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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, June 13, 2021
America's Billionaire Tax
Code Welfare Queens:
'BradCast' 6/11/21
Guest: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic of Mother Jones; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dem lawmakers in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
'Good Trouble' (or, Call for President Biden on Line 3): 'BradCast' 6/10/21
Huge, hard-fought win on KeystoneXL; New fight in MN over another tar sands pipeline; Biden goes to Europe (not a moment too soon); TX's corrupt A.G. faces more legal trouble...
'Green News Report' 6/10/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Keystone XL Pipeline finally cancelled, for good!; Mass arrests at MN pipeline protest; G7 spent big on fossil fuels in 2020; PLUS: Infra-structure talks with collapse, start over again...
Previous GNRs: 6/8/21 - 6/3/21 - Archives...
'His World, We Just Live In It': Manchin 'In the Catbird Seat': 'BradCast' 6/9/21
Guest: 9th generation West Virginian Robyn Kincaid; Also: Keystone XL is over!; Biden to reportedly close Gitmo...
Mystery Solved!: Professional Public Audit in NH Uncovers Why 100s of Votes Were Mistallied: 'BradCast' 6/8/21
Guest: Windham, New Hampshire auditor, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC Berkeley...
'Green News Report' 6/8/21
Extreme heat hits U.S., breaks records in Middle East; CO2 concentrations highest in 4M years; PLUS: Sir David Attenborough's done being nice about climate change...
What Do We Do About Joe Manchin?: 'BradCast' 6/7/21
After WV's Dem Senator comes out against democracy and filibuster reforms, Democrats -- and democracy -- have a very real problem...
Sunday 'Has Dem in It' Toons
Here yet again to obstruct your day! It's PDiddie! With his latest collection of the week's best anti-democracy toons!...
'Shockwaves Hit Oil and Gas Industry' After 'Black Wednesday': 'BradCast' 6/4/21
Guest: Carroll Muffett of Center for Int'l Enviro Law; Also: An insidious reason Trump wants MAGA to think he's about to be reinstated...
'Green News Report' 6/3/21
Enviro disaster in Sri Lanka; Global warming heat deaths; TX winter storm death toll hundreds higher than reported; PLUS: Biden suspends Trump's oil, gas leases in ANWR...
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: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dems in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2021 6:30pm PT  

The volume of incoming huge news stories these days is getting to be as overwhelming as it was during the Trump years. But it's also a reminder to anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking that the Trump Era is over, it is anything but. We were planning on covering ProPublica's blockbuster bombshell exclusive this week on today's BradCast --- and we still do --- though it has been somewhat eclipsed by last night's New York Times blockbuster bombshell exclusive. We do our best to cover both today. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First, the remarkable news broken by the Times late on Thursday is that Donald Trump's wildly corrupt Dept. of Justice was a whole lot more corrupt than we have all yet fully appreciated. As it turns out, in an unprecedented move, his DoJ secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message data of Democratic members of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee. But it wasn't just members that Trump saw as political enemies, including top Judiciary Dem Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell. It was also their staff and even their children, one of whom was a minor, according to the Times' blockbuster.

All of that, even as the Trump Administration spent years blocking Congress from lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents from the White House itself and virtually every Executive branch agency, under the false premise that it would violate the Constitution's Separation of Powers, granting co-equal powers to both the Legislative and Executive branches. All the while, the Trump Administration was actually --- literally --- spying on members of the Legislative branch, while claiming (disingenuously) that Congress was overstepping its bounds by issuing lawful, public subpoenas for testimony to members of the Executive branch.

The stunning news comes after a week in which we previously learned that the Trump DoJ also secretly obtained phone, email and text records of journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN. Democrats claim to be outraged by it all, and vow to investigate. But without real legal consequences, accompanied by sweeping reforms by both Congress and, most immediately, Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice, the appalling and outrageous and unlawful acts carried out during four years of the Trump Administration will absolutely be carried out again --- and even worse next time --- in the very near future.

Speaking of much-needed, long-overdue action from Congress, the ProPublica bombshell this week revealed that --- based on a "vast cache of IRS information" somehow obtained by the non-profit media outlet on the nation's wealthiest men --- American billionaires have been allowed to avoid almost all federal income taxes for years on their accumulated and still-surging wealth. As the media outlet reports in their jaw-dropping, nearly 6,000 word exclusive this week, "billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing."

Their months-long analysis of the data "demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can --- perfectly legally --- pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year."

The raw IRS data show that billionaires like Bezos (the world's wealthiest man), Musk, Buffett and the others often pay zero in federal income taxes. Overall, the nation's top 25 wealthiest --- whose fortunes increased collectively by $401 billion between 2014 and 2018 --- paid a tax rate on that accumulated wealth of just 3.4% on average. That, compared to a median tax rate of 14% paid by regular, middle-class Americans, as the U.S. tax code rewards wealth over labor.

The New York Times explains in its own coverage of ProPublica's scoop, that even as Congress and President Biden bicker over tweaks to marginal tax rates, the ultra-wealthy avoid such trivialities all together. "The ProPublica revelations got to a widely understood issue: that the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck...But the analysis also revealed a less recognized strategy employed by the superrich: taking huge loans, using their assets as collateral. It allows them to avoid selling their assets and facing taxation, and even to write off some lending costs. In that way, Mr. Bezos and Mr. Buffett were able to show yearly income losses even as their wealth grew by billions of dollars."

Mother Jones' Senior Editor MICHAEL MECHANIC joins us today with a great deal of context and perspective on this long running, if legal, scam, after spending a couple of years hanging out with the ultra rich while researching his newly published book, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live --- and How Their Wealth Harms Us All.

Mechanic underscores the scam revealed by ProPublica: "As we've seen from the way the tax code works, wealth begets wealth, and we reward capital over wages. If you make a fortune on a stock, you pay a maximum of 20% when you sell that stock. In the meantime, when you hold it, you don't pay any taxes at all --- it's called 'unrealized gains.' What these billionaires have done is they just borrow against that. They never have to sell, so they never even pay the capital gains tax.  Meanwhile, you and I are getting a paycheck. If we made as much as they did, we'd be charged 37%.  So it's 37% versus 20% for assets, but they're not even paying the 20% because they're not selling the assets. They're taking out low-interest loans, paying a few percent, living on that money." And, yes, even as the cost of the interest would be less than they'd have to pay in taxes if they sold assets to live on their own money instead, they actually get to deduct the cost of those loans from their income taxes!

We discuss, among other things, how all of this actually hurts average Americans; how, because of it, trillions of dollars are not available to the government to spend on healthcare, schools, climate change, infrastructure and other public services; what, if anything, can or will be done about it by Congress --- where Republicans (and too many Democrats) seems to be just fine with a system that rewards wealth over work; whether proposals like Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax of .02 cents on every dollar of wealth by those worth more than $50 million could ever be adopted in Congress or is even Constitutional; and how all of this wealth doesn't even get taxed upon death when it's passed from generation to generation, as Mechanic reports at MoJo today.

"There's always been this argument, from the very beginning, that if you tax investors and business people, those people then won't invest, won't create jobs," Mechanic observes. "It's a spurious argument. If you have $100 million and somebody raises the capital gains rate, does that mean you're not going to start a company? You're not going to put it into the stock market? No, of course not. What else are you going to do with your money, put it under your mattress?!"

And, yes, we also discuss his new book (highly lauded by the legendary Bill Moyers!), which Mechanic describes as "not a polemical book. It's a funny, entertaining, and enraging character-driven narrative, in which I basically hang out with super-wealthy people and their minions. I interview researchers, I talk to a woman who trains billionaires' nannies in physical combat, [and] a guy who builds luxury safe rooms. It's a journey of the American wealth fantasy and how it's gone off the rails."

So, hey, if you're not already enraged enough by today's program, please buy Mike's book! It's out just in time to enrage Dad for Father's Day!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Huge, hard-fought win for the environment on KeystoneXL; Another fight builds in MN over another tar sands pipeline; Mr. Biden goes to Europe (not a moment too soon); TX's corrupt A.G. faces still more legal trouble...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

