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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, August 9, 2020
'Mail is Being Slowed Down... Everywhere' Warns Postal Union Prez: 'BradCast' 8/7/20
Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist 'wins' TN's Dem U.S. Senate nom after being outspent 250 to 1...
National Ripoff Association: NY A.G. Sues NRA for Fraud, to Dissolve Org: 'BradCast' 8/6/20
Also: Trump in NY legal trouble too; Economy over a cliff as White House, Repubs dither...
'Green News Report' 8/6/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump signs major land bill; Fertilizer caused Beirut explosion; Electricity shutoff ban ending; Shell's offshore hybrid wind farm; PLUS: Northeast climate pact causes healthier kids...
Previous GNRs: 8/3/20 - 7/30/20 - Archives...
Progressive Victories (and Losses) in MO, MI, AZ, WA, KS Primaries: 'BradCast' 8/5/20
Guest: Howie Klein; Also: Disgraced Kobach and Watkins lose in KS; Disgraced Arpaio in running in AZ; GOP Guv restores IA voting rights to former felons...
Death and Destruction; Hope and Change: 'BradCast' 8/4/20
Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 8/4/20
Isaias hits NC amid a pandemic, makes history; Rising seas pushing storms further inland, study warns; PLUS: 15 states clear the air, move to all-electric trucks and buses...
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money: 'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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

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Guest: Ray Lutz of Citizens' Oversight; Also: Rest in Power, John Lewis...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2020 6:54pm PT  

We kick off today's BradCast on a somber, if hopefully inspiring note, on the passing of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis who died on Friday after a battle with cancer. His decades-long fight for voting rights --- and the call to cause "good trouble, necessary trouble" --- has been an inspiration to this show and our work at BradBlog.com for many years. The best tribute we can offer to Rep. Lewis, of course, is to continue his fight as best we can. And so we do once again today. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

More than 100k absentee/Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots were rejected by election officials in the state of California after its March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, according to a new AP analysis. Many of the rejections were due to voter error, though not all. Some were also due perceived mismatched or missing signatures and a to a too-short statutory deadline (3 days) for VBM ballots to arrive after Election Day. The state has now increased that time to 17 days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be included in the final tally.

But, of course, various problems with VBM is why in-person polling places remain very necessary in CA and all states this year, even with expanded mail-in voting during the COVID crisis. That is true even in the Golden State, which will be sending VBM ballots directly to all active registered voters this year because of the pandemic. Here in Los Angeles County, however --- the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction --- the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has said that, for in-person voting, he will stick with the County's new, horribly failed $300 million unverifiable touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system this November, despite the disasters that resulted in 3, 4, and 5 hour lines to vote and an untold number of disenfranchised voters during the system's first county-wide use on March 3rd.

I discussed the decision by Logan to use L.A. voters, once again, as guinea pig beta testers this November, during the most critical election of our lifetimes, in a segment late last month on CBS2-LA News with investigative reporter David Goldstein. Incredibly, CA's Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have all apparently agreed to allow the failed system --- called "Voting Solutions For All People" or VSAP --- another try on November 3rd. What could possibly go wrong?

An L.A. County Civil Grand Jury --- which has also been investigating the VSAP failure --- thinks a lot could go wrong. The group's report on the VSAP failures [PDF] by both Logan and Padilla, entitled "Maybe I Voted?", demands answers from Registrar Logan as well as the state. Goldstein, who has been closely following the VSAP mess since a few weeks before the March 3rd election, followed up by covering the "scathing" L.A. Grand Jury report and called me once again to appear in that follow-up report on CBS2-LA as well.

Meanwhile, a group of Election Integrity advocates in the state sent an open letter [PDF] late last week to Gov. Gavin Newsom (and Sec. of State Padilla), seeking an Executive Order for important improvements to the state's 1% post-election audit process. We're joined today by RAY LUTZ, longtime Election Integrity advocate and the founder and Executive Director of CitizensOversight.org. His organization won a ruling in a lawsuit several years ago that would have required all Vote-by-Mail ballots to be included as part of the pool from which the random sample of ballots are drawn when determining which of them will be hand-counted after an election to assure the accuracy of the state's computerized optical-scan ballot tabulators.

When Lutz filed suit in San Diego after the 2016 election, that County's Registrar, Michael Vu, was drawing only from votes cast at the precinct or absentee ballots that were counted early for inclusion in the 1% post-election spot check. As the groups notes in their press release [PDF] announcing the letter to Newsom, that resulted in some 285,000 ballots that were automatically excluded from the mandatory "audit" in 2016. Lutz' win in the courts, however, was short-lived after Padilla (with support from L.A. County's Logan) lobbied the CA state legislator to specifically allow Registrar's to ignore late mail-in ballots all together during post-election audits. Leaving those ballots out of the audit, Lutz argues, means that nefarious actors "can just move ballots --- ten thousand, twenty thousand at a time --- from one candidate to another and no one would be the wiser because they wouldn't have that check." That, he says, is a virtual roadmap for election theft.

His group's letter asks the Governor to declare that all ballots should be included in the potential audit sample pool in this November's elections, particularly now that some 90% of votes are likely to be cast as mail-in ballots for the first time this year, due to the Governor's previous Executive Order to send VBM ballots to all this year.

Moreover, Lutz echoes frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (which is suing Georgia to force hand-marked paper ballots for all) in her important tweeted concerns last night observing that both major political parties are utterly failing to ensure proper public oversight of absentee ballot handling and tabulation. Marks complained that Elections officials across the country (and definitely in Georgia!) are "working overtime to block transparency, block access, block observation, work[ing] behind closed doors, etc. This, of course, plays into Trump's hands in that if he wants to claim 'rigging,' the Dems will have little evidence documented to rebut the claim."

