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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, October 23, 2021
Anita Hill Still Changing the World, 30 Years Later: 'BradCast' 10/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author, lawyer, Brandeis University professor Anita Hill...
The Good with the Bad: 'BradCast' 10/21/21
House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
'Green News Report' 10/21/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're making too much fossil fuel; Climate change imperils millions, study finds; CA expands drought emergency; PLUS: Cutting emissions is hard, but will lower energy bills...
Previous GNRs: 10/19/21 - 10/14/21 - Archives...
'A One-Way Ratchet': Biden's SCOTUS Comm. Does GOP's Bidding: 'BradCast' 10/20/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Manchin tosses hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/21 - 10/12/21 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Whether Ds Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's landmark climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Now Gerrymander 'Blue' States (and Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15/21
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
Why the Last Remaining 2020 Election Contest in GA Should Not Have Been Dismissed: 'BradCast' 10/14/21
Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be running in 2024...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Supply chain disruptions spike global energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Administration goes big on offshore wind...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/21 - 10/7/21 - Archives...
'Red' State Profs Fight for Masking at Universities: 'BradCast' 10/13/21
Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of UNG; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
'Green News Report' 10/12/21
'No climate, no deal!' on Build Back Better; Critical infrastructure facing flood, failure; 2021 extreme weather costs; PLUS: Biden restores national monuments...
'Change the Whole Process': CA Rep on Ending Big Oil After State's Latest Offshore Spill: 'BradCast' 10/11/21
Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Also: Trump's plan to steal 2024; Callers...
Sunday 'Privilege' Toons
You know you deserve PDiddie's collection of this week's best political toons...
Media Downplaying Trump, GOP's Threat to U.S. Democracy: 'BradCast' 10/8/21
Guest: Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores nat'l monuments; Trump hid losses at D.C. hotel...
Trump Didn't Try to 'Subvert Results', He Tried to Steal 2020!: 'BradCast' 10/7/21
Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Freedom of choice restored to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
'Green News Report' 10/7/21
Ship anchor may be cause of SoCal oil spill; Fossil fuel industry subsized $11 million every minute; PLUS: PA A.G. criminally charges notorious pipeline developer...
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
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'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...


Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Judge restores freedom of choice to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2021 6:42pm PT  

Way back in January, we reported on "How Trump Attempted to Use DoJ to Steal the Election". Why do our nation's corporate media outlets, all these months later, still have so much difficulty reporting it as such, despite the growing mountain of evidence on the unprecedented attempted theft of a Presidential election by a sitting U.S. President? That's just one of a number of stories and questions asked on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among those many stories...

  • What took the Coast Guard and Amplify Energy Corp --- owner of the pipeline that spewed more than 3,000 barrels of crude oil into the waters and protected wetlands nearly Huntington Beach in Southern California last week --- so long to respond to the spill? Residents smelled it, witnesses saw oil on the water and on boats, and even the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called in their report to the Coast Guard of a possible spill spotted from a satellite. Still, it was almost 10 hours before the Coast Guard investigated, and almost 12 hours before Amplify shut it down. That, despite technology pipeline companies always (falsely) claim will immediately detect spills and shut down the system as soon as they occur. Someone needs to face criminal charges, and this nation needs to get off oil, ASAP.
  • Some brighter news out of Texas, where a federal judge has temporarily enjoined the state's S.B. 8 statute that deprives women of their Constitutionally-protected right to an abortion. The new GOP law in the Lone Star State inserts Big Government between a woman and her doctor to mandate that the medical procedure may not be carried out after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they're pregnant. Even in the case of rape or incest, Texas Republicans are demanding that women carry their rapists babies to term under the new law. On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge shut that whole thing down. For now. He also refused to put his stay on hold pending the state's appeal, because, as he wrote in his 113-page decision [PDF]: "The State has forfeited the right to any such accommodation by pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well established constitutional right."
  • Yesterday, we reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans blinked in their ongoing effort to block Democrats from lifting the nation's borrowing limit to avoid the economic calamity that would ensue when the U.S. defaults on its debts, for the first time in history, on October 18th. Today, after McConnell blinked, he and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on terms for the legislative process that Republicans will allow to let Democrats avoid disaster, at least until early December, when the GOP threatens the same economic terrorism all over again. AP (and other national outlets) continued to mislead the public by reporting: "the Republican and Democratic leaders edged back from a perilous standoff." But that's not what happened at all. The "leaders" (plural) did not "edge back", and it was not a "standoff". As  longtime journalist, author and media critic James Fallows has been expertly reporting for some time now, this was nothing more than a nihilistic Republican threat to tank the nation's, and the world's, economy. "To call it an 'impasse' or 'standoff' is misleading," writes Fallows this week. "This is the same kind of 'impasse' as one between a kidnapper demanding ransom for a captured executive, and a company that believes it should not pay. It is not a level-playing-field difference of view."
  • The debt ceiling is hardly the only area where mainstream corporate media have been failing by ill-serving the public and our democracy. Today, they were joined in that disservice by the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, who released an otherwise very important report on how Donald Trump attempted to use the U.S. Dept. of Justice to STEAL the 2020 Presidential election. The 394-page report [PDF] was eight months in the making and is titled: "Subverting Justice: How the Former President and his Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election." Media reporting on the new report has taken to echoing that language (as they have since last November) in explaining how Trump tried to "subvert" the election, or "question" its results, or tried to "undermine" its legitimacy.  He used a "big lie" to try and pull off a "self coup". Of course, Trump did all of those things, but it was all in service to one single criminal objective: An attempt to STEAL the election!  Why do corporate media --- and Democrats, for that matter --- have such a difficult time calling it out as such? There is a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to support that admittedly very serious charge, that I would never issue lightly. Today, Senate Democrats just added 394 more pages of said evidence to that mountain. Media need to start accurately calling out what happened here. A then sitting President of the United States abused the levers of his power to try and STEAL a Presidential election from the American people. It's as simple as that. Media should begin reporting it as such.
  • Trump's attempted theft of the 2020 election continues, at least in hopes of stealing the next one. Despite the abject failure of the Cyber Ninjas in Maricopa County, Arizona (Sen. Dick Durbin called them "Ninja Turtles" today) to find any legitimate evidence of election fraud (or to even hand-count the results of the election accurately), the MAGA Mob is still continuing to waste tax payer dollars with phony "audits" and "investigations" of last year's election in other states. In Wisconsin, as in Arizona, Republican legislators have hired someone completely inexperienced in elections to investigate their loss in last year's election. In this case, the man placed in charge of the review is a former state Supreme Court Justice named Michael Gableman. This week Gableman admitted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he does not have "any understanding of how elections work." Great choice, Republicans!  I'm sure he'll very wisely spend the $676,000 in taxpayer money that you "conservatives" gave him. The effort may even be as successful as the Turtles'!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on last weekend's massive SoCal oil spill; a new study finding that, globally, the fossil fuel industry receives $11 million in government subsidies every minute (no doubt Joe Manchin will be furious about their "entitlement society"!); and another notorious pipeline company with high-tech spill prevention technology is charged with dozens of criminal counts for pipelines that leaked into Pennsylvania's drinking water...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Larry Moore of The Audit Guys; Also: Pillow Guy Mike Lindell fails spectacularly again to prove 2020 election fraud, this time in Idaho!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2021 5:55pm PT  

Wait. Even the so-called "audit" results from the Cyber Ninjas that appear to confirm Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Arizona over Donald Trump were phony?! Yup. "The Ninjas made up the numbers out of whole cloth," says our guest on today's BradCast, after examining and sharing the actual evidence in support of that claim. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, the partisan, wingnut audit by the Ninjas in Maricopa County, AZ, is hardly the only epic fail by Trump MAGA Mob dead-enders who have been unable, in almost a year, to show any evidence of any substantive fraud or manipulation of the 2020 election results. The latest epic fail comes out of the deep red state of Idaho, where Trump was certified to have defeated Biden by more than 30 points. Nonetheless, loony tunes deep-pocketed pillow impresario and deep state Trump stooge, Mike Lindell, claims that those numbers were also wrong! He charges, in a new document titled "The Big Lie", that votes were flipped electronically in all 44 counties in the state, for some reason, to help Joe Biden (who, again, lost in Idaho by more than 30 points!)

