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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, June 20, 2021
Sunday 'Now Do Election Day' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly collection of long-overdue political toons...
The Once (and Future?) Cleveland Mayor, Dennis Kucinich is Back:
'BradCast' 6/18/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler speaks with Ohio's former Congressman...
SCOTUS Saves O'Care (Again); More Manchin Progress on Voting, Filibuster Reform: 'BradCast' 6/17/21
Also: Juneteenth! And SCOTUS permits discrimination against same-sex couples...
'Green News Report' 6/17/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat threatens TX power; Mega-drought stokes OR water war; Trump Judge blocks Biden's pause on oil and gas leasing; PLUS: CO approves slew of climate action legislation...
Previous GNRs: 6/15/21 - 6/10/21 - Archives...
Manchin Offers Voting Rights Bill Compromise!: 'BradCast' 6/16/21
Also: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler with 'perspective' on Trump DoJ 'spying' on Dem lawmakers, lessons Dems may learn from it...
'Garland's Tylenol Moment': Why Biden's AG Must Now Form a Trump Task Force at DoJ: 'BradCast' 6/15/21
Guest: Const'l Attorney John Bonifaz of FSFP on reversing 'the road to tyranny'...
'Green News Report' 6/15/21
G7 ends with pledges, few details; Early heat records; Chinese nuke plant mystery; AK's Pebble Mine really dead; PLUS: Biden restores Tongass 'roadless' rule...
Biden, G7 Seek to Restore Normalcy After Disastrous Trump Years: 'BradCast' 6/14
Also: Netanyahu out; China nuke plant leak?; 2016 whistleblower leaves prison; Callers...
Sunday 'Hee Haw on the Hill' Toons
Lessons in democracy from the esteemed gentlemen from Kentucky and West Virginia in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
America's Billionaire Tax Code Welfare Queens: 'BradCast' 6/11/21
Guest: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dem lawmakers in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
'Good Trouble' (or, Call for President Biden on Line 3): 'BradCast' 6/10/21
Huge, hard-fought KeystoneXL win; New fight in MN over another tar sands pipeline; Biden goes to Europe; TX A.G. in still more legal trouble...
'Green News Report' 6/10/21
KeystoneXL cancelled for good!; Arrests at MN pipeline protest; G7 spent big on fossil fuels in 2020; PLUS: GOP Infrastructure talks collapse, begin again...
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...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: SCOTUS expert, author Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon unionization vote goes down in AL, union cries foul; Biden creates commission to study SCOTUS reform; Everyone loves hating on Cruz and Graham...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2021 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.

The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."

For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.

Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.

As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.

But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."

Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.

"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing.  They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.

"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.

He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."

So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.

Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Caren Short, Voting Rights Attny, Southern Poverty Law Center...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2021 6:48pm PT  

Attempted voter suppression must come at a very serious cost to the suppressors. Hopefully, we are beginning to see at least some of that beginning to build in Georgia on today's BradCast --- even as voting rights advocates are forced to take legal action to block this latest attack on democracy by the state's Republican Party. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Hopefully, the blowback is just beginning. Last Wednesday, we were joined on the show by Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, as she warned about the massive voter suppression bill that Republicans in the GA state legislature were trying to jam through before this week's final day of the legislative session. But, in less than 24 hours, by Thursday, voting rights advocates were stunned --- and, arguably, caught off guard --- when the GOP-dominated state House and Senate both adopted a newly-introduced, nearly 100-page bill to pare back voting rights in a single day, before the measure, known as SB 202, was then signed just an hour or so later by long-time champion GOP vote suppressor and former Sec. of State, Governor Brian Kemp. For good measure, he did so under a painting of a slave plantation as an elected African-American member of the state House of Representatives was arrested for trying to witness the signing behind closed doors.

The measure, among other things, will increase ID requirements for absentee voting; reduce early in-person voting in some places; restrict the use of drop-boxes for mail-in ballots; ban the distribution of food and beverages to voters waiting in Georgia's famously long (in some places) voting lines; threaten third-party advocacy groups with criminal prosecution if they dare send an absentee ballot request form to someone already signed up to vote by mail; and, perhaps most perniciously, according to Marks sounding the alarm last week, allow the state's majority-GOP legislature to essentially take over control of the State Board of Elections. In turn, the State Board can then replace entire County Boards of Elections with a single partisan person, pretty much for any reason they like, threatening to both undermine or even overturn election results at the county level in...ya know...certain counties --- just as Donald Trump tried to do after losing the 2020 election in The Peach State last year.

