Friday, October 30, 2009

Greatest American Hero

**Click here to listen to my interview with Congressman Dennis Kucinich**

The fight for real health care reform is far, very far from over!

We political junkies know who the true heroes are. They've been in the fight for a long time, knowing that slow and steady wins the race.

Then there are the newcomers, the flashes in the proverbial pans.

Not that there's anything wrong with them. Congressman Alan Grayson became an overnight sensation, earning the hearts and dollars of progressive democrats, and the ire of the right wing media after standing up on the floor of the House and blowing the lid off of the GOP health care plan: "Don't get sick. And if you do get sick, Die Quickly!"

It wasn't even so much what he said; it was more just simply the fact that he said it!

Democrats are not used to any of our elected officials actually standing up and speaking truth to power.

Anthony Weiner has become another regular on all of the MSNBC shows. He's been calling for a floor vote in the House on his amendment, which would basically replace the House health care bill with the single payer bill HR 676. I know he has the best of intentions, yet he probably should have consulted with the authors of HR 676.

John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich wrote that bill. And Dennis Kucinich has been working diligently for YEARS, pushing for real health care reform in the US. In fact, when you visit, the masthead reads "Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. Health Care For All" followed by a petition you can sign "establishing health care as a civil right."

When I asked him a few months ago about Congressman Weiner's efforts to resurrect HR 676, Kucinich was less than enthusiastic. Of course, being the kind of guy he is, he'd never criticize his colleague and only spoke of him glowingly. But he did assert that the Weiner amendment would not pass; moreover it would suffer a crushing defeat in a floor vote.

Weiner was publicly pushing this bill, which stood no chance in hell of winning, when he could have joined with Kucinch in a slow, steady movement toward actual reform. Instead, Weiner's flash served to undermine the Kucinich amendment, which was the one bright shining element in the massive HR 3200.

The Kucinich Amendment is brilliant. It appeals to Republicans because it's all about state's rights. And it's our best chance to get a single payer health care system in this country, in that it allows us to achieve it in the same way Canada was able to. State by state to their province by province.

The Kucinch Amendment would allow states to set up single-payer health care systems modeled after Medicare, passed the House Education and Labor Committee in July, but was stripped out by Democratic leaders as they pieced together their final bill from the various committee proposals.

Congressman Kucinich today sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi urging her to reinstate his amendment. According to the Washington Independent, the letter was also signed by the House Progressive Caucus leadership, including Democratic Reps John Conyers (Mich.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), Janice Schakowsky (Ill.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)

We all must join the effort. You can contact Nancy Pelosi's office, and your congressional representative, and insist that the Kucinich Amendment be reinstated too.

You can send Nancy Pelosi a message from her website, using the very handy form here. And you can call her office at 202-225-0100.

If you don't know who your Congressman is, just click here and put your zip code in the upper left hand corner to find out and get his or her contact information.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich will be my special guest tonight at midnight ET on Air America radio. I hope you'll join me tonight to listen to our greatest American hero.

Say It Ain't So, Joe

I don't give politicians much credit these days, though I have to give them props for the strength of their collective stomachs. I don't think I could take the rollercoaster that is is the legislative process.

Perhaps it's my adult ADD or my need for instant gratification (or at least near future gratification). Patience was never a virtue of mine.

The long, bumpy, twisty road to health care reform has been enough to make me sick. Just when we think we're on the home stretch, another obstacle pops up. This time, it wears the scary Halloween mask of Joe Lieberman. Truly terrifying.

Maura Keaney, in an editorial for The Guardian (UK) offered this bit of brilliance:

Joe Lieberman has become the Balloon Boy dad of the Senate Democratic caucus, a fame-whore so addicted to media attention that he hatches ever-more-desperate and risky schemes that sell out his "family" to earn press attention.

Progressives can only hope that, like Richard Heene, Lieberman will finally be exposed as a fame-seeking fraudster after his latest stunt, Tuesday's threat to filibuster any bill for health care reform that includes a public option.

So, what do we do about the errant Senator from Connecticut? I'll try to assess the options, and keep the nausea at bay.

Joe Lieberman, who was defeated in the Democratic primary in Connecticut in 2006 by challenger Ned Lamont, decided to go rogue and run as an independent. Although he had shown little loyalty to the party, it got behind him in a big way.

Lieberman, as we now know all too well, won and retained his seat in the Senate and in the Democratic caucus. Apparently, party leadership with their brilliance at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory again and again, neglected to get any loyalty assurances from Mr. Lieberman in return for his place in the caucus. And even more irresponsible, he was given a prime committee chairmanship, again, with apparently no conditions.

How long should the Democratic party allow Lieberman's Republican ways to sit with the Dems, and even more importantly, to chair the all-important Homeland Security committee?

He not only campaigned in 2008 for the GOP ticket of McCain-Palin, but also for a number of Republicans in their bid for seats in the Senate. Today, he said he plans to actively campaign - again - for more Republican candidates in the coming days.future contests.

This week, Droopy Joe has been threatening to make history by siding with the Republicans to filibuster the health care bill -- voting against the cloture motion to cut off debate and bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

No Senator has ever gone against his caucus to filibuster legislation. If Lieberman does, indeed, do this, it will finally end his relationship with the Democratic party.

Many loyal liberals are calling for Lieberman's hide right now. Much to my amazement, I caution patience here. If Lieberman is stripped of his chairmanship and kicked out of the caucus now, he most definitely will filibuster and do all he can to block any new legislation.

He is a wimp. I have a feeling that with enough pressure put on him, he'll bow his head and come crawling back to the Democrats and will vote for cloture. I believe, as Maura Keaney wrote above, that Joe Lieberman is an attention seeking whore.

Perhaps when push comes to shove he will do the right thing. If not, there's plenty of time to kick him to the curb later.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Health Care Reform... Not Dead Yet

**Updated to include links to the interviews mentioned below:
Congressman Alan Grayson
Brent Budowsky
Neil Finn ***

Though it sure seems as if someone in Washington is trying to kill the public option.

