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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, January 30, 2023
Sunday 'Bullet Points' Toons
PDiddie takes aim at the problem in this week's collection of targeted toons...
NJ 2022 Computer Mistally Means Loser Actually Won: 'BradCast' 1/26/2023
Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
'Green News Report' 1/26/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
Spate of new studies find climate impacts escalating; Logging banned (again) in Alaskan rainforest; PLUS: 'Doomsday Clock' moved closer than ever to 'midnight'...
Recent GNRs: 1/24/23 - 1/19/23 - Archives...
Republican Dark Money Group's Multi-Million Dollar 'Grassroots' Vote Suppression Scheme: 'BradCast' 1/25/23
Guest: Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-be-true Santos theory...
'Decisions are Imminent' in Trump Probe, Says Willis in GA: 'BradCast' 1/24/23
Also: Mass shooting spate; Pence found classified docs at home, returned them; Media still failing on Trump document theft story...
'Green News Report' 1/24/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
CA storm damage tops $1B; Offshore wind doesn't kill whales; Disasters displaced 3.3M in U.S. last year; PLUS: Hand-feeding manatees in FL appears to be saving them...
Recent GNRs: 1/19/23 - 1/17/23 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Just About Everything. (Everywhere. All at Once.): 'BradCast' 1/23/23
From the debit limit to Biden/Trump docs to mass shootings to Ukraine and much more...
Million Dollar Sanctions Ruling Underscores Trump's Seemingly Never-Ending Litigation Grift
Ernest A. Canning on why nothing less than a criminal prosecution will end it. (Maybe.)
Sunday 'Selective Focus' Toons
Keeping priorities straight in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP Targets Ballot Initiatives After 2022 Progressive Wins: 'BradCast' 1/20/23
Guest: Chris Melody Fields Figueredo of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Also: Judge orders Trump to pay Hillary, others nearly $1M...
OH's Completely Moderate, Not-Corrupt-At-All Republican Governor: 'BradCast' 1/19/23
Dark money fossil fuel bribery and disen-franchising military voters in the Buckeye State; Also: GOP's dangerous limit debt game...
'Green News Report' 1/19/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
EU's plan to compete with U.S. on renewables; Banks spend billions on fossil fuel despite net zero pledges; PLUS: Dark money led Ohio Repubs to redefine NatGas as 'green energy'...
Recent GNRs: 1/17/23 - 1/12/23 - Archives...
GOP's 'One-Two Punch to Shut Down' House Ethics Watchdog: 'BradCast' 1/18/23
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: VA Guv kills new EV battery plant, 2,500 new jobs; Kobach fined by FEC as he becomes KS A.G...
GOP Election Denialist Candidate Arrested in NM Shooting Spree: 'BradCast' 1/17/23
What did you THINK would happen?; Also: House GOP to crash economy over debt limit...
'Green News Report' 1/17/23
As CA recovers from epic storms, water wars in U.S. West just beginning; Massive boost to U.S. solar thanks to new Biden/Dem law; PLUS: 1970s Exxon scientists nailed it...
Sunday 'Documenting the Atrocities' Toons
PDiddie curates another first draft of history in his latest weekly toon collection...
Republican Federal Courts Take Aim at VRA Section 2: 'BradCast' 1/14/23
Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
Transparency and Public Oversight to the Rescue: 'BradCast' 1/12/23
Hand-count of 2020 Prez race in PA county confirms tally; Also: Garland taps Special Counsel in Biden docs case; Trump still obstructing justice in stolen docs case...
'Green News Report' 1/12/23
Extreme weather damage cost $1T in U.S. over past 7 years; Last 8 years hottest ever recorded; PLUS: Kitchen stove warning results in latest dumb Fox 'News' freak out...
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...
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'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: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it was not a good day for those who believe in free, fair, honest, overseeable and safe democracy. On the other hand, it was a great day for Republicans! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We've got a boatload of court rulings from almost half a dozen states to try and make sense of today. A few of them are good. Most of them are not. But we've got some expert help in making sense of several of them, and she tells us the fight is nowhere near over.

