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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, November 28, 2022
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdidddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Constitution disqualify insurrectionist Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
Now Back to the Quest for Trump Accountability, Still in Progress: 'BradCast' 11/17/22
Guest: Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announcement climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
Recent GNRs: 11/15/22 - 11/10/22 - Archives...
2022 GOP Political Fallout, Blame, Circus Begins: 'BradCast' 11/16/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 11/15/22
Biden pledges leadership, funding at U.N. climate summit; U.S. and China resume climate talks; Costly Nicole; PLUS: Dems Sen. majority to hold line on climate policy...
Sunday 'Red Wave' Toons
Surf the wave! It's Pdiddie's first post-midterms collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Guy Whose Data Analysis Was Right on the Election on Why Media Got It So Wrong (Again): 'BradCast' 11/11/22
Guest: TargetSmart's Tom Bonier; 'Red wave' buffoonery; Latest results from AZ, NV...
It's the Gerrymandering (and Corrupted Courts), Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/10/22
Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest Sen, House, Guv results...
'Green News Report' 11/10/22
Failed 'red wave' is good news for the climate; New reports warn of skyrocketing methane levels; PLUS: Mixed results for state environmental ballot propositions...
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...


Also: The Prospect's Harold Meyerson on how Biden and Dems can build back 'Build Back Better' before mid-terms; And: Shell's billion dollar Canadian 'carbon capture' facility EMITS more than it captures!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2022 6:50pm PT  

Trump's never-issued draft Executive Order to seize the nation's voting machines in December of 2020 has now been released, and it contains a surprise or two that may sound familiar to BradCast listeners! Also today, some thoughts from our guest on how President Biden and Democrats may still be able to salvage the critical Build Back Better agenda recently blocked by Lord Manchin and Lady Sinema. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the National Archives is believed to have turned over most of the hundreds --- and perhaps thousands --- of documents subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election with his attack on the U.S. Capitol and other actions. The documents from the Trump White House were handed over to the Committee this week following the crushing, 8 to 1 defeat [PDF] issued to the disgraced former President by his own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

One of the many documents we've been looking forward to seeing was said to be a never-issued draft Executive Order on "Election Integrity", supposedly directing the Dept. of Defense to seize the nation's computerized voting and tabulation systems on the baseless premise that they had all been hacked or manipulated in some fashion, and to establish a Special Counsel to investigate and prosecute the criminals responsible.

That draft EO was obtained and published today by Politico's Betsy Woodruff Swan. The 3-page order [PDF], dated December 16, 2020, directs the Secretary of Defense, "effective immediately", to "seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under" the federal law related to the preservation of election materials.

Happily, the Order was never actually issued. But, as we detail today, it's still stunning on several levels. For one, it quotes at some length from a 2020 ruling [PDF] by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg in the long-standing federal lawsuit challenging Georgia's use of new, unverifiable computerized Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by Dominion. That lawsuit was filed years ago by the non-profit Coalition for Good Governance.

If that all sounds familiar, it may be because we have covered that specific case on this program for many years now, as filed by the Coalition headed up by founder and longtime election security champion Marilyn Marks. She has joined us countless times on this program to discuss it, including after the complaint saw its biggest victory when Totenberg banned the state's 20-year old touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold, after she ruled them to be unverifiable, unsecure and, therefore, unconstitutional. Shamefully, Georgia's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger subsequently replaced them with Dominion's equally unverifiable and vulnerable touchscreen systems, despite many warnings from voting system and cybersecurity experts. Totenberg's 2020 ruling, quoted in the draft Trump EO, allowed those new systems to be used for the first time that year anyway, despite the vulnerabilities, while issuing clear notice that she may well end up banning their use as well in the future.

The unidentified Trumpers who wrote the draft Executive Order titled "PRESIDENTIAL FINDINGS TO PRESERVE COLLECT AND ANALYZE NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION REGARDING THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION", peppered the draft with lies about evidence of "probable cause" that Dominion's systems --- (as well as those made by about 8 other companies, several of which don't even deploy voting systems in the U.S., much less in the states Trump was challenging) --- were manipulated by "a massive cyber-attack by foreign interests". The Trumpers used the 2020 federal court ruling out of Georgia to further their evidence-free claims and even lied to say that "Every defect and hazard of which Judge Totenberg warned happened in Georgia."

If so, there is absolutely zero evidence to that end, according to one of the Coalition's experts on the case, Dr. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley. He told me today via email that while "the vulnerabilities undeniably exist" in those Dominion voting systems, "there is (so far) no evidence that they were exploited in 2020 --- contrary to the claims in the draft EO."

In addition to misidentifying voting system vendors (and some of their actual correct names), the Order would have also directed the Sec. of Defense to compile an assessment of the matter in 60 days which, as Woodruff Swan observes, "could have been a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February of 2021."

The unissued Order is dated just two days before a much-reported, lengthy, reportedly "bonkers" meeting in the Oval Office with Trump, his disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne (for some reason), and loony conspiracist attorney Sidney Powell, who reportedly hoped to be named as a Special Counsel to oversee this emergency "national security" matter after the systems were seized. The final directive in the draft EO calls for the appointment of "a Special Counsel to oversee this operation and institute all criminal and civil proceedings [and to be] provided all resources necessary to carry out her duties." [Emphasis added.]

All of this underscores at least two important things. 1) Just how close this country under Trump came to an actual military coup ordered by the President of the United States to undermine and steal a Presidential election. And 2) The warnings that we have issued for nearly two decades now about how computerized voting systems that are so opaque and impossible for the public to actually oversee when they create and/or tally votes in secret, that --- even when they work as designed --- still allow for disingenuous cretins and liars like Team Trump to claim that they did not. That, in and of itself, as we have long warned, poses a grave threat to democracy and, clearly, national security. This matter should finally make that point crystal clear.

Before that story broke this afternoon, we had planned for our lede story today to be about how (and if) Joe Biden and Democrats can retrench and get their transformative Build Back Better agenda back on course, after both it and critical voting rights and election protection legislation were all blocked by Senate Republicans and Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

We're joined today by HAROLD MEYERSON, longtime progressive columnist and editor at The American Prospect to discuss just that. He wrote about it earlier this week, before his suggestion for breaking up the Build Back Better act into small chunks (and hold votes to put everyone on record for the stuff that was being blocked) was echoed by President Biden during his press conference two days later.

As usual, it is an insightful and very lively conversation on all of that and more with the delightful Meyerson today.

Finally, we close with a story out of Canada on the billion dollar "carbon capture" facility built by Shell as a demonstration for how their new technology could remove dangerous emissions from the air and allow for the continued use of fossil fuels in a climate changed world. As it turns out, according to a new report this week, the facility actually emits more greenhouse gasses than it captures. Go figure!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2022 5:50pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: While this week will be seen by history as a shameful one for American democracy --- or, more specifically, for 50 Republican Senators and 2 Democratic ones --- it may also eventually become a celebrated week for all of the encouraging criminal accountability news that is now coming in on what seems like an hourly basis for our disgraced and failed former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • After a year-long kabuki drama, played out only for the benefit of obstructionist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), both have decided to include themselves in American history's hall of shame by siding with segregationists, anti-democracy activists and Republican authoritarians in the U.S. Senate to block much-needed protection for voting rights and American democracy. While claiming to support the critical, combined Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- which would have helped to standardize voting rights for all, combat the GOP subversion of election results, ended dark money in campaigns, blocked partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states and restored what SCOTUS broke in the Voting Rights Act in 2013 --- the two both voted to ensure none of it could happen. They chose to embrace the Senate's undemocratic filibuster rule instead, just as opponents of civil and voting rights have done over decades of American history. We put a bow on the year-long saga today, share parts of Wednesday night's maddening debate, and join Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in his vow from the Senate floor to keep coming back "again and again and again" until the job of protecting and saving American democracy is won.
  • In far less grim news today, the very very bad week for the Trump Crime Family continues to worsen. After Wednesday's devastating loss at his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, documents from the Trump White House regarding January 6, 2021 have reportedly begun flowing from the National Archives to the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. We review a few interesting points of note from the High Court's crushing 8 to 1 ruling [PDF] rejecting Trump's claim of Executive Privilege in his failed effort to block the release of thousands of documents to the Committee, including what could be some very incriminating video tape.
  • With hopes of hiding behind Executive Privilege all but dashed by SCOTUS, the ability of Trump's henchmen to avoid subpoenas for documents and testimony by the Jan 6 Committee is quickly fading as well. On Thursday, Ivanka Trump became the first family member to receive an invitation --- not yet a subpoena --- from the House Committee to answer a number of key questions about her role in January 6th, and her various reported contacts with her father that day and in the days prior. The letter from Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) makes clear that the Committee already has a great deal of information. It will be tricky for Trump's daughter, who served as a White House advisor, to avoid speaking with them. It will be a crime if she lies to them.
  • But that's not all. After New York State Attorney General Letitia James detailed evidence of years of bank, insurance and tax fraud by the Trump family this week, on Thursday, Trump's bad week became still worse. Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fani Willis asked a state Superior Court Chief Judge today to impanel a special grand jury in her nearly year-long probe of the apparent criminal conspiracy by Trump and many others (including WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani and more) to harangue, harass and threaten state election officials into reversing results of the Peach State's 2020 Presidential election, won by Joe Biden, in favor of Trump. Willis has said she will decide in the first part of this year whether or not criminal indictments are warranted for "potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.” Uh, oh.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, covering the likelihood that Biden's Build Back Better bill, also blocked by Joe Manchin, will now have to be broken up into smaller chunks; the devastating volcano and tsunami disasters in Tonga; smashed heat records in the Southern Hemisphere; and Exxon's new ploy to pretend they give a damn about climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS allows Nat'l Archives to release Trump Jan. 6 records to House; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets a historian's hilarious 'hard no'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2022 6:21pm PT  

