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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, November 18, 2019
'Pardon Me' for These Sunday Toons
'PDiddie' testifies with his latest unimpeachable weekly toon collection!...
'Why Was it Necessary to Smear My Reputation?': Yovanovitch Testifies, Trump Attacks: 'BradCast' 11/15/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Stone guilty on all counts; Giuliani facing criminal probe...
Election Advocates Demand Decert of New E-Vote Systems That Failed in PA, GA:
'BradCast' 11/14/19
Guest: NEDC's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Deval jumps in; Bevin concedes; Trump loses (again)
'Green News Report' 11/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic fires in Australia; Arctic blast in U.S.; Thunberg sets sail back to Europe; PLUS: Trump EPA seeks to limit science used to write public health rules...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/19 - 11/7/19 - Archives...
New EPA Rule Guts Science, Public Health for Corporate Polluters: 'BradCast' 11/12/19
Guest: Union of Concerned Scientists' Andrew Rosenberg; Also: SCOTUS allows suit against gun-makers, but may kill DACA; Impeachment begins; Our 1000th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 11/12/19
OUR 1000th EPISODE! Looking back and forward at a thousand 'GNRs' with a few messages from some friends and the funniest snarky comment of all time!...
EVERYTHING Is Now Political (Even CA Wildfires!): 'BradCast' 11/11/19
Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the new touchscreen vote system disasters last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 election...
Sunday 'Leaves of Crass' Toons
All the fall colors are on display in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Religious Freedom in Opposite World: 'BradCast' 11/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ Frederick Clarkson on Christian Right's 'Project Blitz'...
'Green News Report' 11/7/19
11,000 scientists issue dire warning; Hottest Oct. ever; Trump EPA weakens water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu, Maui County sue Big Oil for climate damages...
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: Susan Greenhalgh of Nat'l Election Defense Coalition; Also: CA shooting; Deval jumps in; Bevin concedes; Trump loses (again); More...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2019 6:24pm PT  

With a brief break in the hot impeachment action, we're able to pick up on a couple of stories on today's BradCast that got buried yesterday, some breaking news from today, a continuing story that should have everyone's hair on fire right now (in advance of the 2020 elections!) and, sadly, the story that already has the planet on fire. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, some quick news on today's school shooting in Southern California, north of Los Angeles, where a 16-year old shot five students from 14 to 16-years of age. So far, two are reported dead and the shooter is said to be in grave condition from a self-inflicted wound from his .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

On Wednesday, Trump lost yet again in one of his many different lawsuits seeking to block the release of his taxes to Congress and state prosecutors. The latest defeat was the refusal yesterday by the full U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to rehear his lawsuit seeking to block the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee's subpoena of his accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking several years of his financial records. With that loss, the case will now almost certainly be going to the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court (on which two of Trump's appointees now sit). And in Trump's separate and so-far-similarly unsuccessful suit in federal court in New York, seeking to block the release of tax documents from Mazar's in the state's criminal probe involving Trump's hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom he was having affairs, his attorneys on Thursday officially filed their appeal with SCOTUS.

In elections news, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, a conservative Democrat, has announced his late entry into the race for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. And both Trump and Republicans are going all in to try and win the Gubernatorial runoff this Saturday in Louisiana, in hopes of avoiding another Kentucky-style embarrassment.

Last week, Trump went all in for KY Governor Matt Bevin, who reportedly came up a few more than 5,000 votes shy of defeating Democratic challenger Andy Beshear. Bevin refused to concede last week, however, requesting a recanvass that was carried out by the state today. The procedure --- essentially re-checking the same computer-reported numbers again --- resulted in few changed votes, unsurprisingly. So, Bevin finally announced his concession. But that came only after his election night claims of "well-corroborated" voter fraud, including thousands of illegally cast votes.

While his promise of evidence never materialized in the week since the election, Bevin recently changed his argument to focus on concerns about the state's electronic voting and tabulation systems. While there is scant evidence of problems on that score (all the other Republicans on the statewide ballot last week, other than the unpopular Bevin, won their races), his newly found concerns --- whether he actually means them or not --- regarding the difficulty of voters to oversee and have confidence in the accuracy of electronically-cast and tabulated results, should be taken to heart by voters of all parties. These concerns are real, and could have a devastating effect on next year's elections.

To that end, one need look no further than the many disasters we've been reporting on over the past two weeks that befell voters attempting to use brand-new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia last week. In the roll out of the new systems in those states, which many election integrity and cybsersecurity experts warned strongly against, many voters were unable to vote at all. Some faced hour-long wait times --- during sparsely attended, off-year municipal elections! --- followed by completely inaccurate results reported by the computers.

For example, some candidates reported receiving zero votes at some precincts in Northampton County, just outside of Philadelphia (which also used the same new systems last week for the first time, despite warnings from cybsersecurity experts, and had similar problems.) In a contest for County Judge in Northampton, a Democratic candidate for County Judge reportedly received just 164 votes out of more than 100 precincts reporting on Election Night. In fact, as a manual examination of computer-printed records revealed, he is believed to have received 26,142 votes instead.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know if even that number is correct on the County's new 100% unverifiable BMD systems, which are proliferating across the nation, including PA, the entire state of GA next year, and in counties in more than a dozen other states (including here in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest!) for 2020.

We're joined today by SUSAN GREENHALGH, a longtime Election Integrity champion who now serves as Vice President for Programs at the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC). Following last week's disasters, her group has called for the immediate decertification of the 100% unverifiable ES&S ExpressVote XL systems used last week for the first time in Northampton County and Philly. Greenhalgh explains why such systems, which use touchscreens to help voters use a computer to mark and print "paper ballot"" summaries, should never be used other than as an assistive device for disabled voter who may choose to use one to help cast their ballot.

"What's really concerning about these ballot-marking devices is that there's been a false equivalency created by the vendors," she tells me. "And I think it's been accepted my many people in the election official administration space, and in the election community at large, that there's a paper record there, so therefore the voting system is verifiable. The problem is that all evidence that we have so far to go on, indicates that that the paper record [from] the expensive touchscreen ballot-marking devices is not actually verified by the voter. And that's the critical point." The NEDC advocates hand-marked paper ballots.

After years of working with elections officials and elected officials across the country, Greenhalgh offers her thoughts as to why so many of them --- Republican and Democratic alike --- continue to ignore the continued warnings from election integrity and cybsersecurity experts who strongly urge against the use of such systems, while listening instead to private vendors, such as ES&S and Dominion (the nation's two largest) who stand to make hundreds of millions from the sale of their poorly designed, oft-failed, easily-hacked, and completely unverifiable touchscreen systems.

