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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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We've been hearing a lot of references to the GOP as a "death cult" of late. And while it sounds, at first, like little more than a partisan smear by Democrats, it's not. Just ask this longtime Republican. The description actually seems to be more and more apt with each passing day, as today's BradCast helps to make all too clear. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]
Among the many Death Cult GOP stories in evidence on today's program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: More economic fallout and Administration failure amid the coronavirus crisis, but some good news for Texas voters...at least for now. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Devastating and unprecedented economic numbers continue to pour out from D.C. today, with new unemployment claims last week topping 5.2 million. That totals nearly 22 million new jobless claims over the past month, once again blowing away --- for the fourth week running --- the pre-COVID weekly jobless claims record of 695,000 in 1992. Economists now believe the U.S. unemployment rate is about 15%, rivaling numbers from the Great Depression.
At the same time, several of the federal programs run by the Executive Branch meant to provide relief to individuals and small businesses amid the pandemic, are failing or have collapsed entirely. For example, the $350 billion appropriated to forgivable small business loans in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) included as part of the CARES Act is now completely gone, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Millions who applied for loans and grants under PPP have been shut out entirely.
Separately, while some have received their promised $1,200 individual payments also allocated by the Act, there are reports today that $500 payments included for dependent children have not been included for many, even as many more still wait for their payments entirely. (Some of which are likely delayed thanks to Donald Trump insisting his name be added to the paper checks being mailed out.)
"What you'll see if this continues for months and months, and people are still inside, are just closures of businesses," today's returning guest DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily, indispensable "Unsanitized" report tells me . "Right now, businesses are shuttered, they're looking for this CARES Act, the PPP loans. They're trying to figure out a way to stay alive, they'll just close if it's months before they can open."
He cites potential closures of as many as 60% of businesses in the retail sector and 70% in the restaurant sector who may soon be forced to simply shut down entirely. "That is absolute economic devastation. That's not something that you can easily come back from when you throw open the doors. If people can't stay in business right now, they're not going to be able to go back into business when everything opens."
But that is unlikely to happen on the schedule the President is pretending it will, says Dayen. "You can say 'we're going to re-open the economy', but a large segment of the American people aren't going to willingly go like lambs to the slaughter back to a restaurant if they expect that there is an outbreak that the government doesn't have a handle on. You see business executives saying to Trump, 'You can't do anything with this until you get massive testing in place.' And we just don't have that right now. So the economic pain and the public health hazard will continue until such time as we get our act together. That time has not yet been upon us."
All of this, of course, is even worse than it has to be, thanks to this disastrous Administration. A number of Dayen's recent scoops from his daily column at The Prospect have recently been picked up by the corporate media, including the New York Times Editorial Board which last night cited his coverage of a recording he obtained between Treasury Department officials and bank executives. The recording reveals the Trump Administration gave a green light to banks to withhold the money from those $1,200 payments sent to their customers who had unpaid fees and debts. That, despite the fact that Congress allowed Treasury to draft regulations to prevent the banks from stealing those emergency payments from customers.
Dayen further reports today that USAA, a bank which services many American veterans, has been stealing those funds from disabled vets and their families. Thanks to Dayen's reporting, however, the company has now announced they will reverse the practice.
In yet another scoop from Dayen's "Unsanitized" today, a new report from a number of non-governmental organizations suggests that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce --- the nation's largest, richest and most powerful lobbying organization, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Republicans across the country --- has been urging the White House against invoking the Defense Production Act to force the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as much-needed N95 masks to guard against the coronavirus pandemic. Why would they do that? Well, as Dayen explains, many of the companies who might be forced to comply with the Act to manufacture highly sought after protective gear and ventilators, etc. have top executive who sit on the Chamber's Board of Directors. That may very well answer the mystery of why the Trump Administration has been so hesitant to invoke the Korean War-era statute to help fight the alarming spread of COVID-19.