Idaho's Republican Secretary of State, however, suspected that Lindell's claims may have been wrong, especially given that 7 counties in the state use no computers at all to tally their ballots. They hand count them! Nonetheless, his office went about doing full, transparent, video-taped hand-counts (and posted them on YouTube) in front of Democratic and Republican Party officials in two small Idaho counties, just to be safe. What did those recounts show? You guessed it, Biden's margin increased. He received the same number of votes in each counties' recount, but Trump lost about 9 votes in one county and picked up one single vote the another. Lindell, however, refuses to accept those publicly hand-recounted results by the Republican Sec. of State in Idaho, in his continuing drive to make himself the nation's number one laughing stock.

But Lindell has competition on that score from the Cyber Ninjas and its CEO Doug Logan in Arizona!

A week and a half ago, The BradCast was the first in the nation to detail to the findings in the long-awaited final report from the Ninjas' 5-month long secret "audit" of the 2020 Presidential election results in Maricopa County (Phoenix). Rather hilariously, the Ninjas reported that their hand-count of 2.1 million ballots cast in the County matched up almost perfectly with the original, certified, computer-tallied results from the county's Dominion Voting Systems tabulators. In fact, the Ninjas claimed to have found that Trump actually lost 261 votes in their hand-count, while Biden picked up 99 votes.

But never mind even those numbers! Because a group of actually experienced, bipartisan election auditors, who call themselves The Audit Guys, say the Ninjas' numbers are completely bunk. "An epic hoax" according to their own review of the Ninjas' "audit". Those results were "fiction," they told New York Times. "The reality is they just made up the numbers," they explained to Arizona Republic. In fact, The Audit Guys' own report charges that "the entire exercise in hand counting ballots on lazy Susans for two months, was a hoax." Moreover, they say, the GOP President of the AZ Senate who arranged the entire audit and selected the inexperienced, conspiracy theorist company, Cyber Ninjas, to carry it out, is now part of a "coverup" to try and hide the scam.

We're joined today by Audit Guy, LARRY MOORE, founder of the Clear Ballot Group, which audits elections around the country. Since retiring from the company, Moore has teamed up with prominent Pima County (Tucson), AZ Republican data analyst Benny White and Clear Ballot's retired Chief Technology Officers Tim Halvorsen to independently check the Ninjas efforts.

Moore explains today how they determined that the Ninjas numbers were "made up out of whole cloth". Specifically, when the state Senate released the Ninjas' three-volume report, they appear to have accidentally left a number of pages in it that detailed discrepancies in the hand-count of ballots carried out by the Ninjas versus a separate, independent machine count of ballots done by the Senate at the end of the process, to try and reconcile numbers that were reportedly way off. In fact, as Moore details, the data released by the Senate revealed that their machine count of ballots (not results, just the number of ballots) matched almost perfectly with the County's originally certified totals. But the Ninjas' hand-count of the number of ballots was off by a mile.

The Senate report revealed (apparently accidentally) that one pallet of ballot boxes actually contained 48,371 ballots in 40 boxes, according to the Senate's machine count. That number matches the County's originally tallied numbers. But the Ninjas hand-count of that same pallet of ballot boxes was off by 15,692 ballots! And, as Moore explains today, that was no more than 2.5% of the 2.1 million ballots cast in the County last year and theoretically hand-counted by the Ninjas on those colorful lazy Susan tables.

"In short," The Audit Guys' report notes, before they lay out their full findings and evidence, "with this enormous discrepancy, any discussion of vote counts --- including Biden's 99 vote gain and Trump's 261 vote loss --- is meaningless."

On today's show, Moore explains how his team was able to confirm the numbers they compared with the Senate's machine-count. Randy Pullen, one of the Senate's liaisons to the count, oversaw that late, independent machine count of the numbers of ballots. He now has "some 'splaining to do", Moore tells me. Extrapolating out the numbers from the single pallet of ballots that Pullen's report accidentally revealed, results in "about a 300,000 ballot discrepancy" if averaged with the rest of the 2.1 million ballots the Ninjas supposedly counted.

If that's true, why did the Ninjas' claim that not only their count matched the County's, in general, but that Biden's margin of victory actually increased a bit? Moore offers his explanation on today's program.

We also discuss the response, so far, from both Pullen and Sen. Fann to the Audit Guys' findings ("Crickets," says Moore) and how Fann herself now appears to be participating in a coverup to hide the real numbers and much more. A state court judge has ordered the Senate to release all records from the "audit" and communications with the Ninjas and other contractors as part of public records requests. Fann, however, has refused to release thousands of pages of documents, including the rest of Pullen's and the Ninjas' box-by-box, batch-by-batch reconciliation data. (Longtime progressive AZ election transparency advocate John Brakey, who was allowed inside much, if not all, of the "audit", also recently confirmed on this show that documents were being withheld, when he explained how many of his own communications with Fann were not included in an earlier tranche of documents released as part of the original court order.) There is a hearing scheduled before the judge this week to force the rest of the documents out of Fann.

We also take a few minutes to discuss the concerns that some, including Moore, have about all of these demands for post-election audits in the wake of Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen from him. I don't personally mind such audits, as long as they are done publicly, with the cooperation of election officials (unlike the offensive clown show carried out by the Ninjas in Maricopa). Moore has a different view, however. We discuss.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, much of which focuses on the weekend's massive oil pipeline rupture off the coast of Southern California, and on the big bucks that Big Oil is now spending to try and block Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda in Congress...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: ACLU policing expert Carl Takei; Also: Sinema tanking Dems' Build Back Better agenda; Trumpworld circulates fake AZ 'audit' report...
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: MAGA dead-enders have found a way to continuing pretending the 2020 election was stolen from them in Arizona; it's now down to pretty much one Democrat in Congress who seems willing to take down Joe Biden and the Democratic party's entire agenda; and the lazy corporate media fall for another phony narrative, fed to them by police, to explain 2020's spike in killings across the country. Just another day making sense of the absurd. It's what we do.

First up, despite last week's hilariously embarrassing news for Donald Trump that his own Republican partisans hired by the Republican state Senate in Arizona to "audit" last year's election found that, yup, Trump lost to Biden as originally certified (and by an even larger margin), the disgraced former President is still lying to his supporters, claiming the audit found that he won. It didn't. But, at the same time, his supporters --- including perhaps the top wingnut website responsible for false reports of "fraud" in the 2020 election, Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit --- are now circulating a phony "draft" of the Cyber Ninja's audit report. The fake report is being characterized as the "real" report by Hoft and friends. One of them, Matthew DePerno, a candidate for Michigan Attorney General(!) who Trump recently endorsed, posted it to Twitter claiming it was the "real " report from the Ninjas that RINOs in the GOP state Senate tried to "censure" [sic].

