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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Death and Destruction; Hope and Change: 'BradCast' 8/4/20
Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 8/3/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Isaias hits NC amid a pandemic, makes history; Rising seas pushing storms further inland, study warns; PLUS: 15 states clear the air, move to all-electric trucks and buses...
Previous GNRs: 7/30/20 - 7/28/20 - Archives...
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money:
'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
Previous GNRs: 7/28/20 - 7/23/20 - Archives...
Conspiracies. Real Ones.:
'BradCast' 7/29/20
Dark money behind anti-mask, pro-chloriquine movement; White supremacist provocateurs behind BLM 'riots'; Also: COVID conspiracist Gohmert has COVID...
Local TV Goliath Sinclair Shamed Into Nixing COVID Disinfo: 'BradCast' 7/28/20
Guest: Media Matters' Zachary Pleat; Also: If MLB can't avoid COVID, how will schools?; Trump's Fauci envy...
'Green News Report' 7/28/20
Two hurricanes in two states over one weekend; CA plugs in world's largest battery; PLUS: Trump Admin takes major step toward approving controversial Alaska mine...
From The Global Coronavirus Epicenter of Miami Beach: 'BradCast' 7/27/20
Guest-host Nicole Sandler with Miami Beach, FL Mayor Dan Gelber and healthcare advocate Laura Packard...
Sunday 'Cognitively Fascist' Toons
Power up with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
'RECOUNTED' with Ari Berman, Chuck Collins: 'BradCast' 7/24/20
On safeguarding the 2020 election and on our worsening economic inequality...
Philly DA Vows Arrest of Trump's Fed 'Thugs' if They Break State Law - But Should He?
Ernie Canning on measuring the risks of such an escalation by local officials...
Reality Begins Setting in for the GOP; Chaos Continues for America: 'BradCast' 7/23/20
FL RNC cancelled; COVID at White House; Jobless claims keep breaking records; GOP in disarray over relief bill; Trump goons tear-gas Portland mayor; Much more!...
'Green News Report' 7/23/20
OH GOP House Speaker arrested for bribery in utility conspiracy; Gonzalo breaks new record in historic 2020 hurricane season; PLUS: Burger King cuts the methane...
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...


Surprise! The Peach State's new $104 million, unverifiable touchscreen vote system melts down in its first statewide election; Also: IPS' Chuck Collins on inequality and the 'Wall Street casino' coronavirus jackpot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have predicted it? Another Election Day meltdown in Georgia? Even with the brand new, $104 million, unverifiable, disease-vector touchscreen voting system the state's Republican Secretary of State forced every voter in the state to use at the polls for the first time during Tuesday's twice-postponed Presidential primary in the critical battleground state? Yup. And what has been happening on Wall Street of late underscores how perilous this moment is, and the need to save the voting system in the battleground Peach State before the critical November 3rd elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Yes, as we've been warning for years now, the roll out of Secretary Brad Raffensperger's new computerized voting system would be a disaster for Georgia voters --- at least for those in or near Atlanta in some of the most heavily Democratic, heavily minority counties in the state. Voters reported wait times as long as 2, 3 and 4 hours in precinct after precinct, to cast their votes today --- even those who showed up before 6am in hopes of being first in line!

New computerized electronic poll-books failed. New computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed. New optical-scan computers used to scan the unverifiable ballots printed out by the $4,000 electronic pens (BMDs) failed. What didn't fail was Raffensperger's propensity to blame county officials and poll workers who risked their lives to help voters vote during a deadly pandemic for his own failures to implement a simple, verifiable and much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system.

More disturbing, the outrageous (if predictable) catastrophic failures of his new systems --- featuring touchscreens made by Canada's Dominion Voting Systems --- come even after Raffensperger ordered absentee ballot applications sent to each of the state's 6.9 million active registered voters (whatever "active" means in his assessment) to help mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 on state voters. Many of those in the same counties which saw huge lines at a reduced number of polling places on Tuesday reported never receiving their requested absentee ballots in the mail.

Today, we detail just some of the hundreds of reported nightmares voters faced trying to vote on Tuesday in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Muscogee and other counties in the Peach State, as voting equipment was missing altogether at some polling places when they opened; as hand-marked paper ballots quickly ran out at precincts where electronic voting systems couldn't be booted up or failed to work properly once they were turned on; as County officials called for official investigations; and as Raffensperger tried to blame it all on everyone but himself. Yes, we have spent many months (in fact, years now) detailing the lawsuits filed against him, as voters (and some counties) begged him to to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system instead.

Then: No, you are not crazy. You are not imagining it. Yes, up is down and down is up right now. Coronavirus infection rates are, indeed, spiking in a whole bunch of states that have opened up for business around the U.S., despite many collectively pretending the nightmare is over. It isn't. But much of the nation, encouraged by Donald Trump and his supporters, is now pretending otherwise. Similarly, on Wall Street, investors are pretending that the economy is great and the worst of the coronavirus pandemic's shock to the U.S. financial system is over. Of course, we now know the economy had already gone into recession as of February, even before the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns had begun, ending an 11-year economic expansion that started during Barack Obama's administration and ended under Trump's.

But Wall Street is decidedly not the economy, where, back here in the real world, tens of millions of Americans are newly jobless amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Nonetheless, on Wall Street, the Nasdaq closed at a record high on Tuesday and both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes have rallied back in recent days to near the record highs they were at before the economy crashed. Billionaires on Wall Street are so drunk with irrational exuberance and flush with decades of sweet sweet tax cut cash that they are even beginning to buy up shares in companies that have filed for bankruptcy amid the crash.

According to the Institute of Policy Study's updated "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report, between March 18 (roughly the start of the pandemic shutdown), through the fist week of June, "U.S. billionaire's total wealth surged by over $565 billion," even as 42.6 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment. What explains the obscene inequality between the billionaire oligarch class and all of the rest of us?

We're joined today by CHUCK COLLINS, co-author of the IPS study as Director of their Program on Inequality and the Common Good, where he co-edits Inequality.org, to explain what happened and how we can --- and must --- begin to correct the absurd, decades-long and still-growing imbalances in our economy.

"Only 14% of Americans have direct investments in stock," Collins explains. "So this tells us the story of how the top ten percent --- and in this case, how the billionaires --- are seeing their wealth surge during an unfortunate time for everyone else."

"We're now at the culmination of four decades of growing income and wealth inequality. As we went into the pandemic, we were at maybe our greatest unequal level since the Gilded Age. And the reality is, since 2009, only about 20 percent of households have recovered where they were in terms of savings and net worth prior to the Great Recession of 2008. So, think about that --- 80 percent of households went into the pandemic with an economic hangover, still not really fully back on their feet in the last eleven years. This recession and pandemic are going to supercharge the existing income and wealth inequalities that we are already living through."

Collins charges that "we're just absorbing now the pre-existing condition of extreme inequality in America," while reminding us that America did manage to "reverse the first Gilded Age" about 100 years ago. But, he cautions, "It required the fight of our lives. And that's what we're heading into."

As you might suspect, the solutions begin (though do not end) at the ballot box. But, he says, as he details a number of programs that could reverse our current Gilded Age, "the pressure is building" and "people understand the rich have been gaming the system." But, the reversal will not come easily, as "we're living in an oligarchy where the rich use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the 2020 hurricane season is already breaking records; as the Trump Administration is using coronavirus Shock Doctrine politics to roll back tons of public health and endangered species protections while few are noticing; and as record warmth in May has resulted in a catastrophic oil spill on the melting permafrost in Siberia...

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

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Looks like we gotta lot of fact-checking to do today...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2020 6:59pm PT  

The good news for today's BradCast is that, thanks to so much breaking news on yesterday's show, we've got at least one encouraging new piece of news on a story that we had to bump yesterday regarding Donald Trump's absentee voter fraud felony in the state of Florida. Between that and the false claims made by him and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (in the pages of the New York Times, shamefully enough) charging that "antifa" is behind the violence seen at some of the mostly peaceful protests across the country over the past week and a half, we've got a lot of fact-checking to do on today's program. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]

First, Times staffers are livid that that the paper of record gave space to Cotton for an editorial on Wednesday calling for U.S. military troops to be deployed across the country against U.S. citizens under the Insurrection Act. The far-right Republican Senator charged in the piece that "cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa [are] infiltrating protest marches to exploit [George] Floyd's death for their own anarchic purposes." His remarks echo those of Trump, who, on Sunday, declared (falsely) that antifa will be designated as "a Terrorist Organization". In fact, antifa is not an organization. It's a movement of people who oppose fascism and authoritarianism and there is no such federal designation for domestic organizations, even if antifa was one. But the calls of Trump and Barr and Cotton echo what the Times itself described as "misinformation" just two days earlier in an article debunking that myth and several others related to the protest and being circulated widely (and falsely) on social media.