Next, we return to the growing fight over how Americans will be allowed to vote during the pandemic, with some Republicans taking extraordinary measures to prevent voters from being able to vote by absentee ballot this year, despite the dangers now presented by in-person voting amid stay-at-home orders across the country. In Texas, the Attorney General is attempting to block Lone Star State voters from requesting absentee ballots based on their fear of contracting coronavirus at the polls. The AG recently declared [PDF] that such concerns do not meet the state's statutory requirement that a voter must have a "physical condition" that constitutes a "disability" in order to apply for an absentee ballot. Moreover, the AG's office declared that third parties who recommend voters take advantage of that option, without an actual physical disability that prevents them from going to the polls, could be held criminally liable for doing so.
Thankfully, a state District Court judge on Wednesday, in a suit filed by the Texas Democratic Party with a number of voting rights groups, ruled that all Texas voters may legally apply for mail-in ballots due to social distancing restrictions and the risk of contracting the virus. At least for now. That good news is tempered by the fact that the Republican Attorney General has made clear that the case is likely to be appealed to a higher state court. That, ironically enough, as the TX AG who is still facing his own felony indictments on securities fraud, declared after the judge's ruling that "The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our legislature must be followed consistently."
The legal fight in Texas, however, clearly illustrates the battle lines now being drawn between Democrats and voting rights advocates hoping to make it easier for Americans to vote amid a pandemic in this year's critical elections and Republicans who are attempting to suppress as many voters as they can --- even if it means forcing their own voters to choose between risking their lives or losing their right to vote.
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with some more good news out of now "blue" Virginia, some more disturbing news from the Trump EPA (which is also happy to allow Americans to die unnecessarily), some good global news regarding renewable energy, and a look back at the BP Gulf Oil Spill ten years ago this week, where the damage persists even a full decade after the nation's worst fossil-fuel disaster...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Virginia becomes first in the South to target 100% clean energy; As coronavirus rages, Trump EPA refuses to tighten clean air rules to save lives; Clean energy capacity hits new record high globally; PLUS: Ten years later, the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is still harming marine life... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Should we spend billions on clean energy? It worked during the last crisis; More Logging in National Forests on Trump Anti-Virus Agenda; In Brazil, COVID-19 outbreak paves way for invasion of indigenous lands; US judge cancels permit for Keystone XL pipeline from Canada; IMF Urges Post-Pandemic Stimulus to Avoid Depression Mistake...PLUS: The Coronavirus Climate Profiteers... and the Climate Heroes Doing the Right Thing in a Time of Crisis... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: The U.S. and world economies continue to collapse amid ridiculous happy talk largely from the President and his GOP pals, as the suffering of millions of Americans grows amid the coronavirus pandemic and, incredibly enough, millions of tons of fresh food being destroyed by farmers and other food producers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Why are farmers and dairy producers doing that? The American Prospect's ALEXANDER SAMMON joins us today to explain how "Coronavirus has Broken America's Food Supply", and how, amazingly enough, the federal government (including the President who pretends to love farmers...especially in swing states) appears to be doing absolutely nothing about about a collapsing supply chain.
To be fair, neither party seems to be loudly pressing for action here, according to Sammon. But, as we discuss, this is a problem that could pretty easily be solved by the federal government. American families are running out of money as workers are being laid off. The Government is sending them a paltry $1,200 check (which may be delayed for many, because Trump is insisting on his name appearing on the checks), which many are likely to use to buy food. At the same time, food and milk created for commercial use in sectors which have collapsed (restaraunts, hotels, schools) is being destroyed. The Government could be buying that food (delivering much-needed relief to struggling farmers and food producers) and use the storied logistics skills of the U.S. Military to help deliver it to people in desperate need all over the country and around the world.
"It's one of those things where we've seen the President basically almost allergic to using federal authority, the national authority that is at his disposal to make these things right," Sammon explains. "Here is something he could do, well within the capacity of the federal government and the military, but there's been no indication they're going to pursue that. I think that's a pretty astounding political failure, at a very basic level."
Sammon goes on to describe the worsening conditions for food producers and the laborers in the industry who are becoming sick at an alarming rate, as "a very troubling sign for farmers and the food supply chain going forward."
