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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 12, 2020
BIDEN PICKS HARRIS; Also: 'Lost' GA Vote Mystery Solved: 'BradCast' 8/11/20
Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala; Jeanne Dufort on GA's scanner fail that missed 1000s of valid votes & how to fix it before Nov...
'Green News Report' 8/11/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
More deadly fossil fuel disasters in Baltimore, off island of Mauritius; Get ready for hyperactive hurricane season; Record July 2020 heat; PLUS: Canada's last intact ice shelf collapses...
Previous GNRs: 8/6/20 - 8/3/20 - Archives...
Failed PR Primary; 100k Infected Kids in 2 Weeks; Trump's Pretend 'Exec Orders': 'BradCast' 8/10/20
Also: 'Back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
Overcoming Trump's Vote-By-Mail Obstacles
How states, counties and YOU must help defend our 'last firewall'...
Sunday 'Is What' Toons
This week's toon collection from PDiddie is what it is...
'Mail is Being Slowed Down... Everywhere' Warns Postal Union Prez: 'BradCast' 8/7/20
Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist 'wins' TN's Dem U.S. Senate nom after being outspent 250 to 1...
National Ripoff Association: NY A.G. Sues NRA for Fraud, to Dissolve Org: 'BradCast' 8/6/20
Also: Trump in NY legal trouble too; Economy over a cliff as White House, Repubs dither...
'Green News Report' 8/6/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump signs major land bill; Fertilizer caused Beirut explosion; Electricity shutoff ban ending; Shell's offshore hybrid wind farm; PLUS: Northeast climate pact causes healthier kids...
Previous GNRs: 8/3/20 - 7/30/20 - Archives...
Progressive Victories (and Losses) in MO, MI, AZ, WA, KS Primaries: 'BradCast' 8/5/20
Guest: Howie Klein; Also: Disgraced Kobach and Watkins lose in KS; Disgraced Arpaio in running in AZ; GOP Guv restores IA voting rights to former felons...
Death and Destruction; Hope and Change: 'BradCast' 8/4/20
Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 8/4/20
Isaias hits NC amid a pandemic, makes history; Rising seas pushing storms further inland, study warns; PLUS: 15 states clear the air, move to all-electric trucks and buses...
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money: 'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
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: Howie Klein of 'Down With Tyranny' on Tuesday results; Also: DoJ corruption spreads to Judiciary in Flynn case; DoJ whistleblowers in Congress; All eyes on 'last firewall' of November election...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2020 6:36pm PT  

Given the disturbing news out of a D.C. Appeals Court today in the Michael Flynn case, we begin today's BradCast with a few words of warning about what is likely to come between now and November 3rd (and even beyond), and how we all must now collectively approach that day in order to save this Republic. This is not a test. This is the real thing. And, as our darkest hour gets darker still --- and it will --- we must stay focused on the only thing that offers hope right now, the only thing that matters: making very real changes at the White House and Congress this November.

After that serious-as-a-heart-attack public service announcement/warning, we break down just why the surprise ruling by two Republican appointees to the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. today --- in response to an unprecedented motion by Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor and confessed federal felon Michael Flynn --- is so damning, dangerous and unprecedented.

The three-judge panel's majority ruling [PDF], ordering Flynn's case to be dismissed --- as Trump demanded and as corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr facilitated in opposition to the career prosecutors who successfully obtained Flynn's guilty plea (twice, before two different judges) --- was written by Judge Neomi Rao, a former White House staffer who Trump recently appointed as a federal appeals court judge. The entire matter is about as corrupt as it can get, but it may not be over yet. The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals may decide to rehear Flynn's unprecedented motion, given "the question of exceptional importance" raised by the matter, as allowed by law. The lower U.S. District Court was not even allowed to hold a hearing on the Dept. of Justice's Motion to Dismiss their own case before Flynn filed for a writ of mandamus to force U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan to approve the DoJ's motion before it was even heard.

As Judge Robert Wilkins, the lone Democratic-appointed judge on the three-judge appellate panel wrote in his dissent, his colleagues "grievously" overstepped their judicial powers with their order. If the surprising ruling holds, it will, as BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernie Canning wrote last week, mean that the court has become "complicit in the President's corruption of the rule of law," which is "tantamount to an abandonment of the Judiciary's constitutional function to act as a check against Executive Branch abuses of power."

At the same time as that stunning order was issued by the D.C. Court of Appeals panel, two DoJ whistleblowers were testifying about similar cases of corruption at the Department by senior political appointees working at the behest of Barr and Trump in the case of Roger Stone, another Trump crony found guilty of lying to federal officials (just as Flynn had admitted he did as well) in relation to the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe into Russian inference in the 2016 election. We share some of today's disturbing testimony by Aaron Zelinsky, one of the career prosecutors who refused to sign off on the DoJ's attempt to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Stone, Trump's pal and longtime dirty-tricksters (found guilty here on all seven counts), despite what he described as "heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice," including senior political appointees who, he alleged, were "afraid of the President."

"It’s very important that we recognize what’s happening now," warned Donald Ayer, another witness at today's hearing and a former Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush. "What’s happening now is much worse than what happened in Watergate --- much worse. It’s across-the-board. It’s a systematic effort to undo the checks that were put in place in Watergate and others that existed in the Constitution. And we need to do something about it."

The corruption of the Flynn and Stone prosecutions are now so far off the rails from what the U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to stand for that it is difficult to fully express how much dark trouble this now portends for our nation. Thus, we have one hope left --- our last firewall against full-blown authoritarianism in this country --- this year's critical general elections. To that end, there were primaries held on Tuesday in Kentucky, New York and Virginia along with a few other key races elsewhere. We're joined today by longtime progressive political blogger and Congressional campaign expert HOWIE KLEIN of Down With Tyranny to discuss a number of election results from Tuesday in New York and Kentucky which appear to suggest some very good news for progressives. We say "appear" because several of those elections are currently reported to be very close and, due to the coronavirus (which had its single biggest day of new infections in the U.S. on Wednesday), it will take some time for officials to tally the unprecedented number of absentee mail-in ballots cast. We run through several of the key races with Klein (he details many more here today) why they matter, and how a number of them they are likely to scare the hell out of the establishment on both the Left and Right.

"There were wins and losses," Klein tells me. "It wasn't like the progressives wiped out the [Democratic] conservatives. But thank goodness it didn't go the other way. So yes, it was a good night for progressive Democrats."

