Saturday, February 28, 2009

Listen today to 850 WFTL 11am-noon EST

I'll be filling in for Stacy Ritter on "The Ritter Report" this morning. If you're not in South Florida, you can listen to the stream at

Tonight is Broward County's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner, and the guest speaker is Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. You might remember him from the Democratic Convention. He was this year's most electric speaker -- next to Barack Obama, of course! I'll chat with Broward Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Cesar for a few moments about tonight's party.

Then we'll switch gears, and speak with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz about the "Helping Families Save Thir Homes" Act, which she co-sponsored. What would this mean for us?

And I'll be taking your calls too at 877-850-8585. Talk to you then!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Radio Radio (or biting the hand that feeds me)

Hear today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 35:27)

Yesterday, while I was having fun with audio and photoshop, President Obama put forth his blueprint for America... his budget. But we're not going to deal with that today... I hope you'll join me on the air tomorrow from 11Am-12noon on 850 WFTL (and if you're not in South Florida, they do stream at, as I'll speak with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz about that and the housing bill too.

But today on the Radio or Not podcast, we deal with one of my most favorite - and least favorite subjects... radio.

The topic of radio has been on the front burner during the past couple of weeks because of the cries of certain right wing talk show hosts and their puppets in Congress who've been screaming about the supposed Democratic agenda that would bring back the Fairness Doctrine. Not that that would be such a bad thing, but really, no one is pushing for it!

I explain all of that in today's podcast, and speak with Timothy Karr. Tim is Campaign Director at and, and I've spoken with him before about important issues like Net Neutrality and Internet for All.

But today, we spoke about his campaign to get Congress to support HR 1147, The Local Community Radio Act. For more info, check out Tim Karr's piece on Huffington Post, Celine Dion is Stalking You, join the Facebook group Local Radio NOW, and follow the issue on Twitter: #lpfm.

Hear today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 35:27)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Introducing the Ken Dal

What do you get when you put Kenneth from 30 Rock together with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal? The Ken Dal!

The first whiff I smelled of the similarities between the two came via a Facebook friend, who commented on it during Jindal's Republican response to President Obama's speech on Tuesday night. I watched as the comparison spread like a virus through the blogosphere, TV and radio over the past day and a half. So, obviously, I was not alone in putting together my vision of the morphed manifestation.

So here it is, my contribution to the growing library of childish humor... behold the Ken Dal.

Click here to listen to it... it is today's Radio or Not podcast. It's a short one, clocking in at a very quick- but action-packed- 3:45... so you can listen to it over and over again.

Today was a busy day... so I'll have more to say tomorrow. And you'll be able to listen to me Saturday on 850 WFTL, as I guest host the Stacy Ritter Report from 11am-12noon!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The (Not) State of the Union Address

Hear today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 57:48)

Once again last night, Barack Obama proved to us why we elected him President. One of my first thoughts after he got rolling was "I'm so happy he's president!"

Unlike during the speeches delivered at this time of the year for the past eight years, I was riveted last night. President Obama spoke to us like the intelligent adults we are, in language to which we could relate and understand; not talking over our heads or down to us (as LA Governor Bobby Jindal seemed to do in his Republican response).

He struck the appropriate balance between the seriousness of the mess in which this country was left and the hopefulness of where we, under Obama's guidance, should rightfully return.

Today on the Radio or Not podcast, we go almost line by line through the speech and dissect it. It's lengthy, but worth the time to listen to it...

If you'd prefer not to hear my running commentary, you can watch the whole thing here:

One semi-related note. Please read the statement below and, if you agree, follow the link to sign on at ...

Statement on Prosecution of Former High Officials

We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.

Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations. The former president has confessed to violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

We see no need for these prosecutions to be extraordinarily lengthy or costly, and no need to wait for the recommendations of a panel or "truth" commission when substantial evidence of the crimes is already in the public domain. We believe the most effective investigation can be conducted by a prosecutor, and we believe such an investigation should begin immediately.

