w/ Brad & Desi
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...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
If you're feeling a bit nauseous of late, hopefully it's not COVID. But it could very well be the effects of trying to keep up with the roller coaster of federal court rulings we've been reporting on The BradCast of late. Or it could be due to trying to keep up with the President of the United States changing moods every few hours these days, as he vacillates between vindictiveness and desperation just over two weeks from Election Day. [Audio link to today's full show follows below summary.]
On Thursday, Donald Trump refused a request from the Governor of California for a Major Disaster Declaration following the spate of record wildfires we've seen in the Golden State over the past month, amid record heat and drought fueled by climate change. Some 8,500 fires this year have resulted in more than 4 million acres burned this year alone --- twice the all-time record for the state --- with nearly 2 million acres scorched in six major wildfires over just the past month. A thousands structures have been leveled and 31 people have died in recent blazes, as five of the six largest fires in California history have taken place this year.
But Trump --- who despises California because we don't vote for him --- has long threatened to cut off FEMA emergency funds to the state, dismissing climate change as a cause, citing leaves and dead trees as the reason for the massive fires and demanding better forest management in the state. That, despite the fact that the vast majority of California's forests are federal lands, which are supposed to be managed by....the Trump Administration.
White House spokespeople spent Friday morning explaining that California's request for federal aid "was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation" against it. That recommendation, however, according to Trump's former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor over the summer, was ordered by a cruel and vindictive Trump himself. But by Friday afternoon, just before air time, someone must have pointed out to Trump that more of his voters live in California than in any other state in the union. Or, they just told him how bad he looked, just over two weeks from Election Day, in refusing federal aid to people who have lost everything due to no fault of their own, especially in a state which had been running a $5.6 billion budget surplus until Trump's disastrously bungled response to the coronavirus resulted in a $54 billion deficit here instead.
It's clear that Donald Trump doesn't even care about his own voters, if they live in a state that won't help him win a second term. He cares about only himself. Period. But, whatever it takes. We're happy for the late breaking news that he finally reversed his cruel idiocy moments before airtime today.
Keeping up with the roller coaster of Trump's mood swings, however, is only marginally less nauseating than keeping up with the roller coaster of recent federal court rulings on voting rights this year! As we've been reporting over the past several weeks, in state after state after state, lower courts have general found in favor of efforts by Democrats and voting rights advocates to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic, as the Trump Campaign and Republican Party have sued virtually everywhere to prevent that from happening. But time and again, well-reasoned, Constitutionally sound rulings by U.S. District Court judges have been overturned at the appellate and Supreme Court levels, often in deference to state legislatures, or simply because SCOTUS has decided its too late to change an election rule or law, even not doing so might disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in violation of federal law and the Constitution itself.
As University of Kentucky election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, asks this week in a CNN editorial, if the courts are supposed to protect the right to vote, why aren't they doing so?
Good question, which Douglas joins us to discuss on today's program. He also has some good, if troubling answersto that question, which Amy Coney Barrett will not be making any less troubling when her SCOTUS confirmation is rammed through the U.S. Senate to seat her on the High Court before Election Day.
"It is frustrating," he tells me, "because the Constitutional right to vote is supposed to be one of our most foundational precious rights, and the courts are supposed to be a check on legislative majorities that try to rig the system, rig the rule of the game to keep themselves in power. That's the whole point of judicial review in these Constitutional cases involving voting rights, and the courts are refusing to do that right now."
But Douglas has good suggestions as well, for how we can begin to correct this sickening course that has resulted, in no small part, from the packed rightwing courts which have been stripping more and more rights from voters over the past decade or so.
"Congress does have the Constitutional authority to regulate elections in a lot of ways under Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution, referred to as the Elections Clause," he argues, "which gives states the first right in regulating elections, but says Congress may also alter or amend those regulations." Moreover, he continues, "we have to think on a long term strategy on enshrining the Right to Vote as a textual matter in the US Constitution. Because if these judges are 'textualists', then having explicit language conferring the right to vote, which the Constitution does not currently have, is a much stronger legal argument."
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which --- speaking of Barrett --- examines the apparent climate science denialism of the Justice-in-Waiting, as revealed during her Senate confirmation hearings this week. And, just before we finish up today, the breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding whether Trump may violate the Constitution by excluding undocumented immigrants from Congressional apportionment following this year's decennial U.S. Census...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: It's full speed ahead for Senate Republicans' desperate attempt to further pack the U.S. Supreme Court while they still have the chance. And it's anything but feel speed for voters forced to wait in hours-long Early Voting lines in Georgia. [Audio link to show follows below.]