Also worth a quick mention today: The 24-year old Republican dude named Madison Cawthorn, who defeated the Trump-endorsed candidate in the GOP runoff to become the nominee to fill former Congressman turned White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' seat in North Carolina. And ALL of the electronic pollbooks in Virginia Beach, Virginia's 100 precincts failed on Tuesday...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves; Also: COVID-19 still spreading at record rates and much MUCH more...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're gonna need a bigger front page in this country, given all the huge news that only served to cancel out all of the other huge news this weekend. All of which, we suspect, is just the way Donald Trump likes it. But don't worry. The most important news of the weekend --- the first failed attempt and second successful attempt by corrupt U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr to fire the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (likely unlawfully) is the eventual focus of today's show, with our guest, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General herself. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

But first, some of that other news that only served to crowd out all that other other news over the weekend. After a few quick words and warnings about tomorrow's primary elections in New York and Kentucky (expect very long lines) and some new news on Los Angeles County's new and already failed touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system (which we'll have to offer in detail on another day), we take a look at the still burgeoning COVID-19 crisis. Despite Trump's attempts to pretend it away, infection rates are still increasing in at least 23 states, holding steady in 10, and only decreasing in 17 --- if, in fact, it's actually even decreasing in those states. All of this after many states reopened for business far earlier than health experts advised would be safe.

Then its on to Donald Trump's embarrassingly fizzled return to the campaign trail on Saturday, when his campaign's promise of more than 1,000,000 tickets registered for his "Great American Comeback Celebration" rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, turned into just over 6,000 supporters at the indoor venue/coronavirus super-spreader event. The arena was barely half full, if that. Trump was reportedly furious, according to much of the brutal news coverage of his rambling, nearly two-hour remarks on Saturday, during which he admitted that he told his "people, 'Slow the testing down, please!'" Yes, the President of the United States, during a global pandemic, actually ordered his staff to try and test fewer people for the deadly disease in hopes that it might make him look like less of a failure. It has done just the opposite.

It also did not help the 6 members of his own campaign advance team in Tulsa who tested positive for COVID just before the event, or the two that have tested positive since. We should have expected as much from the guy who told reporters last week that "over one million people" were planning to attend and that "we expect to have like a record setting crowd. We've never had an empty seat and we certainly won't in Oklahoma." Even as he boarded the helicopter on the way to the Tulsa event Saturday, he lied to reporters that the "crowds are unbelievable" in Oklahoma. "They haven't seen anything like it." The operative word there is "unbelievable."

All of that, however, helped to obscure the remarkably corrupt and seemingly unprecedented events that took place very late Friday night when AG Barr falsely announced that Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, had resigned. Turned out he hadn't, and he said as much in a stunning statement minutes later, declaring that he'd only learned of his own "resignation" via Barr's press release.

Berman, a 2016 Trump Campaign donor and member of his Transition team, said he refused to step down until he was replaced by a Senate-confirmed nominee. Since he was not appointed by the President, but by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (the Senate would have had trouble approving him), he cannot be removed by firing without cause. According to law, a USA appointed by the courts can only be replaced by a Senate-confirmed nominee. Berman's U.S. Attorney's office at SDNY is known for its independence from Main Justice. It has prosecuted allies of Trump and was believed to be investigating more of them, including Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the Trump Organization itself. After Berman's brief overnight stand against Barr, he agreed to stand down on Saturday morning, after he said Barr agreed to allow Berman's Deputy to replace him as Acting USA (as is the normal practice), rather than install the U.S. Attorney from New Jersey (as Barr had announced in his false statement on Friday), which is decidedly not normal practice.

Yes, the Barr/Trump authoritarian strongman move is all at least as corrupt and unprecedented as it sounds. Thus, we are joined today by a guest with no small amount of insight into just how wildly corrupt and unprecedented all of this is. LISA GRAVES is a former Deputy Asst. AG at the U.S. Justice Dept., a former Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate. She is also a former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. She is now Founder of True North Research, a good government watchdog group "researching the forces distorting our democracy."

Graves describes the Barr/Trump/Berman mess as "a debacle in terms of rule law." Ironic, she notes, coming from a man claming to be running for re-election as the "Law and Order President".

"This all smells. It reeks," she tells me. "It's really a terrible crisis for the Department of Justice, for the US Attorney's office in New York, and for the very rule of law. You cannot have a President who fires people who are investigating him or who are investigating his associates. You have to have a President who is as far away as possible from even appearing to interfere in that sort of investigation or any investigation that might touch on him."

As to what can be done about it and whether or not Barr actually broke the law himself with his initial attempt to remove Berman --- and whether Trump actually fired him on Saturday morning, as Barr contends (only to be contradicted by Trump himself) --- and who would prosecute Barr if, in fact, he did violate the law...well, you'll have to tune in to find out what Graves says about all of that and whether we will ever be able to restore justice to the Department of Justice after Donald Trump is eventually gone...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Sarah Pierce of the Migration Policy Institute; Also: Bolton book confirms what every honest person already knows...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is one thing that Donald Trump excels at: screwing up. Despite his promises to his nativist racist base to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, even his stolen U.S. Supreme Court had to concede his attempt to do so was unlawful and unconstitutional [Audio link to full show is posted below]

It was the second such defeat for the haters this week, after Trump's own appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, found it unlawful in his 6-3 majority opinion to fire someone simply because they are gay or trans, as had been legal in most states before this week's landmark ruling. Today's defeat for our feckless President was found in the 5-4 majority opinion [PDF] authored by Chief Justice John Roberts who, with the Court's four Democratic appointees, held that, in Trump's haste to end the program that protects from deportation nearly 800,000 people brought here by their parents as children, the Administration did so in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

No, Roberts isn't turning into a liberal squish, despite the blustered outrage from rightwingers today. The APA statute requires a reasonable explanation for overturning Executive Actions by previous Presidents, and the Roberts majority determined --- as with Trump's botched attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census last year --- the Administration couldn't even muster up one.

We're joined by SARAH PIERCE, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, to describe the "surprise", if narrow, opinion, that protects DREAMers for now, but allows Trump to try again if his Administration can figure out how to do it legally. "No one expected the Supreme Court to rule against the Trump Administration and how it went about ending DACA. We're all extremely surprised by this decision --- and happy, because this is a large group of young people we're talking about in the United States that contribute a lot to our country, and society, and economy. So it's good news all around," she tells me.

In addition to the good news that these folks --- some 20,000 of whom are now working in the health care industry during the pandemic, many others in the U.S. military, many more now married with U.S. citizen children --- will not be ripped out of their communities and sent back to countries they don't remember or even speak the language, the economy will also not have to suffer another $300 billion blow. That is just one of the costs cited by Roberts in his opinion as unlawfully ignored by the Administration when they violated the law in trying to reverse DACA.

Naturally, Trump played the victim, describing this week's two SCOTUS verdicts that did not go his way as "horrible & politically charged decisions" and "shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives." He then pitifully asked: "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?" No. But pretty much nobody else does.

For his part, President Obama lauded the decision, citing DACA as having "protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation." He called for Joe Biden to be elected with "a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that's truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all."