Moreover, the charge that antifa is behind the violence at protests is contradicted by intelligence reports this week from both the FBI and DHS, which find little evidence of antifa involvement, but seem to find plenty of evidence that rightwing white nationalist groups have organized to instigate chaos at otherwise peaceful demonstration around the nation. Continuing video tape evidence of police violently abusing peaceful protesters, including on Wednesday night after many of the demonstrations had otherwise calmed down, doesn't help either. But this week Twitter reported they'd shut down a European white nationalist group posting as "@ANTIFA_US" and tweeting out, for example, messages with a brown raised first emoji and declaring: "Tonight's the night, Comrades. Tonight we say 'F--- The City' and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours."

While that account has been shut down, the white nationalists on the street have not all been. We still do not know the identity of the white man with full face gas mask (pictured above) and a black umbrella, who strolled down the sidewalk in front of the Minneapolis AutoZone last week with a hammer by his side, casually smashing each window of the store. Protesters tried to stop him and to identify him before he slipped away, leading Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to post the video of the man on Twitter, along with the remark: "This man doesn't look like any civil rights protester I have ever seen. Looks like a provocateur. Can anyone ID him?"

And yesterday, in Las Vegas, AP reported on terrorism charges filed against three Nevada men with ties to a rightwing extremist group. They were arrested on Saturday heading to a protest on the Strip after "filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles," according to the criminal complaint obtained by AP. Two of the men, according to an informant, "discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot, in response to the death" of George Floyd. They are all said to be members of the anti-government "boogaloo" movement, advocating for a new civil war.

It seems its easier to find strawmen to blame for years of systemic racism rather than take responsibility for it. That seems to be what Trump, Barr, Cotton, Fox "News" and all the rest of those looking for someone else to blame for Floyd's death and the resulting outrage seem to be doing. It doesn't seem to be working. But that won't stop them from trying to play a whole bunch of folks just months before the next Presidential election.

Speaking of...as we reported several weeks ago, Donald Trump --- who has been making myriad false claims about absentee voter fraud for weeks now --- is, himself, a voter fraud criminal after illegally voting in Florida this year, by absentee ballot, despite having no lawful permanent residence in the state.

While he claimed late last year to have moved his permanent residence from New York to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, his original 1993 agreement with the city when he purchased the property and turned it from a single-family residence into a commercial club, required that nobody could actually live there. So, yes, that is voter fraud, and people in Florida have been charged and even jailed for much lesser infractions of the Sunshine State's elections code.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported another noteworthy point or two on this story, with yet another update to it today. On Wednesday, the paper reported that Trump, when he filed his Florida voter registration [PDF], listed the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as his "legal residence". That means his legal residence is not in Florida and he is, therefore, not allowed to vote there. A month later it appears he tried again, this time specifying Mar-a-Lago's address as his "legal residence." It's unknown what happened in the 31 days between the first and second registration, but maybe Florida generously granted him a mulligan. Of course, that still doesn't make his declared residence at his commercial property in Palm Beach a legal domicile in the state.

Making his case even worse, on Monday, during his infamous phone call with the nation's Governors (in which he described peaceful protesters as "terrorists" and instructed the Governors to "dominate" them or he would send in U.S. troops to do so), he stated: "I live in Manhattan". Oops. That prompted Democratic election attorney Marc Elias to tweet: "Sounds like New York may have a good claim for taxes. And Florida for voter fraud."

And, on that point, the Post updated its story today with the news that a Florida resident has now filed a formal election fraud complaint against Trump, which is what we've been calling for weeks! Under Florida law, the state is now required to investigate the complaint. And because it's a violation of state, not federal, law there is nothing to my knowledge that should prevent the President from being charged with felony voter fraud there. He did it. He should be charged with fraud.

When we painstakingly detailed the voter fraud by former GOP superstar Ann Coulter more than a decade ago after she illegally lied about her address in Palm Beach on her registration application and then unlawfully voted at a precinct she was not entitled to vote in, the state slow-walked their investigation until the statute of limitations ran out. (She also got a helping hand from a former FBI boyfriend). We'll hope that Florida Law Enforcement doesn't try something similar here. Though it would be much harder to do in this instance, given that the crime happened just months ago in this case.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with coverage of a tropical storm barrelling towards the Gulf Coast; evidence that global warming is increasing extreme rainfall events in North America; a new study finding that building new wind and solar plants is now cheaper than using existing coal power plants; and the good news that the University of California is divesting it's $120 billion endowment from all fossil fuels...

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

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Guest: Down With Tyranny's Howie Klein on progressives wins and losses on Tuesday and those still to come...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2020 7:12pm PT  

Sure, I admit today's BradCast is a bit breathless, but you try and keep up with all of this madness happening, breaking, changing and then changing again all at once while trying to make calm, cool, collected sense of it all for listeners in just under an hour! As usual, we do our best. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full breathless show is posted below the summary.]

Somewhere amid the mayhem of our latest program you will find coverage of...

  • New charges brought today against the four Minneapolis police officers responsible for killing George Floyd last week. (BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning foreshadowed as much in his report on the results of a new independent autopsy of Floyd earlier today.);
  • Protests against Floyd's ghastly murder-by-cop continue around the country for a tenth day;
  • Trump (as we predicted yesterday) begins to back away from his tough guy threats to send U.S. military troops to cities across the country to "dominate" peaceful American protesters;
  • Trump's Secretary of Defense Mark Esper claims he didn't know where he was going when he joined Trump's pathetic photo-op with a bible iin his hands in front of St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday, after federal storm-troopers were ordered to clear out peaceful protesters and church staff with tear gas, rubber bullets and other violence to take the shot. Esper now says that he opposes using federal troops against Americans, even though he described American cities as "battle spaces" during a phone call with Governor's on Monday;
  • A senior Pentagon adviser resigns, charging that Esper "violated" his oath to protect and defend the Constitution;
  • Even Pat Robertson tosses Trump under the bus after all of this;
  • U.S. troops deployed to D.C. from Fort Bragg in NC on Tuesday to quell protests are reportedly sent back to their bases...and then reported NOT being sent back to their bases just a few hours later, right before air time today';
  • Some protesters managed to breach a temporary fence near the White House and cowardly Trump is reportedly scuttled back into his underground White House bunker by Secret Service;
  • Also, Trump claims to now be pulling the August Republican National Convention out of Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Governor won't let him create a shoulder-to-shoulder viral super-spreader event out of it. We'll see if President Bluffer keeps that threat (he usually backs away from most), and we'll see how it may harm his odds of winning the very closely divided Tar Heel State this November. He really needs it to go "red" again if he wants a chance at re-election;
  • And, oh yeah, all of this as primary elections were held in about a dozen states and D.C. amid protests, curfews and a pandemic that continues and has, so far, killed more than 105,000 Americans in just the past 90 days.

    Unofficial results from Tuesday are slower than usual in coming in, due to the expansion of absentee voting in most states to help keep Americans safe during the pandemic. Lines to vote in-person were also much longer than usual in many places, due to the consolidation of polling places, also thanks to the coronavirus. That resulted in many forced to wait in very long lines, sometimes for hours after curfews around the country. But there was some noteworthy news in the few results we do have.

    Of course Joe Biden continues his march toward the required number of delegates to formally win the Democratic Presidential nomination. But, of more note on Tuesday...

    • Ferguson, Missouri --- where the killing of a young African-American man by a white cop sparked national protests six year ago --- elected Ella Jones as the city's first woman and first African-American Mayor!
    • Nine-term white supremacist Republican Congressman Steve King was defeated in the GOP primary in Iowa's 4th Congressional District by another rightwinger who will go on to face progressive Democrat J.D. Scholten (a guest on this show just a few weeks ago) in November.
    • Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte, who beat up a journalist (and tried to lie about it) the night before winning his first term in Congress three years ago, won the GOP nomination for Governor in Montana. He will now run against the state's Democratic Lt. Governor Mike Cooney to fill the seat being vacated by the popular term-limited Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in a state which Trump won by 20 points in 2016. That year, however, Bullock won his second term as Governor on the same ballot, and on Tuesday he secured the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who could very well be in trouble this year.

    We're joined today by progressive Congressional campaign expert and advocate HOWIE KLEIN of the "Down With Tyranny" blog and the BlueAmericaPAC to discuss all of the above and much more, including a number of other progressive wins (some a surprise) and losses (not as surprising) on Tuesday.

    Klein also handicaps a few upcoming races and offers what he regards as some "exciting" contests next week in Georgia which, with West Virginia, will be holding their own primary elections on June 9th. If you can keep up with everything that happened on today's show, much less today overall, you win a prize. Other than that, color me breathless...again...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: FairVote's David Daley; Also: Trump pretends to be 'furious' at Twitter. He isn't. But he is hoping to distract you (and the media)...
By Brad Friedman on 5/27/2020 6:27pm PT  

Desi Doyen is on the money at the end of today's BradCast when she cites a Twitter user who recently asserted: "The GOP has become a virus: it now exists solely to replicate itself." If you've yet to notice, the 160 days between now and the critical 2020 Presidential election will be about little more for Republicans than a desperate attempt to suppress certain voters; to game the results of those who do manage to vote; and, of course, to do anything possible to distract from the fact that more than 100,000 Americans have now tragically died on Trump's watch over just the past 3 months, tanking the economy in the bargain, thanks to his disastrously failed response to the coronavirus. We discuss all of those things on today's program. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]

First, Trump today is pretending to be furious about the fact that Twitter placed a very polite "Get the facts about mail-ballots" link under two of his misleading tweets on Tuesday about absentee voting fraud. He is feigning outrage, claiming the company is biased against Republicans and that he has the power to shut them down. The RNC and Trump's campaign, of course, are all playing along with the phony fury, because they love playing both victim and strongman at the same time, and because it all helps distract the media from his ongoing unspeakable failures as President.

