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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, August 5, 2021
Establishment v. Progressives in OH Special and 'Death by DeSantis': 'BradCast' 8/4/21
Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on all of that, plus infrastructure; Also: We found a Repub Guv who seems to regret killing people!...
NY's Going Through Some Things...and Other Dark News: 'BradCast' 8/3/21
NY AG details Cuomo harassment; NYC to require vax proof; COVID records, havoc in South -- unvax'd and influencers to blame; Also: Trump's new jihadi social network...
'Green News Report' 8/3/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure Week is happening!; Mudslide shuts I-70 indefinitely in CO; Washington county bans new fossil fuel infrastructure; PLUS: Massive new wildfires across the globe...
Previous GNRs: 7/29/21 - 7/27/21 - Archives...
4th Surge and Callers on Why They Finally Got Vax'd (Or Still Haven't): 'BradCast' 8/2/21
Also: Biden's landmark infrastructure agenda takes another step forward in the Senate...
CANNING: The Legal Case for Compulsory Vaccinations
...and for patent waivers for life-saving innoculation drugs...
Sunday 'No Vaccine for Stupid' Toons
For whatever ails you, it's Pdiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
'American Fascism' Rising (But Not YET Unavoidable!): 'BradCast' 7/30/21
Guest: Author Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden DoJ confirms IRS must give Trump tax docs to Congress...
Long Struggle for TX Voting Rights Laid Bare in U.S. House Hearing: 'BradCast' 7/29/21
Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' falls apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
'Green News Report' 7/29/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure bill inches forward in Senate; FL slammed by massive, toxic red tide; Extreme heat curbing nuclear plant reliability; PLUS: OR enacts historic clean energy legislation...
Previous GNRs: 7/27/21 - 7/22/21 - Archives...
GOP's AZ Election 'Audit' Coming Apart at the Seams: 'BradCast' 7/28/21
Guest: John 'Bamboo' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators reach agreement on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vax or tests for federal work force...
'A Cancer on Our Constitutional Republic': 'BradCast' 7/27/21
Harrowing testimony at first hearing of 1/6 Committee hearing; Also: More unvaccinated regrets, new CDC mask guidance as Delta variant rises...
'Green News Report' 7/27/21
London drowning; Middle East burning; Lake Powell's lowest level ever; PLUS: Study warns extreme heat will be much more frequent, costly...
L.A.s New 'Vote Centers' Make Recounts All But Impossible: 'BradCast' 7/26/21
Guest: Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: COVID deniers learn they were wrong...the hard way...
Sunday 'Gold Medal' Toons
PDiddie's latest, award-wanting collection of the week's best toons!...
Break Them Up! AntiTrust To the Rescue: 'BradCast' 7/23/21
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author/journalist Cory Doctorow...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
Catastrophic flooding in China; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Author, analyst, researcher Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed his DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden's DoJ confirms law requires IRS to turn Trump tax docs over to Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today's BradCast should serve as yet another wake up call for those of us who may need one. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, Washington Post revealed on Friday that Donald Trump, late last year, attempted to order his acting Attorney General to declare that the 2020 election was "corrupt". To his credit, the acting AG refused to, since there was no evidence of systemic fraud that might have reversed Trump's painful loss to Joe Biden. And, to the credit of the acting AG's staff, all of this was documented in real time with contemporaneous hand-written notes --- from that call and similar ones that reportedly took place on a near daily basis --- with the desperate loser President calling with fraudulent information from the Internet about "fraud". Those notes from the DoJ have now helpfully been handed over to Congress, so there will likely be more to come.

Of note, however, was Trump's response when he was told there was no evidence that would "change the outcome of the election." According to the hand-written notes of senior DoJ staff, Trump replied: "Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Congressmen."

It was enough, for Trump's dishonest purposes, for the DoJ to simply say the election was "corrupt", even though there was no such evidence to support such a claim. It was similar to how, as we learned during his first impeachment, he wanted the President of Ukraine to say they were investigating Joe Biden and his family for corruption, even though they actually weren't. This is how a liar and a con-man and, yes, how a wannabe autocrat works.

But where Trump's pathetic attempt to stay in power failed last time, that may not be the case in the near future, as many respected voices are now warning. Fox "News" may say the Left is a bunch of autocrats and fascists, but that's only because they hope you won't notice that the Republican Right actually is, and becoming more so by the day. Many respected scholars and pundits from both the Left and the not-insane Right, such as David Frum and Steve Schmidt, are trying to warn about exactly that in advance of the 2022 mid-terms. Schmidt, John McCain's former Campaign Manager, asserted in a Twitter thread this past week, for example, that Trump will be the GOP nominee in 2024, adding that "the Pro-Democracy coalition is sleep walking into the ‘22 election and the stakes couldn’t be higher."

U.S. Naval Academy and Air Force Institute of Technology graduate BRYNN TANNEHILL, who served as a longtime naval aviator, with deployments to the Adriatic, Middle East and North Atlantic, says today that she shares a number of Schmidt's concerns. Her recently published book, hoping to call attention to the unprecedented perils the nation is now facing, is called American Fascism: How the GOP is Subverting Democracy. She joins us on today's show for a chilling, if insightful conversation.