As Pierce explains on today's show, Congress has, for years, been on the verge of passage of an immigration bill to protect DREAMers. Those efforts, however, are inevitably scotched by Trump and the GOP, who seem to prefer a political issue they can raise money on to an actual permanent solution to the problem.

"We've always gotten a lot of mixed messages on this, not only from Donald Trump's statements but from his actions, as well," says Pierce, referencing his 2017 tweet when he asked: "Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?," followed by his tweet two years later when he referred to some DREAMers as "far from 'angels" and "very tough, hardened criminals."

"Both the Senate and the House took time to seriously consider passing legislation on DREAMers," Pierce notes. "And the White House really torpedoed that, both times, by adding a bunch of demands that were just unsuitable for Democrats to take on. So we have them moving one step forward, clearly with the interests of DACA recipients interests in mind, and then taking two steps back. They're all over the place."

Whether these failures harm or hurt Trump's reelection chances remains to be seen. He is already demanding "more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else." But, of course, as his former National Security Advisor John Bolton's new book makes clear --- according to reporting on copies obtained by media before next week's official publication date --- everything Trump does, every decision he makes as President, is not based on how it might help Americans, but on how it might help his reelection chances. That includes an attempted quid pro quo scheme, according to Bolton, to lift U.S. sanctions against China in exchange for their purchase of soybeans and wheat to help voters in the Midwest that Trump believes he needs to win in 2020.

The conversation described by Bolton between Trump and Chinese President XI Jinping mirrors the extortion scheme with Ukraine's President that resulted in Trump's impeachment last year. Shamefully, though Bolton would have bolstered the Democrats' case against Trump in the impeachment trial, he chose to hold his revelations for his new book. Please don't buy that book, even as everything so far described from it regarding Trump's failures and fecklessness as both a President and a human being sounds 100% plausible.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as the corporate person known as California utility company PG&E admits guilt to 84 counts of manslaughter (don't worry, despite all the deaths they admit to causing, nobody will actually go to jail); as new analyses find the nation could move to 90% renewable electricity in just 15 years and save money doing it; and as the 2020 wildfire season sparks up with an ominous beginning...

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

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Guest: Roosevelt Univ. political scientist David Faris; Also: GOP denial continues despite new record COVID-19 infection rates; Biden up by double-digits in several new key battleground state polls...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2020 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More bad news on the spread of the coronavirus and more bad news for Donald Trump --- though at least the latter is potentially very good news for America! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Vice President Mike Pence continues to beclown himself on behalf of Donald Trump, writing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that "We are winning the fight against the invisible enemy" and that the Administration's response to the coronavirus is "a cause for celebration". That, as the U.S. has now seen over 2,000,000 infections and the COVID-19 death toll in our nation is at least as high as 119,000...and climbing.

On the same day Pence's op-ed was published, there was a record spike in cases was seen in at least six states on Tuesday, including Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma (ready for Trump's campaign rally on Saturday?), Oregon, Texas and Nevada. The Republican Governors of most of those states are either in denial or simply lying to their constituents about the deadly impacts of the virus in their states, suggesting that it's due to increased testing, while ignoring the record surge in the percentages of positive tests (Florida, Oklahoma) and hospitalizations (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma). Oregon has a Democratic Governor, but their outbreak appears tied to 200 cases from a crowded Pentecostal church service held in late May, in violation of state restrictions. The other states all appear to have reopened for business far too early, as their Governor's downplayed the risk of the virus and the need for simple safety measures.

Democratic and Republican Mayors of the six largest cities in Texas have written an open letter begging Governor Abbott to allow them to mandate masking in their cities, pleading with him to "restore the ability for local authorities to enforce the wearing of face coverings in public venues where physical distancing cannot be practiced." Infectious disease epidemiologists (such as the University of Arizona's Dr. Purnima Mahdivanan, who we interviewed on yesterday's show) argue masking is one of the easiest, cheapest and most important ways to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. Abbott, however, is disallowing local municipalities to do so, even as he is blaming the increased infections on residents under 30 who, he says, are not wearing masks.

And yet, "we are winning," argues Pence, as he prepares to join Trump for his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday after new cases rose in the state by some 68% over the past week. In all, at least 17 states saw a rise in new cases over the past week, giving new meaning to Trump's May 2016 remarks at a rally in Billings, Montana, when he said: "We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick winning!"

In the meantime, while Americans are sick and getting sicker, Donald Trump appears to be badly losing, not winning, in a number of key battleground states across the country. New state polling finds him losing to Joe Biden by double-digits in both two new polls in several new polls in Michigan and Florida (where his 22% advantage in 2016 over Hillary Clinton among voters 65 years of age and older has plummeted some 31% since(!), resulting in a 9 point lead for Biden among that group in the Sunshine State.) Formerly "red" Arizona now also appears to be falling into the Biden column, with the latest poll finding the former Veep up by about 4 points. Even Georgia and Iowa, both traditionally solid Republican states are now polled as toss-ups, with Biden up by 2 in GA and Trump up by just 1 in IA. We dig into some of the details from those polls.

That said, Trump has come back from bad poll numbers before. Our guest today, Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, however, tempts the gods by arguing in his latest column at The Week that "This time is different for Trump". Why does he believe that? He joins us to explain --- and to take a few challenges from me on that point...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Univ. of Arizona infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Purnima Madhivana on AZ's 'crisis mode' surge in COVID cases, state officials' deadly denial since prematurely reopening, and 'believing in science'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/16/2020 7:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are ramping up efforts to pretend, lie and try to distract their way out of the coronavirus crisis in advance of their re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday. The virus doesn't care. As our guest today notes, "the virus is non-partisan." [Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

Even as COVID-19 cases are spiking around the country --- including in OK, where new cases surged 68% in the second week of June and where Tulsa's top health official and major newspaper are both begging Trump to call off this Saturday's planned campaign rally --- both men are now lying about both the growth in infections and in hospitalizations since states have begun reopening for business over the past several weeks.

They are both falsely explaining away the rise in confirmed infections in more than a dozen states as due to increased testing. It isn't. What epidemiologists are worried about is the rise in the percentage rate of positives tests, no matter the increase or decrease in the number of tests performed and about rising hospitalization rates, which are the best indicator of the increasing virulence of the pandemic in various parts of the country.

Pence reportedly instructed Governors, during a phone call on Monday, to lie about both matters, stating "the magnitude of increase in testing" explains the rise in positive cases and that increased hospitalizations are only because "people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery." But hospitalizations for elective procedures are decidedly not what infectious disease specialists are worried about, nor are they included in the spiking and often record rates of hospitalizations being seen right now for COVID-19 infections.

