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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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As we discuss on today's BradCast, our current days of political rage and divisiveness, now a very clear and present danger to the survival of American democracy itself, didn't come nowhere. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
But, first today, before we get to our burning country, a few news items on our burning globe. The U.N. warned on Friday that current pledges from the nations of the world to cut emissions will not be enough to stave off cataclysmic global warming by century's end. In California, meanwhile, we're seeing disaster play out already. The majestic, 3,000 year old giant trees of Sequoia National Park may not even make it through the weekend. The world's largest tree, a tourist favorite at the park known as General Sherman, and others like it are now literally being wrapped in tinfoil-like blankets as wildfires rage just about one mile from the historic and beloved grove as of airtime.
Of course, if we can't even get our own country to come together to fight against the clear and present existential threat of climate change, one wonders how hundreds of nations will be able to do so to save the planet. On the other hand, worsening political divisiveness --- and insanity --- in this country plays no small role in our failure to lead the world in that fight for humanity itself.
But how did the U.S. arrive at this harrowing political moment? One where more Republicans (75%) than Democrats (46%) believe democracy itself is under attack? Given that Republicans literally attacked the U.S. Capitol, the seat of American democracy, in a violent effort to prevent Congress from carrying out its most solemn, democratic Constitutional duty of certifying a Presidential election just months ago, there is no small irony in the new polling finding that it's those on the Right, even more than the Left, who have somehow been made to believe democracy is under attack.
Where would they get such a seemingly upside-down notion? "With every passing day, it looks less like we have one nation divided by differing political beliefs and more like we have two warring countries battling each other within shared borders," writes author David Rothkopf today in a lengthy, intriguing (and maddening) Twitter thread. "One side represents and seeks to preserve the United States. The other seeks to destroy it."
A fascinating, exhaustive, 6,000-word investigative essay published in this month's Mother Jones magazine on "The Real Source of America's Rising Rage", written by our guest today, longtime blogger KEVIN DRUM of Jabberwocking.com, looks at what the data reveal about the madness of this political moment and how and why we arrived at it.
"I started looking at when did this start? Because that's critical," Drum tells me on today's show. "When did people really start getting so angry? On a whole range of topics, the year 2000 --- give or take a few years --- kept coming up, over and over and over. And the most important way it came up, I thought, was if you take a look at trust in government. We all know that that's been going down --- people trust government less. But if you look at the data, it was pretty flat from about 1980 or so to 2000. And then, starting around 2000 or so, it started going down, down, down to only 20% who now say they have any trust in government, and it stayed there."
"What happened around the year 2000 that could have caused this?," he wondered, as he read through study after study. What happened since that time to cause such a sea change among Americans? Was it the rise and spread of conspiracy theories? Has social media or talk radio sent us over the edge? Or have things really gotten worse in America on the many grievances those on the Right often cite, such as crime, taxes, the economy, inequality, immigration or race?
After spending several years combing through data and theories, Drum finds, while some of those things certainly play a role, none of them are actually the poison that that has brought the nation to the seeming brink of political collapse. He explains how both data and history prove it, and how the real answer has been lying in plain sight for the past twenty years. It's the Fox 'News', stupid!
And, by the way, if Fox is the problem, what might be the solution? We discuss that a bit on today's enlightening program as well...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
If there's one guy you really don't want vowing to dog you, it may be Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, easily one of the most persistent Senators in the upper chamber. If you're Trump's FBI Director or, especially, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that's probably not good news. But it's just one of the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Here's a quick summary of many more of them...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Tropical Depression Nicholas adds insult to injury in storm-battered Louisiana; Biden continues to pitch clean energy solutions and urgent action on climate; States move to hold producers responsible for plastic pollution; PLUS: Vermont is latest state to sue the fossil fuel industry for lying about global warming... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Children around the world experiencing climate anxiety and anger; Faroe Islands: Anger over killing of 1,400 dolphins in one day; Most nations fall far short in plans to curb warming: report; Rate of global warming over next 25 years could be double the previous 50 years; The planet depends on the next Federal Reserve chair; MN releases plan to make 3M pay for PFAS cleanup; Rupert Murdoch promises news outlets will move away from climate denial... PLUS: Late night shows plan 'Climate Night'... and much, MUCH more! ...
