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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, October 22, 2020
Are Americans Ready (or Even Able) to Roll Back the GOP's 'Permanent Minority Rule'?: 'BradCast' 10/21/20
Guest: David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Fed court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots...
Good News, Bad News!
It's 'The Caveat Show!':
'BradCast' 10/20/20
All sorts of reasons for Dems to feel good about Biden and re-taking the Senate...And plenty of reasons to remain concerned about both...
'Green News Report' 10/20/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Massive CO wildfires; Trump flip-flops on disaster aid to CA; Wind, solar energy now the cheapest energy in the world; PLUS: Biden talks clean energy at ABC Town Hall...
Previous GNRs: 10/15/20 - 10/13/20 - Archives...
Voting is Not Enough: How YOU Can Help Oversee and Protect Our Elections!: 'BradCast' 10/19/20
Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Bad news for MI voters; FL voting website fails...
Sunday 'A Bigger Boat' Toons
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth...PDiddie offers his latest collection of the week's best toons...
2020's Federal Court Voting Rights Roller Coaster: 'BradCast' 10/16/20
Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
'Deranged Power Grab': Barrett SCOTUS Hearings Conclude: 'BradCast' 10/15/20
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: E-Pollbook systems fail in GA; FBI reports 'unauthorized access to elections systems'...
'Green News Report' 10/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Barrett sure sounds like a climate denier during Senate hearings; Sen. Whitehouse breaks down dark-money polluter capture of judiciary; PLUS: Sept. 2020 hottest ever recorded...
Previous GNRs: 10/13/20 - 10/5/20 - Archives...
'Hypocrisy in Daylight? Look for Power in the Shadows': 'BradCast' 10/14/20
Guest: Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's revelations of GOP's $250M SCOTUS-packing coup; Also: Good voting news in VA, TX, AK!...
Barrett's Hypocritical, Scalia-Fueled 'Originalist' Hoax: 'BradCast' 10/13/20
Also: Touchscreens fail on 1st day of Early Voting near Houston; Trump judges okay absentee suppression in TX; Online registration fails on deadline day in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/13/20
Cleanup, recovery in battered LA in wake of Hurricane Delta; PLUS: Climate change in the spotlight (sort of) at the one and only 2020 Vice-Presidential Debate...
Judge Finds 'Serious Security Vulnerabilities' in New GA Vote Systems, Allows Them Anyway: 'BradCast' 10/12/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: GA systems fails on first day of early voting...
Federal Court Upholds NJ Canvass of Mail-In Ballots Prior to Election Day
Also upholds counting of mail-in ballots received by 11/5, two days after Election Day, even without a postmark...
Sunday SuperSpreader Toons
Look! Up in the sky! It's COVID-19 being spread by the goddamn President of the United States! That and many more sick toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
Tyranny Loves Company:
'BradCast' 10/9/20
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with 'Strongman' author Kenneth C. Davis...
Buzz-worthy, But Otherwise Refreshingly 'Normal' VP Debate: 'BradCast' 10/8/20
Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton, David Faris; Also: Suspended on Twitter for tweeting completely accurate news about GA's flawed voting system...
BRAD BLOG Suspended by Twitter for 100% Accurate Tweet About GA's New Touchscreen Vote Systems
The tweet in question and federal court evidence proving it's true. [UPDATED x 2!] ...
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: Author and 'REDMAP' gerrymandering expert David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Dems to boycott Barrett vote?; Federal court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots without contacting voters...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2020 6:56pm PT  

There's a lot to digest on today's BradCast, so I'll try to keep this teaser brief so you can just listen. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

First up, it turns out lawyers really don't like Donald Trump, even the ones he actually pays millions to work for him. In Congress, Dems vow "no more business as usual" on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination, but how much are they actually able to do about it? We may be about to find out.

And, as if it wasn't difficult enough to vote safely --- or at all --- in Texas amid the pandemic (or even before the pandemic!), still more vote suppression has just been ordered there by the radical rightwing judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

A ruling like the one they've just issued to allow mail-in ballots to be rejected based on perceived signature mismatches (as adjudicated by non-handwriting experts) without contacting voters first to allow them to cure any perceived problems, is the type of voter suppression that might have been blocked in advance by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before it was gutted by the GOP-majority U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, in the infamous Shelby County case.

That ruling of a piece of with Karl Rove and the GOP's "Plot for Permanent Minority Rule", as expertly detailed by our guest today, author and FairVote.org Senior Fellow DAVID DALEY in his new must-read cover story for The New Republic this month. Daley unspools the full story of how the unlikely Republican voting rights hero, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), partnered with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and voting rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in 2006 to ensure the re-authorization of the VRA in full for 25 more years. Sensenbrenner held a dozen hearings with nearly 50 witnesses as Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, in order to compile some 12,000 pages of recent, compelling evidence of racially-based voter suppression that supported the need to extend the then 40-year old landmark civil rights law.

But that was before Karl Rove's successful scheme to gain GOP control of state legislatures in 2010 after that year's Census, in order to gerrymander "democracy" within an inch of its life for the entire next decade. And it was before the Republican SCOTUS majority ignored Sensenbrenner's work on the VRA entirely --- and a bipartisan 98-0 vote in the U.S. Senate to extend the Act --- in order to gut it.

The nation has been paying a very steep price ever since. Republicans in gerrymandered districts in Congress and state legislatures no longer worry about working and compromising with Democrats. Their only concern became primary challenges from the Right. So the party moved ever farther in that direction until arriving where we are today, when the idea of fixing the now-gutted VRA has become unthinkable --- just a few short years after it was re-authorized by a Republican House, Senate and President. The scheme also allowed opportunists like Donald Trump to take advantage of the lost protections for voting rights in gerrymandered state after gerrymandered state, which continues to haunt America's hobbled democracy today.

Daley discusses how all of this came about, how --- and if --- it can be corrected, and how he was able to get so many Republicans who now regret building the "Frankenstein monster that has devoured our politics" to speak on the record about those regrets --- as regular Americans pay an unspeakable price for it all.

"This was not caused by Donald Trump. It did not start with him," Daley tells me. "The fight over the vote has been deeply entwined in this nation ever since the founding of this nation. But these battles did not start in 2016. They will not end on Election Day 2020. And there is a real, deeply embedded, [GOP] minority rule that has been built atop a system that already advantaged Republicans geographically in the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College."

"This has been baked in to our politics for a long time. It's going to take a lot of time for us to get it out. This is a Census year. This is a redistricting year. So state legislatures and the next decade of maps are on the line again," he cautions. So, please VOTE and remember to vote ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BALLOT THIS YEAR! "There are more of us than there are of them," Daley notes, "but there are more of them on the Supreme Court than us, and that's a big, big problem."

And if that sounds like a heavy show, don't worry! Mel Brooks is here at the end to help calm your anxiety --- and mine --- just a little bit...

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

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All sorts of reasons for Dems to feel good about Biden and re-taking the Senate...Along with plenty of reasons to remain concerned about both...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2020 6:24pm PT  

There are all sorts of reasons for Democrats to be feeling pretty good about their chances this year. But there are almost as many good reasons to remain very cautious. We discuss a lot of each on today's BradCast! [Audio link to show follow below.]

Among the good news/bad news today...

  • Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele joins a ton of former GOP officials, Governors, lawmakers, military officials and others to endorse Joe Biden for President, after the RNC has "bent the arc of the party towards the baser motives of one man, who is neither a Republican nor a conservative";
  • USA Today's Editorial Board, which has never endorsed any Presidential nominee, does the same. Their reasons are many, including Trump's "shambolic response to the coronavirus pandemic [which has] inflated a national death toll that is equivalent to the crashes of more than 1,000 Boeing-737 jetliners";
  • Florida joined several other battleground states on Monday when it "shattered its opening day record for in-person Early Voting," after also more than doubling its absentee vote-by-mail numbers from the same time frame in 2016. That certainly seems like good news for Democrats, but is it really? Is it due to enthusiasm? If so, for Biden or Trump? Or is it just fear of COVID? Or concerns about slow-downs by the U.S. Postal Service? We discuss a number of the key caveats to these widely reported numbers and one anectodal suggestion that likely voter models this year could ultimately be "all shot to hell";
  • The gobsmacking 3rd quarter fundraising numbers for Democratic Senate candidates in key races this year appears to be undeniably encouraging news for those hoping to see the Party regain a Senate majority. We offer some reason to deny the encouragement nonetheless;
  • On yesterday's program we reported on the disturbing news from a 3-judge panel of Republican appointees on the Michigan Court of Appeals who overturned a lower state court judge's ruling in the key battleground state that mail-in ballots postmarked by November 2nd (the day before Election Day) would be counted if they arrived up to two weeks after Election Day. Not long after we got off air Monday, a 4 - 4 decision by the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, allowing for the counting of mail-in ballots that arrive up to three days after Election Day. Most Dems saw that as very good news. And it is --- at least for the very short and narrow term. The intrusion by four SCOTUS Justice's, however, into a state court ruling on a state constitutional matter, regarding that state's constitutional "right to vote" is actually quite foreboding news. And it's about to be made much worse with the addition of Amy Coney Barrett on the high court. We explain.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for another good news/bad news edition of our Green News Report, with bad news about the continuing record wildfires in the West and some very good news about renewable electricity...

Enjoy! Or don't...

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

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Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Repub judges block MI mail-in vote extension; FL County website fails on first day of Early Voting...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2020 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You thought your work was done after you vote? Think again! [Audio link to show is posted in full below summary.]

But, first up, a quick rundown of today's disturbing headlines to serve as a reminder that the only thing that matters between now and November 3rd is the general election now already under way, in which more than 26 million have already voted. Have you? We've got some useful tips on how to maximize the chances of your ballot being counted as cast in this pandemic year.

Then, a 3-judge panel of Republican appointees to the Michigan state Court of Appeals has overruled a lower court judge who had extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to arrive in the key battleground state, given U.S. Postal Service slowdowns. The lower court judge had previously determined that ballots postmarked by November 2 (the day before Election Day ) should still be counted if they were received by election officials up to two weeks after Election Day. The 3-judge panel, however, overturned that ruling and says that ballots must now arrive by Election Day. That's disturbing, given that some 6,400 ballots were tossed for arriving late after the state's August primary, in a state that is said to have elected Donald Trump by fewer about 11,000 votes in 2016.

Meanwhile, after technical problems with the voting systems caused hours-long lines for voters in parts of Georgia and Texas last week during their first days of Early Voting, the website for the Supervisor of Elections in Orange County, Florida --- yes, another key battleground state --- was not available today during the first day of Early Voting in the Sunshine State. The SOE's office blames a private vendor for incorrectly renewing the office's website domain.

With all of the problems expected in this election --- even more than we usually see (and that is saying a lot!) --- public oversight of the election, before, during and after Election Day, will be critical this year. To that end, we're joined today by EMILY LEVY, longtime election protection advocate and now founder of Scrutineers.org, a nonpartisan online community of people working to protect US elections.

Levy details how you can get involved with the group and help oversee our election processes from many different angles in your own community. The courts, clearly, cannot be counted on to protect our votes and, as the best elections officials in the nation will tell you, elections officials are not to be trusted! Only public oversight by the citizenry can guarantee a fair election.

Levy explains a number of the groups ongoing projects, including a (free!) Zoom training session this Friday for their "Poll Tapes Project", detailing how citizens can photograph and/or video tape the voting system results tapes that are printed out at the end of the night at polling places when they close. Reviews of those tapes are often helpful in discovering anomalies in the results eventually reported by county headquarters or the state.

She also discusses the group's "Candidate Caution Letter" campaign, requesting that candidates do not concede their races until all votes are tabulated and confirmed to have been done so accurately; an effort to train poll workers to keep an eye out for certain concerns that regular poll worker training generally does not cover; and how to be a polling place election monitor on Election Day and an observer at county headquarters as votes are being tallied and/or examined during post-election "audits" (at least in the very few jurisdictions that do any sort of post-election spot check of ballots to make sure that tabulation computers were counting accurately.)

Scrutineers is "a place where people can learn about the issues starting from scratch, if that's their beginning place, or get more advanced help if they've been working on these issues for awhile, and talk to each other, coordinate with each other to set up projects in their local communities, find the resources they need and ask questions of people who have been doing this work for a long time," Levy tells me.

"There's quite a wide variety of things to choose from," she says, including things that can be done from home. "Everybody can do something, and I hope that everybody will."

While campaigning and GOTV (Get Out the Vote) work that many people do "kind of ends on Election Night, that's when a lot of the activities that we're training people to do begin," Levy notes. "We're really hoping to see a huge influx of those dedicated people who want to make sure that everyone gets to vote, [are then able to] turn that dedication into making sure all those votes they worked so hard to get actually get counted accurately!"

Finally, we take a few quick calls today from listeners on how THEY plan to vote this year and some of the worries they have as Election Day is now just two weeks away...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

If you're feeling a bit nauseous of late, hopefully it's not COVID. But it could very well be the effects of trying to keep up with the roller coaster of federal court rulings we've been reporting on The BradCast of late. Or it could be due to trying to keep up with the President of the United States changing moods every few hours these days, as he vacillates between vindictiveness and desperation just over two weeks from Election Day. [Audio link to today's full show follows below summary.]

On Thursday, Donald Trump refused a request from the Governor of California for a Major Disaster Declaration following the spate of record wildfires we've seen in the Golden State over the past month, amid record heat and drought fueled by climate change. Some 8,500 fires this year have resulted in more than 4 million acres burned this year alone --- twice the all-time record for the state --- with nearly 2 million acres scorched in six major wildfires over just the past month. A thousands structures have been leveled and 31 people have died in recent blazes, as five of the six largest fires in California history have taken place this year.

But Trump --- who despises California because we don't vote for him --- has long threatened to cut off FEMA emergency funds to the state, dismissing climate change as a cause, citing leaves and dead trees as the reason for the massive fires and demanding better forest management in the state. That, despite the fact that the vast majority of California's forests are federal lands, which are supposed to be managed by....the Trump Administration.

White House spokespeople spent Friday morning explaining that California's request for federal aid "was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation" against it. That recommendation, however, according to Trump's former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor over the summer, was ordered by a cruel and vindictive Trump himself. But by Friday afternoon, just before air time, someone must have pointed out to Trump that more of his voters live in California than in any other state in the union. Or, they just told him how bad he looked, just over two weeks from Election Day, in refusing federal aid to people who have lost everything due to no fault of their own, especially in a state which had been running a $5.6 billion budget surplus until Trump's disastrously bungled response to the coronavirus resulted in a $54 billion deficit here instead.

It's clear that Donald Trump doesn't even care about his own voters, if they live in a state that won't help him win a second term. He cares about only himself. Period. But, whatever it takes. We're happy for the late breaking news that he finally reversed his cruel idiocy moments before airtime today.

Keeping up with the roller coaster of Trump's mood swings, however, is only marginally less nauseating than keeping up with the roller coaster of recent federal court rulings on voting rights this year! As we've been reporting over the past several weeks, in state after state after state, lower courts have general found in favor of efforts by Democrats and voting rights advocates to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic, as the Trump Campaign and Republican Party have sued virtually everywhere to prevent that from happening. But time and again, well-reasoned, Constitutionally sound rulings by U.S. District Court judges have been overturned at the appellate and Supreme Court levels, often in deference to state legislatures, or simply because SCOTUS has decided its too late to change an election rule or law, even not doing so might disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in violation of federal law and the Constitution itself.

