It was a dark day on Wednesday, but there were a few rays of light that managed to shine through anyway on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]
We'll start here with the grim news. Pipe bombs were discovered to have been sent to perceived political enemies targeted by Donald Trump, including former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and CNN. The explosive devices each appear to have been sent by the same person and follow on a similar one sent to Democratic Party funder George Soros earlier this week. All the intended targets have been widely derided for months, if not years, by Trump, Fox "News" and their many Republican followers.
Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But, as discussed today, the biggest surprise may be how long it has taken for something like this to happen, given the President of the United States --- and his fellow Republicans --- targeting their opponents and the corporate media as the "enemy of the people" with increasingly vitriolic attacks as the midterms approach.
Next up: Tens of thousands of voter registrations were recently rejected by Shelby County (Memphis), Tennessee election officials, with thousands more not yet even processed, even as Early Voting began in the state last week, and the November 6th midterms are now less than two weeks away. Moreover, many of those rejected voters haven't been notified and given a chance to cure the problem, in the very Democratic-leaning, majority-minority county.
The non-partisan Tennessee Black Voter Project, which submitted some 36,000 registration applications in recent months, has threatened the County with legal action. In turn, the County's Republican-led Board of Elections has blamed the Project for turning in a "staggering" number of registrations, many allegedly with what they claim to be errors or missing information. (The group is required to turn in ALL registration forms collected, whether or not they contain either major or minor errors when filled in by prospective voters.)
We're joined today by Shelby County Democratic Party Chair COREY STRONG to explain the hurdles that voting rights advocates there are now actively attempting to overcome, and the history of voter suppression that, he explains, African-American voters in Memphis continue to face this year.
He charges that local officials are disenfranchising minority voters. "We have a history of our Election Commission in Shelby County not necessarily taking it upon themselves to really uphold the values of fair and just elections," he tells me. "If all of the issues end up affecting one side --- the Democratic, urban, poor, minority voters --- then you have to start asking questions, and somebody's got to be held accountable."
The battle on behalf of Shelby County voters comes amidst a reportedly very tight U.S. Senate race between popular Democratic former Governor Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, in the contest to fill the U.S. Senate of retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker. The strongly "blue" county (which went to Clinton by 30 points in 2016 in a state that went to Trump by 25 points) is "very pivotal to statewide elections," Strong explains. In this case, it's central to the state's Senate race as well as Democratic hopes of gaining control of the upper chamber and Republican efforts to hold on to their thin majority.
Strong also discusses concerns about problems during Early Voting, the failure and dangers of electronic pollbooks used across state, and the 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that voters in Memphis are still forced to use to cast their votes at the polling place
But, as noted, we do have a few rays of encouraging news on today's show as well!
On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered an injunction on Georgia's rejection of absentee ballots from disproportionately African-American voters. The rejections are said to be based on ballot signatures that allegedly do not match ones voters' signatures on file. The court found [PDF] voters were being disenfranchised by the scheme that allowed partisan, non-handwriting expert election officials to discard ballots without allowing voters an opportunity to cure any suspected problems on their mail-in ballot envelopes. According to several voting rights groups who sued Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, today's ruling is a big victory amid Kemp's tight race for Governor against African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams.
And, in a bit more good news today, the New York Attorney General, following a three-year investigation, has filed suit against ExxonMobil for an alleged "longstanding fraudulent scheme" to defraud shareholders by publicly downplaying --- and spending millions to deny and confuse the public about --- the serious risks that climate change poses to the company's bottom line. The suit could cost the company hundreds of millions, if not more, and expose Exxon to additional litigation elsewhere. According to the complaint, while publicly claiming concern about global warming as caused by their products in recent years, the company “employed internal practices that were inconsistent with its representations, were undisclosed to investors, and exposed the company to greater risk from climate change regulation than investors were led to believe"...
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