All of that, despite zero evidence of fraud or mistally in last year's Presidential election in Georgia, where three statewide counts --- twice by machines, once by hand --- all confirmed the results, which the state confirmed to be free of fraud.

Since passage and signing of SB 202 last week, not one, but two lawsuits have been filed to try and block the law, charging that it violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act (VRA), as the multiple civil and voting rights group plaintiffs allege the new voting restrictions are specifically designed to target minority voters. The President of the United States has subsequently described the law as "un-American", an "atrocity" and "Jim Crow in the 21st Century". Despite all of that, it ultimately could be the Major League Baseball Player's Association which ends up making a real difference in regards this new anti-democracy scheme. The players are reportedly deciding whether to demand this year's MLB All-Star Game, currently set for Atlanta in July, be moved to a different state if the law is not struck down.

At the same time, federal laws --- such as the For the People Act (H.R.1) or John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4) --- which would help protect against a number of the worst GOP voter suppression tactics now adopted by the Peach State and moving ahead in others where Republicans are considering similar measures, will not pass unless the undemocratic Jim Crow-era U.S. Senate Filibuster is, in some fashion, killed or reformed.

We're joined today by CAREN SHORT, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center to discuss all of this. While her group has not yet joined either of the two federal lawsuits filed against Georgia's law, she suggests they are considering as much. In the meantime, she explains what she finds so devious about GA's racist new law, and whether or not the current lawsuits --- or even the Dept. of Justice --- may be able to reverse the worst of SB 202's attack on voters and voting in the state.

Among the issues we discuss with Short: Her views on the worst aspects of SB 202; Whether its possible to demonstrate a disproportionate affect on minority voters before an election is run with this new law in place; How the portion of the Voting Rights Act struck down by SCOTUS in 2013 would likely have prevented this entire bill from even being introduced in the first place; Whether the DoJ has grounds for filing suit themselves under still-standing portions of the VRA to protect Georgia voters; And how courts will determine whether FEARS of voter fraud (in the absence of same) is enough to justify taking rights already granted to voters away from them, among much more!

"You're right, there's a lot to be troubled about," she tells me at the top of our discussion. "This bill is troubling. It would really disenfranchise a lot of people in Georgia. Although it would apply equally to everyone, it is specifically targeted to harm black voters, brown voters, young people, voters with disabilities --- and it will do so."

"You mentioned that democracy is everyone's job. I could not agree more with that," Short says, when I ask what needs to be done to see the filibuster reformed in the U.S. Senate so that H.R.1 and H.R.4 can passed and become law. "These are our representatives. These are our policy makers. They represent what we want. ... We need democracy reform. We need transparency. We need fairness. We need protections for folks in the Deep South who are facing bills like the one in Georgia. This cannot stand. It cannot happen in my name as an American. We need to get involved. This is our moment. Call your friends who live in those states who are going to be needed for filibuster reform, if necessary. Some Democratic folks have said, 'failure is not an option.' And it's absolutely true."

Finally, with both good and worrying news about COVID (good, in that President Biden has announced vaccine distribution is moving ahead even quicker than previously hoped; worrying, in that the new CDC Director is "scared" with a sense of "impending doom" about the recent 16% rise in infections as mask mandates have been lifted in some states), we open up the phones for a quick call or two on all of this at the end of another important and lively hour...

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GA's new Senator appeals to our better angels to save our democracy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/27/2021 11:14am PT  

"A republic," Ben Franklin famously said, "if you can keep it."

After more than 230 years, the great American experiment --- constitutional democracy --- has arrived at a moment of grave national peril, once again testing Franklin's warning. Like the Confederates who fired on Fort Sumter at the outset of a bloody Civil War, a major segment of our polity today is being led by racist and seditious reactionaries --- "domestic enemies" of the very Constitution they solemnly swore to uphold and defend.

This unscrupulous lot call themselves "Republicans". Yet, they have absolutely nothing in common with the Party once led by Abraham Lincoln, an intellectual giant, who extolled the need to see that "government of the People, by the People and for the People shall not perish..."

The right to vote is foundational to all other rights. By way of more than 253 restrictive bills, introduced in 43 States, these elected autocratic "American Fascists" seek to strip that foundational right from millions of their fellow Americans.