We begin today with the breaking news out of Florida, where the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that had found the state's new "pay-to-vote" law constitutional. Apparently, the five new federal jurists that Donald Trump has added to the court all agreed, in a 6-4 ruling, that poll taxes are just fine by them. They approved the law enacted by the state's GOP legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year that undermines Amendment 4 of the state constitution. That Amendment was adopted in a bipartisan, 65-35 percent landslide in 2018 to restore voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons in the state, including about one quarter of the state's voting age black men.

The law specifically passed to undermine Amendment 4 requires all court-imposed fines and fees to be payed before a former felon may register to vote. So, if you have enough money, you can vote. If you don't, too bad. Also, good luck to former felons even figuring out if they owe any money at all. Florida doesn't keep track. That means many newly eligible voters won't bother to register, rather than risk being sent back to jail for violating this new law. It was passed along partisan lines last year by Florida and is virtually identical to the 150-year old statute struck down just last week by a North Carolina state court. As revealed during the course of the NC suit, the law, according to its legislative champion following post-Civil War Reconstruction, was specifically adopted to "secure White Supremacy" by preventing "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro." Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern derides today's Florida ruling as "one of the most dishonest, misleading, and despicable voting rights opinions I have ever read" and "an affront of the very notion that Americans have a right to vote". The ACLU Voting Rights Project's attorney Julie Ebenstein argues "the gravity of this decision cannot be overstated," describing it as "counter to the foundational principle that Americans do not have to pay to vote" and "an affront to the spirit of democracy".

In another afront to democracy, Wisconsin's rightwing state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state's 1850 separate municipalities to immediately stop sending out absentee ballots to the, so far, about 1 million voters who have requested them. The court's 4 to 3 partisan ruling is meant to allow it's rightwing majority time to decide if the Green Party's Presidential ticket should be added to the ballot, despite the state Election Commission, in a deadlocked 3 to 3 vote, determining that the party's Presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and Vice Presidential Nominee Angela Walker did not receive enough signatures to qualify.

At issue is hundreds of petitions that listed the Milwaukee native Walker's address as a motel in South Carolina. Why the Party used two different addresses for Walker is unclear, but the result was the WI State Election Commission --- which the GOP state legislature recently created to replace the previous non-partisan commission with a partisan one built to create such deadlocks --- followed state law. That prevented the Greens from making the ballot. After a two week delay and 378,000 absentee ballots already mailed out, the Green Party decided to sue, even though election officials from across the state say their will be no time to design, print up, test and mail out out new ballots before both state and federal statutory deadlines require them to do so next week. They also have no idea how to avoid people voting twice with two separate ballots they may receive for the same election. So, chaos reigns yet again in the election in the key battleground state where Donald Trump is said to have won in 2016 by less than one single percentage point, when the Green candidate that year received more votes than Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton.

The voting news out of Texas this week is only slightly better. First, the good news: A federal judge there has ordered state election officials to notify voters within one day after a "perceived signature mismatch" is determined on absentee ballots, and to allow voters a "meaningful opportunity" to correct the issue. Previously, after officials, who are not handwriting experts, decided a signature was not a match to the voter's registration application (often years old), the ballot was simply rejected without notifying voters until 10 days after the election. In other good voting news from the Lone Star state, a state judge has determined that the Clerk in Harris County (Houston) is, in fact, allowed to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the nation's 4th largest city. The state's Republican Attorney General had sued to block the effort. I suspect he'll appeal, but we'll see.

But the war on voting in the Lone Star State doesn't stop with those two victories for democracy, unfortunately. The Mayor of Houston wants to know why more than a dozen local U.S. Post Offices have refused to allow volunteers from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to make multilingual voter registration materials available at those facilities.

And our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan Free Speech For People, joins us to explain the disappointing decision from a federal judge this week in response to a recent lawsuit filed by FSFP on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and the Texas NAACP seeking to address what the groups describe as "unsafe and unequal voting conditions" in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit seeks a Preliminary Injunction in challenging the state's "insufficient number of polling places"; "its limited and inaccessible early voting locations"; a lack of social distancing requirements; Gov. Greg Abbot's statewide mask mandate which allows an exception for voters and pollworkers; and the dangerous "reliance on repeat-touch voting machines" amid the deadly pandemic, among other concerns. All of which, the complaint argues, "will result in unsafe voting conditions and increased risk of coronavirus transmission, which in turn will result in voter suppression." Moreover, as Hostetler explains today, "the health risks and adverse impact of these policies will place an undue burden on the right to vote and be borne disproportionately by voters of color, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law, and the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment."