As an investigator of shoot-downs in the military, she explains that she decided to approach this topic not unlike the NTSB might investigate a crash scene, examining every single potential factor that could have played a role in the disaster. "My book traces back some of the roots of the modern Republican Party all the way back to slavery and the Civil War," she explains, "to kind of give an historical sense of where this came from. [It] looks holistically at a lot of the different factors, including the media, loss of faith in science, how white evangelicals are different, how the system has been manipulated, the role of wealth inequality," examining "like an NTSB investigation, as many of the driving factors behind where we are today as possible."

But her clarion warning of where we now are is as chilling as her comparison of the Trump-incited failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th with Hitler and the Nazi's failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. "What Republicans can take away from [Jan. 6] is that even when there is a naked attempt at a coup, it costs them nothing. If they attempt to steal democracy by simply overturning an election, there's going to be even less consequences. That's our lesson."

Her book documents (and explains) what she describes as the rise of "competitive autocracy" in the U.S. or "managed democracy" as Russian President Vladimir Putin refers to it. "It's a type of government that has emerged since the end of the Cold War. Essentially, you have a democracy, or something close to a democracy, and then one party wins an election and then changes the rules, such that the incumbent party can essentially never be removed from power.  There are still elections. They are still very often 'free' in the sense that anybody can vote, and there's not just one person on the ballot. But the election through various means has been rigged such that the playing field has been so tilted that you can't remove the incumbent party from power."

We are seeing exactly that, as GOP-controlled states are changing the rules of elections right now, not only to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to vote next year and in 2024, but to allow them to replace election officials with partisans who can reverse election results no matter how the electorate actually votes. (See, for example, my conversation last week with now-former Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections member and longtime voting rights champion Helen Butler who was just removed from her seat on the Board by the partisan County Board of Supervisors after 10 years, following the approval of the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp.)

Citing similar democracies-turned-autocracies, she points to Russia, Hungary, Poland and others countries, noting that once a nation has headed down the path we are now on, historically, none of have been able to reverse course. "Hungary is absolutely a fascist movement," Tannehill points out, following the 2010 election of Victor Orbán, "and they have absolutely ended democracy there. That's a real danger, in the sense that we have a party that regards democracy as a hindrance to their goals, and their goals of establishing a particular kind of country is more important than the democracy itself."

So does the U.S. stand a chance of turning the tide? "The problem is the system is broken," she argues. "it is so easy to thwart solutions, via Congress, the Presidency, the courts, that it's really unlikely that a lot of the necessary solutions could ever happen.  For example, Senators representing only 19% of the American population can block virtually any legislation that they want to in the Senate."

"To an extent," Tannehill tells me today, the Founders, who thought their system of democracy would prevent a wholly unqualified person from being able to become President, "never dreamed that their vision for a country would be so corrupted that you would have legislators who would overturn elections based off of lies. They also never dreamed that the parties would become so powerful that they would pick the electors for the Electoral College.  The Electoral College was meant to prevent people like Trump."

There is much more to today's conversation, including a bit of hope. No, all is not necessarily lost, as grim as all of this sounds. But unless folks begin to appreciate the dangers of this moment in history, things could get very much worse --- and soon --- before they get better...if they ever do.

Finally, following that dark (if enlightening) conversation, some slightly more encouraging news. After Trump's DoJ spent years ignoring the plain text of the rule of law --- as authoritarian administrations do --- in refusing to enforce the federal statute requiring the IRS to share Trump's tax returns with Congress, Biden's DoJ has reversed course. In a memo issued today by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the Department has declared that, in fact, the Treasury Dept. must turn over those long-sought documents to the House Ways and Means Committee after their lawful requests beginning in 2019. Better late than never anyway. And it's nice to see an Administration with some apparent actual respect for law and order once again.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: John 'Bamboo Ballots' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators say agreement reached on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vaccination or weekly tests for federal work force...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2021 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just when you think the joke of a post-election "audit" in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona couldn't get more absurd...it does, as the official GOP Senate Liaison for the Cyber Ninjas' super-secret, partially taxpayer-funded tally of last year's election results gets locked out of the building, threatens to quit, and now may be reinstated. Our very colorful guest today --- who much of America may now recognize --- has been inside the "audit" in Phoenix since it began in April, working side-by-side with that Liaison. He tries to help us make sense of what's really going on right now...if that's even possible. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, some quick news out of D.C., where a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators on Wednesday reached an agreement with each other and the White House for a $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure deal, that includes some $550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges and broadband Internet. If adopted, according to AP today, it would be one of "the most significant long-term investments in nearly a century, on par with building the transcontinental railroad or the Interstate highway system."

If it's adopted along with a much larger, $3.5 trillion Democrats-only package --- including "human" infrastructure such as a broad expansion of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, child care, parental leave, the electric grid, an electric vehicle charging network and other long overdue climate-related projects --- it would be a landmark victory for President Biden and on par, according to experts, with FDR's New Deal.

Also today, the Administration will reportedly formally announce on Thursday that all civilian federal workers must either be vaccinated against COVID or be forced to submit to regular testing. The announcement comes as the Delta variant continues to spike across the nation, requiring new masking recommendations from the CDC in indoor public spaces and all K-12 public schools this fall.

