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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, October 22, 2021
The Good with the Bad: 'BradCast' 10/21/21
House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
'Green News Report' 10/21/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're making too much fossil fuel; Climate change imperils millions, study finds; CA expands drought emergency; PLUS: Cutting emissions is hard, but will lower energy bills...
Previous GNRs: 10/19/21 - 10/14/21 - Archives...
'A One-Way Ratchet': Biden's SCOTUS Comm. Does GOP's Bidding: 'BradCast' 10/20/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Manchin tosses hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/21 - 10/12/21 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Whether Ds Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's landmark climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Now Gerrymander 'Blue' States (and Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15/21
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
Why the Last Remaining 2020 Election Contest in GA Should Not Have Been Dismissed: 'BradCast' 10/14/21
Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be running in 2024...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Supply chain disruptions spike global energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Administration goes big on offshore wind...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/21 - 10/7/21 - Archives...
'Red' State Profs Fight for Masking at Universities: 'BradCast' 10/13/21
Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of UNG; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
'Green News Report' 10/12/21
'No climate, no deal!' on Build Back Better; Critical infrastructure facing flood, failure; 2021 extreme weather costs; PLUS: Biden restores national monuments...
'Change the Whole Process': CA Rep on Ending Big Oil After State's Latest Offshore Spill: 'BradCast' 10/11/21
Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Also: Trump's plan to steal 2024; Callers...
Sunday 'Privilege' Toons
You know you deserve PDiddie's collection of this week's best political toons...
Media Downplaying Trump, GOP's Threat to U.S. Democracy: 'BradCast' 10/8/21
Guest: Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores nat'l monuments; Trump hid losses at D.C. hotel...
Trump Didn't Try to 'Subvert Results', He Tried to Steal 2020!: 'BradCast' 10/7/21
Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Freedom of choice restored to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
'Green News Report' 10/7/21
Ship anchor may be cause of SoCal oil spill; Fossil fuel industry subsized $11 million every minute; PLUS: PA A.G. criminally charges notorious pipeline developer...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Unhappy updates on COVID hospitalized RW radio hosts and other anti-vaxxers; FBI joins CO voting software theft probe, as Mike Lindell harbors Mesa County Clerk in 'safe house'; And, hey, AP...are you okay?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2021 6:36pm PT  

We've got quite a few updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late on The BradCast. Some of them not necessarily happy and others quite astounding. As well as some mainstream media failure, and other news from this seemingly endless Summer. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today program...

  • Even as infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to soar in their states, more politically ambitious Trumpy Rightwing Governors are leading their constituents on a death march by banning mask mandates by small local governments and school districts. Happily, a number of the school districts are putting the health and safety of their children above the authoritarian edicts of their Governors, as well as over the deadly demands of too many brainwashed, disinformed parents fighting to endanger their own children and themselves.
  • We've got updates today on several stories we've covered in recent weeks, including the anti-vax parents of four children in Texas, who both changed their minds about vaccinations just before they were intubated several weeks ago. Also, updates on some of the Rightwing anti-vax radio hosts who have either recently died or are now hospitalized in grave condition from COVID. Also, yet another far-right radio host --- this one a Christian broadcaster who derided COVID vaccines as "government control" on his daily "Prophecy Today" program --- has now died from...you guessed it.
  • A disturbed far-right Trumper from North Carolina brought Capitol Hill to a standstill today --- requiring evacuations from the U.S. Capitol to the U.S. Supreme Court --- after pulling his license plate-free pickup truck onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress and threatening to detonate a bomb. During the 5-hour standoff with police, which thankfully ended peacefully, media outlets reviewed the man's Facebook Live-streamed rants and other videos. He reportedly railed against Joe Biden, "Nancy", "antifa" and the Democrats, demanding they all resign en masse; declared "the revolution is here" and that he is the "last generation" of those willing to stand up for America. He said that Trump will be reinstated and posted video from his participation at "Stop the Steal" and "Million MAGA March" rallies. So, how did Associated Press, at least for a time today (via the Internet Archives), lead their description of the man's politics? By claiming that in one of his videos he "said he loved the president, Democrat Joe Biden." --- Really, AP?
  • We've also got a few quick updates today on the Trump-loving Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, who, as we have been reporting in some detail over the past week, allegedly entered a secure area of the County's Election Division in the middle of the night with two accomplices last May, turned off the security cameras, and allowed two hard drives containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software to be copied in full. During one of her several appearances on stage last week at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's failed three-day "Cyber Symposium" where he didn't reveal the promised "proof" that China stole the election for Joe Biden, the extremely sensitive contents of those hard drives were released into the Internet wilds for download by thousands. That, in the middle of California's critical Gubernatorial Recall election, where some 60% of the state will rely on that same, proprietary Dominion EMS software. Peters claimed during Lindell's forum that she was being "persecuted" by CO's Democratic Sec. of State Jenna Griswold because she's a "conservative Republican". Griswold has now removed Peters from her role, as Mesa's now-former chief election official is facing a criminal probe by the County's conservative Republican District Attorney. This week, the FBI joined that investigation, as federal crimes may have been violated in the theft and release of that software. And today, VICE reports, Peters is on the lam, being sheltered in a "safe house" somewhere by the MyPillow guy (who already faces a $1.3 billion lawsuit [PDF] from Dominion himself.) Will the "persecution" never end?
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with grim news of deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather from Haiti to both coasts of the U.S. to much of Europe; and some happier news this week from the Biden Administration...

