On today's BradCast: Voting and killing. Voting and killing. The world sure seems to be doing a lot of each these days, especially the U.S. (particularly when it comes to the killing part, anyway.) [Audio link to complete show follows below.]
First up today, an obnoxiously arrogant (and hypocritical) comment about the U.S. and North Korea by Vice President Mike Pence. Then, voters head to the polls today in Georgia's 6th Congressional District for a U.S. House special election in which the Democratic candidate has been polling far ahead of a split Republican field. But Jon Ossoff will have to win more than 50% of the reported vote to avoid a one-on-one run-off election with the top Republican vote-getter, in a very Republican district, as still more concerns arise about the reliability of reported results from the state's 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems. Among the concerns (in addition to the unverifiable results): a "massive data breach" last month at the facility which programs both the voting machines and the state's electronic pollbook systems and, over the weekend, the theft of a number of those e-pollbooks from a poll workers car. (Widely mis-reported as a theft of "voting machines", but still concerning nonetheless. We discuss why.)
Also today, Britain's Prime Minister makes a surprise announcement calling for snap elections to be held in June, in advance of final Brexit negotiations and, also over the weekend, a Turkish referendum to grant sweeping powers to the nation's President appears to have narrowly passed. But the opposition and international election observers (if not Donald Trump) are crying foul. That apparent "victory" has resulted in the Turkish President calling for restoration of the death penalty, which, the European Union warns, would prevent Turkey from finally joining the beleaguered EU.
None of that, however, has prevented the state of Arkansas from attempting to move ahead with an unprecedented eight executions over the next 10 days, as the state's supply of one of the controversial drugs --- of dubious effectiveness and purchased under false pretenses by the state --- used for lethal injections there, is set to expire on May 1.
Longtime capital punishment litigator Robert Dunham, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, joins us to explain Governor Asa Hutchinson's extraordinary planned killing spree and the blizzard of protests, legal measures and court rulings at both the state and federal level, which have already resulted in a last minute U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday night, and stays on the state's killing of the first two men set to die in the first of four nights of scheduled double-executions over this week and next.
"This is completely unprecedented. No state in the modern history of the U.S. death penalty has ever attempted to carry out this many executions in a short period of time," Dunham explains, describing the "artificial 'Kill By' date" set by the Governor. "This is something we have never seen before. And [Arkansas is] trying to use a very, very controversial and inappropriate drug in circumstances in which the execution schedule only makes things worse."
We discuss the "psychological trauma for the prison personnel" tasked with carrying out the killings, the pharmaceutical companies trying to keep their medicines from being used to kill prisoners "against their corporate mission, which is to save lives, and not take lives"; questions about the innocence, guilt, legal representation and mental acuity of some of those set to be killed; and the multiple state and federal cases furiously moving through the courts over all of this, including the "irony" of the state of Arkansas' "states rights" Governor and Attorney General challenging a ruling on state law by their own state Supreme Court at the U.S. Supreme court.
Finally today, in hopes of cheering us all up a bit, it appears that folks in Texas have finally gotten something right about politics --- and Donald Trump will not like it one bit...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)