The Peach State could very well turn "blue" this year, according to Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight, in both the Presidential election and not one, but two U.S. Senate races there this year. But voters will have to work like hell to make that happen. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports today that the state's new voting check-in computers --- needed to operate the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting machines --- appear to be the main cause of intolerably long lines for voters since Early Voting began on Monday. Some voters have reportedly left without voting, others waited as long as 12 hours to cast their votes. Now that AJC has identified the check-in computers to be a main bottleneck, Georgia's terrible Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger --- who previously attributed the hours-long lines to "voter enthusiasm" --- has apparently told the private software vendor responsible for those check-in computers at Voting Centers to increase network bandwidth to speed up the process. Early reports in Atlanta suggest the expanded bandwidth may be helping to speed things up, but we'll see.
In the meantime, as voters in Georgia must now navigate at least 4 different computer systems (programmed by private companies) to cast their one vote, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Dept. of Homeland Security, are warning they are aware of "some instances" in which malicious actors (most likely foreign, they suggest) have obtained "unauthorized access to elections support systems." They quickly note, however, they have "no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised." Feel better?
Our guest today, Slate's great legal reporter, MARK JOSEPH STERN, is definitely not feeling better after a week of hearings in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, meant to further pack the Republicans' already-stolen Supreme Court with Amy Coney Barrett before Election Day. The hearings revealed little or nothing about Donald Trump's third far-right nominee to the highest court in the land, Stern reports. "It was a terrible week. It was one of the worst on record," he tells me, describing the proceedings as a "deranged power grab" and the nominee as establishing a new low for such hearings.
"Amy Coney Barrett has established a new rule for Supreme Court confirmations, which is that the nominee doesn't just have to be kind of evasive or squirrelly. The nominee can literally say nothing of substance and simply announce a rule at the outset that she won't say anything of substance, and then just swat down questions that try to get her to say anything meaningful."
Barrett refused to (or couldn't?) answer even simple, non-political questions and matters of basic federal law, such as whether it is illegal to intimidate voters at the polls. (It is.) "I don't understand why we all had to go through this entire experience. It was a psychic wound, it was demeaning to all of us. She won't even say whether this federal law exists, whether it is real," Stern observes. "Will she acknowledge that gravity exists?"
Among the many related points we discuss today...
All of those questions asked and mostly answered on today's lively --- if maddening --- program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court threatens U.S. climate policy for decades to come; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse deconstructs the unaccountable dark money takeover of the federal judiciary; PLUS: September 2020 was the hottest ever recorded on the planet... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Nature endorses Joe Biden for US president; Atlantic Ocean warmest it has been for 3000 years; Maui Has Begun the Process of Managed Retreat. It Wants Big Oil to Pay the Cost of Sea Level Rise; Climate Change Has Killed Half of the Great Barrier Reef’s Corals; Solar is now ‘cheapest electricity in history’, confirms IEA; Pope Francis calls on the faithful to act on climate change; Farmers are facing a phosphorus crisis; How Biden would use trade agreements to fight global warming... PLUS: It’s the Energy Policies, Stupid... and much, MUCH more! ...
We begin today's BradCast with some good news from the courts, for a change, regarding voting rights in several states today, as the GOP's trench warfare to suppress the vote wherever they can continues, now 20 days out from Election Day. Then, it's on to the $250 million dark-money scheme that a closely interconnected conspiracy of mostly low-profile rightwing groups have orchestrated with Republicans in the U.S. Senate to pack the federal courts --- specifically the U.S. Supreme Court --- and push specific cases to them that are similarly rigged by "orchestrated amicus flotillas" to help achieve very specific results that just happen to benefit all of the well-moneyed interests involved in the well-orchestrated and well-funded conspiracy that made it all happen. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First, we go light before we go "dark". In Virginia, where a severed fiber optic cable knocked out online voter registration for the entire state on Tuesday, the last day to do so this year, a federal judge has granted an extra 48 hours for residents in the Commonwealth to sign up. You've now got until 11:59pm Thursday, Virginians! Get busy!