Then, it's on to our guest, friend and longtime election integrity and transparency advocate, JOHN BRAKEY, Director of the Arizona-based AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us earlier this year, as the "audit" theater clown show in Maricopa County was just getting underway, after the GOP state Senate forced the County (against the wishes of its Republican-majority Board of Supervisors) to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in the Presidential election last year, along with the County's brand-new Dominion Voting Systems equipment that tallied the hand-marked paper ballots. That, so that private contractors hired by the Senate could look into an array of evidence-free conspiracy theories charging the election was stolen from Donald Trump in the state.

Brakey, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, quickly found himself serving as the right-hand man to Arizona's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett, who had been tapped by the state Senate to serve as its Liaison and spokesperson for the hand-count and forensic audit they hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida company, to carry out, despite the contractor and their CEO, Doug Logan, having zero experience with elections, voting systems or any kind of auditing. Logan is a hard-right Republican and, before being hired by AZ, had advanced ridiculously false and evidence-free conspiracy theories on social media about the election being stolen from Trump.

For his part, Brakey joined us on the show back in April, as the "audit" (AZ's current Democratic Sec. of State describes it as a "fraudit") got underway, to offer insight into what was going on inside the Coliseum, as most of the media were locked out entirely from what would normally be a fully public process. And though, at the time, he discussed the Ninja's laughable theory that they could prove tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots were stuffed into boxes in favor of Joe Biden by examining them for signs of bamboo fibers from China, most of the nation probably first learned of Brakey when his comments about the Ninja's examining ballots for bamboo was taken out of context by a local CBS reporter and echoed all over the national media. (The reporter, CBS-Phoenix' Dennis Welch, shamefully failed to include Brakey's comments that he didn't believe any of the bamboo nonsense, when he originally released the video of Brakey discussing it.)

But, the "audit" originally set to take three or four weeks, has now taken three or months and is still underway. Late last week, however, the GOP Senate's Liaison Bennett, was summarily locked out of the building by either the Ninjas or Senate President Karen Fann, after, they claim, he shared partial results of what is now a third county-wide tally of ballots. This third count --- of ballots only, as opposed to the votes on them --- is supposed to be completely independent from the Ninjas' earlier tally, which appears to have been greatly flawed (no surprise) and reportedly fails to match the number of ballots originally reported by the County after last year's election.

Earlier today, the Arizona Republic reported that Bennett was resigning due to the conflict, and Brakey confirmed as much on today's show. However, shortly afterward, Brakey called to notify me that he had spoken to Bennett and that he and Fann met late today and struck a deal for Bennett to continue with his supposed oversight of the project. An announcement to that end should come within the next 36 hours, he tells me.

If all of that sounds like a mess, it's because it is. Brakey speaks to all of it on today's show, including being targeted as a right-winger (which he decidedly is not) and for inappropriate national ridicule after that out-of-context "bamboo" video.

He also speaks today to...

  • My concerns expressed to him the last time he was on, about the absurd lack of public oversight in the Ninja's "audit", which is supposedly predicated on the need for "transparency"(!) after Trump and his supporters circulated false, evidence-free claims about the state's certified results finding that Biden defeated Trump by 10,400 votes in the state;
  • Why Bennett was locked out from the "audit" last week, and whether he had actually tendered his resignation this week;
  • Why a third count of ballots (after the County's official count and the Ninja's subsequent hand-count) became necessary, and whether that new count is truly independent from the Ninjas'. (It isn't, as the Ninjas' own attorney, Brakey reports, is actually working on that third count!)
  • Whether recent reporting is true that the "audit" team is concerned because they now believe the data actually proves Biden won.
  • How rightwing huckster Jovan Pulitzer is "a complete con-man", spreading ridiculous claims about China having "hacked the election system through the thermostat" and that "65 countries [were] involved in hacking the United States, in 6 states [and] 600 counties."
  • Multiple recent false and misleading claims by Ninjas CEO Doug Logan (who Brakey refers to as Doug-anon Logan) suggesting fraud, as subsequently echoed, expanded upon and further falsified by Trump this past weekend at a rally in Phoenix, where Trump falsely claimed the Maricopa County election database was found to have been completely deleted (it wasn't); that 18,000 voters were purged from the rolls only after they voted in November (they didn't vote in November); that 74,000 mail-in ballots were falsely added to the total (they weren't); and that 168,000 ballots were printed on illegal paper, suggesting they were fraudulent (the paper was not illegal, and the ballots were not fraudulent. "None of it is illegal. It's crazy!," says Brakey. "This is what we put up with --- these authoritarian-type leaders who talk like they know something, and these people are gullible. That's why I'm there, to help them understand!)

We also discuss --- and at times disagree on --- whether this entire exercise is helpful or harmful to the overall cause of legitimate election integrity and post-election audits, as disinformed GOP dupes have coughed up millions for a giant grift in Arizona, even as they call for similar (almost certainly fruitless) "audits" of the 2020 results in states across the country.

