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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, September 26, 2021
NASA Climate Scientist: 'Net Zero by 2050' Not Nearly Enough: 'BradCast' 9/24/21
Guest: Dr. Peter Kalmus on need for 'climate emergency mode'; Also: Our scoop on Cyber Ninjas AZ 'audit' fail confirmed by nat'l media...
Scoop: AZ 'Audit' Finds Biden Beat Trump by MORE Than Certified: 'BradCast' 9/23
Partisan Cyber Ninja hand-count also found larger 2020 margin for Dem in U.S. Senate race; Plus: GOP Senate threatens default...
'Green News Report' 9/23/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden seeks unified climate action at U.N.; China to end int'l financing of coal plants; 2021 wildfire record; OSHA to protect workers from heat; PLUS: IL's landmark new climate law...
Previous GNRs: 9/21/21 - 9/16/21 - Archives...
Ornstein: 'Deep, Deep, Deep Trouble' If Dems Fail to Pass Voting Rights, Biden Agenda: 'BradCast' 9/22/21
Guest: Congressional historian and author Norman Ornstein on why he's still optimistic...
Trump Campaign Memo Reveals They Knew in Nov. Claims of 'Dominion Fraud' Were BS: 'BradCast' 9/21/21
Defamation discovery unearths new deets on Trump's attempt to steal 2020 election...
'Green News Report' 9/21/21
U.N. reports humanity on 'catastrophic pathway'; Good news and bad at U.N. General Assembly; PLUS: Good news and bad for world's last giant sequoias...
Seeing the (Burning) Forest for the (Giant) Trees: 'BradCast' 9/20/21
Guest: Dr. Christy Brigham, chief science officer at Sequoia National Park; Also: Late COVID news, democracy news, and callers...
Sunday 'End of the Roe' Toons
PDiddie's latest, timely, not-yet-banned collection of the week's best political toons...
It's The Fox 'News', Stupid! (Or, How FNC Broke America): 'BradCast' 9/17/21
Guest: Kevin Drum; Also: Catastrophic heat; Fires threaten Sequoia's 3,000-yr old giants...
Whitehouse Presses Wray on FBI Whitewash of Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Probe: 'BradCast' 9/16/21
Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; Unvaxxed surging hospital death panels...
'Green News Report' 9/16/21
Nicholas adds insult to injury in LA; Biden continues urgent climate action pitch; Accountability for plastic makers; PLUS: VT latest to sue fossil fuel giants for lies...
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: David Dayen on Wednesday's 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and new book 'Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power'; Also: Herman Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2020 7:01pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

We'll be back soon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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State legislature codifies Governor's Executive Order, Voting Rights Groups' Motion to Intervene upends Republican 'voter fraud' allegations...
UPDATE 7/10/20: After voluntarily dismissing its lawsuit, GOP falsely declares victory...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/24/2020 10:35am PT  

In a recent article, we described the GOP's legal challenge to the Executive Order issued by California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom --- directing CA election officials to timely submit vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots to every active registered CA voter for the November general election --- as "dubious", at best.

We noted that the GOP plaintiffs lacked standing to sue in federal court because Republicans cannot show they suffered a legally cognizable injury. We also noted that the GOP's core legal challenge --- that the Elections Clause to the U.S. Constitution only permits state legislatures, not Governors, to set the time and manner of conducting federal elections --- was at odds with settled Supreme Court case law and that legislative approval for the Governor's pandemic-related emergency Executive Order can be found within the provisions of the CA Emergency Services Act.

Last week AB-860 was passed by the state legislature (even with support from Republicans) to codify Newsom's Executive Order by specifically providing that VBM ballots be timely sent to every active registered voter in the state, even if the voter did not request one. It was signed into law this week by the Governor, rendering the GOP's core legal argument moot.

The new law will not only mandate a dismissal of the GOP legal filing but also eliminate the need for the court to grant the Motion to Intervene [PDF] that was recently filed by several voting rights organizations opposing the challenge by a number of Republican groups, including the California Republican Party.

