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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, January 27, 2022
'Green News Report' 1/27/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
The costs of achieving net zero; Air pollution more deadly than known; More new plant-based fast food options; PLUS: Biden Admin revokes controversial mine leases in MN...
Recent GNRs: 1/25/22 - 1/20/22 - Archives...
Breyer Stepping Down from SCOTUS; Progressives Stepping Up to Run for Local Office: 'BradCast' 1/26/22
Guest: Run for Something's Amanda Litman; Also: Eastman loses suit to hide 1/6 emails...
Lots of Marginally Good News (But We Take What We Get): 'BradCast' 1/25/22
Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Great redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for Alex Jones and John Eastman; More!...
'Green News Report' 1/25/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
OUR 1,200th EPISODE! Chemical pollution and the global ecosystem; Russia/Ukraine tensions to roil energy prices; PLUS: Intel's new $20B OH manufacturing hub...
Recent GNRs: 1/20/22 - 1/13/22 - Archives...
'So False it's Unbelievable': Plaintiff in Lawsuit Cited by Trump 'Order' to Seize Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 1/24/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: Ukraine tensions; SCOTUS takes up affirmative action...
Sunday 'Team Player' Toons
Join the party! With PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
Draft Trump Order to Seize 2020 Vote Systems Misrepped Longstanding GA Lawsuit: 'BradCast' 1/21/22
Also: Harold Meyerson on building back BBB; Shell's billion dollar 'carbon capture' scam...
Trump Crime Family's Very Bad Week Gets Much MUCH Worse: 'BradCast' 1/20/22
Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
'Green News Report' 1/20/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking up Build Back Better?; Tonga devastated by volcano, tsunami; Extreme heat records in Southern Hemisphere; PLUS: Exxon pretends to care about the climate...
Recent GNRs: 1/13/22 - 1/11/22 - Archives...
On the Media, One Year In
and One Year Out: 'BradCast' 1/19/22
Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS okays release of Trump Jan. 6 records; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets an hilarious 'hard no'...
GOP Gerrymanders 'Not So Bad' for Dems This Year? Think Again, Argues Expert: 'BradCast' 1/18/20
Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li: Also: No fraud found in AZ; TX rejecting VBM requests...
Sunday 'National Treasure' Toons
Be sure to steal a moment for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
DOJ 'Turning the Screws' on Path to Trump with Oath Keepers Sedition Charges: 'BradCast' 1/14/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WI judge bans drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP maps...
'Green News Report' 1/13/22
Offshore wind on NY, NJ horizons; 2021 oceans warmest ever recorded; Extreme weather spikes food, commodity prices; PLUS: EPA cracks down on toxic coal ash ponds...
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...


Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Excellent redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for key Jan. 6th instigators Alex Jones and John Eastman; And more!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2022 6:20pm PT  

We'd love to tout all of the encouraging news we have for you on today's BradCast. We have quite a bit of it. Problem is, while we have a lot of it, each story is largely just marginally encouraging in and of itself. Still, these days, we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • An appeals court in Wisconsin unanimously blocks a wingnut lower court judge's ruling from a few weeks ago that had declared the use of absentee ballot drop boxes to be in violation of state law, despite the many years that they've been in use. Who knew? So, good news that the judge was overturned for now. Bad news that the appellate court order only applies for now to the state's upcoming February primary elections.
  • Seemingly encouraging news out of Alabama today --- perhaps the only unqualified good news we've got to share with you all day, in fact! A three-judge federal court panel --- including two Trump appointees --- have rejected the state GOP's newly redistricted U.S. House map, declaring it to be an unlawful racial gerrymander in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. The court's ruling, if it withstands appeal, would require the Republican-majority state legislature to draw two Black majority districts instead of one. That, in a state with a 27% Black electorate, represented for years by 6 Republican White men and 1 African-American Representative.
  • While the U.S. (and EU and NATO) continue their warnings of an "IMMINENT INVASION!" of Ukraine by Russia, Ukrainian officials have a message for the world: Please calm the fuck down! (Though please keep sending those weapons in the mean time.)
  • Oh, look! Wingnut radio conspiracy theorist, professional grifter, Donald Trump buddy, and key instigator of the deadly January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Alex Jones, quietly sat down this week for questioning with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. That, even though Jones had previous filed a lawsuit to quash his subpoena from the Committee. Apparently, he pleaded the Fifth "almost 100 times" for some reason in the bargain, he says.
  • And, speaking of pleading the Fifth, (former?) law professor John Eastman, who wrote the memos detailing a plot for how then Vice President Mike Pence could "legally" steal the election for Trump by refusing to accept lawfully certified 2020 Electoral College votes on January 6th, also chose to avoid self-incrimination in criminal matters by invoking the privilege when he testified recently to the Committee. As of a court hearing on Monday, we now know he did so 146 times! That, according to details proffered during the hearing for a suit in which Eastman is suing his former employer, Chapman University. He is hoping to prevent them from releasing 19,000 of his emails subpoenaed by the House Select Committee and written from his university email address while working for free for Trump (unbeknownst to the non-partisan university, which eventually fired him for doing so.) The judge in the case is reportedly not happy with Eastman, and has ordered him to make a list of which of the 19,000 subpoenaed emails he believes should be withheld from the Committee due to attorney-client privilege.
  • Meanwhile, it continues to be a lousy time to be associated with our disgraced, twice-impeached loser of a former President. Even for a coal lobbyist. Democrats in the Virginia state Senate say they are now united in their hopes of blocking the new GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin's nomination of former Trump EPA Administrator (and coal lobbyist!) Andrew Wheeler for the commonwealth's top environmental official. SAD! That, after 150 former EPA employees signed a letter to the state Senators accusing Wheeler of having "pursued an extremist approach, methodically weakening EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment, instead favoring polluters." (Though because the state Senate Dems haven't yet taken the very rare step of blocking the new Guv's nominee, the news is still to be considered marginally good for the moment.)
  • Finally, while it should be very good news that we are sharing our 1,200th Green News Report today --- coincidentally in the same week that The BRAD BLOG is celebrating our 18th birthday --- the fact that we've had to do 1,200 GNRs (instead of saving humanity and the entire planet about 800 episodes ago) makes the good news only marginal as well. As usual, the content of today's report doesn't help much either...though even there, we've got a bit of marginally encouraging news for ya.

You're welcome!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2022 5:50pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: While this week will be seen by history as a shameful one for American democracy --- or, more specifically, for 50 Republican Senators and 2 Democratic ones --- it may also eventually become a celebrated week for all of the encouraging criminal accountability news that is now coming in on what seems like an hourly basis for our disgraced and failed former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • After a year-long kabuki drama, played out only for the benefit of obstructionist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), both have decided to include themselves in American history's hall of shame by siding with segregationists, anti-democracy activists and Republican authoritarians in the U.S. Senate to block much-needed protection for voting rights and American democracy. While claiming to support the critical, combined Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- which would have helped to standardize voting rights for all, combat the GOP subversion of election results, ended dark money in campaigns, blocked partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states and restored what SCOTUS broke in the Voting Rights Act in 2013 --- the two both voted to ensure none of it could happen. They chose to embrace the Senate's undemocratic filibuster rule instead, just as opponents of civil and voting rights have done over decades of American history. We put a bow on the year-long saga today, share parts of Wednesday night's maddening debate, and join Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in his vow from the Senate floor to keep coming back "again and again and again" until the job of protecting and saving American democracy is won.
  • In far less grim news today, the very very bad week for the Trump Crime Family continues to worsen. After Wednesday's devastating loss at his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, documents from the Trump White House regarding January 6, 2021 have reportedly begun flowing from the National Archives to the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. We review a few interesting points of note from the High Court's crushing 8 to 1 ruling [PDF] rejecting Trump's claim of Executive Privilege in his failed effort to block the release of thousands of documents to the Committee, including what could be some very incriminating video tape.
  • With hopes of hiding behind Executive Privilege all but dashed by SCOTUS, the ability of Trump's henchmen to avoid subpoenas for documents and testimony by the Jan 6 Committee is quickly fading as well. On Thursday, Ivanka Trump became the first family member to receive an invitation --- not yet a subpoena --- from the House Committee to answer a number of key questions about her role in January 6th, and her various reported contacts with her father that day and in the days prior. The letter from Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) makes clear that the Committee already has a great deal of information. It will be tricky for Trump's daughter, who served as a White House advisor, to avoid speaking with them. It will be a crime if she lies to them.
  • But that's not all. After New York State Attorney General Letitia James detailed evidence of years of bank, insurance and tax fraud by the Trump family this week, on Thursday, Trump's bad week became still worse. Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fani Willis asked a state Superior Court Chief Judge today to impanel a special grand jury in her nearly year-long probe of the apparent criminal conspiracy by Trump and many others (including WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani and more) to harangue, harass and threaten state election officials into reversing results of the Peach State's 2020 Presidential election, won by Joe Biden, in favor of Trump. Willis has said she will decide in the first part of this year whether or not criminal indictments are warranted for "potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.” Uh, oh.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, covering the likelihood that Biden's Build Back Better bill, also blocked by Joe Manchin, will now have to be broken up into smaller chunks; the devastating volcano and tsunami disasters in Tonga; smashed heat records in the Southern Hemisphere; and Exxon's new ploy to pretend they give a damn about climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS allows Nat'l Archives to release Trump Jan. 6 records to House; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets a historian's hilarious 'hard no'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2022 6:21pm PT  

Joe Biden is now one year in. Donald Trump is now one year out. Have the media figured out how to properly cover either or both of them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Trump's troubles are getting worse by the day hour. It's been a bad 24 hours for the disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term former President. But that's usually good news for America!

