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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, October 22, 2020
'Green News Report' 10/22/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Another new record storm in a record-breaking hurricane season; Great Barrier Reef half dead; First all-climate campaign ad; PLUS: The Hummer is back, and now it's all-electric...
Previous GNRs: 10/20/20 - 10/15/20 - Archives...
Are Americans Ready (or Even Able) to Roll Back the GOP's 'Permanent Minority Rule'?: 'BradCast' 10/21/20
Guest: David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Fed court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots...
Good News, Bad News!
It's 'The Caveat Show!':
'BradCast' 10/20/20
All sorts of reasons for Dems to feel good about Biden and re-taking the Senate...And plenty of reasons to remain concerned about both...
'Green News Report' 10/20/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Massive CO wildfires; Trump flip-flops on disaster aid to CA; Wind, solar energy now the cheapest energy in the world; PLUS: Biden talks clean energy at ABC Town Hall...
Previous GNRs: 10/15/20 - 10/13/20 - Archives...
Voting is Not Enough: How YOU Can Help Oversee and Protect Our Elections!: 'BradCast' 10/19/20
Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Bad news for MI voters; FL voting website fails...
Sunday 'A Bigger Boat' Toons
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth...PDiddie offers his latest collection of the week's best toons...
2020's Federal Court Voting Rights Roller Coaster: 'BradCast' 10/16/20
Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
'Deranged Power Grab': Barrett SCOTUS Hearings Conclude: 'BradCast' 10/15/20
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: E-Pollbook systems fail in GA; FBI reports 'unauthorized access to elections systems'...
'Green News Report' 10/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Barrett sure sounds like a climate denier during Senate hearings; Sen. Whitehouse breaks down dark-money polluter capture of judiciary; PLUS: Sept. 2020 hottest ever recorded...
Previous GNRs: 10/13/20 - 10/5/20 - Archives...
'Hypocrisy in Daylight? Look for Power in the Shadows': 'BradCast' 10/14/20
Guest: Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's revelations of GOP's $250M SCOTUS-packing coup; Also: Good voting news in VA, TX, AK!...
Barrett's Hypocritical, Scalia-Fueled 'Originalist' Hoax: 'BradCast' 10/13/20
Also: Touchscreens fail on 1st day of Early Voting near Houston; Trump judges okay absentee suppression in TX; Online registration fails on deadline day in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/13/20
Cleanup, recovery in battered LA in wake of Hurricane Delta; PLUS: Climate change in the spotlight (sort of) at the one and only 2020 Vice-Presidential Debate...
Judge Finds 'Serious Security Vulnerabilities' in New GA Vote Systems, Allows Them Anyway: 'BradCast' 10/12/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: GA systems fails on first day of early voting...
Federal Court Upholds NJ Canvass of Mail-In Ballots Prior to Election Day
Also upholds counting of mail-in ballots received by 11/5, two days after Election Day, even without a postmark...
Sunday SuperSpreader Toons
Look! Up in the sky! It's COVID-19 being spread by the goddamn President of the United States! That and many more sick toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
Tyranny Loves Company:
'BradCast' 10/9/20
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with 'Strongman' author Kenneth C. Davis...
Buzz-worthy, But Otherwise Refreshingly 'Normal' VP Debate: 'BradCast' 10/8/20
Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton, David Faris; Also: Suspended on Twitter for tweeting completely accurate news about GA's flawed voting system...
BRAD BLOG Suspended by Twitter for 100% Accurate Tweet About GA's New Touchscreen Vote Systems
The tweet in question and federal court evidence proving it's true. [UPDATED x 2!] ...
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: Author and 'REDMAP' gerrymandering expert David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Dems to boycott Barrett vote?; Federal court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots without contacting voters...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2020 6:56pm PT  

There's a lot to digest on today's BradCast, so I'll try to keep this teaser brief so you can just listen. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

First up, it turns out lawyers really don't like Donald Trump, even the ones he actually pays millions to work for him. In Congress, Dems vow "no more business as usual" on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination, but how much are they actually able to do about it? We may be about to find out.

And, as if it wasn't difficult enough to vote safely --- or at all --- in Texas amid the pandemic (or even before the pandemic!), still more vote suppression has just been ordered there by the radical rightwing judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

A ruling like the one they've just issued to allow mail-in ballots to be rejected based on perceived signature mismatches (as adjudicated by non-handwriting experts) without contacting voters first to allow them to cure any perceived problems, is the type of voter suppression that might have been blocked in advance by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before it was gutted by the GOP-majority U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, in the infamous Shelby County case.

That ruling of a piece of with Karl Rove and the GOP's "Plot for Permanent Minority Rule", as expertly detailed by our guest today, author and FairVote.org Senior Fellow DAVID DALEY in his new must-read cover story for The New Republic this month. Daley unspools the full story of how the unlikely Republican voting rights hero, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), partnered with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and voting rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in 2006 to ensure the re-authorization of the VRA in full for 25 more years. Sensenbrenner held a dozen hearings with nearly 50 witnesses as Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, in order to compile some 12,000 pages of recent, compelling evidence of racially-based voter suppression that supported the need to extend the then 40-year old landmark civil rights law.

But that was before Karl Rove's successful scheme to gain GOP control of state legislatures in 2010 after that year's Census, in order to gerrymander "democracy" within an inch of its life for the entire next decade. And it was before the Republican SCOTUS majority ignored Sensenbrenner's work on the VRA entirely --- and a bipartisan 98-0 vote in the U.S. Senate to extend the Act --- in order to gut it.

The nation has been paying a very steep price ever since. Republicans in gerrymandered districts in Congress and state legislatures no longer worry about working and compromising with Democrats. Their only concern became primary challenges from the Right. So the party moved ever farther in that direction until arriving where we are today, when the idea of fixing the now-gutted VRA has become unthinkable --- just a few short years after it was re-authorized by a Republican House, Senate and President. The scheme also allowed opportunists like Donald Trump to take advantage of the lost protections for voting rights in gerrymandered state after gerrymandered state, which continues to haunt America's hobbled democracy today.

Daley discusses how all of this came about, how --- and if --- it can be corrected, and how he was able to get so many Republicans who now regret building the "Frankenstein monster that has devoured our politics" to speak on the record about those regrets --- as regular Americans pay an unspeakable price for it all.

"This was not caused by Donald Trump. It did not start with him," Daley tells me. "The fight over the vote has been deeply entwined in this nation ever since the founding of this nation. But these battles did not start in 2016. They will not end on Election Day 2020. And there is a real, deeply embedded, [GOP] minority rule that has been built atop a system that already advantaged Republicans geographically in the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College."