In Texas, where desperate Republicans are challenging absolutely every new measure instituted to make voting easier and safer amid the pandemic --- even going so far as to sue their own Republican Governor for extending early voting by one week --- a state court of appeals has tossed a case filed Monday by the GOP to block Harris County's plan for "drive-thru" voting. The case was filed just one day before Early Voting began in the state yesterday. Some 11,000 votes were reportedly cast from vehicles via curbside voting centers in Harris County's Houston on Tuesday, as implemented by the County's new, 34-year old County Clerk, Chris Hollins. Dem-leaning Houston has a population of 4.7 million and a geographical area larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is the nation's third most populous voting jurisdiction. A total of 10 drive-thru sites are planned for use during Early Voting. The court win comes as another too-rare victory for voters in the Lone Star State, where the GOP is desperately trying to block the demographic writing on the wall against them.
And, in Alaska, the state Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that nullifies the state's witness signature requirement for mail-in ballots during the pandemic. The suit was brought by Alaskan Native Americans and voting rights groups who successfully argued that the requirement "impermissibly burdens the right to vote" while many Alaskans are quarantining alone during the crisis. The state's top election official, Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, had appealed the lower court ruling all the way to the state Supremes...and has now lost. But voters have won.
Then, we head into the "darkness" following Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)'s remarkable, must watch revelations (transcript here) on Tuesday during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's appalling and hypocritical push to ram through the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before Election Day. In short, Whitehouse summarized the broad and insidious network of interconnected rightwing dark-money groups that select federal court judges for Republicans to nominate to the bench; quietly fund the PR campaigns to push for their confirmations; seek out specific cases to bring to those same judges for a desired outcome that enriches their well-moneyed interests; and then bury the Supreme Court with amicus briefs spelling out that desired outcome.
Whitehouse details the remarkable success that the groups have seen in recent years in not only packing the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, but in an 80 to 0 record of wins at the high court with partisan 5 to 4 victories in each and every case.
Teeing off the Senate Republicans' eagerness to push through Barrett's confirmation closer to any Presidential election in U.S. history --- despite vows from the party in 2016 that they would never support filling a Supreme Court seat during a Presidential election year until American voters have had a say in the matter --- Whitehouse observes near the beginning of his remarks that, in his "experience around politics, when you find hypocrisy in the daylight, look for power in the shadows."
Using charts and magic-markers to break down the sprawling case and evidence of the closely-allied, secretly-funded groups making up that "power in the shadows" --- from the Federalist Society (which promoted Barrett's nomination), to the so-called Judicial Crisis Network, to the Bradley Foundation to Donors Trust and the Koch Brothers --- the Rhode Island Senator neatly unfolds the very clear conspiracy that has successfully resulted in cases that benefit its dark-money funders to the tune of billions of dollars returned on their investments.
Much of Whitehouse's case cited evidence first revealed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a non-profit good government watchdog and research organization headed up for many years by LISA GRAVES, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Department, a former Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate, and a former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system. She still serves as President of the Board of Directors at CMD and is currently the Executive Director of True North Research.
With all of those qualifications, Graves is uniquely positioned to offer much more insight into Whitehouse's Tuesday revelations of the, yes, actual, decades-long GOP judicial conspiracy now in play; Barrett's qualifications for a lifetime appointment to highest court in the land; her performance during this week's confirmation hearings; and whether Democrats should expand not only the U.S. Supreme Court --- if they win both the Presidency and Senate majority in November --- but the lower federal courts as well.
Graves tells me that Whitehouse's remarks were "very, very important, because he was able to use this forum to shine a light on something that most Americans have no idea is going on, as part of this capture of our courts, which is really about changing our rights and doing it through judicial fiat." She explains that "that thirty minutes is really a class, a course, on understanding this puppet show that we're seeing with this nomination, of who is really calling the shots, and how this is happening."
She also offers a reaction to my own monologue from the top of yesterday's BradCast, in which I detailed the under-appreciated hypocrisy and judicial dishonesty of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, regarding his professed claims of "conservative" Constitutional "originalism" and "strict consructionism". Barrett worked hard during her opening statement on Monday to associate herself with Scalia's disingenuous judicial philosophy, citing the late rightwing extremist Justice, for whom she once clerked, as a model for own tenure as a federal jurist.