Drafted by The Robert Jackson Steering Committee

Signed By:
Center for Constitutional Rights
The National Lawyers Guild
Society of American Law Teachers - SALT
Human Rights USA
After Downing Street
American Freedom Campaign
Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserve Colonel and US diplomat
ANSWER Coalition
Backbone Campaign
Brad Blog
Chesapeake Citizens
Cities for Peace
Citizens for Accountability, Ventura County
Citizens For Legitimate Government
CODE PINK: Women for Peace
Daniel Ellsberg, Truth-Telling Project
Defending Dissent Foundation
Delaware Valley Veterans for America
Glenn Greenwald
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Gold Star Families for Peace
Grandmothers Against the War
Grassroots America
High Road for Human Rights Advocacy Project
Impeach Colorado
Impeach for Peace
Indict Bush Now
Individuals for Justice
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Ralph Lopez, author of "Truth in the Age of Bushism," chairman, Jobs For Afghans
Justice Through Music
Marcus Raskin, co-founder of Institute for Policy Studies, member of editorial board of the /Nation/, member of the special staff of the National Security Council in the Kennedy Administration
Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored
Naomi Wolf, author of /End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot/, and /Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries/
National Accountability Network
Northeast Impeachment Coalition
Op Ed News
Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJ)
Patriotic Response to Renegade
Peace Action
Peace Team
People for Peace & Justice/St. Augustine, FL
Peter McLaren, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
The Progressive
Progressive Democrats of America
PDA/DFA South Jersey
PDA Rhode Island
The Public Record
Radio or Not
Republicans for Impeachment
Save the Bill of Rights
Smirking Chimp
Christiane Brown, The Solution Zone
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)
Tulsa Impeachment Committee
United for Peace and Justice
Velvet Revolution
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Veterans for Peace
Veterans for Peace 27
Veterans for Peace 099
Voters for Peace
War Crimes Times
War Is Illegal
Wisconsin Impeachment/Bring Our Troops Home Coalition
World Can't Wait

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Hear today's edition of Radio or Not by clicking here (runtime 19:08)

So much news, so little time. Yes, that's what happens when you're out of the game for a while. After being sidelined with the flu (or whatever it was), I'm feeling better albeit a little overwhelmed when deciding what stories to comment on.

So, today is a bit of a potpourri of the stories that have dominated the news in the last week, plus a postscript on GW Bush's State of the Union addresses.

Yes, tonight, President Barack Obama will address a joint session of Congress and the nation in lieu of a State of the Union address because, after all, how could he possibly speak of the State of the Union without uttering the words "we're in deep shit," or something similar.

In 2001 at his first address to the nation and joint session of Congress, George W. Bush was able to boast of a "balanced budget, big surpluses, and a country at peace with it's neighbors." An ideal way to begin a presidency, huh? One could really build on that, right?

Not if you're George W. Bush, or a wage war and spend, fiscally irresponsible Republican. Can someone explain to me how we allow the Republicans to keep spreaking lies about who's responsible for getting us in this mess? After all, the Democrats finally control both houses of Congress and the White House... How about they take control of the country and turn it around, regardless of the obstructionist policies of the Republicans?

Hopefully we'll hear some of that forceful rhetoric from President Obama tonight in his (not) State of the Union address.

Hear today's edition of Radio or Not by clicking here (runtime 19:08)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday, Monday

Mondays are tough, even under the best circumstances. Doesn't it figure that, just as I'm starting to feel better, those around me are getting sick?

Thanks to Jim Bleikamp for the wonderful piece on seeing Leonard Cohen last week in New York. How jealous am I! He also sent me a note of surprise that people in the warmth of Florida also get the winter flu. Yes we do.

Just as I was sitting down at the computer this morning to prep for and record today's podcast, the phone rang. It was my boyfriend telling me he was headed to the emergency room. To make a long story short-- he's fine. But it's now about five hours later, and my time has been rapidly depleted as I'm off to a dinner tonight that I can't reschedule. Such is life, I guess.

So, here's a brief look at what I would have spoken about today on Radio or Not if I had had time to do it...

I went to see Hall & Oates in concert Friday night. Now, they're no Leonard Cohen, but I've always loved their music. Being the music snob that I am, I prefer the more obscure songs to most of the hits, and I was therefore thrilled when I heard that this would be a mostly-acoustic show, and some of the lesser-known songs would be featured.

They truly won me over with a couple of those from my favorite H&O album, Abandoned Luncheonette: "When the Morning Comes" and "Las Vegas Turnaround".