As we literally begin today's program, news breaks that the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the National Archive to turn over hundreds of pages of Trump White House documents to the bipartisan U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

That bad news for Trump (and good news for everyone else) follows last night's bad news for him (and good news for us) out of a New York state courtroom. NY Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating years of apparent bank, insurance and tax fraud by Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump's children for years. She recently subpoenaed Trump and his kids Ivanka and Don Jr. to sit for depositions in her civil probe. (She is also working with the Manhattan D.A.'s long-running criminal probe into related matters.) Trump and the kids sued to quash the subpoena and, late on Tuesday night, James' office filed documents in response, detailing what she describes in the court papers as "significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

We discuss some of that "significant additional evidence" today, along with the additional news that when Eric Trump, back in 2020, failed to quash his own subpoena, he subsequently "then invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours.” That's his right, of course. But back in 2016, while running for President, Trump described pleading the Fifth as "disgraceful". "The mob takes the Fifth," he said at the time. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" We'll see if he, Ivanka and Don Jr., soon join his "disgraceful" son Eric in doing the same, along with the Trump Organization's "disgraceful" Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who's already been criminally charged with fraud in Manhattan after also pleading the Fifth more than 500 times as well during his own deposition with James.

And then there's the new guy in the White House, who doesn't seem to be criminal or a liar or a fraudster at all. Today marked the end of Joe Biden's first year in office. It's been a rocky one at times, but also extraordinary successful on a number of legislative and economic issues.

We're joined today by ERIC BOEHLERT, longtime media analyst and publisher of the Press Run newsletter, to discuss media coverage of Biden at the one year mark, and how it compares to coverage of Trump's first --- and subsequent --- years in office.

While Biden's approval numbers have been flagging in recent months --- Gallup pegs his one year average at just under 49% --- they are still above Trump's during his entire Presidency. Nonetheless, we saw little from the media declaring Trump's Presidency was over or a failure at the end of his first year, by way of contrast with what we see from the media now, despite several remarkable successes for Biden over the last 365 days.

"It's very similar to Obama," Boehlert asserts. "If you go back and looked at his first year, first term, 'Oh his coalitions are falling apart!' Lots of doomsday coverage for Obama that turned out to be nonsense." He later adds, "Good luck going back and finding stories about whether the Trump Presidency was failed, 'How does he reset?,'" after his first year. "There was an acceptance that Trump was going to poll in the thirties, and the press just went on from there. In terms of how the coverage differs from Biden and Trump, I think that's the key one there."

Suffice to say, the difference in coverage of each President, as Boehlert details, is stark. And not in a good way. Among the other related issues discussed, above and beyond media coverage of the two Presidents: Has the media come to fully understand, much less appreciate, the unprecedented nature of this tenuous moment for American democracy itself?

"We have two sides," Boehlert explains. "A center-left Democrat doing his best, and we have a Republican Party that wants to destroy free and fair elections in America. So if you're the press, don't play that down the middle. Don't pretend those are similar choices."

"When Trump was inaugurated, the press didn't change how it covered Trump," he observes. "You would read the coverage and think Jeb Bush was President, you would think John McCain was President. You would think this is center-right, normal, traditional....not this madman narcissist. I think with the Biden era, they just want to play this game --- 'His polling is down! We've found some Democrats who are critical of him!' These aren't the times for the norm. The Trump years weren't the time for the norm. And we're not seeing drastic change." And that failure by our corporate media is not a good sign for the nation. Or the planet.

Finally today, it appears that Fox "News" is not satisfied by simply rewriting reality in the present. They are now attempting to rewrite history itself, it seems, as far as who actually killed Abraham Lincoln. Seriously. In the bargain, a Lincoln assassination expert's response to an invitation to appear on Fox Nation (the propaganda streaming service companion to the propaganda cable news channel) to discuss it, is one for the ages!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li; Also: AZ County finds no 2020 voter fraud; TX counties rejecting absentee applications under new law; Giuliani, other Trump fraudsters subpoenaed by House Jan. 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The ongoing GOP effort to undermine American democracy by making it harder to vote and easier to cheat in elections continues amid the fallout from Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. While you might think Republicans would pay a price for joining him in that effort, its Democrats --- and voters in general and American democracy itself --- paying the price, even as the Big Lie continues to fall further apart with each passing day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As you know, Republicans have been using false claims of massive (and, apparently, evidence-free) "voter fraud" in the 2020 election as a pretext to adopt new voter suppression and election subversion laws in GOP controlled states. The fruits of those corrupt efforts are already paying off. In Texas, for example, County Clerks across the state are reporting that the state's new anti-voting law, S.B.1, is forcing them to reject hundreds of legitimate absent ballot applications in one of the most difficult states in the nation to vote by mail already.

New I.D. requirements for ballot applications have resulted in rejections of nearly half of the absentee applications in Travis County, home to the state's capital of Austin. Worse, the state's Secretary of State has yet to issue rules for how County Clerks may legally notify or help the rejected voters to cure their applications in advance of the state's March mid-term primaries. (The application deadline is Feb. 18.)

Many of the rejected applications are from voters that have been voting by mail for years. But the new state law now requires applicants to include either a drivers license number or state I.D. number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application. While some don't notice the new requirement and are rejected on that basis, others do include one of those numbers, but are still being rejected! Why? As Democrats had warned when trying to block the bill, the TX law now requires that whichever number a voter uses on their application must match the number on their voter registration form, many of them completed years ago. If the voter includes a drivers license number on their application, for example, but their registration includes a State I.D. number instead --- or no number at all (as is the case with millions of voter registrations in the Lone Star State) --- their applications must now be rejected. Mission accomplished?

Meanwhile, the GOP's Big "voter fraud" Lie continues to fall apart in Arizona, where Joe Biden has been confirmed many times over to have lawfully defeated Trump in 2020. On Friday, in the second largest county in the state, Pima (home to Tucson), the Pima County Attorney's Office determined that, of the 151 cases referred to them as possible cases of voter fraud after 2020, ZERO actually merited criminal charges. There remain a handful of possible fraud cases elsewhere in a the state (less than 50). But, of course, if all known cases of possible fraud in Arizona turned out to be actual fraud and all of those votes were somehow in favor of Biden, there still wouldn't be nearly enough fraudulent ballots to reverse his 10,000+ vote victory out of about 3.2 million ballots cast in the state. Nonetheless, in AZ as well, Republicans are using their lies about "voter fraud" to make it harder to vote and easier for them to cheat in elections.

But the biggest story on today's BradCast involves gerrymandering, perhaps the most critical reason our federal government and our democracy has become so seemingly irreparably broken. Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week have combined the combined Freedom to Vote Act (which, among many other critical election reforms, makes partisan gerrymandering unlawful in all 50 states) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (which restores the requirement for federal pre-clearance of new election laws in states with a history of racial discrimination in elections after SCOTUS gutted the landmark provision) into one single bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. All 50 Democrats in the majority claim to support the newly combined bill. Zero Republicans do. But unless two Democratic Senators (Sinema and Manchin) agree to modify the Senate filibuster rule to allow democracy-saving legislation to be adopted with a simple majority vote, none of it will become law and the GOP efforts to game elections will be largely free and clear through 2022.

For several years, experts have been warning that, following the 2020 Census, the new round of redistricting was going to be very bad for Democrats in GOP-controlled states. That, after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and later declared that federal courts may have no say at all on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, But, with about half of the new maps now redrawn by states in advance of the 2022 mid-terms (with several being challenged in state courts), are they as bad as many pundits had foretold?

A number of redistricting experts of late have suggested that the new maps aren't nearly as bad for Dems as they might have been. But is that true? We're joined today by Brennan Center's Senior Counsel for its Democracy Program, MICHAEL LI, who serves as the non-partisan organization's redistricting expert.

Last week, in an op-ed for Washington Post, Li describes the notion that gerrymandering hasn't been too bad for Democrats this year as a "misleading narrative" for a host of reasons. Experts, he notes, had predicted a bunch of safe Democratic seats would be remapped into Republican districts. "They expected Democratic seats to fall," Li explains. "But instead, what Republicans are doing is shoring up the disproportionate advantages they already hold" following the extreme partisan gerrymanders from 2011.