"I've heard it said that we need a system that the Devil himself could run and you could still trust the results. It needs to be transparent, and verifiable to the electorate. And that means something that is auditable, that the voter knows that the election results are correct and that the officials can prove it." Greenhalgh argues. "There's no room for 'just trust us' in this. We shouldn't have to trust the vendors. We shouldn't have to trust the election officials. We should all be able to see and verify with our own eyes, through observation and auditing, that the election is being conducted in a fair and accurate manner, and in a secure way. Anything less than that is unacceptable in a healthy democracy --- or one that aspires to be healthy."

Greenhalgh, who is as concerned about all of this before 2020 as I am, says, however, that there is still time for jurisdictions to dump their expensive, unverifiable touchscreen systems in favor of much cheaper, far more secure, and completely verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems. She also also explains why post-election audits of results cast on computer-marked ballot systems are worthless.

"Implementing hand-marked paper ballot systems, fortunately, can be done in very quick order," she says. "States have shown us they can do that, like Maryland and Virginia. So it's not too late to fix that. What we need is the will of the election officials to make it happen, and then it can be done."

Tune in for much more that you need to hear from this conversation!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our 1001st Green News Report, with disturbing news on the enormous and raging Australian bush fires, climate-change fueled frigid weather in much of the U.S., Greta Thunberg's solar-powered voyage back to Europe, and the Trump EPA's latest --- and deadly --- attack on science...

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

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Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the disastrous failures of new touchscreen vote systems last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 Presidential election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2019 6:01pm PT  

Yes, everything, even wildfires in California, are now political, as proven over the weekend when I tweeted out a non-political video I captured of a fire that broke out on a hillside in the San Fernando Valley, threatening the iconic Hollywood sign just on the other side of the hill. Callers ring in today --- as we were able to open the phones for the first time in weeks --- on a bunch of stories covered on today's BradCast.

Among those stories...

  • Trump loses yet again in court as a federal judge on Monday dismissed his lawsuit filed in D.C. hoping to, preemptively, prevent Congress from using New York state's newly adopted law which allows the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee to request copies of the tax returns of New York residents (read: Donald Trump's). It was just another loss in the long list of frivolous lawsuits brought by Trump to try and keep his tax returns from becoming public, for some reason;
  • Over the weekend Republicans submitted a list of requested witnesses for the upcoming public hearings in the Trump impeachment matter regarding his attempt to extort Ukraine by withholding military assistance in exchange for his demand that Ukraine announce an investigation into Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a conspiracy regarding Ukraine interference in the 2016 election. The House GOP's request list includes both Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who first brought the Ukraine matter to light. Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intelligence Committee holding the public hearings this week responded by saying that he will not allow the proceedings to be used to promote the already-debunked theories that Trump was attempting to force Ukraine to spread in his unlawful effort to strong-arm the nation's new President into helping Trump on his 2020 reelection campaign;
  • We review some of the remarkable comments I received over the weekend after I tweeted a completely non-political news video of a wildfire in Burbank which broke out while I was there. Did you know they were caused by socialist homeless pedophiles? Who knew? Trump fans on Twitter do, apparently!;
  • And, speaking of both fires in CA and the 2020 elections, I share the response I recently received from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office seeking comment about their contingency plans to deal with preemptive power outages should they occur during the general election next year at the same time as the ones California power companies imposed this year in hopes of not sparking wildfires during climate change-fueled hot, dry and windy conditions.

    Now that Los Angeles is moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks, such an outage could prove disastrous for voters on Election Day and during early voting next year. Unfortunately, while the Registrar's office here replied to my queries on this (tune in to hear their response), they failed to reply to follow up questions;

  • All of this is decidedly NOT an academic issues, given the disasters that occurred last week during Off-Year municipal elections in George and Pennsylvania, where, for the first time, counties in those states deployed brand-new touchscreen voting systems akin to the ones that Los Angeles will be forcing voters to use at voting centers next year, rather than hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (neither of which require electricity or the Internet).

    The results were catastrophic in many PA and GA polling places with some voters unable to vote at all, many forced had to wait up to an hour during the sparsely attended off-year election, and computer-reported results showing some candidates receiving 0 votes at several precincts, even though they'd received thousands. And, yes, a power outage prevented voters from voting at one precinct. All of this serves as a chilling preview of what could well await the nation in 2020 during the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history.

Finally, we then open the phone lines, at long last, on all of the above. And our listeners have a LOT to say about it all, including a few who believe global warming is a hoax, and that the President should NOT be impeached for either extortion or obstruction of justice. Fun! Tune in for all of that and much more on today's very lively BradCast!

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

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Guest: U. of KY Law Prof Joshua A. Douglas; Also: NY judge fines paper tiger Trump millions for fraudulent 'charitable' foundation, a few other breaking news items, and our 999th 'Green News Report'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a close look at the scheme that Kentucky's Republican Governor may now be trying to pull off in hopes of stealing last Tuesday's election from the apparent Democratic winner. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, paper tiger Donald Trump, after vowing he'd never settle the case by New York Attorney General against his fraudulent "charitable" organization called the Trump Foundation, agreed to settle today after all. A state judge fined the President of the United States $2 million after finding he misused the foundation, repeatedly and illegally, to further his own political and business interests. Trump admitted to the wrong doing detailed in the settlement.

Moreover, the remaining $1.7 million in the organization's bank account will be donated, along with the $2 million fine, to several different charities, including the United Negro College Fund and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Trump and his three children who sat on the Foundation's board will be restricted in their ability to sit on the boards of charitable organizations in the future. And while one might think that being forced by a court to pay up nearly $4 million after admitting to using a charitable foundation to rip people off would be grounds for impeachment, given the indescribably unending criminality of Donald Trump, it seems unlikely this matter will even come up in the U.S. House's ongoing impeachment proceedings against him.

To that end, House Dems have announced the schedule for the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry to kick off next Wednesday, featuring two of Trump's top State Department officials who will testify to his politically motivated extortion plot against Ukraine. One of those officials, Deputy Asst. Sec. of State George Kent, is said to have taken copious contemporaneous notes after becoming concerned that the White House's attempted quid pro quo was "injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S," according to a transcript of Kent's recent closed-door Congressional deposition made public on Thursday.

But, of course, we are still covering the ongoing fall-out from Tuesday's off-year elections, in which Dems flipped the Virginia House and Senate "blue" for the first time in decades, and as brand-new touchscreen voting machines deployed in Pennsylvania and in Georgia failed disastrously on their initial trial run before 2020.

Today, we focus on the potentially disturbing developments in Kentucky, where the state's unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is said to have lost by just over 5,000 votes (out of some 1.4 million cast) to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear on Tuesday. Since then, Bevin has refused to concede, citing "well-corroborated irregularities" including what he described on Wednesday as "'thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted," reports of voters being "incorrectly turned away" from the polls, and "a number of machines that didn't work properly." He has yet to offer actual details on those serious allegations, but has formally requested a "recanvass" of tallies. That, according to KY's Sec. of State, will be carried out next Thursday, in a state with a very recent history of serious election rigging --- at least by very powerful insiders.