As University of Kentucky election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, asks this week in a CNN editorial, if the courts are supposed to protect the right to vote, why aren't they doing so?

Good question, which Douglas joins us to discuss on today's program. He also has some good, if troubling answersto that question, which Amy Coney Barrett will not be making any less troubling when her SCOTUS confirmation is rammed through the U.S. Senate to seat her on the High Court before Election Day.

"It is frustrating," he tells me, "because the Constitutional right to vote is supposed to be one of our most foundational precious rights, and the courts are supposed to be a check on legislative majorities that try to rig the system, rig the rule of the game to keep themselves in power. That's the whole point of judicial review in these Constitutional cases involving voting rights, and the courts are refusing to do that right now."

But Douglas has good suggestions as well, for how we can begin to correct this sickening course that has resulted, in no small part, from the packed rightwing courts which have been stripping more and more rights from voters over the past decade or so.

"Congress does have the Constitutional authority to regulate elections in a lot of ways under Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution, referred to as the Elections Clause," he argues, "which gives states the first right in regulating elections, but says Congress may also alter or amend those regulations." Moreover, he continues, "we have to think on a long term strategy on enshrining the Right to Vote as a textual matter in the US Constitution. Because if these judges are 'textualists', then having explicit language conferring the right to vote, which the Constitution does not currently have, is a much stronger legal argument."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which --- speaking of Barrett --- examines the apparent climate science denialism of the Justice-in-Waiting, as revealed during her Senate confirmation hearings this week. And, just before we finish up today, the breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding whether Trump may violate the Constitution by excluding undocumented immigrants from Congressional apportionment following this year's decennial U.S. Census...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Computer check-in system causing long Early Voting lines in GA; FBI warns of 'unauthorized access to elections support systems'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's full speed ahead for Senate Republicans' desperate attempt to further pack the U.S. Supreme Court while they still have the chance. And it's anything but feel speed for voters forced to wait in hours-long Early Voting lines in Georgia. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The Peach State could very well turn "blue" this year, according to Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight, in both the Presidential election and not one, but two U.S. Senate races there this year. But voters will have to work like hell to make that happen. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports today that the state's new voting check-in computers --- needed to operate the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting machines --- appear to be the main cause of intolerably long lines for voters since Early Voting began on Monday. Some voters have reportedly left without voting, others waited as long as 12 hours to cast their votes. Now that AJC has identified the check-in computers to be a main bottleneck, Georgia's terrible Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger --- who previously attributed the hours-long lines to "voter enthusiasm" --- has apparently told the private software vendor responsible for those check-in computers at Voting Centers to increase network bandwidth to speed up the process. Early reports in Atlanta suggest the expanded bandwidth may be helping to speed things up, but we'll see.

In the meantime, as voters in Georgia must now navigate at least 4 different computer systems (programmed by private companies) to cast their one vote, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Dept. of Homeland Security, are warning they are aware of "some instances" in which malicious actors (most likely foreign, they suggest) have obtained "unauthorized access to elections support systems." They quickly note, however, they have "no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised." Feel better?

Our guest today, Slate's great legal reporter, MARK JOSEPH STERN, is definitely not feeling better after a week of hearings in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, meant to further pack the Republicans' already-stolen Supreme Court with Amy Coney Barrett before Election Day. The hearings revealed little or nothing about Donald Trump's third far-right nominee to the highest court in the land, Stern reports. "It was a terrible week. It was one of the worst on record," he tells me, describing the proceedings as a "deranged power grab" and the nominee as establishing a new low for such hearings.

"Amy Coney Barrett has established a new rule for Supreme Court confirmations, which is that the nominee doesn't just have to be kind of evasive or squirrelly. The nominee can literally say nothing of substance and simply announce a rule at the outset that she won't say anything of substance, and then just swat down questions that try to get her to say anything meaningful."

Barrett refused to (or couldn't?) answer even simple, non-political questions and matters of basic federal law, such as whether it is illegal to intimidate voters at the polls. (It is.) "I don't understand why we all had to go through this entire experience. It was a psychic wound, it was demeaning to all of us. She won't even say whether this federal law exists, whether it is real," Stern observes. "Will she acknowledge that gravity exists?"

Among the many related points we discuss today...

  • While Barrett allies herself with the great myth of the late Justice Antonin Scalia's so-called "Constitutional originalism," is she in fact "a legal lightweight"?;
  • Do Republicans even care about her "remarkable paucity of experience"? (Stern charges: "I don't think that she's necessarily being picked on the merits of her own scholarship.");
  • If SCOTUS nominees are now going to refuse to answer any question on virtually anything, have these hearings and the Advise and Consent clause itself become little more than a meaningless joke at this point?;
  • Is Barrett's bizarre assertion that Roe v. Wade is not a "super-precedent" --- apparently meaning a ruling that cannot be overturned --- actually a real legal concept in any way, shape or form?;
  • What, if anything, was the impact of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's stunning thirty-minute detailing on Tuesday (video here, transcript here) of the decades-long, $250 million, rightwing dark-money court-packing conspiracy? And did it help Americans appreciate the insidious scam that wealthy rightwingers have been running with the GOP for years now to capture our entire federal judicial system? ("Amy Coney Barrett didn't just magically appear in that seat. She didn't just find herself nominated to the Supreme Court. She has been elevated, propped up, by this massive dark money machine," Stern notes.);
  • Did Democrats do all that they could to highlight the outrage of how Republicans are undermining the very legitimacy of our federal courts, even as Dems have little or no way to stop it right now?;
  • Will Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have the courage to do the right thing for justice and the American people by expanding the Supreme Court to save cherished American rights and the court system itself IF they are able to win the White House and Senate majority this November?;
  • And, why the hell was ranking Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) hugging the Judiciary Committee Chair, Sen. Lindsey Graham (maskless!), at the end of today's final day of hearings?

All of those questions asked and mostly answered on today's lively --- if maddening --- program...

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Guest: Dark money researcher Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's Judiciary Committee revelations on the GOP's decades-long, $250 million Supreme Court-packing coup; Also: Good news for voters in VA, TX, AK!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2020 6:56pm PT  

We begin today's BradCast with some good news from the courts, for a change, regarding voting rights in several states today, as the GOP's trench warfare to suppress the vote wherever they can continues, now 20 days out from Election Day. Then, it's on to the $250 million dark-money scheme that a closely interconnected conspiracy of mostly low-profile rightwing groups have orchestrated with Republicans in the U.S. Senate to pack the federal courts --- specifically the U.S. Supreme Court --- and push specific cases to them that are similarly rigged by "orchestrated amicus flotillas" to help achieve very specific results that just happen to benefit all of the well-moneyed interests involved in the well-orchestrated and well-funded conspiracy that made it all happen. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, we go light before we go "dark". In Virginia, where a severed fiber optic cable knocked out online voter registration for the entire state on Tuesday, the last day to do so this year, a federal judge has granted an extra 48 hours for residents in the Commonwealth to sign up. You've now got until 11:59pm Thursday, Virginians! Get busy!

In Texas, where desperate Republicans are challenging absolutely every new measure instituted to make voting easier and safer amid the pandemic --- even going so far as to sue their own Republican Governor for extending early voting by one week --- a state court of appeals has tossed a case filed Monday by the GOP to block Harris County's plan for "drive-thru" voting. The case was filed just one day before Early Voting began in the state yesterday. Some 11,000 votes were reportedly cast from vehicles via curbside voting centers in Harris County's Houston on Tuesday, as implemented by the County's new, 34-year old County Clerk, Chris Hollins. Dem-leaning Houston has a population of 4.7 million and a geographical area larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is the nation's third most populous voting jurisdiction. A total of 10 drive-thru sites are planned for use during Early Voting. The court win comes as another too-rare victory for voters in the Lone Star State, where the GOP is desperately trying to block the demographic writing on the wall against them.

