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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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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On today's BradCast, the GOP's far-right take-over of the U.S. Supreme Court for generations --- including one blatantly stolen seat and two men accused of sexual misconduct and/or assault --- is now all but complete, and we discuss an upcoming SCOTUS case that some have cited as reason for the Trump/GOP panic to get their man on the bench as soon as possible. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
On Friday, the four theoretically previously-undecided U.S. Senators announced how they planned to vote on the confirmation of accused sexual assaulter and confirmed liar Brett Kavanaugh for his lifetime appointment to SCOTUS. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced her intention to vote against him, while Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Joe Manchin all declared they will vote in favor of the most contentious nominee to the high court, perhaps in U.S. history. We discuss what all of that means today, moving forward, as the far-right cements its stolen majority. As you might imagine, both Desi and I have some thoughts on all of that today.
Then, we're joined by legal historian and Fordham Law School professor JED SHUGERMAN, author of The People's Courts, to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court case that many Trump opponents have cited in recent days as one of the explanations for Republicans' apparent panic to seat Kavanaugh on the Court as quickly as possible. The case, Gamble v. U.S., involves what some on both the Right and civil libertarian Left consider to be unconstitutional double jeopardy regarding an Alabama man who was convicted at both the state and federal levels for unlawful possession of a firearm. Some Trump critics have suggested, depended on how its decided, that the case could result in states being barred from prosecuting Donald Trump, his associates, or his family members in the event that they are pardoned at the federal level.
Shugerman --- who was one of more than 2,400 legal professors to sign on to a recent letter published by the New York Times calling on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination due to his lack of appropriate judicial temperament --- explains why he believes the Gamble case poses no threat to state prosecutions of Trump and/or his associates, nor to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Team Trump.
He also explains today why he signed the public letter opposing Kavanaugh, how it now may affect lawyers who signed it when arguing cases before Justice Kavanaugh, why he believes the GOP has been in such a hurry to seat Kavanaugh, and the "completely unprecedented" public opposition to him by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Shugerman also describes some of his major concerns for the Court once Kavanaugh is finally in place: how Chief Justice John Roberts is going to be forced to deal with it. "How is he going to manage this explosive controversy and the unprofessional conduct, the injudicious conduct, of Judge Kavanaugh? How will he restore consensus to this Court? How will he manage Judge Kavanaugh, given that he should have reason to fear that Judge Kavanaugh cannot be balanced, and won't be perceived to be balanced when he's on the Court?"
Finally today, some listener mail regarding more voter registration problems via the vote.org service (we recommend registering either in-person or via your Sec. of State or County website, rather than via third-party app, is possible); the first reports of 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote-flipping in the general election (in the very close U.S. Senate race in Missouri between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP challenger Josh Hawley); and Willie Nelson's new song, Vote 'em Out!, debuted for the first time at last weekend's 55,000-person rally in Texas, in support of Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke's surging campaign against Lone Star State Republican Sen. Ted Cruz...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast, what else? The FBI's sham "investigation" of Kavanaugh and news of great note regarding the November midterm elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]
The FBI's supplemental background report on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was released on Thursday morning. Just one copy was made available to U.S. Senators only. It received much criticism from Senate Democrats and much approval from Senate Republicans who couldn't even have possibly read it by the time they were lauding it. The release comes on the heels of the National Council of Churches calling for Kavanaugh's nomination to be withdrawn "immediately", and more than 2,400 law professors (and counting) signing onto a statement seeking the same. Nonetheless, even before the "White House Whitewash" of a report was even released, Republicans scheduled a final floor vote on the confirmation of the most partisan, dishonest nominee the nation has likely ever seen.
Even 98-year old retired Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford and who lauded Kavanaugh in a 2014 book, announced he is now opposing his confirmation following his angry and partisan testimony last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to multiple sexual assault allegations. Justice Steven suggested --- as the churches and law professors did --- that Kavanaugh has proven he lacks the appropriate judicial temperament for a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court.
But, even with hundreds of anti-Kavanaugh protesters descending on the Senate today, the only thing that ultimately matters will be the votes of five undecided U.S. Senators. One of them, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who faces a tight re-election contest in Trump-leaning North Dakota in November, announced on Thursday she is a "No" on Kavanaugh. The others, Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have yet to commit, though Flake and Collins said on Thursday they found the FBI investigation --- which failed to interview dozens of witnesses, including Kavanaugh himself and his first accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford --- to offer no new corroboration to the allegations against the nominee. Collins says she found it to be "very thorough". Manchin, who, according to polling, is comfortably ahead of his Republican opponent this November --- even in state Trump won by 42 points in 2016 --- is reportedly "leaning 'Yes'" on Kavanaugh.
