Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Dick and a Disaster

Hear today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 26:57)

Before we get to the disaster, let me just say that Dick Cheney is, indeed, a Dick! Watch this segment from last night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, just in case you needed proof!

Now about that disaster... Dick Cheney was one, as possibly the most dangerous VP in our history. But I'm talking about a disaster of nuclear proportions.

Yes, I'm talking about Three Mile Island. This weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident on US soil, and it was much worse than our government led you to believe.
Harvey Wasserman has been a frequent guest on this program. He was the man behind MUSE and the No Nukes concerts of the seventies, and has been an activist against nukes ever since. He wrote "People Died at Three Mile Island" for Huffington Post and freepress.org, and joined me today on Radio or Not.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Legalize it!

Welcome to Monday.  After two weeks guest hosting the noon-3 slot on Air America Radio, I'm back to my regular Radio or Not home.  

When I returned from my trip to Los Angeles for Radio & Records magazine's Talk Radio Seminar, my mind was still filled with images of all the Medical Marijuana "Dispensaries" that have popped up around California in the year since I'd last visited.  One of my first guests during the two week stint on Air America was Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).  You can listen back to that interview by clicking here.

I truly had not planned to revisit the topic during the two weeks I had on Air America... until President Obama laughed off a question about the topic during his first-ever Online Town Hall Meeting on Thursday.  

See how he handled the most-asked/most-voted-for question for yourself:

With all due respect Mr. President, the "online audience" is comprised of the people who contributed heavily to your campaign and elected you president!

Seriously, I can play devil's advocate here and explain how this president has to play it straight, so to speak, in order to get his bigger priorities through.  But to laugh it off in this matter was wrong, on many levels.

Think about it... If the questions had been about legalizing heroin or cocaine, I don't believe his response would have been accompanied by laughter.  And to make it even more insulting, he didn't even treat the question as a legitimate one;  he threw it in as an aside saying that lots of people asked about it, but pooh-poohed it as something those stoners hitting on the bong while surfing the web put out there as a joke.

The fact it that we're serious.

On Friday, I contacted Jack Cole, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP.cc),  and he joined me on my Air America show for an eye-opening interview.  After a 26-year career with the New Jersey State Police, twelve of them spent as an undercover narcotics officer, he formed this organization and advocates for the legalization of all drugs.  His reasoning is sound, and his facts and figures undeniable.  Hear our interview here.

After I had already booked Mr. Cole to come on the show, I read an article about legislation that had been quietly introduced by Sen. Jim Webb of VA, and backed by Sen. Arlen Specter, which has the potential to dramatically alter US drug laws.   The thrust of the legislation deals with our prison system, which Webb calls a "national disgrace" and proposes a blue ribbon panel to assess and offer concrete recommendations for its reform -- to "responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug policy; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration, and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders."

I will likely produce a new podcast tomorrow, but for now, enjoy my interviews with NORML's Allen St. Pierre, and LEAP's Jack A. Cole by clicking on their respective links.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Great political sense, bad hair!

Today while speaking with Matt Taibbi on Air America Radio, I mentioned that Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota was one of only eight US Senators to vote against the bill that repealed the Glass-Steagle Act back in 1999, and went on to say that I was distracted when he appeared on Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC due to his bad comb-over.

Here's the video. See for yourself. But you might have to watch it twice...

Now that that's out of the way, have a listen to today's interview with Matt Taibbi by clicking here!  His piece in the current issue of Rolling Stone should be required reading for everyone.

Today was my final show in a two-week run on Air America.  I'm not sure what will come next, but if you haven't already done so, please sign up for my email list (to your right), so I can keep you informed.

Thanks for listening!!

Too Few Hours in the Day

You know that feeling, right? I never got around to posting audio yesterday, but will have time to do so over the weekend and next week.

I've been having a blast for the past two weeks, hosting the noon-3 slot on Air America.

Today is the last day of my run, and some other folks will take the mic next week. I hope you'll look to your right and sign up for my mailing list so I can keep you posted on what I'm up to.

And, of course, check back here daily, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, as I do my thing here daily!

Today's show on Air America will be a good one!

We'll start off with a topic we've covered before. The Legalization of Marijuana. It came up yesterday during the President's online press conference, and I was amazed at how it was treated as a joke.

Today, we'll speak with the Executive Director of Law Enforcment against Prohibition.

We'll also be joined by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine whose current piece, The Big Takeover, does a great job of explaining the genesis of the economic mess in which we find ourselves.

And in the last hour, we'll find out about Spread the Word to End the Word.