Lutz agrees with her thinking. California is "not a battleground state," he says, "but remember, the popular vote is always a big issue in the Presidential election. And as you remember last time, Trump made a big deal about 'illegal voter fraud' and all these 'million illegals are voting'. So we have to have our act together for this election to defend against those claims. If we do what we're doing now, we're going to have up to six million ballots that are completely unaudited and can be flipped. Six million votes is a lot. So we need to have this change."

The issue, he goes on to explain, is not only important in California. "Any state that expands their vote-by-mail or absentee voting right now probably is not auditing those ballots." Lutz points listeners to the letter to Newsom, suggesting others push for similar improvements to post-election audits in other states as well, given that, as bad as CA's processes are, they are still better than many states where no computer-tallied votes are ever examined by any human beings at all before election results are certified. "We can't rely upon the election officials, or really anyone, to do this job for us," he argues. "The public has to do its own oversight of its elections. No one can be trusted. We have to do it ourselves. This is where we really call on the citizenry to stand up and really take a look at this. Because the most important thing we can do is to make sure these elections are sound."

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

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Guest: High School senior Shourya Seth, COO of Project Paralink; Also: Admin's top-to-bottom failures in managing COVID crisis continue; Biden proposes 100% carbon-free power by 2035, millions of jobs with it...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2020 6:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: How bad is Donald Trump's Administration response to the COVID-19 crisis? Bad enough that "a guerrilla network" of high school kids seem to be doing a better job of getting some much-needed life-saving protective gear to medical workers than the federal government itself, at least in one state so far. [Audio link to show follows below.]

If you tried to fail any worse than the Trump Administration and his GOP acolyte Governors around the nation (Hello, Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis!), you'd be hard-pressed to fail as thoroughly as Trump has managed to, in virtually every aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. His deadly incompetence is continuing to help drive up infection rates, hospitalization rates and deaths in the U.S., even now, some five months into the pandemic. In Florida, the state's incompetent and very Trumpy Governor is at least finally admitting that they do not have nearly enough rapid tests to keep up with the explosion of new cases in the state after DeSantis reopened opened businesses far too early in the spring. But, even as FL hit a national record on Sunday of 15,300 newly confirmed cases in a single day on Sunday (more than most entire nations!), he continues to keep hospitalization rates a secret, despite promising last week to begin reporting them transparently to the public.

For their part, the Trump Administration is at least pulling back on one element of their shambolic crisis management. After being sued by 17 states this week, the Administration has walked back its vow to withdraw visas from foreign exchange students attending schools which refuse to open their classrooms to deadly in-person classes five days a week beginning next month. Other than that, the Administration response continues to go from horrific to even more horrific, if that's even imaginable.

NBC News reports today that, according to internal Health and Human Services documents they've obtained, shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) persist across the country as cases and hospitalizations and death rates continue to surge in major metropolitan cities and rural areas alike. The Strategic National Stockpile and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are still only able to fulfill about 30% of the requests for PPE for front-line medical and long-term care facility workers across the country, according to the federal documents, despite the President's ability to invoke the Defense Production Act to commandeer manufacturing facilities to meet the nation's needs.

Meanwhile, some high school kids in Atlanta, Georgia have taken it upon themselves to actually do something about the problem. We're joined today by SHOURYA SETH, high school senior and Chief Operating Officer for Project Paralink, a grassroots organization built with his friends to combat the coronavirus pandemic with the decentralized production producing and distribution of PPE to health workers. So far, they've managed to manufacture and donate more than 420,000 units of PPE, from face-shields to masks to more than 1,500 locations.

They've also gained some corporate support for their efforts, which are now joined by nearly 1,000 volunteers in the work to distribute much-needed protective gear in at least four states, to date. Seth says they have distributed to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama, though he tells me today they've recently begun working with California, New York, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation as well, for what they describe as "decentralization for social good" and "localized disaster relief".

Recently, he explains, "some hospitals had gone back to the position where they were only left with one week of supplies. And it was just, you know, really frustrating to see that the federal government was not doing anything about it." The project's ultimate goal, Seth explains, is to replace, or at least augment, FEMA's efforts with "Parapod Relief Stockpiles" all over the nation. He describes the project as "a guerrilla network of sorts [to] get the PPE supplies delivered faster than the federal supply chain." He also tells me that Paralink has already even outpaced FEMA in at least one respect in Georgia.

"Recently we actually passed FEMA in the donation of face shields," says Seth. "We didn't really see any coordination, at least on the gubernatorial level or the city level. On June 11th, FEMA put out a public press release, giving out state-by-state PPE data. When we looked at Georgia, what we found out was that FEMA had, at that time, only been able to produce 189,000 face shields, while we had been able to produce 370,000 face shields, essentially doubling the output. And the funny part is, some of the donations we made were to FEMA! So while we had been overproducing we had also been donating to FEMA!"

Seth tells us how how the project came about as an effort to improve food delivery logistics before the COVID crisis struck. They then decided to modify their algorithms to turn to PPE manufacturing and delivery.

"Just before the surge of cases, we started to notice a very, very slow downward trend in the cases. And we realized a lot of people, like Dr. Fauci, were talking about a second wave of the pandemic coming during the winter. We wanted to create the stockpiles in states to prepare for the future," he says. "A lot of the Republican-controlled state governments were ignoring those warnings, but we understood according to virologists, according to common sense, the cases were going to rise again." So, they sprung into action.

Seth also offers his own feelings about whether schools should be opened for in-person classes, as the Administration is now insisting upon, and asks for your help in growing the project. "If you have any sort of questions, inquiries, or ways that you can help us out, reach out to us!"

