tabulation system. The hacker, who goes by the name 'CyberZeist', claims he was able to gain access to every user name and password on the system and obtain root access to change anything he might have wanted to. "I could have made any changes in the system, like deleting the candidates. I could kick anyone out. I could alter any date, any vote." he claims. "It was such a rush that, at that particular moment, I felt like I was the God."

Ardizzone and Michaels offer insight on CyberZeist and why they believe his allegations to be very credible. But there are many other disturbing allegations and evidence to support them presented before that point in the movie, including Ion Sancho's reflections and continuing concerns 16 years after the first film, as he reports on the mandatory secret meeting that all Florida election supervisors were summoned to after the 2016 election, regarding a hack of VR Systems, the contractor which runs the voter registration system in the Sunshine State and others as well. That is the company --- and the spearfishing operation --- described in documents leaked to media in 2017 by DHS whistleblower Reality Winner, who is still serving 5 years in federal prison for having done so.

We also witness disturbing evidence of chicanery in the 2018 Gubernatorial election in Georgia, which was overseen by its eventual "winner" Brian Kemp. He served as Secretary of State at the time, responsible for programming the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and creating the electronic access cards needed to vote on it. The filmmakers were there and had their cameras rolling on Election Day in 2018 when those voter access cards failed, leading to hours-long lines to vote in one of the state's most Democratic-leaning counties. Kemp would eventually be named the winner of the election by little more than 1% over popular Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Longtime BRAD BLOG readers and BradCast listeners are likely to recognize a number of the featured players in the film, as many of them have been repeated guests on the program over the years. Ardizonne and Michaels share a number of insights on the making of the film today, such as why it took 14 years to follow-up the previous one and the mysteriously huge interest in the original online just before the 2016 election; they offer additional details on several disturbing discoveries made by hackers at DefCon's Voting Village in Las Vegas; they discuss how the private voting system vendors responded to invitations from the filmmakers to tell their sides of the story in the movie; what the reaction has been from law enforcement officials to CyberZeist's revelations since the film's premier last week; whether they believe the 2016 election results were legitimate; whether a move to Vote-by-Mail during the coronavirus crisis will help avoid any of these problems in 2020; and why the film is titled Kill Chain.

"We, actually, in a way, didn't want to make [Kill Chain," Ardizzone tells me. "The reason we made it was because we noticed a really sudden uptick in the number of people who were watching Hacking Democracy online. And a lot of our contacts started to get back in touch with us, saying, 'You know, even though you made that film, the problems are still there, and they're kind of worse now.' And this was before the elections in November 2016."

"I believe, to this day, no individual voting machines [from 2016] have been subpoenaed, sequestered and cyber-investigated by the Department of Homeland Security," Michaels says. "The scientists are screaming out, saying this is completely insecure, you must stop doing it. As far as I'm aware, no one is going to stop doing it in 2020. It's still going full steam ahead."

Of course, there is much much more. I believe you'll want to tune in for this conversation today.

Finally, we close today with a bit of listener mail regarding the ongoing and upcoming election disaster now underway in Wisconsin which is still set to hold its Presidential Primary this Tuesday. That, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Governor, a lack of poll workers willing to risk death by working the polls, and a flood of absentee ballot requests and incoming mail ballots that officials are finding impossible to keep up with given their current lack of resources.

If any bad guys out there were hoping to cause havoc and chaos in the American electoral system, well mission accomplished! Hopefully it won't result in too many people actually dying in Wisconsin, where the state's Republican-controlled legislature has repeatedly refused the Democratic Governor's pleas to postpone the election or change it to an all Vote-by-Mail election...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got a boatload of news and more listener calls from the Coronaverse today, as Republicans continue to try and game this year's elections, even amid a global pandemic. (Priorities, ya know!) [Audio for today's show is posted below.]