And, in Alaska, the state Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that nullifies the state's witness signature requirement for mail-in ballots during the pandemic. The suit was brought by Alaskan Native Americans and voting rights groups who successfully argued that the requirement "impermissibly burdens the right to vote" while many Alaskans are quarantining alone during the crisis. The state's top election official, Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, had appealed the lower court ruling all the way to the state Supremes...and has now lost. But voters have won.

Then, we head into the "darkness" following Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)'s remarkable, must watch revelations (transcript here) on Tuesday during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's appalling and hypocritical push to ram through the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before Election Day. In short, Whitehouse summarized the broad and insidious network of interconnected rightwing dark-money groups that select federal court judges for Republicans to nominate to the bench; quietly fund the PR campaigns to push for their confirmations; seek out specific cases to bring to those same judges for a desired outcome that enriches their well-moneyed interests; and then bury the Supreme Court with amicus briefs spelling out that desired outcome.

Whitehouse details the remarkable success that the groups have seen in recent years in not only packing the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, but in an 80 to 0 record of wins at the high court with partisan 5 to 4 victories in each and every case.

Teeing off the Senate Republicans' eagerness to push through Barrett's confirmation closer to any Presidential election in U.S. history --- despite vows from the party in 2016 that they would never support filling a Supreme Court seat during a Presidential election year until American voters have had a say in the matter --- Whitehouse observes near the beginning of his remarks that, in his "experience around politics, when you find hypocrisy in the daylight, look for power in the shadows."

Using charts and magic-markers to break down the sprawling case and evidence of the closely-allied, secretly-funded groups making up that "power in the shadows" --- from the Federalist Society (which promoted Barrett's nomination), to the so-called Judicial Crisis Network, to the Bradley Foundation to Donors Trust and the Koch Brothers --- the Rhode Island Senator neatly unfolds the very clear conspiracy that has successfully resulted in cases that benefit its dark-money funders to the tune of billions of dollars returned on their investments.

Much of Whitehouse's case cited evidence first revealed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a non-profit good government watchdog and research organization headed up for many years by LISA GRAVES, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Department, a former Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate, and a former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system. She still serves as President of the Board of Directors at CMD and is currently the Executive Director of True North Research.

With all of those qualifications, Graves is uniquely positioned to offer much more insight into Whitehouse's Tuesday revelations of the, yes, actual, decades-long GOP judicial conspiracy now in play; Barrett's qualifications for a lifetime appointment to highest court in the land; her performance during this week's confirmation hearings; and whether Democrats should expand not only the U.S. Supreme Court --- if they win both the Presidency and Senate majority in November --- but the lower federal courts as well.

Graves tells me that Whitehouse's remarks were "very, very important, because he was able to use this forum to shine a light on something that most Americans have no idea is going on, as part of this capture of our courts, which is really about changing our rights and doing it through judicial fiat." She explains that "that thirty minutes is really a class, a course, on understanding this puppet show that we're seeing with this nomination, of who is really calling the shots, and how this is happening."

She also offers a reaction to my own monologue from the top of yesterday's BradCast, in which I detailed the under-appreciated hypocrisy and judicial dishonesty of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, regarding his professed claims of "conservative" Constitutional "originalism" and "strict consructionism". Barrett worked hard during her opening statement on Monday to associate herself with Scalia's disingenuous judicial philosophy, citing the late rightwing extremist Justice, for whom she once clerked, as a model for own tenure as a federal jurist.

There is much ground to cover in all of the above with Graves, so I hope you'll tune in for this one!...

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Also: Touchscreen systems fail on first day of Early Voting outside Houston; Three Trump judges clear way for absentee vote suppression in TX; Online registration fails on deadline day in VA...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not easy keeping up with confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court Justice on an already stolen Court just days before an election, even as disasters are already befalling voters at the polls, thanks in part to the GOP's already stolen Court. But we try our best. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On the morning of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's first day of hearings to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by ramming Donald Trump's third nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, onto the Court before Election Day, AP unhelpfully parroted one of the GOP's favorite, if completely phony, myths. "Republicans will highlight Barrett's belief in sticking to the text of laws and the original meaning of constitutional provisions, both Scalia trademarks," the news service claimed. They may be "trademarks", but that's largely because Republicans have long propagated the myth, and the media, like the Associated Press here, are all too happy to help them spread it. In fact, those claims about Scalia --- and the notion that Republicans give a damn about "sticking to the text of laws and the original meaning of constitutional provisions" --- are lies. And easily proven as such.

None of that, of course, prevented the hypocritical Barrett --- who argued against seating a Justice on the Supreme Court during a Presidential election year, back when it was convenient for her party after Scalia's death in early 2016 --- from associating herself with false claims of "conservative" "originalism" or "textualism" or "Constitutionalism" or "strict constructionism" that Republicans have long enjoyed using to falsely characterize Scalia's so-called judicial philosophy and their own pretend assertions that they oppose "radical extremist judges" that "legislate from the bench", as the late Justice brazenly did himself.

In her opening statement on Monday, Barrett lashed herself to Scalia --- who she once clerked for --- by noting: "it was the content of Justice Scalia’s reasoning that shaped me. His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. ... The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try."

As discussed in some detail on today's program, and as Scalia might have described it himself if you could catch him in a rare moment of truth-telling, that's all a bunch of "jiggery-pokery", "pure applesauce" and "bull-pucky". Scalia's position in 2013, in the SCOTUS case that gutted the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- and his outrageous explanation for it during oral argument --- reveal that Barrett's hero had little concern for the strict, constructionist, originalist wording of either the Constitution or the rule of law, even for an Amendment enacted over 100 years ago and a law adopted 98 to 0 in the U.S. Senate to enforce it, "by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People," as Barrett disingenuously averred in her opening statement. I explained that matter in 2013 and do so again on today's show.

If Barrett is as dishonest and misleading on the high court as she was in her opening remarks, Democrats would have more than enough reason to expand the Court to take back the majority they should have rightfully gained in 2016. In truth, they already do.

Speaking of gutting the Voting Rights Act, that 2013 SCOTUS outrage continues to undermine American democracy today.

Following lines as long as 11 hours to vote in minority-heavy areas of Georgia on its first day of Early Voting Monday, hours-long lines were also seen in urban and suburban parts of Texas today during the Lone Star State's own first day of Early Voting on Tuesday. As in Georgia, those lines were caused, in part, by still-unexplained programming failures on the touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems which Texas Counties like Fort Bend force voters to use when casting their vote at the polls, instead of hand-marked paper ballots.

The only way to cast a hand-marked paper ballots in many Counties in Texas is with a mail-in ballot. But those are seriously restricted in the state, largely allowing only those 65 and older to request them. Even there, however, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has recently made returning absentee ballots in person more difficult by proclaiming last week that Texas counties may have no more than one single drop-off location for voters, whether the county has 4.7 million people (like Houston's Dem-leaning Harris County, which is larger in area than Rhode Island) or right-leaning counties like Rockwall, with a population of 105,000. After a federal court judge last Friday found Abbott's new directive unlawful because it forced absentee voters to travel farther and to more-crowded locations, increasing the risk to populations already especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, a three-judge panel on the hard-right U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that finding. With an Orwellian flair, the panel described Abbott's proclamation as an "expansion" of voting rights. All three judges on the panel were Trump-appointees, packed onto the court by the Republican Senate.

