w/ Brad & Desi
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...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
Compare and contrast on today's BradCast. Shoddy treatment of real election observers versus velvet glove treatment of wingnut con-artists claiming the 2020 election was stolen. In one case, longtime non-partisan election integrity observers are locked out from overseeing public election processing before this past week's critical primary elections in a North Carolina county. In the other, longtime phony GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters pretending to be election integrity advocates see their false claims in a propaganda film expensively debunked by both law enforcement and state election officials in Georgia. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
First up, it's the fraudsters who recently released a propaganda documentary into theaters called 2000 Mules. We debunked the film's central claims in detail on this program when it was first released about two weeks ago, as it began trending in rightwing social media circles along with claims from many easily-duped folks that the film proves the election was stolen from Donald Trump.
A number of media outlets explained at the time why it doesn't even come close to doing any such thing. The film relies on cell phone geolocation tracking data and some security camera footage of absentee ballot drop-boxes in several swing states won by Joe Biden to claim that thousands of "ballot mules" illegally "harvested" tens of thousands of fake ballots (from somewhere or other) and deposited them unlawfully to steal the election from Trump. Supposedly, all of those ballots were unlawful votes for Biden, but there is no evidence for that either.
The film was produced and directed by a longtime rightwing activist named Dinesh D'Souza (who pleaded guilty to actual federal election fraud crimes some years ago, before being pardoned by Donald Trump). D'Souza highlights the claims of a longtime, dark money-funded, many times discredited, fake "election integrity" group from Texas calling themselves True the Vote. But, apparently, not mentioned in the film is that their cell phone "evidence" of repeated visits within 100 feet of drop-boxes and security camera footage was already reviewed and rejected by both the FBI and the Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) before the film was even released earlier this month. A September 30, 2021 letter from GBI Director D. Victor Reynolds explains that, after a full investigation, and consultation with the FBI, the data submitted "does not rise to the level of probable cause that a crime has been committed."
That finding was further buttressed this week when Georgia's state Board of Elections dismissed the groups allegations of fraud by tracking down those shown on camera as depositing multiple ballots into drop-boxes. As Washington Post reports, state investigators tracked down the voters shown in the film and were able to confirm the ballots they deposited were actually those of direct family members, which is perfectly lawful in the state.
It's unknown how many tax-payer dollars were wasted by state (and federal) officials on these wild goose chases into perfectly legal voting, based on D'Souza and True The Vote's absurd claims.
Meanwhile, things were very different this past week in North Carolina, where actual election integrity advocates were prevented from doing their work of overseeing elections on behalf of the public and were even threatened with arrest in Wake County, the closely divided swing-state's most populous county.
We're joined today by two guests we've known for a while and who have been on the show in the past. LYNN BERNSTEIN is the founder of Transparent Elections NC and JOHN BRAKEY is the Director of AUDIT-USA. (Listeners will remember Brakey as the guy who originally exposed on this program, and later in video that went viral, that election denialists in Maricopa County, Arizona last year were examining paper ballots under microscopes for evidence of bamboo fibers to prove their false claim that thousands of fraudulent ballots were somehow cast from someone or another in Asia. Brakey served for months as a public observer of that failed "forensic audit" by the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix.)
This week, the groups of both Bernstein and Brakey published a press release announcing that the two had been barred from the grounds of the Wake County Board of Elections in advance of last Tuesday's midterm primary tabulation. The announcement charged they "were threatened with arrest and prevented from observing routine election administration activities by Wake County election administrator Gary Sims, in violation of North Carolina State Election Law."
We've got audio clips today of the pair being told they were not allowed on the grounds of the Wake County BOE, and of Bernstein's husband Nick being escorted out during the public comment period by law enforcement at a BOE meeting on Monday.
So, what's going on here? Bernstein, an aerospace engineer, trained international election observer and longtime election integrity advocate, claims that "Sims has personally harassed me at Board of Elections meetings in front of the Board and he also threatened to call the police on me when I came to observe on Election Night for the 2020 primary, when I was an at-large observer for the Wake County Democratic Party." She says she and Brakey arrived outside the Wake BOE last week for only minutes before "the police arrived and said we were banned forever" from the grounds of the public facility.
Brakey, who was in town to help oversee tabulation and other often dull, but incredibly important public election oversight procedures, says "It's election time, and this is what I do. I travel the country and I try to work with and mentor other election transparency activists." He tells us that Sims was "out there in four minutes" after they arrived at the BOE and "he was steaming just having [Bernstein] there."
But why was all of this even happening? And why is Wake, according to Bernstein, the only county in the state that does not allow observers of the tabulation on Election Night? "If there's a motive behind all of this, it is not election fraud or anything like that," Brakey tells me. The pair speculate it has something to do with Sims hoping to move the County from their current hand-marked paper ballot system to an expensive, unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device computerized system for voters. Bernstein has long opposed moving to that type of system, as has Brakey (along with most cybersecurity and voting systems experts.)
Tune in for many more details on all of this, but I wanted to give this incident and both of these folks the highlight they deserve for what seems to be an outrageous attempt to prevent their important work bearing witness for the public when it comes to our public elections. "The actual act of voting is a secret process," Brakey notes. "Counting is a public process. It used to be, and it must be again."