The fraudulent "draft" claims that the 2020 election in AZ "should not be certified," even though it already was, ten months ago, by the state's Republican Governor. A Ninjas spokesperson denies having anything to do with it, claims the very real looking "draft report" is "absolutely false", and "that it was not written by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, nor was [the call for decertification] in any version that was ever sent or shown to the [state] Senate for review."

Thankfully, Hoft, often referred to as the dumbest man on the Internet, isn't buying it! He and his site are furious that the national GOP and Republicans in Arizona are hiding the truth and "are working for the other side!" He's totally right! Hopefully Republican voters won't stand for it any longer and will vote all of them out of office next year to show 'em!

Next, from RINOs in Arizona, to DINOs in Arizona. Kyrsten Sinema, according to a number of her fellow Democrats today, seems to be the one --- even more than Joe Manchin --- holding up passage, and even negotiation, on the Build Back Better Act, the wildly popular $3.5 trillion sweeping social safety net and climate change legislation which is at the heart of the Biden agenda. It's also fully paid for by a small increase on taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While we covered the four pieces of legislation at the heart of what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to describe this week as "a time of intensity" in some detail on yesterday's BradCast, I'll refer you to that one and today's show for all of the maddening details here. Though I will note that Sinema's (and Manchin's, to a slightly lesser extent) intransigence could result in both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill failing to pass, along with the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill that Sinema was key to crafting with Republican Senators. She seems far more willing to negotiate with GOPers than with Congressional Dems in her own party, or even the Democratic President of the United States.

The result of all of this could be the death of both bills and Democratic hopes for success in 2022 along with it. But, it should be noted here, that even if Pelosi allows a House vote on the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure package that Sinema really wants to see passed this week (even though, unlike the larger package, it is not "paid for" and will increase the deficit that she and Republicans who support it claim to oppose), and even if it somehow is passed in the House (despite the Progressive Caucus vowing to vote against it), as Congressional expert Norm Ornstein explained on this program last week, Pelosi doesn't have to send it to the President until the reconciliation bill is passed as well. She can hold the smaller bill as long as she likes, according to Ornstein, who told us the Speaker never has to send it to the President's desk, if she doesn't feel like it.

Next, you may have seen the widely reported new statistics released by the FBI on Monday, finding an alarming spike in killings in the U.S., mostly with guns, during 2020. You may also have noticed that many of the stories on the new data --- from Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and others --- all referenced claims from police officials and academics who support them, that the record spike should be attributed, at least in part, to new policing rules and reticence by cops to take action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year and the many others who were caught on tape being killed by the police.

Darn those "Defund the Police" activists whose outrageous advocacy has led to an historic spike in U.S. homicides!

Of course, that all appears to be bullshit, as explained by our guest today, CARL TAKEI, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, where he litigates police practices. "This is a story that we have heard before," Takei explains. "It actually goes back to 2014, when then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson coined the term 'Ferguson Effect'" after the police killing of Michael Brown in Missouri that year, which sparked national outrage, weeks of protests and demands for police reform. "The 'Ferguson Effect', according to its proponents, means that police choose to be less proactive because protests against police hurt their feelings. And this decrease in proactivity then leads to a rise in homicides and other violent crimes."

"The problem with this is it doesn't  make sense," says Takei. "Why would decreases in arrests of people for low-level offenses like pan-handling or passing bad checks --- using counterfeit bills, as George Floyd was accused of doing before he was murdered --- why would decreases in these kinds of arrests lead to more homicides? That's the unanswered question at the core of the 'Ferguson Effect' idea."

"Police, when it comes especially to serious violent offenses like homicide, are reactive," he argues. "They respond after the shooting has already taken place. And they don't actually have the ability to prevent gun violence. And that's why, over forty years of seeing crime go up and police budgets going up, and then crime going down but police budgets continuing to go up --- we have forty years of year-on-year increases in police budgets and we've seen that there's actually no relationship between how much we are funding the police and what is happening in terms of crime rates."

Takei tells me, "Police aren't actually able to address the root causes of crimes. Especially crimes like interpersonal violence, or crimes that come from economic distress, from mental health issues, drug dependence issues. All of that requires different tools. But we live in a country where oftentimes the first and only response to anything that's labeled as crime is 'give more money to the police.'"

So, to what does Takei attribute the largest one-year spike in murder and manslaughter since record keeping began on these statistics in the 1960s? And what should be done about it? Tune in to find out. But it is damned frustrating to see so many theoretically legitimate news outlets incuriously parroting these unsupported-at-best and arguably completely phony claims about violent crime.

Finally today, a bit of good crime-related news out of Los Angeles this week, where prosecutors have moved to expunge another nearly 60,000 marijuana-related convictions from the past three decades, some five years after California voters approved the use and sale of recreational cannabis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Biden and Congressional Dems face down a GOP hell-bent on chaos and a handful of 'moderate' Dems set on undermining the Build Back Better agenda; Also: Is the electric vehicle inflection point finally here?...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2021 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her caucus in a "Dear Colleague" letter that "the next few days will be a time of intensity". She wasn't kidding. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Today, we bring you up to date on the four different major pieces of legislation that Democrats must push through Congress, somehow, within the next few days. All four are incredibly important for different reasons, have slightly different deadlines, and slightly different obstacles to passage, each of those obstacles are difficult.

As of midnight Thursday (September 30), the government will shut down if a Continuing Resolution to keep it open is not passed in the Senate. That will end up costing taxpayers a lot of money and financial markets will take a hit, as we already saw today, with the Dow dropping more than 550 points and the S&P falling 2 percent. Of far greater danger to both the stability of the U.S. AND global economy, as of October 18, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has now cautioned lawmakers, the government will run out of "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on U.S. debt unless the ridiculous, statutory debt ceiling is raised or suspended by Congress. That would allow the government to continuing borrowing to pay for all the stuff that Congress has already committed to spending, such as the $8 trillion increase to the national debt that was run up with the approval of Republicans during the Trump Administration, for example. Without raising the debt limit, Yellen warned, we will face "catastrophic economic consequences".

Republicans in the Senate, however, are currently filibustering the bill that would solve both of those problems in one simple fell swoop, just because they can. They appear to want chaos, uncertainty and a potential meltdown of the global economy, even at the cost of a first-ever default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. government. How that destructive hostage taking ends before the imposing deadlines nobody currently seems to know.

The other two pieces of legislation that need to pass quickly comprise Joe Biden's progressive agenda, which he ran on, is wildly popular among the American people, and which Democrats can now enact into law without any Republican help. One is the $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package for stuff like roads and bridges. The other is the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill known as the Build Back Better Act to expand health care, education, child care and take on climate change among a host of other critical stuff. The framework for the latter bill was approved by Democrats in both chambers on the basis that both bills would be passed together, appeasing both progressives and so-called "moderates". Together, the two bills make up the bulk of the Biden agenda which every Democrat in both chambers voted to support...at least until a small handful of "moderate" Dems in the House and two Dems in the Senate (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), tried to break the deal recently and force a vote on the smaller bill while kicking the larger one down the road.

But a newly robust and emboldened Progressives Caucus in the House is having none of it, and has vowed to vote against the smaller bill if the larger one isn't passed along with it. The hold up on the larger one appears to largely be Manchin and Sinema who have been vague in their objections, other than to protest that $3.5 trillion is too much spend. That, despite the fact that Democrats and the President say the entire ten-year ($350 billion/year) bill is fully paid for by small tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. Biden describes the cost of the bill as "zero".