Also today, on the final day of voter registration in Virginia, a fiber optic cable was cut, shutting down online registration entirely in the state. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announced he'd like to make up for the lost hours by extending the state deadline for one of the busiest registration days of the year, but that only a court may do so.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with the fallout from Hurricane Delta in Louisiana in this year's record storm season and the at-times-ridiculous conversation about climate change during last week's Vice-Presidential Debate...

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: My escape from 'Twitter Jail'; GA's vote system fails, causes long lines on first day of early voting; CA GOP's fake mail-in drop boxes...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2020 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A long-awaited ruling in the federal case challenging Georgia's new, unverifiable, already-failed $100+ million touchscreen vote systems --- which failed again on day one of early voting today in the Peach State. Also, my escape from "Twitter Jail" and the California GOP deploys fraudulent mail-in drop-boxes across the state. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start today by avoiding, for now, the first day of the illegitimate confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Instead, we offer some exclusive news that is not being reported elsewhere on two fronts, both related to Georgia's disastrous new voting system. First up, an explanation --- or, a conclusion for now --- to the saga that resulted in my 4 days suspension on Twitter beginning late last week, for the crime of posting a completely accurate tweet about two weeks ago, reporting that GA's Secretary of State informed elections officials in all 159 counties to immediately halt pre-election testing of their new touchscreen voting systems, due to an error that prevented candidates in one of Georgia's two U.S. Senate elections this year from appearing on screen for voters. The error, as I noted in my infamous (and accurate) tweet, would eventually require all new software for the November elections. In fact, as the federal ruling we discuss today reveals, the state installed all new, uncertified software on all 34,000 of the new voting machines just days ago, in violation of state law. You can read the full saga, with links to the federal court filings proving the accuracy of the tweet, and why I eventually relented and deleted it right here.

As Georgia began its first day of early voting on Monday, sure enough, the vote system I was warning about in that tweet failed, leading to six-hour lines to vote in some places. But the long-running federal court case whose emergency filings revealed the serious problem I was tweeting, finally came to a conclusion --- of sorts, at least for now --- late on Sunday night. That is when U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg finally released her long-awaited ruling in the case which challenged the security, accuracy and constitutionality of the state's use of new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems. The Plaintiffs called for them to be replaced by a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots system.

Last year, Totenberg found the state's previous, 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems to be unsecure, unverifiable and, thus, unconstitutional, ordering them banned for all future elections in the state. On Sunday night, in her long-awaited 147-page ruling [PDF] that begins by citing the plot to the movie Groundhog Day, Totenberg once again finds the state's new touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) "presents serious system security vulnerability and operational issues that may place Plaintiffs and other voters at risk of deprivation of their fundamental right to cast an effective vote that is accurately counted." The judge warned "these risks are neither hypothetical nor remote" and slams "the insularity" of the "stance" by the GA Sec. of State and the state's private vendor, Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems, "in evaluation and management of the security and vulnerability of the BMD system [which] does not benefit the public or citizen's confident exercise of the franchise."

After detailing lies, inaccuracies and a lack of knowledge in the testimony of the state's "experts" in the case (no actual cybersecurity experts were presented by them, only employees of the vendors who admitted they had no actual cybsersecurity experience, nor did any penetration tests of the systems before certifying them for use in GA elections!), Judge Totenberg concludes: "The Plaintiffs’ national cybersecurity experts convincingly present evidence that this is not a question of 'might this actually ever happen?' – but 'when it will happen,' especially if further protective measures are not taken. Given the masking nature of malware and the current systems described here, if the State and Dominion simply stand by and say, 'we have never seen it,' the future does not bode well."

For now, that future includes the use of the systems that Totenberg clearly finds so dangerous because, as she explains, it might cause chaos for elections officials if she ordered the use of hand-marked paper ballots at the polling places this close to Election Day.

We're joined once again to discuss the case today by MARILYN MARKS of case plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance, which has been leading this long and important federal court battle now for several years. She has been joining us to discuss it at critical junctures, even while most of the broadcast media has studiously avoided covering it all. Marks offers her reaction to the judge's long-awaited ruling, describes her disappointment in the ultimate order from the judge (for now), while expressing confidence that these systems --- just like the state's previous ones --- will eventually be barred by this judge for use for the very same reasons that she ordered the state's old ones to finally be trashed.

"What we see here is these systems are put together in a slipshod fashion, without security being an important priority at all to these companies," Marks tells me. "These voting system vendors will say anything, and unfortunately many of our election officials who are purchasing these systems will repeat and parrot whatever those words are. You begin to wonder what is it that drives these elections officials, like Secretary [of State Brad] Raffensberger in Georgia, to buy the most expensive and least-auditable equipment."

Noting that unverifiable BMD systems similar to the ones now being forced on voters for the first time at the polls in other critical battlegrounds --- such as Philadelphia, the most Democratic-leaning county in North Carolina, all of South Carolina, as well as key counties in Texas and Ohio, not to mention the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County --- Marks decries the damage to democracy being done in all of those locations, while still being hopeful for the future.

"If there's good news in the judge's denial of relief for November, she did write a very solid yet scathing opinion, and explained in detail why these systems are not secure," she explains. "I'm hopeful that her opinion can spread across --- certainly Los Angeles, and all the counties that are using these systems in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and even my home county of Mecklenberg, North Carolina --- and shake up some of these election officials. But maybe, most importantly, some of these candidates. That is such a shame that we don't have the parties and we don't have the candidates demanding a fair system."

Marks adds: "We're confident we'll win the case. We've proven our point. We've proven that they're unconstitutional. We've proven that they're insecure. We've proven that people shouldn't be permitted to vote on them. The only piece that's missing is, how long does it take? How long does it take for jurisdictions to be prepared to do something simple, like hand out hand-marked paper ballots? Given how important this election is, it is a real shame that we have to put up with these machines in November."

Finally, we close with the news that Republicans in California --- after Trump and his GOP have been suing to do away with mail-in drop-boxes all over the country --- are actually deploying fake ones up and down the Golden State, in apparent violation of the law, according to California's Secretary of State...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, David Faris of Roosevelt Univ.; Also: Suspended on Twitter because I tweeted completely accurate news about GA's flawed touchscreen voting system...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2020 5:35pm PT  

Before we get to our otherwise previously-scheduled Special Coverage of Wednesday night's Vice Presidential debate, we open today's BradCast with the news that Twitter has suspended TheBradBlog's account for posting a 100% accurate tweet regarding Georgia's new touchscreen voting systems. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

I laid out the entire, maddening story regarding the tweet in question in a BRAD BLOG item today, since I can't post at all right now on Twitter, while they review my "appeal" to their finding that a two week old, demonstrably accurate tweet is in violation of the service's "rules against posting misleading information about voting." As you can imagine, my tweet is well supported, as its based on email from the GA Sec. of State's office sent to all 159 counties regarding an error discovered in the state's new touchscreen voting systems used by every voter at every polling place in the state. The email I cite is from the SoS and was published in a federal court filing (also linked with the tweet!) as part of a long-running lawsuit challenging the use of those machines, which we've reported on here for years now. The lawsuit seeks hand-marked paper ballots for voters at the polling place instead. The full story of what happened with Twitter, including screenshots and links to the federal filing and SoS email is posted here.

Then its on to last night's refreshingly dull and normal(ish) Vice Presidential Debate from Salt Lake City, Utah between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Veep nominee Sen. Kamala Harris. We're joined today for analysis and commentary by award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo, along with author and political scientist DAVID FARIS of Roosevelt University and The Week.

While the debate may have been dull --- save for the fly --- there was much revealed (and much evaded) and much to discuss about it in today's very lively show, including, near the end, whether there will be any more debates at all this year.

I'd say more about today's fun (and, at times, funny) show, but I've got to get back to fighting with Twitter now, apparently. Since I'm not allowed to post there for the time being --- unless I delete a completely accurate and newsworthy tweet --- please feel free to share today's show over there yourself! Thanks!