Harry Reed surprised the hell out of me last week when he announced that the Senate health care bill would include a public option. It gave me great pleasure to announce that I was wrong. I'd love nothing more than to be proven wrong in my pessimism today.

Nancy Pelosi today released the final House bill, HR 3962 The Affordable Health Care for America Act, which includes a less than robust public option. The concession she had to give to garner the 218 votes necessary to get the bill off the floor, I suppose, was to promise reimbursement rates to be negotiated with doctors, rather than based on Medicare rates plus 5%.

But that's not the worst part of what happened today. Speaker "Off the Table" Pelosi sold out a couple of progressive members of the House.

First up, Anthony Weiner. You might remember Weiner introducing an amendment that would replace the then-House bill, HR 3200, with the Single Payer bill HR 676. At first, I thought this was a wonderful idea! That is, until I spoke with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who co-authored HR 676 with John Conyers.

Mr. Kucinich has been in the House a long time, and understands the snail-like pace and frustrating ways in which things get done. Obviously, as author of the bill, he'd like nothing more than a single payer health care system in the country. But, as he explained to me, bringing the Weiner amendment up for a floor vote is the wrong way to go about it! It would lose, handily. You don't go into these fights when you know you're going to lose!

Congressman Weiner didn't heed the advice of his colleague, and pushed ahead, appearing on MSNBC, seemingly at every opportunity. Today, we learned that even though Congressman Weiner was promised a full floor vote on his amendment, it will not happen. Again, since it would have failed by a huge margin, it's probably just as well. And it did take the attention and efforts away from the better, more logical, Kucinich Amendment. But that certainly doesn't excuse the Speaker from her serious breach of trust; Education and Labor Committee Chairman Henry Waxman told him that Pelosi promised Mr. Weiner a full floor vote if he'd skip a committee vote.

Dennis Kucinich got his amendment through the Education and Labor committee bill, which would have allowed states to create their own single payer statewide health care system. This was the one hope we had in this legislation that would have opened the door to the only system that would truly reform health care in this country. It passed in the committee on which Dennis sits; one of the three bills that was reported in the House, and merged into this new bill that Pelosi introduced today. Although, as David Swanson reports today on, the Kucinich Amendment was stripped out of the bill, and no new amendments will be allowed in the debate before the House votes on the legislation.

I invited Congressman Kucinich on the program tonight to respond to today's developments. He will likely appear tomorrow night. In the meantime, he issued this statement today:

Washington D.C. (October 29, 2009) – Following a statement on the Floor of the House of Representative, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement about the latest House health care plan:

“Is this the best we can do? Forcing people to buy private health insurance, guaranteeing at least $50 billion in new business for the insurance companies?

“Is this the best we can do? Government negotiates rates which will drive up insurance costs, but the government won’t negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies which will drive up pharmaceutical costs.

“Is this the best we can do? Only 3% of Americans will go to a new public plan, while currently 33% of Americans are either uninsured or underinsured?

“Is this the best we can do? Eliminating the state single payer option, while forcing most people to buy private insurance.

“If this is the best we can do, then our best isn’t good enough and we have to ask some hard questions about our political system: such as Health Care or Insurance Care? Government of the people or a government of the corporations.”

Tonight, we'll talk about what happened today with Democratic advisor and The Hill columnist, Brent Budowsky. We'll also check in with Christy Harvey at the Center for American Progress.

Earlier today, I guest-hosted Montel Across America, and Alan Grayson was my guest. I'll share with you some parts of the interview, and explain why I'm becoming a bit disenchanted with the guy who, before our interview, I considered a hero.

And we'll have a treat tonight as well. One of my favorite bands of all time is the under-appreciated Crowded House! Neil Finn led the band, forming it after the band he and his brother fronted, Split Enz, broke up.

Neil Finn has put together a stellar group of musicians for a project called 7 Worlds Collide. Neil, his brother Tim Finn, sons Liam and Elroy, wife Sharon, along with Johnny Marr (The Smiths, Modest Mouse), Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone (Wilco), KT Tunstall, Ed O'Brien & Phil Selway (Radiohead) along with other equally notable musicians, got together at Finn's New Zealand home for three weeks last Christmas to record the album "The Sun Came Out." The proceeds will go to Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Find them at

Here's a look and listen to a few of the songs from Neil Finn and the all-star band of the players of 7 Worlds Collide:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Billionaires for Wealthcare Strike Again!

These guys rock! Check them out at

Monday, October 26, 2009

Inching Closer Toward Health Care Reform

I can't recall exactly how many times in the past few months I heard some pundit proclaim that "the Public Option is dead!" I refused to believe it.

I knew that whatever passed wouldn't be as good as it should be, and would be nowhere near what we need to truly provide affordable, quality health care for our citizenry. But I always believed that, in the end, we'd have some semblance of a public option.

But I never thought that Harry Reid would emerge the hero! On that count, I was wrong! And I'm thrilled to admit it!

Harry Reid held a press conference this afternoon in which he said that the final Senate bill will have a public option, with states having an opt out provision.

Cool! Let the Republican led states try to wiggle out of the public option after some of their citizens have been enrolled for a year, and see them fall out of office! Works for me.

Once it's passed, it'll be up to us to strengthen the program, and expand it so that anyone who wants to buy into the system is able to. But I realize we'll have to take it one step at a time. Perhaps we can call it patience for patients.

It's still far from perfect. The biggest problem is that none of the benefits of this reform will take effect until 2013! So I was thrilled to see an article in today entitled "Dems Push for Benefits to Start by 2010" Now, that's what I'm talking about!

So, I reached out to Carrie Budoff Brown who authored the piece, and she'll join me tonight on Air America.