As we have been explaining on the show in recent days, as rates rise in Texas and Florida and Arizona (all three hit records for single day increases today) and elsewhere since Governors in those states prematurely reopened and are now seeing skyrocketing rates of illness since doing so, there is still no treatment, no cure, and no vaccine for the coronavirus. Lifting lock-down orders, failing to wear masks, and ignoring social distancing as many have now done, is little different than had we all done so in March and April as the virus first emerged.

In fact, as one of the very conservative COVID models --- one cited by the White House --- was adjusted today to predict more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by the first of October, our guest today explains why she believes "we are in a worse situation now" than we were back in March and April.

"We have a lot of infectious people in the community that we didn't have earlier on," notes DR. PURNIMA MADHIVANAN, infectious disease epidemiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. "I would say it's Phase 2 in that regard. We have a lot more people who are infectious, who are shedding the virus, than when we had started earlier on."

Describing ICU beds, particularly in Phoenix, at near-capacity rates just one month after reopening, Madhivanan, Director of her school's Global Health Training Program, says the state of Arizona is in "crisis mode. We need to be doing something, like, yesterday." That, as Republican Governor Doug Ducey --- who abruptly announced reopening plans early last month on the same day as a visit to the state by Donald Trump --- continues to downplay the state's worsening predicament, despite a 76% increase in cases since the end of May and records of new cases and hospitalizations being consistently topped in recent days.

Madhivanan tells me she sees the state running out of ICU space within a week. "We have a crisis situation right here in Phoenix. And if [Ducey] were smart, he would close off the borders to Phoenix yesterday." This is not a so-called "second wave," she cautions. "We haven't even peaked with the first wave yet. We are number 42 among all states in terms of testing rates. So we haven't even gotten to the level where we can say our testing rates are good. And we've not even mentioned contact tracing yet. That's practically non-existent, and a huge concern."

It didn't have to be this way, Madhivanan explains, but for Ducey's abrupt reversal in early May. "What we had actually projected and predicted was we would get to the peak around the end of June, if everything had gone the way we had predicted with all the physical distancing in place, stay-at-home orders. But when the stay-at-home orders were not followed through, that peak came much, much earlier, and we are still continuing up on that wave. We have not come down yet."

This is an important, must-listen, detailed conversation which extends well beyond Arizona. I couldn't even begin to adequately summarize it here. We discuss the denialists and claims from mostly non-epidemiologists and ideologists who charge that lock-downs have made the situation worse, asserting that allowing for "herd immunity" to develop would have been a smarter strategy. She details why she strongly disagrees, explaining that it would have taken years and resulted in exponentially more deaths, in the millions, here in the U.S. Madhivanan further says containment, unlike during the SARS crisis of 2003-2004, became impossible "because we have an uncoordinated and poorly managed COVID response" at the federal level.

That means the only option left is shutdowns, mask wearing (which, she argues, makes a huge difference in mitigating spread of the virus), hand-washing and physical distancing. But, she laments, there is now very little, if any, of that being done in her state. Ducey has never mandated masking, for example, even as "masks are our lowest-hanging fruit and one of the most economical interventions. If all of us did it, we can dramatically bring down the number of infections."

She warns things are going to get much worse before they get better anytime soon. "If we had used the period of the shutdown to put comprehensive testing and tracing protocols in place, this investment would have paid off in the long run. But we failed to do that. So we only delayed the day of reckoning for us."

"At some point people need to start believing in science, is all I can say. We have the data, we have the evidence, and the science is pretty clear about this. We were not ready and we should not have opened," Madhivanan insists.

Finally, after a bit more news on the 28 states in the U.S. where infection rates are decidedly NOT falling, no matter how hard the Administration and his supporters are still trying to pretend it all away, we've got a bit of breaking news that came just before air time on Donald Trump hoping to sue John Bolton's upcoming new book away.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. That, of course, as usual, includes nothing but lots of much-needed sunshine and flowers! (Hey, if Trump and Pence can lie about absolutely everything, we can too, right?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

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

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: George Floyd's brother testifies; NASCAR bans Confederate flags; Trump on wrong side of history again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tuesday's horrific election meltdown in Georgia didn't have to happen. We have been reporting and warning about exactly the disaster that occurred during the state's primary elections for well over a year on this program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the non-partisan, non-profit Coalition for Good Governance, has been filing both state and federal litigation for years in hopes of blocking the use of the new, unverifiable, touchscreen voting system implemented by GA's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for this year's critical Presidential election. For years, she has been joining us on the show --- as she does again today --- to warn about the now-failed systems, month after month, as the Secretary moved forward with his Big Government mandate to force all counties in the state to switch to the new, dangerous, computerized voting systems.

One county (Athens-Clarke), whose County Board of Elections voted in March to use hand-marked paper ballots instead of Raffensperger's $104 million touchscreens, was threatened with fines and legal action by the Secretary if they refused to use his new systems made by Dominion Voting, a Canadian company whose lobbyist in Georgia was the Chief of Staff for the former Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp. Raffensperger's strong-arming did the trick. The County used the disease-vector touchscreens on Tuesday along with all of the others.

The multiple failures of the electronic pollbook computers and computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices and optical-scan computers used at every polling place in the state resulted in hours-long lines for voters throughout the day. Precincts in 20 counties were ordered by courts to remain open for hours past their scheduled closing time, with the last voter reportedly casting a vote at 12:37am on Wednesday.

The shameful story in Georgia is very similar to the disaster that occurred here in Los Angeles County during the March 3rd Super Tuesday election this year, after County officials failed to heed our warnings about their new $300 million touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system that similarly crashed and burned on Election Day and resulted in the disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters.

"Maybe it is the nature of the beast," Marks laments today. "It seems like in all matters of civil rights, things have to get to such an extreme that disaster has to happen, maybe multiple times, before society can pay attention." While there has been quite a bit of media coverage of Georgia's disaster today, where were they when their coverage might have made a difference before voters lost their right to vote?

As to who is to blame, Raffensperger still refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever. He blames county poll workers for being poorly trained to operate his needlessly complex systems. Like Donald Trump, Raffensperger takes no responsibility for what went wrong, despite being responsible for forcing all counties to use the new system. In fact, he told Georgia Public Radio yesterday, as voters were lined up for blocks and blocks (and blocks) in the blazing Georgia heat and humidity and thunderstorms to try and cast their vote, that it was "a good day for Georgia". He actually described the primary as "a great success."

Marks sees it differently, as does most of the world. "Ninety percent of this problem was caused by Raffensperger and the State Election Board, because they insisted that the state and the counties use the very complex, Rube Goldberg systems that nobody had been trained on, that hadn't been properly tested, shoving them in during pandemic conditions when they could have simply used the scanner and hand-marked paper ballots, and a paper pollbook, and had a simple election during pandemic conditions," she says. "The Secretary of State insisted on this roll-out. And gave the counties almost no choice. They could have defied him, and he would likely have fined them. He set them up for failure."