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Guest: Vote Common Good's Doug Pagitt; Also: More TX vote restrictions, bribery allegations against its A.G.; Biden calls for unity at Gettysburg...
By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2020 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A mess in Texas (several of them!), a call for unity from the Democratic Presidential nominee, and a newly discovered, scientifically-supported way to finally reach evangelical and Catholic supporters of Donald Trump and help turn them toward Joe Biden. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First, the GOP War Against Voting and Voters continues, shamefully, to gain ground in Texas as the all-Republican state Supreme Court, on Wednesday, nixed the Harris County Clerk's plan to send absentee ballot applications to all 2.4 million registered voters in the Democratic-leaning Houston area. That follows on the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott's proclamation late last week that no county may have more than one mail-in ballot drop-off location. (So, Dem-leaning Harris County's 2.4 million voters get just one drop-box in the nation's third most populous county stretching across 1,777 square miles...as do the 60,000 voters of GOP-leaning Rockwall County, on less than 150 square miles.)

Many of the new restrictions for the general election were not in place during this year's primary in the Lone Star State, which is just one of five that is not allowing expanded mail-in voting during the pandemic, thanks in no small part to its radically far-right Attorney General Ken Paxton. Among other efforts to prevent voting, he went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent voters under 65-years of age from citing fear of contracting COVID-19 as a valid excuse for requesting an absentee ballot.

The Republican War on Voting in Texas is aided, no doubt, by the fact that Joe Biden is just over 3 points behind Trump, according to the RealClearPolitics' polling average today, in a state which hasn't elected a Democrat for President since 1976. Moreover, a large "blue" turnout this year could mean that Democrats finally take control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in 20 years.

But, here's the kicker, AG Ken Paxton, the man spearheading the state's war against democracy by claiming that loosening voting restrictions would violate state and federal laws and lead to massive "voter fraud", is himself under criminal felony indictment for securities fraud. He has been fighting those long-standing charges for years. But now, over this past weekend, 7 top executives in his own office --- including Paxton's own first assistant --- have asked federal law enforcement officials to investigate the state AG for what they describe as "improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses."

Gov. Abbott says the charges by Paxton's own employees "raise serious concerns" and the AG's former top aide turned Congressman, Rep. Chip Roy, has called on Paxton to resign immediately. All of this comes as Paxton continues to suppress Texas voters while the federal lawsuit he headed up with 17 other state AGs to strike down the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in its entirely will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court just ten days after Election Day.

So, yeah, it's a mess in Texas.

While it remains to be seen if Democrats can finally turn the Lone Star State blue --- especially with these extraordinary efforts by Republicans to block the vote --- Biden's lead over Trump continues to expand across the nation and most of the states considered to be battlegrounds, according to recent polling. But our guest today, DOUG PAGITT, Executive Director and Co-founder of the faith-based group Vote Common Good, believes an interesting new scientific survey carried out by his organization in consultation with human behavior experts from universities around the country, may have finally found a way to reach evangelical and Catholic voters who supported Trump in 2016.

Pagitt, a progressive evangelical pastor and, coincidentally, radio host at our affiliate station am950 KTNF in Minneapolis/St. Paul, is now on the road in five swing-states with Vote Common Good, a non-profit organization focused on reaching voters with the message that Americans can actively spread good in their own communities through the voting booth. He recently wrote an article for NBC News about his organization's fascinating polling of Christian voters in those five key battlegrounds --- Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin --- in August, revealing what he says is the key to turning enough Christian Trump voters in favor of Biden to flip at least four of those five states.

The ">survey [PDF] spoke to Catholic and evangelical voters about seven core virtues (kindness, generosity, humility, chastity, modesty, diligence and patience) and seven sins (lust, sloth, greed, wrath, gluttony, envy and pride), asking them to compare Trump and Biden. He explains how just one of those virtues --- or, in Trump's case, lack thereof --- was more central to any other vice or virtue in changing the minds of his 2016 voters.

"The one thing that causes someone to move away from supporting Donald Trump is his lack of kindness," Paggit explains. Surprisingly, it wasn't his many "sins," which were largely well known in 2016 during his race with Hillary Clinton. He goes on to explain why that is and how the group's surprising finding can effectively be used to reach out to your faith-based friends and family members who may now be on the fence or even still supporting Trump. His organization has even set up a way for you to reach out to those voters in swing states with postcards and yard signs that include the necessary message.

Please tune in for this fascinating discussion!

Finally, speaking of bringing people together, Biden attempted to do just that on Tuesday, in an effective speech delivered at the Civil War battleground of Gettysburg, PA yesterday. We close today's program by sharing some extended remarks from his address...

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Trump pretends his way out of the hospital, lies again about COVID, gets blocked on social media, is sinking in the polls and dragging his party down with him. No wonder they need to suppress the vote...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The media are still falling for it. Happily, the American people (at least those who aren't fully brain-poisoned) don't seem to be playing that game anymore. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

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

  • The corporate mainstream media now know how they are being played by Trump, but they keep playing along anyway. We open with a short (or maybe not that short) rant about how to avoid being gaslighted by this President and his enablers, including his lying personal White House physician, the bought and paid for sycophants and psychopaths who work for the government or for his political party and lie on his behalf, and his brain-addled supporters who support his lies, even when he pretends to support things they all spent years previously pretending to oppose. And, of course, the media who still make all of those lies possible. Both Charlie Chaplin and off-shore oil-drilling make their way into this rant. You'll need to tune in to find out why;
  • Facebook finally bothers to take down at least one lie posted by the President regarding COVID-19 and the flu, as scientists and infectious disease experts fume about Trump's dangerous lies regarding that and his own precarious physical (and mental?) health amid his infection and dubious treatment for it;
  • In some brighter new, new polling finds Trump is receiving no "sympathy bounce" from his illness, as Americans have absolutely no confidence in his handling of the pandemic and believe he has only himself to blame for becoming sick;
  • New national polling following Trump's embarrassing performance in last week's off-the-rails Presidential debate (yes, that was only last week!) is beginning to look devastating for his reelection odds. A potential outlier of a poll published by NBC News and Wall Street Journal over the weekend finding a 14-point lead for Joe Biden among registered voters (53% to 39% over Trump) appears not to have been an outlier at all. New polling from CNN today of likely voters (which should theoretically find a small margin between the two candidates), finds the former Vice President ahead of Trump by an extraordinary 16 points (57% to 41%). Of course, those are national numbers and we do not run national elections in this country. But Biden is currently leading or tied by similar, if smaller, margins in pretty much all of the swing-states now, and even in a number of states not previously regarded as swing-states;
  • Trump's disastrous polling numbers also appear to bringing down his party's candidates in all sorts of areas of the country. Daily Kos Elections today shifted their ratings for 10 different House and Senate races all towards the Democrats. We focus today on two, specifically: The U.S. Senate race in Kansas (Kansas!) where former moderate Republican state Senator Barbara Bollier is giving her Republican opponent, Rep. Roger Marshall, a run for his money (and for the money the GOP would rather be spending elsewhere) in the contest for that state's open U.S. Senate seat this year. DKos Elections has now moved that race from "Likely R" to "Lean R". And in South Carolina (South Carolina!), where recent polling appears to now show a toss-up between disgraced three-term Republican Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. It's another race where Republicans are being forced to spend huge sums of money, while still being outspent by Harrison and his supporters. That race has also been conservatively shifted by dKos from "Likely R" to "Lean R", though it sure looks like Graham could be in real trouble....if voters in SC are allowed to vote...;
  • It is, in no small part, because of that trouble for Graham in SC that Republicans had to go all the way to their stolen U.S. Supreme Court to overturn lower court rulings that had waived witness requirements for mail-in ballots, due to the pandemic. State lawmakers had waived the requirement themselves for the state's primaries earlier this year, but re-imposed it for the general election for some reason, now that the pandemic is even worse. The lower courts ordered it waived again for public safety reasons, but SCOTUS, on Monday night, reimposed it, claiming it was too close to an election to change the rules. (That is the so-called "Purcell Principle" which we explain again on today's show. You may be hearing that doctrine cited quite a bit in the coming days.) That, even though many voters may have already sent in ballots without witness signatures as previously allowed by the lower courts. While the Supremes allowed (only) two days from yesterday's ruling for witness-free ballots to arrive by mail and still be counted, three of the Court's rightwing Justices (Thomas, Scalia and Gorsuch) went on record to say that if it was up to them, they would have tossed out all of those already-voted ballots entirely;
  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some disturbing news about yet another monster hurricane heading toward Louisiana (the fourth storm this year to make landfall there, if it does, in an already record year); grim news about California's wildfires; but some great news out of Poland and some very cool news from European airplane manufacturer Airbus!...