Texas has some of the most restrictive absentee voting requirements in the nation, so the dangers at polling places --- in this case, unequal ones --- are no small matter. "The real crux of the Constitutional issues at stake here," Hostetler tells me, "is that people won't show up to vote because they can't risk getting COVID-19 and dying. They can't risk not being able to work for 3 weeks if they get it...This is what's at stake, and the burden is not shared equally in Texas. It's both unconstitutional and it violates the Voting Rights Act." She says the federal judge, rather than deciding the case on its merits, determined that the matter is a political one, rather than an issue to be decided by the courts. While the case is still live, the judge has denied the group's motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which likely pushes the matter back until after the election. But the groups today decided that they will file an appeal.

In Pennsylvania this week, a state court judge also ruled against a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a similar suit filed by FSFP and the Pennsylvania NAACP "to establish safe and equal voting procedures for the upcoming general election." There too, the groups plan to appeal.

And in North Carolina, where FSFP filed a suit last April to block the use of new "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" touchscreen voting machines with the NC NAACP, the groups late last week filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court after a lower court denied their original complaint.

The appeal is "alleging imminent risk to voters' right to free elections and equal protection under the laws if they are required to vote on the [ES&S] ExpressVote touch screen ballot marking device this November". The complaint, as we discussed with Hostletler last spring when it was initially filed, "alleges the new [touchscreeen] system is vulnerable to security threats and its results are unverifiable, in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law." She says that though this matter will no longer be decided before this year's election, "the case is still live, and we are ready and preparing to litigate this fully and pursue this case through trial, because it does have long term implications for the state of North Carolina, because these machines are utterly unreliable and unverifiable";

So, yeah, a rough week for those who favor voting, voting rights and free, fair and safe democracy. But, as Hostetler argues today: "Every time there's an effort to push back against free and fair elections, there are people who are saying 'No, I'm going to fight you on that." She urges voters to fight like hell to make sure that they cast their ballot this year and vote as safely as they can, while letting her group or others know when and if they run into barriers.

"Know that there are people across the country who are fighting to change these policies," she says. "Nobody is alone in this. There are a lot of people fighting, and we can always use more"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein on that and other noteworthy results; Also: Dems fight for voting rights against Repubs in PA, TX...
By Brad Friedman on 9/2/2020 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The gears of American democracy continue to grind and wheeze toward November 3rd. On Tuesday, Massachusetts held its late season state primary elections featuring at least two noteworthy races. One, a somewhat bizarre challenge by an ambitious 39-year old Rep. Joe Kennedy III for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination against incumbent, 74-year old progressive climate champion Sen. Ed Markey. The other, a challenge by the 31-year old progressive Mayor of Holyoke, Alex Morse, against powerful, 16-term establishment Democratic Rep. Richard Neal in the state's 1st Congressional District. One progressive won, the other lost. Both races were fascinating for different reasons. [Audio link to show follows below.]

To help us understand both races and more, we're joined once again today by HOWIE KLEIN, creator of the enduring "Down With Tyranny" blog and co-founder of the progressive BlueAmericaPAC. He's been helping us in recent weeks to make sense of results from a number of key, late season primary races. (There are still three states left to go --- Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Delaware --- over the next two weeks.) The Markey/Kennedy contest, however, was one of the most curious this season.

Markey, who has served in the House and Senate for some 45 years, remains one of its most progressive and beloved lawmakers as a supporter of Medicare for All and the Senate sponsor, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House, of the landmark Green New Deal proposal. Kennedy's attempt to unseat Markey, as endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, unsettled a number of Democrats and appeared, for a while, that it might have been successful. Alas, Markey appears to have won the day, and fairly easily, on Tuesday against the first Kennedy to ever lose an election in Massachusetts.

Klein explains why Kennedy was running in the first place and why he ultimate lost.

He also walks us through the challenge against Neal, a long-serving Democratic corporatist in the House who faced criticism from many Dems for slow-walking the Congressional attempt to review Donald Trump's tax returns. As the powerful Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Neal has the exclusive, statutory right to review the tax returns of any American in the nation. He took months, however, after Democrats regained the majority in the U.S. House in 2018, to even begin the process. Bu that's hardly the only critique of Neal by progressives, as we discuss today with Klein.