Marks, whose earlier lawsuit resulted in Georgia's previous touchscreen voting system being found unconstitutional in federal court, with the judge ordering that they could never be used against in the Peach State, has a continuing federal complaint against the new system. She tells me she expects to be back in court soon. "Before, the State was claiming that all of our claims were just speculative. Well, you know what? They're not speculative anymore. We have fabulous evidence --- horrendous evidence --- that this system does not create an accountable election."

A registered Republican, Marks says it is not too late for Georgia to change course before November, though the court may have to force them to do so. She also cautions about similar unnecessarily complex and already-failed new computer voting systems being used in other states --- including battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina --- instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots for this year's critical Presidential election. Since the corporate media are unlikely to make the necessarily noise before the next election disaster --- when it might be preventable --- Marks suggests voters can take action on their own to demand hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (as backup to the e-pollbooks).

"Write a letter to your Secretary of State and State Election Board, and demand it," she advises. "Something that is likely to be more effective, even though it's harder --- it's going to take some effort for voters to actually protect their elections --- is call every member of your county's bipartisan election board. You can find them because they're local citizens. Say 'You've got authority, County Election Board! We want an auditable election! We want it done with hand-marked paper ballots, and we want audits afterward. Don't wait for the state to tell you that you have to audit. Don't wait for a judge to tell you that you have to have accountable ballots. Do it on your own. Do it now, while you have time to do it!'" She argues "these counties need the pressure from the citizens, and the citizens need to put pressure on the county boards as well as the local Democratic Party and local Republican Party."

As we've said many times, this democracy ain't gonna save itself!

Next --- speaking of things that take years of disaster before they are ever reformed --- Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, the unarmed African-American killed by cops in Minneapolis two weeks ago, testified to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today. We share his emotional opening statement calling on Congress to help "stop the pain" at a hearing meant to discuss a Democratic initiative in Congress for sweeping change to the nation's policing policies. As you might imagine, they are meeting Republican resistance in both chambers of Congress.

Finally today, more change in the wake of Floyd's killing: NASCAR announced today that it will ban the Confederate Flag from its events, and Donald Trump ends up firmly on the wrong side of history --- again --- as he declared he would "not even consider" renaming U.S. military bases, such as Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, which are named for Confederate Army officers. That, despite their namesake's support of slavery and their treason in launching a war against the United States, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans. While Pentagon officials, including Trump's own Defense Secretary, have said they are open to the idea, and a host of retired generals --- including the commanders of some of the 10 bases named for Confederate traitors --- favor renaming the military posts, Trump insisted on Twitter today, without any apparent irony, that the bases are a part of "a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."

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Surprise! The Peach State's new $104 million, unverifiable touchscreen vote system melts down in its first statewide election; Also: IPS' Chuck Collins on inequality and the 'Wall Street casino' coronavirus jackpot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have predicted it? Another Election Day meltdown in Georgia? Even with the brand new, $104 million, unverifiable, disease-vector touchscreen voting system the state's Republican Secretary of State forced every voter in the state to use at the polls for the first time during Tuesday's twice-postponed Presidential primary in the critical battleground state? Yup. And what has been happening on Wall Street of late underscores how perilous this moment is, and the need to save the voting system in the battleground Peach State before the critical November 3rd elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Yes, as we've been warning for years now, the roll out of Secretary Brad Raffensperger's new computerized voting system would be a disaster for Georgia voters --- at least for those in or near Atlanta in some of the most heavily Democratic, heavily minority counties in the state. Voters reported wait times as long as 2, 3 and 4 hours in precinct after precinct, to cast their votes today --- even those who showed up before 6am in hopes of being first in line!

New computerized electronic poll-books failed. New computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed. New optical-scan computers used to scan the unverifiable ballots printed out by the $4,000 electronic pens (BMDs) failed. What didn't fail was Raffensperger's propensity to blame county officials and poll workers who risked their lives to help voters vote during a deadly pandemic for his own failures to implement a simple, verifiable and much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system.

More disturbing, the outrageous (if predictable) catastrophic failures of his new systems --- featuring touchscreens made by Canada's Dominion Voting Systems --- come even after Raffensperger ordered absentee ballot applications sent to each of the state's 6.9 million active registered voters (whatever "active" means in his assessment) to help mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 on state voters. Many of those in the same counties which saw huge lines at a reduced number of polling places on Tuesday reported never receiving their requested absentee ballots in the mail.

Today, we detail just some of the hundreds of reported nightmares voters faced trying to vote on Tuesday in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Muscogee and other counties in the Peach State, as voting equipment was missing altogether at some polling places when they opened; as hand-marked paper ballots quickly ran out at precincts where electronic voting systems couldn't be booted up or failed to work properly once they were turned on; as County officials called for official investigations; and as Raffensperger tried to blame it all on everyone but himself. Yes, we have spent many months (in fact, years now) detailing the lawsuits filed against him, as voters (and some counties) begged him to to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system instead.

Then: No, you are not crazy. You are not imagining it. Yes, up is down and down is up right now. Coronavirus infection rates are, indeed, spiking in a whole bunch of states that have opened up for business around the U.S., despite many collectively pretending the nightmare is over. It isn't. But much of the nation, encouraged by Donald Trump and his supporters, is now pretending otherwise. Similarly, on Wall Street, investors are pretending that the economy is great and the worst of the coronavirus pandemic's shock to the U.S. financial system is over. Of course, we now know the economy had already gone into recession as of February, even before the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns had begun, ending an 11-year economic expansion that started during Barack Obama's administration and ended under Trump's.

But Wall Street is decidedly not the economy, where, back here in the real world, tens of millions of Americans are newly jobless amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Nonetheless, on Wall Street, the Nasdaq closed at a record high on Tuesday and both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes have rallied back in recent days to near the record highs they were at before the economy crashed. Billionaires on Wall Street are so drunk with irrational exuberance and flush with decades of sweet sweet tax cut cash that they are even beginning to buy up shares in companies that have filed for bankruptcy amid the crash.

According to the Institute of Policy Study's updated "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report, between March 18 (roughly the start of the pandemic shutdown), through the fist week of June, "U.S. billionaire's total wealth surged by over $565 billion," even as 42.6 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment. What explains the obscene inequality between the billionaire oligarch class and all of the rest of us?

We're joined today by CHUCK COLLINS, co-author of the IPS study as Director of their Program on Inequality and the Common Good, where he co-edits Inequality.org, to explain what happened and how we can --- and must --- begin to correct the absurd, decades-long and still-growing imbalances in our economy.