"This has been baked in to our politics for a long time. It's going to take a lot of time for us to get it out. This is a Census year. This is a redistricting year. So state legislatures and the next decade of maps are on the line again," he cautions. So, please VOTE and remember to vote ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BALLOT THIS YEAR! "There are more of us than there are of them," Daley notes, "but there are more of them on the Supreme Court than us, and that's a big, big problem."

And if that sounds like a heavy show, don't worry! Mel Brooks is here at the end to help calm your anxiety --- and mine --- just a little bit...

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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Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Press Run's Eric Boehlert...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2020 5:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What else? Special coverage of what we'll call the Presidential "debate" in Cleveland, OH on Wednesday night between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as nominally "moderated" by Chris Wallace of Fox "News". [Audio link to show follows below.]

It was, perhaps, best described by CNN's Dana Bash as "a shitshow", though her colleague Jake Tapper didn't do bad either in his description of "a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck." MSNBC's Rachel Maddow saw it as a "monstrous cavalcade of increasingly wild and obscene lies" and an "unintelligible display of logorrhea," mostly from the unhinged, unbalanced, unfit, wholly unqualified President of the United States. Stephen Colbert also did a helluva job in his own description of the train wreck as well on CBS' Late Show, though you'll have to tune in for that one.

To be fair, Trump 2000 Campaign Manager Bill Stepien called Trump's effort "the greatest debate performance in presidential history," and Fox "News" observed on their chyron: "BIDEN STUMBLES HIS WAY THROUGH FIRST DEBATE". So there's that.

We're joined today to try and make sense of whatever you may want to call Wednesday's embarrassing spectacle, by two of our favorite post-debate sense-makers, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo and ERIC BOEHLERT of Press Run, who argues in his column today that, unless the Presidential Debate Commission changes the format to, at a minimum, allow Trump's mic to be cut off (which, it looks like, they may), the next two Presidential debates should be called off entirely. Parton, who also wrote about Trump's "massive failure" today, agrees. But I don't, and we debate (ya know, an actual debate) as to why.

We also discuss and/or debate whether Biden should or shouldn't disclose his position on doing away with the Senate filibuster in order to expand the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court and much much more, including Trump's failure to condemn white supremacy, his deadly criminal failure to contain the coronavirus, his very serious threat to American democracy itself, and whether either of the two candidates accomplished what they needed to.

As Parton sums up whatever went down in Cleveland on Wednesday night: "We had one mainstream, normal politician and an alien from outer space, debating on the same stage. And that didn't work out really well." She observes that all of this is "bad for the country" and goes on to cite Trump's "extra-Constitutional, extra-judicial" threat to "steal" the November election as "one of the most dangerous things any President has tried to do."

Says Boehlert about Trump performance: "He was dramatically different last night than he was in 2016. And he was awful in 2016," before going on to describe the reason as "creeping authoritarianism" in which "Trump is building a bonfire every day, every hour."

If you loved the first 2020 Presidential Debate, you may or may not love our show today. If you were as troubled by what you saw as we were, then you may take some comfort --- and even get a few much-needed laughs --- out of our special coverage today...

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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On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
By Desi Doyen on 9/18/2020 4:22pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • First up is Brad's 8/17/2020 interview with historian NILS GILMAN, Vice President of Programs at the Berggruen Institute and co-founder of the bipartisan Transition Integrity Project (TIP), on their disturbing report [PDF] warning of a potential constitutional crisis over the November 3, 2020 election. Gilman explains the conclusions reached during a series of bipartisan tabletop 'war games' --- conducted by a more than 100 current and former senior government officials, campaign leaders and experts from media to the military --- and their final report warning that the Trump Administration may seek to manipulate, ignore, undermine or disrupt the 2020 Presidential election and the crucial transition process between Election Day on November 3rd and Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.
  • Then, Brad's conversation on 9/9/2020 with ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate, on bona fide, long-overdue (about 150 years overdue!) good news for voting rights in North Carolina, where state court judges recently struck down an 1877 law meant to "secure white supremacy" by forcing former felons to pay all court-ordered fines and fees before regaining the right to vote. They discuss the long, racist history of the statute and the new law adopted last year by Florida which is virtually identical to the one finally struck down in NC!

We'll be back LIVE soon!

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: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it was not a good day for those who believe in free, fair, honest, overseeable and safe democracy. On the other hand, it was a great day for Republicans! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We've got a boatload of court rulings from almost half a dozen states to try and make sense of today. A few of them are good. Most of them are not. But we've got some expert help in making sense of several of them, and she tells us the fight is nowhere near over.

We begin today with the breaking news out of Florida, where the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that had found the state's new "pay-to-vote" law constitutional. Apparently, the five new federal jurists that Donald Trump has added to the court all agreed, in a 6-4 ruling, that poll taxes are just fine by them. They approved the law enacted by the state's GOP legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year that undermines Amendment 4 of the state constitution. That Amendment was adopted in a bipartisan, 65-35 percent landslide in 2018 to restore voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons in the state, including about one quarter of the state's voting age black men.

The law specifically passed to undermine Amendment 4 requires all court-imposed fines and fees to be payed before a former felon may register to vote. So, if you have enough money, you can vote. If you don't, too bad. Also, good luck to former felons even figuring out if they owe any money at all. Florida doesn't keep track. That means many newly eligible voters won't bother to register, rather than risk being sent back to jail for violating this new law. It was passed along partisan lines last year by Florida and is virtually identical to the 150-year old statute struck down just last week by a North Carolina state court. As revealed during the course of the NC suit, the law, according to its legislative champion following post-Civil War Reconstruction, was specifically adopted to "secure White Supremacy" by preventing "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro." Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern derides today's Florida ruling as "one of the most dishonest, misleading, and despicable voting rights opinions I have ever read" and "an affront of the very notion that Americans have a right to vote". The ACLU Voting Rights Project's attorney Julie Ebenstein argues "the gravity of this decision cannot be overstated," describing it as "counter to the foundational principle that Americans do not have to pay to vote" and "an affront to the spirit of democracy".

In another afront to democracy, Wisconsin's rightwing state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state's 1850 separate municipalities to immediately stop sending out absentee ballots to the, so far, about 1 million voters who have requested them. The court's 4 to 3 partisan ruling is meant to allow it's rightwing majority time to decide if the Green Party's Presidential ticket should be added to the ballot, despite the state Election Commission, in a deadlocked 3 to 3 vote, determining that the party's Presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and Vice Presidential Nominee Angela Walker did not receive enough signatures to qualify.