Nonetheless, Neal easily defeated Morse in Tuesday's primary, after what appear to have been dubious, if ultimately effective, charges of sexual misconduct whipped up against him by questionable sources. Klein explains that ugly campaign, as well as why his BlueAmericaPAC decided not to endorse Morse or either of the two progressive candidates running in the crowded field for the nomination to fill Kennedy's vacated seat in the state's 4th Congressional District.

Also today: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has announced it is taking up a case filed by the state Democratic Party seeking to expand and clarify the state's new mail-in ballot law amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump Campaign and state Republicans are challenging absentee voting in the battleground by, for example, suing to prevent the use of secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots.

And, in Texas, a federal judge has, for the second time, found the state in violation of the National Voter Registration Act for refusing to make online voter registration available along with online drivers license applications as required by the NVRA. And, in another court case, Texas' Republican Sec. of State and Attorney General are now suing the Harris County (Houston) County Clerk to prevent him from sending out absentee ballot applications to the county's more than 2 million registered voters...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/1/2020 11:03am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Long road to recovery for Louisiana after Hurricane Laura's devastation; California and Colorado burn, while Phoenix bakes; PLUS: Amid multiple record-breaking weather disasters, Republicans ignore climate change at Republican National Convention... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Hurricane Laura and the California Fires Are Part of the Same Crisis; An Oil Giant’s Wall Street Fall: The World is Sending the Industry Signals, but is Exxon Listening?; Trump E.P.A. Relaxes Rules Limiting Toxic Waste From Coal Plants; Trump administration proposes easing oil and gas permitting in national forests; US South could save money by cleaning up its power grid; Microplastics in Farm Soils A Growing Concern; Big Oil Is in Trouble. Its Plan: Flood Africa With Plastic... PLUS: Sea level rise from ice sheets track worst-case climate change scenario... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Aklima Khondoker of All Voting is Local; Also: Hurricane Laura to slam Gulf Coast; White vigilante arrested for killing Kenosha protesters; Trump's violations of law at RNC Day 2 reveal 'The Audacity of the Grift'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast we head back to Georgia --- yes, again! --- for yet more new evidence highlighting the state as offering arguably the worst --- and most racist --- voting system in the nation. But we begin with breaking news today. Too much of it. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

First up, Hurricane Laura is now a monster storm, currently a Category 4, and headed for landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border. The National Hurricane Center warns it will be "unsurvivable" and could submerge entire towns near the coast, with a storm surge as high as 20 feet and a menace to cities as far as 200 miles inland. A massive evacuation is now under way in both states, though avoiding the COVID pandemic in evacuation shelters may be very tricky, even as some areas in the storm's target zone have recently seen high positive test rates.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests continued for a third straight night following the outrageous police shooting, caught on tape, of African-American father Jacob Blake, two protesters were killed by a gunman on Tuesday. The alleged shooter, according to police, is a white 17-year old police fan boy from across the border in Illinois. Tuesday's shootings were also caught by cell phone video, not long after the suspected gunman was seen on video with a group of armed vigilantes being thanked by local police for their presence. After he had shot at least three protesters and was identified to police by others, the cops reportedly allowed him to walk right past them, assault rifle in hand, as they focused on the victims instead. The man was arrested today in Illinois.

Then --- after still more breaking news that the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks were boycotting their playoff game today to protest the shooting of Blake, leading the NBA to cancel all of tonight's playoff games --- we get to what necessarily became our truncated coverage of Day 2 of the Republican National Convention.

It was a stunning evening, in which one law after another was proudly broken or flaunted as the White House, U.S. Marines, the Acting Sec. of Homeland Security, a tax-payer funded trip by the Sec. of State to Israel, and the Presidential Seal were all used for political purposes, during the convention itself, so that Donald Trump could ironically be declared "the Law and Order President" by one hypocritical speaker after another.

Among the speakers were Trump's daughter Tiffany, his wife Melania and his son Eric who followed former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi making the case --- with a straight face --- that Joe Biden's family members were involved in some sort of criminal nepotism. Trump's son Eric, who serves as Executive Vice President for his father's company, was sued this week by the New York State Attorney General for failing to respond with documents and testimony to a lawful subpoena amid an investigation into bank and tax fraud by his father and the Trump Organization where Eric works. All of that as Trump's senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow pretended that the COVID pandemic --- which has so far killed at least 178,000 Americans, including more than 1,100 on Tuesday alone --- was over, thanks to Donald Trump's quick response.

