Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama's 101st Day...

We'll cover that topic today on Air America radio from noon-3 ET, with a visit from Andy Borowitz in the second hour. If you haven't yet read the Borowitz Report, visit now. We all need a break from serious news every now and then... And if you're in NYC, you can see Andy Borowitz tonight at the 92nd St. Y.... Details at

In the first hour, we'll speak with Cindy Sheehan. If you've ever thought of running for office, you need to hear about the debt she incurred while challenging Nancy Pelosi for her congressional seat.

And in the last hour today, we'll find out about today's National Grassroots Call-In Day to stop nuke/coal subsidies from editor Harvey Wasserman. Get a head start by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and say "YES to renewable energy and energy efficient programs; NO to any more taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power and coal.

And we'll listen to and dissect pieces of President Obama's 100th day Press Conference.

I hope you'll listen, and call in whenever you're so moved, at 866-303-2270!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's the End of the World as We Know It

Click here to listen to today's Radio or Not Podcast (runtime 16:04)

I know, you're thinking that that's an awfully pessimistic headline for the big 100th Day of the Obama Presidency! Well, knowing that everyone and their brother was going to be dealing with the 100th Day today, I did it on Monday on Air America Radio.

If you're really looking for a show on that topic, stop back later. I'll try to post the audio from my interview with Rob Farley, staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times' division-- which just won the Pulitzer Prize. They're doing an incredible job of tracking 514 of Obama's campaign promises... follow the progress there.

But, I thought I'd be a rebel today and share with you my interview with NY Times bestselling author Neil Strauss. Neil spent many years as a rock critic for the NY Times, and about eight years ago began worrying about his future in light of the direction our country was heading! So he took extreme steps to make sure he'll be around, even when most of the rest of us may not!

Click here to listen to today's Radio or Not Podcast (runtime 16:04)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rick Reyes, a true American hero

I have the utmost respect for the men and women of the military. As much as I love my country, or the ideals my country stands for (stood for?), I'm not prepared to go to war and die for it. Just being honest here...

Retired Marine Corporal Rick Reyes was. He enlisted in the Marines before 9/11 and, after we were attacked, was ready to do whatever it took to protect us.

As we discussed on Air America today, he's still protecting us; this time by speaking out about what he saw, felt and knew after fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He's still fighting for our freedoms by testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, imploring those in charge to rethink what we're doing over there before voting to approve another massive war funding bill in the next few weeks.

Scroll down to my earlier post to watch Cpl. Reyes's testimony from last week, and the beautiful piece put together by Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films, juxtaposing Reyes' testimony with similar testimony delivered 38 years earlier by a young John Kerry who, perhaps not so coincidentally, chairs today's Committee...

I put together a couple of production pieces that aired before my conversation with Rick Reyes today. The first, a duet of sorts between that young John Kerry as he testified in 1971 and Bruce Springsteen, whose song "The Last to Die" was based on that very testimony. Listen to it here.

The second married together Cpl. Reyes' testimony with Edwin Starr's classic "War." You can hear that one by clicking here.

And you can listen to my interview with Rick Reyes in its entirety here.

Rick Reyes is now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He'll be participating in a few event in the Los Angeles area next week...

On Saturday May 9, he'll be at the Los Angeles Southwest Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, hosted by the LA Chapter of IVAW, at Haberson Hall at Pasadena City College, from 9am-4:30 PM. For info, contact

On Sunday, May 10, he'll take part in the Military Moms Speak Out on Mother's Day rally, from noon-2 where the Arlington West will be on display at the north side of Santa Monica Pier. For more info on this event, contact Tina Richards at

Who'll be the Last to Die?

Rick Reyes is a small business man. His business is suffering due to economic crisis. 

Rick may lose his home soon because business is bad and the property value is over $200,000 less than what he paid for it when he got out of the military. 

He just wanted to forget what happened over in Iraq and Afghanistan, get married, raise children, and provide for his family.

He is a first generation American who wanted to honor and serve his country and work hard to achieve the American dream. 

Retired Marine Corporal Rick Reyes testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this past Thursday, during a hearing on Afghanistan War Experiences led by Sen. John Kerry who, 38 years ago, shared his Vietnam experience during a similar hearing, voicing similar concerns.  I can only hope the results differ, as Kerry's testimony was ignored.

Robert Greenwald, who appeared on my program two weeks ago, and his Brave New Films produced this video, juxtaposing the two former soldiers' testimony... 