The problem certainly wasn't with the band, though the sound sucked! (Aside to artists... if you' have no monitors and there's constant feedback, don't just play through it and yell off mic to the roadies... stop down, fix it, and then finish the show!)

The problem at that concert, and most others I attend here in South Florida, is the audience! Obviously these people don't get out much. There were two couples sitting in front of us who decided that the best time to have a long drawn-out conversation was DURING THE SONGS! The two women were sitting together with the men on the outside. These two women didn't shut up for one minute.

I don't get it.. If you have so much to talk about, why do you go to to a concert? Take the conversation to the bar and talk there...

Then there was Guido behind me. I don't know if that was his name, but this was the kind of guy who gives all Italians a bad name. Starting with the thick gold chain around his neck and his attire... a longjohn shirt with the sleeves cut off. This is South Florida and it was an outdoor concert-- and it was chilly... probably around 60 degrees or so. And the cigarette he was smoking and blowing right at us didn't exactly endear him to me.

But when the concert started, this guy apparently thought his was the third voice in the harmonies of Hall & Oates. He was screaming the songs right into my ear.

Isn't a concert supposed to be about listening?

I'm a shusher... but it didn't help me much Friday night.

Ok, now that that's out of my system, I guess I could go on to ask what is wrong with Republicans? I know Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, has presidential aspirations, but does he really think refusing the stimulus money that his state so sorely needs is the way to win over the people of his state? Taking a stand is one thing; doing it to the detriment of the people you've been elected to serve is another.

Florida's Governor Charlie Crist has ruffled the feathers of his fellow Republicans, but he supports President Obama's actions and, thankfully, is happily taking the money. God knows we need it down here.

Wouldn't it be nice if, for one month, our elected officials could all work together to try to pull this country out of the mess it's in, rather than continue their political posturing? Let's put a moratorium on politicking for a while.

Tomorrow night is Obama's first State of the Union address. Unfortunately, the state of our union is a disaster, thanks to the last administration who did nothing but spend our money on an unjust war and destroy our economy.

I've seen President Obama do more to effect change on our behalf and make things better than George Bush ever did in his 8 years of robbing us blind.

This morning, Obama announced his plans to cut the deficit in half by 2013. Pretty ambitious, but I love the fact that he's responsible enough to have that lofty goal, even while having to increase public spending by exorbitant amounts to stem the worst economic crisis in decades.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pondering the Return of Leonard Cohen

Hopefully my illness isn't contagious, but my love of music is!

My friend and Radio or Not contributor Jim Bleikamp sent in this piece about a concert he was one of the lucky few able to attend. Enjoy....

It's been about 36 hours now, and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it was I witnessed, and exactly what I heard, at a vintage music hall brought back to life just days ago. But I know it was something I shouldn't soon forget. And I won't.

He came to Manhattan ...he came back...he lived there once...but it could have been Berlin--after all, he once brought them together in song--but it could also have been London--or Paris--or Madison, or a thousand other places where the curious ponder his musings and hope to hear his voice again.

He checked in a half-century ago with all those folk singers in the East Village. But he was never quite like them. More cleaned-up. More town-house than coffee house. Came from the far north-all alone at a crowded time when everyone wanted to hold your hand, but sometimes you thought twice about holding his--we were'nt quite sure just what his angle was. Walked among us for years--back in the tall grass. Could hardly see him at times. But he was there, and we might have paid more heed.

For awhile we thought it was over. He disappeared. Went to a spot little-traveled--a mountaintop--in search of the BIG QUESTIONS. But oh sweet Jesus, do we ever need him now. Because you can't follow the signs the way you used to. The bank might not cash your check now. Yesterday's party has ended, today's was canceled, and all tomorrow's parties are on hold. For so long, the dogs were quiet at night, but now they bark again. Even a fresh bone won't shut them up. The sweet puppy is vicious now.

But Leonard warned us--warned us years ago. It was the last thing before he left. We might have thought that it was just a good song--or maybe a song about another time. Or maybe just a good song for an altered state of mind. As much as we loved it, we really didn't want it to be about Our Time. But perhaps it was. Perhaps it is:

"Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it's lonely here, there's no one left to torture"

Oh, and that's hardly the end of it:

"Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul."