At issue is hundreds of petitions that listed the Milwaukee native Walker's address as a motel in South Carolina. Why the Party used two different addresses for Walker is unclear, but the result was the WI State Election Commission --- which the GOP state legislature recently created to replace the previous non-partisan commission with a partisan one built to create such deadlocks --- followed state law. That prevented the Greens from making the ballot. After a two week delay and 378,000 absentee ballots already mailed out, the Green Party decided to sue, even though election officials from across the state say their will be no time to design, print up, test and mail out out new ballots before both state and federal statutory deadlines require them to do so next week. They also have no idea how to avoid people voting twice with two separate ballots they may receive for the same election. So, chaos reigns yet again in the election in the key battleground state where Donald Trump is said to have won in 2016 by less than one single percentage point, when the Green candidate that year received more votes than Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton.

The voting news out of Texas this week is only slightly better. First, the good news: A federal judge there has ordered state election officials to notify voters within one day after a "perceived signature mismatch" is determined on absentee ballots, and to allow voters a "meaningful opportunity" to correct the issue. Previously, after officials, who are not handwriting experts, decided a signature was not a match to the voter's registration application (often years old), the ballot was simply rejected without notifying voters until 10 days after the election. In other good voting news from the Lone Star state, a state judge has determined that the Clerk in Harris County (Houston) is, in fact, allowed to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the nation's 4th largest city. The state's Republican Attorney General had sued to block the effort. I suspect he'll appeal, but we'll see.

But the war on voting in the Lone Star State doesn't stop with those two victories for democracy, unfortunately. The Mayor of Houston wants to know why more than a dozen local U.S. Post Offices have refused to allow volunteers from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to make multilingual voter registration materials available at those facilities.

And our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan Free Speech For People, joins us to explain the disappointing decision from a federal judge this week in response to a recent lawsuit filed by FSFP on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and the Texas NAACP seeking to address what the groups describe as "unsafe and unequal voting conditions" in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit seeks a Preliminary Injunction in challenging the state's "insufficient number of polling places"; "its limited and inaccessible early voting locations"; a lack of social distancing requirements; Gov. Greg Abbot's statewide mask mandate which allows an exception for voters and pollworkers; and the dangerous "reliance on repeat-touch voting machines" amid the deadly pandemic, among other concerns. All of which, the complaint argues, "will result in unsafe voting conditions and increased risk of coronavirus transmission, which in turn will result in voter suppression." Moreover, as Hostetler explains today, "the health risks and adverse impact of these policies will place an undue burden on the right to vote and be borne disproportionately by voters of color, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law, and the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment."

Texas has some of the most restrictive absentee voting requirements in the nation, so the dangers at polling places --- in this case, unequal ones --- are no small matter. "The real crux of the Constitutional issues at stake here," Hostetler tells me, "is that people won't show up to vote because they can't risk getting COVID-19 and dying. They can't risk not being able to work for 3 weeks if they get it...This is what's at stake, and the burden is not shared equally in Texas. It's both unconstitutional and it violates the Voting Rights Act." She says the federal judge, rather than deciding the case on its merits, determined that the matter is a political one, rather than an issue to be decided by the courts. While the case is still live, the judge has denied the group's motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which likely pushes the matter back until after the election. But the groups today decided that they will file an appeal.

In Pennsylvania this week, a state court judge also ruled against a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a similar suit filed by FSFP and the Pennsylvania NAACP "to establish safe and equal voting procedures for the upcoming general election." There too, the groups plan to appeal.

And in North Carolina, where FSFP filed a suit last April to block the use of new "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" touchscreen voting machines with the NC NAACP, the groups late last week filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court after a lower court denied their original complaint.

The appeal is "alleging imminent risk to voters' right to free elections and equal protection under the laws if they are required to vote on the [ES&S] ExpressVote touch screen ballot marking device this November". The complaint, as we discussed with Hostletler last spring when it was initially filed, "alleges the new [touchscreeen] system is vulnerable to security threats and its results are unverifiable, in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law." She says that though this matter will no longer be decided before this year's election, "the case is still live, and we are ready and preparing to litigate this fully and pursue this case through trial, because it does have long term implications for the state of North Carolina, because these machines are utterly unreliable and unverifiable";

So, yeah, a rough week for those who favor voting, voting rights and free, fair and safe democracy. But, as Hostetler argues today: "Every time there's an effort to push back against free and fair elections, there are people who are saying 'No, I'm going to fight you on that." She urges voters to fight like hell to make sure that they cast their ballot this year and vote as safely as they can, while letting her group or others know when and if they run into barriers.

"Know that there are people across the country who are fighting to change these policies," she says. "Nobody is alone in this. There are a lot of people fighting, and we can always use more"...

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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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and DoJ's rescue of Trump in rape defamation case; Also: 'Unprecedented' climate change-fueled infernos in OR, WA, CA...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2020 7:02pm PT  

No matter everything else on today's BradCast, we end with some bona fide very good news today for voters in a key battleground state! [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

Speaking of key battleground states, it was state primary Election Day on Tuesday in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the penultimate primaries of the season (with only Delaware left to go next Tuesday in Joe Biden's home state.) We cover noteworthy results today from both states, even if there were few surprises.

Next, folks up and down the West Coast have literally been "seeing red" over the past day or two, as wind-sparked, heat-fueled, climate change-intensified infernos continue to burn out of control through millions of acres at a record pace today. Among the results has been blood red sunlight across parts of Northern California and much of the Pacific Northwest, even in areas far from any active blazes.

During a press conference this afternoon, Oregon's Gov. Kate Brown described the outbreak of fires burning in both her state and neighboring Washington as "unprecedented", warning they could result in "the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state's history." As we went to air, officials were prioritizing the safety of residents --- many of whom are evacuating, others who had to be airlifted out --- and homes, with hundreds already reportedly destroyed. These apocolyptic stories of millions of acress burned and communities completely wiped out should be front page news everywhere, but aren't. And every story should about them should tie the record-setting, catastrophic disasters to our quickly worsening climate crisis, but they don't. We do.

Then, we're joined by Slate's ace legal reporter, and one of our favorite guests, MARK JOSEPH STERN, for a two-fer today. First up, Stern explains the unprecedented use of the Federal Tort Claims Act, as invoked in a federal court filing on Tuesday night by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, to try and protect Donald Trump from a defamation lawsuit filed against him in New York state court. The case involves columnist E. Jean Carroll who alleges Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990's. After she described the incident in a recent book, Trump called Carroll a liar, claiming to have never even met her (despite a photograph of them together), and asserted he couldn't have raped her because she was "not my type."