In fact, not only did Twitter do him a favor by placing those links on his tweets, helping to bring attention to his disinformation (which can also been seen as instructions for his followers on how to defraud the November election), but the company didn't even bother to label his most offensive recent tweets, such as the ones in which he accused MSNBC's Joe Scarborough of murdering a staffer who tragically died in the then-Florida Republican Congressman's office in 2001.

At the same time, Facebook is allowing the Trump Campaign to run hundreds of paid, false political ads making the same misleading claims, as that social media company simply allows false paid-for propaganda ads from politicians, even if they are meant only to disinform, distract and undermine the 2020 election itself.

It should also be noted anytime any media outlet reports on Trump's false claims about absentee voter fraud, that he is a voter fraud criminal himself, after voting by absentee in Florida where he has no legal permanent residence, in violation of state law.

As to voter suppression and Florida, we reported yesterday on the excellent ruling by a federal judge who gutted the GOP state legislature's new poll tax law over the weekend. The measure was enacted to undermine a Constitutional Amendment adopted by state voters in a 2018 mid-term landslide. Despite the enormous bipartisan voter support for Amendment 4, which could allow some 1.5 million former felons to vote in the Sunshine State for the first time, Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his election that same year) has now announced plans to appeal the court's ruling that gutted the poll tax passed by Republicans in hopes of countering Amendment 4.

Florida, however, is hardly the only state in the union with GOP-controlled legislatures attempting to undermine recent bipartisan ballot box landslides. In Missouri, on the heels of the adoption of a landmark state Constitutional Amendment in 2018 meant to end extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Show-Me State, the gerrymandered GOP state legislature is rolling out what our guest today describes as REDMAP 2.0.

We're joined by FairVote senior fellow DAVID DALEY who, literally, wrote the book on the GOP's successful plan to take control of state legislatures in 2010 to implement crippling partisan gerrymanders during redistricting after that year's decennial Census. Now, as Daley detailed in a recent New York Times op-ed, MO Republicans are rolling out an even more invidious scheme to undermine the voters' intent with another Constitutional amendment on this November's ballot.

He describes the plot --- which includes an unprecedented plan to count only voting age citizens during redistricting --- as a "dress rehearsal" for GOP-controlled states in the rest of the country. The plan, which would "dramatically" shift voting power from Democratic-leaning urban areas to white, Republican-leaning rural areas, is being adopted for nationwide roll-out by the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he reports.

"It changes the definition of representation and it overwhelmingly tilts this in the direction of conservatives and Republicans," he tells me. "Total population has been the guiding standard that everybody has used for a long time. If you were to change this to say that the baseline that we're going to count is not everybody, but only citizens who are over the age of 18, then what you are doing is eliminating huge numbers of people. You are curating and manicuring an electorate that is older, more rural, more conservative, and of course, whiter."

As Dems are finally trying to win the last battle by rolling back what happened in 2010 a decade later, Daley argues they need to get ready --- immediately --- to figure out how to counter the GOP's newest ugly war on this front.

"I don't think Democrats are paying enough attention to this," he says. "This is a Presidential election year. Democrats are thinking about the White House, about the Senate, about holding on to the House. But there's so much more at risk in this election. This is the last election before these maps are going to be drawn for another decade. ... The Republicans are going to have a 2020 'REDMAP 2.0' plan, and if Democrats are not equally focused on playing offense and defense, they are going to get check-mated."

We also discuss Daley's newly published book, UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy', documenting recent, critical (and successful!) citizen-led efforts to restore democracy across the nation...

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Also: Ernest A. Canning on GOP's CA Vote-by-Mail ballot lawsuit; Federal judge guts FL Republicans' newest voter suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 5/26/2020 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As the U.S. crossed the 100,000 coronavirus death Rubicon over Memorial Day weekend, the President of the United States played golf. Twice. And called a potential Democratic Vice Presidential nominee fat. And a former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee a "skank". He also suggested a popular TV host murdered someone. And he lied again (and again) about absentee voting fraud (even though he committed it himself.) The Presidential election is 161 days away. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Before we get there, however, former CDC Director Tom Frieden said this weekend, "It's 100,000, but it looks like we're still at the beginning of this pandemic." He is not alone. According to the Imperial College London, the U.S. could see another 200,000 dead on top of those who have died already from COVID-19, thanks to the President's desperately premature push to reopen the nation's economy. That, while Trump is ignoring the first 100,000 dead, even though, as the New York Times observes:

"More Americans have died of the coronavirus in the last 12 weeks than died in the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined and nearly twice as many as died of battle wounds during World War I. The death toll has nearly matched the number of people killed by the initial blasts of the world’s first atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of American deaths, it is the equivalent of 22 Iraq wars, 33 Sept. 11 attacks, 41 Afghanistan wars, 42 Pearl Harbors or 25,000 Benghazis."

At the same time, despite the Republicans' attempt to pretend the viral pandemic away, without very quick action by the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate to prevent massive layoffs at the state and local level, we could be looking squarely at a second Great Depression before year's end, The American Prospect's David Dayen reports today with very good evidence in support.

Other than all of that, we hope you had a delightful holiday weekend!

Speaking of that Presidential election (did we mention it's just 161 days away? --- but who's counting?), we have some very good news from Florida today to counter the grim news with which we felt it necessary to open today's program. A federal judge has nixed the voter suppression law enacted by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state's GOP-controlled legislature. The law was adopted to gut the state Constitutional Amendment passed by 65% of FL voters in 2018 to allow most former felons to register to vote after having completed "all terms of their sentence including probation and parole."

Amendment 4 ended the state's shameful lifetime ban on voting rights for former felons. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, following an eight-day trial earlier in Spring, declared the GOP's new Jim Crow law --- enacted to upend Amendment 4 --- to be an unconstitutional poll tax, as the law mandated the payment of all fines and fees before former felons would be allowed to register to vote, whether they could afford the payments or not. Moreover, the state keeps no database of such fines and fees, so many former felons had no idea if they owed money or not. Because of that, many declined to register to vote for fear of being charged with perjury when attesting that they had they had "completed all terms" of their sentence on the voter registration application.

Despite that very good news, we suspect the roller coaster battle by the Florida GOP to prevent as many as 1.5 million new voters in the crucial battleground state --- including about a quarter of the its African-American male voting age population --- from getting their voting rights back will continue.

Of course, the GOP War on Democracy is happening all over the country right now. We close today's show with a new front opened in that war over the weekend by the Republican National Committee and former GOP Congressman-turned-candidate-again Darrell Issa. They filed a federal lawsuit alleging that California Gov. Gavin Newsom's May 8 order to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state for the November election is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, it even sounds absurd on its face, but longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING joins us today to explain exactly why the complaint is even more ridiculous than it sounds and the two big reasons why he believes it is likely to be "dismissed at the district court level". Whether that dismissal will be upheld by the GOP's stolen majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, should Republicans push it that far (and why wouldn't they?), is a separate question. Tune in for Canning's thoughts on that and much more...

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Rightwing organization and GOP candidate Darrell Issa charge mailing ballots to every registered voter violates the U.S. Constitution...
UPDATE: Case likely to be dismissed as moot...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/26/2020 9:35am PT  

In a desperate attempt to prevent a high turnout of California voters for the critical 2020 General Election, attorneys from the extreme right-wing organization, Judicial Watch, filed a federal complaint [PDF] late last week on behalf of former Republican Congressman turned candidate again Darrell Issa with several named Republican voters in the U.S. District Court (Eastern District CA)

The complaint alleges that CA Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla, both Democrats, unlawfully usurped the power of the CA state legislature when, on May 8, they issued an emergency Executive Order in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The order directed the election officials of every CA county to "transmit Vote-by-Mail [VBM] ballots for the November 3, 2020 General Election to all [registered] voters" no later than "the last day on which [VBM] ballots may be transmitted."

The complaint alleges that the Executive Order violates the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Art. I, §4. That clause provides, in pertinent part: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof."

The CA legislature, via the state's Voter's Choice Act, set forth explicit criteria that each county must meet in order to become an all VBM county. The Republican plaintiffs argue the Executive Order permits counties that have not met that criteria to act as VBM counties; that permitting all voters to cast VBM ballots "dilutes" the votes of the Republican voter plaintiffs who live in counties which have not met the statutory criteria. They seek to invalidate the Executive Order and compel those CA voters who have not timely requested absentee ballots under CA law, as it existed prior to May 8, to either vote in-person or not at all.