Overturning the order of the soul? No party here. This is not the 19th hole. No song for the radio. Not even the smart FM station at the low end of the dial. This is Darkness. This is Hell. He came to tell us again. To remind us. But he didn't preach. Never preachy. No, it was almost like he prayed with us. On one knee. Almost pleading. All this from a man who looks only slightly like a dark agent.

Yes his suit is simple and black. But he wears a fedora. And there's a just slightly-crazed smile there. Crazed yet warm. Real warmth. And he's got that aging movie-star thing going on. He's old, but even now, the youngest girls still take a second look, and even a third, and all the women still want his number. Even though he once tried to convince us otherwise:

"You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception"

Yes, he can be dark as the basement in winter, but he never failed to get the joke. Got it better than all of us. Still gets it. A musical genius friend of his says that Leonard once looked into the abyss--and did nothing more than laugh.

He always moved a little oddly among us, but he always had A GIFT. A couple of gifts. One was black-coal dark, but the other was lighter. Maybe even radiant. White light, maybe. And often, the darkness and the incredible lightness would happen together. Not exactly merge, mind you. But maybe a light verse soon after a dark one. Even after a blizzard warning:

"I've seen the nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all,
but love's the only engine of survival"

or how about this, after a long season in the mud?

"it's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again."

One of his friends from the Underground says we are so lucky to be alive in Leonard's time. Maybe even blessed.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Getting Better

The title song of today's podcast is a cover by the band Gomez, just in case you were wondering!

And yes, I'm feeling a bit better today... good enough to be able to string enough thoughts together to put out another edition of the Radio or Not podcast.

So much has gone on in the world over the past week that I had to get some of my thoughts out... so today is pretty much a stream of consciousness rant on President Obama's housing recovery plan, the horrible NY Post cartoon and their non-apology apology, the new Chair of the RNC Michael Steele who has a very odd grasp on reality, and the ongoing saga that is Illinois Senator Roland Burris.

I still have material left over: Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman is as delusional as ever, and teenage mom Bristol Palin does her first tv interview and says abstinence education doesn't work. Well, duh!

Baby steps... Thanks for listening...

Hear today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 13:57)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Still under the weather

One of the problems with running a one woman show is that when the one woman gets sick, everything comes to a screeching halt.

Such is the case now. I worked through the cough and cold all weekend at the Sunset Sessions, and held it at bay Monday to fill in for Ron Kuby on Air America, but it finally got the best of me.

I hope to have another Radio or Not episode tomorrow. But please bear with me while I get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids...

Thanks for your patience!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bitten by Cobra

Ok, I'm sick. I tried to fight it all weekend long, as I was working at Sunset Sessions. I was videotaping 30 bands performing and interviewing artists. You'll be seeing and hearing the fruits of my labor as I work on the production of the video scrapbook and radio special over the coming months.

And after returning home late Sunday night, I still couldn't allow myself to be sick because I was filling in for Ron Kuby on Air America yesterday.

But when I woke up this morning, I knew I was sick. Today I allowed myself that luxury... though not the luxury of seeing a doctor.

I thought I had health insurance. When I was let go by Clear Channel, I opted to continue my health coverage via cobra. My premium was $304 a month -- that's for me alone. For me and my daughter, it would have jumped to $760 a month, so I found private insurance for Alison.

I set up my bill payer account to automatically pay my monthly premium and forgot about it. But I returned from San Diego to find two pieces of mail from SHPS, the company that administers the cobra program, and opened them to find that I had been terminated.

You see, my premium apparently went up to $325 a month at the beginning of the year. It certainly would have been nice of them to inform me... or at least inform me that my payment was light. But no, it's easier for them to just cancel the coverage!

I got someone on the phone from SHPS this morning, in all my sickness, and was told that she'd look into it. She explained that often it's necessary to file a written appeal to get the coverage back after being cancelled, but said she'd let me know what I needed to do. But it could take 3-4 days!

We as a nation are victims of legalized, government sanctioned extortion. Can anyone explain to me just what health insurance does except inflate the cost of health care, add red tape to the process of getting health care, and make money for their industry while keeping us from being well?

Today is just one more reason to support a system of single-payer health care.