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Super-spreader Donald Trump has helped infect at least 11 senior White House officials and U.S. Senators and appears to have lied about both his infection and treatment. How many more Americans will he sicken before this nightmare finally ends?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2020 5:55pm PT  

As you might guess, on today's BradCast we are forced to cover super-spreader Donald Trump's bout with COVID-19, as it appears he has helped to infect at least a dozen other high profile officials in both the White House and U.S. Senate and members of the White House press corps. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

As we began the show, he was still being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center, though had already cavalierly announced his plans to head back to the White House after a manic, likely steroid-induced Twitter storm this morning. By the end of the show, he had arrived back at the People's House after enjoying many days in a row of free, tax-payer funded healthcare, despite infrequently paying any federal income taxes at all.

For about half of today's program, we open the show to listener calls. And we had some great ones, including the one which inspired today's headline above, and the final one --- a Republican woman from San Diego who accuses me of "not having [my] facts straight". Sadly, she called too late in the show for me to really enjoy the call as I might have otherwise. Still, it was a nice closer for today.

Before that, we review some of the many lies, obfuscations an evasions from Trump's White House physician Dr. Sean Conley, and the ongoing questions about the seriousness of the President's condition, given the "kitchen sink" of treatments --- experimental or otherwise --- that he has been given, some of which are supposed to be used only for severely or critically ill patients. So, is Trump severely or critically ill? If so, why he he's going "home" already? If not, why was he given so many extraordinary treatments?

Then there is the matter of putting his Secret Service contingent at risk (along with their families) on Sunday by his appalling little drive-by for supporters outside Walter Reed on Sunday.

How many more Americans will Donald Trump kill or make sick before his disastrous tenure as President is brought to a merciful end (with more than 210,000 already killed and nearly 7 and a half million infected in this country --- zero of whom that have received the same extraordinary care and attention he has, so far.)

So, how much should Trump's doctors be believed? How will all of this affect the already-ongoing Presidential election? Will the two more scheduled Presidential Debates happen as scheduled? Will any of this serve to slow down or block the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process in the U.S. Senate of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat left vacant by progressive icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg now that at least three GOP Senators have contracted the virus, apparently via the Rose Garden event announcing Barrett's nomination a week ago Saturday?

All of those questions (and many others) asked and/or answered on today's very lively program!...

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

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks on election havoc in the Peach State, and lack of national media coverage; Also: Trump loses, voters win in court absentee ballot rulings in WI, IN, MT, AL, and maybe NC...
By Brad Friedman on 10/1/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got good news for voters from a bunch of courts today --- including in both battleground and "red" states --- when it comes to the absentee mail-in voting that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are working so hard to block. But we've also got some very disturbing news out of the state of Georgia in a story that nobody other than us seems to be covering for reasons we can't quite explain. Especially since it now involves installing all brand-new, untested, and uncertified software --- at the very last minute, just days before Early Voting is to start --- on every touchscreen voting system used across the state. [Audio link to full show follows below summary]

But first, the good court rulings coming out of several states so far this week...

  • A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court judge's six-day extension beyond Election Day for the receipt of incoming absentee ballots postmarked by November 3rd in the critical battleground state of WISCONSIN. The unanimous ruling comes from a panel of three Republican-appointed judges, including one nominated by Trump, in a state which he is said to have barely flipped to "red" in 2016, for the first time in decades, by just over 20,000 votes out of millions cast. Republicans could appeal to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court. That's just one of the reasons they are trying to pack the Court with Trump's nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, in record time before the election;
  • Similarly good news out of Mike Pence's home state of INDIANA, where a federal judge rejected a deadline of noon of Election Day for absentee ballots to be received. The ruling will allow ballots postmarked by November 3rd to be counted if they arrive by November 13. The judge says the extra days do not benefit any particular party or candidate and "should in fact help assuage" concerns about the legitimacy of election results in the Hoosier State;
  • In the state of MONTANA, a federal judge blocked an effort by the Trump Campaign and other GOP groups to prevent counties from automatically sending absentee ballots to all active registered voters as they did during this year's June primary elections. That, after the plaintiffs were unable to "point to a single instance of voter fraud in Montana in any election during the last 20 years," according to the judge who described concerns about widespread fraud as "a fiction". While the state went to Trump by some 20 points in 2016, its Democratic Governor Steve Bullock won re-election on the same statewide ballot that year, and is now running for the U.S. Senate to unseat incumbent Republican Steve Daines;
  • In ALABAMA, a federal judge ruled that the state may not block counties from offering curbside voting and that witness signature requirements and Photo ID requirements for absentee voters during the COVID-19 pandemic are unconstitutional for certain voters. Their Republican wingnut Sec. of State John Merrill says he will appeal all the way to the stolen Supreme Court if necessary;
  • And in the closely divided battleground of NORTH CAROLINA, a proposed settlement between the state and plaintiffs will allow for absentee ballots to be "cured" by voters if they lack proper signatures; voters will be able to use secured drop-boxes for mail-in votes; and for ballots postmarked by Election Day may be received until November 12. But this week, a letter has been sent by the Trump Campaign to Republican officials on County Boards of Elections instructing them to ignore guidance from the State Board of Elections! The NC SBE has had to send a letter in response to those same officials, warning them that they are required to follow state guidance and that guidance from "a political party or other source should not be considered or followed." The extraordinary situation has led one international expert on election security from Duke University to (accurately) opine: "It comes down to the fact that this President is not actually trying to win this election – this President is trying to not have to concede this election. That’s what going on." That expert is right on the money.

Then, to the extraordinarily disturbing story out of GEORGIA, which our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition of Good Governance, describes as "scandalous". As we reported during Monday's show, last Friday, the Secretary of State's office quietly sent a notice to elections officials in all 159 counties telling them to immediately stop their pre-election "Logic and Accuracy" testing of the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that all voters are currently forced to use at the polling place. The reason, as the office explained, was due to "an error in the November database which will require every county to get a new database for the November 3, 2020 election."

That startling news late on Friday night resulted in an emergency filing by the Coalition with U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, who has been overseeing their long-running lawsuit to block the use of unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots at the polls. On Monday, Totenberg called an emergency hearing for all parties to the suit, during which the Secretary of State's office and the state's new private vote system vendor and ballot programmer, Dominion Voting, claimed that new databases (which contain the programming for all contests in each county) were not actually needed to correct an error that prevented some U.S. Senate candidates from appearing on the touchscreen in certain cases. In fact, what they planned to do instead was to change the code used on the voting machine software itself, and install new software onto all 34,000 touchscreens in the state. All of this, just days before Early Voting is to begin, and now just over one month before Election Day.