We start with a quick review of some of the news from over the weekend, as Trump finally gave up the ghost on his idiotic threat of reopening the country on Easter (April 12), even though has no authority to reopen something that he hasn't closed in the first place. Instead, it appears he's finally heard the advice from his medical experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans will die even "if we do things almost perfectly" and shut everything down (which we haven't yet in many places, though a number of additional states, under pressure, finally issued stay-at-home orders on Monday, including Arizona, Maryland and Virginia.) So Trump has reluctantly extended "federal guidance" to call for social distancing through the end of April for now.

But, there are a few glimpses of potentially good news --- as thin as the threads may be --- coming from South Korea, Seattle and California today, if otherwise grim case numbers and death continue to increase across the country and world. That "good news" finds that yes, social distancing does appear to be working. At least for now.

All of which underscores that this is likely to go on much longer than officials are currently making clear, or have any really plans for, particularly with absolutely nobody --- nobody --- steering the ship at the national level.

And, in turn, that underscores the importance of this year's Presidential election, as if Trump's appearance on Fox "News" this morning saying the quiet parts out loud didn't already give the game away. In complaining about the $4 billion that Democrats had hoped to include for improved security for running elections during a global pandemic in last week's $2.2 trillion stimulus/corporate bailout package, Trump told Fox: "They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." Well, there ya go. He just said out loud that if everyone was allowed to vote in this country, Republicans would be in big, big trouble. He gets something right every now and again, but its usually the things that he's not supposed to be saying.

New York, with the most concentrated health emergency and most cases in the nation right now, has finally postponed its planned April 28 Presidential primary to June 23. But, as Wisconsin Republicans are cool with the state's plan to hold its election next week (April 7!), and as Georgia's Republican Sec. of State has come up with a scheme to pretend to be doing the right thing by sending absentee ballot applications to "active" voters (not all voters, just ones he deems as active), Ohio's GOP legislature and Governor aren't even trying to hide their contempt for democracy.

Despite OH's Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose stating clearly that "No date before June 2nd is logistically possible" to hold Ohio's rescheduled primary, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill last week to hold it a month earlier on April 28. Moreover, LaRose's suggestion to send a postage-paid absentee ballot application to all registered voters was also ignored. Instead, the legislation --- now signed by Governor Mike DeWine --- requires the Sec. of State to send a postcard to every voter letting them know how to get an absentee application themselves (and, unconstitutionally, find postage needed to mail it back in.) Furthermore, all of that has to happen, plus ballots must get to those voters with time to send it back postmarked by April 27. Good luck Ohio voters! It wouldn't be an election year with a voting disaster in the Buckeye State! That, even after the Republican Sec. of State has already stated that plan is not "logistically possible"! In short, Ohio is demonstrating to the country how NOT to reschedule elections during a pandemic...unless your actually hope, like the President's, is to keep "levels of voting" as low as possible in hopes of helping Republicans win elections. Voting Rights groups in Ohio: Start your lawsuits!

Finally, we open up the phones to stay-at-homers to say hello and for any good news stories they may have to offer. We find a "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" instead, a bit of good news, and some much less than good news. But we hope you find it to be a good show nonetheless, to help keep you company at home while become a smarter world citizen in the bargain...

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More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Jobless claims skyrocket amid coronavirus pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2020 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With the frantic, if justifiable, move towards Vote-by-Mail in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one shouldn't underestimate the GOP scheming going on right now to figure out how to make sure that their efforts at vote suppression can continue none the less. [Audio link to show follows below.]

That's especially true since broad Vote-by-Mail programs are likely to increase Democratic "turnout" in many, if not most jurisdictions. (That, even as many Democrats, for their part, are underestimating the amount of fraud that can happen with broad Vote-by-Mail programs if safeguards are not carefully instituted. Such precautions are easy, given the rushed deadlines and lack of needed funding and manpower in most jurisdictions right now.)