Buckle up for today's show! It's a doozy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Voting rights champion Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, after her GOP removal from Morgan County, GA's Board of Elections; Also: More tragic ends for COVID vaccine refusers; More evidence that AZ's election 'auditers' are clueless...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2021 6:49pm PT  

We've been reporting for months on the voter suppression laws being adopted by Republican-controlled states around the nation. But, in addition to disproportionately blocking minority groups from access to the ballot, we've also warned that many of these GOP state laws allow for the removal of qualified election officials, for virtually any reason, and replacement with partisans who may now undermine election laws and overturn election results. One of those longtime election officials who has just been removed in Georgia following the passage of the state's SB202 suppression law --- a woman who also happens to be a fierce, longtime voting and civil rights champ --- joins us on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, however, it's like the early days of the pandemic all over again in a number of very sad ways. Today, we have more sad news of misinformed, Trump-loving Republican COVID deniers and vaccine refusers who believed the pandemic was a hoax, and who are now tragically --- an unnecessarily --- being felled by the virus, despite the widespread availability of life-saving vaccines in the U.S. One doctor in Alabama wrote this week about sick patients begging for the vaccine, just before being intubated and told "it's too late."

Next, we add one important point to our detailed fact-check on yesterday's program in response to Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan's ridiculous (and uninformed) suggestions that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes may have been cast last year in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. His remarks were offered to a state GOP Senate panel last week, after the three month-long (and counting) "audit" theater his company was contracted to carry out of last year's election results, despite their lack of experience in elections or knowledge of voting systems. Those comments were then misinterpreted and amplified by the former President of the United States to falsely suggest the election in Arizona was stolen from him last November.

But there was one point from last week's forum that we didn't have time for yesterday. It included testimony claiming that Maricopa's computer voting and tabulation systems were wildly unsecure because their operating systems and anti-virus software hadn't been updated since the day Dominion Voting System's software was installed on the machines. It's true that those computers had not had security updates and patches applied since their first use in 2019. It's true that that is a "tremendous vulnerability" for those systems, as claimed at the forum. And it's also true that there is a very good reason why the software has not been updated since then --- which, had the AZ GOP Senate hired people who actually knew anything about voting systems, they would already have understood. We explain.

The story underscores the value of election officials --- and election auditors --- who are actually experienced and qualified for the job. Unfortunately, since Donald Trump launched his evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen from him, Republicans have been adopting laws in several states making it easier to remove experienced election officials and replace them with partisan patsies.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the great state of Georgia, where the GOP-controlled state legislature recently adopted SB202 in order to prevent certain voters from easy access to the ballot. That law, and others being adopted locally around the state, have resulted, according to the New York Times last month, in "members of at least 10 county election boards [who] have been removed, had their position eliminated or are likely to be kicked off...they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."

HELEN BUTLER was one of them. She is one of the state's most prominent advocates for voting rights and the award-winning Executive Director of The Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, founded by the late civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr.) She is also a ten-year veteran of the bipartisan Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections in the Republican-leaning rural enclave east of Atlanta. Or, at least, she used to be. After approval by the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, Butler and the rest of the Board Members were replaced at the end of last month. The Board Members will all now be selected by the partisan County Commission, instead of built from members selected by local political parties.

On today's show, Butler, who testified on voting rights at a U.S. Senate Rules Committee field hearing this week in the state, explains the reason the Commission voted to remove the Board, claiming that it was "dysfunctional", but never explaining what that meant. "We were never brought up for any Secretary of State's violations as long as I was a member of the Board," she explains. In short, Butler suggests, she was removed because the Board hired a diverse group of pollworkers and worked hard to make sure everyone, of all parties in the County, could vote and that their votes were counted as cast.

SB202, among other things, now makes it harder to vote by mail, bans absentee drop boxes, and blocks the distribution of food or water on long voting lines. Eight different lawsuits, including those filed by The People's Agenda and the U.S. Dept. of Justice (as well as the Coalition for Good Governance, for which, FULL DISCLOSURE, I am serving as a named plaintiff representing media) have now been filed in hopes of blocking the law for a host of reasons, including the disproportionate difficulties that will now be faced by minority voters. Butler describes SB202 as a "voter suppression takeover".

But the ability to remove and replace long-serving, qualified election officials with partisan appointees who can refuse to certify elections is certainly among the most chilling aspects of the law, Butler warns. She argues that, had these new laws been in place last year, Trump's attempt to "find" enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden in the Peach State --- as we all heard in his recorded (possibly illegal) telephone call with Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger --- would have been easy.

Our broad conversation, on a lot of these issues, also includes her thoughts on the ongoing investigation by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney into Trump's attempt to overturn the election. Butler also offers her plea for federal legislation, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to help overcome the state-based attacks on voting.

The delightfully optimistic Butler then ends our discussion with an ominous warning: "This is our darkest hour," she tells me. "This is our Selma moment, and we must act.  This is not just for black people or people of color. It's for all of us, for all Americans to have equal access to the ballot. Democracy is at stake here.  So people have to understand it's not about black people voting, this is about democracy. This is the moment. We really need to be paying attention and act to get the right people elected that will preserve democracy for America."

Please tune in for today's important show...