I wasn't alone in my contention that Harry Reid was an ineffective and spineless excuse for a Senate Majority Leader. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee had been running spots in Nevada targeting him, which appear to have paid off in a big way today. Tonight, we'll also check in with PCCC co-founder Adam Green to congratulate him and find out what comes next!

And we'll get the big picture from Democratic party insider Brent Budowsky, who was an aide to former Senators Lloyd Bensten and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He can be read on The Hill's Pundit's blog, and occasionally also writes a column for the paper. "Public Option Will Win" will appear tomorrow, and he'll speak with us, at length, about it tonight.

It is a jam-packed show tonight, but we should have time to get your thoughts in too, if you call 866-303-2270! Listen live from 11pm-1am ET here, and join in the live chat by clicking on the link below the player.

History Repeating

I use a song called "History Repeating" as the theme music for my radio show. It constantly amazes me how often the song fits the topics we discuss.

This weekend, a group of Vietnam War protestors who were known as The Resistance reunited in Santa Monica California.

On Friday night, I spoke with Bob Zaugh, one of the organizers of the event, who himself was a member of The Resistance. (hear that interview here)

They've invited one Vietnam veteran to speak at the event as well -- Ron Kovic.

Most of us know of Ron Kovic through the book he wrote about his experiences, both during and after the war: Born On the Fourth of July. The book was turned into a major motion picture directed by Oliver Stone, and starring Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic.

It was a special hour as I spoke with Ron Kovic about the Vietnam war, his experiences and the parallels with Afghanistan. (Listen to that interview here)

We also previewed Saturday's International Day of Climate Change Action with Bill McKibben, the co-founder of (listen here)

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Mom

Thirty years ago, my whole life changed.

Just about two weeks shy of my 20th birthday, I arrived home from college, summoned by my dad.

My mother wasn't doing well.

She had suffered, silently, with leukemia for about 10 years, though I didn't know it for a long time.

My family moved from NY to Hollywood, Florida in June of 1971. I was eleven. Apparently, mom was already sick.

Dad ran a business, publishing magazines... Spanish language "girlie" magazines. Mom didn't work. Such was life a generation ago.

We moved from an apartment in Bayside, Queens, to a sprawling home in South Florida, and I thought life was good. That is, until one Saturday morning when I awoke to hear one side of my mother's phone conversation with a friend, and the words, "they did a biopsy, and it's malignant."

I was fifteen at the time, old enough to know what that meant. I confronted her and, only then, did she tell me the truth. She had been diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. But the bigger part was that she had been suffering with "chronic leukemia" for some time.

As a child, then a young teenager, I never questioned why my mother went to the doctor at least once a week. Nor did I ask why she had to take so many pills. It was just part of our normal, everyday life. But, in that one moment, the pieces of the puzzle, which I had never previously attempted to solve, came together.

My friends knew. They all knew before I did, because their parents knew. My mother just wanted to protect us. She didn't want us to worry.

At sixteen, I got my drivers license. There were times I'd drive her to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Still in that selfish teenage mindset, I never asked what the doctors appointments were for, nor did I ask why she had to be driven. When she winced in pain, silently, so as not to alarm me, I never asked what was hurting. I now realize that she was undergoing chemo. Though I still don't know for sure.

She had prescriptions for Quaalude, which I suppose was the late 70's equivalent of Oxycontin. I figured she was in pain, but instead of sympathizing with mom, I would sneak a few of them every now and then for my own teen aged pleasure.

Although I loved my mother and got along well with her, I was a real teenager, and never really talked with her about the things that matter.

In the fall of 1977, I went off to college. Four hours away, Tampa, seemed like far enough from home.

I put on a good act for my parents. I always got decent grades without much effort. But I was a pretty wild child, who enjoyed the excesses of
the time -- sex, drugs, rock and roll.

I had a good life. An apartment in Tampa, a car, and tuition... all paid for by my dad. And a sick mother, about which I didn't think much.

I spoke to my mom on the 21st of October, 1979. She told me that she was going in to the hospital for a few tests. When I asked why, she simply said it was no big deal. One of her legs gave out from under her, and the doctor wanted to run tests. Again, she told me not to worry.

The next day, I called the hospital, and my dad answered the phone. When I asked to speak to mom, he told me she was sleeping. But I could have sworn I heard her voice in the background. I didn't question it.

That night dad called, and told me to come home. It wasn't good.

When I arrived at the hospital, mom was unconscious and hooked up to machines. On October 23, we were told that she had suffered a brain hemorrhage. Apparently, the bleed is what caused her leg to give out. And the day before when I called, she was indeed awake. But she was having trouble speaking coherently. She couldn't find the words to say what she was trying to say. So I didn't get to speak with her that one final time.

The doctors said she was brain dead, but that they'd have to wait 24 hours before officially declaring her dead and removing her from life support.

Patricia Sue Brown Sandler was 47 when she was declared dead on October 24, 1979.

I turned 20 less than two weeks later, on November 4, 1979.

The world kept turning. On my 20th birthday, the US Embassy in Iran was seized, and the hostages were taken. A year later, on my 21st birthday, Ronald Reagan was elected president. All these things happened in a world without my mother.

Although I'm not a religious person, I think my mom is with me for the truly important things. I believe she was there in January of 1994, when the Northridge earthquake hit. I was at the time producer of the Mark & Brian Program on KLOS in Los Angeles. At 4:30 every morning, I was in the shower.

On the Friday before, in a very uncharacteristic move, I told my boss that I needed a day off, and would not be in on Monday! It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, though it wasn't a holiday for us. So, on that Monday morning, when the quake hit at 4:31am, I was in bed. If I had been in the shower, it's a pretty good bet that I would have joined my mother that day.

For some reason, there was a floor length mirror on a ledge in my shower when I rented the apartment. I never thought much of it, and it remained there...until the earthquake, when
the shower filled with giant, sharp shards of glass. It's a pretty good bet that, if I had been in the shower, I would have been killed. To this day, I credit my mom for my blurting out that I was taking Monday off!

