On today's BradCast: Things are going to get far worse before they finally get better. In this case, "worse" means far more deadly and "better" means an election this fall that somewhat accurately reflects the intent of the electorate. Donald Trump has now get the killing Americans part down, but he and his fixer/Attorney General are still feeling their way around how best to undermine the election. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Just weeks ago, in late May, the Trump Death Cultists on Fox "News" and those entrusted to govern states like Florida, were railing against media, demanding apologies by those who warned that opening up for business prematurely amid a deadly viral pandemic was a terrible idea. Republican Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and hackish clowns like Sean Hannity of Fox "News" aren't asking for apologies anymore, it seems, as at least 56 Florida hospital ICUs across the state have now hit capacity, with dozens more nearly full as well. Florida is just one such GOP-led state whose political decisions in advance of the November election have had deadly consequences as 31 states are now seeing infections and hospitalizations rise.
The conservative projected death estimates put out by the infectious disease modelers at University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have once again been revised in the bargain. IHME now forecasts more than 208,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by November 1, while noting that some 45,000 lives could be saved over that same period if we all simply wore masks in public. Other experts believe the mortality number could be as high as 500,000 by the end of this year.
So, again, we ask: At what point does it become a CRIMINAL act when DeSantis and Donald Trump and Vice President Pence command schoolchildren, amid this out-of-control surging pandemic, back to in-person classes next month, under thread of financial penalty, and in defiance of CDC guidelines? At least the CDC guidelines based on science and health data, versus Pence's newly promised revised CDC guidelines that the Administration ordered to be cooked up after Trump found the real ones to be too "tough" and "expensive". When do these people become liable for criminal deadly negligence or even mass murder?
This scheming is nothing short of sick and twisted. We will soon look back on these days with ghastly horror at what they have done in short-sighted and ill-considered hopes of winning re-election this November.
Speaking of which, while Trump and his corrupt A.G. Bill Barr have been out lying about absentee voting amid the pandemic, it seems Republican strategists and candidates are becoming quite concerned that their voters may be actually be listening to them. Many GOP voters new believe that vote-by-mail ballots are all fraudulent, which could end up costing the GOP dearly this year.
At the same time, folks like EDDIE PEREZ, Global Director of Technology and Standards at the OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute, has been doing his level best to debunk many of the lies about mail-in voting being infectiously spread by Trump and his Attorney General who, for example, recently declared that "a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots" and use them to undermine our elections somehow. Perez explains (and here's a shorter Twitter version of his explanation) why such claims are largely nonsense, even if there are, in fact, some concerns about fraud in absentee voting --- just not the ones that Trump and Barr are mostly trumpeting.
As no fan of absentee voting myself --- other than in cases where voters literally cannot vote at the polls on Election Day, or are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems at the polling place, or when we find ourselves in the middle of an out-of-control deadly global pandemic --- I've got a few pointed questions for Perez on the reality of absentee ballot fraud.
Among the issues he speaks to: Whether ballots can really be counterfeited (by foreign or domestic actors alike); What security measures are in place to prevent someone from casting a ballot in someone else's name?; Should voters have confidence in signature matching by election officials who are not hand-writing experts? And more. "If nothing else," Perez tells me, "the country needs to realize --- and particularly election officials and Get Out The Vote organizations --- there are really, really good reasons to protect public health to make by-mail voting available to people, as one of several options. That's really critical. For November, you've got to have a balance. We need to pay attention to educating voters about what it's going to take to ensure that their ballot is accepted and counted."
Also, as Perez, before joining the non-profit OSET Institute, was a 15 year veteran of Hart-Intercivic, one of the nation's three major private voting system vendors (about whom we've reported a great deal of less than flattering things over the years), we take a few minutes today to discuss why private, for-profit vendors are ill-equipped to meet the critical needs of transparent, overseeable elections in support of American democracy. "I'll say that the one thing we can agree on," Perez notes, "is transparency in the voting process is what helps to build trust with the public. Transparency is what is going to produce confidence. And that's what we need in our democracy."
I didn't have the heart or time to respond that "trust" has nothing to do with Americans elections. But, other than that, on the need for transparent oversight to build confidence among the electorate, he is spot on.
Finally, two objectionable SCOTUS opinions were handed down today, allowing religious organizations to, among other things, ignore any and all state or federal anti-discrimination laws, because "freedom of religion", apparently, also now includes the freedom to take actual freedoms away from everyone else...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)