However, while the Bluegrass State has rules to resolve contested elections with recounts, those statutes specifically do not apply to gubernatorial races, oddly enough. And that's where things get quite murky in the state. Contested gubernatorial races are settled by a vote of both Houses of the General Assembly. Both chambers in the state (which Trump won by some 30 points in 2016) are currently controlled by Republicans. The last time a gubernatorial contest occurred in the state --- in 1899 --- it ended with an assassination.

While a GOP scheme to steal the election from a Democrat this way seems ridiculously far-fetched at first glance, a number of normally quite conservative election law experts are taking the matter quite seriously, given Bevin's current playbook which, some of them suggest, mirrors that of his close pal Donald Trump and what he may do in 2020 if things don't go his way.

We're joined by one of the nation's top experts on all of this today, University of Kentucky College of Law's JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, to explain what happened on Tuesday; why Bevin's scheme and potential help from GOPers in the state legislature could augur very darkly for our democratic system; what all of this means for Mitch McConnell (the other similarly unpopular statewide Republican who just happens to be on the 2020 ballot); and what --- if Bevin turns out to be the same paper tiger that Trump is --- we should expect from the new Democratic Gov. Beshear's administration in an otherwise still very "red" southern state.

"There is danger," Douglas tells me today. "but it's not about irregularities. It's about the Governor's rhetoric and his allegations of 'voter fraud' and problems without any evidence whatsoever. I think that's really dangerous for our democracy, because it can undermine the public's confidence in our electoral system. I have not seen any evidence whatsoever that there were any problems in the way that Tuesday's elections were run. In fact, it was a fairly quiet Election Day [and] I usually hear about things that might be concerning. The danger here is really Gov. Bevin's allegations without any evidence, and Republican leaders' failure to call him out on that point."

"It's very concerning for what could happen in 2020 if Trump does not win re-election, and he also refuses to concede defeat by peddling theories of 'voter fraud' without any evidence," says Douglas.

Tune in for much more!

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the 999th edition of our Green News Report! And it's at least as disturbing as the previous 998. Next week: GNR1000! And thanks to those of you who make our nearly 11 years of climate coverage possible with your much-needed donations at BradBlog.com/Donate!

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

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Guest: VA Delegate Mark Levine on Dems' new, long-awaited 'trifecta'; Also: Brand new touchscreen voting systems failed in GA and PA, while Dems saw a number of big wins in VA and probably KY...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2019 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There was much for Democrats to be delighted about in Tuesday's off-year elections around the country, though plenty for them to be remain very concerned about, including the failure of brand new voting system in several key battleground states. (Not to mention new charges of election fraud filed against Republicans in Ohio.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

We pick up today where we left off on yesterday's program, regarding disturbing voting disasters in several states, as nearly two-decade old touchscreen voting systems failed in Indiana, including flipping votes for at least the fifth year in a row, while brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being deployed in Pennsylvania and Georgia failed fantastically in several counties. Some voters were left unable to vote at all or facing long lines --- even during otherwise sparsely attended off-year municipal elections! Some candidates were left off of the electronic ballots all together and others found themselves with reportedly ZERO votes recorded on the all-new, way-better-than-the-old unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) tested in both PA and GA before wide deployment for the critical 2020 Presidential election.

In GA, voters were unable to vote in 4 of 6 counties where the new $100 million Dominion Voting Systems ImageCast machines were test run in municipal elections, before they are deployed statewide to 7.5 million voters next year. The electronic pollbook systems that creates voter cards that must be inserted into the touchscreens weren't working properly on Election Day in those 4 counties, after they had worked fine during pre-election tests and early voting.

In the critical battleground state of PA, there were all kinds of problems with the new ES&S ExpressVote XL systems deployed for the first time to Northampton County (where the systems were said to be operating incredibly slowly and results were reported as 0 for some candidates, as later confirmed by the County) and in Philadelphia, where candidate names were missing and many of the machines reportedly refused to work at all. (But this will all be fine by 2020, right?)

As to actual reported results from key contests on Tuesday, we break down a disappointing, if not completely surprising gubernatorial loss for Dems in Mississippi, a big apparent win for Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear and the challenge to that still-unofficial victory by the state's unpopular Governor Matt Bevin, and then the unequivocal success for Dems in the great Commonwealth of Virginia. There, a blue wave resulted in new Democratic majorities in both the House of Delegates and state Senate. The long-awaited victories, along with a Democrat already in the Governor's mansion, mean that Dems will enjoy a "trifecta" in Virginia for the first time in nearly 25 years.

We're joined today by DELEGATE MARK LEVINE, representing Virginia's 45th District (including parts of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County) in the House of Delegates. Levine, who ran uncontested for his third term on Tuesday, credits Trump, almost entirely for the rise of the Democratic Party in the once deeply-red state. "I like to say the only good thing Donald Trump has ever done in his life is help us win state legislative seats," he says, describing the President as "the gift that keeps on giving". He "fed our fire," he argues, adding that he believes the ongoing impeachment proceedings helped, rather than hurt, turnout for Democrats in the Commonwealth just outside of Washington D.C

We also discuss the effect that recently court-ordered un-gerrymandered maps had on flipping the two General Assembly chambers from red to blue on Tuesday, as well as the role the state's recent switch from hackable and unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots may have had, and whether Democrats will continue to support a state constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission now that they will be in control of both the Assembly and the Governor's mansion after the 2020 Census.

Levine, the longtime progressive radio host of "The Inside Scoop from Washington", breaks down a litany of long overdue policy agendas Democrats plan to undertake with their newly won majorities, including becoming the final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (though legal battles await after their passage of the ERA).

"We're going to lead the way on gun safety laws. We're going to finally do something about climate change, which the Republicans have been fighting us on for decades. We're going to raise the minimum wage. We're going to do criminal justice reform. We're going to have non-discrimination for LGBT Virginians. We're going to improve education and teacher salaries, and workers' rights, consumers' rights, lower the cost of health care --- I'm really just getting started," he says, before explaining that "Democrats are unanimous" when it comes to expanding voting rights as well, including making it easier to vote with early voting, same-day registration and more.

"We're going to get past the Joe Biden wing of the party and into the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party," he vows. "Maybe some things on the further-most progressive edge, we might not have the votes for. But we're going to do a lot to change Virginia in a very blue direction"...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Donald Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; And what YOU must now do about all of it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's Election Day today, and not going well in several states. But it's also Election Day one year from today, for President, and we've got some very timely advice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Voter are voting, or trying to, in dozens of states around the country today. And, like clockwork, voting systems --- particularly newly installed touchscreen and electronic pollbook systems --- are failing and causing long voting times in a number of states (like New York, Virginia, and Indiana --- where "about 30% of the 93 precincts in St. Joseph County" had touchscreen problems, according to its County Clerk), even in sparsely attended off-year elections. We'll have more such problems as they come to light, undoubtedly, along with noteworthy results of Tuesday's elections across the nation, on tomorrow's BradCast.