"In Texas, under the old maps, Democrats have 36% of the seats. Under the new maps they have 37% of the seats, so very little change," he tells me by way of just one example. "But the competition is gone. So whereas under the old maps there were competitive districts, under the new maps, even if Democrats got 58% of the vote [across the state], they would still have the same 37% of the seats, which hardly seems fair. Even if Texas turned deep blue, Republicans would have almost a 2-to-1 advantage. That's the perniciousness of the state's gerrymander."

There are other examples, in North Carolina for instance, where the maps are currently being challenged in state courts. We also discuss how the Supreme Court's unwillingness to hear partisan gerrymandering cases has affected all of this and whether or not the Court will similarly begin to turn away racial gerrymander cases as well in the not too distant future.

Li goes on to explain why the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- if Republicans or Manchinema were to allow it to be passed into law --- "would be a game-changer" on this issue. It "would transform redistricting. There would be a ban against partisan gerrymandering in Congressional redistricting. It would be easy to calculate and figure out whether a map violates that and, if a map does, then it's blocked from use pretty automatically, perhaps even in time for 2022 if Congress were to pass it soon."

But, alas, unless there are some surprises in the Senate this week, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. So, what's left? Should Democratic-controlled states, in order to save democracy itself before the 2024 elections, gerrymander their own maps as aggressively as Republicans have? As much as it pains me to do so, I have previously argued that they should. Does Li agree? Tune in to find out!

Finally, before we go, the mid-show breaking news that Rudy Giuliani and a number of others who were very close to the disgraced former President as he was attempting to steal the 2020 election have now been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: A history lesson for Manchin; And Biden finally calls for Senate filibuster reform to pass voting rights and election protection legislation...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2022 6:47pm PT  

As it turns out, it wasn't an attack from highly skilled opposition mercenary warriors trained in the art of espionage, deception and surprise attacks that took down the Cyber Ninjas. It was their own incompetence, dishonesty and hopes of escaping huge court fines for failing to follow the rule of law that appears to have done them in. Or, perhaps they're just in hiding, ready to pounce again when they are least expected! [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

First up on today's BradCast, however, before we get to the "death" of the Ninjas and their ongoing clown show, President Biden and Vice President Harris traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday to call for U.S. Senate filibuster reform in order to pass voting rights and election protection legislation with a simple majority. That, in hopes of countering voter suppression and election subversion measures being adopted by GOP controlled states across the nation.

All 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats (plus Vice President Harris) are on record in support of the critical Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. But in the U.S. Senate, while that simple majority vote may be enough to cut taxes or allow drilling and mining on previously protected federal lands or seat Supreme Court Justices for life, it's currently not enough votes to protect American democracy. Not with the Republican Party now fully in opposition to both voting rights and democracy while Senate rules require a 60-vote super-majority to pass both pieces of legislation.

As Biden pointed out in his remarks today --- for the first time, offering a full-throated call to reform the Senate rules --- the united GOP opposition to voting rights is fairly new. Until recently, even Republicans voted in support of expanding and protecting voting rights at the federal level --- at least enough of them to overcome a Senate filibuster. But not anymore. At the same time, obstructionist Democrats Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) have refused to allow the majority to create a carve-out to the filibuster --- akin to hundreds of others in the Senate --- to adopt the legislation that both of them claim to support.

This week, Manchin even went so far as to describe the filibuster to reporters as a critical Senate tradition that has been in place "for 232 years." In fact, the filibuster as we now know it has been in place since 1975, as historian Max Kennerly explained on a Twitter thread in response to Manchin. "232 years ago, in 1790, a simple majority could end any debate," he notes. And Adam Jentleson, Harry Reid's former Chief of Staff who wrote a book on the filibuster, went so far as to alert Manchin to how much the Constitution's framers virulently opposed a super-majority requirement for anything at all, quoting both "father of the Constitution" James Madison and Alexander Hamilton from The Federalist Papers. (Which is why there is no such requirement in the Constitution.)

"Sadly, the United States Senate — designed to be the world's greatest deliberative body — has been rendered a shell of its former self," Biden, a former six-term Senator, declared in his impassioned remarks on Tuesday, describing the filibuster as having been "weaponized and abused."

Whether the Biden/Harris calls in Atlanta for reform will have any effect on the clueless Manchin and the similarly disinformed or dishonest Sinema remains to be seen. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to insist that "failure is not an option", vowing a series of votes on the matter between now and Monday's Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Meanwhile, the GOP fight against election integrity may have hit a few embarrassing snags after their infamously failed "post-election forensic audit" in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona last year. As you already know, the state GOP Senate's taxpayer funded audit theater found no Chinese bamboo in the County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots, but it did declare that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by even more votes than originally certified. And if you follow The BradCast, you also may know that real election audit experts discovered that even those numbers were apparently "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, whose actual count of the ballots (never mind the results on them) was off by tens of thousands.

The final report that the Ninjas and its CEO Doug Logan produced last year on behalf of the GOP State Senate, also included 77 claims of "possible" fraud in the County's reported tallies and other questions to raise alarms about the legitimacy of tens of thousands of "maybe" illegal votes.

As it turns out, however, according to a 93-page, point-by-point rebuttal [PDF] of each of those claims, released last week by the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors after months of investigation, 76 of the Ninjas' 77 claims were completely wrong.

For example, according to the Ninjas' final audit report, 5,295 voters "potentially voted in multiple counties" in Arizona. The county found, however, that, in reality, just 5 voters may have done so. (They've forwarded their findings to the state AG). The Arizona Republic's Jen Fifield offers a helpful, detailed summary of most of the key rebuttals from the County, explaining how the Ninjas got it so embarrassingly wrong on virtually every "misleading, inaccurate and false" score.

The County's response to the Ninjas' pathetic report was mostly lost, however, amid the news the next day that the Cyber Ninjas were claiming to be no more. A spokesperson announced that they had shut their doors and all employees, including founder and CEO Logan, had been let go, following a contempt ruling from an Arizona Superior Court Judge. He found that failure by the Ninjas to turn over thousands of pages of public records documenting their "audit", its financing, and their communications with officials about it in two separate lawsuits violated the law. The plaintiffs sought a $1,000/day penalty until the documents were turned over. The judge informed the Ninjas they would be fined $50,000/day instead! They then declared they no longer existed, like a ninja disappearing into the night! Except they are really shitty ninjas.

The judge has stated that their claims at insolvency in an attempt to shut down to avoid the court fines was not going to work, threatening to apply the $50,000 daily fine to individuals with the company, like "former" CEO Logan. As it turns out, Logan formed a second company last year named Akolytos, using the same business and mailing addresses as the Cyber Ninjas. But his hopes of escaping the court fines through that second company may not work either, as journalist Kim Zetter details in her latest, excellent Zero Day newsletter. SAD!

Finally, as the Northeast grapples with a brutal cold snap today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, detailing the record warmth of 2021, and the disturbing increase in emissions causing our climate emergency over the past year...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Garland vows accountability for 'all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level'; Coward Trump cancels anniversary presser; Hannity's insider testimony sought by House 1/6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2022 6:24pm PT  

One year after the former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling the bodies of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, we're more convinced than ever on The BradCast that, as the New York Times Editorial Board declared on New Years Day, "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

We will soon be entering our 19th year at The BRAD BLOG of trying to warn about the ongoing and worsening threats facing American democracy. But the rising tide of authoritarianism in this nation is now more of a threat than at any time in modern decades. If American democracy falls, so does virtually every other pressing demand, like the need to save humanity from the ravages of climate change. So, yeah. It's kind of important, and we will continue to stay on this beat as long as necessary, as long as we can.

Toward that end today, the despicable, disgraced, twice-impeached, failed, loser of a former President, Donald Trump, who lied about voter and election fraud in order to try and steal a Presidential election, cancelled his planned press conference at Mar-a-Lago on the first anniversary of his pathetic, desperate and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. As it turns out, he's both a coward and didn't actually have anything to say that hasn't already been heard and/or debunked as bullshit.

His ridiculously (but not surprisingly) childish statement announcing he was calling off the presser came just hours after his pal, Sean Hannity of Fox 'News', was politely invited to answer questions from the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Capitol assault and Trump's attempt to steal the election which lead up to it. The Committee makes clear in its letter [PDF] that they have already obtained many documents from others regarding Hannity's insider status and direct conversations with Trump in the days before, during and after the attack. While the Committee explained their efforts to go out of their way to avoid any First Amendment press freedom issues with Hannity, and even tried to appeal to his (pretend) patriotism, its unclear whether the Fox propagandist will cooperate.