Carroll sued the President for defamation and, after successfully defeating several motions to dismiss by Trump's personal lawyers, was set to both depose Trump in the case and obtain a DNA sample from him that she believes will match a stain on the dress she said she was wearing during the alleged assaulted at NY's Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1995.

On Tuesday, the DoJ intervened with a stunning motion to move the case from state to federal court, and replace Trump's personal defense attorneys with their own. If upheld by the court, that would effectively end the case under the Federal Tort Claims Act, where defamation suits against federal employees are barred. Stern, however, explains what the law is meant to do --- protect federal officials from being held personally liable for lawful acts done in the course of carrying out their jobs --- versus how the DoJ is now attempting to use it to shield Trump from liability for defaming a woman who says she has evidence of a rape more than two decades before he became President. Whether Bill Barr's DoJ attorneys will successfully prove to a federal court that defaming a citizen while responding to reporters questions about a rape twenty-five years ago is truly within the scope of a President's duties remains to be seen. But the filing itself is now likely to push the deposition and DNA test, in any case, beyond the November 3rd election, as Trump was hoping for.

Finally, we get to the bona fide good news today out of North Carolina, where a panel of state court judges late last week finally struck down an 1877 law meant to "secure white supremacy" in the state following the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. The law barred former felons who completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation from registering to vote if they still owed court-imposed fines and fees. As Stern reports --- and as revealed during the course of the case --- the law was originally spearheaded by a state lawmaker who presided over the lynching of three Black men and was meant, according to documents [PDF] unearthed by an expert witness historian for the plaintiffs, to prevent "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro."

The court's ruling means that some 100,000 NC residents are now newly eligible to vote in the 2020 Presidential election in one of the most closely divided states in the nation Another ruling from the same panel, likely to come after a trial, according to Stern, could result in another 70,000 currently disenfranchised former felons becoming eligible to vote as well. Moreover, as the case involves state law and is in state court, it cannot be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Stern --- who recently published "An Extremely Comprehensive Guide to Making Sure Your Vote County, In Every State", also explains that the ruling will almost certainly not be overturned by the 6 to 1 liberal majority on NC's Supreme Court because, as he tells me, "there are a lot of bad ass women of color on North Carolina's state Supreme Court, and I think these individuals are going to say we cannot tolerate a racist law from 150 years ago."

Not coincidentally, as a racist, 150-year old Jim Crow measure is finally being knocked down in NC, the GOP majority in Florida's state legislature just adopted a nearly identical measure just last year to bar former felons from voting if they have not paid off all court-imposed fines and fees. That law was found to amount to an unconstitutional poll tax by a federal judge earlier this year, but his ruling has now been stayed by SCOTUS until after the 2020 Presidential election in that key swingstate. The stay allowing Florida's "pay-to-vote" law is likely to block as many as 1.5 million potential new voters --- including a quarter of the state's male African-American population --- from voting this November in the Sunshine State...

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Guests: Lulu Friesdat and Robin Gibson on activist efforts to urge CA Sec. of State to mitigate most dangerous elements of $300M computer voting machines before certification and critical 2020 general election...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We make short work (for now) of several breaking news stories from over the weekend and into today. Then its straight on to our main story today, which you will hear nowhere else in the media. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below summary.]

In January, we broke the news here on The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast that Los Angeles County's brand-new, unverifiable, $300 million, 10-years-in-development touchscreen polling place voting system had failed to meet more than 40 different California Voting System Standards, according to independent certification testers hired by CA's Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Despite critical security issues that alarmed voting system and cybersecurity experts, the machines were nonetheless "conditionally certified" by Padilla just prior to the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary in the state. The new machines (known as Ballot Marking Devices or BMDs) and the electronic pollbooks that are required to work with them, both failed spectacularly. Voters were disenfranchised by the "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system, as many across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction were either turned away or forced to wait for hours in line to vote.

It was well after midnight before all of those still in line finally cast their votes on Super Tuesday. It was, of course, impossible to know if any of those votes were tallied as per any voter's intent, because BMD systems print out a computer-marked paper ballot which may or may not reflect the actual intent of any voter. It's impossible to know if results are accurate in any election that uses BMDs for the majority of voters. Recent studies [PDF] find that more than 90% of voters do not notice when a BMD has misprinted one or more of their votes on the paper printout.

After the March 3rd disaster in L.A. (which we had warned about long in advance, to little interest from media or public officials, even from the L.A. County Supervisors, much less Sec. Padilla) the system's brainchild, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, was allowed a mulligan. He promised to fix what didn't work before the November election and told us all to simply trust him. Next time would be better. Many in the media then lost whatever interest they had as it was just weeks after Super Tuesday that COVID pandemic struck hard.

Well, now Padilla has recently posted the new certification testing results from Logan's mulligan, VSAP 2.1. The results do not inspire confidence, as many of the same problems with the system originally --- such as paper jams and misprinted QR Codes {PDF] --- still exist, according to testers. Now Padilla must decide in the next two weeks whether or not to certify them again. In truth, he has little choice as Early Voting is now just weeks away. While the state's decision to send every active voter a Vote-by-Mail ballot may help to ease many of the potential log jams at the county's new Voting Centers, ballots cast on the new systems --- as opposed to verifiable hand-marked paper absentee ballots --- are still vulnerable to manipulation and can never been known to reflect voter intent after the polls close.

However, there are some things that Padilla could require to be done to mitigate some of the worst dangers of the system if it is to be used for this year's critical November election. Several dozen election integrity and activist groups, along with a number of esteemed cybersecurity and voting systems experts, recently signed on to an excellent public letter led by the California Clean Money Campaign, demanding Padilla implement a number of the mitigations before certifying the updated voting systems.

We're joined today by LULU FRIESDAT, co-founder of SmartElections.us and ROBIN GIBSON, longtime Los Angeles Election Integrity advocate, to discuss those potential mitigations and the one-and-only public comments hearing held today online before Padilla's pending decision to certify. They report that Padilla did not bother to attend, though Logan, apparently, came by near the end of the session to claim that everything is now working fine. "Our registrar got on the call and dismissed two hours of worried voters, and said he had tests that said it was fine," Gibson explained. "It was like 'I win, nah, nah, nah.'"