I'm racing against the clock, so will come back later with audio and more info.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday, here we come!

It's great to be hosting a daily, three-hour talk show again! But it's also a bit exhausting. So, as much as I've been enjoying the past couple of weeks, I'm truly looking forward to the weekend.

Today's show was action packed. Beginning with an interview with a homeless man. Seriously.

He's know as Cadillac Man because in a one-month period, he was hit by six Cadillacs in a one-month period. Seriously! And the last one hit him so hard that it left an imprint on his chest that he proudly showed off. People began calling him Cadillac Man, and it stuck.

I spoke with him today because he's written a book - Land of Lost Souls - which was published last week, and is receiving rave reviews, like this one from the NY Times. After listening to him, you might look differently at the street people you pass on your way to work tomorrow.

With the rise of the political blog, we're also seemingly seeing the demise of the printed newspaper. I wasn't alone in noticing the history made the moment when President Obama called on Sam Stein from Huffington Post for a question at his first presidential press conference last month. Today, I spoke with Sam about the changes in the media world, and some of the stories he's following today.

From Sam, one who covers the news, I moved on to someone who made news this weekend. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined me to talk about her year-long battle with breast cancer, during which she continued working while undergoing seven major surgeries, including a double mastectomy and having her ovaries removed. We talked about new legislation she had just introduced in the House to promote early education about breast cancer among younger women, as well as about health care reform.

And in hour three today, we went back to how the Obama administration is embracing the new technology age. First, I spoke with Wendy Greene, Managing Director of The Peace Alliance, who had hoped that President Obama would answer their question about the possibility of a cabinet level Department of Peace during today's online Town Hall Meeting (he didn't). But we talked about it nonetheless, and the reasons it's something we should work toward.

And finally, I spoke with Chris Snyder of Wired magazine about his current piece: Government Agencies Make Friends with New Media about how this White House is embracing the tools available today to get its message out.

I must run to take my daughter to a doctors appointment, but will upload some interviews from today's show later today... Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm not a pest, I'm just persistent!

That's what was imprinted on a button I found years ago, and which, for years, was embedded in the bulletin board above my desk. And the memory of it came flooding back to me last night while listening to President Obama's closing statement after his somewhat slow-paced press conference.

Patience. I guess I could have played the Guns N Roses song today on my Air America radio show. But I didn't... I did, however, feature Big Bottom by Spinal Tap, to welcome Harry Shearer (aka Derek Smalls) to the program! He and his Spinal Tap/Folksmen colleagues and their alter-egos are hitting the road next month for the Unwigged and Unplugged Tour, and I can't wait! You can listen to my interview with Harry Shearer by clicking here, and check the link above for info about the tour....

We went from the sublime to the ridiculous today, showing that you can cover all the bases in the span of three hours on the radio! Yes, we listened to some of the clips from last night's press conference (including the most inane question of the evening from NBC's Chuck Todd), and had fun with rock trivia (I'm still looking for video of my appearance on Rock & Roll Jeopardy from 2000!).

I also spoke with Brad Friedman, the man behind www.bradblog.com, who is fighting the good fight by uncovering election fraud, even in this off-year, when most of us have moved our attention to other topics. But you need to know what's going on with your votes, and should certainly read his latest pieces on the topic in "Kentucky Fried Clickin'".

And the scary was covered today too. Jaemi Levine is a mom who learned first-hand how easy it is for the truly despicable who walk among us to get to our kids. And because of her first-hand knowledge, she founded Mothers Agains Predators. I urge you to listen to our interview here, and visit her website, and do what you need to do to protect our children.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another inauspicious anniversary

Do you remember where you were 20 years ago today? (No, it wasn't the day Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play... that was over 40 years ago, just in case you needed a reminder that we're all getting old... but I digress.)

Twenty years ago today, the Exxon Valdez ran aground Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef and spilled an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil , resulting in one of the largest spills in U.S. history and one of the largest ecological disasters in history.

Today I spoke with investigative journalist Greg Palast on my Air America radio program about "Stick Your Damn Hand In It: 20th Birthdayof the Exxon-Valdez Lie," a piece he wrote about the disaster and the lies that have been told about what happened. It is must-reading today!

We began the show with a conversation with Yra Harris, a senior partner for Praxis Trading, a trader for over 30 years, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg TV and radio and CNBC. I asked him to put the Geithner plan to free up the credit markets into plain English so that even financial info-challenged people like me can understand it. I'll get the audio up as soon as I can...

In the meantime, remember that President Obama will hold his second prime time press conference tonight. We'll dissect it tomorrow, along with a visit from Harry Shearer, and lots more!