Next, buttressing the persuasive argument made by Marcy Wheeler with Nicole Sandler on The BradCast last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland, facing pressure from the left to bring accountability to Trump and his cronies, addressed DoJ officials on Wednesday on the occasion of the first anniversary of last year's Capitol attack. After detailing the more than 700 arrests made to date, and at least 250 perpetrators who are still being sought for assaulting law enforcement officials that day, Garland promised the probe was far from complete and was following the facts of the case from the bottom up.

"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy," the AG vowed, adding: "We will follow the facts wherever they lead."

He also highlighted how the U.S. Supreme Court has radically gutted the Voting Rights Act twice over the past decade, and called again for new federal legislation to give the DoJ tools they need to assure the right to vote and to combat state legislatures institutionalizing the ability to subvert election results on a partisan whim.

Finally, we're joined again today by WILL BUNCH, longtime national correspondent and columnist at Philadelphia Inquirer. Bunch was with us on January 6th last year for a wild ride of a broadcast that day as the Capitol was still under assault during the official confirmation of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as we went to air. At the time, it was particularly unclear what exactly the MAGA Mob was doing and how they might be stopped.

Among the topics of our conversation one year later with Bunch (who just tested positive for COVID!): Lessons learned since Jan. 6 and the many questions still unknown; The many, still confusing reasons and explanations as to why it took so long for law enforcement to respond to the worse attack on the Capitol in two centuries (he suggests part of that was due to "a dog that didn't bark"); Whether or not there should have been more accountability brought by the Justice Department by now (he notes that the Watergate probe took much longer); And his thoughts on Garland's comments at the DoJ today...among much more!

"Honestly, it's taken a full year and it's taken really diligent, praise-worthy work from the January 6th Committee in the House to bring into focus some of what we saw happening that day, that we didn't fully understand in real time," Bunch observes. "What the goals were, who was behind what and why. We've learned so much in the last twelve months."

We've got a lot to discuss on today's program...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance on that and MUCH more; Also: Stone takes the 5th; Judge allows Dominion's $1.6 billion defamation case to proceed against Fox 'News' ...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2021 7:25pm PT  

It's been a rough close of the year for those of us fighting to preserve democracy in these United States against the rising authoritarian tide from the Right. But while it's has been a tough slog for passage of federal voting rights and election protection legislation in the U.S. Senate, there have been several critical victories for fans of democracy in federal court over this past week, as covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, some quick news on the continuing probe by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. GOP dirty tricksters and longtime Trump pal Roger Stone invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination before the Committee today. While Stone is the first to admit to doing so publicly, he is the third Trump henchman to reportedly have done so to date. In 2019, Stone was convicted of seven criminal felonies, including lying to Congress and obstructing the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, before eventually being pardoned for all charges by Trump on his way out of office.

The House Committee appears to now be homing in on the question of, in Vice Chair Liz Cheney's words: "Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress's official proceedings to count Electoral Votes." If so, and if charged with and found guilty of said action or inaction, the former President could face as many as 20 years in prison under federal law.

Fox "News", on the other hand, is already in federal court, facing a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit by the Dominion Voting Systems company. On Thursday, a federal judge denied the Republican propaganda outlet's Motion to Dismiss the case. That is a major hurdle for the private voting system vendor to have cleared, allowing their case to move on to the discovery and trial phase. Both Dominion and another private election vendor, Smartmatic, have filed several defamation suits against Fox and other rightwing media outlets, as well as Trump lawyers and allies such as Rudy Giuliani [PDF], Sidney Powell [PDF] and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell [PDF], for their false claims that Dominion and Smartmatic stole the election for Joe Biden. Giuliani, Powell and Lindell's Motions to Dismiss in their similar defamation suits, in which the voting companies are seeking more than a billion dollars in each, were all rejected over the summer.

Next, more good court news came in late last week in the eight different lawsuits now filed challenging the state of Georgia's voter-suppression and election subversion law known as SB202. The measure was adopted by state Republicans earlier in the year on the heels of Trump's evidence-free claim that the 2020 election he lost to Biden in the Peach State was rigged, and after the elections of the state's Democratic U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the January runoff.

Late last week the Trump-appointed judge overseeing all eight challenges to SB202, allowed all of them to proceed in full, rejecting the Motions to Dismiss filed by the State and Republican groups that have joined the defendants. Seven of those suits, including those filed by the NAACP, ACLU, Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight organization and the U.S. Dept. of Justice, focus largely on race-based violations of the Voting Rights Act.

The eighth case, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance [PDF], in which I am a named plaintiff representing media, challenges SB202's election subversion clause and several others which, the suit contends, violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. SB202's election subversion clause allows the State Board of Elections to replace county elections officials with partisans, for virtually any reason they like, who can then overturn elections, also for virtually any reason they like. Other provisions of the law challenged by CGG prevent the public and media outlets like our own, from basic election oversight and reporting functions that have been in place for decades if not centuries, such as the right to photograph inside of polling places or during the tallying of absentee ballots.

Earlier this year, in August, U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee granted an injunction [PDF] on SB202's photography ban in advance of Georgia's November municipal elections. But his ruling last week [PDF] was much broader in allowing all eight challenges to the law to proceed in full toward the discovery and trial phases. It was, as my guest explains today, a major victory for all of the plaintiffs.

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, to discuss the good news in that case, new developments in her separate, longstanding case challenging the use of Georgia's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems and much MUCH more. We haven't spoken on air with Marks, usually a frequent guest, in about six months! So we've got a LOT to catch up with today!

Among the many points in our wide-ranging conversation...

  • Marks offers her reaction to Fox "News" losing its Motion to Dismiss in Dominion's defamation case against them; the conflicting emotions in supporting Dominion in their defamation cases, given that likely nobody in the nation has been tougher on Dominion's terrible voting systems than she has been; and why it is that, as unrelenting as she's been against Dominion for so many years (The Coalition's lawsuit seeks to ban their touchscreen systems across the entire state), the company has never sued her or her organization for defamation.
  • Speaking of the Coalition's case against GA's use of the Dominion touchscreens (which is separate from their SB202 challenge), Marks updates us on a report created for the court by plaintiff's expert Dr. Alex Halderman, finding vulnerabilities in Dominion's voting systems that are so disturbing the federal judge has sealed his report as for "Attorneys Eyes Only," meaning that even Marks has not been allowed to see it But, she notes, Dominion now has access to that report. If so, as we discuss, that means that, under California law (where several counties also use these same terrible systems), the company must now share the vulnerabilities in that sealed report with California's Sec. of State. In turn, CA must then report the vulnerabilities to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. (The report by Halderman and the vulnerabilities he allegedly found became an issue here in the Golden State earlier this year, just prior to the California Gubernatorial Recall election in September, after Dominon's central Election Management System software was apparently stolen and duplicated under the auspices of a rightwing Mesa County, Colorado election official and released to the Internet during Mike Lindell's failed "Cybersecurity Symposium" in South Dakota.) It is unknown if Dominion has yet to share Halderman's report with the CA Sec. of State, as per state law. Marks notes that Halderman has said the vulnerabilities are "even more serious" than those found in the older Diebold touchscreens GA used to use, before they were banned by this same lawsuit and replaced with the vulnerable Dominion systems. "Dominion has to inform the California Sec. of State within 30 days of getting reports of defects, failures, etc.," she explains, "So yes, it should be happening soon."
  • Marks details why "it was a big victory" that Judge Boulee allowed all of the SB202 cases to proceed, including the one filed by the Coalition. She details how her group's challenge to SBS202 is very different from the other seven that the judge allowed to proceed as well, while he suggested that some of the overlapping cases may be combined in the days ahead. She notes that, despite being a Trump appointee, he appears to be doing a very thorough job of overseeing all of the cases, including points made by both plaintiffs and defendants alike.
  • She clarifies how even if SB202 is struck down in full, state law in Georgia would still allow much of the recent purging of Black Democratic elections officials from county boards of elections, as we discussed with one of those purged, longtime county election officials and voting rights leaders Helen Butler of The People's Agenda on the show earlier in the week. "Unfortunately, you and Helen are right about that," Marks confirms.
  • We discuss --- and have a minor difference of opinion --- regarding a recently dismissed lawsuit in Georgia that challenged the state's 2020 election results. That case, filed by a group named VoterGA, alleged thousands of fraudulent ballots were included in the 2020 results. It was dismissed in recent weeks for reasons of standing that both Marks and I find questionable. Our small disagreement is related to my argument that the case should have been allowed to proceed because, even if VoterGA's complaint was based on false claims of fraud, those who question election results (even those conned by a lying, disgraced former President) ought to be able to examine election results and ballots for themselves, as long as they pay the costs for the exercise and ballots are taken out of the secure custody of elections officials. (That, in contrast to the what we saw earlier this year in the Cyber Ninjas' clown show "audit" in Maricopa County, Arizona.) Marks, a longtime, huge advocate for transparency and public oversight of elections supports that idea, but notes that VoterGA failed to seek such oversight during the period when they could have done so under state law. Further, she explains, the group failed to join earlier efforts to the election to change state law in order to declare paper ballots and digital ballot images to be official public records, fully reviewable by citizens and groups like VoterGA and the Coalition for Good Governance.
  • Finally, Marks also offers her reaction to the recently discovered news that Trump attorney and longtime GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Cleta Mitchell, had been quietly named to an Advisory Board for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) earlier this year. Her appointment in April was not publicly reported until November. Mitchell participated from the White House on Trump's infamous January 2nd phone call with GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger when the desperate, outgoing President attempted to bully Raffensperger, urging him to "find" enough votes to steal the election for him in the Peach State. The EAC, meanwhile, which Mitchell is now advising, is responsible for certifying voting systems used in the U.S. and helps states and counties on regulations and best practices for federal elections.

