Friday, May 29, 2009

The torture photos- The bigger picture

I think I've been in denial.  When President Obama annoucned that he had changed his mind about releasing the "new" photos depicting heinous abuse of detainees by US Military personnel, I agreed with him.  I took him at his word that these photos were more of what we had already seen and that they'd serve no greater purpose other than to give our enemies more ammo against us and recruitment tools for the next generation of terrorists.

But we're now learning that, as unbelievable as it sounds, these photos show even more disgusting and despicable acts, committed by our soldiers on their prisoners.  Although the White House is denying the report which first surfaced in the Telegraph UK, based on an interview with Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry in the Abu Ghraib prison, new reports are confirming the story.

I'd been reading about the photos on Larissa Alexandrova's blog,, and her viewpoint influenced my thinking enough to invite her on my show for a conversation.  Wd spoke at length today, not only about the photos, but the ramfications of the actions of the president who I had hoped and believed would be different.

A quick postscript:  Just as I was getting ready to post the podcast, I checked back in at atlargely, and saw that Larissa had posted a new blog entry.  In it, she cited Scott Horton, the Columbia law professor and writer for Harper's Magazine, who has now confirmed that the photos President Obama is refusig to release depict sexual abuse.  Here is what Horton has found:

"The Daily Beast has confirmed that the photographs of abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, which President Obama, in a reversal, decided not to release, depict sexually explicit acts, including a uniformed soldier receiving oral sex from a female prisoner, a government contractor engaged in an act of sodomy with a male prisoner and scenes of forced masturbation, forced exhibition, and penetration involving phosphorous sticks and brooms.

These descriptions come on the heels of a British report yesterday about the photographs that contained some of these revelations—and whose credibility was questioned by the Pentagon.

The Daily Beast has obtained specific corroboration of the British account, which appeared in the London Daily Telegraph, from several reliable sources, including a highly credible senior military officer with firsthand knowledge, who provided even more detail about the graphic photographs that have been withheld from the public by the Obama administration.

A senior military officer familiar with the photos told me that they would likely provoke a storm of outrage if released. The well-informed source confirmed, just as reported in the Telegraph, that many of the photographs are sexually explicit, including those mentioned above. The photographs differ from those already officially released. Some show U.S. personnel engaged in sexual acts with prisoners and each other. In one, a female prisoner appears to have been forced to expose her breasts to be photographed. In another, a prisoner is suspended naked upside down from the top bunk of a bed in a stress position.

Still other withheld photographs have been circulating among U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq. One soldier showed them to me, including a photograph in which a male in a U.S. military uniform receives oral sex from a female prisoner."

Disturbing, to say the very least.

Listen to my interview with Larissa Alexandrovna by clicking here (runtime 36:38)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Memorial Day postscript

As you likely already know, I spent Memorial Day afternoon/evening (depending on your time zone) guest-hosting the Ron Reagan Show on Air America Radio.

In addition to dealing with Don't Ask Don't Tell, speaking with WWII Vet Leon Cooper, the subject of the film "Return to Tarawa," interviewing conscientious objector Josh Stieber and more, I wanted to shine a light on those who fought in what has come to be known as "the Forgotten War".

The Korean War began shortly after WWII ended, and ended shortly before the start of the Vietnam War, so it is often overlooked.

Although the TV show MASH, which took place during the Korean War lasted 11 years, the actual Korean War lasted three; more than two of those years were spent in peace talks.

A few more facts about The Forgotten War:

  • The Korean War started on June 25th, 1950 and ended on July 27th, 1953.
  • The Korean War was fought between North Korea (along with the Chinese about halfway through the war), and the United Nations with South Korea. It was a fight against communism.
  • Over 3 million people died in the Korean War.
  • The war led to nothing. All it did was prevented communism from spreading into South Korea. No other gains were made, only many casualty losses.
  • The Korean War has become almost Forgotten, sometimes called The Forgotten War. This is because it occured right after World War II and right before the Vietnam War. The Korean War often gets overlooked.
  • 16 Nations sent forces to fight in the Korean War. It was practically a World War all on it's own involving so many nations.
  • The Korean War marks the beginning of the Cold War.
  • The Peace Talks lasted 2 years and 17 days. 575 meetings had to take place before an agreement was made. That agreement kept the dividing line at the 38th parallel.
  • United States forces started integration during the Korean War, due to much needed support. Black and Whites worked together for the first time.
  • Many soldiers experienced frostbite during the subzero temperatures during Winter.
  • One of the first jets, the F-86 Sabre, was used during the Korean War.
  • MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals) began being used during the Korean War. The MASH units saved thousands of lives. Once a soldier got to a MASH unit he had a 97% chance of survival.