All of which has resulted in "a time of intensity" on Capitol Hill right now which we walk through today --- intensely --- even as Manchin refuses to come up with a number that he would accept, and as Sinema's vague objections are made somewhat clearer by a fund-raiser being held today for her by several business lobbies who oppose having their taxes raised (to a lower amount than they were before Trump), and as her position is now costing her dearly at the moment among both the Arizona state Democratic Party and Democratic voters across her state. Tune in. We'll explain all.

In less intense --- and actually encouraging --- progressive news OUTSIDE of D.C, the inflection point to electric vehicles may just about be here, if Ford's new announcement this week of a huge, $11 billion investment to build three battery factories and an electric truck plant (creating 11,000 jobs in the bargain) is any indication.

Finally, in a related-ish news, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with even more encouraging news on electric vehicles coming out of Norway this week, along with much less encouraging news regarding the high cost of climate change, the GOP obstruction of aid to victims of Hurricane Ida, and new manslaughter charges against California's largest utility company, PG&E...

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Guest: Maricopa 'audit' insider and 'bamboo guy' John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Congressional GOP pushing the U.S. government toward default and global economic disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2021 6:39pm PT  

As we head into a week of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi understated over the weekend as "a time of intensity", we cover that on today's BradCast along with a bit of postmortem mop-up following last week's spectacular fail by the dopey Cyber Ninjas in their Maricopa County, Arizona "audit" of the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

This week, Congress --- and the Democratic Party which is now, apparently, being forced to run it all by themselves --- is facing several precarious moment on a number of fronts. For a start Congress must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operating after September 30th, when the current fiscal year ends. Even more importantly, to avoid a "financial calamity", they must pass a resolution to suspend or raise the statutory debt limit --- the amount of money the nation can borrow to pay for spending that has already been approved by Congress --- before the country defaults on its loans for the first time in history at some point in October.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are blocking Democrats from doing either of those things at the moment, in what Pelosi describes as brinkmanship that is "irresponsible beyond words". That, after Democrats voted with Republicans time and again (three times during the Trump Administration alone) to suspend the debt ceiling in order to pay for much of the $8 trillion in debt that was run up with Republican approval over the past 4 years when Donald Trump was in the White House and they controlled Congress.

We explain the incredibly dangerous (and hypocritical) game that Mitch McConnell and the GOP are currently playing with the world economy, even as Democrats face their own internecine battles over how to pass final approval for the Biden Build Back Better agenda, including a bi-partisan $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill (which Dems can pass by themselves, if they can agree on it) to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long-overdue action to address on climate emergency.

Next, BradCast listeners last week may know that we were the first in the nation to break the news that the phony, so-called "audit" of the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial election results in Maricopa (Phoenix), AZ by the partisan, conspiracy theorist Cyber Ninjas outfit ended up proving that the Dominion Voting Systems computer tabulators used to tally results in the state's largest county did so accurately. That, according to the Ninjas' own hand-count [PDF] of some 2.1 million ballots. In fact, in a spectacular and hilarious failure, the Ninjas count found the margins of victory for the Democrats in both Joe Biden's Presidential contest and Mark Kelly's Senatorial race, were actually larger than those certified by the County and state officials last year.

But, while the Ninjas tried (unsuccessfully) to bury that embarrassing finding, they also tried to flood the zone with smoke and mirrors about tens of thousands of ballots that they suggested were either illegal or fraudulent in their three-volume report on the audit, and a three-hour presentation last Friday to the GOP-controlled AZ state Senate. There too, they failed spectacularly with one outlet after another, including the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, fact-checking, debunking and explaining the so-called "critical" claims made by the Ninjas.

It seems the Ninjas never bothered to check with any actual election administration professionals, else most of their concerns would likely have been explained to them.

We're joined today for a postmortem debrief by an insider to much of the past five months of "audit" clown show theater in Maricopa,. You know him as that "bamboo guy". We have known him for many years as the longtime progressive election transparency advocate JOHN BRAKEY of AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us previously at the beginning of the "audit" for an insider view, and as it continued on for months past its initially planned three weeks, after comments of his taken out of context by a local reporter went viral, reporting that Brakey was looking for bamboo in the ballots, suggesting they were fraudulent and stuffed into the ballot box by China (as many in the MAGA set falsely claimed). In fact, as the later posted full context of his remarks reveals, Brakey was explaining what the Ninjas believed, not him, and that he was participating in the effort in hopes of "ungaslighting" the public about false and otherwise evidence-free claims being made by Trump supporters about the election results.

Brakey worked --- for free, while also refusing to sign the Ninjas' non-disclosure agreement --- with AZ's former Sec. of State, Ken Bennett, a Republican, who was tapped by the GOP state Senate to serve as their liaison to the "audit".

"The whole thing was a grift. Okay?," Brakey tells me today after the audits conclusion. "They didn't want people to know how screwed up they were. They're the best talkers but the worst producers. They pretend to know what they were talking about." But, as Brakey explains again today, they didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Among the many questions of mine that Brakey speaks to today:

  • Were his efforts to "ungaslight" the public by working on the audit successful or was it a mistake on his part to lend his credibility?
  • Does he believe the minds of any of the MAGA Mob were ultimately changed through this exercise?
  • As a long time election transparency and integrity champion, was there anything that the Ninjas DID uncover that was actually troubling and needs to be addressed or corrected by election officials?
  • Will the AZ "audit" make similar post-election reviews more or less likely elsewhere in the country?
  • What is the AZ Senate hiding by failing to release thousands of public documents and communications between them and the Ninjas (including emails and texts from Brakey), as ordered by a state judge?
  • And much more, including whether or not the Ninjas ever found that elusive "bamboo" in Maricopa County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots!...

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Guest: Jet Propulsion Lab's Dr. Peter Kalmus on the need for 'climate emergency mode'; Also: Yesterday's 'BradCast' scoop on Cyber Ninjas' hilarious AZ 'audit' fail confirmed by rest of national media...
By Brad Friedman on 9/24/2021 7:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Several hours after we got off air from yesterday's program, our first-in-the-nation scoop on the pretty hilarious results of the Cyber Ninjas' Arizona "audit" was confirmed by the national media, including New York Times, Washington Post and CNN, not to mention the Arizona Republic and other local outlets. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The main part of our exclusive news yesterday was that Trump's sore-loser, publicly financed, privately purchased and secretly carried out 2020 "audit" in Maricopa County found that the hand-count of 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots cast there, as tallied by Dominion Voting Systems' tabulators prior to certification, were, in fact, tallied almost entirely accurately. The evidence-free lie that there had been some nefarious conspiracy to hack the Dominion systems on Joe Biden's behalf by communists in China, Cuba, Venezuela, along with George Soros, the "deep state" and "antifa", proved to be the bullshit most of the not-brainwashed Americans had presumed.

In fact, according to the Ninjas' own hand-count, Joe Biden picked up 99 votes over the state certified totals while Donald Trump lost 261, widening Biden's slim margin of more than 10,000 votes in Arizona by another 360. The "audit" hand-count of the state's U.S. Senate race also found a larger margin for the Democratic candidate than certified, though both candidates lost some votes in the Ninjas' count. Republican Martha McSally lost 541 votes, while Democrat Mark Kelly lost just 60, for an overall increase of 481 votes for Kelly, the certified winner.