Today on The BradCast: It takes a lot of chutzpah --- and plenty of confidence that corporate media is too cowed to call you out for it --- to continue calling your party a "conservative" one, after forcing state taxpayers to waste almost $300 million to run a special Recall Election that ends with almost the exact same results as the last time Republicans tried to defeat the popular Democratic Governor in an election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
But, yeah, that's what happened on Tuesday. With about three quarters of the vote now tabulated in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has clearly crushed the GOP's attempted Recall Election in California --- by a mile. As of now, the vote to keep the Governor in office is ahead by about 28 points, or 64% to 36%. That's almost the same margin by which President Biden annihilated Donald Trump in the state in 2020, and slightly smaller than Newsom first term victory in 2018. (Though the results may still widen for Newsom before all is said and done with the processing of late Vote-by-Mail ballots and Provisionals over the next few weeks.)
The Governor, who will face a normal reelection contest in just over a year, offered brief remarks after media called the race on Tuesday night. "'No' is not the only thing that was expressed tonight," Newsom told supporters. "I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic."
Along with a laundry list of rights and freedoms that progressive California voters "said yes" to, in contrast to the rightwingers hoping to end public health mandates and more, Newsom also noted the state "said yes to people's right to vote without fake fraud or voter suppression."
On Monday, the day before the Recall --- before any results were known at all --- the GOP's top candidate, far-right radio talk show host Larry Elder, unveiled a "Stop CA Fraud" website demanding a special session of the state legislature be convened to "investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election." That would have been unknown results, at the time, which he disingenuously charged included "improperly formed ballots"; "instances of undocumented ballots"; and "statistical analyses [that] have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor." Without such a special session --- presumably at an even higher "conservative" cost to taxpayers --- Elder's campaign threatened use of the "ammo-box."
Hours after most media outlets had called the race for Newsom on Tuesday night --- after Fox "News" had quickly pulled down all of their Election Night incoming results numbers in order to pretend there had been no election at all that day --- Elder finally conceded and encouraged supporters to be "gracious in defeat". But, after lying about "fraud" in the election and threatening use of the "ammo-box", he should receive zero credit for those remarks. He then pledged that, though he "may have lost the battle, we are going to win the war."
We're joined today by longtime Editor of The American Prospect, former Editor of L.A. Weekly and frequent Los Angeles Times contributor HAROLD MEYERSON. We discuss whatever lessons may be learned from the Recall for both Democrats and Republicans in the state, as well as across the nation, as we head into next year's mid-term elections and, as Meyerson writes at The Prospect today, "the California GOP has gone down the same rathole as the rest of the Trumpified horde."
"They're saying Larry Elder is now the dominant figure in the California Republican Party," Meyerson observes, regarding GOP hopes for a rematch against Newsom next year. "If you want your party leader, your standard bearer, your best electoral prospect to come into the next race trailing by four to five million votes --- okay! Take it away!"
We also discuss why and how California's 100-year old, once well-intentioned progressive Recall and Ballot Initiative process needs to be overhauled in the state, where it should have been done by Democrats years ago.
Finally, in a BradCast with way more good news than we are accustomed to these days, more good news on the Senate Democrats' newly unveiled election reform compromise bill known as the "Freedom to Vote Act". We summarized the wildly encouraging key points of the new bill, crafted by eight Senate Dems including Joe Manchin, on yesterday's program. But, we didn't have the legislative text at the time to report on whether the summary's promise of "Voter-Verified Paper Ballots," would truly offer the long-overdue right to a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters across the country, or whether the legislation would offer gaping holes on that point, as the Dems' otherwise excellent For the People Act --- on which the Freedom to Vote Act is based --- currently does.
On that point, now that we've seen the actual text of the proposed 592-page bill [PDF], we can happily report the good news that the new legislation does, on page 318, appear to promise long-overdue HMPBs for all "at every in-person voting location" in the country! Passage of this bill --- if Dems can figure out how to get Manchin's permission to reform the filibuster to do it --- would be the most transformative legislation for American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965...and could, arguably, even out do it!
Let's get the "Freedom to Vote Act" passed, ASAP!!!
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
Get ready for another roller-coaster ride on today's BradCast, which also happens to be Recall Election Day in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
As of airtime on Tuesday, we heard of no major reports of voting problems at the polls across the Golden State, though that may be thanks to so many already having voted by mail or during early voting. But, while pretending to support "election integrity" during an interview on MSNBC, Larry Elder, rightwing talk show host and GOP front-runner to become Governor if popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom loses on the ballot's first question, was busy lying about "fraud" and the "twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election" on his "Stop CA Fraud" website, before any results are known whatsoever. Oh, and he's also threatening the use of the "ammo box" if the results don't go his way.