And although my mother and my daughter have never met in person, I also think Mom had a hand in bringing us together. I adopted Alison from Kazakhstan.

The adoption process was a long 18 months, during which I was shuffled from one region to another, then finally to another country where I found my daughter. She was a foundling, actually left on a doorstep of a private home. It was evident that she was loved, as she was left with a bottle of formula, diaper, a blanket and a little hat.

The authorities estimated she was about a month old, that she was likely born around May 1, 1999. My mother's birthday was May 3. When the new birth certificate was issued, showing me as her mother, they asked me if I wanted to change the date! Of course I did. Alison's birthday is now, also, May 3. Her middle name, Paige, is for Patricia.

Thirty years have passed since I lost my mother. I have so many regrets. I wish I would have talked to her more, asked questions about her, and listened to what she had to say. I regret that I was so selfish and wasn't there for her when she was in pain. But I know that she was selfless in her suffering. She didn't want us to worry....

I never thought I'd make it past 47. That was always this number ---- off in the future. And I just figured I'd follow in my mother's footsteps. Well, in less than two weeks, I'll turn 50. Amazing. And I still think of my mother, almost every day.

And I miss her.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Medicare Part E (E for Everyone)

Last Friday, I wrote a piece saluting Blue Dog Mike Ross of AR, who had some sort of epiphany. Although he had previously railed against the idea of a public option, the conservadem all of a sudden decided that what might work would be to allow people in need of health insurance the option of buying in to Medicare, but having the doctors reimbursed at a higher rate than the current Medicare reimbursements. Voila. A movement has begun.

Actually, Congressman Ross wasn't the first to suggest this. Many have suggested it. In fact, it really is (drum roll please) the public option, which we all agree was a pretty lousy name in the first place!

Tonight, Keith Olbermann was talking about how he had suggested it a couple of weeks ago, during his hour-long Special Comment on health care. And today, on his radio show, Thom Hartmann reiterated his call, first issued months ago, for Medicare Part E. E, for Everyone!

As we inch ever closer toward the merging of the five pieces of health care legislation into one final bill, members of both Houses of Congress are weighing in. And although none can promise with actual numbers that it will happen, most are saying they believe the bill that lands on President Obama's desk will contain a public option... now being re branded as Medicare Part E.

In all fairness, Medicare for All would only be accomplished with a Single Payer health care system, though I do believe that a public option, or Medicare Part E would be a huge step in the right direction.

Dr. Aaron Carroll is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and an outspoken advocate of Single Payer. I was a bit surprised to read a piece he wrote for Huffington Post entitled "The Public Option Is Not Where You Draw The Line."

I'll speak with him tonight, as I fully disagree! I'll also bring you up to date on what happened today in the Capital Hill wheeling and dealing on the way to a final bill.

We'll start the show with a visit from my favorite activist, David Swanson, author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union. David is a frequent guest of mine and, tonight, in addition to talking about the book and finding out what actions David's involved with now, we'll find out what got him started on the activism road.

And Lisa Derrick, who writes the La Figa blog at FireDogLake will join us with a special announcement... We'll all find out together what it is shortly after midnight ET.

Listen live by clicking here from 11pm-1am ET, and join us in the chat (open it up, directly below the player!). And of course, your calls are always welcome at 866-303-2270.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yes.. Yes... Yessss!

We all love a good prank. Especially this time of year. Halloween tricks are not as prevalent as treats, but when done well, they're great. Ashton Kutcher won over a generation with Punked, and those of us who are a little older remember the great pranks in the original Candid Camera.

But when you combine the absolute genius of a perfect ruse with social activism, you get the Yes Men!

I reached out to one of the men-Andy Bichlbaum-last month, when they published an exact replica of the NY Post, except that this one dealt entirely with climate change, and everything in it was factually correct!

Today, I caught up with Andy once again, this time to talk about their Washington DC press conference, in which Andy posed as the assistant to the president of the US Chamber of Commerce, claiming that they had changed their stance on climate change.

They issued a fake press release, and posted the text of the remarks that he would deliver on a mock-up of the chamber website, at a reasonable sounding URL.

The video of part of the presser, and the appearance by an actual Chamber employee is priceless:

The Yes Men have a movie out, The Yes Men Fix the World. Click on the link to find out when and where it will be playing near you. And keep an eye out for the next Yes Man action! Perhaps you'll get motivated to do one yourself... Visit for ideas!

In the first hour of tonight's show, we'll explore the idea of corporate person hood. It's truly absurd, but even crazier than the idea of it is the reality of how it came to be. To explain it to us, Thom Hartmann will join me.

Thom is the smartest guy I know and somehow, in addition to his daily radio program, he finds the time to be a prolific author. One of his many books is entitled "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," which details the story. It also brings us right up to today, when any time now the Supreme Court will rule on Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Committee, to decide whether federal campaign finance laws apply to a film about Hillary Clinton, and the bigger question about the constitutionality of limiting corporations' independent spending during campaigns for the Presidency and Congress.

Listen live here from 11pm-1am ET, and join us in the chat (right below the player). As always, I hope you'll join in the conversation on air too, by calling 866-303-2270.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Woman's Work Is Never Done

And as a single, working mother, I know how true that statement is. This week, my knowledge is verified, as Maria Shriver and The Center for American Progress team up to release "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything."

Yes, you can click on the link to download the whole report. I'm sure I will one of these days, when I get the time. Or, if I lived in one of the fourteen states that allow some use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, I might just actually de-stress for a while.

The connection, dear reader, will soon be apparent!

In the first hour, I'll speak with Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, where they must be celebrating on some level today. The Justice Department issued a directive today, followed by a collaborating statement by Attorney General Eric Holder, which basically said that people who use marijuana for medical purposes and those who distribute it should not face federal prosecution, provided they are acting according to state law. (Read the NY Times story here.)

Although motherhood is not considered one of the medical conditions for which marijuana is prescribed in the fourteen states which recognize its medicinal value, the for-profit health insurance industry considers pregnancy a pre-existing condition, as it does a cesarean section, or being a victim of domestic violence.

By my unscientific calculations, I'd say probably 75% of women should qualify for one of those prescriptions!

Back to the Shriver Report... In the second hour of tonight's show, I'll be joined by a remarkable woman. Dr. Judith Rodin truly blazed some trails for women. She currently serves as the President of the Rockefeller Foundation (the first woman to hold that position in its 96 year history). Before that, she was the first female dean at Yale, and then went on to become the first female President of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Rockefeller Foundation paid for the polling done to research the subject matter that became the Shriver Report.

I'll speak with Dr. Rodin tonight, add some of my thoughts as a woman on the cusp of turning 50, and share some of the wisdom of my dear friend Amy Simon, who makes her living (or attempts to make a living) by writing about and poking fun at the plight of women throughout history to today.

As always, listen live to the show from 11pm-1am ET by clicking here
, be sure to join us in the chat (just below the player). And feel free to join in the conversation by calling 866-303-2270.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Public Option Solution!

As we head into the second half of October, the health care debate continues raging on.

In the Senate, Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, Harry Reid and Rahm Emanuel are merging the bills reported by the Finance and the HELP committees into one.

On the House side, Nancy Pelosi, along with the chairs of the three committees who put forth their health care bills, will come up with one merged piece of legislation.

The big question still hanging over all of the negotiations is "What about the public option?"

Well, the best suggestion I've heard in a long time came from Mike Ross (D-AK), head of the Blue Dog coalition of conservadems! Apparently, yesterday, he suggested an idea that would make me very happy!

From "The Hill":

Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross, who made headlines by rejecting a compromise he'd negotiated on a public health insurance option, has suggested to Democratic leaders that the government-run Medicare program be opened to all Americans.

Ross (D-Ark.) has made the suggestion in meetings with House Democratic leaders and brought the idea to the closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting Thursday.

"I -- speaking only on behalf of myself -- suggested one possible idea could be that instead of creating an entirely new government bureaucracy to administer a public option, Medicare could be offered as a choice to compete alongside private insurers for those Americans eligible to enter the national health insurance exchange, but at a reimbursement rate much greater than current Medicare rates," Ross said in a statement to The Hill.

It makes so much sense, that it's probably doomed before it even gets started.

Democratic Strategist and author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came To Be, Mike Lux authored a piece for Huffington Post today, "Can Progressives and Conservatives Agree on Health Care Reform?" about this idea. He'll join me tonight to talk about it.

I'll also check in Larisa Alexandrova of managing editor for investigative news at Raw Story, who also blogs at She regularly visits with us on Friday nights to talk about the stories she covered during the week that's wrapping up. We'll do that tonight, but we'll also talk about Larisa's own personal struggle with health insurance.

She's in the same position as millions of other American citizens, and it's just plain wrong. By the way, I'll likely be joining those ranks in February, when my COBRA runs out.

I'll close out the show with an interview with journalist and author Olivia Gentile, who's written a lovely book called Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds. Honestly, I have no interest in bird watching... or rather, I didn't before finding out about this book. I think you'll enjoy the story too.

Listen live by clicking here, and be sure to click on the link below the player to join us in the chat room! And, by all means, join in the discussion by calling 866-303-2270.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change, Public Options, And Lots Of Hot Air

Did you hear the one about the Democrat and the Republican who joined forces to pass climate change legislation, and gave us more nuclear power plants, offshore drilling and coal?

I know, it sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it isn't! It's real, it's deadly serious, and it's happening today!

Seriously, John Kerry and Lindsey Graham together wrote a NY Times Op-Ed piece that appeared on Sunday entitled "Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)" and it pushes for more nukes, offshore drilling, and turning the US into the "Saudi Arabia of clean coal." I kid you not. Read it for yourself.

When you're done reading that and your head has stopped shaking, read "Is the Climate Bill Being Fossil/Nuked?" The piece comes courtesy of Harvey Wasserman, author of Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth, and senior editor of where the article first appeared.

Harvey Wasserman will join me tonight to explain why the Democrats are so eager to pass any bill so the President has something to bring to Copenhagen in December that they're willing to sell our nation's soul to get something with the word "climate" attached to it! ***Listen to our interview here!***

The Nuclear Information & Resource Service organized a "call your Senator day" today (it's not too late to join in), and a series of demonstrations for the environment are set for October 24.

In the second hour of tonight's show, I'll speak with Lisa Derrick, who writes the La Figa blog at FireDogLake. We'll dish about the week's news, and she'll tell us about a new contest at

Listen live by clicking here, and join in the chat too
(we'll be in the chat room for the stream from 1050am). As always, call in at 866-303-2270.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

White House: What Fox Does Is Faux News

I've been saying it all along. In fact, the words Fox and News will not easily escape from my lips one after the other. Faux (or fake - to make it easier for their viewers to understand) is a more apt description of the type of "news" they offer.

Finally, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn made it official last week, while speaking with Howie Kurtz on CNN, and even took it a step further by saying that Fox is essentially the PR wing of the Republican Party!

Media Matters' Eric Boehlert, who wrote a great piece about the reality of what the offending cable channel has become, "Memo to the media: Fox News is now the Opposition Party." will be my guest tonight in the first hour of my show on Air America radio.

We'll also deal with the monster that is Rush Limbaugh and, now that he's out of the bidding, I want to get your thoughts on whether or not he should be allowed to purchase the St. Louis Rams.

Hopefully by now you've noticed that we have a new website up at It has lots of great features, including its own chat!

Thom Hartmann has been gracious enough to allow me the use of his chat room during my show for the past few months, but tonight, we'll try to transition to the new Air America chat.

Just click here to listen live, and from that screen, just below the player, you can open the chat window.

The number to call in remains the same: 866-303-2270.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We have one thing from each of those categories to talk about tonight on my Air America radio show.