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Also: New analysis finds fewer than 200 POTENTIAL cases of voter fraud in AZ last year...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2021 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not only Trumpers who are wildly misinformed when it comes to the COVID vaccines. Callers ring in today (many who claim they are not Trumpers) to explain their reasons...as deadly and misinformed as they may be. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up, however, as the clown show "audit" theater by the Cyber Ninjas continues into its third month in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, Associated Press has published their own analysis of voter fraud in the state last November, as based on actual evidence. Through public records requests filed in each of AZ's 15 counties, the news organization has found there is evidence for fewer than 200 potential cases of voter fraud last year out of more than 3 million votes cast. That's a very far cry from the "massive voter fraud" our disgraced former President has claimed was carried out to give Joe Biden his 10,400 vote victory in the state. The evidence comes via both Democratic and Republican County and State officials, including investigations currently under way by Arizona's Republican state Attorney General. To date, indictments have been filed in just four (4) cases. Two of those cases involve Democrats, two involve Republican voters. Most of the known cases are unlikely to result in charges, as many of them could be book-keeping errors or innocent mistakes by voters who attempted to vote twice (once by mail and once in person, or even in two different states) for perfectly understandable reasons we discuss on today's show.

Then, as the Delta variant of the coronavirus tears through largely unvaccinated pockets of the country, COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates are on the rise again in the U.S. While the vast majority of those who become severely ill and/or die are unvaccinated (more than 95%), the threat of new variants which may not respond as well to existing vaccines looms --- as mask mandates are being restored in some places and as the nation's economy is once again under threat.

We recently covered heart-breaking stories of deadly --- because they were completely unnecessary and avoidable --- spikes in Trump-supporting states like Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. Today, Arkansas is taking the lead in new cases for no good reason other than usually misinformed, unvaccinated residents in the rural areas of the state. The New York Times, over the weekend, ran a devastating report out of the state, detailing the surge in severely ill patients and hospitalizations --- almost all of them unvaccinated and many of them now MUCH younger than during previous COVID surges.

But, it's not only in Trump Country. Even here in Los Angeles County, there are many among the vaccine hesitant. Over the weekend, L.A. chose to reinstate its indoor mask mandate as rates, even here, are beginning to increase again.

We wondered why this is, and what sort of information people are receiving that would lead them to avoid the live-saving vaccines, so we opened up the phones to exactly that today. The reasons, apparently, are many and varied. Some are certain that Big Pharma is pulling a hoax on all of us. (Though one caller cited information from "the inventor of the mRNA vaccines," Robert Malone, who, as it turns out, isn't the inventor at all, despite his claim. One wonders why anybody would therefore take his advice --- that the mRNA vaccines are dangerous --- seriously.) Others cite racial elements, buttressed by the tragic Tuskegee Experiment. But, as one caller notes, the tragedy of that study occurred because black men were not given life saving medicine as part of the study.

At least one caller believes evolution should be allowed to run its course, no matter how many tens or hundreds of millions are likely to die on the long and deadly road to "herd immunity".

In any event, it was an interesting hour (we hope) that may shed some light on the mess we are now in, as the nation --- with plenty of life-saving vaccine for all --- could, nonetheless, soon find itself locked down all over again due to massive misinformation that continues to pollute the body politic...

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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...

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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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Guest: Dr. Brian Hughes of American University's PERIL; Also: Criminal charges soon for Trump Org?; DoJ sues GA for vote suppression; More on climate change effects on collapsed FL high-rise...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2021 6:30pm PT  

As usual in this country, we're dealing with the crisis all wrong. Violent domestic extremism --- domestic terrorism --- has become a public-health issue in this country, according to our guest today on The BradCast. If we treat it as such, it may not become the security problem that we're currently treating it as. We're good at law enforcement and security issues in this country. Public-health issues? Not so much. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few breaking news stories of note...

  • Several news outlets this afternoon are confirming that Donald Trump's family business could face criminal charges as soon as next week. Not Trump himself --- yet --- or his family members or other employees, but the Trump Organization itself. New York Times was first to report that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance could file criminal indictments next week against the Trump Organization, based on fringe benefits given to employees, such as expensive apartments, cars and school tuition for employee family members on which taxes were not properly paid. The Trump Org's CFO Allen Weisselberg and possibly his son, who also work for the company, seem to be targeted here. Both Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James have been investigating whether the disgraced former President committed bank and tax fraud and whether he committed campaign finance felonies with hush-money payments to two different women before the 2016 election. It's believed that prosecutors are hoping that the company's longtime financial chief, Weisselberg, will flip against his boss. These charges are likely part of that effort.
  • Also today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia over it's expansive new voter-suppression law, SB202. Seven non-profit voting and civil rights organizations have filed separate complaints (including one, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, in which I am a named plaintiff). But the big guns of a federal lawsuit by the DOJ suggest that the Biden Administration is taking seriously the spate of new laws being adopted by GOP-controlled legislatures around the country aimed at making it harder for Americans --- specifically, minorities --- to vote. Comments from Garland and his deputies in the Voting Rights Division today, when announcing the legal action, suggest there may be more such suits against other states coming soon as well.
  • Finally, before we get to our guest today, some additional information on a question we posed yesterday, as to whether rising seas due to human-caused climate change may have played a part in the tragic, deadly collapse of a 12-story high-rise condominium in Surfside, Florida near Miami Beach on Thursday. A number of experts have hinted at the possibility over the past 24 hours since our last show. One is a professor at the Florida International University’s Institute of Environment, speaking to CNN, citing the building's subsidence rate (how much it is sinking into the ground) during a study in the 1990s. And NBC News spoke to a number of experts who cited the towns along the sandy, reclaimed wetlands barrier island on which Miami Beach and Surfside stand --- an island which, we now understand, actually migrates and moves along with rising sea levels. One geologist quoted suggests that the necessity of a coastal retreat from barrier islands --- where currently $3 trillion worth of property is now located in the U.S. --- may soon be upon us. "It’s a tough conversation to have, but the building shouldn’t have been there --- along with a lot of other buildings," he says. "We’re due for a real awakening."