As Friesdat and Gibson explain, the citizen advocates and experts are asking in their letter for the ballot boxes attached to each touchscreen tablet system to be removed, so that the computer-printed ballots don't have to pass back through the same printer heads after they've been (theoretically) verified by each voter. Experts warn [PDF] that sending the ballot back through the same printer path after verification is a major security risk, allowing the system to change voters votes, without their knowledge, after they have supposedly already approved their printed ballot. Instead, the group is urging that the attached ballot boxes be removed, and that ballots be deposited manually by voters into a separate ballot box at the polling place, for tabulation later.

The group is also asking Padilla to do away with the unverifiable QR Codes that are printed on each ballot. It is that code --- which can't be verified as accurate by any voter --- that is actually read by the optical-scan computer tabulators to tallly each ballot, rather than the human-readable text print out that voters may or may not have verified! "It is not secure to have the vote encoded in a QR code," Friesdat joins cybsersecurity experts in warning.

Moreover, the groups are calling for real, hand-marked paper ballots to be made available to any and all voters at Voting Centers for voters smart enough to want to cast a verifiable vote. "This is basic," Friesdat insists. "Hand-marked paper ballots are the gold standard that security experts recommend. It's not hard to provide them, and voters should be encouraged to use hand-marked paper ballots if they're able to mark by hand."

They also uge Padilla and Logan to finally release the source code to this supposedly County-owned and developed system. The money appropriated by tax-payers was done on the basis, advanced by both Padilla and Logan, that it would be a fully "open source" system, 100% publicly owned. All of that is also important because elections officials in other states and counties across the country have expressed interest in adopting this exact system if it ever actually works in L.A.

Friesdat and Gibson detail many of their own concerns, as well as others who offered public comment today before we open up the phone lines to listener questions about this terrible new system, just 64 days before Election Day and mere weeks before early voting is set to begin in Los Angeles County...

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Our 2020 RNC wrap up with Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'RJ' Eskow on the Republicans' viral effort to scare up a second term...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2020 5:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Never mind the lawlessness of it all. Personally, I'm still having trouble today getting over the creepy, grotesque scene of thousands jammed shoulder to shoulder together on the White House lawn for Donald Trump's viral super-spreader event in celebration of his acceptance speech to run for a second failed term as President. But maybe that's just me. [Audio link to today's upbeat show after a very grim night follows below.]

We're joined today for our Republican National Convention Week-in-Review by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning opinion journalist at Salon and Hullabaloo, and RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, longtime progressive columnist and host of The Zero Hour show on radio, TV and podcast.

It was a bizarre and stunningly dishonest week from the GOP, to say the least, capped off by the mother of all Lie Fests from the President of the United States himself. His droning, 70-minute long attempt to gaslight the American people by lying about his record and trying to scare the hell out of them about Joe Biden, did not disappoint, at least on the dishonesty scale. We make short work of a few much-needed, monster fact-checks at the top of the show before we get to the central question of the day.

Setting aside the lies and the hypocrisy of breaking countless laws while use the White House ("the People's House") to declare himself the "Law and Order President", did Trump's false, fear-mongering speech, and all the same that came before it this week from every other RNC speaker, accomplish what Republicans and Trump needed them to?

Parton and Eskow (and Desi Doyen and me) all have plenty of thoughts on that question and many others in today's lively round-table at the end of another long convention week and as we prepare for the nightmares to come in the general election season, debate season, and, undoubtedly, the boatload of October Surprises and dirty tricks that lie ahead...

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Guest: Aklima Khondoker of All Voting is Local; Also: Hurricane Laura to slam Gulf Coast; White vigilante arrested for killing Kenosha protesters; Trump's violations of law at RNC Day 2 reveal 'The Audacity of the Grift'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast we head back to Georgia --- yes, again! --- for yet more new evidence highlighting the state as offering arguably the worst --- and most racist --- voting system in the nation. But we begin with breaking news today. Too much of it. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

First up, Hurricane Laura is now a monster storm, currently a Category 4, and headed for landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border. The National Hurricane Center warns it will be "unsurvivable" and could submerge entire towns near the coast, with a storm surge as high as 20 feet and a menace to cities as far as 200 miles inland. A massive evacuation is now under way in both states, though avoiding the COVID pandemic in evacuation shelters may be very tricky, even as some areas in the storm's target zone have recently seen high positive test rates.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests continued for a third straight night following the outrageous police shooting, caught on tape, of African-American father Jacob Blake, two protesters were killed by a gunman on Tuesday. The alleged shooter, according to police, is a white 17-year old police fan boy from across the border in Illinois. Tuesday's shootings were also caught by cell phone video, not long after the suspected gunman was seen on video with a group of armed vigilantes being thanked by local police for their presence. After he had shot at least three protesters and was identified to police by others, the cops reportedly allowed him to walk right past them, assault rifle in hand, as they focused on the victims instead. The man was arrested today in Illinois.

Then --- after still more breaking news that the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks were boycotting their playoff game today to protest the shooting of Blake, leading the NBA to cancel all of tonight's playoff games --- we get to what necessarily became our truncated coverage of Day 2 of the Republican National Convention.

It was a stunning evening, in which one law after another was proudly broken or flaunted as the White House, U.S. Marines, the Acting Sec. of Homeland Security, a tax-payer funded trip by the Sec. of State to Israel, and the Presidential Seal were all used for political purposes, during the convention itself, so that Donald Trump could ironically be declared "the Law and Order President" by one hypocritical speaker after another.

Among the speakers were Trump's daughter Tiffany, his wife Melania and his son Eric who followed former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi making the case --- with a straight face --- that Joe Biden's family members were involved in some sort of criminal nepotism. Trump's son Eric, who serves as Executive Vice President for his father's company, was sued this week by the New York State Attorney General for failing to respond with documents and testimony to a lawful subpoena amid an investigation into bank and tax fraud by his father and the Trump Organization where Eric works. All of that as Trump's senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow pretended that the COVID pandemic --- which has so far killed at least 178,000 Americans, including more than 1,100 on Tuesday alone --- was over, thanks to Donald Trump's quick response.

As usual, all of these nightmares underscore the need to prevent Trump from winning a second term. But it won't be easy, as we learn again today with yet another story of targeted voter suppression out of Georgia. We have spent a disproportionate amount of time in recent years on this program reporting on the disastrous state of voting in Georgia. It is thought possible that the battleground state could finally flip to "blue" for this year's Presidential election and its TWO U.S. Senate races, but it continues to feature arguably offer the worst voting system in the nation.