So, if you're worried about the next generation, today's conversation is likely to make you feel much better about their ability to handle --- and fix --- so much that we've already screwed up for them.

Then, another bit of encouraging and progressive news, this time from the Joe Biden Campaign today. The presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee announced a massive climate plan aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth by overhauling America's energy industry with a proposal to achieve carbon-free renewable power across the entire country by 2035. The ambitious plan echoes that offered during the Democratic primary campaign by then rival Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington state. The ambitious progressive plan would more than doubles the resources and halve the time-frame that Biden had previously proposed during the campaign. The effort to tackle our climate crisis would also, as Desi Doyen explains today, serve as a massive infrastructure jobs engine to help the U.S. climb out of the pandemic, it's accompanying economic crisis, and systemic racism, as the proposal requires that 40 percent of the money spent on clean energy deployment goes to historically disadvantaged front line communities, which have been among the worst and first victims of the climate crisis. It's a New Deal-like proposal that some might even call a Green New Deal --- if that phrase didn't startle delicate Republicans so.

Finally, we close with our latest Green News Report, as the nation attempts to deal with an extended extreme heat wave amidst our coronavirus crisis; as oil and gas companies go belly up, while both leaving environmental disasters for tax-payers to clean up and making sure their executives get huge bonuses on the way out the door; and as one venerable environmental group goes all in on ad buys highlighting Trump's deadly, parallel denial of both COVID-19 and climate change...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: Trump's coronavirus Death March continues; SCOTUS allows religious groups to discriminate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2020 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Things are going to get far worse before they finally get better. In this case, "worse" means far more deadly and "better" means an election this fall that somewhat accurately reflects the intent of the electorate. Donald Trump has now get the killing Americans part down, but he and his fixer/Attorney General are still feeling their way around how best to undermine the election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Just weeks ago, in late May, the Trump Death Cultists on Fox "News" and those entrusted to govern states like Florida, were railing against media, demanding apologies by those who warned that opening up for business prematurely amid a deadly viral pandemic was a terrible idea. Republican Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and hackish clowns like Sean Hannity of Fox "News" aren't asking for apologies anymore, it seems, as at least 56 Florida hospital ICUs across the state have now hit capacity, with dozens more nearly full as well. Florida is just one such GOP-led state whose political decisions in advance of the November election have had deadly consequences as 31 states are now seeing infections and hospitalizations rise.

The conservative projected death estimates put out by the infectious disease modelers at University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have once again been revised in the bargain. IHME now forecasts more than 208,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by November 1, while noting that some 45,000 lives could be saved over that same period if we all simply wore masks in public. Other experts believe the mortality number could be as high as 500,000 by the end of this year.

So, again, we ask: At what point does it become a CRIMINAL act when DeSantis and Donald Trump and Vice President Pence command schoolchildren, amid this out-of-control surging pandemic, back to in-person classes next month, under thread of financial penalty, and in defiance of CDC guidelines? At least the CDC guidelines based on science and health data, versus Pence's newly promised revised CDC guidelines that the Administration ordered to be cooked up after Trump found the real ones to be too "tough" and "expensive". When do these people become liable for criminal deadly negligence or even mass murder?

This scheming is nothing short of sick and twisted. We will soon look back on these days with ghastly horror at what they have done in short-sighted and ill-considered hopes of winning re-election this November.

Speaking of which, while Trump and his corrupt A.G. Bill Barr have been out lying about absentee voting amid the pandemic, it seems Republican strategists and candidates are becoming quite concerned that their voters may be actually be listening to them. Many GOP voters new believe that vote-by-mail ballots are all fraudulent, which could end up costing the GOP dearly this year.

At the same time, folks like EDDIE PEREZ, Global Director of Technology and Standards at the OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute, has been doing his level best to debunk many of the lies about mail-in voting being infectiously spread by Trump and his Attorney General who, for example, recently declared that "a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots" and use them to undermine our elections somehow. Perez explains (and here's a shorter Twitter version of his explanation) why such claims are largely nonsense, even if there are, in fact, some concerns about fraud in absentee voting --- just not the ones that Trump and Barr are mostly trumpeting.

As no fan of absentee voting myself --- other than in cases where voters literally cannot vote at the polls on Election Day, or are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems at the polling place, or when we find ourselves in the middle of an out-of-control deadly global pandemic --- I've got a few pointed questions for Perez on the reality of absentee ballot fraud.

Among the issues he speaks to: Whether ballots can really be counterfeited (by foreign or domestic actors alike); What security measures are in place to prevent someone from casting a ballot in someone else's name?; Should voters have confidence in signature matching by election officials who are not hand-writing experts? And more. "If nothing else," Perez tells me, "the country needs to realize --- and particularly election officials and Get Out The Vote organizations --- there are really, really good reasons to protect public health to make by-mail voting available to people, as one of several options. That's really critical. For November, you've got to have a balance. We need to pay attention to educating voters about what it's going to take to ensure that their ballot is accepted and counted."

Also, as Perez, before joining the non-profit OSET Institute, was a 15 year veteran of Hart-Intercivic, one of the nation's three major private voting system vendors (about whom we've reported a great deal of less than flattering things over the years), we take a few minutes today to discuss why private, for-profit vendors are ill-equipped to meet the critical needs of transparent, overseeable elections in support of American democracy. "I'll say that the one thing we can agree on," Perez notes, "is transparency in the voting process is what helps to build trust with the public. Transparency is what is going to produce confidence. And that's what we need in our democracy."