If all Dems vote against and just two Republicans join them, the confirmation will be killed. The first procedural vote, to invoke cloture and move to the final vote, is scheduled for tomorrow.
In the meantime, the divisive issue has helped fuel enthusiasm for the crucial November midterms by both Democrats and Republicans, according to new polling, which also finds younger voters far less likely to vote this year, sadly. The Democrats' hoped-for "blue wave" may rest on turnout of young voters, and may not be quite as certain as many believe, particularly with obstacles preventing voters from registering (the deadline for doing so comes up this weekend in many key states), from voting and from having votes verifiably counted as cast.
While last week's National Voter Registration Day was an unexpected success, thousands of citizens who registered to vote in Texas via the non-profit Vote.org will not be added to the rolls, according to a new report. That could be troubling news for a number of races in the Lone Star state, not the least of which is the contest between GOP Senator Ted Cruz and his surging Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on Big Oil's big win in the new NAFTA, several Category 5 storms spinning at the same time in the Pacific, a new record low for Arctic sea ice, and the big news of Tesla's Big Battery which is a big hit for South Australia's power grid...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Big Oil a big winner in Trump's new NAFTA trade deal; The Pacific has two simultaneous Category 5 storms for the first time in years; First-ever container ship crosses the Arctic as sea ice hits a new low; PLUS: Tesla's Big Battery in South Australia succeeding beyond all expectations... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How Brett Kavanaugh could help Trump weaken mercury pollution regulations; "Jobs Alliance," funded by Trump backer Murray Energy, tries to block gas plants that would bring jobs; Gov. Snyder, Enbridge reach deal for oil pipeline tunnel under straits; Climate scientists struggle to find the right words for very bad news; Trump DOT repeals train safety regulation, triggers new oil spill fears; Trump nominates coal, nuclear bailout supporter to U.S. power agency; 'You just don't touch that tap water unless absolutely necessary'; Death by Fertilizer: Nitrogen fertilizer is a disaster... PLUS: Nighttime in Trump’s America: A void of child gulags, rising mercury and unheard prayers... and much, MUCH more! ...
We work hard on today's BradCast to stay focused on the crucial upcoming elections, even as Brett Kavanaugh's cavalcade of shame continues in D.C. [Audio link to full show posted below.]
Senate Republicans intensified their push for a floor vote as soon as possible, even as reports persist that the FBI is either refusing or failing to interview dozens of witnesses in their supplemental background probe of Kavanaugh following sexual assault against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee. At the same time, former classmates and clerks of Kavanaugh are retracting previous support for him, and three key Republican Senators (Flake, Collins and Murkowski) gently rebuked Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night.
Amidst that circus, it's no easy feat to stay focused on the crucial upcoming midterm elections. But we try. And so are an extraordinary number of Americans. Today we learn that last week, on National Voter Registration Day, more than 800,000 signed up to vote, stunning organizers and smashing the previous record of 771,000 who registered on National Voter Registration Day in 2016, before the Presidential election.
But, even with all of the apparent enthusiasm, will all of those new and previous voters be allowed to vote this year? If so, will their votes be counted, tallied accurately, and in a way that the public can know they have been tallied accurately? In recent days, corporate media --- right on schedule --- has suddenly begun to churn out articles questioning the accuracy and security of our wildly insecure and frequently inaccurate electronic voting and tabulation systems...once its largely too late to do much about any of it, just weeks before an election. (That, of course, is why we have been trying to do so year 'round over the past 15 years!)
The corporate election vendors who have been allowed to privatize our public elections with systems that have long ago (over a decade ago) been found to be easily hacked --- and which have failed in election after election --- continue to sell their flawed systems to officials and offer false claims about security to the public.
One of those companies, Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S), the nation's largest voting system vendor, has now threatened a lawsuit against a small, non-profit election transparency organization which has been fighting to encourage election officials to take advantage of a security setting available on newer models of paper ballot scanners made by ES&S and others. The group, AUDIT-USA, has been sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] by ES&S corporate attorneys objecting to the organization posting user manuals for their scanners that capture digital images of ballots when they are scanned. The group has been working to encourage states and counties to make sure those which use the newer systems have them set to retain all such ballot images so they can potentially be reviewed by the public after an election. That, in lieu of the public being allowed to examine paper ballots themselves in order to assure unverified computer-tabulated results are accurate.