By way of very quick summary of just a few data points to back up that allegation:

  • In 2016, after a huge purge of voters from the roles, we would learn after the Presidential election that Georgia's then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor, Brian Kemp, left the entire voter database and passwords to its voting systems unprotected online for download by anyone. When caught, he lied about it and wiped the entire server despite an ongoing lawsuit.
  • In 2018, a federal judge found the state's nearly 20-year old, unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems, mandated for use at the polling place in every county, to be outdated, insecure and unverifiable.
  • In that year's election, overseen by Kemp himself, he was narrowly found (by those same failed systems) to have "won" the Governor's race in a contest that his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, regards as illegitimate due to, among other things, the purges and disproportionate rejection of absentee ballots cast by African-Americans.
  • Also in 2018, some 250,000 votes in the Lt. Governor's race inexplicably disappeared in black precincts.
  • In 2019, the federal judge ruled the state's voting system so insecure and unverifiable that they were, in fact, unconstitutional. She banned them from further use and ordered the system to be replaced by a new one.
  • In 2019, the new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger ordered new, similarly unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems to replace the old systems found to be unconstitutional, rather than move to a cheaper, VERIFIABLE, hand-marked paper ballot system recommended by voting and computer experts. The new $130 million systems failed in their first outing late last year and again during primaries this year, leading to hours-long voting lines in the Peach State, once again, largely in minority areas.
  • And we would also later learn that the new digital optical-scan computers used to tally hand-marked absentee ballots in the Peach State had skipped counting unknown thousands of votes during the June primaries, due to a software setting that allows election officials or the private voting system vendor or even hackers to dial up or down the sensitivity setting to determine which votes are counted or not.

All of which brings us to this week, as the Georgia chapter of All Voting Is Local unveiled a new analysis of rejected vote-by-mail ballots from the June primary elections in the state. You'll be shocked to learn that in the three counties they examined, the mail-in ballots from black voters were rejected at disproportionately higher rates than others. For example, in the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, Black voters submitted 24 percent of the absentee ballots requested but accounted for 38 percent of mail-in ballots rejected by the County.

We're joined today by AKLIMA KHONDOKER, former ACLU attorney, now Georgia State Director for All Voting is Local, to explain her group's analysis and why the rates of absentee ballot rejection are so high for black voters in Georgia and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic and Asian voters as well. Khondoker warns that while the group only looked at three counties in Georgia --- finding similarly alarming statistics in each --- the problem likely extends not only to the rest of the state, but likely to many others around the nation.

"I don't think this is unique to Georgia. This is likely something we would see nationwide," she argues, citing the "institutional and structural racism that has led to the wealth of problems that we see in our elections. There is no way to cleave the two. Because we have a clear system that has always worked for one and not the other." She goes on to explain how this new analysis is just one more data point underscoring evidence that institutional racism "undercuts everything in our election systems."

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Obama's DNC Day 3 speech for the ages; Also: All the President's Accountability - Bannon arrested for fraud, Trump loses again on taxes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2020 6:10pm PT  

Today's BradCast, I suspect, largely speaks for itself. [Audio link to full show is below.]

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

  • Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's third 2016 campaign chief and former CEO of the rightwing propaganda outlet Brietbart, becomes the third to be arrested and charged with crimes. He now faces federal felony fraud charges for stealing $1 million from a supposedly non-profit donor-driven wingnut effort that raised $25 million to build fencing on the U.S. southern border. We're happy to see yet another Trump-enabled con-man and grifter held accountable, but it comes with a warning about what this likely means for other federal indictments that could drop in the coming days ahead of the November 3rd election;
  • After receiving a very generous mulligan from the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court last month --- allowing his attorneys another bite at the apple in making their ridiculous case that the President of the United States is above the law in every way --- Trump's lawyers lose yet again, as a lower federal court judge rules for a second time that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over his tax returns and other financial documents to the Manhattan District Attorney investigating the President on state fraud charges;
  • Our quick review of the masterfully crafted and performed Day 3 of the DNC's virtual Democratic National Convention, including the historic nomination and perfectly delivered acceptance speech by official Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and...;
  • An extended excerpt of former President Barack Obama's speech for the ages, unlike any he's ever delivered, with a stern and clarion call to all Americans to rise up now by casting our votes to save democracy and the republic itself...

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The dark money conspiracy behind the anti-mask, pro-hydroxychloriquine movement; The conspiracy of white supremacist provocateurs behind BLM 'riots'; Also: COVID conspiracist Rep. Gohmert has COVID...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2020 7:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast (after a quick correction, thanks to @RadioDoogie on The Twitters, about a point covered on yesterday's show): Conspiracy theorists are too often disregarded. Especially with so many actual conspiracies behind so many of the disasters we're now facing in the U.S. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Sure, some should be disregarded. One example is rightwing wingnut Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who seemed to think that the coronavirus was some sort of conspiracy spun up by Democrats or the Chinese (or someone) to take down Donald Trump and the Republicans. A missive from one of his aide's suggests he berated staff members who wore masks after he demanded they show up at his office each day in the middle of our worsening pandemic to "be an example to America on how to open up safely."

COVID isn't a conspiracy. And now Gohmert is infected with it. We wish him and, most importantly, his family and staff well. He's just one of far too many who could now be facing serious consequences because he either fell for the phony conspiracy claims or knew better but didn't care. Here's just another heartbreaking example of someone else who fell for the hoax that Gohmert was helping to spread that coronavirus was a hoax.

But, there is indeed a conspiracy behind the claims that COVID is a hoax. We saw that well-funded conspiracy playing out in real time this week, as the dark money-supported "Tea Party Patriots" spun off to another phony astroturf organization calling itself "America's Frontline Doctors". They're the ones who put on that Breitbart live-streamed show in D.C. this week --- with quack "doctors" declaring hydroxychloroquine is a "cure" for COVID and that you shouldn't wear a mask --- which both Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. (and millions of others) retweeted in tandem earlier this week. The pair of Stable Geniuses were temporarily suspended (Jr.) by the social media platform for sharing what Twitter and Facebook and YouTube describe as "false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19" or saw the retweets deleted entirely (Sr.) But, yes, there is a very real --- and well-funded --- conspiracy of desperate wingnuts hoping to save the 2020 election for Trump who are behind the deadly nonsense that has hoaxed so many and killed at least 150,000 Americans to date.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, police have now identified the infamous "Umbrella Man". Remember the white man clad from head to toe in black, with a gas-mask and umbrella, using a hammer to casually smash the windows at an AutoZone store to help kick off riots and looting after two days of otherwise peaceful protests following the police killing of George Floyd?

