On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman became the first federal judge since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 Windsor decision to uphold a state marriage-equality ban. But it's hardly the first questionable ruling by Feldman.
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I spoke with Grapski, who heads up PhotographyIsNotACrime.com's new Opens Records Project, concerning his tireless efforts to obtain the real Incident Report and other documentation of Brown's shooting from either department --- if such documentation actually exists, as is required by law.
Grapski explains that, based on some pretty solid evidence he's received in response to his open records requests to date, he believes "it's more likely than not" that an actual Incident Report of the event was created by the police, but that "they have withheld it." If so, that would amount to a criminal cover-up and a very serious violation of the law. Listen to my full conversation with him for much more.
He's been at work on the bill long before the local "RoboCops" hit the streets when Ferguson, Missouri blew up recently after the police killing of Michael Brown. As Johnson described the legislation in his March 2014 USA Today op-ed, presciently headlined "Small town American shouldn't resemble a war zone", the bill would "ban MRAPs, other armored personnel carriers, drones, assault weapons and aircraft" from being transferred to local police departments under the Pentagon's "1033 Program" and "ensure that the Department of Defense undertakes an annual accounting of what's been transferred, by whom and to whom to prevent military items from being auctioned on eBay or sold to friends."
"My main hope is to stop the flow of this military grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies throughout America," Johnson told me during our interview today. "We've been flooding the streets with this surplus military weaponry, and I think the situation in Ferguson exemplifies what happens when you have too much powerful equipment in the hands of folks who don't have the judgment or the training to utilize it properly."
But has the horse already left the barn on this issue? And does the Congressman stand a chance of getting his bill through our broken U.S. Congress, even with some apparent bi-partisan support for curbing police militarization from folks like Republican 2016 Presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, who recently called for the same in a Time magazine op-ed? You'll have to listen below to hear Johnson's thoughts on those questions.
After the Congressman left, I discussed a few other related items, such as the voter registration drive now taking place in Ferguson, and took a bunch of calls on all of the above, including at least one amazing one, in which the caller named "Al" insisted that "minorities are in worse shape than they've ever been" in this country. He says that "since 1965 we have been going down hill as a nation." Hmm... I wonder what might have happened during that year to make him feel that way?
It also allowed me to rant a bit about connect a few dots between things like last weekend's aborted "recount" in the California Controller's primary election (which, as I reported earlier this week, helped draw a roadmap for how to steal an election in this state with little likelihood of being caught), and the more-than-decade-long fight for election integrity, including the continuing fight for actual citizen oversight of public elections, which both Ennis and I have waged in parallel journeys.
Moreover, it allowed me to connect some dots again between things like the infamous Citizen's United decision, which cut off much hope for election integrity at its knees in 2010, and the emergence of the mainstream Republican global warming denialist movement. Yes, the two issues are directly connected. (For more on that, which I didn't get time to fully cover on the show as hoped, see this.)
Finally, it also allowed me to talk about, and play some great clips from, three of my favorite election integrity documentaries (one of them Ennis' Free For All: One Dude's Quest to Save Democracy), which we made available as premiums for listeners pledging support for KPFK's fund drive. (And you are still welcome to call the number and offer your support as well, if you like!)
In other words, there was a lot packed in to this week's 58 minutes, including a lot of bullshit to dispel, a bunch of great callers, and even one who totally disagreed with me on e-cigs and children. That was fun.
P.S. During the show, a caller questioned the facts of a quote I read on air from a press release issued today by the Freedom to Marry organization, citing the first Mississippi mayor to call for marriage equality in the state. The quote in question was from the group's President Evan Wolfson, who said in the statement: "More same-sex couples are raising children in Mississippi than in any other state."
The caller, appropriately, challenged the veracity of the statement, and I promised I'd look into the details, since I had just received the release prior to air time and didn't have the details handy. Now I do. Here's where that claim comes from...