We were a bit more general and circumspect during Thursday's show than we usually like to be, in our description of those findings while breaking the news in order to protect sourcing. But with the Ninjas three volume report now full released you can download it yourself for inspection. The numbers in the Presidential and Senate race are, however, buried way back in the report's third volume [PDF] for some odd reason. That's another reason we felt it important to break the news before the Ninjas put their purposefully diverting spin on things.

As Phoenix' NPR station KJZZ reported last night, even Randy Pullen, a spokesman for the state Senate and major proponent of the "audit" was forced to concede: "Was there massive fraud or anything? It doesn't look like it."

Today, Arizona's GOP state Senate held a forum to allow the Ninjas and friends to present their findings, though the Senate's feed crapped out about an hour into it (and long before Ninja CEO Doug Logan ever conceded that his hand-count confirmed the previously certified Democratic victories, if he ever offered such a concession. You can watch a replay of the three-hour forum now here.), We'll almost certainly pick up any newsworthy information or legitimate concerns from the hearing and/or the report in the not too distant future, if warranted.

All of this nonsense, of course, is a perfect way to disguise and distract from the fact that the GOP is now a broken political party with absolute no actual legislative agenda. But it comes at a time when when humanity itself is hanging in the balance, unfortunately, and when a legitimate opposition party to the Democrats might be very useful.

Earlier this month, NASA climate scientist and author DR. PETER KALMUS responded to recent calls from President Biden and nations around the world, to reach "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions "by 2050", by citing "two fatal flaws" in that plan: "One is 'net zero,'" he wrote at The Guardian, "the other is 'by 2050'."

Kalmus' argument comes as climate disasters around the world are now happening much sooner, more broadly and more fiercely than long predicted by climate scientists, and as new U.N. reports argue that even if the nations of the world meet their current pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, we will still see catastrophic, humanity-threatening disaster by century's end. That, as a handful of so-called "moderate" Democrats in the House and Senate this week hold up efforts to at least begin facing this challenge, as designed in the Clean Energy Performance Program (or CEPP, offering financial incentives for utility companies to move to renewable energy production) built into the heart of President Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.

"In my opinion, and I think many of my colleagues would agree, the climate science community is pretty surprised by how fast climate breakdown is progressing, in terms of extreme heat, which kicks off the fires, along with the extreme drought in the Western part of the US, the extreme flooding that we've been seeing in the Eastern part of the U.S. All of this is coming a lot faster than we thought as a community," Kalmus tells me, explaining why he is calling for "climate emergency mode" in which "a lot of things in society would have to change pretty drastically and quickly."

When there's an emergency," he argues, "you don't typically just keep doing what you were doing." He notes that most calls for net zero by 2050 assume some sort of negative emissions or carbon capture technology which either doesn't yet exist or, where it does, is not nearly robust enough to remove anywhere near the amount of greenhouse gas that must be removed from the atmosphere to even make a dent in our quickly worsening climate crisis.

He is calling for much more drastic measures --- such as the nationalization of the fossil fuel industry --- than most of the climate scientists and experts we've interviewed on the program, or who are usually allowed to speak in the national media.

While Kalmus concedes many of his arguments "might sound a little too radical" for many now, he believes that with each successive disaster, people will begin to understand more and more the consequences of failing to take appropriate action to meet the moment. He argues that while carbon capture technologies will not save us, neither will kicking the can down to 2050 to reach net zero. That, Kalmus explains, needs to happen more like by 2035 and, he believes, it is actually doable.

His case "might sound a little too radical to some of your listeners," the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist (who notes he's speaking on his own behalf) concedes, but "my response to them would be that they haven't fully understood just what an emergency we're in, or just how irreversible the damage that we're doing and leaving for future generations is going to be."

Kalmus, whose research at the nation's space agency employs satellite data and models to study our rapidly changing Earth, warns: "I see what is coming in the future years, and I'm just trying to get people to respond now to what I know is coming. And that's really hard. I take a lot of criticism for that. But I know I'm right. So I keep trying."

"Ten years ago when I was saying similar things, but it wasn't so immediate to people, no one was listening," he says, adding: "Recent years have started to shift that balance. It's just basic physics and it's continuing as we continue to emit these greenhouse gases. So I can say with complete confidence that in the coming years, what I'm saying now that sounds radical to people will not seem radical anymore. I just wish that people would listen now."

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Controversial partisan hand-count in Maricopa County also found 2020 margin increased for Dem over Repub in U.S. Senate race; Plus: GOP Senate now threatening to force unprecedented default on U.S. debt...
By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2021 5:16pm PT  

Now, even the Cyber Ninjas agree that Donald Trump lost, and by more than originally thought. The full, final, long-awaited report is set to be released on Friday in three different "volumes" in which they hope to bury the lede. But we've got the breaking skinny, exclusively reported for you on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

According to a months-long, so-called "forensic audit" and hand-count of more than 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona from the 2020 election, not only did Joe Biden defeat Trump, as previously reported by the County and the state, the private partisan company hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out the exercise, found that Biden actually received more votes over Trump than originally reported.

Information obtained just minutes before airtime today, reveals that the months-long "audit" by the far-right, partisan, conspiracy-promoting Florida company named Cyber Ninjas, headed up by CEO Doug Logan, determined that Biden's vote total in the state's most populous county was actually larger, by about 100 votes, than the certified numbers, while Trump's total decreased by more than 200.

The certified results in Arizona determined that Biden defeated Trump by about 10,000 votes statewide, and by some 45,000 votes in Maricopa.

The Ninjas' "clown show" hand-count was paid for partially with Arizona taxpayer dollars, along with millions in private donations raised from duped Trump supporters who believed his claims that the election was somehow rigged in the state with the help of Dominion's voting and tabulation computers. The post-election review was carried out largely without public or media oversight, but it found numbers remarkably similar to those initially tallied by the County's Dominion tabulators, as previously reported by Maricopa County and certified by the state.

Similarly, the Ninjas' hand-count of the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Mark Kelly and then Republican Senator Martha McSally --- the only other statewide race won by Democrats last year --- found an increase in the margin of the Democrat over the Republican. In the Senate contest, both candidates lost a small number of votes compared to the County's certified computer tally, according to the numbers the Ninjas are set to report publicly on Friday. While Kelly lost fewer than 100 votes in the private hand-count, McSally lost more than 500.

The final report, scheduled for its long-awaited release tomorrow, will include three different volumes. Volume I is said to include the Ninjas' "Executive Summary & Recommendations". Their recommendations, as we have learned, are fairly standard recommendations for ways to improve local procedures, similar to recommendation often made by actual longtime Election Integrity advocates in previous elections in both Arizona and other states. The second volume of the report details "Operations and Methodology" claimed to have been used by the Ninjas. And the third, by far the largest and most detailed, is titled "Results Details".

It is not until the third volume of the report that the Ninjas finally get around to detailing the actual results of their hand-counts as compared to the County's tally. They almost precisely confirm the originally reported official results of both the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial races in Maricopa County. There still may be some changes made to the report before the final version is released on Friday.

I suspect we'll have more details on all of this in the coming days, since today's program began just minutes after we obtained a large amount of the data, which we work through on air.

What is clear, however, is that Republicans who were told that the election in Arizona was somehow manipulated, were lied to. From our review of the Ninja's information, there remains zero evidence of fraud that might have altered the ultimate results in either the county or the state. Nonetheless, based on the theatrical performance put on by the Ninjas beginning in April and continuing over the past five months, Republicans in states across the country are now planning similar, taxpayer funded exercises to review the results of the 2020 election. They may be as disappointed as the Ninjas and those who gave them their money.

