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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Seeing the (Burning) Forest for the (Giant) Trees: 'BradCast' 9/20/21
Guest: Dr. Christy Brigham, chief science officer at Sequoia National Park; Also: Late COVID news, democracy news, and callers...
Sunday 'End of the Roe' Toons
PDiddie's latest, timely, not-yet-banned collection of the week's best political toons...
It's The Fox 'News', Stupid! (Or, How a Fake News
Channel Broke America):
'BradCast' 9/17/21
Guest: Kevin Drum; Also: Catastrophic heat; Fires threaten Sequoia's 3,000-yr old giants...
Whitehouse Presses Wray on FBI Whitewash of Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Probe: 'BradCast' 9/16/21
Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; Unvaxxed surging hospital death panels...
'Green News Report' 9/16/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nicholas adds insult to injury in LA; Biden continues urgent climate action pitch; States hold plastic producers accountable; PLUS: VT latest to sue fossil fuel giants for lies...
Previous GNRs: 9/14/21 - 9/9/21 - Archives...
NEWSOM WINS LANDSLIDE, GOP'S CA RECALL FAILS: 'BradCast' 9/15/21
Guest: The Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' mandates hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
Repubs Threaten 'War' Over CA Recall and COVID, Dems Threaten Voting Rights for All: 'BradCast' 9/14/21
Elder's fraud lies; Dems' awesome new election bill; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust'...
'Green News Report' 9/14/21
Nicholas drowns Gulf Coast; Biden urges Congress to move on climate infrastructure; EPA protects drinking water; PLUS: Another nail in Pebble Mine's coffin...
Last Call Before Perils, Security Dangers of CA Recall Election: 'BradCast' 9/13/21
Also: No, we weren't 'united' after 9/11. My 'Presidential Speech', written 20 years ago this week. Plus: Callers...
Sunday 'Not Forgetting' Toons
PDiddie's latest, memorable collection of the week's best toons...
CA SoS Asks Election Experts to be 'Cheerleaders' for Recall Election Security Procedures: 'BradCast' 9/10/21
Guests: Emily Levy, Jim Soper; Also: GOP freakout over Biden vaccine mandate...
Thanks for the Death Panels, Anti-Vaxxers!:
'BradCast' 9/9/21
Hospitals now rationing healthcare as Delta surges, even among kids (as DeSantis tries to kill them); Better news in AK; Good jobs numbers; DoJ sues TX; More...
'Green News Report' 9/9/21
Biden presses infrastructure resilience after deadly Ida's devastation; Mindy forms and slams FL in mere hours; PLUS: World finally ends use of leaded gas...
'Too Much Hubris': CA Recall Officials Dismiss Experts' Warning After Software Theft: 'BradCast' 9/8/21
Guest: Dr. Duncan Buell; Also: Trump probe in GA; Pillow Guy is really REALLY stupid...
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: Dr. Christy Brigham, chief science officer at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks; Also: Late breaking COVID news, democracy news, and callers...
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2021 6:30pm PT  

Today's BradCast is a bit of a grab bag of late updates on stories we've been covering, new breaking news of the day, a fantastic guest from on the ground amid massive wildfires in and near Sequoia National Park and listeners calling in with thoughts about all of the above. [Audio link to the full show follows this summary.]

First up today, just before we get to our guest, a bit of a rant about the not-in-the-least-"conservative" Republicans and rightwingers who forced taxpayers to spend millions to defend the U.S. Capitol from domestic terrorists during Trump's dumb, failed "Justice for J6" rally over the weekend. That's the same not-conservative Republican Party who just forced California tax-payers to cough up nearly $300 million for a sore loser do-over Gubernatorial recall election, where the Governor appears to have received a higher percentage of the vote than he did the first time he ran in 2018, and almost the exact same percentage of the vote by which Joe Biden trounced Donald Trump in the state in 2020. (Little wonder, with California now having the lowest COVID infection rate in the nation, and creating jobs at three times the national rate! Thank you, Governor Newsom! After months of being told by rightwing media --- and non-rightwing media alike --- that the popular governor was unpopular, we hope you'll keep that in mind as the media churns out a similar narrative right now about President Biden.)

Next, we pick up on a breaking story we covered first on Friday's show, as massive wildfires were then encroaching about a mile from the world's oldest and largest tree, known as "General Sherman", one of many majestic, awe-inspiring giants in Sequoia National Park that are as old as 3,000 years, stand as tall as 250 feet, and as wide as 100 feet around at their base.

That tree and thousands of others are being defended right now in the park from fires that have already scorched hundreds of square miles in the national forest, with many of the trees being wrapped, one-by-one in fire-resistant blanketing at their base. We're joined for the latest on this active, potentially unspeakable tragedy by DR. CHRISTY BRIGHAM, Chief of resources management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which are located about 3 and a half hours north of Los Angeles on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Despite the threats of at least three different, major, converging fires, Brigham reports today that "the news so far is quite good." She explains that "the fire has burned into Giant Forest, but because of five decades of prescribed burning in that forest, the fire really laid down and is not progressing rapidly in the grove." She describes seeing "great fire behavior in that grove, the kind of fire that sequoias like." That new is "quite good," indeed!

In fact, the reason Sequoia's trees are so old and enormous is due to natural, fire-resistant tannins in the bark, which can be as thick as 12 inches. But after decades (centuries!) of fires, holes in the base of the bark can allow fire into the tree, which can kill it. Brigham also explains how climate change is now "at the root of this problem," resulting in fires and dryness the likes of which we've "never seen before in recorded history, or even deep history looking at fire scars."

This, she says, "has changed everything in terms of how we fight wildfire and keep it out of these sequoia groves if we can." Citing more than 10% of the world's giant sequoias that were lost in one single fire in the area last year, Brigham notes four groves of giants have burned in recent days, but that they've yet to be able to get to in order to survey the damage. "Fingers crossed that we won't see terrible outcomes, but we've got a long way to go with this fire still burning, and still threatening a number of groves."

Next up, a number of stories breaking today, including the U.S. easing pandemic travel restrictions on foreign visitors by mandating that they must prove they are fully vaccinated and have been tested within three days of traveling to the U.S., and another related-ish story on Pfizer finding that the use of its COVID vaccine is effective for children between the ages of 4 and 11. The FDA will review their application for emergency authorization in the next few weeks.

We're certain that even COVID vaccine opponents don't want unvaccinated foreign travelers flying into the U.S., right? So, surely they support the Biden Administration's new travel guidelines, right? And, like all of the other vaccines mandated for public school children, the same folks almost certainly support kids being vaccinated amid a deadly pandemic, now featuring a huge Delta variant spike in pediatric infections and deaths, right?

We open the phones today to listeners on all of those topics and more. Please tune in, won't you?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Kevin Drum of Mother Jones; Also: U.N. warns current pledges to cut emissions not enough to avoid catastrophic warming; Wildfires now threaten world's largest, 3,000 year old trees at Sequoia National Park...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2021 6:27pm PT  

As we discuss on today's BradCast, our current days of political rage and divisiveness, now a very clear and present danger to the survival of American democracy itself, didn't come nowhere. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first today, before we get to our burning country, a few news items on our burning globe. The U.N. warned on Friday that current pledges from the nations of the world to cut emissions will not be enough to stave off cataclysmic global warming by century's end. In California, meanwhile, we're seeing disaster play out already. The majestic, 3,000 year old giant trees of Sequoia National Park may not even make it through the weekend. The world's largest tree, a tourist favorite at the park known as General Sherman, and others like it are now literally being wrapped in tinfoil-like blankets as wildfires rage just about one mile from the historic and beloved grove as of airtime.

Of course, if we can't even get our own country to come together to fight against the clear and present existential threat of climate change, one wonders how hundreds of nations will be able to do so to save the planet. On the other hand, worsening political divisiveness --- and insanity --- in this country plays no small role in our failure to lead the world in that fight for humanity itself.

But how did the U.S. arrive at this harrowing political moment? One where more Republicans (75%) than Democrats (46%) believe democracy itself is under attack? Given that Republicans literally attacked the U.S. Capitol, the seat of American democracy, in a violent effort to prevent Congress from carrying out its most solemn, democratic Constitutional duty of certifying a Presidential election just months ago, there is no small irony in the new polling finding that it's those on the Right, even more than the Left, who have somehow been made to believe democracy is under attack.

Where would they get such a seemingly upside-down notion? "With every passing day, it looks less like we have one nation divided by differing political beliefs and more like we have two warring countries battling each other within shared borders," writes author David Rothkopf today in a lengthy, intriguing (and maddening) Twitter thread. "One side represents and seeks to preserve the United States. The other seeks to destroy it."

A fascinating, exhaustive, 6,000-word investigative essay published in this month's Mother Jones magazine on "The Real Source of America's Rising Rage", written by our guest today, longtime blogger KEVIN DRUM of Jabberwocking.com, looks at what the data reveal about the madness of this political moment and how and why we arrived at it.