This case --- and NC's law --- are really amazing. Most importantly, the results of this challenge, and the way the VRA must now be used to fight to protect voters from discriminatory laws, will be very important to similar challenges now pending across the country. In other words, this fight is important to NC, but it's arguably even more important to the entire nation.
See my thoughts on that, the Dems who were helping to pass the terrible Republican bill, some other recent voting news (both good and bad) for California, and a few other related thoughts (like who I really blame for all the Supreme Court disasters of late) in my interview with Joan...
In related news, I hope you'll take a moment this week to read Charles Lewis' article at Politico, "Why I Left 60 Minutes", for yet another helpful reminder of the radical importance of truly independent media, and why I so much need your help to survive here to continue all that we do.
My great thanks to those who have already donated of late! But if you haven't, please consider doing so. A one time donation is great. A monthly sustaining contribution is even better, as it may help, if we can get enough of them, to bring at least some stability to what we're able to do here as we head into another general election season, and as our eleventh year fighting as many good fights as we can, continues...
MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
The case against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), charging that he ran a "criminal scheme" by coordinating his 2012 recall election campaign with about a dozen "outside" groups, is about much more than just Walker and his corruption.
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I spoke with Brendan Fischer, general counsel at the Center for Media and Democracy about what could be the very last piece of campaign finance law to fall in the wake of 2010's Citizens United and 2014's McCutcheon rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. Depending on how the challenge against the case against Walker goes, there may be nothing left that keeps candidate campaigns from putting unlimited, undisclosed millions to work in buying our elections. In short, as I discussed with Fischer, democracy could well become even more hosed than it already is in this country. Who knew that was even possible, at this point?
Dick and Dubya are back in the news! Now I wonder how that might have happened. On the upside, it allowed me to play some clips on this week's show that I first put together for a show back in 2006 (or earlier?)
Anyway, we talk about all of that and more on this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, including:
P.S. We've been asking of late, but few have answered the call. Please consider supporting The BRAD BLOG with a one-time donation or a monthly sustaining donation. Everything that we do here --- including our survival and our independence and much of the exclusive reporting offered for free above --- depends on your support to help us continue. It's getting very difficult to do so. So please consider helping us out if you can afford it. Every bit really helps!
First up, a bit of a rant on a few different things, including the good news/bad news results of California's primary election for Secretary of State and the disenfranchised voters this week in Alabama's primary (and beyond!)
Next, Desi Doyen joined us for an extended Green News Report to discuss the Obama EPA's landmark announcement of newly proposed nationwide CO2 emissions reduction and the fossil fueled freakout that followed.
Finally, listener phone calls on all of the above and more! Please enjoy it!...
First up:Fred Karger joined us from the airport in Maine, fresh off his latest victory against the anti-freedom group calling itself the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Karger, a Republican and long time political consultant for campaigns such as those for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, was also the first openly gay candidate for President of the United States when he ran for the GOP nomination in 2012. On Tuesday, the state of Maine levied a record fine of more than $50,000 against NOM after finding, based on a complaint filed by Karger, that the group committed egregious campaign violations in their $2 million effort to ban marriage equality in the state 2009.
We discussed that, his similar victory out in California against NOM and the Mormon Church, the remarkable recent string of court victories in the marriage equality movement, and why the hell Karger is still a Republican.
Finally: As usual, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as the state of California learns the very very sad news that the fracking reserves in the Monterey Shale oil fields have only been over-estimated by some 2300%!
It was a very independent and very activist-y BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio this week, on a whole bunch of levels.
First up: Christina Tobin, Founder & Chair of The Free & Equal Elections Foundation --- and co-moderator, with Larry King, of the 2012 Presidential Debate where all of the major candidates were invited (as opposed to to just two of them). We discussed her group and their upcoming United We Stand Fest at UCLA on May 10th, which is set to feature a ton of very cool politicians (of all parties), journalist, musicians...and me.
Next: Why Tuesday's landmark decision in a federal court in Wisconsin, striking down that state's GOP polling place Photo ID restriction law is so important to the entire nation, and why Scott Walker and a whole bunch of Republicans across the country aren't gonna like it at all.