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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Ransomware Rising:
'BradCast' 5/11/21
Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter; Also: Judge nixes NRA's corrupt, 'bad faith' bankruptcy; New AZ law will purge voters from mail-in ballot list...
'Green News Report' 5/11/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Cyberattacks shuts down largest U.S. pipeline system; Deadly farm air pollution; Drought deepens in CA; E-car costs falling; PLUS: Biden restoring landmark protection for birds...
Previous GNRs: 5/6/21 - 5/4/21 - Archives...
National Nightmares: Broken FEC, Broken Election Systems: 'BradCast' 5/10/21
Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC killing hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computer voting, tabulation has allowed our election nightmare to come true...
Sunday Mothers Toons
Get engulfed by Pdiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Next 'Big Lie' Audit to be NH (But Won't Be Like AZ Clown Show): 'BradCast' 5/7/21
Also: Never listen to Frank Luntz; Newsmax admits Dominion 'fraud' claims were phony...
'Bamboo'zled in AZ;
95% Renewable Energy in CA: 'BradCast' 5/6/21
Guest: L.A. Times energy reporter Sammy Roth: Also: DeSantis signs new FL voter suppression bill on Fox 'News'...
'Green News Report' 5/6/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Earth's new normal gets hotter; Bad glacier news; Nestle stealing CA's water; Flaws in CA carbon offset program; PLUS: Biden cancels Trump border wall, repairing enviro damage...
Previous GNRs: 5/4/21 - 4/27/21 - Archives...
Fraud and Death Throes at the NRA: 'BradCast' 5/5/21
Guest: NRA expert, author Igor Volsky; Also: Minors held at border down 90%, media downplays; Trump still grifting tax-payer money via Secret Service detail for kids...
FL's New Anti-Voting Bill Threatens Officials with $25K Fines: 'BradCast' 5/4/21
Guest: Former FL voting chief Ion Sancho; Also: L.A. County has zero COVID deaths two days in row as CA numbers plummet...
'Green News Report' 5/4/21
Biden makes history with climate-focused Congressional address; New report finds reducing methane crucial for climate; PLUS: WA adopts landmark cap and trade law...
How Cyber Ninjas' Own Docs Reveal Their Steal in AZ: 'BradCast' 5/3/21
And some truth about 2nd COVID shots; Also: Special election goes poorly for Ds in TX; Musical Marsh family brightens our pandemic; Callers ring in on 2nd shots...
Sunday 'Whopper, Side of Lies' Toons
There's plenty to choose from on the menu, in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Strong Women Rule!: 'BradCast' 4/30/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg's co-author Amanda L. Tyler...
With Reaganesque Optimism, Biden's Address Signals End of Reagan Era: 'BradCast' 4/29
Special coverage with Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
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: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC Repubs killing 'slam dunk' hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computerized voting and tabulation has allowed my election nightmares to come true...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've got two lede stories really on today's BradCast. You can decide for yourself which one is the more maddening. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Late last week, the bi-partisan Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced they were ignoring the advice of their own General Counsel by voting down further investigation of the Stormy Daniels hush-money case payoffs by a former disgraced President. Two Republican appointees voted to kill, two Dem appointees voted to continue the probe (with one Repub recusing and one independent absent for the vote). The way the broken, six-person FEC is structured, no investigations of campaign finance reform violations --- no matter how obvious and blatant, as in this case --- can move forward unless there are four votes to do so.

Here, it's a slam dunk. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was already found guilty and sent to prison for the criminal campaign finance conspiracy in which he paid off the adult film star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. The affair took place ten years before the 2016 election. The payments were given to her just days before the election. It was clearly an election related expense, yet the Trump Campaign failed to report it, and Trump himself paid Cohen back for the payouts during his time as President.

Both Cohen and the DoJ stated in Court, before Cohen went to prison, that the payments were part of a criminal conspiracy "directed by" and "for the benefit of" Trump himself.

The explanation of the Republican commissioners on the FEC for killing the probe is ridiculously laughable, as we discuss with our guest today, former FEC Chair ANN RAVEL. She was appointed to the Commission under President Obama in 2013 and served until 2017. She, too, agrees this was a "slam dunk" case against Trump, which serves to highlight how the GOP have permanently "captured" the Commission in order to make certain that Republicans are never held to account for violations of federal campaign finance laws.

"Wanting to do nothing is exactly how the Republican Commissioners have always been able to assure that the Commission doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make elections and the electoral process fair, and to make sure that there is total disclosure of campaign finance activities," Ravel explains. "You're right to say that it's a 'slam dunk' case. In particular, because the [FEC's] General Counsel said [Trump's behavior] was 'knowing and willful', which it clearly was. 'Knowing and willful' is the criminal standard. So that may be an alert to the Justice Department that they need to now go forward and prosecute the case."

The DoJ prosecuted Cohen for participating in the conspiracy. Now the nation's top law enforcement agency needs to prosecute the man that the DoJ has already said "directed" it!

Ravel also offers her insight on how the FEC became so captured and broken in the first place (Hint: Trump's former White House Counsel and longtime GOP operative Don McGahn struck a corrupt bargain with Mitch McConnell years ago) and on the Democratic plan in the For the People Act (otherwise known as H.R.1 and S1) to reform the FEC. The plan would restructure it from a 6-person panel designed to deadlock and never move anything forward, to a 5-person panel of appointees selected by non-partisan judges and attorneys, with the fifth appointed by the President. No more than two people from any one political party could serve on the Commission at once, and appointees would have to have spent a number of years not working on political campaigns or as staffers for elected officials, among other sensible restrictions.

"The positive about what they have proposed in HR1 is that there would be a blue-ribbon commission, comprised of people who actually believe in the law and enforcement of the law, who would be nominating and reviewing particular individuals to be on the commission who would abide by the law. That is key to making the change --- to have people who are not beholden to a particular political party, who independently would look at the law and make decisions based on what the legal requirements are."

Naturally, Republicans oppose the reform (along with HR1 in its entirety) and are lying about it to say that it would turn the Commission from a bi-partisan commission into one that gives Democrats partisan control.

Ravel also explains how the Stormy Daniels case --- which can still be prosecuted on a criminal level by the DoJ --- is not necessary over at the FEC either, since the vote to kill the inquiry can now be appealed in a court of law by an outside group.

Then, I've got a bit of a today on the absurd clown show of an audit of the 2020 Presidential election still under way in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (which we've been covering in detail for the past several weeks); the legitimate audit, being led by several top shelf election and voting systems experts set to begin this week in Windham, New Hampshire (as we detailed in some length last Friday); and the remarkable 8,500 word deep-dive investigative report published over the weekend by Washington Post, detailing how the phony myth of Donald Trump's "stolen" 2020 election came together beginning way back in 2018.

In short (which is not easy with an 8,500 word story!), a wealthy Texas businessman and some Republican operatives calling themselves Associated Specials Operations Group (or ASOG) took the research on vulnerabilities in computer voting and tabulation systems compiled by folks like Bev Harris of Black Voting, Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, myself and others, to morph those very real vulnerabilities into phony claims of actual election fraud. Simply because a system is vulnerable, does not mean the vulnerabilities have been exploited. But such distinctions did not matter to this group which is clearly operating in bad faith, or to Trump who was happy to highlight any lie to cover for his shame of having been a failed, one-term President.

As I have been trying to explain for nearly 20 years on this beat, whether an election is stolen or not, the fact that we now use privatized, non-overseeable computers to cast and tabulate votes is itself a grave threat to democracy. Ultimately, as I've warned over and over again over the years (and as we are now seeing play out), it doesn't matter if an election is 100% accurate and secure if the public can't know that it is. Secret software and concealed vote counting inside computers run by private companies --- even when done perfectly and securely --- allows those operating in bad faith (as is the case with Republicans right now), to claim an election was stolen, even when there is no proof to support such an extraordinary charge. It's nearly impossible to refute such claims, bogus or otherwise.