Today's BradCast is dedicated to the protester Davids who defeated a fossil fuel Goliath after a 13-year fight to help save us all. Thank you, protesters! And please keep going! Humanity needs you! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • It was a huge, hard-fought, well-deserved win for the unprecedented coalition of environmentalists, tribes, scientists, farmers, ranchers, and even a few journalists, behind the defeat of TC Energy's enormous, dangerous KeystoneXL Pipeline. For 13 years, the company, formerly known as TransCanada, had fought to build a 1,200 mile pipeline to send 830,000 barrels each day of toxic, sticky tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas for export overseas. For 13 years, protesters stood up against the project, which threatened rivers, streams, native lands, farms, drinking water aquifers and the climate itself. One of the nation's greatest climate scientists James Hansen warned in 2012 that if the Alberta tar sands are full developed, via projects like KXL, it would be "game over for the climate". After President Obama canceled the pipeline's permit due to the damage it would cause for the environment via climate change, it looked to be game over for KXL itself. But then Donald Trump got elected and reversed Obama. When Joe Biden took office, he cancelled the permit once again as one of his very first actions, and has refused to back off, despite pleas from both Canada and the company. On Wednesday, TC Energy finally gave up the game. The KeystoneXL Pipeline is now really, truly dead. We all owe the coalition of protesters and activists a huge thanks. But the fight now continues elsewhere...
  • In Minnesota this week, a similar coalition of activists stood up demonstrations against another Canadian company named Enbridge Energy, which is replacing a 1960's era pipeline called Line 3, said to be deteriorating and unable to operate at full capacity, with a steel reinforced pipe the same size as KXL's. Also like KXL, the upgraded Line 3 would also pump more than 800,000 barrels a day across thousands of rivers, streams and native lands from the Alberta tar sands to Wisconsin. So the protesters are back at it. Hundreds were arrested during protests this week, even as a helicopter from the federal Border Patrol (unlawfully?) buzzed over them from about 20 feet, kicking up dust and debris on more than 1,000 peaceful demonstrators. They are calling for President Biden to take similar action on Line 3 that both he and Obama took in lifting permits for KXL. The Administration has yet to take a position on Line 3, but protesters are back at it, with some blocking off the entrance to a construction site this week, by parking --- and spending the night chained to --- a boat named "Good Trouble" that they parked in front of one of the Enbridge construction sites. We cover that critical new battle today.
  • These actions to save the environment are for good reason, as we are currently seeing very clearly in the Southwest, which is facing another record "megadrought" right now. Lake Mead --- the nation's largest reservoir, which provides water for agriculture and human consumption to seven states --- is at its lowest level since it was built in the 1930s. Water cutbacks are already in place and likely to become much more severe by August if the lake's level, which sits on the border of Nevada and Arizona continues to drop. More than 86% of AZ is already under "extreme" or "exceptional" drought. Power supplies in the region are also likely to be affected, as Mead supplies water to Hoover Dam, which has already cut back electricity generation due to the low water levels. In California, reservoirs are now at 50% of normal capacity, with mountain snow-pack already gone two months earlier than normal, vegetation moisture at record lows, Summer just beginning and fire season set to begin as early as this month. All of this, thanks in no small part to man-made climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels like the ones that won't being flowing through the KeystoneXL and --- if environmentalists win more battles --- through massive pipelines like Line 3 or Dakota Access. This fight matters. Not only for the future, but for the immediate present, as those of us out West can attest right now.
  • Meanwhile, overseas, President Biden is kicking off his first trip as President, meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, after speaking to U.S. troops about the importance of reinforcing democracy over rising autocracy upon his arrival in Europe yesterday. Johnson warmly welcomed Biden as the two leaders today reaffirmed their nations' "special relationship" by renewing the World War II era Atlantic Charter signed by FDR and Winston Churchill.
  • BoJo wasn't the only one to welcome America's new President. A new survey out today from Pew Research Center underscores the support by the publics of 16 economically developed nations who couldn't be happier to see Biden in place rather than Trump, after trust in the U.S. overseas fell to historic lows under the previous President. We cover some of the striking numbers from Pew today, including, for example, the 75% of respondents who express confidence in Biden to "do the right thing regarding world affairs", versus the paltry 17% in the same countries who thought as much about Trump. Overall favorability for the U.S. skyrocketed 23 points since last year, but other numbers from the survey suggest the U.S. still has a long way to go to in restoring their leadership role after damage done to the nation and the world during Trump's failed tenure.
  • Texas' corrupt Attorney General Ken Paxton is facing still more trouble. Sad! The state's top law enforcement official is already facing multiple indictments on felony securities fraud in Texas, even as the FBI is now investigating him for abuse of power, following a complaint to the feds by eight of his own top staffers. Now, as AP reports in an exclusive today, Paxton is also in trouble with the Texas Bar Association, which is investigating a complaint brought after the frivolous lawsuit he filed at the U.S. Supreme Court last year to overturn the Presidential election results in four states won by Biden. That case --- which the state's own solicitor general refused to represent at SCOTUS --- was thrown out by the high court. Now Paxton faces potential disbarment in the Lone Star State, even as he faces a primary challenge from George P. Bush (Jeb's kid) before next year's election.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen has more on both the KeystoneXL victory and Line 3 protests in our latest Green News Report, with still more news on the G7's feeble efforts to support renewable energy last year and the collapse --- and restart --- of Biden's negotiations with Congressional Republicans on his massive and long-overdue infrastructure proposal...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: 9th generation West Virginian Robyn Kincaid; Also: Keystone XL is over!; COVID vaccines for the world; Biden to reportedly close Gitmo...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2021 6:15pm PT  

Yes. We're obsessed of late with Joe Manchin on The BradCast. But that's only because the fate of the entire progressive Biden and Democratic Party agenda is now being blocked by him...which also means the fate of American Democracy and even life on Planet Earth depends on the seemingly inexplicable whims of one obstructionist Democratic Senator from West Virginia. Other than that, no biggie. Why obsess? [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

Before diving back headlong into that frustration today with someone whose endured it first-hand far longer than many of us, some slightly more encouraging news today, beginning with the rather huge breaking news that broke, literally, as we began today's show.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is dead. Kaput. Over. Done. Yeah, we know you've heard that before, but this time it's the pipeline's owner themselves, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), conceding that their 13-year dream of a massive 1,200 mile pipeline to ship 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil each day from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas for shipment overseas amid catastrophically dangerous global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels is now, officially, cancelled. That, after Joe Biden cancelled the permit granted to the company by Donald Trump. And while we've got some other good-ish news items today, that one will likely prove to be the most expansive and enduring. Finally.

As far as news we'd actually planned to cover today, President Biden will reportedly commit at the G7 in Britain this week to buying some 500 million doses of COVID vaccine to donate to nations who desperately need them, as infection and death rates plummet in the U.S. while soaring in much of the world. The announcement will come as a new, highly transmissible and more dangerous viral variant is overtaking much of the UK and beginning to gain a foothold in the U.S.

The Administration also, according to NBC News today, has begun efforts to permanently close the extra-judicial, extra-constitutional detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in advance of the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that led to then-President George W. Bush opening the shameful Gitmo chapter in the first place. While President Obama, upon taking office, had ordered the facility to be shut down in 2009, Congressional Democrats helped block that effort. Obama did, however, succeed in radically reducing Gitmo's prison population from about 250 to about 40 until Donald Trump stopped the U.S. relocation program. Biden's Administration reportedly hopes to close the facility permanently during his first term.

While Presidents can take certain Executive Actions regarding things like vaccines and Gitmo, acts of Congress are needed for the big stuff. Which bring us --- maddeningly enough --- back to Manchin today. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's plan to bring up stuff for a vote this month that Manchin supports --- only to see all of it filibustered and blocked by Republicans --- got underway, with the GOP filibuster of the Paycheck Fairness Act on Tuesday. The measure, originally co-sponsored by Manchin and already passed by the House, is aimed at eliminating the appalling gender pay gap between women and men. Manchin announced he was "disappointed" by the floor vote that received support from ZERO Republicans, much less the ten votes that is currently required to overcome obstructionist GOP filibusters in the Senate.

But Manchin has long vowed to oppose the simple majority vote needed to eliminate or even reform the filibuster. He announced as much again last weekend when he also declared his opposition to the Democrats' For the People Act, a massive election and campaign reform bill that, among other things, mandates early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots in all 50 states, ends partisan gerrymandering, and curbs dark money in campaigns. 49 out of 50 Democratic Senators are co-sponsors. Every Republican and Joe Manchin oppose it (even though he co-sponsored the bill in 2019!) Manchin's reason for opposition is, apparently, because no Republicans support it (nor did they in 2019!), even as they are adopting voter suppression measures at the state level all over the country right now.

All of that, amid a massive rightwing effort by dark money groups led by the Koch Network to target Manchin to keep him opposed to both filibuster reform and the For the People Act, while a stunning 79% of West Virginians (including 76% of Republicans in the state!) support the Democrats' sweeping election reform package.

We've been trying of late to figure out Manchin's game and a way to move the country (and planet) forward through it. We've struck out so far. So today we turn to our old friend ROBYN KINCAID (formerly known as Bob Kincaid), a 9th generation West Virginian, host and creator of the progressive Head-On Radio Network, co-founder of the Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Campaign and President of the Coal River Mountain Watch.

As a longtime opponent of deadly mountain top removal coal mining, Kincaid has years of experience in dealing with Manchin beginning during his days as a state official, including as Governor. If anyone has insight and helpful advice on how to deal with Manchin, it's the always colorful Kincaid, who kicks things off by explaining what it is that the rest of the nation may not know, but needs to, in order to understand him, beginning with the contention that also includes Manchin's politico father, that "No Manchin has ever voted for a Democrat whose name wasn't Manchin."

"He is the Queen of the May right now," Kincaid tells me. "Everybody is paying attention to him. He is on the lips of every political observer in the country, and he is, I assure you, basking in it."

But why the intransigence when it comes to taking the action necessary to move litigation forward that he, himself (not to mention his own constituents, in big numbers), actually supports?

"He gets hold of an idea and he hangs onto it like a junkyard dog with a bone," explains Kincaid. "For years and years, when we would talk about mountaintop removal, he would answer by saying 'We have to have balance', for about ten years. Now the word is 'bipartisan.' I don't think he fully understands how 'bipartisan' works. Because if he wants bipartisanship, it's HIS job to lean in and use coercive power and say, 'Listen, y'all can come along, or I break the filibuster.' But I don't think he's as willing to play hardball with the Republicans as he is with somebody like Joe Biden and Democrats because he is more philosophically aligned with the Republicans."

Offering a very generous benefit of the doubt that some of Manchin's institutional concerns about doing away with the filibuster are sincere, Kincaid explains that "West Virginia relies profoundly on things like Medicaid and Medicare, and forms of federal government assistance for a workforce that has been beaten and bedraggled and tormented over the years. ... I think in the back of his mind, he can foresee a future where there's a Republican-controlled Senate with no filibuster where they they can do what they wish. He knows as well as anybody else what the Republican wish-list is in the modern Republican Party of Nitwit Nero [Trump]. That is a world without Social Security, a world without the Affordable Care Act, a world without Medicaid. And that means a West Virginia that is already as...as... [heavy sigh]...as beaten down as we are, that we'll be even more so, and left to perish."

Among the many other mysteries of Manchin on which Kincaid offers insight today:

  • Is he captured by the rightwing Koch Network's dark money?
  • Is there any hope in threatening to primary him (even though he's not up for reelection again until 2024)?
  • Why would he oppose a measure (the For the People Act) THAT HE HAD CO-SPONSORED IN 2019(!) and that is so wildly popular in WV?
  • What does he want and can he be bought off, given that Democrats are looking to spend hundreds of billions right now via Biden's American Jobs and Families Plans?

We also take a few minutes to discuss Kincaid's Appalachian Communities Health Emergency (ACHE) Act, "that has the power to stop mountaintop [coal] removal once and for all". The bill has been reintroduced as H.R. 2073 and Kincaid asks BradCast listeners to "please, pretty please, go to the phone, go to your keyboards, call, send an email to your members of the House of Representatives and say please co-sponsor H.R. 2073, the ACHE Act, because it means the world to West Virginia. It means the world to Appalachia. It literally means a future for us."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Windham, NH auditor, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC Berkeley...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2021 7:04pm PT  

In support of his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, Donald Trump has been telling anyone who will listen that "thousands and thousands" of ballots have recently been discovered from the 2020 race, including in New Hampshire, where the state's Republican Governor certified his loss to Joe Biden by some 55,000 votes. But something troubling was discovered during a post-election hand-count last November in a small New Hampshire town, revealing that the state's decades-old Diebold optical-scan computer tabulators undercounted some Republican votes and overcounted some for a Democrat on the ballot. Thanks to a real (non-clown show) forensic audit in Windham, NH, which is finally wrapping up, we now know why, as explained in detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this article.]