There is a lot of important information about elections and election integrity in today's conversation with Marks. Though we better not wait another six months to do it again or we'll have to have a three hour show!...

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Guest: Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, purged from the Morgan County, GA Board of Elections; Also: Listener mail!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2021 6:28pm PT  

If you're wondering how to stay positive as America appears on the brink of a very dark authoritarian takeover by Republicans, we may have just the answer for you in the form of today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Reuters has been doing an incredibly well-reported series of special reports of late on the Republicans' ongoing assault on democracy itself in America. They've covered, among other aspects, the attacks on elections officials stemming from Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by blatantly lying about it, and even citing certain election officials by name who were subsequently targeted and terrorized --- sometimes, along with their family members --- with threats of violence and death by his supporters. They have also been very smartly covering the effects of new voter suppression laws being adopted in GOP controlled states around the nation, as part of the opportunistic fall-out from the lies that Trump told in his effort to steal last year's Presidential election.

Recently, Reuters' James Oliphant and Nathan Layne took a detailed look at the effect all of this is having on local elections officials in a state we have covered in great detail on this program: Georgia, where longtime, local election board officials --- specifically, Democratic election officials ... specifically black Democratic election officials (and frequently black Democratic women) --- are now being purged from County election boards across the state at an alarming rate.

The purge is thanks to two different state laws. One is GA's terrible new anti-voting law, SB 202, passed earlier this year, which allows for --- among other anti-democratic things --- officials on the State Board of Elections, which is controlled by the GOP state legislature and Republican Sec. of State, to replace county election officials with partisan operatives (for virtually any reason) who can then overturn election results (also, for virtually any reason.) [FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a named plaintiff, representing media, challenging several provisions of SB 202 in a federal lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Good Governance.] The other law being used even more, referred to as "local legislation", has been in place for a while, but was rarely invoked until this year in the wake of Trump's "Big Lie" after Democrats won the Presidential election in the state for the first time in years, along with both of the Peach State's U.S. Senate seats. The state law allows County Commissions to restructure their County Boards of Elections pretty much anyway they like after receiving approval for the restructuring from the state legislature.

In at least half a dozen Georgia counties that have restructured their election boards so far this year, Oliphant and Layne report, "the legislature shifted the power to appoint some or all election board members to local county commissions, all of which are currently controlled by Republicans. Previously, the appointments had been split evenly between the local Democratic and Republican parties." They detail how black Democrats --- often long-serving champions of voting rights --- have been systematically purged from those county boards and replaced with White Republican majorities in advance of next year's critical mid-terms, where popular black Democratic voting rights advocates Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock will both be on the ballot, for Governor and U.S. Senator respectively.

"In Morgan County, the majority-Republican county commission reconstituted its election board, ousting two outspoken Black Democrats," Reuters reports, "Helen Butler and Avery Jackson were removed after the new law eliminated political-party appointments and handed appointment power to the Republican-dominated commission. Butler and Jackson sought reappointments but were denied."

We're thrilled to be joined once again today by one of those two ousted officials, HELEN BUTLER, who served honorably on the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration for a decade until she was pushed out this year. Butler, who we first spoke with over the summer, after she offered testimony in the U.S. Senate, is the Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, a civil rights organization founded by the late, great civil rights icon, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr.).

She is also the winner of the Voter Empowerment Collaborative's 2021 Love Award, named after the 40-year old civil rights group's legendary founder, Reverend Albert E. Love, known as "Mr. Vote," after dedicating his life to registering, educating and mobilizing voters. And Butler is also a 2021 "Defender of the Dream" awardee by the AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. We leave it to you to decide if those awards are as prestigious as Butler being named last month as a "Goddess of Democracy" in Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year" issue.

Butler describes today what is going on right now in Georgia, largely under the national media radar, as being part of the GOP's "insurrection plan nationally, that 'We are going to take over every aspect of controlling the outcome of elections, so if I don't like the results, I can put in the results that I want to have.'" She also notes that it is happening not only with boards of elections in her state, but at school boards as well.

"They're not stopping with just elections. They're trying to take over control of all aspects of government. Education departments are the largest generators of revenue in counties, so if they get to control that, they get to control all money, they get to control what our children learn, what they get, where schools are located," she warns. "So again, it's a total takeover process that they're going after...They are stacking control of all levels of government."

When I ask how much control local county boards of elections have over elections and voting processes, and even outcomes, as compared to the state itself, Butler pulls no punches: "The county levels are the ones where the rubber meets the road. They do all of the voter registration, making sure people are registered to vote. They get to determine with their redistricting process, how the maps are drawn, how people are put into those maps for purposes of voting. They also control who gets an absentee ballot, whether it gets counted or is rejected. If there are provisional ballots, they get to determine which ones are counted, which ones are rejected. They get to certify the results --- they get to count all of the votes that are cast. And they get to certify who gets to win each race. So they are very critical... and if you stack it so those people can conform to a lie versus the truth, then you don't get true democracy... you get an autocratic form of government, because someone wants it to go a certain way, and not necessarily to the will of the voters."

With that, Butler explains, "they can control the outcome of all elections." And while all of this sounds --- and is --- quite chilling, Butler's optimism, as you'll hear, is absolutely infectious. As dark as the topic of discussion is, you'll be astounded to walk away from this conversation actually feeling somewhat better about everything...including the possibility of federal legislation in the form of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act actually being adopted by the U.S. Senate, and maybe even saving democracy in Georgia and everywhere else before all is said and done. She explains how those bills will go a long way toward reversing the worst of the GOP's now-ongoing assault on American democracy and, if passed, could be "our saving grace."

"I always try to be optimistic, to look for the good things rather than dwell on the bad," she tells me, as she also explains how Americans across the country can help right now. "It's very important we get those bills passed...As my leader, the late Dr. Joseph Lowery said, 'Voting is a sacred right, but it's also a moral obligation.'"

Tune in for much more in today's conversation. You can thank me later.

Finally, we close today with a listener mail segment, including some great letters from listeners in response to several recent shows that may help you keep Butler's infectious optimism going through the holidays...or at least for the next few hours...

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Guest: Election law scholar and democracy activist, Paul Lehto; Also: Biden v. Putin; U.S. v. China; Meadows v. 1/6 Committee; DoJ v. Texas...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2021 5:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got trouble both at home and abroad. But what else is new? [Audio link to full program is posted at the end of this summary.]

As if our domestic problems aren't disturbing enough, a couple of roiling foreign policy issues are landing on Joe Biden's desk this week. The President met via video-conference on Tuesday with Russia President Vladimir Putin to discuss the troubling build-up of Russian forces near the border of eastern Ukraine, suggesting a full-scale invasion of the former Soviet bloc country could be imminent in coming weeks and months. Biden reportedly threatened serious economic consequences for Russia if that happens. For his part, Putin seeks a commitment from NATO that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the joint defense organization. That condition is said to be a non-starter for both Biden and our NATO allies.

Elsewhere, China is none too happy with Biden's decision to implement a "diplomatic boycott" of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Though U.S. athletes will be allowed to attend, Administration officials will not, leading China to describe the move as an "outright political provocation" and vowing "firm countermeasures," whatever that might mean.

Meanwhile, here at home, we're still trying to clean up after Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, while trying to prevent him and the Republicans from more successfully stealing future elections. It won't be easy.

Last week, following the two federal indictments of Steve Bannon for failing to answer lawful subpoenas issued by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows agreed --- sort of --- to cooperate with the Committee in regards his own subpoenas. Today, he reportedly changed his mind and, in turn, may also now be looking at indictments in the days ahead, along with two years in prison. Apparently his boss, the disgraced, twice-impeached former President, doesn't want him talking to the Committee for some reason. Happily, Mike Pence's former Chief of Staff, reportedly --- along with hundreds of others --- are already doing so.