"Only 14% of Americans have direct investments in stock," Collins explains. "So this tells us the story of how the top ten percent --- and in this case, how the billionaires --- are seeing their wealth surge during an unfortunate time for everyone else."

"We're now at the culmination of four decades of growing income and wealth inequality. As we went into the pandemic, we were at maybe our greatest unequal level since the Gilded Age. And the reality is, since 2009, only about 20 percent of households have recovered where they were in terms of savings and net worth prior to the Great Recession of 2008. So, think about that --- 80 percent of households went into the pandemic with an economic hangover, still not really fully back on their feet in the last eleven years. This recession and pandemic are going to supercharge the existing income and wealth inequalities that we are already living through."

Collins charges that "we're just absorbing now the pre-existing condition of extreme inequality in America," while reminding us that America did manage to "reverse the first Gilded Age" about 100 years ago. But, he cautions, "It required the fight of our lives. And that's what we're heading into."

As you might suspect, the solutions begin (though do not end) at the ballot box. But, he says, as he details a number of programs that could reverse our current Gilded Age, "the pressure is building" and "people understand the rich have been gaming the system." But, the reversal will not come easily, as "we're living in an oligarchy where the rich use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the 2020 hurricane season is already breaking records; as the Trump Administration is using coronavirus Shock Doctrine politics to roll back tons of public health and endangered species protections while few are noticing; and as record warmth in May has resulted in a catastrophic oil spill on the melting permafrost in Siberia...

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Guest: Longtime journalist, novelist Lucian K. Truscott IV on the uprising against Trump by his military leaders
Also: Callers ring in on why they decided to join the demonstrations across the country following the police killing of George Floyd...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2020 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump is chastened by the Generals he once revered, and we open the lines to listeners who participated in the weekend's demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd and police abuse everywhere. [Audio link to full show follow below.]

First up today, a quick note or two on elections Tuesday in Georgia and West Virginia, Joe Biden clinching the Democratic Presidential nomination, and the still-spiking spread of COVID-19 as many states reopen for business too early.

Next, we're joined by LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV, a West Point grad from a long line of military men, who has served as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter for some 50 years. Beginning in the 1970s at The Village Voice, he has covered stories from Watergate to the Stonewall uprising as well as wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is now a columnist at Salon where late last week, in a column headlined "We are witnessing the birth of a movement - and the downfall of a president" he covered what he described as the "extraordinary" pushback from current and former high-ranking military officials against Trump's plan to unleash the U.S. military to "dominate" protesters demonstrating against the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis, police abuse everywhere, and for the principle that Black Lives Matter. "These generals are not politicians, but all their statements are as political as any I've ever seen by senior officers, retired or active duty," he wrote. "It's the equivalent of lining up howitzers on Pennsylvania Avenue and aiming at the White House."

We discuss last week's remarkable turning point moment --- beginning with a stunning statement from Trump's former Defense Secretary, General James Mattis and including the leaked memo written by Trump's current Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, as sent to the heads of all military branches --- which Truscott also believes suggests that the military will decidedly not side with Trump if he tries to use the armed forces somehow to undermine this November's never-more-critical Presidential election.

"I don't think we have anything to worry about now," says Truscott. "It's really almost like drawing a line in the sand in front of Trump. They're not going to take Trump's side in anything like that. The way [the military leaders] have recoiled from what Trump did last Monday night [when he ordered the clearing of Lafayette Square across the street from the White House for a bizarre photo-op in front of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church] is really all the evidence you need that these guys are standing up for the Constitution and not for President Donald Trump."

"They're shooting a shot over Trump's bow and saying, 'You better watch out what kind of orders you give.' Because I don't think they going to follow any un-American orders," Truscott tells me. "I have to say, a couple of weeks and months ago, I was a little bit concerned about what the military would choose to do. But I'm not concerned at all anymore."

We also discuss how the ongoing demonstrations following the killing of Floyd compare to those seen during the Civil Rights era, as well as his attempt --- as the great-great-great-great grandson of Thomas Jefferson --- to include the descendants of Sally Hemings in the Monticello Association's annual reunions of those descended from the author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd U.S. President. Hemings was a slave with whom Jefferson is said to have had six children after the death of his wife. Truscott first invited Hemings' descendants to join the Monticello Association on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1998. We discuss how that turned out in the ensuing years.

Finally, we open the phones to callers who took part in the massive demonstrations around the country over the weekend and in days previous. Why did they decide to march? What did they learn? Why did they decide to not march, in some cases, and how the current movement for equal rights and justice for all compares to similar mass demonstrations in past eras (by those callers who participated in some of those as well!)...

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Looks like we gotta lot of fact-checking to do today...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2020 6:59pm PT  

The good news for today's BradCast is that, thanks to so much breaking news on yesterday's show, we've got at least one encouraging new piece of news on a story that we had to bump yesterday regarding Donald Trump's absentee voter fraud felony in the state of Florida. Between that and the false claims made by him and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (in the pages of the New York Times, shamefully enough) charging that "antifa" is behind the violence seen at some of the mostly peaceful protests across the country over the past week and a half, we've got a lot of fact-checking to do on today's program. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]

First, Times staffers are livid that that the paper of record gave space to Cotton for an editorial on Wednesday calling for U.S. military troops to be deployed across the country against U.S. citizens under the Insurrection Act. The far-right Republican Senator charged in the piece that "cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa [are] infiltrating protest marches to exploit [George] Floyd's death for their own anarchic purposes." His remarks echo those of Trump, who, on Sunday, declared (falsely) that antifa will be designated as "a Terrorist Organization". In fact, antifa is not an organization. It's a movement of people who oppose fascism and authoritarianism and there is no such federal designation for domestic organizations, even if antifa was one. But the calls of Trump and Barr and Cotton echo what the Times itself described as "misinformation" just two days earlier in an article debunking that myth and several others related to the protest and being circulated widely (and falsely) on social media.

Moreover, the charge that antifa is behind the violence at protests is contradicted by intelligence reports this week from both the FBI and DHS, which find little evidence of antifa involvement, but seem to find plenty of evidence that rightwing white nationalist groups have organized to instigate chaos at otherwise peaceful demonstration around the nation. Continuing video tape evidence of police violently abusing peaceful protesters, including on Wednesday night after many of the demonstrations had otherwise calmed down, doesn't help either. But this week Twitter reported they'd shut down a European white nationalist group posting as "@ANTIFA_US" and tweeting out, for example, messages with a brown raised first emoji and declaring: "Tonight's the night, Comrades. Tonight we say 'F--- The City' and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours."