I have warned about exactly this scenario as a dangerous threat to democracy itself for years, and now, as I explain on today's show, my worst nightmare is now playing out before all of our eyes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Never listen to Frank Luntz; Newsmax apologizes, admits Dominion 'fraud' claims were phony...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2021 6:48pm PT  

Will we ever escape the 2020 "Big Lie"? Maybe. But it's gonna take a while. That said, we've got some very good news on today's BradCast about the next "Big Lie" 2020 ballot audit! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, GOP pollster Frank Luntz appeared on a podcast this week to offer some sage insight about the 2022 elections. We would caution you to take it much of it with some very large grains of salt! Among the points he made, which we discuss (dispute) today: Trump's "Big Lie" is working to con his supporters, but that may cost the Republican Party some wins in the House and/or Senate next year, because, as Luntz claims, voters don't turn out if they believe their vote doesn't count. We explain, based on our own 20 years or so on this particularly beat, why Luntz is probably very wrong and why Dems would be making a huge mistake to take too much comfort from his point on that. Luntz is also dangerously wrong about what he beliefs will happen if Trump becomes the nominee for President in 2024, as we also discuss.

Then, the far-right cable outlet Newsmax has issued a statement apologizing for its false "Big Lie" claims that the 2020 election was stolen for Joe Biden by the Dominion Voting Systems company and, specifically, by its Director of Product Strategy and Security, Dr. Eric Coomer. He sued the wingut outlet for defamation last December, naming the Trump Campaign, Team Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and even farther rightwing outlet, One America News Network (OANN) as defendants as well.

All of them had forwarded baseless claims that Coomer was on a conference call with "Antifa", promising to steal the election for Biden. Seriously. That's what they claimed. It was an absurd charge that nonetheless was repeated and reported over and again in MAGA Land after they were confirmed as losers in the November election. It resulted in death threats and doxxing for Coomer, his family, his co-workers, etc. Newsmax has now admitted their reporting was false, and that they have no evidence to support Dominion or Coomer having stolen anything.

Newsmax has now been removed from Coomer's lawsuit in exchange for the public apology and an undisclosed sum of money. Looney Toons MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, however (who is being sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion [PDF]), can't seem to sleep at night now. He is furious about the development, and is now reportedly calling on the MAGA Mob to boycott Newsmax and watch OANN instead because Newsmax caved...by telling the truth.

Next, taking a break (mostly) today from our recent in-depth coverage of the clown show "audit" theater playing out in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, we move to the next post-election audit of 2020 ballots demanded by the MAGA Mob. This one will now be in Windham, New Hampshire and will be very different from the non-transparent shell-game being carried out largely in secret by the clueless, experience-free Cyber Ninjas nitwits and cretins in Phoenix.

In Windham, a November recount of four local state Representatives races were found to have been off by about 300 votes from the initial tally. That, of course, is cause for concern [PDF]. Particularly since the town still uses really old, easily-manipulated, oft-failed Diebold AccuVote optical scanners to tally voters' hand-marked paper ballots. (Their systems are also programmed and maintained by a disreputable company named LHS Associates.)

The reason for the discrepancy in the state Rep results is apparently still unclear. This has led the MAGA Mob to believe they've finally found evidence that the election was stolen from Trump (somehow) and --- in his best fat, sad Jake LaMotta at the end of Raging Bull impression --- led Trump during a wedding at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend to declare "massive election fraud" has been discovered in NH, which he was certified to have lost by about 59,000 votes.

But, here's the fun twist! The Windham audit will not be overseen by Cyber Ninja clowns with no experience in elections or voting systems. Longtime post-election audit expert Mark Lindeman, Ph.D., who currently serves as Acting Co-Director for the non-partisan, non-profit voting system watchdog, Verified Voting, has been tapped to run the audit. In turn, two longtime friends of both The BradCast and The BRAD BLOG, whose expertise for this audit is unparalleled, have also been tapped to work on it.

UC-Berkley's math professor Philip Stark, who invented the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, tells me that he is now on board. BradCast listeners may remember him as a guest on this show. Also now on board is the legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert, Harri Hursti. He is the first known hacker of a Diebold optical-scan system, as witnessed in the climactic final scene of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy (along with our guest from this past Wednesday's show, veteran Florida election official, Ion Sancho), and as the central figure in HBO's chilling 2020 follow-up to that doc, KILL CHAIN: The Cyber War on America's Elections. Moreover, Hursti is one of the organizers each year of the Vote Hacking Village at DefCon in Las Vegas and was first interviewed by myself in the award-winning 2008 documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story.

These are serious experts in the field, and hopefully will result in a serious examination of whatever went wrong in Windham in this past election --- even if it's unlikely to uncover that the election was stolen from Trump. Whether the MAGA Mob, who were elated about the Windham audit initially, will be as happy about the serious, non-hack professionals running it remains to be seen. So far, they are not.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest news-packed Green News Report, with bad news about "new normal" global temperatures and the planet's glaciers, but better news about California stopping Nestle from stealing its water and Biden canceling Trump's wall...and using the saved tax-payer dollars to repair the environmental damage from the stupid project...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: L.A. Times energy reporter Sammy Roth; Also: DeSantis signs new FL voter suppression bill on Fox 'News'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2021 7:23pm PT  

We apologize in advance for any whiplash induced by today's BradCast. The continuing madness and unending idiotic fallout from Donald Trump's Big Lie about a "stolen" 2020 election forces us to keep an eye on the MAGA Mob in the rear view mirror, even as we continue to try to look forward to Joe Biden's long-overdue efforts to save humanity by ensuring a livable planet...even for insane people. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Join us for today's sunbelt trip from Sunny Florida to Sunny Arizona to Sunny California. Do buckle up first.

First up, Florida's new voter suppression bill --- which we discussed in detail with longtime, legendary Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho earlier this week --- was signed into law today by the man Sancho warned is "far sharper than our ex-President" though "more vile, because he understands what he is doing". That would be the state's Republican Governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. And he signed the bill to make mail-in voting harder live on Fox "News"! Locking out his own local media from the ceremony in the bargain. That story should tell you just about everything you need to know about what the GOP has now come to. And what you can look forward to before 2024.

Next, the good news is that the rest of the media, and elected officials in Arizona, and even federal law enforcement officials at the U.S. Dept. of Justice are finally catching up with much of what we have been warning over the past week or two about what is going on in the "audit" theater circus show happening right now in Maricopa County (Phoenix). We told you on last Wednesday's BradCast --- via an exclusive, hour-long interview with two election integrity experts who had spent time inside the secret, tax-payer funded "audit" of the county's 2.1 million ballots by Cyber Ninjas, the private rightwing company with no experience in elections or voting systems --- about the lack of public or media oversight; lack of security of ballots (which, according to federal law, are supposed to remain in secure election official custody for 22 months after an election); lack of public tracking of tallies by the paid counters; ever-changing counting methods that couldn't possibly be completed by May 14th, when the Ninjas lose access to the rented Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum; and much more, including the news that ballots were being examined under microscopes and UV lights for evidence of things like missing folds in mail-in ballots and...yes, bamboo fibers in the ballot paper, which the QAnon folks carrying out this "audit" believe would be an indication that the ballots came fraudulently from China.

We then warned you on Monday's BradCast that the procedures document [PDF] turned over by the Ninjas in response to a court order after they argued their "audit" processes were "trade secrets", would allow them to change a minimum of 42,000 votes without setting off any mistally alarm bells inside the secret count. That, despite Biden having been certified as the winner of the state by just over 10,000 votes. I'm not sure that anybody else has noticed that part yet.

But the good news is that --- thanks to another court order --- some media and some officials (including a few from the AZ Sec. of State's office) are finally being allowed into the venue for limited observation of this GOP state Senate sponsored scam. AZ's Democratic Sec. of State Katie Hobbs has now sent a "sharply-worded" letter [PDF] with a litany of concerns --- many of which we've been trying to alert the world to --- to the defendants in the state lawsuit (the Ninjas, the state Senate President, and the Senate's liaison to the "audit", former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett), who must now reply, as per a settlement struck in court this week. The Dept. of Justice has also taken notice of what's going on, and has sent a letter [PDF] regarding some of the potential violations of federal law (such as the 22-month ballot retention issue.)

But it was some out-of-context remarks from John Brakey --- a longtime Democratic election integrity expert, founder of AUDIT USA, and my guest last week on The BradCast --- which seem to have set off the loudest alarms in the Twittersphere and Mediasphere. Dennis Welch, Political Editor for Arizona's CBS5 News and TV3, shamefully posted a truncated, minute and a half long clip of Brakey, who is observing the "audit" and assisting Bennett (for free, with no NDA!) describing what the wingut Ninjas are seeking in their search for bamboo fibers in the ballots.