(And, in related comment, we discuss why these "Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?" questions are really unfair and unhelpful gotcha questions, that it would be really nice if media stopped asking.)
In far brighter news, a group of eight U.S. Senators --- representing the broad political spectrum across the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber and including Joe Manchin --- announced a "compromise" election reform package with a ton of really really good stuff in it. Among the huge number of long overdue reforms in what they have dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act": Automatic and same-day voter registration for all; restoration of voting rights for former felons; federal minimum standards for absentee voting, drop boxes and early voting; an end to partisan gerrymandering; curbs on dark money in elections; the prevention of the ability of partisan state legislatures to overturn results derived by non-partisan election officials; new cybersecurity standards for computerized voting systems; and much much more.
The devil is often in the details, and I've yet to review the actual legislative text as of airtime, but from the summary description made available by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate committee that oversees federal elections and campaign law, almost any one of the items included in this proposed bill would be hugely good news. I'll need to review the specific language on the measure's requirements for hand-marked paper ballots to sign off on that part of the bill, but even the proposed requirements for Voter ID are very good ones. They will serve to force states with purposely restrictive Photo ID voting restrictions (enacted to suppress the vote, not to protect against fraud) to be much less onerous, while avoiding new restrictive mandates in the majority of states which already have reasonable ID rules or few at all.
The legislation is based on Manchin's personal "compromise" version of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already been passed by the House. Manchin is one of the eight Senators who worked out this proposal, and is said to be reaching out to bring Republicans on board. Of course, even if all 50 Senators who caucus with the Dems vote in favor, as appears likely (Schumer says he is scheduling a vote for next week), it seems unimaginable that any Republicans will join them, much less the 10 that would be required to overcome a Senate filibuster. But with Manchin as a co-sponsor, it will now be on him to get the GOP votes needed for passage or face the prospect of no long-overdue election protection at all...UNLESS he is willing to support a "democracy reconciliation" carve-out to the Senate filibuster. It should be a very interesting, maddening and/or fantastic week or two. We'll be following it all very closely, of course.
And, as Dems are trying to improve representative Democracy in the U.S., Republicans are still, apparently, in the business of simply trying to kill as many Americans as they can to make some sort of twisted political point.
Yet another fervent, anti-vaxxer rightwing radio and TV host died from COVID over the weekend, the fifth in the past month and a half. And while we've had a modicum of sympathy for some of the others who have recently passed, as we explain, this one, 62-year old Bob Enyart, is very difficult to feel anything but contempt for.
We have slightly more sympathy, however, for the wildly misinformed and brainwashed 64-year old anti-vax QAnon supporter and highway overpass activist and YouTuber, Veronica Wolski who bragged last month on her final video about never having worn a mask in her life, and about the need to "NEVER COMPLY" with any COVID public health measures in order to "never give up your freedoms" so "you never have to fight to get them back."
She won't be fighting for anything anymore. Wolski died over the weekend from COVID-related illness in the ICU, but not before the QAnon dupes, led by disgraced Georgia attorney Lin Wood, sicced supporters on the hospital trying to save her life and threatened its workers with "murder" charges unless they agreed to treat her with Ivermectin, the horse deworming medicine not approved for treatment of COVID. That, before Wood declared on his Telegram channel to his more than 800,000 followers: "Now, we go to war."
Unfortunately, deadly climate change (not to mention COVID) is what wingnuts should be going to war against. As Desi Doyen explains in our latest Green News Report today, yet another massive tropical storm, Hurricane Nicholas, is now knocking out power (again) and drenching the U.S. Gulf Coast with some 20 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooded out in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and sections of Louisiana that were already still under water following last week's Hurricane Ida. President Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for action on climate in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and his EPA is taking several long-overdue actions on behalf of clean, non-toxic drinking water across the U.S., and an age-old salmon fishery in Alaska...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Second monster storm in two weeks drowns the U.S. Gulf Coast; Biden urges Congress to invest in hardening the nation's infrastructure; EPA moves to protect drinking water from PFAS 'forever chemicals' and industrial wastewater; PLUS: Another nail in the coffin for the massive zombie Pebble Mine in Alaska... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate-driven extreme heat threatens $500 bln in new U.S. costs by 2050; Federal Government Sells Flood-Prone Homes To Often Unsuspecting Buyers; Big Oil’s 'Wokewashing' Is The New Climate Science Denialism; Meat accounts for nearly 60 percent of all greenhouse gases from food production, study finds; Emails, docs show TVA’s ties to fight against federal regs... PLUS: Record Number of Environmental Activists Murdered... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: Election Day for the California Gubernatorial Recall is tomorrow, though many have already voted across the nation's most populous state with Vote-by-Mail ballots. And we also share some thoughts on 9/11 that may be very different from the coverage of its 20th anniversary over the weekend.