We are more than happy, of course, to welcome Wake's Election Administration Gary Sims to respond on the program with his side of the story as well if he chooses to do so. We'd love to have him!
Finally, we close today with a few thoughts on all of the above, and a bit of listener email regarding trillions of tax-payer dollars in subsidies ("socialized welfare") to fossil fuel companies --- the most profitable companies in the world --- even as clean, renewable energy companies continue to struggle without the same kind of financial support from the government...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
What's the difference between a white supremacist mass murderer in Buffalo, NY and a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate? Well, in terms of their racist rhetoric not a heck of a lot, it seems. That and many more reasons to both pay close attention and be skeptical of "conventional wisdom" regarding this November's critical midterm elections on today's BradCast, as American Democracy v. Violent Strongman Authoritarianism is most definitely on the ballot in every state this year. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
Among the stories underscoring all of that on today's program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.N. warns four key climate change indicators broke new records in 2021; Cutting air pollution from fossil fuels would save 50,000 lives a year in the U.S.; New initiative invests $242 million for clean energy in ten developing countries; PLUS: National forests forced to close as wildfires rage... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): US traffic deaths soar to highest total in 16 years; Australian Greens hope election focus on climate will bring their biggest ever representation; The small, local GA election with major climate significance; Air Pollution Can Mean More, or Fewer, Hurricanes; EV sales see exponential growth curves; Environmental groups oppose extending life of CA nuke plant; Carbon Dioxide pipelines are going dangerously unregulated... PLUS: Vast swath of US at risk of summer blackouts, regulators warn... and much, MUCH more! ...
We've got an amazing --- and chilling --- story for you on today's BradCast, about what has turned into a wave of proprietary voting system software theft in several key swing-states since Trump pretended the election was stolen in 2020. But the most disturbing part is that many of these thefts having been carried out by or with the help of actual elected GOP election officials in several states! And there is one in particular, in Georgia, which has just come to light which we focus on today, because our quick-thinking guest actually recorded a damning phone call she received from someone who claims to have been a part of that scheme. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Before we get there today, however, we've got a very (too) quick round-up of results from Tuesday's primary elections in North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho and Pennsylvania, and some news on several of them that you may not have heard elsewhere. Among the most noteworthy of those races...
THEN, it's on to the remarkable story of GOP election insiders in critical swing-states such as Michigan, Colorado, Ohio and Georgia, who, following the 2020 election, conspired with a cabal of election denying Team Trumpers to breach secure facilities in elections offices. They made illegal image copies of hard drives from key voting system computers containing sensitive, proprietary software and voter databases in at least 8 counties across the country...for some reason.
Part of this story is newly revealed evidence about one such a case in Coffee County, Georgia, which includes a damning recorded phone call received by our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance. The caller admits to an elaborate scheme to copy and analyze hard drive data from the county that Trump is said to have won by about 40 points. He also told Marks that he hacked into her legislative filings in her long-running lawsuit against the state, which seeks to replace Georgia's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with simple, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots.
You'll need to tune in for the full details on this story. It's broad and, at times, complicated. And, yes, we share some of the disturbing audio from that phone call to Marks from an Atlanta bail bondsman by the name of Scott Hall who brags about chartering a jet to Coffee County with a group that "scanned all the equipment, imaged all the hard drives and scanned every single ballot" with "the entire elections committee there" who, he claims on the call, said "we give you the permission. Go for it."
We pull together a bunch of threads from a bunch of investigative news sources (as well as some of our own reporting) on all of this, on the broad scheme carried out by some of Trump's top "Stop the Steal" compatriots and the almost inconceivable lack of apparent investigation --- or worse, cover-up --- by GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger regarding the still mysterious incident in Coffee County.
As noted, you'll need to tune in for the full details, but among the stories and recent detailed investigative reports referenced and/or cited in our coverage today...
Among the questions discussed with Marks: What the hell is going on here? Is it a violation of state and/or federal law to make discreet imaged copies of this software? Why was Team Trump doing it in the first place? Is Sec. Raffensperger's office investigating what happened in Coffee County, GA or not (they are offering conflicting statements, including in Marks' legal case challenging the use of the state's Dominion touchscreens)? What kind of threat does all of this pose to elections around the county in 2022 and 2024 in Georgia (their midterm primaries are next week) and in the many other states which use the very same software --- now stolen by these people --- to run their elections?
"Certainly they were violating state and federal laws," Marks tells me. "The difficult part of this is It puts virtually all states that are using the Dominion system --- without doing thorough audits and [using] hand-marked paper ballots --- it puts all of these at risk."
"If what Scott Hall and other have said happened truly happened, then there are people who have unauthorized copies of software off the server and off of all of the components," she explains. "These people can now craft and test malware and how to exploit the vulnerabilities in an election."
Marks believes the initial effort was meant "to try to find evidence or perhaps even fabricate evidence," regarding the 2020 election. But it has since gone far beyond that.
Raffensperger, she says, is offering "nothing but stonewalling" and "is telling different things to different people." She notes there is "no record of opening an investigation" in Coffee. That, as the Secretary's second-in-command, Gabe Sterling, seemed to suggest in a recent court deposition that there WAS an investigation of the server in Coffee, that it was actually quietly seized by the state, but that he "can't remember" the findings from the inquiry.