"I started looking at when did this start? Because that's critical," Drum tells me on today's show. "When did people really start getting so angry? On a whole range of topics, the year 2000 --- give or take a few years --- kept coming up, over and over and over. And the most important way it came up, I thought, was if you take a look at trust in government. We all know that that's been going down --- people trust government less. But if you look at the data, it was pretty flat from about 1980 or so to 2000. And then, starting around 2000 or so, it started going down, down, down to only 20% who now say they have any trust in government, and it stayed there."

"What happened around the year 2000 that could have caused this?," he wondered, as he read through study after study. What happened since that time to cause such a sea change among Americans? Was it the rise and spread of conspiracy theories? Has social media or talk radio sent us over the edge? Or have things really gotten worse in America on the many grievances those on the Right often cite, such as crime, taxes, the economy, inequality, immigration or race?

After spending several years combing through data and theories, Drum finds, while some of those things certainly play a role, none of them are actually the poison that that has brought the nation to the seeming brink of political collapse. He explains how both data and history prove it, and how the real answer has been lying in plain sight for the past twenty years. It's the Fox 'News', stupid!

And, by the way, if Fox is the problem, what might be the solution? We discuss that a bit on today's enlightening program as well...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; COVID crisis creating hospital death panels as the voluntarily unvaxxed killing themselves and others...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2021 6:10pm PT  

If there's one guy you really don't want vowing to dog you, it may be Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, easily one of the most persistent Senators in the upper chamber. If you're Trump's FBI Director or, especially, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that's probably not good news. But it's just one of the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Here's a quick summary of many more of them...

  • No, the disappearance of 350,000 votes from CNN's California Recall Election Night live ticker is not proof that it was stolen. Especially when there is a perfectly plausible (and checkable) explanation for it.
  • After the well-publicized testimony of U.S. gymnasts in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, regarding the FBI's years-long failure to adequately investigate hundreds of allegations of sexual assault against now-convicted team physician Larry Nassar, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse had a few related questions for Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray about another similarly flubbed investigation --- perhaps more accurately described as a Trump Administration/FBI cover-up --- regarding serious allegations of sexual assault against a young girl by a now sitting Supreme Court Justice. After alleged sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's second nominee to be packed onto the U.S. Supreme Court by Republicans, Whitehouse vowed to Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's main accuser, that he would get to the bottom of the FBI's clearly whitewashed pre-confirmation "background check" probe of Kavanaugh. It's three years later and Whitehouse has not forgotten. As he explained while pressing Wray during Wednesday's hearing, he has been waiting all of that time for answers and documents from the FBI. He made clear to Wray that he will not stop until he gets them. As evidenced by his nearly ten years of weekly "Time to Wake Up" climate addresses on the floor of the U.S. Senate, the Rhode Island Senator does not back down easily.
  • The COVID pandemic continues to worsen in the U.S., with no end in sight. That, of course, thanks to the voluntarily unvaccinated. Hospitals across the entire state of Idaho are now rationing care under "critical care standards" that allow them to try and save the lives of those most likely to survive, while offering comfort and best wishes to those unlikely to make it. Similar "death panels" are now in place or "imminent" in other states with similarly low vaccination rates, mostly run by Trumpy, denialist, Republican Governors. While the vast majority of those paying the worst price are the unvaccinated, their selfishness comes at an unspeakable to cost to many who are vaccinated, as we detail today. Those include the Alabama man who died last week in Mississippi after his Trump Country Alabama hospital had to call 43 hospitals before finding one, 200 miles away, that could give him care; the Illinois woman with a comorbidity who died after becoming infected with a breakthrough COVID case after visiting a family friend in Mississippi whose husband had died in the state with one of the lowest vaccine uptake rates; the man in Hawaii who remains in excruciating pain today, because he can't get a non-emergency operation for kidney stones due to lack of oxygen supply for all but COVID patients on all of the islands. Yes, the voluntarily (and selfishly) unvaccinated continue to bring pain, harm, sadness and death to far more people than just themselves...which is already bad enough.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, featuring news on Nicholas, the latest storm to make landfall in our latest record hurricane season, exacerbating recovery in Louisiana, where folks are just beginning to recover from Hurricane Ida the week before last; Biden's continuing push for his landmark climate infrastructure plan; States now beginning to hold plastic producers to account for their pollution; and Vermont stepping up as the latest state to sue fossil fuel giants for decades of deadly lies about climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: The American Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' will mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2021 6:19pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: It takes a lot of chutzpah --- and plenty of confidence that corporate media is too cowed to call you out for it --- to continue calling your party a "conservative" one, after forcing state taxpayers to waste almost $300 million to run a special Recall Election that ends with almost the exact same results as the last time Republicans tried to defeat the popular Democratic Governor in an election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, yeah, that's what happened on Tuesday. With about three quarters of the vote now tabulated in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has clearly crushed the GOP's attempted Recall Election in California --- by a mile. As of now, the vote to keep the Governor in office is ahead by about 28 points, or 64% to 36%. That's almost the same margin by which President Biden annihilated Donald Trump in the state in 2020, and slightly smaller than Newsom first term victory in 2018. (Though the results may still widen for Newsom before all is said and done with the processing of late Vote-by-Mail ballots and Provisionals over the next few weeks.)

The Governor, who will face a normal reelection contest in just over a year, offered brief remarks after media called the race on Tuesday night. "'No' is not the only thing that was expressed tonight," Newsom told supporters. "I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic."

Along with a laundry list of rights and freedoms that progressive California voters "said yes" to, in contrast to the rightwingers hoping to end public health mandates and more, Newsom also noted the state "said yes to people's right to vote without fake fraud or voter suppression."

On Monday, the day before the Recall --- before any results were known at all --- the GOP's top candidate, far-right radio talk show host Larry Elder, unveiled a "Stop CA Fraud" website demanding a special session of the state legislature be convened to "investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election." That would have been unknown results, at the time, which he disingenuously charged included "improperly formed ballots"; "instances of undocumented ballots"; and "statistical analyses [that] have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor." Without such a special session --- presumably at an even higher "conservative" cost to taxpayers --- Elder's campaign threatened use of the "ammo-box."

Hours after most media outlets had called the race for Newsom on Tuesday night --- after Fox "News" had quickly pulled down all of their Election Night incoming results numbers in order to pretend there had been no election at all that day --- Elder finally conceded and encouraged supporters to be "gracious in defeat". But, after lying about "fraud" in the election and threatening use of the "ammo-box", he should receive zero credit for those remarks. He then pledged that, though he "may have lost the battle, we are going to win the war."

We're joined today by longtime Editor of The American Prospect, former Editor of L.A. Weekly and frequent Los Angeles Times contributor HAROLD MEYERSON. We discuss whatever lessons may be learned from the Recall for both Democrats and Republicans in the state, as well as across the nation, as we head into next year's mid-term elections and, as Meyerson writes at The Prospect today, "the California GOP has gone down the same rathole as the rest of the Trumpified horde."

"They're saying Larry Elder is now the dominant figure in the California Republican Party," Meyerson observes, regarding GOP hopes for a rematch against Newsom next year. "If you want your party leader, your standard bearer, your best electoral prospect to come into the next race trailing by four to five million votes --- okay! Take it away!"

We also discuss why and how California's 100-year old, once well-intentioned progressive Recall and Ballot Initiative process needs to be overhauled in the state, where it should have been done by Democrats years ago.

Finally, in a BradCast with way more good news than we are accustomed to these days, more good news on the Senate Democrats' newly unveiled election reform compromise bill known as the "Freedom to Vote Act". We summarized the wildly encouraging key points of the new bill, crafted by eight Senate Dems including Joe Manchin, on yesterday's program. But, we didn't have the legislative text at the time to report on whether the summary's promise of "Voter-Verified Paper Ballots," would truly offer the long-overdue right to a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters across the country, or whether the legislation would offer gaping holes on that point, as the Dems' otherwise excellent For the People Act --- on which the Freedom to Vote Act is based --- currently does.

On that point, now that we've seen the actual text of the proposed 592-page bill [PDF], we can happily report the good news that the new legislation does, on page 318, appear to promise long-overdue HMPBs for all "at every in-person voting location" in the country! Passage of this bill --- if Dems can figure out how to get Manchin's permission to reform the filibuster to do it --- would be the most transformative legislation for American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965...and could, arguably, even out do it!