The For the People Act of 2021, recently passed by Democrats in the House as H.R.1, is a comprehensive election, campaign, ethics and voting rights reform measure that would, among other things, eliminate partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, curb dark money campaign contributions, and preempt many state-based GOP voter suppression and intimidation laws, schemes and tactics. The Senate version of the bill, S1, is co-sponsored by 49 of the chamber's 50 Democrats.

If, at this critical moment, all 50 Senate Democrats do not agree to eliminate the filibuster, at least for Voting Rights-related legislation, in order to pass S1 before the end of the year, a clear path will have been paved for the GOP to retake majority control of both Houses of Congress in 2022 and recapture the Presidency in 2024 through a combination of extreme partisan gerrymandering and surgically precise voter suppression.

What better moment for Georgia's freshman Democratic Senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock, to call upon our better angels to save our democracy in a maiden address on the Senate floor (see video and link to transcript below) that amounted to what has been aptly described as a "Voting Rights Speech for the Ages"...

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Guest: Sarah Repucci of Freedom House; Also: Senate passes Biden's very progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill; SCOTUS rejects last of Trump's 2020 election challenges...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2021 6:44pm PT  

It's not only in the U.S. where democracy is now under attack. Unfortunately, as discussed with our guest on today's BradCast, when freedom and democracy begin to collapse here, it gets even worse everywhere else. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick word or two on Harry and Meghan (because in case you thought a parliamentary monarchy was a better idea than our representative democracy....well, that's not working out so well either these days.)

Very good news out of Congress, however, where the U.S. Senate finally passed Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan over the weekend. Sadly, it was adopted 50-49 without a single Republican vote. The wildly popular measure provides critical relief across a whole bunch of sectors, with, as the New York Times describes, it "the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up."  We go through many of the details of this major relief and stimulus plan that both Democrats and progressives should be damned proud of. Hopefully they remember to sing its praises between now and November of 2022, at the very least.  While the bill was changed marginally in the Senate after House passage (in some ways, it was even made more progressive!), it remained pretty much the same bold plan as initially proposed. It is, as many have described it, the most progressive relief bill ever passed by both Houses of Congress.

Democrats, by and large, seem to have figured out that it's ridiculous to negotiate with themselves in order to win the fool's errand of receiving Republican votes, when they ain't coming on board for anything Democrats in power favor, no matter how popular the measure is with their own Republican constituents (very!) or how many of them it will actually help in myriad ways. The measure must be approved one more time in the House before it heads to the President's desk likely this week, followed by his signatures and then individual checks of $1,400 to most Americans, $3,600 for most children, new expansions to Obamacare to allow those with higher incomes to receive subsidies for health insurance premiums and much much more to get American and its economy and schools back open faster and safer.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin yet again, as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission's handling of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. And, with that, SCOTUS has now officially rejected every challenge to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his MAGA Mob to the Republicans' stolen and packed high court.  Sadly, GOP state legislatures are now in the process of attempting to impose severe new restrictions on voting in multiple states, including by rolling back measures, for example, for no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, that they themselves had previously enacted.

So the fight for democracy and voting rights continues. Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, when civil rights icon, the late Rep. John Lewis and hundreds of others were beaten to a pulp by state troopers during a protest walk for voting voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That violence at that 1965 march, witnessed live on television, resulted in President Johnson signing the landmark Voting Rights Act that year. In commemoration over the weekend, President Biden issued an executive order "to promote voting access to all all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The order, as the White House describes it, "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting."

The effort comes not a moment too soon, unfortunately, as underscored by a new report out last week from Freedom House titled Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege. It finds, among other troubling things: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny."

Three-quarters of people in the world now live in countries where freedom and democracy are on the decline, according to the group's latest annual report. As Washington Post's coverage notes, "This year’s survey, published Wednesday, marked the 15th consecutive year of global democratic backsliding --- 'a long democratic recession,' in the organization’s words, that is 'deepening.'' Moreover, the United States dropped three rankings in this year's survey which, its co-author explains on today's show, has been carried out by the 80-year old, non-partisan, non-profit group every year since 1972.

We're joined today by Freedom House Vice President of Research and Analysis SARAH REPUCCI, who notes that while the report cites the "unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies," with the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, and that his "actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets," the 1/6 insurrection attempt wasn't even considered as part of this year's rankings of 195 countries, since it occurred in 2021.