But, while we're waiting, as we are now exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, there is every reason to imagine (foolishly, we'll add here) that Donald Trump will be wiped out in a landslide next year. All things being equal, on a level playing field and sane world, he would be. But we live in neither these days. Even setting aside his ongoing impeachment, his last week has been an embarrassment of failures.

  • His withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement has now resulted in Iran installing at least 60 new, modern, high-speed centrifuges to enrich uranium, which had been previously banned under the pact --- until Trump broke it.
  • An analysis of U.S. troops now both coming and going in Syria following Trump's sudden declaration that the U.S. was pulling out of the warn torn nation and his subsequent announcement that he was sending troops in to defend oil field left abandoned by our fleeing Kurdish allies, means that when all is said and done, the U.S. will have 900 troops in the country. That, versus the 1,000 that were there previously. And with all of that, "the United States has deserted its pivotal Kurdish ally; ceded territory the Kurds had controlled to Syria, Turkey and Russia; and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence" as hundreds of ISIS prisoners were able to escape in the Trump-created confusion.
  • At the same time, back home, we've learned that Trump's "impenetrable" border wall, built with $10 billion in tax-payer dollars (not Mexican pesos), is anything but impenetrable, as smugglers are said to be breaching it with a simple power tool available for under $100 at Home Depot.
  • And while he hasn't cancelled Native American Heritage Month, as some on the Internet were reporting on Monday, he has declared November, awkwardly, for the first time, to also be National American History and Founders Month, a pet White Powery swamp project of one of his top campaign funders.

With all of that failure and ineptitude and embarrassment and corruption --- from just the past several days alone --- you'd think this guy would be heading toward a blow-out landslide loss next year to whichever candidate or ham sandwich Democratic voters nominate to run against him in 2020. Indeed, Washington Post and ABC News today published new polling showing that, among currently registered voters, all five leading Democratic candidates (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Harris) crush Trump in head-to-head national match-ups next year by anywhere from 17 to 9 points. While that could ultimately turn out to be true, that polling --- and a lot of similar surveys you will hear over the next year --- are of NATIONAL polling. We do not run national elections in this country. We run state-by-state electoral college elections for President.

And, on that score, the New York Times has a much more sobering --- and even chilling --- preview of where they find that things currently stand in the six battleground states (MI, PA, WI, FL, AZ and NC) that were said to have decided the election in Trump's favor in 2016. In those states, Trump is currently believed to be even with or defeating the top Democrats, according to the new polling, which may be either right or wrong.

There are many caveats on that poll as well. Either way, it should serve as a very loud, screaming, red flag, siren alarm bell for those who believe Trump couldn't possibly win re-election next year. Given the more-art-than-science nature of such polling and our incredible fragile and vulnerable electoral systems, he absolutely could win the election again next year (just as we warned, to little avail or notice, in 2016.) Thus, NOW is a great time to take action: What are YOU going to do next year to help voters vote? We discuss and offer a few ideas. It's time to take action.

Finally, speaking of still more Trump failures, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the President's ridiculous withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, yet another new oil spill on the Keystone Pipeline, and much more as we approach our 1000th episode of the GNR! (For which we humbly thank you for supporting through your donations at BradBlog.com/Donate! If you haven't done so lately, now would be a really great time to stop by with a one-time or recurring donation of any amount you like. Thank you!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs suppressing the 2020 student vote, Dems push-back in TX; Katie Hill's final floor speech...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Progressive 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finally releases her detailed proposal explaining how she plans to pay for "Medicare for All" with "not one penny in middle-class tax increases" and Democrats begin their push-back against a coordinated national GOP effort to curb surging turnout by young voters who, for some reason, tend to lean strongly Democratic when they are allowed to vote. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, we're joined by longtime health care reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Politico to break down the pay-fors and the politics of Warren's newly introduced details on how she hopes to fund her $52 trillion single-payer Medical for All plan without raising taxes on the middle class. Warren, in a 9,300-word Medium post on Friday, explained that "Medicare for All is about the same price as our current path --- and cheaper over time." The difference with our current path and her plan, she says, is that her plan covers everyone and even includes new benefits for dental, vision and long-term care, without spending more money than Americans pay overall right now for care that is twice as expensive as the rest of the developed world, but with worse outcomes.

Where fellow progressive Bernie Sanders has emphasized that middle class taxes would necessary increase under his version of Medicare for All while overall costs to Americans would be lower (thanks to no more monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.), and where more centrist 2020 Dems like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris have argued that it would be impossible to find the trillions needed for such universal single-payer plans, Warren laid out her proposal for covering everyone with better care, doctors of their choice, and no increases in taxes on the middle class. The burden as she describes will fall largely on corporations and the top 1% of taxpayers.

"It's interesting that there's been so much focus and pressure on her to produce a plan to pay for a plan that she didn't write --- it's Bernie's plan. But she has embraced it, and since she has made her personal brand being the woman with a plan for everything, it makes sense why she was pressed on this, and why she felt that she had to put something serious out there," Ollstein tells me.

Warren's plan, as Ollstein reports, even offers incentives for business to unionize in order to save money for both workers and companies, while companies are required to pay no more for health care than they already do. Effectively, argues Ollstein, Warren's expansive proposal is effectively "trying to flip the tables" back on her opponents to demonstrate how either she is wrong about her plan, or how their own plans might offer better coverage to all for less money.

Her Democratic competition, however, are not the only ones currently gunning for both her as she continues to rise in the polls, and the others seeking to improve our woeful health care system. "The medical providers have been mobilizing all year long, not just against Medicare For All but for all of the more incremental reforms, as well. They do not want to take a haircut on any of this. And this would be far more than a haircut. This would be a very deep cut."

The debate over Warren's extraordinary ambitious proposal, however, and those of other Democratic candidates, will continue for some time, even if one of them is elected. "What ends up getting actually debated and passed will not look like what we're talking about now," Ollstein predicts. "How close it looks like to what we're talking about will depend on who turns out to vote in 2020, and who sits in those seats in the House and Senate. Because, man, elections matter."

Yes, they do. And Republicans know it. And the GOP effort to prevent Warren or any other Dem who wants to improve health care for Americans from taking ofice is already well under way in a number of battleground states, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, where Republican lawmakers have been instituting particularly insidious measures to make it much harder for young voters, in particular, to cast a vote at all next year. We detail some of those anti-democratic and anti-Democratic measures today, along with some of the first of the push-back from Dems, who filed suit this week against a recently adopted Texas law that effectively shuts down voting all together on many college campuses. That, as voters in Texas and a number of other states, including Virginia, head to the polls for important elections this coming Tuesday.