Let's get the "Freedom to Vote Act" passed, ASAP!!!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Elder pretends to care about 'election integrity', lies about fraud before Election Day; Senate Dems reach fantastic election reform 'compromise'; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust' while inflaming the pandemic for all...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2021 6:57pm PT  

Get ready for another roller-coaster ride on today's BradCast, which also happens to be Recall Election Day in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As of airtime on Tuesday, we heard of no major reports of voting problems at the polls across the Golden State, though that may be thanks to so many already having voted by mail or during early voting. But, while pretending to support "election integrity" during an interview on MSNBC, Larry Elder, rightwing talk show host and GOP front-runner to become Governor if popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom loses on the ballot's first question, was busy lying about "fraud" and the "twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election" on his "Stop CA Fraud" website, before any results are known whatsoever. Oh, and he's also threatening the use of the "ammo box" if the results don't go his way.

(And, in related comment, we discuss why these "Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?" questions are really unfair and unhelpful gotcha questions, that it would be really nice if media stopped asking.)

In far brighter news, a group of eight U.S. Senators --- representing the broad political spectrum across the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber and including Joe Manchin --- announced a "compromise" election reform package with a ton of really really good stuff in it. Among the huge number of long overdue reforms in what they have dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act": Automatic and same-day voter registration for all; restoration of voting rights for former felons; federal minimum standards for absentee voting, drop boxes and early voting; an end to partisan gerrymandering; curbs on dark money in elections; the prevention of the ability of partisan state legislatures to overturn results derived by non-partisan election officials; new cybersecurity standards for computerized voting systems; and much much more.

The devil is often in the details, and I've yet to review the actual legislative text as of airtime, but from the summary description made available by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate committee that oversees federal elections and campaign law, almost any one of the items included in this proposed bill would be hugely good news. I'll need to review the specific language on the measure's requirements for hand-marked paper ballots to sign off on that part of the bill, but even the proposed requirements for Voter ID are very good ones. They will serve to force states with purposely restrictive Photo ID voting restrictions (enacted to suppress the vote, not to protect against fraud) to be much less onerous, while avoiding new restrictive mandates in the majority of states which already have reasonable ID rules or few at all.

The legislation is based on Manchin's personal "compromise" version of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already been passed by the House. Manchin is one of the eight Senators who worked out this proposal, and is said to be reaching out to bring Republicans on board. Of course, even if all 50 Senators who caucus with the Dems vote in favor, as appears likely (Schumer says he is scheduling a vote for next week), it seems unimaginable that any Republicans will join them, much less the 10 that would be required to overcome a Senate filibuster. But with Manchin as a co-sponsor, it will now be on him to get the GOP votes needed for passage or face the prospect of no long-overdue election protection at all...UNLESS he is willing to support a "democracy reconciliation" carve-out to the Senate filibuster. It should be a very interesting, maddening and/or fantastic week or two. We'll be following it all very closely, of course.

And, as Dems are trying to improve representative Democracy in the U.S., Republicans are still, apparently, in the business of simply trying to kill as many Americans as they can to make some sort of twisted political point.

Yet another fervent, anti-vaxxer rightwing radio and TV host died from COVID over the weekend, the fifth in the past month and a half. And while we've had a modicum of sympathy for some of the others who have recently passed, as we explain, this one, 62-year old Bob Enyart, is very difficult to feel anything but contempt for.

We have slightly more sympathy, however, for the wildly misinformed and brainwashed 64-year old anti-vax QAnon supporter and highway overpass activist and YouTuber, Veronica Wolski who bragged last month on her final video about never having worn a mask in her life, and about the need to "NEVER COMPLY" with any COVID public health measures in order to "never give up your freedoms" so "you never have to fight to get them back."

She won't be fighting for anything anymore. Wolski died over the weekend from COVID-related illness in the ICU, but not before the QAnon dupes, led by disgraced Georgia attorney Lin Wood, sicced supporters on the hospital trying to save her life and threatened its workers with "murder" charges unless they agreed to treat her with Ivermectin, the horse deworming medicine not approved for treatment of COVID. That, before Wood declared on his Telegram channel to his more than 800,000 followers: "Now, we go to war."

Unfortunately, deadly climate change (not to mention COVID) is what wingnuts should be going to war against. As Desi Doyen explains in our latest Green News Report today, yet another massive tropical storm, Hurricane Nicholas, is now knocking out power (again) and drenching the U.S. Gulf Coast with some 20 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooded out in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and sections of Louisiana that were already still under water following last week's Hurricane Ida. President Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for action on climate in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and his EPA is taking several long-overdue actions on behalf of clean, non-toxic drinking water across the U.S., and an age-old salmon fishery in Alaska...

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Also: No, we weren't 'united' after 9/11. My 'Presidential Speech', written 20 years ago this week. Plus: Callers...
By Brad Friedman on 9/13/2021 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Election Day for the California Gubernatorial Recall is tomorrow, though many have already voted across the nation's most populous state with Vote-by-Mail ballots. And we also share some thoughts on 9/11 that may be very different from the coverage of its 20th anniversary over the weekend.

Today would have been the last chance for CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber to mandate a statewide post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA), as the nation's top cybersecurity and voting system experts have urgently asked her [PDF] to do on an "emergency" basis. That, following a recent voting system security breach that effects election management systems and tabulators made by Dominion, as used in 60% of the state's counties. Despite their pleading, Weber declined to call for such an audit.

Instead, she sent a letter [PDF] in reply to the security experts who contacted her with "urgent" concerns, after she held a meeting with them last week (which we reported on in detail on Friday). She sung the praises of California's election security process in the letter, and dismissed their concerns, as AP's coverage highlighted, as "inaccurate," noting that, in any event, there was no time to mandate such an audit because it would require "significant preparation, training and testing."

"Further," she wrote the group of top voting and cybersecurity scientists in the nation (and perhaps the world), "the implication that California’s elections cannot be conducted safely and securely without [a more rigorous audit] is inaccurate, as California has the strictest voting system testing, procedures for use and security requirements in the nation."

Suffice to say, as we've been reporting in detail over the past month (as succinctly summarized by longtime listener/reader Sheila Bernard in an L.A. Times Letter to the Editor today) --- ever since a Republican County Clerk in CO made illicit copies of the Dominion Election Management System (EMS) software in her county before it was later released to the Internet for wide download, to the shock and horror of the voting system scientists whose warnings Weber has now ignored --- what happens next is anyone's guess. In its latest coverage, AP cites local election officials in the state, such as Santa Barbara County Clerk Joe Holland claiming it would be "near impossible" for anyone to manipulate results. "It's not even a concern," he said.

That disregard for the scientists warning of the need for "emergency actions" brings to mind a comment from one of those scientists, University of South Carolina's Duncan Buell, who told us on The BradCast last week: "I have seen well meaning election officials with too little skepticism and too much hubris. And I think that's a problem." It certainly might be. We'll find out, perhaps, in a day or two.

At the same time, we report on a few other problems that polling place voters have reportedly had trying to cast their ballot in Los Angeles County over the weekend, thanks to yet another failure of the County's new electronic pollbook system. The same system failed repeatedly during its maiden use in the 2020 election cycle and, over the weekend, the new computer systems incorrectly informed both Democratic and Republican voters that they had voted already...when they had not, in at least two different voting locations. Those voters were given provisional ballots and the e-pollbooks in question were said to have eventually been removed from operation, according to a statement from the L.A. County Registrar's office.

Both California and the nation are now on pins and needles. There are disturbing implications if Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is removed from office in California and replaced in the Recall by rightwing talk show host Larry Elder, particularly with the state's 88-year old U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in office with the barest of majorities for Democrats in the Senate.

Next, there were 20th anniversary commemorations over the weekend to mark the horrific terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Along with it, there was more repetition of the false claim that "America came together, united as one after the attacks". That has always been a myth, as we discuss today.

To underscore that myth, I share a part of my 20-year old, never before shared publicly (I think), "My Speech to the Nation After 9/11 (Were I President, Which I am Not.)" which I wrote and shared with family members on September 14th, 2001, just days after the attacks. The speech, as written (but, obviously, never delivered) was, to say the least, a very different one --- with a very different call to action --- than the one delivered at that same time by George W. Bush. And, had I been President at the time (which I wasn't), it likely would have resulted in a very different America and world today. Whether it would be a better one? Well, you can decide and let me know.

Finally, we open up the phone lines today to callers on all of the above, many of whom are focused on questions and concerns about the CA Recall...

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Guests: Emily Levy of Scrutineers, Jim Soper of NVRTF; Also: GOP freaks out over Biden's vaccine mandate; Cat 5 super typhoon targets Taiwan...
By Brad Friedman on 9/10/2021 6:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There's an old idiom about the importance of "knowing the room" you're talking to. It seems the California Sec. of State and/or her office may be unfamiliar with that old idiom. At least based on the bizarre request they made during a meeting on Thursday with some of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts, asking them to be "cheerleaders" for the state's voting system security procedures. That, following the recent theft and release of key voting system software by rightwingers that has set the hair of those computer scientists on fire, leaving them to urge the SoS to take "urgent" and immediate "emergency actions" to protect Tuesday's Gubernatorial Recall in the Golden State. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But before the inside details on that meeting, Republicans are now predictably freaking out after President Biden announced reasonable, science-based mandates on Thursday, requiring millions of federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 without an option to test out. There was nothing particular unusual about the executive directive. There are thousands of such vaccines mandates across the country, and have been for decades. They have long been approved by both state and federal courts.

