The Flaming Sword of Justice, with Ben Wikler






June 2013
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When the Christian Right launched the organization "True Love Waits," they might not have been intentionally referring to the wait for a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Defense Of Marriage Act. But as of Wednesday, June 26th, 2013, the wait is over. And true love won. 

Today on the Flaming Sword of Justice, we bring you three voices from inside the struggle for equality. First, Darlene Nipper of the Task Force tells about the moment she heard the news about DOMA, reflects on the struggle to get here, and fires us up for the fights ahead. 

Then Jamie McGonnigal, who married his husband one month ago, tells us what it was like to stand in front of the Supreme Court today as the decision came down. (The first sign that we'd won? An eruption of screams.) 
And finally, in an interview recorded at the Netroots Nation conference in San Jose, Minnesota's House Majority Leader tells us the tears-inducing story of passing a marriage equality law in her own state—a law that, starting today, will be recognized nationwide.

The Defense of Marriage Act has fallen, and family values have triumphed. Don't miss this special celebratory edition of the Flaming Sword of Justice.
Direct download: Sword_2013_06_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm EDT

Remember the Dean campaign? It never ended. A decade later, the people he inspired are still winning elections coast to coast, using the idea that was always at the heart of his campaign: people powered politics.

In 2003, a 22-year-old named Arshad Hasan joined Dean's campaign for president. Today, he's preparing to depart from his post as Executive Director of Democracy for America, the organization that sprang up from the Dean community after the campaign's end. On today's Flaming Sword of Justice, recorded live at the Netroots Nation 2013 conference in San Jose, Arshad tells the story of his path to DfA—and the story of one of his proudest fights, an election battle that seasoned campaign experts were all dismissing as hopeless. 

Hearing Arshad explain what happened on that race, you can't help but get swept up in the intensity and fervor of it all. And you'll realize that when Howard Dean kept saying "this campaign is not about Howard Dean," he was right. You—we—really do have the power. 

This week, a ten years ago, Governor Dean struck a match. Today, the flame burns hot on the Flaming Sword of Justice.

Direct download: Sword_2013_06_25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm EDT

There's deadlock in DC, but in Wisconsin—as in 23 other states—Republicans have total control. So what is the party of Palin doing with all that power? 
One thing's for sure: those Republican majorities aren't interested in consensus. The GOP is ticking through its wish list (a list that includes wishes for more wishes) and ramming hard-right bills through legislatures all over the country.
Unions shut down and jobs eliminated. Women's rights abused. Votes suppressed.
And the worst part is, Wisconsin is doomed forever. 
Wait, that can't be right. There's hope! On our show today, meet two activists who are fighting extremism and trying to stem the tide—Milwaukee's Biko Baker, ED of the League of Young Voters, who tells tales from the front lines fighting GOP voter suppression, and Madison oncology nurse Anica Bausch, whose silent, nondisruptive act of dissent as the State Assembly passed an extreme anti-abortion bill led to a visit by four looming security officers.

What the Wisconsin GOP is doing is ugly. But as long as citizens are ready to fight back, nothing lasts forever. Wisconsin's long political winter isn't just about Wisconsin. It's about all of us. And together, we'll make sure that spring comes once again.
Direct download: Sword_2013_06_18_full.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:03pm EDT

The NSA vs the ACLU: one side knows everything. The other has read the Constitution very carefully. Winner gets bragging rights. And shapes the course of history.
On today's show, we'll talk to two of America's foremost experts and advocates about liberty, privacy, and digital security—and the explosive new revelations of omnipresent domestic and global surveillance by the National Security Agency. First, Ben Wizener of the ACLU will tell us about the American Civil Liberty Union's new case: a lawsuit demanding that the Obama administration bring its surveillance activities in line with the law and the US Constitution. And then we go to Margot Kaminski of Yale Law School, who expands the fight from the courts to the halls of Congress and corporate America—and explains exactly how you can help.
Direct download: Sword_2013_06_12.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:07pm EDT

Want to win an election? The formula's supposed to be simple: raise a ton of money, buy a ton of TV ads, stir in a little get-out-the-vote action, book your tickets to DC. 

Except: that's not what the research says.

A wave of political science studies have upended the conventional wisdom about what counts in politics, and suggested a very different way to win elections. And on this episode of The Flaming Sword of Justice, our guest—Becky Bond of CREDO—tells the story of how she put that research into action. While billionaires bankrolled a tidal wave of TV ads in the 2012 election cycle, her team targeted ten terrible Tea Party Republicans with the tactics suggested by scientific experiments. 

What they did, and what happened as a result, will give you hope for the future of American politics.

Direct download: Sword_2013_06_07.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

On March 25, a clothing factory caught fire. Workers ried to escape, but they found the doors locked—and 146 of them died. 

Sounds like Bangladesh. But this happened in New York City. In 1911. 

What happened after that has been written in a thousand history books: a national outcry; new legislation protecting workers' rights; and a wave of union organizing that helped transform the lives of workers in this country. 

Fast forward a century, loop around to the other side of the globe, and you'll find almost exactly the same story—fire, locked doors, death—in Bangladesh last year. But then it got worse: the factory collapse this April, a disaster far far deadlier than either fire. A gruesome story. But maybe, just maybe, another turning point. 

Maybe you've noticed: in recent weeks, under massive public pressure, more than three dozen huge clothing companies have joined a legally binding agreement for radically improved worker safety protections. On this show, we talk to three people in the heart of that fight: a California fashion industry veteran; a Bangladeshi woman who started working in a clothing factory at age 12, became a union organizer by 16, and now is leading the global fight for worker's rights there; and an international worker's rights campaigner who is helping rack up the victories. Through their stories, you'll get a taste of a life and death struggle—and, amidst tragedy, a rising tide of hope.

Direct download: Sword_2013_06_05.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:28pm EDT

When a government is doing wrong by its citizens, it never knows in advance the moment that will prove to be the last straw.
Sometimes, it's a new tax on stamps on the colonies in North America. 
Sometimes, it's the harrassment of a fruit vendor on a Tunisian street. 
And sometimes it's the arrival of bulldozers to rip out hundred-year-old trees in a Turkish park, and build yet another shopping mall in its place. 
You never know the last straw in advance. But once it's happened, there's no going back. 
On today's show, we land in the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, scene of a historic uprising—a people's revolt that began in Gezi Park and has engulfed the nation. 
Our first guest, Yigit Aksakoglu, speaks to us live from Gezi Park and tells us how it felt to be a part of the resistance.

Second, Defne Suman, whose blog post What is Happening in Istanbul? brought the protests to a worldwide audience, talks about the affect the protests are having in Turkey and their affect on participatory democracy there.

Third, we're joined by an anonymous activist who was one of the first hundred people on the ground in Gezi Park, before the bulldozers came. She describes what it felt like to be a part of the protests in those first few days and what the protestors want to have change.

Finally we talk to Omer Madra, a lifelong activist and radio host, who brings us his ears and his eyes, but more importantly, his insight: the inside story of the years-long leadup that made this moment so explosive. 
The arc of a fiery Turkish scimitar is short, and it bends towards justice—right here, in a dispatch from the heart of the revolution.
Direct download: Sword_2013_06_04.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT