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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 23, 2024
'Election Fraud, Pure and Simple': 'BradCast' 4/23/24
Trump NY criminal trial update; Also: SCOTUS nixes Lake's 2022 fraud claims; WI U.S. Senate candidate 'doesn't oppose' elderly voters; Trump/RNC's 'election integrity' plan; AZ GOP Rep's apparent petition fraud...
'Green News Report' 4/23/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Europe's record rate of warming; Plastic manufacturing's effect on global warming; Biden unveils American Climate Corps, Solar For All, and a slew of new actions on conservation...
Previous GNRs: 4/18/24 - 4/16/24 - Archives...
'First Domino Falls' in UAW Effort to Unionize the South: 'BradCast' 4/22/24
Guest: Labor journo Steven Greenhouse; Also: House passes Ukraine aid; Prosecutors accuse Trump of 2016 'election fraud' in NY trial...
Sunday 'Popcorn Ready' Toons
THIS WEEK: Stormy outlook ... Abortion wrongs ... American values ... Earth Day ... And much more in our latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
Bad Climate News for Home, Car Owners; Good Labor News for Workers in the South: 'BradCast' 4/18/24
Also: Jury seated in NY; NV okays abortion initiative; OH Repubs block Biden from ballot...
'Green News Report' 4/18/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deluge in Dubai; Climate impacts to cost trillions per year; New lightbulb efficiency standards; PLUS: Biden Admin cracks down on toxic silica dust to protect workers' lungs...
Previous GNRs: 4/16/24 - 4/11/24 - Archives...
SCOTUS Suddenly Worried About Overcriminalization ... for J6 Insurrectionists: 'BradCast' 4/17/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner; Also: GOP impeachment ends; Turnout doubles in AL...
'Trump Media' Plummeting, MAGA Buyers Losing Life Savings: 'BradCast' 4/16/24
Also: Trump's ridiculous 'immunity'; 7 jurors seated in NY criminal trial; Repubs deliver impeachment to Senate; Smartmatic, OAN settle 2020 defamation suit...
'Green News Report' 4/16/24
Record ocean heat bleaching corals worldwide; EV charging roads in Indiana; Biden raising drilling, mining royalties for first time in a century; PLUS: A marine mystery in Florida...
Trump's First Criminal Trial, for Cheating in 2016, Begins in NY: 'BradCast' 4/15/24
Special coverage of an historic day with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos...
Sunday 'Party Like It's 1864' Toons
THIS WEEK: Bad politics, good toonery and at least one wake-up call, in our latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Biden Closes 'Gun Show Loophole'; Repubs Turn Desperate: 'BradCast' 4/11/24
RNC Chair says Ukraine our enemy; GA Lt. Guv faces probe; Fox hides AZ abortion ruling, Hannity blames Dems; WI Justice to retire...
'Green News Report' 4/11/24
10th hottest month ever in a row; Swiss climate inaction violates human rights; PLUS: EPA crack down on airborne chemical plant pollution, 'forever chemicals' in drinking water...
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: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: GOP's KBJ confirmation idiocy; KY's anti-marriage equality clerk finally found guilty; 23,000 mail ballots rejected under new TX law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2022 6:47pm PT  

There were a surprising number of callers into yesterday's program who seemed to believe that if the U.S. simply left Ukraine to its own devices, somehow there wouldn't be a massive genocide and destruction of the Ukrainian state by Russia, and that it wouldn't somehow lead to WWIII. Those callers are wrong, I'm sorry to say. And I'm even sorrier that many of them are on the left. On today's BradCast we spend some time explaining how many have come to misunderstand a lot of bad and (often purposely) misleading information out there, and how deeply-ingrained (and well-justified!) anti-war sentiments against the U.S. war machine are now ill-serving some on the supposed left now that Russia is the actual aggressor. We also cover several ongoing fights for our own struggling democracy here at home --- in the U.S. Senate, at SCOTUS, and in both Kentucky and Texas. [Audio link to today's show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered or referenced today...

  • A quick review of Day 2 of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans are spending their time questioning the first black female nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court as a way to improve their own electoral ambitions and/or nab an appearance on Fox "News". ("Do you believe babies are racist, Ms. Jackson?") Since we don't care to privilege the lies, we don't spend much time on that idiocy, though there were some important exchanges with some of the Democratic Senators, including Jackson's thoughts on the importance of respecting long-settled issues of law and civil rights. That, as the GOP's current stolen, packed and bought majority on the High Court begins dismantling decades of well-established and critical legal precedents.
  • Then, some thoughts on some of our callers and emailers on yesterday's program, when we opened the phone lines up to listeners on why they believe President Biden's approval ratings remain low, even as his actions in response to Russia's barbaric attack on Ukraine are so wildly popular among Americans of all parties. We discuss why we believe those callers who want the U.S. to stop supporting Ukraine are deadly wrong about that, and why an emailer who cites Putin's pretext about "de-Nazification" in Ukraine has been wildly misled.
  • That conversation also includes some audio from an interview with a Rabbi in Odesa by NPR's investigative correspondent in Ukraine, Tim Mak. He is told by Rabbi Avraham Wolf, during the interview in a synagogue built by his wife's great great grandfather in 1898, that he believes talk about Nazis in Ukraine is "stupid" and that he has "never in 30 years" experienced any anti-semitism in Odesa.
  • The conversation on all of this also includes this weekend's remarks on ABC News from the courageous Marina Ovsyannikova, a producer at Russia's state-run Channel One, describing her "spontaneous decision" to appear on air with a "NO WAR" protest sign during a news report recently. "I could see what in reality was happening in Ukraine, and what we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality," she explained on Sunday following her arrest, as she still faces a potential 15 years in prison under Putin's new censorship law. While she claims that most Russians oppose Putin's "gruesome war," Ovsyannikova determined that her televised protest might "show to the Russian people that [the state-run media outlet's reports were] just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war."
  • Then, it's back to our own faltering democracy in the U.S., but with a bit of long-awaited good news for a change. After seven years of delays in court --- thanks to a well-moneyed far-right legal outfit --- Kim Davis, the infamous and Fox-famous Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who cited "religious beliefs" for her refusal to issue marriage licenses after SCOTUS established the right to marriage equality in 2015, was finally found to have violated the law. In a lawsuit filed by several couples who were refused licenses to marry, a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge held that Davis "cannot use her own constitutional rights as a shield to violate the constitutional rights of others while performing her duties as an elected official.” A jury will determine the financial penalty for Davis, who lost her re-election bid in 2018. Of course her wingnut attorneys will attempt to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (even though they already rejected one of Davis' previous arguments...at least before Republicans stole their 6 to 3 majority on the High Court.)
  • In far less encouraging news, an AP analysis has determined that some 23,000 absentee voters in Texas' first-in-the-nation 2022 mid-term primaries on March 1, had their ballots rejected and never counted. AP finds roughly 13% of mail ballots were discarded under the TX GOP's new voter restriction law, SB 1, that they claimed would make it "easier to vote and harder to cheat". That, compared to the 2% of mail ballots that were rejected during the state's previous mid-term primaries in 2018. Thousands of voters in both Republican- and Democratic-leaning counties alike were disenfranchised under the first election held under the new law, though rejection rates were slightly higher in larger, more Dem-leaning counties. Mail voters in Harris County (Houston), for example, saw a gobsmacking rejection rate of 19%! In the weeks and months ahead, primaries will be held in some 17 other states where Republicans have passed new laws making it harder to vote in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Finally, and also speaking of Texas, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with out-of-control climate change-fueled wildfires spreading across the Lone Star State; unbelievably warm and unprecedented simultaneous extreme heat waves at both the North and South poles, and how KBJ's Senate confirmation reminds us yet again that elections (and voting!) have critical consequences...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: 30-year Florida elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More signs of new COVID variant rising; Russia's war crimes against Ukraine continue; Fox 'News' journalists killed while reporting on war...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2022 7:11pm PT  

As difficult as it has historically been to recruit competent, non-partisan election officials and pollworkers, a new survey suggests its about to become much worse. As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, that is thanks, in no small part, to persistent threats by Trump's MAGA Mob against local election officials in the wake of his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It's made even worse by state GOP officials translating that lie into new laws that further undermine America's democratic experiment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But FIRST UP today, a quick follow up underscoring our reporting on yesterday's program, warning about the rise of a new COVID variant (known as BA2, or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron") that many seem to be wanting to imagine away. Also several quick updates on the latest news from Russia's relentless bombing and war crimes against Ukraine, as peace talks inch forward, and as at least two Fox "News" journalist are confirmed to have been killed outside of Kyiv.

THEN, on to our main story today. In recent months, Reuters has been unfolding a series of excellent investigative reports on the various, horrific threats issued against election officials by those who bought into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But GOP state lawmakers have been ignoring those menacing threats and using the Big Lie to create actual legislation allowing them to purge dedicated, non-partisan election officials --- including Republicans seen as not Republican enough --- from their roles and replacing them with partisan operatives.

Brennan Center's recent survey of local election administrators finds that, more than a year after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in six officials say they "have experienced threats because of their job." More than half of respondents are "concerned about the safety of their colleagues"; 30 percent "know of one or more election workers who have left at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation"; and, perhaps most troubling, 20 percent of them now plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election, with many "citing political leaders’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest as one of their top reasons for leaving."

Meanwhile, many officials who would like to continue in their jobs are being pushed out thanks to new laws allowing partisan County Commissions in Georgia, for example, to replace longtime Board of Elections officials like Georgia's civil rights icon Helen Butler (who we interviewed about this late last year) in Morgan County, and 27-year Floyd County Board of Elections veteran Vanessa Waddell, who, with the entire Board in the deeply Republican County, was removed from her post, as documented by WaPo yesterday. That, even after she successfully oversaw last year's U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state amid persistent death threats that resulted in some officials in her office deciding they needed to come to work with pepper spray and stun guns to stay safe.

Leon County, Florida's now-retired 30-year veteran Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO, is furious about all of this. He joins us today to discuss these growing threats to our teetering American democracy. Sancho, who retired in 2016, is one of our nation's great election officials. He was so well-regarded by his peers, of all political persuasions, that he was tapped to oversee the wildly contentious and eventually-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in Florida. He was also a central figure in HBO's landmark, 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary, Hacking Democracy, detailing the first public hack of a computerized voting tabulator.

What is going on today, he explains, makes him both angry and deeply concerned about American democracy. "Election officials all over the country, irrespective of partisan affiliation, have been tragically attacked because of our ex-President's lie. The most horrible lie about our elections, frankly, in my lifetime," he tells me, adding that it makes his "head explode".

"It's not being dealt with at all. That's why election officials are subject to the most vile attacks, because the supporters --- the cultists, if you want to call them that --- believe that election was stolen, and this is such a bald-faced lie. It's a tragic lie. It's a stupid lie. And it demonstrates the ignorance of the American citizenry about our elections."

Sancho argues that "we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan election administration that has taken decades to build."

"Most election officials are administrators, not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process, except as standing away from it and facilitating elections. We take oaths to be non-partisan," he continues. "One of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of codes and conduct for the Elections Center, to apply to all national election officials, putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else."

Of course, over The BRAD BLOG's nearly 20 years of reporting on elections and voting processes and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems --- much of which Sancho has followed closely over those years --- we've had our own fair share of criticism for some election officials (not to mention almost every voting system vendor). Some of that has resulted in occasional criticism that we are "attacking" election officials or pollworkers ourselves. So, how is our attempt to hold feet to the fire any different from what Sancho sees coming from the American MAGA Right?

"The difference is that you are focusing on specific issues of provable fact," Sancho responds. "That's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now. Your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And where we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. It's being destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth."

Sancho has MUCH more to say on all of this, including thoughts on new legislation heading to Florida's Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis that would give him what Sancho describes as "the Governor's private police force on elections."

"That's part of the intimidation," he argues. "Now we're seeing a secret police in the state of Florida for elections. Florida is, unfortunately, one of the leaders of this effort nationally to change non-partisan fair elections into something else."

Sancho concedes "it's hard for me to see how we get around this," though he does offer at least some ideas for solutions to find our way out of this nightmare, including laws to specifically prevent threats against election administrators. "It should be illegal to threaten an election official for the purposes of intimidating them from doing their job and counting the votes. That should be illegal, and it is not."

"We've got to turn this around," Sancho insists. "ALL legal citizens should have the right to vote accessibly, and have that vote counted as they intended, and then we should audit the elections to confirm the validity of that election. That's as simple as it can be, and yet we're very far away from that, as you know."

"What were supposed to be laboratories of democracy," he charges, are now "50 citadels of repression." As suggested, we think Sancho is an American hero. He's on fire today and, as ever, worth tuning in to hear in full.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report today, with bad news for climate changed Australia and our global fossil fuel dependence, highlighted yet again by Russia's war on Ukraine. She also has a bit of good news for breathers, however, as President Biden's EPA announces critical new regulations on smog and vehicle emissions that will save thousands of American lives...

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Also: Situation devolves in Ukraine under Russia's 'barbaric' assault...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2022 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's been a very bad week for the pretend "law and order" rightwingers dumb enough to have been suckered by Donald Trump's 2020 "election fraud" hoax. But it's likely to get still worse for them in the days ahead. That's fine by us. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After a quick update today on the latest grim, and getting grimmer, news out of Ukraine as Russia's Vladimir Putin begins his third week of unspeakable barbarism, here are some of the much less grim stories we actually enjoyed covering today...

  • Yesterday, we reported on the ongoing challenge (and emergency appeal filed after a bizarre ruling by a Trump-appointed judge) to North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election this year. The challengers, including our guest, Constitutional law expert Ron Fein of Free Speech for People, contend that Cawthorn is ineligible to run for federal office, after having violated the 14th Amendment's ban on those who "have engaged in insurrection" after taking an oath to defend the Constitution. But, no sooner did we get off air when news broke that Cawthorn was charged in NC with driving with a revoked license. Apparently, this is the second time he has been charged with the same crime. Will he face any real accountability for it this time around? The max sentence for that is 20 days in jail in NC.
  • On the federal level, Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted today that his Justice Department will "not shy away from cases that are controversial or sensitive or political," telling reporters that "to do that would undermine an element of the rule of law." Glad to hear it. His comments came in response to questions about the DoJ's January 6th investigation and whether Trump and those around him would ever face accountability, as hundreds of low-level insurrectionists have faced charges for storming the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, after being being incited by the disgraced former President and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
  • Tina Peters, a Colorado elections official arguably incited to criminal acts by Trump's lies, is now facing state charges for them. She is the very Trumpy Republican Mesa County Clerk who recently announced her intention to run for Secretary of State. Peters turned herself into custody on Wednesday night after being indicted this week on 10 counts related to elections tampering. (A perfect resume for a GOP Sec. of State contender!) We've been reporting in detail on Peters over the past year, after she allegedly snuck into a secure facility where voting systems are stored in Mesa County along with accomplices (one of them her Deputy, who was also charged this week), turned off the security cameras, and then made copies of hard-drives with critical and proprietary Dominion Voting System software on them. Dominion's Election Management System software from Mesa was subsequently released, along with passwords to the system, to the Internet a few months later during one of conspiracy theorist and pillow magnate Mike Lindell's "election fraud" symposiums, just as Peters was speaking at the forum. The serious security breach with the public release of that software led to a bit of havoc in California's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later, where the same Dominion systems were used in several counties. We revisit the sprawling story of how we got here, as the loony Peters finally appears set to pay a very high price for being dumb enough to buy into Trump's con.
  • And then there was more bad news this week for Fox "News" and several of the top clods and dupes who host programs on their various channels. A New York judge denied the motions to dismiss filed by Fox and a number of their top anchors, such as Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, in the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against them and conspiracy theorist/grifter attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell by voting system company Smartmatic. "At a minimum," the judge found in his 61-page ruling, "Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth." That means the case against most of them will now move forward toward discovery and trial. (Several of those "inherently improbable" claims were based on The BRAD BLOG's own accurate, exclusive reporting back in 2010, which Powell, et al, bastardized to fit their pretend theories about massive election fraud.) Interestingly, the judge also cites a bit of accidentally responsible reporting from Fox star Tucker Carlson to underscore just how irresponsible the others were, in the judge's "finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice." The New York ruling follows a similar one from a judge in Delaware last December, who also rejected motions to dismiss from many of the same clowns in Dominion Voting Systems' separate $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
  • In Texas, which held this year's first-in-the-nation midterm primary elections last week, AP finds that an extraordinary 27,000 mail ballots --- from both Democrats and Republican voters --- were flagged for rejection under the Lone Star State's new voter suppression law passed last year in pretend response to Trump's claims about a stolen 2020 election. The initial rejection rate was approximately 17% statewide and substantially higher in a number of large, Democratic-leaning counties. That, compared with a statewide rejection rate of about 1% of absentee mail ballots back in 2020.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more disturbing fallout (and, maybe, some theoretical upsides) regarding energy and security in the wake of Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine...

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Biden ends Russian imports, destroys Fox/GOP/Big Oil lies; Jan 6. insurrectionist 'guilty' on all counts; 'Proud Boy' indicted for U.S. Capitol conspiracy; Pardoned GOPer indicted for funneling Russian money to Trump 2016; Another former 'BradCast' guest indicted...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2022 7:10pm PT  

As the horrors of war continue in Ukraine today, we focus on the latest efforts to counter it by ending --- or trying to --- Russian oil and gas imports to the EU and US, and as we enjoy more accountability for GOP election fraudsters and insurrectionists, including one who funneled Russian money to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and another who used to appear on The BradCast from time to time. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Fossil fuel profiteer Shell Oil apologizes after getting caught secretly buying cheap Russian oil, even after pretending last week that it was ending its business with the country after their invasion of Ukraine. Does it smell "like Ukrainian blood?," Ukraine's Foreign Minister wonders.
  • On Tuesday, after nearly two hellish weeks of unspeakable humanitarian suffering in Ukraine and pressure from the public to do the right thing, several more major American companies --- McDonald's, Starbucks, Coke and Pepsi --- finally decided to "pause" doing business in Russia.
  • The European Union, which has made the mistake of becoming reliant on Russia for about 45% of its gas imports, announced plans to try and wean themselves off two-thirds of it by year's end. Hopefully this will help hasten their move to clean, renewable energy.
  • President Biden announced today that the U.S. will halt all imports of Russian oil and gas. Hopefully this will help hasten our move to clean, renewable energy.
  • Also, both White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and President Biden pushed back hard against the obnoxiously phony claims by Republicans, Fox "News" and the oil industry that opening up more public land to oil and drilling leases and permits would lower surging U.S. gas prices. As both Psaki and Biden point out, Big Oil is already sitting on some 9,000 currently unused permits on millions of acres of land, as is. The GOP/Fox "News"/Big Oil axis of evil is really hoping that Americans don't know that, so they can blame Biden for the surge in global oil and gas prices...even as new polling finds American majorities are willing to pay more at the pump to help Ukraine and they want to expand renewable energy development, not fossil fuels.
  • The International Energy Agency (IAE) has a list of 10 things the EU can do to decrease gas use by at least 10% before year's end. Many of those things the U.S. can do as well. One thing many of us could and should do to lower the cost of gas in a big way during Russia's war on Ukraine --- since many of us already did it for much of the past two and a half years anyway, cleaning the skies and drastically lowering gas prices in the bargain --- WORK AT HOME AGAIN if possible!
  • The first January 6th insurrectionist to stand trial before a jury, was found guilty on all five felony counts today. (He's a helluva guy, apparently. Threatened to kill his own teenage children if they told on him. Ya know, as "patriots" do.) The DoJ hopes the result may lead other Trump insurrectionists to plead guilty. We hope it leads the DoJ to keep working their way up to the top of the insurrectionist cabal.
  • The leader of the violent rightwing street gang calling itself Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio --- who wasn't even at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 (because he was in police custody on a separate crime) --- was indicted, with several others in his gang of white hoodlums, on conspiracy charges related to their violent, coordinated attack on the Capitol. Tarrio had reportedly met with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes in a parking garage in the hours before the Republican assault on American democracy. Rhodes and several other Oath Keepers were also recently indicted on seditious conspiracy charges. And Rhodes, like another rightwing hoodlum facing new felony indictments in a separate matter (discussed below), had been a guest on The BradCast several years ago.
  • This story is amazing. Jesse Benton, a longtime Republican operative and former campaign manager for Senators Rand Paul (in 2010) and Mitch McConnell (in 2014), has already been pardoned for felony election fraud once, by Donald Trump in the closing days of his Administration. Now Benton has been indicted again, for more election fraud, and along with another former guest on The BradCast! Tune in for the full story, but Benton was originally charged and convicted some years ago for buying away an endorsement for about $75,000 from a Michele Bachmann supporter during the GOP Iowa Caucus in the 2012 Presidential campaign. At the time, he worked for Rand's father Ron Paul's Presidential campaign. Benton was sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine just days before the scheme he has now been indicted for which includes receiving $100,000 from an unnamed Russian national, keeping $75,000 for himself, and giving $25,000 of it to the campaign of "Political Candidate 1" in his own name, an unlawful straw donation to avoid laws barring foreign money in American elections. Benton promised a meeting with "Political Candidate 1" in Philadelphia on September 22, 2016, the day that Donald Trump happened to be holding a fundraiser there. They all took pictures together, according to the September indictment unsealed on Monday, along with Doug Wead, a GOP Presidential historian and, in recent years, far-right operative who appeared a number of times on this program some years ago. Wead, a Senior Advisor to Ron Paul's 2012 campaign was indicted as a co-conspirator with Benton. They both face the potential of a lot of time in prison. Each of the six counts charged against both of them carries sentencing of 5 to 20 years. But, yup, more Russian money in Donald Trump's 2016 election. Who could have guessed it?
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which we can barely keep up with Russia/Ukraine related events in the energy industry (including nuclear) and as the U.N. offers some good news for a change, in this case regarding global plastic pollution.

All of the above is much funnier, outraging, and/or more enlightening when heard in full on today's surprisingly lively BradCast (given what we have to work with at times like these)...

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Special coverage with guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Richard 'RJ' Eskow of 'The Zero Hour'; Also: TX primary results, election probs...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2022 5:37pm PT  

"Democracies are rising to the moment," President Biden forcefully asserted during his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night. "And the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security." Is he right? We discuss that and much more on Biden's impossible address last night on today's BradCast.

Before we jump in, however, it was also Election Day in Texas on Tuesday, the nation's first primaries of the 2022 mid-term cycle. We briefly cover the reported results of the top-line races for Governor and Attorney General, as well as some interesting House races with progressive challengers on the Democratic side. There were also several curious anomalies we are looking into out Houston's Harris County, regarding the reported shutdown of some polling places to Democrats (and others, purportedly, shut down to Republican voters); some post-election squabbles on delayed results from the County, reportedly due to problems tallying long ballots on their new, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems; and continuing concerns about thousands of rejected vote-by-mail ballots thanks to new restrictions on absentee voting enacted by the Republican lawmakers last year in the state's newly adopted SB1 law.

Our main focus today, of course, is on Biden's first SOTU. This one, amid a newly raging war on Ukraine, as the autocratic Russia continues its appalling attack on its democratic sovereign neighbor, and as the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Russia's aggression and atrocities by a lopsided 141 to 5 vote. There were 35 abstentions (including China) and support for Russia offered from Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

As if Biden didn't already have enough to worry about with the continuing, if waning (for now), pandemic; an insurrectionist and obstructionist Republican Party; two obstructionist Democrats blocking the bulk of his domestic agenda; and both an opposition party and corporate media hell-bent on weaponizing predictable post-pandemic inflation, even amid a booming economy with growing wages, record corporate profits, record low unemployment, and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s. All of which has resulted, reasonably or not, resulted in Biden's approval ratings plummeting in advance of this year's critical mid-terms.

Any one of those issues (and, yes, there are more!) would be enough for one State of the Union address. Biden, somehow, had to deal with them all on Tuesday night.

We're joined today for our special coverage by fellow longtime progressive troublemakers and muckrakers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour.

There is a lot to discuss today, as we break down key moments from Biden's remarks. But, just for a taste, while they both Parton and Eskow laud the President for rising to the moment and bringing the world together regarding Russia, on the domestic front, political trouble may loom.

"Democrats always have this problem," Parton notes. "The historical pattern here is clear. The Republicans come in and they wreck the place, and Democrats come in and have to clean up the mess. And in the first two years, it's really hard."

"He's not getting a break from the media," Eskow argues. "I think people are also terribly sick of COVID, and he's had to bow to that fatigue. On the grand scheme of things, the big lesson here is the limits of Presidential power, and the fact that he would love to be doing a lot more. Here's a man who spent 50 years running for President, now he's got it, and I feel sorry for him."

Did last night serve to help Biden and the Democrats change their trajectory as we head toward a mid-term election which the media continues to remind voters is (almost always) a historically difficult one for the party in power? Tune in for our special coverage and conversation on that and much, much more...

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And other troubling war news; Also: GOP Congressmembers speak at pro-Putin White Supremacist rally; Huge percentage of TX mid-term ballots rejected under new GOP absentee ballot restrictions...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2022 6:17pm PT  

Gotta keep this very brief as tonight's State of the Union address begins shortly (full coverage on tomorrow's BradCast), but the madness of Putin's war on Ukraine continues today, as some Republicans here at home seem to be rooting both for him and against democracy itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We begin again today with coverage of the latest noteworthy news out of Russia/Ukraine, along with a few warnings about propaganda from all sides and the potential for erroneous reports amid the fog of war. Among the many stories covered today...