Moreover, Freedom House found the largest "democracy gap" (the number of countries that improved minus the number of countries that declined) in the report's history last year, which marked 15 years of decline by the group's measure.

Repucci explains the report's methodology, which areas of the world are now seen as most at risk, and how the decline in freedoms and democracy in the U.S. over the past 15 years --- particularly over the past decade --- have helped to encourage the grim turn for democratic movements across the globe in recent years. She also offers some key recommendations for how to turn things around in this country, including reform in a number of areas --- such as ending partisan gerrymandering and instituting campaign finance reform. Both of those items are central tenets of the critical H.R.1, or "For the People Act", an omnibus and long-overdue elections and ethics reform package that has now been adopted by the U.S. House but faces a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate at this time.

"What many of us have been witnessing here in the United States is part of this larger global trend," Repucci tells me. "We've been tracking 15 years of decline globally, and the US has been declining the last ten years. So this is not totally not new in the US, and it's definitely not new globally.  What we are seeing are declines across the board in very repressive settings and also in democracies and everything in between." She warns: "The main takeaway is that no country is safe from this. It's affecting all types and all regions. It's something that we need to take really seriously."

Finally today, the CDC has issued its first guidelines for those who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The guidance, which we discuss, allows for, among other things, those who have been fully vaccinated to hang out indoors, in private settings, without masks or social distancing with others who have been fully vaccinated as well. So, there's just one more good reason to get a shot as soon as you can figure out how to get one (or two, as the case may be). So far, just under 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/26/2021 4:45pm PT  

I'm sorry to end the week on such a scary note, but I don't make the news, I just report it. It's NICOLE SANDLER again, guest hosting another edition of the The BradCast today. [Audio link to the full show is below.]

I read an article at Vox titled "Two Supreme Court cases could destroy what remains of the Voting Rights Act". It so thoroughly freaked me out that I immediately reached out to its author, IAN MILLHISER, and invited him to join me on The BradCast.

The fact is, Trump stacked the courts with right wingers who'll stop at nothing to get and retain power. And it's not only that. We're headed down a really ugly road, as is evidenced by watching the wingnut travesty that began today in Orlando known as CPAC. One look at the stage and you realize something's not quite right. Look closely and you'll figure it out. There's no question that it's in the shape of the Odal Rune, a decidedly fascist symbol that was worn as a badge by the SS during WWII.

I started the show with the latest news. And ended it with some lighter fare because after all of this depressing stuff, we needed something to laugh about. I hope it worked!...

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On the rising threat of rightwing domestic terror; Accountability for Trump/GOP and crucial democracy reform...
By Desi Doyen on 2/19/2021 3:37pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews that you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We'll be back LIVE soon!

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Guest: Ari Berman of Mother Jones; Also: TX Repubs step on the gas to blame green energy for their own fossil fueled freeze failure; Radio propagandist Rush Limbaugh is dead, but his national poison lives on...
By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2021 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Talk radio con-man Rush Limbaugh may now be dead, but his toxic legacy lives on in virtually every element of the nation's poisoned body politic. The consequences are all too apparent even today amid the deadly winter storm that has knocked out power across Texas and the avalanche of new voter suppression laws being pushed by Republicans following their loss of the White House in 2020. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up today, after three decades of brainwashing a generation of Americans by dominating the nation's public airwaves with far-right, racist, misogynistic, extremist propaganda and lies, Limbaugh is dead from lung cancer at the age of 70.  Using his considerable broadcasting skills to pump dishonest evil into the brains of gullible listeners, he endangered the nation and the planet itself by scamming an entire segment of the populace to the theoretical benefit of the Republican Party that he may have helped to ultimately destroy. I've got a few thoughts on that today.

Next, the influence of Limbaugh reverberates throughout the crisis facing millions of Texans  who are, right now, continuing to face freezing conditions without power (and water in some cases) for days, thanks to the 1999 deregulation of the power grid in Texas by GOP lawmakers who put corporate profit above the general welfare of their own residents. Rather than accept personal responsibility for their failures, Texas Republicans and the propagandists who support them on outlets like Fox "News", have been going full throttle over the past two days to somehow (falsely) blame the state's nascent wind energy industry for the widespread outages. That, even though wind supplies, at most, about 20 percent of the Lone Star State's energy needs, while thermal sources, like natural gas, coal and nuclear --- which all failed due to lack of winterization (thanks to lack of state regulation) --- were, by far, the biggest source of failure.