"There are many mysteries to unfold here. We don't know who has been in the system and how far any malware may have spread if it were implanted." She warns the Secretary's office and state Elections Board "want to hide their heads in the sand despite" the mounds of recent investigative reporting (as linked above) on what is going on here.
"The system has been breached," Marks cautions chillingly, before explaining what must be done now to safeguard our elections --- including from insider election officials who have now put our entire democracy at very serious risk. Even hand-marked paper ballots, she notes, are still tabulated by these same computer systems.
"Remember, the remedy we are seeking [in our suit] is not simply hand-marked paper ballots but hand-marked paper ballots with very thorough audits. IF we get the audits, yeah, there can be hacking but any outcome-changing hack will be detected and can be corrected," Marks argues. "While you can't get rid of the risk, you can remedy that risk."
Again, much more detail on today's show. It's a doozy. Please tune in...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: It's primary election day in five states, with voting system problems reported in at least three counties in one of them, as the President traveled to upstate New York to condemn white supremacist "terrorism" and grieve with the community following Saturday's racist massacre at a neighborhood grocery story in a predominately black area of Buffalo. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
FIRST UP, a bit of seemingly encouraging breaking news just before airtime today from the New York Times. They report that the Dept. of Justice "has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for transcripts of interviews it is conducting behind closed doors, including some with associates of former President Donald J. Trump." The paper describes the news as "further evidence of the wide-ranging nature of the department’s criminal inquiry into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol and the role played by Mr. Trump and his allies as they sought to" steal the 2020 election.
That sounds like encouraging news, even if the Times, for some absurd reason, describes the effort to steal the election as an attempt "to keep him in office after his defeat in the 2020 election." Normal humans would describe it simply as an attempt to steal an election. Our corporate media, and even most Democratic officials, for reasons I cannot explain, do not do so. In any event, sounds like good news no matter how stupidly the Times is reporting on it.
NEXT, it's midterm primary day in Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho, North Carolina (where insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn is running for his life) and Pennsylvania (where Dems see one of their best opportunities to flip a Republican-held U.S. Senate seat.) We'll have noteworthy results on tomorrow's program, but today we focus on three counties in PA, where voters were reporting problems simply trying to cast their vote.
In Berks county "widespread" problems were reported apparently with the County's new electronic pollbooks made by ES&S, just added to polling places countywide for the first time this year. Those new computers were added to the complicated mix of high-tech equipment already forced on voters in Berks, where residents are required to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device computers at the precinct. It was a full two and a half hours after polls opened before officials finally deployed backup paper pollbooks(!)to all locations in the county, so voters could finally vote. It's unclear whether the systems simply didn't work, or election officials didn't make sure to properly train poll workers to use them. Either way, voters couldn't vote for hours and some were undoubtedly disenfranchised entirely because emergency paper ballots were not supplied either, according to one state Rep. who said he was held up for hours (though he appears to have misreported the problem as one with voting machines, as opposed to the e-pollbooks.)
In Alleghany County (home of Pittsburgh), some precincts reportedly opened hours late, due to a mix of problems, including lack of keys to get into precincts or a lack of Election Judges in some case, thanks to COVID. At least they respect their voters enough there to allow them to vote on simple, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots (with simple paper pollbooks) ... once the polls finally opened, in any event.
In Luzerne, a Republican-leaning county with a history of voting system issues, it was reportedly the touchscreen voting machines made by Dominion that held up voters, though the Chair of the County's Board of Elections seemed happy to throw poll workers under the bus for what she described as "human error". That, instead of taking blame for forcing those over-worked, under-paid workers to use overly complicated computer systems with a lack of training, in order to eventually (maybe) allow voters to cast unverifiable ballots on touchscreen voting systems after they manage to sign in with e-pollbook computers made by ES&S.
THEN, we head to Buffalo for President Biden's remarks to victims of Saturday's mass shooting by an 18-year old white supremacist who killed 10 and wounded 3 with a Bushmaster assault rifle in a matter of minutes in a predominately African-American neighborhood. The massacre came just three days after a Trump-appointed federal appeals court judge issued a ruling overturning California's law banning semiautomatic weapons purchases for those under the age of 21, finding the law to be an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment.
In his Wednesday ruling, Judge Ryan Nelson cited "the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army" in "reaffirm[ing] that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.” Never mind that young adults during the Revolutionary War used rifles that fired one shot at a time after being laboriously loaded through their muzzle --- as opposed to the semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle used to shoot more than a dozen, including an armed guard, in mere seconds on Saturday in Buffalo.
Biden said today that the nation must "reject the lie" of "replacement theory" spread the far-right, Fox "News" and GOP elected officials, while describing America's diversity as its strength. He derided the "hateful minority" who spread the lie "for power, political gain and for profit" --- as Fox' Tucker Carlson has done hundreds of times on his primetime show and as GOP House Leadership's Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate NY has recently done in her campaign ads.
"Evil will not win," the President vowed in moving and powerful remarks which we share at length. "Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word," Biden said, charging that "hate and fear have been given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America."
FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for a few thoughts on all of the above, as well as our latest Green News Report. Among the matters she covers today: a new analysis finding wildfires are likely to double across the U.S. in the next several decades; while Russia has used energy as a weapon in its war on Ukraine, they are now threatening to cause a global food crisis as well; and while the state of California recently became powered by 100% renewable electricity for a short time, the state of Texas is, once again amid another heat wave, having trouble even keeping their lights on...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: New national analysis warns wildfire risk to double across the U.S. over next 30 years; Extreme drought and Russia's war in Ukraine risk triggering global wheat shortage; California briefly hits milestone of 100% renewable electricity!; PLUS: Texas electric grid struggles amid extremely early extreme heat... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): John Oliver explains America’s electric utilities; Creaky US power grid is critical factor limiting renewables, and anything else; Buffalo suspect may be latest mass shooter claiming to be motivated by 'eco-fascism'; Menaced by flames, nuclear lab peers into future of wildfire; 6 months in, Biden’s infrastructure plan has 4,300 projects; The 'Carbon Bombs' set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown; Study says warming played a role in deadly South African floods; GOP lawsuit targets CA's Clean Air Act Waiver... PLUS: Climate change is hurting insurers, report finds... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast, after another brutal weekend of brutal news, we're delighted to be joined by two guests with some ideas on where to find hope and how to restore the nation's moral center --- if we can still find one. (If we ever had one.) [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
First up today, we're delighted to be joined by Bishop WILLIAM J. BARBER, II of Repairers of the Breach and KENIA ALCOCER of the California Poor People's Campaign. Both were kind enough to join us just an hour or so before tonight's rally and march at L.A. City Hall, being lead by both groups. It is part of their "National Call for Moral Revival" in advance of next month's "Mass Poor People's & Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls," on June 18th.
Sadly, we begin with Barber's response to horrific hate crime near Buffalo, New York on Saturday, where an 18-year old white supremacist, geared up with semi-automatic weaponry and body armor shot and killed 10 and wounded three others at a neighborhood supermarket. Eleven of those shot were black, as the shooter drove some 200 miles to target members of the predominately black neighborhood in upstate NY. That shooting wasn't the only hate crime mass shooting over the weekend, unfortunately.
"The question is, who radicalized them? Where do they get radicalized from?," asks Barber. (We discuss that a bit later in the show as well, see below.) "The way public policy is framed, people saying 'If you give people health care it will destroy the country. If you give people a living wage it will undermine and take things from you.' That language, 't will take things and destroy people's lives,' gives people, too often, the license to do awful, hideous, evil and deadly things."
"We must challenge it," he says. "Which is one of the reasons we are calling people for the coming together of all of us on June 18th, for love, for justice for truth, forward progress in this country to address 5 interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, denial of healthcare and the war economy, and to challenge the false moral narrative of religious nationalism and white supremacy. We must do these things united, together, and no longer separately and in individual silos."
We also discussed, with both Barber and Alcocer, the reason and hopes for tonight's rally at City Hall and the major event scheduled for next month in D.C.; the plight of poor and low-income Americans even before COVID made everything worse; why the corporate media (and both major political parties) tend to ignore the poor of all colors; whether or not protests and marches still matter; and why voting still matters despite --- or, perhaps, especially --- given all of the above.
"Everything is so interconnected that we need to fight everything today and now," Alcocer explains. "And talk about the vote in a way that's inspiring, where people turn back and say 'I vote and nothing happens.' We're voting, but we're also making the work on the ground to make sure that those votes are not the ONLY things that we're doing. We're also organizing on the ground. We're creating our own survival projects. We're coming together and fighting back for our rights."
Barber, who founded the critical Moral Mondays movement of protests and marches in North Carolina beginning in 2013 says that, yes, protests still matter. "But it's not just the march itself. It's not one day, it's a declaration. You're not going to do just one march --- you have to be consistent." He cites four years of Moral Monday in NC as helping to highlight and push back against extremism by the state's elected officials. "We are saying there must be a moral reset, there must be consistency, there must be a willingness to engage in non-violent marches but also non-violent actions, and maybe even necessary civil disobedience when that time comes."
He discusses the under estimated voting power of poor people who now make up 32% of the national electorate as "the greatest sleeping giant in this country." Barber tells me "it's not about doing one thing, it's about consistency. June 18th is a declaration, not a day. It's a movement, not a moment."
"Nothing we have ever won in this country from a progressive standpoint ever happened just because of one march or one instant. You have to stay there, and stay there, and stay there, and keep on and keep on, and break through that way. It can't be a sprint, it has to be a marathon," he adds.
Also today, some news on tomorrow's midterm primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho and Pennsylvania, particularly the battle for the soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat in PA, where Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring. On that, there were several pieces of major news this weekend. One is that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the leading Democratic candidate for the Senate nomination, suffered a stroke on Friday. He said over the weekend, however, that he is "feeling much better," that doctors told him he "didn't suffer any cognitive damage", and that he is on his way to "a full recovery". The 52-year old Fetterman vowed: "Our campaign isn't slowing down one bit, and we are still on track to win this primary on Tuesday, and flip this Senate seat in November."
Incredibly, Fetterman wasn't the only prominent Dem to suffer what was hopefully a minor stroke this weekend. Maryland's U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Sunday that he has been told by doctors that there will be no long-term effects or damage from a "minor stroke" he also suffered over the weekend.
