Everything and everybody seem to be on edge. It feels like we're near a breaking point. At home and abroad, as detailed throughout today's harrowing BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
"It's all gone too far," Georgia's top voting systems chief made clear during powerful unscripted remarks at an emotional press conference on Tuesday night. "All of it!" Gabe Sterling's impassioned comments came after learning of new death threats against a young elections worker in his state. He is right to be infuriated. Things have now become damned dangerous thanks to our deranged President who seems to be turning more unhinged by the hour as his days in the White House wane.
We share an extended cut of the Republican Sterling's tirade today, as he called out both the Republican President and the state's two Republican Senators for failing to condemn the increasing hostility and threats against election officials in Georgia, as well those directed to its Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger. "Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence," Sterling implored the President. "Someone's gonna get hurt. Someone's gonna get shot. Someone's gonna get killled...All of this is wrong!"
Both of Georgia's U.S. Senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, face tough election re-election runoffs against Rafeael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively, on January 5. The contests will determine partisan control of the Senate. Both GOPers have decided to support Trump and his false claims about the state's election being stolen for Joe Biden with the aid, absurdly enough, of Kemp and Raffensperger. The President is currently scheduled to travel to the Peach State on Saturday to campaign with Loeffler and Perdue. We'll see if he makes it...and whether they both come to regret it.
It is, of course, insane that we find ourselves in support of Sterling, Raffensperger and Kemp, at least on these points. We have been vocally and justifiably critical of all three for a very long time on this program regarding the way they run elections in the state and undermine voter confidence in the bargain. But we'd never even consider the type of rhetoric that the President of the United States and his followers --- including Loeffler and Perdue --- are now using because Trump is too cowardly to concede that he lost and the two Senators are too cowardly to run without him.
None have any actual interest in cleaning up Georgia's elections. If they did, they'd have joined my weeks-old call to get the Dominion Voting Systems company out of the state entirely for the January elections by demanding hand-marked and hand-counted paper ballots for all during the runoff. None of them, of course, have done so.
Rather than take Sterling's concerns to heart, Trump doubled down on Twitter thereafter to falsely declare a "Rigged Election" and "massive voter fraud in Georgia," charging the very Trumpy Governor Kemp is "afraid" of "what we'll find". And then, as released by the White House just before airtime, Trump delivered even more dangerously incendiary and deluded remarks in a fact-free 46-minute pre-taped video rant, asserting that "our election system is now under coordinated assault and siege."
But this is what is happening. And if all of it sounds insane, you'll be shocked to learn that top Trumpers, like his recently pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, are now literally calling for sedition by encouraging the President "to immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote."
Several weeks ago, I was uncertain about covering Trump's baseless claims of "massive fraud" in the election at all, back when he first began lying about all of this. Given where we are now, I'm glad we did. We all need to be informed about what is actually going on right now in this nation, no matter how twisted, and depressing, and damned dangerous it is now becoming.
But, for some "lighter" news today...We then turn to the recent assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and the latest fallout following both that, Trump's undermining and violation of the landmark Obama era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement with Iran which had successfully blocked the Islamic Republican from the ability to create a nuclear weapon for at least ten years, and Trump's drone assassination earlier this year of Iran's revered General Qassam Soleimani. (Yes, that also took place in 2020!)
We're joined today for a great deal of insight on all of this --- as well as the history of targeting nuclear scientists, both in Iran in recent years and elsewhere since the dawn of the nuclear age, and whether the strategy actually works --- by someone who knows a great deal about all of it. WILLIAM TOBEY served on the White House National Security Council staff under three presidents, and as Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration from 2006-2009, where he managed the U.S. government's largest program to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism. He is now a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and the Director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism.
Among the many related topics discussed with Tobey today: How difficult it may be for the incoming Biden Administration to strike a new deal with Iran after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA and the assassinations of both Soleimani and Fakhrizadeh, as Iran now vows both revenge and an increase in nuclear production; Whether the JCPOA, which Tobey was critical of, made us safer and why "we are in a more dangerous position today than we were in 2018"; And, why nations like North Korea and Iran justifiably see the development of nuclear weapons as an existential issue.
And with all of those pretty heavy topics, listeners who make it all the way to the end of today's BradCast may be richly rewarded with the concession speech that we all should have heard long ago...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)