Though I am not being paid to play, I will be speaking for free a few minutes after the 7:50p showing of documentary filmmaker John Wellington Ennis' latest years-in-the-making masterwork, Pay 2 Play: Democracy's High Stakes, on Wednesday (9/17) out here in L.A.
I'm also in the film, but don't let that keep you from coming if you're anywhere near the 'hood. As usual, our friend Mr. Ennis (director of one of my favorite Election Integrity films, FREE FOR ALL!: One Dude's Quest to Save Democracy - click that link to watch the great trailer!) has put together an ingenious, enlightening, very funny and very frustrating portrait of our post-Citizens United democracy and what the hell there is left to do about it. It also features some fantastic stories and terrific voices, many of whom you may be familiar with.
So if you're in the L.A. area on Wednesday night, please stop by for the screening and say hey afterword! Here's the deets...
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!)
While a Rightwing caller, apparently, was on hold to participate in the show, I detailed the fact that the polling place Photo ID restriction part of the GOP law (just one part of their horrific anti-voting statute) would do nothing to prevent so-called "voter fraud", since polling place impersonation is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent in this country, as this 2012 study by a non-partisan news consortium, detailing every known and/or reported incident of election or voter fraud in all 50 states going back to 2000, illustrated once again.
Once the caller "Jay" finally made it to air, his admission was quite revealing --- and even courageous --- yet illustrative of just about everything that is wrong with our corporate media (and the politics it has created) these days.
What he had to say is not what you'd probably expect. Give it a listen...
Download MP3 or listen online below. [Appx 9 mins, lightly edited to cover for a commercial break between two segments]...
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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.
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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: