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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, April 5, 2020
U.S. ECONOMY CRATERING; Judge Allows WI Election to Proceed: 'BradCast' 4/2/20
Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' on new relief bill; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
'Green News Report' 4/2/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Critical UN climate conf. cancelled; Coal co. seeks to dump retired miner obligations; States criminalize pipeline protests; PLUS: Nat'l parks to stay open after workers test positive...
Previous GNRs: 3/31/20 - 3/26/20 - Archives...
Election Disaster Under Way in WI; Employer Health Plans Likely Worsened Pandemic: 'BradCast' 4/1/20
Guest: Former ins. exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: Depth of crisis emerging despite denial...
Media Industry Confronting 'Full Extinction Event': 'BradCast' 3/31/20
Guest: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
'Green News Report' 3/31/20
Trump kills Obama's mileage standards; EPA stops pollution enforcement during COVID-19 crisis; Big Plastic sees profit in pandemic; PLUS: Earth Day 2020 looms...
OH's New Primary Scheme Shows How to NOT Handle This Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/30/20
Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
Sunday 'Worse Than the Problem' Toons
We're open for business! Come on in and binge read PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Free Medicine in the Corona Zone:
'BradCast' 3/27/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter; Also: Some VERY much needed laughs!...
WI, GA Still Suppressing Votes, Even During COVID-19 Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/26/20
More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Historic jobless claims amid pandemic...
'Green News Report' 3/26/20
Good news and bad for energy in stimulus bill; Even COVID-19 can't stop EPA rollbacks; PLUS: Court win for Standing Rock Sioux over Dakota Access Pipeline...
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...


Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' from new relief measure; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2020 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, it is as bad as we warned it would be. And it is getting even worse. And the way some state officials are now behaving, even upcoming elections may be unable to reverse much of this madness. [Audio link to full program is posted at end of summary.]

On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department released gobsmacking statistics revealing that a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the past week. That follows more than 3 million doing so the week before. Both weeks blow to smithereens the previous all-time record high for weekly jobless claims since such records have been kept. That numbers was of 695,000, as set in 1982. We are quickly blowing past the disastrous economic tailspin of the 2008 Great Recession and moving into Great Depression territory.

In response, House Dems are attempting to move to another relief bill, in the form of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to follow up last week's $2.2 trillion stimulus/corporate bailout bill. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is, so far, rejecting Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to do so, while telling her to "stand down" as the GOP does nothing instead. That, as NBC News reports today that Americans may be waiting as long as five months for the paltry $1,200 check promised them by last week's emergency relief bill.

But, of course, Congressional Republicans aren't doing absolutely nothing. McConnell has vowed to continuing packing the federal courts with unqualified judges, even among this disaster. And several GOP members of the House and Senate are proposing a bill to punish those who disseminated false information about coronavirus or who profited from it --- so long as those people are from other countries. Luckily, Donald Trump's months of repeated and purposeful and deadly disinformation that he and his Administration fed to the American people about the pandemic is all cool! So, apparently, are any U.S. Senators who may have profited from early information about the virus by trading millions of dollars of stock based on insider information, including Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). Presumably, they will not be held to account by the GOP's proposal to punish anyone who "financially benefits from acts intended to deliberately conceal or distort information about a public health emergency of international concern."

In the House, at the same time, Pelosi has announced the formation of a new bipartisan Select Committee to oversee the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic and its use of the $2 trillion allocated by last week's relief package. The committee, she says, will have subpoena power. So, if there are any questions the panel may have for members of the Administration dolling out that record amount of tax payer funds, we're certain that all of the President's men will undoubtedly respect any lawful Congressional subpoena they may receive.

Meanwhile, we continue to keep our eyes on how to help to begin to end many of these ongoing nightmares, somehow, via the ballot box. Toward that end, the Democratic National Committee announced they are postponing their national nominating convention, previously scheduled for Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July, back to August instead, in hopes that it will be possible to gather in person by that time (it likely will not be.) It would be held the week before Republicans plan to hold theirs in Charlotte, North Carolina, which Trump has vowed to hold with delegates gathered in person in the final week of August.

But, we're still in utter disbelief that Wisconsin is actually --- seriously --- going to hold their Presidential Primary, statewide Supreme Court election and municipal contests NEXT TUESDAY on April 7, despite, as we noted yesterday, the ongoing unprecedented health emergency, statewide stay-at-home order, and "a massive shortage of poll workers across the state, with more than 100 communities having no poll workers at all as of [this past Tuesday, and] an overall shortage of some 7,000 workers in 60% of the state's municipalities."

As we reported Wednesday, the only thing set to stop this madness with both the state's Democratic Governor and Republican heads of the state House and Senate also on board, is a federal lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates. Well, U.S. District Judge Mark M. Conley issued his ruling on Thursday, declining to postpone the election, while making clear that though he disagrees with the state's decision to move forward, he does not have the authority to postpone it due to a health emergency in which, he suggested correctly, residents could die. "That may be something that happens," he said during closing arguments, adding "that would be outside my jurisdiction. But it will be on the hands of the legislature and the governor."

Yes, it will. Judge Conley did, however, extend a few deadlines for absentee balloting, which has also reportedly already overwhelmed local elections officials who are having trouble keeping up with incoming ballots as well as sending out a record number of requested ballots. The Wisconsin Election Commission has already stated that it is very likely, barring a legislative change by the Republican-controlled legislature, that many votes will not be able to be counted at all in time for the state's statutory deadline. Republicans appear to be very happy about that. Conley suggested he may rule again, if voting rights are seen as imperiled on Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with the U.N. cancelling its critical upcoming climate conference due to the corona virus pandemic; a bankrupt U.S. coal company attempting to pass its obligations to retired miners over to tax payers instead; several states use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to pass laws criminalizing pipeline protests; and Trump's Interior Dept. keeps national parks open despite worker illnesses and their pleas to close the parks in the name of public safety...

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

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Coronavirus infects Congress; Sen. Burr knew; National chaos over lack of testing for non-celebrities; Unemployment claims skyrocket; Socialist Repubs propose trillion dollar bailout (that won't be nearly enough)...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2020 6:30pm PT  

To be frank, after getting off air from today's BradCast, I'm still almost too furious and/or exhausted to write about it. Tune in to find out why. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, in short, among the stories we covered...

  • Tulsi Gabbard ends her Presidential run, endorses Joe Biden;
  • Two members of Congress (one D, one R) test positive for coronavirus as leadership defies calls to allow for remote voting for members;
  • Despite weeks of repeated BS claims to the contrary by Trump and his White House, coronavirus testing (or lack thereof) is causing chaos across the U.S., with those who need tests still, obscenely, unable to get one;
  • Secretly recorded audio reveals that GOP Senator Richard Burr, speaking to wealthy political funders, knew well about the likely catastrophic dangers of the coming pandemic long before he (or Trump or anyone in the Administration) was willing to warn as much to the public, much less take what would have been live-saving action weeks ago. (But, as Trump said during a WH presser yesterday in response to why celebrities, and apparently members of Congress, seem to have no trouble getting tested quickly: "Perhaps that's the story of life. I've heard that happens on occasion.");
  • There is a ray of hope from China, where the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first identified, reported zero new homegrown infections on Wednesday and only eight additional deaths there. Those are remarkably encouraging numbers, but come at a very steep price of mandatory isolation and a central government able to act quickly to shore up its medical system to rise appropriately to meet the moment;
  • The good news from China is offset by the bad news from Italy, where 475 people died in a single day on Wednesday. The death toll there has now officially surpassed China's, even though the Asian nation has 1.4 billion citizens compared to Italy's 60 million. The numbers in the U.S. look more and more like Italy's every day, with the response from our own federal government being far worse;
  • The pandemic has, virtually overnight, begun to show up in the U.S. economy with an enormous spike in unemployment claims in states across the nation and a federal government so gutted through huge, reckless, unending tax cuts for the wealthy and interest rate cuts during boom times that there are very few economic tools left in the federal arsenal to mitigate the cataclysmic shock to the economy that is almost certainly now in place;
  • So, of course, yet again, every Republican in government who pretends to not be a socialist --- who couldn't wait for Sanders to win the Democratic nomination so they could pretend as much even louder --- is now, once again, relying on the federal government for enormous bailouts. (Funny how this happens every time Republicans are allowed to take control of the federal government, no?) Socialist GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is now leading his party in calling for teeny-tiny checks to be sent to individual Americans and for more huge tax cuts --- as if there is anything left to cut --- for giant corporations. Yes, those would be same huge corporations which already received a trillion dollar tax cut from Trump and the same GOP just about a year ago, and the same ones who give huge money to Republicans year after year to call those seeking to end these economic nightmares "socialists" for wanting to do so. Nice work if you can get it. But "perhaps that's the story of life. I've heard that happens on occasion.";
  • And with all of that cheery news --- and a few choice Brad Rants to go with it all --- we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as she finds amidst more disasters than we have the heart to describe here, at least one or two silver linings inside of it all...

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

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Guest: Roosevelt University political scientist David Faris...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2020 6:00pm PT  

While it seemed impossible previously, Republicans in the U.S. Senate appear to have outdone their phony confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in late 2018, with their sham Impeachment "trial" of Donald John Trump. As we went to air for today's BradCast, the Senate was preparing to vote on whether witnesses would be blocked from a Senate Impeachment Trial for the first time in U.S. History. By the time we got off air, the shameful, dirty deed was done. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The day of the fateful vote began with yet another explosive piece of breaking news from the New York Times, reporting that Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton's forthcoming book charges that "More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents" Trump directed Bolton "to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton." Moreover, the paper reports, Bolton describes an Oval Office conversation on the matter in early May of 2019 "that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense."

Yes, that's right. The Trump attorney now leading his defense in the Senate trial, who has accused Democratic House Managers of "hiding the facts" in their arguments in favor of two Articles of Impeachment against Trump, is now allegedly a co-conspirator in the very plot that resulted in only the third impeachment of a U.S. President in history. Little wonder they'd prefer to have no witnesses testify.

Bolton has stated he would be willing to testify in the trial, as has Lev Parnas, a right-hand man to Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer at the center of the scheme to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations of Joe Biden before Trump would agree to a White House meeting or release $391 million in military assistance to war torn Ukraine. On Friday morning, Parnas' attorney submitted a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, explaining his client's willingness to testify at the trial with relevant information that alleges Trump, Mulvaney, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devon Nunes and many others worked on Trump's plot to force Ukraine to help him undermine the 2020 Presidential election. So, yes, as Gordon Sondland said weeks ago, "everyone was in the loop. So, yeah, no witnesses please and thanks.

Despite all of that astonishing news --- and all that has come before it --- by the end of today's program, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 51 to 49, would vote to block subpoenas for all witnesses and documents in the Impeachment Trial, for the first time in U.S. history. Only two Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, were willing to cross the aisle to vote with all 47 Democrats to call for witnesses. We discuss the pathetic excuses offered by supposedly "moderate" GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and the retiring Lamar Alexander of Tennessee for voting against witnesses. That vote now paves the way for an acquittal vote for the President. One of the few remaining questions by show's end was when that vote may come. As of this hour, it may now happen next Wednesday, the day after the President's State of the Union Address on Tuesday night --- but we'll see.

Another major question of note is what price, if any, Republicans may ultimately pay for what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described after the vote as the GOP's act of "perfidy...where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, turned away from truth, and went along with a sham trial." With "no witnesses and no documents", he described the proceedings as "not a real trial" and "a tragedy on a grand scale."

We're joined today by DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of Political Science at Roosevelt University, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty, to discuss today's historic events, and his two most recent columns at The Week, where he is a regular contributor. In one, he finds fault with the House Democrats' strategy of sending over the Articles to the Senate too quickly and, in the other, with McConnell's strategy of blocking witnesses. Faris describes the latter as a "rare blunder" for the Republican leader and explains why. I disagree with him on the latter, as he and I discuss what all of this may now mean for Republicans, for Democrats, for the President and for the voters who will kick off the 2020 Presidential Election in Iowa this coming Monday.

"I don't know that there's anybody who could look at the Senate this week and say that a fair trial happened here," Faris tells me. "What McConnell did was he handed Democrats a bat to beat them with for the next eleven months about the legitimacy of the trial in the Senate."

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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Trump team wraps up, Bolton reverberates, GOP lacks votes to block him; Smartphone app at Iowa Caucus; Internet election underway in Seattle...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The President's defense team wrapped up their Opening (and, they hope, Closing) Argument in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, even as we are now less than one week away from the official start of the 2020 Election season with worries about the integrity of the Iowa Caucuses, set for Monday night, February 3rd, now looming. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We break away momentarily, for the first half of today's program, from our ongoing coverage of the Impeachment Trial to cover some issues of concern for some, regarding the Iowa Caucuses and an arguably more troubling development regarding an election that is now underway in Washington state. First to Iowa, where Bernie Sanders is now said to have taken a slight lead, according to most of the recent polling in the Hawkeye State, over his nearest competitors, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. At the same time, a number of listeners have written to express concerns about a smartphone app developed by the state Democratic Party to help report results quickly to Party headquarters on Caucus night.

We discuss the way Democrats caucus in Iowa, what this app --- developed by the state Party in secret --- is supposedly designed to do to assist in the otherwise-open Democratic caucus process, and the worries that some have about the possibility of this new app being hacked to report inaccurate caucus results on Monday night. (Misreporting of Caucus night results has caused problems in the past, at least for Republicans.)

Of far greater concern, however, is an election underway right now in the Seattle area where more than a million voters are eligible to cast their vote via the Internet for the first time on either a computer or smart phone. The first-of-its-kind online election will fill a vacancy on the board of the obscure King Conservation District, responsible for managing natural resources in King County, Washington. The online voting is being carried out in partnership between the County's Board of Elections and a nonprofit named Tusk Philanthropies, headed up by a venture capitalist and Democratic political strategist by the name of Bradley Tusk.

The landmark pilot election comes despite a years-long, nearly-unanimous consensus from cybsersecurity experts (we've interviewed tons of them over the years on The BradCast) that the Internet is nowhere near secure enough for public elections. It also comes in the wake of last Summer's bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report finding all 50 states were targeted by Russia during the 2016 election, and the panel's recommendation that "States should resist pushes for online voting".

While she has no oversight of this particular election, Washington's top election official, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, opposes the King County effort and hopes to roll back the use of electronic ballots in the state, charging (correctly!) that the Internet is "too risky for voting". Nonetheless, Tusk, King County Elections Director Julie Wise, and a Seattle company named Democracy Live are barreling ahead with this disturbing experiment that is set to further poison the all-too-quickly disappearing idea of publicly overseeable elections in the U.S.

You have been warned. Again.

Then, its back to impeachment today, at the end of Tuesday's brief, two-hour wrap up of the President's case in the Senate. Trump's attorneys argued largely that the President did nothing wrong, and even if he did, it's not impeachable, because the dispute boils down to little more than a "policy disagreement" between Democrats and the White House. Impeachment over such matters, Trump's bombastic TV/radio lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone argued, sets a dangerous precedent by lowering the bar on future Presidential impeachments.

But the biggest looming question over the U.S. Senate at the moment is whether four or more Republican Senators will agree to call for witnesses when they vote again on the matter later in the week, following two days of written questions for the attorneys on both side. The issue that has turned the Republicans' previous plans for a quick acquittal on its head is the reported bombshell claims by Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton, in the manuscript of his still-unpublished new book, that Trump did exactly what he is being accused of in the first of the two Articles of Impeachment. That Article charges Abuse of Power by Trump for withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine in order to force them to help Trump in his reelection bid by announcing an investigation of Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Bolton's explosive disclosure, first reported on Sunday night by the New York Times, has reverberated ever since, with Trump's former Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, asserting on Monday night that he believes Bolton and agrees he should be called in as a witness for the trial against his old boss. The shake-up also comes as a new national poll out on Tuesday afternoon from Quinnipiac finds that registered voters by an astounding margin of 75 to 20 percent, agree that witnesses should be allowed to testify. The tally includes nearly half of Republicans and an astonishing 75 percent of Independent voters. According to the new survey, more than half of those polled believe Trump "is not telling the truth about his actions involving Ukraine"; should "provide more details" about it; has "abused his power" in the matter; has "obstructed Congress" in the bargain; and that the "withholding of U.S. aid to Ukraine was not justified". All of which has left Republicans reeling in a panic to find the votes needed to block witnesses in the trial. But they're still trying, and will likely have until Friday to pull it off.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, filled with several ongoing plagues, catastrophes and warnings of nearly biblical proportion...

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: Martin Longman of Washington Monthly and Progress Pond...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2020 6:31pm PT  

Our special coverage of the ongoing U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump continues on today's BradCast following Tuesday's marathon session that ended at nearly 2am in the nation's capital, before beginning again with opening arguments on Wednesday. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Tuesday, Republicans voted repeatedly along party lines to block 11 different amendments proposed by Democrats to allow for various first-hand witnesses to Trump's alleged High Crimes and Misdemeanors and documents being withheld by the White House that underscore other evidence in the two Articles of Impeachment.

Republican Senators blocked amendments proposed by Democrats to subpoena documents from White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Documents from the State Department detailing the President's call with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelinsky, as Trump withheld military assistance and a White House meeting in hopes of strong-arming Ukraine's new anti-corruption President to announce (not to carry out, just to announce) investigations into Trump's potential 2020 political rival Joe Biden; Documents from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which the President illegally ordered to withhold nearly $400 million in Congressionally-appropriated military assistance; Documents from the Pentagon where officials were reportedly troubled about potential violations of law in withholding the funds; a subpoena for Mulvaney himself to give testimony in the trial; A subpoena to two OMB staffers who carried out the hold on military assistance to the war-torn country; A subpoena for Trump's own former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who regarded Trump's Ukraine scheme as a "drug deal" and who has said he'd be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate because, as he claims, he knows more about all of this than is currently publicly known.

In vote after vote, Republicans voted as a block, with 53 votes, to deny every Amendment offered by Democrats, even against ensuring votes for subpoenas at a later date or to have the Chief Justice authorize subpoenas if the Republican-appointed John Roberts, who presides over the trial, felt any particular witness or document would have probative value by being relevant to the case. "One side is not afraid of a fair trial," lead House Manager Adam Schiff argued, "one is terrified" that the truth might come out.

Meanwhile, Trump offered false comments to reporters overseas at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he echoed his previous lies that he would "love" to have Bolton and Mulvaney and his Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry testify at the Senate trial, but he just can't allow it due to "national security" and "executive privilege" concerns.

Back home, the White House team's public defense at the first day of the trial was not well received, even by Republicans, including Chris Wallace of Fox "News" (which is now, unlike actual news outlets like CNN and MSNBC, breaking away during trial coverage for commercials and regular programming, while leaving the impeachment proceedings in a little silent box in the corner of the screen), the House Republicans' own Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, and George Conway, the longtime Republican attorney and activist husband of Trump's Senior White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway.

In a blistering interview with CNN on Wednesday, George Conway charged that Senate Republicans "don't want to hear the evidence because they know the truth, they know he's guilty"; that the charges against Trump are "much, much more serious" than those against Bill Clinton during his impeachment (on which Conway worked); that Trump is a "pathological liar" who "needs to be removed now" from office, because he is "thoroughly unfit for office". Kellyanne's husband also said that he is "deeply saddened" by what has happened to his Republican Party, but sees this historic event as a "moment of reckoning" for the nation and his party.

We're joined today by MARTIN LONGMAN (long known as "BooMan" to many old time progressive blog readers) from Washington Monthly and Progress Pond, for commentary as the Democratic House Managers begin their first day of opening arguments (which could also be their closing arguments if Republicans vote again next week to block witness subpoenas following the White House attorneys' opening argument). We also discuss the rules for McConnell's "scam trial" and why it is that Republicans seem to "lose every round and still win on the scorecard" --- not just in this matter, but going back as far as the Florida 2000 election.

Finally, we close with a few audio clips from Tuesday, when Democratic House Manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler accurately charged that Trump's lawyers "lie and lie and lie and lie", and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in response --- with a straight face --- that "President Trump is a man of his word." The heated late-night exchange resulted in a reprimand for both sides as Tuesday's marathon 13-hour session drew toward its close.

But we close today with a clip from Rep. Schiff's opening argument, citing a chillingly apt warning from founder Alexander Hamilton about "a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents...despotic in his ordinary demeanour [and] known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty [who] is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty --- to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion --- to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day --- It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind."

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Republican Senate votes to block document, witness subpoenas as White House offers remarkably hypocritical defense...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2020 6:10pm PT  

"Can I get a witness?" That appears to be the big question, at the moment, for Democrats in the historic U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of President Donald John Trump. On today's BradCast, we offer special coverage of the beginning of the trial, which, at least for today, is turning out to be a trial about whether there will be a real trial or not, with evidence, documents and witnesses, as Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus seem prepared to do everything in their power to ensure there will not be such an actual trial. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Before we get to today's action in the Senate, we bring you up to date on the holiday weekend's pre-trial briefs presented by the Democratic U.S. House Managers, who are serving as prosecutors for Trump's two Articles of Impeachment on Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, and the brief responses filed by the White House defense team.

Newly added to to Trump's legal team is hypocritical TV attorney Alan Dershowitz, who spent his weekend arguing on the Sunday news shows that the Articles were invalid because they did not include a specific crime. "You need proof of an actual crime," he argued. That, by way of contrast with Alan Dershowitz in 1998 during the Bill Clinton impeachment when he argued, literally, "it certainly doesn't have to be a crime" that qualifies a President for impeachment.

Trump's 6-page response to the Impeachment Managers 111-page brief describes the Impeachment as a "brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election" (which is what he is actually accused of doing in the Articles for which he is being impeached), and as "nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote." That's right. Donald Trump is now pretending to be concerned with the "fundamental right to vote." That, in the middle of an impeachment trial where he is accused of attempting to cheat in his 2020 reelection contest by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aid for war-torn Ukraine in hopes of forcing them to create dirt he can use against Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Tuesday's opening agenda was on the adoption of McConnell's proposed rules for the trial that would postpone votes on whether to include witnesses and documents previously blocked by the White House during the House's initial impeachment inquiry (the basis of Article 2's Obstruction of Congress charges) and even evidence gathered during the House Inquiry itself. Under McConnell's resolution, both sides would spend days in opening statements, and then take as many as 16 hours of written questions from Senators before they even vote on whether to allow witnesses or not. Legal observers have noted that is the opposite of how actual trials are carried out.

We share audio from today's terse opening statement by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, followed by an extended excerpt from lead House Manager Adam Schiff on the unprecedented attempt to exclude all witnesses and documents from a Senate impeachment. No trial in the upper chamber of Congress has lacked witnesses since the founding of our nation.

As we went to air for today's BradCast (and as we write tonight), all Democratic amendments to McConnell's resolution, attempting to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Dept. and elsewhere, and for witness testimony, have been rejected along strict party line votes with all 53 Republicans voting to table the amendments, and all 47 Democrats voting to move forward with the subpoenas.

Also today, a few quick points of news elsewhere regarding the public fight to stop the controversial certification of new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in Los Angeles County and the massive gun rights demonstration (over nothing) held on the Martin Luther King Day holiday in Virginia.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with exceedingly disturbing news about ocean warming, slightly more encouraging news about Wall Street beginning to wake up to worries about our climate crisis, and a big loss (for now) in the federal climate change lawsuit filed by a group of kids in California...

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Guest: National security law expert Karen J. Greenberg; Also: McConnell says has votes to begin fixed impeachment trial; 'GNR' returns for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2020 5:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the world remains on edge in the wake of Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general Qassem Soleimani. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of summary.]

At least 56 mourners reportedly died during a stampede at funeral processions for the revered figured in Iran, were millions turned out to show their respects and to vow revenge against the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. customs and border officials were reportedly detaining Iranian-American citizens for extended questioning as they re-entered the country; Trump's Secretaries of Defense and State each tried to walk back Trump's twice-threatened war crimes against Iran, should they dare to retaliate; And both Secretaries along with the White House continued to claim, without evidence, that an "imminent attack" that would have killed "hundreds" of Americans was prevented by the killing and served to justify the targeted drone strike against Soleimani and several Iraqi officials; Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to have the votes necessary to move Donald Trump's impeachment trial forward in the U.S. Senate (which Trump had clearly hoped to distract from with his attack on Iran) without allowing for either first-hand witnesses or subpoenaed White House documents to be presented as evidence; and the Foreign Minister of Iran described the assassination of Soleimani as "state terrorism" and President Trump as "lawless".

On that last point, and many related, we are joined today by KAREN J. GREENBERG, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law and the author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. Professor Greenberg, an expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, detailed in a New York Times op-ed today headlined "Killing Qassim Suleimani Was Illegal. And Predictable.," how American Presidents have been expanding their own executive authority for "targeted killings" and assassination since the post-Watergate Church Committee in the Senate called for reforms to ban such activity by the Executive Branch in 1975. President Gerald Ford, in 1976, issued an Executive Order to ban all political assassinations by the U.S.

Over the years since, however, as Greenberg documents, Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama have each stretched the definitions of what amounts to an allowable "targeted killing" under certain restricted circumstances in order to prevent an "imminent attack". And while such killings eventually numbered in the hundreds under Obama (and included at least one U.S. citizen, albeit in a different country), Greenberg explains that no President, until Donald Trump, has broadened the definitions to include an out-and-out assassination of a state official, much less one as highly revered as Soleimani in Iran.

"President Obama attempted to expand the authority for targeted killing, excepting it from the category 'assassination', and giving many reasons --- including international law reasons --- for why this would be lawful. And tying it, however, to the War on Terror, which in a way, puts it in a different scenario than what we're now seeing. Because what we've seen this week is a successful attempt to attack a leading member of a sovereign state," Greenberg tells me. "It distinguishes in many ways from what the Obama Administration had done. But what the Obama Administration did was to open the window for that. They did it because they wanted to expand the targeted killing program of George [W.] Bush. Obama said it would cause less trouble, less reprisal on the ground, and therefore less violence against American troops. And they thought it would work in cases where they couldn't capture somebody who they thought was being tremendously detrimental to the United States."

The authority he and other Presidents granted to themselves, however, "essentially bypasses the idea of laws that restrain" and "comes down to 'trust me' government", in that the public must rely on classified evidence by the Intelligence Community --- and, hopefully, its review by members of Congress --- as legal justification for the actions. But Trump, she explains, while previously dismissing the assessments of the intelligence community as dishonest "Deep State" actors, is now citing what he claims to be their evidence and asking us to trust it.

The result of all of this is what Greenberg describes as "a lack of foresight to put in place policies, by any President or any administration that, should it get into the wrong hands, can prove truly dangerous. We've now crossed that threshold." She goes on to note that "The basic bottom line is this is not something that the United States has supported or allowed since the Church Committee" in 1975.

We discuss how Ford's Executive Order, the War Powers Act of 1973 (meant to constrain Presidents from acts of war without approval by Congress), and the Authorizations for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress after 9/11 and again before our invasion of Iraq, have all now been stretched to the point of near meaningless. At the same time, the U.S. has also pushed the boundaries of Geneva Convention restrictions against war crimes to fit its defensive/aggressive needs of the moment, with as little enforcement by international agencies as Congress has brought against U.S. Presidents from both major parties at home for violations of domestic laws and Constitutional mandates.

There is quite a bit in this conversation that can't adequately be summarized here, so I hope you'll tune in for much more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, which, sadly, picks up with the continuing, record, devastating Australian wildfires which also led our last GNR of the year in 2019, some two and a half weeks ago...

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Speaker holds back Trump impeachment articles to force McConnell to allow witness testimony; Also: Goods news for NJ, GA voters; Update on VerifiedVoting.org controversy; Two important new e-voting exposés...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2019 5:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As messy as the process of passing two Articles of Impeachment against rogue President Donald J. Trump was, the post-impeachment phase got messier still on Thursday, as Democrats stood strong --- at least so far --- in their fight for a fair impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. We've also got some important election integrity and voting rights news, along with our final Green News Report of the year. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to today's impeachment standoff, we finish out a few points from shortly after we left air on Wednesday night, including a review of the late vote on those historic Impeachment Articles in the House --- and some thoughts on Tulsi Gabbard's less than courageous vote of "present" --- as well as the surprising emergence of the backbone being displayed at the moment by House Democrats.

In a blistering response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's repeated admissions in recent days that he is working hand-in-glove with the White House and has no intention of serving as an impartial juror in the Senate trial to decide whether the President should be removed from office, despite his Constitutional mandate to do so, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday: "Our Founders, when they wrote the Constitution, suspected that there could be a rogue President. I don't think they suspected that we could have a rogue President and a rogue Leader in the Senate at the same time."

We do our best today to bring you up to date on the ugly and quickly moving story of what has come today from McConnell's --- and, shamefully, fellow juror, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)'s --- attempt to make a mockery of the Senate trial by rigging it in favor of the White House in refusing to allow first-hand testimony from witnesses of Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors. That, despite Graham's own insistence from 1998, when he served as a House Manager for Bill Clinton's impeachment, that "in every trial that there has ever been in the Senate regarding impeachment, witnesses were called. When you have a witness telling you about what they were doing and why, it's the difference between getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Those archival video-taped remarks came courtesy of an ad released on Wednesday from Republicans for the Rule of Law to call out Graham. It is in response to McConnell and Graham's refusal to allow testimony from a number of top Administration officials who were first-hand witnesses, but who failed to answer lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents in the U.S. House. The witnesses sought by Democrats and by a huge majority of Americans of all parties (including 64% of Republicans and 72% of independents) include Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Then, we move to some quick election integrity and voting rights news as the first votes in the 2020 elections are now just weeks away. In New Jersey this week, the Democratic Governor signed a bill to restore voting rights to 73,000 people across the state who are currently on parole or probation.

In Georgia, after Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger was allowed to purge more than 300,000 voters earlier this week amid an ongoing lawsuit to prevent the removal of at least 120,000 of them, his office was forced to admit today that at least 22,000 had been wrongly removed due to what Raffensberger's office describes as an error in the state's screening process. The Admission came just hours before another hearing in federal court, leading plaintiff Fair Fight Action to demand that "every voter purged this week" should be "reinstated immediately."

We also have a quick update on the recent internecine battle at e-voting watchdog VerifiedVoting.org after the courageous resignations of now two well-respected members of their Boards of Directors and Advisors. (We interviewed the first of those to quit, Prof. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley on a BradCast last week, after which the resignation of the second, Prof. Rich DeMillo of Georgia Tech --- who we have also interviewed a number of times --- was made public as well.)

The public resignations were in response to Verified Voting's disturbing years of support for 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 elections, and their frequently misleading information about how post-election audits could be used to verify results on such unverifiable systems. This week, the group finally responded to the embarrassing and costly pushback they have been receiving from Election Integrity advocates.

There were also two very important stories published this week on the very serious concerns about e-voting systems in advance of 2020. The first, "How New Voting Machines Could Hack Our Democracy," by attorney and Twitter activist Jenny Cohn at New York Review of Books, is a disturbing and encyclopedic exposé on the dangers and failings of BMDs, the Election Integrity groups such as Verified Voting who have failed to adequately warn against their use in American elections, and the private vendor/election official revolving doors and payoffs that have brought us to this perilous moment.

The second investigative article, out today from NBC News, reviews the shady ownership and shadowy manufacturing processes that runs through China and the Philippines at the nation's largest electronic voting company, Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) of Omaha, Nebraska.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (our last one of the year!), with more disturbing news out of Australia, more bad news for our oceans, troubling news about the disturbing high costs of fracking and, shockingly, some kind words about global financial services behemoth Goldman Sachs!...

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Climate crisis; Impeachment madness; 2020 debates; GOP voter purges...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2019 6:45pm PT  

The gods must be angry. But they have very good cause. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • At least four were killed and dozens injured as some 27 tornadoes reportedly ripped across the Deep South causing "total chaos" on Monday and Tuesday. In December. Is that normal?;
  • DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez steps in to help resolve a labor union dispute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles that had threatened to derail Thursday's 2020 Presidential Debate. Now, it won't. And the union workers got a great deal out of it;
  • Nine Democratic Presidential candidates, led by Sen. Cory Booker (who did not qualify for Thursday's debate), petition the DNC to relax qualification thresholds for upcoming Presidential debates. The Party says it won't;
  • Another former Trump campaign officials is heading to jail. Rick Gates, Trump's former Deputy Campaign Chair and a top Transition official, receives 45 days in jail, three years of probation and a $20,000 fine for fraud and lying to federal investigators --- to which he pleaded guilty last year. His sentence comes despite prosecutors seeking no jail time after Gates had cooperated with federal officials in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, by helping to to secure guilty verdicts against Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and longtime Trump associate Roger Stone;
  • Donald Trump unleashed a bizarre, blistering, six-page, single-spaced, Donald Trumpian rant, disguised as a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [PDF] on Tuesday, decrying his looming impeachment as a "perversion of justice" by Democrats. The jokes seem to write themselves here, but for how pathetically sad, dangerous and threatening to our Constitutional order the behavior of this President of the United States now actually is;
  • That threat continues to spread to Congress, where the House Rules Committee on Tuesday set terms for Wednesday's House Floor debate on the two Articles of Impeachment against the President, as Rep. Jim McGovern, Chair of the Committee said he looks at Trump's attempt to use Ukraine to help him win the 2020 election as "a crime in progress", with Democrats "trying to prevent the President from rigging the next election";
  • While over in the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused a request from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena the testimony of four top Trump officials who were first-hand witnesses to Trump's Ukraine extortion plot. The officials, whose testimony is sought for the almost certain upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate --- in which Senators are supposed to serve as impartial jurors to determine whether Trump should be removed from office --- include Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor;
  • As McConnell continues to rig the Senate trial on behalf of Trump, Plan B for the removal of this President involves the ballot box. There too, Republicans are attempting to rig next year's election results. In Wisconsin, which Trump reportedly won by just 23,000 votes in 2016, a Republican-appointed Circuit Court Judge ordered the removal of more than 200,000 voters from the voting rolls before the 2020 election. The voters were previously set for removal in 2021 as the Wisconsin Elections Commission had planned, and as the League of Women Voters had argued in favor of. A rightwing group sued to have them removed before 2020 instead, and the GOP-appointed judge agreed. Dems vowed today to re-register them;
  • In Georgia, a federal judge allowed the purge of more than 300,000 voters identified by the Republican Sec. of State for moving or failing to vote in recent elections. But voting rights advocates argue that approximately 120,000 of them should not be on the list at all. The judge allowed the mass removal to move forward on assurances from the state those voters can be quickly restored after further hearings on the matter;
  • But, it's not just rightwing controlled states where voter registration concerns are rearing their ugly (if expected) head before 2020. Due to what is being described as a "computer glitch" related to the state's new, automatic registration system, as many as 100,000 voters in California may have had their party preference incorrectly changed on their registration files in advance of next year's upcoming March 3rd Presidential primary. The state's rules for who can vote in which party primary are particularly confusing. So, its a very good idea for residents who believe they are registered to check their registration at VoterStatus.SOS.CA.GOV to make sure they are still registered, and for the party they think they are. Those who are registered as permanent "No Party Preference" vote-by-mail voters but who wish to vote for a Presidential candidate in a party primary on March 3rd, will need to make that request with their County Registrar very soon or will receive a vote-by-mail ballot with no Presidential candidate options!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the U.N. climate talks in Madrid end without an agreement, but with much disappointment and rancor, thanks in no small part to sabotage by the U.S., and a new report finds the Greenland ice melt is on track for scientists worst case-scenario predictions of catastrophic sea level rise by the end of the century.