I didn't have the heart or time to respond that "trust" has nothing to do with Americans elections. But, other than that, on the need for transparent oversight to build confidence among the electorate, he is spot on.

Finally, two objectionable SCOTUS opinions were handed down today, allowing religious organizations to, among other things, ignore any and all state or federal anti-discrimination laws, because "freedom of religion", apparently, also now includes the freedom to take actual freedoms away from everyone else...

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Guest: Roosevelt Univ. political scientist David Faris; Also: GOP denial continues despite new record COVID-19 infection rates; Biden up by double-digits in several new key battleground state polls...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2020 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More bad news on the spread of the coronavirus and more bad news for Donald Trump --- though at least the latter is potentially very good news for America! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Vice President Mike Pence continues to beclown himself on behalf of Donald Trump, writing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that "We are winning the fight against the invisible enemy" and that the Administration's response to the coronavirus is "a cause for celebration". That, as the U.S. has now seen over 2,000,000 infections and the COVID-19 death toll in our nation is at least as high as 119,000...and climbing.

On the same day Pence's op-ed was published, there was a record spike in cases was seen in at least six states on Tuesday, including Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma (ready for Trump's campaign rally on Saturday?), Oregon, Texas and Nevada. The Republican Governors of most of those states are either in denial or simply lying to their constituents about the deadly impacts of the virus in their states, suggesting that it's due to increased testing, while ignoring the record surge in the percentages of positive tests (Florida, Oklahoma) and hospitalizations (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma). Oregon has a Democratic Governor, but their outbreak appears tied to 200 cases from a crowded Pentecostal church service held in late May, in violation of state restrictions. The other states all appear to have reopened for business far too early, as their Governor's downplayed the risk of the virus and the need for simple safety measures.

Democratic and Republican Mayors of the six largest cities in Texas have written an open letter begging Governor Abbott to allow them to mandate masking in their cities, pleading with him to "restore the ability for local authorities to enforce the wearing of face coverings in public venues where physical distancing cannot be practiced." Infectious disease epidemiologists (such as the University of Arizona's Dr. Purnima Mahdivanan, who we interviewed on yesterday's show) argue masking is one of the easiest, cheapest and most important ways to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. Abbott, however, is disallowing local municipalities to do so, even as he is blaming the increased infections on residents under 30 who, he says, are not wearing masks.

And yet, "we are winning," argues Pence, as he prepares to join Trump for his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday after new cases rose in the state by some 68% over the past week. In all, at least 17 states saw a rise in new cases over the past week, giving new meaning to Trump's May 2016 remarks at a rally in Billings, Montana, when he said: "We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick winning!"

In the meantime, while Americans are sick and getting sicker, Donald Trump appears to be badly losing, not winning, in a number of key battleground states across the country. New state polling finds him losing to Joe Biden by double-digits in both two new polls in several new polls in Michigan and Florida (where his 22% advantage in 2016 over Hillary Clinton among voters 65 years of age and older has plummeted some 31% since(!), resulting in a 9 point lead for Biden among that group in the Sunshine State.) Formerly "red" Arizona now also appears to be falling into the Biden column, with the latest poll finding the former Veep up by about 4 points. Even Georgia and Iowa, both traditionally solid Republican states are now polled as toss-ups, with Biden up by 2 in GA and Trump up by just 1 in IA. We dig into some of the details from those polls.

That said, Trump has come back from bad poll numbers before. Our guest today, Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, however, tempts the gods by arguing in his latest column at The Week that "This time is different for Trump". Why does he believe that? He joins us to explain --- and to take a few challenges from me on that point...

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Guest: Jeanne DuFort, who discovered state's massive counting error
Also: FDA bars Trump's magical mystery cure for COVID; TX seeing record hospitalizations; Stunning surprise ruling from SCOTUS on LGBTQ rights...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You've almost certainly heard by now about Georgia's disastrous primary election last week, when new computer voting systems, shuttered polling places and thousands of absentee ballots that never arrived to voters resulted in hours-long voting lines, disproportionately in heavily-minority areas of the state. You may not have heard, however, that the new computer scanners the state's Republican Secretary of State forced all counties to use to tally hand-marked paper absentee ballots on June 9th appear to have failed to tally potentially thousands of votes across the state. We're joined today by the woman who first discovered the gob-smacking --- and still unexplained --- failure in GA's new, failed, statewide voting systems last week. [Link to audio of full show is posted below.]

But first up, a few noteworthy breaking news items today...

  • The FDA has revoked emergency use authorization of the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, finding the serious and potentially deadly dangers of the drugs outweigh any potential, unproven benefits. These are the drugs that non-health expert Donald Trump (and Fox "News") repeatedly encouraged Americans to take, pressuring the FDA in the early days of the coronavirus to approve for broad use. Trump repeatedly declared, "What do you have to lose?" in taking it. The answer: potentially your life, according to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health as of today;
  • The coronavirus still continues to spread across the U.S., with infection rates and hospitalizations spiking in many places across the nation, particular where businesses have been allowed to reopen too early. Texas, for example, has continued to break its own hospitalization records, day-after-day over the past week. All of that since GOP Gov. Greg Abbot allowed many business to reopen on Memorial Day weekend and for Phase III of the state's reopening plan (allowing some restaurants to fill up to 75% of capacity) to go into effect on Friday, despite the deadly and continuing surge of new cases and hospitalizations;
  • Stunning and great news on Monday, shockingly enough, from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 6-3 that employers may not discriminate against LGBTQ people. Republican-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority(!), said that firing gay or trans people because they are gay or trans amounts to unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex. That is forgidden by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The ruling is a huge victory for the civil rights community and those of us who believe in freedom and liberty and the rule of law;
  • More good news from the Court today. SCOTUS declined to hear about a dozen different cases appealed to the Court by gun rights activists hoping to further broaden the 2nd Amendment.