But don't tell that to Ditto-Heads like the now-former Mayor of Colorado City, TX, Tim Boyd, who railed at his own constituents seeking help without heat or water for days. "No one owes you or your [sic] family anything; nor is it the local governments [sic] responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice!,"  he raged on Facebook in response to members of the community wondering if warming shelters would be opened or how firefighters could respond with the town's water system shut down. "This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW work and others will become dependent for handouts," the Mayor said in words that would have been music to Limbaugh's deaf ears. "Bottom line, quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!"

Of course, even the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott appeared to admit on Twitter on Monday that the problem was "natural gas and coal generators" that had been "frozen", before somehow going on to blame the non-existent Green New Deal for Texas' woes by the time he appeared on the show of Limbaugh's fellow propagandist Sean Hannity on Fox "News" Tuesday night.

So, how and when can these corrupt, corporate-socialists finally be voted out of office? It may not be easy given that, as NYU's Brennan Center for Justice recently reported [emphasis iin original]: "In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced well over four times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to roughly this time last year. Thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020)."

We're joined today by Mother Jones' senior reporter and voting rights journalist ARI BERMAN, author of the landmark 2016 book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, to discuss what he characterizes as "an avalanche of new laws" amounting to "the most concerted attempts to roll back voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965."

Berman explains the new flood of bills by GOP lawmakers to make voting more difficult --- for certain voters --- in battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and many others, where measures are being pushed to end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration, among other previously established rights. In Arizona, more than 40 such schemes have been proposed by Republicans, including one that Berman says would "allow the legislature to just nullify the will of the voters and appoint their own Presidential electors anytime they want. It basically would make the Presidential election completely irrelevant, in terms of what the voters actually voted for."

These efforts all come in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of "massive voter fraud" in the 2020 election. In many instances, says Berman, GOP state legislators are even attempting to reverse expansions to the franchise that they themselves had recently adopted and boasted about at the time. "The Republican Party is now trying to weaponize those bogus fraud claims, to lay the groundwork for getting rid of the system that they wrote, instituted and took advantage of, until it didn't benefit them anymore," he tells me.

We also discuss how a number of these new restrictions may be unstoppable at the state level and would require Democratic efforts at the federal level --- such as H.R.1 (the "For the People Act") and H.R.4 (the "John Lewis Voting Rights Act") --- in order to prevent them from suppressing the vote in both 2022 and 2024. Of course, to pass those federal laws, Democrats in the U.S. Senate will almost certainly have to do away with the undemocratic filibuster, since Berman suggests it's inconceivable that 10 Senate Republicans would join the effort to ensure equal and fair voting rights to all Americans.

So, yes, we also discuss what might be needed to overcome Democratic objections to ending the "Jim Crow relic" filibuster by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have vowed to keep it in place. "This is a big fight brewing," Berman argues, along with a few suggestions as to how this could play out. "But right now we're seeing an existential threat to democracy and also a very real threat to the power of the Democratic Party.  At some point, they're going to have to choose."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Attorney Ernest A. Canning on the critical H.R.1, 'For the People Act'; Also: GOP Rep. dies with COVID; Another GOP Senator to retire; GA SoS opens probe of Trump's attempted election theft...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2021 6:40pm PT  

Among the many stories on today's busy BradCast: How Lou Dobbs' once formidable Election Integrity reporting at CNN turned into his own demise 15 years later at Fox "News"; Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial begins this week with his attorneys making legally and Constitutionally indefensible claims; And Democrats offer a massive, much-needed measure to shore up our faltering system of democracy --- but it needs an important fix. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up...following Smartmatic's $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit [PDF] filed against Fox "News" and three of its anchors --- Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro --- last Thursday, the rightwing propaganda network suddenly and unceremoniously cancelled Dobbs' show the very next day.

Ironically, when Dobbs' was at CNN more than a decade ago, his show was largely the only mainstream broadcast media outlet to offer real, investigative coverage of serious concerns about computerized voting and tabulation systems, and the private corporations who had taken over so much of our public elections. His show delved into legit concerns about Smartmatic's relationship to Venezuela, among other things, resulting in a Treasury Dept. investigation at the time. It ultimately helped lead to the sale of a company named Sequoia, which Smartmatic once owned.