Today would have been the last chance for CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber to mandate a statewide post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA), as the nation's top cybersecurity and voting system experts have urgently asked her [PDF] to do on an "emergency" basis. That, following a recent voting system security breach that effects election management systems and tabulators made by Dominion, as used in 60% of the state's counties. Despite their pleading, Weber declined to call for such an audit.
Instead, she sent a letter [PDF] in reply to the security experts who contacted her with "urgent" concerns, after she held a meeting with them last week (which we reported on in detail on Friday). She sung the praises of California's election security process in the letter, and dismissed their concerns, as AP's coverage highlighted, as "inaccurate," noting that, in any event, there was no time to mandate such an audit because it would require "significant preparation, training and testing."
"Further," she wrote the group of top voting and cybersecurity scientists in the nation (and perhaps the world), "the implication that California’s elections cannot be conducted safely and securely without [a more rigorous audit] is inaccurate, as California has the strictest voting system testing, procedures for use and security requirements in the nation."
Suffice to say, as we've been reporting in detail over the past month (as succinctly summarized by longtime listener/reader Sheila Bernard in an L.A. Times Letter to the Editor today) --- ever since a Republican County Clerk in CO made illicit copies of the Dominion Election Management System (EMS) software in her county before it was later released to the Internet for wide download, to the shock and horror of the voting system scientists whose warnings Weber has now ignored --- what happens next is anyone's guess. In its latest coverage, AP cites local election officials in the state, such as Santa Barbara County Clerk Joe Holland claiming it would be "near impossible" for anyone to manipulate results. "It's not even a concern," he said.
That disregard for the scientists warning of the need for "emergency actions" brings to mind a comment from one of those scientists, University of South Carolina's Duncan Buell, who told us on The BradCast last week: "I have seen well meaning election officials with too little skepticism and too much hubris. And I think that's a problem." It certainly might be. We'll find out, perhaps, in a day or two.
At the same time, we report on a few other problems that polling place voters have reportedly had trying to cast their ballot in Los Angeles County over the weekend, thanks to yet another failure of the County's new electronic pollbook system. The same system failed repeatedly during its maiden use in the 2020 election cycle and, over the weekend, the new computer systems incorrectly informed both Democratic and Republican voters that they had voted already...when they had not, in at least two different voting locations. Those voters were given provisional ballots and the e-pollbooks in question were said to have eventually been removed from operation, according to a statement from the L.A. County Registrar's office.
Both California and the nation are now on pins and needles. There are disturbing implications if Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is removed from office in California and replaced in the Recall by rightwing talk show host Larry Elder, particularly with the state's 88-year old U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in office with the barest of majorities for Democrats in the Senate.
Next, there were 20th anniversary commemorations over the weekend to mark the horrific terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Along with it, there was more repetition of the false claim that "America came together, united as one after the attacks". That has always been a myth, as we discuss today.
To underscore that myth, I share a part of my 20-year old, never before shared publicly (I think), "My Speech to the Nation After 9/11 (Were I President, Which I am Not.)" which I wrote and shared with family members on September 14th, 2001, just days after the attacks. The speech, as written (but, obviously, never delivered) was, to say the least, a very different one --- with a very different call to action --- than the one delivered at that same time by George W. Bush. And, had I been President at the time (which I wasn't), it likely would have resulted in a very different America and world today. Whether it would be a better one? Well, you can decide and let me know.
Finally, we open up the phone lines today to callers on all of the above, many of whom are focused on questions and concerns about the CA Recall...
On today's BradCast: There's an old idiom about the importance of "knowing the room" you're talking to. It seems the California Sec. of State and/or her office may be unfamiliar with that old idiom. At least based on the bizarre request they made during a meeting on Thursday with some of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts, asking them to be "cheerleaders" for the state's voting system security procedures. That, following the recent theft and release of key voting system software by rightwingers that has set the hair of those computer scientists on fire, leaving them to urge the SoS to take "urgent" and immediate "emergency actions" to protect Tuesday's Gubernatorial Recall in the Golden State. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
But before the inside details on that meeting, Republicans are now predictably freaking out after President Biden announced reasonable, science-based mandates on Thursday, requiring millions of federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 without an option to test out. There was nothing particular unusual about the executive directive. There are thousands of such vaccines mandates across the country, and have been for decades. They have long been approved by both state and federal courts.