So, on Memorial Day 2009, I wanted to honor the men and women who served in this war, both those who made it through alive and those who were killed in the line of duty. I located the Korean War Veterans Association online, and began looking for someone to come on the show with me by making my way down the directory of officers.

Being Memorial Day, many of them were out at events. Luckily for me, 2nd VP Robert Banker lives in Maryland, so he arrived home from their Memorial Day event in time to join me on the air Monday evening.

Click here to listen to my interview with Korean War veteran Robert Banker.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A new Radio or Not feature begins today

Beginning today, Radio or Not will offer a morning news update in conjuntion with the Talk Radio News Service.  

First thing each weekday morning, I'll speak with a TRNS correspondent about what's on tap in DC and our world.  To hear the reports, look to your left and click on the daily link.

Today's update comes from TRNS Managing Editor Victoria Jones.  Topics include the Supreme Court, who today will hand down a ruling on California's Prop 8, and whose next Justice will be nominated by President Obama.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tweeting the Night Away

I welcomed @Jason_Pollock  back to the show today to learn a bit more about Twitter.  I'm doing it, but it's still a bit of a mystery to me.

Jason Pollock is a filmmaker, writer, and activist who has just finished writing, producing, and directing his first film called, "The Youngest Candidate" which follows the story of 4 teens who ran for public office in America. 

TYC was produced by David Letterman’s company, Worldwide Pants, in partnership with Oscar winner Lawrence Bender (producer of ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, etc..) and Balance Vector Productions. It follows the story of 4 teens that ran for public office in America. 

Jason took to Twitter to help promote his film, and has amassed a ridiculous 48,028 followers!  

A whole new world is opening up online, along with new ways to reach a potential audience.  But, as Jason explains, don't just take to Twitter to promote or sell... you've got to provide good content.

Memorial Day on Air America Radio

On Air America tonight, I spoke with a Conscientious Objector named Josh Stieber who is embarking on a cross-country journey to spread the word of peace.  Follow his journey at

 I only saw this moments before the end of the show tonight.  But a guy named Sean Askay worked with Google Earth on this project mapping the fallen soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  I'll certainly be trying to get in touch with him for an interview.  In the meantime, check out

Memorial Day today on Air America

I'll be filling in for Ron Reagan today from 6-9PM ET on At 7:30 ET, I'll be interviewing Leon Cooper, the subject of this film, "Return to Tarawa."

At the top of the show, shortly after 6pm, I'll speak with Jason Pollock, filmmaker, writer, and activist who has just finished writing, producing, and directing his first film called, "The Youngest Candidate", the 1st feature doc ever produced by David Letterman’s company, Worldwide Pants, in partnership with Oscar winner Lawrence Bender (producer of ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, etc..) and Balance Vector Productions. It follows the story of 4 teens that ran for public office in America.

Jason took to Twitter to help promote his film, and has amassed a ridiculous 48,028 followers! You can follow him on Twitter too... just look for @jason_pollock.

And lots more... I hope you'll finish off your Memorial Day weekend with me later today, 6-9PM ET on Air America.  And feel free to call in at 866-303-2279.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Medical Marijuana Inc!

Believe it or not, there is a publicly traded company in the marijuana business.  

While guest-hosting the Ron Reagan Show on Air America yesterday, I interviewed Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc.  

I'll be back live on Air America Radio Monday, once again filling in for Ron Reagan, from 6-9PM ET/3-6 ET.  I hope you'll join me!

Friday, May 22, 2009

An Air America Memorial Day Weekend kick-off

I will be filling in for Ron Reagan this afternoon or evening, depending on where you're listening!

The Ron Reagan Show airs live from 6-9PM ET/3-6pm PT, and I'll be holding down the fort today and Monday, Memorial Day.

I hope you'll be with us from the start today, as my first guest is a fascinating one.  Bruce Perlowin spent much of his youth in the 60s and 70s building a pot smuggling empire!  You can read his story by clicking the link and, yes, you'll see he was eventually busted (for the money laundering part of his business, not for pot!) and served his time.  

Now, he's the CEO of the first publicly traded company in the Medical Marijuana field... Medical Marijuana Inc. 

In our second hour, we'll look into the crystal ball of oil.  If you think the prices we've seen at the pump rise over the past couple of weeks, just wait.  Jeff Rubin, author of Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization will join me, and might give you a new outlook on our way of life.