Funny that just as I was writing this post, I got an email from asking me to sign their petition for single payer health care. Now I pass it along to you. Please click here and send an important message to your representatives in Congress.

Maybe next time I get sick, I'll actually be able to go to the doctor.

Hear today's brief edition of the Radio or Not podcast by clicking here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's Air America show

Thanks again to the folks at Air America Radio for asking me to fill in for Ron Kuby today. I always have fun doing his show.

Today, since I was still in musical heaven from my weekend at Sunset Sessions, I played a lot of the music I got to hear, and talked a bit of music as well.

Singer/Songwriter Jill Sobule was my first guest (hear our interview by clicking here). We talked about her song "I Kissed a Girl"- not the Katy Perry song. But we mostly spoke about her forthcoming album California Songs Vol. 1, which will be out in April-- and the business model she came up with to fund it. You can read all about it in this article from last Monday's New York Times.

That interviewed segued nicely into a discussion with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, one of the co-sponsors of the Performance Rights Act, which would require US radio stations to pay performance royalties to artists, musicians and master recording owners. You can read the text of the bill here.

And in the wake of the admission by the NY Yankees' Alex Rodriguez that he took performance enhancing drugs, I invited sports agent David Sloane on the show. David represents Carlos Delgado of the NY Mets, who finished second in MVP voting in 2003, one of the years in which A-Rod admitted to using steroids, and I watched him field questions about this situation for the past two weeks. He just happens to be my boyfriend, so I figured he'd make for an interesting guest as well... Hear our interview here.

I'll be back with a new Radio or Not Podcast tomorrow...

I'll be on Air America today

What a weekend!! You'll hear lots about it in the coming weeks, as I'll be sharing artist interviews and music from the 2009 Michele Clark Sunset Sessions.

But today, I'm back preparing to guest host Doing Time with Ron Kuby on Air America Radio.

I'll be on live from 3-6 PM Eastern, so please listen at, and feel free to call in at 866-303-2270.

In the first hour I'll be joined by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Jill Sobule. She came up with a very creative way to finance her forthcoming album, and was featured in a NY Times story last Monday because of it.

We'll segue into the controversy surrounding the newly re-introduced "Performance Rights Act" would require US radio stations to pay performance royalties to artists, musicians and master recording owners-- reversing the current policy which only pays songwriters.

And we'll also deal with the steroid issue in Major League Baseball, as the sport is still reeling from the admission by Alex Rodriguez that he was doing it too. I'll speak with David Sloane, agent for Carlos Delgado (who also happens to be my boyfriend), as I've heard him fielding phone calls for the past week from everyone who wants him to comment on the fact that Delgado finished second to A Rod in the 2003 MVP balloting... a year in which Rodriguez admitted to taking steroids!

It'll be an action-packed show, so I hope you'll listen and call in too!!

More tomorrow here on Radio or Not! Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hope Revisited!

I'm feeling it again. That same hope I felt on November 4, when Barack Obama was declared the winner of the Presidential election. And on January 20, when I saw him get sworn in and pinched myself.

That hope I felt when I knew we had a smart, empathetic, real person in control. That hope that has somehow been wearing away as we've watched the Republicans somehow maintain control of the debate over how to fix the mess their party got us in to in the first place. The hope that's been wearing down during the past few weeks while President Obama's been in Washington attending to our country's business, but hasn't been speaking directly with us.

Well, three times over the last couple of days he spoke with us again. And the hope is back!

First, President Obama visited the town of Elkhart, Indiana for a town hall meeting, and we remembered why we fell in love with candidate Obama. Then last night, he held his first prime time press conference as President Obama, and the magic was back.

He answered questions intelligently and thoughtfully, and he stated the case for why we needed this "stimulus package" and how it will work. He admitted that he's human, and showed that he cares... about all of us.

If you didn't get the chance to watch the press conference last night, you can now:

Today was the icing on the cake. President Obama proved that he can be the answer we need. I think he needs to do these town hall meetings, at the very least, on a weekly basis. These are his "fireside chats." They and he are what we need right now.

Chances are you didn't get to see today's event, as it happened in the middle of the work day and, hopefully, you're lucky enough to still have a job. So, do yourself a favor and watch it now by clicking here.

For the next few days, I'll be in San Diego participating in a music conference called the Sunset Sessions. I'll be interviewing and videotaping a lot of artists who are playing, blogging, and producing a radio special from the event as well. I'll have a lot of music to share with you next week, in addition to my regular interviews and commentaries.

I'll probably blog from there, but likely won't have another podcast until Monday... but please check back often. You never know when something will warrant a post!

Click here to listen to today's Radio or Not podcast (runtime 26:54), which features Hope in a Hopeless World by it's writer Phil Roy, and another version by Widespread Panic.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Under Pressure

I don't handle stress all that well. It's one of the reasons I could probably never run for public office. How Barack Obama manages to stay cool during times of pressure like this is beyond me. And actually, I think it's time for him to show some of his inner strength and get tough!

After all, he's played nice by extending more than a willingness to work with those across the aisle, and he's shown some humility with his mea culpa in regard to Tom Daschle. Now is the time for him to get tough.

Tonight, Obama will hold his first press conference as President Obama, and it's time to stand up for the people who overwhelmingly voted for change in this election. Eight years of Bush tax cuts did nothing to help us. Eight years of Bush deregulation messed up the banking system. Eight years of Bush war-mongering spent more money than all the previous presidents combined and took the surplus President Clinton left and turned it into the biggest deficit in history.

We've had enough of Republican policies. The Democrats won control of both houses of Congress and the White House. Now is the time for President Obama to effectively take control and tell the Republicans they can come along for the ride or play obstructionist games, but that he will do what the people of the US elected him to do, and that is most certainly a change in direction.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Now it's time to play tough!

On today's Radio or Not podcast, I speak with David Swanson of about a post he wrote over the weekend suggesting we do away with the filibuster. After all, it's this ridiculous rule in the Senate that's even allowing them to play politics at such a critical time in our nation's history. And, as we usually do when we speak, David and I went on to talk about the bigger picture of the Obama administration and where it's heading.

And a quick postscript to Friday's show.... This article from the AP suggests that Barack Obama is ready to move beyond the decriminalization of (at least medical) marijuana.

And this was one of the few shining moments from this weekend's SNL:

Hear today's Radio or Not Podcast here (runtime 35:48)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Michael Phelps for economic recovery!

By now most of us have seen this photo of Olympic champion Michael Phelps, allegedly taking a bong hit. Good for him. Shame on Kelloggs for dumping him from his endorsement contract, and shame on the swimming powers that be who suspended him for 3 months from competition.

Thank you Michael Phelps, for bringing the hypocrisy of the prohibition against marijuana to the forefront at a time when our country is in dire need of revenue. How about legalizing marijuana and taxing the hell out of it? It could only help our ailing economy.

It's because of my long-held belief that we must do just that that I called Alan St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for an interview today on Radio or Not. I was happy to hear that great minds think alike!

I wasn't theonly person talking and writing about Phelps and marijuana today. Click here (and scroll down) for a plethora of pieces from today's Huffington Post on the same subject!

In addition to my interview with St. Pierre, today I also read Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman's Op-Ed piece from yesterday's NY Times on how important it is that Congress passes President Obama's recovery plan, immediately! (You can read it for yourself here, and read Barack Obama's own Op-Ed piece that appeared in yesterday's Washington Post here.)

Listen to today's Radio or Not Podcast by clicking here (runtime 34:27)

Arrest and Convict Bush & Cheney

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Today as I catch up on some non Radio or Not work, we turn to my friend and colleague Jim Bleikamp for a guest commentary. Enjoy... NS

My sun-draped winter day in New Jersey has been made brighter still by the news that President Obama, in a pledge to "take the air out of golden parachutes", is announcing that executives of companies receiving federal bailout money will have their pay capped at a half million dollars under a revised federal compensation plan. Much Jenny Craig-ing is still needed to slim the waistlines of these corporate hogs, but as someone wiser than I once said, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

Following the details of this compensation issue, much like the struggle to unravel the mysterious weave of our modern economy, is not a serene task, and not for the faint of heart. In fact, the politics of compensation is such a maze that it may make Alice's journey down the rabbit hole seem like nothing more than a quick jog to 7-11. Very few of the players are who they seem to be. It's a time to read the fine print and watch closely. I mean really closely. It's so hard to find a hero these days, especially in our capital city, (and yes, it's more capital than capitol), and once you pour all of what's left of your almost bone-dry reservoir of hope into one hand of the latest glowing being to speak like a saviour, you may realize that his other hand may be fingering the wallet of a Human Hog. In a legal way, of course. Just a campaign contribution.

So with all this on my mind, I couldn't help but notice the reaction in today's New York Times of James F. Reda to the president's latest directive. Mr. Reda is founder and managing director of James F. Reda and Associates, a compensation consulting firm--and by the way, wouldn't we all like to have a stake in that business? According to Reda, "that is pretty draconian--500 thousand dollars is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus." Oh, and he didn't stop there. "And you know that these companies that are in trouble are not going to pay much of an annual dividend."

(Pause to catch my breath here).

Ok, I'm back--typing again--a part of my brain is still in shock--and numb, but my fingers are moving again. And all I can really think of doing at this point is to turn it back over to you, Mr. Reda. Since you've told us that a half million is not a big enough number--even for companies taking billions of dollars of handouts from American taxpayers at the moment of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression--I ask you Mr. Reda to please, after you've thought about it for a moment, GIVE US A NUMBER.

Think hard, Mr. Reda. Think again about where this money is coming from. From people--people like those you might have known once, but don't think about much now. Or if you do, they're drones. Yeh, just drones,really--no more. Not as cunning as you, and they haven't, like you, come up with a way to game the system. Some might not have been smart enough; others just didn't have the stomach. Some aren't pretty, some are fat, some pick their noses, and Christ, fifty million of them don't even have health insurance, but they're chipping into the bailout of your pals, from whom you take a cut. And they need you to GIVE US A NUMBER.

Many of them have kids--some are really cute--smart, too--and many aren't old enough or damaged enough to have had the light stolen from their cute little eyes. To use a Wall Street analogy that would make sense to you, Mr. Reda, they just want someone to buy a little of their stock. Enough to get them to college and maybe just a peak into your world, Mr. Reda. Fairly low-priced stuff. Like an over-the-counter trade. But before we can do the deal, you need to GIVE US A NUMBER.

Think about the body count here, Mr. Reda, and remember that the bodies are live ones. And some of the bodies are getting old--they've been out there for so very long--sometimes maybe not, like you, at careers, but rather at JOBS, and mostly doing the right thing, although often in a less gorgeous, less pin-striped, less fabulous way than yours. They'd like to come home now, but some of the moves your smart buddies made are throwing up roadblocks. There may be a straight line between the size of your number and the length of their homebound journey. But we won't know for sure until you GIVE US A NUMBER.

I read the papers Mr. Reda, and I know that we are printing more dollar bills these days than God has children, but in the end, there are still only so many dollars to go around, and you and your crowd already have the magnets to attract big bills in bulk shipments. And I know that what I am asking here is not that easy, because, well, you know and I know that it's just very hard for people like us to understand the breadth and depth of the needs of a person in your world. And whatever number you give us is always going to sound just so GODDAMN BIG. But nonetheless, if we are even to attempt to plan our economic future, and figure out just how wide the gap in wealth (or poverty) among our citizens is going to be, and determine our capacity for fairness and unfairness in this great land, it is imperative that you GIVE US A NUMBER.

We're waiting, Mr. Reda.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

2-4-09 And Health Care for All?

With Tom Daschle now out of the running for Secretary of Health and Human Services, that position is once again in the spotlight and, perhaps, that's a good thing.

Neither President Obama nor former Senator Daschle was a proponent of a single-payer health care system, but I am. And there is a bill in the House that provides for such a system. Believe it or not, it was introduced by John Conyers in 2003. It's HR 676, and it has somewhere in the neighborhood of 96 co-sponsors in the House.

With attention focused, however momentarily, on health care again, it is time to step up the activism toward fixing the health ills of this nation.

Former Clinton HHS Secretary Donna Shalala is a name that's surfaced in the past hour or two as a possible candidate for the post. Another name that's surfaced, though probably not from the Obama camp, is Howard Dean. He'd make sense as he's the former Chair of the DNC, and is a medical doctor.

One thing is for certain, though, we need to take the insurance companies' profit motives out of our health care.