Let's start with the good. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. She's definitely one of the good ones! Although I had already been aware of her, she made an indelible mark on my consciousness a couple of weeks ago with a one-two punch. First, she was one of the stars of Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. So much so that the movie theater audience cheered her!

The same weekend I saw the film, she appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, and again, everything she said made so much sense! Not my average response to a member of Congress.

In fact, it was those two appearances that influenced me to really go gung-ho on campaign finance reform.

We spoke earlier this evening, and we'll hear that interview in the second hour of tonight's show. We spoke quite a bit about campaign finance reform, and she references a bill that she has introduced.

After you hear the interview, you might want to read up on H. Con. Res. 13 "Expressing the sense of Congress that the Supreme Court misinterpreted the First Amendment to the Constitution in the case of Buckley v. Valeo" (which said that money = free speech), and H.J.Res. 13 "Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to limitations on the amounts of contributions and expenditures that may be made in connection with campaigns".

On to the bad. There's not much to talk about, as we don't have the facts yet. But Congressman Robert Wexler is apparently resigning his office to take a public policy job that deals with the Middle East. He'll meet with reporters tomorrow morning in Boca Raton, at which time I'm sure most of our questions will be answered.

I did reach out to someone who works closely with him with the simple question, "Is he OK?" The answer that came back was "He's fine. Don't worry. It's all good."

Except for the people in his district and those of us who aren't, but are proud to have him represent Florida nonetheless. I guess we'll know more tomorrow.

As for the ugly, well, that's Max Baucus's health care bill, which passed out of committee today. Let's face it. As far as a health care reform bill, it's a piece of shit. But it needed to clear this hurdle and make it out of the Senate Finance committee in order to move on.

Now it can be merged with the HELP committee bill; the three House bills can be merged into one; and those two can be put together... Hopefully some of the stink will be gone by then.

We'll discuss what happened today and try to predict the future of health care reform with David Dayen. You probably know him as D-Day, under which name he blogs at He's also serving as a blog fellow for Robert Greenwald's Sick for Profit.

And perhaps you'll chime in too! You can call in at 866-303-2270, join in the live chat here, and listen live from 11pm-1am ET here!

Last night's audio

Ahh, the morning after. Actually, afternoon!

Here are links to listen to last night's interviews, just in case you missed them last night! (Just click on the guest's name to listen, and on the other links for more information.)

Juan Cole, contributor who wrote a great piece "Obama got the Nobel because he's a game changer" is also a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, and the author of "Engaging the Muslim World." He also writes the "Informed Comment" blog at

Brent Budowsky, a Democratic Party insider and advisor, writes for's Pundit's Blog. We spoke about Obama's Nobel Prize and the ongoing fight for health care reform.

And although I live in Florida, since I've been hosting a national program on Air America radio, I've been less than diligent about covering this state's soap-operatic political scene. So I checked in with State Senator and candidate for Florida Attorney General Dan Gelber last night, who had just returned from the Florida Democratic Convention. Find him at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Of Concerts and Nobel Peace Prizes

Wow. I take one Friday night off to go to a concert, and the President wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Even though I had prepared a wonderful show filled with four fantastic new interviews just for the occasion, who'd have thunk Obama would make this kind of news as I was headed to Tampa to see U2? Just my luck.

To make matters even worse, the concert was not all that! Oh, I know, it was hyped beyond compare. Sorry Bono. Give me a Bruce Springsteen concert over the 360° tour any day of the week.

With Bruce, you get a bare stage, except for all the instruments and members of the legendary E Street Band. But bare enough so that everyone can see. And of course, video screens, big enough so that, really, everyone can see. You also get a party-like atmosphere that feels like we were all invited! And three hours of non-stop rock and roll fun. A brief mention near the end that we should have health care for all, and a plea to stop at the table for the local food bank that he invites from every city along the tour. That's it...

By contrast, the 360° in the title of the U2 tour refers to the circular video screen, as that was the only thing that was truly in the round. Oh yes, the stage was round, and people were seated all around it. Silly me, I though that the stage would rotate, so that people seated all around would, at some point, be right in front. But that wasn't the case. Bono remained center stage facing the front of the stadium for most of the night, occasionally venturing to one of the sides and rarely to the back, to grace the fans with a few lyrics from one of the songs during the two-hour show.

But it wasn't even two hours of non-stop music. I'm glad Bono is concerned about the world, but to have the clown from Cirque du Soleil speaking "live from the International Space Station" for at least five minutes during the meat of the show, telling us about the wonder of the planet, really pissed me off. After all, U2 is carting this ridiculously massive spaceship set around the country (world?) at a cost of close to a million dollars a day, and what I'm sure is a massive carbon footprint. Can anyone else spell hypocrisy? It didn't even blast off! I was waiting for it to do something, and it never did!

Then there was the video of a political prisoner, the Iranian people after their sham of an election, and other causes that I'm sure are just and good. But Bono, there's a time and a place for everything. I'm probably among the most sympathetic and informed of your audience, and I was getting annoyed. Really annoyed. Just play the fucking music, thank you very much.

And don't even get me started on the Tampa police. It's a wonder my mouth didn't get me arrested.

So, as much as I enjoyed the music, and I did, I wish I would have been live on the air Friday night to talk about the fact that President Obama was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize Friday morning.

There's just so much there....

President Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Faux News minions cry foul. Rush Limbaugh says he speaks for "all Americans" (since when?) and sides with the Taliban. That should tell his followers a few things.

We've been hit over the head with the fact that there were only 12 days between Obama's inauguration and the deadline for the Nobel Prize nominations. In the first two weeks of his administration, I too thought he could and would try to bring about world peace. Perhaps this is just the impetus he needs to realize he shouldn't send more troops to Afghanistan!

I have not been President Obama's biggest cheerleader recently. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I may have one of the more critical voices in this tiny sliver of media that truly is liberal. But I criticize because I have very high expectations.