Joe Biden is now one year in. Donald Trump is now one year out. Have the media figured out how to properly cover either or both of them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Trump's troubles are getting worse by the day hour. It's been a bad 24 hours for the disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term former President. But that's usually good news for America!

As we literally begin today's program, news breaks that the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the National Archive to turn over hundreds of pages of Trump White House documents to the bipartisan U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

That bad news for Trump (and good news for everyone else) follows last night's bad news for him (and good news for us) out of a New York state courtroom. NY Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating years of apparent bank, insurance and tax fraud by Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump's children for years. She recently subpoenaed Trump and his kids Ivanka and Don Jr. to sit for depositions in her civil probe. (She is also working with the Manhattan D.A.'s long-running criminal probe into related matters.) Trump and the kids sued to quash the subpoena and, late on Tuesday night, James' office filed documents in response, detailing what she describes in the court papers as "significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

We discuss some of that "significant additional evidence" today, along with the additional news that when Eric Trump, back in 2020, failed to quash his own subpoena, he subsequently "then invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours.” That's his right, of course. But back in 2016, while running for President, Trump described pleading the Fifth as "disgraceful". "The mob takes the Fifth," he said at the time. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" We'll see if he, Ivanka and Don Jr., soon join his "disgraceful" son Eric in doing the same, along with the Trump Organization's "disgraceful" Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who's already been criminally charged with fraud in Manhattan after also pleading the Fifth more than 500 times as well during his own deposition with James.

And then there's the new guy in the White House, who doesn't seem to be criminal or a liar or a fraudster at all. Today marked the end of Joe Biden's first year in office. It's been a rocky one at times, but also extraordinary successful on a number of legislative and economic issues.

We're joined today by ERIC BOEHLERT, longtime media analyst and publisher of the Press Run newsletter, to discuss media coverage of Biden at the one year mark, and how it compares to coverage of Trump's first --- and subsequent --- years in office.

While Biden's approval numbers have been flagging in recent months --- Gallup pegs his one year average at just under 49% --- they are still above Trump's during his entire Presidency. Nonetheless, we saw little from the media declaring Trump's Presidency was over or a failure at the end of his first year, by way of contrast with what we see from the media now, despite several remarkable successes for Biden over the last 365 days.

"It's very similar to Obama," Boehlert asserts. "If you go back and looked at his first year, first term, 'Oh his coalitions are falling apart!' Lots of doomsday coverage for Obama that turned out to be nonsense." He later adds, "Good luck going back and finding stories about whether the Trump Presidency was failed, 'How does he reset?,'" after his first year. "There was an acceptance that Trump was going to poll in the thirties, and the press just went on from there. In terms of how the coverage differs from Biden and Trump, I think that's the key one there."

Suffice to say, the difference in coverage of each President, as Boehlert details, is stark. And not in a good way. Among the other related issues discussed, above and beyond media coverage of the two Presidents: Has the media come to fully understand, much less appreciate, the unprecedented nature of this tenuous moment for American democracy itself?

"We have two sides," Boehlert explains. "A center-left Democrat doing his best, and we have a Republican Party that wants to destroy free and fair elections in America. So if you're the press, don't play that down the middle. Don't pretend those are similar choices."

"When Trump was inaugurated, the press didn't change how it covered Trump," he observes. "You would read the coverage and think Jeb Bush was President, you would think John McCain was President. You would think this is center-right, normal, traditional....not this madman narcissist. I think with the Biden era, they just want to play this game --- 'His polling is down! We've found some Democrats who are critical of him!' These aren't the times for the norm. The Trump years weren't the time for the norm. And we're not seeing drastic change." And that failure by our corporate media is not a good sign for the nation. Or the planet.

Finally today, it appears that Fox "News" is not satisfied by simply rewriting reality in the present. They are now attempting to rewrite history itself, it seems, as far as who actually killed Abraham Lincoln. Seriously. In the bargain, a Lincoln assassination expert's response to an invitation to appear on Fox Nation (the propaganda streaming service companion to the propaganda cable news channel) to discuss it, is one for the ages!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li; Also: AZ County finds no 2020 voter fraud; TX counties rejecting absentee applications under new law; Giuliani, other Trump fraudsters subpoenaed by House Jan. 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The ongoing GOP effort to undermine American democracy by making it harder to vote and easier to cheat in elections continues amid the fallout from Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. While you might think Republicans would pay a price for joining him in that effort, its Democrats --- and voters in general and American democracy itself --- paying the price, even as the Big Lie continues to fall further apart with each passing day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As you know, Republicans have been using false claims of massive (and, apparently, evidence-free) "voter fraud" in the 2020 election as a pretext to adopt new voter suppression and election subversion laws in GOP controlled states. The fruits of those corrupt efforts are already paying off. In Texas, for example, County Clerks across the state are reporting that the state's new anti-voting law, S.B.1, is forcing them to reject hundreds of legitimate absent ballot applications in one of the most difficult states in the nation to vote by mail already.

New I.D. requirements for ballot applications have resulted in rejections of nearly half of the absentee applications in Travis County, home to the state's capital of Austin. Worse, the state's Secretary of State has yet to issue rules for how County Clerks may legally notify or help the rejected voters to cure their applications in advance of the state's March mid-term primaries. (The application deadline is Feb. 18.)

Many of the rejected applications are from voters that have been voting by mail for years. But the new state law now requires applicants to include either a drivers license number or state I.D. number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application. While some don't notice the new requirement and are rejected on that basis, others do include one of those numbers, but are still being rejected! Why? As Democrats had warned when trying to block the bill, the TX law now requires that whichever number a voter uses on their application must match the number on their voter registration form, many of them completed years ago. If the voter includes a drivers license number on their application, for example, but their registration includes a State I.D. number instead --- or no number at all (as is the case with millions of voter registrations in the Lone Star State) --- their applications must now be rejected. Mission accomplished?

Meanwhile, the GOP's Big "voter fraud" Lie continues to fall apart in Arizona, where Joe Biden has been confirmed many times over to have lawfully defeated Trump in 2020. On Friday, in the second largest county in the state, Pima (home to Tucson), the Pima County Attorney's Office determined that, of the 151 cases referred to them as possible cases of voter fraud after 2020, ZERO actually merited criminal charges. There remain a handful of possible fraud cases elsewhere in a the state (less than 50). But, of course, if all known cases of possible fraud in Arizona turned out to be actual fraud and all of those votes were somehow in favor of Biden, there still wouldn't be nearly enough fraudulent ballots to reverse his 10,000+ vote victory out of about 3.2 million ballots cast in the state. Nonetheless, in AZ as well, Republicans are using their lies about "voter fraud" to make it harder to vote and easier for them to cheat in elections.

But the biggest story on today's BradCast involves gerrymandering, perhaps the most critical reason our federal government and our democracy has become so seemingly irreparably broken. Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week have combined the combined Freedom to Vote Act (which, among many other critical election reforms, makes partisan gerrymandering unlawful in all 50 states) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (which restores the requirement for federal pre-clearance of new election laws in states with a history of racial discrimination in elections after SCOTUS gutted the landmark provision) into one single bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. All 50 Democrats in the majority claim to support the newly combined bill. Zero Republicans do. But unless two Democratic Senators (Sinema and Manchin) agree to modify the Senate filibuster rule to allow democracy-saving legislation to be adopted with a simple majority vote, none of it will become law and the GOP efforts to game elections will be largely free and clear through 2022.

For several years, experts have been warning that, following the 2020 Census, the new round of redistricting was going to be very bad for Democrats in GOP-controlled states. That, after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and later declared that federal courts may have no say at all on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, But, with about half of the new maps now redrawn by states in advance of the 2022 mid-terms (with several being challenged in state courts), are they as bad as many pundits had foretold?

A number of redistricting experts of late have suggested that the new maps aren't nearly as bad for Dems as they might have been. But is that true? We're joined today by Brennan Center's Senior Counsel for its Democracy Program, MICHAEL LI, who serves as the non-partisan organization's redistricting expert.

Last week, in an op-ed for Washington Post, Li describes the notion that gerrymandering hasn't been too bad for Democrats this year as a "misleading narrative" for a host of reasons. Experts, he notes, had predicted a bunch of safe Democratic seats would be remapped into Republican districts. "They expected Democratic seats to fall," Li explains. "But instead, what Republicans are doing is shoring up the disproportionate advantages they already hold" following the extreme partisan gerrymanders from 2011.

"In Texas, under the old maps, Democrats have 36% of the seats. Under the new maps they have 37% of the seats, so very little change," he tells me by way of just one example. "But the competition is gone. So whereas under the old maps there were competitive districts, under the new maps, even if Democrats got 58% of the vote [across the state], they would still have the same 37% of the seats, which hardly seems fair. Even if Texas turned deep blue, Republicans would have almost a 2-to-1 advantage. That's the perniciousness of the state's gerrymander."

There are other examples, in North Carolina for instance, where the maps are currently being challenged in state courts. We also discuss how the Supreme Court's unwillingness to hear partisan gerrymandering cases has affected all of this and whether or not the Court will similarly begin to turn away racial gerrymander cases as well in the not too distant future.

Li goes on to explain why the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- if Republicans or Manchinema were to allow it to be passed into law --- "would be a game-changer" on this issue. It "would transform redistricting. There would be a ban against partisan gerrymandering in Congressional redistricting. It would be easy to calculate and figure out whether a map violates that and, if a map does, then it's blocked from use pretty automatically, perhaps even in time for 2022 if Congress were to pass it soon."

But, alas, unless there are some surprises in the Senate this week, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. So, what's left? Should Democratic-controlled states, in order to save democracy itself before the 2024 elections, gerrymander their own maps as aggressively as Republicans have? As much as it pains me to do so, I have previously argued that they should. Does Li agree? Tune in to find out!

Finally, before we go, the mid-show breaking news that Rudy Giuliani and a number of others who were very close to the disgraced former President as he was attempting to steal the 2020 election have now been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol...

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Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: WI judge bars all ballot drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP-gerrymandered state, U.S. House maps...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2022 6:45pm PT  

We're fighting again today on The BradCast to prevent the murder of American democracy. Lord knows Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin don't seem to give a damn about it. As usual these days, that means looking both forward and back. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Thursday in Wisconsin, as Election Law Blog described it, a rightwing Circuit Court Judge "suddenly discovers that, despite years of use, absentee ballot drop boxes are actually unlawful." He is now ordering that ballots may be returned only in person (not by family members or neighbors) or by much less secure U.S. Postal Service boxes. Unless overturned on appeal, the ruling could have a chilling effect on critical Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections in the Badger State this year, after some 500 secure drop boxes were successfully deployed across the state without incident in 2020.

There is better news for democracy's future this week out of Ohio (of all places). The Republican majority state Supreme Court, in two 4 to 3 rulings --- with the GOP Chief Justice serving as swing-vote with the court's three Democrats --- struck down new maps for both state House and Senate districts, as well as the one drawn up for Congress by Ohio's new Redistricting Commission.

The Commission was created as part of a Constitutional amendment adopted by 71% of voters in 2015, in hopes of doing away with far-right partisan gerrymandering in the Buckeye State. Their constitution now requires maps reflect the general partisan makeup of the state, which the court found leaned 54% to 46% toward the GOP in statewide elections over the past decade. But the Republicans who currently control the Redistricting Committee drew up maps that lean well over 2 to 1 in favor of their own party!

"When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins," the court majority wrote. "[T]he evidence in these cases makes clear beyond all doubt that the General Assembly did not heed the clarion call sent by Ohio voters to stop political gerrymandering." Despite the state's narrow GOP advantage, the Congressional map proposed by the Commission would have given Republicans a 12 to 3 advantage over Democrats in U.S. House races! Shamefully, Justice Pat DeWine --- son of Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine (who, himself, sits on the Redistricting Commission!) --- refused to recuse himself from the vote --- just to give you an idea of how much the GOP is hoping to murder democracy in Ohio. Happily, it didn't work, and Democrats are likely to pick up several U.S. House seats when real maps are drawn up to meet the state constitution's (and voters!) requirements and the Supreme Court's approval.

The state-by-state, court case-by-court case slog to preserve democracy will now continue, as the two obstructionist Democrats in the Senate, Sinema and Manchin, show no signs of defending it in the U.S. Senate. A debate on the two critical federal voting rights and election protection bills they both claim to support --- the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- will receive a vote next week, thanks to some parliamentary maneuvering to avoid a GOP filibuster to hold a debate. But they are likely to with zero Republican votes for either measure (ten would be needed to overcome the Senate's 60-vote filibuster threshold) unless Sinema and Manchin do the right thing and vote to reform the undemocratic Senate rule. No one believes they will. But at least they'll be on record so voters can hold them accountable --- or try to.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, don't tell Brit Hume, but Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and ten of his henchmen were charged with seditious conspiracy for their part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The deadly assault was in hopes of preventing the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as part of Donald Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election.

We're joined again today by MARCY WHEELER, longtime independent investigative national security journalist at Emptywheel.net, to discuss what the new charges may mean as the Dept. of Justice moves up the chain of command in their investigation --- their largest in history --- of the Jan 6. insurrection and how, and if, this brings them closer to the kingpin, our failed former President.

Over the holidays, Wheeler joined guest host Nicole Sandler to lay out a persuasive case that Merrick Garland and the DoJ are, in fact, vigorously working from the bottom up to potentially reach Trump. She described how they are making headway in that regard. Today, Wheeler explains how the new charges are likely to move the DoJ closer to several main instigators of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack, including Trump's right-hand men like Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani and Alex Jones.

"What the [charge of] seditious conspiracy does, for Rhodes in particular, is it broadens what he was doing and really implicates his efforts to arm everyone," she tells me. "We knew that these efforts continued after January 6th. They still thought that Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act. So they were all gathering in Texas and acquiring arms to do that. That shows the continuity of plans beyond just January 6th."

She notes the new charge of sedition also "shuts up the Republicans," who have increasingly claimed the attack wasn't particularly violent, dangerous or any big deal --- and many in the media, naturally, have been going along with that idea. But with charges of sedition "the media is finally paying attention. I've had conversations with about 5 CNN people who, for the last month and a half, were saying 'Nothing was happening,' [but] now are like, 'Wow! Big news!'"

"The real point of this indictment is to turn the screws on the people that are charged to try and get them to flip," Wheeler contends, as prosecutors work their way up from those who committed lesser crimes, through the more violent and pre-planned ones, up to those behind it all.

In addition to the seditious conspiracy charges, prosecutors have added "another conspiracy for interrupting a government official's duty," she observes. "The reason I'm interested in that is when you look at these conspiracies, every single one that has ever been written in this investigation could plunk Trump right into the middle of it."

"But with Stewie [Rhodes], you go beyond January 6th. You start talking about an attack on Joe Biden. That's what I think makes it seditious conspiracy. But the added conspiracy charge of interrupting a government official, that's something Trump did," she argues. "One of things that DOJ has been focused, laser sharp since very early, is the way in which all of these rioters were targeting Mike Pence."

"DoJ is turning the screws," Wheeler claims. "They're trying to get these people to flip. That's what I think you would need to get through to Roger Stone and, beyond him, to others."

As usual with our friend Marcy, there is lot to discuss and digest. She follows all of these cases --- hundreds of them brought so far --- likely as close or closer than anyone in the country. Tune in today for much more on all of this!

Finally, just to leave today on one more encouraging note...Last week, we reported that Virginia's GOP Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin had tapped coal lobbyist turned Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as his new Secretary of Natural Resources. But, on Friday, more than 150 former EPA officials who served under both Democratic and Republican Administrations sent a blistering letter to the commonwealth's Democratic-majority state Senate, urging them to reject Wheeler's confirmation. If Ds stick together, they would be able to use their 21-19 majority to stop Wheeler's confirmation dead in his corrupt, coal-dusted tracks...