On November 3rd, there were four seats up for grabs for State Representative in Windham, NH. There were eight candidates --- four Republicans and four Democrats --- running for those four seats. The top four vote-getters in the contest would win the seats. On Election Night, according to the computer tabulation, the four Republican candidates swept all four slots. One of the Democrats, Kristi St. Laurent, came in 5th by just 24 votes in the small town where some 10,000 votes were cast. So she asked for and received a hand recount about a week later.

The hand-marked paper ballots cast in Windham were tabulated on Election Night, as they are across most of the Granite State, by decades-old optical-scan devices originally manufactured by the now-defunct Diebold Election Systems, Inc., and long programmed and serviced by a company with a shady background named LHS Associates. The intellectual property of the systems themselves is now owned by the private vendor Dominion Voting Systems, which acquired many of Diebold's assets some years ago.

St. Laurent's requested hand-count, about a week after Election Day last November, discovered that the four Republicans in the State Rep's race each should have received another 300 votes or so, while St. Laurent actually was found to have received about 100 fewer votes than she was credited with in the Election Night computer tally.

So, what happened? How could the numbers have been so wrong? The NH state legislature subsequently adopted a measure to allow for a post-election forensic audit to answer those questions. It was a real audit. A professional one. Very much unlike, in almost every way, the long-running "audit" theater clown show still running in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. This one was run as a fully open and completely transparent public exercise over about three weeks in May, as organized and run by three voting system, cyber-security and post-election auditing experts tapped by the state.

We're joined on today's show by one of those three experts, PHILIP B. STARK, Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, regarded as the gold standard for post-election audits.

While the auditors are still wrapping up a few items before issuing their final report, the weeks of fully transparent recounting of ballots and physical audits of the scanners has yielded what Stark --- and the other auditors, including the legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti and Mark Lindeman of the non-partisan Verified Voting --- regard as the answer to the mystery of what actually happened.

Via painstaking and extraordinarily well-document public experiments, they determined that folds in absentee ballot papers that went right through the oval next to St. Laurent's name resulted in the scanners incorrectly recording those folds as votes in many instances. That means, that if a voter had voted for all four Republicans on the ballot and the fold went through St. Laurent's "target", the systems may have seen that as an overvote in the State Rep's race and, therefore, wouldn't count any of the votes in that contest. Similarly, if the voter hadn't voted for four candidates and the fold went through the Democrats' oval, she might have picked up a vote that she didn't actually deserve.

"We're confident that we've identified the primary contributors to the mistabulation of the votes in the State Representative contest in Windham," Stark told me. "They are, namely, ballots that were folded through vote targets in contests, including in particular, Kristi St. Laurent's vote target in the State Representative contest."

"That, by itself, is not the only thing going on, because in the experiments that we subsequently did with the folded ballots, we found that there was a great deal of variability across machines and their ability to correctly interpret folds through vote targets, folds through ovals," he explains, noting that another problem discovered was dust on the optical eye of some of the very old scanners. "Maintenance does matter, because just using compressed gas to blow the dust out of the reader on the machine that was performing worst made it perform substantially better."

As Stark details, through experimentation, folding ballots in varying ways and by various means, the auditors were able to replicate the problem. "We have a pretty good understanding of how the ballots came to be folded the way they were folded, which was generally not along the score lines that the printer puts on them to guide where they should be folded. If they'd been folded in the right place, this wouldn't have been an issue."

Stark also explains why human eyes --- as in the hand recount last November --- are generally much better than computers at actually determining voter intent, even in normal cases, because scanners are simply not programmed to read certain types of marks made by voters as actual votes.
v
We also discuss the critiques and even threats from some Trump supporters that the auditors have endured from Trump supporters throughout the official audit, despite the auditors extraordinary, landmark efforts at transparency and public oversight, including answering hundreds of questions both at the audit site and via Twitter throughout the process.

"The complaints seem to be largely based either on a misunderstanding --- whether deliberately or not --- on the things we have said and a lack of understanding of the [Diebold] AccuVote OS [systems]; a lack of how New Hampshire runs its elections or understanding of New Hampshire election law; also, people somehow thinking Twitter is a definitive source of information about the audit, rather than the live [audio and video] feed and the New Hampshire Dept. of Justice's website, where we've been posting all of the evidence as we've accumulated it," Stark responds. "There are some people who are definitely accusing us of fraud, lying, of being on George Soros' payroll, of trying to cover something up."

"There are definitely people who think that Mark, Harri and I were hired to cover something up. I don't know what it is we are supposed to be covering up. The idea that we are not motivated to not find malware, if malware is there, is kind of laughable. It would be a career-making thing for us. We'd like nothing more than to find malware if malware is there! But we're not going to pretend it's there if it isn't."

Of course, Hursti himself has already made his career previously by hacking these very same AccuVote systems, back in 2005, as seen in the climactic finale of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy and its chilling 2020 follow-up, Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections.

"There was no evidence of malware...And the effect that we've observed is just completely consistent --- every test that I've thought of to throw at it, every thing that we've done --- it really looks like it's the folds. Now, people are saying maybe somebody 'weaponized' the folds and knew exactly how to fold the ballots to take away votes from the Republicans, which is kind of the Wayne's World test: It could happen...and monkeys could fly out of my butt."

Stark also answers questions about how this audit compares to the very very different one ongoing in Maricopa. "The way that they're doing their hand-count is guaranteed to produce an inaccurate count," he charges. "You really need multiplicity and redundancy. You need to reconcile things as they go along. And putting ballots on a Lazy Susan and having them spin around in a hurry is not a way to get an accurate count."

Moreover --- and, of course, this is the only thing the disgraced former President actually cares about --- Stark speaks to whether or not this problem could have possibly affected other races on the ballot, including the Presidential contest.

Also on today's show: A few more thoughts, for now, on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s obstruction of safeguarding democracy in the U.S. Senate, and Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report with a whole lot of very disturbing news for the climate, and a longtime, genteel British environmentalist who is no longer pulling his punches on what he describes as the "crime" of climate change...

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After WV's Dem Senator comes out against democracy and filibuster reforms, Democrats --- and democracy --- have a very real problem...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2021 5:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the bleak news about Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's willingness to participate in saving American democracy itself took its darkest turn to date over the weekend. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Republicans have absolutely no interest in cooperating with Democrats in the U.S. Senate on pretty much anything supported by Joe Biden or the Democrats, as Missouri's GOP Senator Roy Blunt (4th highest ranking Republican in the Senate) accidentally revealed on Meet the Press over the weekend. Few noticed, as they were distracted by Blunt's comments about Donald Trump's continuing lies about the 2020 election being stolen.

Nonetheless, President Biden is still going through the motions of negotiating with Republicans on his $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal (now negotiated down to $1 trillion in Biden's most recent offer/sacrifice to the GOP), and West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is still pretending that Republicans will somehow magically decide to cooperate with Democrats on anything in a bipartisan manner --- if only Democrats would just wish hard enough for it.

On Sunday, Manchin published an op-ed in the West Virginia Gazette-Mail, singing his own praises for overseeing election reforms with the addition of early voting in his state "in order to provide expanded options for those whose work or family schedule made it difficult for them to vote on Election Day," when he served as WV's Sec. of State. Nonetheless, in the same op-ed, he declared his opposition to mandating early voting for all 50 states by declaring his opposition to the For the People Act, despite all 49 of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate signing on as co-sponsors. That bill --- also known as H.R.1 and S.1 --- would mandate, in addition to early voting, no excuse absentee voting for all, an end to gerrymandering and place curbs on dark money in campaigns, along with a mountain of other long-overdue reforms to help counter many of the voter suppression laws now being moved by Republicans through dozens of states they control.

In the op-ed, Manchin argues correctly that "The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics" and "should never be done in a partisan manner." He even decries "state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting [and] politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections."

That, before he counterintuitively goes on to declare that he "will vote against the For the People Act" and "will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster" needed for its passage by a simple majority. Doing so, he argues, "will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy" and somehow violate our founders' "specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy."

But the founders said nothing about an undemocratic filibuster process in the Constitution. That Senate rule added and amended many times over the years, now mandates 60 votes for passage of any legislation, allowing the minority party to obstruct the will of the majority, even when that majority is attempting to protect voting rights being restricted on a partisan basis at the state level by Republicans.

If Manchin is unwilling to support the For the People Act or reform the filibuster to allow passage of measures like it with a simple majority, the hope for saving democracy at the federal level appear dead in the water for now, along with much, if not all, of the Biden Agenda from here on out through at least the 2022 elections.

Manchin does, however, support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the central provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, gutted by Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. He believes that bill can be passed on a bipartisan basis. His evidence? One single Republican --- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska --- has said she would be willing to support the measure. One Republican. That's great, Joe! Just 9 more such Republicans are needed to overcome the GOP's filibuster! We're not holding our breath. Manchin also told us he was confidence that 10 "patriots" from the Republican Party would come on board to support a commission to investigate the deadly January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol --- and democracy itself that day. Only 6 Republicans did. So the measure failed, even with a majority vote of 54 to 35 in favor.

So what can be done about this maddening, depressing, distressing --- and somewhat terrifying --- turn of events between now and next year's mid-term elections, which will otherwise be run under severe new state-level, partisan GOP voting restrictions, many of which will now allow Republicans to overturn results entirely on a whim? To be honest, I'm pretty much out of ideas at the moment, so we open up the phone lines to listeners to see if they might have any idea about how to move forward and save democracy in light of Manchin's obstruction on today's maddening BradCast...