As usual, all of these nightmares underscore the need to prevent Trump from winning a second term. But it won't be easy, as we learn again today with yet another story of targeted voter suppression out of Georgia. We have spent a disproportionate amount of time in recent years on this program reporting on the disastrous state of voting in Georgia. It is thought possible that the battleground state could finally flip to "blue" for this year's Presidential election and its TWO U.S. Senate races, but it continues to feature arguably offer the worst voting system in the nation.

By way of very quick summary of just a few data points to back up that allegation:

  • In 2016, after a huge purge of voters from the roles, we would learn after the Presidential election that Georgia's then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor, Brian Kemp, left the entire voter database and passwords to its voting systems unprotected online for download by anyone. When caught, he lied about it and wiped the entire server despite an ongoing lawsuit.
  • In 2018, a federal judge found the state's nearly 20-year old, unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems, mandated for use at the polling place in every county, to be outdated, insecure and unverifiable.
  • In that year's election, overseen by Kemp himself, he was narrowly found (by those same failed systems) to have "won" the Governor's race in a contest that his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, regards as illegitimate due to, among other things, the purges and disproportionate rejection of absentee ballots cast by African-Americans.
  • Also in 2018, some 250,000 votes in the Lt. Governor's race inexplicably disappeared in black precincts.
  • In 2019, the federal judge ruled the state's voting system so insecure and unverifiable that they were, in fact, unconstitutional. She banned them from further use and ordered the system to be replaced by a new one.
  • In 2019, the new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger ordered new, similarly unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems to replace the old systems found to be unconstitutional, rather than move to a cheaper, VERIFIABLE, hand-marked paper ballot system recommended by voting and computer experts. The new $130 million systems failed in their first outing late last year and again during primaries this year, leading to hours-long voting lines in the Peach State, once again, largely in minority areas.
  • And we would also later learn that the new digital optical-scan computers used to tally hand-marked absentee ballots in the Peach State had skipped counting unknown thousands of votes during the June primaries, due to a software setting that allows election officials or the private voting system vendor or even hackers to dial up or down the sensitivity setting to determine which votes are counted or not.

All of which brings us to this week, as the Georgia chapter of All Voting Is Local unveiled a new analysis of rejected vote-by-mail ballots from the June primary elections in the state. You'll be shocked to learn that in the three counties they examined, the mail-in ballots from black voters were rejected at disproportionately higher rates than others. For example, in the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, Black voters submitted 24 percent of the absentee ballots requested but accounted for 38 percent of mail-in ballots rejected by the County.

We're joined today by AKLIMA KHONDOKER, former ACLU attorney, now Georgia State Director for All Voting is Local, to explain her group's analysis and why the rates of absentee ballot rejection are so high for black voters in Georgia and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic and Asian voters as well. Khondoker warns that while the group only looked at three counties in Georgia --- finding similarly alarming statistics in each --- the problem likely extends not only to the rest of the state, but likely to many others around the nation.

"I don't think this is unique to Georgia. This is likely something we would see nationwide," she argues, citing the "institutional and structural racism that has led to the wealth of problems that we see in our elections. There is no way to cleave the two. Because we have a clear system that has always worked for one and not the other." She goes on to explain how this new analysis is just one more data point underscoring evidence that institutional racism "undercuts everything in our election systems."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Courts continue to save nation on COVID dangers, voting, more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2020 6:28pm PT  