In related breaking news as well today, Democratic 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas announced that he would be dropping out of the Presidential nominating contest.

Finally, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill of California offered her final U.S. House floor speech on Thursday, following the vote on rules for the process of impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Her remarks come after announcing her abrupt and surprise resignation last weekend in the wake of an ugly divorce battle, an ethics investigation regarding an affair with a staffer (which she denies), and nude photos of her being published by rightwing websites. She suggests those photos were given to her opponents by her "abusive" husband. In her fiery final floor remarks, Hill excoriates what she describes as a double-standard for women who are victimized by revenge porn, even as men who are credibly accused of sexual assault and violence, like the President of the United States (and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices) remain happily in office...

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Guest: Media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: Preemptive blackouts threaten CA elections; GOP tries denial as impeachment defense; Trump Campaign has bought 69,000 Facebook ads since May...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2019 6:24pm PT  

Right in the middle of today's BradCast, as we were discussing the very topic, Twitter announced that they would be blocking all political ads before 2020 from their massive social media site. As our guest today explains, however, Facebook, still refuses to even fact-check political ads purchased on their site, no matter how demonstrably false and misleading they are. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, as fires rage up and down the great state of California due to climate change-fueled winds, heat, tinderbox dry conditions and preemptive power blackouts by private, for-profit utility companies who failed to heed early warnings, it's become clear that elections in the Golden State are now also endangered. Exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, a number of large counties in the state, most notably here in Los Angeles (the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction) are moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems, rather than verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, and to e-pollbook systems at Voting Centers which rely on the Internet to establish voter eligibility before voting, rather than old school paper pollbooks.

Both new systems also require electricity for voters to be able to cast their votes at all. But what if power companies are forced, at this very same time next year, to once again preemptively shut down power to avoid the threat of utility line sparked wildfires? We have queried L.A.'s County Clerk and Registrar Recorder's office seeking information on what their backup plans are for such a situation, should it occur, next year. We'll let you know what, if anything, we hear back from Registrar Dean Logan or his office on an upcoming show.

Then, today's impeachment update includes a look at another one of the Republicans' latest attempts to find a way --- some way, any way! --- to defend Donald Trump's well-documented quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military assistance in hopes of forcing Ukraine's President to commit to a probe of Trump's 2020 political rival Joe Biden. After eviscerating, on yesterday's program, the disingenuous cries from GOPers in recent days that the inquiry was unfair to the President for lack of "due process," today we highlight several of the attempts by a number of Republicans to simply deny the entire matter even exists. From Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner's recent claim that the impeachment is little more than a "silly game" because the President "hasn't done anything wrong", to Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)'s refusal to answer even the simplest questions about Trump's documented behavior, to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)'s admission that he hadn't even attended a single impeachment inquiry hearing session, despite being a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of three that has been taking depositions behind closed doors from witnesses in the Ukraine affair over the past several weeks.

Then, with the Trump Campaign having purchased some 69,000(!) micro-targeted Facebook ads since May alone, many of them either entirely false or horrifically misleading (and amounting to more ads in total than all 18 current Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates combined!) we're joined by SUE WILSON, former Emmy and AP-award winning broadcast journalist turned media reform activist and founder of the Media Action Center, to discuss the controversial refusal by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to fact-check political ads purchased on his enormous social media site.

Wilson recently wrote at The BRAD BLOG about the controversy, sparked by Zuckerberg's refusal to block a clearly false Trump ad which CNN refused to air, and a subsequent false ad by Elizabeth Warren that she purposely ran at Facebook (and admitted was false) in order to press the point. That column, critiquing Zuckerberg's claim to be following local broadcaster ad standards (despite not being a broadcaster) as an important issue of "free speech", was published prior to some 200 employees of the social media giant signing a public letter this week calling for a number of the same reforms cited by Wilson in her recent op-ed.

"Personally, I'm offended by the idea that lying ads are the same as free speech," she tells me. "That is not free speech. It is paid speech, paid-to-misinform-people speech."

Wilson describes the breaking news about Twitter as "wonderful", adding: "It's kind of ironic that it's taking Facebook for us to start looking at these political ads that are allowed to lie to us. Not only should Facebook ban all political ads, but we should rewrite the laws so that broadcasters ban all political ads. This is a giant industry which promotes misinformation, and this is one very good way to start telling the truth to America."

Wilson debunks a number of Zuckerberg's claims about his ill-considered policy decision to allow all paid political propaganda ads by campaigns to run, no matter how many lies are included in them, and explains the arcane, nearly century-old federal requirements regarding which political ads broadcasters (versus cable channels and television networks) are allowed to prevent from running and which ones they may not censor, no matter how demonstrably false they may be.

Today's conversation with Wilson makes clear that Facebook needs to, as its own employees advise, rethink its current policy, at a minimum, before the platform is further "weaponized" by political campaigns with "destructive misinformation" that threatens our very democracy, even as concerns about political censorship by huge media outlets remains a concern. Hope you'll tune in for this important discussion in advance of next year's critical Presidential election!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Republican worms turning on impeachment after Mulvaney 'confession'?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2019 5:51pm PT  

The outlook for Donald Trump appears grimmer by the day, but the systemic institutional problems that brought him to office and have now helped bring him to the brink of impeachment are of even larger concern on today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's program is posted below.]

First up, the latest in the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry, as the worm may --- emphasis on 'may' --- be turning, following Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's nationally-televised admission that the Administration withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aide to Ukraine in an effort to strong-arm the former Soviet nation into investigating Democrats and the 2016 election. Mulvaney's "confession", as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described it, of a pretty clear quid pro quo has knocked several Republicans off their footing, as they struggle to find ways to defend the President's actions.

A number of Congressional Republicans in both the House and the Senate now appear troubled by the admission (which Mulvaney attempted to walk back just hours later) and it has led Ohio's former Republican Governor John Kasich to concede on Friday that he now supports the impeachment and removal of Trump based on the latest information.

Then, we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in Washington D.C., which filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in July of 2018, detailing serious campaign fiance law violations by Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The Soviet-born Ukrainian-Americans were dramatically arrested and indicted at JFK Airport just over a week ago by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, as they were attempting to flee the country with one way tickets to Vienna. Parnas and Fruman were charged [PDF] with using a fake shell corporation to illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars from an unknown source to Republicans, including Trump's America First Action SuperPAC, in a successful effort to gain political power.

They also paid some $500 thousand to Giuliani --- who is working, for free, as Trump's personal lawyer --- and donated to Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, all in an effort to act on the conspiracy theories used by Trump and Giuliani to strong-arm Ukraine. As Fischer lays out in a piece at CLC detailing the backstory of the arrests of the two Trump donors, "Working closely with the president’s personal attorney, Giuliani, their efforts touched two branches of U.S. government, two presidential administrations in Ukraine, at least five countries, numerous individuals in and out of government, and, now, an impeachment inquiry into the U.S. President himself."