CA Common Cause, League of Women Voters of CA and the Community Coalition seek to be added as Party Defendants in order to counter the GOP's effort to compel in-person voting --- a GOP effort that, if successful, would dangerously and unnecessarily expose the state's electorate to the risk of contracting a deadly virus, COVID-19. The portion of those organizations' motion, which demolishes the GOP's VBM "voter fraud" lies, however, warrants verbatim coverage...

[Republicans'] allegations echo long-debunked claims that associate mail-in ballots with voter fraud. In reality, mail vote fraud is virtually non-existent. Millions of Americans vote by mail --- one in four voters did so in the last two federal elections. Yet an exhaustive investigation found only 491 instances of mail vote fraud committed between 2000 and 2012, a period in which billions of votes were cast.

UPDATE 7/10/20: After U.S. District Court Judge Morrison England, Jr. dismissed the GOP's frivolous legal challenge following a Republican filing of a voluntary Notice of Dismissal, GOP Chairwoman Rona McDaniel falsely proclaimed that the Republican Party "scored a major victory against Gov. Gavin Newsom's illegal executive order." She attempted to bolster this falsehood with another lie --- that, before the GOP filed its legal challenge to VBM in CA, "Democrats planned to automatically send ballots to inactive voters, including people who have moved or died."

As we observed in a 6/5/20 update to an article that had covered the "dubious" GOP legal challenge, the Office of CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla stated that, pursuant to the Executive Order which Padilla and Gov. Newsom issued, VBM ballots would only be mailed to "active" registered voters.

"Only active registered voters will be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot. That is and has been the practice in California," Padilla's spokesman Sam Mahood said. Under California's Elections Code, Mahood added, "'voters with an inactive voter registration status do not receive elections materials.' That includes vote-by-mail ballots."

The only change to CA Election Law as it existed at the time the Executive Order was issued was the elimination of the requirement that voters first request a VBM ballot before one would be mailed to an
active" registered voter. Thus, at best Rona and the GOP had erected a straw man; erroneously claiming that the Executive Order required submission of VBM ballots to "inactive" voters.

* * *
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, and Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). He previously served as a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. Canning has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing




As U.S. infections surge, EU may ban travel from America; Trump endangers Phoenix with campaign rally; KY, NY try to vote in primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/23/2020 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the COVID-19 crisis worsens in the U.S. as it improves in Europe and Asia, it's another fraught Election Day in several states, Trump threatens to sicken Arizona even more, and man-made global warming threatens everything. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • Phoenix Mayor urges Trump to wear mask at local campaign rally as crisis grips state. But, don't worry! Phoenix church hosting Trump rally today has a miracle scheme to "kill 99.9 percent" of the COVID-19 virus!;
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as record heat blows past 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Siberia(!), Trump makes new pretend claims about wind power while rolling back protections for birds, UK builds world's largest liquid air battery...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Voting rights journalist Ari Berman on the many ways Republicans are working to undermine 2020 and how you can help stop them...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the conversation that everyone in America who gives a damn about democracy needs to be having. And, not in the days just before this November's election --- when it will be too late to do anything about it --- but RIGHT NOW. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

In Florida, the top Democrat in the state's House of Representative is sounding an "urgent" alarm. He says that absentee ballots in the perpetual swing-state could be gamed by the Trump Administration using the U.S. Postal Service to slow the return of ballots. In the Sunshine State, any ballots that don't arrive at County Headquarters by 7pm on Election Day may not be included in the results. Minority Leader Kionne McGhee is calling for barcodes to be added to absentee ballots so that voters can track whether they have been received by election officials, so that they may otherwise vote in person on Election Day if necessary.