Turns out the man, now identified by the Minneapolis Police Department as Mitchell Wesley Carlson, is allegedly a member of the Hell's Angels-affiliated Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, a white supremacist group who "wanted to sow discord and racial unrest by breaking out the windows and writing" "free shit for everyone zone" on the doors of the store, according to the MPD. (He has also been tied to the Aryan Cowboys harassment of a Muslim woman and her four-year old child in a neighboring city of Stillwater.)

The conspiracy to spark riots blamed on "leftist anarchists" worked, and was undoubtedly part of a larger effort identified by leaked memos from federal authorities tracking "white racially motivated violent extremists" who reportedly discussed inciting riots while posing as "members" of the loosely affiliated group of anti-fascists who call themselves Antifa. So, the "conspiracy theory" pushed by Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr and other Fox "News"-fueled Republicans that Black Lives Matter, Antifa and unidentified "leftist anarchists" are somehow behind riots and looting at mostly peaceful protests around the country has little evidence to support it. But the theory that a conspiracy of white supremacist provocateurs is hoping to spark a race war --- evidence of which is conveniently ignored by Trump, Barr and all the rest --- appears to be, so far, right on the money.

Finally today, at the end of another harrowing hour, it's the great Randy Rainbow to save us all with another much-needed --- and hilarious --- musical happy ending...

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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."

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Non-U.S nations getting COVID-19 under control; SCOTUS rules on robocalls, 'faithless electors'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2020 6:15pm PT  

Donald Trump celebrated the national 4th of July holiday weekend by using the backdrop of our national monuments to try and "gaslight" the nation again on coronavirus while hoping to spark a race war to jump-start his flagging re-election effort. So, how did your Independence Day weekend go? But, first up on today's BradCast...[Audio link to show is posted below summary]...

A number of countries around the world have now all but defeated the COVID-19 virus within their borders. In the U.S., on the other hand, thanks to our failed/non-existent national strategy, new infections and hospitalizations continue to explode, hitting new records for each of the past 27 days. That, as Trump and his White House continue to hope that by ignoring the pandemic, it will simply go away or that Americans will simply "grow numb to the escalating death toll" by Election Day. Good luck with that.

His own FDA Commissioner didn't have the courage over the weekend to contradict Trump's false claim at the White House on July 4 that, for 99% of people who contract the virus, it's "totally harmless". Iowa Sen. Jodi Ernst (R), who described President Obama's eradication of the Ebola epidemic in the U.S. with just two deaths as "failed leadership", didn't have the courage to describe Trump's leadership as "failed", despite nearly 3 million confirmed cases now in the U.S. and more than 130,000 deaths from COVID-19. Ernst is up for re-election in the Hawkeye State in just four months. Hopefully voters will keep her cowardice and its deadly consequences in mind.

Former Trump National Security Advisor Tom Bossert, however, came much closer to telling the truth to the American people on Sunday, by warning that "We are in trouble." And that if the virus continues on its current trajectory in the U.S., "we could top 500k US deaths this year." Good luck ignoring or becoming numb to that.

In U.S. Supreme Court news on Monday, the Justices on the Republicans' stolen Court released two interesting opinions on Monday. In a 6 to 3 ruling, the Supremes struck down a statutory exemption written into the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 that allows for the federal government to make otherwise banned robocalls on cellphones. The court found that exemption unconstitutional, but allowed the rest of the law to stand in what could be a good omen for a challenge coming up next year at the High Court to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And, in a unanimous decision today, SCOTUS found that states may bar so-called "faithless electors" from casting votes at the Electoral College that contradict the popular will of state voters. We'll discuss more about both opinions on tomorrow's BradCast.

Today, however (amid a tribute to the late great Ennio Marricone) we're left to make sense of Trump's astonishing, aggressive, political, campaign-style rallies held on the 3rd and 4th of July at Mount Rushmore and at the White House in which he, according to our guest today, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, all but ignored the deadly coronavirus pandemic, along with its accompanying economic disaster, to offer "angry declarations of war against fellow Americans on the day the country celebrates freedom and independence."

By declaring war on what he described in the shadow of our nation's founders as "far-left fascism" and a "merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children" by "unleash[ing] a wave of violent crime in our cities," Parton concedes that at least he's being transparent. "If nothing else, I think we can see what the contours of the next four months of the Presidential campaign are going to be," she tells us, "and how he and his people have decided that they are going to deal with the real crises that are manifesting themselves in the country --- the obvious one is COVID-19 and the rapid spread of it throughout the country, and the other is the ongoing protest of unarmed black men being killed by police and systemic racism in general." That, as we discuss, instead of offering actual Presidential leadership during the most deadly pandemic in more than a century which might have otherwise assured his re-election.

Parton also offers her thoughts on last week's mind-blowing allegations that Russian military intelligence paid bounties to members of the Taliban in exchange for dead U.S. troops in Afghanistan while Trump has done absolutely nothing in response, and the too-overlooked story from Carl Bernstein late last week in which former Senior White House officials, from Trump's former SecDef, Sec. of State, Chief of Staff, two National Security Advisors and others confirm that Trump was "uninformed" and "delusional" during phone calls with world leaders; never got better at it over the years; was sycophantic in dealing with adversarial autocrats; and "near-sadistic" in his treatment of U.S. allies, especially the female leaders of the U.K. and Germany who he called "stupid" during at least one of the phone calls.

That conversation and few listener calls round out the hour, as we are now exactly 120 days from Election Day, November 3rd...not that anyone's counting...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with the CA Congressman on his new book, 'Endgame', and a different look at the 4th of July...
By Nicole Sandler on 7/3/2020 5:05pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back in to guest host another edition of the BradCast. This weekend is the 4th of July holiday, but this year many of us are looking at it in a different way, seeing the rest of American history that's not usually remembered or recognized on "Independence Day." [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

I opened the show with a bit of wishful-thinking humor-- an "apology" from Donald J. Trump for his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. It's courtesy of Liz Plank and The Recount. Just click here to watch the magic.

My guest today is REP. ERIC SWALWELL of California's 15th District, who has a new book, Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Since he's working from home, we even got a quick visit from his daughter who they call Cricket!

At the end, I shared a missive that I found on, of all places, Facebook. Typical of the venue, I have no idea who wrote it. But it's one of the few items I copied and pasted and shared. It's for white people who still don't understand why "all lives matter" is not a reasonable response to Black Lives Matter. This is the part of American history and Independence Day I think we need to spend a little more time on this 4th of July.

