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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Death and Destruction; Hope and Change: 'BradCast' 8/4/20
Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 8/3/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Isaias hits NC amid a pandemic, makes history; Rising seas pushing storms further inland, study warns; PLUS: 15 states clear the air, move to all-electric trucks and buses...
Previous GNRs: 7/30/20 - 7/28/20 - Archives...
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money:
'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
Previous GNRs: 7/28/20 - 7/23/20 - Archives...
Conspiracies. Real Ones.:
'BradCast' 7/29/20
Dark money behind anti-mask, pro-chloriquine movement; White supremacist provocateurs behind BLM 'riots'; Also: COVID conspiracist Gohmert has COVID...
Local TV Goliath Sinclair Shamed Into Nixing COVID Disinfo: 'BradCast' 7/28/20
Guest: Media Matters' Zachary Pleat; Also: If MLB can't avoid COVID, how will schools?; Trump's Fauci envy...
'Green News Report' 7/28/20
Two hurricanes in two states over one weekend; CA plugs in world's largest battery; PLUS: Trump Admin takes major step toward approving controversial Alaska mine...
From The Global Coronavirus Epicenter of Miami Beach: 'BradCast' 7/27/20
Guest-host Nicole Sandler with Miami Beach, FL Mayor Dan Gelber and healthcare advocate Laura Packard...
Sunday 'Cognitively Fascist' Toons
Power up with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
'RECOUNTED' with Ari Berman, Chuck Collins: 'BradCast' 7/24/20
On safeguarding the 2020 election and on our worsening economic inequality...
Philly DA Vows Arrest of Trump's Fed 'Thugs' if They Break State Law - But Should He?
Ernie Canning on measuring the risks of such an escalation by local officials...
Reality Begins Setting in for the GOP; Chaos Continues for America: 'BradCast' 7/23/20
FL RNC cancelled; COVID at White House; Jobless claims keep breaking records; GOP in disarray over relief bill; Trump goons tear-gas Portland mayor; Much more!...
'Green News Report' 7/23/20
OH GOP House Speaker arrested for bribery in utility conspiracy; Gonzalo breaks new record in historic 2020 hurricane season; PLUS: Burger King cuts the methane...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Sen. Timothy Wirth; Also: Following infection and hospitalization spikes, COVID-19 deaths now surging, as predicted, in GOP-run states...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2020 6:55pm PT  

Some pretty scary topics on today's BradCast. But don't worry! There's a Rainbow at the end of this pot of gold to help make it all just a tiny bit better! [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

First up: As we've been reporting for weeks, coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations have been surging across much of the country, particularly in states with Republican Governors who reopened far too early, despite warnings to the contrary from health experts. Throughout this epic failure, however, there has been one statistic these sociopaths have been repeatedly clinging to in recent weeks to justify their ill-considered orders to try and goose the economy in the short-term before the election by reopening, despite the obvious dangers: mortality rates from COVID-19 had not been increasing along with the spike in infection rates

Of course, as we've also been reporting for weeks, the death rate is a lagging indicator that, sure enough, follows the increase in hospitalizations. And now, especially in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and others where Republican Governors put their perceived (and twisted) political interests ahead of the health and lives of their actual constituents, death rates are now beginning to swell as expected. That, even as Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the head of his so-called White House Coronavirus Task Force, continue to mislead the public about such facts. "We are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady," Pence lied to reporters at the White House this week, while vowing to strong-arm schools into reopening for in-person classes next month --- including in Florida, where, as in Texas and Arizona, ICUs are now at capacity in much of the state, hospitals are running out of test kits and the Republican National Committee plans to hold its nominating coronation for Trump next month as well.

Governors Ron DeSantis (FL), Greg Abbott (TX), Doug Ducey (AZ) and others like them share the same buckets of blood on their hands with Trump, Pence, and the other rightwing death cultists, like Sean Hannity at Fox "News".

Then --- in even cheerier news --- it is now "not just possible but increasingly probable" that Donald Trump will steal the election, according to our guest, Colorado's former U.S. SENATOR TIM WIRTH! Writing recently at Newsweek with Editor-at-Large Tom Rogers, Wirth --- who has served in various branches of government since the Johnson and Nixon Administrations --- details a scenario in which Trump could lose not only the popular vote, but also the Electoral College votes of enough swing states to lose in a rout, but still manage to remain in office!

And, as they detail in 12 simple steps, it can all be done "legally" thanks to some obscure emergency powers granted by Congress decades ago to the President, some help from a compliant and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, and the shameless Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In short, the example scenario proffered by Wirth and Rogers involves the invocation of Presidential powers to launch an investigation into dubious claims of election fraud in several battleground states. That prevents the certification of results in those states which, as SCOTUS has previously ruled, would mean their electoral votes would not ultimately be included in the final tally. If the result was a tie or challenge to the final electoral count, the winner of the Presidential contest would, as specified by the Constitution, be determined by state delegations in the U.S. House, where Republicans currently hold the controlling majority in a majority of states (26).

While the specific scenario they spell out might seem unimaginable, their very specific step-by-step plan is both entirely plausible and, theoretically, perfectly legal. It is no more unimaginable than the idea that Donald Trump could become President of the United States in the first place.

So, Wirth warns we would be wise to begin imagining it --- and making plans for how to counter it --- immediately. "We can't wait until the middle of October or early November to ring the alarm bells," he tells me. "The alarm bells, in our opinion, have to go off now."

The scenario, as he details it, is as chilling as it sounds --- and completely imaginable under this President, who, Wirth explains, is already busily laying the ground work for such a coup. "If you look at Trump and what we've learned in the last 3 and a half years, this is a man who is absolutely deathly afraid of the word 'loser'," he argues. "He does not want to go down in history as the biggest loser in American political history. He will do everything he possibly can to avoid that and to stay in office."

"Effectively, under Article II of the Constitution, he can do practically anything that he wants to do. There are no constraints on his use of these emergency powers," says Wirth. "There is no review of these powers. The Congress actually knows very little about them. They are in statute, but held by the Justice Department and by the White House. The Congress has had little or no attention to these. They have not heard hearings about them, they don't know what's in these emergency powers, they have not reviewed them."