But the GOP, having abandoned any and all actual policy agenda, has become little more than a party of grievance and evidence-free conspiracy theories. Following Biden's new mandates, their heads are exploding as they vow to sue and are equating reasonable new efforts to try and help keep Americans alive (while the Delta variant is surging and infecting and killing more school children) with "tyranny" and "Hitler". Some, including a top U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio, are even encouarging violence against Government officials he is now equating with the "Gestapo".

But that's what Republicans now do. Back here in the Not Crazy World, in places like San Francisco, the city's Health Department announced this week that there have been zero outbreaks of COVID since the school year began in mid-August. That's thanks to universal masking and other common sense requirements for staff and students alike. Contrast that with Florida and Texas and other GOP run states, where schools are shutting down yet again as hospitals are being overwhelmed with cases.

When they're not drama queening about the "FREEDOM!" to infect and kill their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, they're busy pretending that elections are being stolen from them, despite any hint of evidence to support such serious charges. Lack of evidence this week has not prevented either the former President or rightwing radio host Larry Elder from claiming the ongoing CA Recall election is "rigged" if the popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is not removed from office...in a state where registered Ds outnumber Rs by about 2 to 1.

But even if there is no evidence to date of the "voter fraud" Trump and Elder are certain is going to rob Republicans of a victory, there is reason to be concerned about the results of the September 14th Recall. As we've been reporting over the past month --- too often exclusively --- the theft by a Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado of the Election Management System (EMS) software made by Dominion Voting Systems, and its wide release for download by anyone via the Internet, has placed Tuesday's election in peril, according to cybersecurity and voting systems experts.

Last week, eight of them penned an "urgent" letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber, warning her about the serious security breach caused by the release of the key software used to run and tabulate elections in nearly 60% of California counties. Those top experts --- including UC Berkley's Philip Stark, Georgia Tech's Rich DeMillo, the legendary cybersecurity and voting system white hat hacker Harri Hursti, Livermore National Laboratory cyber expert and longtime CA Sec. of State voting system Advisor David Jefferson, Univ. of South Carolina's Duncan Buell and others --- urged Weber, in their letter, to immediately mandate statewide, public, post-election Risk-Limiting Audits in order to ensure both the accuracy of the computer-tallied results and confidence in them by the public.

"It is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted," the scientists wrote to Weber, citing the "critical new risk to the recall election" and how to mitigate those risks.

As we've reported, along with a number of the scientists who sent that letter who have appeared on this program, the Secretary's office, while claiming the state's existing security procedures will protect against any problems (even though the scientists explained otherwise in their letter), seemed to be in denial about the concerns. As we've reported, her office had not even offered a direct reply to the scientists until they and a number of state election integrity advocates were invited to a last-minute video conference meeting with Weber and her staff yesterday.

It was at that meeting where the participants --- again, some of the world's top experts in computer and voting system security --- were asked to be "cheerleaders" for California's current security procedures. Of course, anyone who knows folks like the legendary Hursti would be likely to laugh at that particular request.

We're joined today by two participants in Thursday's video meeting with Weber, longtime election transparency advocate EMILY LEVY of Scrutineers.org and JIM SOPER, co-chair of the CA-based National Voting Rights Task Force, which had also sent a letter to Weber urging improved post-election processes following last month's leak of the Dominion EMS software.

Levy confirmed that participants were asked, to be "cheerleaders" during the meeting. "Absolutely, that did happen," she tells us today, confirming my own reporting with a number of other participants. "And I have to say it was quite surprising, especially when coupled with the turning down of our requests about doing the Risk Limiting Audit. So, 'No, we won't do what you're asking, but we do want you to be cheerleaders for the security of the election.'"

"You know, I will applaud any increase in security procedures that I am aware that they are doing," she added. "But I'm certainly not in any position, and I don't think anyone there is, to put our reputations on the line saying  we'll swear by the security of this election. Especially if they're not going to be increasing auditing procedures."

Both Levy and Soper suggested the office seems to understand that the Dominion Election Management System software has now been released, but didn't seem to fully appreciate the threat it poses to the election, as the scientists --- who were also on the video call --- made clear in their letter. "I didn't hear the level of alarm that I think is warranted," Levy notes.

"I think she understands the threat," Soper argued, before explaining that "a big part of the problem is the shortage of time" between now and Tuesday's Recall Election Day. He says, however --- as did UC-Berkeley's Stark, a signatory on the letter, participant in Thursday's meeting and the inventor of the Risk-Limiting Audit protocol --- that there are simplified versions of the RLA format that could be implemented quickly enough and announced for before Tuesday to avoid the appearance of partisanship.

"There is something called a 'Ballot-Polling Risk-Limiting Audit' that they could do," says Soper. "It's not as effective [as a regular, full RLA], but it would be better than doing nothing." He also notes that Weber asked the meeting participants to "send in a little letter with some notes on what we think should be done [and] that they're going to consider 'what can we do?' out of all of these suggestions."

Weber, a Democrat, may not be as concerned as she could be about all of this, as recent polling shows opposition growing to the removal of Newsom. Still, holding ones breath and crossing ones fingers is hardly a recipe for either success or for the protection of election results that voters of all political leanings can have confidence in.

On the other hand, Levy offers several actions that the public can take in the meantime, both from inside and outside of California, to help oversee and secure the election and try to ensure its integrity, via her Scrutineers site.

Finally today, we close with yet another warning of yet another monster hurricane. This time, it's the Category 5 Super Typhoon Chathu that recently spun up in record time. It's now set on a deadly collision course with Taiwan. Just more fallout from our ever-worsening climate emergency in yet another record storm season fueled by non-stop man-made global warming...

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Hospitals in GOP-leaning states begin rationing healthcare as Delta variant skyrockets, even among children (while DeSantis tries to kill them); Better news in Alaska; Good jobs numbers; DoJ sues Texas; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2021 6:36pm PT  

The news, as you may have noticed, continued to be somewhat grim. But we do manage to find a bit of encouraging news here and there on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

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

  • Good news in the long (very long!) battle to protect Alaska's nearly-pristine Bristol Bay and its native run, $2 billion a year salmon fishery industry from the ecological devastation of a huge, open pit gold and copper extraction operation known as Pebble Mine. Biden's EPA is invoking a section of the Clean Water Act to block the project. Hopefully it will stay blocked for good this time, but we'll see.
  • New jobs numbers from the Department of Labor are encouraging today, with unemployment rates now at a pandemic low and reaching pre-pandemic levels. That's cautiously good news, given the effect that the Delta variant is now beginning to have on the economy. But, because it's largely encouraging news which works against Republican hopes for a disastrous economy, you probably didn't hear too much about today's numbers. We also explain why this largely good, if under-reported, news also undercuts Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s argument for undercutting Joe Biden's proposed, landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
  • More encouraging news (before we get to the less encouraging news today): It turns out we do have an Attorney General and he is capable of acting quickly and decisively...at least when he's pushed to do so. The Dept. of Justice today announced a federal lawsuit to enjoin the state of Texas' new law undercutting the Constitutional right for women to have an abortion, as per the previously-settled, nearly 50-year old precedent established by Roe v. Wade. Whether the DOJ's "relatively novel theories developed in reaction to a novel law" will be successful, given the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, remains to be seen.
  • Remember back during the summer of 2009, when rightwingers were instructed by Fox "News" and the Republican Party to be outraged about "death panels" in President Obama's then-proposed Affordable Care Act that would lead to the rationing of health care and decisions by government bureaucrats about who should live or die? The argument was all nonsense at the time, as there were no such "death panels" in ObamaCare that would kill granny. But, guess what? States around the country are now beginning to ration healthcare and are deciding who gets to live or die. That is thanks to the very same Republicans who were told to be outraged about phony "death panels" in 2009, now being told to be outraged about life-saving vaccines and mask mandates. Thanks to those idiots, COVID infections, hospitalizations and death rates are skyrocketing, particularly in GOP-run states with low vaccination rates. And, because of it, and the lack of ability to handle the surge, the state of Idaho has announced new "crisis standards of care." That means they are now literally forced to ration health care, as they try to save those with the highest chances of survival, while wishing the best of luck and "comfort care" to everyone else. Kentucky and other states are now on the brink of doing the same, as hospitals continue to be overwhelmed in states with low vaccination rates.
  • COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates were, incredibly --- and completely unnecessarily --- 2 to 3.5 times higher this Labor Day, then they were over Labor Day last year, in 2020.  Moreover, infection, hospitalization and death rates are also skyrocketing among children right now, with kids now comprising more than a quarter of all new cases.
  • Despite the alarming rates of sickness among children, twisted GOP Governors in states like Texas and Florida are still fighting tooth and nail to block local school districts from determining what is best for their students and staff alike. Florida's largest school district, Miami-Dade, announced this week that 13 staffers have died since mid-August. All of them were unvaccinated. But, in brighter news, a state judge has --- for now --- blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis' appalling authoritarian attempt to ban mask mandates and punish school districts who defy him.
  • Amid all of this today, President Biden announced new federal directives to try and curb the deadly pandemic by mandating vaccination or regular testing for as many as 100 million workers nationally. In remarks sharply critical of those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated, Biden also announced that Executive Branch employees and contractors who do business with the federal government will now have to be vaccinated, with no option to test out of it.
  • Late today, Los Angeles School District, the second largest in the country, voted to implement a mandatory vaccination regime for those older than 12.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Biden pushes for infrastructure resiliency and "building back better" after the deadly devastation of Hurricane Ida, and much more...