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Also: Oath Keepers founder charged with 'seditious conspiracy' for Capitol attack; Bernstein says Jan 6. 'cover-up in excess of Watergate'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2022 6:59pm PT  

Our guest on yesterday's BradCast nailed it. The stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, strike down one of the Biden Administration's vaccine mandates today (the one that allows employees to not get vaccinated if they choose), while narrowly approving the vaccine mandate for all health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The Omicron surge continues to rack up both record infections and hospitalizations. Death counts are now on the rise as well. Though there are hopeful signs that some parts of the U.S. may be peaking or plateauing, and that, in a few weeks, the surge may plunge as quickly as it initially spiked over the past few weeks. The advice this week from the Los Angeles County Health Director to hang on for just a few more weeks and avoid any non-essential public gatherings, particularly indoors with the unvaccinated or those at high risk of severe illness during that period, is likely good advice for everyone in the nation at this time.

That is especially true now that the non-medical experts at the U.S. Supreme Court seem dead set on preventing actual experts charged with protecting workers from helping to protect millions of them.

As Slate's ace legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the packed Republican Supreme Court did, in fact, put a stay on President Biden's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate for workers at large companies with more than 100 employees to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly. The other case heard during emergency oral arguments last week, the Administration's Health and Human Services mandate for vaccination of all workers at health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding, was narrowly allowed to remain. Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joined the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] on that one.

Today, we step through the absurdities of the Majority opinion from the Court's rightwingers on the stayed employer mandate [PDF], as well as the even more absurd --- but dangerously so --- Concurring opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch with Thomas and Alito, as well as the furious Dissent, jointly penned by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

"Underlying everything else in this dispute is a single, simple question," the Dissenters wrote, 'Who decides how much protection, and of what kind, American workers need from COVID–19? An agency with expertise in workplace health and safety, acting as Congress and the President authorized? Or a court, lacking any knowledge of how to safeguard workplaces, and insulated from responsibility for any damage it causes?"

The stinging Minority dissent derides the non-expert Court Majority for being the ones to decide that the non-experts in Congress, as opposed to the experts at the Executive Branch agency charged by Congress via specific statue to protect workers, must make specific medical decisions through legislation for those workers. It is, of course, madness. Especially, as the Dissenters note, the Court's "Members are elected by, and accountable to, no one," whereas those at OSHA are not only experts, but "responsible to the President, and the President is responsible to—and can be held to account by—the American public."

Tune in for all the details. But the good-ish news for the moment is that only three of the Court's rightwingers were willing to sign on to the idea that statutes granting Executive Agencies the power to regulate things should be ignored when there is a "major question" at stake, as we discussed in some detail with Stern on Wednesday. But that good-ish news may not stand for long, as the Court will hear a case next month with even broader implications, as to whether the EPA, despite its statutory charge by Congress, is allowed to regulate pollution that is causing our climate emergency and much more. As we detailed yesterday, we are, in fact, watching the far-right "deconstruction of the Administrative state" before our very eyes.

Then, in what would, during normal times, be our lead story today, we quickly cover the arrest of Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia outfit, who, along with ten others in his group, were charged today "seditious conspiracy" for their part in the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as part of Donald Trump's plot to steal the 2020 election.

The federal charges are the most serious to date in relation to the January 6 attack and are precisely what our guest from several weeks ago, Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, told guest host Nicole Sandler was likely to soon happen, as the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland continued a painstaking bottom-up probe. And yes, we did interview the Oath Keepers' Rhodes on this program back in 2016. Here is a link to that lively, if occasionally testy, interview.

And, in one more related matter on an absurdly busy show (restructured about five times before air today as news kept breaking!), GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who recently told a reporter he "wouldn't hide from anything" when he asked if he was willing to speak to the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating January 6th, refused to cooperate with a voluntary invitation on Wednesday to speak with the Committee. In response to the news, Carl Bernstein (of Watergate's Woodward and Bernstein) told CNN on Wednesday night that the Committee already "has the goods" on McCarthy and what he said to Trump on Jan. 6 "and McCarthy has lied about it since."

"So, we have a real conspiracy, a real cover-up, real stonewalling in excess of anything we saw in Watergate," said Bernstein...who should know.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which is packed with even more news during the final few minutes of today's program...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Jan 6. Comm seeks McCarthy interview; Fulton County, GA D.A. closing in on Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2022 6:39pm PT  

Well, we start today's BradCast with some encouraging news. At least until our guest arrives. [Audio link to full, must-listen show follows this summary.]

First up, the investigators are closing in. In Congress, the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are now "requesting" an interview and documents from House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, centered on his communications with Donald Trump "before, during and after" the insurrection.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis also appears to be closing in on Trump and his fellow conspirators regarding their attempt to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. In an interview with AP published on Monday, Willis said her team is making "making solid progress, and she’s leaning toward asking for a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid the investigation." She also believes a decision will soon be made on whether to indict Trump and several others. (Meadows? Giuliani? Lindsey Graham?) “I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” she told AP. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

And on Tuesday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported "that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County District Attorney's office in Georgia." The meeting reportedly took place last month, around the same time that Trump issued an unhinged, seemingly out-of-the-blue statement that few knew what to make of: "All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. They are vicious, violent, and Radical Left thugs. They are destroying people's lives, which is the only thing they are good at...their DA's, AG's, and Dem Law Enforcement are out of control." Suddenly, his remarks makes a lot more sense.

Welp...That's about it for today's encouraging news, before we are then joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist for Slate on what appears to be Steve Bannon's dream of the "deconstruction of the Administrative State" about to come true.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on challenges to two separate COVID-related Biden Administration mandates. One applies to businesses with more than 100 employees, requiring them all to either get vaccinated or take weekly tests for the virus. The other requires vaccination for all workers at health care facilities that accept money from either Medicaid or Medicare. Both rules were set to take effect as the Omicron surge has led to record pandemic hospitalization numbers. The first was issued by way of regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the second via the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS). Both are based on authorities granted to the Executive Branch agencies via statutes adopted by Congress. Though none of those statutes, passed years ago, include the word "COVID" in them. So now they are both being challenged by Republican state Attorneys General as unconstitutional over-reaches by the Administration.

Based on tea leaves read during Friday's oral arguments --- with two of the challenging attorneys infected with COVID and arguing remotely --- Stern believes it's possible the employer mandate could survive, but that the health care mandate is likely to be struck down.

But buckle up for today's conversation with Stern about all of this, because these cases are a much much larger than simply about the COVID mandates, even though they are likely to save hundreds of thousands of American lives unless struck down by the Court. These challenges squarely target the so-called "Administrative State" which, as you'll recall, Trump's disgraced Senior Political Adviser Bannon vowed in 2017 that they planned to "deconstruct". That may finally be about to happen, thanks to Trump's stolen and packed Supreme Court.

We dive too far into the legal and Constitutional and political weeds to adequately summarize here, but the argument comes down to who has the Constitutional right to "protect the general welfare" of the citizenry on matters of public health (and much more). Is it Congress, which has no expertise in these matters? Or the Executive Branch agencies created by Congress and filled with such experts? Ironically, the ultimate body who will make this decision is going to be the Judicial Branch, which, like the Legislative Branch also has no expertise in these issues.

All of the COVID mandate challenges are based on legal doctrines such as the "major question doctrine" and the "nondelegation doctrine" (both explained by Stern) which, unlike the General Welfare clause, do not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution at all.

"There is nothing (in the Constitution) that requires these principles, and certainly nothing that gives the federal judiciary the power to decide what the Executive Branch gets to do and not do under Congressional delegations," Stern explains. "All of this stuff has been made up. It was made up a long time ago, and used to block New Deal programs under FDR, then immediately abandoned and discarded for nearly a century. Only in the last few years has it been revived by so-called 'originalists' who are seeking to box in Democratic Presidents and prevent them from issuing any kind of policy."

"We are talking about a really recent revival," he continues. "Because as recently as the early 2000s, the Supreme Court unanimously disclaimed any real version of the non-delegation doctrine, and a majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia [of all people!] basically said 'We don't have any expertise, it's not our job to tell Congress what it can and cannot entrust the Executive to do'. We are only about two decades out from that, and the entire conservative legal movement has turned on a dime and decided that, in fact, the courts have this intense obligation to police the boundaries between these branches, even though there's nothing in the Constitution that permits it, much less requires it."

The Scalia majority opinion in question, which Stern "encourage[s] everyone to read" is 2001's Whitman vs. American Trucking. "It is a very clear explanation of why the federal courts have absolutely no business mucking around in this kind of cooperation and negotiation between Congress and the Executive Branch. Twenty-one years later, everyone has decided to ignore that opinion on the Right and pretend like it never happened."