"Trump has no constraints on these. The Congress doesn't have any authority to check these powers. People can say, 'Well, it would go to court!' Who's going to take it to court? Barr, the Attorney General? Are they going to challenge what Trump says he's going to do?"

"The more you know, the worse it is. The more you know about these emergency powers, the more you sketch out what he may do, the more you see what he's doing in all of these swing states, how they're trying to discourage vote by mail, how he's making all kinds of wild statements about how corrupt electoral voting would be if its conducted by mail," the former Democratic Senator explains. "It would really take a failure of imagination not to begin to think... that this is not just possible, but probable. Let's connect the dots."

Wirth connects a bunch of those dots on today's show, adding to his opinion piece at Newsweek and another related warning he penned at Politico with former CO Senator Gary Hart and Carter and Clinton Administration officials Joel McCleary and Mark Medish, telling me today: "There is a danger in our system, and we have to build public attention to this, so that it doesn't happen...We should be alert to it, and aware of it, thinking about it, talking about it, and building the firewall against it."

Finally, because we suspect you need as much help as we do at shaking off today's nightmares --- and all of the ones we've endured over the past week (or even 3 an a half years) --- we close with some important advice from the great musical satirist, Randy Rainbow...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explains today's rulings; Also: Two conditions on Biden's debates with Trump?; Continuing COVID-19 havoc...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2020 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: They were the last major decisions of the term for the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. And at least all of the Justices seemed to mostly agree that Presidents are not above the law, even if this one was allowed to buy some time before facing accountability. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Lucky for Donald J. Trump, that extra time granted by two remands to lower courts by SCOTUS today will almost certainly prevent the public from seeing his tax returns and other likely fraudulent financial documents from the years before his Presidency, before he must stand for re-election on November 3rd. Despite those considerable gifts from SCOTUS today, Donald Trump went off on an incomprehensible Twitter tantrum in response. For some, I guess, too much is never enough.

"Not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in one of Thursday's long-awaited 7 to 2 opinions [PDF]. Citing 200-year old remarks by Chief Justice John Marshall, Roberts observed: "We reaffirm that principle and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." Even accused sexual assaulter Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed in a concurring opinion that "no one is above the law."

While no one may be above the law, Trump received two extraordinary gifts from the court today. One opinion, Trump v. Vance [PDF] effectively postpones the disclosure of his dubious financial documents to the Manhattan District Attorney for a criminal grand jury investigation until, mostly likely, after the November election. The other, Trump v. Mazars [PDF] prevents several Congressional Committees from seeing similar documents that they subpoenaed from Trump's accounting firm, also until after the election --- and maybe never if the clock runs out on the end of the Congressional session in December. It will likely take at least that long to work through the courts with SCOTUS' newly-raised bar for such subpoenas of the Executive Branch by Congress.

We're joined once again today, at the last minute, by Slate's great court reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer his ever-helpful clarity and context to today's complicated opinions, which one attorney today described thusly: "The ruling is 'No president is above the law', but they post-dated it to the Biden administration".

"I think he just doesn't really understand how the Court gave him a gift," Stern explains, in response to my questions about Trump's whining, incoherent Twitter response to today's ruling. "These decisions are wrapped up in a lot of language that pointedly reduces the President's immunity and executive privilege from oversight and investigations. And announces or reaffirms some crucial principles, like, of course a state can subpoena a President's records for a grand jury proceeding and, yes, Congress can also subpoena the President and his confederates and businesses if it seeks to get that information to pass legislation."

"But the Court said 'We are going to draw a line because we're not so sure that here, either the New York grand jury or the House of Representatives checked all the boxes that we think they needed to in order to get this information.' So, there's going to be a run-down-the-clock thing now, where Trump tries to keep fighting this in the lower courts --- at least through the November election --- and that means we may never actually get to see these records that the Supreme Court said, theoretically, we could have a right to see."

Stern observes: "It was almost like it was a carefully brokered compromise to reach this exact result and then work backwards for the reasoning." Nonetheless, Stern notes, even if his financial firms are allowed to escape subpoenas by Congress, "the writing is on the wall" for the subpoenas filed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. "I think the lower court is going to very quickly say, 'Yep, these records can go to the grand jury.' And that's going to be that. It could happen in a matter of weeks."

We will see. Or not.

Next, a few more accountability odds and ends today. Trump received another gift this week in the form of a second --- and still-unexplained --- extension of the deadline for the release of his annual financial disclosure statement. Speaking of, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman thinks that Joe Biden should refuse to debate Trump (who now needs the debates more than Biden does) unless Trump releases his tax returns from his years as President, since he promised to do so in 2016, and Biden has already done so. Friedman has one other condition as well that he suggest Biden place on the debates before agreeing to participate this year.

On the COVID-19 front today, the CDC is now claiming they are not planning to rewrite guidance for the reopening of schools after Vice President Mike Pence indicated yesterday they would be doing so following Trump's complaint that their original recommendation for opening schools safely was "very tough and expensive". And, whaddaya know? There's a surge of COVID cases in Tulsa following Trump's unmasked super-spreader campaign rally there in late June, according to the city's top health official.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with record-breaking Siberian wildfires; a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which only just kicked off!); the new natural gas bomb trains the Trump Administration has just approved to move through your hometown; and some good truckin' news for breathers in California!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Court nixes Trump 'national emergency' wall funding; TX, FL forced to re-close businesses as COVID spikes, Trump, Pence continuing lying about it...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2020 7:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why does Indiana's Secretary of State Connie Lawson believe her emails with other Secretaries of State, and potentially voting system vendors, should be exempt from disclosure via public records requests? She is claiming her discussions about those systems with members of the private National Association of Secretaries of State (and any private vendors they may discuss or hear from) should somehow be protected due to exemptions for trade secrets and national security that cannot be exposed to the public. A judge in Indiana, however, seems to believes she is wrong. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, a few items of breaking news amid our ongoing dystopian American nightmare...