There is much ground to cover in all of the above with Graves, so I hope you'll tune in for this one!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: It's not easy keeping up with confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court Justice on an already stolen Court just days before an election, even as disasters are already befalling voters at the polls, thanks in part to the GOP's already stolen Court. But we try our best. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
On the morning of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's first day of hearings to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by ramming Donald Trump's third nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, onto the Court before Election Day, AP unhelpfully parroted one of the GOP's favorite, if completely phony, myths. "Republicans will highlight Barrett's belief in sticking to the text of laws and the original meaning of constitutional provisions, both Scalia trademarks," the news service claimed. They may be "trademarks", but that's largely because Republicans have long propagated the myth, and the media, like the Associated Press here, are all too happy to help them spread it. In fact, those claims about Scalia --- and the notion that Republicans give a damn about "sticking to the text of laws and the original meaning of constitutional provisions" --- are lies. And easily proven as such.
None of that, of course, prevented the hypocritical Barrett --- who argued against seating a Justice on the Supreme Court during a Presidential election year, back when it was convenient for her party after Scalia's death in early 2016 --- from associating herself with false claims of "conservative" "originalism" or "textualism" or "Constitutionalism" or "strict constructionism" that Republicans have long enjoyed using to falsely characterize Scalia's so-called judicial philosophy and their own pretend assertions that they oppose "radical extremist judges" that "legislate from the bench", as the late Justice brazenly did himself.
In her opening statement on Monday, Barrett lashed herself to Scalia --- who she once clerked for --- by noting: "it was the content of Justice Scalia’s reasoning that shaped me. His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. ... The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try."
As discussed in some detail on today's program, and as Scalia might have described it himself if you could catch him in a rare moment of truth-telling, that's all a bunch of "jiggery-pokery", "pure applesauce" and "bull-pucky". Scalia's position in 2013, in the SCOTUS case that gutted the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- and his outrageous explanation for it during oral argument --- reveal that Barrett's hero had little concern for the strict, constructionist, originalist wording of either the Constitution or the rule of law, even for an Amendment enacted over 100 years ago and a law adopted 98 to 0 in the U.S. Senate to enforce it, "by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People," as Barrett disingenuously averred in her opening statement. I explained that matter in 2013 and do so again on today's show.
If Barrett is as dishonest and misleading on the high court as she was in her opening remarks, Democrats would have more than enough reason to expand the Court to take back the majority they should have rightfully gained in 2016. In truth, they already do.
Speaking of gutting the Voting Rights Act, that 2013 SCOTUS outrage continues to undermine American democracy today.
Following lines as long as 11 hours to vote in minority-heavy areas of Georgia on its first day of Early Voting Monday, hours-long lines were also seen in urban and suburban parts of Texas today during the Lone Star State's own first day of Early Voting on Tuesday. As in Georgia, those lines were caused, in part, by still-unexplained programming failures on the touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems which Texas Counties like Fort Bend force voters to use when casting their vote at the polls, instead of hand-marked paper ballots.
The only way to cast a hand-marked paper ballots in many Counties in Texas is with a mail-in ballot. But those are seriously restricted in the state, largely allowing only those 65 and older to request them. Even there, however, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has recently made returning absentee ballots in person more difficult by proclaiming last week that Texas counties may have no more than one single drop-off location for voters, whether the county has 4.7 million people (like Houston's Dem-leaning Harris County, which is larger in area than Rhode Island) or right-leaning counties like Rockwall, with a population of 105,000. After a federal court judge last Friday found Abbott's new directive unlawful because it forced absentee voters to travel farther and to more-crowded locations, increasing the risk to populations already especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, a three-judge panel on the hard-right U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that finding. With an Orwellian flair, the panel described Abbott's proclamation as an "expansion" of voting rights. All three judges on the panel were Trump-appointees, packed onto the court by the Republican Senate.