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Guest: Center for Int'l Environmental Law's Carroll Muffett; Also: An insidious reason Trump wants MAGA to think he's about to be reinstated...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2021 6:40pm PT  

While the nation claws its way out of a pandemic and the Republican party continues to crack up --- or carry out its slow-motion attempted coup, take your pick --- a landmark moment occurred for the planet a week or so ago, which has left the fossil fuel industry reeling and describing as "Black Wednesday", even as it's received much less attention than it should have. On today's BradCast we aim to make up for that imbalance a bit. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, while Donald Trump has reportedly been telling anyone who will listen that he expects to be "reinstated" as President of the United States in August, the rightwing Charlie Cooke at the rightwing National Review confirms that reporting himself, while attempting to offer a dose of reality to his party at the same time. As he explains, even if it's true that Joe Biden and the Democrats and dead Hugo Chavez and Dominion Voting Systems and China actually did hack thousands of voting systems to steal the election from Trump (and, as he notes, they absolutely didn't), there is still no legal or Constitutional mechanism to simply "reinstate" Trump as President. It doesn't work that way in America, and the idea is, as he describes, both "otherworldly and obscene". Anyone who is deluded to the contrary, Cooke correctly explains, is "unmoored from the real world" and "living in a fantasy world" along with the disgraced former President.

But has Trump actually lost touch with reality while living in exile at Mar-A-Lago? Or is there another, more insidious reason entirely that he would want his MAGA Mob to believe he is about to be reinstated to the White House this summer? Yes, in fact, there is such a reason, as we discuss.

Then, it's on to "Black Wednesday". For context, however, we go back to an explosive report from 2018 [PDF] in which the non-profit Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) detailed a treasure trove of internal documents from Royal Dutch Shell, going back to the 1950s, revealing that the company's scientists were not only aware at the time, but very concerned about the threat of climate change due to the release of CO2 from the burning of their products. In 1962, one of their scientists warned, according to the memos unearthed by CIEL, that "greatly increasing use of the fossil fuels...is seriously contaminating the earth's atmosphere with CO2," leading their Chief Geology Consultant at the time to urge "serious consideration of the maximum utilization of solar energy."

By 1991, the company had even produced a documentary called Climate of Concern, warning of the threat of global warming thanks to the unfettered release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Just a few years later, however, Shell took a u-turn and joined with Exxon and other major fossil fuel producers to fund the climate change denial industry, while lying to shareholders about the threat of our now-worsening climate emergency and the stranded assets all such companies are likely to face in the years ahead.

That denial, however, may have come to a screeching halt a week ago Wednesday for Royal Dutch Shell, following a court ruling by a Dutch court ordering them to cut emissions by 45 percent and, on the very same day, by shareholder "rebellions" at both Chevron and ExxonMobil. That landmark day, May 26th, which our guest today describes as "sending shockwaves" through the industry, has now come to be known as "Black Wednesday".

We're joined today by CARROLL MUFFET, President and CEO of CIEL, whose report on Shell from three years ago (which he joined us to discuss at the time), helped play a role in last week's court ruling against Shell. Today he explains those "shockwaves" throughout the industry and just how momentous "Black Wednesday" will likely prove to be for Shell, Chevron, Exxon and others, after their very bad day in both the courtroom and the boardroom.

"This last week has been nothing short of extraordinary," Muffett extolls. "It's been a watershed moment for the industry, and a watershed moment for those us who have been working for decades to hold the industry accountable --- not only for its past, but for what its business models mean for the future."

For Chevron that day, shareholders voted to impose long-overdue emissions targets on the company, and Exxon's shareholders elected at least three "activist" candidates to the company's 12-member Board of Directors, displacing the company's preferred directors with climate advocates from a newly formed investment firm. The vote at Exxon was backed by major investors like BlackRock and Vanguard.

Muffett describes the "remarkable convergence" of that day. "Liabilities that we've been warning about for a decade, responsibilities that we've been warning about for a decade, and financial risks that we've been warning about for a decade, are finally no longer fringe. They are mainstream. And now it's investors and courts saying to these companies what we've been saying for a very long time."

He explains how the Dutch court held Shell "responsible for all of the emissions that result from its operations. And that includes not only the emissions that come from Shell pulling the oil out of the ground, but the much greater emissions that come when the oil and gas are sold and burned." He also details how the shareholder votes at both Chevron and Exxon ("the biggest shakeup of them all") was even more stunning in a number of ways, as all three companies will now be forced to make "significant changes" to their business models and what they invest in. In Shell's case, for example, "the court is saying that it is not enough to reduce the emissions associated with producing the oil, you effectively have to produce less oil."

That ruling has sent an unmistakable message, he suggests, to all of the major oil companies, one which they should have heard --- and, arguably did, but ignored and/or lied about --- long ago. "It's important to recognize that, if you look at the major oil and gas companies, they've been under-performing the S&P 500 for a decade," Muffett tells me. "Even before the pandemic began, they were losing money, losing value, they had begun writing off billions of dollars in assets --- phenomena that were accelerated by the pandemic. What's become clear to a growing number of investors is that these business models are putting not only the planet, not only human rights, not only human lives on the line, but they're also putting investors' money on the line. Unfortunately, that's what it took to get investors engaged."

But with both investors and courts now engaged, "Black Wednesday" has become both a "remarkable shockwave" and "a wake-up call" to investors and, hopefully, the world. "I would say that the entire future of these companies will be defined by litigation of one kind or another. How long that future will last, I don't know.  It is unlikely to outlast the litigation," says Muffett...

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Also: Very good U.S. COVID news; More bad news for Exxon (but good news for the planet); Bad news for Postmaster General DeJoy...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2021 5:44pm PT  

We're old enough on The BradCast to remember the days when the news got really slow during the summer months after Memorial Day. These are no longer those days. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

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

  • Thanks to the Biden Administration's COVID vaccine efforts, infection rates in the U.S. are now as low as they have been since March of 2020 --- the very beginning of the pandemic --- and are still dropping. Death rates have plummeted as well. Infection and death rates elsewhere in the world, however, are still soaring. So, even while upping their efforts to get folks vaccinated in the U.S. in June, the Biden Administration is finally taking action to help the rest of the world as well, vowing to distribute 80 million doses to nations in need --- near and far --- over the next month.
  • On our Green News Report earlier this week, we reported on Big Oil's very bad day last week, which is now being referred to as "Black Wednesday" for the fossil fuel industry. It was the day that Shell, Chevron and Exxon each got very bad news in either the courtroom or the boardroom. While the news was bad for them, it was great for the planet and those of us concerned about global warming amidst our worsening climate emergency. For Exxon, the bad news was that two "activist" candidates for its Board of Directors were elected by shareholders to push the company toward a more sustainable business model. Two other climate advocate candidates, also backed by large, forward thinking hedge funds, were also on the ballot last week. But their contests, we were told, were too close to call. As of last night, Exxon announced a third activist candidate was indeed also elected to the company's 12-member board.
  • Bad news for Donald Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (who, unfortunately, is still somehow in charge of the U.S. Postal Service, despite his best efforts to dismantle it.) The FBI is now said to be investigating DeJoy for unlawful campaign fund raising for Trump and the GOP, after a report last year by the Washington Post revealed he had allegedly pressured employees at his company (before being appointed Postmaster) to give contributions to Republicans for which he would later paid them back. "Straw-donor" campaign finance schemes like that are unlawful. But while DeJoy has previously denied violating any campaign finance laws, his defense, since reportedly being subpoenaed recently by the FBI, has changed in a noteworthy way, which we explain.
  • That, of course, was just a preamble today for our coverage of the ongoing Texas Republican attempt to pass a massive new voter suppression law, known as Senate Bill 7 (or SB7). Yes, that's the measure that was blocked over the weekend, at least temporarily, when Democratic state lawmakers walked out at the end of the year's legislative session over the weekend, denying Republicans a quorum in the House and final passage of the bill for this session along with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Greg Abbot has vowed to call an "emergency" special session to get it passed in the near future.

    In the meantime, the GOP claims that the new law is needed to combat "voter fraud" in the state, even after their own Secretary of State in March declared the 2020 election to have been "smooth and secure". That, after the state's Lt. Governor Daniel Patrick offered a $1,000,000 reward for evidence of voter fraud (still no takers, apparently), and the state's Attorney General Ken Paxton (indicted on multiple felony counts of securities fraud, but still somehow in office), logged 22,000 staff hours to sniff out voter fraud, coming up with barely a handful of cases out of more than 11 million ballots cast in 2020.

    The TX GOP's "voter fraud" claims are --- as they always have been --- built on a house of blatant lies. We walk you through the real facts about their phony "voter fraud" claims today and explain why they're really hoping to get this bill passed, above and beyond hoping to disenfranchise voters of color. Also, we offer a big hat-tip to CNN's Brianna Keilar who shut down some serious bullshit lies this week by her guest, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, the bill's lying lead sponsor.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, very busy, Green News Report, including news of a major ecological disaster in Sri Lanka; bad news about global warming and heat deaths; bad news regarding water in the U.S. Southwest; tragic news about the REAL death toll from Texas' winter storm and completely avoidable power blackouts; but good news for Alaska (and the nation), as the Biden Administration is now blocking the Trump-era scheme to lease oil and gas wells in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Preserve...

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Guest: Political scientist David Faris; Also: FEC fines AMI for 2016 Trump hush-money conspiracy; Dem wins NM U.S. House special in 'landslide'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/2/2021 5:55pm PT  

We continue to do all that we can on The BradCast to sound the alarm about the perilous state of democracy in the U.S. right now, as Republicans around the country work to pass laws to make it harder for Democrats to vote and to allow Republicans to outright reverse election results if Plan A doesn't work. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The heroic Democratic Texas state law makers who walked out of the state's House of Representatives at the end of the legislative session over the weekend to prevent a quorum from passing a sweeping new GOP voter suppression bill, as detailed on yesterday's show, are begging lawmakers in Congress for a "national response" to protect voting rights. They can only hold off the suppression for so long in the Lone Star State, as other GOP-controlled states do the same, as Democrats in Congress are crippled by archaic institutional processes like the filibuster.

The situation has become dangerous enough that 100 academic democracy scholars on Tuesday issued a "Statement of Concern" about Republican "initiatives" around the country which the group describe as "transforming...states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections," leaving "our entire democracy...now at risk." One of those scholars joins us today to discuss those concerns, what can be done about them, and whether or not the American public and Democrats in Congress truly appreciate the dire state that the usually staid academics are now trying to sounds their own alarm about.