While calling on the state's Republican Governor to take action that would also help Republicans (who voted at a higher rate by mail than Democrats in 2018), a Trump Campaign spokesperson dismissed McGhee's concerns as "an absolutely bogus conspiracy theory by Democrats." (And you know how Trump hates conspiracy theories.) Of course, Republican willingness to commit fraud, especially in Florida elections, is anything but a "conspiracy theory". In fact, Donald Trump himself, just this year, has already committed absentee ballot voter fraud in the state. So, apparently, has his Press Secretary Kayleigh MacEneny. Former GOP superstar Ann Coulter definitely did so. And so, it seems, did Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop charged with the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin, a property owner in Florida, where he is also a member of the state Republican Party, reportedly voted in the state's elections in 2016 and 2018, despite working and living in Minnesota, in what a Florida attorney and candidate for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections this year describes as a third-degree felony.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been jailed for much less than what both Trump and Chauvin are accused of having done in Florida.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is similarly worried about what the current President and his party may do to undermine the 2020 contest, telling The Daily Show's Trevor Noah this week that his "single greatest concern" is that "this President is going to try to steal this election."

Stolen or not, despite Trump's plummeting favorability ratings, this year's critical general elections will be anything but a cakewalk for Democrats amid the added challenge of coronavirus. Tuesday's disastrous primary election in Georgia was just one example of how Republicans are able to disenfranchise tens, if not hundreds of thousands of votes through the use of overly complicated, faulty and unverifiable touchscreen voting machines and electronic pollbooks in combination with poll closures and mail-in ballots that never reach voters at all or fail to arrive back at county headquarters in time to be legally tallied.

Moreover, as a new study [PDF] out this week from the Center for Election Innovation and Research finds, new voter registration rates in 13 different states they examined --- many of them key battlegrounds --- have fallen dramatically since the virus emerged in March and April. After all of those states saw increases in registrations in January, as compared to the same month in 2016, the numbers fell over a cliff compared to the same months four years ago. With DMVs closed in many states, automatic voter registrations have also not occurred since the virus emerged, and many states still fail to offer online voter registration. At the same time, voter registrations by third-party groups have similarly all but vanished as organizations have been unable to carry out their planned spring outreach campaigns.

Longtime voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones joins us on today's program to discuss all of this and much more. His latest article for the magazine, headlined "How the Coronavirus Handed the GOP New Ways to Squash the Vote," details some of the extraordinary measures that Republicans around the country, in state after state, are attempting in hopes of suppressing the vote in 2020. That, combined with the challenges of a global pandemic, could result in big trouble for voters of all stripes this year.

Citing the recent primary election disasters in Georgia, Washington D.C., Wisconsin and Nevada (where, he says, polling place consolidation resulted in the last vote being cast during last Tuesday's primary after 3am on Wednesday!), he warns: "If we don't figure out how to do Vote-by-Mail efficiently, and also how to vote in person efficiently, and also how to do this in a pandemic, we're looking at a possible and likely disaster in November."

We discuss the "ridiculous law" in Texas that disallows voters under 65 years of age from citing fear of coronavirus as a lawful excuse for requesting an absentee ballot; the effort by Republicans in the Iowa legislature this week to prevent their own Republican Sec. of State from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's registered voters this November (in hopes of avoiding the very well run primary last week in which he did exactly that); and other ways in which the 2020 elections --- our last firewall against full-on authoritarianism --- could become the nation's latest nightmare. Berman tells me "litigation alone" by Democrats is "not going to be sufficient" to solve this perfect storm of problems.

"These conversations have to happen now," he cautions. "States are running out of time. They're running out of money. Coronavirus is increasing in a lot of places. So I'm really, really concerned," he says. Join the club, Ari. On the upside, Berman also discusses how you can help RIGHT NOW to overcome many of these shameful challenges.

Finally, after all of those pleasant thoughts, we end today with a much-needed song by satirist Roy Zimmerman about a "liar" who needs to be voted away. Of course, whether that is even possible remains to be seen. But the song should keep your humming for a while...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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