We'll get a new update from the Talk Radio News Service about what went on in Washington DC today, and I'll have lots of time to take your calls on all of it, at 866-303-2270.

Listen live at!

(And we'll do it again on Monday... so plan on spending your Memorial Day afternoon or evening with me!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jesse for President

Until this week, I never thought of  Jesse Ventura as a serious public servant.  OK, I know he was governor of Minnesota, but I just figured the freezing winter temperatures did something to the voters' brains.  After all, this is the same state that elected Michelle Bachman to the House of Representatives and, six months after the election, still hasn't seated their newest senator, Al Franken.

But Jesse Ventura is currently on a media blitz promoting the paperback release of his latest book, Don't Start the Revolution without Me! 

Although I haven't yet interviewed him myself, I've found myself more and more impressed with him, in every way, and was inspired to produce  a quick salute to the man I'd most like to see run for national office!

See why for yourself:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Doing Time for Ron Kuby today on Air America

Just a few days after Ron Kuby took over the noon-3 ET slot on Air America, he has to have a tooth extracted.  So, I'm back in the saddle again today... and there's so much to discuss.

As promised yesterday, in the third hour I will once again speak with Military Religous Freedom Foundation founder/president Mikey Weinstein about Robert Draper's piece in GQ and the role religion played in W's military actions (see yesterday's blog for more on this, along with links).

In our first hour, I'll chat with Politico's Glenn Thrush about the problem with Pelosi and more Republican hypocrisy.  My burning question is, If the Republicans want Pelosi out for lying, what about Bush & Cheney?!?!

And in hour 2, we'll learn about BlackRock. No, not CBS, but the money management company that is emerging from our financial crisis as one of the fed's biggest advisors and one of the nation's financial powerhouses!  

Stephanie will be along with a look at last night's television, and I'll ask for your help with my frog problem.  

I hope you'll listen live at, or participate in the chat at  And call in too at 866-303-2270....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is God on Our Side?

Listen to today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 21:11)

Apparently, that's what the Bush administration thought! In a stunning new article in GQ Magazine, Bob Draper (author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush) tells us that Bush's famous comment of 9/16/01 in which he referred to the "war on terror" as a "crusade" probably wasn't one of his famous slips at all!

Just a few weeks ago, we learned from an English language Al Jazeera report the evangelical Christians in the US Military were proselytizing in Afghanastan, even going as far as handing out bibles translated into the two languages spoken there.

Now, thanks to Draper's piece, "And He Shall Be Judged," we learn the fundamentalist religious zealotry that we condemn in radical Islam was present at the highest levels of our government!

The article contains a slideshow of cover art from a series of Top Secret reports prepared for President Bush by Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, juxtaposing war photos with biblical passages, and were delivered to the president by Rumsfeld himself.

See the slideshow here.

In today's Radio or Not podcast, we go back to May 4 and 5, the days immediately following the Al Jazeera story, for my conversations about that incident with Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, and Mikey Weinstein, founder & president of Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

The song featured on today's podcast is "God on Our Side" by World Party.

Listen to today's Radio or Not podcast by clicking here (runtime 21:11)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Inside the CIA

Hear my interview with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (Friday, May 15, 2009) by clicking here -- runtime 25:37

I had a blast guest hosting on Air America radio for the past month or so. Now that I'm back at Radio or Not full-time, in addition to talking about what's happening, I'll be sharing some of the best interviews I conducted there.

We'll start today with Ray McGovern. I spoke with Ray for a few moments the day after the "torture memos" were released, but with all the revelations about what our government did over the past eight years (under the guise of "keeping us safe"), I knew I had to have him back on for a more in-depth discussions.

Ray McGovern was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

I first learned of him after seeing him confront Donald Rumsfeld about why we were lied into war in Iraq.

Although VIPS doesn't have a website, Ray McGovern has written extensively on the wrongs of the Bush administration, and has offered some advice to our new president as well. Here are links to some of his pieces:

Memo to President Obama on Torture-- April 29, 2009 (Updated May 1, 2009)

Torture? Rudman to the Rescue -- May 6, 2009

Rumsfeld Redux: 'Ugly' Questions for Gen. Myers -- May 14, 2009

And you can hear my interview with Ray McGovern (Friday, May 15, 2009) by clicking here -- runtime 25:37

Friday, May 15, 2009

The protest song is alive and well...