It was only later that Welch posted the next sentence or two from Brakey (all 33 seconds of it) in which he explains: "I don't believe any of that" and that he hopes this "audit" will eventually "ungaslight" people who have been conned by the rightwingers. (Much as he had told us on the show last week.)

Unfortunately, more than a million viewers have seen the first clip on Twitter. That's more than ten times the number who saw the second one. So, Brakey --- who I had personally warned many times shouldn't be involved with these folks operating who are operating in bad faith, for exactly this reason --- was unfairly tarred by many as a QAnon conspirator. He isn't. At all. But that hasn't stopped some idiots --- some of whom should know better --- from attacking him as such and refusing to correct or remove their attacks even after learning they were wrong. John was explaining it, not supporting it!

In any event. At least BambooGate has got people noticing the Maricopa scam. We'll hope our friend and longtime colleague Brakey doesn't pay too high of a price for it.

Then, we finally get to look forward for a few blessed minutes today! President Biden recently doubled down on President Obama's pledge to cut deadly emissions that cause global warming, by vowing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half (as compared to 2005 levels) by 2030. That ambitious goal is paired with an even more ambition pledge to reach net-zero emissions, economy wide in the U.S., by 2050!

While that seems difficult to imagine, perhaps it shouldn't be. As our guest today, SAMMY ROTH, energy reporter for Los Angeles Times details, the state of California's main grid actually reached 95% renewable energy usage for the first time one week ago Saturday! The milestone didn't happen long, and it was on a sunny, mild weekend day. Still, it's an encouraging sign for what is now quietly being done in the nation's most populous state.

The state grid, however, does not include the cities of Los Angles and Sacramento, which use their own power supplies. And Los Angeles is actually still using some energy created by coal. But Roth has good news there as well, after a landmark new report commissioned by L.A. from the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory lays out a road map for how one of the nation's largest cities could be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035!

And, of course, if CA and Los Angeles can do it, so can the rest of the nation --- if they (and we) can overcome the political obstacles and dead-end fossil fuel industry money --- so that we can all safely survive to continue bickering about evidence-free claims of "massive voter fraud" for generations to come!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Special election goes poorly for Dems in TX; The musical Marsh Family brighten our pandemic; Callers ring in on second shots...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2021 6:54pm PT  

After getting our second COVID vaccine shots on Friday, we return for today's BradCast. For Desi, it was mostly a breeze. For me, just a few hours after taking the photo at right, as discussed on today's show, it was a bit of a nightmare (if a worthwhile one) --- as explained today along with some special election news out of Texas and some disturbing exclusive information out of the 2020 election "audit" theater being carried out by Trump supporters in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

First up, news out of the Saturday special election in Texas' 6th Congressional District for a U.S. House seat left vacant by Republican Congressman Ron Wright, who died from COVID last December. His widow, Susan Wright, was the top vote-getter in the 23-person, all-parties race. And another Republican, GOP fundraiser and state Rep. Jake Ellzey reportedly came in second, narrowly edging out Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez by less than half a percentage point. Sanchez conceded on Sunday in the contest where most votes were cast at polling places on 100 percent unverifiable touchscreens and none of the candidates came close to the 50 percent mark that they'd need to beat to avoid an upcoming runoff election for the seat. Dems hopes of expanding their narrow majority in the U.S. House were dashed with the loss in the mostly rural, reliably Republican district south of Dallas.

While there were no challenges to the unverifiable results in Texas with two Republicans winning, Trump supporters in Arizona continue their tax-payer funded [PDF], but privately-run "audit" of 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots in Maricopa County, as we discussed last week in detail on the show with two experienced election auditors who had rare access inside the secret counting at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, while media were locked out. Late last week, in response to a state judge's order, the Florida tech firm --- a group named Cyber Ninjas, with no experience in either elections or voting systems, who were retained by the GOP-majority state Senate to carry out this unprecedented "audit" --- revealed a 191-page document [PDF] supposedly detailing their recount and forensic audit procedures. (Though in fact, as we also report, these procedures have been changed many times since the "audit" began over a week ago.)

Many questions, such as why they are running ballots through a UV light, are not answered by the documents, which the far-right group, whose leader has claimed last year's Presidential election was stolen (without offering actual evidence to support the claim), attempted to keep concealed as "trade secrets".

Other information was revealed, however, such as the group's process for tallying ballots which, as I explain today, would actually allow the group to add (yes, steal) a minimum of 42,000 votes for Trump, without ever raising any alarms or red flags in the group's internal procedures. That, in race that was decided statewide for Joe Biden by just over 10,000 votes.

Worse, because the Ninjas are keeping all of their daily counts and tally sheets secret from the public, there will be no way to know at the end of the process (if they even finish before they must leave their rented venue on May 14), how they actually derived their numbers or if they, in any way, match up with what the paid counters actually tallied.

In short, we support any citizens being allowed to examine ballots to determine if elections are accurately tabulated --- even extreme partisans. But their are rules that need to be minded to assure integrity of that process as well. The process currently under way in AZ is a joke. It is election "audit" theater. That's because there is zero real oversight by the public in place. And the state GOP Senate has forced the County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D, who all opposed this privatized, tax-payer funded charade) to give up secure control of the actual ballots to the Ninjas, who could now do anything they want to them.

And while the documents are short on details on the group's actual tallying procedures, they are long on concerns about how "Antifa" might use extreme violence to attack the venue with firebombs and chemical weapons. Seriously. That's who these people are and how they think.

Finally, it was a looong weekend for me, after suffering from a couple of days of seemingly endless chills, fever and pounding headaches after receiving my second Moderna shot on Friday. For Desi, beyond a few mild aches and pains, it was a breeze. Still, it was in those horrible, fever dream moments that I came to appreciate how important it was for everyone to get their shots anyway. I knew I was lucky enough that whatever I was going through would not, in fact, be "endless", as it has been for so many unfortunate people who contracted the actual virus. So, I tell some truths about both what I went through (which media too often downplay), and why that made me happy --- not upset --- to have gone through it...and why you should too.

Also today, we share one of the great "parody" songs by the Marsh Family in Great Britain, who have become a bit of a sensation during the pandemic in the UK. Today's song is a beautiful, moving yet amusing take off on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, directed toward vaccine skeptics, called Have the New Jab. I liken this adorable family to the Family Von Trapp of Sound of Music fame!

And then we open up the phone lines to listeners who have recently had their 2nd jabs, to hear how things went for them, and if it was more like my experience or Desi's...

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Guests: John Brakey of AUDIT USA and Ray Lutz of Citizens Oversight from inside the 'secret' rightwing tally and forensic probe of 2.1M ballots from 2020, why there's so little transparency, and why it all matters..
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2021 4:44pm PT  

Okay. Buckle up for today's BradCast special coverage. Seriously. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As you've almost certainly heard by now, the Republicans in the Arizona state Senate have contracted [PDF] a rightwing tech outfit with no experience in elections or voting systems --- calling themselves Cyber Ninjas --- to oversee an unusual, controversial hand-count audit of the 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona's 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections. Apparently, the only elections the Senate GOP believe may have been stolen by Dominion Voting Systems tabulation computers or by stuffing ballot boxes were the two statewide elections each won by Democrats for the first time in decades.

The Florida-based Cyber Ninjas are being paid $150,000 tax-payer dollars for this post-election investigation, while collecting an unknown amount of dark money from unknown sources. They have, to date, kept the entire process pretty much a secret, locking out the public and media alike from overseeing the (at least partially) tax-payer funded process inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The only window into the process for the public, by and large, up until now, have been from 9 video cameras streaming wide shots from different angles of whatever is going on on the main floor of the arena.

The Cyber Ninjas' leader, a guy by the name of Doug Logan, had promoted false, often ludicrous and evidence-free claims of fraud following the 2020 election, asserting that the election must have been stolen from Donald Trump. So, of course, the Arizona GOP Senate hired him to run this effort. In this case, the results in question in Maricopa --- a state which Biden reportedly won by just over 10,000 computer-scanned votes (less than half of a percentage point) --- were certified by the five-person GOP-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D), the state's Democratic Sec. of State and Arizona's Republican Governor. It's only the state's far-right GOP Senate --- and millions of Trump supporters --- who believe the election must have been stolen for Joe Biden.