On the GOP side of the PA contest for the U.S. Senate seat, regarded as one of the Democrats' best chances to flip a Republican seat, far-right QAnon-supporting, election-denying, insurrection-attending Kathy Barnette is said to be surging and now in a statistical dead-heat with the Trump-endorsed TV doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz. So a Republican who his even Trumpier than the Trump-endorsed candidate could become the GOP nominee on Tuesday.
Finally, we spend some time on the weekend's two mass-shooting hate crimes. News broke late today here in Southern California that the suspect at the Sunday shooting at a Laguna Woods church was a 68-year old Chinese immigrant from Las Vegas who was believed to be targeting the Taiwanese immigrants meeting for Sunday services and lunch at the Geneva Presbyterian. That church has been hosting services for the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church for the past decade. One man was killed and others --- including an 86-year old woman and four men aged 66, 92, 82 and 75 --- were also wounded. But law enforcement officers says that "extraordinary heroism" by members of the congregation, who hog-tied the man with an extension chord after the pastor struck him with a chair while he was reloading one of two guns --- prevented much more carnage, with some 40 parishioners in the building at the time.
In the New York massacre, the killer was reportedly a white nationalist who had recently published a 180-page, hate-filled manifesto, frequenting citing the racist, far-right, so-called "Great Replacement" theory that, in the U.S., claims Democrats are trying to replace white American citizens with immigrants, Jews and people of color. It's the theory espoused by the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville back in 2017 who chanted "Jews will not replace us!" (Trump called them "very fine people") and by folks in Rightwing media like Tucker Carlson at Fox "News". A study by the New York Times discovered some 400 instances where Carlson has forwarded the theory.
"I know that the left and all the gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” Carlson said on his show last year, by way of just one example. "But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually, let’s just say it. That’s true."
Unfortunately, it's not just Carlson. It's also elected Republican officials like Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate NY, the third-ranking member of GOP House Leadership, who last year ran an ad campaign on Facebook espousing the same hateful conspiracy theory, charging "radical Democrats" were planning to "grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants [to] overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington." Her hometown paper in Albany described the ads as "despicable"...
It's another one of those BradCasts where our disgraced former President casts a very long shadow. We've got way too much breaking news, as one accountability story after another broke today. Theoretically, that's a good thing. But you may need to take notes. We've got a lot to cover. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Among the stories covered today...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Australia's Great Barrier Reef hit with another mass coral bleaching event; Global warming a key factor in the emergence of new diseases, study confirms; Interior Dept. cancels offshore oil and gas lease sales; PLUS: Arizona and California move to enact more severe drought restrictions... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The Southwest's fires and droughts are a window into our climate change future; Salt Scourge: the dual threat of warming and rising salinity; Trump asked aides about China's "Hurricane Weapon"; California lays out plan to drastically cut fossil fuel use; North Carolina offshore wind energy lease winners announced; Climate change activist's self-immolation raises questions of faith and protest; U.S. gasoline prices hit a new high, but the oil market may signal relief; Exxon doubles down on 'advanced recycling' claims that yield few results... PLUS: Coming this summer: spiking electricity bills plus blackouts... and much, MUCH more! ...
Today on The BradCast: Sure, the supply chain was, and occasionally still is, a problem. So is Russia's war on Ukraine, obviously. But it's the greed of billionaires and the cowardice (or corruption) of public officials to do anything about that greed in this country that must be turned around in order to save the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
But, first, speaking of corruption...New numbers out today from the Labor Department suggest that inflation may have peaked before April. As the Times alerted today, "Inflation moderated slightly in April, though the 8.3% annual gain in U.S. consumer prices remained uncomfortably high." As AP trumpeted in its breaking news iPhone alert: "U.S. inflation slowed slightly last month, a tentative sign that prices may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households." Reuters: "U.S. consumer price growth slowed sharply to 0.3% in April, suggesting that inflation may have peaked." They were all similar....Well, except for Fox "News": "Inflation higher than expected in April, holding near 40-year high."
And you wonder why Rightwingers are so angry? It's still the Fox "News", stupid.
And speaking of stupid...Midterm primaries were held in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday. (Happily, unlike in Ohio last week, we saw no reports of voting problems or voting system breakdowns, so far.) As you may have noticed, pretty much every news report about Tuesday's results focused on what they mean for Donald Trump and his party and the candidates he endorsed. The incumbent U.S. House member that Trump endorsed in WV who ran for the GOP nomination against another incumbent U.S. House member who voted for Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill won on Tuesday. Kingmaker Trump's power over the party is still strong! But the 8-time accused sexual harasser that Trump endorsed and stumped for in NE's GOP Gubernatorial primary lost. Trump's influence may be faltering!
As we discuss today, that framing by the corporate media --- reporting on these critical elections through the lens of Trump --- is wildly unhelpful and ill-serves the public at a time when democracy itself is on the line this November (and in 2024). It's not about Trump. He's already captured and broken the party. And that is true if he drops dead tomorrow and Ron DeSantis --- or anyone else --- takes his place. The damage is done. So, how can we fix it? Much more on that on today's show.
And speaking of failures all around... as the nation's death toll from COVID hits a staggering 1 million... The nation's corporations and rich people are doing just fine, thanks.
Big Oil continues to raise prices at the pump for consumers by pretending that its caused by post-pandemic supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, even as they continue to rake in record profits (not revenue, but profits) in recent months. The profiteering --- under the guise of supply chain-induced "inflation" --- is also seen in other industries, of course, including the food industry, as well as the apparel business. In their latest reports on the industry profiteering, Accountable.us President Kyle Herrig appropriately derides "the industries most unapologetic about charging their customers more during a fragile economic recovery, apparently just because they can." And they can, because we let them develop monopolies and near-monopolies so there is little or no price competition left in the "free market".
And then there are the the nation's 727 billionaires whose growth in net worth over the two-plus years of the pandemic --- while you were struggling to stay employed, housed and fed --- is up $1.71 trillion from March 2020 to May 2022. That's a gain of more than the entire annual GDP of Canada for just those 727 U.S. billionaires. The biggest winner seems to have been Elon Musk, whose personal wealth was valued at just under $25 billion in March of 2020. Now, after two years of a pandemic economy, his wealth is said to be $255 billion as of the beginning of this month.
How did that happen? Why did that happen? What can and should be done about it? And does anyone in D.C. --- any one, from any party --- have the courage and ability to lead the nation to do anything about it?
All of those questions and more are answered today by our guest, OMAR OCAMPO of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, who asks today, "What about the rest of us? The median income, comparing 2020 to 2021, for your average U.S. worker has actually decreased by $2,000. And our median household wealth, comparing 2019 to 2001, has actually decreased. So yes, when you look at it by income or wealth percentile, it has been the top 10%, but especially the top 1%, that have seen impressive gains."
Ocampo helps explain how it happened, and what steps can and must be made to reverse this obscene continuing trend. Among the policy ideas discussed --- several of which have long been pushed by members of the progressive caucus in Congress --- a wealth tax on the assets of the richest Americans; partial student loan forgiveness; establishing a federal Commission on Profiteering, empowered with the ability to claw back some of what has been robbed from American consumers; strengthening organized labor and democracy itself.
And, yes, he explains, that will mean voting for more Democrats in Congress and at all levels of government. Hopefully good ones. Or this is going to continue to get much, much worse.
"The Republicans, from an ideological perspective, they are not interested in having some type of government intervention in order to solve societal problems," Ocampo charges. "They normally pivot towards philanthropy. But now is not the time to pivot to philanthropy, mainly because philanthropy does not scale, and it also denies public accountability for social problems or things that have to deal with the public good. So issues that affect the public should involve public input, and it should be carried out by democratic institutions."
"Economic inequality translates into political inequality. And the greater your material resources, the greater your access to participate in the state," he tells me. "This is very detrimental to democracy, because it makes the democratic institutions unresponsive to what the majority wants. The majority wants increased taxes on the wealthy, but it never seems to happen. That's probably because of their influence they have on both political parties."
"Elections matter, and to alleviate, especially in the short term, it would be best to elect Democrats. Because there is a section of the Democratic Party, specifically those that self-identify as progressives, who care about wealth inequality and know that it has distorting effects across our whole society."
Finally today, speaking of things getting much worse... Democrats held a show vote in the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights (the Constitutional freedoms about to be taken away by the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court) after the Women's Health Protect Act was already passed by Democrats in the House. As expected, all Republicans and Joe Manchin voted against it, so the measure failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to do almost anything in the undemocratic Senate.
And, also breaking during today's program, an insane, corrupted federal appeals court in California decided that the state's law restricting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms to those 21 or older is a violation of the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. So, yup, apparently 12-year olds in CA can now buy semi-automatic weapons! Have fun, kids!
Did I mention we need more democracy and fewer corrupted federal judges? Yeah, that also comes with voting. Please get busy. Thanks...
I guess I'll have to keep saying it damn near every day on The BradCast between now and November (and probably for the next two years thereafter, at this rate), but anyone who tells you they know what's gonna happen in his year's elections, is just making it up outta whole cloth. Everything is changing every single day and all of it is going to effect what happens next. [Audio link to full show follows below.]
For example, before we get to our guest today, some quick news on the fallout from the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court's likely plan to overturn 50 years of freedom for American women's healthcare by overturning the Constitutional right to an abortion established in 1973's Roe v. Wade.
The news has been so alarming to so many that even Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), a long time "pro-lifer", now says he plans to vote for the Women's Health Protection Act in the Senate this week to codify abortion rights into federal law. At the same time, new polling taken last week, after the leak of Alito's draft majority opinion that would overturn 'Roe', finds both good and suggestively helpful news for Democratic candidates paying attention.
The poll from Yahoo News/YouGov finds, once again, that a large majority of Americans do not want Roe overturned. More importantly, for democracy itself, voters in the survey support a generic Democratic over a generic Republican on their Congressional ballots by a 5-point margin (44% to 39%). But here's where the polling is really enlightening: "[W]hen voters were asked to choose instead between a 'pro-choice Democrat' and a 'pro-life Republican,' GOP support fell to 31% while Democratic support held steady --- more than doubling the gap between the two candidates, to 13 percentage points."
Got that, Dems?
That's just one of too many wildcards between now and November that make any sort of punditry largely useless. Another one? Well, Donald Trump's former Sec. of Defense Mark Esper was on Fox "News" this week confirming to Brett Baier that, yes, given the events of January 6th, 2021 and some other stuff, he believes "Donald Trump was a threat to democracy." Ouch.