Also today, on the final day of voter registration in Virginia, a fiber optic cable was cut, shutting down online registration entirely in the state. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announced he'd like to make up for the lost hours by extending the state deadline for one of the busiest registration days of the year, but that only a court may do so.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with the fallout from Hurricane Delta in Louisiana in this year's record storm season and the at-times-ridiculous conversation about climate change during last week's Vice-Presidential Debate...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Cleanup and recovery begin in battered Louisiana in wake of Hurricane Delta; PLUS: Climate change in the spotlight at the one and only 2020 Vice Presidential Debate --- and that's not saying much... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How Joe Biden could reorient foreign policy around climate change; A reelected Trump's climate control; 4 Climate Questions For Amy Coney Barrett; Social Media: Climate Falsehoods Reached Millions On Facebook; Court Tosses Obama Rule Cutting Methane Leaks From Public Lands Drilling; CA's bankrupt Exide may be allowed to abandon toxic battery recycling plant and massive cleanup bill; Top Asset Owners Commit To Big Carbon Emissions Cuts; EPA Hired Consultants To Counter Staff Experts On Fluoride... PLUS: UN Warns of Rise in Climate Disasters Over Past 20 Years... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: A long-awaited ruling in the federal case challenging Georgia's new, unverifiable, already-failed $100+ million touchscreen vote systems --- which failed again on day one of early voting today in the Peach State. Also, my escape from "Twitter Jail" and the California GOP deploys fraudulent mail-in drop-boxes across the state. [Audio link to show follows below.]
We start today by avoiding, for now, the first day of the illegitimate confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Instead, we offer some exclusive news that is not being reported elsewhere on two fronts, both related to Georgia's disastrous new voting system. First up, an explanation --- or, a conclusion for now --- to the saga that resulted in my 4 days suspension on Twitter beginning late last week, for the crime of posting a completely accurate tweet about two weeks ago, reporting that GA's Secretary of State informed elections officials in all 159 counties to immediately halt pre-election testing of their new touchscreen voting systems, due to an error that prevented candidates in one of Georgia's two U.S. Senate elections this year from appearing on screen for voters. The error, as I noted in my infamous (and accurate) tweet, would eventually require all new software for the November elections. In fact, as the federal ruling we discuss today reveals, the state installed all new, uncertified software on all 34,000 of the new voting machines just days ago, in violation of state law. You can read the full saga, with links to the federal court filings proving the accuracy of the tweet, and why I eventually relented and deleted it right here.
As Georgia began its first day of early voting on Monday, sure enough, the vote system I was warning about in that tweet failed, leading to six-hour lines to vote in some places. But the long-running federal court case whose emergency filings revealed the serious problem I was tweeting, finally came to a conclusion --- of sorts, at least for now --- late on Sunday night. That is when U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg finally released her long-awaited ruling in the case which challenged the security, accuracy and constitutionality of the state's use of new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems. The Plaintiffs called for them to be replaced by a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots system.
Last year, Totenberg found the state's previous, 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems to be unsecure, unverifiable and, thus, unconstitutional, ordering them banned for all future elections in the state. On Sunday night, in her long-awaited 147-page ruling [PDF] that begins by citing the plot to the movie Groundhog Day, Totenberg once again finds the state's new touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) "presents serious system security vulnerability and operational issues that may place Plaintiffs and other voters at risk of deprivation of their fundamental right to cast an effective vote that is accurately counted." The judge warned "these risks are neither hypothetical nor remote" and slams "the insularity" of the "stance" by the GA Sec. of State and the state's private vendor, Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems, "in evaluation and management of the security and vulnerability of the BMD system [which] does not benefit the public or citizen's confident exercise of the franchise."
After detailing lies, inaccuracies and a lack of knowledge in the testimony of the state's "experts" in the case (no actual cybersecurity experts were presented by them, only employees of the vendors who admitted they had no actual cybsersecurity experience, nor did any penetration tests of the systems before certifying them for use in GA elections!), Judge Totenberg concludes: "The Plaintiffs’ national cybersecurity experts convincingly present evidence that this is not a question of 'might this actually ever happen?' – but 'when it will happen,' especially if further protective measures are not taken. Given the masking nature of malware and the current systems described here, if the State and Dominion simply stand by and say, 'we have never seen it,' the future does not bode well."
For now, that future includes the use of the systems that Totenberg clearly finds so dangerous because, as she explains, it might cause chaos for elections officials if she ordered the use of hand-marked paper ballots at the polling places this close to Election Day.
We're joined once again to discuss the case today by MARILYN MARKS of case plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance, which has been leading this long and important federal court battle now for several years. She has been joining us to discuss it at critical junctures, even while most of the broadcast media has studiously avoided covering it all. Marks offers her reaction to the judge's long-awaited ruling, describes her disappointment in the ultimate order from the judge (for now), while expressing confidence that these systems --- just like the state's previous ones --- will eventually be barred by this judge for use for the very same reasons that she ordered the state's old ones to finally be trashed.