I'll be brief in today's BradCast summary, because I've got to head back into Day 2 of the bizarre dystopian nightmare known as Donald Trump's Republican National Convention. We're watching it so you don't have to. You're welcome. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Two nightmare storms slamming the Gulf Coast in the same week as the biggest and more dangerous of the two, Hurricane Laura, is gunning for the Louisiana/Texas border, likely as a Category 3;
  • A Florida judge puts the brakes on Gov. Ron DeSantis' demand that all public schools open five days a week for in-person classes by the end of this month. He says the state's plan "disregards safety" amid a still roiling --- if slightly easing (for now) --- pandemic in the Sunshine State;
  • Highlights (low lights?) from Day 1 of the RNC, in which every speaker sounded as if their remarks were either written by the same person, or simply ripped straight off of Fox "News". As ridiculous as the evening was --- featuring enough dangerous lies about Trump's mishandling of the COVID crisis that MSNBC had to break in with a doctor for some serious fact-checking; a couple of accused felons warned Democrats will "“abolish the suburbs altogether"; a seemingly stoned Don Jr. and his seemingly insane former Fox "News" host girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle --- we determined that ridicule was the best was to cover it. So we called in Stephen Colbert for some assistance.
  • Good news, for now, for voters in Pennsylvania. A Trump-appointed federal judge forced the Trump Campaign to make fools of themselves by demanding they present evidence of voter fraud via secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in Pennsylvania, where they are suing to prevent the use of the convenient devices during this year's general election. The plaintiffs were unable to to present any such evidence.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more on the twin storms pummeling the Gulf Coast and the raging fires in California (both amid a global pandemic making evacuating shelters very tricky for social distancing), the Trump Administration puts a pause on it's approval for the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska after Don Jr. and Fox "News" decide maybe they're against it after all, and a quick review of last week's virtual Democratic National Convention where Joe Biden and many others promised action on climate change...

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Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on an extraordinary new Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at and covering his wannabe dictatorial tweets!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2020 6:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the grifts continue --- huge new ones that few yet know about --- but too many are focused on Donald Trump's latest distractions to notice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: Please stop taking Trump's bait. His tweet on Thursday suggesting the postponement of the November election was little more than an attempt to distract from the day's very real news, including the horrific numbers from the Commerce Department (finding that the U.S. economy had plunged a record, unprecedented, staggering annualized 33% in the second quarter.). It worked. Media fell for it, and so did you, even though the President of the United States has no power to change the date of the Presidential election. The tweet not only helped to flip the entire day's news cycle, it also further terrorized the nation and helped to reinforce his desperate narrative that the 2020 election will be "the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history."

Democrats need to stop cowering in fear at Trump's wannabe dictatorial pronouncements. As Josh Marshall correctly wrote in response, "I understand everyone is afraid. But this is loser talk." The anti-Trump Republicans at the Lincoln Project ain't buying it. And the co-founder of the far-right Federalist Society has called for Trump's immediate impeachment because of it. Media need to learn to stop allowing Trump to hijack the news cycle and Americans need to learn to stop cowering in fear of Trump, despite his only actual talent: masterfully tricking both you and the media into falling for his pathetic manipulation.

Next up, the powerful Republican Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, who was arrested and charged last week by federal prosecutors in a massive, $60 million bribery, money laundering and racketeering scheme, has now been removed from the Speaker position in a unanimous bipartisan vote of the Buckeye State's House of Representatives. Householder and four others (including a senior aide, a former state GOP chair, and two top energy industry lobbyists) were charged in a racketeering scheme funded by FirstEnergy. The scheme was used to force a wildly unpopular bill through the state legislature last year that raised electricity bills on Ohio ratepayers to bail out two failing, hyper-polluting coal plants and two failing nuclear plants, while gutting the state's successful renewable energy and efficiency programs.

Despite the felony charges and lost speakership, Householder has yet to resign, the corrupt $1.5 billion House Bill 6 is still on the books, and Ohio's Republican Governor, Mike DeWine, who quickly signed the measure, still has some explaining to do. But while that scheme, described by federal prosecutors last week as the "the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio," allegedly netted Householder some $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy, laundered through a non-profit front group, it may pale in comparison to what one good government group now charges the Trump reelection campaign is doing.

Earlier this week, the non-partisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center (CLC), headed up by a former Republican Chair of the Federal Elections Commission, filed a new complaint with the FEC charging that the Trump Campaign and a joint fundraising committee is violating federal law by "laundering" nearly $170 million in campaign spending through firms headed up by Trump's former campaign manager, Brad Parscale (pictured above). The money, according to my guest today, CLC's Director of Federal Reform, BRENDAN FISCHER, is secretly being funneled to Trump associates and even family members.