Our elections this year are most definitely in peril. Even as many states have now rescheduled primaries, optimistically, until June 2nd. Georgia has rescheduled its primaries for May 19 (the date which was originally scheduled to hold Kentucky's primary as well, though they have smartly pushed theirs further down the road).

Perhaps most troubling of all at the moment, Wisconsin will hold primaries and a state Supreme Court election on April 7! That just over a week and a half from today, despite the Governor having shut down all non-essential businesses and ordering residents to stay-at-home through at least April 24! Election officials in several Badger State jurisdictions are complaining they will be unable to find enough pollworkers (resulting in much longer --- and dangerous --- lines); at least one major city is suing, declaring it "functionally impossible" to carry out the election while allowing voters and pollworkers to maintain necessary social distancing; and the County Clerk in for the state's capital (in one of the most Dem-leaning counties in the state) is seeing voters threatened with legal challenges if they follow his advice to declare themselves "indefinitely confined" in order to request an absentee ballot online without uploading a Photo ID, which many seniors are finding difficulty to do.

Nonetheless, the state's Democratic Governor is allowing the April 7 elections to move forward, and the Republicans in the state legislator --- who would be needed to take action in order to postpone it or change it to an all-VBM election --- are applauding the Governor. Now why would they do that?

In Georgia, meanwhile, don't be fooled by the Republican Sec. of State's lofty, high-minded explanation for mailing an absentee application to every "active" voter in the state. While that might otherwise be a very good thing, what about all of those voters who are still registered and eligible to vote this year, even if they have been marked "inactive" by the same Secretary of State?

None of this is particularly encouraging. Though neither is the fact that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this past week, shattering the decades-old record of 695,000, with likely many more who were not able to file this past week because state websites and phone systems were overwhelmed, crashing and freezing up.

But, don't worry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the quintupling of the all-time weekly unemployment record is "not relevant", thanks to the emergency stimulus bill passed by the Senate 96 to 0 on Wednesday night and now waiting for passage in the House, most likely on Friday. Of course, it's not only Mnuchin misleading Americans on behalf of the Trump Administration, the New York Times did a pretty good job of it as well recently.

All of which should serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting independent local journalism, with alt-weeklies dropping like flies (with no ad revenue to support them since restaurants, theaters, concerts, and other social gatherings are mostly shut down), even as their online readership is way up during the crisis, and local, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations also having a similarly difficult time keeping their transmitters humming during this pandemic.

We discuss all of that and more today, before closing with Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report, which, along with some good and bad news on the stimulus bill and some bad news about the Trump Administration's continuing rollback of public safety regulations even during the crisis, actually includes some bona fide good news from a federal court regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ongoing battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Legendary FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More states postpone primaries, consider moving to Vote-by-Mail; GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 11 months...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: America continues to adjust to the pandemic, as the most critical election in our nation's history is now threatened by a virus, even as voters in three major states hit the polls on Tuesday. At least some of them did. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

We begin another bizarre day in the Coronavirus Era with just a spot of good news. California's wildly corrupt GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., who, with his wife, was charged with more than 60 felonies, but pleaded guilty to just one in a deal last December after it became clear his wife would testify against him, was sentenced to 11 months in prison today. The couple had stolen as much as a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal luxuries during Hunter's six elected terms before he finally resigned in disgrace in January. He, along with New York's GOP Congressman Chris Collins (who was recently sentenced to 26 months for insider trading), were the first two members of the U.S. House to endorse Donald Trump's run for the Presidency.

And with that somewhat good news out of the way, it's on to the more disturbing news we must try and make sense of today. Even as Florida, Illinois and Arizona all decided to hold their Presidential primary elections on Tuesday amid quarantines, closures, lock-downs and social distancing directives, other states continued to take more responsible measures.

Ohio, which was also scheduled to vote on Tuesday, postponed their primary election today amid no small amount of chaos, with the state's Governor taking extraordinary measures to do so late Monday night after initially being blocked by a state court.