  • A federal appeals court panel agreed today with a lower court judge that Donald Trump violated the law when he commandeered $2.5 billion in tax-payer dollars appropriated by Congress for the military in order to build his wall under the phony guise of a "national emergency". That, after Congress had specifically refused to allocate such funds. Bill Barr's corrupt Dept. of Justice will likely be appealing that one all the way up to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court if necessary;
  • As we have been warning for weeks (months?), the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better, in the U.S. In particular, as we've demonstrated, many of the hardest hit regions where infection rates, ICU usage and deaths are skyrocketing are places where Republican politicians have been successful in joining our maniacal conman President in pretending the virus would simply go away if we just reopened our doors for business. That strategy has failed miserably and tragically. So much so, that the very Trumpy Republican Governors in two of the hardest hit states, Florida and Texas --- which were among the first to prematurely reopen --- were forced to re-close bars, restaurants and other businesses today as infections rates surge to record numbers in their states, and as ICU beds in some locations are quickly filling to capacity;
  • That, at the same time Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force (remember them?), held their first press briefing in weeks to continue the Administration's attempted gaslighting of America to declare "very encouraging news" in the case numbers which are going straight up now in a majority of U.S. states;
  • Today's grim record COVID-19 numbers come just days after our failed President lied to his supporters at his latest maskless Death Rally inside a Phoenix church on Tuesday that "it's going away". It's not. It's getting worse. That was the same day in which internal White House task force documents, according to an NBC News exclusive, told both Trump and Pence that new case numbers in Phoenix --- which "had the highest number of new cases among the 10 metropolitan regions where the week-over-week change in infection rates spiked the most" --- was up some 150 percent over the past week. And, yes, infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths rates are rising as well, according to the White House's own numbers. That is not, despite the lies from both Trump and Pence, caused simply by "more testing".

With unabashed criminals like this now running our country --- and hopefully facing charges of criminal negligence if not mass murder someday soon --- we turn back to our "last firewall": our electoral system. There, we've got a bit of good news today, as Indiana Judge Heather Welch has rejected most of the claims made by the state's Sec. of State Connie Lawson (formerly a member of Trump's failed and phony "voter fraud" commission) to try and obscure her emails with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

The judge's ruling stems from a lawful request filed under Indiana's public records act. The suit, filed on behalf of the National Election Defense Council (NEDC) by Free Speech for People (FSFP), seeks those records in which Lawson was discussing voting systems with fellow Secretaries around the nation, NASS staffers, and, very likely, according to our guest today, private voting system vendors who wine, dine and lobby our nation's elections officials. In turn, those officials buy the unsecure, overly-expensive, error-prone computer voting and tabulation systems from the companies, and then parrot their talking points when the systems fail or when the public seeks to learn how they actually work (or don't.)

We're joined today by FSFP Legal Director RON FEIN to explain the court's recent ruling [PDF] in which the Judge rejected most of Lawson's claims to things like copyright and trade secret exemptions for her official Sec. of State emails. The judge is also demanding to privately review in her chambers those emails about which Lawson is claiming statutory exemption on the basis that disclosing those emails to the public would pose "a reasonable likelihood of threatening public safety by exposing a vulnerability to terrorist attack."

Lawson [pictured above with her newly purchased unverifiable computer voting systems] served as President of NASS from 2017 to 2018. She falsely testified [PDF] in 2017 before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, that America's "voting machines are not connected to the Internet or networked in any way." That claim has been proven to be an out and out lie, over and over and again.

Nonetheless, if true, what possible "vulnerability to terrorist attack" could Lawson be referring to? Fein offers his thoughts, and explains why the judge's ruling that "access to public records is an important statutory right," is already a victory in this little known, but potentially very important case.

"The fact that the Indiana Secretary of State has fought so hard to keep these materials private suggests that at least some of them have something that's embarrassing that they don't want the public to see," Fein tells me, suggesting that, "In some cases, the [voting system] companies are either outright bribing or engaging in extremely unethical practices with election officials."

"One of the most essential elements of democracy is a free and fair election. And the free and fair election requires that it be secure and trustworthy...And we have misinformation out there about the security of these systems. When that misinformation is being spread by election officials whose job is supposed to be to spread accurate information and, if anything, tamp down misinformation, then it means that we have a crisis of legitimacy in the election," Fein explains. "What we're hoping through this public records access lawsuit is that, if we can shine a light on the processes by which election officials end up as vehicles for misinformation about the security and reliability of our election systems, then that will provide an opening for reform."

Please tune in for the full conversation, as we cover quite a bit of ground. And, just for the record, Lawson also misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when she insisted under oath that "no votes were changed in 2016." In fact, nobody actually knows one way or another, because nobody ever bothered to check.

Finally today, after yet another hellish week in Trump's America, we close with a smile and a song "celebrating" his under-attended Death Rally last weekend in Tulsa...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Univ. of Arizona infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Purnima Madhivana 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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Admin pretends otherwise as infections spike; Also: SCOTUS divided on Trump subpoenas; Trump, GOP falsely declare 'rigged election' in CA-25...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2020 7:06pm PT  

It was another impossible news day to cover on today's BradCast, but we did our best with two historic hearings happening in D.C. at the very same time and a few special elections around the country just to keep us on busy. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

One hearing was on Capitol Hill and the other was at the U.S. Supreme Court --- or, at least, on the live-streamed telephone conference call that has now replaced traditional in-person oral argument at the actual Court, thanks to the still worsening coronavirus pandemic.

We begin today with the SCOTUS hearing. Two of them, in fact. Both on the attempts by federal and state officials to obtain Donald Trump's financial records stretching back 10 years from before he became President. One case concerns subpoenas from three different U.S. House Committees to Mazars USA, the President's longtime accounting firm, as well as to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One, with whom Trump has done business. The other case is over a subpoena by by the Manhattan District Attorney for many of the same documents and tax records from the same financial institutions. That document demand is part of a state grand jury investigation related to unlawful hush money payoffs Trump gave to two women in advance of the 2016 election, and his convicted lawyer Michael Cohen's allegation that Trump and his companies fraudulently inflated and deflated his net worth when applying for loans or filing taxes.