"What we see here is these systems are put together in a slipshod fashion, without security being an important priority at all to these companies," Marks tells me. "These voting system vendors will say anything, and unfortunately many of our election officials who are purchasing these systems will repeat and parrot whatever those words are. You begin to wonder what is it that drives these elections officials, like Secretary [of State Brad] Raffensberger in Georgia, to buy the most expensive and least-auditable equipment."
Noting that unverifiable BMD systems similar to the ones now being forced on voters for the first time at the polls in other critical battlegrounds --- such as Philadelphia, the most Democratic-leaning county in North Carolina, all of South Carolina, as well as key counties in Texas and Ohio, not to mention the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County --- Marks decries the damage to democracy being done in all of those locations, while still being hopeful for the future.
"If there's good news in the judge's denial of relief for November, she did write a very solid yet scathing opinion, and explained in detail why these systems are not secure," she explains. "I'm hopeful that her opinion can spread across --- certainly Los Angeles, and all the counties that are using these systems in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and even my home county of Mecklenberg, North Carolina --- and shake up some of these election officials. But maybe, most importantly, some of these candidates. That is such a shame that we don't have the parties and we don't have the candidates demanding a fair system."
Marks adds: "We're confident we'll win the case. We've proven our point. We've proven that they're unconstitutional. We've proven that they're insecure. We've proven that people shouldn't be permitted to vote on them. The only piece that's missing is, how long does it take? How long does it take for jurisdictions to be prepared to do something simple, like hand out hand-marked paper ballots? Given how important this election is, it is a real shame that we have to put up with these machines in November."
Finally, we close with the news that Republicans in California --- after Trump and his GOP have been suing to do away with mail-in drop-boxes all over the country --- are actually deploying fake ones up and down the Golden State, in apparent violation of the law, according to California's Secretary of State...
By way of a 31-page Memorandum Opinion this past week, U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp rejected the Trump Campaign's effort to challenge the legality of a recently enacted New Jersey statute that permits Garden State election officials to begin "canvassing" mail-in ballots ten days prior to the November 3 Presidential Election Day.
As defined by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a "canvass" is a "compilation of election returns and validation of the outcome that forms the basis of the official results".
NJ's COVID-driven election law in question, AB 4475, was enacted last August by the New Jersey state legislature and promptly signed into law by the Garden State's Democratic Governor Phil Murphy. The statute contains a number of provisions designed to facilitate an efficiently-run, mostly mail-in ballot Presidential Election. These include a directive that election officials, 29 days prior to the election, send mail-in ballots to every registered voter. The statute also includes a requirement that election officials provide secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in every county.
Existing NJ law mandates that the State's election officials certify the Nov. 3 election results by Nov. 20. The results must then be submitted to the NJ Secretary of State by Nov. 24.
AB 4475 streamlined the procedures for tallying the expected heavy influx of mail-in ballots by permitting election officials to begin processing and canvassing mail-in ballots ten days prior to Election Day. The new law, however, prohibits Garden State election officials from running a tabulation report or revealing any results before the polls close on Nov. 3.
Contending that the NJ statute was preempted by federal Election Day law, the Trump Campaign sought a preliminary injunction that would prevent NJ officials from canvassing mail-in ballots before Nov. 3. The Campaign also contested a section of AB 4475 establishing that "every ballot without a postmark...received by the county boards of elections from the [U.S. Postal Service] within 48 hours of the closing of the polls, shall be considered valid and shall be canvassed, assuming the ballot meets all other statutory requirements."
The court rejected the Trump Campaign's legal arguments and denied Trump's motion for a preliminary injunction.
The Trump Campaign did not respond to a Fox "News" inquiry as to whether it intended to appeal the decision. The President's "favorite propaganda network" described the decision as "a significant ruling for the state that will keep the current rules in place, barring a swift and successful appeal from the Trump campaign"...
It's NICOLE SANDLER back today to guest host the BradCast.
Once again, each day seems to bring at least a week's worth of news, and each week feels like a month. This week alone, we've dealt with the realization that the Rose Garden event of Sept 26 was a 'super spreader' that infected, at latest count, more than 30 people. But Donald Trump insists he's 'cured' and is hawking his latest drug of choice, one that has not yet been approved by the FDA and is not available to the average citizen.
We also learned that a group of domestic terrorists who call themselves 'militia' members were plotting to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and overthrow the government. Just another week in October in Donald Trump's America... He's been ratcheting up the tension and inciting his followers to violence, while screaming about Antifa and Black Lives Matter and calling them the terrorists. Opposite world indeed.