Maryland's Governor today announced that his state would join others, such as Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky in postponing their primary until June. It was previously scheduled for April 28. They will, however, still hold the April 28 Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. That election, however, will now be an all Vote-by-Mail (VBM) election. That as other states consider either postponing or changing to all-VBM elections for the foreseeable future during the virus outbreak.

The affects of the pandemic were seen in all three states which voted today, including poll closures, low turnout, and shortages of poll workers, many of whom are elderly and the most susceptible to the worst affects of the virus. Hundreds of them in South Florida, for example, decided to cancel at the last minute rather than be exposed to hundreds of people all day in crowded polling locations left open despite the CDC's recommendation to avoid all crowds larger than 10 at this time.

We're joined today by a guest well-accustomed to both chaos and elections. ION SANCHO is Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida's former longtime Supervisor of Elections as well as a champion voting rights advocate and opponent of private voting system vendors. During his nearly 30 years as one of the state's (and nation's) most respected election officials, he has held elections amid hurricane catastrophes and political ones. He was tapped by his fellow state officials in 2000 to oversee the eventually-aborted Presidential election recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Sancho has plenty of thoughts and insight to offer today amid the current chaos and challenges now faced by elections officials and voters alike. We discuss the likely necessity of all states moving to VBM elections for the duration of the crisis, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure such elections are carried out with integrity.

"The entire primary and elections process is going to have to be re-examined, given this crisis," he tell me. "This pandemic provides a challenge like no other in my lifetime. Mail ballots may be the way out of this, but mail ballots require machinery. Mail ballots require high-speed counting devices. It can be done, and it can be done excellently, but it can't be done cheaply. So if that's something we're going to need to go to, we're need to prepare for that." He warns that voters, many of whom do not bother to change their address on their registration when they move within a county, should check their registration record to assure it's up to date immediately, or else they risk not receiving a ballot at all, when and if states begin moving to VBM.

And while money will need to be spent to transition to high-speed optical-scanners to tally hand-marked mail-in paper ballots in many locations, the cost and benefits would still be far greater for voters than in jurisdictions such as Georgia which recently spent more than $100 million dollars for new equipment that will force all voters at the polls to vote on new, germy, unverifiable, touchscreen voting systems which violate voters' privacy by revealing secret ballots to everyone in the polling place. "The COVID-19 virus may be a blessing in disguise for the citizens of Georgia," Sancho explains. "Using a hand-marked paper ballot system is not only more secure, it's three to ten times more inexpensive to operate and maintain."

But in addition to money, guidance will be needed on the federal level to ensure a move to mail-in voting is done in a way that doesn't disenfranchise voters, since, he explains, it is so much easier for VBM ballots to be rejected by officials for dubious reasons and without notifying voters so that they have sufficient time to cure any perceived deficiencies on their ballots. VBM would be a "fair solution [during this crisis] if you have fair elections administration. Jurisdictions like Oregon, for example, which has pioneered mail voting in the United States, provide 14 days for an individual to present themselves to cure a problem, a deficiency, in the mail ballot. States like Arizona, Washington and California provide 2-3 weeks of days to allow the voter to cure a problem. Then you run into states like Florida, that had to be sued to allow voters to cure their ballot after the election. The deadline for Florida to cure all deficiencies --- so how could you know about it? --- is the day before the election."

While some elections officials, he believes, would be careful to institute best practices, others, he warns, would not. "They don't concern themselves with how actual machinery is working in other places. They just depend upon their voting vendor to tell them what to do. We don't really have any kind of mechanism nationally to provide the best practices, to give guidance. Our national elections administration is a debacle," he says, along with much more that you'll want to hear.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the coronavirus epidemic has now cleared the air in both China and Italy, at least as far as toxic greenhouse gas emissions go, and has given Donald Trump yet another excuse to try and shore up the oil industry amid crashing prices. And, though much of it has now been lost to time and the global pandemic, we also examine the substantive debate on Sunday night between Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders regarding our climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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