  • The office of the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is reporting today that Russian bombs fell on Babi Yar, a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv where some 34,000 Ukrainians were slaughtered by Nazis during one 48 period in 1941. The news offers a bizarre twist on the "denazification" that Vladimir Putin used as a phony pretext --- along with false claims of stopping a "genocide" --- when he launched his unprovoked attack on Ukraine last week.
  • Nearly 700,000 refugees have reportedly fled the country, with tens of thousands still trying to get out. But more than 40 million men, women and children remain, and are still facing bombardment while valiantly defending the country and its major cities. For now.
  • Swiss authorities report that the firm responsible for running the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany on behalf Gazprom, the Russia-controlled gas giant which owns the pipeline, have been laid off and the company overseeing the project is either in or near bankruptcy. That, after Germany stopped certification of the new pipeline as Russia launched its war last week and as sanctions have resulted in the pipeline firm being unable to pay its workers.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA)'s 31 member countries, including the U.S., declared they will be releasing 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves in hopes of preventing global shortages and to ease the soaring price of crude. Knowing Big Oil and fossil fuel market speculators, its unlikely to have much effect. Though moving the world off of fossil fuels MUCH faster just might help!
  • In a kind of amazing story, a Russian government climate scientist publicly apologized to Ukrainian scientists over the weekend during the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s final session to complete the group's latest blockbuster report released on Monday. The Russian scientist offered his "apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict," adding that "all of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine."
  • Those remarks echo some points we tried to make on yesterday's BradCast in response to a few on the left (hopefully very few) who seem to be placing inappropriate blame on the U.S. and NATO for Russia's outrageous aggression and war crimes. While the U.S. and NATO have made a number of missteps since the fall of the Soviet Union, only Russia can be blamed for the deadly, unprovoked military assault now underway on an unthreatening neighboring sovereign nation. Here is a very short and helpful metaphor to help folks understand all of this, casting Ukraine as a woman trying to break up with her abusive ex.
  • And, while the fight for democracy overseas is at a perilous moment, the Republican Party here at home continues to have completely lost its way. (Or, maybe, has finally found it.) Far-right Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) both appeared at a white nationalist rally over the weekend, where the leader of the group praised their "secret sauce" of "young white men" as the crowd cheered for Putin just before MTG took the podium. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) condemned both of his colleagues on CNN on Sunday, noting, "I've got morons on my team." One of those morons, as we also discuss after playing some audio of his comments on the House floor today, is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
  • It's mid-term primary Election Day in Texas today and, as we discussed last week with the President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, the state's new GOP-adopted voting restrictions are resulting in a huge percentage of absentee ballots being rejected --- nearly 30%, for example, in Houston's Harris County. By way of contrast, the last mid-term elections in Texas in 2018, saw a 1% rejection of vote-by-mail ballots statewide. Some late absentee voters may still have until March 7 to cure any ballot deficiencies if they can get to the County Clerk's office in person to do so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report, with more news on energy related sanctions and Russia; the disturbing new, 4,000 page IPCC report; and the U.S. Supreme Court's latest attempt to gut the EPA's statutory power to regulate deadly fossil fuel emissions...

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Guest: Grace Chimene, President, TX League of Women Voters on alarming mid-term primary ballot rejection rate; Also: Biden announces 'first tranche' of Russian sanctions in response to 'invasion'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2022 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The greatest threat to autocracy is, of course, democracy. Which is why, I believe, Vladimir Putin is now threatening Ukraine and why Republicans in this country are (successfully) attacking the right to vote itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Ukraine today, we share the latest in the increasingly dangerous standoff that threatens to spark all out war in Eastern Europe, unlike anything seen since WWII. That, on the heels of Putin's increasingly militaristic and bellicose pronouncements and his unilateral declaration on Monday that two Russia-backed, separatist-controlled regions in the eastern part of Ukraine are now independent "republics" that Russian troops may enter (invade) at will, in defiance of international law.

In response to the increased aggression, and in hopes of staving off a full-scale invasion, the U.S. and some 27 European Union members have begun to institute a series of sanctions, including Germany's announcement that they are halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a lucrative project for Russia which they had spent years working to open.

In Washington today, President Biden offered brief remarks which we share, decrying the Russian President for "carving out a big chunk of Ukraine" in defiance of international law, even as Biden remains hopeful that diplomacy is still possible. At the same time, however, he announced what he described as the "first tranche" of economic sanctions against Russian financial institutions, as well as several elites and their family members, with much more to come if a full scale invasion is launched.

There is, of course, much discussion and debate about all of this, with experts and pundits choosing up sides and offering explanations for Putin's behavior. The U.S. and EU and NATO certainly play a part in this potentially lethal failure of post-WWII, post-Cold War European diplomacy. But the point for now that rings most true, at least to me, was cited today by the WaPo Editorial Board arguing that Putin's "true reason for targeting Ukraine is not Russian national security but to preserve his own power in Moscow, which would be threatened by a successful democratic experiment in a former Soviet republic of Ukraine’s size and cultural importance."

Yes, authoritarians hate democracy. It's as simple as that. Which is why we've seen, in this country of late, so many voter suppression laws adopted by GOP-controlled states in the wake of Donald Trump's loss in 2020 and his false, evidence-free claims that the election was stolen from him through some sort of "fraud".

We've covered --- and warned about --- the many new voting restrictions adopted by Republican-controlled states and legislatures since 2020 for months. Now we are finally seeing how those new suppression laws are having a direct and disastrous effect on actual elections, beginning with Texas, which is the first state to hold its primaries for the 2022 mid-terms, next Tuesday.

With new restrictions on absentee voting --- in one of the most difficult states to vote by mail already! --- an extraordinarily high percentage of absentee ballot applications have been rejected in recent weeks in the state's most populous counties. Many of the rejected applications --- more than 30% in Houston's Harris County --- were due to the new, and at times impossible, requirements to include identifying information that exactly matches that on the voter's record, even if they registered to vote decades ago and have no clue whether they included a drivers license number or a social security number or no number at all at the time.

But of those who are able to finally get an absentee ballot, the rejection rates, so far, of actual ballots in advance of next week's Election Day are stunning. 35% of ballots are being rejected in Harris County, the state's most populous (and most African-American); 26% of mail-in ballots in Dallas County; and 25% of ballots are being nixed in Collins County, just north of Dallas.

We're joined today by GRACE CHIMENE, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, to explain what is going on in the Lone Star State; why it's going on; whether Republicans (whose voters are also being suppressed, if not in as large numbers) have any concerns about what is going on; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it in time for next Tuesday or, at the very least, before this November, when the number of voters --- and rejected applications and ballots --- will be much much higher unless the state's SB1 law is amended or blocked by the courts.

Chimene cites Texas officials who declared the 2020 election as "a very safe and secure election." Nonetheless, she notes, "the officials and the politicians who are writing these bills were the ones who won during the election. And it was safe and secure. So, really, I don't think they thought of this SB1 voter suppression bill, I don't think they thought of these ideas themselves. I think they came from someplace else and they were pushed out trying to meet somebody else's agenda of suppressing the vote even further here in Texas."

Election officials are now barred from informing eligible voters that they may vote by mail and, even when their applications or ballots are rejected, they are forced to be circumspect about why. Chimene explained that eventually officials were allowed to send a postcard to notify voters about rejected applications, but "what they don't tell them is where the mistake was in their application. They're not being told why the application was rejected, they're just notified that it was a rejected application." Notifying voters of rejected BALLOTS has been similarly fraught. "It's just a mess," the longtime non-partisan voting advocate tells us.

Chimene says that she "was hoping for some federal help, through federal legislation, such as updating the Voting Rights Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and it was so disappointing that that didn't happen." She calls out Texas Republicans for targeting voters and federal law enforcement for an inadequate response to it: "The issue is, who do they want to vote in the election, and how can they stop it? And it's just very disheartening to see this happening and that there's no help coming from the federal government."

What is now happening, in alarming numbers in Texas, Chimene explains, is "a way to stop people who have been voting for a very long time, very successfully, very securely and safely, and now they're unable to participate in the democracy. It's just bad news for democracy."

We seem to have quite a bit of that today...And not just in Texas...

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Guest: Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright; Also: Cawthorn ballot woes worsen in NC; Trumpy CO County Clerk arrested; National Archives refers Trump Presidential records theft to DoJ...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2022 6:40pm PT  

Three years ago this month on The BradCast, we spoke with the Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in deep south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley as Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security was busting locks on the 100-acre wildlife sanctuary to roll in heavy construction equipment to build Trump's dopey border wall. Last week, the Center was forced to temporarily shut its doors due to worsening violent threats and menacing from Trump's MAGA mob. Last night, she met with the FBI. Today, the Center's Executive Director joins us again to discuss the increasing madness of what is going on down there now, more than a year after Trump was tossed out of office. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

BUT FIRST, a couple of amusing and/or encouraging updates to other stories we've been covering in some detail on this program.