But, first, in some other democracy-related news today, the Federal Elections Commission announced they are fining American Media Inc., parent company of the National Enquirer, $187,500 for its role in the hush-money payments made to Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. The payments, like those made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, were meant to keep the women quiet about sexual affairs each say they had with Donald Trump.

The FEC fine is for the unlawful, unreported "in-kind contribution" to Trump's campaign, meant to "suppress" McDougal's story and "prevent" it from influencing the election, according to the settlement between the FEC and AMI. So, AMI has now been fined and Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to prison for his part in what both he and the Dept. of Justice described as a "conspiracy" that was "directed" by Trump. So far, however, the disgraced former President who orchestrated the entire scheme has yet to be held accountable for it. The DoJ has until August to do so, before the statute of limitations on Trump's crime runs out.

In other less-criminal democracy news today, New Mexico's Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury won a special election for the U.S. House on Tuesday in a "landslide victory" against her oil and gas industry supporting Republican opponent. The election was to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Deb Haaland, Joe Biden's new Interior Department chief. Republicans were hoping that the margin, even if they lost in a very Democratic-leaning jurisdiction, would be an encouraging bellwether in advance of the 2022 mid-terms. It didn't work out that way. While Biden won NM's 1st Congressional District in 2020 by 23 points and Haaland won her seat that same year by 16 points, Stansbury reportedly trounced Republican Mark Moores on Tuesday by nearly 25 points! If the race was a bellwether, it will be seen as very good one indeed for Democrats today.

Then we're joined by author, columnist and Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, a longtime friend of the show and one of the scholars who signed on to that previously mentioned "Statement of Concern" about American democracy, in which the group pleads for action at the federal level to save democracy, including passage of election reform and safeguards such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act.

Our conversation with Faris comes the day after President Biden, in Tulsa on Tuesday, called for "a month of action on Capitol Hill", calling out (if not by name), "two Senators" who are blocking critical election and campaign finance reform by refusing to reform the filibuster to allow passage of the sweeping Democratic bills that the scholars, the Texas lawmakers, and many others across the nation are begging for in advance of 2022. Those two Senators, of course, are West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, Democrats who are still refusing to reform the filibuster to allow passage of the election protection bills.

"My fear is that Democrats are going to lose the House and the Senate next year," Faris tells me, "which in and of itself is not the end of the world. But there's another catastrophe galloping towards us, which is this Republican plot to steal the 2024 election, with a newer, better, more invigorated version of Trump's sloppy plot to do it in 2020. The worst-case scenario here is Democrats lose Congress next year, they lose a bunch of critical governorships in the battleground states, and Secretary of State races [and] we have a very similar result in 2024 --- that is, close outcomes in the tipping point states in the Electoral College. And then Republican legislatures and Governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, who knows where else, simply send Republican electors to Congress instead of whoever was chosen by the voters themselves."

That, he explains, is what Republicans in those states are currently angling for, including with the passage of state laws to make all of it easier. If GOP state lawmakers are elected with a minority of votes thanks to gerrymandering (which would be prevented by the For the People Act), who then select slates of Presidential Electors that a minority of voters voted for, and federal laws to prevent that are blocked by a House and Senate with GOP legislators also elected by a minority of voters to install a President who received a minority of the vote, under laws approved by a U.S. Supreme Court with a GOP majority stolen and packed by both a Senate and President who received a minority of votes, it would be "a world-historical catastrophe for American democracy." Nonetheless, Faris and the others now very much see that as a possibility.

"We've graduated from routine Republican voter suppression and election interference, sort of low-level election theft, to what I think of as a more integrated plot to install their preferred candidate in 2024." It's something that Faris --- and his fellow scholars --- are now "increasingly worried about."

"I do think there is a sense among a majority of the Democratic caucuses in both chambers of Congress that reforms are important," he concedes. "I think that that they know that Republicans are up to no good. What I don't think they understand is that it is an existential problem at this point --- that we may have only one or two elections left before Republicans do so much damage to the institutions of democracy, or they do something so outrageous that it could lead to some kind of violent, or maybe non-violent, crackup of the country, which is what I'm most concerned about."

What, if anything can be done about it? Do Manchin and Sinema really care? Are Joe Biden and the Democrats doing all that they can to change what now appears to be a grim outlook for the chances of real reform? And, if that reform miraculously somehow happens, will it be enough to actually prevent the worst-case scenarios that Faris and his scholarly colleagues are now so alarmed about?

We discuss all of that and more on today's...as usual...somewhat alarming BradCast...

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Also: Powell and Flynn call for coup in U.S.; Big Oil's very (very) bad day...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2021 5:26pm PT  

Desi and I are back on today's BradCast, after a week of non-stop jackhammers outside of our studio. The construction is still ongoing, but the jackhammers, we are told, are mostly done. So, we're trying to work around the noise as best as possible this week. (Though if a rerun unexpectedly shows up, that will be why!) And, happily, we're back just in time to report on the fights both for and against democracy in the great state of Texas over this past Memorial Day weekend. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

To that end, the loudest noises heard across the nation over the weekend, weren't jackhammers, but the march of Democrats, fighting to save democracy in Texas by walking out of the state House of Representatives on Sunday night, leaving behind no quorum to pass the GOP's major anti-voting bill. In a state dominated by Republicans --- in the Governor's mansion and both chambers of the state legislature --- Democrats were successfully able to kill one of the most onerous pieces of voter suppression legislation introduced by any state following the 2020 elections, by running out the clock. At least for now.

In Texas last November, things went very well, with the Secretary of State's office declaring the 2020 elections had been both "smooth and secure". Donald Trump easily won the state by about 630,000 votes, and Republicans held on to their majorities in both houses of the state legislature.

Unfortunately for the GOP, however, voter turnout --- in one of the lowest turnout states in the nation --- actually increased last November, including in Democratic-leaning jurisdictions like Harris County (Houston). Well, Republicans can't have that! They see the writing on the wall! More people voting, means more Democrats winning and more Republicans losing. So, over the weekend, at the very end of this year's legislative session, Republicans in state House and Senate, deliberating in secret, produced a whopper of a voter suppression bill that would make it much more difficult to vote by mail (which is already extraordinarily restricted in the Lone Star State); shorten weekend voting hours, including those used by Souls to the Polls efforts by black churches; make it a jail felony for election officials to send absentee ballot request forms to voters; outlaw drive-thru and 24-hour voting sites (used by some 140,000 last year to vote in Houston, where turnout increased by 10%); outlaw driving more than two non-family members to the polls without permission from the government; and deeply lower the threshold for overturning an election based on fraudulent ballots, even if the ballots in question were not cast for the winner of the initial vote count. All of that, among other new restrictons to make it more difficult to vote in a state that a recent study found was already the most difficult state to vote in.

But, after the wee-hours party-line passage of the 67-page bill, made public just before the final vote in the Senate late on Saturday night of the holiday weekend, the plan for final passage in the House went awry, thanks to a Democratic walk-out that left the chamber without the required two-thirds of its members needed for a quorum to hold a vote. As it happened on the last day for passage in the legislative session, the measure, Senate Bill 7 (obnoxously named the "Election Integrity Protection Act"), died a welcome death --- "welcome" at least to supporters of voting rights and democracy. Governor Greg Abbott (decidedly not such a supporter) was furious, and has threatened to withhold pay to legislators after the bill was killed. He has also declared the measure to be a "must pass" bill in a special emergency session he has vowed to call...at some point in near future.

The heroic Texas Democratic legislators who fought to keep democracy alive for another day in the Lone Star state by using the "last tool in [their] toolbox" to block the measure, subsequently pleaded with Congressional legislators in D.C. to pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act at the federal level, to help stave off the worst elements of the Texas bills, and others like it, which have already passed by some 14 states, with more on the way.

Those federal measures to protect democracy, rather than undermine it, are unfortunately being blocked first by Republicans in the U.S. Senate, and secondly by West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, the only Dem of 50 in the upper chamber to not yet sign on as co-sponsor of the For the People Act --- a sweeping bill to reform and protect elections and campaigns in all 50 states. That, as both Manchin and Arizona's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have been unwilling to reform the Senate filibuster in order to pass the critical election safeguards with a simple majority before 2022. Without filibusterer reform, Dems would somehow need to get 10 Senate Republicans on board to overcome a filibuster, an impossibility.

We explain all of this today in a fairly monster rant.

Next, in case it's still unclear what supporters of democracy are now being forced to contend with in these United States, we have a quick review of the weekend's three-day QAnon conspiracy conference in Dallas. Called "For God and Country: Patriot Roundup", the forum included an appearance by Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who called for the failed former President to be "reinstated" with a "new inauguration date" set, due to "abject fraud" and "obtaining a coup of the United States of America" last year. Of course, there is zero evidence of such fraud, despite her many failed lawsuits which falsely argued otherwise before being largely laughed out of court. As to a "coup", well, another featured guest at the Roundup called for exactly that. Literally.

When Trump's former National Security Advisor, Lt. General Michael Flynn (pardoned by Trump after he pleaded guilty to several criminal federal felonies last year), was asked by an audience member why we shouldn't have a military coup like the one under way in Myanmar. Flynn responded: "No reason," in stunning remarks captured on video tape. "I mean, it should happen here," he told the crowd. But, by Monday, after calls for Flynn to be held accountable for calling for the seditious overthrow of the United States, Flynn offered one hell of a walk back, claiming he didn't say at all what he very clearly said...as captured on video tape.

Finally, amidst the darkness of American democracy under assault as we've not seen since the Civil War itself, some good news. Ironically enough, it comes via our latest Green News Report, wherein Desi Doyen gets us caught up on a remarkably bad day for Big Oil last week, when the planet's three largest fossil fuel companies, Exxon, Chevron and Shell, all took big hits in either the boardroom or the courtroom. All of which is very helpful news indeed for our odds of mitigating the deadly climate emergency that all three companies spent so many years exacerbating and lying about. So, along with cheering on the heroic Dems in Texas, there's a bit more to be happy about as we walk out of today's BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Election integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn with callers ringing in...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2021 7:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast, (riddled with a few tech probs at the station, so apologies for any incoherence on my part!) we bring you up to date on some of the latest developments in the insane, dangerously non-transparent "audit" theater in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona being carried out by the Trump-supporting Cyber Ninjas company. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.