"There's going to be a lot of farmers entering in to bankruptcy," he tells me. "The jolt to the system is not going to be immediate. But a year from now we could be looking at diminished supply at a pretty significant level. That could result in much higher prices. If we're emerging from a global recession, where we're talking about forecasts of 30% unemployment, potentially, at some point later in the year, the notion of having escalating food prices is certainly not something that's going to take the edge off of that."
Despite that grim news and the horrific economic numbers released on Wednesday regarding retail sales --- (yes, CONSUMERS, as it turns out, are the backbone of the nation's economy...They are the job creators, not the parasitic corporations and executives who pretend to be) --- we've got some more good news today for those who can't wait to vote this November. It'll much easier --- and safer --- to do that in Virginia this year, thanks to a series of important election reforms signed into law over the weekend by the state's Democratic Governor. Among the many long-overdue reforms: No-excuse absentee voting; Automatic voter registration at the DMV; Repeal of Photo ID voting restrictions; Expanded early and Election Day voting hours; and Election Day will now be a state holiday, while the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, celebrating Confederate Generals who attacked the U.S., will no longer be celebrated.
All of those reforms come thanks to the Democratic majorities won for the first time in years in both the Commonwealth's Senate and House last year. And that is thanks, in no small part, to the court-ordered UNgerrymandering of Virginia last year.
But that's not all the good news about upcoming elections today. The Republican National Committee, according to mailers they paid for and sent out to Republican voters in Pennsylvania, has declared that absentee voting is "easy, convenient and secure"! Yes, the word "secure" was made bold on the "Official Republican Party Mail-in Ballot Application" sent out to voters in the Keystone State this week.
So, apparently, we can all happily ignore the President and other high-profile Republicans around the country who claim that Vote-by-Mail is a vector for fraud. Their own party, it seems, has just made liars of them! (Though that's not particularly difficult to do these days.)
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
We catch up with a bit of listener mail at the top of today's BradCast before moving on to the huge story out of Wisconsin, where, according to results finally announced Monday night, a progressive-supported state Supreme Court candidate has apparently unseated a rightwing Scott Walker-appointed, Donald Trump-endorsed Justice following last Tuesday's disastrous and dangerous election in the Badger State. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
Judge Jill Karofsky reportedly trounced incumbent GOP-backed Justice Daniel Kelly by more than 10 points (or more than 163,000 votes of about 1.5 million cast) to win a 10 year term on the state Supreme Court. The stunning upset victory reduces the longtime rightwing partisan bent of the court from 5 to 2, to just 4 to 3, with a real chance to flip the court's balance to progressives in the state when the next seat either opens up for an appointment (with Democratic Governor Tony Evers having ousted the far-right Walker in 2018) or in the next Supreme Court retention election. The next such election is scheduled for 2023.
What makes Karofsky's win all the more remarkable, of course, is the horrific circumstances under which Republicans forced their own Wisconsin voters to the polls last week amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Republicans in the gerrymandered state legislature, along with the Republicans on the state Supreme Court and on the U.S. Supreme Court's stolen Republican majority all conspired to prevent the election from being postponed or changed to an all Vote-by-Mail election, despite Evers several attempts to do so in response to the COVID epidemic.
Hundreds of thousands of voters and poll workers were forced instead to choose between risking their lives to vote or having their votes suppressed, after tens of thousands of absentee ballots did not reach voters in time to be returned by the April 7th Election Day mandated by SCOTUS as the deadline. That, despite lower federal courts previously allowing for a 6-day extension for the return of absentee ballots, given the extraordinary circumstances. With the two Supreme Courts rulings, voters were forced to wait hours in line to cast in-person ballots in the April 7 election, with hundreds of polling sites closed, while enduring rain and hail and possible coronavirus infection to cast their votes, after Republicans decided that mandating an in-person election during a pandemic, while suppressing the votes of tens of thousands of absentee voters, was their only chance to maintain their 5 to 2 advantage on the state Supreme Court.
We're joined to talk about all of this victory amidst outrage today by WI native son and progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and of Madison's Capital Times. He tells me that Karofsky's election in WI right now "is the biggest deal of anything we have talked about" on the show, adding that "you and I go back a long way."