And we'll be using many that were suggested by listeners and Facebook friends today on Air America Live, from noon-3 ET at  

I'll update the list as we go along, and I hope you'll participate by adding your suggestions to the comments below, or calling in to the show at 866-303-2270... We'll use as many of them as possible today, and will compile a list when it's all done.

The reason for the theme today is apparent.  The House yesterday passed a massive war spending bill to continue financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we're seeing our president standing by many of the practices we abhorred during the previous administration. 

With Dick Cheney as a constant televised reminder of the atrocities they committed in our names, still spewing his lies and venom.  We must speak out to demand that those responsible are held accountable.

I've long bemoaned the lack of a new generation of protest songs... but I asked for suggestions, and you came through loud and clear.  So we'll spotlight those today, as I focus in on the topic that Cheney is keeping at the forefront of the news cycle... torture.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern will join me in the first hour.  And we'll hear what the other side thinks in the second hour, as Newsmax columnist John LeBoutillier checks in.  And I definitely want to hear from you too!

Today will be my last day hosting Air America Live.  Doing Time with Ron Kuby will move into this slot beginning Monday.  You can always find me here at  And I'll still be doing work for Air America... as soon as next week.  I'll be guest-hosting the Ron Reagan show next Friday, 5/22, and the following Monday 5/25.

As always, I'll keep speaking out... Radio or Not!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The blurring of the gender lines

One by one, states are coming to the realization that discrimination against entire segments of the population is wrong, and they're either legalizing gay marriage or moving closer to the reality that everyone is entitled to find marital bliss - or hell - depending on one's opinion of that institution! 

As we move ever further into the 21st century, the lines of gender are becoming increasingly blurred.  

On Tuesday, I came across a fascinating Op-Ed piece in the NY Times written by Jennifer Finney Boylan that asked the question, "Is My Marriage Gay?"  Finney and her wife live in Maine, where marriage equality just became law.  But Finney and her spouse were already legally married.  She was a "he" when they wed in 1998.  He began the "long and complex process of changing from male to female" in 2000.  Finney's wife Deedie, "deciding that her life was better with me than without me" decided to stay put. 

I contacted Jennifer to see if she'd come on the show with me.  After a very nice back and forth exchange via email in which she almost agreed to do it, but begged out due to the hypocrisy that she'd turned down similar invitations from Fox and ABC, she offered a substitute. 

"Helen Boyd, author of MY HUSBAND BETTY as well as SHE'S NOT THE MAN I MARRIED," she explained "is a very, very articulate spouse of a trans woman-- same situation as me, except from the wife's point of view.  She knows all the facts, and in fact is probably a more articulate spokeswoman than I am-- after all I am just a novelist who blundered into the Times. " 

So today, as I struggle with the challenges of everyday life as a single mother, I'll speak with a woman whose situation offers me the realization that life could be a bit tougher! 

I'll speak with Helen Boyd on Air America Live today at 12:15 ET.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It was a busy show...

We covered a lot of territory today.

First up was David Swanson of and (and others too numerous to mention at the moment) who called in while going from the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing "What Went Wrong: Torture and the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Administration" to the big rally for Single Payer Healthcare.

While in the Senate hearing, he was liveblogging at dailykos along with Jessalyn Radack, who joined us for the last half-hour of the show.

We centered in on the story of the "Liberty City Six" conviction -- on the third try -- with my former WINZ colleague and current CBS4 commentator and investigative reporter Jim DeFede.

Of course, I couldn't talk with DeFede without talking about Gov. Charlie Crist, who yesterday announced a run for the Senate.

Charlie Crist is featured prominently in the new documentary "Outrage."  I spoke with director Kirby Dick about the film, which deals with the rampant hypocrisy demonstrated by closeted homosexual politians.

My dear friend John Ondrasik, better know as Five for Fighting, joined me to talk music, as well as the Performance Rights Act which today passed the House Judiciary Committee on its way to a full House vote.

More later... gotta take a dog to the vet!

My final week noon-3 on Air America...

More on that later, but it'll be another action-packed show... with updates from the torture hearing going on in the Senate and the protest in favor of Single-Payer Health Care in DC.

Then we'll turn towards a couple of stories in the news from my backyard... Convictions in the third trial of the Liberty City Six (weren't they originally the Liberty City Seven?).... and Charlie Crist is running for the Senate... Yikes.  I'll speak with my former WINZ colleague, Jim DeFede, about both stories.

In the 1:00 hour, I'll be joined by Kirby Dick, director of the new documentary Outrage, which features the afore-mentioned Governor of Florida prominently.