The gods have very good reason indeed to be angry again today...

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Guest: NC Sen. Erica D. Smith; Also: Dems call for former Repub Amash to be named a House Manager, and other late impeachment updates...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: I've seen a lot of scams pulled off by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private voting system vendor over my more than decade and a half of covering Election Integrity in the U.S. But what ES&S is now trying to pull off in North Carolina may take the cake. It has also outraged a State Senator who is running for U.S. Senate in 2020 who joins us on today's show to discuss it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, however, a quick Impeachment update. Freshman Democrats --- both progressives and Blue Dogs --- have begun a campaign to have former Tea Party Republican-turned-independent Rep. Justin Amash serve as one of the House impeachment managers in the (most likely) upcoming impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate of Donald J. Trump. It's an excellent idea....which is why we originally suggested same as far back as May of this year.

Meanwhile, very late on Sunday night --- actually, very early Monday morning --- the House Judiciary Committee submitted its 169-page impeachment report [PDF] to the House Rules Committee, charging that Trump committed "multiple federal crimes" including bribery and wire fraud. The Rules Committee will pass that report on to the House Floor where a vote on two Articles of Impeachment on Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress is set to occur as soon as Wednesday. If all goes as generally planned, the Articles will be conveyed to the U.S. Senate for a trial to remove the President after the first of the year.

Over the weekend, Democrats, including House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, pushed back against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's recent admission on Fox "News" that he is coordinating "everything I do...with White House counsel" regarding impeachment. Nadler described McConnell's statements --- since Senators serve as supposedly impartial jurors in Senate impeachment trials --- as a "subversion of Constitutional order", noting that the Constitution requires Senators take an oath to do impartial justice before serving as jurors in such trials.

For his part, Schumer over the weekend sent a letter to McConnell requesting subpoenas for four Trump officials, including Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, to serve as fact witnesses during the trial. If Republicans will not allow witnesses in the trial, some have called for Dems to hold off the trial until the courts determine whether subpoenaed witnesses must testify to Congress, or until after next year's election, should Trump be reelected.

But speaking of the possibility of Trump's reelection, we have been covering in detail the insane deployment of 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in jurisdictions around the country in advance of 2020. Most notably, battleground states Georgia and Pennsylvania tried them out for the first time in last month's off-year election and the systems failed miserably, even during sparsely attended municipal elections, with some voters being forced to wait for an hour to cast their ballot. In Northampton County, PA machines the new ES&S ExpressVoteXL systems recorded zero votes for a candidate who, as it turned out, actually received tens of thousands. Last week ES&S issued an apology for the disaster, taking at least some responsibility for having misprogrammed and/or misconfigured the systems that were used for the first time last month in Northampton and Philadelphia.

At the same time last week, it was revealed in an excellent investigative exposé by Jordan Wilkie at Carolina Public Press, that ES&S, who is submitted one version of their ExpressVote BMD systems for state testing and certification in North Carolina in early 2017, only recently notified the state that they don't have enough of those machines to supply the needs of the state next year. Coming after a two year testing process which ended with certification in August, ES&S is now seeking "Administrative Approval" to skip the state certification and testing process on an updated version of the system. That, even as they had told many other states long ago, according to Wilkie, that the system being tested in NC would not be available for 2020.

Incredibly enough, last Friday, the NC State Board of Elections voted to allow the "Administrative Approval" sought by the company of the new system which many are describing as a "bait and switch" by ES&S. More incredibly, it was passed by the SBE on a 3 to 2 vote, with the Democratic-appointed Board Chair joining with the Board's two Republican members to greenlight the new, untested systems, now set for use in Mecklenburg County next year. Mecklenburg is the closely divided swing-state's largest and most Democratic-leaning county.

We're joined today by STATE SEN. ERICA D. SMITH who has been outspoken and outraged by ES&S's latest scam, along with the SBE's willingness to go along with it. She tells me that the "Administrative Approval" is in violation of state law that she helped pass, and that she intends to take action to try and reverse last week's vote by the Board.

"Unfortunately, they [the Board of Elections] once again supported a machine that has not been tried and tested," she says today. "We passed a law that de-certified all of the older voting machines and required re-certification of the new models. So, in my opinion, they have broken the law or circumvented the law, and have further created disintegration of the public trust in our free and fair and secure elections in North Carolina." Smith calls for hand-marked paper ballot systems to be used instead, and describes falling for ES&S' bait-and-switch scheme and subsequent use of BMDs at this point as "unfathomable".

Smith, a three-term Senator and an engineer by training, also explains that verifiable and more secure hand-marked paper ballot systems are far more inexpensive than the system ES&S is pushing and that both the state Board and Mecklenburg County appear to be falling for. "We should not be substituting convenience for election security," she warns. ES&S "waited until the absolute last opportunity to tell us in North Carolina that they were not going to be able to meet the demand. But they knew that at the time when they accepted the bid." Smith rails. "Once again, it shows that ES&S is indeed a bad actor in this. They have compromised the integrity of this process and we should not let them get away with it."

Smith, a progressive Democrat, is also running for the U.S. Senate nomination in NC next year, vowing to forego all corporate PAC donations and hoping to take on Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis in November. She currently leads her closest competitor, Cal Cunningham, for the nomination by 5 points, according to polling last month, and bested Tillis in a head-to-head match-up by 7 points, according to a poll taken earlier this year. And yet, both state and national Democrats have endorsed her opponent, Cunningham. We discuss ALL of these various outrages during a very lively interview with Smith on today's BradCast!...