Monday, March 23, 2009

March is Women's History Month

So, before March ends, I wanted to bring you an interview I did last week with my dear friend Amy Simon. Amy is the author/producer/performer of the longest-running solo show in Los Angeles, Cheerios in My Underwear.

Although an avowed heterosexual, she's seemingly obsessed with women! And that's a good thing, because I've learned more about the smarter sex from her than from any of the history books I read throughout school.

Now we just have to get her to write that play about Victoria Woodhull. Who? you ask! Listen to the interview to find out. Just click here....

Twouble With Twitters

Today's show on Air America Radio covered a lot of territory. Starting with some of the news of the day, and my admission that economics was never my specialty! So tomorrow we'll speak with an economist who can put the new treasury plan into plain English for us.

We talked about an issue that's facing South Florida today- and has been an issue in other US cities too. Today, the Miami-Dade County Commission will have the final say on whether or not taxpayer dollars will be used to build a new baseball stadium for the Marlins. Right now, at 3:40pm, there's no answer yet. But there's plenty of drama. Read the latest account here, from the Miami Herald. I'll update you here when there's a decision.

We moved on in hour three to a discussion on how our world has changed with the rise of the internet. I spoke with Chris Willman - pop culture journalist, former Entertainment Weekly music critic -- on his recent HuffPo piece "Facebook's Lousy Facelift" along with Twitter and more....

And then we turned to my newest internet discovery, Jonathan Mann, of RockCookieBottom.com, where he posts a song a day. He also offers custom songs to fans for a nominal fee. I commissioned him to write me a theme song for the show. We'll see what he comes up with.

Do you tweet? I'm still trying to get the hang of it, but you can follow me, if you wish, here. But first, watch this...

Another week on Air America Radio

If you're already signed up for my email list, you got my latest missive in which I let you know that the powers that be at Air America have asked me to continue hosting the noon-3 (EDT) slot for another week. We'll kick off this week's shows today with a listen back to some of the highlights from President Obama's appearance on 60 minutes last night.

Just in case you missed it...

Watch CBS Videos Online

We'll also talk about an issue that's coming to a head today in Miami. But it's an issue many cities across the country have dealt with -- public financing of a stadium. Here in South Florida, the Miami City Commission last week voted 3-2 to approve the public funding of a new baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins to play in. Today, it goes before the Miami-Dade County Commission... the final hurdle in the very long battle.

Should taxpayer dollars go to fund a stadium which will benefit a private sports franchise?

And we'll also look at the way we socialize and network in the 00's. Facebook and Twitter are the hot social networking sites. (You can click on the links to befriend me and follow me, respectively. But if you want to be my friend, please tell me you're a Radio or Not reader/listener, as I don't just blindly add everyone!)

Is Twitter too confusing? And are you among the multitudes who are mad as hell about the new Facebook format? Chris Willman, former music critic for Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post blogger and Facebook critic, will join us in hour 3 today. Read his recent HuffPo meme on the new Facebook here.

Plus, my favorite new song and website come from Jonathan Mann. He's writing a song a day for his website at http://www.rockcookiebottom.com/. Check out Hey Paul Krugman, and listen in to our third hour today, as he'll also join us. Maybe he'll even write a theme song for the show!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Enough... or I'm Mad as Hell....

Keith Olbermann was back in fine form Thursday evening with a Special Comment worthy of the label. "Enough" was the message. It made me remember what it was about Keith that first made me fall in lust with him.

The proverbial straw that broke his camel's back was the news that the CEO of Citigroup was spending $10 Million on a new suite of offices for himself and his cohorts. Enough is right.

But as I listened to Keith echo my emotions during his seven-minute diatribe (embedded below for your viewing pleasure), visions of Howard Beale danced in my mind. And the sound of The Who.

So, with my creative juices flowing, I opened the audio editor on my computer and began creating. And here's what I came up with. I played it on my Air America Radio show Friday, and lots of listeners called in to commiserate. Feel free to add your two cents too, with a comment below....

Listen by clicking here!

Friday, March 20, 2009

He's Baaack

The he to whom I am referring is Keith Olbermann. My Keith Olbermann. The one who makes me smile that knowing smile that says "he really gets it!" He was back in full force last night with a truly Special Comment.

I'll forgive him those Special Comments that weren't so special for saying what he said last night. I will play some clips from it on my Air America show today (noon-3 ET at www.airamerica.com), but you need to take the seven minutes necessary to watch this... now!