But the GOP, having abandoned any and all actual policy agenda, has become little more than a party of grievance and evidence-free conspiracy theories. Following Biden's new mandates, their heads are exploding as they vow to sue and are equating reasonable new efforts to try and help keep Americans alive (while the Delta variant is surging and infecting and killing more school children) with "tyranny" and "Hitler". Some, including a top U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio, are even encouarging violence against Government officials he is now equating with the "Gestapo".
But that's what Republicans now do. Back here in the Not Crazy World, in places like San Francisco, the city's Health Department announced this week that there have been zero outbreaks of COVID since the school year began in mid-August. That's thanks to universal masking and other common sense requirements for staff and students alike. Contrast that with Florida and Texas and other GOP run states, where schools are shutting down yet again as hospitals are being overwhelmed with cases.
When they're not drama queening about the "FREEDOM!" to infect and kill their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, they're busy pretending that elections are being stolen from them, despite any hint of evidence to support such serious charges. Lack of evidence this week has not prevented either the former President or rightwing radio host Larry Elder from claiming the ongoing CA Recall election is "rigged" if the popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is not removed from office...in a state where registered Ds outnumber Rs by about 2 to 1.
But even if there is no evidence to date of the "voter fraud" Trump and Elder are certain is going to rob Republicans of a victory, there is reason to be concerned about the results of the September 14th Recall. As we've been reporting over the past month --- too often exclusively --- the theft by a Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado of the Election Management System (EMS) software made by Dominion Voting Systems, and its wide release for download by anyone via the Internet, has placed Tuesday's election in peril, according to cybersecurity and voting systems experts.
Last week, eight of them penned an "urgent" letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber, warning her about the serious security breach caused by the release of the key software used to run and tabulate elections in nearly 60% of California counties. Those top experts --- including UC Berkley's Philip Stark, Georgia Tech's Rich DeMillo, the legendary cybersecurity and voting system white hat hacker Harri Hursti, Livermore National Laboratory cyber expert and longtime CA Sec. of State voting system Advisor David Jefferson, Univ. of South Carolina's Duncan Buell and others --- urged Weber, in their letter, to immediately mandate statewide, public, post-election Risk-Limiting Audits in order to ensure both the accuracy of the computer-tallied results and confidence in them by the public.
"It is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted," the scientists wrote to Weber, citing the "critical new risk to the recall election" and how to mitigate those risks.
As we've reported, along with a number of the scientists who sent that letter who have appeared on this program, the Secretary's office, while claiming the state's existing security procedures will protect against any problems (even though the scientists explained otherwise in their letter), seemed to be in denial about the concerns. As we've reported, her office had not even offered a direct reply to the scientists until they and a number of state election integrity advocates were invited to a last-minute video conference meeting with Weber and her staff yesterday.
It was at that meeting where the participants --- again, some of the world's top experts in computer and voting system security --- were asked to be "cheerleaders" for California's current security procedures. Of course, anyone who knows folks like the legendary Hursti would be likely to laugh at that particular request.
We're joined today by two participants in Thursday's video meeting with Weber, longtime election transparency advocate EMILY LEVY of Scrutineers.org and JIM SOPER, co-chair of the CA-based National Voting Rights Task Force, which had also sent a letter to Weber urging improved post-election processes following last month's leak of the Dominion EMS software.
Levy confirmed that participants were asked, to be "cheerleaders" during the meeting. "Absolutely, that did happen," she tells us today, confirming my own reporting with a number of other participants. "And I have to say it was quite surprising, especially when coupled with the turning down of our requests about doing the Risk Limiting Audit. So, 'No, we won't do what you're asking, but we do want you to be cheerleaders for the security of the election.'"
"You know, I will applaud any increase in security procedures that I am aware that they are doing," she added. "But I'm certainly not in any position, and I don't think anyone there is, to put our reputations on the line saying we'll swear by the security of this election. Especially if they're not going to be increasing auditing procedures."
Both Levy and Soper suggested the office seems to understand that the Dominion Election Management System software has now been released, but didn't seem to fully appreciate the threat it poses to the election, as the scientists --- who were also on the video call --- made clear in their letter. "I didn't hear the level of alarm that I think is warranted," Levy notes.