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Guest: Vote system expert Dr. Duncan Buell; Also: GA's criminal Trump probe 'inches forward'; Pillow Guy says something really REALLY stupid...
By Brad Friedman on 9/8/2021 6:20pm PT  

It's an old cliche by now that every bad disaster movie begins with a scientist's warnings being ignored. We'll continue to hope, on today's BradCast, that California's Gubernatorial Recall election, with voting under way right now and Election Day next Tuesday, doesn't turn into a bad disaster movie...now that CA's Democratic Secretary of State seems to be ignoring the urgent warnings from a whole bunch of the nation's top computer scientists. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Several weeks ago, polling of likely voters in the GOP's sleazy attempt to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office in a special recall election, suggested a dead heat on the question of removal for the otherwise popular progressive Golden State Guv. Today, more recent polling suggest Newsom is up by more than 10 points among those considered to be likely voters, according to 538's average of recent surveys, and by about 8.5 points in RealClearPolitics' round-up. That, after the very Trumpy, far-right Republican radio host, Larry Elder, has emerged as Newsom's likely replacement if the Governor loses on the ballot's first question as to whether he should be recalled.

In the meantime, as we have been highlighting over the past month, California's state election officials should be very concerned about a new security threat to the election itself following the theft of Election Management System (EMS) software made by Dominion Voting Systems. The vendor's systems are used to run elections in nearly 60% of California jurisdictions. Copies of its EMS software were apparently purloined in the middle of the night by a far-right County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado last May before being released to the wilds of the Internet during MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's phony "cyber symposium" last month. That release now poses "critical new risks to the recall election," according to eight of the nation's top cyber security and voting system experts. They sent a chilling, 3-page warning letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber late last week, advising her to mandate a statewide Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) as the "one critical action" she can and should take immediately to try and mitigate against this "serious threat" which, the experts argue, warrants "emergency action" on the part of state officials.

One of the authors of that letter, DR. DUNCAN BUELL, Chair Emeritus in Computer Science and Engineering at University of South Carolina, joins us on today's show to explain the letter, the threat and the need for the SoS to take action now, rather than waiting until after Election Day.

"If the results are known first and then somebody says 'let's audit', there will always be some skepticism and some conspiracy theory that the reason for the audit is because the result came out different from somebody in power who wanted it to be a different result," Buell tells me. "You've got to mandate the audit before you have the result so the voters know that this is being done specifically for the right reasons."

He goes on to explain how the EMS software, which can now be downloaded and explored for vulnerabilities by anyone with an Internet connection, is "absolutely central to everything" when it comes to running elections on computer systems. "The EMS is almost certainly going to be configuring ballot styles --- even for hand-marked [paper] ballots, where the bubble is to be filled in, in terms of position on the page --- and it's going to be the system at the end of the day that does the tabulations. So anything that is that central is really critical."

When I ask if it's an overstatement to refer access to the EMS software as "the keys to the kingdom" when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems, Buell confirms: "I don't think that's an overstatement at all. That's very much the case."

Even with the recent shift in polling, suggesting a possible lead for Newsom in the Recall, Buell notes, "I don't necessarily think either side should be breathing a 'sigh of relief' because the problem really is that the election system needs to be secure, and the election process has to be done in a transparent way that voters can trust and understand. With the release of the [EMS] software, it's hard for anyone to really feel that what's going to happen is what ought to happen unless there is a statistically sound Risk-Limiting Audit conducted after the fact, just to make sure things got done right. This is a question of confidence, transparency, and the fact that we don't get to do elections over."

He offers much more insight on all of this during our conversation today, as based on his many years of experience with voting systems as both a Professor and expert witness in voting system related cases and challenges across the country. We discuss the lack of response the eight top experts have so far received from Sec. Weber in CA, and a dismissive --- and arguably naive --- statement given by her office to AP last week following the release of the letter.

"I have seen well-meaning election officials with too little skepticism and too much hubris," Buell warns. "I think that's a problem. We don't know what the results are going to be, so we don't know ground truth for what's going to come out of this recall election in California. We can't do it over. This means that, yes, all of the processes have to be rock solid. But it also argues that there needs to be a way, after the fact, to make sure that the outcome that you think you got is the outcome that you should have gotten. That's what one of these RLAs, Risk Limiting Audits, will do."

He also observers that California is lucky, in that the inventor of the RLA protocol, Philip Stark of U.C. Berkeley, is right here to help. Stark is also a signatory of the letter to Weber. He joined us on the show several weeks ago, just after the stolen Dominion EMS software was released, to explain the serious concerns at that time --- well before the national media had noticed any of this, and before CA's SoS got around to seemingly ignoring the warning and advice of the nation's top experts in the field.

Given that Donald Trump is already falsely and predictably claiming that the CA Recall is "a rigged election", as is Fox "News", it's even more imperative that Weber mandate a professional, publicly witnessed, statewide post-election audit now (as opposed to the type of scammy, secret, "audit" theater recently carried out by inexperienced, partisan, conspiracy buffoons in Maricopa County, Arizona, for instance) before the computer-tallied results of next week's critical Recall Election are known.

Speaking of fraud and conspiracy buffoons, we have a bit of fresh news this week about the slow, but still "ongoing" criminal investigation by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fanni Willis into the conspiracy led by Donald Trump to try and strong-arm Peach State officials into stealing the election on his behalf last year. That probe could also end up targeting fellow conspirators Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rudy Giuliani.

And then we close with the really really dumb comments from MyPillow conspiracy buffoon Mike Lindell, in which he recently seems to have thrown himself under the bus on his own streaming video channel, in regards to the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit he is currently facing from Dominion Voting Systems...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Cybersecurity and voting system experts alert CA SoS to stolen election software threat to Recall...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2021 6:07pm PT  

We're back! Luckily it was a slow news week while we we're off last week, right? Okay, maybe not. So, on today's BradCast we begin to pick up on just some of that "slow" news. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

After nearly month or so of trying to ring alarm bells for the national media and election officials in California, hoping they would connect the dots between the ongoing CA Gubernatorial Recall election and the threat of Dominion Voting Systems election software stolen from a Mesa County, Colorado's County Clerk's office (apparently BY the Mesa County Clerk herself!) and released into the wilds of the Internet, we had some progress late last week!

Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts sent an urgent 3-page letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Shirley Weber, warning her about the threat that the stolen software now poses to the CA Recall (Election Day is next Tuesday, Sept. 14th) and the need for her to immediately mandate a statewide post-election Risk Limiting Audit to both ensure the computer-tallied results are accurate and to offer confidence in those results to those who may think they are not. That, no matter who wins or loses. As we reported late last week at The BRAD BLOG, the scientists, in their letter to Weber, warn the Secretary that "it is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted."

Associated Press reported on the letter as it was released last Thursday, as did we. But the response from the SoS' office for now is, shall we say, somewhat lackluster. We hope to have more on this as the week progresses and Election Day nears. But at least it's not only us with our hair on fire about these serious concerns.

Next, there were three disturbing rulings issued --- largely in the middle of the night --- by the stolen and packed GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court while we were gone or just before we left. All three cases have major consequences. And, in all cases, the rulings were issued without hearings, oral argument, public debate or oversight, or even full explanation from the rightwing Justices.

One "stunning" ruling prevents President Biden from setting U.S. immigration policy, by forcing him to continue the so-called "Remain in Mexico" policy instituted by his predecessor for asylum seekers coming up from Central America; Another blocked the President's moratorium on evictions amid the pandemic; and, perhaps the most disturbing one, as you may have heard, effectively overturns the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade's constitutional protections of the right of a woman to have an abortion in the state of Texas. All three decisions were issued with no hearings or public debate and virtually no comment from the Justice's as part of the Court's "Shadow Docket" while they are on Summer break between terms.