And in the last hour, my dear friend John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting... we'll talk music and the Performance Rights Act too.. I hope you'll listen live at  And call in too... 866-303-2270

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A tribute to Dick

Cheney, that is.

The fact of the matter is that I don't want him to shut up.  I hope he keeps talking and talking...

Tuesday topics

I'm getting ready to go on the air again today at Air America, from noon-3 ET.  Before I get to today's topics, let me just say that Rush Limbaugh deserves everything that Wanda Sykes doled out Saturday night.  

Limbaugh is a hateful, bigoted, nasty excuse for a human being.  If you need some evidence, read the "Top 10 Racist Limbaugh Quotes" for yourself...

Today, we'll deal with another Senate Finance Committee hearing on health care -- is there a single payer seat at  the table?

We'll talk steroid use in baseball with Kurt Streeter of the LA Times, and we'll talk with Attorney Brian Cuban, who's trying to get Facebook to remove Holocaust denier groups.

And finally, Congress will vote this week on another $85 billion for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq!  We'll find out what's going on with that.

And I have a message for Dick Cheney too... I hoep you'll listen!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wanda Sykes is my new hero!

I was excited to read that President Obama's choice to head up the Office of Drug Control Policy is considered pragmatic.  Kevin Zeese, president of Common Sense for Drug Policy, wrote a piece for OpEdNews, Obama's Drug Czar Nominee Approved a Potential Break from the Past, that gave me reason to think that things could be getting better and moving toward an end of the so-called War on Drugs.

So today I thought I'd take the temperature of a couple of groups who've been advocating for an end to prohibition.  I spoke with Micah Daigle, associate director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Jack Cole, executive director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

In the first hour of today's show, we examined the power of sex... from two different vantage points.  Eleven women's groups in Nairobi, Kenya decided to go on a sex strike for a week, hoping that by denying their partners sex, they could stop the infighting between the president and the prime minister.  I spoke with Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers, one of those groups.

And we learned about a facebook group, Busts 4 Justice, who got a popular British retailer -- Marks & Spencer- to rescind their "tit-tax"... they had been charging a 2 pound surcharge for bras that are DD or larger.  After 14,000 women joined the group, M&S executives gave in and eliminated the penalty.

Finally, Saturday night was the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, and the comedy didn't disappoint. 

When I heard that Wanda Sykes was playing the Stephen Colbert role this year, I was disappointed, as I've never been a fan.  But that has changed!  

Both Sykes and President Obama kicked some comedy ass.  So,  I spent the third hour of today's show playing back some of the highlights.

Even though Wanda Sykes was great, my favorite is still Stephen Colbert.  Take a journey back through time to 2006, and check out W's face as Colbert keeps going....

Friday, May 08, 2009

Special Mothers Day Edition of Air America Live today

You can hear today's special Mothers Day edition of Air America Live in it's entirety, right here!

Our first guest was journalist Dahr Jamail, talking about how war effects Mothers. Check out his blog here.

Robert Lamarche, Southeast Regional Director of Alliance For Children, joined me to discuss adoption.

Lisa Derrick gave us her thoughts on Moms... check out her blog at

Amy Simon, the ultimate mom in my book, and producer/writer/performer told some great mom stories from her one-woman show Cheerios in my Underwear.

And Jodie Evans of Code Pink joined us to talk about a piece she has on Alternet today, "Do You Know Why Mother's Day Was Started?"

Read her piece, and check out Julia Ward Howe's original Mother's Day Proclamation, written in 1870.

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Indeed. Happy Mothers Day!

On Motherhood

Sunday is Mothers Day. Like most holidays, it's a great day for florists, greeting card companies, and long distance telephone providers.

For a long time, this was a difficult time of the year for me. I lost my mother to leukemia just a week shy of my 20th birthday. Her birthday was May 3, and Mothers Day was a scant week later.

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. But I never found the man with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. For many years, I did morning radio. That meant 4am wake-ups, and early nights. Not very conducive to finding and cultivating a relationship.

I always thought that I'd get married and have at least one or two kids. I finally decided that if I was still single when I hit 40, I'd just do it on my own.

Well, one day in early May of 1999, I decided the time had come. I was still six months away from my benchmark but, with the force of a lightning strike, I suddenly knew I was ready. I went online and began researching international adoption.

The idea of going through pregnancy and birth without a partner was nothing I even considered for a moment. Instead, I decided I'd adopt a baby from Russia, as that's where most of my family heritage was.