"I think she understands the threat," Soper argued, before explaining that "a big part of the problem is the shortage of time" between now and Tuesday's Recall Election Day. He says, however --- as did UC-Berkeley's Stark, a signatory on the letter, participant in Thursday's meeting and the inventor of the Risk-Limiting Audit protocol --- that there are simplified versions of the RLA format that could be implemented quickly enough and announced for before Tuesday to avoid the appearance of partisanship.
"There is something called a 'Ballot-Polling Risk-Limiting Audit' that they could do," says Soper. "It's not as effective [as a regular, full RLA], but it would be better than doing nothing." He also notes that Weber asked the meeting participants to "send in a little letter with some notes on what we think should be done [and] that they're going to consider 'what can we do?' out of all of these suggestions."
Weber, a Democrat, may not be as concerned as she could be about all of this, as recent polling shows opposition growing to the removal of Newsom. Still, holding ones breath and crossing ones fingers is hardly a recipe for either success or for the protection of election results that voters of all political leanings can have confidence in.
On the other hand, Levy offers several actions that the public can take in the meantime, both from inside and outside of California, to help oversee and secure the election and try to ensure its integrity, via her Scrutineers site.
Finally today, we close with yet another warning of yet another monster hurricane. This time, it's the Category 5 Super Typhoon Chathu that recently spun up in record time. It's now set on a deadly collision course with Taiwan. Just more fallout from our ever-worsening climate emergency in yet another record storm season fueled by non-stop man-made global warming...
The news, as you may have noticed, continued to be somewhat grim. But we do manage to find a bit of encouraging news here and there on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]
Among the stories covered on today's program...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Biden pushes for infrastructure resilience following Hurricane Ida's devastation; Toxic chemicals and sewage left swirling in storm's wake; Tropical Storm Mindy forms and hits Florida in mere hours; PLUS: A new milestone --- the world has finally stopped using leaded gasoline... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Biden administration moves to protect key Alaska watershed; Overlapping Disasters Expose Harsh Climate Reality: The U.S. Is Not Ready; Joe Manchin’s Dirty Empire; Climate Change Is Forcing Animals to Quickly 'Shape-Shift,' Study Suggests; How one foil-wrapped home survived the Caldor Fire as everything around it burned... PLUS: World’s biggest machine capturing carbon from air turned on in Iceland... and much, MUCH more! ...
It's an old cliche by now that every bad disaster movie begins with a scientist's warnings being ignored. We'll continue to hope, on today's BradCast, that California's Gubernatorial Recall election, with voting under way right now and Election Day next Tuesday, doesn't turn into a bad disaster movie...now that CA's Democratic Secretary of State seems to be ignoring the urgent warnings from a whole bunch of the nation's top computer scientists. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Several weeks ago, polling of likely voters in the GOP's sleazy attempt to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office in a special recall election, suggested a dead heat on the question of removal for the otherwise popular progressive Golden State Guv. Today, more recent polling suggest Newsom is up by more than 10 points among those considered to be likely voters, according to 538's average of recent surveys, and by about 8.5 points in RealClearPolitics' round-up. That, after the very Trumpy, far-right Republican radio host, Larry Elder, has emerged as Newsom's likely replacement if the Governor loses on the ballot's first question as to whether he should be recalled.
In the meantime, as we have been highlighting over the past month, California's state election officials should be very concerned about a new security threat to the election itself following the theft of Election Management System (EMS) software made by Dominion Voting Systems. The vendor's systems are used to run elections in nearly 60% of California jurisdictions. Copies of its EMS software were apparently purloined in the middle of the night by a far-right County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado last May before being released to the wilds of the Internet during MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's phony "cyber symposium" last month. That release now poses "critical new risks to the recall election," according to eight of the nation's top cyber security and voting system experts. They sent a chilling, 3-page warning letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber late last week, advising her to mandate a statewide Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) as the "one critical action" she can and should take immediately to try and mitigate against this "serious threat" which, the experts argue, warrants "emergency action" on the part of state officials.
One of the authors of that letter, DR. DUNCAN BUELL, Chair Emeritus in Computer Science and Engineering at University of South Carolina, joins us on today's show to explain the letter, the threat and the need for the SoS to take action now, rather than waiting until after Election Day.
"If the results are known first and then somebody says 'let's audit', there will always be some skepticism and some conspiracy theory that the reason for the audit is because the result came out different from somebody in power who wanted it to be a different result," Buell tells me. "You've got to mandate the audit before you have the result so the voters know that this is being done specifically for the right reasons."