The Republicans' legal filing drew a sharp retort from Padilla: "Exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to justify voter suppression is despicable, even for Judicial Watch's pathetically low standards."

From a legal standpoint, the Republicans' legal arguments are frivolous...

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




Guest: Penn State climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann on today's multiple climate-fueled disasters and what we must do to solve them
Also: Oregon Primary results; Florida voter fraud criminal Trump threatens Michigan in the middle of two concurrent disasters in the state...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2020 7:03pm PT  

Our esteemed guest on today's BradCast argues "Donald Trump is literally a threat to the planet and to all living things on the planet." He is right and has the evidence to prove it. So do we all. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

Statewide stay-at-home orders are still in place in Michigan, even as the state was forced to order more than 10,000 residents to evacuate their homes amid record rain and flooding and two "catastrophic dam failures" in the central part of the state on Tuesday and Wednesday. That disaster comes on top of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, presenting an impossible challenge for Michiganders and their Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. And, all of it could be made far worse thanks to the Dow Chemical company headquarters in swamped Midland, MI and some 50 miles of toxic SuperFund cleanup sites along the banks of the swollen Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers where the company dumped poisonous, cancer-causing waste for years.

Amid all of that then, our President of the United States felt today would be the perfect moment to attack the state on Twitter with completely false claims about absentee voting fraud (which he knows a thing or two about, having committed absentee voter fraud himself in the state of Florida this year), while threatening to cut off federal funding to Michigan in the bargain if their Sec. of State dares to lawfully send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters this year.

Interestingly enough, Donald Trump has made no similar threats to states with Republican Secretaries of States doing the very same thing this year to help keep voters safe during a global pandemic.

Meanwhile, speaking of absentee voting, Oregon's primary election was Tuesday, in a state with a Republican Secretary of State that mails actual, postage-paid ballots out to every single registered voter in the state in every election, including the primary Trump won there (without any competition) on Tuesday. We cover that and the other noteworthy, if less than surprising reported results today, including a doozy of a U.S. Senate nominee that Republicans have decided to put up against popular incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley.

There has been one, let's call it, "bright" spot amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and that has been the unprecedented plunge in global carbon emissions and other dangerous pollutants as restrictions implemented to fight the virus resulted in abrupt reductions in driving, flying and industrial output across the globe. The effect on the climate, according to a new study by the Global Carbon Project, published in the Nature Climate Change journal this week, has been a record breaking daily drop in emissions of some 17% at the peak of global shutdowns in April. That stunning reduction of more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide output, according to the researchers, is likely to result in as much as a 7% reduction in dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, depending on the pace at which ordinary life resumes across the planet. The annual reduction would be about the amount that climate scientists have long urged we must cut every year --- for many years in a row --- in order to avoid the worst effects of man-made global warming.

We're joined today by climate science expert and author DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, to discuss the new study; the climate crisis-fueled disaster in Michigan ("As we warm up the planet, as we warm up the surface of the oceans, we put more moisture into the atmosphere. ... So you get more of these extreme rainfall events. This isn't rocket science. It is a basic prediction that we made decades ago. And, unfortunately, we're seeing that prediction has come true."); the climate crisis-fueled SuperCyclone currently pummeling the poorest regions on Earth in India and Bangladesh ("It drives home another pernicious aspect of climate change --- that many of the worst impacts are being felt by those with the least resources in the Third World...That's one of the inequities of climate change that we're literally watching play out right now."); and whether it is actually possible for society to cut enough emissions to mitigate the many future climate crisis-fueled disasters that await as greenhouse gas production continues to threaten the future of human civilization.

As the new study warns, even with the startling --- if temporary --- decline in emissions over the past two months, we have only reverted to 2006 levels at the moment. If this virus-driven decline were to stay in place --- which it won't --- it seems impossible that society would be able to do the same thing, year after year, to meet the targets even of the conservative 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

"It's impossible through individual behavioral change alone. That's what this really drives home," Mann warns. "In fact, it's a bit more of a challenge because we probably need to decrease our carbon emissions by more like 10% a year, year after year for the next decade, to have any degree of confidence in avoiding dangerous warming of the planet."

But, he says, it is not impossible. "Last year, there was actually some really good news. Global carbon emissions didn't go up at all, even though economic activity did continue to increase. The International Energy Agency looked at the reason for this, and for the first time, they were able to say that the reason for that wasn't an economic downturn --- we've seen that in the past, where there's an economic downturn and carbon emissions stop going up. No, this time they were able to attribute it to the increased deployment of renewable energy --- wind, solar, geothermal --- around the world. So we know that the structural changes that are underway are starting to flatten the curve, but flattening it isn't enough. We got to come down the other side of that curve, and we've got to do it dramatically to avert dangerous warming."

"There's rigorous academic research that provides a roadmap," Mann tells me. "It's a matter of political will. It's not a matter of physics. The laws of physics don't say that we can't do this right now. It's only our policies that are preventing us from doing this."

"But it's not going to happen if we don't have the leadership," he explains. "And that's why it's so important for people to turn out and vote in this next election. And to vote on the issue of climate and environmental sustainability. Only if people come out and indicate decisively that this is the direction they want to see us go, will it happen."

The biggest roadblock to that, right now? The man who sits in the Oval Office who is actually making things worse, instead of better. Though "this shouldn't be partisan," he says, "Donald Trump is literally a threat to the planet and to all living things on the planet. It appears we may survive a single term of Trump. But, in the sense of a continued thriving planetary environment, I don't think we can survive two terms of Donald Trump."

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Guest: Howie Klein on progressive Dem win in NE, establishment Dem loss in CA; Also: Trump voted illegally in FL and ... 'OBAMAGATE'!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, committed voter fraud while serving as President of the United States. And, speaking of elections, we had a few on Tuesday in California, Wisconsin and Nebraska. [Audio link to full show is conveniently posted below.]

But first up today, if Trump is accusing someone else of doing something, it's a near certainty it's because he's doing it himself. While he's been busy pretending in recent weeks that Democrats steal elections by absentee voting, it turns out it was Trump himself who actually committed voter fraud in the state of Florida this year when he voted in the Sunshine State's primary election in March by absentee ballot. No, voting by absentee is not a crime or fraud in and of itself (as he continues to claim). But voting in the state of Florida --- in-person or via absentee --- without having a lawful permanent domicile there is, in fact, a felony.

As Washington Post recently documented, thanks to some digging by attorneys, historians and neighbors of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump signed an agreement in 1993 that turned Mar-a-Lago from a single family residence into a commercial club. It cannot be both at the same time under state law, despite Trump's recent assertion on a Palm Beach application for approval of a boat dock at his seaside club that the club was his "personal residence".

As the facts started coming out that Trump's claim to have moved his residence from New York to Florida last year was, in fact, unlawful, he quietly rescinded the application for a new dock this week. But he can't rescind the fact that he committed voter fraud in the state of Florida by falsely claiming residency there and then voting unlawfully in their March primary elections. If it was anyone else (any Democrat, anyway), charges would be brought. But, like former GOP superstar Ann Coulter, who also blatantly and knowingly committed voter fraud in Palm Beach, Florida (as The BRAD BLOG meticulously and indisputably documented years ago), Trump will probably find a way to eventually get off the hook for his voter fraud crimes as well. He shouldn't. Even if that means waiting until he's out of office to bring criminal charges against him. Republicans have jailed, fined, deported and otherwise thrown the book at others for far lesser election-related crimes in recent years.

That, as Trump is claiming a bogus (if unspecified) crime by former President Obama that he and Fox "News" have now dubbed "OBAMAGATE" in apparent hopes of tarring Trump's presumptive Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, somehow. The pretend scandal seemly has something to do with Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to federal officials about his contact with Russian agents prior to Trump's inauguration and about being an undeclared agent of Turkey even while serving as National Security Advisor. But, despite Trump describing "OBAMAGATE" as the "biggest political crime in American history, by far!," so big, in fact, that it "makes Watergate look small time", neither the President nor Fox "News" seem to be able to explain either what the crime is, or why Trump says that his own Constitutional powers as President allow him to commit any crime he wants, while that same Constitution didn't apply to President Obama apparently (even as there is no evidence to demonstrate that Obama committed any such crime.) It was, however, quite amusing when a guest on Fox "News" recently pointed out that little problem with Trump's otherwise ingenious plan.