We're joined today by long-time election integrity champion EMILY LEVY of AUDIT-USA and their long-time election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER of American University, to discuss the ES&S threat letter sent to the group last week, charging copyright infringement for making their instruction manuals available to the public. The letter, as we discuss, fails to even cite security concerns. Levy notes the irony in this case, given that AUDIT-USA is actually supporting the newer ES&S systems for their security feature that many election officials appear unaware of.
"What we've found from talking to election officials around the country is that a lot of them don't really understand the systems that they're using in their own counties," Levy tells me. "They don't understand why they need ballot images when they have the paper ballots. And they don't understand that, in order to preserve the ballot images, all they need to do is not change the settings that the machines come with. The default settings on the machines are to preserve the ballot images, and it's only by having someone --- whether a vendor working for them or elections officials themselves --- changing those settings that the ballot images get destroyed.
"So we want people to understand both the importance of the ballot images and preserving them --- that it's legally required to preserve them, just as it is to preserve all election materials. And that's it's not a difficult thing to do."
Sautter argues the information in question, as posted to their website, is in the public interest and, therefore, falls under the Fair Use Doctrine. "Cease and desist letters like the one that ES&S sent AUDIT-USA are a common form of intimidation," he says. "These companies have a lot of money, and sometimes they figure, well, we can overpower them, we'll file this lawsuit and we'll try to break this little non-profit in attorneys fees and we'll set an example."
As we also discuss, threats of lawsuits by voting system vendors against voting system experts and computer scientists have been going on for years (here's The BRAD BLOG exclusive from 2008 that I cite on the show), even as tax payers continue dolling out billions of dollars to these shameless and irresponsible private companies...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast, the FBI investigation into multiple allegations of sexual assault and belligerent drunken behavior by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues, as Republicans in the U.S. Senate prepare to force a vote on his confirmation before Senators, much less the public, get a full look at the information gathered by the brief and limited probe. As that shameful illustration of a process broken by Republicans for the nation's highest court plays out, a number of other noteworthy news stories slip through the cracks just over one month before the crucial 2018 midterm elections. [Audio link to full show follows below.]
On Sunday, California's Governor signed a Net Neutrality bill into law, meant to replace the Obama-era consumer protection that was gutted by the Trump Administration's Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Hours later, Trump's Dept. of Justice sued the Golden State to prevent the new law from taking effect. So much for the GOP's pretend love of "states rights".
On Monday, Trump announced "a brand new deal to terminate and replace NAFTA" [the North American Free Trade Agreement] with a "totally" new deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico as "the biggest trade deal in United States History." Even though it is NAFTA 2.0, it will now be called, if adopted by the U.S. Congress (a big "if", as our guest explains today), the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.
And, on Tuesday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company will be increasing their minimum wage for all workers, both permanent and seasonal, to $15/hour beginning next month, after years of attacks by critics for low wages paid by the world's second most valuable company.
We're joined by financial journalist and author DAVID DAYEN to discuss all three of those news items, whether they are a "Big Deal or No Big Deal?", and how the news may or may not affect the upcoming November elections.
On Amazon's increased wages, Dayen tells me it is "only going to bid the price of labor up. So that is a good thing." He also explains why it is "a political success for Bernie Sanders and this idea that you need to put pressure on these huge, monopolistic companies in order the get them to do right by their workers." But, he also warns, "there's an escape valve here for Amazon."
The new NAFTA includes an end to what Dayen calls the "corporate shakedown regime" in NAFTA's "horrendous" extrajudicial process for settling trade disputes between corporations and countries. That's a "huge deal" he says, which could help set a template to vastly improve other trade deals as well, and potentially increase wages for workers. But he also explains why unions are, nonetheless, not yet all in for the deal and notes that it can only be approved by the next Congress --- which will likely be far more Democratic than the current one --- if labor buys in.
On DoJ's challenge to California's own Net Neutrality law, Dayen explains, the Administration may have little choice but to try and block it, even as Republicans --- when it comes to states other than California, anyway --- argue states should decide what's best for their own residents. In the Golden State, however, "if you give net neutrality protections, if you allow the state of California to pass them, then that's going to migrate," he says. "There's a genuine concern that these regulations --- which of course were in place at the federal level and were taken out by FCC Chair Ajit Pai and the conservatives on the FCC --- would almost, by default, come back if this were allowed to stand. ... All that work they did at the FCC could be for naught."