***Edit*** As I'm getting content together for today's show on Air America, the Howard Beale speech from Network kept playing in my mind. So, I will use some of it on the show today, and figured we should all watch it again... and either say ENOUGH or say I'M AS MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE! It honestly brought tears to my eyes...

It was a great night of TV last night (and I'm not talking my Thursday night double-dose of guilty pleasures by way of Survivor and Grey's Anatomy. Nope... In addition to Keith's Special Comment, Bruce Springsteen appeared on the Daily Show with a giddy, almost star-struck Jon Stewart! I'm not criticizing here... I'd be just as giddy and star-struck, as Bruce is my dream guest!. But what a great appearance, with a very impressive interview and an amazing acoustic performance of "Working on a Dream," the title track of his new album. Here's the interview, just in case you missed it:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Bruce Springsteen - Interview
Daily Show Full EpisodesImportant Things w/ Demetri MartinPolitical Humor

And the nightcap came on The Tonight Show, as history was made with the first appearance by a sitting president on a late-night talk show. President Obama proved to be a class act (well, aside from a bad joke that I'm sure will have the right all over him), and such an intelligent change of pace from what we had to endure for the past eight years! If you just couldn't stay awake to see it last night, you can still see it here, now:

The 6th Anniversary of the Iraq War

Yesterday marked one of those milestones we had hoped never to see, and were told would not happen. When the Bush administration waged war on Iraq, they told us it would be quick and easy. But yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of the start of the war, which is still claiming innocent lives.

On my Air America show, I spoke with a few guests about the day. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has been one of the most outspoken critics of the war since an impassioned speech on the floor of the House in October of 2002, and never wavered from his call for a Department of Peace. I was honored to speak with him yesterday. You can listen to our conversation here.

Then-President George W. Bush pulled out all the stops six years ago to convince us that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to our safety, and that Iraq had caches of Weapons of Mass Destruction pointed at our collective heads. Of course, we know now that much of the intelligence was twisted to suit W's needs, or just fabricated.

Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq for seven years, and his appearance on the show yesterday is a must-listen. You can hear it here.

Of course, the big story of the week continues to be AIG and the massive, obscene "retention bonuses" some of its executives received. On Wednesday, I called for the names of these bonus recipients, noting that once their names are made public, they'd be shamed into returning the money. At that same time, Congressman Barney Frank was telling AIG CEO Liddy that he wanted the names, which all got my creative juices flowing for some fun with The Name Game.

Today, we'll lighten up a bit, and celebrate Women's History Month with Amy Simon, whose critically acclaimed Cheerios in My Underwear is the longest-running solo show in Los Angeles.

And lots more, but you'll have to tune in to www.airamerica.com from noon-3pm (EDT) to listen!

And some good news... I'll be holding down the noon-3 slot on Air America next week too! Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AIG and the rest of the news...

Today on Air America, it was impossible to stay away from AIG, as it's the story on everyone's mind. The fact that "retention bonuses" are being paid to anyone in this economic climate is reprehensible enough, but when the bonuses are in the millions of dollars, and we find out that many of those receiving them aren't even with the company any more, the absurdity of the situation makes my brain hurt!

I salute NY's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for attempting to unravel the web of deception, and for giving us the info he's uncovered thus far. We now know that there were 73 bonus recipients. The highest bonus was $6.4 million, and six other employees received more than $4 million, according to Mr. Cuomo. Fifteen other people received bonuses of more than $2 million, and 51 people received bonuses of $1 million to $2 million, Mr. Cuomo said. Eleven of those who received “retention” bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at A.I.G., including one who received $4.6 million, he said.

Mind boggling. But now I want names. As long as the "recipients" are anonymous numbers, there's not much more we can do but get mad as hell and vow not to take it any more, but that won't do us much good. We want the money back. And the best way to pressure these leeches into returning the money is by making their names public!

To be continued...

I've already told you that I attended the Talk Radio Seminar put on by Radio and Records in Los Angeles last week. The most contentious panel was on the prospect of the return of the Fairness Doctrine. In all fairness, no one is pushing to bring back this rule, which required that broadcast license holders "present controversial issues of public importance," and do so in a manner that was "honest, equitable and balanced."

Now, it must be stressed that no one has put forth any legislation to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, though I'd say 'not that there would be anything wrong with that.' Rush Limbaugh and his followers are throwing the threat of a return to the Fairness Doctrine around as a cause for fear, saying that the Democrats want to censor and shut down conservative talk radio. Do you see anything in that description of what the Fairness Doctrine was that hints of censorship? No, I didn't think so.