"We've never seen anything like this. The scope and scale of this secrecy scheme is unprecedented," Fischer says, explaining how tens of millions of dollars in campaign ad buys and other large campaign expenses are all being run through two companies created by Parscale. One is called American Made Media and the other is Parscale Strategies. The campaign has claimed the companies are being used to save money by cutting out middle-man vendors, but CLC has discovered that the companies are being used as pass-throughs, and that sub-contracted vendors are making ad buys on behalf of the Trump Campaign anyway. Moreover, those vendors are not being disclosed, as required by campaign finance law, on the Campaign's financial disclosure forms. That, as Fischer tells me, means that payments are being hidden for campaign work, including potentially millions of dollars siphoned to groups with whom it is unlawful for the Campaign to coordinate efforts, and even to Trump associates and family members like Lara Trump (Eric Trump's wife) and former Fox "News" host Kimberly Guilfoyle (Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend).

"These two Parscale firms are being used only as pass-throughs to disguise the ultimate recipients of the money," Fischer and the CLC complaint alleging civil violations of campaign finance laws charge. "If the Trump Campaign gets away with this, it's just going to become a common practice. It's going to get replicated by campaigns, both Democrat and Republican, to disguise all of their political spending," he warns, adding that "if there was evidence that the violation was knowing and willful, there potentially could be criminal penalties."

Fischer offers many more details on what CLC knows and, due to the purposeful obfuscation through campaign finance records, what they still don't know, but hope that FEC investigators will be able to find out. We also discuss the dysfunction of the impossibly broken FEC and how that may affect action on this new and very serious complaint.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on Trump's visit to Texas to help sell dirty oil while undermining the state's growing wind industry and lying about Joe Biden. Also, we cover the latest storm now barreling towards Florida as this year's record Hurricane Season continues and those "mystery seeds" that many are reporting as showing up in the mail from China...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/30/2020 11:10am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump in Texas expands fossil fuel infrastructure, lies about clean energy; New study finds target of 100% clean electricity by 2035 would generate 25 million US jobs; Central U.S. wind energy capacity alone could power entire US electric grid, without harming wildlife; PLUS: Agriculture officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Dr. Michael Mann: It's time for America to reassert climate leadership. It starts with voting; Offshore wind power ‘so cheap it could return money to consumers’; 'Tidal Wave' Of Power Shut-Offs Looms As Nation Grapples With Heat; 'Coal is over': the miners rooting for the Green New Deal; Fossil fuel industry levy should pay for bushfire impact, climate action group report says; Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan... PLUS: Pollution Is Killing Black Americans. This Community Fought Back... and much, MUCH more! ...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/28/2020 10:40am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Two hurricanes hit the U.S. in one weekend, and make extreme weather history; California plugs in the world's largest battery; PLUS: Trump Administration takes major step toward approving controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Hundreds of toxic Superfund sites threatened by sea level rise; A Detroit soil experiment could unleash the power of urban soil; Kenya environmental defenders win landmark $12m court battle; Deutsche Bank says it won't finance any new Arctic region or oil sand projects; In North Dakota, towns flattened by oil bust; Migratory river fish populations plunge 76 percent in past 50 years... PLUS: Western Water: Interior moving to shift CA federal water projects to former clients of Interior Sec. Bernhardt... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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

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

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

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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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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...

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Guest: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Court nixes Trump 'national emergency' wall funding; TX, FL forced to re-close businesses as COVID spikes, Trump, Pence continuing lying about it...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2020 7:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why does Indiana's Secretary of State Connie Lawson believe her emails with other Secretaries of State, and potentially voting system vendors, should be exempt from disclosure via public records requests? She is claiming her discussions about those systems with members of the private National Association of Secretaries of State (and any private vendors they may discuss or hear from) should somehow be protected due to exemptions for trade secrets and national security that cannot be exposed to the public. A judge in Indiana, however, seems to believes she is wrong. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, a few items of breaking news amid our ongoing dystopian American nightmare...