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with record rainfall numbers from Hurricane Florence (and the giant mosquitoes which have arrived in its wake), the Trump Administration's use of catastrophic climate change data to justify a deadly rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, and the French President calling for the nations of the world to reject trade deals with any country who is not a party to the Paris Climate Agreement (that would include only the U.S., which has announced its intention of pulling out of the landmark pact as soon as allowable --- the first day after the Presidential election in 2020)...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Florence clocked in as the second wettest storm in US history; North Carolina now grappling with outbreak of giant mosquitoes; Trump Administration using catastrophic climate change to justify rolling back fuel efficiency standards; PLUS: French president calls on UN to reject trade deals with any country not in the Paris Climate Agreement... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Trump Administration prepares a major weakening of mercury emissions rules; No one knows what would happen if mosquitoes were to disappear; Republican Congress allows parks program to expire over the weekend; NAFTA 2.0 avoids 'climate change,' talks ozone, air and sea pollution; Across the Arctic, lakes are leaking dangerous greenhouse gases, and one lake is behaving very strangely; Federal court again upholds state nuclear subsidies; U.S. Supreme Court keeps ban on new uranium mining at Grand Canyon; EPA chief defends rule rollbacks while at children’s health event; Scientists uncover genetic basis for toxic algal blooms... PLUS: Supreme Court rejects California billionaire's 'private beach' case... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast, the Brett Kavanaugh circus continued over the weekend and into Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court nominee now faces an expanded investigation by the FBI into multiple sexual assault allegations and --- depending on the breadth of that probe, which is up to the White House and/or Senate Republicans --- into his excessive drinking in high school and college. But it's his lies about it all today, not thirty years ago which are of the most note. [Audio link to show follows below.]
A number of Kavanaugh's fellow classmates have come forward in recent days to call him out for lying to Congress during his angry rebuttal testimony last Thursday in response to accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those classmates report they have had trouble reaching the FBI to share their thoughts and observations. At the same time, the scope of the background probe is being questioned by Democrats, with conflicting reports about whether a witness list will be limited to a handful of people said to have been present during an alleged attempted rape by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge in 1982, and the charge by accuser Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken party at Yale.
All of that follows Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-AZ)'s dramatic request for a "limited" FBI probe as he voted in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday. In a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, Flake claimed that if Trump's SCOTUS nominee is shown to have lied to the Committee, his nomination would be over. But Kavanaugh demonstrably lied multiple times already in both his initial testimony and his emotional response to Ford on Thursday. We detail just a few of the small but unmistakable lies --- which were non-partisan, non-political, and non-ideological --- that the longtime GOP operative turned federal judge offered to the Committee last week regarding his high school yearbook page on which he used slang references to several sex acts, his own excessive use of alcohol, and then lied about all of them, under oath (a felony), to the U.S. Senate.
We're joined today by former litigator turned journalist and podcast host JESSICA MASON PIEKLO of Rewire.News, to discuss what we know --- and don't --- about the FBI probe, who they should talk to if it is to be a legitimate investigation, and the "window into Judge Kavanaugh's judicial temperament" revealed on Thursday before being all too happily ignored by the bulk of GOP Senators.
"You might remember during the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings," she reminds us, "Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, spent a lot of time on Justice Sotomayor's temperament and writings she had done about her experience growing up as a Latina, and what that brought to her judging." Graham doesn't seem to care all that much of such concerns anymore, it seems.
"So, while we have some really serious and, in some cases, salacious allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, the confirmation hearing isn't a criminal trial. This is about probing his temperament for the bench. And federal judicial standards say that you have to have a judicial temperament that includes no evidence of excessive partisanship, for example," Pielko, who Tweets as "Hegemommy", observes. "We have a whole list of things that, so far, indicate he does not have the temperament to sit on the Supreme Court, let alone retain his seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals, frankly."
"We have allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, and evidence that suggests that he misled Senate Judiciary Committee members under oath, if not outright lied. And that, in itself, is disqualifying," she tells me, while detailing how the FBI's investigation could also help to exonerate Kavanaugh. "Their job is to get as much information from both sides of these allegations. It's actually an extension of the 'advice and consent' and disclosure processes that is supposed to happen in the routine course of nominations."
We also discuss what may happen to the information gathered by the FBI after its handed over to the White House and whether the Senate, much less the public, will ever be allowed to see it. And, we talk about what may happen --- and how Democrats should move forward hereafter --- once Kavanaugh is either rejected or confirmed for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Finally, some new polling is out showing that Kansas' Secretary of State and infamous GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach could be in trouble in his bid to become Governor against Democrat Laura Kelly (and independent Greg Orman), and there are still more new signs that Republicans are heading into triage mode to try and save their U.S. House majority from a possible "blue wave" in the November midterm elections...
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