He charges "the Republicans ginned up their entire voter suppression operation. They put it on 11. They went for everything they could" and then they "weaponized coronavirus", but were still unable to defeat the dedicated Wisconsin voters who delivered "a true rebuke of the people who tried to suppress the vote."
We discuss both the important victory on the state Supreme Court as well as several other contests where the GOP was rebuked, along with the stain of last week's election and what all of this means for Wisconsinites and Americans going forward. There are more than 20 states still to hold primaries in the months ahead. All 50 states must figure out how to hold the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history this November. And the desperate Republican Party is hoping to bring chaos to all of it.
If what happened in Wisconsin is any indication, the GOP may have their work cut out for them, however, this year. But, as we also discuss, they may even be willing to bring down the U.S. Postal Service to do it.
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report following deadly tornadoes in the South, wildfires now threatening Chernobyl, and some good news about yet another coal plant closure in Kentucky...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly tornadoes hammer the South, complicating coronavirus emergency response; Farmers forced to dump fresh milk, destroy food crops, as coronavirus upends U.S. food system; Wildfires burn through radioactive forests near Chernobyl nuclear disaster; PLUS: Historic deal reached to cut global oil production... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): One weird trick to achieve American 'energy dominance'; Thirst for oil vanishes, leaving industry in chaos; With boats stuck in harbor because of COVID-19, will fish stocks recover?; Methane levels reach all-time high; Olive oil industry under increasing threat from 'olive leprosy'; A decade after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, offshore drilling is still unsafe... PLUS: Decades of climate science denial has led to denial of the coronavirus pandemic... and much, MUCH more! ...
We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews you may have missed. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
We're back tomorrow!
What a week. We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, with much of it not good news at all. But we do try to offer a few bright spots along the way, and finish with a song, to make the stories you need to know about slightly less maddening. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]
Among the many stories covered on today's program...
On today's BradCast: Don't believe a word you are being told by the Administration or Wall Street. Actual facts and data suggest its almost entirely all bullshit. [Audio link to show follows below.]
The economic outlook in the U.S. continues to quickly degrade in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with another record 6.6 million applying for unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total number of jobless claims to an unheard of 17 million or so in the past three weeks alone, with millions more unable to even apply for benefits due to still-overloaded websites and continuously busy phone lines at states across the country. The all-time weekly record for jobless claims, until three weeks ago, was 695,000. Over the past three weeks it has been 3.2 million, followed by 6.6 million, followed again by another 6.6 million.
The numbers are stultifying. For example, that 17 million figure is more than the total number of jobs added since 2013; far more than the total number of jobs in the 20 smallest U.S. states combined; and far more than every single job in the state of Texas, which has the 2nd largest state workforce in the country. The unemployment rate, believed to now be at least 12%, goes far beyond the worst days of the Great Recession and are now in Great Depression territory, with some independent economists refering to what we are now looking at as "Great Depression II". (Check out the two gobsmacking charts in WaPo's coverage today.)
And, yet, despite those data, and still climbing coronavirus cases and deaths, we are getting a whole lot of happy talk from the Administration. And not just from our desperate, pathetic Liar-in-Chief, from whom we'd expect it, but from folks like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who absurdly suggested today on CNBC that America "could be open for business" by May! Donald Trump's Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell assured the Brookings Institution that the "strong economic footing" before the COVID-19 crisis will support a "robust" recovery, as if we could expect one any day now! All of which was enough to continue the recent Wall Street rally that resulted in the biggest weekly jump in the S&P 500 since 1974!
Everything must be going great! But, of course, it isn't. At least not back here in Realityville, where the "irrational exuberance" (as long-ago Fed Chair Alan Greenspan once described it) of the Administration and Wall Street is nowhere near seeing its way to Main Street. That, even though the Fed announced $2.3 trillion in new funding schemes --- creating money out of nowhere (no Congress needed, thanks!) --- in hopes of offsetting the impact of the pandemic on the economy. The Fed initiative includes something they are calling the "Main Street Lending Program" to shovel money to "Main Street" companies with up to 10,000 workers and less than $2.5 billion in revenue. Ya know, like most of those business on your friendly local "Main Street".