Then, we're joined by longtime, champion progressive blogger HOWIE KLEIN of Down With Tyranny to discuss Tuesday's Special Elections for the U.S. House in California and Wisconsin and a big win for progressives in Omaha during yesterday's primary elections in Nebraska. Progressive Democrat Kara Eastman trounced former Republican Ann Ashford, wife of former conservative Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, to win the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District. Eastman will run against hard right Republican Trump loyalist Donald Bacon in November, after the incumbent Congressman defeated her by about 2 points in 2018. Klein argues that it sometimes takes a couple runs at it before progressive candidates are able to unseat incumbents. He believes Eastman, a strong supporter of a Medicare for All single-payer universal health care system, has a very good shot at flipping the seat from red to blue this year, fueled by the populist progressive grassroots support that lead to her landslide win on Tuesday

Meanwhile, the news was not as good for Democrats in the two U.S. House Special Elections yesterday. In Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District (so gerrymandered by Republicans that it stretches across 26 different rural counties!), Republican Tom Tiffany easily defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker by about 15 points. As Klein tells me, however, she did better than Clinton in that district, which went for Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012 and to Trump by about 20 points in 2016.

The most stinging loss of the night for Dems had to be in California's 25th Congressional District, where establishment-backed Democratic candidate Christy Smith appears to have lost to Republican Mike Garcia by about 12 points (at least with 82% of ballots now tabulated). This is the seat vacated late last year by freshman Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned amid a revenge porn and ethics scandal. Klein explains how and why the Democrats lost on Tuesday, and blames much of it on a lack of support --- and, at times, opposition --- from the conservative Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). That election, by the way, is the one that Trump and Republicans were pretending over the weekend was being "stolen by Democrats!"

As co-founder of the BlueAmericaPAC with Heather Digby Parton of Hullabaloo and John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Klein also details several progressive U.S. House candidates today who could use your support in upcoming primaries around the country. Several of them are facing contests with incumbent establishment Democrats over the next two months as nearly 20 different states have yet to hold their primary elections this year...

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AZ Guv shuts down COVID study; Trump plans to question death toll, buries CDC reopen guidance; CO's GOP Chair Rep. Ken Buck ordered a Party official to falsify elections results; And we finally reach 'Peak GNR'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2020 6:46pm PT  

Donald Trump is putting George Orwell to shame. A Republican U.S. Congressman is caught on tape committing election fraud. And our Green News Report may have finally jumped the shark --- or at least the news we report in it today has. All on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

I've said many times on the show that Donald Trump and the Republicans can't simply lie this one away. Or vote it away. Or simply ignore it. The hard numbers of Americans dying --- at least 75,000 already --- can't merely be wished away, as Trump has successfully been able to do with so many of his crimes, misdemeanors, appalling failures as President and other scandals. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe they can actually pretend it all away. In fact, that is now what they are trying to do.

In Arizona, some two dozen experts at two top universities who had been compiling the state's most robust public modeling for COVID-19 were told by the head of the state's Department of Health Services to stop their work immediately, according to an email obtained by Phoenix' ABC affiliates and reported by the Arizona Republic on Wednesday. They will also no longer have access to special data sets the team had employed in their work. The order came as AZ's Republican Governor Doug Ducey was lifting coronavirus restrictions across the state, and after the experts from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona produced five different potential models for reopening the state, with only one scenario that did not show a dramatic increase in cases. That one allowed for businesses to reopen at the end of May. But Ducey wants them open now, so his Health Department has shut down the state's best information in favor of models they claim are coming from FEMA and the CDC --- moels that have no been released publicly.

Back in D.C., the President of the United States is now reportedly questioning the coronavirus death toll numbers, believing them to be lower than reported, according to AXIOS, when, in fact, it is almost universally agreed among experts that the most widely reported numbers from Johns Hopkins University are likely vastly lower than the actual death toll, since most states have only reported those who have died after testing positive for COVID. Tens of thousands of more Americans have died over the past several months almost certainly from the virus, but they are not currently included in those figures. Nonetheless, Trump and other senior aides are now planning to publicly question the death toll as being falsely inflated, while the tragic numbers continue to blow away Trump's repeated lies since January about expected U.S. deaths from the pandemic. Yes, he's preparing to simply pretend it all away, as he did with the death toll for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and as Republicans have done for years regarding the science of climate change.

At the same time, as AP revealed today, the Administration is also preventing the release of a 17-page CDC guidance report meant to help local churches, restaurants, schools, summer camps, transit systems and other business reopen safely, with one CDC source telling AP they were told the guidance "would never see the light of day." After the publication of the report by the AP documenting the Administration's attempt to bury it, the New York Times reports the White House "rejected the recommendations over concerns that they were overly prescriptive, infringed on religious rights and risked further damaging an economy that Mr. Trump was banking on to recover quickly." In other words, Trump believes he can revive the economy quickly to improve his re-election chances, no matter how many Americans are unnecessarily killed in service to that cause.

And, speaking of elections, the Denver Post published a remarkable story on Wednesday night, along with an audio recording revealing Colorado U.S. Congressman and state Republican Party Chair Ken Buck ordering another GOP party official to falsify election results on an affidavit in order to place a Republican candidate for state Senate on Colorado's upcoming primary ballot.

The Republican official, Eli Bremer, GOP chair of state Senate District 10, is heard on the call refusing to do so without consulting with an attorney first. He asserts that he was being asked by Buck to commit a crime in signing a false affidavit to certify that at a local candidate received the 30% support necessary to be placed on the ballot when, in fact, he received only 24% in a recent vote.

A state District Court judge ruled on Monday that Bremer would have, in fact, been in violation of state law had he signed the affidavit as ordered by Buck. The state Republican Party appealed the ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court which declined to hear the case, leaving the lower court's ruling in place. Buck, a Tea Party right-winger and former District Attorney, claims the initial vote was flawed. He has yet to resign his post as Colorado GOP Chair or U.S. Congressman. He should step down from both. Had any Democrat been caught on tape doing anything even close to what Buck is heard doing in the recording, they would already be gone. We'll hope the Colorado state Bar Association, at the very least, sees fit to take away Buck's license to practice law after being caught on tape repeatedly ordering someone else to violate it.

Finally, even with what may be our most ridiculously apocalyptic Green News Report ever today, we have to tack on one more sign of the end of the world, as a potentially historic snowstorm is now forecast to dump as much as one foot this weekend in parts of the Northeast and New England --- in MAY! That story seems an apt intro today for Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report today, in which it all falls apart --- including terrible climate crisis news and, yes, Murder Hornets! --- suggesting that, in fact, we may finally have reached 'Peak GNR'.

Enjoy! (If you dare...)

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New stats prove 'opening' the country now will be a deadly disaster; COVID death projection doubled; Also: Attorney Doug Ecks on new details about L.A. County's $300 million touchscreen voting system debacle...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2020 7:09pm PT  

I might have headlined this show "See? I told ya so!", except Rush Limbaugh ruined that phrase for all of us years ago. On today's BradCast: The Administration's persistent lies about coronavirus and Trump's pressure to "open" the country long before we should (since he's failed to marshal any national plan whatsoever for broad testing and contact tracing) will result in tens of thousands of more deaths than necessary. But we told you so long ago. Meanwhile, more evidence is in to prove Los Angeles County's new, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting systems was a disaster for voters (but we told you so there as well, long ago) even though Bernie Sanders was finally, officially, announced the winner of the California Presidential Primary --- two months after it was held on Super Tuesday. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

As we have been warning, there is currently no good reason to throw open the doors for business amid the coronavirus pandemic, other than Donald Trump really thinks that doing so will improve the economy and his chances of winning re-election. But Trump's Fantasy World beliefs that it is safe to do so are belied by more and more evidence in both this country and around the world --- and even from his own Administration's unreleased figures. The New York Times today reports on private projections by FEMA and the CDC that the daily death rate in the U.S. could reach as high as 3,000 deaths by June 1, particularly with the loosening of restrictions around the country by mostly Republican Governors. Perhaps that's one reason Trump, on Sunday, conceded that the death rate could reach 100,000 in the coming weeks after telling us just two weeks ago that he excepted about half that many deaths, around 50,000.

But, as health and science experts have been at pains to try and tell us, nothing has actually changed to make opening up any safer now that it was back in March, when the epidemic caught fire in the U.S. In fact, infection rates have been spiking in many areas, particularly in rural regions of the country. The newly unearthed FEMA/CDC docs forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of this month in the U.S., as compared to the current rate of about 25,000 confirmed new infections per day.

New statistics coming in from countries around the world which have begun opening up their economies again, show the number of infections and deaths beginning to spike there again. And today, the model at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has been revised. Their previous projections of an estimated 70,000 U.S. deaths by August has now been doubled to nearly twice number that at 135,000, due, they announced, to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility. The IHME model has long been used by the White House and others, and we have long told you that it was extremely conservative in its projections. (So, again, yeah, told ya so.) Even a Republican Governor, Mississippi's Tate Reeves, wisely decided late Friday to hold back for the moment on the further loosening of restrictions in his state. The announcement cane during a press conference where he had originally planned to do so. That, due to a spike in the state's infection and death rate after he lifted some restrictions prematurely on April 24.

All told, that's a helluva lotta dead Americans piling up all so that Trump and Republicans can try to stay in power.