Trump is not actually a party to the subpoenas, but is suing the financial institutions to prevent them from responding to the lawful subpoenas. To date, he has lost every hearing in the cases in lower Courts, where his lawyers actually argued that a sitting U.S. President could shoot people on 5th Avenue and could not be stopped, arrested or investigated for doing so. While the Justices didn't seem to entertain that argument, several of them, particular the Republican-appointees, seemed to be trying to find a way to help Trump out of this jam. We discuss what seems likely to result in either a split on the two different cases --- with the Court blocking the Congressional subpoenas while allowing the ones in the state criminal investigation in NY --- and/or one or both cases being remanded back to lower courts for a more narrow reconsideration that would likely prevent Trump's tax returns and other financial records from being released in advance of the 2020 election.

As those arguments were playing out today, the heads of Trump's CDC, FDA and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. They did so remotely from their homes, where they are each self-quarantining after recently coming into contact with infected individuals at the White House. One of those individuals was Vice President Mike Pence's Press Secretary who tested positive on Friday, just before Pence appeared at a meeting with food producers in Iowa. As the company CEOs waited for the round-table discussion with Pence to begin, they were asked by an aide to the Vice President to remove their masks! That, despite advice from health officials (including the White House's own), and even though two of the executives run meatpacking plants where thousands of workers have contracted COVID-19. One represents Tyson Foods where more than 1,000 workers --- a third of its workforce --- at a meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa have now tested positive. At least three workers at the plant have died.

Rural counties, especially in the heartland --- many with meatpacking plants and prisons --- are seeing a spike in cases of late, along with metropolitan areas where mostly Republican Governors have begun to prematurely lift stay-at-home orders to try and help the economy recover. An unreleased White House document prepared by the CDC and Department of Homeland Security, obtained by NBC News on Sunday, details hotspots all over the country, with many "red" states and counties seeing huge increases in cases over the past week. For example, last Friday, Arizona saw its largest single-day increase in cases, just about a week after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey began reopening the state.

A separate analysis of infections by the Associated Press today finds increasing cases in many of the same hotspots cited by the unreleased White House document, while noting that thousands of people are now getting sick from COVID-19 at their workplaces, including in recently reopened sectors such as construction workers in Austin, TX. At the same time, health workers continue to be hit especially hard, with more than 28,000 now having tested positive with more than 230 deaths in the industry. That, as well over 81,000 Americans have now been killed by the virus over the past two months.

No doubt, all of this is why Fauci warned Senators today of "really serious" consequences, including "suffering and death that could be avoided", if businesses reopen too soon. "There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control," he cautioned. "Which, in fact, paradoxically would set you back. Not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery because it would almost turn the clock back, rather than going forward."

But Donald Trump has an election to win this November, and it appears no number of dead Americans will get in his way of winning a second term. On that note, it's Election Day in several states today. And Trump was offering a preview of this November by lying over the weekend about today's Special Election for the U.S. House in California's 25th Congressional District. On Saturday, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a memo to House Republicans with an "urgent call to arms", telling them to "raise hell" because Democrats in California were "doing all they can do to steal the election". Naturally, Trump took the lie and ran with it, tweeting about the addition of an extra in-person polling place for early voting over the weekend in a diverse part of the District, opened at the request of the city's REPUBLICAN Mayor!

Trump falsely claimed the polling place was added by the state's Republican Governor Gavin Newsom. (It wasn't, it was added by L.A. County --- at the request OF THE REPUBLICAN MAYOR who, while supporting the Republican in the race, was furious there was no polling place within his city's boundaries.) Trump falsely declared a "Rigged Election!" and lied to his Twitter followers that the election "was supposed to be mail in ballots only". That is also untrue. For the record, last Friday, Newsom did announce that every registered voter in the state would be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot for the November Presidential election. The move is said to be for safety reasons due to the pandemic --- the pandemic which Trump originally ignored, made much worse, and is now pretending to be over.

Finally today, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report, as the Administration reopens national parks despite the growing risks of coronavirus; as tax-payers are forced to pay for cleaning up old wells of bankrupted oil companies; and as France offers an airline bailout in exchange for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Now there's an idea...

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Guest: Slate's legal and justice reporter Dahlia Lithwick; Also: Pence Press Sec., Stephen Miller's wife, tests positive for coronavirus...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2020 6:54pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: This week the Republican's stolen U.S Supreme Court took a huge step forward toward public transparency by live-streaming their oral arguments for the first time in history. No, it wasn't on video. It was via telephonic conference call. But one step at a time, I guess. There's something, anyway, to thank the coronavirus for. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We're joined today by Slate's Supreme Court legal expert and justice reporter DAHLIA LITHWICK to discuss the first-ever oral arguments by phone for the Court and the first to be broadcast live to the nation. It was also the week when the nation's heart skipped a beat or two for a short time upon learning that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been "hospitalized with an infection". Turns out the infection was thankfully not COVID-19, but a gallbladder matter which left the 87-year old Justice able to participate in the week's historic telephonic arguments from her hospital bed in Maryland.

"It reminds us," Lithwick says, "pinning all of our hopes on an octogenarian...is a pretty scary way to be doing justice. But in a really profound way, it kind of reminds us that the people who are getting shredded by this virus are that generation" and "It does make you realize how unbelievably susceptible the bulk of the Supreme Court is right now."

Beyond that, Lithwick, who hosts her own Slate podcast, AMICUS, sees this week's live broadcasted SCOTUS hearings as an encouraging step toward transparency for a Court that has been frustratingly camera shy. She also cautions, however, that the live broadcasts allowing Americans to hear how our laws are adjudicated at the nation's highest court in real time may not last after the pandemic subsides.

However, the week's historic hearings went well enough, she reports, even if the structure required to carry out oral argument by conference call necessarily changed the way in which cases have traditionally been argued in person, as Justices were not able to interrupt each other to press various arguments as they have always done --- and even as someone on the call forgot to mute their phone during a toilet flush heard during one of the first day's hearings.