  • A federal appeals court panel agreed today with a lower court judge that Donald Trump violated the law when he commandeered $2.5 billion in tax-payer dollars appropriated by Congress for the military in order to build his wall under the phony guise of a "national emergency". That, after Congress had specifically refused to allocate such funds. Bill Barr's corrupt Dept. of Justice will likely be appealing that one all the way up to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court if necessary;
  • As we have been warning for weeks (months?), the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better, in the U.S. In particular, as we've demonstrated, many of the hardest hit regions where infection rates, ICU usage and deaths are skyrocketing are places where Republican politicians have been successful in joining our maniacal conman President in pretending the virus would simply go away if we just reopened our doors for business. That strategy has failed miserably and tragically. So much so, that the very Trumpy Republican Governors in two of the hardest hit states, Florida and Texas --- which were among the first to prematurely reopen --- were forced to re-close bars, restaurants and other businesses today as infections rates surge to record numbers in their states, and as ICU beds in some locations are quickly filling to capacity;
  • That, at the same time Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force (remember them?), held their first press briefing in weeks to continue the Administration's attempted gaslighting of America to declare "very encouraging news" in the case numbers which are going straight up now in a majority of U.S. states;
  • Today's grim record COVID-19 numbers come just days after our failed President lied to his supporters at his latest maskless Death Rally inside a Phoenix church on Tuesday that "it's going away". It's not. It's getting worse. That was the same day in which internal White House task force documents, according to an NBC News exclusive, told both Trump and Pence that new case numbers in Phoenix --- which "had the highest number of new cases among the 10 metropolitan regions where the week-over-week change in infection rates spiked the most" --- was up some 150 percent over the past week. And, yes, infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths rates are rising as well, according to the White House's own numbers. That is not, despite the lies from both Trump and Pence, caused simply by "more testing".

With unabashed criminals like this now running our country --- and hopefully facing charges of criminal negligence if not mass murder someday soon --- we turn back to our "last firewall": our electoral system. There, we've got a bit of good news today, as Indiana Judge Heather Welch has rejected most of the claims made by the state's Sec. of State Connie Lawson (formerly a member of Trump's failed and phony "voter fraud" commission) to try and obscure her emails with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

The judge's ruling stems from a lawful request filed under Indiana's public records act. The suit, filed on behalf of the National Election Defense Council (NEDC) by Free Speech for People (FSFP), seeks those records in which Lawson was discussing voting systems with fellow Secretaries around the nation, NASS staffers, and, very likely, according to our guest today, private voting system vendors who wine, dine and lobby our nation's elections officials. In turn, those officials buy the unsecure, overly-expensive, error-prone computer voting and tabulation systems from the companies, and then parrot their talking points when the systems fail or when the public seeks to learn how they actually work (or don't.)

We're joined today by FSFP Legal Director RON FEIN to explain the court's recent ruling [PDF] in which the Judge rejected most of Lawson's claims to things like copyright and trade secret exemptions for her official Sec. of State emails. The judge is also demanding to privately review in her chambers those emails about which Lawson is claiming statutory exemption on the basis that disclosing those emails to the public would pose "a reasonable likelihood of threatening public safety by exposing a vulnerability to terrorist attack."

Lawson [pictured above with her newly purchased unverifiable computer voting systems] served as President of NASS from 2017 to 2018. She falsely testified [PDF] in 2017 before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, that America's "voting machines are not connected to the Internet or networked in any way." That claim has been proven to be an out and out lie, over and over and again.

Nonetheless, if true, what possible "vulnerability to terrorist attack" could Lawson be referring to? Fein offers his thoughts, and explains why the judge's ruling that "access to public records is an important statutory right," is already a victory in this little known, but potentially very important case.

"The fact that the Indiana Secretary of State has fought so hard to keep these materials private suggests that at least some of them have something that's embarrassing that they don't want the public to see," Fein tells me, suggesting that, "In some cases, the [voting system] companies are either outright bribing or engaging in extremely unethical practices with election officials."

"One of the most essential elements of democracy is a free and fair election. And the free and fair election requires that it be secure and trustworthy...And we have misinformation out there about the security of these systems. When that misinformation is being spread by election officials whose job is supposed to be to spread accurate information and, if anything, tamp down misinformation, then it means that we have a crisis of legitimacy in the election," Fein explains. "What we're hoping through this public records access lawsuit is that, if we can shine a light on the processes by which election officials end up as vehicles for misinformation about the security and reliability of our election systems, then that will provide an opening for reform."

Please tune in for the full conversation, as we cover quite a bit of ground. And, just for the record, Lawson also misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when she insisted under oath that "no votes were changed in 2016." In fact, nobody actually knows one way or another, because nobody ever bothered to check.

Finally today, after yet another hellish week in Trump's America, we close with a smile and a song "celebrating" his under-attended Death Rally last weekend in Tulsa...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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