Next, it's on to the rise in violent domestic extremism, particularly fostered by White Supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency and the deadly, Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. After Republicans reneged on a deal with House Democrats to form an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the 1/6 attack, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week announced plans to create a House Select Committee to get to the root cause of what happened and why. During a House hearing this week, the nation's highest ranking military leader, Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered an impassioned response to criticism of interest in Critical Race Theory among military leadership, and the causes of "white rage", in which he spoke to the importance of learning "what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America."

Our guest today, DR. BRIAN HUGHES of American University's Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL), suggests Pelosi and Milley and "the Biden Administration's proposal for how to tackle domestic terrorism and extremism points in the right direction." Hughes' colleague, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, also of PERIL, recently penned an op-ed at The Atlantic arguing that far-right domestic extremism has now spread into the mainstream, and must be dealt with as more than simply a security and law-enforcement issue. It is no longer a matter of tracking specific organizations, but now a matter of radicalization by individuals "who are influenced by ideas online rather than by plots hatched by group leaders in secret gatherings," Miller-Idriss posits. It is now a public-health issue, she argues, and must be dealt with by a whole-of-society approach.

"We, as a society, are incredibly militarized, we're incredibly securitized, and so the solutions that we reach to, when we have a problem, are almost inevitably securitized or militarized and  contain some element of that securitization," Hughes explains today. "Our approach to extremism and terrorism is no different.  Certainly law enforcement and intelligence have a very important role to play here.  But it can never be more than a band-aid solution. As we see now, there aren't enough band-aids in the world to deal with the violence that this country is facing.  We really have to go deeper to the root causes of these issues."

Hughes cites the Biden Administration's proposal to incorporate the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Dept. of Education into their initiative to take on violent extremism as "really, really critical. But even more critical is allocating resources to local communities.  The more locally we can distribute the necessary training, the necessary education, and the necessary funding to address radicalization before it even starts, the fewer of those security, and law enforcement, and militarized solutions that we're going to have to come up with in the future."

As we delve into details, we discuss ways that state and local communities must take on the issue as well. (The "seven minutes of reading to improve understanding of how radical ideas spread online," which we discuss as having helped some 750 parents and caregivers in a recent study by PERIL and the Southern Poverty Law Center is posted here.) We also discuss the paradox of how coming to a collective understanding of the effects of systemic racism in the U.S., as well as actions taken by social media companies to help curb the effectiveness of propaganda and far-right radicalism, can also serve to increase the "white rage" that new policies and new ways of facing this as a public-health issue are meant to counteract.

Hughes also shares his experience in working with former extremists and the "deep, deep sense of shame" and "horror" they ultimately experience after they come to terms with having been radicalized. "It just tears families apart. It absolutely ruins relationships as surely as drugs and alcohol do. This isn't just a matter of a person becoming a jerk. This is a question of a person blowing up their own life and the lives of the people around them." All of which is just part of the reason why we must rethink our approach to the problem as one of public-health.

As Hughes concedes, none of this is "going to change overnight," but there are ways that we can start taking action right now, particularly at the local level, where he urges people to get involved with their local school systems on this matter in order to prevent the radicalization long before it begins. "Request this kind of education, request these kinds of materials. Education happens at the local level in the United States, so it's really on all of us to improve things in our local communities."

I hope you'll tune in for this fascinating and insightful conversation...

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Condo collapse in FL; Dems hopeful, cautious on bipartisan infrastructure 'deal'; Pelosi's announces 1/6 committee; Giuliani's NY law license suspended; MI Repubs eviscerate 2020 'fraud' claims...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2021 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was one of those days. Again. Everything all at once. Again. We do our best to help you make sense of it all. Again. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories, many of them still breaking as we went to air, covered on today's program...