So, what will it mean if the Court now decides that experts at Executive agencies mandated by Congress to exercise their expertise may not do so? The fallout could be enormous and terrifying and go well beyond COVID and these two cases. By way of one example, Stern notes, next month the Court is about to hear a case where "the Biden EPA wants to restrict carbon emissions at power plants. While federal law gives the EPA vast authority to regulate and restrict all kinds of toxic and harmful emissions from power plants, it doesn't explicitly say 'carbon'. It says the EPA needs to decide what counts, and we will defer to their expertise."

But, Stern notes later in our conversation, "this does not start or stop with carbon. This goes to every toxic chemical on the planet, which Congress simply does not have the time or expertise to list. So, anytime you're thinking about the amount of benzene, or methane, or whatever horrific chemical you want to talk about in the water supply, the air supply, that stuff is regulated by the EPA, not directly by Congress. And if this Supreme Court goes as far as I fear it will, we are going to have a lot more unnecessary deaths because of a horrific amount of pollution that the President is going to be told that he simply cannot curb."

And, yes, even that is only the tip of the melting iceberg. It also goes farther than the EPA, to dozens, if not hundreds of other federal agencies and regulations on labor rights and much more, as Stern details. "But that is what these Justices seem to want, and that is the road that we are already following down," he warns. "We live in a juristocracy, my friend, and we are only just beginning to see the downstream consequences of it."

As noted, buckle up for this one...

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Also: A history lesson for Manchin; And Biden finally calls for Senate filibuster reform to pass voting rights and election protection legislation...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2022 6:47pm PT  

As it turns out, it wasn't an attack from highly skilled opposition mercenary warriors trained in the art of espionage, deception and surprise attacks that took down the Cyber Ninjas. It was their own incompetence, dishonesty and hopes of escaping huge court fines for failing to follow the rule of law that appears to have done them in. Or, perhaps they're just in hiding, ready to pounce again when they are least expected! [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

First up on today's BradCast, however, before we get to the "death" of the Ninjas and their ongoing clown show, President Biden and Vice President Harris traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday to call for U.S. Senate filibuster reform in order to pass voting rights and election protection legislation with a simple majority. That, in hopes of countering voter suppression and election subversion measures being adopted by GOP controlled states across the nation.

All 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats (plus Vice President Harris) are on record in support of the critical Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. But in the U.S. Senate, while that simple majority vote may be enough to cut taxes or allow drilling and mining on previously protected federal lands or seat Supreme Court Justices for life, it's currently not enough votes to protect American democracy. Not with the Republican Party now fully in opposition to both voting rights and democracy while Senate rules require a 60-vote super-majority to pass both pieces of legislation.

As Biden pointed out in his remarks today --- for the first time, offering a full-throated call to reform the Senate rules --- the united GOP opposition to voting rights is fairly new. Until recently, even Republicans voted in support of expanding and protecting voting rights at the federal level --- at least enough of them to overcome a Senate filibuster. But not anymore. At the same time, obstructionist Democrats Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) have refused to allow the majority to create a carve-out to the filibuster --- akin to hundreds of others in the Senate --- to adopt the legislation that both of them claim to support.

This week, Manchin even went so far as to describe the filibuster to reporters as a critical Senate tradition that has been in place "for 232 years." In fact, the filibuster as we now know it has been in place since 1975, as historian Max Kennerly explained on a Twitter thread in response to Manchin. "232 years ago, in 1790, a simple majority could end any debate," he notes. And Adam Jentleson, Harry Reid's former Chief of Staff who wrote a book on the filibuster, went so far as to alert Manchin to how much the Constitution's framers virulently opposed a super-majority requirement for anything at all, quoting both "father of the Constitution" James Madison and Alexander Hamilton from The Federalist Papers. (Which is why there is no such requirement in the Constitution.)

"Sadly, the United States Senate — designed to be the world's greatest deliberative body — has been rendered a shell of its former self," Biden, a former six-term Senator, declared in his impassioned remarks on Tuesday, describing the filibuster as having been "weaponized and abused."

Whether the Biden/Harris calls in Atlanta for reform will have any effect on the clueless Manchin and the similarly disinformed or dishonest Sinema remains to be seen. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to insist that "failure is not an option", vowing a series of votes on the matter between now and Monday's Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Meanwhile, the GOP fight against election integrity may have hit a few embarrassing snags after their infamously failed "post-election forensic audit" in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona last year. As you already know, the state GOP Senate's taxpayer funded audit theater found no Chinese bamboo in the County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots, but it did declare that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by even more votes than originally certified. And if you follow The BradCast, you also may know that real election audit experts discovered that even those numbers were apparently "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, whose actual count of the ballots (never mind the results on them) was off by tens of thousands.

The final report that the Ninjas and its CEO Doug Logan produced last year on behalf of the GOP State Senate, also included 77 claims of "possible" fraud in the County's reported tallies and other questions to raise alarms about the legitimacy of tens of thousands of "maybe" illegal votes.

As it turns out, however, according to a 93-page, point-by-point rebuttal [PDF] of each of those claims, released last week by the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors after months of investigation, 76 of the Ninjas' 77 claims were completely wrong.

For example, according to the Ninjas' final audit report, 5,295 voters "potentially voted in multiple counties" in Arizona. The county found, however, that, in reality, just 5 voters may have done so. (They've forwarded their findings to the state AG). The Arizona Republic's Jen Fifield offers a helpful, detailed summary of most of the key rebuttals from the County, explaining how the Ninjas got it so embarrassingly wrong on virtually every "misleading, inaccurate and false" score.

The County's response to the Ninjas' pathetic report was mostly lost, however, amid the news the next day that the Cyber Ninjas were claiming to be no more. A spokesperson announced that they had shut their doors and all employees, including founder and CEO Logan, had been let go, following a contempt ruling from an Arizona Superior Court Judge. He found that failure by the Ninjas to turn over thousands of pages of public records documenting their "audit", its financing, and their communications with officials about it in two separate lawsuits violated the law. The plaintiffs sought a $1,000/day penalty until the documents were turned over. The judge informed the Ninjas they would be fined $50,000/day instead! They then declared they no longer existed, like a ninja disappearing into the night! Except they are really shitty ninjas.

The judge has stated that their claims at insolvency in an attempt to shut down to avoid the court fines was not going to work, threatening to apply the $50,000 daily fine to individuals with the company, like "former" CEO Logan. As it turns out, Logan formed a second company last year named Akolytos, using the same business and mailing addresses as the Cyber Ninjas. But his hopes of escaping the court fines through that second company may not work either, as journalist Kim Zetter details in her latest, excellent Zero Day newsletter. SAD!

Finally, as the Northeast grapples with a brutal cold snap today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, detailing the record warmth of 2021, and the disturbing increase in emissions causing our climate emergency over the past year...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Omicron rising; Emissions rising; Calls for Trump accountability rising...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2022 6:33pm PT  

As usual, there is nothing but fantastic news on today's BradCast! (Okay, maybe that's not entirely true. But the caller segment was lively!) [Audio link to full show is at the end of this summary.]

Among the stories covered and/or referenced today...

  • Don't be fooled by those claims that Omicron may be "less severe" than previous variants of the coronavirus, or that it only causes "mild" symptoms in most people. As of Monday, according to Reuters, the U.S. broke its all-time COVID hospitalization record, as hospitals are once again forced to cancel elective procedures while Omicron surges. Cases, hospitalizations and, yes, deaths are all rising, with deaths now averaging about 1,700/day (up from 1,400/day just a few days ago --- and nearing the height of the Delta surge just weeks ago.) The vaccinated are still FAR less likely to be infected, hospitalized or killed.
  • A new study released Monday from Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service finds the last seven years have been the hottest on record globally, with 2021 coming in as the fifth warmest year ever recorded.
  • And the U.S. isn't helping. We're going the wrong way. Another new study published on Monday, from the Rhodium Group, finds that American greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry rose 6.2% in 2021. In order to meet our commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement (and President Biden's goal of lowering U.S. emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050 --- not to mention, to try and save humanity), we need to decrease emissions by at least 5% each year. That said, 2021 could have been worse. One reason for the increase in 2021 was the unprecedented 10% decrease in emissions fueling man-made climate change in 2020, during the pandemic lockdowns. We're still below 2019 levels, for what it's worth. But we need to do much better. And quickly.
  • The Build Back Better Act would help that! It would, among many other transformative things, make an unprecedented historic investment in speeding the transition in the U.S. from dangerous, dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But with that bill stalled in the Senate for now, thanks almost entirely to obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-coal industry), Dems are pivoting back to voting rights and election protection legislation this week in advance of next week's Martin Luther King Day holiday. But, of course, to pass the critical Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, they will still need to reform the filibuster, since the Republican Party is now radically opposed to voting rights and democracy. And to reform the filibuster to protect democracy, Manchin and obstructionist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Kyrsten Sinema) will have to agree to play along. Good luck with that, Dems! (Seriously. Good luck!)
  • But whether Dems successfully reform elections or not, unless those who tried to steal the 2020 Presidential election in broad daylight are held criminally accountable, they will almost certainly try to do it again in the near future. And this time they'll be better prepared. Last week at The Guardian, Sidney Blumenthal offered a fascinating, detailed report on both the January 6th insurrection and the year-long attempted coup that got us there. The dunderheads and dupes that were hoaxed into storming the U.S. Capitol were, as Blumenthal reports, merely "the tip of the iceberg". The insurrection was, he explains, merely the end result of a year-long attempt to carry out a coup to steal the election, as organized by Koch Network-funded activist and legal groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), and the secretive rightwing Council on National Policy (CNP). Those groups plotted hand-in-glove with state and federal public officials in Congress, at Trump's DoJ, at the Pentagon and, of course, at the White House itself. And yet, nobody other than the dupes and dunderheads have yet been charged by the Dept. of Justice for one of the greatest attempted crimes in U.S. history.