In related news, we have a quick follow-up today on a new poll we covered last week that found Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in Texas(!) by 1 point, essentially a tie. As we mentioned last week, that poll from Public Policy Polling could simply be an outlier. But, over the weekend a second poll, this one from the Dallas Morning News/University of Texas, also finds Biden and Trump deadlocked in the Lone Star state with 43% a piece among registered voters. Maybe those polls are not outliers and Texas could finally be a battleground state that could flip "blue" this year for the first time since 1976. November is a thousand years away of course, but, once again, it all underscores that every vote in every state will count this year. Thus, the fight now playing out over how people will be able to vote in both upcoming primary elections around the country and in this November's critical Presidential election.

We've been reporting in recent weeks on a spate of lawsuits around the country and both good and bad news --- depending on the state and county --- regarding moving away from dangerous, disease vector touchscreen voting systems and towards much safer absentee ballots. Another new lawsuit toward that end was filed in Tennessee over the weekend by the National Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, challenging what they describe as "some of the most restrictive absentee voting rules in the nation".

But here in Los Angeles, the County's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to require that a Vote-by-Mail ballot be automatically sent to every registered voter in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction this November. That is encouraging news, given that the County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has been clinging to his new, failed $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system that crashed and burned so spectacularly during the March 3 Super Tuesday Primary in the state.

On that score, we have the "breaking" news late Friday from CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, certifying that Bernie Sanders defeated Joe Biden by 8 points (36 to 28%) on March 3rd, after the Golden State's already 30-day long counting and certification period was extended to two months due to the COVID crisis. In Los Angeles County, Sanders enjoyed an 11 point win over the former Vice President and now presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee. So, no, despite what some in the media had irresponsibly told you, California was not stealing the election from Bernie (nor does any evidence persuasively show that they did so in 2016 either.)

We do, however, have more information today on the boondoggle "VSAP" (or Voting Solutions for All People) voting system that Logan forced on L.A. voters for the first time --- and, hopefully, the last --- on March 3rd. We're joined today by DOUG ECKS, a private attorney who, with Katherine McNenny, filed a public records request with Logan's office after the election to learn the number of new touchscreen voting systems that failed and the number of new electronic pollbooks that did the same, leading to hours-long voting lines in Los Angeles. They also sought copies of problem report records from poll workers.

While the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office failed to respond with any hard numbers on system failures (Ecks says he may sue to get that information), they did provide hundreds of page of problem reports from poll workers that Ecks and McNenny recently wrote about at Medium. Ecks joins us to detail some of those findings today and to discuss the importance of public oversight of our elections.

Among the news from their records request: the systems failed all across the county, often spectacularly. One problem report he notes, for example, found that 11 of 30 voting machines failed at a single voting location. That's an extraordinary failure rate for the brand-new tablet-style systems, developed over 10 years at extraordinary expense to tax-payers by Logan. When I asked Ecks today if, based on his findings, he thought the systems should be used again in the future, he answered with his own question: "If you bought 30 gallons of milk and 11 were spoiled, would you go back to that store?"

We finish up today with a few quick thoughts from callers...

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Guest: Iowa U.S. House candidate J.D. Scholten; Also: The fight for safe, verifiable elections is now a state-by-state, county-by-county battle...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Make no mistake. Donald Trump's Executive Order earlier in the week pretending to force meatpacking plants to stay open did no such thing, despite how it was misreported by the corporate media. But for those really interested in protecting the nation's food supply, there is an answer. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]

Trump's order was issued as meatpackers working on lines across the country, now at least 7,000 of them, have been infected with coronavirus, with at least 25 of them now killed by it. Workers are being sacrificed as Just four Big Ag monopolies now control 85% of the nation's beef supply with just 50 plants producing 98% of it for the nation.That is down from thousands that did so all across the country until recent decades when those four mostly foreign-owned companies were allowed to buy up and dangerously consolidate the nation's food supply.

It is now costing us in a number of ways. Many of the worst COVID-19 hot spots across the country are in meatpacking plants with hundreds of infections in each and many of those are concentrated in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. While the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance recommendations for how the crowded plants may be run more safely, OSHA has made those recommendations voluntary, not mandatory. Thus, the Big Ag companies are largely ignoring the CDC safety guidelines in order to keep cranking out the meat, no matter the deadly cost to the workers and their families and communities where the disease continues to spread.

In Republican-run states like SD, NE and IA, the Governors have refused to issue stay-at-home orders, despite pleas from local Mayors and health officials to do so. Worse, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has told the companies that they may regard any workers too afraid to risk their lives by showing up to work in unsafe conditions as having voluntary quit. Therefore, says Reynolds, those workers will not qualify for state unemployment benefits when the companies fire them. As all of this has played out, and plants have been forced to shut down with workers literally collapsing on the lines, the nation has begun to see shortages of beef, pork and chicken in grocery stores, leading the CEO of Tyson Foods to recently declare that the "the food supply chain is breaking." No kidding. But that is thanks, in no small part, to the consoladition of companies by Tyson and the few others!

Fifth generation Iowan J.D. SCHOLTEN, who joins us on today's show, says that it doesn't have to be this way. The Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Iowa's 4th Congressional District blames the consolidation of the nation's food supply by a handful of companies for multiple disasters the industry is now facing. "One of the reasons we're a secure nation is because we are a food secure nation," Scholten tells me. "And we're getting dangerously close to being so concentrated that we're very vulnerable. This pandemic has put a spotlight on that. If one plant goes down for any reason, that really hurts the entire system."

Scholten is running for Congress this year again after nearly unseating 9-term Republican white nationalist Rep. Steve King in 2018, when the Democratic nominee was just over 3 points shy of winning in the deep-red district that Donald Trump won by 27 points in 2016. He argues today that the threats to our broken food supply chain --- with few farm-to-table restaurants in the entire state, despite being the very heart of Farm County --- can easily be fixed if the nation enforces long-ignored trust busting laws already on the federal books.

"We had this battle 100 years ago," he says, "and, as a result, we had the Packers and Stockers Act. That was in 1921. Next year, which I hope to be my first year in Congress, will be the 100th anniversary" of the Act which he wants to see invoked again. "I think it's a real opportunity coming out of this that farmers and workers come together. If we enforce our anti-trust laws, we can balance the playing field, allow farmers to stay on their land and make a dime, and allow workers to make an honest wage and be respected."

He also believes that the crisis has turned many of Iowa's previously-solid Republicans away from their Party. "It's really in the last couple of weeks where we've really gotten the attention of farmers who, I would say, traditionally don't give a crap about the Democratic candidate in this race. I've had a number of Republicans, whether they're farm managers or actual farmers, reach out to me and say, 'You're dead on, on this issue! Thank you for saying something, because we all know [Steve] King won't.'"

Scholten wants to restore regional systems of food production and delivery that he says "will benefit Iowa. Not only will it help our farmers, it will help our rural communities. If we create this alternative local and regional food system, for pennies on the dollar, it would create so many decent jobs in rural Iowa that have really gone to the wayside."

We discuss all of that and much more today, including why he thinks that this year he may finally be able to remove the execrable racist Steve King from office once and for all and how the Hawkeye State now plans to mail absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter for their upcoming June 2nd primary. Scholten is running unopposed in the primary, but King --- who has been removed by House Republican leadership from all of his committee assignments after racist statements that even they couldn't ignore --- is facing a challenge from four other Republicans. Scholten believes King will win the GOP nod anyway, but will be cash-starved after doing so.

Next, the continuing state-by-state and county-by-county slog to reform election procedures to ensure voters can safely vote in upcoming primaries and this November's critical general election amid a global pandemic. On that score, bad news for voters out of the GOP-controlled state legislature in Louisiana, where in-person voters across the entire state are forced to vote at the polls on unverifiable touchscreen voting systems which are now also deadly disease vectors for the coronavirus. While the state's Republican Secretary of State and Democratic Governor had struck a deal for a scheme that would allow most voters in the state to vote by absentee ballot, Republicans in the state legislature gutted most of that proposal to make voting by mail much more restrictive. How did both state chambers hold full votes on the measure? They voted by mail of course!

Much better news for voters this week in two counties in Pennsylvania where primaries will be held on June 2nd as well. Election officials in Crawford and Luzerne Counties --- which previously forced all voters to use 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polls --- have now decided to allow in-person voters to vote on hand-marked paper ballots instead. Happily, few will even need to do so. Late last year the state, for the first time in its history, adopted a measure that allows for no-excuse absentee voting for all. Many voters will be sent an absentee ballot application for the primary in the mail, but all registered voters may request a mail ballot online at VotesPA.com by May 26. The deadline to register to vote in the Keystone State's primary is May 18.

Finally, we close today with a song and a laugh to shuffle off into the weekend. Once again, it comes from satirist Randy Rainbow, who joins the President in offering a "Spoonful of Clorox" to make the COVID infection rate go down. [PLEASE NOTE: A spoonful of Clorox will not kill the coronavirus. It will, however, kill you. So don't drink any!]