But on this panel last week were two (not one, but two) Republican Congressmen-- Greg Walden of Oregon and Mike Pence of Indiana, who together introduced a bill that would strip the FCC of any authority to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

To my surprise, they both accepted my invitation to be on the show today. And they were both much more respectful of my and the audience on the radio than they were of the people at the panel who had a differing point of view. You can hear that hour of the show by clicking here! (runtime 37:49)

In the last hour of today's show, I was joined by Bob Rosner of Workplace 911, who gave lots of practical tips for the millions of unemployed Americans on the best way to find work, and for those who still have jobs he gave tips on how to hold on to them!

The entire show is podcast here, though I believe you have to be a premium member to download it. You can hear the first hour of today's show, the discussion on the Fairness Doctrine, here.

Tomorrow is the 6th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Not an anniversary to celebrate, but certainly one to note, which we will.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Air America Today

I just finished up my first show on Air America. Well, technically, this was the first time I wasn't filling in for anyone!

Radio is an ever-changing world, and there are some changes happening at Air America.

Thom Hartmann had been heard via Air America in the noon-3pm (ET) slot until a couple of weeks ago, when his show moved to another company for syndication. I believe most of the stations that carried his show still do. But Air America still sends a show to its affiliates, and that's the show I'm hosting this week.

I'm not sure what stations carry it, but you can certainly hear it live at www.airamerica.com.

Today's show began with a discussion about the news that AIG is still giving its executives hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, or "retention awards"-- even after taking over $170 billion of our taxpayer dollars!

President Obama has vowed to try to stop AIG from paying the bonuses, but legal experts agree that, contractually, the employees are entitled to the money and could sue and possibly win damages up to three times the amount of the basic bonuses they're seeking in the first place.

Today, I spoke with Jamie Court, president of the nonpartisan, nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, who came up with a great idea. "Anybody at AIG who wants to collect a bonus should be alerted that it will be delivered by an FBI agent along with a long list of questions," he said. "American taxpayers saved every one of these jobs last fall, at unprecedented public expense, so the fact that anyone at AIG even has the nerve to ask for their bonus is galling."

We then moved on to an idea I've been pushing, so to speak, as a way to help the states ease the financial pain we're all suffering. The legalization of marijuana - along with strict regulations on distribution and taxation - would immediately begin lining the coffers of state treasuries.

I was in Los Angeles last year for the Talk Radio Seminar, and the thing that most surprised me was the number of "dispensary" storefronts I saw. These are the stores that sell medical marijuana, and it seems to be a booming business. I wanted to find out more, so I reached out to Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML, as well as Dan Bernath, Assistant Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project , who both told encouraging tales of states making progress toward the decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of medical marijuana.

And the show ended with a bit of a surprise from Republican Florida State Senator Michael Bennett. I read this morning that he introduced legislation to require Floridians collecting unemployment compensation to take a drug test in order to collect their benefits. Although I vehemently disagree with that idea, I was surprised to hear him agree with me on the idea of legalization of pot, as well as the idea of adding casino gambling to the beaches of South Florida! Though, conveniently, the time to introduce new legislation for this year has passed.

If you're in South Florida, I hope you'll join me this evening. I'll be the guest speaker at tonight's Broward County Democratic Party Executive Committee meeting beginning at 7pm, at the Tamarac Community Center located at 8601 West Commercial Blvd. Tamarac, FL.

And working on tomorrow's show. Feel free to email me with any suggestions for topics and guests!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Flying Home

It's been a really great week in Los Angeles... Seeing old friends, visiting old haunts and homes, and attending the Radio & Records Talk Radio Seminar. And I'll be returning home with lots to talk about... and I will.

I'll be on Air America Radio tomorrow through Friday, streaming live at www.airamerica.com, from noon-3 (EDT)/ 9-noon (PDT). I will send out an email blast in the morning, but I hope you'll make an appointment to listen, and let your friends know to join us as well.

On Tuesday evening, I'll be the guest speaker at the Broward County Democratic Party Executive Committee meeting at the Tamarac Community Center located at
8601 West Commercial Blvd. Tamarac, FL, beginning at 7pm.

I'll likely speak about the contentious debate I witnessed this week over the propsect of the Fairness Doctrine returning to regulate talk radio. It's a topic I will deal with on Air America this week as well.

I must go pack... but I'll talk to you tomorrow, radio or not!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Still loving LA...

Considering I'm still on east coast time, I can't get too upset with myself for leaving the Tuesday night jam session at the Kibitz Room at around midnight. But I must fess up to a twinge of regret when I found out that I missed Chrissie Hynde, who showed up to do four songs after her show at the Wiltern! Oh well...