This president was supposed to be different! He was supposed to bring us change, and no more politics as usual. Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize will be a wake-up call to President Obama, with the alarm loudly ringing out "This is what you're supposed to be! You are the Peace President. Now ACT LIKE IT!"

But let's also take a moment to look across the aisle. I know, it's difficult not to avert your eyes when you see a train wreck. The same people who said during the past eight years that it's un-American to criticize the President seem to have selective amnesia.

They burned records by the Dixie Chicks for making an off-hand remark during a concert that slightly bashed Bush. But they're still touting Sarah Palin as their "It" girl, even after she spoke at length on foreign soil of her dislike and displeasure with President Obama.

They demand an apology from Alan Grayson, the first Democrat to show he actually has a spine in a long time, for what I still don't know, while they make Joe Wilson out to be a hero for a breach of decorum never before seen at a Presidential address to a joint session of Congress.

I could continue on this diatribe, but you get the point. They live in the do as I say, not as I do world, and I say it's time to get off. Them, not us.

Enough of this nonsense.

Perhaps President Obama got the Nobel Prize simply because he's not George W. Bush.

That's still worth a prize in my book, any day! Just please, next time, let it happen on a day when I'm working!

Well, I am working tonight, and we will talk about it... I'll be joined by Democratic strategist and The Hill's Pundits Blog contributor Brent Budowsky, and Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute to talk about it and more..

Listen live from 11pm-1am ET by clicking here, join in the live chat here, and call in at 866-303-2270.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Details on Keith's Plan

Many of us watched Keith Olbermann's hour-long Special Comment last night on the subject of health care, and the dire need for major reform. To top it off, Keith came up with a beautiful plan: embrace the National Association of Free Clinics!

Support them in their wonderful work, and fund free medical events in the major cities of the five states of the Democratic Senators who just might side with the Republicans to filibuster any bill with a public option: Nevada and Harry Reid; Arkansas and Blanche Lincoln & Mark Pryor; Nebraska and Ben Nelson; Louisiana and Mary Landreau; Montana and Max Baucus.

Just click on the link (the url is and make a donation-- whatever you can afford. Let's get this party started!

Just in case you missed it tonight, here's the video of Keith giving the details, and speaking with Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of NAFC:

Tonight on Air America radio, I'll join with Keith in his effort by giving the details, and then move on...

I'll be joined in the first hour by my old friend John LeBoutillier. John happens to be a conservative. He was a Congressman from NY when I met him and, at the time, I thought he was a wing nut. But in this day and age of the lunatic fringe running the GOP asylum, LeBout is one of the most reasonable conservatives I know. I want to question him about the health care battle, and find out how anyone with an ounce of compassion can be against health care reform!

In hour two, as part of my ongoing mission toward campaign finance reform, I'll speak with Congressman John Larson (D-CT), who introduced the Fair Elections Now Act in the House.

And we'll wrap things up with a conversation with Rebecca Griffin, political director for Peace Action West. I had never heard of Peace Action West until earlier this week, as I was preparing for a show commemorating the 8th anniversary of the start of our war in Afghanistan. On Facebook, I noticed a few posts on the White House wall from a "Facebook vigil". I clicked on it to find out more, and saw that thousands of my fellow Americans had joined in this friendly takeover of the White House Facebook page, protesting the war. I joined in too.

Tonight, we'll find out what type of impact was made, as well as learning a bit about Peace Action West.

Listen live from 11pm-1am ET by clicking here, call in at 866-303-2270, and join in the live chat here!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Watching Keith...

...and his special comment on health care. From the heart, and heartbreaking.

So, my blog entry tonight will be short and sweet.

I'll hit the air at 11pm ET, with a news update from Ellen Ratner at the Talk Radio News Service.

Howie Klein of will join me to talk about the latest in the fight for health care reform and against the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, as we enter year #9 of our occupation.

And in hour two, I'll be joined by the dean of the White House Press Corp, Helen Thomas, and CQ Politics columnist Craig Crawford, who have joined forces to write "Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do."

Listen live from 11pm-1am ET by clicking here, join in the live chat here, and call in at 866-303-2270.

Gotta get back to Keith...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

In Places We Shouldn't Be

**Updated to include links to the interview audio***

Tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, it will mark eight years since the US invaded Afghanistan. We thought we were going in for the right reason: to get the people who ordered the 9/11 attacks.

But the Bush administration dropped the ball on that one, and let Osama bin Laden get away.

Then they invaded and occupied Iraq. We're still in clean-up mode for that mess.

During the campaign, Obama said that the Bush administration took it's eye off the ball in Afghanistan. True that. But he said we need to focus more troops there to fix the situation.

What we're learning is that troops are not the answer. Unfortunately, this administration isn't listening to the loud chorus of voices screaming that we need to help the Afghan population, not continue killing them and making their lives even more difficult.

In the second hour of tonight's show, when it will officially be October 7 on the east coast, I'll speak with Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans, who just returned from a 10-day mission to Afghanistan, where she met with people from all walks of life. I hope you'll listen and hear what's really going on over there. For my fellow females, please also visit to help the plight of the Afghan women.

**Click here to listen to my interview with Jodie**

I also encourage you to watch Rethink Afghanistan. You can purchase the DVD (just click the link to your left), or watch any or all of the segments online for free. I'll even post them all here, at the bottom of this essay. Just watch. Learn. Feel.

Another place we shouldn't be is Guantanamo Bay. President Obama made it his first order of business to shut it down. Unfortunately, we'll miss his target date, with no end to the torture chamber in sight.

My Air America colleague Jack Rice just returned from a trip over there. We'll discuss it during the first hour of tonight's show. He has lots of video on his website from his visit. Including this one:

**Click here to listen to my interview with Jack Rice**

Listen live from 11pm-1am ET by clicking here, join in the live chat here, and call in at 866-303-2270.

Now, it's time to Rethink Afghanistan....