"The big giving opened a lot of doors," Fischer tells me. "It got them into political fundraisers where they rubbed shoulders with President Trump's inner circle. That money allowed them to build and deepen a relationship with Giuliani. And they were able to leverage that relationship in order to advance this narrative about Ukraine --- the same narrative about Ukraine that President Trump espoused in his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, which has now led to this impeachment inquiry."

In other words, despite the ongoing mysteries behind the true source of their funding, they got a lot of bang for their campaign finance bucks used to buy influence with GOP officials and effect actual U.S. foreign policy in the bargain. But, as Fischer explains on today's program, had they not used a phony corporation to do it with someone else's money (and lied about that to the FEC), everything they did appears to be largely perfectly legal under U.S. campaign finance laws! Yes, apparently if you have enough money, you are allowed to use it to buy a major political influence operation that can directly effect U.S. foreign and domestic policy, even out of the White House.

Fischer explains how the dark money operation --- which didn't even include all that much money --- is still being unraveled by federal investigators as the probe (which could even nab Giuliani) continues and, perhaps even more importantly, how it may represent just be the tip of a campaign finance iceberg that illustrates the dangers of our disgraceful campaign finance laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010.

"The indictment makes clear that the purpose of the political contributions that Parnas and Fruman made was to buy access and to build influence with powerful political officials in order to advance their own personal financial interests," says Fischer. "But that is not what they are being indicted for. They were indicted because they laundered the funds through shell corporations and then lied about it." So, had they actually been rich dudes who used their own money for this scheme, it would have been just fine? "Yes, it would have been just a beautiful expression of their First Amendment right to free speech."

“This indictment of Parnas and Fruman is really an indictment of our big money political system. It lays out very clearly how powerful political figures operate on this cash-for-access practice. It's become entirely commonplace for wealthy political actors to buy their way into Congressional offices and into the President's inner circle. If you don't have money, your voice does not get heard in our democracy.”

Finally, longtime good government watchdog Fischer also rings in on Mulvaney's stunning announcement that the Administration has officially selected Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Florida as the location for next year's G-7 Summit of world leaders, despite the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution which strictly bans payments to the President from foreign officials --- a point that even Fox "News" (well, at least some there) appear to have a problem with as well...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges prevented in Ohio; The return of 'GNR'!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2019 4:31pm PT  

Our long road toward catching up with a month's worth of news continues on today's BradCast, with voting news out of Battleground Ohio, the latest on Trump's impeachment and chaos in Syria (and the thing that ties them together), as well as the latest environmental and climate news after a month away. [Audio link to show posted at end of summary.]

First up today: Some surprisingly good news for voters out of Ohio! The biggest surprise, perhaps, is that it comes, at least in part, thanks to the state's new Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose, who had the good sense to check with voting rights groups beforewrongly purging some 40,000 perfectly active and eligible voters from the rolls who should never have been flagged for removal in the first place! Most of his fellow Republicans are likely not happy about that.

Then, we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss the latest impeachment news and Trump's deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syrian.

The impeachment inquiry over Trump's attempt to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for its President's trumped-up state investigation of Joe Biden and the 2016 election continues to gain steam, with half a dozen or more current and former Executive Branch officials now lining up to testify --- and not in favor of Trump or his lackey lawyer Rudy Giuliani --- to Congressional investigators. Trump's former Russia and Europe expert, Fiona Hill, testified for some ten hours on Monday, reportedly citing Giuliani's shadow foreign policy schemes meant to undermine U.S. foreign policy and personally enrich the President in some way.

According to reports of her deposition, her superior on the National Security Counsel, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, was so alarmed by Giuliani's efforts he described the former NYC Mayor turned Fox 'News' conspiracist as a "hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up". Bolton reportedly tried to warn White House attorneys about Giuliani's many attempts to undermine U.S. Ukraine policy. Bolton himself, the unlikeliest of heroes in this shameful saga, may soon be called to testify to Congress in coming days, along with a long list of other State, Defense and National Security officials who now seem eager to defy the White House's strategy of denying both documents and testimony in the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. "They're defying the White House telling them not to go testify," Parton observes, "That is a change. That is different than what we've seen. Suddenly that stonewall is crumbling."

We also discuss Parton's reasonable theory as to why this matter has finally resulted in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving full permission to her caucus to proceed with impeachment, where clear evidence of felony obstruction of justice from Robert Mueller's report and Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn stars to help win the 2016 Presidential election did not. "This is the same kind of stuff that Trump was accused of [in 2016], that we all suspected him of doing, colluding with a foreign government to sabotage his rival's campaign. Here he is [with Ukraine] doing it in real time. I think that's really what has made the difference."

In not-at-all-unrelated news, Parton goes on to discuss her latest Salon column in which she details how Trump's Syria pullout appears to be anything but an impulsive decision after a recent phone call with Turkish President Erdogan, as many in the media are still describing the disastrous move. She explains how the U.S. abandonment of our Kurdish allies with the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Northern Syria is of a piece with Trump's feckless Ukraine policy. In both cases, she explains, there is one unavoidable fact in common --- even for those of us who may not be Russia hawks: both actions, like so many other controversial policies of the Trump Administration, are in the clear and direct interest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finally, we close today with the long-awaited return of the Green News Report, which we had been forced to suspend over the past month due to my family emergency. Somehow or another, Desi Doyen manages to fit in a month's worth of green news into the latest GNR in just six minutes. Buckle up --- and stay that way!...

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

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Guest hosted by Angie Coiro with Patrick Poblete and Richard Clarke on UAW Strike, Wisconsin Voting Machines, Cybersecurity...
By Angie Coiro on 9/16/2019 5:27pm PT  

Welcome to another BradCast! I'm in for Brad and Desi today - Angie Coiro, heard on some of these same stations and streams with my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Best wishes to Brad and Desi while they take care of family business. If you haven’t read Brad’s post about what’s going on, please do. There’s no better time than now to support the Blog in every way you can.

First up is what I imagine would be Brad's headline story, too: the latest in the ongoing Wisconsin voting machine drama. PATRICK POBLETE from WisPolitics covers the story. The jawdropper: state officials felt they had bigger priorities than to check out reports of potential vote-hijacking.

A big fat news roundup includes two Elizabeth Warren stories: her campaign's endorsement by the WFP, and her newly-announced plan to attack DC corruption. Some of it strikes me as a bit pie-in-the-sky, but why not aim high?

Then a long excerpt from my interview earlier this year with RICHARD A. CLARKE, about his book The Fifth Domain.

And more more more. Check it all out!...