If the Arizona findings are echoed elsewhere, the Republican Party is on the verge of wasting a whole lot more taxpayer money, along with millions in private donations that their "forensic audit" proponents are currently raising to fund those similar investigations.

Beyond that on today's program, we cover, in some detail, the Congressional GOP's dangerous threat to force a default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. Government. Senate Republicans are currently vowing to block an increase in the nation's allowable statutory debt limit before the U.S. runs out of borrowing power to cover bills for stuff approved by Congress (both Republicans and Democrats) long ago. That, as Republicans in the Senate also threaten to force a full government shutdown as the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

We've got a lot of detail on that shameful, reckless and under-reported mess today, as Republicans, once again, hold a nation hostage to their demands...even if, this time, they don't seem to actually be making any. They appear to simply be causing havoc and potentially costing the U.S. economy trillions, simply because they can.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today with our latest Green News Report, as President Biden calls for unified climate action at the U.N. and as China vows to end international financing of coal plants, and much more...

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CORRECTION 9/23/2021: In the article above, I initially misidentified Cyber Ninjas' CEO Doug Logan as Doug Jones, who, unlike Logan, is an actual voting system and cybersecurity expert. Another Doug Jones is the former Senator from Alabama. Also, while going through the just obtained information live on air, I misspoke at one point to say there were some 4 million ballots cast in Maricopa. In fact, as I noted elsewhere during the show, there were 2.1 million ballots cast in the County last November. I had misread, on the fly, some of the data showing 2.x million votes tabulated by the County originally and 2.x million tabulated by the Ninjas. I read that on the fly on air as 4 million votes total (incorrectly seeing those numbers as one row for Trump and the other for Biden, when they actually were for each of the two different tallies.) My apologies for both errors!

* * *

UPDATE 9/24/2021: National media picks up this story several hours after our scoop. Full details now here...

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Guest: FSFP's Courtney Hostetler on federal suit challenging two new vote suppression laws in AZ; Also: John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act passed by House Dems; NC court restores voting rights to 50k...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was bad enough in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts gutted Section 5, the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That section prevented discriminatory voting laws before they could take effect. By the time Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 majority, legislated from the bench last month to create new tests for Section 2 of the VRA, pulled largely out of thin air, it felt like there was little left in the landmark 1965 federal legislation to protect voters. But voting rights champions are moving forward in courts, nonetheless, even as the battle for new federal voting rights legislation continues.

On Tuesday night, without a single Republican vote, Democrats in the House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The measure would fix much of the damage done to Section 5 of the VRA by the GOP Supremes in 2013, allowing laws with a discriminatory impact on minorities to be blocked in all fifty states before they can suppress voters. But that bill have to overcome a Senate filibuster by Republicans to become law. Still, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he support its passage, so perhaps he'll support the modification to the filibuster necessary to pass it. Given the federal lawsuit filed last week in Arizona against two new GOP voter suppression schemes in that state, perhaps AZ's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another opponent of filibuster reform --- even on behalf off democracy --- will rethink her position as well when the Senate returns from its August recess.

On Monday, however, there was some bona fide good news out of the very closely divided state of North Carolina, where a court overturned a century old law that prevented former felons from voting upon release from prison. The measure, originally enacted after the Civil War to stop access to the ballot box for black Americans, was finally overturned this week, allowing some 50,000 former felons to register to vote immediately. Of course, state Republicans are appealing the ruling.

And, despite good news last month from a Florida court, tossing a GOP cap on how much money can be donated to get initiatives onto the ballot in the Sunshine State, the effort to once again reenfranchise former felons in that state will now have to wait until the 2024 ballot. That, even after Florida voters already voted for exactly that in a landslide 65% to 35% victory in 2018. It seems Republicans will never run out of ways to prevent some 800,000 returning citizens in the state from being able to participate in their own democracy. It's what they do. It's also why it is so critical to adopt federal reforms, currently being blocked by Republicans and a couple of intransigent Democratic Senators.

In Arizona last week, several voting and civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit challenging two laws recently enacted by state Republicans aimed at suppressing the minority vote, according to our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan government watchdog Free Speech for People (FSFP). Her organization is litigating the case on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona. One law ends the state's very popular permanent early voting list, which allowed voters to receive Vote-by-Mail ballots automatically for every election. The other restriction requires voters who forgot to sign their VBM ballot to do so by 7pm on Election Night. That, even though voters judged to have a "mismatched" signature on their absentee ballot are allowed to "cure" the problem for up to five days after Election Day.

On the first restriction, Hostetler explains today that the permanent early voting list "is supposed to permanent. It's right in the name." But under the new law, she says, "if you don't vote in two consecutive election cycles, you're out. Two election cycles is not that many. There are local elections, many elections that happen. If you decide to skip two elections, for whatever reason, you're off this list and you might not realize it" until its too late.

On the second restriction, she describes that many voters are unlikely to be able to sign their ballot in time, or even be notified that there is a problem, particularly if they only dropped it off the day before the election and especially in the many cases where there is a two-hour, one-way trip for voters forced to use public transportation.

All of this is supposedly to prevent "voter fraud", according to Republicans in a state which has been unable to show any evidence of substantive fraud in past elections, much less fraud that would be prevented by the new restrictions. On the other hand, as Hostetler details, these laws --- which appear neutral on their face --- are specifically designed to "impact minority voters" in several different nefarious ways.

"We can't divorce this from the history of voting suppression in Arizona," she argues, listing many of the ways in which minorities will see a disparate impact from these laws. "Arizona has an unfortunate and long history of voter suppression of Latino, Black and Native American voters."

As the federal complaint [PDF] filed last week reads: "It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting --- the target of the new laws --- to help elect their candidate of choice."

But how can these restrictions be challenged in federal court, given Justice Alito's absurd, created-from-whole-cloth new "guideposts" for adjudicating Section 2 cases under the VRA, where, as we discussed on The BradCast last month, he literally conceded that discriminatory laws are okay, so long as they don't discriminated too much?

Hostetler explains the groups' strategy for challenging these laws under the VRA as well as Amendments 1, 14, and 15 of the U.S. Constitution which, she argues, these restrictions "clearly violate". She also speaks to the necessity of passage of new federal laws to give voting rights attorneys more tools to work with, since SCOTUS has twice gutted the VRA over the past decade. She similarly offers advice on and what we can all do --- as voters, as citizens --- to help reverse this cycle of insidious voter suppression now setting in across the country...especially in swing states like Kyrsten Sinema's Arizona...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Monsoons taking out Trump's crappy border fence; Also: TX, FL out of beds, oxygen amid explosion of unvaxxed COVID patients; Pelosi holds off 'suicide squad' Dems to pass landmark $3.5 trillion budget blueprint...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2021 6:40pm PT  

One upside to our worsening climate emergency, nothing but downsides to our worsening COVID emergency, and Pelosi brokers a deal (for now) between House Democrats to prevent them from destroying themselves. All that and more jammed into today's very busy BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