While that account has been shut down, the white nationalists on the street have not all been. We still do not know the identity of the white man with full face gas mask (pictured above) and a black umbrella, who strolled down the sidewalk in front of the Minneapolis AutoZone last week with a hammer by his side, casually smashing each window of the store. Protesters tried to stop him and to identify him before he slipped away, leading Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to post the video of the man on Twitter, along with the remark: "This man doesn't look like any civil rights protester I have ever seen. Looks like a provocateur. Can anyone ID him?"

And yesterday, in Las Vegas, AP reported on terrorism charges filed against three Nevada men with ties to a rightwing extremist group. They were arrested on Saturday heading to a protest on the Strip after "filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles," according to the criminal complaint obtained by AP. Two of the men, according to an informant, "discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot, in response to the death" of George Floyd. They are all said to be members of the anti-government "boogaloo" movement, advocating for a new civil war.

It seems its easier to find strawmen to blame for years of systemic racism rather than take responsibility for it. That seems to be what Trump, Barr, Cotton, Fox "News" and all the rest of those looking for someone else to blame for Floyd's death and the resulting outrage seem to be doing. It doesn't seem to be working. But that won't stop them from trying to play a whole bunch of folks just months before the next Presidential election.

Speaking of...as we reported several weeks ago, Donald Trump --- who has been making myriad false claims about absentee voter fraud for weeks now --- is, himself, a voter fraud criminal after illegally voting in Florida this year, by absentee ballot, despite having no lawful permanent residence in the state.

While he claimed late last year to have moved his permanent residence from New York to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, his original 1993 agreement with the city when he purchased the property and turned it from a single-family residence into a commercial club, required that nobody could actually live there. So, yes, that is voter fraud, and people in Florida have been charged and even jailed for much lesser infractions of the Sunshine State's elections code.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported another noteworthy point or two on this story, with yet another update to it today. On Wednesday, the paper reported that Trump, when he filed his Florida voter registration [PDF], listed the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as his "legal residence". That means his legal residence is not in Florida and he is, therefore, not allowed to vote there. A month later it appears he tried again, this time specifying Mar-a-Lago's address as his "legal residence." It's unknown what happened in the 31 days between the first and second registration, but maybe Florida generously granted him a mulligan. Of course, that still doesn't make his declared residence at his commercial property in Palm Beach a legal domicile in the state.

Making his case even worse, on Monday, during his infamous phone call with the nation's Governors (in which he described peaceful protesters as "terrorists" and instructed the Governors to "dominate" them or he would send in U.S. troops to do so), he stated: "I live in Manhattan". Oops. That prompted Democratic election attorney Marc Elias to tweet: "Sounds like New York may have a good claim for taxes. And Florida for voter fraud."

And, on that point, the Post updated its story today with the news that a Florida resident has now filed a formal election fraud complaint against Trump, which is what we've been calling for weeks! Under Florida law, the state is now required to investigate the complaint. And because it's a violation of state, not federal, law there is nothing to my knowledge that should prevent the President from being charged with felony voter fraud there. He did it. He should be charged with fraud.

When we painstakingly detailed the voter fraud by former GOP superstar Ann Coulter more than a decade ago after she illegally lied about her address in Palm Beach on her registration application and then unlawfully voted at a precinct she was not entitled to vote in, the state slow-walked their investigation until the statute of limitations ran out. (She also got a helping hand from a former FBI boyfriend). We'll hope that Florida Law Enforcement doesn't try something similar here. Though it would be much harder to do in this instance, given that the crime happened just months ago in this case.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with coverage of a tropical storm barrelling towards the Gulf Coast; evidence that global warming is increasing extreme rainfall events in North America; a new study finding that building new wind and solar plants is now cheaper than using existing coal power plants; and the good news that the University of California is divesting it's $120 billion endowment from all fossil fuels...

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Guest: Down With Tyranny's Howie Klein on progressives wins and losses on Tuesday and those still to come...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2020 7:12pm PT  

Sure, I admit today's BradCast is a bit breathless, but you try and keep up with all of this madness happening, breaking, changing and then changing again all at once while trying to make calm, cool, collected sense of it all for listeners in just under an hour! As usual, we do our best. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full breathless show is posted below the summary.]

Somewhere amid the mayhem of our latest program you will find coverage of...

  • New charges brought today against the four Minneapolis police officers responsible for killing George Floyd last week. (BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning foreshadowed as much in his report on the results of a new independent autopsy of Floyd earlier today.);
  • Protests against Floyd's ghastly murder-by-cop continue around the country for a tenth day;
  • Trump (as we predicted yesterday) begins to back away from his tough guy threats to send U.S. military troops to cities across the country to "dominate" peaceful American protesters;
  • Trump's Secretary of Defense Mark Esper claims he didn't know where he was going when he joined Trump's pathetic photo-op with a bible iin his hands in front of St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday, after federal storm-troopers were ordered to clear out peaceful protesters and church staff with tear gas, rubber bullets and other violence to take the shot. Esper now says that he opposes using federal troops against Americans, even though he described American cities as "battle spaces" during a phone call with Governor's on Monday;
  • A senior Pentagon adviser resigns, charging that Esper "violated" his oath to protect and defend the Constitution;
  • Even Pat Robertson tosses Trump under the bus after all of this;
  • U.S. troops deployed to D.C. from Fort Bragg in NC on Tuesday to quell protests are reportedly sent back to their bases...and then reported NOT being sent back to their bases just a few hours later, right before air time today';
  • Some protesters managed to breach a temporary fence near the White House and cowardly Trump is reportedly scuttled back into his underground White House bunker by Secret Service;
  • Also, Trump claims to now be pulling the August Republican National Convention out of Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Governor won't let him create a shoulder-to-shoulder viral super-spreader event out of it. We'll see if President Bluffer keeps that threat (he usually backs away from most), and we'll see how it may harm his odds of winning the very closely divided Tar Heel State this November. He really needs it to go "red" again if he wants a chance at re-election;
  • And, oh yeah, all of this as primary elections were held in about a dozen states and D.C. amid protests, curfews and a pandemic that continues and has, so far, killed more than 105,000 Americans in just the past 90 days.

    Unofficial results from Tuesday are slower than usual in coming in, due to the expansion of absentee voting in most states to help keep Americans safe during the pandemic. Lines to vote in-person were also much longer than usual in many places, due to the consolidation of polling places, also thanks to the coronavirus. That resulted in many forced to wait in very long lines, sometimes for hours after curfews around the country. But there was some noteworthy news in the few results we do have.

    Of course Joe Biden continues his march toward the required number of delegates to formally win the Democratic Presidential nomination. But, of more note on Tuesday...