Today is the start of Radio & Records magazine's Talk Radio Seminar. I will share my observations with you here, and as they happen via twitter.

And just a heads up... when I return home, I'll be talking about all of this and whatever is happening in our world on Air America radio again, holding down the noon-3pm (EDT) slot from Tuesday through Friday! I'll send out an email reminder later this week!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Love LA!

I do. It feels so good to be back here.

I'm back in Los Angeles to attend the Radio & Records Talk Radio Seminar, which runs Thursday through Saturday, but took the opportunity to visit friends and enjoy my old hometown.

I know California is having massive money woes. The situation is worse there than it is in Florida, where I've been living for the past five years. I believe California will be the first state to move forward on an idea I've been pushing (so to speak) for a while now-- legalizing marijuana and taxing the hell out of it. You want to generate revenue Arnold? There's somewhere to start!

But I digress. Today was the type of day I daydream about when I'm longing for the good old days... weather-wise, anyway. Perfect mid-70s temp, crystal clear blue skies. And driving around my old stomping grounds, I went on part one of the Nicole's former homes tour. Today, it was the driving by of my first home in Laurel Canyon, and my last home before leaving LA in Culver City. I'm still sore from punching myself for ever selling it.

Tonight, I'm going to take in some Hollywood treats. My old friend Rami Jaffee (keyboardist extraordinaire, best known for The Wallflowers) has resuscitated the Tuesday night jam sessions at the Kibitz Room at Canters Deli. The music starts at 10pm. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The National Health Care Nightmare

That was the topic for the first 90 minutes of the show yesterday, when I filled in for Ron Reagan on Air America radio. In retrospect, we could have done the entire three hours on the topic.

I knew I wasn't alone in my frustration, or in my belief that our for-profit system of private health insurance companies is government sanctioned extortion.

At the beginning of the show, I spoke with Dr. Oliver Fein, President of Physicans for a National Healthcare System, who spoke Thursday at President Obama's Health Care Summit. PNHP a group that is backing Congressman John Conyers' HR 676, calling for a national singer payer health care system.

Unfortunately, it seems as if the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies are just way too strong in this country to ever allow us to overhaul the system the way we really need to!

Have a listen to our conversation by clicking on the link below, then listen to some of the calls. It is a truly despicable situation we find ourselves in. I also encourage you to visit http://www.pnhp.org/ and read up on the details of what a single-payer plan.

You then might want to visit http://www.hr676.org/, a site set up by a Florida man named Larry Pius (who I've interviewed on a few occasions). His site is all about getting the word out that this bill exists and urging concerned citizens to contact their representatives to try to get it through!

We dealt with a few other things on yesterday's show: the scary unemployment numbers, with Hale Stewart, who writes at http://www.bonddad.blogspot.com/ and had a piece on yesterday's Huffington Post. Unfortunately, it took a lot of prodding and leading questions to get anything encouraging out of him!

And we listened back to some of the calls that came in on the Rush Limbaugh apology line. There were some beauts!

Speaking of Rush and radio, I'm heading out to Los Angeles Monday to attend the Radio & Records (trade publication) Talk Radio Seminar. Again, you can scroll down for some of my posts about the state of talk radio and the whole Rush Limbaugh nonsense. But I hope you'll think of me next week, as I'll be in the minority in a room full of right-leaning talk radio people. Eventhough it gets me in trouble sometimes, I know I'll have plenty to say about the disparity of time on the public airwaves given over to right wing talking points!

One quick message to Ron Reagan... someone is masquerading as your father on twitter. I recently began tweeting (still trying to figure that whole thing out, but will twitter from the talk radio conference next week.. so you can follow me at twitter.com/nicolesandler) . I got an email yesterday telling me that "Ronald Reagan" was following me on twitter. I was, of course, curious, so I clicked on his link, and it is someone posing as Ron's father, the late President Ronald Reagan.

I guess since he was a public figure and is no longer with us that this might be legal. But I can't believe that Ron Reagan would be ok with it. I'm not sure what recourse he has, but did want to alert him to the fact that someone has approprated his dad's name on twitter!

Click below to hear yesterday's show in its entirety!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Today's show will be live on Air America!

I was just getting ready to produce today's Radio or Not podcast when I got a call from Air America. Ron Reagan is under the weather, so I'll be filling in... So, tonight, it'll be a live, 3-hour edition of Radio or Not... I hope you'll listen on the radio or online at www.airamerica.com from 6-9pm eastern!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What's wrong with Florida?