Speaking of the January 6 insurrection and threats to American democracy, we're joined once again today by Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, President and co-founder of Free Speech for People (FSFP), the non-profit, non-partisan good governance group helping voters to challenge the eligibility for reelection of elected officials who have "engaged insurrection" in violation of the Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" (14th Amendment, Section 3).
Bonifaz was with us several weeks ago following the sworn testimony of challenged Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who hedged and/or lied and/or "can't recalled" her way through questioning before an Administrative Law Judge in Atlanta. Greene claimed she couldn't remember whether she suggested that Trump invoke Martial Law (she did), whether she said Nancy Pelosi was "a traitor to the country" (she did, and admitted as much after it was clear that FSFP's attorneys questioning her had the video evidence), or that she even opposed the peaceful transfer of power on January 6th (yup, she did that on video too.)
On Friday, the state Administration Law Judge who oversaw the hearing, Charles Beaudrot, released his decision in the case, recommending that GA's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger not disqualify Greene from the ballot for lack of evidence from the challengers. But Beaudrot's 19-page decision [PDF] --- and Raffensperger's subsequent rubber stamp [PDF] --- "betrays the fundamental purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and gives a pass to political violence as a tool for disrupting and overturning free and fair elections," said FSFP in response. Bonifaz, today, describes major legal errors that he says must be reversed.
For example, Beaudrot completely ignored the evidence of text messages Greene sent to Trump's then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on invoking Martial Law and Greene's own video on social media declaring, "you can't allow it to just transfer power peacefully, the way Joe Biden wants, and allow him to become our President."
Beaudrot "treats her as a credible witness," in his decision, charges Bonifaz, with "nothing about her as a witness who is not credible on the stand under oath, saying she couldn't remember, couldn't recall more than 80 times. Then you add that to the fact that days after her testimony, the revelation of the text she sent to Mark Meadows, where she did in fact advocate that Trump impose martial law to stay in power."
On top of that, he explains, the Judge also offers yet another reason to appeal. "The Georgia Supreme Court stated that, under Georgia law, 'The entire burden is placed upon the candidate to affirmatively establish their eligibility for office.' That's what the law is. [But] days before this hearing began, [Beaudrot] shifted the standard --- he reversed the burden of proof, and said it was not going to be on the candidate, it was going to be on challengers, contrary to that Supreme Court ruling."
FSFP is appealing the decision on behalf of the voter challengers they represent in GA's 14th Congressional District to Fulton County (Atlanta) Superior Court. "That's going to be before one judge. If we prevail, I'm sure Greene's attorneys will appeal to the state supreme court." Bonifaz says they plan to make every challenge possible through both the primary and general election, if necessary.
"We are not, on our end, giving up in any way," he vows. "The evidence is overwhelming that Marjorie Taylor-Greene engaged in insurrection, that she's disqualified, and our clients want us to proceed --- the voters in her district who are courageous to stand up on this --- they have been done an injustice by Judge Beaudrot."
The Greene case in GA is not the only challenge to alleged insurrectionist candidates for office. FSFP also challenged the eligibility of Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, where a federal Appeals Court judge was seemingly stunned last week by his defense attorney's claim at their hearing that, yes, a 12-year old could run for Congress and nobody in the state could challenge that Constitutional deficiency, that it would be solely up to Congress to determine who is eligible to be seated as a member. A ruling from that 3-judge appellate panel is due soon.
And in Arizona, where the indefatigable FSFP is representing voters challenging the candidacies of Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, along with AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed Republican running for Sec. of State this year, the state Supreme Court on Monday denied the right for voters to challenge candidates at all based on the Insurrection Disqualification Clause. They determined [PDF] that "no private right of action exists under the United States Constitution or Arizona law" to challenge candidates under the 14th Amendment and that "the Constitution reserves the determination of the qualifications of members of Congress exclusively to the U.S. House of Representatives."
Bonifaz disagrees, but concedes the group is out of court options in the state. However, he explains, the Secretary of State has the final word on ballot eligibility. In this case, that would be Democrat Katie Hobbs, who they've asked to disqualify the candidates. While that might otherwise be encouraging news, it should be noted that Hobbs is also on the ballot this year running for Governor. That could restrict her political options in a matter like this...but we'll see. But credit to FSFP for fighting as hard and as long as possible!