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Guest: UC-Berkeley's Philip Stark; Also: Deadly edicts by FL, TX Guvs and Recall candidate circus in CA underscore importance of defeating GOP attempt to unseat Newsom amid pandemic, climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2021 6:56pm PT  

California Republicans know they can't win normal statewide elections. Hence, the attempted Recall election of progressive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom amid several crises that the GOP candidates hoping to replace him will make considerably worse. But now, voting system and cybersecurity experts tell The BradCast there is reason to be very concerned about the voting and tabulation systems used in some 60 percent of the state, following the recent theft and release on the Internet of Election Management System software, allegedly by a far-right County Clerk in Colorado during the MyPillow CEO's so-called "Cyber Symposium" last week in South Dakota. One of those experts joins us to explain the concerns, and what can be done about it, today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But, first up, the circus of some 46 candidates on the ballot hoping to become Governor of the nation's most populous state, if Newsom is removed by the first question on the Recall ballot, serves as a reminder that this special election, while seemingly ridiculous, is also potentially deadly for residents of the Golden State. Nonetheless, recent polling suggests that it is currently a dead heat as to whether Newsom will be removed and then replaced by someone likely to get little more than 20% of the vote on the ballot's second question about who should take his place.

In the middle of a debate between several GOP "front-runners" on Tuesday in Sacramento, one of the candidates, multi-millionaire John Cox (the guy who actually campaigns with a grizzly bear), got served in a Court process as he was introducing himself, as "ordered" by a San Diego Superior Court Judge finding that he owes about $100,000 to a contractor the Republican businessman failed to pay during his failed run against Newsom in 2018.

While neither of the top Republican or Democratic candidates on question two of the ballot were at the debate (Trump-loving, climate change denying, woman-hating Rightwing radio talk-show host Larry Elder and Democratic real-estate millionaire Kevin Paffrath), both of them oppose Newsom's mask and vaccination mandates. The BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning, in a "Progressive's Guide to the California Recall" published today, explains why CA voters must vote "NO" on the Recall's first question, before he goes on to explain who he believes progressives should support on question two.

Sky-rocketing rates of infections, hospitalizations and deaths under GOP Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and Texas' Greg Abbott (who tested positive himself on Tuesday), should serve as another reminder of the importance of both elections and having Governors who do not place political ambition over science. Despite pleas to the contrary from health officials, both DeSantis and Abbott have issued edicts blocking local governments and school districts from instituting mask mandates, even as hospitals in both states are reaching or exceeding capacity, and children under 12 (unlike Abbott and DeSantis) are ineligible to become vaccinated. (Fortunately, President Biden reiterated today that the federal government will cover the salaries of school officials who chose to protect children, even if their paychecks are cut by the TX and FL Governors. And one school district in TX has come up with a very clever way of trying to get around Abbott's ban on mask mandates.)

Meanwhile, thanks to Newsom's various statewide mask and vaccine mandates here in California, infection, and death rates are all now coming back down once again.

Of course, facts such as these mean little to those pushing for the removal of Newsom, and many on the right have demonstrated of late that there is little they won't do in order to "win" an election. Thus, the theft and release of important voting system software by a far-right County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado last week during Mike Lindell's "cyber symposium" (at which he didn't release the promised "absolute proof" that China stole the 2020 election from Trump), has a number of actual cybersecurity and voting system experts very concerned today.

We've been covering this story in detail over the past week, as both the national media and California media haven't covered it at all. But they should. Colorado media finally jumped in, a bit, this week after their Sec. of State on Monday announced that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters --- who appeared on stage several times at Lindell's forum last week --- was behind the theft and copying of two hard drives at the Mesa County Election Division containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software.

Democratic CO Sec. of State Jenna Griswold's office, in a news release Monday night, explained how Peters pulled off the heist with two accomplices in the middle of the night back in May, before the software was released into the wild during last week's symposium. Since then, we have reported on this show about the concerns expressed by voting system and cybersecurity experts like Harri Hursti, who warns that the release of the critical software "lowers the barrier for attack planning and therefore increases the likelihood of future attacks." That, just after another top expert in the field, University of Michigan's J. Alex Halderman, filed a 50,000 word report in a long-running federal lawsuit in Georgia, which seeks to ban Dominion's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. The report, which he says [PDF] details disturbing, newly discovered vulnerabilities in those systems, which reportedly could allow votes to be changed without detection, has now been sealed by the federal judge due to its sensitivity --- even from the plaintiffs and defendants in the case!

Dominion's vulnerable touchscreens are used in several large jurisdictions in California, even as the recall is now ongoing, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside County. Their EMS software --- released to the Internet and downloaded by thousands just last week --- is used to tabulate votes, both hand-marked paper ballots and touchscreen votes, in every county where Dominion's systems are used. The software is used broadly in enough counties here that it could easily effect the computer-tallied results of the Recall election.

Another top expert who is worried about all of this joins us on today's program to explain why, and what can now be done about this serious security breach. University of California-Berkeley Professor PHILIP STARK is an expert witness in the Georgia case, the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit protocol, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

He joined Hursti this week in telling me that they were both dubious about vague claims from the CO Sec. of State's office that the U.S. Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was not particularly concerned about the leak of the Dominion software.