After dealing with Donald Trump for the last four years, I was intrigued by a new book that crossed my desk: Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy by historian and author KENNETH C. DAVIS.
Although Mr. Davis doesn't mention Trump in the book, it is most definitely a cautionary tale. As the old saying goes, 'Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it'. Or something like that...
Download MP3 or listen online below...
Before we get to our otherwise previously-scheduled Special Coverage of Wednesday night's Vice Presidential debate, we open today's BradCast with the news that Twitter has suspended TheBradBlog's account for posting a 100% accurate tweet regarding Georgia's new touchscreen voting systems. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
I laid out the entire, maddening story regarding the tweet in question in a BRAD BLOG item today, since I can't post at all right now on Twitter, while they review my "appeal" to their finding that a two week old, demonstrably accurate tweet is in violation of the service's "rules against posting misleading information about voting." As you can imagine, my tweet is well supported, as its based on email from the GA Sec. of State's office sent to all 159 counties regarding an error discovered in the state's new touchscreen voting systems used by every voter at every polling place in the state. The email I cite is from the SoS and was published in a federal court filing (also linked with the tweet!) as part of a long-running lawsuit challenging the use of those machines, which we've reported on here for years now. The lawsuit seeks hand-marked paper ballots for voters at the polling place instead. The full story of what happened with Twitter, including screenshots and links to the federal filing and SoS email is posted here.
Then its on to last night's refreshingly dull and normal(ish) Vice Presidential Debate from Salt Lake City, Utah between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Veep nominee Sen. Kamala Harris. We're joined today for analysis and commentary by award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo, along with author and political scientist DAVID FARIS of Roosevelt University and The Week.
While the debate may have been dull --- save for the fly --- there was much revealed (and much evaded) and much to discuss about it in today's very lively show, including, near the end, whether there will be any more debates at all this year.
I'd say more about today's fun (and, at times, funny) show, but I've got to get back to fighting with Twitter now, apparently. Since I'm not allowed to post there for the time being --- unless I delete a completely accurate and newsworthy tweet --- please feel free to share today's show over there yourself! Thanks!
[Ed Note 10/11/2020: After waiting more than 72 hours for a reply to my second "appeal" from Twitter, I've had no choice but to delete the accurate tweet in question, because, after a long weekend without access, simply need to get back on it. Much of my work happens via that social media service right now, unfortunately. See the final UPDATE at bottom of story for a full explanation of why I finally had to relent, and a few thoughts about what it portends moving forward. - BF]
Well, I woke up this morning to find that Twitter had restricted/suspended my account due to what they describe as my having violated the service's "rules against posting misleading information about voting" with a 100% accurate tweet from two weeks ago, which reported on a federal court filing...
Here's a screenshot of the (apparently-still-available?) tweet in question, which they claim to be in violation of their rules, along with the evidence from the federal court filing proving that it's completely accurate...
On today's BradCast: A mess in Texas (several of them!), a call for unity from the Democratic Presidential nominee, and a newly discovered, scientifically-supported way to finally reach evangelical and Catholic supporters of Donald Trump and help turn them toward Joe Biden. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
First, the GOP War Against Voting and Voters continues, shamefully, to gain ground in Texas as the all-Republican state Supreme Court, on Wednesday, nixed the Harris County Clerk's plan to send absentee ballot applications to all 2.4 million registered voters in the Democratic-leaning Houston area. That follows on the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott's proclamation late last week that no county may have more than one mail-in ballot drop-off location. (So, Dem-leaning Harris County's 2.4 million voters get just one drop-box in the nation's third most populous county stretching across 1,777 square miles...as do the 60,000 voters of GOP-leaning Rockwall County, on less than 150 square miles.)
Many of the new restrictions for the general election were not in place during this year's primary in the Lone Star State, which is just one of five that is not allowing expanded mail-in voting during the pandemic, thanks in no small part to its radically far-right Attorney General Ken Paxton. Among other efforts to prevent voting, he went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent voters under 65-years of age from citing fear of contracting COVID-19 as a valid excuse for requesting an absentee ballot.
The Republican War on Voting in Texas is aided, no doubt, by the fact that Joe Biden is just over 3 points behind Trump, according to the RealClearPolitics' polling average today, in a state which hasn't elected a Democrat for President since 1976. Moreover, a large "blue" turnout this year could mean that Democrats finally take control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in 20 years.