We have new news out of North Carolina, where Republican MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for reelection is being challenged at the State Board of Elections by state voters working with the Constitutional law experts at the non-partisan Free Speech for People good government group. The complaint to the SBE alleges that Cawthorn, who participated in the January 6 rallies and their planning, is ineligible to run for federal office in the state, based on Section 3 of the Constitution's 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those who previously took an oath to defend the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. Rather than defend himself in a Board hearing, as required by state law, Cawthorn filed suit last week in federal court charging the state Board has no right to determine whether he meets eligibility requirements for the ballot. In their response to the suit this week, CNN reported last night, the Board disagrees. Their motion explains that "States have long enforced age and residency requirements, without question and with very few if any legal challenges. The State has the same authority to police which candidates should or should not be disqualified per Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The case obviously has serious implications for a number of other MAGA Caucus members of Congress who participated in the January 6th insurrection and huge implications for Donald Trump's ability to be on the ballot in 2024 in the critical swing-state, if he decides to run again. We discuss that and a few more follow up details on the heels of today's update, following on our in-depth conversation last week about the original complaint with Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People.

NEXT, following up on a story we covered in great detail last year, the disgraced and very Trumpy Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, was arrested on Tuesday. And the video of her being taken into custody by law enforcement officials is pretty hilarious. You may recall that, in 2020, in the middle of the night, Peters snuck into the secured room where voting equipment is kept in her County with an unauthorized person. They turned off the security cameras and made copies of hard drives containing the critical Election Management System (EMS) software on the county's Dominion Voting Systems machines. That proprietary software was subsequently leaked onto the Internet as Peters participated in a loony "Cybersecurity Forum" with "Stop the Steal" conspiracist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell just days before the same critical software was to be used in several California counties during the GOP's failed attempt to recall the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Peters was removed from her duties by the state's Secretary of State and is now being investigated by the state's Attorney General. But her arrest on Tuesday was reportedly related to her use of an iPad to unlawfully record a court hearing for one of her deputies who was also removed from office in relation to the software theft. And, yes, the video of Peters' arrest, as you'll hear, is kinda hilarious.

THEN, we're joined by MARIANNA TREVIÑO-WRIGHT, Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in far south Texas, which was forced to close its doors indefinitely last week. The sad --- but, hopefully temporary --- news comes on the heels of increasingly violent threats and targeting by Trump's MAGA mobsters over the past three years. She explains how those threats have worsened during that time and in recent days, ever since the Center attempted to sue the Trump Administration in 2017 to stop construction of his border wall on and near the Center's property on the banks of the Rio Grande River in the city of Mission. (We interviewed Treviño-Wright about that on this program in February of 2019.)

The targeting that the Center has endured, as she explains today, includes "outrageous lies" beginning in the fall of 2019, when Steve Bannon and supporters of his fraudulent "We Build the Wall" project (for which he was indicted and later pardoned by Trump) claimed that the wildlife preserve and study area was actually "a cartel front and engaged in human trafficking, that we were selling women and children in to sex slavery [and] that there were dead bodies and terrorists on the property."

"They tell these lies because they work," Treviño-Wright tells me today, citing the QAnon "Pizzagate" lie that almost turned deadly and the 2019 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, just days after a nearby "We Build the Wall" rally. Two weekends ago in Mission, there was a "We Stand America" rally featuring Trump's disgraced National Security Advisor and QAnon hero Michael Flynn, which coincided with a physical altercation at the Center with a MAGA Congressional candidate from Virginia. There were also a number of rightwing media outlets who shot videos outside the sanctuary, suggesting that the Center was a way-point for human traffickers.

After the 2019 targeting, Treviño-Wright says, "the militia arrived, and a whole bunch of angry people unleashed a torrent of hate, of threats --- by mail, by phone, email, you name it. They came here to tell us to our face what despicable human beings we were, how we should be hanged and burned and all of that."

But menacing "indirect threats" have worsened in recent days, leading to her meeting on Tuesday night with the FBI to discuss a neo-Nazi who, she explains, has "gone to federal prison three times, most recently for his role in inciting the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre," who has recently moved to Texas. "He has been posting online messages using my photo and workplace, and urging the members of his church in his holy war to find out where I live, and everything they can about my children," Treviño-Wright details. You may or may not be shocked by what she says she was told last night by the FBI.

In the meantime, she tells me that the Board of Directors at the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the Center, "is actively seeking to engage licensed security professionals to do the assessments necessary and make the recommendations for training, for physical assets that we need on the property, and maybe even for additional personnel, so that we can re-open safely." But, she laments, "armed guards at a nature center is not at all the kind of look we are going for."

Citing the Lone Star State's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's policies allowing for indiscriminate, unlicensed open or concealed carry of firearms, Treviño-Wright describes charges it's "the wild wild West down here," though not due to "the things that Fox News and other are saying" about some sort of "crisis" at the border. "The call is coming from inside the house," she asserts. "That's where we are in the United States now. The terrorism is home-grown, and it's our own neighbors and relatives."

Treviño-Wright goes on to offer a timeline for when the Center may be able to re-open to the public; how members of the public can help in the meantime (a membership with the Center, she explains, "comes with benefits for people across the United States" and will help to continue paying employees during these weeks they are forced to remain closed); the status of the Center's ongoing lawsuit to stop the nearby construction on the river, which she says the Biden Administration is continuing under the guise of "levee repair"; and much more --- including some actual good news on butterfly survival if you can imagine such a thing!

She is a fantastic guest and, frankly, a great American. Please tune in for our conversation today.

FINALLY, we close with late breaking word from WaPo that the National Archives has reportedly asked the Dept. of Justice to investigate whether Trump's mishandling of Presidential records --- including absconding to Mar-a-Lago with some 15 boxes of them --- is a criminal violation of the Presidential Records Act. (Which, of course it is. The question is whether Merrick Garland's DoJ will do the right thing and take action on it. Don't hold your breath...)

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Guest: Grace Panetta of Business Insider; Also: Dem Senator hospitalized with stroke; Manchin's big 'Build Back Better' lie; NY state redistricting adds 3 new Dem House districts...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2022 6:51pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump and his democracy-hating supporters hoped to exploit the vagaries of the horribly written Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 --- along with several vagaries of the U.S. Constitution itself --- to try and steal the 2020 President election during the joint session of Congress meant to affirm the state certified results of the Electoral College. Now, there is an ongoing bipartisan effort in Congress to modernize and reform the ECA to prevent a similar nightmare in 2024 or beyond. But will even that reform, if successfully adopted, be able to prevent a political party from acting in bad faith to steal a Presidential election in plain sight in the future? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, before we get to the ECA, Democrats are down to just 49 voting members of the Senate at the moment, after New Mexico's 49-year old Senator Ben Ray Luján, his office announced on Tuesday, has been hospitalized with a stroke after experiencing dizziness and fatigue last week. The statement suggests a full recovery is expected, even as the incident serves as a reminder of the Party's tenuous 50-vote majority in the Senate...as long as everyone is well and Vice President Kamala Harris is there to break any ties. Dems seem to think that Luján will recover in time to support Joe Biden's eventual nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer in June.

Also, speaking of the U.S. Senate, we've got a minor update on the landmark Build Back Better proposal that had served for months last year as the $1.7 trillion centerpiece of President Biden's agenda: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says that "it's dead". That, after he killed it at the end of last year following months of negotiations and citing several ridiculous reasons. And while Democrats are hopefully they may still be able to pass Manchin-approved chunks of the bill in the future, I remain dubious that Manchin --- whose family rakes in millions from their coal business, supplying just one single coal plant with waste coal in West Virginia --- will ever allow the measure's critical $555 billion in environmental spending to help tackle climate change to be adopted.

Manchin spent months last year pretending to negotiate "in good faith" on the bill, even claiming repeatedly to support its climate provisions which incentivize the nation's power plants to move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Even in recent days, Democrats have repeated the notion that Manchin supports at least those provisions of the sweeping measure that would have also expanded healthcare, education, child care, elder care and much more. But if you believe Manchin supports BBB's environmental initiatives, I've got a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia to sell ya. Of course, I hope to be wrong. But I haven't been, so far, on this matter unfortunately.

Next, it's on to the ridiculously written Electoral Count Act (ECA) which was adopted, as our guest today, GRACE PANETTA of Business Insider detailed in her deep-dive report this week, "following the disputed 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of Black voters." The ECA was passed at the time to help clarify certain aspects of the U.S. Constitution's mandated 12th Amendment process for counting and determining the eligibility of Electoral College votes. But it is so vaguely written --- Panetta cites an ECA scholar who notes that "many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long" --- that Trump and his corrupt team of advisors were able to claim that the ECA allowed for Vice President Pence to pretty much name anybody he liked as the winner of the 2020 election during the joint session of Congress on January 6th.