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

  • Somehow we managed to find at least one bright spot in our endless Climate Changed Summer: global warming is helping to take down Trump's shoddily constructed border fence --- proving that bypassing critical environmental impact studies before handing out sweetheart contracts for multi-billion dollar government boondoggles is a really dumb idea. Especially in an area like Arizona, prone to summer monsoons. Especially for a fence that can be scaled with a $5 ladder. It's an even dumber idea --- a potentially deadly and catastrophic one, in fact --- to flatten existing river levees on the Rio Grande in Texas to make room for a border wall in a flood plain amid ever-worsening hurricane seasons.
  • In still more news of disasters denied and left behind by the Trump Administration for all of us to try and survive, the seemingly unstoppable surge of unvaccinated COVID patients in states run by politically ambitious Republicans is having an horrifically deadly effect --- and not just for COVID patients. In Orlando, Florida, officials are asking residents to immediately cut back water usage as much as 50 percent to avoid potential boil water orders. That's due to a lack of liquid oxygen to purify the water, as the oxygen is currently needed to take care of critically ill COVID patients. In the same state, children now lead all other age groups in the rate at which they are testing positive for the coronavirus. That, as Gov. Ron DeSantis continues his failing war to block school districts from mandating masks, even for kids younger than 12 who can't be vaccinated, but who now have a 23% test positivity rate. And all of that as scores of physicians walked out this week to demonstrate the need for Floridians to get vaccinated as hospitals and ICU's are now filling up and even preventing more non-COVID patients than COVID patients from receiving critical care.
  • The story is no better and no less shameful in Texas, where their Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, is also at war with school districts who choose to try and keep their children and teachers safe by instituting mask mandates. The west Texas town of Iraan (Ira-Ann) is now entirely shut down after an explosion of cases just five days into the school year, with just 14 beds total in the small town's hospital and no critical care facilities anywhere nearer than at least 80 miles away. But those facilities, like the ones in crowded Southeast Texas, in places like Houston, are also completely out of both nurses and beds in both emergency and ICU rooms with hundreds of critically ill patients on waiting lists for both. "Are there patients dying because of this that might not have died? Absolutely, yes," says the doctor who serves as CEO of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, adding ominously: "I am very concerned about the fatalities that are about to happen." The Lone Star State is now shipping patients out of state as far as Minnesota to get them care. Of course, "it didn't have to be this way," notes Washington Post's Catherine Rampell, calling on "the GOP to dole out some tough love on vaccines." Good luck with that.
  • In brighter news, after a standoff by a rump caucus of conservative "suicide squad" Democrats in the U.S. House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was able to broker a deal to move forward with passage of the landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation blueprint that would, if ultimately signed into law, expand health care, child care, access to education, begin to take on climate change and raise taxes on corporations and the rich to help pay for it all. Nine or 10 so-called Democratic "moderates" in the House had been holding the measure hostage over the past day, in hopes of forcing Pelosi to allow a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package already passed by the Senate. But Pelosi and President Biden and House progressives have already said that both bills comprising Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda must be passed at the same time. The House standoff ended with an agreement by Pelosi that the infrastructure bill would get a vote by September 27. Whether progressives will vote for it by then likely depends on whether the larger spending bill --- which can pass in both chambers without any Republicans --- is complete. There is still a long, tough road ahead for that agenda. If adopted, it would be a landmark achievement on par with FDR's New Deal. But, after an attempt to undermine by a few Democrats, it is now moving forward again, even as Mitch McConnell is rooting on those Democratic "moderates" in the House, in hopes of scuttling both long-overdue initiatives for the American people.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which, as usual, is filled with nothing but "fantastic" news...and Barry Manilow...

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Also: Unhappy updates on COVID hospitalized RW radio hosts and other anti-vaxxers; FBI joins CO voting software theft probe, as Mike Lindell harbors Mesa County Clerk in 'safe house'; And, hey, AP...are you okay?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2021 6:36pm PT  

We've got quite a few updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late on The BradCast. Some of them not necessarily happy and others quite astounding. As well as some mainstream media failure, and other news from this seemingly endless Summer. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today program...

  • Even as infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to soar in their states, more politically ambitious Trumpy Rightwing Governors are leading their constituents on a death march by banning mask mandates by small local governments and school districts. Happily, a number of the school districts are putting the health and safety of their children above the authoritarian edicts of their Governors, as well as over the deadly demands of too many brainwashed, disinformed parents fighting to endanger their own children and themselves.
  • We've got updates today on several stories we've covered in recent weeks, including the anti-vax parents of four children in Texas, who both changed their minds about vaccinations just before they were intubated several weeks ago. Also, updates on some of the Rightwing anti-vax radio hosts who have either recently died or are now hospitalized in grave condition from COVID. Also, yet another far-right radio host --- this one a Christian broadcaster who derided COVID vaccines as "government control" on his daily "Prophecy Today" program --- has now died from...you guessed it.
  • A disturbed far-right Trumper from North Carolina brought Capitol Hill to a standstill today --- requiring evacuations from the U.S. Capitol to the U.S. Supreme Court --- after pulling his license plate-free pickup truck onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress and threatening to detonate a bomb. During the 5-hour standoff with police, which thankfully ended peacefully, media outlets reviewed the man's Facebook Live-streamed rants and other videos. He reportedly railed against Joe Biden, "Nancy", "antifa" and the Democrats, demanding they all resign en masse; declared "the revolution is here" and that he is the "last generation" of those willing to stand up for America. He said that Trump will be reinstated and posted video from his participation at "Stop the Steal" and "Million MAGA March" rallies. So, how did Associated Press, at least for a time today (via the Internet Archives), lead their description of the man's politics? By claiming that in one of his videos he "said he loved the president, Democrat Joe Biden." --- Really, AP?
  • We've also got a few quick updates today on the Trump-loving Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, who, as we have been reporting in some detail over the past week, allegedly entered a secure area of the County's Election Division in the middle of the night with two accomplices last May, turned off the security cameras, and allowed two hard drives containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software to be copied in full. During one of her several appearances on stage last week at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's failed three-day "Cyber Symposium" where he didn't reveal the promised "proof" that China stole the election for Joe Biden, the extremely sensitive contents of those hard drives were released into the Internet wilds for download by thousands. That, in the middle of California's critical Gubernatorial Recall election, where some 60% of the state will rely on that same, proprietary Dominion EMS software. Peters claimed during Lindell's forum that she was being "persecuted" by CO's Democratic Sec. of State Jenna Griswold because she's a "conservative Republican". Griswold has now removed Peters from her role, as Mesa's now-former chief election official is facing a criminal probe by the County's conservative Republican District Attorney. This week, the FBI joined that investigation, as federal crimes may have been violated in the theft and release of that software. And today, VICE reports, Peters is on the lam, being sheltered in a "safe house" somewhere by the MyPillow guy (who already faces a $1.3 billion lawsuit [PDF] from Dominion himself.) Will the "persecution" never end?
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with grim news of deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather from Haiti to both coasts of the U.S. to much of Europe; and some happier news this week from the Biden Administration...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/17/2021 11:10am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Tropical Depression Grace compounds disaster as Haiti reels from powerful earthquake; July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on Planet Earth; PLUS: Federal government declares water shortage on the Colorado River --- for the first time ever... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate scientists have a message for the world: Don’t give up; Progress: Republicans Switch from Denial to Inaction on Climate Change; 8 key takeaways from the IPCC report that prove we need to put in the work to fight climate change; "Doubt is our Product": 50 Year War on Science Bears Terrible Fruit in the Age of Covid, Climate Change; Industry Paid Residents To Support Gas Trucks At Public Meetings; Air Pollution From Household Products Is Cutting People’s Lives Short... PLUS: What’s the Degrowth Movement all about?... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' continues to fall apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2021 6:23pm PT  