Yes, we get to the straight poop on who may have been behind "the flush heard round the world" today, before turning to the substance of the actual cases heard before the Court. One was a fairly straightforward case on trademarks. Another was a much less simple one on whether religious groups and even private businesses have their religious rights infringed by being allowed to opt out of the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Yes, plaintiffs in this case --- including the Little Sisters of the Poor, a small group of nuns in Pennsylvania --- argue that being allowed to opt out of having their insurance provider offer contraceptive care to their employees somehow violates their religious and "moral" freedoms (whatever "moral" freedoms may be.)

We also discuss how the Court has selectively decided which of the many previously postponed cases from March and April (cancelled until the Justices figured out how to dial a telephone) would be rescheduled for this session versus the next one, where opinions will not come out until well after the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We then move on to an important (if too brief) conversation about how rightwingers seem to misunderstand the actual meaning of their favorite words "freedom" and "liberty", as invoked by the slave-holding founders of our Constitution. That, as anti-lockdown protesters haul semi-automatic rifles into state legislatures to demand the lifting of stay-at-home restrictions, shoot people who ask them to follow the law by wearing face masks inside stores, cite "tyranny" and invoke Japanese internment camps (as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice recently did) and call for the "LIBERATION" of states with Democratic Governors (as the President of the United States recently did.)

In her most recent column on this point, Lithwick flagged an essay by Ibram X. Kendi at the Atlantic which speaks to the "long-standing difference between core notions of what he calls freedom to and freedom from". The latter is seemingly being pushed out of the public square in favor of the former.

We discuss what Lithwick describes as "the movement out there that says, 'I don't have to wear a mask,' 'I have a Constitutional right to carry a gun into the capitol,' those are 'freedom to' values, but they subordinate huge masses of people who actually want to be free from those very things. These are a lot of the same arguments that people make about the Second Amendment. That they want to be free to parade around a restaurant, open carrying, and they don't realize that freedom for a lot of Americans is freedom from the terror of that act."

"I think that is a really emblematic new trend, where we're seeing these religious claims that say my freedom to X somehow subordinates and dominates your freedom to, in the Little Sisters context, have access to a statutory entitlement to contraception. My freedom to X, discriminate against people that I don't want to bake a wedding cake for, somehow is more important than your freedom from discrimination based on any identifiable class," Lithwick tells me. "I think this is a tension that is permeating how the courts are looking at a lot of values."

"It probably goes without saying, but let's go ahead and say it --- that it does seem as though if you are a straight, white Christian male, you have a lot of 'freedom to'. Even now, if you are protesting in the capitol in Michigan, if you're a white guy with a gun, your freedom to XYZ is predominant. And if you are an African-American out for a jog, your freedom from being executed summarily doesn't seem to matter. So I think part of the problem with this thumb on the scale for "freedom to" claimants is that it's not distributed equally across race, class, gender, or economic well-being."

Please tune in for that conversation --- and/or read Lithwick and Xendi at the links above --- for more than I have space or time to break down here for the moment on that important discussion.

Finally today, some quick news, an update, and some listener mail. The news is about the coronavirus working its way into the White House via Donald Trump's personal valet who tested positive this week and via Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, who tested positive today. After being in close contact with Pence and members of the press, it should also be noticed that Miller is married to Trump's Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, who is in close regular contact with the President of the United States. Will we see a change in the Administration's rush to reopen the country long before health experts say it is safe to do so if COVID begins to find its way into the White House --- and, perhaps, even the Oval Office?

The update is on the decision by Arizona's Health Department to reverse its cancellation earlier this week of the work by state university scientists on COVID-19 modelling.

And the listener mail regards a local postmaster who says he's decided to retire earlier than planned after "hatred" directed at his staff "by the segment of our town who watch Fox News" who are now "yelling" at Postal Workers for wearing masks on the job. Yes, it's an insane way to end another insane week in these "United" States of America...

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Guest: Mayor Louie Bonaguidi; Also: Infection, death rate rising across country as Admin plans to shut task force; Trump throws tantrum over ad by Republicans; USDA does something right...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rural America is under siege from the coronavirus, as the Mayor of one of the hardest hit small towns in the nation joins us to explain how they are coping with the massive outbreak and an unprecedented lockdown barring all traffic into the town. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

Vice President Mike Pence announced today that the White House Coronavirus Task Force may be disbanded within the month, due to the "tremendous progress we've made as a country." Actual reality, however --- as represented by statistics, health experts and scientists --- suggests otherwise. For example, a new analysis from Associated Press today finds that, with the New York metro area removed from the statistics, the rate of both infections and deaths across the country are increasing, not decreasing. Another study from the Kaiser Family Foundation also finds that infection and death rates, particularly in rural areas, are spiking. Infection numbers are up in recent days by 115% and the COVID death rate has jumped 169% in rural areas, with many of the worst outbreaks occurring in states where Republican Governors are now foolishly relaxing stay-at-home restrictions and allowing business to reopen prematurely. The increasing numbers are in line with private calculations from the CDC and FEMA obtained yesterday by the New York Times.

Despite all of that, Donald Trump declared today that "It's time to open it up. ... Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open." Opening the country prematurely is likely to costs tens of thousands of lives, but Trump has a re-election to worry about, after all.

Right now, one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the nation is happening in Gallup, New Mexico, in the rural western part of the state bordering the Navajo Nation, the country's largest Indian reservation. "As of Sunday," the Times reports today, "the Navajo Nation had reported a total of 2,373 cases and 73 confirmed deaths from the virus." The infection rate in the area is the third-highest of any metropolitan area in the U.S., following only New York City and Marion, Ohio, where there is a mass outbreaks in a large prison cluster. Over the weekend, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked, for the first time in state history, the state's Riot Control Act. That has locked down the entire city, including the closure of all roads leading in to the town of 22,000 where the virus, she said "is running amok".

We're joined today by Gallup's MAYOR LOUIE BONAGUIDI, who was sworn into office just five days ago. When I joked about his trial by fire upon becoming Mayor, he quipped: "In fact, the Governor called me and said, 'Congratulations on your win. But, then again, I have to tell you we're locking down your city.'" Nonetheless, Bonaguidi, as well as former Mayor Jackie McKinney and Navajo Nation tribal President Jonathan Nez, all support the extreme measure that includes city, state and county police as well as National Guardsman blocking exits off the freeway and smaller roads into the town from the Navajo Nation, where, on the first of the month, thousands flood into the city for supplies.