Hear today's episode of the Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 17:21)

I went online this morning for my usual reading session. One thing I love about reading my news online is starting in one spot and just going wherever it takes me...

Today, I started on Buzzflash, where I clicked over to US News & World Report to read the Washington Whispers column entitled, "Washington Whispers: GOP to Michael Steele: Quiet About Rush Limbaugh or You're Fired "...

From there, I noticed a link to another article, "Could Legalizing Marijuana Help the Economy?" Yes! Finally, the topic I brought up last month is being bandied about by columnists more widely read than I... And then I noticed this link, to a piece at openleft.com telling us about some new polls that find that the thought of legalizing marijuana polls better than does the Republican Party! Just saying...

The 2009 Florida Legislative session got underway in Tallahassee yesterday. I know that there are lots of people who listen to the Radio or Not podcast who don't necessarily live in Florida. But what's happening here is similar to what's going on in every state in the union. It's ugly.

Today, I spoke with Florida State Senator and candidate for the US Senate in 2010, Dan Gelber, about the dire straits we're in. By the way, Dan is taking advantage of every bit of new technology out there -- he's live macro-blogging during the entire session via Twitter, so sign up to follow him here.

I just have to find out what some of those codes he uses mean!

One last note before I sign off for today... I get lots of email from the DCCC and usually just hit delete. But today, the subject line read "Republican Apology Machine." Finally, a bit of smart snark from the Democrats. Click on the link and enjoy!

And hear today's episode of the Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 17:21)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What's up with radio today?

As much as I enjoy the flexibility of doing the Radio or Not podcast, there is something about live radio that sets it apart. So, of course, when WFTL called last week to ask if I'd be available to fill in for Stacy Ritter on Saturday, there was no hesitation. (Saturday's show is online now as today's Radio or Not podcast... hear it by clicking here -runtime is 43:05)

My favorite part of the live show is taking phone calls, as you never know who will be on the other end of the line! And now that it's been six months since my morning show on that other station ended, I do miss talking to you.

Radio has certainly been a hot topic of conversation of late. First, the nonsense with Rush Limbaugh is unavoidable, and almost funny. It would really be funny if it weren't so pathetic. The Republican party seems to take its walking (and talking) orders from this grossly-overpaid, drug-addled windbag. Don't the "regular people" who are too stupid to realize that Rush is only out to protect his $400 million paycheck and doesn't give a rats ass about the working poor and middle class? I guess not...but, again, I digress.

Yesterday, I thought that RNC Chairman Michael Steele might be the only one among the GOP Power brokers who didn't cower in Rush's wake! Steele actually called it right, saying Rush is an entertainer, and then added a few choice words on top of that disclaimer. Unfortunately, the balls were cut off by last night when Steele went crawling on all fours to kiss the Rush ring and beg forgiveness.

As I said, it'd be funny if it weren't so sad!

When it comes to "progressive talk radio," there has also been some shaking up. Randi Rhodes, once again, had some sort of contractual falling out with her syndicator. First it was Air America, from which she departed last year. This time, her problems with Nova M have not only taken her off the air, they've also caused Nova M to be no longer! I hope Randi is ok... Unfortunately, she seems to have imploded!

Thom Hartmann has departed the Air America fold, but most listeners will not even notice a difference in his show. He didn't lose any of his affiliates and, according to his people, has gained a few better time slots in the transition.

I've gotten so many emails in the past few days from alarmed listeners who thought that with this change, they'd lose Hartmann. The truth is that Air America did a much better job of branding itself than they did of running a syndication company or network!

With Randi off the air, the "progressive talk" station here in Miami has been running Doing Time with Ron Kuby, a show I've been fortunate to guest host from time to time. I've really been enjoying listening to it. But it looks like I'll have to enjoy it while I can, as the rumor mill has been working overtime, churning out the tidbits of the impending change to sports.

Yes, it looks as if WINZ will soon become the 5th all-sports station to grace the AM radio dial in South Florida! According to some very reliable sources, though not confirmed by anyone within the Miramar Clear Channel compound, WINZ will pick of Fox Sports programming sometime this month.

When I was let go in August (the Friday just before the Democratic convention), I was replaced with Imus. That show was canceled this past Friday. They gave him six months and he's gone.

Many people just assumed that the switch to sports would have happened yesterday.. Monday. But I guess they're operating on a different timetable... I've long since stopped trying to figure out the way they do things over there!