And, yes, Bonifaz tells me, the group intends to bring challenges, on the same Constitutional basis, against Donald Trump if he runs again in 2024. "Absolutely," he vows.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as "unprecedented" wind and heat in New Mexico are fanning out-of-control wildfires across the state, endangering thousands of homes and other structures. Also, wildfires in Russian Siberia are out of control as the military, which usually tensd to them, are otherwise occupied of late fighting Putin's war on Ukraine. But she's got some good news too, about cow burps! That alone may be worth tuning in for!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Raging wildfires force new evacuations in New Mexico; Fires in Siberia spreading out of control because the Russian military is otherwise busy; California approves plan to cut cow burps; PLUS: Arctic wildfire soot is causing Arctic ice to melt even faster... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Earth given 50-50 chance of hitting key warming mark by 2026; More human remains found in Lake Mead amid historic low water levels; Heat pumps do work in the cold - Americans just don't know it yet; Coal generating unit catches fire, spews more air pollution in Texas; Analysis shows climate computer models were spot on; The US only recycled about 5 percent of plastic waste last year; Brazil's Amazon deforestation hits record for month of April; 'Hard decisions will have to be made' as Arizona's water crisis deepens; How Alito tipped his climate hand in anti-abortion draft... PLUS: Extinction obituary: why experts weep for the quiet and beautiful Hawaiian po'ouli... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: The lengths Donald Trump's supporters will go to to justify his sore loser attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election is amazing. Now they've got a pretend documentary in hundreds of actual movie theaters which turns out to prove nothing. All of it, naturally, is nonsense. We explain why today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]
Folks on the right were celebrating on social media over the weekend in the wake of the release of a film named (somewhat offensively) 2000 Mules. It was somehow released into more than 250 theaters across the nation last week. The film was made by Rightwing activist Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to federal election fraud crimes back in 2014 --- before being pardoned for them by Trump in 2018. That's the guy who has now made a "documentary" claiming millions of votes were stuffed into absentee ballot drop-boxes in swing states to steal the election for Joe Biden in2020. Sounds legit.
The claim is made along with fellow GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters from a long-discredited Texas group named True the Vote. Apparently, the group paid millions to obtain publicly available, anonymized cell phone geolocation data that purportedly shows where cell phones were from October 1 through Election Day in 2020. Using that data, TTV claims in the film that thousands of so-called ballot "mules" were being paid by unnamed non-profit organizations (why didn't they name them?) to collect illegal ballots for Joe Biden and deliver them into ballot drop boxes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
If all of this sounds absurd, it's because it is. The data can't actually be tied to any voter --- and is only accurate to about 100 feet, according to experts --- meaning that anytime someone drove past a drop box, or walked passed it (the drop-boxes are often placed in high traffic areas) on their way to and from work or something, they are a "mule" for stuffing ballot boxes for Joe Biden! Sorry about that delivery guys and mail men and election workers and students who just happen to walk or drive by each day on their way to classes! You're all now "mules" for Biden!
Who paid all of these "mules"? And how did this conspiracy involving tens of thousands of people stay so quiet without any participants blowing the whistle? And what actual, ya know, evidence do D'Souza and True the Vote have that crimes were actually committed here? Well, that's where it gets a bit dicier. And, by dicier, I mean made up out of whole cloth with no actual proof of anything whatsoever. But they have video of people dropping ballots into those drop-boxes! (Which, of course, is perfectly legal. In most states, folks can delivery ballots of family members and disabled voters, etc. Perhaps that's why the filmmakers thought it wise to blur out the faces of those voters?) There seems to be no actual proof of crimes here, including who supposedly paid these people (or even that anybody was paid at all!)
Still, it was enough to cause easily-duped Rightwingers to become very excited about over the weekend, as the #2000Mules hashtag trended on social media. So today, we debunk the nonsense in some detail with an assist from AP, who finds "gaping holes" in the film's claims, and from Greg Palast, who explains the "belly laughs" provided by the film's "proof" of fraud.
"D’Souza’s charge is mind-blowing. He claims that there are as many 54,000 mules that were organized and paid in at least five big cities. In Fulton County (Atlanta), he tells us 92,670 ballots were stuffed illegally into drop boxes," Palast reports. "That’s astonishing --- because there were only 79,000 ballots cast in drop boxes in Fulton County!"
"And in Detroit, it was worse," he adds. "'Mules' stuffed 226,590 ballots into Detroit area drop boxes --- way more than the total number of all mail-in ballots --- about three times the number of ballots in drop boxes."
Of course, none of these facts kept Trump from holding a fancy premiere screening at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and declaring the pretend documentary exposed "great election fraud"! It's all so ridiculously silly, that we'd rather ignore it. But since it's in 270 theaters, brought in a million bucks on its first day, and has a bunch of duped wingnuts declaring they finally have "evidence" that the election was stolen in 2020...it seemed a good idea to help you understand this latest con so you can explain it to your duped friends, families, neighbors and co-workers in turn when they shout "2000 Mules!" at you in the days ahead.
As to actual election fraud (not unlike the type that the filmmaker D'Souza admitted to committing), last week a women in Arizona was sentenced on voter fraud charges after being convicted by the state's Republican Attorney General. She cast two ballots in 2020, one for herself and another for her dead mother. They were both Republicans. And when interviewed by investigators she claimed she didn't do it, but was certain that massive voter fraud was definitely going on and that the criminals who do it should be locked up!
Well, the nice white Republican voter fraudster woman was found guilty and, despite the prosecutors asking for at least 30 days in jail, the judge let the woman, 64-year old, Tracey Kay McKee --- who knew she was violating the law and then lied to officials about it --- off the hook with probation, some fines and community service.
Compare her case to Crystal Mason's --- a black mother of three in Texas --- who had the book thrown at her last year. She was on federally supervised release from jail and was never told she couldn't vote while on release. When she went to her precinct to vote, she was told she was no longer on the rolls. A helpful poll worker directed her to fill out a provisional ballot, which she did. The ballot was never tallied, but Mason was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison last year for attempting to vote while on supervised release when she believed she could do so legally. That'll teach her to be black and to try to vote in this country!
We've got some time for a few quick calls at the end of today's show too. Enjoy!...
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