"It is a serious risk," Stark makes clear today. "The best metaphor I've been able to come up with is, if I were trying to break into a bank, how helpful would it be to have blueprints of the bank and the bank vault? How helpful would it be for me to have an actual exact copy of the bank, completely at my disposal, to try different ways of breaking in and so forth? Not even a scale model, but literally the exact same thing, just in a different place. That's what having a copy of these disks amounts to."

"To the extent that these systems were not that secure in the first place, this doesn't make the systems more vulnerable. But it gives a would-be evil-doer lots of help and information to plan an attack, figure out what's going to work, which then can be conducted later by someone with less technical skill," Stark warns.

He explains that "these Election Management Systems are used, among other things, to configure the ballot marking devices" as well as "results from the precinct-based scanners" and the high-speed centralized scanners used to tabulate Vote-by-Mail ballots. "The release of the EMS code gives someone a blueprint for how to write malware to infect the ballot marking devices, etc., when they're configured using these systems."

We go on to discuss what can and should now be done by California in regards the ongoing Recall election (as well as other jurisdictions, with elections coming up in November, where Dominion systems are used in more than a dozen states) to ensure that results are accurately tabulated and reported, and can be known by the public, after the election, as such. His recommendations include the use of both hand-marked paper ballots and a far more robust post-election audit process than is currently mandated by CA state law.

Moreover, he cites a critical lesson that should be learned from Tina Peters, the Republican County Clerk in Mesa, CO who is alleged to have brought accomplices into the Elections Division in the middle of the night on May 23rd, and turned off the security cameras in order to steal the software and copy it for release into the wild. (She is now under criminal investigation and has been relieved of her duties by CO's Secretary Griswold.) "This is a very clear reminder that insider threats are real," observes Stark. "This is a wake-up call. It is very difficult to mitigate insider threats."

We are still waiting for a response from the CO Sec. of State's office, as to who they spoke with at CISA and what exactly that person said, given that the cybersecurity folks I've spoken with are quite dubious that the nation's top cybersecurity watchdog actually downplayed this voting system breach. Or, if they did, that they fully understood it. Meanwhile, CA's Sec. of State, to my knowledge, has said nothing about any of this publicly. But that may be because neither state nor national media --- other than us --- have bothered to connect the dots between California and these very serious concerns...

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Warnings of global warming in 1912; Warning of war in Afghanistan in 2001; Also: CO SoS confirms hard drives with Dominion software stolen, copied from Mesa County Clerk's office...by the Mesa County Clerk...
By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2021 7:01pm PT  

Ya never know what you may unearth when you peek into the Memory Hole, including a bunch of stuff that should never have been hidden away there in the first place. Also, on today's BradCast, a few noteworthy updates on the Dominion Voting System software stolen from a Colorado County Clerk's office and released into the wilds via the Internet at last week's fraudulent "fraud" forum put on by MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell, and how that serious security breach might effect the ongoing California Recall election. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

So, a lot of stuff covered on today's show, including...

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tested positive for COVID. That, after barring local governments and school districts in the Lone Star State from imposing mask mandates, even for children under 12 who, unlike Abbott, are not lucky enough to be able to get vaccinated.
  • A news clipping from a 1912 New Zealand newspaper, which recently went viral 109 years later, warns about the burning of coal adding "tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere". The clipping, confirmed as genuine by both USA Today and Newsweek, warns that "This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature." The scientifically prescient story goes on to accurately note that "the effect may be considerable in a few centuries." If only we'd listened in 1912.
  • Similarly, if only we listened to the courageous Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) back in 2001, when she was the only member of Congress, Republican or Democratic in either the U.S. House or Senate, to vote against going to war in Afghanistan from the 9/11 attacks. As the Afghanistan conflict unwinds today, amid both chaos and uncertainty, we take a listen to the sage words from Lee on the floor of the House, just three days after the U.S. was attacked 20 years ago next month.
  • As the Taliban returns itself to power in Afghanistan, following 20 years of U.S. occupation and our failed attempt to prop up a democratic, Western-style government, the far-right radical Islamic group which shielded al-Qaeda after 9/11 claims to have become much more moderate in the interim. A Taliban spokesman today told media in Kabul they will respect the rights of women and girls to work and go to school, and will not seek retribution against those who supported the U.S. and its allies or the failed government we tried to create there. But, as we discuss, there is very little reason to trust their new P.R. blitz.
  • We also discuss the hand-wringing D.C. punditry which seems to be falling over itself to declare Joe Biden's Presidency a disaster, after the chaos at the Kabul airport yesterday, following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. As Nicole Wallace (yes, we note the irony of her old job as George W. Bush's Comms Director during both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars) noted on MSNBC yesterday, "95% of the American people will agree with everything" Joe Biden said in his remarks on Afghanistan at the White House on Monday, while "95% of the press covering this White House will disagree." She goes on to highlight, as does TPM's Josh Marshall today, how out of sync with the public the D.C. media class is on this point, even after the events of the past few days, as Biden stands by his decision to pull America out of its longest war once and for all.
  • Then, some important new news in the story that, until yesterday, only The BradCast and The BRAD BLOG, by and large, had been reporting on at all. Namely, the theft and copying of hard drives containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software, as now allegedly stolen from the office of Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk Tina Peters. The Dominion EMS is the central control system for creating and counting ballots in jurisdictions which use the company's voting and tabulation systems, including nearly 60% of California counties, where we have an ongoing Gubernatorial Recall election right now, which could be adversely effected by what top cybersecurity and voting system experts have described to me as a very serious security breach.