Part 1: More Troops + Afghanistan = Catastrophe

Part 2: Pakistan: "The Most Dangerous Country"

Part 3: The Cost of War

Part 4: Civilian Casualties

Part 5: Women of Afghanistan

Part 6: Security

Monday, October 05, 2009

Congressional Money Disarmament

On Thursday night, I went to a screening of Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story." I was already mad as hell about what's happened in and to our country. We, the people, no longer control our government. Instead, the big corporations have taken over and run amok.

On Friday night, I watched Real Time with Bill Maher, a show that has become the best forum for real discourse on what's happening in our world and to us. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who was also featured (beautifully, I might add) in Mr. Moore's film, spoke the most poignant and telling lines in a show that was packed full of contenders. She said about
"the raw partisanship that characterizes national politics now...

"When Washington founded the country, he didn't believe in political parties. He said they would be very dangerous.

If you come inside Congress today, some of the raw partisanship, I believe, is directly related to the change in the way campaigns have been financed. And rather than political parties on the outside being involved and helping to promote candidacies, what's happened on the inside is that campaign committees are now formed by members themselves, and both parties are pitted against one another. It is a totally different Congress than when I first arrived there, when Tip O'Neill was Speaker.

Today, every member becomes a money center, and if you don't raise as much money as somebody else, you frankly don't get as far ahead, in terms of the institution. It is a great indictment of our country.

And the American people know this, they know we need money disarmament in the Congress, and we can't get there because neither side will take the first step.

We need Anwar Sadat, Menachim Begin and Jimmy Carter again... on campaign finance... and we don't have them! We need to try to reach accommodation.

In the last cycle for House and Senate, $250 million was raised; to elect the President this time, they spent nearly half a billion dollars, both parties! But inside the Congress, you have the DCCC and RCCC... People need to know about this because we've got to cleanse it, get it out!"

On Saturday night, I watched SNL, which opened with a bit featuring President Obama checking off the list of things he hasn't yet accomplished. It was sad in that so much of it was true.

Of course, the number one reason he hasn't accomplished any of the things on that list is money.

We need to stop kidding ourselves. We, the people, have lost the power to enact change. We voted overwhelmingly for change, and yet, here we are, just about a year after we stood in lines to CHANGE the way things are done. But what we've learned is that the more things supposedly change, the more they stay the same. If we've learned one thing from the lack of change since inauguration day, it's that WE MUST BE THE CHANGE WE WANT.

The Democrats now control both houses of Congress and the White House, yet the corporations still rule. That's because members of both parties are beholden to the special interests that contribute to their re-election coffers.

We must take money out of the equation. We must get off our asses and stop expecting our elected officials to do something about this. It MUST COME FROM US, or it will not happen.

At the end of "Capitalism: A Love Story," Michael Moore said he can't and won't do it alone. But he left it at that. He didn't give us any direction.

I think we must act, together, on a grassroots level, to enact wholesale changes in the way our leaders are elected. And that starts with putting real limitations on how those elections are financed. As long as big corporations and special interests keep financing campaigns, they'll continue calling the shots. It's as simple as that.

I pledge to you today that I will begin working overtime on this issue. I'll start by forming a Facebook group, Restore Democracy in the USA, which you can access here. Obviously, this is only a first baby step in trying to bring everyone concerned about this issue together. I may have started the group, but all should use it to post information, articles, thoughts, links and events. Especially events. We all must get involved.

Tonight on my Air America radio show, I'll speak with Dan Weeks, president of Americans for Campaign Reform ( He'll be with me live at 11:35pm ET/8:35 PT. If your local Air America affiliate doesn't carry the show, you can listen live by clicking here.

Dan and his group have been laying the ground work for this effort for years now. But obviously, they're not reaching a wide enough audience.

I'm hoping that we can all work together to spread the message and then act on it and make the change we voted for actually happen.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Republicans Have No Clothes!

Congressman Alan Grayson burst into the nation's political consciousness this week. He is now known as the Democrat with Balls to those of us who've felt throughout the battle for real health care reform as if we've been beating our heads against a brick wall.

We, who voted in big enough numbers to get President Obama in the White House, secure a huge majority in the House, and 60 Democratic seats in the Senate (the magic filibuster-proof number), have been scratching our heads wondering why the hell the Democrats in Congress are acting like the Republicans are still in charge!

Ta Da! Alan Grayson to the rescue. A first term Congressman from Central Florida, whom most Americans had never heard of before Tuesday evening, when he courageously took to the floor of the House and loudly exclaimed "The Republicans have no clothes!"

Pretty much.

He did tell us that those pieces of paper they were waving in the air during the President's address to the joint session of Congress on health care reform were, in fact, just blank pieces of paper pretending to be the GOP health care plan. He exposed the fact that everything they're doing and saying is a sham, and aimed only at derailing anything the Democrats propose.

Grayson came armed with facts, citing a Harvard Medical School study entitled "Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults" that proves that close to 45,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health insurance. Facts. No made up death panel nonsense here.

Tonight, I'll speak with Congressman Alan Grayson, who made me proud that someone on our side of the aisle was actually saying what we've all been screaming for the past few months.

I'll also speak with Dr. Steffie Woodlander, one of the authors of that Harvard study cited by Congressman Grayson. Dr. Woodlander has been on my show before, talking about the need for a single payer health care system, in her role as a co-founder and board member of Physicians for a National Health Program (

Listen live from 11pm-1am ET by clicking here, join in the live chat here, and call in at 866-303-2270.

Last Night...

I went to see Capitalism: A Love Story, and arrived home just in time to hit the air at 11pm ET.... So, I neglected to post a blog.

Ahh, but here it is, the next morning... um.. afternoon, with a recap!

Governor Howard Dean was my special guest. Click here to listen to our interview.

And my regular Thursday night date... um... guest, John Fugelsang made the midnight hour fly by. Listen to our conversation here.

Tonight, join in for a visit from the Democrat with balls.. Congressman Alan Grayson joins in the fun!

Talk to you then....