Longtime legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN has been warning for a while about the increasing use (and abuse) of the "Shadow Docket" by the increasingly activist authoritarian Court, now that it's been packed with three Donald Trump appointees, rammed onto the Court after Senate Republicans did away with the filibuster to do so. Now, as we discuss with Stern on today's program, it should be clear to just about everyone what it is that he's been warning about.

"With the Shadow Dockets, it means that basically we all have to be on high alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because at any time the Supreme Court could issue a monumental decision overturning decades of precedent," says Stern, with little or no warning or explanation.

On the "Remain in Mexico" ruling, Stern observes: "You might have thought that the Supreme Court does not let lower court judges issue sweeping injunctions blocking the President's immigration policies. As you recall, under Trump, the Supreme Court's conservatives leapt in, time and time again, to swat down judges who had tried to halt the former President's immigration rules. But all of that is out the window now that Joe Biden is in the White House. Instead, we have a new principle here that, apparently, the President no longer runs foreign policy." In fact, in this case, that lower Trump-appointed judge actually ordered Biden to enter foreign policy negotiations with Mexico and, astonishingly, the high court let the order stand without comment!

"The hypocrisy here is stunning," Stern argues. "The Supreme Court said that the President gets to make immigration law over and over again under Trump. Remember the travel ban case? Remember the wealth-test case? Remember all of these awful cases where the Supreme Court said Trump can do whatever he wants? And then Biden comes in, and the Supreme Court says Biden can't do anything he wants."

On the eviction moratorium, also overruled by the rightwing Justices, "we're being deprived of any kind of clear debate" via the Court's Shadow Docket, where "the conservatives are awarding themselves more and more power to pretend that debatable decisions in the lower courts are so obviously wrong that they can intervene and resolve them whenever they want."

But, of course, the most egregious item decided without explanation or public debate --- or even a hearing in the lower appellate courts! --- over the last two weeks, is the SCOTUS decision that allows Texas Republicans' new abortion ban law to take effect. The state statute bans all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and deputizes citizens to file lawsuits against anyone --- from family members to friends to clergy members to Uber drivers --- who helps a woman in any fashion to obtain an abortion. Such citizen "bounty hunters" will each be awarded at least $10,000 for doing so, under Texas law. All of this, of course, blatantly undercuts the precedent set by SCOTUS in 1973's Roe v. Wade, establishing a Constitutional right to an abortion. And, it's all now being done under the cover of the Shadow Docket, which even Chief Justice Roberts, in this one instance, was forced dissent against.

Whether the Lone Star State's convoluted scheme of deputizing citizens to enforce the law, rather than the state doing so directly, gets around the mandates of Roe is "a huge question, and it's one that I think deserves a full airing, especially after 50 years of Americans enjoying a constitutional right to reproductive autonomy," Stern explains. "It's the kind of thing that would be debated in public if this were a regular case. And also, traditionally in the law, there's a really strong bias toward the status quo, to keeping things as they have been until the Court can have a full and fair hearing on the merits. We didn't get that hearing here, and yet the Court refused to step in and maintain the status quo of abortion access. So we are left with the nation's second largest state shuttering its abortion providers and forcing women to flee out of state if they want to terminate a pregnancy."

So, what, if anything, can be done about the emboldened far-right's abuse of the Shadow Docket at SCOTUS? We discuss that as well, including measures that could --- and, arguably should --- be taken immediately by Congress to reign in an out-of-control Court. Those measures, however, would likely require Democrats to reform the Senate filibuster in order to enact them --- ya know, just as Senate Republicans did to jam these far-right activist jurists onto the Court in the first place, where they are now using the Shadow Docket to, cowardly, run wild. And, all of that, before SCOTUS even begins its term on the first Monday in October, when, Stern predicts, there is even more bad news regarding freedom and civil rights in these United States...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on that, Afghanistan, phony 'conservatism', Trump accountability and more: Also: Good news in FL; Bad news in TX; Very disturbing news in Russia and New Orleans...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2021 6:40pm PT  

It's been a while since one of our favorite BradCast guests has joined us, and so we've got a lot to catch up with her on today, starting with the GOP's latest attempt to use "legal means to subvert democracy," as she describes it, out here in California. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first some very quick news items today, including good news in Florida, where a state judge has struck down Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' deadly ban on local and school district mask mandates as "illegal and unsupported"; Bad news in Texas, where three weak-kneed Democrats who returned to the state legislature after blocking a quorum for the last month, just allowed Republicans to adopt a sweeping new voter suppression law; Disturbing news in Russia, where massive wildfires are now said to be threatening a top-secret facility where nuclear war heads are made; Very disturbing news for New Orleans, where evacuations are underway with potentially killer Hurricane Ida quickly approaching; And some puzzling news out of Southern California, where a man was found by police with 300 stolen Vote-by-Mail ballots from California's Gubernatorial Recall election, which is now under way.

That's where we kick things off with award-winning Salon columnist, Hullabaloo blogger and fellow Californian HEATHER DIGBY PARTON today. For those who don't know, state Republicans received three extra months, due to the pandemic, to gather signatures for their attempted recall of the Golden State's popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a state where it is virtually impossible for the unpopular GOP to win normal statewide elections anymore. Vote-by-Mail ballots have been sent to all registered voters with two questions: 1) Should Newsom be removed from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? There are 46 candidates listed under the second question.

As Parton recently wrote at Salon and details today, Newsom could lose on question 1 with 49.9% of the vote, while current GOP front-runner and far-right, Trump-loving radio talk show host Larry Elder, could then "win" on the second question to become the Governor of the nation's most populous state with just 15 percent of the vote.

Why Democrats didn't reform the state's "archaic" recall system after a similar scam was carried out by the GOP in 2003 to oust then Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and replace him with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a mystery. Though it speaks to the fact that Democrats, in general, as Parton argues, "have failed to understand the political culture that we're dealing with now, and fail to grasp just how important it is that they look ahead and take steps to protect democracy."

"I would say wake up, because this is happening nationally. It's happening in blue states,  red states, and everywhere else --- which is an absolute assault on democracy that's coming from the right," she explains, citing the national consequences as well for the outcome of the Recall on September 14th. "We have an 88-year-old Senator" who may need to be replaced by the Governor at some point. If that Governor is Republican Larry Elder, he'd flip the majority in the U.S. Senate with his appointment and "Mitch McConnell would be laughing and laughing and laughing at the idea that Biden's agenda was completely derailed by the lazy people in California who didn't come out to vote."

In addition to the Recall, we also catch up with Parton on the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan, and the ridiculous way the media has been covering the largest and, so far, most successful U.S. airlift in history, even as they otherwise haven't paid attention to what has been going on for most of the last 20 years of America's longest war.

We discuss how the GOP's long con of claiming to be "small government conservatives" has been exposed by the big government authoritarian edicts of Governors like DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas.

And, as if that's not enough, she also offers thoughts on the growing attempts to bring accountability for Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, particularly by the U.S. House Select Committee examining the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. "What they seem to be putting together is the case that Trump was planning to steal the election, and he was using the power of the Presidency to do it."

So, yeah, there's a lot to catch up on today, in yet another very lively conversation with our friend "Digby"!...

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Trump lawyers sanctioned, will face disbarment probes; Capitol officers sue Trump; Terror suspect sentenced in MI Guv kidnap plot; House files massive 1/6 records requests; TX AG Paxton clears TX AG Paxton; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2021 6:57pm PT  

Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. We really must stop describing his efforts and those by his supporters as "questioning the results" or "claiming fraud" or "trying to overturn the election." The fact is, Trump tried to steal it. He used every means at his disposal to try and do so. Thankfully, he is largely a failure at pretty much everything, so it didn't work, though we now know it came exceedingly close. So, let's start calling it for what it is: An unprecedented attempted by a President of the United States to try and steal a Presidential election. To that end, accountability is now happening. Slowly but quite assuredly, along with a number of other related accountability stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Some of the breaking news on today's terror attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, which killed at least 13 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans and seriously injured many more. ISIS-K, an off-shoot of the Islamic State and an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack by two suicide bombers. If anything, Thursday's tragedy amidst the largest airlift in U.S. history --- following the swift takeover of the country by the Taliban --- simply serves to underscore even further why the U.S. pullout must continue, and why we certainly shouldn't have been there for 20 years (if at all);
  • In much less horrific news, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its 2020 post-election survey [PDF] of various voting and election-related data from all 50 states last year. While The Guardian's Sam Levine characterizes the report as proving the election was "a remarkable success", we explain why that may be a bit of an overstatement. That said, the data does reveal yet again that, while there were far too many rejections of absentee and mail-in ballots (as is always the case, but especially amid pandemic voting last year), there is still no evidence at all to even suggest that the Presidential election was stolen in any way, shape or form by Joe Biden, the Democrats or anyone else. Not that Donald Trump didn't try (and fail) to do exactly that, of course;
  • In much brighter related news, a federal judge in Michigan on Wednesday brought some serious accountability down on nine of the Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, who both helped Trump try to steal the 2020 election by filing fraudulent lawsuits, in this case in Michigan, fraudulently claiming that the election was stolen, using fraudulent claims about fraud. All nine lawyers were excoriated by U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker's scathing 110-page order [PDF], which should (hopefully) end each of the attorneys' careers as officers of the court. Parker mandated the Trump lawyers pay attorneys fees accrued by the city of Detroit and state of Michigan in defending against the "frivolous" so-called "Kraken" lawsuit; take 12 hours of legal classes each (including 6 on Election Law); and, most importantly, face investigations for possible suspension and/or disbarment by legal authorities in each of their home states;
  • More accountability for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, specifically for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that he incited as part of that effort. Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Trump, several far-right extremist groups charged with aiding the deadly plot, and even against Trump associates like Roger Stone. It is, as the New York Times describes it, "the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable." Trump is already facing two other similar lawsuits filed by the NAACP and by Rep. Eric Swalwell. But, no doubt, the disgraced former President and his supporters will see this new complaint differently, because it is filed by police officers and, as you know, Republicans always "back the blue", right?;
  • That lawsuit follows just one day after the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack issued a massive series of records requests to at least 8 different federal agencies for documents related to Trump's movements, actions and meetings on January 6th, and in the weeks and months both before and after. The requests were sent to, among others, the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and National Archives, where Presidential White House records are stored. Trump is apparently livid about the effort, describing it as a "partisan exercise" being carried out by a "Leftist" House Committee. (That may come as a surprise to "Leftist" Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger);
  • In still more accountability news today, tangentially related to Trump's attempt to steal last year's election in Michigan: The sentence for the first domestic terrorist, among some 13 charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, was handed down on Wednesday. A 25-year old man who, according to Justice Department prosecutors, cooperated with the investigation after initially pleading not guilty, changed his plea and was sentenced to more than 6 years in prison on charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. The failed conspiracy, according to the FBI and Whitmer, sprang from Trump's attempt to vilify the Governor for her science-based handling of the COVID pandemic, in a year in which Trump was willing to say and do anything to win the important battleground state. (He lost it by 150,000 votes instead);
  • In accountability news only spiritually related to Trump, a federal appeals court declined to overturn the sentence of the man who killed nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. The now-27-year old avowed white supremacist is the first person charged with a death sentence for committing a federal hate crime. While accountability is great, a life sentence would have been sufficient. Killing people is bad, as some of us learned even before Kindergarten. Apparently, the U.S. Government has yet to do so;
  • Only politically related to Trump, the Republican state Attorney General in South Dakota, Jason Ravnsborg, who fatally struck a pedestrian last year and left him to die, decided to take a plea deal rather than begin his trial today. Nonetheless, as of airtime, despite the hit and run fatality, Ravnsborg was still in office as the state's top law enforcement official;
  • And, in related corrupt Republican state Attorney General news, definitely politically related to Trump, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also still in office. That, despite being charged with multiple felonies for securities fraud some time ago (and, so far, evading trial on those years-old, but still-pending indictments); facing potential disbarment by the State Bar of Texas for his attempt to help Trump steal the election with a bogus, fraudulent, rejected lawsuit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to try and overturn results in four non-Texas states; and under investigation by the FBI after 7 top staffers in his office quit and filed a legal complaint detailing how AG Paxton was involved in a serious bribery and abuse of power scheme involving protection for one of his top donors and a scheme that involved having the man give a job to his mistress. Well, on that federal investigation, AG Paxton had some good news this week! In an unsigned 374-page report [PDF] published by AG Paxton's office on AG Paxton's letterhead, AG Paxton's own internal investigation found that "AG Paxton’s actions were lawful" and that "AG Paxton committed no crime". Phew! That was close! I'm sure the FBI is calling off their probe, even as we speak.
  • Finally, as a late brewing potential major hurricane (Ida) spins toward the Gulf Coast for possible landfall over the weekend, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with a suspiciously inordinate amount of encouraging news. But don't worry, there are a few items of the usual catastrophic nature GNR is known for as well. We'd hate to leave anyone disappointed...

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Guest: FSFP's Courtney Hostetler on federal suit challenging two new vote suppression laws in AZ; Also: John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act passed by House Dems; NC court restores voting rights to 50k...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was bad enough in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts gutted Section 5, the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That section prevented discriminatory voting laws before they could take effect. By the time Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 majority, legislated from the bench last month to create new tests for Section 2 of the VRA, pulled largely out of thin air, it felt like there was little left in the landmark 1965 federal legislation to protect voters. But voting rights champions are moving forward in courts, nonetheless, even as the battle for new federal voting rights legislation continues.

On Tuesday night, without a single Republican vote, Democrats in the House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The measure would fix much of the damage done to Section 5 of the VRA by the GOP Supremes in 2013, allowing laws with a discriminatory impact on minorities to be blocked in all fifty states before they can suppress voters. But that bill have to overcome a Senate filibuster by Republicans to become law. Still, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he support its passage, so perhaps he'll support the modification to the filibuster necessary to pass it. Given the federal lawsuit filed last week in Arizona against two new GOP voter suppression schemes in that state, perhaps AZ's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another opponent of filibuster reform --- even on behalf off democracy --- will rethink her position as well when the Senate returns from its August recess.

On Monday, however, there was some bona fide good news out of the very closely divided state of North Carolina, where a court overturned a century old law that prevented former felons from voting upon release from prison. The measure, originally enacted after the Civil War to stop access to the ballot box for black Americans, was finally overturned this week, allowing some 50,000 former felons to register to vote immediately. Of course, state Republicans are appealing the ruling.

And, despite good news last month from a Florida court, tossing a GOP cap on how much money can be donated to get initiatives onto the ballot in the Sunshine State, the effort to once again reenfranchise former felons in that state will now have to wait until the 2024 ballot. That, even after Florida voters already voted for exactly that in a landslide 65% to 35% victory in 2018. It seems Republicans will never run out of ways to prevent some 800,000 returning citizens in the state from being able to participate in their own democracy. It's what they do. It's also why it is so critical to adopt federal reforms, currently being blocked by Republicans and a couple of intransigent Democratic Senators.

In Arizona last week, several voting and civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit challenging two laws recently enacted by state Republicans aimed at suppressing the minority vote, according to our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan government watchdog Free Speech for People (FSFP). Her organization is litigating the case on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona. One law ends the state's very popular permanent early voting list, which allowed voters to receive Vote-by-Mail ballots automatically for every election. The other restriction requires voters who forgot to sign their VBM ballot to do so by 7pm on Election Night. That, even though voters judged to have a "mismatched" signature on their absentee ballot are allowed to "cure" the problem for up to five days after Election Day.

On the first restriction, Hostetler explains today that the permanent early voting list "is supposed to permanent. It's right in the name." But under the new law, she says, "if you don't vote in two consecutive election cycles, you're out. Two election cycles is not that many. There are local elections, many elections that happen. If you decide to skip two elections, for whatever reason, you're off this list and you might not realize it" until its too late.

On the second restriction, she describes that many voters are unlikely to be able to sign their ballot in time, or even be notified that there is a problem, particularly if they only dropped it off the day before the election and especially in the many cases where there is a two-hour, one-way trip for voters forced to use public transportation.

All of this is supposedly to prevent "voter fraud", according to Republicans in a state which has been unable to show any evidence of substantive fraud in past elections, much less fraud that would be prevented by the new restrictions. On the other hand, as Hostetler details, these laws --- which appear neutral on their face --- are specifically designed to "impact minority voters" in several different nefarious ways.

"We can't divorce this from the history of voting suppression in Arizona," she argues, listing many of the ways in which minorities will see a disparate impact from these laws. "Arizona has an unfortunate and long history of voter suppression of Latino, Black and Native American voters."

As the federal complaint [PDF] filed last week reads: "It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting --- the target of the new laws --- to help elect their candidate of choice."

But how can these restrictions be challenged in federal court, given Justice Alito's absurd, created-from-whole-cloth new "guideposts" for adjudicating Section 2 cases under the VRA, where, as we discussed on The BradCast last month, he literally conceded that discriminatory laws are okay, so long as they don't discriminated too much?

Hostetler explains the groups' strategy for challenging these laws under the VRA as well as Amendments 1, 14, and 15 of the U.S. Constitution which, she argues, these restrictions "clearly violate". She also speaks to the necessity of passage of new federal laws to give voting rights attorneys more tools to work with, since SCOTUS has twice gutted the VRA over the past decade. She similarly offers advice on and what we can all do --- as voters, as citizens --- to help reverse this cycle of insidious voter suppression now setting in across the country...especially in swing states like Kyrsten Sinema's Arizona...