After 18 months of grueling paperwork and agonizing waiting, I accepted the referral of an 18-month old little girl from an orphanage in the tiny village of Karakastek, Kazakhstan.

Although she was older than I wanted (I was determined to adopt an infant under 12 months old), and was in a different country

(going with Kazakhstan meant re-doing my dossier - all the adoption paperwork - for a new country), I knew she was destined to be my daughter when these two photos showed up in my inbox!

A few years after bringing Alison home, I realized that she was born just around the time I decided, on the spur of the moment, that I was ready to find my daughter. Perhaps it was my mom helping me find her. Not only was May 3 my mother's birthday, it was also my daughter's!

You can read more about my journey to bring Alison home in my journal, which starts here.

And check out part one of the video I produced of our story here.

You can watch the rest of it here.

Today, many families choose international adoption as a way to have children. In my case, as a single woman, it was easier than going the domestic route. Plus, I didn't want to take a chance that the birth mother would show up on my doorstep one day demanding her child back.

The decisions we make regarding our route to parenthood are very personal. The idea of adoption is frightening to many, but there are also many unknowns when you have a baby the old fashioned, biological way! It's all a roll of the dice of life.

International adoption has been in the news lately, with many celebrities going this route. Perhaps their motivations have something in common with mine, and they don't want someone crawling out of the woodwork demanding money, or worse, their child!

But it's become something of a punch line when it comes to Madonna.

I honestly don't think much about what Madonna does. I'm not a fan of her music or her act. I didn't pay much attention to her marriages or relationships, not how or with whom she conceived her biological children.

But Madonna is making news today because of her quest to adopt a three-year old little girl from Malawi to go along with the little boy she adopted a couple of years ago from that same African nation.

Neither of the children in question are orphans. But she obviously felt enough of a connection to both of them, as well as their country, to pursue these adoptions.

I really don't fault her for that. But when prospective adoptive parents find their children in a foreign land, they must follow that country's rules on adoption. Malawi has very stringent rules regarding residency requirements, and I think Madonna's power play to challenge how this country protects its children is just plain wrong.

But then again, I understand that maternal instinct. Perhaps she should have researched the Malawi adoption laws before falling in love with its children.

Happy Mother's Day, no matter how you got here!

And just in case you were wondering, here's my 10 year old daughter, happy, healthy and a big handful, who is the love of my life, today...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

It's the National Day of Prayer. Seriously.

OK, I've got a prayer for you...

In a country that was founded on the principle of separation of Church & State, we have a government-sanctioned "National Day of Prayer!"

President Harry Truman established the first one as a national event, back in 1952.  For the last eight years, during the George W. Bush administration, the White House held a service in the East Room. 

Thankfully, that won't happen this year.

According to press secretary Robert Gibbs, the president prays every day, and understands the role that prayer plays.  And although he signed a proclamation recognizing the day, he will not host any "prayer" events in the White House.

There is a privately-funded group, called the National Day of Prayer Task Force, headed by Shirley Dobson (yes, James Dobson's wife), whose mission is "to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family."

In my view, religion has NO PLACE in four of those seven "centers of power".  So, today, in the privacy of my own home, I'll pray that you people who want to insinuate your own ideas of morality on the rest of us keep your church and religious beliefs out of my government, military, media and educations.  

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Everything you wanted to know about Twitter, but were embarassed to ask!

OK, I admit it.  I'm a geek... I actually get a lot of technology.  I can edit digital audio and video, and can hook up a computer and stereo system.  I know basic html and, using the tools that are available, I built all three of my websites!  (This one, and

Although I never had much use for MySpace, I quickly became slightly addicted to FaceBook.  You can send me a friend request here...  And then along came Twitter.

I must admit that when I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was really stupid.  But I've watch its popularity explode over the past few months, so I thought I'd jump on the electronic bandwagon and start tweeting.  

It was just yesterday when I got a message relayed to me through my boyfriend from the father of one of his clients.  It read: 

If you are still dating Nicole. Ask her to follow me on twitter. She only has 120 somehting followers. I have 1250 followers. Many of them are more liberal than you are. I can steer her tweets to Libs with 80k and 90k followers who can then retweet to their followers. I can also hastag it to liberal conversation streams that will help her out.  I know we don't agree politically, but i don't mind helping a friend if I can. Just a thought

OK, I've been smacked down!  So not only did I follow Bighit15 on Twitter, but I asked him to come on the air with me to give all of us a little Twittering lesson.  He replied with a better person for me to talk to... which is how I met @jason_pollock!  