With at least some accountability now likely in the offing for Meadows --- even as Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice has, to date, brought no accountability on its own to the former President and his criminal clan for an endless list of crimes that includes the attempt to steal 2020 --- the Department filed a new lawsuit against Texas on Monday. The litigation seeks to block the Lone Star State's new Congressional and legislative maps as violations of the Voting Rights Act. While Texas gained two new House seats following the 2020 Census, they have now added two new White-majority Congressional Districts and eliminated a Latino-controlled seat. That, despite the fact that 95% of the population growth in the state is thanks to Latinos and Blacks. The DoJ, in their press conference announcing the suit yesterday, noted this isn't the first time TX has attempted to racially gerrymander its maps for partisan advantage. Though it may be much more difficult to challenge them this time around with the gutting of the VRA by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years and, of course, the Republicans having packed the Court's 6 to 3 majority.

But as the GOP prepares to win a majority of the House in 2022 with a minority of votes from Americans, the vagaries of both the U.S. Constitution and the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 may make it easier to steal the Presidential election in 2024 as well. Longtime Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg --- who helped steal the 2000 election for George W. Bush but rejected Trump's attempts to steal 2020 --- is now pressing his own party to reform the ECA before it comes back to bite them in the future.

It was, in fact, confusion surrounding the incredibly poorly written ECA that Team Trump hoped to exploit to their advantage when they tried to coerce then Vice President Mike Pence to declare electoral votes in a number of swing-states to be invalid during the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral votes on January 6. He refused, but the usually pro forma Congressional certification of the Electoral College, as you know, was then interrupted by Trump's MAGA Mob insurrection, in his last desperate attempt to steal the election that he lost.

We were joined on this program, on January 4th, by election law scholar and democracy activist PAUL LEHTO who joined us to warn, at the time, of the dangers that awaited on January 6th, thanks in no small part to the confusing ECA and Team Trump's attempts to take advantage of that confusion. Lehto joins us again today to discuss Ginsberg's recommendations to reform the Act and whether such reforms --- even if they could ever be adopted by the current dysfunctionally divided Congress --- would help to avoid another attempted theft of the Electoral College by Trump...or anyone else.

"If Congress understood that all they are doing is tabulating votes --- their scope is very limited --- they wouldn't have these disagreements about whether the Vice President has a sweeping authority to do this," Lehto explains. "They would realize they're clerks. But because that's not an understanding that's out there like it ought to be, yet another major norm of democracy, you could say, is being completely violated. And that's why there are so many holes that can be manipulated in the ECA. Because people are looking for 'How can we game the system?'"

Lehto, whose warnings were prescient in November, December and January, warns today that while the ECA "ought to be amended...whenever you close a loophole, the action just moves to the loopholes that still exist. Amending the ECA all by itself isn't going to solve the problem. Because you have constitutional issues, you have issues of people being partisan when they really should be patriots and act like clerks counting ballots."

He also has a few thoughts on what would help make Presidential elections less fraught and easily exploited, which involves both transparency and some key changes to the Constitution. "I think maybe what Democrats don't fully give enough weight to is the fact that we have an ancient Constitution that did not provide a democratic means of selecting the President," he tells me. "So that feels anti-democratic and fraudulent to Democrats, but that's what the system was set up. So we need to amend the Constitution in order to have it line up with what our reasonable expectations are for living in a modern democracy."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with troubling news for the Western U.S. and for Christmas tree fans, but with a bit of good news out of Scotland...

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Also: DoJ sues Texas for racial gerrymandering; Omicron more/less dangerous than you may know; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2021 6:35pm PT  

Lots to get caught up with on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered...

  • We hope to cover this more on an upcoming show, but on Monday, not long before air, the Dept. of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against Texas, hoping to block the Lone Star state's newly drawn and racially gerrymandered Congressional and state legislative districts under what is left of the Voting Rights Act. The state is adding two new Congressional districts following the 2020 Census, after gaining some 4 million new residents over the past decade. But, despite growth in the Latino and Black populations comprising 95% of the increase in voters, the state Republicans added two new majority White districts on their new maps, and removed yet another Latino-majority district.
  • Health officials over the past 24 to 48 hours, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have been suggesting that early data on the coronavirus Omicron variant indicates that, while it appears to be much more transmissible than previous variants, it may be less lethal. Though that is the headline you may have seen from the media since the weekend, that doesn't actually tell the full story about what that could mean. We try to fill in at least some of the blanks for the moment before folks get too prematurely excited. In short, if you haven't received a booster yet, now is a great time to do so. And, if you haven't had your initial shots, 6 months ago would have been a great time to do so (but now will suffice.) AND, if you think that already having had COVID --- and, thus, now have antibodies that you believe will protect you --- now is a great time to think again about that. We explain in full on today's show.
  • Finally, we've been reporting --- somewhat anecdotally in recent weeks --- on the bizarre way that the corporate media have been misreporting on the largely robust, and at times record, growth in the economy under President Biden over the past year as the nation attempts to crawl out from under the pandemic. Millions of jobs have been created (more than during the entire Trump Presidency); unemployment has plummeted to 4.2% (falling a remarkable four tenths of a percent in November compared to October and a full two points since the beginning of the year, when experts said it would be 2025 before unemployment fell to 4.2% again); New weekly jobless claims the week before last were the lowest they have been since 1969; etc. Yet, oddly enough, Biden's approval ratings have been driven down in recent months, thanks, in no small part, to often wildly misleading media coverage that continues to lead with areas of perceived weakness in the economy. That, despite the fact that those perceived weaknesses are misleading and/or not weakness in the economy at all.

    Late last week, Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that he's noticed the same thing from his colleagues. He commissioned a study to find out if he was right and, as it turns out, he is. "After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as --- and for a time worse than --- the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020."

    "Think about that," wrote Milbank. "In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid-19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the 'big lie,' the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office....And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today."

    Now, why would that be? We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners who call in with their own thoughts on why the so-called "liberal media" has been doing such a lousy, misleading job in covering Biden's Presidency to date...

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Dems continue legislative struggle to protect voting rights, Repubs face new legal woes for trying to steal 2020; Also: More results from 2021 elections; Progress at U.N. climate summit in Glasgow...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2021 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast": Despite what you may hear from certain elements of the media, the differences between the two parties when it comes to democracy and voting rights could not be more stark. Democrats are currently trying (and still failing, so far) in Congress, to protect voting rights for all voters. Republicans, meanwhile, are undermining those most basic of American rights around the country, even while facing mounting legal problems for having been gullible enough to play along with Donald Trump's Big Lie effort to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But we've got a lot more than that on today's program. Among the many stories covered...