In the simplest terms:

400 years ago white people brought black people over here and enslaved them. And sold them. And treated them as less than human. For 250 years. While white men built the country and created its laws and its systems of government. While 10, 15 generations of white families got to grow and flourish and make choices that could make their lives better.

And then 150 years ago white people "freed" black people from slavery. But then angry white people created laws that made it impossible for them to vote. Or to own land. Or to have the same rights as white people. And even erected monuments glorifying people who actively had fought to keep them enslaved. All while another 5, 10 generations of white families got to grow and accumulate wealth and gain land and get an education.

And then 60 years ago we made it "legal" for black people to vote, and to be "free" from discrimination. But angry white people still fought to keep schools segregated. And closed off neighborhoods to white people only. And made it harder for black people to get bank loans, or get quality education or health care, or to (gasp) marry a white person. All while another 2-3 generations of white families got to grow and pass their wealth down to their children and their children's children.

And then we entered an age where we had the technology to make PUBLIC the things that were already happening in private-- the beatings, the stop and frisk laws, the unequal distribution of justice, the police brutality (police began in America as slave patrols designed to catch runaway slaves).

And only now, after 400+ years and 20+ generations of a white head start, are we STARTING to truly have a dialogue about what it means to be black.

White privilege doesn't mean you haven't suffered or fought or worked hard. It doesn't mean white people are responsible for the sins of our ancestors. It doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of who you are. But it DOES mean that we need to acknowledge that the system our ancestors created is built FOR white people. It DOES mean that we aren't disadvantaged because of the color of our skin and it DOES mean that we owe it to our neighbors-- of all colors-- to acknowledge that and work to make our world more equitable.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

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Guest: Slate's SCOTUS reporter Mark Joseph Stern on the 'canny legal' maneuverings of the Chief Justice; Also: MS votes to dump Confederate flag; Trump Campaign removed social distancing stickers before Tulsa Death Rally; COVID-19 now ravaging all but two states...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2020 7:04pm PT  

As life in the U.S. continues to get grimmer, we find a few much-needed points of light during today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, the GOP-controlled Mississippi state legislature finally voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to remove the offensive Confederate flag symbol from their own state flag. Both the Governor and Lt. Governor support the move and the bill will be signed. Yes, the ongoing uprising against systemic racism in the U.S. continues to bring about long-overdue positive change! Also, there was (mostly) good news in a long-awaited abortion case at the U.S. Supreme Court today, but we'll get there in a second.

Before that, we've been arguing in recent days that Donald Trump should eventually be brought up on charges for what amounts to mass murder in his purposefully and criminally delinquent and negligent handling of the COVID crisis. More evidence of that affirmative endangerment of the public was reported over the weekend by the Washington Post, which obtained video evidence that the Trump Campaign, just hours before his June 20 campaign rally in Oklahoma, removed thousands of social distancing stickers placed on seats at Tulsa's BOK Center venue by its management. As the city's health director pleaded with the campaign to postpone the rally amid spiking infections rates, and local residents and business owners went all the way to the state's Supreme Court to try and block it, the Trump Campaign was purposely making it less safe for rally attendees. The infection rate in Tulsa has continued to spike since Trump's under-attended Death Rally (where he had falsely bragged in advance that there wouldn't be "an empty seat"), as infection rates now continue to rise in at least 36 states after the largest single day increase across the nation on Friday.

Florida, Texas and Arizona, with Republican Governors who were among the first to reopen, are now seeing among the largest growth in infections and hospitalizations in the country. That, despite Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' hubris-filled attacks on the media just weeks ago following an initial lack of new confirmed cases after reopening for Memorial Day and a now-embarrassing rant from Sean Hannity on Fox 'News' claiming that FL and NY "got it right", states like NY got it wrong (NY's infection rate was just 6% of Florida's on Friday) and that "the mob and the media....owe Gov. DeSantis a huge apology." Well, that didn't age well.

Then back to a bit more good(ish) news as the U.S. Supreme Court's Chief Justice John Roberts, for the third time in as many weeks, joined the Court's liberal wing on yet another major case --- well, mostly. It was enough, at least, to strike down an extremist anti-abortion measure in Louisiana, in any case. Had the attempt by state Republicans to insert Big Government in-between a woman and her doctor been upheld by the Court, it would have left the entire state of 4.6 million with just one single doctor legally allowed to perform the still-Constitutionally protected medical procedure.

We're joined today by one of our favorite SCOTUS corespondents, MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate, to explain today's 4 to 1 to 4 opinion which resulted in the end of the state law requiring abortion doctors to unnecessarily obtain difficult-to-receive hospital admitting privileges. While abortion rights activists are breathing a sign of relief today, Stern explains, they likely won't have long to enjoy it. The Court with a stolen Republican Majority still appears hell bent on rolling back Roe v. Wade, he says.

While Roberts, in his own concurring opinion [PDF], effectively joined the liberals again today in striking down the Louisiana law --- again, maddening the right-wingers in the bargain --- he "is a very canny legal strategist, who still quite obviously opposes the Constitutional right to an abortion," Stern warns. In fact, what Roberts opinion today did was "leave us with a state of abortion jurisprudence that sort of rewinds the clock back to maybe 1992. Whereas, for the past four years, at least in theory, we have had a more robust protection of Constitutional rights."

With Roberts' new opinion, Stern reports, abortion rights proponents have actually lost some ground, even while the second "admitting privileges" law to find its way to the Court in four years was again struck down --- just like the previous virtually identical one out of Texas in 2016 (which Roberts then voted to uphold.)

The Chief Justice also voted recently with the Court's Democratic appointees to ban LGBTQ employment discrimination and in striking down Trump's rollback of DACA protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrant children who were brought here by their parents. So, why has Roberts seemingly become a "liberal squish" on three important landmark cases this session? Stern argues that he hasn't at all. Another ruling today regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in which the Court's rightwing 5 to 4 majority dreamed up new (non-existent) Constitutional powers for the Presidency, and a SCOTUS decision over the weekend to block absentee voting for all voters --- not just those 65 and older --- in Texas, in the middle of a pandemic, and in clear violation of the 26th Amendment, is just more evidence that the Republicans' stolen SCOTUS majority is still anything but "liberal", even after these three recent surprise opinions on LGBTQ rights, DACA and abortion.

Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Roberts would be voting as he has been of late if Justice Anthony Kennedy was still on the Court as its swing vote, and whether all of this suggests that the Court should now be expanded in response to theft of what should have been an actual liberal majority by now...

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Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

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

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