"We had to do something," he tells me, in explaining the reasons for the "drastic" action. "The numbers are unbelievable. Between thirty and fifty thousand people come into the community. That's a major influx. We're thinking to ourselves, well, if the virus is here, then they're going to be taking it home to their families. So that's one of the reasons we thought maybe we'd better do it now. We'd better stop it on the first of the month when all of these people are coming into the community."

Bonaguidi says, however, that the community has been very supportive of the roadblocks, bringing drinks, water and food to the officers. A lack of water, however, is perhaps one of the reasons for the outbreak in McKinney County that, by itself, accounts for 30% of the state's infections. Much of the tribal reservation still lacks running water --- a new waterline is under construction, but will take years to be completed --- so careful hygiene amid the epidemic is not easy for many in the Native American community.

The Mayor explains that their two local hospitals are now at capacity and a local high school was converted into a hospital with the help of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. They do not have enough masks or sanitizer, he tells me, and the slow pace of receiving test results has made things much more difficult. "The sad part about it is the tests take so long. They take two, two-and-a-half days before they get back to you whether you're positive or negative. If the tests were quicker, we could get a handle on this virus. But it really makes it rough when you have to wait that long. ... I understand there are faster tests coming out, but we definitely have not been able to get enough of them. There are 70,000 people in the county, and they've basically only tested about 6,000 at this point."

Bonaguidi cautions that many in his community and others around the state and country are not taking the threat seriously enough. "We're doing everything we can. And the Governor has gone way out of her way for us here. It's too bad we had to be as drastic as we are. But, if anything, it's going to get the awareness out to the rest of the communities --- rural, for that matter --- that it's a serious situation, and we've got to address it."

When I ask what, if anything, the rest of us in the country can do to help, he told me: "We're all in this together. The whole world is fighting a virus, and there's just so little known about it. We're doing whatever we can to curb it, to stop it. I guess we can ask for your prayers, if anything."

UPDATE 5/6/2020: The Mayor's office sent along these link to groups that are helping the residents of Gallup and McKinley County right now and welcome your support!...

The Community Pantry: Making sure families in McKinley and Cibola Counties are getting food, with on-site pick up and deliveries.
Life is Sacred (arm of the Knights of Columbus): Donations here go toward food boxes that are delivered across neighboring reservations.
Southwest Indian Foundation: Donations support the purchase of clothing, water barrels, school supplies, masks, cleaning supplies and more.

Also on today's program: Apparently Trump is really really REALLY upset by a new :60 second ad called "Mourning in America" from The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans touting his disastrous and deadly failures in response to the crisis. And the USDA finally invokes their 1930s-era authority that allows for food purchases to help both farmers and people in need after millions of tons of fresh food and milk has been dumped by food producers unable to sell it to schools, restaurants and other facilities that have been shut down due to the crisis.

While that bailout actually helps both the industry and regular Americans in desperate need of food, the Administration's secretive big bailout for Big Oil is another matter all together, as Desi Doyen reports in our latest Green News Report to close out today's show...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks on that and new evidence of 2016 GA hack; Also: Coronavirus fears, failures and recommendations...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If you think the coronavirus is worrisome now, just wait until voters in jurisdictions where they are forced to vote on unverifiable --- and germy --- TOUCHSCREEN computers start putting two and two together before Election Day. Not that the election officials who insisted on such an idiotic idea ever gave much of a damn about their voters, as our guest today makes abundantly clear. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First today, however, another sign that Republicans should almost certainly be in very big trouble this November. But, of course, that requires voters be able to vote in a way that the public can know their votes were tabulated as per voter intent (not possible on a touchscreen voting system of ANY type.) The trouble for the GOP could get even worse, however, depending on the Administration's handling of the expanding coronavirus crisis. That response does not seem to be going well, so far. The Dow plummeted another 1,200 points on Thursday, due to investor fears of a global pandemic, resulting in the sixth straight day of losses and the worst week for the markets since October, 2008 --- the height of that year's global financial crisis.

But Donald Trump is finally on the job! He surprised the man who had been in charge of the government's response to the epidemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, by announcing that Vice President Mike Pence would now be the Administration's point man on the matter. Azar was informed at the same time as the rest of us, when Trump announced the news at a press conference on Wednesday evening as Azar was standing next to him.

As to Pence having "a certain talent for this", as Trump announced at the presser, Pence's record as Indiana Governor in 2015, when he presided over the worst HIV outbreak in state history, strongly suggests otherwise. Still, as Desi Doyen joins us to point out today, none of this is reason to panic. It is reason, however, to take a few simple measures to keep you and your family safe, and Desi offers some helpful tips toward that goal.

All of this is also just one more reminder as to why this dangerous menace of an Administration must be replaced as soon as legally possible. To that end, there are reasons to be concerned about the integrity of several upcoming primary elections, not to mention this November's critical general election. Saturday's crucial South Carolina primary will require all state voters to use brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreens made by a company with a long history of election failures. The March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, just three days later, will see voters in California, Texas, and North Carolina, among other states, forced to use new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen voting systems for the first time.

Meanwhile, in the battleground state of Georgia, where a federal judge last year ordered the state's nearly twenty-year old, failed, unsecure Diebold touchscreen systems to be scrapped and replaced, the Republican Sec. of State has now mandated that every county use all-new, unverifiable touchscreens made by the Canadian firm, Dominion Voting, for the upcoming March 24 primaries in the Peach State. That, instead of a simpler, safer, cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems.

We're joined today for a long-overdue visit from MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the invaluable Coalition for Good Governance, the lead plaintiff in the federal case that resulted in the decertification of GA's old touchscreen systems. And we've got a LOT of NEWS to catch up on with her today! Her group is also suing in federal court to block the new systems as well and filed this week, in state court, to block their use in a runoff election on March 3rd, given that the huge, brightly-lit touchscreens, as Marks explains, violate voter privacy by allowing others, from all the way across the precinct, to see the "secret ballot" of every voter!