Then, a bit of very rare good news out of last week's disastrous GA primary: Overall turnout was way up as compared to 2016's primary, and especially among Democrats where three times as many voted in the state's U.S. Senate primary than did so four years ago. Moreover, curiously enough, many more Republicans voted in last week's uncontested GOP U.S. Senate primary for Sen. David Perdue than voted for Donald J. Trump in his own uncontested Presidential primary in a state that many believe could flip from red to blue in November for the first time in decades. But that's the end of the "good news" out of Georgia's horrific election last week.

With voters (mostly in Democratic-leaning areas) forced to wait in hours-long lines at the polls, where the final votes was cast well after midnight on Wednesday, election integrity advocates have now learned that things are even worse than previously known.

During mandated bi-partisan county reviews of ballots identified by the state's new absentee ballot computer scanners as having potential over- or under-votes, our guest today discovered that the computer tally systems were failing to count votes at all in certain races on an untold number of ballots. Election Integrity advocate JEANNE DUFORT, was reportedly the first to notice that the digital computer scanners were simply failing --- inexplicably --- to count completely countable votes on ballots she reviewed while serving on a bi-partisan three-person review panel in her county. Dufort has served as a plaintiff in a number of successful legal complaints brought by the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, challenging the horrific computerized voting and tallying systems (both old and new) forced on all 159 counties in the state by its Republican Secretary of State.

After first spotting the apparently uncounted votes, she says on today's program, "we checked the audit trail. The computer said, 'unvoted.' But we're looking at a voter mark. No confusion that it's a vote." The same problem was subsequently discovered on a huge proportion of ballots reviewed in DeKalb, Clarke and Cherokee Counties. According to voting systems experts, the uncounted votes are likely to be found in every county in the state, since they were all forced to use the same new systems this year. (A system which, by the way, even the state of Texas refused to certify for use there, finding it to be "fragile and error prone.")

Despite rates of anywhere from 5 to 10% of ballots discovered in the initial four counties to have had valid untallied votes on them, DuFort says that while the votes on ballots they reviewed were added to the results, Morgan County's Board of Elections voted against an examination of the county's other 3,000 absentee ballots. She describes that vote by the Board as a "huge disappointment," telling me that "head in the sand is not a good strategy when a problem materializes." But that appears to be the state of Georgia's strategy on just about everything these days. The Secretary of State's office initially denied there was any problem at all, dismissing DuFort as a partisan "activist". In fact, while she serves as the 1st Vice Chair of the Morgan County Democratic Party, she works with the Coalition for Good Governance whose Founder and Executive Director, Marilyn Marks, is both a frequent guest on The BradCast and a registered Republican.

Since the discovery and confirmation of the massive computer counting flaw --- which could affect untold thousands of votes across the state --- the Coalition has called for a "thorough transparent investigation and correction of the vote count [which] must be immediately undertaken and completed prior to certification of the election results." DuFort, however, tells us that "so far, the state has not shown an interest in investigating it. It's shown an interest in denying there's a problem."

"We're calling on counties all over the state, before they certify, to do a human eyeball review to see what other votes are out there that are embedded in ballots that have just plain not been counted and should have been counted," she says about the problem that one panelist in a different county said was discovered "by sheer luck" during the review of ballots flagged by the computer system for other reasons.

DuFort suggests that some of the candidates who ran in last week's contested statewide Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate, for example, may be able to take legal action, since Georgia law "is clear on this" that votes must be counted. Citing several voting system and computer science experts who have verified the flaw, DuFort argues: "Folks who know about these things tell us that what we've seen with our own eyes is likely a bug. Bugs can happen. [In a] big, first-time statewide rollout, you can have a bug. Nobody's complaining that there's a bug. But you've got to be interested enough to go and find it and fix it. We've got a big consequential race coming up in Georgia in November, and you better learn from this experience and fix it before then."

Whether the state will learn anything or not remains to be seen as this story continues to develop and explanations are sought for what happened and how large the problem actually is. We will cover it, of course, as it continues to do so...

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Guest: Voting rights journalist Ari Berman on the many ways Republicans are working to undermine 2020 and how you can help stop them...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the conversation that everyone in America who gives a damn about democracy needs to be having. And, not in the days just before this November's election --- when it will be too late to do anything about it --- but RIGHT NOW. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

In Florida, the top Democrat in the state's House of Representative is sounding an "urgent" alarm. He says that absentee ballots in the perpetual swing-state could be gamed by the Trump Administration using the U.S. Postal Service to slow the return of ballots. In the Sunshine State, any ballots that don't arrive at County Headquarters by 7pm on Election Day may not be included in the results. Minority Leader Kionne McGhee is calling for barcodes to be added to absentee ballots so that voters can track whether they have been received by election officials, so that they may otherwise vote in person on Election Day if necessary.

While calling on the state's Republican Governor to take action that would also help Republicans (who voted at a higher rate by mail than Democrats in 2018), a Trump Campaign spokesperson dismissed McGhee's concerns as "an absolutely bogus conspiracy theory by Democrats." (And you know how Trump hates conspiracy theories.) Of course, Republican willingness to commit fraud, especially in Florida elections, is anything but a "conspiracy theory". In fact, Donald Trump himself, just this year, has already committed absentee ballot voter fraud in the state. So, apparently, has his Press Secretary Kayleigh MacEneny. Former GOP superstar Ann Coulter definitely did so. And so, it seems, did Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop charged with the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin, a property owner in Florida, where he is also a member of the state Republican Party, reportedly voted in the state's elections in 2016 and 2018, despite working and living in Minnesota, in what a Florida attorney and candidate for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections this year describes as a third-degree felony.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been jailed for much less than what both Trump and Chauvin are accused of having done in Florida.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is similarly worried about what the current President and his party may do to undermine the 2020 contest, telling The Daily Show's Trevor Noah this week that his "single greatest concern" is that "this President is going to try to steal this election."