Anyway, I awoke yesterday to hear what they'd do yesterday, knowing that Imus was history. They picked up Rachel Maddow's show from Air America. The problem is that Rachel's new Air America show is one hour of sound re-packaged from her MSNBC TV show from the night before. Air America feeds this hour over and over again during morning drive, figuring that stations would run it once, and probably use it to supplement a local morning show.

But my former station is just running that same hour of programming over and over again, from 5am until 9! If you think this is just filling space until they do flip to sports, I'd have to agree with you!

There's another shake-up in radioland happening now too. Bill O'Reilly announced a few months ago that he'd stop doing his daily radio show, ostensibly to concentrate on his TV empire. That leaves the noon-2pm slot on 850 WFTL here in Ft. Lauderdale up for grabs. Yes, the station at which I guest-hosted an hour on Saturday!

Now, unfortunately, WFTL is one of the majority of AM talk stations... very conservative in ideology. They carry Dr. Laura, Michael Savage and Dennis Miller along with some local (conservative) programming as well. According to their website, they're conducting a nationwide search to determine what to put in that slot. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested.

So, all I can say now is stay tuned....

Saturday morning, while filling in on WFTL, I spoke with Broward County Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Cesar about that night's Jefferson Jackson dinner, and later in the hour with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz about the bill designed to help us save our homes.

That show is today's Radio or Not podcast, which you can hear by clicking here (runtime 43:05). If you feel compelled to do so, you can head over to http://www.850wftl.com/ and click on comments, and let them know you'd like to hear me as their replacement in the noon-2pm slot. I certainly wouldn't complain!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Rock-It Science

Click here to listen to today's Radio or Not podcast (runtime 14:43)

I had a blast Saturday on WFTL. Unfortunately, a one-hour show goes by so quickly, so I tried to cram a lot into such a short time. I'm waiting to get a recording of the show, and will share highlights with you here, hopefully tomorrow.

I'm late with today's edition of Radio or Not because I've had an extremely frustrating day! I know I'm not alone in my hatred of the so-called system of health care in this country.

The really sad thing is that I'm not even sick! I'm pretty healthy, and I'm having major health insurance issues. I can only imagine what someone in my boat who has actual health issues is feeling, and I know there are lots of them out there.

You can see and hear the roots of this frustration described just last week, in a post/podcast entitled "Bitten by Cobra." This time I think the venom got me.

When you lose your job and the health insurance benefits that come with it, you're eligible to continue buying the plan that was, in most cases, partially paid for by your employer. Once terminated, your policy is "administered" as COBRA by a company called SHPS. You pay the premium plus an additional fee for the administration costs.

Great. Another level of costly, sluggish, ineffective bureaucracy to make sure the health care is kept from you while making sure you're charged a lot of money for the privilege of paying it!

In a nutshell, since I'm no longer working for the Clear Channel station that used to keep me inundated with info about the benefits I received and what I needed to do to keep receiving them, no one was performing that duty. Not even the afore-mentioned company that administer these insurance plans through COBRA.

So, when I paid my January premium, it was short the just under $20 a year the premium had increased. Do they send me a bill for the difference or, God forbid, call or email to let me know there was a discrepancy? No! They terminate my coverage. Seriously. I sent my payment of $304 (not too bad for me, huh? But with my healthy 9 year old daughter on the policy, it increased to an obscene $760 a month.... but I digress).

In February, after my Feb premium of $304 went in (I got Alison private insurance through another company, but that's a frustrating story for another day), I got a letter telling me I had been terminated for non-payment. Well, after way too long on the phone, I found out that my premium had risen to $322.45 a month, so I was $18.44 short. So they CANCELLED me for non-payment.

But oh, it gets better. I straightened it out... paid the $36.88 to bring me up to date for Jan and Feb, and was told all was well with the (considerably crooked) world of health insurance. And then my $304 refund check showed up in the mail!

Of course, when I called, they told me that I'm now not covered again because they sent me my money back! Seriously!

But enough of that... for now.

There's a unique and just -different-enough event going on tomorrow in New York to pique my interest. It's the Rock-It Science Festival, a melding of music and science... featuring Rufus Wainwright, Lenny Kaye, Steve Wynn, Peter Holsapple and others on the music side, and a bunch of scientists who are also musicians. The whole thing was the brain-child, so to speak, of Dr. Joseph LeDoux, who is (for lack of the true term) a brain scientist, and the event benefits the Sensation and Emotion Network.

I connected with Lenny Kaye (longtime Patti Smith guitarist and producer) and Dr. Joe LeDoux, and actually got to introduce them to each other as well. It was an interesting conversation with them, about the mysteries of the brain and the effect music has on it... sort of.

Hear it on today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 14:43)