    • Ferguson, Missouri --- where the killing of a young African-American man by a white cop sparked national protests six year ago --- elected Ella Jones as the city's first woman and first African-American Mayor!
    • Nine-term white supremacist Republican Congressman Steve King was defeated in the GOP primary in Iowa's 4th Congressional District by another rightwinger who will go on to face progressive Democrat J.D. Scholten (a guest on this show just a few weeks ago) in November.
    • Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte, who beat up a journalist (and tried to lie about it) the night before winning his first term in Congress three years ago, won the GOP nomination for Governor in Montana. He will now run against the state's Democratic Lt. Governor Mike Cooney to fill the seat being vacated by the popular term-limited Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in a state which Trump won by 20 points in 2016. That year, however, Bullock won his second term as Governor on the same ballot, and on Tuesday he secured the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who could very well be in trouble this year.

    We're joined today by progressive Congressional campaign expert and advocate HOWIE KLEIN of the "Down With Tyranny" blog and the BlueAmericaPAC to discuss all of the above and much more, including a number of other progressive wins (some a surprise) and losses (not as surprising) on Tuesday.

    Klein also handicaps a few upcoming races and offers what he regards as some "exciting" contests next week in Georgia which, with West Virginia, will be holding their own primary elections on June 9th. If you can keep up with everything that happened on today's show, much less today overall, you win a prize. Other than that, color me breathless...again...

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Guest: Policing expert Alex S. Vitale on failed reforms and a new solution
Also: Messy primaries underway in a dozen states; Tough Guy Trump unleashes federal troops on peaceful demonstrators, a church, and foreign journos for a campaign photo-op...
By Brad Friedman on 6/2/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast (with helicopters circling overhead here in Hollywood): Massive protests around the country continue today for an eighth day following last week's police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The street protests continue to swell, no doubt, in response to the frequently brutal response by law enforcement officials in many major cities around the country toward the mostly peaceful demonstrations. But protests in the streets aren't the only much-needed response to years of violence instigated by law enforcement. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, one response will be --- or, certainly should be --- at the voting booth this year. To that end, eight states and Washington D.C. are holding their Presidential primaries today. Congressional primaries and municipal elections are being held in a number of other states as well, many of them previously postponed due to the coronavirus. But the deadly pandemic continues, leading Republican Gov. Mike Parsons of Missouri --- where absentee voting is severely restricted --- to tell voters recently that if they don't feel safe to vote due to the pandemic, they just shouldn't bother. That, instead of working to expand absentee voting in the Show-Me State to make it safer for voters to exercise their right to participate in their own democracy. As a GOP-dominated state, however, making it easier to vote in MO may be the last thing Parsons wants.

Nonetheless, expanded absentee voting is now occurring in a number of states --- red, blue and battleground --- where problems have already emerged, including in Pennsylvania and in Idaho, as discussed on today's show.

We're hopeful that election officials see today's "practice run" primaries as a flashing red warning light to get their acts together before November 3rd. That will not be made any easier by intransigent Republican lawmakers in D.C. who are still refusing to appropriate the billions of dollars that elections officials say they need to upgrade systems for this year's elections amid a pandemic, or to bail out the U.S. Postal Service --- hard hit by the COVID crisis --- so they are able to handle the unprecedented mail-in voting we will see in this fall's critical general election.

In related news, the President of the United States, after reportedly spending time over the weekend locked away in a White House bunker due to fears of protests in front of the Presidential mansion, decided to play tough guy on Monday by unleashing federal troops with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and shields on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, on the priest and several seminarians at St. John's Episcopal Church across the street, and on foreign journalists covering the American Dystopian nightmare live on television. D.C.'s Episcopal Bishop, as well as the Australian Ambassador, both had a word or two to say about it after a crew from the country's Seven Network was ">punched by federal storm-troopers as the journalists were covering the violent effort to clear out the park so that Trump could pose for a campaign photo-op holding a bible in front of the historic church.

And, in more related news, while Trump's questionably Constitutional threat on Monday to dispatch the U.S. military to quell protests in states around the country --- beyond his own front door, in any event --- is likely as hollow as most of his other strongman threats, the very real and systemic problem of brutal, racist policing policies continues in this country. To that end, calls to "Defund the Police" have grown in recent days, as seen in protest signs, from various non-governmental organizations around the country and in various media outlets.

We're joined today by longtime policing expert ALEX S. VITALE, Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and Coordinator of their Policing and Social Justice Project. Vitale, who penned an opinion piece for The Nation over the weekend headlined "The Only Solution Is to Defund the Police" explains how reforms instituted by the Obama Administration after outrage unleashed by the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner on Staten Island, NY six years ago have failed to bring much-needed institutional changes to police departments around the country. The Minneapolis Police Department, in fact, was once held up by some as a model of progressive change that, clearly, has not resulted in the hoped-for reform.

"Minneapolis was kind of a 'shining star' of this new approach to police reform," he tells me. "That comes out of the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice and a lot of academic think tanks. Their idea was if we can make the police more professional, less biased, more transparent, that this will help restore people's trust in policing. So they implement things like implicit bias training, mindfulness training, de-escalation training. They give police body cameras. They set up a lot of police-community encounter sessions. They try to identify a few problem officers, to give them supplemental training. These are the kinds of things that they hope will create a more modern, professional police force that hopefully will kill fewer unarmed black people."

None of that worked, however, he says. "The number of police killings has not been reduced over the last five or six years. The number of low-level misdemeanor arrests has not been reduced. The number of police in our schools has not been reduced. The war on drugs has not been reduced. So we haven't seen real changes in the impact of policing on those who are most heavily policed. And that's really the problem here."

Now, explains Vitale, author of the book The End of Policing, it is time to demilitarize and defund departments around the country after 40 years of expanded and intensified policing and the more recent failed reforms. "We have dozens of places across the country where people have organized campaigns to dial back police funding," he explains. "No one is out there saying tomorrow we can just flip a switch and there are no police. Most of these proposals are about rolling back increases in police spending over the last ten years."

He argues that many of the functions that cops are currently tasked with would be much better handled by social workers and community organizations, where funding should be shifted away from the police. He also details how this has been a long time bipartisan problem and that many of the "solutions" offered by politicians --- from tough guy "law and order" measures on the Right or more recent progressive initiatives to better train cops to handle sensitive racial situations and improve community policing efforts on the Left --- are more often "used by police leaders and political leaders to deflect and demobilize the protests against them."

Vitale explains how you can help join the movement, why its so important, and how it is literally the only chance we have left for change. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a long-overdue conversation in our country. "My hope is that, as the immediacy of the protests subside, that people connect with these real movements to do the kind of sustained political organizing on the ground that can help change the view about policing, and develop a kind of new majoritarian politics that is more humane, and less centered on punishment and vengeance," he says.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Trump's EPA proves they couldn't care less about "states' rights"; the U.N. is forced to delay a crucial climate summit due to the pandemic; there is more good news about the end of coal; and less good news about Zombie Fires! Yes, Zombie Fires!...

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

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