Stolen or not, despite Trump's plummeting favorability ratings, this year's critical general elections will be anything but a cakewalk for Democrats amid the added challenge of coronavirus. Tuesday's disastrous primary election in Georgia was just one example of how Republicans are able to disenfranchise tens, if not hundreds of thousands of votes through the use of overly complicated, faulty and unverifiable touchscreen voting machines and electronic pollbooks in combination with poll closures and mail-in ballots that never reach voters at all or fail to arrive back at county headquarters in time to be legally tallied.

Moreover, as a new study [PDF] out this week from the Center for Election Innovation and Research finds, new voter registration rates in 13 different states they examined --- many of them key battlegrounds --- have fallen dramatically since the virus emerged in March and April. After all of those states saw increases in registrations in January, as compared to the same month in 2016, the numbers fell over a cliff compared to the same months four years ago. With DMVs closed in many states, automatic voter registrations have also not occurred since the virus emerged, and many states still fail to offer online voter registration. At the same time, voter registrations by third-party groups have similarly all but vanished as organizations have been unable to carry out their planned spring outreach campaigns.

Longtime voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones joins us on today's program to discuss all of this and much more. His latest article for the magazine, headlined "How the Coronavirus Handed the GOP New Ways to Squash the Vote," details some of the extraordinary measures that Republicans around the country, in state after state, are attempting in hopes of suppressing the vote in 2020. That, combined with the challenges of a global pandemic, could result in big trouble for voters of all stripes this year.

Citing the recent primary election disasters in Georgia, Washington D.C., Wisconsin and Nevada (where, he says, polling place consolidation resulted in the last vote being cast during last Tuesday's primary after 3am on Wednesday!), he warns: "If we don't figure out how to do Vote-by-Mail efficiently, and also how to vote in person efficiently, and also how to do this in a pandemic, we're looking at a possible and likely disaster in November."

We discuss the "ridiculous law" in Texas that disallows voters under 65 years of age from citing fear of coronavirus as a lawful excuse for requesting an absentee ballot; the effort by Republicans in the Iowa legislature this week to prevent their own Republican Sec. of State from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's registered voters this November (in hopes of avoiding the very well run primary last week in which he did exactly that); and other ways in which the 2020 elections --- our last firewall against full-on authoritarianism --- could become the nation's latest nightmare. Berman tells me "litigation alone" by Democrats is "not going to be sufficient" to solve this perfect storm of problems.

"These conversations have to happen now," he cautions. "States are running out of time. They're running out of money. Coronavirus is increasing in a lot of places. So I'm really, really concerned," he says. Join the club, Ari. On the upside, Berman also discusses how you can help RIGHT NOW to overcome many of these shameful challenges.

Finally, after all of those pleasant thoughts, we end today with a much-needed song by satirist Roy Zimmerman about a "liar" who needs to be voted away. Of course, whether that is even possible remains to be seen. But the song should keep your humming for a while...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: George Floyd's brother testifies; NASCAR bans Confederate flags; Trump on wrong side of history again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tuesday's horrific election meltdown in Georgia didn't have to happen. We have been reporting and warning about exactly the disaster that occurred during the state's primary elections for well over a year on this program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the non-partisan, non-profit Coalition for Good Governance, has been filing both state and federal litigation for years in hopes of blocking the use of the new, unverifiable, touchscreen voting system implemented by GA's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for this year's critical Presidential election. For years, she has been joining us on the show --- as she does again today --- to warn about the now-failed systems, month after month, as the Secretary moved forward with his Big Government mandate to force all counties in the state to switch to the new, dangerous, computerized voting systems.

One county (Athens-Clarke), whose County Board of Elections voted in March to use hand-marked paper ballots instead of Raffensperger's $104 million touchscreens, was threatened with fines and legal action by the Secretary if they refused to use his new systems made by Dominion Voting, a Canadian company whose lobbyist in Georgia was the Chief of Staff for the former Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp. Raffensperger's strong-arming did the trick. The County used the disease-vector touchscreens on Tuesday along with all of the others.

The multiple failures of the electronic pollbook computers and computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices and optical-scan computers used at every polling place in the state resulted in hours-long lines for voters throughout the day. Precincts in 20 counties were ordered by courts to remain open for hours past their scheduled closing time, with the last voter reportedly casting a vote at 12:37am on Wednesday.

The shameful story in Georgia is very similar to the disaster that occurred here in Los Angeles County during the March 3rd Super Tuesday election this year, after County officials failed to heed our warnings about their new $300 million touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system that similarly crashed and burned on Election Day and resulted in the disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters.

"Maybe it is the nature of the beast," Marks laments today. "It seems like in all matters of civil rights, things have to get to such an extreme that disaster has to happen, maybe multiple times, before society can pay attention." While there has been quite a bit of media coverage of Georgia's disaster today, where were they when their coverage might have made a difference before voters lost their right to vote?

As to who is to blame, Raffensperger still refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever. He blames county poll workers for being poorly trained to operate his needlessly complex systems. Like Donald Trump, Raffensperger takes no responsibility for what went wrong, despite being responsible for forcing all counties to use the new system. In fact, he told Georgia Public Radio yesterday, as voters were lined up for blocks and blocks (and blocks) in the blazing Georgia heat and humidity and thunderstorms to try and cast their vote, that it was "a good day for Georgia". He actually described the primary as "a great success."