    After nearly a week of reporting on this story, almost exclusively, following the release of the software during MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's failed MAGA "Cyber Symposium" in South Dakota last week, where Tina Peters appeared on stage several times, others are now jumping in. That, as CO's Democratic Sec. of State Jenna Griswold finally issued a news release Monday on the apparent theft. Griswold's office cites Peters and two others as having snuck into the Mesa County Election Division office late at night in May to make image copies of two hard drives containing the software. A criminal investigation by the state's Republican Attorney General is now reportedly under way, but Griswold states that Peters has now been removed from her elected post as Clerk, and will be replaced by appointment of the Secretary, after security cameras were also reportedly turned off in the office to hide the alleged crime. The voting and tabulation hardware and software in Mesa will also now all need to be replaced at considerable cost to taxpayers.

    The news release from the SoS office also references a vaguely worded assessment of some sort on this matter, said to be from the U.S. Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. The release claims that "CISA has confirmed that it does not view this breach as a significant heightening of the election risk landscape at this point."

    But an election official in Colorado and, perhaps more notably, several of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting system experts, including the legendary Harri Hursti and UC Berkley's Philip Stark, have told me they are dubious about the CO SoS' statement on this point and the apparent dismissal of concern by CISA. Hursti notes the lack of named attribution for the DHS/CISA assessment, lack of a direct quote from any official at CISA, and no similar or supporting statement released directly by CISA itself. Moreover, as one CO election official told me, the phrase "at this point" in the reference attributed to CISA is likely doing quite a bit of heavy lifting there.

    We've sought additional comment, clarification and/or attribution for the curious CISA assessment from Griswold's office. We've yet to receive a response. We expect to cover this issue in more detail on our next BradCast, including said response, if received by then. Despite the downplaying of concerns from "CISA" and the CO SoS, we have reason to remain concerned about this breach, amid CA's ongoing Recall election.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as a tropical storm compounds Haiti's deadly weekend earthquake disaster; July shatters all-time heat records on Planet Earth; and the federal government declares a water shortage on the Colorado River for the very first time, resulting in serious implications for water supplies to both Arizona and Nevada amid the ongoing mega-drought in Western states...

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Also: FL, TX Guvs stand by deadly mask mandate ban; Biden addresses nation, callers ring in on U.S. Afghanistan pull-out as Kabul falls...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2021 6:20pm PT  

Grim, breaking news out of both Haiti and Afghanistan forced us to set aside our previous plans for today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

First, breaking coverage on the continuing fallout and search for survivors following the enormous, 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Saturday in Les Cays, Haiti, about 80 miles east of the capitol, Port-au-Prince. As we went to air, more than 1,400 have been declared dead, with thousands more injured. There is already a shortage of hospitals, doctors, medicine and shelter as tens of thousands of families have been left homeless. The temblor in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation comes as it was already struggling with the pandemic and a lack of vaccines, gang violence, and political chaos in the wake of the July 7 assassination of its President.

It also comes as Tropical Depression Grace is set to roll in on Monday night, with some 15 inches of rain expected in some areas. The scale of human tragedy at this hour in Haiti is unfathomable. It's likely to get much worse in the days ahead.

And while nations like Haiti are desperate for vaccines, authoritarian governors in Florida and Texas are blocking small, local governments and schools from even instituting mask requirements as the school year begins. Last week it was announced that 3 Broward County, FL teachers died from COVID over a 24-hour period. None were vaccinated. That, as several school districts defy Gov. Ron DeSantis order blocking mandates to help keep schools open and children alive.

In Texas, the state's all-Republican Supreme Court stood behind Gov. Greg Abbott's similar ban on mask requirements. Several of the state's most populous counties, such as Dallas and Bexar (San Antonio) are also defying their Governors deadly, authoritarian edict.

Then, on the other side of the globe, another massive human tragedy is unfolding today, as Kabul, the capitol city in Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban on Sunday, while U.S. forces are completing their withdraw by months end after 20 years of war launched following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Seven Afghans were killed at Kabul's airport today, as chaos erupted on the tarmac with hundreds of Afghans desperately swarming and clinging to a departing U.S. military jet.

The total collapse of Afghanistan's government --- propped up by the U.S. for decades --- was remarkably swift, with its President fleeing the country over the weekend, handing control of the nation back to the Taliban. U.S. officials say they are stunned by the speed with which the Afghan government simply melted away in recent days. They shouldn't have been. Washington Post's Susannah George reported over the weekend on local, regional and provincial officials literally selling out to the Taliban over the past year and a half, beginning on the very day that the Trump Administration announced an agreement with the Taliban and Afghan Government to withdraw all U.S. forces by May 1 of this year.

Though President Biden extended the deadline for leaving until the end of August, he honored the deal made by the previous Administration to pull out. He spoke today at the White House as to why he stands by his decision, despite the unfolding tragedies. We share his remarks in full, in which he reiterated his previous vow in July that after the deaths of some 2,500 U.S. troops and injuries to more than 20,000 of them, following 20 years of war and more than a trillion dollars spent, he says he cannot, in good conscience, pass on this war to yet a 5th President.

Near the end of the show we open the phone lines to listeners on whether they support Biden's decisions to pull out. The responses, at least today, are remarkably unanimous...