Still, some GOPers have their doubts. And we're always in favor of the public being able to check the results of hand-counted paper ballots for themselves whenever there are any questions --- justified or not --- regarding the results of any election, so that all voters can have confidence in the reported results. That is critical to the survival of American democracy. That said, such processes, particularly when they are tax-payer funded, must be open, transparent, overseeable and completely public processes. This process being carried out in Maricopa has decidedly not been that. With the Cyber Ninjas firm even arguing in court that their forensic processes must be kept a trade secret, just like the computer voting machine companies they (and we, for many years!) have complained about.

With no media allowed in (until a court order seems to have finally loosened that up a bit as of last night), there has been little if any information available to the public as far as what the hell is going on. The only reporter who seems to have gained access had signed up as an observer to work a 6-hour shift on Day 1 and discovered the counters were using blue pens --- which can be used to mark or spoil ballots. Following her complaints, they have been swapped out for red and green pens which cannot be read by the optical scanners. Beyond that, we've received little or no information on the process or progress of the count from public observers or media.

But we've had an inside track since the start of the count. And on today's show, we've got two long-time election integrity advocates who have been inside the Coliseum to observe over the last several days, one of them has been there since Day 1.

JOHN BRAKEY, Director of AUDIT USA, is actually working along side AZ's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett --- as of now anyway, as Bennett serves as the Senate GOP's liaison to the count. Brakey, a longtime election integrity champion and transparency activist, is largely the only one involved in the effort who has experience with post-election audits and recounts. He's a Tucson-based Democrat, but has long fought for public oversight in elections across the country and joins us on the show today.

We're also joined by RAY LUTZ, Founder and Exec. Director of San Diego-based Citizens' Oversight Projects, which has helped organize and oversee many post-election audits over the years --- particular of electronic digital ballot images created by scanners when ballots are initially tallied. He spent the last several days inside the Coliseum, observing the count, by invitation of Brakey, until he'd decided he'd "seen enough" and headed back home to California last night.

Both explain what they have seen, what the secret process actually is (as far as they have been able to understand it); some of the positive elements that may come out of this exercise; and a number of very serious concerns they each share about the process, particularly when it comes to the lack of transparency for how the operation works, the lock out of media and the public, the lack of publicly disclosed running totals of the count (as in actual recounts) or comparisons to the initial tallies, and more.

In Brakey's case, he's taking action to try and improve the process. He tells us he filed a Public Records Request today with the Maricopa Board of Supervisors (which has long opposed this exercise) for the original counted vote records of the batches of ballots now being examined in the 15,000 seat arena. His hope is that the Cyber Ninja group, for their part, will publish their own daily results at the same time, so that there can be at least some public oversight of the process. That remains a work in progress, he explains. But Brakey --- who is receiving no money for the work (unlike pretty much everyone else involved in it) and has refused to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (as the Ninjas had initially asked) --- asserts that he is happy to talk about everything that he has seen and is prepared to walk away from the project if transparency is not quickly improved.

"That's what I'm doing here. I'm criticizing. I'm on them," he explains, after pushing to allow media in for several days. "I want you to know they have media in there right now. They have two people, they have a pool camera. They were nervous and I said, 'Don't be. This is the media. Give them what they need.' I want them to have the same access that they would get in [a public Maricopa County recount], and I'm fighting for that, and I'm winning."

For his part, Lutz says he had already grown somewhat frustrated with the lack of transparency, and decided to leave after observing for about two days. He details the complicated, incredibly slow, table-by-table, ballot-by-ballot effort that is being carried out. After he initially estimated the process they were using would take about 15 months to complete, Lutz explains that changes made to simplify the process have brought the task down to one that could be carried out in about a month, unless additional counting shifts are added. That, even though the group is supposed to have completed the entire effort just over two weeks from now, on May 14th.

"This group came in with no experience at all," Lutz says today, "with a lot of new-fangled ideas about how it would work. Apparently no one did any basic math to work out how long it would take. Now they're sitting here with a real big problem on their hands."

"I have to say, it looked like more of a big show than anything else when I first saw it," he says, referring to the color-coded tables and t-shirts being worn by workers, before explaining some of the efficiencies that have been implemented since the counting began. "Now, I have to say that a lot of what I see there is appropriate and pretty good in terms of their fencing off the ballots and how they keep them under control." Still, he is worried about what happens to the tally sheets being created at each individual table, because those are not being shared publicly and are being handed to someone who enters the numbers into a computer --- correctly or otherwise. "What we normally want to have --- and Citizens Oversight has watched many, many of these audits --- we want those sheets to be scanned immediately and published so they can't be altered, because those tally sheets now become just like ballots, but even more so, because they're the accumulation of all the ballot tallying."

He's also critical of the particular hand-count process being used which, he believes, may have an error rate of 1 to 2%, in order to somehow confirm the accurate tabulation of an election that was decided by less than one half of one percent. And we all discuss the unusual efforts by workers to do things like examine ballots under microscopes and with a UV light (apparently to look for bamboo fibers, suggesting the paper came from China, or to find a lack of creases in mailed-in ballots, suggesting the ballot box was somehow stuffed). Lutz also details the effort to take meticulous measurements of the size and thickness, as well as high-def photos, of each ballot, as part of some unclear process to determine whether they are real or fraudulent.

Yes, it's somewhat as nuts as it sounds. But voters are allowed to be nuts, if they like. Locking out the public from the process, however, remains a very serious concern, and leads to some heated exchanges, to say the least, on today's special BradCast coverage...offering a unique and exclusive look inside the Maricopa County, AZ "audit/recount".

"Somebody's going to throw the gauntlet down, and I'm throwing the gauntlet down," Brakey asserts under my questioning about oversight concerns. "And I guess if they don't want to do that, then I guess there's going to be a separation, and all of a sudden I'm going to be on the outside. And maybe that's what has to happen. Because I know that transparency is the solution. We're going to keep improving this process, or I'm outta here," he vows.

As noted, buckle up for this one. You've been warned...

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Also: Biden declares Armenian 'genocide'; SCOTUS takes up guns; DoJ probes Louisville policing; Admin's new child hunger program; AZ's non-transparent 'recount'; Callers assess the Prez...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2021 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got a lot of news to catch you up on from over the weekend --- and from today alone --- before we open the phones to listeners to ring in on Joe Biden's first 100 days in office. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, today's news...

  • Over the weekend, Biden officially declared the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1916 to have been a "genocide". U.S. Presidents from both parties have declined to do so for decades, largely out of deference to Turkey, now a major NATO ally. Biden just went ahead and did it, after declaring his intention the day before to the Turkish President. Yes, it's a 100 year old story, in one respect, but not to the Armenian community which has sought such a declaration on the atrocity from a sitting U.S. President for years.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would take up an NRA-backed case next term on the Constitutionality of the right to carry weapons outside of the home, a direct challenge to a century-old New York gun law. Similar statutes are on the books in a number of other states, including Maryland and Massachusetts. Given the news we discussed on last Friday's BradCast about the appalling 6 to 3 opinion issued by the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS last week --- and, in lieu of Democrats figuring out how to reform the Court to expand and unpack it --- today's news likely comes as a foreboding sign for gun safety advocates.
  • The U.S. Dept. of Justice on Monday announced a sweeping new "patterns and practice" probe of policing by the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky, following the middle-of-the-night 2020 police killing of 26-year old Breonna Taylor in her own home during a no-knock raid. The warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation which turned up no drugs and for which the City of Louisville has already agreed to a $12 million settlement after the police killing of the African-American emergency medical technician last year.
  • The Biden Administration is announcing the launch of an historic $12 billion summer food program to feed lunch to more than 30 million low-income children, as part of the recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The USDA plan, according to experts who study childhood hunger, will go a long way towards feeding children who face food insecurity during summer months, when free school lunches are not available. The initiative comes on the heels of not only a hunger crisis amid the COVID pandemic, but after years of cutbacks to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs to combat hunger by the Trump Administration. Another upside: Money spent on SNAP goes directly into local economies.
  • In news that broke just before airtime today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its first tranche of new numbers from the 2020 decennial survey revealing that Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana and Oregon will each pick up Congressional seats in the once-a-decade redistricting process before the 2021 mid-term elections. New York, Ohio and, for the first time in its 170 years of statehood, California, would each lose a seat in the U.S. House. In fact, Texas is picking up two seats, while it, Florida and North Carolina have redistricting processes that are entirely controlled by Republicans, allowing them to gerrymander their states even further than they already are. Many of the Dem-controlled states picking up seats have processes in place that share power with Republicans for redistricting, or have a process controlled by independent commissions to determine new maps.
  • In some news that broke during today's show, California officials have announced that Republicans hoping to unseat the state's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election, have obtained the requisite number of verified signatures needed to hold the recall election for the first-term Governor this fall. More on that story, undoubtedly, in the days ahead.
  • And lastly, before we turn to callers ringing in on Biden's first 100 days, a word about the unusual, ongoing post-election hand-count in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, where the Republican-controlled state Senate is using tax-payer money to pay a private company named Cyber Ninjas, run by a Trump-supporting IT expert with no experience in elections, to recount the County's 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 election. The count is examining only the results of last year's Presidential race, reportedly won by Biden, and the U.S. Senate race, won by Democrat Mark Kelly. In both cases, it was the first time in decades for Democratic victories. While we are normally in favor of any and all attempts by citizens to oversee the results of their own elections, the Maricopa count is disturbing on several levels.