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Guest: Prof. Philip B. Stark, inventor of post-election Risk-Limiting Audits on his resignation from e-vote 'watchdog' VerifiedVoting.org; Also: A tale of two KY Governors and one corrupt U.S. Senator...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue down the long and often-too-winding road toward democracy and justice. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

After some 14 hours of debate on Thursday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee made history on Friday morning by voting along party lines to approve two Articles of Impeachment --- for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress --- against Donald John Trump. It is only the fourth time in America's 243-year history for such a "solemn and sad" event. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't even wait for this morning's vote before declaring out-loud on Fox "News" Thursday night that he intends to rig the U.S. Senate's impeachment trial. The Kentucky Senator (who is up for re-election next year) and leader of the Senators who will serve as jurors in the impeachment trial to consider removal of the President early next year --- presuming the full House votes to adopt the Articles next week --- boasted that he has been colluding with the accused in order to assure the Senate trial will be anything but fair.

Speaking of Kentucky and the importance of uncorrupted democracy, on his way out the door, now thankfully-former Republican Tea Party Governor Matt Bevin, who narrowly lost reelection last month in the otherwise "red" state to Democrat Andy Beshear, pardoned and/or gave commutations to 428 convicted criminals. Among those granted clemency are a convicted child rapist, a man who hired a hit man to kill his business partner, and a third who killed his parents. Perhaps most appalling, however, was the pardon for a home-invasion murderer in the second year of his 19-year sentence, after the man's family threw a fund-raiser for Bevin's campaign just last year. (His two accomplices, whose families did not donate to the Governor, remain in jail.)

By way of contrast, the new Democratic Governor, on his second day in office this week, restored voting rights and the right to run for public office to some 140,000 non-violent former felons, leaving Iowa as the only state in the union which still bans all former felons from voting for life. Yes, voting and elections still matter.

But the right to vote and have that vote counted accurately, in a way that we can know it has been counted accurately, continues to be an ongoing fight for Election Integrity advocates across the country as we are weeks away from the start of voting in the 2020 Presidential race. On Friday, several such groups filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to block the use of brand new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Computer Ballot Marking devices made by ES&S, and set for use in the key battleground state next year, after the systems failed to correctly record tens of thousands of votes during last month's municipal elections. The suit seeks to block the new touchscreen systems from use and to require hand-marked paper ballots instead in at least 17 percent of the state, including Philadelphia. Failure in that much of the state next year would be more than enough to throw the results of the 2020 Presidential election one way or another in the critical swing-state.

After those new systems failed so catastrophically during their first use last month (as new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems did in Georgia on the same day), long-time, previously well-respected e-voting watchdog group VerifiedVoting.org seemed to help both elections officials and private vendors off the hook by endorsing so-called Risk-Limiting Audits of some of the computer-marked paper ballot summaries produced by the systems in both states.

That appears to have been the last straw for Verified Voting's Board of Directors member Prof. PHILIP B. STARK of UC-Berkeley. Stark, a math and statistics professor, as well as a Board of Advisors member on the US. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol. He has been trying, in recent months, to make clear to elections officials and vendors that RLA's of computer-marked (versus hand-marked) paper ballots are "meaningless" [PDF], because its impossible to verify that they reflect voter intent. With Verified Voting jumping in to publicly praise GA and PA's use of such tests to proclaim that reported results accurately reflected voter intent, Stark submitted a blistering resignation letter [PDF] to the group.

The missive, which he shared with me on the night he recently sent it, decries VV's "whitewashing [of] inherently untrustworthy elections by overclaiming what applying RLA procedures to an untrustworthy paper trail can accomplish." He accused the non-profit, non-partisan organization of "providing cover for inherently untrustworthy voting systems --- and the officials who bought them, the companies that make them, and any officials who might contemplate buying them in the future --- by conducting 'risk-limiting audits' of untrustworthy paper records, creating the false and misleading impression that relying on untrustworthy paper for a RLA can confirm election outcomes." His resignation letter charged that the result of VV's action was "security theater, not election integrity."

Stark joins us on today's program to discuss the response to his resignation from leadership at Verified Voting and the other well-respected, world-class cybersecurity and voting systems experts who serve on its Board (many of whom have appeared as guests on The BradCast and sources for BradBlog.com over the years). "Verified Voting retracted a tweet that had claimed that Risk-Limiting Audits, or audits to be conducted in Pennsylvania, would confirm outcomes when they suffered from the same flaw that the audits in Georgia did," he says. "I think in general, the board and I are sorry to part ways. I would gladly go back, if they revised their public position with regard to what audits of an untrustworthy paper trail can possibly accomplish."

[Update: No sooner did we get off air tonight, than the resignation of yet another, very well-respected VV Board Member, Prof. Rich DeMillo of Georgia Tech and former Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett-Packard, became public as well. DeMillo's most recent appearance on The BradCast is here. His resignation letter and a story about it is now posted here.]

Stark also explains --- as I've been very skeptical of the efficacy of post-election audits for many years, for reasons described on the program --- how RLAs work and/or don't. He tells me what type of voting systems he believes to be best for the secure and overseeable casting and counting of votes in American elections (hint: no computers necessary), and much more, including a conversation about just some of the many dangers of computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) proliferating the country for 2020, and the ability for voters to cause chaos with them by reporting --- either accurately or not --- that the systems have misprinted their votes on Election Day.

"They're completely vulnerable to crying wolf. Even if an election official trusts public complaints that their votes were altered or contests were missing, then their only recourse is to run a new election, and that opens the possibility for people colluding to cry wolf and have an election invalidated. In the other direction, the incentives are stacked in favor of election officials saying, 'well, it was probably just voter error, we're going to let it stand.'" That, argues Stark, is exactly what we saw last month in Northampton, PA, when elections officials and ES&S claimed that "just by re-tabulating the paper that was printed by technology that malfunctioned big time, they can figure out who really won. It's farce."

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Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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Guest: Election Integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn; Also: Judge blocks FL GOP's attempt to disenfranchise felons (for now); MO's largest county finally moves to hand-marked paper ballots!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2019 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the catch-up work continues! In the week since returning from my month-long forced hiatus due to a family emergency, we've been so busy with Donald Trump's insanity and impeachment inquiry and withdrawal of troops from Syria and attempt to award himself the contract for the G7 Summit at his own Florida resort (which he retracted over the weekend under pressure from Republicans), that we haven't had any time to discuss concerns about "Plan B". Specifically, concerns about voting systems in a whole bunch of states and counties where elections officials are, insanely, moving towards vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of 2020. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We make up for a month's worth of lost time on today's show. But first, some actually encouraging news out of two different states. On Friday, a federal court judge placed a temporary injunction on Florida's new Republican-adopted law that prevents former felons from registering to vote, unless they've paid off all court-imposed fines and fees first. The judge ruled the GOP law, enacted by state lawmakers just after state voters overwhelmingly adopted a new Constitutional amendment to re-enfranchise former felons last November, essentially amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax. The ruling, for now, is limited and has a few caveats, but voting rights activists are hailing the decision.