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Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: Update on stolen Dominion software released at Pillow Guy's failed 'Cyber Symposium' as CA Recall begins...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2021 6:50pm PT  

Our guest on The BradCast today is virtually begging those on the environmental center and left to come together, to put aside their various (if important) pet projects, in hopes of coming together for two key elements in the blueprint for the Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. It is, he details, our last, best chance for likely more than a decade to soften the blow of our climate emergency. Do that, he says, then "we can resume fighting like a bag full of cats in a couple of months." [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, a quick follow-up from yesterday's BradCast, during which we broke the news that someone at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's bat-crap insane three-day "Cyber Symposium" in South Dakota this week to "Stop the Steal," released digital image copies of three hard drives containing Dominion Voting Systems actual Election Management System software, as used in real elections across the country. These copies seem to have come out of the County Clerk's office in Mesa County, Colorado. The elected County Clerk there, Tina Peters, is a hard-right official who appeared at Lindell's "symposium" that promised to reveal (then spectacularly didn't) how China supposedly flipped millions of votes over the Internet in 2020 to steal the election from Donald Trump.

With our confirmation yesterday that the Dominion software is now confirmed to be in the wild, even as the Gubernatorial Recall election is now under way in California (where Dominion's software is used in about 60% of the state), there are very serious concerns about what effect the security breach could have on the Recall election --- not to mention others coming up across the country this November. Marilyn Marks, a regular guest on the show, whose non-partisan election watchdog group, the Coalition for Good Governance, is suing the state of Georgia in federal court to stop them from forcing voters to use Dominion's unverifiable and vulnerable touchscreen voting systems in every polling place, tweeted yesterday about the "looming dark cloud over the Nov. elections," following the exposure of the EMS software. She wonders when and if election officials in the Peach State might pay attention to this breach, not to mention when national media, which seems to be all but asleep at the wheel on this, might cover the story as well.

The founder of Georgia Tech's new School of Cybersecurity, Prof. Richard DeMillo, who joined us on the show earlier this week before the stolen hard drives were leaked, to discuss vulnerabilities recently uncovered by an expert witness [PDF] in Dominion's system in the Georgia case, told me via email today that he is "still processing" the breach. But, he told me, the "news points to the urgency" of unsealing the report by the Coalition's expert witness in the case, at least to other cybsersecurity experts and election officials. "The fact that the Dominion EMS images are now public increases the likelihood that [Dominion] ImageCast voting software [as used on their touchscreen voting machines] was also leaked. The only antidote is to conform to standard industry practice and publish their vulnerabilities so that Dominion and their customers can take public steps to mitigate the risks to election infrastructure."

For the record, a number of large jurisdictions in California use the exact same Dominion touchscreens as are used across Georgia, including San Diego, San Francisco and Riverside. Are state officials here in CA even aware of this latest, serious leak? We will continue to follow the story in the days ahead, and hope that national media --- or even just CA media! --- jump in and try to get some answers from election officials about what this serious concern may mean for ongoing voting in the Recall.

Then, along with the news today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that July was declared the hottest month on the planet in recorded history, we're joined by a longtime progressive climate and energy journalist who is trying to help Democrats and climate activists understand the necessity of supporting two key provisions in the Democrats landmark, $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. He described this matter recently as America's "last big shot at climate change policy for a decade or more."

The great DAVID ROBERTS, publisher of the must-read Volts newsletter, joins us today to explain the importance of those two initiatives, the development of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) and clean energy tax credits in the reconciliation bill. The huge measure can be passed with simple majorities in both chambers, as long as all 50 Senators who caucus with Democrats and almost all of the Democrats in the House play along. Those two provisions together, he wrote and explains today, "would revolutionize the US electricity system" and finally give us the chance to reach net-zero emissions from the electric grid in the very few years climate scientists now tell us we must, in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Never mind other ideas that climate hawks may have for now, such as a carbon tax or cap-and-dividend. They are not part of President Biden's menu of options. It's this "or we will get nothing that will tackle fossil fuels this decade," he warns.

It may sound a bit wonky, but it really isn't. Roberts spells out, in simple terms, what both a clean energy standard and clean energy tax credits mean in the context of the critical goal of decarbonizing our electricity system, even as he has preached that the answer to ending the dangerous burning of fossil fuels is to "electrify everything", from transportation to buildings.

"Right now, roughly a third of our emissions come from electricity. But the whole plan for decarbonization is to move transportation --- which right now runs on gasoline and diesel --- to move that over to electricity. And to move buildings --- right now buildings are heated and cooled largely with fossil fuels, mainly with natural gas --- to move that over to electricity," he says. "So if you move the other two big chunks of emissions onto the electricity grid, then you see that, oh, having a clean electricity grid is the core strategy for decarbonization.  It's not just one sector. This is the sector that is going to clean up all the other sectors. So there's nothing more important for short-term, immediate decarbonization than cleaning up the electrical grid."

Both the Clean Energy Standard and tax credits will serve to move the entire grid to renewables. "Renewables are the cheapest form of clean energy. And the overwhelming effect, as any analyst will tell you, if we pass this policy, is going to be giant surge of renewable energy projects."

There is, of course, much more to this conversation, but the bottom line is that, as Roberts warns, "the stakes are enormous," and with Democratic majorities so narrow right now in both Congressional chambers, virtual any Senator or faction can sink both this bill and the smaller but still critical $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that's paired with it.

"If Democrats fail, they all fail, and they're going to get crushed in 2022," Roberts tells me, as he explains how it may be that a fossil fuel-loving Senator like Joe Manchin from coal state West Virginia, may still find a way to support these efforts which will, necessarily, hasten the demise of fossil fuels.