He goes on to explain how the EMS software, which can now be downloaded and explored for vulnerabilities by anyone with an Internet connection, is "absolutely central to everything" when it comes to running elections on computer systems. "The EMS is almost certainly going to be configuring ballot styles --- even for hand-marked [paper] ballots, where the bubble is to be filled in, in terms of position on the page --- and it's going to be the system at the end of the day that does the tabulations. So anything that is that central is really critical."
When I ask if it's an overstatement to refer access to the EMS software as "the keys to the kingdom" when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems, Buell confirms: "I don't think that's an overstatement at all. That's very much the case."
Even with the recent shift in polling, suggesting a possible lead for Newsom in the Recall, Buell notes, "I don't necessarily think either side should be breathing a 'sigh of relief' because the problem really is that the election system needs to be secure, and the election process has to be done in a transparent way that voters can trust and understand. With the release of the [EMS] software, it's hard for anyone to really feel that what's going to happen is what ought to happen unless there is a statistically sound Risk-Limiting Audit conducted after the fact, just to make sure things got done right. This is a question of confidence, transparency, and the fact that we don't get to do elections over."
He offers much more insight on all of this during our conversation today, as based on his many years of experience with voting systems as both a Professor and expert witness in voting system related cases and challenges across the country. We discuss the lack of response the eight top experts have so far received from Sec. Weber in CA, and a dismissive --- and arguably naive --- statement given by her office to AP last week following the release of the letter.
"I have seen well-meaning election officials with too little skepticism and too much hubris," Buell warns. "I think that's a problem. We don't know what the results are going to be, so we don't know ground truth for what's going to come out of this recall election in California. We can't do it over. This means that, yes, all of the processes have to be rock solid. But it also argues that there needs to be a way, after the fact, to make sure that the outcome that you think you got is the outcome that you should have gotten. That's what one of these RLAs, Risk Limiting Audits, will do."
He also observers that California is lucky, in that the inventor of the RLA protocol, Philip Stark of U.C. Berkeley, is right here to help. Stark is also a signatory of the letter to Weber. He joined us on the show several weeks ago, just after the stolen Dominion EMS software was released, to explain the serious concerns at that time --- well before the national media had noticed any of this, and before CA's SoS got around to seemingly ignoring the warning and advice of the nation's top experts in the field.
Given that Donald Trump is already falsely and predictably claiming that the CA Recall is "a rigged election", as is Fox "News", it's even more imperative that Weber mandate a professional, publicly witnessed, statewide post-election audit now (as opposed to the type of scammy, secret, "audit" theater recently carried out by inexperienced, partisan, conspiracy buffoons in Maricopa County, Arizona, for instance) before the computer-tallied results of next week's critical Recall Election are known.
Speaking of fraud and conspiracy buffoons, we have a bit of fresh news this week about the slow, but still "ongoing" criminal investigation by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fanni Willis into the conspiracy led by Donald Trump to try and strong-arm Peach State officials into stealing the election on his behalf last year. That probe could also end up targeting fellow conspirators Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rudy Giuliani.
And then we close with the really really dumb comments from MyPillow conspiracy buffoon Mike Lindell, in which he recently seems to have thrown himself under the bus on his own streaming video channel, in regards to the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit he is currently facing from Dominion Voting Systems...
We're back! Luckily it was a slow news week while we we're off last week, right? Okay, maybe not. So, on today's BradCast we begin to pick up on just some of that "slow" news. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
After nearly month or so of trying to ring alarm bells for the national media and election officials in California, hoping they would connect the dots between the ongoing CA Gubernatorial Recall election and the threat of Dominion Voting Systems election software stolen from a Mesa County, Colorado's County Clerk's office (apparently BY the Mesa County Clerk herself!) and released into the wilds of the Internet, we had some progress late last week!
Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts sent an urgent 3-page letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Shirley Weber, warning her about the threat that the stolen software now poses to the CA Recall (Election Day is next Tuesday, Sept. 14th) and the need for her to immediately mandate a statewide post-election Risk Limiting Audit to both ensure the computer-tallied results are accurate and to offer confidence in those results to those who may think they are not. That, no matter who wins or loses. As we reported late last week at The BRAD BLOG, the scientists, in their letter to Weber, warn the Secretary that "it is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted."
Associated Press reported on the letter as it was released last Thursday, as did we. But the response from the SoS' office for now is, shall we say, somewhat lackluster. We hope to have more on this as the week progresses and Election Day nears. But at least it's not only us with our hair on fire about these serious concerns.