  • More ballot initiative results from Tuesday's off-year elections, including out of Tucson, Arizona where voters, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, approved a new minimum wage of $15/hour. The victory for some 85,000 workers in the state's Democratic stronghold comes just months after its Senior Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, infamously thumbs-downed her own parties efforts to raise the federal minimum wage nationally to $15/hour. Hoping she noticed what happened in Tucson on Tuesday, because we're betting the folks in Tucson noticed her thumbs-down.
  • In New York state, all three election and voting rights reform propositions placed on the ballot by the Democratic legislature failed by wide margins. Republicans opposed all three and mounted an aggressive campaign to defeat them. Prop 1 involved redistricting reform. Prop 3 would have allowed same-day registration. Prop 4 would have allowed for no-excuse absentee voting in the Empire State. We discussed all three with two longtime NY election integrity advocates last week. Even though there was disagreement on several of measures, it's still a bit of a surprise that all three went down. That, even as Prop 2, a very progressive proposition on the same ballot establishing "the Right to clean air, water and a healthful environment" in the state's Constitution, did pass, by a more than 2 to 1 margin. Hmmm.
  • On Wednesday, back in D.C., a Senate vote on whether to proceed to debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- which restores much of what the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted in recent years from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- was blocked by Republicans. All Democrats voted in favor (including Joe Manchin) and even one Republican for a change (Lisa Murkowski). But as with the similarly Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act two weeks ago, a majority vote was not enough to overcome yet another GOP filibuster in the U.S. Senate, requiring 60 votes to even move to debate. So now we seem to be getting to the point where both Manchin and Sinema may need to put up or shut up on reforming the filibuster to allow for passage of these bills to help save democracy itself. In the meantime, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are vowing to "restore the Senate", whatever that may end up meaning, in order to push election and voting reform through. We'll see if that happens, because...
  • ...As New York Times reports late today, the Democrats' big money donors are getting restless. They are whining that Joe Biden isn't giving them enough attention (good!) and that they are very unhappy about the party's seeming inability to adopt critical voting rights legislation. One major donor has gone so far as to vow to withhold any more money until election reform is passed. The pressure, even from wealthy donors, is welcome and could be helpful. Though what they believe President Biden is actually able to do if two intransigent Democratic Senators refuse to change Senate rules for passage is a separate question. Hopefully these donors also give to Manchin and Sinema and are cutting them off as well while they refuse to stand up and do the right thing for the country.
  • On the other side of the political aisle, it's just nothing but ugly when it comes to democracy. Though some of our stories today may be worth popping some popcorn for. The Smartmatic voting tech company filed two new lawsuits on Wednesday against two "right-wing U.S. television networks," as Reuters properly describes them. One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are being sued for false claims made against the company, including that Smartmatic --- which doesn't have any election business in the U.S. at all other than a recent contract in Los Angeles County --- helped steal the election from Donald Trump in 2020. (And, yes, the fact that Smartmatic was brought into this at all is largely thanks to my series of exclusives from some years ago involving that company and its competitor Dominion Voting Systems, which Trump's dupes have happily misinterpreted and bastardized for their dumb corrupt purposes. You're welcome!) The two complaints are the latest billion dollar lawsuits filed by both Smartmatic and Dominion against the two right-wing networks, Fox "News", as well as Trump friends and attorneys like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Pillow Guy Mike Lindell. We wish them all the worst of luck.
  • Even wingnut Erick Erickson has had enough of the "Stop the Steal" falderal --- at least when he's drunk enough to say so after his party won a few elections on Tuesday night. His rant to his fellow Republicans includes stuff like this: "You idiots have spent a year peddling the fiction the 2020 election was stolen because you were so busy humping Trump's leg that you never really even tried to convince persuadable voters to vote. ... either admit the election wasn't stolen or STFU from here on out. ... And if you really have clung to the 2020 was stolen mythology that lets you sleep well at night as a professional victim, please unfriend me and unfollow me because your presence is needed in Neverland and not here in reality."
  • And, back in Arizona, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be threatening and/or turning on the Cyber Ninjas they hired for their pretend audit of Maricopa County's 2020 election earlier this year. Or, at least, they are play-acting as much for the benefit of a judge as the Senate is facing potential sanctions for failing to turn over public documents related to the phony audit which claims to have found that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by an even larger margin than originally certified in the state. But, as it turns out, even those numbers appear to have been "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, according to experts who looked a bit closer. This could get ugly. At least we hope so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen's got some seemingly good news for us coming out of the critical U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland in our latest Green News Report, along with results of a number of environment and climate related issues that were on the ballot across the country in Tuesday's off-year elections...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: FSFP's Courtney Hostetler on federal suit challenging two new vote suppression laws in AZ; Also: John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act passed by House Dems; NC court restores voting rights to 50k...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was bad enough in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts gutted Section 5, the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That section prevented discriminatory voting laws before they could take effect. By the time Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 majority, legislated from the bench last month to create new tests for Section 2 of the VRA, pulled largely out of thin air, it felt like there was little left in the landmark 1965 federal legislation to protect voters. But voting rights champions are moving forward in courts, nonetheless, even as the battle for new federal voting rights legislation continues.

On Tuesday night, without a single Republican vote, Democrats in the House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The measure would fix much of the damage done to Section 5 of the VRA by the GOP Supremes in 2013, allowing laws with a discriminatory impact on minorities to be blocked in all fifty states before they can suppress voters. But that bill have to overcome a Senate filibuster by Republicans to become law. Still, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he support its passage, so perhaps he'll support the modification to the filibuster necessary to pass it. Given the federal lawsuit filed last week in Arizona against two new GOP voter suppression schemes in that state, perhaps AZ's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another opponent of filibuster reform --- even on behalf off democracy --- will rethink her position as well when the Senate returns from its August recess.

On Monday, however, there was some bona fide good news out of the very closely divided state of North Carolina, where a court overturned a century old law that prevented former felons from voting upon release from prison. The measure, originally enacted after the Civil War to stop access to the ballot box for black Americans, was finally overturned this week, allowing some 50,000 former felons to register to vote immediately. Of course, state Republicans are appealing the ruling.

And, despite good news last month from a Florida court, tossing a GOP cap on how much money can be donated to get initiatives onto the ballot in the Sunshine State, the effort to once again reenfranchise former felons in that state will now have to wait until the 2024 ballot. That, even after Florida voters already voted for exactly that in a landslide 65% to 35% victory in 2018. It seems Republicans will never run out of ways to prevent some 800,000 returning citizens in the state from being able to participate in their own democracy. It's what they do. It's also why it is so critical to adopt federal reforms, currently being blocked by Republicans and a couple of intransigent Democratic Senators.

In Arizona last week, several voting and civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit challenging two laws recently enacted by state Republicans aimed at suppressing the minority vote, according to our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan government watchdog Free Speech for People (FSFP). Her organization is litigating the case on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona. One law ends the state's very popular permanent early voting list, which allowed voters to receive Vote-by-Mail ballots automatically for every election. The other restriction requires voters who forgot to sign their VBM ballot to do so by 7pm on Election Night. That, even though voters judged to have a "mismatched" signature on their absentee ballot are allowed to "cure" the problem for up to five days after Election Day.

On the first restriction, Hostetler explains today that the permanent early voting list "is supposed to permanent. It's right in the name." But under the new law, she says, "if you don't vote in two consecutive election cycles, you're out. Two election cycles is not that many. There are local elections, many elections that happen. If you decide to skip two elections, for whatever reason, you're off this list and you might not realize it" until its too late.

On the second restriction, she describes that many voters are unlikely to be able to sign their ballot in time, or even be notified that there is a problem, particularly if they only dropped it off the day before the election and especially in the many cases where there is a two-hour, one-way trip for voters forced to use public transportation.

All of this is supposedly to prevent "voter fraud", according to Republicans in a state which has been unable to show any evidence of substantive fraud in past elections, much less fraud that would be prevented by the new restrictions. On the other hand, as Hostetler details, these laws --- which appear neutral on their face --- are specifically designed to "impact minority voters" in several different nefarious ways.

"We can't divorce this from the history of voting suppression in Arizona," she argues, listing many of the ways in which minorities will see a disparate impact from these laws. "Arizona has an unfortunate and long history of voter suppression of Latino, Black and Native American voters."

As the federal complaint [PDF] filed last week reads: "It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting --- the target of the new laws --- to help elect their candidate of choice."

But how can these restrictions be challenged in federal court, given Justice Alito's absurd, created-from-whole-cloth new "guideposts" for adjudicating Section 2 cases under the VRA, where, as we discussed on The BradCast last month, he literally conceded that discriminatory laws are okay, so long as they don't discriminated too much?

Hostetler explains the groups' strategy for challenging these laws under the VRA as well as Amendments 1, 14, and 15 of the U.S. Constitution which, she argues, these restrictions "clearly violate". She also speaks to the necessity of passage of new federal laws to give voting rights attorneys more tools to work with, since SCOTUS has twice gutted the VRA over the past decade. She similarly offers advice on and what we can all do --- as voters, as citizens --- to help reverse this cycle of insidious voter suppression now setting in across the country...especially in swing states like Kyrsten Sinema's Arizona...

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Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' continues to fall apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2021 6:23pm PT  

Today's BradCast, by and large, serves as another fine example of why we fight, and what we fight for. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • We've got an update following yesterday's lively interview with John Brakey, the longtime, progressive Election Integrity and audit expert who has been serving as an observer and advisor at the Maricopa County, Arizona 2020 election "audit", alongside the state's Republican former Sec. of State Ken Bennett. Bennett was tapped by the GOP state Senate in April to serve as its liaison to the ill-considered clown show "audit" they hired the inexperienced, partisan, conspiracy theorist company named Cyber Ninjas to carry out. Last week, Bennet was shamefully locked out of the building after he'd shared information from the third count of the County's ballots with experienced outside experts who seem to confirm that the Ninjas' original ballot tally was wrong. In fact, they suggest that the original County count was accurate (as expected, by all by the Trump MAGA mob). As of yesterday's show, Brakey had confirmed that Bennett was resigning his post after the dust up. But shortly after we got off air, Brakey reports, Bennett met with Senate President Karen Fann and, essentially, unresigned. We explain what happened and what may happen next, as even Republican members of the state Senate are now describing the effort as "botched" and turning hard against both the Ninjas for their incompetency and Fann for her folly in having hired them.
  • Despite the obvious failure of the Ninja's disastrous pretend "audit" in Arizona, Republicans across the country are noticing the millions of dollars raised by the grifters running that spectacle, and have decided they'd like some of that sweet sweet "audit" theater in their own home states. But on Wednesday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice issued new guidance documents, warning that they intend to enforce federal laws that may be violated by such exercises.
  • In separate, but related guidance on Wednesday, the DoJ also also made clear they intend to enforce federal voting rights laws against states enacting new voter suppression measures, as GOP-controlled legislatures are now doing all over the country. That, even as recent rulings by the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS has made such enforcement much more difficult, in lieu of new federal laws needed to protect the franchise.