Marks sees it differently, as does most of the world. "Ninety percent of this problem was caused by Raffensperger and the State Election Board, because they insisted that the state and the counties use the very complex, Rube Goldberg systems that nobody had been trained on, that hadn't been properly tested, shoving them in during pandemic conditions when they could have simply used the scanner and hand-marked paper ballots, and a paper pollbook, and had a simple election during pandemic conditions," she says. "The Secretary of State insisted on this roll-out. And gave the counties almost no choice. They could have defied him, and he would likely have fined them. He set them up for failure."

Marks, whose earlier lawsuit resulted in Georgia's previous touchscreen voting system being found unconstitutional in federal court, with the judge ordering that they could never be used against in the Peach State, has a continuing federal complaint against the new system. She tells me she expects to be back in court soon. "Before, the State was claiming that all of our claims were just speculative. Well, you know what? They're not speculative anymore. We have fabulous evidence --- horrendous evidence --- that this system does not create an accountable election."

A registered Republican, Marks says it is not too late for Georgia to change course before November, though the court may have to force them to do so. She also cautions about similar unnecessarily complex and already-failed new computer voting systems being used in other states --- including battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina --- instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots for this year's critical Presidential election. Since the corporate media are unlikely to make the necessarily noise before the next election disaster --- when it might be preventable --- Marks suggests voters can take action on their own to demand hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (as backup to the e-pollbooks).

"Write a letter to your Secretary of State and State Election Board, and demand it," she advises. "Something that is likely to be more effective, even though it's harder --- it's going to take some effort for voters to actually protect their elections --- is call every member of your county's bipartisan election board. You can find them because they're local citizens. Say 'You've got authority, County Election Board! We want an auditable election! We want it done with hand-marked paper ballots, and we want audits afterward. Don't wait for the state to tell you that you have to audit. Don't wait for a judge to tell you that you have to have accountable ballots. Do it on your own. Do it now, while you have time to do it!'" She argues "these counties need the pressure from the citizens, and the citizens need to put pressure on the county boards as well as the local Democratic Party and local Republican Party."

As we've said many times, this democracy ain't gonna save itself!

Next --- speaking of things that take years of disaster before they are ever reformed --- Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, the unarmed African-American killed by cops in Minneapolis two weeks ago, testified to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today. We share his emotional opening statement calling on Congress to help "stop the pain" at a hearing meant to discuss a Democratic initiative in Congress for sweeping change to the nation's policing policies. As you might imagine, they are meeting Republican resistance in both chambers of Congress.

Finally today, more change in the wake of Floyd's killing: NASCAR announced today that it will ban the Confederate Flag from its events, and Donald Trump ends up firmly on the wrong side of history --- again --- as he declared he would "not even consider" renaming U.S. military bases, such as Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, which are named for Confederate Army officers. That, despite their namesake's support of slavery and their treason in launching a war against the United States, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans. While Pentagon officials, including Trump's own Defense Secretary, have said they are open to the idea, and a host of retired generals --- including the commanders of some of the 10 bases named for Confederate traitors --- favor renaming the military posts, Trump insisted on Twitter today, without any apparent irony, that the bases are a part of "a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Longtime journalist, novelist Lucian K. Truscott IV on the uprising against Trump by his military leaders
Also: Callers ring in on why they decided to join the demonstrations across the country following the police killing of George Floyd...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2020 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump is chastened by the Generals he once revered, and we open the lines to listeners who participated in the weekend's demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd and police abuse everywhere. [Audio link to full show follow below.]

First up today, a quick note or two on elections Tuesday in Georgia and West Virginia, Joe Biden clinching the Democratic Presidential nomination, and the still-spiking spread of COVID-19 as many states reopen for business too early.

Next, we're joined by LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV, a West Point grad from a long line of military men, who has served as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter for some 50 years. Beginning in the 1970s at The Village Voice, he has covered stories from Watergate to the Stonewall uprising as well as wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is now a columnist at Salon where late last week, in a column headlined "We are witnessing the birth of a movement - and the downfall of a president" he covered what he described as the "extraordinary" pushback from current and former high-ranking military officials against Trump's plan to unleash the U.S. military to "dominate" protesters demonstrating against the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis, police abuse everywhere, and for the principle that Black Lives Matter. "These generals are not politicians, but all their statements are as political as any I've ever seen by senior officers, retired or active duty," he wrote. "It's the equivalent of lining up howitzers on Pennsylvania Avenue and aiming at the White House."

We discuss last week's remarkable turning point moment --- beginning with a stunning statement from Trump's former Defense Secretary, General James Mattis and including the leaked memo written by Trump's current Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, as sent to the heads of all military branches --- which Truscott also believes suggests that the military will decidedly not side with Trump if he tries to use the armed forces somehow to undermine this November's never-more-critical Presidential election.

"I don't think we have anything to worry about now," says Truscott. "It's really almost like drawing a line in the sand in front of Trump. They're not going to take Trump's side in anything like that. The way [the military leaders] have recoiled from what Trump did last Monday night [when he ordered the clearing of Lafayette Square across the street from the White House for a bizarre photo-op in front of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church] is really all the evidence you need that these guys are standing up for the Constitution and not for President Donald Trump."

"They're shooting a shot over Trump's bow and saying, 'You better watch out what kind of orders you give.' Because I don't think they going to follow any un-American orders," Truscott tells me. "I have to say, a couple of weeks and months ago, I was a little bit concerned about what the military would choose to do. But I'm not concerned at all anymore."