Next, there were three disturbing rulings issued --- largely in the middle of the night --- by the stolen and packed GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court while we were gone or just before we left. All three cases have major consequences. And, in all cases, the rulings were issued without hearings, oral argument, public debate or oversight, or even full explanation from the rightwing Justices.
One "stunning" ruling prevents President Biden from setting U.S. immigration policy, by forcing him to continue the so-called "Remain in Mexico" policy instituted by his predecessor for asylum seekers coming up from Central America; Another blocked the President's moratorium on evictions amid the pandemic; and, perhaps the most disturbing one, as you may have heard, effectively overturns the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade's constitutional protections of the right of a woman to have an abortion in the state of Texas. All three decisions were issued with no hearings or public debate and virtually no comment from the Justice's as part of the Court's "Shadow Docket" while they are on Summer break between terms.
Longtime legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN has been warning for a while about the increasing use (and abuse) of the "Shadow Docket" by the increasingly activist authoritarian Court, now that it's been packed with three Donald Trump appointees, rammed onto the Court after Senate Republicans did away with the filibuster to do so. Now, as we discuss with Stern on today's program, it should be clear to just about everyone what it is that he's been warning about.
"With the Shadow Dockets, it means that basically we all have to be on high alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because at any time the Supreme Court could issue a monumental decision overturning decades of precedent," says Stern, with little or no warning or explanation.
On the "Remain in Mexico" ruling, Stern observes: "You might have thought that the Supreme Court does not let lower court judges issue sweeping injunctions blocking the President's immigration policies. As you recall, under Trump, the Supreme Court's conservatives leapt in, time and time again, to swat down judges who had tried to halt the former President's immigration rules. But all of that is out the window now that Joe Biden is in the White House. Instead, we have a new principle here that, apparently, the President no longer runs foreign policy." In fact, in this case, that lower Trump-appointed judge actually ordered Biden to enter foreign policy negotiations with Mexico and, astonishingly, the high court let the order stand without comment!
"The hypocrisy here is stunning," Stern argues. "The Supreme Court said that the President gets to make immigration law over and over again under Trump. Remember the travel ban case? Remember the wealth-test case? Remember all of these awful cases where the Supreme Court said Trump can do whatever he wants? And then Biden comes in, and the Supreme Court says Biden can't do anything he wants."
On the eviction moratorium, also overruled by the rightwing Justices, "we're being deprived of any kind of clear debate" via the Court's Shadow Docket, where "the conservatives are awarding themselves more and more power to pretend that debatable decisions in the lower courts are so obviously wrong that they can intervene and resolve them whenever they want."
But, of course, the most egregious item decided without explanation or public debate --- or even a hearing in the lower appellate courts! --- over the last two weeks, is the SCOTUS decision that allows Texas Republicans' new abortion ban law to take effect. The state statute bans all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and deputizes citizens to file lawsuits against anyone --- from family members to friends to clergy members to Uber drivers --- who helps a woman in any fashion to obtain an abortion. Such citizen "bounty hunters" will each be awarded at least $10,000 for doing so, under Texas law. All of this, of course, blatantly undercuts the precedent set by SCOTUS in 1973's Roe v. Wade, establishing a Constitutional right to an abortion. And, it's all now being done under the cover of the Shadow Docket, which even Chief Justice Roberts, in this one instance, was forced dissent against.
Whether the Lone Star State's convoluted scheme of deputizing citizens to enforce the law, rather than the state doing so directly, gets around the mandates of Roe is "a huge question, and it's one that I think deserves a full airing, especially after 50 years of Americans enjoying a constitutional right to reproductive autonomy," Stern explains. "It's the kind of thing that would be debated in public if this were a regular case. And also, traditionally in the law, there's a really strong bias toward the status quo, to keeping things as they have been until the Court can have a full and fair hearing on the merits. We didn't get that hearing here, and yet the Court refused to step in and maintain the status quo of abortion access. So we are left with the nation's second largest state shuttering its abortion providers and forcing women to flee out of state if they want to terminate a pregnancy."
So, what, if anything, can be done about the emboldened far-right's abuse of the Shadow Docket at SCOTUS? We discuss that as well, including measures that could --- and, arguably should --- be taken immediately by Congress to reign in an out-of-control Court. Those measures, however, would likely require Democrats to reform the Senate filibuster in order to enact them --- ya know, just as Senate Republicans did to jam these far-right activist jurists onto the Court in the first place, where they are now using the Shadow Docket to, cowardly, run wild. And, all of that, before SCOTUS even begins its term on the first Monday in October, when, Stern predicts, there is even more bad news regarding freedom and civil rights in these United States...
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