"So Manchin and [Bernie] Sanders are going to have to find a bill that they can both sign," Roberts argues. "[Kyrsten] Sinema is going to have to find a bill she can sign. I don't think even she wants to be responsible for the whole Democratic agenda going down, including her precious, beloved bipartisan infrastructure bill, because that would go down too. So it all sinks or swims together. It's a unique situation in my lifetime."

If these two bills actually make their way to the President's desk, especially with the two key provisions Roberts is citing as critical to curbing global warming, he says he will "eat crow" from every rooftop in the land, when it comes to his earlier doubts about Joe Biden's centrist, go-along to get-along roots. These measures, if they actually happen, he notes, would easily place Biden into the Democratic pantheon along with folks like FDR and quickly eclipse even Barack Obama's own accomplishments in office.

"Calling your lawmaker matters," Roberts emphasizes, even if you believe they are already on the correct side of this fight. "This is something I hear from Senate offices, from House offices, all the time. The email campaigns? Eh. The letters?  Eh.  But when people take the time to call, it gets collated and marked down, and the Senator hears about it. It matters. They need to hear that there is a public appetite specifically for the climate provisions to get through." Tell them you support a CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD.

"This is crunch time," he warns. "Everybody needs to be talking about it and getting their fellow Democrats fired up. This is the time to fall into formation, to quote Beyoncé, it's time to fall into formation and make this happen. We can resume fighting like a bag full of cats in a couple of months. But, just for a few months, we need to be coordinated and speaking in a single voice. Specifically the Clean Energy Standard. That's the core of it."

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Cybersecurity and voting system expert confirms security breach, software authenticity to BRAD BLOG, as Mike Lindell's event to 'prove' stolen 2020 election, 'reinstate' Trump goes criminally off rails
Also: Rightwing radio hosts hospitalized, dying from COVID; Trump judge allows Dominion's defamation suit against Giuliani, Powell, Lindell to proceed; MUCH MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2021 6:51pm PT  

Okay. Now it's not just insane. It could also be criminal, as a leak of actual voting system software at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's three-day, so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota may have imperiled the security of the Gubernatorial Recall election now under way in California. We've got some exclusive details on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, before the details on what appears to have happened at Lindell's bizarre circus show in Sioux Falls, some very quick news, on the Census Bureau's release of 2020 data today and the GOP's plans to use it to gerrymander themselves into a U.S. House majority; U.S. plans to evacuate the embassy in Kabul as the Taliban retakes much of Afghanistan; Support from national teacher's unions to mandate vaccination or testing for the nation's school staff; and Rightwing radio host COVID and vaccine deniers findings themselves dead and/or hospitalized...with COVID.

Then, it's on to the 2020 "stolen election" Crazy Train still unfolding in MAGALand.

On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge appointed by Donald Trump, ruled that Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuits against Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and, yes, Mike Lindell, may proceed. Judge Carl J. Nichols' 44-page ruling [PDF] denied all parts of the defendants various Motions to Dismiss. Suffice to say it did not go well for them, on any front, leading former crack-addict and current phony stolen-election addict Lindell to declare the ruing "the worst decision a judge has made in the history of this country." (Which someone named Dred Scott would likely dispute.)

But the real madness has been unfolding in South Dakota this week, at Lindell's three-day "Cyber Symposium" that was promised to reveal "absolute proof" that the 2020 election was stolen through a massive, sophisticated cyberattack by China (I think.) Lindell's promised "proof" of the steal was so unimpeachable that it was to result, he's been declaring for weeks, in an immediate 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Trump to the White House this Friday the 13th!

It may not work out that way, however. The far-right newspaper Washington Times published a gob-smacking story on Wednesday, in which a cyber expert hired by Lindell himself to examine and explain the super-secret 37 terabytes of data --- said to have been captured from Internet transfers just days after the November election, revealing that China flipped millions of votes --- told the paper that the data and claims about them were illegitimate.

It's a simply coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs story --- again, from a Rightwing outlet --- detailing how none of Lindell's claims appear to be real, and seem to be sourced to a former Government contractor who was also the source of (false) claims that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016. But, as Lindell's own experts explained to the Washington Times, the data doesn't show what it is supposed to show...but that may only be because the source dude supposedly had a stroke the day before the symposium!

Lindell's expert, who says there still could be some evidence of something anyway in the data they did examine, told the paper: "We were handed a turd. And I had to take that turd and turn it into a diamond."

But now the loony toons story takes a potentially much darker turn, albeit a somewhat confusing one. Mother Jones' AJ Vicens does a fine job attempting to make at least some sense of what has happened with this part of the story over the last several days. It seems to involve an election official named Tina Peters, County Clerk of Mesa County, Colorado (who is now apparently being investigated by state law enforcement authorities), a guy named Ron Watkins, widely thought to be "Q" of the infamous Q-Anon MAGA conspiracy world, and potentially a former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). See Vicens for that part of the story.

The upshot is that duplicate images said to be of stolen hard drives containing actual, proprietary Dominion Voting System software, seemingly from Mesa County, was released at Lindell's Cyber Symposium and is now said to be out in the wild, as it was made available for download to pretty much anybody with the technical know-how to grab it.