    During the holidays, our guest host Nicole Sandler interviewed longtime independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, who has been tracking the DoJ's probe and indictments of insurrectionists --- as well as the higher-ups who plotted the year-long coup attempt --- as close as anyone. Wheeler argued that those who have been critical of Attorney General Merrick Garland for not doing enough to date (including us!) haven't been paying close enough attention. She explained how the House Select Committee on the January 6 attack is working from the top-down and how DoJ (who, don't forget, raided Giuliani's home, office, computers and telephones soon after Biden took office and is still working through those documents) is working from the bottom-up. Wheeler details that both probes may almost be at the same place now, just a step or two away from Donald Trump himself.

    Moreover, during remarks last week at the DoJ to commemorate the first anniversary of the 1/6 attack and the subsequent largest investigation in the Department's history, Garland explained: "The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead."

    So, with all of that in mind, should we feel better about what Garland and the DoJ are now up to? We open the phones to listeners to get a sense of exactly that...

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Guest: Dr. Nils Gilman of Berggruen Institute; Also: Life sentences for the Arbery murderers; CyberNinjas fined by AZ judge, claim to shut down...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2022 7:07pm PT  

It's been a rough week. So before we get to America's rising 'demons of hell' on today's BradCast and how we might counter their re-emergence against what is left of American democracy, a few slightly more encouraging news items to kick things off. [Audio linnk to full show is posted at end of summary.]

In Georgia, the three white men who were caught on video tape murdering 25-year old black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 after hunting him down in their pick-up trucks, were each sentenced today to life in prison. Two of them, father and son, got life without the possibility of parole. The third, their neighbor, could be paroled after serving 30 years. But he's already 52, so...

In Arizona, or Florida, or wherever "they" preside, the buffoonish, rightwing conspiracy theorists, con-men and theoretical cybersecurity experts calling themselves Cyber Ninjas, declared they exist no more. That, just one day after an AZ state judge said they are to be fined $50,000 for each day that they continued to refuse to hand over public documents regarding the pretend "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ's 2020 Presidential election they were hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out. More on that matter, hopefully, on a not-too-distant BradCast.

Next, as our week commemorating the grim, one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling thousands of supporters at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6th, in hopes of halting the certification of the Electoral College vote with a deadly insurrection, comes to a close, a bit of mopping up and looking ahead to ways to prevent a more successful election coup from happening in the near future.

First, some reflections today from our 39th President, the 97-year old democracy champion Jimmy Carter. He wrote this week in the New York Times that he now "fears" for our democracy, citing last year's insurrection and the politicians in his home state of Georgia and elsewhere, such as Texas and Florida, who have "leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes." Carter sees Americans "being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed." He says the he now fears that what he, his Carter Center and America itself "have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home."

Carter is hardly the only one with a long and broad perspective on history who has become unnerved by what we are now seeing in America. Ronald Reagan's U.S. Solicitor General, Charles Fried, interviewed last month by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, noted his birth in Prague in 1935, when "Czechoslovakia was a real democracy" before "the demons of hell came out and spoiled that for 50 years." The 86-year old longtime Republican and Harvard Law professor now says he sees "those people re-emerging" and he "hears the same tune and it scares me."

So, for those of us paying attention, what can be done? We talk about exactly that today with our guest, DR. NILS GILMAN of the Berggruen Institute, following on his recent L.A. Times op-ed discussing similar nightmares as those cited by Carter and Fried which have continue to emerge throughout 2021 and what we can ALL now do to try and counter them.

Gilman was also the co-founder the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), a bipartisan group of security, military, political and media experts who met during the summer of 2020 to game out what might happen [PDF] in various worst-case scenarios if Trump decided to declare the election results invalid and/or refused to leave office that fall. We begin today with how his TIP group viewed the January 6 Electoral College certification event in advance, which he says they saw as a "moment of Constitutional stress that bad actors could potentially exploit," warning at the time that "there needed to be preparations on the part of law enforcement to be ready for that possibility." Perhaps we'll pay more attention to his group's warnings the next time, if they decide they need to reconvene before 2024 election.

He is now warning, in his piece at L.A. Times, that "the runaway train of illiberalism continues to bear down on American democracy, and the need to act could not be more urgent." Gilman explains today what he means by the term "illiberal democracy," a phrase he cites as being coined by Hungarian strongman President Viktor Orban, who was recently endorsed by Donald Trump. Under Orban, Hungary, in recent years, has seen its media essentially taken over by his rightwing government.

Citing strongman leaders "all over the world, in Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Poland, "you're seeing the rise of this illiberal democracy, where you still have elections, but the electoral process is so corrupted that it basically ensures that you will get right or far-right victories under any and all circumstances." Sound familiar? That, as nations like Hungary are literally being hailed of late by folks on the American right like Tucker Carlson and Fox "News". "It's being celebrated in rightwing media as a model that America might want to follow," Gilman charges.

He goes on to detail, both in his op-ed and on today's program, what "ordinary citizens" who oppose such fascist takeovers of our democracy can and must do at the state and local level --- as we wait and hope for voting rights and election protection legislation at the federal level --- to otherwise counter such forces. Election officials are now facing threats from Trump's MAGA Mob across the country, even as his supporters are working to take over key election administration positions by both hook and crook.

"People can go out and become pollworkers," urges Gilman. "We have an under-supply. Run as a local election administrator. There are thousands of positions all over the country. Our election system is currently totally decentralized and local administrators have a lot of power, and we need people committed to the democratic process to be in those position, not people who are committed to partisan victory at any and all costs."

As he explains, "there are things that an ordinary citizen can do. But the truth is that the real problem is we need to have elites who are going to be committed to democratic practice. What we have in this country now --- and we're seeing this very much in the current Congress --- you see a split between some elites who are basically complicit with the crimes of the previous administration and then others who are complacent about the likelihood that this could come back. We need elites to take this problem more seriously and really take on the challenge of illiberalism and the anti-democratic tendencies that are becoming more and more legion in this country, particularly on the right."

We also discuss my personal concerns --- my personal nightmares --- about the ability of committed, bad faith Republicans at this point to game the Electoral College in 2024 in a way they were not prepared to do in 2020. If they do so --- at the state legislative and/or Congressional level --- I believe there is nothing currently in federal law or the U.S. Constitution to prevent such a bad-faith exercise from succeeding next time. Please tune in to see if Gilman shares my concern.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest, very lively, Green News Report, which we had to postpone until today to make room yesterday for our special coverage of the first anniversary of the GOP's January 6th, 2021 insurrection...

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Republicans remain shamefully disinformed one year later; Biden calls out predecessor's 'web of lies conceived and spread for profit and power'; American democracy remains in peril...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2022 6:41pm PT  

While we've been citing the New York Times Editorial Board's headline from New Years Day of late on The BradCast, declaring that "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now", today it quite literally was, as the nation marked the grim first anniversary of Donald Trump's final, deadly and failed attempt to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We'll let you tune in for details of our special coverage today, in which we discuss some difficult realities in the ongoing fight to save American democracy. Trump's attempted coup might have failed on January 6, but his evidence-free lies about the election have succeeded in duping nearly 80% of Republicans into believing that Joe Biden's victory was not legitimate. That, despite the lack of any evidence, more than one year later, that the election results were fraudulent in any state.

As noted on today's program, authoritarianism and fascism, it seems, have had far greater success over the centuries for a reason. They are much easier than democracy, which requires truth, facts, transparency, public oversight and public participation in its defense. But, if you are lied to, if you don't know what is actually going on in our country, in your government, if you don't know the facts, it is difficult to defend them or democracy itself.