Some of the material his CNN show intelligently covered in the mid-aughts informed some of my own exclusive investigative reporting at The BRAD BLOG from 2008 to 2010 detailing, among other things, Dominion Voting Systems purchase of Sequoia some years later. That deep-dive reporting from 2010, ten years on, was subsequently re-imagined and bastardized by Team Trump to become the basis for their irresponsible, inaccurate and evidence-free claims regarding Dominion and Smartmatic and Venezuela (and the late Hugo Chavez) having stolen the election from Trump. In turn, those false claims have now resulted in Dobbs' own demise at Fox, even though he's the one guy at the Republican misinformation outlet who should have known better. Perhaps he did, but as a dyed-in-the-wool Trump sycophant, he didn't care. We cover the irony (and stupidity).

Speaking of stupidity, Donald Trump's Impeachment Trial defense attorneys filed their final pre-trial brief [PDF] on Monday, falsely claiming, once again, that the Trial itself is in violation of the Constitution (which it isn't, even according to well known conservative Republican Constitutional law experts) and that the former President was merely exercising his First Amendment free speech when instructing his MAGA Mob supporters to "fight like hell" the day they took him up on it and attacked the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths. We discuss how the Trump argument fails in advance of his second Impeachment Trial beginning on Tuesday, and the Democratic House Managers response [PDF] to it.

In not-unrelated news, Reuters is reporting that the Georgia Secretary of State's office has opened an official investigation into Trump's attempts to steal the election in the Peach State.

Then, in the wake of Trump's failed attempt to steal the Presidential election with unfounded claims of mass voter fraud, Republicans in state legislatures across the country are attempting to institute hundreds of new restrictions on voters and voting. But Democrats at the federal level have an antidote to that predictable new wave of attempted suppression by GOPers.

We're joined today by BRAD BLOG legal analyst, attorney ERNEST A. CANNING to discuss his recent, deep-dive analysis of the Democrats' H.R.1. bill, known as the "For the People Act". The massive, 800-page bill, provides a lot of long-overdue reforms for voting and fair elections; ending dominance of big money and dark money in politics; and re-enforcing disclosure and ethics reform for members of Congress. On the voting front, it improves access to the voting booth by creating automatic voter registration across the country; restores voting rights for former felons; expands early voting; simplifies voting by mail; restores the Voting Rights Act gutted by the US Supreme Court in 2013; blocks mass voter roll purges like those seen in recent years in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere; bars partisan gerrymandering by instituting independent Redistricting Commissions to draw Congressional District maps, instead of the partisan gerrymandered State Legislatures who currently draw them; and includes a call to enfranchise some 700,000 currently unrepresented residents who live in our nation's Capitol by making Washington D.C. the 51st state.

The critical measure also mandates --- sort of --- something that we have called for for a very long time: The option for all voters to vote on verifiable hand-marked paper ballots. Unfortunately, as Canning explains, this one point where the current text of the bill fails. While it mandates that voters must have the option to vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, it does not require that option be made available to voters at the polling place! That means that Election Officials can easily follow the letter of the bill's mandate by saying: "Sure! We offer the option for voters to use a hand-marked paper ballot, instead of 100% unverifiable touchscreens. Voters who wish to do that can simply vote by mail if that's what they prefer!"

That is decidedly not good enough, as we discuss, leaving a gaping loophole to help assure we have unverifiable elections in this country for decades. But is it that a serious enough flaw for Election Integrity advocates to oppose the entire measure, in lieu of amended language to that portion of the bill? And, either way, is it even possible for a bill like this to ever be adopted in a 50/50 U.S. Senate without ending the anti-democratic legislative filibuster once and for all?

Finally, on a sad note, another Republican Congressman, Ron Wright of Texas, has died "from health complications following his COVID-19 diagnosis two weeks ago. The passing of the second-term Congressman follows the death of Rep.-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana, who died from COVID just days before the start of the new Congress. And another long-time Republican member of the U.S. Senate, 86-year old Richard Shelby of Alabama, has announced his intention to retire when his term ends in 2022. He is the fourth incumbent Republican in the upper chamber to bow out rather than run for re-election in the next mid-terms...

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Landmark bill would enact long-overdue voting reforms, but needs at least one key rewrite to close a loophole regarding hand-marked paper ballots...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/5/2021 10:35am PT  

As their first official bills in each chamber of Congress --- H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate --- Democrats are proposing a remarkably ambitious election, campaign and ethics reform measure which would go a long way towards enhancing our system of democracy. At least one important rewrite is needed, however, in order to close a loophole in its mandate regarding hand-marked paper ballots.