This afternoon, we confirmed with legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, who is at South Dakota conference, apparently serving as an analyst for a news outlet, that the hard drives do, in fact, contain Dominion's Election Management System (EMS) software, though not its source code, as some have reported via Twitter. As Dominion explains on its website, the EMS "Drives the entire election project through a single comprehensive database...From election definition to results reporting." It is, in short, the heart of the entire Dominion election system suite.

"What was shared were 3 different images of installed EMS systems," Hursti told me via email from Sioux Falls. "I can confirm that those were circulated for copying. It [isn't] source code as such, but part of the code is interpreted code, there is human readable and editable things there."

Hursti is well known in the voting system world, where his most notorious "white hat" hack of a Diebold voting system was revealed in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy; He was also featured in their 2020 Emmy-nominated Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections; and, in what may have been Hursti's first American film interview, my own with him in 2010's award-winning Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. He also heads up the infamous DefCon Voting Village in Las Vegas each year, and most recently was tapped by the state of New Hampshire to oversee a very thorough, professional and transparent post-election audit to determine why the Diebold optical-scanners in the town of Windham miscounted several hundred votes in a State Representative race last November.

In other words, his credentials here are impeccable. Though what the dangers of the release of Dominion's software into the wild may be is still less than clear. Particularly as it pertains to the September 14th Gubernatorial Recall election now underway here in California. It's something that I am still trying to dig into. Dominion's EMS software is used in a number of large jurisdictions in the state, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside Counties.

Earlier this week, I spoke on The BradCast with cybersecurity and voting system expert Rich DeMillo, founder of Georgia Tech's School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, about serious vulnerability concerns that have recently emerged [PDF] in a long-running federal lawsuit seeking to ban Dominion's touchscreen vote systems across the state of Georgia. How this new security breach may now come into play in either that case, here in California, or in any of the other many jurisdictions which use the same software across the nation, is unclear at the moment. One expert I spoke with this afternoon, however, said it does seem to prove yet again that "security by obscurity" (attempting to keep vulnerable software safe by keeping it a secret) doesn't actually work, especially when it comes to voting systems.

More on this story, I suspect, in the days ahead.

Finally, we close today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as Senate Dems move forward with critical climate legislation in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, even as deadly, climate change-fueled wildfires, heat waves and floods continue to wreak absolute havoc around the globe this week...

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Guest: Penn State climate scientist, author Dr. Michael E. Mann on the U.N. IPCC's alarming new 'code red for humanity' climate assessment
Also: TX warrants for arrest of Dem lawmakers; CDC urges vaccines for pregnant women; CA vax mandates for teachers; Senate Dems pass $3.5T reconciliation bill framework...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2021 6:27pm PT  

The Washington Post leads its story on this week's startling new climate assessment by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by calling back to the earliest, prescient warnings issued by the panel more than 30 years ago "that humans were fueling a dangerous greenhouse effect and that if the world did not act collectively and deliberately to slow Earth’s warming, there could be 'profound consequences' for civilization itself. "The scientists were right," they declare, citing evidence from the latest alarming iteration of the IPCC's dire report released this week. But, as our guest, one of the scientists who contributed to the panel's 2001 Nobel Prize-winning assessment, explains on today's BradCast, there is still time to act to avoid the worst consequences of having ignored the early alarm bells. But we are very much now on a "knife's edge". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, some very quick news: On Texas Republicans issuing arrest warrants for Democratic state lawmakers who are fighting to prevent the GOP legislature from instituting new voter suppression measures; On the CDC urging vaccination of pregnant women amid a surge in COVID hospitalizations, miscarriages and deaths of expectant mothers; On California mandating either vaccination or regular testing for all teachers and school staff as the new school year begins; And on the overnight passage in Congress of a framework for the Democrats' landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is to designed to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long overdue measures to finally take on our worsening climate emergency by reducing reliance on the fossil fuels that are quickly hastening the deadly effects of global warming.

Amid a summer marked by seemingly endless and catastrophic heat waves, wildfires, floods and droughts across the globe, the 6th IPCC Climate Assessment comes not a moment too soon. Described by the U.N. Secretary-General this week as a "code red for humanity", the latest report, coming 8 years after the previous one, now cites "unprecedented" warming that has already occurred, and unstoppable catastrophes to come if the nations of the world are unable to immediately begin to sharply decrease the dangerous burning of fossil fuels.

We're joined today by DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He is also the author of more than 160 peer-reviewed publications and numerous books on climate change and the battles to avoid its most cataclysmic effects. He is also one of the few climate scientists who spoke up early and loudly about the desperate need for action by our political leaders. Happily, as we also discuss today, there are now many more such scientists who have joined in that existential effort.

"What's different about this latest report is that now the scientists really are standing on the rooftop of the tallest building, shouting at the top of their lungs that dangerous climate change is here," Mann tells us. He says the new IPCC assessment "finally connects the dots in a way that previous reports haven't. And it does so in a profound way, because we are literally watching the disastrous impacts of climate change playing out right now in real time."

Mann breaks down what the new, non-partisan study, compiled by nearly 250 of the world's leading climatologists, synthesizing some 14,000 peer-reviewed studies from over the past 8 years, means for the public in general, policy makers specifically, as well as the fossil fuel industry and even his fellow scientists.

Policy makers "have to act now," he charges. "Not ten years from now. Not twenty years from now. We need to decarbonize the planet, our global economy, as quickly as possible." Mann also notes the "fortuitous timing" of the $3.5 trillion budget bill from President Biden and the Democrats now moving through Congress, which, he says, "really does have meaningful climate policy" to narrow "the implementation gap" between what politicians are saying and the "policies that actually get us there."