Today's BradCast, by and large, serves as another fine example of why we fight, and what we fight for. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • We've got an update following yesterday's lively interview with John Brakey, the longtime, progressive Election Integrity and audit expert who has been serving as an observer and advisor at the Maricopa County, Arizona 2020 election "audit", alongside the state's Republican former Sec. of State Ken Bennett. Bennett was tapped by the GOP state Senate in April to serve as its liaison to the ill-considered clown show "audit" they hired the inexperienced, partisan, conspiracy theorist company named Cyber Ninjas to carry out. Last week, Bennet was shamefully locked out of the building after he'd shared information from the third count of the County's ballots with experienced outside experts who seem to confirm that the Ninjas' original ballot tally was wrong. In fact, they suggest that the original County count was accurate (as expected, by all by the Trump MAGA mob). As of yesterday's show, Brakey had confirmed that Bennett was resigning his post after the dust up. But shortly after we got off air, Brakey reports, Bennett met with Senate President Karen Fann and, essentially, unresigned. We explain what happened and what may happen next, as even Republican members of the state Senate are now describing the effort as "botched" and turning hard against both the Ninjas for their incompetency and Fann for her folly in having hired them.
  • Despite the obvious failure of the Ninja's disastrous pretend "audit" in Arizona, Republicans across the country are noticing the millions of dollars raised by the grifters running that spectacle, and have decided they'd like some of that sweet sweet "audit" theater in their own home states. But on Wednesday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice issued new guidance documents, warning that they intend to enforce federal laws that may be violated by such exercises.
  • In separate, but related guidance on Wednesday, the DoJ also also made clear they intend to enforce federal voting rights laws against states enacting new voter suppression measures, as GOP-controlled legislatures are now doing all over the country. That, even as recent rulings by the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS has made such enforcement much more difficult, in lieu of new federal laws needed to protect the franchise.

    To that end, the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday held a hearing on, among other things, the Texas state legislature's attempt to adopt such a bill. Texas Democrats left the state two weeks ago to prevent the quorum needed to pass such a bill during the ongoing special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott to do just that. And today, 82-year old state Rep. Senfronia Thompson --- the longest serving woman and African-American woman in Texas history, now in her 25th term --- offered moving testimony about her and her family's personal experiences with Jim Crow voter suppression laws in the Lone Star State. We share some of her must-listen remarks in response to GOP Congressmembers at the hearing who downplayed the difficulty of minority voters to exercise their right to vote.

  • With COVID surging again, thanks to the Delta variant and those who have refused to get life-saving vaccinations, President Biden announced new initiatives at the White House today, following impassioned remarks to encourage Americans to get their shots. "This is an American tragedy," he said. "People are dying --- and will die --- who don't have to die. If you're out there unvaccinated, you don't have to die," the President pleaded before detailing the new incentives. Among them: Paying the unvaxxed $100 to get their shots; Expanding federal reimbursement for employers and employees to take time off to get both themselves and their families inoculated; and a new requirement for federal workers and contractors to either get vaccinated or face regular testing and other restrictions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also speaks today to...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Chair of Trump Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, arrested, charged with acting as foreign agent, lying to FBI...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2021 6:44pm PT  

Among the many sad legacies of the awful Donald Trump years, is how angry everyone has become in its wake. For always-angry Trumpers, ticking off "the libs" is a feature, not a bug. For progressives, however, while there is much to be justifiably angry about, we are wise to hold our outrage for points that actually matter...and happen to be true. We've got plenty of both on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, shortly before airtime today, the Dept. of Justice arrested and charged Trump's longtime friend, advisor and top fund-riser, Tom Barrack, who chaired the disgraced former President's corrupt Inaugural Committee in 2017. Barrack was charged on seven federal counts, including using his access to Trump to lobby for the United Arab Emirates and lying about it to federal agents. As an unregistered agent for the UAE, Barack allegedly lobbied both the Trump Campaign and Administration on their behalf, joining a growing list of Trump friends, officials and associates found to have unlawfully lobbied the so-called "America First" Administration on behalf of foreign nations like Turkey, Ukraine and the UAE, before lying about it to the FBI.

In other news out of Joe Biden's Dept. of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland, on Monday, issued a new policy prohibiting federal prosecutors from seizing phone, text and email records from journalists, with a few reasonable exceptions. While the Obama Administration did some of that, the Trump Administration took it to new heights, secretly spying on reporters at Washington Post, New York Times and CNN --- as well as Democratic members of Congress, their aides and even their family members --- all considered (by Trump) to be his political enemies. Freedom of Press advocates applauded Garland's "historic" Monday memo [PDF], as the A.G. also called for federal legislation to buttress the new DoJ policy.

That rather important story was somewhat overshadowed on Monday, however, by outrage from the progressive Left over a misreported story about the DoJ's failure to file charges against Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who, the agency's Inspector General found, lied twice to Congress about his roll in unsuccessfully attempting to add a question on immigration status to the 2020 U.S. Census. After the IG's investigation, which began in 2019, the office referred the matter to the DoJ for criminal prosecution.

Progressives were up in arms yesterday after it was inaccurately reported by several legit outlets, including Government Executive and AP, that Biden's DoJ, under the direction of A.G. Garland, had declined to prosecute Ross. However, as both outlets later acknowledged with corrections to their stories, it was actually the Trump DoJ which refused to prosecute Ross. He was at least the fifth Trump Cabinet member to have been referred for criminal prosecution to Trump's corrupt DoJ. (The others include his Interior Dept. chief Ryan Zinke, his HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Trump's second Secretary of Veteran's Affairs Robert Wilkie and his Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who happens to be Mitch McConnell's wife. They all skated.) Whether Biden's A.G. can or will revive those recommendations to bring charges is a separate matter --- and there is plenty of other stuff to be disappointed and/or outraged about regarding some of Garland's seemingly inscrutable decisions since taking the helm at the Department --- but the outrage on Monday from progressives over the declination to charge Ross appears to have been both premature and misdirected.

Next, speaking of fact-checking and going off half-cocked (or, in Trump's case, fully-cocked), late last week, Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the rightwing, conspiracy-promoting company contracted by the Arizona state Republican Senate to carry out a post-election "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2.1 million ballots cast last year, offered public testimony on the progress of his three-month (and continuing) efforts to date.

Logan's remarks vividly demonstrated the dangers of hiring someone who knows absolutely nothing about elections or voting systems (or audits, for that matter) to carry out, in secret, what should have been a fully public exercise. It has been referred to as a "fraudit" and clown show by critics, including both Republican and Democratic state and county officials.

The former President offered three statements on Logan's remarks over the ensuing two days, the most detailed of which charged, falsely, that Logan's testimony "showed 168,000 fraudulent ballots printed on illegal paper (unofficial ballots), 74,000 mail in ballots received that were never mailed (magically appearing ballots), 11,000 voters were added to the voter rolls AFTER the election and still voted, all the access logs to the machines were wiped, and the election server was hacked during the election."

You'll be shocked to learn that absolutely NONE of Trump's claims are actually true.

Over the weekend, AP, CNN and others published lengthy fact-checks responding to the false claims by Logan and the wildly inaccurate nonsense from Trump. Today, we walk through some of false claims, detailing how both Trump and Logan got pretty much everything completely wrong, in the state where Joe Biden was certified by the Republican Governor to have defeated Trump by more than 10,400 votes last November. To date, there has been zero legitimate evidence to suggest otherwise in AZ or any of the other several states that flipped in 2020 from Republican to Democratic after four hellish years of the failed Trump Presidency.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on last week's catastrophic flooding in Germany and Central Europe, wildfires continuing to explode in the parched U.S. West, and disturbing news regarding both the Amazon rainforest and the near future of high-tide flooding...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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