    For one, it is being paid for by tax-payer dollars, but run by a Trump supporter who, in addition to having no knowledge of elections or election technology, has a record of promoting demonstrably false claims about the election having been stolen by election system vendors, a number of communist counties, and allies of Joe Biden. The company heading up the count is also not using accepted hand-count practices established by the state. And they also refuses to disclose the amount or additional sources of dark money funding that it is receiving to carry out the hand tally. Moreover --- and most disturbing as of now --- is the fact that the tax-payer funded organizers are barring both media and the general public from overseeing the examination of the ballots from the 2020 election (which should, theoretically be protected and remain in state custody, under federal law, for 22 months.)

    I am in close touch with some of the folks who are working as observers on the count --- the ones with actual experience in post-election audits and recounts, unlike the Republicans in charge of this scheme --- and hope to have more information for you on this in the days ahead. There is no rush, apparently. At the rate of counting being carried out by the paid-for counters --- who not only counting, but examining ballots for signs of fraud --- it could take about 15 months to tally all of the ballots, according to one experienced election integrity advocate closing tracking the process.

  • Finally today, in advance of President Biden's first address to a joint a session of Congress on Wednesday night, his 99th day in office, media are rounding up their various assessments of the Administration's first 100 days and grading the President on his performance to date. It seems his bold actions have taken many in both the media and public --- who had previously regarded old Joe as an establishment, institutionalist centrist --- by surprise. We open up the phones to callers to do a bit of the same temperature taking today, to find surprisingly positive reviews for the new President from our usually somewhat cynical and progressive listener base here in Southern California (and, in Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere today.)

Enjoy!...

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OH AG looks $5.5B federal gift-horse in mouth; AZ GOP sanctioned for 'groundless' lawsuit after well-run 2020 election; Repub attacks on democracy seek to send voters to 'Back of the Line'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2021 7:17pm PT  

It's a bit of a grab bag on today's BradCast, but one that will hopefully keep you well prepared for your next conversation with any of your still brain-poisoned wingnut friends, family and coworkers.[Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

  • Ohio's Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is suing the Biden Administration because the $350 billion that the Democratic COVID relief bill (the American Rescue Plan) allocates to help all 50 states overcome a revenue cash crunch includes a provision that prevents states from using that free federal money to finance state tax cuts.
  • Of course, Ohio could also just refuse to take the $5.5 billion earmarked for them in the federal legislation, which not a single Republican voted for in the U.S. House or Senate, often describing it as a "blue state bailout". But, because we believe in facts around here...As detailed in a new report this week from the financial website WalletHub, Ohio's Republican-majority state government ranks 16th among those most dependent on the federal Government. In fact, the site's latest annual analysis finds that 11 of the top 12 states most dependent on D.C. are all controlled by Republicans, while 12 of the 14 least dependent are run by Democrats. In other words, "blue" state taxpayer dollars continue to be a perpetual "red" state bailout.
  • With the election of Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. Senators in Arizona (the 7th most dependent on federal dollars), the state is finally trending "blue", even as Republicans still hold control of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But turning "purple" is only leading the state Republican Party to lurch farther and farther to the right under the embarrassing --- and now costly --- leadership of AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward. This week, a state judge ordered the Party to pay $18,000 in costs and attorneys fees to the state's Democratic Secretary of State after a frivolous lawsuit sought to force another post-2020 election audit in Maricopa County (Phoenix). The "bad faith" and "groundless" GOP suit, as the judge noticed in his sanctions order describing the effort as "gaslighting," failed to recognize that the County had already run a post-election hand-counted ballot audit, finding no fraud or inaccuracies in its Dominion Voting System tabulators.
  • For good measure, in late January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors commissioned another audit, this one examining voting system equipment and source code, searching for malicious software or hardware on the systems used in November, checking for evidence of inappropriate network or Internet connectivity issues and rechecking the accuracy of the tabulation system itself against millions of actual votes cast last year. In all cases, according to the two separate, independent, federally accredited voting system test labs commissioned to carry out the audit, "No Issues" were discovered across the board.
  • Despite the clean bill of health from those post-election audits and the failed, evidence-free lawsuits to try and overturn Biden's win in the Grand Canyon State, Republican lawmakers in the state legislature continue to move dozens of voter suppression bills forward in hopes of, at the very least, undercutting the state's very popular mail voting system, as used by 80 percent of voters (Republican and Democratic alike) even before the COVID pandemic. One such measure would both add onerous ID requirements to mail-in ballots and require that absentee ballots be postmarked by the Thursday before Election Day!
  • The efforts in Arizona are, of course, being echoed by Republicans in statehouses all across the country of late, with more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in more than 40 states so far this year. All of which share the hope of making it harder for (certain) voters to cast ballots at all. The GOP has been hard at work at this sort of suppression for some time, though they are doubling and tripling down since the 2020 contest. All of which has echoes for folk singer/song writer MATT SIRCELY, whose new Back of the Line tune harkens back to the voting lines in Ohio in 2004, the lines of protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and the bread lines of the Great Depression. If Matt thought that thanking me for inspiration on this song would lead us to play it on the show...he is correct!
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as extreme weather slams the North, South and West; as corporate media coverage of climate change fell over a cliff with the COVID pandemic last year; and as a top Texas utility regulator gets fired after being caught on tape helping to rig the system for corporate investors over Lone Star State rate-payers...

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Party fined $18,000 in costs, attorneys fees to AZ Sec. of State...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/18/2021 3:30pm PT  

In his maiden speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Georgia's new Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock noted that "the four most powerful words in a democracy are 'the People have spoken'". That message, however, may not have made it out to the state Republican Party in Arizona.

When it was first filed on Nov. 12, 2020, Arizona Republican Party v. Fontes looked like a relatively insignificant case --- just one of 64 frivolous cases in which former President Donald J. Trump and his right-wing allies suffered swift and humiliating losses in both state and federal courts. Indeed, this particular case was so weak and trivial that, just 6 days after the case had been filed, Judge John R. Hannah, Jr. granted the motions to dismiss that were filed by Maricopa County and by intervenor defendants, Arizona's Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the Arizona Democratic Party.

However, as a result of subsequent events --- Donald Trump's Big "Stop the Steal" Lie, which formed the underpinning of the 64 frivolous lawsuits and culminated in the violent January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, along with the introduction of 253 voter suppression laws by Republicans in 43 state legislatures under the guise of "election integrity" --- this case became extraordinarily significant on March 15, 2021.

In a 10-page order, Judge Hannah explained, in detail, why he was imposing monetary sanctions (attorney's fees and costs) upon the AZ GOP and its attorneys.

The Court found that the underlying case was "groundless" --- that there was "no rational argument based upon the evidence or the law" that could be presented that would have justified the claims made in their ill-fated lawsuit. It also concluded the AZ GOP engaged in "bad faith" and "gaslighting".

Where Republicans claimed the lawsuit was brought to enhance voter confidence in the Presidential Election's results, the Court concluded the case was actually filed to "cast false shadows on the election's legitimacy" --- a "false shadow" that the AZ Republican Party has since used to justify its introduction of two dozen voter suppression bills in the Grand Canyon State legislature...