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Guest: Cybsersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2019 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Questions about the results of a controversial do-over U.S. House election in North Carolina and about disturbing revelations from a secret reexamination of a wildly unsecure touchscreen voting system being deployed in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) next year. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

At long last, NC's 9th Congressional District has held its do-over election, after a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme was uncovered to derail the contest last November. With a new Republican candidate, the very Trumpy state Senator Dan Bishop, and the same Democratic candidate, Marine vet Dan McCready (pictured above), the two faced off in the long-time Republican district on Tuesday. It had long been predicted to be a very close race, seen as a potential bellwether for 2020 and a referendum on Donald Trump, who, with Vice President Mike Pence, helicoptered into the district for last-minute rallies on Monday night.

According to the reported unofficial --- and unverified-by-any-human-being --- results posted by the State Board of Elections (SBE), the Republican Bishop defeated the Democrat McCready by just under 4,000 votes (a margin just over 2%) out of nearly 200,000 votes cast in the district, which is spread over parts or all of 8 counties. While Bishop's margin of victory is slightly more than 1% too large to allow for a candidate "recount", the county with the single largest share of the votes cast in the race is Mecklenberg, which forces voters to use 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polls. So there would little to "count" there anyway. Most of the rest of the district votes on hand-marked paper ballots.

But even with the unofficial 2% spread, there may be reason for McCready's team to examine the results, despite his quick concession on Tuesday night after media outlets, using unofficial results, called it for Bishop. His quick concession followed a similar one last November, when he'd reportedly lost by less than 1,000 votes in a race that the NC SBE ultimately refused to certify due to the GOP election fraud for which seven contractors now face felony indictments. Given the fraud last time in NC09, and the importance that both Trump and the GOP had placed on this race in advance of 2020, one might think it appropriate to wait until all votes were at least canvassed by the state before conceding. Moreover, Democratic turnout during early voting outpaced Republican turnout by even more than it did during the very close race during last November's "blue wave" election.

But in a curious new twist, just before airtime today, another anomaly came to light, as shared with us by a listener that I detailed here with screenshots and video. As I break down at that link, video from MSNBC's coverage on Tuesday reveals that McCready, after leading in the vote count throughout the early part of the night after 52% of precincts had come in, was suddenly overtaken by Bishop once 55% of precincts had reported, according to MSNBC's chyron. While that's not unusual, what is unusual is that when it happened, McCready's vote tally actually DECREASED by more than 3,000 votes, even though more votes had supposedly been tallied! After that, Bishop retained a very similar lead for the rest of the night, ultimately "winning" by a margin just under 4,000 votes.

There could, of course, be a good explanation for the vote count appearing to go BACKWARD --- a typo at MSNBC, a transcription error at the SBE, a non-nefarious bad data transfer somewhere along the line --- we just haven't yet been able to figure out what it is yet. Bishop's total also decreased at the same point, but by just over 1,000 votes. If we do figure it out, of course, we'll let you know.

But those maddening anomalies underscore, yet again, the importance of the other big story we cover on today's BradCast out of Pennsylvania. There, a group of citizen election integrity advocates filed a petition some weeks ago demanding a re-examination of the state's newly certified ExpressVote XL voting system made by ES&S. The new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system (pictured above) was recently certified to be deployed in Philadelphia and other jurisdictions in the key battleground state of PA before next year's critical 2020 Presidential election. While PA's Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, did, in fact, carry out the new examination of the system, as required by statute, apparently she did so in secret, employing the same company closely tied to ES&S that carried out the initially flawed certification testing, and did so in another state entirely (Colorado) with no notice or public oversight for the first time in PA history.

We're joined again today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, Chief Technologist for the Pennsylvania-based Citizens for Better Elections. He is a cybersecurity and voting systems expert and was one of the petitioners who joined us several weeks ago after the state agreed to the new examination. Skoglund, along with other long time election integrity advocates both nationally and in PA are outraged by the secret testing which, he explains, failed to even examine 7 of the petitioners' 10 cited concerns.

"This is the same company that did the initial examination. So, we're asking the people who gave the opinion the first time to give their opinion again. It doesn't really make sense," he tells me. "It's not a second opinion like you might get from a doctor." Moreover, he explains, "This was only a two-day examination. The lab that's doing this is not experienced in cybersecurity penetration testing. This is a voting system test lab that tests for the functionality of voting machines...These things are very technical in nature and they require specialists." In this case, it is a company who is actually paid by the vendor, ES&S, to test their systems.

As to those concerns which the examiners reportedly did bother to review [PDF] (in secret), they confirmed the petitioners' concerns. Nonetheless, Boockvar went ahead and recertified the new systems, citing new, additional procedures she hopes to impart to pollworkers next year as protection against the very serious security concerns cited by the petitioners and confirmed during the re-examination. One such concern, for example, is that the computer-marked paper ballot summary card produced by the ExpressVote's touchscreen system for theoretical verification by the voter before it is cast, returns back through the very same printer path after it is approved by the voter. That, Skoglund explains, would allow the voting system to change the voter's vote after they believe they have verified it for casting and counting by an optical scanner. New, similarly computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices being deployed in other jurisdictions, such as Los Angeles County and Georgia (and in many other states before next year) appear to feature the same extraordinary security flaw.

"It's the craziest thing. This voting machines prints the information that you've selected on the screen onto a piece of paper, and then it presents it for you to review. And then, if you decide that it's acceptable, that piece of paper travels through a printer again before it's stored. So if you had a voting machine that was malfunctioning or manipulated or hacked, it could change that paper record before it gets stored. They 100 percent confirmed it," says Skoglund.

Other problems with the PA system include the fact that, due to the way it stores computer-marked ballots, the ballot secrecy of voters may be easily violated. Skoglund suggests the fight against these systems is not over by a long shot, and that the coalition of election integrity groups with whom he is working are reviewing their options for litigation in the days ahead. "We're definitely not giving up. We are not done contesting the certification of this machine."

As noted at the end of today's program, the woeful story of the likely unverifiable election in NC-09 underscores the important work being done by Skoglund and others BEFORE these dangerously unverifiable and easily hackable voting systems are deployed for U.S. elections in 2020...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2019 2:45pm PT  

I've got to get on air for today's BradCast shortly, where I'll discuss this in a bit more detail, so please excuse this terse post. But I'd like to get this information out there, in case anyone has additional details or observations to add.

No, I have no yet been able to check with the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBE) or MSNBC to get their response, since I'm just getting the details myself from a tipster and racing to get on air.

I will also add the caveat that there are sometimes perfectly reasonable explanations for something like this, such as a typo or a bad transcription, or a non-nefarious bad data transfer anywhere along the path from the voting booth, to the county headquarters to the state Board of Elections to the media which report vote counts as they come rolling in.