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Guest: Attorney Courtney Hostetler; Also: Studies find COVID deaths twice as high as thought, infections 25 to 80 times higher; And 'final dagger in heart of U.S. shale oil industry'?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2020 7:08pm PT  

We've got a whole lot jammed into one single hour of The BradCast today. So let's take this one step at a time and hope for the best. You may wish to stay away from anything that is breakable over the course of the hour. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

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

  • Hydroxychloroquine, the magical "100% cure!" for COVID-19 that Fox "News" promoted endlessly for weeks on end along with their stooge President in the White House, is, according to a new study of hundreds of patients at Veterans Health Administration medical centers across the country, not a cure at all. In fact, 28 percent of infected patients given the malaria drug along with regular care died, while only 11 percent who received the same care but without the hydroxychloroquine died. That's just one of the reasons you likely haven't heard either Fox or Trump, who encouraged folks to take it ("What do you have to lose?," he repeated over and again) mention it at all lately;
  • A new analysis of UK data by the Financial Times finds the number of coronavirus-related deaths there are likely more than twice as high as the officially confirmed count, which only tallies those who have died in hospitals after testing positive for the virus. The analysis confirms other similar studies of inexplicably high death rates (for any reason) in countries around the world, far in excess of average numbers this time of year, even after official COVID-19 are removed from the statistics;
  • While that study and others like it suggest the NUMBER of deaths, both directly and indirectly attributable to the pandemic, are likely at least twice as high as officially recognized, the death RATE for the coronavirus may be much smaller. A new study by USC and Los Angeles County, examining those with antibodies for the virus present in their systems, suggest that infections are far more widespread than previously understood. Infection rates appears to be as much as 28 to 55 times higher than previously understood in L.A. That study appears to confirm a similar one in Santa Clara County in Northern California, finding the rate of infection there to be as much as 50 to 80 times higher than previously known;
  • In short, there is a LOT that is not understood about this deadly virus, making it all the more insane that Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp (now followed by several other GOP Governors across the country) is planning to re-open the state's hair salons, tattoo shops, bowling alleys, massage parlors and other places of business this Friday, with movie theaters and restaurants set to be opened on Monday. During his stunning Monday announcement, Kemp claimed that "health care professionals" agreed with his action, even though members of his state's own COVID-19 task force and the mayors of its largest cities were never consulted and are reportedly furious. CNN reported on Wednesday morning that both Trump and Vice President Pence called Kemp on Tuesday to express their support for the move (even though mere seconds after we got off air today, Trump apparently flip-flopped during the White House briefing to claim he "strongly disagreed" with Kemp and thought it was "too soon" to reopen.);
  • Definitely not consulted in any of this were the state's front-line health care workers like Lawrenceville, GA physician Dr. Karla Lorraine. We share her moving "viral" video --- shot at work, while still in some of her personal protective equipment after hearing news of Kemp's announcement --- in which she begs people, through her own tears, to "please stay home!";
  • Next, as we do, we turn to what the hell people can do about all of this madness, beginning with VOTING these madmen out of office this year. To that end, we're joined today by attorney COURTNEY HOSTETLER, counsel at Free Speech for People, one of the groups representing the NAACP in a new lawsuit filed in North Carolina to prevent the use of new, "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" (yes, now infectiously dangerous) touchscreen voting systems in more than 20 counties across the very closely divided battleground state this November.

    The lawsuit [PDF] is one of many being filed in state after state as jurisdictions move to change voting procedures in the wake of a global pandemic. Aside from being a vector for spreading disease in many rural and urban counties (including Mecklenberg, the state's largest, most diverse and Democratic-leaning) Hostetler explains how the specific new systems in question, the ES&S ExpressVote, creates barcoded "paper ballot" summary cards that can never be verified as accurately reflecting the intent of any voter. The same systems, she explains, are also insecure and prone to failure, as seen in several states where those systems and very similar ones made by ES&S --- the nation's top supplier of voting systems and the largest private vendor in the country --- have failed in recent elections and were found vulnerable to hacking and manipulation in test labs.

    She also details a number of other maddening reasons that these expensive, dangerous, insecure and unverifiable new voting machines must be replaced with hand-marked paper ballot systems before the state's critical Presidential election this November.

  • Finally today, a few thoughts on crashing oil prices amid a worldwide glut that has led producers to literally pay people to take oil off their hands for lack of storage. One analyst suggests this moment is "probably going to be the final dagger in the heart of the U.S. shale oil industry." Yes, he means this could be the end of fracking in the U.S., at least for oil, if not natural gas. So, maybe something good after all can come out of all of our ongoing disasters...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: GA's Gov. Kemp plays politics with the health of state residents...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desperate to salvage Donald Trump's re-election chances, the White House and several GOP Governors are apparently now set on putting hundreds of thousands of Americans in their own states at grave risk. But, hey, this year's critical Presidential election ain't gonna just win itself, ya know! [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

We start today with some very smart "math and reality" from BradCast commenter "ComputerGeek" at DailyKos. Last Friday, he or she, posted a lengthy comment in response to our show on the emerging Death Cult that the GOP --- the formerly self-proclaimed "pro-life" party --- has now clearly become, in their latest twisted efforts to retain power at all costs.

ComputerGeek broke down the number of daily tests for coronavirus in the U.S. that would be needed, according to health experts, to re-open the economy safely. He/she put the number at anywhere from 11.6 million tests per day, to a much more conservative 1.1 million tests per day, depending on if you wanted to test the entire population every two weeks or just 10% of it. Either way, the numbers are insanely higher than the average 150,000 tests per day currently being carried out across the country, and bragged about by the President and Vice President alike. As they claimed during a briefing last week --- in defiance of reality-based health experts --- those testing numbers are now sufficient to allow states to begin gradually reopening once they reach a decline in documented cases over two weeks.

But "ComputerGeek" is just an anonymous Internet commenter. We can safely ignore his/her numbers asserting that anywhere from 1 to 12 million tests are needed daily, right? Wrong. A new study [PDF] out on Monday from a Harvard University panel of more than 45 experts in health, science and economics warns that 5 million tests per day by early June are necessary to ensure a safe reopening of portions of the economy, and that number "will need to increase over time (ideally by late July) to 20 million a day to fully remobilize the economy," according to the authors. Even then, they warn, it might not be enough to "protect public health".

The Director of Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which released the report, argues "This Roadmap is the only approach to BOTH contain the virus and ramp back up to vibrant economic life." Of course, we are nowhere near those kind of testing numbers in the U.S., as we have barely checked 4 million people in total since the pandemic began several months ago. Moreover, most of the nation's Governors reject the absurd advocacy from Trump and Pence, which contradicts their own health and science experts.

But not all of the Governors favor math and reality! Following a weekend of small protests by Trump supporters --- egged on by Rightwing astroturf groups, Fox "News" and the President himself --- objecting to continuing stay-at-home restrictions issued by Democratic Governors, a number of Republican Governors have decided its time to put their state's residents at increased risk of death by opening back up for business before virtually anybody believes it is safe to do so. Leading that list is Georgia's illegitimate, dumb-as-dirt Republican Governor Brian Kemp. After insisting just last week that it was too early to determine whether restrictions should be relaxed, Kemp announced on Monday that he is throwing the doors open for gyms, hair and nail salons and bowling alleys on Friday of this week and restaurants, movie theaters and churches by Monday! Moreover, he declared when making his surprise announcement yesterday --- without having bothered to consult with either of the Mayors of his state's two largest cities first --- that he "don't give a damn about politics right now." Sure ya don't, Guv.

But, speaking of politics in Georgia, voters soon to be at risk anew from the coronavirus under Kemp's dangerous new political scheme, are figuring out how to (literally) survive the state's upcoming primary elections now rescheduled for June 9th. That, after troubling (if predictable) data has begun to emerge from the state of Wisconsin, which held in-person elections two weeks ago after being forced to do so by the Republicans in their state legislature and on both the state and U.S. Supreme Courts. According to Milwaukee's Health Commissioner, at least 7 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed as having been tied to the state's April 7th election, with only 30% of the data so far reviewed following the two week incubation period for the virus. Six voters and one poll worker, to date, are known to have become infected after voters were forced to wait on hours-long lines and crowd into just 5 polling places in the city which usually offers 182 locations.

Late on Monday, our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, announced the filing of a 132-page federal lawsuit [PDF] against Georgia's Secretary of State which, she quips, could have been filed as just one page reading: "Don't be Wisconsin!"

In fact, the complaint includes more than 30 demands sought by the group to help ensure safety for the Peach State's voters during the primary. The complaint seeks to move the election from its currently scheduled June 9th date to June 30th in order to buy three more weeks of time in hopes of seeing the state's infection numbers come down. "Given the foolishness and recklessness that [Kemp] engaged in yesterday," she tells me, "it is probably now even more important to get that additional time to get more preparations." The June 9th date was already a replacement date after the state's initially-planned vote on April 28 was postponed due to the crisis.

The suit also seeks to force Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger to send absentee ballot request forms to 625,000 registered voters to whom he previously sent them to the wrong addresses, and to allow counties to use hand-marked paper ballots if they choose in order to avoid dangerous new touchscreen voting systems mandated across the state, despite the devices having become a vector for spreading disease during a pandemic. "It really doesn't take an epidemiologist to tell us that viruses are going to travel on those machines," Marks argues. It's not only the voting machines themselves, when using touchscreens, that presents a health hazard, as this graphic she posted last night on Twitter makes very clear.