[ALSO: See important "SHOW NOTE" at end of this summary!]

Notably, a story we broke some weeks ago, after the Ninjas were forced by a state judge to publicly release what suffices as their procedural documents [PDF] for the "audit" (they had claimed their procedures for counting public ballots from the 2020 election were "trade secrets") was confirmed, at least in part, by an excellent article at Slate this weekend by Jeremy Stahl. In short, we had explained weeks ago how the Ninjas poorly documented procedures (see p. 178 in the PDF linked above) allows them to change a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes in their so-called "audit", without setting off any internal or external alarm bells. Stahl's lengthy, well-reported story on the Maricopa mess, headlined "What if the renegade Arizona audit declares Trump won?" details, among many other things, the same point, that the Cyber Ninjas' own procedures allow them to change far more votes than would be needed to falsely declare Trump actually won the state. Any such mistally is considered an acceptable rate of error in their own documented procedures --- even though Joe Biden was certified to have won the state by just over 10,000 votes.

Moreover, if and when they do declare that AZ was somehow stolen from Trump, there is little that can be done to dispute such a claim, since the secure chain of custody for the 2.1 million actual ballots cast in Maricopa last year has now been irrevocably broken. Only yet another hand-count could prove or disprove such a claim by the Ninjas, since --- unlike real audits --- they have not allowed the public to track or oversee their daily tallies. But, after the private, Florida-based company took custody of the County's ballots weeks ago, they could have added, removed or changed ballots at any time since.

All of that, meanwhile, as a real audit continues in Windham, NH, being run transparently by actual voting system, cybersecurity and post-election audit professionals who are allowing full public oversight. And as a judge in Georgia just granted permission for yet another post-election audit of copies of the 2020 ballots cast in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's Presidential race last year.

Of course, all of these questions about the results of last year's elections --- whether offered in good or bad faith --- might have been avoided years ago had Democrats insisted on fully overseeable public elections, instead of allowing private voting machine companies to, by and large, take over America's election with computers that tally votes, essentially, in secret. We have been warning about this nightmare for years, and now it is coming home to roost.

As our guest today, San Francisco-based attorney, election integrity advocate and Twitter rockstar JENNIFER COHN pointed out in a recent smart Twitter thread, Republicans spent years blocking Democratic legislation, the SAFE Act, which would have at least mandated post-election audits for federal races in every state. Now, Republicans are claiming they are needed all over the country. But, oddly enough --- for reasons that Cohn has been unable to determine so far --- Dems have failed to reintroduce the SAFE Act in this session of Congress.

She speculates today that the legislation may now be seen by Democrats as feeding into the GOP's evidence-free claims of fraud in the 2020 election, not unlike how Dem fears of being labeled as "conspiracy theorists" over the years prevented them from challenging and demanding hand-counts after what her thread describes as "fifteen years of poll-defying victories" for Republicans.

"I don't want to imply that I think they are equally to blame," Cohn tells me. "But I do think that it's a failure of leadership. Because leadership isn't about just reacting always to what the other party does. It's about standing for something." She goes on to correctly note that Democrats "had an opportunity after 2016 to really be the champions of election security, and to even incorporate that into their campaign platforms, and they didn't do it." Doing so, "behind the scenes does not win the court of public opinion" and now that has "allowed Trump to hijack that narrative."

"It should have been the Democrats to take that to the people, to take that to the court of public opinion. Had they done that, Trump would not be in a position to play the victim. Had the public known about the SAFE Act, and that Republicans blocked it, they would not be in the position they were to pretend to be victims" today.

Cohn is a longtime, dyed-in-the-wool Dem. So she does not level such accusations lightly. We discuss those concerns and many other points regarding the various audits --- and several splits in the Election Integrity community about them --- before opening up the phone to listeners with thoughts and questions for her and/or me on all of the above today.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

SHOW NOTE!: We've just learned from my landlord that major construction --- tearing up a walkway to install a new security gate --- will begin on Tuesday and last anywhere from 7 to 14 days! That means jack-hammers outside of our studio will make it impossible for Desi and I to do shows for the rest of the week and maybe even next week. Our beloved guest host Nicole Sandler has agreed to fill in for us for the rest of the week...and then we'll see where we are after next Monday's holiday. It could be a week of re-runs, but I hope not! Just letting you know why we are forced to suddenly and unexpectedly disappear for at least the rest of the week! My apologies. Though, as usual, Nicole will do a swell job of covering for us in our unexpected absence! Thanks for your understanding! --- BF

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Guest: Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee; Also: Gaetz' ex-girlfriend flipping on him, Trump's finance chief may flip on Trump, Trump may flip on everyone, including his own family...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2021 7:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Everyone in Trump World is now either flipping on everyone else in Trump World, or appears on their way to doing so. Including Trump himself Fun! Less fun: Democrats in Congress wasting their time in negotiations on Biden's bold Build Back Better agenda with Republicans who are decidedly not negotiating in good faith, as they made clear to everyone once again this week. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the flippin' fun part of the show! Just before airtime, CNN reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz' ex-girlfriend is now said to be cooperating with federal investigators believed to be looking into the Republican Congressman from Florida's many alleged payments for sex and illicit sex trafficking of a minor.

And while Gaetz, Donald Trump's number one fan in Congress, is facing a world of trouble (and years in prison), so, of course, is Trump, as it appears to be getting hotter by the hour inside the Trump Organization. This week, we learned that the New York state Attorney General, Letitia James, who had been looking at civil violations of bank and tax fraud laws by Trump and his company, joined the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's criminal investigation of many of the same matters.

The next day, we learned that Allen Weisselberg, the long time Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization --- beginning all the way back to when Trump's dad Fred was in charge --- is now facing his own criminal tax-related probe by the NY AG's office as well. That, as our guest earlier in the week, former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason explained at the time, is a likely precursor to getting him to flip on his boss, the disgraced former President.

And the next day after that, Weisselberg's former daughter-in-law Jennifer --- who has announced that she's been cooperating with prosecutors for some time, after explaining that her former husband Barry (also a Trump employee) was often paid with free rent in expensive luxury apartments and some $500,000 worth of private school tuition for their kids --- believes that her former father-in-law, Allen, will absolutely flip on Trump to save himself.

That revelation came as Trump's own former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen --- who flipped on Trump long ago, as he earned federal prison time by pleading guilty to participating in a campaign finance hush-money conspiracy "directed" by Trump --- believes that Trump will eventually flip on everyone, including Allen Weisselberg, and even his own kids(!) if necessary, to save himself! "I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them, including his children," Cohen told MSNBC, adding: "I really believe that Donald Trump cares for only himself and he realizes that his goose is cooked."

It's all flippin' hilarious, in truth. We'll see if things continue to come crashing down on the former Criminal-in-Chief --- as they sure seem set to do, at this point --- in the coming days and weeks. Fun!

Less fun, unfortunately, is the continuing obstruction campaign being waged by Congressional Republicans, who laid bare their bad faith yet again this week, after spending months negotiating with Democrats on an evenly balanced January 6th Commission, only for GOP leadership in both chambers to then whip their members against it after the bipartisan deal was finally struck in the House Homeland Security Committee.

A similar pageant of bad faith negotiations have been underway for several weeks now with Republicans pretending they are interested in working with Democrats on Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, and his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, to support "human infrastructure", such as child care, paid family leave and free daycare and community college.

We've seen this bad movie before. Just look back at the months that Dems spent "negotiating" with Republicans in 2009 and 2010 over the Affordable Care Act, when the GOP failed to offer a single vote in favor of the landmark healthcare law, even after winning all kinds of concessions from Dems to water down the plan.

Now, Democrats are finally saying enough is enough. At least some of them, who, Politico reports, are speaking up and calling for the Jobs Plan and Families Plan to be combined into a megabill and passed in one fell swoop under the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules allowing passage of almost all of it with a simple majority vote. The only problem: Not all Dems are ready to do so, especially West Virginia's Joe Manchin, who is also not yet onboard with the Dems' sweeping proposal for election and campaign finance reform --- the For the People Act (or H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate) --- and the filibuster reform that would be required to pass it with just 50 Democratic votes.

Joining us to today to explain how Dems and progressives can possibly move forward through all of these obstacles is ADAM GREEN, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who told Politico this week that: "The only two scenarios for Democrats are to go big or get nothing."

Green expands on those comments today, arguing that the process of negotiation going on right now is, by and large, meant to convince Manchin, and maybe a few other conservative Democrats, that there is only one real path forward to carry out Biden's truly ambitious progressive agenda.

"I think that there are two genres in working with Republicans," he tells me. "One, that hearkens back to the Obama era, where they really thought that Republicans were potentially willing to deal with them, and wasted a year and quarter negotiating with them before passing Obamacare. It wasted a lot of time that led to a lack of results by the 2010 election. And the lack of results meant low motivation for voters to turnout and vote, or vote Democrat."

"In this case, " Green continues, "I think we have a little bit of a different scenario, where most people understand the game. The game here is there are one or two Senate Democrats with that old mindset --- they genuinely believe Republicans will deal in good faith.  Everybody else is ready to get this done but has to play ball for a couple of months to make abundantly clear that these Republicans don't come in good faith."

Green also cites this week's last minute u-turn on the January 6th Commission as a perfect example, where the GOP had "pretty much of all of their demands met," only to see "Republican leaders coming out against it." That, he says, leads him to feel "hopeful that we're nearing the time when  even the Joe Manchins of the world realize that they did their best, but too bad, it's time to go it alone with Democratic votes and score big for the American people."

But even if Manchin is ultimately willing to agree to pass the infrastructure plans with a simple majority under Senate Reconciliation rules, is there ANY path that would allow for passage of other top Dem priorities like the For the People Act? That bill would almost certainly fail to meet Senate Parliamentarian muster to be passed under the same rules, so would somehow have to overcome a GOP filibuster to be adopted. An optimistic Green believes there is a VERY narrow path to make that happen as well, and he details how progressives in not just West Virginia, but every state, can help push Dems --- and Manchin --- through that narrow path. It includes, among other things, a new "Democracy exception" to Senate filibuster rules. Such an exception, he notes, could also allow D.C. to finally become a state in the bargain. As I said, optimistic!