At the same time, none of the promised, measly $1,200 checks for individuals from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act have made their way to Americans yet (Mnuchin says "next week!"), and the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the same emergency relief package adopted by Congress two weeks ago is still said to be mired in bureaucratic red tape at the commercial banks tapped to hand out the money (and take a cut in the bargain). There is little if any money actually getting to people and small businesses that need it most at the moment, even as Congress was bickering again on Thursday about adding another $250 billion to the program which will still be woefully underfunded even then.
But, somehow, Wall Street and the Administration are sending the message that all will be well, with America "back in business" as early as May! Don't count on it.
Investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily and indispensable "Unsanitized" report (which warned about all of these matters before they happened today and were only then picked up by the corporate mainstream media) joins us again to help unpack the details on all of the above, more related failures, and a few that we should be expecting in the days ahead, as the dire situation gets worse and the irrational exuberance and happy talk from D.C. and Wall Street continues impotently.
"John Edwards used to talk about the 'Two Americas'," Dayen notes. "Those two sets of statistics couldn't be starker about the Two Americas. Investors are letting the good times roll, while ordinary Americans are losing their jobs in numbers with a speed that we have never seen before."
"The difference between 2008 and today is that, in 2008, the institutions that were getting this largess were largely responsible for the downturn, whereas these businesses pretty much aren't responsible for the coronavirus. When you look at the proportionality of the response --- when you look at the neighborhood pizza shop or the neighborhood dry cleaner, and what they have to go through to survive in this Second Depression --- and you look at a 'main street' business with 10,000 workers, or the airlines, or some other large businesses, the velvet rope service they are getting, it is obviously very disproportional," he tells me.
"So let's not say nobody has been helped. We sped relief where we could, to the people who this bill was for, and that's investors on Wall Street."
Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, with some actual good news --- even if it is paired, as usual, with her usual dose of much less than good news...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Climate champion Sen. Bernie Sanders exits 2020 Presidential race; New study finds air pollution may increase risk of dying from COVID-19; Great Barrier Reef suffering another extreme bleaching event; PLUS: Good news for breathers, as polluting coal plant closes in Kentucky... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Unchecked Global Warming Could Collapse Whole Ecosystems, Maybe Within 10 Years; The World Is on Track to See Its Biggest Yearly Drop in Carbon Pollution Ever; John Prine’s ‘Paradise’ Taught Us Why We Can't Give in to Climate Hell; Why we need to transition, quickly, from fossil fuels to clean energy; In the Midwest- anti-renewable zealots push fear, not facts; With Boats Stuck in Harbor Because of COVID-19, Will Fish Bounce Back?... PLUS: 'Dinosaurs walked through Antarctic rainforests'... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: Sanders is out, and a former federal prisoner tries to sound the alarm about deplorable and deadly conditions in our nation's prison system as coronavirus turns jail sentences, even for non-violent offenders, into death sentences --- not to mention the dangers posed to prison workers and their families in the bargain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
First up: And then there was one. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his Presidential campaign on Wednesday, leaving Joe Biden the last man standing from about 25 or so Democratic men and women vying for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. In a live-streamed announcement, Sanders said he was leaving the race, though staying on the ballot in the remaining primary states (if they are ever able to vote amid the coronavirus pandemic) in hopes of leveraging as many delegates as possible at the Democratic National Convention (if it is ever able to happen) to continuing moving his progressive agenda forward. We share an extended portion of Sanders statement today, in which he announces his support for Biden, if not yet an explicit endorsement.
Next: While most Americans continue to hunker down in their homes and maintain physical distancing while outside of the home as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, there are millions held in state and federal prisons (as well as immigration detention centers) who are unable to physically distance themselves from others. The result, not unexpectedly, is an explosion of infections and deaths for both prisoners and prison staff around the country, even as some states have released thousands of non-violent offenders to try and ease over-crowding that is exacerbating the problem and turning incarceration into a potential death sentence for many.