Other changes sought by the Coalition --- which has successfully sued the state in the past to decertify touchscreen voting systems and prevent the rejection of absentee ballots, among other things --- include curbside voting for all ("Think of it as a kind of Sonic Drive-In form of voting"), personal protective equipment for poll workers, masks for voters and other demands which, remarkably, have not yet already been enacted by the state. The list of changes sought in the complaint also provides a useful template for voters in other states who may wish to hold officials accountable for doing the right thing, as more than 20 states still have upcoming primaries and all 50 will somehow have to figure out a way to hold safe elections this November.

"Look at Wisconsin," Marks reminds us. "They didn't start getting serious until it was too late. We're not seeing these kind of changes take place in other states as fast as we should. States should be enacting these things now."

(By the way, keep an eye out for Marilyn in HBO's disturbing new documentary Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections! You can watch it for free on HBO's YouTube channel through the end of May right here. And listen to my recent interview with the filmmakers right here.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report in which oil prices have now crashed so low --- actually into negative territory! --- that some companies are literally paying people to take oil off their hands! Also, the Trump EPA is setting new standards for poisoning Americans, even during a pandemic, and Earth Day celebrants are trying to figure out how to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the annual event tomorrow amid stay-at-home orders, a global pandemic, and a still-worsening climate crisis...

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Guest: Lulu Friesdat of SmartElections.us; Also: GA to open for businesses this week as infections increase; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2020 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The chaos continues...along with our efforts to try and bring common sense to the madness. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

Rates of COVID-19 infections are still getting worse, not better, in much of the country, particularly in rural areas and states not currently under statewide stay-at-home orders. At the same time, the President of the United States is citing those very areas as places that should be viewed as a model for ending stay-at-home restrictions as soon as the end of the month or earlier.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, on Monday afternoon, announced plans to do exactly that, with theaters and restaurant set to be opened back up in the Peach State as soon as this coming Monday. According to medical experts, however, opening up the country without much more testing and contact tracing in place is a recipe for disaster, even as there appear to be no such plan in place, and testing remains vanishingly rare in much of the nation.

Meanwhile, the results of the first major antibody test in the nation on Friday, revealed that hundreds of thousands if not millions of more people may have actually contracted the virus without even realizing it. Nonetheless, Rightwingers, egged on by Fox "News" and Donald Trump and funded by the same Rightwing outfits that fomented the so-called "Tea Party" protests against Barack Obama years ago, have now been protesting against state closures in recent days around the country --- largely in states controlled by Democratic Governors. On Sunday, front-line healthworkers in Denver were forced to clash with protesters who told them, as the nurses stood up to the protesters cars in their masks and scrubs: "Go to China if you want communism!"

Amid all of this, we are somehow supposed to hold safe and inclusive elections this year, with more than 20 states set to hold primary elections in coming weeks (Ohio will hold its previously postponed primary next Tuesday) and all 50 set to hold the critical Presidential general election on November 3rd. Many Democrats and voting rights advocates are calling for Vote-by-Mail ballots to be sent to all registered voters without restrictions. Many Republicans around the country are going to extraordinary measures to make it harder, not easier, to vote during the pandemic.

In New Mexico last week, the state's Supreme Court rejected the proposal by all 27 County Election Directors and NM's Secretary of State to send absentee ballots to all registered voters. Republicans opposed the plan and the court split the difference by mandating that absentee ballot applications be sent to all registered voters instead.

SmartElections.us, a "non-partisan project dedicated to elevating the issue of election reform to an urgent national priority," recently released an open letter signed by more than 50 election integrity groups and voting rights advocates calling on restrictions to be included with any federal funding that may be offered to states to help them manage elections amid the pandemic. While some of the larger voting rights groups across the country are calling for as much as 4 or 5 billion dollars to be allocated by Congress to the states, Smart Elections' co-founder LULU FRIESDAT joins us today to remind us --- as does the group's letter to Congressional lawmakers --- about the disastrous consequences of the last time Congress appropriated nearly $4 billion for "upgrading" elections

That was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, which allowed private electronic voting system vendors to swoop in and essentially privatize our public elections with voting systems that were vulnerable to manipulation and prone to failure. The group's open letter produced by Friesdat and the other election experts, calls for specific restrictions to be placed on the use of any federal funding sent to states and counties to help them move to more accessible absentee ballot-based elections this year, including requirements that allow for voters to be notified and cure ballots rejected by officials (for any of various reasons) and to make the request for absentee ballots easier for voters. At the same time, it also calls for restrictions that prevent the process from being opened up to potential fraud. In other words, they are calling for sensible processes that allow more access for voters without procedures that allow for easy voter fraud or that hand over hundreds of millions to private companies to further bar public oversight of elections.

The letter is a common sense reaction to the chaos that is currently underway...even if common sense and measured responses are not normally what one expects from talk radio and cable news in the middle of highly-partisan election made even more chaotic due to a deadly global pandemic.

Finally, today, we open the phones to listeners --- many of whom in our Southern California listening area, have been following stay-at-home orders as long or longer than most in the rest of the country --- to see how they're doing, and if they agree that it's time to open the country back up for business....no matter how many Americans will end up being unnecessarily killed in the bargain...

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Guest: Alexander Sammon of The American Prospect; Also: Some much brighter news about voting in Virginia...and even Pennsylvania!
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2020 5:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. and world economies continue to collapse amid ridiculous happy talk largely from the President and his GOP pals, as the suffering of millions of Americans grows amid the coronavirus pandemic and, incredibly enough, millions of tons of fresh food being destroyed by farmers and other food producers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Why are farmers and dairy producers doing that? The American Prospect's ALEXANDER SAMMON joins us today to explain how "Coronavirus has Broken America's Food Supply", and how, amazingly enough, the federal government (including the President who pretends to love farmers...especially in swing states) appears to be doing absolutely nothing about about a collapsing supply chain.

To be fair, neither party seems to be loudly pressing for action here, according to Sammon. But, as we discuss, this is a problem that could pretty easily be solved by the federal government. American families are running out of money as workers are being laid off. The Government is sending them a paltry $1,200 check (which may be delayed for many, because Trump is insisting on his name appearing on the checks), which many are likely to use to buy food. At the same time, food and milk created for commercial use in sectors which have collapsed (restaraunts, hotels, schools) is being destroyed. The Government could be buying that food (delivering much-needed relief to struggling farmers and food producers) and use the storied logistics skills of the U.S. Military to help deliver it to people in desperate need all over the country and around the world.

"It's one of those things where we've seen the President basically almost allergic to using federal authority, the national authority that is at his disposal to make these things right," Sammon explains. "Here is something he could do, well within the capacity of the federal government and the military, but there's been no indication they're going to pursue that. I think that's a pretty astounding political failure, at a very basic level."

Sammon goes on to describe the worsening conditions for food producers and the laborers in the industry who are becoming sick at an alarming rate, as "a very troubling sign for farmers and the food supply chain going forward."

"There's going to be a lot of farmers entering in to bankruptcy," he tells me. "The jolt to the system is not going to be immediate. But a year from now we could be looking at diminished supply at a pretty significant level. That could result in much higher prices. If we're emerging from a global recession, where we're talking about forecasts of 30% unemployment, potentially, at some point later in the year, the notion of having escalating food prices is certainly not something that's going to take the edge off of that."

Despite that grim news and the horrific economic numbers released on Wednesday regarding retail sales --- (yes, CONSUMERS, as it turns out, are the backbone of the nation's economy...They are the job creators, not the parasitic corporations and executives who pretend to be) --- we've got some more good news today for those who can't wait to vote this November. It'll much easier --- and safer --- to do that in Virginia this year, thanks to a series of important election reforms signed into law over the weekend by the state's Democratic Governor. Among the many long-overdue reforms: No-excuse absentee voting; Automatic voter registration at the DMV; Repeal of Photo ID voting restrictions; Expanded early and Election Day voting hours; and Election Day will now be a state holiday, while the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, celebrating Confederate Generals who attacked the U.S., will no longer be celebrated.

All of those reforms come thanks to the Democratic majorities won for the first time in years in both the Commonwealth's Senate and House last year. And that is thanks, in no small part, to the court-ordered UNgerrymandering of Virginia last year.

But that's not all the good news about upcoming elections today. The Republican National Committee, according to mailers they paid for and sent out to Republican voters in Pennsylvania, has declared that absentee voting is "easy, convenient and secure"! Yes, the word "secure" was made bold on the "Official Republican Party Mail-in Ballot Application" sent out to voters in the Keystone State this week.

So, apparently, we can all happily ignore the President and other high-profile Republicans around the country who claim that Vote-by-Mail is a vector for fraud. Their own party, it seems, has just made liars of them! (Though that's not particularly difficult to do these days.)

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