In still more good news for voters, this time in Missouri, the St. Louis County Board of Elections last month (where I was born and raised), unanimously voted to move the state's largest county to a new, hand-marked paper ballot system for all voters, other than those disabled voters who choose to use an assistive electronic system, beginning this November. The move comes as a welcome safeguard for voters after the County allowed voters over the past decade to choose between touchscreens or hand-marked paper ballots at the polls, while subtly (and not-so-subtly) encouraging voters to use the unverifiable touchscreens. That good news would also make my late father very happy, given that he was also a proponent for hand-marked paper ballots, as made clear in an amusing 2006 BRAD BLOG entry, which we share on today's show.

The move in St. Louis, however, is contrary to similar choices being made in a number of key jurisdictions around the country, where officials are moving to unverifiable and hackable BMD systems before 2020. States such as Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, and New Jersey are moving to these expensive and vulnerable systems, as well as key cities and counties in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia!), North Carolina (Mecklenberg County, the state's most populous) and California (Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous!)

We're joined today by journalist, attorney, Election Integrity advocate and Twitter activist JENNIFER COHN --- who has a new video presentation out today on the many concerns about private voting system vendors who have taken over our public elections, and on the desperate need for hand-marked paper ballots --- in hopes of beginning to catch up on much of the voting system news we missed over the past month!

Unfortunately, as Cohn details, other than in St. Louis, the outlook is pretty grim between now and next year, as even leading Democrats (hello, Sen. Amy Klobuchar!) seem to have a very difficult time fighting for the real security improvements necessary to protect our election system from adversaries --- both foreign and domestic --- before next year's critical Presidential election.

Cohn makes the crucial point that phrases other than "HAND-MARKED paper ballots" are, essentially, code words for unverifiable, hackable, computer-marked paper ballot summaries. Phrases often used by vendors, as well as election and elected official to confuse voters include: Voter-marked paper ballots, voter-verifiable (as opposed to veriFIED) paper ballots, back-up paper ballots (hello again, Sen. Klobuchar!) or simply "paper ballots", without using "hand-marked" before it. If you don't hear them say "hand-marked" first, they either don't know what they're talking about, or they're trying to put something over on you.

And, as Cohn notes, if they promise post-election audits to protect the integrity of the vote, but are doing so without using hand-marked paper ballots to "audit" with, they are also trying to scam you. At least according to the actual inventor of the post-election Risk-Limited Audit (RLA) protocol, Prof. Phil Stark of UC-Berkley, an opponent of universal use BMDs. He describes RLAs of computer-marked ballots as "worthless" and little more than putting "lipstick on a pig"...

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U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi tells Trump 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

I'm still out of breath from today's BradCast, even after I had to cut a whole bunch of breaking (and not so breaking) news to make room for the sad passing of a much-beloved Congressional giant.

We begin today with the devastating news of the untimely death of 68-year old Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the larger than life Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee whose extraordinary 23-year legacy in Congress and decades of civil rights work before it has left an indelible mark on the nation and our ongoing fight for democracy and equal justice for all.

Next up, as support for the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump continues to build, chaos continues to unravel in the Middle East following his recent green light for Turkey's invasion of Northern Syria. Trump's approval, given to Turkish President Erdogan on a recent phone call, stunned White House aides, the Pentagon, bi-partisan members of Congress, and our Kurdish allies in the long fight against ISIS in the region.

It also led to an incredibly bonkers threat letter sent by the U.S. President to his Turkish counterpart (which was ignored); the escape of ISIS prisoners being held by the now-endangered and fleeing Kurds; Kurdish forces choosing to ally with Russian and Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Turkish and Russian forces rolled onto bases previously occupied by the U.S. and the Kurds; the U.S. military being forced to bomb its own military outpost and ammo dump near the Turkish border; bi-partisan condemnation from Congress (including from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a lopsided 354 to 60 resolution vote in the U.S. House against the Trump policy), Russia's emergence as the new power-broker in the Middle East, and a meeting between Democratic Congressional leaders and the President on Wednesday that ended with furious Democrats storming out after Trump reportedly insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "third-rate politician" and suggesting that the Democrats were communist sympathizers in what the Speaker described as a "meltdown" after she charged that "all roads lead to Putin" with this President.

And, amidst that chaos today, after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Ankara to try and clean up the mess created by Trump with Turkey, a supposed "deal" was struck for a short-term cease-fire to allow the Kurds (and U.S. troops) to retreat, while all but giving Turkey everything that it had sought on the Turkish/Syrian border for years, with the U.S. promising to lift economic sanctions against its NATO ally.

It's all even more disastrous than that, according to Trump's own former Envoy in the Fight to Defeat ISIS who calls the new U.S. policy a "disaster" and "totally incoherent", and a former FBI official who warns that Trump is "spiraling down into a dangerous posture", acting in "almost total isolation" and is now "incredibly vulnerable" to foreign manipulation. But you'll have to both tune in and buckle up for the full details. They are worse than they sound.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with coverage of the lack of climate questions raised at the recent 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Ohio, California's latest plans to foil Trump's fossil fuel schemes in the Golden State and much more!...

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

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Democracy's need for lifeboats in the form of hand-marked paper ballots...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/30/2019 9:35am PT  

Like those who took part in the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic as it blindly traversed the Atlantic, many American citizens are rushing headlong towards a pivotal 2020 election, unmindful of the potential for yet another e-voting catastrophe.

In 1912, in defiance of science, passengers and crew mistakenly believed that the Titanic was "unsinkable". In 2019, far too many Americans are either unaware of or have chosen to ignore repeated warnings from computer scientists. For many, the very idea that a Presidential selection could be the product of election fraud or failure in the form of undetectable, malicious manipulation or error of electronically tabulated ballots in disparate local, county and state-run election systems across an entire nation is simply unthinkable.

In 1912, ignoring the danger led to the deaths of 1,500 of the Titanic's 2,224 passengers and crew --- paltry numbers when measured against the threat to humanity's very survival that would be embodied in another four years of the Trump Administration's greed-over-science, anti-environmental policies.

Over the past two decades, the central problem for both computer scientists and election integrity advocates has not been the question as to whether all e-voting and electronic tabulation systems are vulnerable to manipulation via external hacks, mis-programming or malicious insider manipulations --- they are! Instead, they've been stymied by the near impossible task of proving that a given election result was fraudulent. That inability is occasioned by the fact that, in the absence of timely forensic access to the system, its ballot programming and its source codes, electronic theft is largely undetectable in any system that does not deploy hand-marked paper ballots.

While e-voting vulnerabilities to all manner of manipulation, as well as unintended programming errors, have always been present, both the threat of wholesale electronic theft and the dire consequences of that threat in 2020 have never been greater.

Fortunately, just as help for the surviving Titanic passengers and crew was just over the horizon in the form of the HMS Carpathia, democracy itself may be saved as the result of the valiant efforts by the Coalition for Good Governance ("the Coalition") to help compel the State of Georgia to conduct verifiable elections on hand-marked paper ballots. The help may not only save Georgia, but save the entire country, eventually, as evidenced by the extraordinarily well-informed 153-page ruling [PDF] that was recently handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg…

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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