Former Alabama Governor DON SIEGELMAN contacted us last week in hopes of trying to get the word out about the problem, including at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, where the former Democratic Governor (and "political prisoner") served five years of time before his long-overdue release in 2017.
The minimum security facility at Oakdale has seen an explosion of COVID-19 cases and, according to suspiciously low numbers being reported by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP), currently has more reported cases (35) and deaths (5) than any other federal facility. (Curiously, on its website, the BOP is reporting just 253 federal inmates and 85 BOP staffers infected as of today at more than 40 federal facilities across the country. At the same time, as the NYTimes reported this afternoon, the Cook County jail in Chicago alone has at least 387 cases linked to that one county facility.)
Siegelman, who has been in touch with some of his former cellmates who are now pleading for help, details the conditions that prisoners at the Oakdale facility are forced to live under. "The conditions at Oakdale were bad before the virus started," he tells me. "If people can imagine living stacked, one on top of the other, basically a warehouse."
He details one of the areas he was housed in that inmates call "the submarine room" because bunks are stacked three high and it is like living in a submarine. The bunks, he says, are "so close together you can actually reach out and touch the other inmates if you wanted to. It was so crowded. There's no ventilation. The doors are shut, the windows are locked. There's nothing to protect an inmate from breathing what other inmates exhale." With inmates "in such close proximity, there is no way to protect themselves from someone who has the virus, who is a carrier. For the virus, it's going to be like shooting fish in a barrel."
Siegelman explains that he has been told the facility has not made adequate changes to deal with the outbreak, which is why the ACLU has filed a lawsuit in hopes of allowing many of the non-violent offenders to be released from the facility. While that has happened in a number of state prisons, the federal system is moving intolerably slowly in taking any action at all. In many cases, Siegelman says, prisoners are locked up during pre-trial, before they've been found guilty of anything. In others, they are forced to stay in these dangerous conditions longer than they might otherwise, since many probation and parole boards have been unable to meet due to the pandemic.
He is calling for non-violent offenders, particularly those late in their sentences, to be released immediately. "My question is, why are they there in the first place? If they pose no threat to public safety, if they're non-violent offenders, if they have only a few months remaining on their sentence, if they are at risk because of health reasons, why not let them out? They should have been out already."
The once very popular southern state Governor served from 1999 to 2003, after serving as Alabama's Sec. of State, Attorney General and Lt. Governor. He was charged with bribery-related offenses in which he never received a dime on charges that more than 100 former Democratic and Republican state Attorneys General described as something that was never considered to be a crime until Siegelman was charged with it. He was sentenced by a federal judge who was later arrested and removed from the bench after being found to have beaten his wife.
The evidence suggests, as we've covered his story over the years on air at The BRAD BLOG, that it was a political prosecution which included major prosecutorial misconduct during the George W. Bush era, when Siegelman's Republican rival, Gov. Bob Riley, worked closely with longtime Alabama GOP operative Karl Rove to take him down by any means necessary. That included an almost-certainly stolen election on a Diebold optical-scan tabulator on which results were flipped against him in the middle of the night. All of which Siegelman details in his upcoming book, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.
For now, however, Siegelman is fighting for criminal justice reform and imploring listeners to "call your mayors, your governor, and Members of Congress to keep the pressure on to get these people out of jail and out of prisons that pose no public safety risk. They need to say that inmates that are non-violent, that pose no public safety risk, need to be released --- or at least placed in another facility where they are separate from other inmates. .... We would hope that the President of the United States would get on board and take this a little more seriously. But don't hold your breath."