Finally, we're always happy to end another mad week in these "United" States with another gem from the great Randy Rainbow, this one dedicated to all of the swell, not-at-all horrible Republican lawmakers in Congress. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning; Also: CA GOP's Newsom recall falling flat so far; Israel, Hamas agree to cease-fire; GOP disgraces self, infuriates cops by trying to block Jan. 6th Commission...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fight for truth and justice continues from Palestine to Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, CA. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Just before airtime today, encouraging news broke that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire after nearly two weeks of fighting that left at least 230 Palestinians (including at least 65 children) dead in Gaza, and 12 Israels (including two children) dead on the other side. The promised pause in hostilities comes after President Biden's long-overdue pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which came after pressure from Congressional Democrats on Biden.

Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, revealed once again this week the bad faith with which they are supposedly "working" with Democrats. After the top Democrat and Republican on the Homeland Security Committee in the House negotiated a deal for the structure of an evenly partisan divided, independent commission to examine the deadly January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the GOP minority leaders in both the House and Senate whipped their own members to reject it. Nonetheless, the House passed the resolution to create the Jan. 6 Commission on Wednesday, after some stunning and dramatic debate, with 35 Republicans joining all of the Dems to adopt the Commission. The rest of the House GOPers scoffed at the attack on the Capitol and even at the U.S. Capitol Police themselves, the very law enforcement officials who risked life and limb to protect all Congressional members on that shameful, historic day. The measure must still overcome a Republican filibuster to be adopted in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell is opposing with lies about it being "unbalanced", in hopes of protecting his party, his counterpart in the House, Kevin McCarthy, and our disgraced former President who incited the riot.

Meanwhile, back here in California, we catch up with the GOP's ongoing recall attempt of progressive Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, whose poll numbers are on the rise, as the rates of COVID infections, deaths and positive tests are now among the lowest --- if not THE lowest --- in the nation. The CA GOP, unable to win statewide elections anymore, unless they can fool voters during a low turnout recall election, had cited Newsom's handling of the pandemic and the state's homelessness crisis as reason to unseat the first term Governor in a recall election later this year.

As our guest today, retired attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING explained in a fascinating post this week, however, a federal judge may have recently buttressed Newsom's case when it comes to his efforts on the housing crisis in the Golden State as well.

Specifically, while noting the high marks given to the Governor in the judge's ruling in the case filed by the Los Angeles Alliance for Human Rights seeking federal intervention on the homelessness crisis in L.A. City and County, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter's 110-page decision cites the real reason for, as Canning described it, "the nightmare of homelessness at the heart of a place that dares to call itself the City of Angels."

Canning explains Judge Carter's "eye-opening" historical revelations as he detailed a century of systemic racism and corruption in Southern California that has directly resulted in the crisis which now disproportionately affects African-Americans. From "racially restrictive covenants, redlining and eminent domain" used by Los Angeles "to racially segregate neighborhoods" to "Ku Klux Klan violence [that] further targeted Black families who resided in majority white neighborhoods" to sea-side property taken "from Black families and turn[ed]...into a whites-only park," the judge offered an insightful and maddening history of the horrors that have come to haunt all of us --- or, certainly should --- here in Southern California.

"There were no African Americans," says Canning, where he went to school while growing up in SoCal in the 50s and 60s. "The thing that Judge Carter reveals is that that didn't happen by happenstance. Back in 1910, 36% of African Americans were living in racially-diverse neighborhoods, and they were homeowners. In steps, the KKK, enforcement of racially restrictive covenants, redlining, and eminent domain" changed all of that. "We're not talking about Georgia or any of the former Confederate states, we're talking about Southern California."

I hope you'll take a look at his coverage of Judge Carter's ruling here.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some not horrible, landmark news from the International Energy Agency on how the usually fossil fuel-friendly agency is now calling for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050; and some incredibly exciting news on Wednesday night's unveiling by the Ford Motor Company of their brand-new, game-changing, all-electric F-150 Lightning pick-up truck, that could just save the world...and power your entire house for days...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason of GWU Law School; Also: Manchin's voting rights folly; Major fossil fuel supporting group says it's time to end new fossil fuel development...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2021 6:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast: In a bit of an earth-shaking statement issued to CNN late on Tuesday, which has echoed across the nation ever since, a spokesperson for New York's Attorney General said: "We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the company is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA." [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, has been running a criminal grand jury probe of our disgraced former President and his business empire for almost two years, looking into, among other things, allegations of major bank and tax fraud crimes. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, has also been investigating some of the same allegations of falsely-inflated values of certain real estate holdings in order to receive loans, while Trump reportedly under-valued many of the same properties in order to pay lower taxes. That would be fraud. But, until last night, the NY AG's probe was understood to be looking at civil violations of the law, not criminal ones. That has all now changed.

We're joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, RANDALL D. ELIASON who, while serving as AUSA, was also Chief of the Public Corruption/Government Fraud section at DoJ. He is now a professor at George Washington University Law School, a contributing columnist at Washington Post, and writes about corporate and white collar crime at his own Sidebars Blog.

Given today's news, we have a lot of questions for him, beginning with the most fundamental: What is the difference between a criminal and a civil investigation? "The most important difference," Eliason explains, "is in a criminal case, people can go to jail. Only in a criminal prosecution can somebody actually lose their liberty. Of course, criminal cases have the higher burden of proof, as well. You've got to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury. [In] civil cases the burden of proof is much lower, typically just a preponderance of evidence that you can establish the offense took place. So, civil cases can lead to hefty fines, but the stakes are lower, because at the end it's usually primarily about money. In a criminal case, you're talking about people possibly going to jail, and the stakes are much higher."

Beyond that, of course, we've got many more questions about the scintillating news out of James' office today:

  • Why would NY state's civil probe turn into a criminal one?;
  • If James' office has joined Vance's criminal probe, is her own civil investigation still moving forward at the same time?;
  • Why would the NY AG announce this new development publicly at all?;
  • Does anyone go to jail if a corporation is charged, rather than an individual?;
  • Why does it matter if the Trump Organization paid its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and his sons (who are also employed by Trump) with free NYC apartments and private school tuition for their children?;
  • Why is it a concern for prosecutors that Trump's company spent millions on consultants, including to his own daughter Ivanka while she was already employed at the company?;
  • Are the various probes of Trump and his company taking longer than might be expected in cases such as these?;
  • If Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was convicted and imprisoned by federal prosecutors for participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by Trump, why hasn't Trump been charged yet for "directing" that criminal conspiracy not that he's no longer in office?;
  • And, with all of Trump's looming legal concerns that we currently know of --- from New York to Atlanta to Washington D.C. --- would Eliason be more surprised if Trump has NOT been criminally indicted by this time next year or if he has been?

As you might expect, Eliason has a lot of helpful insight on all those questions and others today!

Next, West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Alaska's Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined forces this week to issue a letter calling on leaders of both parties in the House and Senate to move forward with a measure to repair the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. "Inaction is not an option," they write, "Congress must come together."

The effort comes as Manchin is the only Democrat in the Senate to have not signed on as a co-sponsor of the For The People Act (known as H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate). That is the Democrats' critical, omnibus election and campaign finance reform bill that would, among MANY other things, end gerrymandering, mandate automatic voter registration and early voting and curb the use of dark money in political campaigns. But it does not restore the critical provision in the VRA, gutted by SCOTUS, that mandate pre-clearance by the Dept. of Justice of new voting laws in jurisdictions with a long history of racial voter suppression. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (or H.R.4) does that.

While Manchin is, so far, unwilling to support H.R.1, because he believes election reform bills must be bipartisan (all Republicans in the House voted against it, and all have opposed it so far in the Senate), this week's efforts with Murkowski seems to suggest he'd be open to support H.R.4, the John Lewis Act, or something akin to it.

I explain why that bill is currently on a separate legislative track from the For the People Act --- instead of simply combined with it --- and why Manchin appears to be under the absurd illusion that somehow at least ten Republican Senators would support any legitimate fix to the Voting Rights Act in order to allow such a bill to overcome a GOP filibuster in the upper chamber.

Finally, a "blockbuster" new climate report was issued on Tuesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a U.N. partner group that is traditionally, and notoriously, pro-fossil fuel. This report, however, offers a road map on how the world's energy needs can be met while still achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As Desi Doyen explains, the plan mandates no new fossil fuel development beyond what is already in place. That's a stunning turnabout on its own from this particular agency, which also points out that we already have the technological innovation that is needed to achieve net zero in 30 years, but a significant portion of it is not yet ready (or is currently prohibitively expensive) for broad commercial use. Desi details the IEA's road map, what it signals, and what it will mean both politically and for the energy sector as the world continues to come to terms with our quickly worsening climate emergency...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: OH's million dollar COVID vaccine lottery is working; Millions of parents will soon get monthly checks from Dems' American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2021 7:08pm PT  

There is nothing wrong with citizens --- no matter how partisan or misinformed --- demanding to know for themselves that election results have been accurately recorded and reported. That's true even in cases where they have been blatantly lied to by, say, a disgraced, failed President of the United States. But post-election audits must be done in full public view from top to bottom, with all processes and evidence from the election kept within a transparent, well-documented, secure chain-of-custody at every step. Two ongoing post-election audits from the 2020 election are currently underway. One offers an example of exactly how not to do such a probe, the other one is shaping up to be a model for the nation.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show follows this summary]...