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Guest: Howie Klein of Down With Tyranny; Also: Disgraced Kobach and Watkins lose in KS; Disgraced Arpaio in the running in AZ; GOP Guv restores voting rights to former felons in IA...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2020 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a big day for progressives on Tuesday in a number of state primaries held in Missouri, Michigan, Arizona, Washington state and Kansas. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Surprisingly, among the biggest victories for progressives, believe it or not, came in the otherwise "red" state of Missouri, where voters adopted a statewide ballot measure to finally expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to more than 200,000 residents. The state's GOP-majority legislature had immorally blocked that expansion of health care to the Show-Me state's neediest residents for the past decade. MO now becomes the 6th GOP-controlled state to expand Medicaid via voter referendum.

But that was hardly the only big win for progressives in my old home state on Tuesday, as longtime progressive Ferguson and Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush defeated 10-term U.S. Congressman William Lacy Clay for the Democratic nomination. Clay, with his father before him, had controlled the state's 1st Congressional District seat since 1969! With her apparent win on Tuesday in a very Democratic district that reaches from the City of St. Louis out through the sprawling St. Louis County, Bush --- a single mother of two children --- is now all but certain to become the first African-American woman sent to the U.S. House from Missouri.

We're joined today by HOWIE KLEIN, founder of the longtime progressive blog "Down with Tyranny!" and co-founder of the BlueAmericaPAC, which raises money to support progressive Democratic candidates for Congress. Klein walks us through both wins and losses for progressives from all five states on Tuesday, and what they are likely to mean going forward, with still more statewide primaries to go in the weeks ahead of our critical general elections on November 3rd.

He explains, among many other things, why Bush, who lost to Clay (who Klein describes as "corrupt") by 20 points in 2018, appears to have been victorious on Tuesday, when the Medicaid expansion measure also won. "The reason that this won was because of a huge turnout in St. Louis County and St. Louis City," he tells me. "One of the reasons why that turnout was so big was because of Cori Bush being on the ballot. Now, you could also say that one of the reasons that she won was because the turnout for expanding Medicaid was so big. Both are true. By her putting up such a vigorous campaign, campaigning on expanding health care, that's where the votes came from."

"That it was her second time running and she had the name recognition," was also a major factor, he says. "I can't emphasize that enough. It's very, very tough --- not impossible --- but very tough to win a primary the first time you go up against an entrenched incumbent. Because Cori was strong, a powerful woman who wasn't going to give up after being defeated by a lot the first time, she already had name recognition. She was able to build on that to win the second time. I think that's the most important aspect of her winning." He adds that he believes she'll become the fifth member of "The Squad" in Congress, along with NY's Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, MN's Rep. Ilhan Omar, MA's Rep. Ayanna Pressley and MI's Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who also appears to have easily won her re-nomination on Tuesday. "She's going to get to Congress," says Klein. "She's gonna kick ass."

We also discuss much more today, including what the predictable loss of disgraced former Kansas Secretary of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach in that state's GOP U.S. Senate Primary means to Democrats hopes of retaking the majority in the upper chamber next year and how the Republican and Democratic party's are each changing amid the Trump Era.

Also today, 88-year old disgraced GOP felon and former Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio may still be in the running for his old job, even after being convicted of contempt of court and corruptly pardoned by Donald Trump; Indicted GOP Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas, who was recently charged with three felony counts related to voter fraud (almost the exact same crimes Trump committed himself in Florida), loses his Republican primary in the state; and Iowa's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds does the right thing for a change in signing an Executive Order to end the permanent loss of voting rights for (most) former felons in the Hawkeye State, after the Republican-controlled state Senate blocked a more permanent state Constitutional measure and as other states seek to further expand the franchise for felons both in and out of prison around the country.

Finally, it was announced today that Joe Biden would not be traveling to Milwaukee to give his party's nomination acceptance speech, due to the COVID crisis, at the their virtual convention, and Trump announced he was considering giving his own acceptance speech (unlawfully?) from the White House...

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Guest: Univ. of Arizona infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Purnima Madhivanan on AZ's 'crisis mode' surge in COVID cases, state officials' deadly denial since prematurely reopening, and 'believing in science'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/16/2020 7:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are ramping up efforts to pretend, lie and try to distract their way out of the coronavirus crisis in advance of their re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday. The virus doesn't care. As our guest today notes, "the virus is non-partisan." [Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

Even as COVID-19 cases are spiking around the country --- including in OK, where new cases surged 68% in the second week of June and where Tulsa's top health official and major newspaper are both begging Trump to call off this Saturday's planned campaign rally --- both men are now lying about both the growth in infections and in hospitalizations since states have begun reopening for business over the past several weeks.

They are both falsely explaining away the rise in confirmed infections in more than a dozen states as due to increased testing. It isn't. What epidemiologists are worried about is the rise in the percentage rate of positives tests, no matter the increase or decrease in the number of tests performed and about rising hospitalization rates, which are the best indicator of the increasing virulence of the pandemic in various parts of the country.

Pence reportedly instructed Governors, during a phone call on Monday, to lie about both matters, stating "the magnitude of increase in testing" explains the rise in positive cases and that increased hospitalizations are only because "people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery." But hospitalizations for elective procedures are decidedly not what infectious disease specialists are worried about, nor are they included in the spiking and often record rates of hospitalizations being seen right now for COVID-19 infections.

As we have been explaining on the show in recent days, as rates rise in Texas and Florida and Arizona (all three hit records for single day increases today) and elsewhere since Governors in those states prematurely reopened and are now seeing skyrocketing rates of illness since doing so, there is still no treatment, no cure, and no vaccine for the coronavirus. Lifting lock-down orders, failing to wear masks, and ignoring social distancing as many have now done, is little different than had we all done so in March and April as the virus first emerged.

In fact, as one of the very conservative COVID models --- one cited by the White House --- was adjusted today to predict more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by the first of October, our guest today explains why she believes "we are in a worse situation now" than we were back in March and April.

"We have a lot of infectious people in the community that we didn't have earlier on," notes DR. PURNIMA MADHIVANAN, infectious disease epidemiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. "I would say it's Phase 2 in that regard. We have a lot more people who are infectious, who are shedding the virus, than when we had started earlier on."

Describing ICU beds, particularly in Phoenix, at near-capacity rates just one month after reopening, Madhivanan, Director of her school's Global Health Training Program, says the state of Arizona is in "crisis mode. We need to be doing something, like, yesterday." That, as Republican Governor Doug Ducey --- who abruptly announced reopening plans early last month on the same day as a visit to the state by Donald Trump --- continues to downplay the state's worsening predicament, despite a 76% increase in cases since the end of May and records of new cases and hospitalizations being consistently topped in recent days.

Madhivanan tells me she sees the state running out of ICU space within a week. "We have a crisis situation right here in Phoenix. And if [Ducey] were smart, he would close off the borders to Phoenix yesterday." This is not a so-called "second wave," she cautions. "We haven't even peaked with the first wave yet. We are number 42 among all states in terms of testing rates. So we haven't even gotten to the level where we can say our testing rates are good. And we've not even mentioned contact tracing yet. That's practically non-existent, and a huge concern."

It didn't have to be this way, Madhivanan explains, but for Ducey's abrupt reversal in early May. "What we had actually projected and predicted was we would get to the peak around the end of June, if everything had gone the way we had predicted with all the physical distancing in place, stay-at-home orders. But when the stay-at-home orders were not followed through, that peak came much, much earlier, and we are still continuing up on that wave. We have not come down yet."

This is an important, must-listen, detailed conversation which extends well beyond Arizona. I couldn't even begin to adequately summarize it here. We discuss the denialists and claims from mostly non-epidemiologists and ideologists who charge that lock-downs have made the situation worse, asserting that allowing for "herd immunity" to develop would have been a smarter strategy. She details why she strongly disagrees, explaining that it would have taken years and resulted in exponentially more deaths, in the millions, here in the U.S. Madhivanan further says containment, unlike during the SARS crisis of 2003-2004, became impossible "because we have an uncoordinated and poorly managed COVID response" at the federal level.

That means the only option left is shutdowns, mask wearing (which, she argues, makes a huge difference in mitigating spread of the virus), hand-washing and physical distancing. But, she laments, there is now very little, if any, of that being done in her state. Ducey has never mandated masking, for example, even as "masks are our lowest-hanging fruit and one of the most economical interventions. If all of us did it, we can dramatically bring down the number of infections."

She warns things are going to get much worse before they get better anytime soon. "If we had used the period of the shutdown to put comprehensive testing and tracing protocols in place, this investment would have paid off in the long run. But we failed to do that. So we only delayed the day of reckoning for us."