This week, several coalitions in the Senate --- one, a group of three Democrats; the other, a bipartisan group of 16 Senators including nine Republicans --- are working to rewrite the measure in hopes of both clarifying it and preventing it from being exploited to steal a Presidential election. At least in theory.

As I've discussed on several shows of late, I often go to bed at night pondering the many ways that a political party prepared to act in bad faith --- in this case, Republicans --- can quite easily steal a Presidential election via the Electoral College with literally nothing more than norms, traditions and good faith to stop them. That's a fact, no matter what happens at the precinct level in each state, no matter who is and isn't allowed to vote, and no matter how those votes may be tallied. A party acting in concert in bad faith can steal an American Presidential election and there is little if anything in current law or the Constitution to prevent it.

Moreover, depending on how the ECA is rewritten --- if Republicans allow such a rewrite to be passed in both chambers and signed by the President --- it may still leave the door open for a rogue state legislature or even a single Governor acting in bad faith to steal an election, in what one ECA expert that Panetta cites describes as "the Swing State Governor's Gambit".

Panetta, a senior politics reporter at Insider, joins us from the Senate Gallery today to explain what the ECA is supposed to do; how Trump attempted to abuse it to steal the 2020 election; how reform can hopefully prevent that from happening in the future; and what the chances currently are that this new reform movement in the Senate will be successful.

She also makes clear --- in response to Trump's idiotic statement (admission?) on Sunday, claiming Pence had "the right to change the outcome" of the election --- that "the ECA does NOT give the Vice President the authority to unilaterally decide which electoral votes to count or not."

"The ECA as it exists, in its imperfect, flawed form, does NOT give the Vice President this authority," Panetta reiterates. "At the same time, however, I think what both the bipartisan group and another trio of Democratic Senators who introduced an ECA reform bill yesterday are trying to do is even more clearly state, clearly clarify in 21st-century language, that single slates of electors sent to Congress should be treated as final and the Vice President really has no role to adjudicate this."

Right now, she warns, "the groundwork is being laid at the state level for state officials --- like Governors, like Secretaries of State --- to overturn elections. In short, a Governor could submit an illegitimate slate of electors that does not reflect the popular vote in the state, and candidates could try in federal court to compel a Governor to send the correct slate, but that's no guarantee that that would fully work." So, yes, getting ECA reform right is now more critical than ever.

Finally today, some good news --- at least as I see it. New York's legislature has approved a new Congressional map for the state that will most likely add three additional Democratic members of Congress from the Empire State. New York Republicans are hopping mad about what they describe as an outrageous partisan gerrymander by Democrats. Ya know, just like the even more egregious ones being carried out by Republicans in GOP-controlled states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, where population growth was due almost entirely to minority voters, and yet state Republicans removed minority voting districts to add GOP seats. While I certainly would have opposed such efforts by Dems in the past (many redistricting experts still do), given the efforts right now by Republicans to undermine American democracy itself, I'm just fine with what NY is doing. If Republicans oppose it, they can (and should!) take it to court. Unfortunately, they won't be able to take it to federal court, because their own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority recently declared that federal courts may play no part in adjudicating partisan state gerrymanders. SAD!...

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Guest: Const'l attorney John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Trump more involved in 2020 gambit to seize voting machines than previously known...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Self-declared Republican "Constitutionalists" may not turn out to be huge fans of the written text of the U.S. Constitution after all. Particularly Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those "who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States...to support the Constitution of the United States...engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same." [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

That's turning out to be very bad news right now for North Carolina's Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn. It could also turn out to be bad news in the not too distant for other members of the MAGA Caucus in Congress and even our disgraced former President --- even if that might be good news for the rest of the nation.

Last month, an official complaint [PDF] was filed by voters with NC's State Board of Elections, charging that Cawthorn must be disqualified from running for re-election this year in the Tar Heel State. The freshman Congressman reportedly participated in planning meetings for the rallies in advance of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 and spoke at the rally on the Eclipse in front of the White House prior to Donald Trump's speech directing supporters to head to the Capitol and "fight like hell". Cawthorn also joined dozens of other members of the House and Senate that day in voting against Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, despite the lack of evidence of fraud that might have changed the certified results of the election in any state.

The effort to block Cawthorn's candidacy in NC is the first official volley in the 14Point3.org campaign created by good government groups Free Speech for People and Our Revolution. NC state law requires that candidates must meet all requirements for office as detailed in the U.S. Constitution and further requires potential candidates to disprove any challenges to those qualifications, such as their age, legal residency, citizenship status or, in this case, whether or not they've "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the U.S. Constitution.

We're joined today by longtime Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, co-founder and President of the non-partisan, non-profit Free Speech for People, to discuss this rather amazing and actually quite serious challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy and perhaps additional challenges to other insurrectionist candidates such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and potentially even one Donald J. Trump.

"It's a 'novel' challenge in the sense that it's the first such challenge since the Reconstruction Era," Bonifaz tells me, while noting that "during that time, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was applied to many Confederates who remained in positions of government power." But, he explains, "the Framers of the 14th Amendment were clear that if you take an oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution, and then you turn around and engage in insurrection or give aid and comfort to it, then you are prohibited from holding future public office. Now, we have the second insurrection in our nation's history and those who incited the insurrection or gave aid or comfort to it must also face accountability under that mandate."

The challenge is serious enough that, on Monday, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of quashing the inquiry into his role on January 6th. His lawsuit claims that the State Board has no authority to keep him off the ballot. Bonifaz describes the claim as absurd. "If Madison Cawthorn were ten years old and seeking to be on the ballot in North Carolina, there'd be no question that he's ineligible to be placed on the ballot because he doesn't meet the age qualification for a member of Congress. This is another qualification requirement --- you cannot take an oath of office, as Madison Cawthorn did on Jan. 3, 2021, and then turn around and engage in insurrection and hold public office again."

"Instead of complying with the process that is laid out under state law, he has now rushed to federal court with his attorney to try to completely declare the whole process by which candidate qualifications are brought to be unconstitutional" Bonifaz contends. "If it's so hard for him to prove that he's not an insurrectionist, maybe the real question is why Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should not be applied to him."

"If he's really nervous about appearing before the State Board of Elections, that may be a real indication that the Board needs to act in the voters' favor. But the very fact that he's doing an end run around the state process and rushing into federal court ought to tell you a lot about whether Madison Cawthorn wants to appear before the State Board of Elections to defend himself."

Cawthorn's attorney has also offered another unique defense. He charges that the last part of Section 3 states that "Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability" and that the Amnesty Act of 1872 declared just that. Yes, Cawthorn is relying on the dispensation given specifically to former Confederate rebels in 1872 to try and remain on the ballot in 2022. Bonifaz explains on today's program why he is less than impressed with that defense.

For the moment, while there is a separate legal challenge to NC's newly gerrymandered Congressional maps, the qualifications process for all candidates in the state is on hold. Once the maps are settled, however, Bonifaz says the Board's "longstanding process by which voters can bring these kinds of challenges" includes creating a panel that will have 20 days to hear the case in which Cawthorn will have to defend himself, before the matter goes to the full Board and then, potentially, to state court on appeal.

One way or another, the matter must be settled in a few months before the state's primary election. It has resulted in a fascinating conversation among Constitutional law experts on the matter of what it means to "engage" in an insurrection. Bonifaz explains why he believes that conviction for sedition or insurrection in a court of law is not necessary to trigger the Constitutional clause. And if Cawthorn is, in fact, disqualified from running in North Carolina based on restrictions in the U.S. Constitution, what will that mean for other such insurrectionist candidates in other states in 2022 and, indeed, for Trump himself, if and when he attempts to become a candidate on the ballot again in the critical and closely divided swing-state in 2024? All of that, and much more is discussed on today's program.

Also today, speaking of insurrectionist Trump, new exclusives late last night from both CNN and the New York Times suggest that the disgraced, twice-impeached former President was much more personally involved in the attempt to seize the nation's voting machines following the 2020 election than previously reported. Also, that his efforts were far broader than previously known. CNN reports that there were actually two different Executive Orders drafted up for Trump's use. One was recently obtained by Politico, which we discussed last week. That one would have ordered the Department of Defense to seize the machines. The other order would have directed the Department of Homeland Security to do so. Team Trump was reportedly told by DHS that the federal agency lacked the authority to impound the voting systems.

But the Times offers new details on a third effort, which included a personal appeal by Trump in the Oval Office to his then Attorney General Bill Barr to have DOJ impound the voting systems. Barr, to his credit, is said to have immediately shot down the idea, telling the desperate loser that, since there was no evidence of fraud on the systems, the DoJ had no probable cause to believe they had been used in any crime. Trump's A.G. tendered his resignation shortly thereafter.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with bad news for fans of winter sports and good news for opponents of more deadly oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico...

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Guest: Lynn Bernstein of Transparent Elections NC on intimidation and an independent review of unverifiable ES&S vote systems; Also: Major media failures at Fox 'News', CNN and Washington Post...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2022 7:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we are bound and determined to take back the real fight for Election Integrity from the MAGA "Stop the Steal" loons and dupes who have no such interest in anything of the sort, as the Right has attempted to co-opt the idea of "Election Integrity" as part of Donald Trump's efforts to steal the election in 2020...and/or to steal the next one. But even too many weak-kneed Democrats have been frightened off of the fight to secure our nation's vulnerable voting and tabulation systems and ensure public oversight of election results for fear of offering fodder to the MAGA Mob. We're not playing that game. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up, some pretty dreadful media failures from both the wingnut Right and the non-wingnut Corporate Media. First, after a deteriorating, 50-year old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, ironically enough just hours before President Biden's planned appearance in the city to tout his recently signed $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, one Fox "News" host may have jumped the shark when it comes to disinformation from the propaganda news outlet. (Which is not easy!)

Longtime Fox host and news anchor Julie Banderas went off on an embarrassing tear about how "President Biden has been making promises over promises over promises and, as you've noticed, none of them have come true," as she asserted to four others appearing with her, each in their own little silent box. "Back in June of 2021 he started talking about his bipartisan infrastructure deal," she sneered derisively. "There's nothing bipartisan about it! If it was bipartisan, it would have been passed by now!," she continued cluelessly in her rant, slamming the President for failing his vow to "reach across the aisle" to make policy with Republicans. That, she insisted, "has clearly not happened." She was quickly followed by Kayleigh McEnany who concurred. "That might have been the biggest fairy tale of them all," said Trump's former White House Press Secretary.

In fact, Joe Biden's landmark, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill --- which he was in Pittsburgh to discuss on Friday, fer chrissake --- was passed with nineteen Republicans voting with all the Democrats in the Senate. It was signed into law a full two and a half months ago --- even if word of that promise-kept has yet to pierce the Fox "News" reality bubble.

Sadly, non-wingnut news outlets are not a whole lot better in too many cases of late. On Thursday, a federal judge invalidated the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in the nation's history. 1.7 million acres were recently auctioned in the Gulf of Mexico after a different federal judge last year, one appointed by Donald Trump, blocked Biden's Executive Order pausing new fossil fuel leases, forcing the Biden Administration to sell off the Gulf. That, even after a scam environmental analysis by Trump's Department of Interior claimed that it would be worse for the climate if Big Oil was not allowed to buy up the leases and expand their drilling there. The Biden Justice Dept. sued to prevent the sale and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made clear to reporters back in November that the President opposed the auction, but was left no option by the Trump-appointed Judge to carry it out.

So, Thursday's ruling was a welcome victory for the Administration. But one would have to read the actual stories from outlets like Washington Post and CNN to learn that, because both of those outlets sent out news alerts to mobile phones telling a very different story. CNN's alert screamed: "A federal judge invalidated the Biden administration's oil and gas leases for 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, citing climate change," while WaPo misinformed its readers by declaring "Federal judge throws out Biden administration's massive Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale, faulting its climate analysis."

Wow, if we didn't know better --- or hadn't clicked through to read the actual stories --- it sure would sound like Joe Biden is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he claims to care about climate change and transitioning off of fossil fuels, while carrying out the nation's largest-ever sale of drilling leases in the Gulf! With non-wingnut corporate media like ours, no wonder his approval ratings continue to plummet (despite the fastest growth in the economy since 1984, as the media has also been failing to adequately report, as discussed on yesterday's program!)

NEXT UP...The Department of Justice on Thursday announced that its Election Threats Task Force, formed seven months ago, has made its second arrest. They indicted a 50-year old Nevada man who had repeatedly called the Nevada Secretary of State's office with violent threats on January 7, 2021, just one day after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, promising they were "all going to fucking die". That, after hundreds, if not thousands of similar and worse threats have been issued since the 2020 election against elections officials across the country.

But its not only elections officials forced to face down such attempted intimidation. One longtime Election Integrity advocate, who joins us on today's show, says she has faced similar nightmares in response to her work in a critical swing state, resulting in both in-person intimidation to herself and her family, and a chilling attempt to hack into her home security system.

Our guest is LYNN BERNSTEIN, an aerospace engineer with an expertise in testing satellite systems, who has, in recent years, turned her skills toward fighting for evidence-based elections as founder of Transparent Election NC in North Carolina. The non-partisan group's mission, according to its website, "is to confirm that every eligible vote is counted as the voter intended by working with elections officials to ensure that elections are secure, transparent, robustly audited, and publicly verified."

But, Bernstein contends, there are some in her state who may not like that idea. She has become a critic of North Carolina's recently approved, unverifiable computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by ES&S, the nation's largest private voting system vendor. Bernstein went public last month on Twitter with some of the threats she began to face after she (a registered and active Democrat) found common ground with the state's Libertarian Party. She helped convince them to exercise their right, under state law, to seek an independent source code and security review of ES&S' unverifiable BMD voting and tabulation systems.

Bernstein offers several chilling details on the intimidation she has faced since the Libertarian Party announced their plans to seek an independent source code review, which will be overseen by the excellent University of South Carolina computer science and voting system expert Dr. Duncan Buell (who has also been a guest on this program). "Elections officials have been in the news a lot about being harassed and threatened," she says. "It seems though that the intimidation of election advocacy leaders happens way more than the public is aware of. I work with people all across the country and privately we discuss it among ourselves, but most won't publicly disclose that they've been hacked or intimidated before."

She also shares her well-researched concerns about the state's controversial new ES&S voting equipment --- which are also used in many other states --- and which experts had strongly advocated against certifying in the closely divided swing-state. "I'm a big proponent of hand-marked paper ballots," says Bernstein. "I think it's just the best record of voter intent. It's a very direct record." She explains how the ES&S BMD systems print out bar-coded paper ballots, supposedly representing voter's touchscreen selections. But those ballots cannot be verified by any voter as actually reflecting their intent. "North Carolina law says that a voter must be able to verify their ballot before casting it. With ES&S's barcode system, it doesn't actually allow the voter to verify their vote before casting it."

During our conversation, Bernstein also offers an endorsement of the state's Libertarian Party chairman who explained in his Party's December press release announcing the review, that "this is not about litigating the 2020 election." She claims that "one of the reasons why he's the perfect person to do this" is because "he has done forensic examinations before" as a former fraud investigator. "When I let him know that this particular ES&S system has never undergone a truly independent source code review, a full comprehensive one, he was shocked, as I think most of us are when we learned of these things."

There's a lot to discuss here, including whether both the state and ES&S will allow the state-mandated review, as we recommit to working to reclaim the real fight for Election Integrity around the nation.

Finally, when it comes to election fraud --- and, arguably, voter fraud --- nobody holds a candle to what Trump and the GOP tried to pull off in 2020. So it's nice to see that the January 6th Committee in the House on Friday, subpoenaed 14 Republicans from seven different states --- all of them won by Biden in 2020 --- who signed their names as duly-sworn "electors" for Trump, on documents fraudulently sent to Congress and the National Archives, in one of the most brazen (and, thankfully, failed) election fraud schemes in the history of this nation...

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Record U.S. corruption; Biden economy booming (don't tell the media!); Snowflake Youngkin's 'tip-line' pratfall; 'Maus' banned in TN before Holocaust Remembrance Day; Internet's dumbest man strikes again...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2022 7:17pm PT  