    To that end, the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday held a hearing on, among other things, the Texas state legislature's attempt to adopt such a bill. Texas Democrats left the state two weeks ago to prevent the quorum needed to pass such a bill during the ongoing special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott to do just that. And today, 82-year old state Rep. Senfronia Thompson --- the longest serving woman and African-American woman in Texas history, now in her 25th term --- offered moving testimony about her and her family's personal experiences with Jim Crow voter suppression laws in the Lone Star State. We share some of her must-listen remarks in response to GOP Congressmembers at the hearing who downplayed the difficulty of minority voters to exercise their right to vote.

  • With COVID surging again, thanks to the Delta variant and those who have refused to get life-saving vaccinations, President Biden announced new initiatives at the White House today, following impassioned remarks to encourage Americans to get their shots. "This is an American tragedy," he said. "People are dying --- and will die --- who don't have to die. If you're out there unvaccinated, you don't have to die," the President pleaded before detailing the new incentives. Among them: Paying the unvaxxed $100 to get their shots; Expanding federal reimbursement for employers and employees to take time off to get both themselves and their families inoculated; and a new requirement for federal workers and contractors to either get vaccinated or face regular testing and other restrictions.

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Also: The 2020 Election Night genesis of Trump's 'Big Lie'; And heroic Texas state Dems land in D.C. to press Senate for federal reform...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2021 6:22pm PT  

As noted during today's BradCast, we've been fighting to protect, expand and shore up democracy for nearly 20 years on this program and at The BRAD BLOG. For the first time in all of those years, however, it now really feels as if we are in a battle to save democracy itself in America. So it was very good to hear the President of the United States today stand up and clearly spell out what is now at stake in that fight. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up today, Washington Post published a BradCast">fascinating excerpt on Tuesday from a new book by the Post's D.C. correspondents Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, named I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year. The lengthy excerpt details the tumultuous, chaotic and dysfunctional 2020 Election Day and Night inside the White House, as Trump discovered he was likely to lose his reelection race. We focus specifically on Leonnig and Rucker's reporting on what seems to have been the genesis of Trump's Big Lie, as it developed that night, reportedly as the brain child of his tipsy personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. His idea, rejected at first by Trump's advisors, was to simply say "we won" in every battleground state, despite mounting --- and, eventually, solid --- evidence to the contrary.

The Big Lie, adopted by Trump that night during his false "victory" speech in the wee hours, claiming the election was stolen and that "frankly, we did win this election," has poisoned the nation's soul ever since. At least the Republican part of the nation --- if they have a soul --- as GOP state lawmakers have opportunistically exploited that Big Lie in recent months to adopt severe new restrictions on voting and to institute provisions that allow partisan officials to overturn election results for virtually any reason.

Just before airtime on Monday's show, Democratic state lawmakers from the Texas House of Representatives left the state on two chartered planes to break the House quorum during a special session in the state legislature. The session was called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to force through a voter suppression bill that failed to pass when Democrats walked out on the last day of the regular session last May, also denying the GOP of a quorum to conduct business at the time. Now, the state Democrats have gone to D.C. for what they describe as "the fight of our lives." They hope to stop all business in the Republican-dominated state House during the 30-day emergency session and to press Senate Democrats to adopt the For the People Act at the federal level to help counter at least some of the restrictions Republicans are attempting to impose on Lone Star State voters, as well as those elsewhere in the country.

The heroic Dem state lawmakers, who face likely arrest upon returning home, deserve our support for their extraordinary attempted effort to save democracy in Texas. They say they plan to stay in D.C. throughout the 30-day session and lobby Senate Democrats like WV's Joe Manchin and AZ's Kyrsten Sinema to reform the filibuster to allow passage of For the People with a simple majority, as their only hope. Abbott, however, is able to call as many special sessions as he likes upon their eventual return. So, time is now very much of the essence.

At the same time today, President Biden was also using his bully pulpit to press for the protection of voting rights and American democracy itself. In a stirring speech at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, he outlined what is now at stake, declaring that "we are facing the most significant test of democracy since the Civil War." In remarks that would have sounded right at home during one of my rants on this he program, he noted bluntly, "the Big Lie is just that: a big lie." Biden described passage of federal voting rights legislation as "a national imperative," warning of the measures that are being enacted to not only suppress the vote at the state level, but overturn results.

"If you vote, they want to be able to tell you your vote doesn't count for any reason they make up," Biden charged, adding ominously (if correctly), "They want the ability to reject the final count and ignore the will of the people if their preferred candidate loses."

We share the President's speech in full today (transcript here, video here), as his important remarks are worth paying close attention to.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a dozen states in the West are now facing unprecedented heat, fire, drought and a serious stress test of the electrical grid, as our climate emergency becomes ever more apparent in very real, and very stark terms...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal analyst Ernest A. Canning on reforming CA's 110-year old Recall process; Also: TX DEMS FLEE STATE TO BLOCK GOP VOTE-SUPPRESSION BILL PASSAGE IN SPECIAL SESSION...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2021 6:05pm PT  

Well, today's BradCast, turned out to be a bit more exciting than planned. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Just an hour or so before air time, Democratic Texas state lawmakers fled the state en masse to deprive state Republican lawmakers of a quorum during a special legislative session called to adopt a massive voter suppression bill. That, after last year's election was found to have been "smooth and secure", according to state officials. GOP-controlled committees in both the state House and Senate jammed through versions of the bill over the weekend, following overnight sessions in which hundreds of members of the public spoke against the measures.

Nonetheless, outnumbered in both chambers, more than 50 Democratic state Representatives left on chartered flights out of Austin on Monday to deprive Republicans of a legislative quorum. They reportedly headed for D.C. where they hope to press Senate Democrats to pass federal legislation to protect voting rights to help counter the Texas effort and other bills like it being adopted by Republican-controlled states across the country.

The rare move to leave the state --- where they can't be rounded up by Texas law enforcement and forced back to the Capitol --- comes after a Democratic walkout from the state Senate on the final day of the regular legislative session back in May. That walkout ran out the clock on the GOP voter-suppression bill at the time. Now, Dems would have to stay away for almost 30 days --- the length of the special session called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott --- in order to block the legislative quorum needed to pass the measure in the Lone Star State's House of Representatives. The version of the bill Republicans now hope to pass would, among other things, ban the drive-thru and 24-hour voting sites that helped enfranchise tens of thousands of Houston voters last November, criminalize election officials mailing absentee ballot applications to voters and add new ID restrictions for mail-in voting, which is already incredibly difficult in Texas. All of the measures, according to voting rights experts, are both unnecessary would serve to disenfranchise marginalized voters, from minority groups to students to the elderly. We will, of course, be following this story closely in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, out West, blazing hot temperatures and extremely dry conditions amidst a years-long mega-draught have help sparked enormous fires in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Colorado and California. The record fires, heat and drought are part of the cumulative effect of man-made climate change now devastating the nation and the planet. A massive fire in Oregon over the weekend disrupted service on three power transmission lines providing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity to neighboring California. The power cuts, amid record heat, threaten a state already facing dire water shortages. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom called for voluntary cutbacks in water usage of 15% by residents, agricultural operations and other businesses. Over the weekend, state power officials asked customers to cut back power usage.

With those multiple, very real emergencies now under way (including the rising threat of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in a state that has otherwise managed the pandemic very well under Newsom's leadership), the popular Democratic Governor now faces a GOP-funded recall election in just over two months time.

If Newsom were to be removed from office on September 14th, it would be only the second time in the state's 110-year history of the Gubernatorial Recall process. The last time was in 2003, when Republicans similarly ran a well-funded, professional misinformation and outrage campaign in order to oust a Governor. Newsom, elected to his first term in 2018, would otherwise face reelection next year anyway.

Late last week at The BRAD BLOG, our longtime legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING highlighted the long, fascinating, ">progressive history of the state's Recall process, before arguing that it has gone awry in recent decades due to state Republicans' abuse of the process. He has outlined three suggested reforms that make a lot of sense, to help prevent much of the abuse of the process by Republicans in recent years. He argues that GOP policies in the state --- what's left of them --- have become so unpopular that the party is no longer seemingly able to win any state wide elections...unless they can engineer a low-turnout one, as they hope to see against Newsom in September.

"It's critical that everyone who is disgusted by this recall show up and vote," Canning argues. "The fact is, if Californians show up and vote, this recall will go down. But if you don't show up --- that's what the Republicans are banking on."

Among the reforms Canning is calling for after the upcoming Recall effort (which could cost state tax-payers as much as $400 million): Replacing a recalled Governor with the Lt. Governor (usually of the same party as the Governor), instead of holding a separate election for his or her replacement; Eliminating paid signature gathering by professional companies; and limiting the allowable reasons for Recalls of state officials. Canning joins us on today's program to explain and defend all of those suggestions, which he'd like to see put to voters on a statewide ballot referendum as part of the 2022 General Elections.

Finally, we take a few calls at the end of today's surprisingly busy show...

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