But we will keep striving to do so, by bringing you independently verifiable facts every day for as long as we can --- in a way that doesn't require you to simply trust us --- in hopes of somehow, someday, someway, restoring a sense of a shared reality from which we can all take action.

Toward that end, both Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden offered remarks today from inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, one year after it was attacked by a duped MAGA Mob ginned up by Donald Trump to believe that his lies about the election had any relation to reality. On that day, and those that followed, some his supporters, as well as several U.S. Capitol and D.C. law enforcement officers, paid the price with their lives, along with nearly 150 officers who were injured in the unprecedented assault.

We share both Harris' and Biden's words today, each of whom underscored yet again the necessity of federal legislation to shore up voting rights to counter the GOP's newly enacted schemes to subvert elections and overthrow democracy itself.

For his part, Biden forcefully called out the failed former President in blistering remarks in which he accused Trump and his supporters of holding a "dagger at the throat of democracy" in an "armed insurrection" one year ago.

"We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie," Biden urged. "The former President of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost."

"Right now, in state after state, new laws are being written --- not to protect the vote, but to deny it; not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert it; not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost," he continued. "It's wrong. It’s undemocratic. And frankly, it's un-American."

"It's up to all of us --- to 'We the People' --- to stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy, to keep the promise of America alive. That promise is at risk, targeted by the forces that value brute strength over the sanctity of democracy, fear over hope, personal gain over public good.

"Make no mistake about it: We’re living at an inflection point in history," Biden said. "As we stand here today --- one year since January 6th, 2021 --- the lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated. So, we have to be firm, resolute, and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted."

"We are in a battle for the soul of America," he charged, reiterating the argument with which he kicked off his 2020 campaign as he concluded his remarks. "I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy."

He finished by offering a blessing for "those who stand watch over our democracy."

Finally today, at the end of somewhat dark program, some light. Just a bit. We close with a spoken word poem of some hope from Amanda Gorman, our National Youth Poet Laureate, called New Day's Lyric...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Garland vows accountability for 'all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level'; Coward Trump cancels anniversary presser; Hannity's insider testimony sought by House 1/6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2022 6:24pm PT  

One year after the former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling the bodies of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, we're more convinced than ever on The BradCast that, as the New York Times Editorial Board declared on New Years Day, "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

We will soon be entering our 19th year at The BRAD BLOG of trying to warn about the ongoing and worsening threats facing American democracy. But the rising tide of authoritarianism in this nation is now more of a threat than at any time in modern decades. If American democracy falls, so does virtually every other pressing demand, like the need to save humanity from the ravages of climate change. So, yeah. It's kind of important, and we will continue to stay on this beat as long as necessary, as long as we can.

Toward that end today, the despicable, disgraced, twice-impeached, failed, loser of a former President, Donald Trump, who lied about voter and election fraud in order to try and steal a Presidential election, cancelled his planned press conference at Mar-a-Lago on the first anniversary of his pathetic, desperate and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. As it turns out, he's both a coward and didn't actually have anything to say that hasn't already been heard and/or debunked as bullshit.

His ridiculously (but not surprisingly) childish statement announcing he was calling off the presser came just hours after his pal, Sean Hannity of Fox 'News', was politely invited to answer questions from the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Capitol assault and Trump's attempt to steal the election which lead up to it. The Committee makes clear in its letter [PDF] that they have already obtained many documents from others regarding Hannity's insider status and direct conversations with Trump in the days before, during and after the attack. While the Committee explained their efforts to go out of their way to avoid any First Amendment press freedom issues with Hannity, and even tried to appeal to his (pretend) patriotism, its unclear whether the Fox propagandist will cooperate.

Next, buttressing the persuasive argument made by Marcy Wheeler with Nicole Sandler on The BradCast last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland, facing pressure from the left to bring accountability to Trump and his cronies, addressed DoJ officials on Wednesday on the occasion of the first anniversary of last year's Capitol attack. After detailing the more than 700 arrests made to date, and at least 250 perpetrators who are still being sought for assaulting law enforcement officials that day, Garland promised the probe was far from complete and was following the facts of the case from the bottom up.

"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy," the AG vowed, adding: "We will follow the facts wherever they lead."

He also highlighted how the U.S. Supreme Court has radically gutted the Voting Rights Act twice over the past decade, and called again for new federal legislation to give the DoJ tools they need to assure the right to vote and to combat state legislatures institutionalizing the ability to subvert election results on a partisan whim.

Finally, we're joined again today by WILL BUNCH, longtime national correspondent and columnist at Philadelphia Inquirer. Bunch was with us on January 6th last year for a wild ride of a broadcast that day as the Capitol was still under assault during the official confirmation of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as we went to air. At the time, it was particularly unclear what exactly the MAGA Mob was doing and how they might be stopped.

Among the topics of our conversation one year later with Bunch (who just tested positive for COVID!): Lessons learned since Jan. 6 and the many questions still unknown; The many, still confusing reasons and explanations as to why it took so long for law enforcement to respond to the worse attack on the Capitol in two centuries (he suggests part of that was due to "a dog that didn't bark"); Whether or not there should have been more accountability brought by the Justice Department by now (he notes that the Watergate probe took much longer); And his thoughts on Garland's comments at the DoJ today...among much more!

"Honestly, it's taken a full year and it's taken really diligent, praise-worthy work from the January 6th Committee in the House to bring into focus some of what we saw happening that day, that we didn't fully understand in real time," Bunch observes. "What the goals were, who was behind what and why. We've learned so much in the last twelve months."

We've got a lot to discuss on today's program...

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Guest: UC-Berkeley's Philip B. Stark, post-election audit expert; Also: Another young GOP anti-vaxxer dies in SoCal; 2021 ends and 2022 begins with another round of deadly, climate change-fueled extreme weather...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2022 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last September, Donald Trump demanded an "audit" of the 2020 Presidential election in Texas, where he was certified to have won by about 550,000 votes, the narrowest victory for a Republican nominee in the Lone Star State in decades. Hours after he demanded it, his lapdog, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, made it happen. Despite the state's top election administrator previously describing the 2020 election as "safe and secure", state taxpayers are now quietly paying for another review of results in the so-called "conservative" state. Four of its largest counties are being reviewed. Three of them went to Joe Biden in 2020. A report from the first phase of the so-called 'forensic audit' was released last week, when as few people as possible might notice: At the end of the day on Friday...New Years Eve. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But before we get there today, a quick update on the quickly intensifying Omicron surge of the coronavirus, as more than 100,000 Americans were hospitalized as of Monday, the highest number since the late summer Delta surge. President Biden once again urged Americans to get their shots. In White House remarks he said the public should "be concerned about Omicron, but don't be alarmed," before adding, "but if you're unvaccinated, you have some reason to be alarmed."

It's unknown if the Republican anti-vaxxer community in Orange County, CA will be moved by the President's comments. Perhaps the death this week of their well known 46-year old Deputy District Attorney, Kelly Ernby, a longtime GOP anti-vaccine activist and failed political candidate, will get their attention. We share her tragic, if predictable, story today, just weeks after the prosecutor's last Southern California rally in December in favor of "freedom" in opposition to vaccine mandates.

Then we're joined by PHILIP B. STARK, longtime Professor of Statistics at UC-Berkeley and the inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, to discuss the very quietly released "Phase 1 Progress Report" [PDF] of what Texas is describing as a "Full Forensic Audit of November 2020 General Election". The phrase "forensic audit", as Stark notes, doesn't actually have any accepted definition or specific meaning. But, we also discuss much more about the newly found "forensic audit" fever among Republicans who have spent years blocking Democratic measures in Congress to institute legitimate post-election audits in all 50 states after every election.

You'll not be surprised to learn that the Lone Star State's review, at least so far, appears to have turned up pretty much nothing unusual at all. Their hand-count of ballots (not of results, apparently, but simply of the number of ballots) in a number of precincts in each of four different large counties (Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin) appears to have largely confirmed the original certified totals in those precincts. We discuss the not-much-to-see-here details that add to the continuing pattern of Republicans finding no evidence at all that the 2020 election was stolen, as Trump continues to falsely complain to this day.

But there is a much larger picture to discuss. The implementation of secret, computerized tallying of ballots over the past two decades has made election results virtually impossible for the public to oversee. That has helped open the door to crackpot claims like those from the loser former President that our elections are littered with fraud and false tallies. Stark explains how the lack of legitimate post-election audits, safeguards, transparency and "evidence-based elections" has led the nation to this moment when American democracy itself is now under very serious threat.

"The end goal is to conduct elections in such a way that we have strong evidence that the reported winners actually won," Stark explains. "In order to do that, you need to start by running your election well. You will have the documents, processes, the security protocols, etc., in place that allow you to do a meaningful audit that can tie a bow around the election, and say, yes, whatever might have gone wrong with the election didn't change the reported outcome."

"The problem," he continues, "is if you go into an election that wasn't run especially well, and then afterwards try to do something based on the records that you do have. You're never going to be able to present affirmative records that the reported winners really did win. They won't give you evidence for or against the outcome being right."

And then, the conversation turns much darker.

"I don't want to be alarmist, but I think we have a very short period of time in which to make our election processes far more publicly transparent and visible, and have much more public participation," Stark warns. "If we haven't implemented evidence-based elections by the 2024 Presidential election we are very likely to see serious civil unrest in the aftermath. We have to make it a top priority to conduct our elections in a way that they produce real evidence of who won, not just 'trust me, I did it right,' or 'trust the vendor who sold me the [voting and tabulation] equipment' or 'trust the people who configured it for me,' or 'trust this or trust that,' but actually 'show me!' We really need to have 'show me,' not 'trust me' elections."

As much as we strive to avoid false "both sidesism" on this program --- and even though some Dems in Congress have tried for years to adopt federal legislation mandating real post-election audits, only to be stymied by Republicans every time --- this really is a bipartisan problem. "After the 2016 election, the Republicans didn't want to look. After the 2020 election, the Democrats don't want to look. If you like the answer, you don't want to look too hard. I think that's a terrible mistake. It allows uncertainty to be weaponized, which is what we've seen in the aftermath of the 2020 election," Stark cautions.

He continues: "The fact that a system is vulnerable does not mean that it was exploited. But we ought to build our systems or run our systems in a way that if a vulnerability was exploited, we can catch it and correct the outcome before it becomes final. And we know how to do that. It is a solved problem. It is not rocket science. It does involve a lot of shoe leather. And it involves not trusting computers on the whole. It requires public transparency."

But if that is not going to happen at the federal level (thanks in no small part to Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema, who are joining Republicans to block passage of audit mandates in the Freedom to Vote Act), it can certainly happen at the state level, where very few, if any, states currently carry out audits that are robust and transparent enough to earn full voter confidence. "I hope that some state legislatures rise to the occasion and decide to do evidence-based elections in time for at least 2024, if not the midterms," Stark tells me.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, with deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather already wreaking havoc across both the nation and the world as 2022 begins...

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New Trump subpoenas; Climate change devastation in CO; Twitter ban for MTG; Hope for accountability as 'Every Day is Jan. 6 Now'; Plus: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2022 6:33pm PT  

Well, we're back! That may or may not be good news depending on who you are and how you choose to look at it. Either way, we're getting our sea legs back on today's BradCast after a week off between the holidays (thanks, Nicole Sandler for covering for us for much of that time!), but it looks like the new year may not be much different than the old one. At least not necessarily better. At least not immediately. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful since it beats the alternative. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories and news both good and bad on today's program...

  • A document unsealed by the New York Supreme Court on Monday confirms that not only was Donald Trump subpoenaed for testimony and documents last month by state Attorney General Letitia James, so were his son and daughter Don Jr. and Ivanka. (Eric had already been subpoenaed and forced to give testimony in late 2020.) James is running a civil investigation into years of alleged bank and tax fraud by Trump and his Trump Organization. The District Attorney's office in Manhattan is also probing similar matters in a criminal investigation that James is partnering with, so there's a lot on the line and all of the Trumps, naturally, will try to quash and/or evade their lawful subpoenas. Like Eric, they will likely fail. The Manhattan DA is now Alvin Bragg as of this past weekend. He replaced the previous DA over the weekend, after Cyrus Vance, Jr. decided not to run for reelection last year. Vance's --- now Bragg's --- office has already brought criminal fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, for running a tax-avoidance scheme that paid executives benefits that remained off the books and untaxed.
  • In less bright news to start the year (and end the last one), Colorado officials now say that nearly 1,000 homes and other structures were destroyed and hundreds more damaged during a massive December wildfire among hurricane-force wind gusts last Thursday in the now well-populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder. Desi Doyen joins us to explain the climate change-related conditions --- unusual warmth, extreme drought, historic lack of snow and rain --- that made the fire so damaging.
  • The news got a bit brighter --- again, depending on how you look at it --- after Twitter permanently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)'s personal account over the weekend. The far rightwinger has long used the social media service to spread lies, fraud and nonsense and, in this case, violated the company's COVID-19 misinformation policy for a fifth time. Her fifth and final strike was a tweet falsely citing "extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths", citing the CDC's self-reported VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systems) database frequently and misleading cited by anti-vaxxers. Anyone is able to (and frequently does) add records to the public-facing database falsely claiming injuries or deaths related to COVID vaccines. Greene's Congressional Twitter account has not (yet) been banned, and we discuss the pros and cons of giant social media companies being able to permanently suspend users like the Congresswoman or even the former President, as they did last year. (And, yes, I have some experience in facing down Twitter, even when they inaccurately block the posting of accurate and independently verifiable reporting.)
  • But with all that is going on, none is more important than saving our faltering democracy from those on the Right in the MAGA Mob who are scheming to completely undermine it. On New Year's Day, the New York Times' Editorial Board published a must-read editorial headlined "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". They are absolutely right. "In short," they argue, "the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends." They conclude...

    Whatever happens in Washington, in the months and years to come, Americans of all stripes who value their self-government must mobilize at every level — not simply once every four years but today and tomorrow and the next day — to win elections and help protect the basic functions of democracy. If people who believe in conspiracy theories can win, so can those who live in the reality-based world.

    Above all, we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country. Countless times over the past six years, up to and including the events of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump and his allies openly projected their intent to do something outrageous or illegal or destructive. Every time, the common response was that they weren’t serious or that they would never succeed. How many times will we have to be proved wrong before we take it seriously? The sooner we do, the sooner we might hope to salvage a democracy that is in grave danger.

  • The Times' warning is on the money. New polling from ABC-Ipsos finds that not nearly enough Americans understand the very real threat posed to American democracy by Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election through violence at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6, nor the GOP efforts to make such an attempted theft all but impossible to prevent in 2024. On a related note, a new Morning Consult survey finds the Republican Party has paid no price among GOP voters --- and even all voters --- for either the Jan. 6 attack or the party's subsequent efforts to pass new voter suppression laws that also allow partisan officials to overturn legitimate election results for purely partisan reasons.
  • But on that matter too, there is hope as the new year begins. Members of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack are united in their efforts to expose what happened, who is responsible for it, and any laws they feel may have been broken in the bargain. Over the weekend, Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) detailed the panel's ongoing plans to hold public hearings in the new year to help detail all of the above, as based on more than 300 witness interviews and some 35,000 pages of documents, texts, emails, etc. Cheney explained on ABC's This Week program on Sunday that then President Trump watched the entire attack unfold on television from the dining room just off the Oval Office while ignoring threats from GOP House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and from his own daughter Ivanka to take action to take action to quell the insurrection that he incited. She even went as far as to say that Trump is "clearly unfit for future office" and "clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again." She even went as far as to say she agrees with Hilary Clinton that if Trump runs and wins next time, "that could be the end of our democracy."
  • There was much more today, of course, but that gives you an idea of where we are as the new year begins. And callers also rang in throughout today's program with their own thoughts on all of the above and here is that must-listen interview I mentioned from Nicole Sandler last week with investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, offering her very well-documented argument that no one should yet give up hope for accountability for Trump from the DoJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland (which we hope to discuss in more detail in the days ahead)...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Still featuring the BradCast Radio Theatre Players --- and Mr. Henry Ford!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2021 1:58pm PT  

The beloved award-wanting holiday special is back!
Just in time to save another COVID Christmas Eve!
And this year we dedicate it to Joe Manchin with an extra sockful of coal!

What would Henry Ford think about his company's new, all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck? Clues are available yet again this year, scattered throughout the program, as he hosted several great BradCast episodes from the bygone days of yesteryear.

So, dim the lights, stir up a cocktail, stoke up the fireplace and, for God's sake, put the kids to bed! (Or don't. What do we care? Maybe they'll learn something for a change.)

No masks required, as we travel back to the 1930s and 40s to revisit some of our earliest BradCasts from the golden days of radio, featuring three timeless short radio plays from the days when our program was still sponsored by the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan and introduced each night by Mr. Ford himself!

Enjoy the world-renowned "BradCast Radio Theatre Players," featuring a very young Brad Friedman, Desi Doyen and the late great actor/playwright Paul Byrne!

And to all a good night! (Except to Communists!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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