After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
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.
I was proud to have the 2014 Green Party candidate for CA Sec. of State David Curtis (in photo on the left, not smiling), as my first guest this week on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast. While he and I disagree on a few important things (like Internet Voting, which he still hopes for, despite our Twitter conversation last month), there's one thing we certainly agree on: It was outrageous that he was excluded from today's SoS candidates debate held by the Sacramento Press Club. That, despite the fact that he recently polled higher than two of the candidates who were invited to participate.
[CORRECTION: On air I said that the CA statewide primary was June 2 this year. In fact, it's on Tuesday, June 3. The deadline for voter registration by mail for the primary is May 19th. You can register online here. Apologies for the error!]
As my second guest this week, I was also proud to welcome back investigative journalist Jason Leopold on the heels of his Guardian interview with Dr. James Elmer Mitchell (in photo on the right, smiling), one of the central architects of the Bush/Cheney-era CIA torture program. The interview was Mitchell's first since turning the skills he acquired as the chief psychologist at a U.S. Air Force survival school --- where U.S. troops were trained in how to avoid false confessions and propaganda under enemy torture --- into a program to use torture techniques to extract...the truth(?)...from Al Qaeda prisoners after 9/11. While we aired a few never-before-aired clips from Leopold's interview with Mitchell, there are more now available right here.
P.S. While you're listening, please consider donating to The BRAD BLOG so we can continue to afford to keep bringing you this kind of news, programming, journalism and analysis. We really need your support these days to keep going. Thanks in advance!
It was a roller-coaster of a news day today, so it was a roller-coaster of a BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio.
First, I was joined by Katie Klabusich of KatieSpeak.com and Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League (PLAL). Klabusich was recently "targeted" by PLAL on their website, for her work as an abortion clinic escort trying to help women seeking cancer screenings, termination of pregnancies, prenatal care or birth control as they face a gauntlet of anti-choice protesters.
Klabusich wrote an "Open Letter to Legislators From a Clinic Escort" this week at Truthout, calling for buffer zones around such clinics, so women can visit their doctor without harassment. Scheidler, who says he supports buffer zones around voting precincts, disagrees that buffer zones should be allowed around reproductive medical facilities. He also feels that his organization did not threaten Klabusich by posting her name, photo and the city where she lives and works and asking supporters to share it far and wide under the guise of "praying" for her.
It was an enlightening conversation with the two of them.
I haven't gotten to go to the phones for weeks on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast, so that's what we did on this week's show. No guests. Just me, a few rants, lots of callers (and, of course, Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report).
The rants included more on the mad media misinformation/neo-con war-baiting over Ukraine (which, thankfully, it appears Obama no longer seems to be falling for or taking the bait on); the Democrats woeful 2014 campaign plans and --- the one that got ALL the phone lines ringing off the hook --- the rapidly increasing media disinformation about e-cigs.
Lots of good calls, but my favorite on that last was from "David in Los Angeles". I think his opinion may be a nearly perfect distillation of the entire, insane backlash against the public health miracle that is vaping. David describes his concern: "We don't want to encourage the behavior of smoking, even if its not harmful." My question to him is, "Why?" He explains: "because it's the perceived behavior that is negative." You'll have to tune in to see how that call, and all the others, worked out.
It was a very lively show this week. Hope you'll enjoy it...
Even if you did see what happened on Tuesday, you should tune in to this week's show, as I suspect you'll get details on the various plots, cover-ups and related schemes that you haven't yet heard. I was joined to discuss the mess with our old friend Marcy Wheeler, the encyclopedic national security expert from Emptywheel.net and now Senior Policy Adviser at The Intercept.
She's been tracking this since at least 2009, and we went through the remarkable timeline beginning with Bush's "Enhanced Interrogation" torture program just after 9/11, through the CIA's attempted cover-up, shredding of videotapes and removal of documents from the Senate staffer's computers, on up to yesterday's explosive comments from DiFi and the implausible denials from CIA Chief John Brennan (and the calls for criminal charges by both parties) which Wheeler and others are now describing as a bona fide "Constitutional Crisis".
This is an extraordinary story. It's Spy v. Overseer; CIA v. U.S. Senate; Executive Branch v. Legislative Branch; DiFi v. Brennan; Hypocrisy v. Reality; Torture & Cover-ups v. Rule of Law & Constitution. And it all could, as Mother Jones' David Corn argues, very well "undermine the basis for secret government" itself.
In the second part of the show, we covered several much more encouraging news items from the past several days, as well as the latest Green News Report. Buckle up and enjoy!
On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council voted to join cities like New York and Chicago by banning e-cigarette use in the same public spaces where tobacco use is banned, such as "farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned."
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio I spoke with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) about why they voted to impose the ban, despite the dearth of evidence that e-cig 'vaping' is harmful to either the user or anyone else, and the evidence (include my own personal story) that vaping is, hands down, the most effective way for smokers to stop smoking. In fact, as I describe during the show, I view it as a "miracle" that will save countless lives and that banning it --- or making it harder to vape in any way, without good reason --- will, quite frankly, result in countless unnecessary deaths.
Even Koretz admitted during my interview that there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking".
But he was low-balling it, frankly. As you'll hearing during the show, this is a very personal issue for me. But you can decide for yourself if Koretz makes the case for the L.A. City Council's ban. Either way, the ban will only go into effect if Mayor Eric Garcetti approves it. Garcetti can be contacted here.
My great thanks to Koretz for joining us at the last minute, and for sticking around for tough questioning from both me and callers.
UPDATE 3/7/2014: PandoDaily's David Holmes pulls together a lot of the known (and unknown) information about e-cigs and describes the L.A. City Council's ordinance "to treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes" as "irrational and bad policy."
[T]his proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke.
As a former president of the American Lung Association, I have seen how e-cigarettes have become the subject of much confusion and misinformation, which has led to a classic case of guilt by association.
E-cigarettes may deliver nicotine and look like cigarettes. But there the similarities end.
Including e-cigarettes in the city's smoking ban would be a step in the wrong direction. It would send the unintended message to smokers that electronic cigarettes are as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, locking many smokers into traditional cigarette use. This is a public health outcome we do not want.
E-cigarettes are a fundamentally different product from combustible tobacco cigarettes and should not fall under the same rules and restrictions. Rather, we should encourage current smokers to move down the ladder of risk by implementing regulations that recognize these differences.
As a society, we should continue our laser focus on eliminating tobacco use. But a premature "regulate first, ask questions later" approach that equates e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco cigarettes only serves as an obstacle to that goal. The Los Angeles City Council should pause its campaign against electronic cigarettes until the FDA experts offer guidance on how the product should be regulated. To do otherwise is to ignore an opportunity to save millions of smokers from a lot of harm.
The great Joe Romm of the even greater Climate Progress returns to discuss Obama's schizophrenic "All of the Above" climate policies offered in this week's State of the Union address, and as demonstrated in the year since Romm last joined us on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast just after the 2013 Inaugural address.
As a former acting Assistant Secretary of Energy during the Clinton Administration and founder of one of the most important climate blogs going, Romm offers helpful insight on the dangers of Obama's Jekyll/Hyde energy strategy, on the likelihood of the Keystone XL pipeline receiving final White House approval, on whether Obama truly "gets it", and on the tantalizingly cool new Years of Living Dangerously series begin in April on Showtime, on which he serves as Chief Science Editor.
P.S. If you use iTunes and would like to listen to The BradCast that way, you can now subscribe (for free) over there right here. And please feel free to leave us a good review there at the same time, if you are so inclined!