But, here's the kicker, AG Ken Paxton, the man spearheading the state's war against democracy by claiming that loosening voting restrictions would violate state and federal laws and lead to massive "voter fraud", is himself under criminal felony indictment for securities fraud. He has been fighting those long-standing charges for years. But now, over this past weekend, 7 top executives in his own office --- including Paxton's own first assistant --- have asked federal law enforcement officials to investigate the state AG for what they describe as "improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses."
Gov. Abbott says the charges by Paxton's own employees "raise serious concerns" and the AG's former top aide turned Congressman, Rep. Chip Roy, has called on Paxton to resign immediately. All of this comes as Paxton continues to suppress Texas voters while the federal lawsuit he headed up with 17 other state AGs to strike down the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in its entirely will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court just ten days after Election Day.
So, yeah, it's a mess in Texas.
While it remains to be seen if Democrats can finally turn the Lone Star State blue --- especially with these extraordinary efforts by Republicans to block the vote --- Biden's lead over Trump continues to expand across the nation and most of the states considered to be battlegrounds, according to recent polling. But our guest today, DOUG PAGITT, Executive Director and Co-founder of the faith-based group Vote Common Good, believes an interesting new scientific survey carried out by his organization in consultation with human behavior experts from universities around the country, may have finally found a way to reach evangelical and Catholic voters who supported Trump in 2016.
Pagitt, a progressive evangelical pastor and, coincidentally, radio host at our affiliate station am950 KTNF in Minneapolis/St. Paul, is now on the road in five swing-states with Vote Common Good, a non-profit organization focused on reaching voters with the message that Americans can actively spread good in their own communities through the voting booth. He recently wrote an article for NBC News about his organization's fascinating polling of Christian voters in those five key battlegrounds --- Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin --- in August, revealing what he says is the key to turning enough Christian Trump voters in favor of Biden to flip at least four of those five states.
The ">survey [PDF] spoke to Catholic and evangelical voters about seven core virtues (kindness, generosity, humility, chastity, modesty, diligence and patience) and seven sins (lust, sloth, greed, wrath, gluttony, envy and pride), asking them to compare Trump and Biden. He explains how just one of those virtues --- or, in Trump's case, lack thereof --- was more central to any other vice or virtue in changing the minds of his 2016 voters.
"The one thing that causes someone to move away from supporting Donald Trump is his lack of kindness," Paggit explains. Surprisingly, it wasn't his many "sins," which were largely well known in 2016 during his race with Hillary Clinton. He goes on to explain why that is and how the group's surprising finding can effectively be used to reach out to your faith-based friends and family members who may now be on the fence or even still supporting Trump. His organization has even set up a way for you to reach out to those voters in swing states with postcards and yard signs that include the necessary message.
Please tune in for this fascinating discussion!
Finally, speaking of bringing people together, Biden attempted to do just that on Tuesday, in an effective speech delivered at the Civil War battleground of Gettysburg, PA yesterday. We close today's program by sharing some extended remarks from his address...
On today's BradCast: The media are still falling for it. Happily, the American people (at least those who aren't fully brain-poisoned) don't seem to be playing that game anymore. [Audio link to full show follows below.]
Among the stories covered on today's show...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
· Brilliant at Breakfast
· Crooks and Liars
· Dan Froomkin
· Fired Up! Missouri
· Freedom's Phoenix
· Freeway Blogger
· Glenn Greenwald
· Huffington Post
· Jesus' General
· Juan Cole
· Washington Monthly
· Media Matters
· Nashua Advocate
· Oliver Willis
· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
Project Censored Sites:
· Daily Censored
· Media Freedom
· Project Censored
· Scholars & Rogues
· Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
· Talking Points Memo
· Think Progress
· Tom Tomorrow
· TV Newser
· Ben Sargent
· Bill Deore
· Bob Gorrell
· Cagle's Index
· Chan Lowe
· Don Wright
· Doug Marlette
· Glenn McCoy
· Jeff Danziger
· Joel Pett
· Mike Luckovich
· Non Sequitur
· Not Banned Yet
· Pat Oliphant
· Paul Conrad
· Ted Rall
· This Modern World
· Thomas Burns
· Tom Toles
· Tony Auth
· Stuart Carlson
Or by Snail Mail
Make check out to...
7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594
Los Angeles, CA 90028