"At some point people need to start believing in science, is all I can say. We have the data, we have the evidence, and the science is pretty clear about this. We were not ready and we should not have opened," Madhivanan insists.

Finally, after a bit more news on the 28 states in the U.S. where infection rates are decidedly NOT falling, no matter how hard the Administration and his supporters are still trying to pretend it all away, we've got a bit of breaking news that came just before air time on Donald Trump hoping to sue John Bolton's upcoming new book away.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. That, of course, as usual, includes nothing but lots of much-needed sunshine and flowers! (Hey, if Trump and Pence can lie about absolutely everything, we can too, right?)

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Campaigns fight to 'count every vote' amid uncounted and rejected ballots, undervotes, computer-tabulation concerns
Also: 12 killed in CA shooting; RBG hospitalized; White House lies about, bars CNN journalist; Constitutional Crisis concern mounts after Trump fires Sessions...
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2018 7:33pm PT  

We're getting tired of being right about this stuff. The political apocalypse we predicted for the day(s) after the 2018 midterm --- from problems counting ballots to Trump's "burn it all down" response to the results --- appears to be playing out in a number of ways today. We have several big news items today regarding reported results in Florida, Arizona and Georgia on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

But first today, we needed to hit several disturbing breaking news headlines...

  • 12 people were killed in a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA, a wealthy suburb just outside of Los Angeles in Ventura County, during it's popular country music college night. The shooter, who took his own life, was reportedly a 28-year old white male Marine combat veteran thought to be suffering from PTSD. Victims are said to include the bar's security guard, an armed Sheriff's deputy, and a survivor of the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas that killed 58 and left more than 800 wounded;
  • 85-year old U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was reportedly hospitalized on Thursday, after fracturing three ribs in a fall in her office;
  • A three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump Administration's attempt to kill President Obama's 2012 DACA program was likely done so in violation of the law. For now, the protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children will stay in place, though the Administration has filed for a quick ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • The White House has barred CNN's Jim Acosta from the White House, after the President's bonkers post-election press conference on Wednesday. The White House lied about their reasons for doing so, despite video of the presser revealing their blatant lie;
  • And Trump's firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the day after the midterms is quickly leading to a full-on Constitutional Crisis, as he has named Matthew Whitaker, a former political operative and opponent of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation, as Acting AG responsible for overseeing that probe. Normally, the Deputy AG --- Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing it following Sessions' recusal --- would fill that role. It's feared Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, is likely to move to scuttle the Mueller investigation at any moment.

Meanwhile, the fight to count votes continues to grow predictably uglier in several states following Tuesday's contentious midterms. Democrats are now said to have picked up at least 31 seats in the U.S. House, taking back control of the chamber from Republicans, with analysts forecasting that they could end up winning as many as 38 new seats, as votes continue to be tabulated and canvassed across the country. But there are growing concerns about computer-tabulated results in U.S. Senate and Governors races in at least three different states tonight...

  • In Florida, a "recount" now appears inevitable in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger Gov. Rick Scott, with the margin between the two at less than 0.22% as of airtime. That would trigger an automatic statewide hand count in the Sunshine State. But there remain many questions about uncounted provisional and absentee ballots, as well as tens of thousands of suspicious undervotes in the Senate race reported by the paper ballot computer tabulators in Broward County. Some 25,000 voters, according to the computers, voted for down-ticket races like Agricultural Commission, but failed to vote in the top-of-the-ticket U.S. Senate race?

    In the state's gubernatorial election, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis' lead over Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum, has now fallen to 0.47 percent. If it stays below 0.5 percent, it would trigger an automatic machine "recount" statewide. (The margin must be below .25 percent for a hand count in Florida.)

  • In Arizona, there are nearly three-quarters of a million completely uncounted ballots across the state, leaving the results of the highly-contested and very close U.S. Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in doubt. Arizona sources tell me that this many still-uncounted early and absentee ballots is now unusual for the state. But with all eyes on whether Democrats can flip the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake blue, a lot more people are now noticing. Sinema currently leads McSally by about one-half of a percentage point, according to the latest computer-tabulated numbers.
  • And in Georgia, attorneys for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams held a news conference today, in which they offered a blistering response to Sec. of State Brian Kemp's declaration of victory in the Governor's race, and his belated resignation as SoS along with it. Team Abrams charges there are thousands of wrongly rejected and still-uncounted ballots in the state, though --- thanks to Kemp's horrific administration of the election --- they are unable to know how many there actually are and how many voters were unlawfully prevented from voting at all. They forcefully repeated Abrams' Election Night vow to fight to assure that every vote is counted, even if legal action is required to ensure it.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with both good news and bad for the environment from Tuesday's midterm elections.

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Also: NV's primary election failures much worse than previously known; Mystery group seeking copies of MI 2016 Presidential ballots revealed...
By Brad Friedman on 8/29/2018 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, results, as reported by computer tabulators, from Tuesday's primary elections in Florida and Arizona and primary runoff elections in Oklahoma. Also, more details on what went so terribly wrong in Maricopa County, AZ which kept many voters from being able to cast a vote at all. Nevada's June primary disasters were far worse than reported. And an answer to at least one mystery regarding 2016 Presidential ballots in Michigan. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

First up, among the noteworthy results we cover from yesterday's midterm primary elections...

  • In Florida, progressive Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum came from seemingly out of nowhere for an upset win of the Democratic nomination for Governor. If the Bernie Sanders-endorsed Democrat defeats the Donald Trump-endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis in November, he'd become the state's first African-American Governor. That, as the current two-term Governor Rick Scott won his primary to vie for incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's seat, in what will likely become the most expensive U.S. Senate race this year (and, possibly, in U.S. history).
  • In Arizona, establishment favorite Rep. Martha McSally held off two challengers from the hard right to win the GOP nomination to fill the seat being vacated by the state's retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R). She'll face off against Democratic nominee Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November for a seat that Dems believe they may be able to flip from "red" to "blue", even in a state like Arizona, in a very anti-Trump year. And Republican Gov. Greg Ducey --- who will soon name a replacement for the state's other U.S. Senate seat, vacated by the death of Sen. John McCain --- will now face off against David Garcia, a Latino and former educator who won the Democratic nomination for Governor, in a year in which teachers have walked out in protest of education funding cuts in so-called "red" states Arizona and Oklahoma. (Also of note, Republican Sec. of State Michelle Reagan lost her primary for re-election to the hard-right Steve Gaynor who is calling for English-only elections in AZ. Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs should see an opening there in the race to become the state's top election official)
  • And, speaking of teachers and Oklahoma, it was a "bloodbath" in the primary runoff elections for incumbent GOP state legislators who voted against recent tax hikes to pay for new education funding. Just 4 of the 19 Republican state legislators who voted against the tax hike to give teachers a long-overdue raise have survived to run for re-election on this November's ballot.

Then, we turn to the massive problems at polling places in Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ on Tuesday, as at least 62 polling places were unable to open for hours in the morning. It now appears that the reason was electronic pollbooks which were not properly set up, or set up at all, or which couldn't get Internet access. That effectively prevented voters from being checked in to vote on the County's hand-marked paper ballot voting systems (which use computer optical-scanners to tally votes.)

Remarkably, the County's Republican-majority Board of Supervisors rejected the recommendations of both Sec. of State Michelle Reagan (R) and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes (D) to seek a court order to keep polling places open for an extra two hours at precincts which failed to open on time on Tuesday.

As to the electronic pollbook disasters that kept them from opening in the first place, Fontes blames an IT contractor for not supplying as many personnel as promised for polling place installation and tech support. The contractor, Insight Enterprises, blames Fontes for being under prepared. What's clear for the moment is that voters --- potentially thousands of them --- were prevented from voting entirely because, once again, a voting jurisdiction has relied on oft-failed, mission-critical computer systems, supported by private vendors, to run our public elections without backup plans, such as paper pollbooks in this case.

We also learn this week that the failures reported during and shortly after Nevada's primary elections in June were much worse than officials and the private voting system vendor admitted to the public when the state's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems failed across the state. A new report from the Reno Gazette-Journal, based on public records requests, finds that complaints about candidates missing from ballots and selections already filled in on the screen for some voters, were far more numerous than previously known. Nonetheless, election officials in the state are standing by their vendor (Dominion Voting, which took over for Sequoia Voting Systems) and, as the paper notes, parroting back talking points almost word-for-word from the voting machine manufacturer in hopes of minimizing the massive problems as little more than "human error" that did not effect reported results. (Sound familiar?) Evidence reported by the RGJ strongly suggests otherwise.