On today's BradCast: Reprehensible and morally unjustifiable rulings by the Republican majorities on both the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts over the past 24 hours have resulted in tens of thousands of voters forced to choose between risking their lives to cast their ballots or face voter suppression today in Wisconsin. The GOP Justices on both courts now have blood on their hands. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
WI's Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes was being overly polite when he tweeted today: "Good morning and welcome to the Shit Show! Today's episode has been produced by the Supreme Court and directed by the incomparable Speaker and Senate Majority leader duo," before adding: "Buckle up, this one's sure to disappoint!" He was being too kind in his reference to the 4 to 2 party-line vote that yesterday evening overturned an Executive Order that would have postponed today's election in the Badger State until June, as issued by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. The case which blocked that order was brought to the state Supreme Court by GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald, both representing "majorities" in their respective state chambers thanks to Republican gerrymandering that prevented Democrats from controlling the state legislature despite receiving more votes than Republicans.
The state court's decision assured that WI voters faced potential death if they chose to vote in person at polling places (if they could find one open) in the middle of a deadly pandemic on Tuesday. The immoral decision was made even worse by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court who, even later last night, in an unsigned 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] overturned a lower federal court judge's ruling [PDF] which had allowed 6 extra days for voters to return absentee ballots, given that tens of thousands of state voters have yet to even receive theirs due to the influx of requests amid the pandemic. Somehow, those voters are supposed to postmark or return them by today to be counted, even though many won't even receive the ballots for days after the April 7 election. It was, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern writes, "one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern history."
Thus, tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters are now certain to be disenfranchised, thanks to the repugnant rulings by every Republican on both Courts. WI voters and those who know them may consider themselves lucky if voter suppression is the ONLY thing that happens to them after being forced to stand in lines that snaked for blocks and blocks (and blocks) before being forced to crowd into consolidated polling places for lack of poll workers willing to risk their own lives. (In Milwaukee, for example, instead of 182 polling places, there were just FIVE today.)
As you might imagine, my head has been repeatedly exploding over the past 24 hours. We describe on today's show what happened on Tuesday, why the state Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: it was to and ensure Republican majority control of the same state Supreme Court which issued this horrific ruling, for as far as the eye can see), why the U.S. Supreme Court decided as they did (hint: they invoked their absurd "Purcell Principle" in order to allow voter suppression to continue across the country this fall and beyond), and what all of this now horrendously portends for upcoming elections in the 20+ states which previously postponed their primaries due to the COVID-19 crisis and for the 50 states that will be running the most critical election in our nation's history --- pandemic or no pandemic --- this November 3rd.
None of this is a good sign for free and fair elections in a supposed representative democracy. All of it brings shame and disgrace to the GOP and their followers...if they are capable of either.
Then, as if everything else wasn't already bad enough, Donald Trump is now on a tear to purge independent Inspectors General from the U.S. Government, including even long time career officials and those he appointed himself, because he's an unstable, insecure, dishonest, criminally unfit, petulant little man-baby President. We tell the stories today of the Intelligence Community IG he fired late last Friday night for having followed the rule of law in reporting the whistleblower complaint to Congress during Trump's attempt to extort Ukraine to help him win this year's election; his new threats to and blatant lies about the Health and Human Services Dept. IG who reported on Monday that the federal government bears some of the responsibility for a lack of personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing kits at hospitals across the country; and his removal on Tuesday of the longtime, well-respected career Pentagon and State Department IG who was recently elected by his peers as chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency as he was set to oversee the Administration's distribution of $2.2 trillion recently allocated by the emergency coronavirus relief bill enacted just over one week ago.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with the brightest and best news of the day. And none of it is good either.
As the WI Lt. Governor said: Welcome to the Shit Show!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Category 5 cyclone hammers Vanuatu; U.S. officials warn of a perfect storm: a hurricane during a pandemic; U.S. oil producers struggle to survive as prices plummet; PLUS: March 2020 was the second or third warmest March on record... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil Companies Are Collapsing, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing; BlackRock, Morgan Stanley to utilities: Tackle climate-related risks or lose market value; Industry Groups Ask California To Delay Pollution Rules, Citing Pandemic; Flushing out the true cause of the global toilet paper shortage amid coronavirus pandemic; The Great Barrier Reef Is Bleaching Again. It’s Getting More Widespread; Methane Emissions Hit a New Record and Scientists Can’t Say Why... PLUS: Why isn’t car insurance cheaper as we all stay home?... and much, MUCH more! ...
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