So, with those caveats out of the way, this is from the Special Election for the U.S. House held on Tuesday night in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. The election was a do-over after the SBE refused to certify the results of last November's election due to a massive Republican Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme that was uncovered, and has led to criminal indictments of seven folks who worked with a GOP contractor hired by Republican candidate Mark Harris last year.

On Tuesday, the Democratic candidate Dan McCready, who ran last November in the never-certified contest in which he was said to have lost by 905 votes, thanks to the absentee ballot fraud scam by the GOP contractor, ran this time against hard-right and very Trumpy Republican State Senator Dan Bishop.

The district has been held by Republicans since the 1960s, but polls showed the do-over race, like the one last November, to be very tight. So much so that both President Trump and Vice-President Pence were in the district for rallies for Bishop on Monday night before the election.

As of today, the State Board of Elections website shows Bishop (R) defeating McCready (D) by almost 4,000 votes or just over 2%.

Which makes this apparent anomaly from during last night's vote counting (most ballots were tallied by computer op-scan systems in the district, though Mecklenberg County's votes --- the county with the largest single share of the votes in the district --- were cast on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems) all the more worrisome...

In this screenshot during Rachel Maddow's MSNBC coverage of the race last night, (the full video of the flip is also posted below) please note that, with 52% of the vote reportedly in, according to the chyron at the bottom of the screen, McCready led Bishop, 69,280 to 67,295...

But, just seconds later, when 55% of the vote was reportedly in, after leading most of the night, McCready's numbers actually appear to have rolled BACKWARD by 3,181 votes for some reason...

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




Guest: Ed Scruggs of Texas Gun Sense; Also: Bolton tossed out; Trump rallies, lies for GOPer in bellwether NC U.S. House Special Election...
By Brad Friedman on 9/10/2019 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Is it possible? Could gun reform really be coming to the gun-loving, GOP-run, NRA-controlled state of Texas in the wake of a spate of mass shootings in the Lone Star state? Our guest today, an expert in the matter, is surprisingly optimistic. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up, before we get there, some very quick news of the day. In a move that was a surprise, apparently, to even top White House officials, Donald Trump's very hawkish, very rightwing National Security Advisor --- his third --- John Bolton, was tossed out of his job abruptly on Tuesday morning. That's both good and bad news for several reasons, which we discuss, including the late day concerns about the man reportedly being tapped to replace him, who used to serve as a board member at an Islamophobic organization named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

On Monday night, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held rallies for the Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District U.S. House Special Election being held today. Though Trump won the district by some 12 points in 2016 and no Democrat has held its U.S. House seat since the 1960s, the GOP appears to be hedging their bets today by describing NC09 as a "swing district". NC election watchers are scoffing at those comments, citing them as coming from Republican officials in preparation for a potential loss by the extremely Trumpy Republican candidate Dan Bishop who is running in the do-over election against Democrat Dan McCready.

The race is being held to fill the nearly year-long vacancy after last November's contest in the district was never certified by the state, thanks to the discovery of an Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme engineered by a GOP contractor hired by the Republican Baptist preacher who had been running for the seat last year.

Tuesday's contest is being seen as both a bellwether for 2020 and a referendum on Trump's job performance. We'll have full coverage of reported results on tomorrow's program. But, at Trump's rally for Bishop on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, the President appeared to, once again, lie about the weather, just as he did during Hurricane Dorian. Those lies have now resulted in a crisis at the senior political level of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Then we're joined by ED SCRUGGS, President of Texas Gun Sense, a nonprofit advocacy group in the Lone Star state fighting for common sense --- and long overdue --- gun safety reforms. In the wake of two recent mass shootings in the state --- one a massacre that killed 22 at an El Paso Walmart last month and the other a rampage just two weeks later that killed 7 and injured more than 20 others in Odessa and Midland --- the previously very pro-gun, very pro-NRA Republican Governor Greg Abbott and his similarly pro-gun, pro-NRA Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have been claiming that they are now open to reform of some of the state's gun laws in the very pro-gun state of Texas.

Scruggs was one of several reform advocates who met with the Governor following the Walmart shooting last month. He reports today that, in contrast with previous such meeting, both Abbott and Patrick brought "startling" and specific ideas for reforms themselves to the meeting planned for two hours, but which was extended to five. Among the measures discussed were expanded background checks to close the so-called "gun show" loophole (which was exploited by the Midland/Odessa shooter) and the possibility of "red flag" laws.

"Both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor actually had reforms that they brought to the table that they wanted the folks to consider there. Which was very unusual," Scruggs tells me. "I've never heard them speak that way. Two years ago, it never would have happened. It would have been unthinkable."

At the meeting, which occurred after El Paso but before Midland/Odessa, "Both the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor both said, 'Hey, we have this situation where people can get around the background check system. They can go on a private market and can get around it, and it's very dangerous'. And the Governor said, 'Well, that would be a crazy way to sell a weapon because how would you know that you wouldn't be selling a gun to a terrorist, or to a criminal.' Of course, these are things we've been saying for many years."

After the Midland and Odessa spree, Abbott even indicated he might not be opposed to ideas being discussed by state legislators regarding new restrictions on AR-style assault rifles used in a spate of mass shootings since Abbott has taken office as Governor. But, Scruggs explains, the devil will be in the details as far as what Abbott and Patrick may support --- and what the NRA will even allow them to. For example, he notes that Patrick has suggested ending "stranger-to-stranger" sales, while allowing for the ability to transfer firearms within your family, or to loan a gun to your friend or neighbor.

"Everyone agrees these stranger-to-stranger sales, the private sales that take place at gun shows, the sales over the Internet or out of the back of some guy's trunk in a big box store parking lot, something like that, we all know how dangerous and terrible those are. So, everyone seems to want to close that down. However, the catch is, if your exceptions for family transfer and transfer between friends is too large, you're just going to open up a new loophole again."

Nonetheless, Scruggs suggests that with the body count rapidly mounting in Texas and pressure being felt by Republican politicians facing very real demographic and political changes, even one of the nation's most staunchly pro-gun states may be on the verge of long-overdue reform. And if it can happen in Texas...

"There's a realization that's starting to set in where you have responsible gun owners saying, 'Hey, they've been so extreme now for so long, there's a backlash building, and I'm afraid if we don't do something now we're going to lose it all soon.' Because they know these shootings are going to continue. I think that's something that has really hung over the last few weeks in Texas. We're not done with this. So if you don't act, and there's another one, and then maybe there's another one, how much more difficult is it going to be?"

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with more on the Trump-invoked NOAA scandal in the wake of Hurricane Dorian; an horrific potential death toll in the storm-ravaged Bahamas; and an investigation into what appears to be a corrupt anti-trust probe by the DoJ of four major automakers who made an agreement with California to lower auto-emissions and raise mileage standards in defiance of the Trump EPA's rollback of cost-saving and life-saving regulations enacted under the Obama Administration...

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

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