Not only is Jason Pollock my new Twitter guru, but he seems like a great guy.  After learning from Michael Moore, he struck out on his own, and just finished  his first film, "The Youngest Candidate," a documentary about teens who run for public office.  

Not even one single payer seat at the table!

Follow the money.  Until the money is removed from our election system, the American people will never get the representation we deserve.

This problem came to light again yesterday, as the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on "Increasing Access to Health Care Coverage."  The committee is chaired by Montana Senator Max Baucus, whose list of major contributors should bother anyone who wants to see real change.

According to, "Most of Baucus's top 10 contributors have remained the same since the 2002 election--predominantly health and finance-related industries--but nearly all ramped up their contributions this cycle, in the midst of an economic crisis and in preparation for impending health care reform... After law firms, securities and investment companies and insurance companies, the most generous industries to Baucus's campaigns have been health professionals and pharmaceuticals. The health sector has given Baucus at least $2.8 million during his career, more than any other sector with the exception of finance, insurance and real estate companies, which have given him $4.6 million."

So, it shouldn't come as too big a surprise that at yesterday's hearing, the 15 seats at the roundtable discussion were filled by representatives from the insurance industry, HMOs, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests, but not one participant was there to discuss the  reform most Americans want -- single payer health care.

Single Payer does enjoy some support in both chambers of Congress.  HR 676 was introduced in the House by John Conyers; a similar bill in the Senate, SB 703, was introduced by Bernie Sanders.

Since not one of the 15 participants at the roundtable dealing with "Increasing Access to Health Care Coverage" a number of physicians and health care advocates took it upon themselves to attend the hearing, speak up, and even get arrested.

See the video of the beginning of the hearing:

It means making noise to get the point across, and the media finally took some notice yesterday:

Both AP and Politico are reporting on the events at this morning's Senate Finance Committee, where brave healthcare activists, one after the other, stood up to protest the exclusion of single-payer reforms from the conversation. TPM Cafe

Senator During Health-Care Protest: 'We Need More Police.' - Politics Daily

Advocates of single-payer health care are getting feisty! - The Wall Street Journal

Single-Payer Health-Care Advocates Disrupt Senate Hearing - The Wall Street Journal

Doctors, Single Payer Activists Arrested -

Protesters disrupt Senate health care hearing - AP

Health care activists disrupt Senate Finance Committee hearing - Politico

Today on Air America Live, I'll speak with a couple of the protesters who got arrested yesterday.  Listen live at, listen and chat at, and call in at 866-303-2270.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Talking Tuesday....

Yesterday on Air America, after speaking with Frank Schaeffer about his upbringing and his part in the formation of the religious right movement, I told you about a story that appeared on Al Jazeera's English website concerning U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan proselytizing to the Muslim population.  See the video report for yourself...

Today, I'll speak with Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who has been aware of this video and trying to get the Pentagon to do something about it for months!

In the wake of our disgusting discussion yesterday about how the hog factories' conditions are prime breeding ground for bacteria to grow and mutate, we'll learn about alternative ways of living and eating.  We'll speak with Jill Richardson, the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It, and with Joy Williams, who lives on a 21st century commune near Santa Cruz and raises alpacas.  

By now, we've all seen the video shot at Stanford of Condi Rice channeling Richard Nixon (if the President does it, it isn't illegal).  I was able to track down Reyna Garcia, the student who captured the moment for all of us to see, and she'll join us on today's show as well.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Crazy for God

I'm not a religious person.  I grew up in a secular Jewish household, and my religious training came from watching The Ten Commandments on television.  Seriously.

And as I've grown older, I've often wondered about the hypocrisy that is organized religion.  

Houses of God should, by definition, be places where people can go to find community, tolerance, love and inclusion.  Instead, I've found that synagogues where hefty membership dues are required and tickets must be purchased for the high holiday services are the norm and, as such, exemplify hypocrisy.

And the Christian churches preach the words of Jesus, while denying gays the right to marry, and caring more for a fertilized egg than for a child born into poverty without the means to live a happy, healthy life filled with love.

Hypocrisy.  Easy for me to say, as I've never had organized religion as part of my life.

Today I had the pleasure of spending an hour interviewing Frank Schaeffer.  He was born into fundamentalist Christian royalty and emerged from the madness to offer a memoir.  His latest book, "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of it Back".

His is a truly fascinating story.  You can listen to our interview here (runtime 37:37)

Welcome to the working week...