We also discuss how the ongoing demonstrations following the killing of Floyd compare to those seen during the Civil Rights era, as well as his attempt --- as the great-great-great-great grandson of Thomas Jefferson --- to include the descendants of Sally Hemings in the Monticello Association's annual reunions of those descended from the author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd U.S. President. Hemings was a slave with whom Jefferson is said to have had six children after the death of his wife. Truscott first invited Hemings' descendants to join the Monticello Association on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1998. We discuss how that turned out in the ensuing years.

Finally, we open the phones to callers who took part in the massive demonstrations around the country over the weekend and in days previous. Why did they decide to march? What did they learn? Why did they decide to not march, in some cases, and how the current movement for equal rights and justice for all compares to similar mass demonstrations in past eras (by those callers who participated in some of those as well!)...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Investigative journalist David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden leads Trump by 8 in MI and PA, according to Fox 'News' poll...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2020 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start with good news for Democrats and Joe Biden before moving to the bad for Nancy Pelosi and her puzzling pick for a key oversight panel and seemingly terrible negotiation skills on emergency relief bills. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below.]

On Wednesday, moments after we got off air yesterday, Donald Trump tossed his sorry pal Brian Kemp, Georgia's dumb-as-dirt and illegitimate Governor, under the bus, by pretending that he "disagreed strongly" with and felt it was "too soon" for Kemp's scheme to re-open nail salons, barber shops, tattoo and massage parlors and more in the Peach State as of Friday. That, even though Trump had reportedly called Kemp the day before to congratulate him on the move. At the same time, he was condescendingly tweeting about how much he cares about the old people who will be killed when Republican Governors across the country begun re-opening their states against the advice of health experts.

Trump's latest reversal is likely for good reason. One, the top health officials on his coronavirus task force pretty much insisted that he condemn Kemp's deadly decision and two, older voters --- a key part of his base --- appear to be abandoning Trump in droves thanks to his terrible response to the virus. New polling from Trump's favorite source, Fox "News", now shows Joe Biden beating Trump by 8 points in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that are crucial to Trump's hopes of being re-elected. The Democratic Governors of both states, according to Fox, are very popular while Trump is decidedly not. In both states, large majorities of voters strongly support current stay-at-home restrictions, even if it continues to damage the economy.

The information in those polls amounts to the good news today for Dems. Then we turn to the mess that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to be creating in D.C., while members are back in their districts and she is left to negotiate new relief bills, largely by herself with Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of the upcoming book, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, joins us again today to catch us up on just some of the very important scoops he has been churning out each day in his daily, must-read "Unsanitized" report at The Prospect.

He has been causing a lot of problems for Pelosi of late, after exposing her embarrassingly poor pick for the four-person Congressional oversight board created by the CARES Act to oversee trillions of dollars of corporate bailouts and giveaways in the bill. Each of the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate get to pick one member each for the panel. Freshman oversight bulldog Rep. Katie Porter (CA) --- who would be perfect for the job --- had made clear she was hoping to get it. Nonetheless, Pelosi selected her friend, freshman Rep. Donna Shalala (FL), who has absolutely no experience in financial oversight. Worse, much worse, as Dayen first revealed last weekend, Shalala, who previously served as Bill Clinton's Health and Human Services Secretary and CEO of The Clinton Foundation, had mountains of conflicts due to stock investments in dozens of companies whose bailout funds she was being asked to oversee.

The story gets even worse, however, as Shalala first claimed she had sold most (if not all) of those stocks, before Dayen found that, if she had, she failed to publicly report those transactions as mandated by the federal STOCK Act, as her office had previously tried to claim she had. After another day or so of this fact-pummeling by Dayen at The Prospect --- eventually picked up by the corporate media --- Shalala was forced to admit that she, in fact, failed to file those mandatory disclosures. She apologized, claiming she had failed to understand the requirements of the Act, despite it being incredibly simple --- unlike the task of overseeing trillions of dollars in loans and grants by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, as required by the oversight panel on which she is now seated.

"How is Donna Shalala going to be in a hearing with the Federal Reserve, asking them about the rules and procedures of the corporate bailout, when she couldn't follow the most simple, basic step required of her as a member of Congress?," Dayen wonders.

Not a promising sign, even as Dayen reports that Shalala continues to have large holdings in a health care company that would also be subject to oversight by her panel. "The one stock she did not sell was in United Health, the health insurance company that she was on the board of for several years. She still holds that now. So she is a walking conflict of interest even in her normal duties in Congress," he tells me.

Nonetheless, nearly a week into Dayen's coverage, after a belated apology from Shalala for her violations of federal law, Pelosi continues to stand by her poor selection. Why? Well, Dayen discusses that and much more on today's show (including the much better selection of former Elizabeth Warren protege, Bharat Ramamurti, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the same panel.)

We also discuss what is --- and, more disturbingly, is NOT! --- in the nearly $500 billion bailout bill passed by the House on Thursday, after largely being crafted by Mitch McConnell in the Senate as Dems continue to give away pretty much all of the leverage they may have had for a list of things Dayen argues they should have fought for, including: "State and local government funding...Payroll support along the lines of just having the government operate these payrolls rather than having people laid off...Money for the Postal Service, which is about to go under...Health insurance expansion for the duration of the crisis...Rent relief...foreclosure relief...Nor did they guarantee Vote-By-Mail for every American during the November election."

It's a very lively and troubling conversation, with lots of stuff --- maddening, amusing and informative --- including why Congress has failed to adopt some way of remote voting so that they can somehow continue to carry on the people's business, even during the need for physical distancing.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (believe or not) and bad in the age of the coronavirus...as well as some swingin' music to take us out for the day!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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