We're back on today's BradCast, after surviving a long hot holiday weekend here in California (with huge thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) [Audio link to today's show is posted below summary.]
Amid record heat in Southern California --- with one city in L.A. County city topping out at a record 121 degrees on Sunday! --- fires raged and continue to do so, up and down the state. Nearly 300 people stranded by smoke and fires in various parts of the Golden State needed to be rescued by helicopters over the past four days as climate change-fueled blazes have, so far, chewed through a record 2 million acres in the state, destroying more than 3,300 structures in 900 different fires since mid-August. The scariest part: the worst months for California's ever-lengthening fire season are usually September and October. So, even after the worst fire season now on record, the worst may still be yet to come this year, as our climate crisis continues to intensify and a climate change denier is once again heading up the Republican Party's Presidential ticket.
It would be nice if we weren't one of the few media outlets connecting those particular dots. Absentee ballots have now begun to ship out to voters in states like North Carolina which has, itself, been ravaged in recent years by various climate related crises, from hurricanes to toxic coal ash spills to ever-rising sea levels. As voting for the general election finally begins there and in other battleground states, the corporate media would help us all if they focused (or even mentioned!) so many of the very real issues that are at stake in this year's critical Presidential election, including the devastation of climate change!
Speaking of which, a new story today gives me reason once again to cite one of my worst fears for this November's elections, as the Hartford Public School District in Connecticut was forced to cancel its first day of classes today. The cancellation was not due to the continuing COVID crisis, but caused by a ransomware attack that crippled the District's computer networks. That attack echoes a series of attacks against the Miami-Dade County Public School system in Florida last week, and could foreshadow trouble to come on November 3rd. Because so many voting jurisdictions now foolishly rely on computer networks and the Internet to cast, count and even check people in to vote on electronic pollbooks, a ransomware attack before or on Election Day would be devastating.
But don't worry! Your U.S. Dept. of Justice in on the job! Ya know, the one led by Donald Trump's fixer and Attorney General Bill Barr who lied to CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week about massive absentee ballot fraud, claiming a 2017 "indictment" in Texas for the theft of 1,700 mail-in ballots. After the actual state prosecutors called BS on Barr's claim's, the DoJ was forced to admit it was false. Ironically, Barr also claimed that "people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government." That would be more likely, of course, if we didn't have a U.S. Attorney General willing to casually forward two year old false claims about election fraud on major cable news networks.
Then we move to the biggest story over the holiday weekend, the report from The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that Donald Trump regards members of the military, including those were killed or captured and tortured during their service, as "losers" and "suckers". Goldberg's reporting has now been independently confirmed by multiple other media outlets, including even Fox "News", while Trump and the White House unconvincingly describe the detailed and independently corroborated reporting as "fake news". In his attempt to distract from that story on Monday, Trump attacked his own top military brass, claiming that too much is spent on defense contractors --- even after Trump has spent years citing his own increases to defense spending as one of his Administration's top accomplishments.
We're joined today by WILL GOODWIN, U.S. Army veteran, West Point grad and now Director of Government Relations for VoteVets.org, the nation's largest progressive veterans organization, founded in 2006, and now representing more than 500,000 vets, families and supporters. In the wake of the stunning (if not surprising) reports of Trump's disparagement of military members --- from the captured and tortured Vietnam War prisoner of war John McCain, to the shot down WWII fighter pilot George H.W. Bush, to the 1,800 U.S. Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood during WWI --- as "losers" and "suckers" all, VoteVets has now released several different video ads in response.
In one, family members of those who lost loved ones in recent wars respond to the President's remarks and, in another, a 98-year old WWII veteran, captured and forced into slave labor for 42 months, encourages Americans to vote for Joe Biden and against "other politicians if they continue to support Donald Trump."
For his part, Goodwin shares his thoughts in response to the reported insults by the Commander-in-Chief --- who he regards as "a maniac in the Oval Office" --- and how they are likely to affect the votes cast by members of the nation's armed forces this year. Despite popular belief that the military tends to support the Republican candidate, Goodwin cites polling to suggest the opposite --- polling completed before last week's news from The Atlantic. He says that Goldberg's report "is nothing new from Donald Trump when it comes to his hatred toward the military, towards military families, and towards our veterans, but somehow it's a new low." Goodwin goes on to describe Trump's tenure as "four years of failed leadership as Commander-in-Chief," before detailing a seemingly endless list of ways in which Trump has failed our troops, our veterans, our Gold Star Families, as well as the nation's security and standing on the world stage.
"Our allies have turned away from us --- they do not know how to work with a maniac in the Oval Office like Donald Trump --- and our enemies and adversaries are emboldened. They're emboldened to continue attacking the very integrity of our democracy and going after our elections infrastructure. And, frankly, they have taken more direct actions, escalating military tensions. The Russian buzzing US Navy ships, intercepting our aircraft. The continued expansion of the Chinese footprint in various places around the world," Goodwin argues. "We have seen Democrats across the board, including in [Congressional] seats where Donald Trump may be popular, standing up once again and speaking the truth on how disgusting this is. And we're seeing the same failure from Republicans to speak up at all. Republicans who represent massive military and veteran populations...refusing to condemn the President."
Finally today, we close on a very sad note, with the news that Kevin Zeese, longtime progressive activist, attorney, fighter for universal healthcare, fair elections, racial and economic justice and peace, passed away suddenly on Sunday from what appears to have been a heart attack as he slept. Kevin was also a friend of both The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast, having joined on us on air on many occasions while taking on our nation's worst failures and most insidious corporate oligarchs. We share several thoughts on his passing from a number of other progressive activists today. Zeese was 64 and will be dearly missed...as his good fight for a better and more just world will, and must, continue...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)