As Marks notes, the new software to be installed on every voting machine in Georgia has not been certified for use --- or even tested --- by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) as required by state law. But this story is even more scandalous in several ways that we discuss on today's program, after another emergency hearing was called by the judge today, following another emergency filing from the Coalition on Wednesday night regarding an apparent change of plans by the Secretary of State.

"It's outrageous. They're wiping all of the software," Marks tells me, and installing "new software that's just been written, has not been tested, and has not been certified by the Elections Assistance Commission. As far as we know, it has not even been submitted for approval. This is federal certification, and Georgia, like most states, is not supposed to be using systems not certified by the federal government."

"They've written this over a weekend, and have not thoroughly tested it. There's been no user testing. The number of things that can go wrong will take up more time than your show permits," she says. "They might as well have gone out and said, 'we're going to buy the Lucy and Ethel software, and put it in.'"

While that is troubling enough, Marks also notes that the programming is not even being done by public state officials, but by private contractors at the Canadian-based firm from whom GA purchased the systems for more than $100 million for first time use this year. "This election has been completely outsourced to Dominion Voting Systems. They are a third party profit-making corporation and, essentially, Georgia has just said, 'Take it and do with it as you will, Dominion!'"

Marks says it is all "outrageous and preposterous," telling me, "Like you, I am shocked that the national media has not picked up on this more, because we're talking about the votes of 7 million voters here."

"I thought that I was beyond having anything that could shock me anymore," she continues. "But I have to say, my jaw is still on the floor from this week. And the fact that the media is not covering it, I don't understand. I can only surmise that they are still in disbelief. Maybe the facts just aren't fully out yet. That's the only thing I can come up with. This is scandalous. "

Please tune in for the full story --- there is much more to it. But, suffice to say for now, it IS a scandal that WE have been covering this story and this lawsuit for at least three years, while the mainstream corporate media seems to be ignoring it almost entirely, even with the possibility that the Peach State could flip from red to blue this year in the Presidential race for the first time in decades, and that there is not one, but two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot there this November, both of which are currently held by Republicans and believed to be endangered by Democratic challengers.

Finally, we close today with our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of the surprise --- and surprisingly substantive --- discussion of climate change in this week's otherwise off-the-rails Presidential Debate in Cleveland, OH...

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

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Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Press Run's Eric Boehlert...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2020 5:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What else? Special coverage of what we'll call the Presidential "debate" in Cleveland, OH on Wednesday night between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as nominally "moderated" by Chris Wallace of Fox "News". [Audio link to show follows below.]

It was, perhaps, best described by CNN's Dana Bash as "a shitshow", though her colleague Jake Tapper didn't do bad either in his description of "a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck." MSNBC's Rachel Maddow saw it as a "monstrous cavalcade of increasingly wild and obscene lies" and an "unintelligible display of logorrhea," mostly from the unhinged, unbalanced, unfit, wholly unqualified President of the United States. Stephen Colbert also did a helluva job in his own description of the train wreck as well on CBS' Late Show, though you'll have to tune in for that one.

To be fair, Trump 2000 Campaign Manager Bill Stepien called Trump's effort "the greatest debate performance in presidential history," and Fox "News" observed on their chyron: "BIDEN STUMBLES HIS WAY THROUGH FIRST DEBATE". So there's that.

We're joined today to try and make sense of whatever you may want to call Wednesday's embarrassing spectacle, by two of our favorite post-debate sense-makers, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo and ERIC BOEHLERT of Press Run, who argues in his column today that, unless the Presidential Debate Commission changes the format to, at a minimum, allow Trump's mic to be cut off (which, it looks like, they may), the next two Presidential debates should be called off entirely. Parton, who also wrote about Trump's "massive failure" today, agrees. But I don't, and we debate (ya know, an actual debate) as to why.

We also discuss and/or debate whether Biden should or shouldn't disclose his position on doing away with the Senate filibuster in order to expand the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court and much much more, including Trump's failure to condemn white supremacy, his deadly criminal failure to contain the coronavirus, his very serious threat to American democracy itself, and whether either of the two candidates accomplished what they needed to.

As Parton sums up whatever went down in Cleveland on Wednesday night: "We had one mainstream, normal politician and an alien from outer space, debating on the same stage. And that didn't work out really well." She observes that all of this is "bad for the country" and goes on to cite Trump's "extra-Constitutional, extra-judicial" threat to "steal" the November election as "one of the most dangerous things any President has tried to do."

Says Boehlert about Trump performance: "He was dramatically different last night than he was in 2016. And he was awful in 2016," before going on to describe the reason as "creeping authoritarianism" in which "Trump is building a bonfire every day, every hour."

If you loved the first 2020 Presidential Debate, you may or may not love our show today. If you were as troubled by what you saw as we were, then you may take some comfort --- and even get a few much-needed laughs --- out of our special coverage today...

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

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Guest: BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning...
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2020 4:56pm PT  

I'll try to keep my BradCast summary as short and sweet as possible, as tonight's Presidential Debate in Cleveland begins shortly --- with full special coverage of it on tomorrow's program! [Audio link to today's full show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered today, beginning with some good news and slowly sliding downhill from there...

  • At around 7 points, Joe Biden's current lead in the national polling average against Donald Trump is the largest since Bill Clinton's re-election in 1996. But don't get too excited just yet. We don't run national elections. We run 50 state-by-state elections and it's the Electoral College votes of each of those states that matters, not the popular vote...except for this year, when the popular vote actually could end up making a huge difference in who becomes the next President. I explain why;
  • Biden's pre-election polling lead in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania, according to a new WaPo/ABC News poll, is now at a substantive 9 points. With the poll's margin of error factored in, however, it could be a much tighter race that that number suggests in Biden's birth state, which is being seen of late, by both campaigns, as the potential tipping point state for the Electoral College this year. But the news is much more good than bad for Biden in the key battleground, in that he is outperforming Hillary Clinton's 2016 lead over Trump in the noteworthy Dem-leaning parts of the state, and has substantially cut into Trump's 2016 margins in the Republican regions of the state and among voters (for example, white without college degrees) that Trump would need to repeat his very narrow reported victory in the Keystone State four years ago;
  • There are, however, many "X Factors" this year that should prevent anyone from thinking they know anything about how all of this could ultimately play out based on either national or battleground state polling numbers --- from the pandemic and the unprecedented number of absentee ballots this year, to the US Postal Service slowdowns, to new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in many locations, to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court and how those "Radicals in Robes" could still help game the system between now and Election Day (and in the days after), particularly if Republicans are able to steal an even larger the majority by ramming Trump's SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett onto the Court before Election Day, as Senate Republicans currently intend;
  • One of those "X Factors," for example, is playing out right now in New York City today, where the Board of Elections has an apparent disaster on its hands after their vendor sent out tens of thousands of mail-in ballots with the wrong names and addresses printed on the accompanying return envelopes. The BOE claims they will make good on the problem by getting corrected envelopes to voters in time to vote, but once again, chaos reigns for voters in Brooklyn, who are asked by the BOE to contact Apply4Absentee@boe.nyc or call 1-866-VOTE-NYC if they received an absentee ballot with the incorrect name or address on the return envelope;
  • Meanwhile, ballot battles continue in both state and federal courts regarding, among other things, how long after Election Day that mail ballots in swingstates like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina may arrive at County headquarters to still be included in the final results. We're joined today by BRAD BLOG's long-serving legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING to discuss some of those cases and how the U.S. Supreme Court's so-called "Purcell Principle" may serve to overturn (or uphold) rulings in both lower federal courts and in state Supreme Courts. Canning also offers some thoughts on Trump's nomination of Barrett to SCOTUS and how the latest Federalist Society-backed judge to be packed onto the high court illustrates the sweeping lurch to the radical right on our federal court system over the past 40 years;
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report. The news she's got today is pretty grim...but don't blame Desi. There ain't much good news out there to work with these days...

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

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