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's scheme to hold a $1 million lottery each week for the next five weeks for any Buckeye Stater 18 and over who has received at least one COVID vaccine shot, appears to be working. While we've got a few suggestions on how it could have been done more effectively, at least it appears to have slowed and even reversed (for some ages) the state's recent drop-off in the number of folks getting their shots. As it turns out, Ohioans seem to like DeWine's plan to offer federal government-sponsored cash prizes (yes, socialism!) courtesy of the America Rescue Plan in exchange for receiving life-saving inoculation from a deadly disease. More states should consider the same and the federal government oughta just pay people to get their shots! We suspect a crisp $100 bill in exchange for a shot in the arm would do the trick. (By the way, Ohioans need to opt-in for the lottery, at OhioVaxAMillion.com, to be eligible for the prizes!)
  • Another direct benefit for Americans from the American Rescue Plan (Biden's emergency pandemic relief and stimulus bill adopted by Democrats while being VOTED DOWN BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS), is the expanded child tax credits which will, beginning in July, send monthly checks of $300 per child under 6, and $250 for kids between 6 and 17, to parents making less than $150,000 over the next year. If Americans liked the Democrats' $1,400 individual payments from the ARP, they may love its expanded child tax credits which start this summer. Experts say the payments are likely to help cut child poverty in half this year. Hopefully, Dems will remember to loudly remind Americans of all parties which party it was that made those payments possible, and which party attempted to prevent them. Democrats are not usually very good at that. And hopefully they'll be able to extend those payments through at least 2025 as Biden has proposed in his American Families Plan --- which Republicans also oppose.
  • Then it's back to the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the county's 2.1 million public ballots from the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections last year are being inspected, in secret, by a private company with no experience in elections, voting systems or audits named Cyber Ninjas. Now, it seems, the Ninjas and a number of their allegedly false claims made about the materials turned over to them by the County (as ordered by a state court in response to the Republican-controlled state Senate's mandate) were the final straw for the majority GOP Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and its new Republican County Recorder.

    On Monday, the 5-person Board (4 Rs, 1 D), denounced the audit as a "sham" and a "con," lamenting the "spectacle" that they say "is harming all of us" and turning Arizona into "a laughingstock". The new Republican County Recorder, Steven Richer, now in charge of elections in one of the nation's largest counties, blasted the Ninjas for what he describes as blatantly false claims that election databases were unlawfully deleted and for ensuring attacks on his new staff. The Board also sent a blistering 13-page letter [PDF] to the state Senate's President detailing their anger, frustration and embarrassment, calling for the audit to be ended, while responding to charges they claim to be lies coming out of process. The Maricopa "audit" is now in it's third week in Phoenix, but reportedly nowhere near complete.

  • Meanwhile, by way of a critical contrast, another post-election forensic audit is underway in Windham, New Hampshire, led by actual experts in post-election audits and voting systems. Unlike the evidence-free claims of fraud in AZ, there is reason to be alarmed by the results of a state House of Representatives race in the town of 14,000 people. There, on election night last November, in an 8-person race (4 Ds and 4 Rs) for 4 seats in the state House, all four Republican candidates won. According to the computer tabulations, they were the four top vote-getters for those seats, with the Democratic candidate, Kristi St. Laurent, coming in 5th by just 24 votes.

    Last November, after she requested a hand-count of the town's hand-marked paper ballots --- previously tallied only by 20-year old, easily manipulated, oft-failed Diebold optical scanners --- it was discovered that the 4 Republicans actually received about 300 more votes each than the tabulators had reported on Election Night. And St. Laurent, the hand-tally found, actually received 99 fewer votes than initially credited with. So what explains the discrepancy between the computer count and the hand count? That's what the auditors began to investigate last week in one of the most open, professional, well-documented and transparent such processes I've ever seen in my nearly twenty years on this beat.

    This week, the auditors explained --- via the live streaming audio and video coming out of the audit room, their own Twitter feed, as well as in interviews with local media --- their leading working theory that could explain the numbers seen one way (incorrectly) by the computer scanners and another way (correctly) by the hand-counters last November. Their working theory, if it bears out, would explain the disparity between the two separate tallies last November. We explain that theory today. And, no, unlike our disgraced former President's recent false claims about both Arizona and New Hampshire, the reasonable hypothesis does not involve "massive election fraud" with "thousands and thousands" of newly "found" ballots. It involves the scanners misreading folds on mail-in ballots as votes.

    But, of course, most critically, the side-by-side comparison of the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa, which the public (and even local officials) are not allowed to fully oversee, versus the methodical, transparent, public process being carried out in Windham, should be an illustrative model for all future such probes. In the case of Windham, we are likely to have an answer to the mystery that everyone can agree with when all is said and done in the next few weeks. In Maricopa, I think its safe to say, little is expected to be settled one way or another after this ill-considered exercise is finally finished...if it ever is.

  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as calls grow for increased cybersecurity for the nation's energy infrastructure in the wake of last week's Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack; another pipeline company defies a shutdown order from a state Governor; and the EPA finally shuts down --- at least for now --- a disastrous, toxic mess of an oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands...among other American disaster tales hastening our worsening climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: SCOTUS takes up abortion; Gaetz in trouble; Israel bombs AP's building in Gaza...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2021 6:54pm PT  

As AP reports today, a new lawsuit "against [Georgia's] secretary of state and the members of the State Election Board was filed in federal court in Atlanta by county election board members, individual voters, election volunteers, nonprofit organizations and a journalist." As broken on today's BradCast, that journalist is me. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I am one of the several named plaintiffs in the 200-page suit [PDF] filed in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking to block a number of outrageous and dangerous provisions in the state GOP's new voter-suppression bill. While the measure, SB202 [PDF], adopted by GA Republicans, does a lot of terrible stuff, some of which is well known by now (making it harder to vote by mail, banning absentee drop boxes, blocking the distribution of food or water on long voting lines), much of which will disproportionately suppress minority voters, there are a number of other provisions which are simply jaw-dropping, but have not yet been challenged in the several suits previously filed against the law by a number of civil rights and voting rights groups.

My part in the suit, filed today by the non-partisan, non-profit, indispensable Coalition for Good Governance, revolves around press freedoms which are outrageously and unconstitutionally trampled by SB202. In fact, as discussed on the show today with the Coalition's Executive Director, MARILYN MARKS, no small amount of the detailed reporting we have done here over the years focused on Georgia has now been criminalized by the new statute!

As detailed in the complaint (see the section on "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN" beginning on p. 101), it is now unlawful to report on "mail balloting discrepancies or security concerns that he or The BRAD BLOG or BradCast journalists may personally observe as members of the press"; "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN will be injured because the party appointed observers he has relied on to supply first-hand accounts...are are prohibited under penalty of misdemeanor from reporting their observations" on Georgia elections to me; As Marks explains, photographs that I or others may have taken in a polling place and used on the blog would be illegal; Observers from the media watching the tallying of absentee ballots will be committing a crime just by reporting on how many ballots they are "estimating" or "attempting to estimate" have been counted or are left to be tallied, according to the language of the hastily written SB2020 ("It's a thought crime!," Marks charges. "Literally, it says you cannot 'estimate' or 'attempt to estimate' anything about votes in the ballot processing room for mail ballots!"); Video interviews or photographs taken inside of counting rooms or in polling places in front Georgia's giant, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems could be evidence of a felony(!) under the new law, which poll workers, poll watchers, media observers and even voters could now be charged with under state law!

"On BRAD BLOG," Marks observes, "you frequently post a picture, many a picture of election activity, including people in the mail ballot rooms looking at hand-marked voted ballots. To take a picture of a ballot now is a misdemeanor." Yes, those posted photos would now be evidence of a crime. "You would not be permitted to take a picture of anonymous ballots. We see thousands of pictures, every election, of voted ballots being counted. But for some reason --- I guess we know what reason --- they are criminalizing it."

Yes, the photo used above, as taken from the complaint's numerous examples, of voters voting at Atlanta's State Farm Arena last year in Fulton County, could be used as evidence of a felony by the Reuters photo-journalist, Chris Aluka Berry, who took it.

As the suit notes, "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is already injured by SB202 because the criminalization of constitutionally protected activity has a chilling effect on his exercise of First Amendment rights" and because "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is threatened with injuries arising from SB202’s prior restraints on his First Amendment right of free speech and right of freedom of the press."

We have "reported on Georgia election integrity and election security hundreds of times over the last almost twenty years," the lawsuit accurately explains. Much of that coverage could now constitute a state crime under this horrible, unconstitutional law. "I have a feeling they will find any little tripwire they can about the two of us," Marks tells me. "If you were complimentary toward Georgia, I don't think you'd have any problems."

This BradCast, for example, from June of last year, featuring a Democratic Party post-election adjudication observer (and now co-plaintiff in this suit) Jeanne DuFort --- breaking the news of her discovery that GA's new Dominion tabulation computers were failing to count votes on tens of thousands of ballots --- would have been a crime in several ways, according to the state's new law.

There are other provisions in SB202 of concern as well --- beyond those being challenged in several of the voting rights lawsuits --- as Marks explains in the Coalition's press release today, from the law's "Takeover Provision" that permits bi-partisan County Elections Boards to be removed entirely and replaced by a single partisan, for virtually any reason (even minor infractions by a low-level worker up to four years ago!) to a few items we didn't have time cover on today's show, like the impossible new deadlines for requesting absentee ballots (in cases before a run-off election, the deadline to request such a ballot for it will now end before the original election is even certified to include a run-off!) and more.

As AP highlights in its report today, the suit argues: "Liberty requires at least three essential things — an unfettered right to vote, freedom of speech, and the meaningful separation of powers. This lawsuit is necessary to preserve individual constitutional rights, and constitutional government, against the attacks that SB202 makes on these three pillars of liberty."

Marks elucidates today on "Those three pillars of liberty: the right to vote, the right to free speech, and the right to separation of powers. What's happening here is the first one that they are violating is that separation of powers. That is a key one. Once they grab all of the powers, they close the doors. Yeah, they still have to deal with the pesky press and pesky watchers, but not anymore --- not if they criminalize your reports."

So, yeah. Even as its strange to become a part of a story I've been covering for so long, I am very proud to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit against SB202, which Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State falsely claim "makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat". In truth, Marks told me off air after the show, the opposite is true. "It makes it harder to vote and easier to cheat," she said.

Also today, the GOP's packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court announced it's taking up Mississippi's restriction on abortion rights that was blocked by a lower court. This is not good news for freedom lovers and those who oppose Big Government coming between a woman and her doctor; A former elected Florida official who is a buddy of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to a federal plea deal that requires he tells federal prosecutors all that he knows about Gaetz' alleged sex trafficking of a minor; And in Gaza City over the weekend, Israel outrageously targeted and destroyed a 12-story high-rise building housing AP's office for the past 15 years. It's top floor cameras have been the eyes for the world, witnessing, as the news agency reported this weekend, "24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week."

Those cameras will no longer be there to bear witness to the world. As AP's President noted in a statement describing the attack as "shocking and horrifying" on Saturday, "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

And, in Georgia, if SB202 is allowed to stay in place, the world will know less about what is happening in the Peach State's elections because of it. As in Gaza, I suspect that is the point...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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