Finally, with the 22-month federal requirement for retaining all ballots and other elections materials from the 2016 Presidential election ending next week (September 8th), a voting rights group now known to be allied with the Democratic Party has requested copies of all 2016 general election ballots from the state of Michigan. The massive, and expensive, public records request should prevent the ballots, in that state at least, from being destroyed for now, after an attempt to hand-count them by Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein was ended by a Republican court challenge in 2016. That, despite Trump's stunning, if unverified, upset win in the state by just over 10,000 votes and some 75,000 ballots said to have contained no vote for President at all, according to the computer-tabulated results. No such records request has yet been filed in either Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, however, despite the fact that had just three votes at each precinct in those three states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump, she, not he, would now be President of the United States...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and WV GOP's state Supreme Court coup; Also: Massive voting system failures in AZ primary...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Details on the extraordinary court ruling out of North Carolina on Monday, and the judicial coup being staged in West Virginia. But first, voters went to the polls for Tuesday's primary elections in Arizona and Florida and in Oklahoma for primary runoff elections. It did not go well in Arizona. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s paper ballot optical-scan computer systems failed in at least 100 precincts, according to the County Recorder. Many polling places were closed entirely this morning, and it was nearly noon before the systems were said to finally be working in all precincts. It's still unclear what the precise failure was, but the new County Recorder Adrian Fontes (who won his election after the previous, long-time Recorder was booted out for shutting polling places during the 2016 Primaries), tied it to pre-election tests that failed on Monday, and then a lack of contractors from the voting machine company (Dominion Voting) on hand to properly set up the systems before polls were to open today. "The contractor responsible for the voting machines was supposed to provide more than 100 technicians to assist with issues, but only 70 were available," the Arizona Republic reports Fontes as telling them at a news conference this morning. If we learn more, of course, we'll share it on tomorrow's show along with noteworthy problems and results in all three states holding elections today.

Then, following up on a story that broke minutes before airtime on Monday, we're joined today by Slate's excellent legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to detail the extraordinary ruling issued by a three judge federal court panel finding all of North Carolina's U.S. House districts --- for a second time --- to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Remarkably, the judges are considering ordering new maps to be drawn up before this November's elections, after already having found last January that Republicans had unlawfully gerrymandered the state's U.S. House districts. That ruling, however, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which punted in June by ordering the lower court to review matters of standing. After having done so, the three-judge panel found the same Constitutional infirmities.

"The real villain here, in a sense --- aside from the Republicans, who obviously drew these incredibly gerrymandered maps --- is the Supreme Court and Justice Anthony Kennedy," says Stern. "A virtually identical ruling came down in January, at which point the US Supreme Court could have and should have acted on this question of partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the Supreme Court punted [and] sent this case back down for reconsideration. Now the [lower] court has reached the same conclusion it did in January."

The map in question was the one drawn up in 2016 after the state's previous GOP-drawn map, used in 2012 and 2014, was found to have been an unlawful racial gerrymander. So, Stern explains, the federal judges in North Carolina seem to have had enough and may now order new maps "on this incredibly compressed timetable where the election is looming" in just over 70 days, ballots need to go out to overseas voters 45 days in advance, and the state's primaries were already been held in May.

The unconstitutional maps have resulted in a wildly unbalanced 10 to 3 GOP majority in the state's Congressional delegations, despite North Carolina's status as a very divided swing state which narrowly elected Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016, and a Democrat to be its Governor in that same election. If the matter is appealed to SCOTUS by the state (as it almost certainly will be), the Supremes could deadlock 4 to 4, if Justice Kennedy's seat has yet to be filled, and the lower court ruling would stand. We could be in for a lot of chaos ahead (as if we need any more this year.)

Stern also explains the astonishing situation in West Virginia, where that state's Republican-majority House of Delegates recently impeached all four sitting members of the state's Supreme Court. (Its 5th member had already resigned after been charged with a felony crime.) The move, Stern reports, was timed in such a way to avoid allowing voters to replace the justices at the ballot box this year. That means the previously 3 to 2 Democratic-leaning court may soon become a 5 to 0 Republican court, and stay that way through 2020. Following impeachment trials of the justices in the state Senate, any vacancies will be filled by the appointments of Trump-loving Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat when he ran and won the Governor's race in 2016, but who flipped parties shortly thereafter.

"There are no good guys, per se, in this story," Stern notes. However, it serves as yet another example of Republicans blatantly hoping to pack the courts, and could prove to be another useful example that Democrats could cite in the future. If they ever re-take control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House, they'll be able to cite such moves when and if they decide to move to add seats to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to restore a majority that should have been theirs, until Senate Republicans stole a vacant seat in 2017 after holding it open for nearly a year following the early 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Speaking of that stolen U.S. Supreme Court, Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Senate Democrats will be able to block --- or even stall --- the seating of Donald Trump's second nominee to the Court. Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Confirmation hearings are currently scheduled to begin next week and, Stern argues, "he owes an explanation as to why he thinks it's perfectly valid and legitimate and acceptable to be nominated by a racist and openly corrupted President to the Supreme Court."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on, among other things, the record rainfall in Hawaii following Hurricane Lane over the weekend, and the complicated climate legacy of the late Republican U.S. Senator and former GOP Presidential nominee, John McCain.

(And, on a related note, next week will be our 900th episode of the GNR! If you have not contributed lately to our efforts to continue connecting the climate change dots over your public airwaves for the past 10 years --- along with all else that we do --- please consider doing so now by stopping by BradBlog.com/Donate! Thanks! We rely only on you to keep going! But, don't do it for me! Do it for Desi! Pretty please?)

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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Teachers walk out in AZ, CO; Cosby found guilty; GOP Senate majority threatened; Pompeo confirmed as Sec. of State; Jackson withdraws as VA nom; EPA's Pruitt ducks responsibility in House; Macron slams Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2018 6:38pm PT  

At long last, we're beginning to see shades, shadows, clouds of accountability rolling in across D.C. and even elsewhere in the country. Many of those clouds seemed to roll in all at once today for some reason, but we cover as many as we can on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Huge explosions, a raging fire, and 10-mile evacuations at another oil refinery today, this time in Wisconsin;
  • Bill Cosby is found guilty on three felony counts of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman and now faces the rest of his life in prison;
  • Tens of thousands of teachers walked out in Arizona and Colorado on Thursday, demanding increased funding for education after years of slashed state budgets to help pay for tax cuts to the rich and corporations;
  • A spate of new polling suggest Senate Republicans may face a storm of accountability this November, with encouraging numbers for Democratic candidates in at least three different states --- Arizona, Tennessee and Nevada --- where they hope to flip "red" seats to "blue" to regain majority control of the upper chamber of Congress this fall. (And also in a fourth state, if you include Texas, where Sen. Ted Cruz' challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke is now within "too close to call" striking distance, according to new polling, even as the Democrat is refusing corporate and super PAC funding, even from billionaire Tom Steyer);
  • No accountability to date, however, for the anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-environment, pro-war CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was narrowly confirmed in the U.S. Senate today as Donald Trump's new Secretary of State;
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve a bi-partisan bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump, though obstructionism from GOP leadership in the full Senate and U.S. House will likely prevent the legislation from going any further;
  • Admiral Ronny Jackson, Trump's personal White House physician and his nominee to head the Dept. of Veterans Affairs finally withdrew his name from consideration following a host of damning allegations from current and former White House and military co-workers unearthed by Sen. Jon Tester (MT), the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee;
  • Trump's wildly corrupt and scandal-plagued EPA chief Scott Pruitt finally faced a bit of accountability, at least from Dems, as he testified before two separate House Committees on Thursday and refused to answer many direct questions, threw much of his staff under the bus, and denied responsibility for the mountain of personal corruption scandals he continues to face --- even as bi-partisan calls for his resignation continue;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on Pruitt's anti-climate perfidy, French President Emmanuel Macron's blistering swipes at President Trump's environmental record during a joint session of Congress, and much more.

Yes, it was another insanely busy news day, but we gotcha covered, in one fast moving hour today. Buckle up!...

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