H.R.1 or the For The People Act of 2021, was introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) with hundreds of Democratic co-sponsors on January 4. It is supported by both Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

With the exception of partisan gerrymandering as applied to State legislative offices --- which is out of the hands of federal lawmakers --- the bill would, for all intents and purposes, outlaw a wide array of voter suppression, intimidation and deceptive practices that have, for decades, been used to undermine American democracy.

The massive bill, clocking in at nearly 800 pages, also includes Congressional ethics reforms and other important measures, but we focus here on the statute's provisions to help outlaw suppressive measures and improve election security, transparency and the verifiability of results.

As presently written, the measure appears to mandate the use of "voter verified permanent paper ballots" in all federal elections. That aspect, however, must be improved with minor, but very important revisions to mandate the availability of hand-marked paper ballots --- the only type that can be known to be "voter verifiable" --- for all voters at the polling place for both early and Election Day voting.

H.R.1 also includes provisions for either hand-counting of paper ballots or the use of optical scanning computers accompanied by Risk Limiting Audits. It includes mechanisms to fund those post-election activities.

The bill provides for minimum periods during which States must make early voting available in federal elections and promotes, streamlines and secures mail-in voting. It tightens ethical standards and also takes a stab at reducing the role of dark money in campaigns, while prohibiting the presence of foreign money and interference in our elections. This includes a mandate that TV, radio and online platforms "make reasonable efforts to ensure that [election-related] communications...are not purchased by a foreign national".

The real question isn't whether H.R.1, if appropriately amended, should become law. The question is whether a sufficient number of Senators are willing and able to do what is necessary to ensure it becomes law...

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




'Poll Pad' systems made by KNOWiNK shut down, slow voting in several states; USPS ordered to sweep for undelivered ballots; Houston voters win again; World awaits election results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2020 6:01pm PT  

I've got to be quick about this today, as polls are now closing on the nightmarish hellscape that is Election Day 2020. But, on today's BradCast, we cover some of the reported problems voters had around the country on Tuesday, thanks to failed voting systems in battleground states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Happily --- perhaps due to so many voters having already voted during Early Voting or by-mail --- there were far fewer problem reports today than in recent Presidential elections. At least as of air time. Frequently, problems don't reveal themselves until later. But, for now, we focus on a few places where voting systems went down entirely, preventing voters from voting in those states.

In almost every case it was related to the failure of electronic pollbooks made by a company named KNOWiNK, which produce the devices called "Poll Pads". Those systems seem to be behind the countywide shutdown of voting for the first several hours of Election Day in Spalding County, GA and in Morgan County, GA. Despite months of warnings from voting systems experts --- and a federal court order --- and the systems failing during the state's June primaries --- Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger did not make sure that backup paper pollbooks were in place. That meant that voters in Spalding could not vote at all for hours on Election Day. In Morgan, election officials were a bit more prepared, it seems. They were able to keep the process going, even if lines were a bit longer than hoped.

Similarly, when the Poll Pads failed in Ohio's Franklin County (Columbus), officials had backup paper pollbooks on hand, as ordered by Ohio Sec. of State Frank LaRose.

Early reports, overall, were that voting went largely smoothly in Philadelphia, in the battleground state of Pennsylvania that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump consider to be critical for their respective hopes of a victory.

But down in Texas, which is now also a battleground state, problems with the e-pollbooks in Upshur County prevented precincts from opening for several hours on Tuesday morning. That could not only affect the Presidential race, but the contest against loony incumbent Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert by Democrat Hank Gilbert in the state's 1st Congressional District. He spent hours in court today, helping to extend polling hours to try and make up for the early morning vote system failure.

Also in Texas, overnight, the far-right 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower far-right lower court judge's ruling that dismissed a challenge to Harris County (Houston)'s ingenious drive-thru polling places, meant to help voters stay safe during the pandemic. The Republican plaintiffs in that case are hoping to reject more than 127,000 legal votes cast from cars in the state's largest county, a Democratic stronghold in the previously very "red" state.

MANY more details on ALL of the above and more on today's show, which closes with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report on the record-setting Hurricane Eta, now smashing into Nicaragua and possibly headed our way, and the stakes for humanity and the planet itself in today's Presidential Election....as the world anxiously watches and waits along with us...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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