  • High-rise condominium building collapses in South Florida near Miami Beach. As of air-time, 1 person was announced as dead and 99 others currently unaccounted for, as rescuers continue to comb through the deadly rubble searching for survivors.
  • President Biden declared "we have a deal" on an infrastructure package. It's a $1.2 trillion bipartisan "compromise" deal in the U.S. Senate on his proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan. That proposal is one part of his infrastructure plan for things like roads, bridges, the electrical grid, and broadband Internet. The other part of his two-part proposal is the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which includes the "human infrastructure" part of the package, focused on childcare, education and healthcare. While Biden lauded the "compromise" struck among Republicans and conservative Democrats in the Senate, House Speaker Pelosi promised she would not bring up the compromise proposal for a vote in the House until the other part of the package --- the American Families Plan and, presumably, whatever is being left out of the "compromise" bill --- is passed with a simple majority vote in the Senate under Budget Reconciliation rules which allow lawmakers to avoid the anti-democratic Senate filibuster rule. "Make sure you understand this," the Speaker vowed during her presser today, "there ain't gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we are going to have the Reconciliation bill."
  • Pelosi, who has seen her fair share of Republicans reneging on deals at the last minute, also announced that she intends to create a House Committee to investigate the deadly, Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. That, after House Dems had struck a deal with Republicans earlier this year for a bi-partisan, evenly divided, independent Commission, only to see Republican leadership, after the deal was already struck, go on to vote against the bill in the House and kill it entirely with the filibuster in the Senate.
  • Speaking of the filibuster, which would need to be reformed if Democrats hope to pass their sweeping elections, voting rights and campaign finance reform bill known as the For the People Act through the Senate, three moderate Senate Democrats (Mark Kelley of Arizona, Michael Bennett of Colorado, and Catherine Cortez-Masto of NV) spoke to the need to do exactly that during a private conference call this week. The audio, obtained by the Colorado Newsline, reveals each moderate Dem discussing the need to reform the filibuster and suggesting that intra-caucus negotiations are well underway to try and figure out how to do exactly that.
  • In New York, an appeals court has accepted the recommendation of a state committee of attorneys to immediately suspend Rudy Giuliani's license to practice law, citing "uncontroverted evidence” that he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020." That conduct, the court agreed, "immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law." While the disgraced former U.S. Attorney and NYC Mayor will be allowed to argue against the suspension in an upcoming hearing, experts believe the action today, however, is likely to lead to permanent disbarment. "The seriousness of respondent's uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated," the court wrote [PDF]. "This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden." That, after Giuliani spent months on behalf of Trump, following the November election offering one false claim after another to one state legislative committee after another, pretending to cite evidence that the election was stolen from the disgraced former President.
  • Those unsubstantiated and false claims, at least in Michigan, were devastatingly rebutted and debunked on Wednesday, by a Republican state Senate committee on Wednesday. In their unsparing 35-page point-by-point report [PDF], the lawmakers absolutely eviscerate Giuliani's, Trump's, Sidney Powell's, Jovan Pulitizer's and all of the other GOP grifters and con-artist's evidence-free claims about "voter fraud" and theft by computer voting and tabulation systems. Every Republican on the state's Senate Oversight Committee signed on to the brutal report, compiled over the past eight months, and responding to each and every phony claim suggesting systematic fraud in the state. The Committee found no basis for any of the wild accusations and even calls for a legal investigation and potential prosecution by the state's Attorney General for "those who have been utilizing misleading and false information...to raise money or publicity for their own ends." Ouch.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with, well, not much good news today. The worsening drought in the West is now threatening drinking water; The Siberian Arctic(!) is facing a record heatwave, with temperatures topping out above 110 (in the Arctic!); A new report finds climate change is making heat waves hotter; And a whole bunch of other news that I don't have the heart to share with you here...

Enjoy!

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Guest: Coalition for Good Governance's Marilyn Marks on that and separate challenge to state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2021 7:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With virtually every new voter suppression law adopted by Republicans at the state level since last November's election (there have been about 24 such laws adopted so far, in some 14 states), Democrats and voting rights advocates have been quickly filing lawsuits in opposition. One of those suits --- filed in federal court [PDF] against Georgia's SB202, the one in which I am named as a Plaintiff --- is to have its first major hearing next week. That, as Democrats in the U.S. Senate frantically scramble to get the last Democratic holdout (Joe Manchin) to come on board for federal legislation to counter at least some of the most restrictive elements of the tidal wave of new GOP anti-voting laws at the state level. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While the Jim Crow-style voter suppression of the new restrictions being adopted in Republican-controlled states of late have received a fair amount of attention, the provisions in those measures that would allow GOP state legislatures to take over elections --- and even overturn legitimate results --- have received less attention. Over the weekend, the New York Times highlighted, for example, how in "Georgia, members of at least 10 county election boards...At least five are people of color and most are Democrats" have been removed from their posts in recent weeks, "and they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."

Georgia is not the only state where this is happening. Similar provisions, targeting election officials and even election results, have also been adopted or introduced in states like Kansas, Arkansas and the critical swing state of Florida. But in Georgia, they go even further to target and/or threaten the media itself for simply reporting on elections!

That's where I come in. I am the named plaintiff representing journalists in the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) lawsuit challenging Georgia's SB202 in federal court. An emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction [PDF] has now been filed in regard to the media-related aspects of CGG's complaint, in light of the state's impending local election runoffs scheduled for July 13th.