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Monsoons taking out Trump's crappy border fence; Also: TX, FL out of beds, oxygen amid explosion of unvaxxed COVID patients; Pelosi holds off 'suicide squad' Dems to pass landmark $3.5 trillion budget blueprint...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2021 6:40pm PT  

One upside to our worsening climate emergency, nothing but downsides to our worsening COVID emergency, and Pelosi brokers a deal (for now) between House Democrats to prevent them from destroying themselves. All that and more jammed into today's very busy BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

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

  • Somehow we managed to find at least one bright spot in our endless Climate Changed Summer: global warming is helping to take down Trump's shoddily constructed border fence --- proving that bypassing critical environmental impact studies before handing out sweetheart contracts for multi-billion dollar government boondoggles is a really dumb idea. Especially in an area like Arizona, prone to summer monsoons. Especially for a fence that can be scaled with a $5 ladder. It's an even dumber idea --- a potentially deadly and catastrophic one, in fact --- to flatten existing river levees on the Rio Grande in Texas to make room for a border wall in a flood plain amid ever-worsening hurricane seasons.
  • In still more news of disasters denied and left behind by the Trump Administration for all of us to try and survive, the seemingly unstoppable surge of unvaccinated COVID patients in states run by politically ambitious Republicans is having an horrifically deadly effect --- and not just for COVID patients. In Orlando, Florida, officials are asking residents to immediately cut back water usage as much as 50 percent to avoid potential boil water orders. That's due to a lack of liquid oxygen to purify the water, as the oxygen is currently needed to take care of critically ill COVID patients. In the same state, children now lead all other age groups in the rate at which they are testing positive for the coronavirus. That, as Gov. Ron DeSantis continues his failing war to block school districts from mandating masks, even for kids younger than 12 who can't be vaccinated, but who now have a 23% test positivity rate. And all of that as scores of physicians walked out this week to demonstrate the need for Floridians to get vaccinated as hospitals and ICU's are now filling up and even preventing more non-COVID patients than COVID patients from receiving critical care.
  • The story is no better and no less shameful in Texas, where their Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, is also at war with school districts who choose to try and keep their children and teachers safe by instituting mask mandates. The west Texas town of Iraan (Ira-Ann) is now entirely shut down after an explosion of cases just five days into the school year, with just 14 beds total in the small town's hospital and no critical care facilities anywhere nearer than at least 80 miles away. But those facilities, like the ones in crowded Southeast Texas, in places like Houston, are also completely out of both nurses and beds in both emergency and ICU rooms with hundreds of critically ill patients on waiting lists for both. "Are there patients dying because of this that might not have died? Absolutely, yes," says the doctor who serves as CEO of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, adding ominously: "I am very concerned about the fatalities that are about to happen." The Lone Star State is now shipping patients out of state as far as Minnesota to get them care. Of course, "it didn't have to be this way," notes Washington Post's Catherine Rampell, calling on "the GOP to dole out some tough love on vaccines." Good luck with that.
  • In brighter news, after a standoff by a rump caucus of conservative "suicide squad" Democrats in the U.S. House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was able to broker a deal to move forward with passage of the landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation blueprint that would, if ultimately signed into law, expand health care, child care, access to education, begin to take on climate change and raise taxes on corporations and the rich to help pay for it all. Nine or 10 so-called Democratic "moderates" in the House had been holding the measure hostage over the past day, in hopes of forcing Pelosi to allow a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package already passed by the Senate. But Pelosi and President Biden and House progressives have already said that both bills comprising Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda must be passed at the same time. The House standoff ended with an agreement by Pelosi that the infrastructure bill would get a vote by September 27. Whether progressives will vote for it by then likely depends on whether the larger spending bill --- which can pass in both chambers without any Republicans --- is complete. There is still a long, tough road ahead for that agenda. If adopted, it would be a landmark achievement on par with FDR's New Deal. But, after an attempt to undermine by a few Democrats, it is now moving forward again, even as Mitch McConnell is rooting on those Democratic "moderates" in the House, in hopes of scuttling both long-overdue initiatives for the American people.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which, as usual, is filled with nothing but "fantastic" news...and Barry Manilow...

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Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Deadly record flooding in TN and from Tropical Storm Henri; Another rightwing talker dies of COVID; And we win the first court victory against GA's anti-voting, anti-press freedom law!...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2021 6:15pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, important, helpful advice for progressives in California's Gubernatorial recall, and we win a first court victory against Georgia's new anti-voting and anti-press freedoms law! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on the record-smashing deluges in both Tennessee, where at least 22 are dead following 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, an all-time record and triple what had been forecast --- and on the Northeastern Seaboard where Hurricane (turned Tropical Storm, Turned Tropical Depression) Henri is wreaking absolute havoc. All just the latest examples of our worsening climate change emergency, as Desi explains.

Next, we had a court victory in Georgia on Friday! The first one, in fact, to knock down a provision of the state Republicans' abhorrent anti-voting bill, SB 202. And, I'm proud to say, it happens to be one of the provisions on which I am the named plaintiff representing the media. The lawsuit, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG), is one of eight suits currently challenging various provisions of the law. CGG's suit, among other things, challenges a number of anti-First Amendment press freedoms jammed into the statute, along with the voter suppression stuff and the provisions which allow the state to take over county boards of elections and subvert election results.

The specific provision struck down by the federal court [PDF] on Friday, criminalized all photography of voter ballots by the public and/or media. Given the state's new, huge touchscreen voting systems, it's now almost impossible to not see a voter's ballot when media or the public attempt to observe voting inside of Peach State precincts. Unfortunately, in addition to striking that one down, the judge allowed several other provisions in this early challenge to stand, though CGG Director (and frequent BradCast guest) Marilyn Marks told me over the weekend there will be much more to come in this case, as they are deciding whether to pursue reconsideration and/or appeal of several parts of the judge's early ruling. While a small victory, for now, it also establishes that the Coalition has standing to sue in this case and that, too, is encouraging good news.

Next, it's on to the ongoing, idiotic --- but deadly serious --- California Gubernatorial recall, in which Republicans, unable to win regular elections, are hoping to unseat popular progressive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is otherwise up for reelection next year anyway. Vote-by-Mail ballots have been sent to all registered state voters (at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks to those "conservative" Republicans), but, curiously, while Newsom and the Democrats are calling on voters to vote NO on the ballot's first question ("Should Newsom be recall and removed from office?"), they are calling on voters to leave the second question ("Who should replace him, if he loses on Question 1?") completely empty! "Vote No and go!," Newsom and state Dems have recommended.

As our guest today, ERNEST A. CANNING, a longtime progressive Democrat, both writes at The BRAD BLOG and explains on today's show, that strategy may be extraordinarily ill-considered and could backfire on Dems. Instead, after culling through the records (or lack thereof) of every non-Republican, non-Libertarian candidate on question two of the recall ballot (there are 46 candidates in total), Canning, in his "One Progressive's Guide to the CA Recall," explains why he believes the best strategy for progressives is to vote for the Green Party's Dan Kapelovitz on question two.

Both of the leading party candidates (far-right talk radio host Larry Elder for the Republicans and 29-year old real estate mogul and YouTube sensation Kevin Paffrath for the Dems), among other things, oppose Newsom's common-sense, life-saving mask and vaccine mandates and vow to lift them if elected.

Kapelovitz, on the other hand, a criminal defense attorney, both supports the Governor's science-based mandates that have been so successful in the state, and opposes the recall of Newsom itself on question one. He says he's running to stave off a worst-case scenario, according to Canning, should the currently "dead heat" first question result in the unthinkable removal of the Governor.

We also discuss the questionable Constitutionality of CA's more than 100-year old recall process (built into the state constitution by an anti-corporate Republican-turned-Progressive Party Governor in 1911) which could allow a new Governor to be elected to the nation's most populous state with far fewer votes than the current Governor actually receives to stay in office on the very same ballot. And, there's also the troubling matter that this election could have serious national ramifications. California's 88-year old U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein may need to be replaced at some point before her current term ends in 2024. If a Republican, like Elder, becomes Governor and appoints a fellow Republican to her seat, control of the U.S. Senate would immediately revert to Mitch McConnell and the GOP.

So, yes, this CA Recall, as dumb as it is, matters. And it's important for progressive voters to pay attention, fill out a hand-marked paper ballot, and hopefully deliver it in person to a polling location or a drop-box by September 14th.

Finally, speaking of rightwing talk radio hosts, we've been reporting on a number of them who used our public airwaves to spread disinformation about COVID deniers and its vaccines, before finding themselves hospitalized or killed by the disease in recent weeks. One of them we've covered since his hospitalization in mid-July is Nashville's popular, nationally-syndicated Phil Valentine. After spending months mocking the seriousness of the virus and making fun of the life-saving vaccines, Valentine was announced dead over the weekend, after weeks on a ventilator, on what was reportedly his 62nd birthday...

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