On today's Radio or Not podcast, I speak with Larry Pius, the man behind, a website he created to raise funds to help bring this bill the attention it deserves and get it passed. Have a listen, and help out if you can.

Hear today's Radio or Not podcast here (runtime 18:07)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Death and Taxes

There are two things in life we can't escape -- death and taxes. Today, we deal with both of them.

First up... death. It was 50 years ago today that, as the song goes, the music died. In actuality, the music thrived, but a couple of rock's shining stars perished in a plane crash. Ritchie Valens was a 17 year old rising star, the Big Bopper a DJ with a novelty hit, and Buddy Holly was a musical genius who, at 22, had a string of hits already to his name.

Fifty years later, those songs hold up with the best music ever made!

Next, taxes. If you don't pay them, not only are you not contributing your fair share of taking care of the needs of the country, it'll come back to haunt you. Tom Daschle learned that the hard way today.

Both he and Nancy Killefer, the woman nominated by Obama to be the government's first chief performance officer, pulled their names out of consideration for the posts they were almost assured to be confirmed for, because of tax issues.

With Daschle, the issue was back taxes that he owed on a car and driver provided to him over a period of three years, which amounted to $128,203 in taxes and $11,964 in interest.

A spokesperson for the former Senator said Daschle asked his accountant in June if the car service could be a tax issue. He did not learn until late December that the service - valued at more than $250,000 over three years - was subject to taxes.

Tom Daschle's surprise withdrawal announcement came just three hours after Nancy Killefer withdrew her name, citing problems with tax filings. In her brief letter to President Obama, Killefer wrote that she had "come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay" that must be avoided in responding to urgent economic problems.

The Associated Press disclosed that in 2005 the District of Columbia government had filed a $946.69 tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help.

More recently, Tim Geithner was confirmed as Treasury secretary despite belatedly paying $34,000 in income taxes.

I've said it before and I know I'll say it again. If you want to work in the public sector, you've got to be beyond reproach. These things should not be happening.

Before I sign off, I promised in the podcast today that I'd give you links to some of the analysis of Don McLean's American Pie. Click here for the most comprehensive one I found.

And, although he still won't decipher the lyrics, Don McLean wrote a piece for CNN today on the 50th anniversay of The Day the Music Died. Read it here.

And listen to today's Radio or Not Podcast here (runtime 16:30)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Let's call it the Bruce Bowl

No, I didn't watch the football game last night. I did, however, tune in just in time for the halftime show!

Gone are the days of marching bands and drill teams. The bar has been raised to Springsteen territory.

I always said that Bruce couldn't play the Superbowl because his shows demand more than 12 minutes. Although in interviews leading up to those 12 minutes last night he said it'd be like the final 12 minutes of one of his shows, that wasn't quite right.

But the E Street Band last night did a great job of showing the non-inititated what a Springsteen concert is like... a giant party in which everyone lucky enough to be in the place is having a blast!

I must say that I was a bit disappointed by my boyfriend's reaction. When I called him moments after the final note, and breathlessly asked "So?" waiting for him to say something to the effect of, "ok, now I get it"... but instead got "ok, you watched it? So I can delete it from my Tivo?" I was surprised. Although he did say "it didn't suck," it wasn't quite the reaction I was looking for.

I guess you have to be there.... So, with the released of the brand new album, "Working on a Dream, " Bruce has announced concert dates. Unfortunately, none in the first US leg of the tour come anywhere near South Florida. And although I do have a few business trips planned in the coming months, none coincide with any E Street Band dates.

But you can rest assured that I'll be there when he does come back to South Florida, this time with the boyfriend it tow... and then I'll get the "Now I get it" reaction I'm waiting for!

One postscript to last week's mention of Springsteen and his deal with the devil (aka walmart): He addressed the issue in an interview with the NY Times that ran yesterday and admitted to making a big mistake. We all make mistakes but, as we've seen in recent times, most are reluctant to cop to them. I give Bruce credit for saying that the deal was wrong, and saying that he expects his fans to call him on the mistakes when he does make them.

Read the NY Times piece here and, in case you didn't see the show last night, enjoy the performace (while it's up on You Tube... I have a feeling they won't be posted long!):

part 1

part 2

Hear today's Radio or Not podcast here (runtime 16:11)