As to the science revealed by the U.N.'s new assessment, Mann details our various potential paths outlined by the report, predicated on the choices that world leaders now make, and whether any of those paths can prevent us from exceeding the maximum 2 degrees Celsius warming over pre-industrial times that scientists have long warned would result in irreversible damage to nature, society, and humanity itself.

"The report, I think, defensibly concludes that we can still prevent the worst impacts from playing out, if we can hold temperatures below 1.5C.  I think the weight of evidence suggests that we can still keep all of this within what you might call our 'adaptive capacity' as a civilization.  Once we go beyond 2C, you're starting to test the limits of that adaptive capacity. Once you get to 3C, 4C, or 5C, it's appropriate to start talking about civilization-ending climate change," Mann explains, before adding: "But we can avoid that.  That's a critical point.  That does not have to be our future. That's a future of inaction."

That, as the report notes global temperatures have already spiked by about 1.1 Celsius (almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit) on average since the 19th century, a trend which will almost certainly require decades to reverse, even under the best-case scenarios.

There is, of course, much more to our conversation, including what Mann derides as "doomism" among those inclined to take action to meet necessary goals such as reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, if not earlier, but who may have decided that it's just too late, that only a miracle can save us now. He compares "doomism" to the worst of "denialism" by the fossil fuel-funded nihilist fighting AGAINST taking action. He also takes another shot at billionaire Bill Gates, whose book on climate Mann and I discussed on his previous appearance on the program earlier this year.

"To reduce carbon emissions, as the report says we need to, as energy experts say we can, we don't need a miracle , Bill Gates. Sorry. But we have the technology now to do this. What we need is the political willpower. If we do that, we really can keep the warming to a level we can adapt to."

Whether he's right remains to be seen. So far, however, the scientists have been right about pretty much everything else on this front. The only real question is if we're finally willing to listen to them and take the immediate action they have long been urging us to take...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: $1T bipartisan infrastructure bill clears Senate; Dominion sues more wingnuts; MyPillow Guy's CNN nightmare...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2021 6:24pm PT  

As Desi notes on today's BradCast, the underlying theme to our boatload of stories is that "elections matter". Then again, that seems to pretty much be our underlying theme every day on this program. Glad she's finally noticed! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the too-many stories covered on today's show...

  • Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally resigns amid his sexual harassment scandal. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become New York's next Governor and the first woman to serve in that role;
  • $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill finally clears the U.S. Senate with a 69 to 30 vote (including 19 Repubs voting in favor with all of the Dems.) It's a big early victory for President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda and a feather in his cap. But there's a long way to go still, including an eventual vote in the House and, most importantly since everything hinges on it, agreement among Dems on the much larger $3.5 trillion, Dems-only reconciliation package paired to go with it. But, for now, so far so good;
  • Pandemic horrors continue to worsen in the U.S., despite easy availability of free, safe and effective vaccines to prevent it. The most devastated states are run mostly or completely by Republicans. Arkansas had just 8 ICU beds available in the entire state as of Monday, according to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, after throwing away 80,000 unused vaccine doses last week. Mississippi had 0 ICU beds open and more than 200 patients waiting in ERs for a room, with all numbers heading straight up. Louisiana hospitals have returned to the bad old pre-vaccine days, but Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is "praying and fasting", so that should help. Florida is smashing their pandemic records with hospitalizations at an all-time peak and young, healthy and unvaccinated residents now dying (many from the same church over the past two weeks.) At the same time, Texas is halting elective medical procedures and begging out-of-state health care workers to come to the state. But the Republican Governors in both TX and FL are banning school districts from requiring masks for staff and children (who, under 12, cannot be vaccinated!) in the new school year. Two of the largest districts in Texas are, thankfully, defying Gov. Greg Abbott's authoritarian order. Several districts in Florida are doing the same in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is now threatening to withhold salaries of Superintendents and School Board Members who ignore his tyrannical and deadly edicts;
  • In Wisconsin, where a Democratic Governor presides along side a gerrymandered GOP-controlled state legislature, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed several Republican absentee ballot voter suppression laws today, which would have affected disabled and elderly voters in particular, and challenged the state Assembly's schemes to carry out an Arizona-style post-election "audit";
  • Speaking of 2020 denialism, Dominion Voting Systems filed three more defamation lawsuits today, seeking $1.6 billion in damages each, against wingnut news outlets Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN), as well as Trump MAGA billionaire Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock CEO and a major financier of the AZ Audit and huckster of 2020 denialism and fetishist merchandise and media. Today's new legal complaints, filed in federal court, are in addition to previous similar ones filed against Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Fox "News". (Ever wonder why these "news" organizations are being sued by voting machines companies, but we haven't been, despite our nearly-20 years of critical reporting on them? There's a reason for that, as we also discuss today.);
  • And, speaking of the MyPillow Guy, CNN's Drew Griffin took apart his "Absolute Proof" of election fraud in an investigative report late last week. Even as Griffin made a few errors himself, suffice to say it didn't go well for MyPillow Guy, who is also reportedly having a tough time today kicking off his three-day "Cyber Symposium" in South Dakota, after which he has promised his "absolute proof" will result in a 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Donald Trump before the month is out! Sounds plausible;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N. declares "code red for humanity" in its latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), while apocalyptic wildfires and drought play out around the world at the very same time from Northern California to Greece. What an elaborate "hoax"!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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