She says "the outrageous way people are being required to vote in Georgia" is "disgusting" and "insidious". The new lawsuit [PDF] notes the new touchscreens (pictured above) are 22 inches high and 14 inches across. "It's very, very brightly lit with incredibly huge fonts. You can see across the room --- from thirty feet away --- you can see what candidate someone is voting for. So there is absolutely no ballot secrecy at all. Anybody in the room, you can see their ballot choices. The press can see it, the public can see it, the pollworkers can see it, their neighbors can see it, their minister, their doctor, their landlord, their boss. Everybody is voting essentially in public!," Marks says.

Marks watched "hundreds of people vote on this" while poll watching at last November's trial first run of the systems during a small municipal election and says, "we just turned our eyes when they get to the place that they're pressing the choice for their candidate, because we can see it from thirty, forty feet away. Everybody talks about it!" The mind-boggling design flaw, she explains, violates state law, and she details what the state court is expected to do about it.

But that's not all we catch up on today regarding the fight to vote verifiably (and secretly) in the state. Marks reports on the current state investigation underway by the GA Sec. of State into both her and Georgia Tech computer professor and voting systems expert Rich DeMillo (also a recurring BradCast guest) for, essentially, having the temerity to investigate concerns about the voting systems in Georgia. Marks explains the ongoing probe and what Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office is accusing her and DeMillo of doing. She calls it "completely absurd", adding "of course it is all retaliation. ... It is nothing but an attempt to try to marginalize the efforts of experts and successful activists. And to discourage others."

But, while all of that may be mind-blowing, it may be nothing compared to the new revelations recently uncovered by the expert hired by the Coalition to carry out a forensic investigation of GA's central computer server for its old system. As listeners may recall, data researcher Logan Lamb discovered before the 2016 Presidential election that GA's main election server for the entire state --- including the state's voter registration database, programming for all ballots statewide, and administrative passwords to its voting system --- were discovered to have been sitting on a web server for download by anyone, no password necessary, for at least six months (and probably much longer) before the 2016 Presidential election in which it was thought possible that Georgia might finally flip to "blue".

That researcher, Logan Lamb, alerted authorities about the data's vulnerability. As thanks, he was reported to the FBI by then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp, as a potential hacker. He wasn't. But he has now been hired by the Coalition as an expert to examine the now-retired server in question. And, last month, according to AP, he made a startling discovery while examining a mirror image of the 2016 server, which was finally turned over by the state in December of 2019. Lamb found evidence that the server may have been hacked by someone who took advantage of a bug that provided full control of the server. Moreover, he found that all of the system's log files --- which would detail all actions taken on the server --- had been wiped out up until November 10, 2016, two days after that year's Presidential election...for some reason. Now why would that be?

We discuss all of that and MUCH more in another jaw-dropping, must-listen segment today with Marks, including our shared embarrassment that in both of our own home counties (she's in Mecklenburg County, NC, the state's most populous and diverse, and I'm in L.A. County, the largest in CA and even the country) elections officials have instituted new, unverifiable touchscreens for the 2020 elections, set for first time use in both counties next week on Super Tuesday!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report after CBS ignored climate change in Tuesday night's Democratic Presidential Debate in South Carolina; a major bank determines that climate change threatens human survival; and another huge oil refinery blows up, this time in Southern California...

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Guest: Roosevelt University political scientist David Faris...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2020 6:00pm PT  

While it seemed impossible previously, Republicans in the U.S. Senate appear to have outdone their phony confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in late 2018, with their sham Impeachment "trial" of Donald John Trump. As we went to air for today's BradCast, the Senate was preparing to vote on whether witnesses would be blocked from a Senate Impeachment Trial for the first time in U.S. History. By the time we got off air, the shameful, dirty deed was done. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The day of the fateful vote began with yet another explosive piece of breaking news from the New York Times, reporting that Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton's forthcoming book charges that "More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents" Trump directed Bolton "to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton." Moreover, the paper reports, Bolton describes an Oval Office conversation on the matter in early May of 2019 "that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense."

Yes, that's right. The Trump attorney now leading his defense in the Senate trial, who has accused Democratic House Managers of "hiding the facts" in their arguments in favor of two Articles of Impeachment against Trump, is now allegedly a co-conspirator in the very plot that resulted in only the third impeachment of a U.S. President in history. Little wonder they'd prefer to have no witnesses testify.

Bolton has stated he would be willing to testify in the trial, as has Lev Parnas, a right-hand man to Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer at the center of the scheme to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations of Joe Biden before Trump would agree to a White House meeting or release $391 million in military assistance to war torn Ukraine. On Friday morning, Parnas' attorney submitted a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, explaining his client's willingness to testify at the trial with relevant information that alleges Trump, Mulvaney, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devon Nunes and many others worked on Trump's plot to force Ukraine to help him undermine the 2020 Presidential election. So, yes, as Gordon Sondland said weeks ago, "everyone was in the loop. So, yeah, no witnesses please and thanks.

Despite all of that astonishing news --- and all that has come before it --- by the end of today's program, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 51 to 49, would vote to block subpoenas for all witnesses and documents in the Impeachment Trial, for the first time in U.S. history. Only two Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, were willing to cross the aisle to vote with all 47 Democrats to call for witnesses. We discuss the pathetic excuses offered by supposedly "moderate" GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and the retiring Lamar Alexander of Tennessee for voting against witnesses. That vote now paves the way for an acquittal vote for the President. One of the few remaining questions by show's end was when that vote may come. As of this hour, it may now happen next Wednesday, the day after the President's State of the Union Address on Tuesday night --- but we'll see.

Another major question of note is what price, if any, Republicans may ultimately pay for what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described after the vote as the GOP's act of "perfidy...where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, turned away from truth, and went along with a sham trial." With "no witnesses and no documents", he described the proceedings as "not a real trial" and "a tragedy on a grand scale."