I'm joined once again today by longtime Election Integrity champion MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of CGG, to discuss why the Press Freedom aspects of her group's broad challenge to the GA law --- far broader than some of the other challenges focused more on the voter suppression aspects only, as filed by the NAACP, the Democratic Party, and Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight, etc. --- have been bumped to a top priority with her filing of an expedited Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

Among the little-reported-on Press Freedoms at stake in SB202, the new law includes a Gag Rule which criminalizes the public, party-appointed monitors and the press’ reporting of absentee mail ballot processing or tabulation problems; A ban on the press Estimating (yes, estimating!) the number of absentee ballots that have been processed during an election tabulation or how many are still to be processed; SB202 even criminalizes photographing voted ballots or the 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems that voters are now forced to use at all Georgia polling places, despite the state's century-long history of routine press photography and videography of election activities inside of polling places on Election Day. (Yes, the photo used above for today's show logo, or even seeing those voters voting, can now result in felony charges in GA!)

All of these, as Marks and I discuss, are extraordinary restrictions on basic Press Freedoms, and our ability --- my ability in this case, as the named plaintiff, representing media --- to report what is going on during Georgia elections to the public. The law actually turns simply seeing one of the state's huge new touchscreen voting systems, while it's being used on Election Day, into a felony. That would apply not only to media inside a polling place, but also to poll workers, poll watchers and even voters simply waiting in line to vote.

"We are asking the court to address some of these issues before that runoff election [on July 13] happens. We are going to ask the judge to rule in favor of the press," says Marks, hoping that some other media outlets may even submit their own Amicus Briefs to the court in support of CGG's lawsuit. "Other members of the press are quite concerned about the fact that traditional photography, that they have been taking for decades, is not going to be permitted in the mail ballot processing locations," she tells me.

"It is mind-blowing," she continues. "I wouldn't be able to tell you [if I saw something wrong while serving as an observer]. All of a sudden, your reporting is going to be silenced. You would not even know that I had anything to tell you. You would just assume that, unlike in times past, that everything is going fine in Georgia."

Marks also breaks a bit of news by explaining that the Republican National Committee has now moved to intercede in this case to help defend GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's position on the bill. Marks says Raffensperger "essentially insisted on these provisions. Although some of the media consider him to be some kind of a saint [because he declined to overturn the November 2020 election amid entreaties from Donald Trump to do so], this is his bill. His attorneys drafted it. He's the one that wants to crack down on any criticism coming from people like you and me, CNN, New York Times, or any other place."

"The RNC has asked to intervene in our case to protect the Secretary of State. However, interestingly, they have said they are not going to oppose us on the Observation Felony, the Gag Rule, the Estimating Ban, the Photography Ban --- so even the Republicans are not going to try to defend four of these five things that we're going after" in the Motion. A hearing is now set on that Motion for Thursday, July 1.

In addition to CGG's lawsuit challenging SB202, the group has another, separate, longstanding challenge to the state's use of 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. That suit was successful in convincing the federal judge hearing it to ban GA's 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems before last year's elections. Unfortunately, Raffensperger immediately replaced them with new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices made by Dominion Voting Systems, which Marks describes as as bad or worse than the previous systems. That case has just now entered its discovery phase and Marks is confident that the same federal judge is quite concerned that the new systems are as insecure, unverifiable --- and, thus, as unconstitutional --- as the old ones she previously banned. A ruling in that case could affect the use of such machines in dozens of states and counties around the country, including states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas and even here in Los Angeles County, where voters are now forced to vote on unverifiable touchscreen systems at polling places.

Lastly, Marks describes the exciting forum scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 22), co-sponsored by CGG and another one of our favorite non-partisan good-government watchdog groups, Free Speech for People (FSFP), on the dangers of Ballot Marking Device (BMDs) as used in Georgia and many of those other jurisdictions mentioned above. The forum, called "Today's Electronic Voting Machines: An Examination of the Use and Security of Ballot Marking Devices" is scheduled live and online from Noon to 5pm ET on Tuesday. It features a huge number of guests that have been featured over the years on 'The BradCast', including FSFP's Susan Greenhaulgh; Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo; notorious University of Michigan white-hat hacker, J. Alex Halderman; Research expert Kevin Skoglund; UC Berkley's Philip Stark, inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit protocol; the legendary Finish cyberseucrity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, and many others.

Much more info and the schedule is available here. You can RSVP to participate in the event right here.

Finally, Democrats are teeing up a test vote on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate for their sweeping election and campaign finance reform bill, the For the People Act, now that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has suggested he may be willing to support a compromise version with the 49 other Senate Democrats who have all already signed on to the original bill as co-sponsors. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked today about President Biden's expectations for that bill and its test vote today, and on the need to reform the filibuster even if Manchin deigns to come aboard. If he does, he would also have to be willing to make changes to the filibuster rule that mandates 60 Senators support such measures, in order to see passage, since no Republicans are expected to support it. But he is not the only Democrat who has opposed long-overdue changes to the filibuster. Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema has also vowed to protect the anti-democratic, Jim Crow-era Senate rule. And now she is being targeted with a huge ad buy for that position, to ratchet up the pressure, by a group of progressives who are running spots in her home state on cable news, as well as during local news and sports programming.

Yes, the fight to save American democracy continues on today's BradCast...because it seems kind of important...

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Guest: Windham, NH auditor, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC Berkeley...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2021 7:04pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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