Today, I start another week as guest host of Air America Live, from noon-3(ET).  I hope you'll listen in at  

This morning I awoke to video released by Al Jazeera about US evangelical soldiers prostelitizing in Afghanistan, attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Talk about timing... as in Hour 2 today, I'll be speaking with Frank Schaeffer, who was instrumental in the birth of the religious right movement and has since come to his senses.  He wrote about his father, Francis Schaeffer, who was the equivalent of the Protestant Pope, in his book, "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of it Back."  

We'll also look into the origins of the swine flu which, believe it or not, differs from the origins of the religious right.

And speaking of prostelitizing, there's a fight in many states about "Choose Life" license plates.  We already have those here in Florida.  We're so ahead of the curve, the Florida Legislature, in all their wisdom, just approved this one:


And there's lots more to talk about today as well... I hope you'll call in too... the number is 866-303-2270!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

With Liberty and Healthcare for All

That's how it should be. It really blows my mind that in this, the greatest nation in the world, millions of people have no health care coverage. And even many of those of us who do are still in danger of losing everything we've worked our entire lives for if we get sick.

Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

President Obama has promised to do overhaul the healthcare system in this country. Unfortunately, his plan doesn't do nearly enough. The only way to turn it around and do it right is by putting a Single Payer Healthcare Program into effect.

I've said it many times, and I'll say it again. The system we currently use -- for profit health insurance is government sanctioned extortion!

In my first hour on Air America radio yesterday, I was joined by three people who gave us the nuts and bolts on Single Payer.

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard and co-director of the Harvard Medical School General Internal Medicine Fellowship program. She worked in 1990-91 as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy fellow at the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Congress. Dr. Woolhandler is a frequent speaker and has written extensively on health policy. A co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and current Board member, she co-edits PNHP’s Newsletter and is a principal author of PNHP articles published in the JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician in Sparks, MD, and-chair of the MD chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, on the steering committee of the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care/National Single Payer Alliance and national coordinator of Artists for Guaranteed Health Care.

And Ralph Nader, who probably needs no description, except for the fact that he's been a proponent for Single Payer health care for as long as he's been running for President! He's on of the founders of

We got a lot of good information about Single Payer, so I hope you'll take the time to listen to what they had to say... Listen to it here (runtime 37:37)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Finally Friday...

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday.  On Air America radio, I put forth a theory as to why... Chrysler was never sexy enough to be immortalized in song.  Think about it...there are no great songs about Chryslers!

I put  together a musical tribute to the American car, but the Chrysler was conspicuously absent.   Listen for yourself here. 

Today on Air America (noon-3 ET), I shared some suggestions from a listener who challenged me on that assumption.  The list includes songs that mention the Chrysler in passing, including The B-52s Love Shack,  Barenaked Ladies If I Had a Million Dollars, and Lyle Lovett's Here I Am.  All great songs.... but the references to the Chrysler automobiles in each song are not very complimentary.  The only song that's really about the actual car that I could find is Jan & Dean's Little Old Lady from Pasadena!  Think about the image...  I think you'll agree that my theory still holds up!

The Swine Flu (I mean H1N1 influenza A) is still topping the news.  But you know, once again, it's an example of history repeating... We had a similar swine flu outbreak back in 1976, and then-President Gerald Ford wanted to stave off a pandemic, so he told all of us to get the Swine Flu vaccine.  Check out these PSAs that ran on TV:  

I found that video on Glenn Garvin's blog at  Glenn is the Herald's TV editor, and he'll join me today at 1:00 ET to talk about the 24-hour news cycle and how it skews the stories, plus May sweeps (yes, it's that time again) and more...

But back to the Swine Flu... sorry, I can't do the R2D2 thing...  You don't want to catch it, especially if you don't have health insurance.  I've been an outspoken proponent of Single Payer Health Care.  If you don't know what that means, please listen to the first hour of today's show... I'll be joined by a couple of doctors (one from academia, one from private practice), who'll explain it in practical terms.  And Ralph Nader will join in for the last segment of hour 1 to give his take on it.  Find out more about single payer at (Physicians for a National Health Program) and Nader's organization, at

And we heard from Adam Kokesh, one of our most outspoken anti-occupation Iraq war veterans, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a run for Congress in 2010 on today's show.  A site encouraging the run is up at, and he's now also launched  

I'll be back on Air America next week... Monday - Friday from noon-3 ET.   Listen live at,  check out the chat room at, and call in at 866-303-2270.