We're joined today by DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of Political Science at Roosevelt University, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty, to discuss today's historic events, and his two most recent columns at The Week, where he is a regular contributor. In one, he finds fault with the House Democrats' strategy of sending over the Articles to the Senate too quickly and, in the other, with McConnell's strategy of blocking witnesses. Faris describes the latter as a "rare blunder" for the Republican leader and explains why. I disagree with him on the latter, as he and I discuss what all of this may now mean for Republicans, for Democrats, for the President and for the voters who will kick off the 2020 Presidential Election in Iowa this coming Monday.

"I don't know that there's anybody who could look at the Senate this week and say that a fair trial happened here," Faris tells me. "What McConnell did was he handed Democrats a bat to beat them with for the next eleven months about the legitimacy of the trial in the Senate."

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Bombshells from Giuliani's right-hand man; GAO says Trump Ukraine scheme unlawful; Senators sworn to 'impartial justice' by SCOTUS Chief; Major design fail found in L.A.'s $300M vote system; L.A. County Clerk finally responds to our coverage...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2020 6:23pm PT  

Really just blockbusters and bombshells from top to bottom on today's BradCast. From historic impeachment proceedings to game-changing disclosures to potentially big legal trouble for L.A.'s imperiled new touchscreen voting system. [Link to complete show is posted below summary.]

First up, the historic Impeach Trial of Donald John Trump got officially under way in the U.S. Senate today, with a solemn oath-taking ceremony administered by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts who will preside over the trial that could determine whether Trump remains President of the United States.

But before we even got there on Thursday, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with its finding that the Trump Administration did, indeed, violate federal law last year when it withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as appropriated by a bipartisan vote of Congress. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the decision says, finding that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act." That matter is at the heart of Trump's impeachment.

But before the GAO findings were released on Thursday morning, or Senators could take their oath to do "impartial justice" as jurors on Thursday afternoon as the impeachment trial began, Rachel Maddow's Wednesday night blockbuster interview on MSNBC with Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born right-hand man to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, shook up just about everything and everybody. Parnas, facing charges of campaign finance violations, sung --- and sung like crazy. On everybody. "Everybody was in the loop," he said.

He claimed Donald Trump knew from the jump about the scheme to strong-arm Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden to help his 2020 reelection bid. So did Vice President Mike Pence, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressman Devin Nunes and even Attorney General William Barr. We share a few clips from Maddow's jaw-dropping scoop of an interview --- with a recommendation that you go check out the whole thing (which is set to have a Part 2 on Thursday night), before we move on to a few blockbusters and bombshells closer to home out here on the west coast.

Earlier in the week, we broke exclusive details on the pending certification of a brand-new, $300,000,000 unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first time use in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest --- in this year's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary elections. As we reported, independent testers hired by the Sec. of State's office to carry out certification testing of the new systems discovered more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards as the Public Comment period for certification of the County's "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system ends this coming Monday. Given the enormous problems with the system set for use in the critical 2020 Presidential election, we have been urging voters to send public comments seeking a HAND-MARK paper ballot system instead of the failed, unverifiable new touchscreen systems, to the Sec. of State at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov.

All the while, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has refused, for months, to respond to our serious questions about the systems or appear on the show. Well, we've got some new news today on all of that, including a potential lawsuit by the City of Beverly Hills, whose City Council, according to LAist's Libby Denkmann, has voted to approve a suit after discovering the effects of a serious design flaw in the system. The new VSAP tablets only display four candidates per race, before a voter must select a "MORE" button to be taken to a second page. That "MORE" button is right next to the "NEXT" button on the tablet voting system. And that "NEXT" button, takes voters to the next race on the ballot without voters ever even seeing the additional candidates in the race. This is a very serious flaw that is likely to cause havoc for candidates whose random positions on the ballot come as Number 5 or higher in any given race, including in the upcoming Presidential primaries. (If I'm Dean Logan today, I am praying that Bernie Sanders doesn't draw the fifth or later position on the March 3rd Democratic ballot!)

That matter is just one of several that Logan has either refused to speak to or has mislead on when I questioned him, or tried to, as I detail on today's program. But, given the noise we've caused over the past several days with this on The BradCast, Logan finally deigned to offer a Twittered response, excoriating our coverage of the certification testing failures. We share his misleading response in full on today's program, along with a number of the serious points that he either failed to respond to at all, or is attempting to mislead the public about in his tweeted answers. (For example, the fact that after a computer-marked ballot has been supposedly "verified" by the voter, it is sent back through the same printer path where it could be changed by the system with no way for the voter to ever know.)

Finally today, as if that's not enough blockbusters for you, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with our special coverage of Tuesday night's 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Des Moines, the last one before voting begins next month, and one in which our climate crisis, at long last, was front and center throughout much of the forum, happily enough...

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

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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2019 4:42pm PT  

It was what many are characterizing today as a "John Dean moment" in the public impeachment hearings of Donald J. Trump. His $1 million donor turned swamp-dwelling Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, dropped some bombshell testimony on Wednesday --- and we do not use that word on The BradCast lightly. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Sondland, who Trump described as "a really good man and great American" as recently as last month, admitted in his blockbuster testimony that the President's scheme to withhold a White House meeting and $391 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the announcement of investigations into his political rivals was, in fact, a "quid pro quo".

Moreover, Sondland tossed a whole bunch of top Trump officials and allies under the bus in the bargain --- including Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and, especially, the President of the United States himself. "Everyone," he said, "was in the loop. It was no secret." He explained that he "followed the directions of the President" when he "worked with Mr. Giuliani" on the Ukraine pressure campaign "because the President directed us to do so." That, barely two months after Steve Doocy of Trump's favorite TV show, Fox & Friends, declared: "If the President said 'I'll give you the money, but you gotta investigate Joe Biden --- that is really off-the-rails wrong."

We were joined once again today, just moments after the Sondland hearing concluded, by our official BradCast partner-in-impeachable-crimes, the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo, with extended explosive excerpts of today's testimony, along with insight and analysis. Our special coverage continues with the remarkable events that transpired on Wednesday in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee's ongoing impeachment proceedings on what may well prove to be an historic day (or the long-awaited beginning of the end?) for the shamefully failed Presidency of Donald J. Trump...

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

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