Today, The BradCast is more than just a grab bag of American corruption. It's also topped off with several heaping helpings of rising rightwing autocracy and fascism! Enjoy! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A new report ranking corruption among 180 countries ranks the U.S. as the 27th least corrupt in the world. In 2021, we fell to our worst score ever --- tied with Chile --- in Transparency International's index. For some reason or another, that's a fall from our previous (less corrupt) high in 2015. Whatever could have happened between then and now to make us more corrupt? The group suggests new efforts already under way by the Biden Administration to tackle corporate corruption could "significantly enhance" our ranking in future surveys. But, for now, they chalk up the nations new record low to, among other things, "persistent attacks against free and fair elections, culminating in a violent assault on the US Capitol, and an increasingly opaque campaign finance system."
  • You may or may not have heard the news --- it disappeared off of AP's front page as quickly as it was posted there today --- but the U.S. economy under Joe Biden in 2021 was absolutely booming. New Commerce Department numbers released Thursday finds that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's Presidency. The economy expanded by 5.7% in 2021, the best calendar year growth since 1984. Based on 4th quarter numbers, however, GDP was growing at an even faster, 6.9% annualized pace. You sure wouldn't know it from corporate media coverage, however, focused as it is on things like inflation (due, in no small part, to the exploding consumer demand). All of this is akin to AP's recent ridiculous reporting on new jobs numbers, even amid decades-low unemployment numbers and rising wages. Their headline under Trump in February of 2018, for example: "U.S. Employers Added a Robust 200,000 Jobs in January". Compare that to their December 2021 headline under Biden: "U.S. Employers Added a Sluggish 210,000 Jobs in November." (Yes, you read those correctly.)
  • Corruption takes many forms and has many different effects on a nation, none of them good. Some of them, however, can be quite amusing, even when it comes from the clumsy rightwing spread of autocracy and facism, such as that playing out under the freshly sworn in Republican Governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He announced this week that he has created a tip-line for folks to report teachers who might teach anything objectionable. That might include, for example, anything that may have to do with systemic racism (in Virginia, of all places!) or that could be perceived as making (white) children uncomfortable (aware of) our nation's past (and present). But, "Whatever you do," one Virginia lawyer and former Democratic Congressional candidate hilariously cautioned this week in a viral Twitter thread, "don't make a mockery of this with fake tips" sent to the state's helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov email tip line! He even provided some examples of several fake racism tips that should absolutely not be sent to that address!
  • As amusing as that might be, the rising tide of Republican snowflakes seeking safe spaces is also taking darker turns. This week --- just before today's Holocaust Remembrance Day, as irony would have it --- the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board voted 10 to 0 to ban Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel MAUS: A Survivor's Tale from the school's 8th grade curriculum. The remarkable (beautiful, touching, terrifying, horrifying and even hilarious at times) story of Spiegelman's relationship with his parents, both Holocaust victims, relating their stories and his mother's horrible suicide with Jews drawn as mice and Nazis as cats, should be read by everyone. It's unclear if the County School Board is aware of the irony of banning books about Nazis who famously banned books, but the entire affair has left the author Spiegelman baffled and concerned about the rise of "autocracy and fascism" in the U.S., akin to what his parents eventually escaped in Europe. But it serves as another reminder of how important it is --- as discussed on yesterday's BradCast with Run For Something's Amanda Litman --- that more pro-democracy, anti-Nazi candidates need to run for local office everywhere! Including school boards!
  • And just one more for you today on the corruption of the media --- or at least, the fake, if wildly popular, disinformation propaganda site called Gateway Pundit. We usually try to ignore them and the clownish stuff they post. But they are behind about 90% of the phony wingnut "fraud" claims used by Trump and his gullible MAGA dupes to try and steal the 2020 election. This week, the website's super genius proprietor, Jim Hoft, posted a 100% phony story claiming that the Wisconsin state Assembly voted "unanimously" on Tuesday night to advance a resolution to decertify the Badger State's 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden from 2020. That, because they "were certified under fraudulent purposes." And because MAGA dupes are dupes, the story went viral, natch. As it turns out, one single state legislator in WI tried to introduce that resolution, with zero co-sponsors, was rejected, and it received zero votes in the Assembly. In fact, it wasn't allowed up for a vote at all. But don't tell the dopey propagandist/yutz Hoft, who still has the story posted on his site --- along with years of other phony, discredited, false stories --- two days after publishing it, even after USA Today's fact check thoroughly and verifiably showed it to be completely fake news. Sigh...
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some actual and verifiable news in our latest Green News Report, with a new report on the costs of reaching net zero emissions; another finding air pollution to be much deadlier than previously known; the Biden Administration revoking controversial mining permits in Minnesota; and both McDonald's and KFC each offering a new, plant-based menu item which may, or may not, move you to want to eat it...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Tensions boil in Russia-Ukraine standoff; SCOTUS takes affirmative action cases...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2022 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we pick up, in no small part, where we left off on Friday's show regarding that chilling, newly unearthed, December 16, 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] created for Donald Trump to allow him to declare a national security emergency, seize the nation's voting systems, and implement a military coup that would have left him in power after the 2020 election's actual winner, Joe Biden, was supposed to have been sworn in. We are joined today by the woman whose organization's federal lawsuit in Georgia was quoted extensively in that draft EO as a pretext for seizing the nation's voting systems. Of course, the MAGA Mob lied about the ruling they quoted from her lawsuit in the never-issued EO. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But first, we cover some quick news headlines today...

  • Just before airtime, the Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court reportedly approved District Attorney Fani Willis' request for the creation of a Special Grand Jury to aid her ongoing investigation into the criminal conspiracy to steal the state's 2020 Presidential election by Trump and others in his cabal, potentially including former WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham among others.
  • Then, news on the quickly ratcheting tensions in Ukraine, where Russia continues to amass thousands of troops on their eastern border in preparation, according to NATO and the U.S., for an invasion of the former Soviet Union satellite country. Russia, on the other hand, says it has no intention of invading and is simply responding to provocations by NATO and the West. We detail the latest as tensions continue to grow by the hour --- along with new military hardware in the region --- on all sides.
  • Also on Monday, the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court announced plans to take up two cases next term on affirmative action in college admissions. One case challenges the use of race in Harvard's admissions policies, the other looks at similar policies at the public University of North Carolina. The Court's decision to hear these cases, despite multiple cases in recent years confirming the Constitutionality of such policies, signals the likelihood that the newly far-right 6 to 3 Court is looking to overturn long-standing precedent on race-based policies. Such a reversal of otherwise settled law would echo similarly radical moves in other recent rightwing hobby horse cases taken up by this Court regarding abortion, gun rights, voting rights, vaccine mandates, and environmental regulations.

Then we're joined by MARILYN MARKS, longtime election integrity, security and transparency advocate and Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance. It was a ruling in the Coalition's long-standing lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems that was quoted, at length, in the December 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] that was to direct Trump's Secretary of Defense to immediately seize the nation's voting systems and institute a military coup to keep him in office.

The EO quotes a ruling in the Coalition's case made by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg just prior to the November 2020 election. In it, as we reported at the time, she recognized the massive vulnerabilities in Georgia's new Dominion touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, but allowed them for first-time use in the 2020 election anyway. The previous year, as part of the very same lawsuit, Judge Totenberg finally banned the state's controversial, 20-year old, unverifiable, insecure touchscreen systems made by Diebold, finding the vulnerabilities made them unconstitutional for use in Georgia's elections. Rather than replace those old systems with verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems, Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger forced every county in the state to switch to the new, unverifiable Dominion systems which share many of the same problems as those they replaced.

In the draft EO, after citing Totenberg's 2020 ruling at length, the drafters of the document (likely Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, among others), falsely claim that "Every defect and hazard of which Judge Totenberg warned, happened in Georgia."

Marks, whose has joined us many times on this program over the years to discuss her legitimate case to ban those Dominion systems in Georgia (a case which continues), offers her reaction today to seeing a ruling from her case included in the EO drafted for Trump's military coup.

"I was ready for the whole world to know about our lawsuit --- those who don't listen to you --- but this is not the way I wanted to have it happen!," quips Marks. "Because, of course, it is a totally serious lawsuit and this [EO] is preposterous, silly and crazy. And chilling, as well!"

She says that she was "horrified" when she first saw the news come in via headlines. "It's just so shocking that this would have gotten on paper anywhere, that anybody could have these ideas to use the judge's very serious ruling, to take it totally out, twist the words [and] wrap it in a bunch of lies. It's really so sad and scary."

Marks notes as well that, while there are indeed very serious vulnerabilities in Georgia's new voting systems (and others like it in use around the country) making them "hackable", the evidence-free (and/or wholly inaccurate) claims made by the Trumpers in the EO about them having been manipulated "is just so false. It's unbelievable that someone could get away with putting that on paper because there's no evidence that any of those things happened. Yes, there were problems [in Georgia]. Yes, those problems need to be resolved. But certainly not what these people are claiming."

She also explains why, even if the Pentagon had seized the voting machines in Georgia as the document called for, they were not likely to find the "malware" they pretended was on those systems in November of 2020 because the systems had already been wiped for upcoming municipal elections and the January U.S. Senate runoffs by that time in December.

We go on to discuss how both this newly revealed EO and all of the phony, evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen --- as part of Trump's actual efforts to steal the election --- has made the fight for election integrity all the more difficult for real advocates. In response, she argues that many Democrats are now even more afraid to take action on anything that has to do with concerns about voting systems. Some, she notes, are even working to make such systems less transparent in the bargain. "So what we are seeing is some pushback that is really unhealthy in terms of let's reduce transparency, let's reduce citizen oversight, thinking that somehow that will quiet the citizens talking about the problems. It's a dangerous reaction," warns Marks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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