Cpl. Reyes will join me today on Air America Live at 1PM ET.  His testimony is a compelling argument against the escalation in Afghanistan.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine and slime

You know those days when it seems the synapses aren't firing correctly; when it seems like the brain and tongue just aren't communicating?  I had one of those days today... and it's magnified a thousand times when you're speaking into a microphone hosting a talk show!

Luckily, I had some articulate guests who were able to speak clearly when answering the questions I bungled but ultimately asked....

Stewart Acuff of the AFL-CIO joined me to explain everything we need to know about the Employee Free Choice Act.  He's the assistant to AFL-CIO President Sweeney, and is currently touring the country educating people state by state about the bill.  He wrote about it Friday for Huffington Post.      Hear my interview with Steward Acuff by clicking here.

We then moved on to the big day that's coming Wednesday:  President Obama's 100th Day in Office.  I figured we'd hit the ground running on Day #98 by speaking with Rob Farley, staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times' division-- which just won the Pulitzer Prize.

They're keeping track of the roughly 514 promised candidate Obama made on the campaign trail, and are tallying up the promises kept, promises broken, along with those that are labeleled stalled, in progress, compromise and no action taken. 

Possibly the biggest story of the day is two-fold, with both sides featuring the swine flu!  First, to get the medical perspective, I spoke with Dr. Sean Kenniff.  You might know the name as he was one of the cast members in the first season of Survivor!  But he is really a neurologist (so, yes, he is a brain surgeon... though not a rocket scientist!)

Since leaving the show, he's been a medical correspondent for CBS television and radio, he currently hosts a weekend show on 850 WFTL in Ft. Lauderdale, and launched a medical website,

After we got the physical health specifics, we turned to the economic impact of a possible pandemic, and found out how the Republicans stripped $900 million from the stimulus package that would have come in really handy right about now.  You must read John Nichols' piece, GOP Know-Nothings Fought Pandemic Preparedness, from The Nation.  We were lucky enough to get him on the phone at the last minute today to explain how the Republicans continue to get away with their lack of concern for the country's well-being.

Tomorrow's show promises to be a great one.  Of course, we'll keep an eye on the swine flu progress... But I'll be joined in the first hour by Rick Reyes.  You've likely seen him on video this week, or heard about his testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee last week.

Here's a video produced by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films, who joined me on the air a couple of weeks ago, from Cpl. Reyes' testimony:


I'll also speak with NY Times Bestselling author Neil Strauss about his new book, Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life, which comes at a perfect time for all who are worried about life after a pandemic guts the earth, or a total global economic meltdown... or both!

Today on Air America Radio...

This week is a work in progress.. I know I'll be on Air America today and tomorrow, and am on standby for Thursday and Friday... When I'm not there, I will be here!

There's so much going on, it's tough to narrow down the topics... Today, we'll deal with the swine flu, the Employee Free Choice Act, Obama's first 100 days in office, and lots more. I hope you'll listen online at or at (where you won't see video, but can participate in the live chat during the show!).

Tomorrow promises to be a great program, with a couple of guests booked that I can't wait to speak with.. More later. I have a show to prepare for!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Randi Rhodes coming back on the air!

Over the past few months, I've gotten lots of emails from listeners asking about Randi. Until this morning, you knew as much as I did. This morning, the news broke that Randi is returning to the airwaves on May 11, courtesy of Premiere Radio Networks.

Just in case you were wondering, Premiere is owned by Clear Channel, and is also home to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck! I give them credit for realizing that "progressive talk" has an audience too, and applaud them for taking this step out of the dark side of political talk radio.

Here's the official announcement, courtesy of the industry trade site All Access:

Randi Rhodes Returns Via Premiere

PREMIERE RADIO NETWORKS has formally announced the syndication of RANDI RHODES.
The news first leaked through a note on CLEAR CHANNEL Talk KKGN-A (GREEN 960)/SAN FRANCISCO's website, and the syndicator has now issued a press release setting the debut for MAY 11th and the time slot as 3-6p ET weekdays. Among the affiliates taking the show will be KKGN and sister Talk KTLK-A/LOS ANGELES and KPOJ-A/PORTLAND.
"Right now, AMERICA needs a voice that reflects its hopes and concerns. It will be my privilege and pleasure to provide vital information to the public about everything that is possible in the 21st century, and also have a few laughs along the way," said RHODES. "PREMIERE is an incredible family of radio pros, and is truly the most talented and experienced radio syndicator in the nation. I’m exited about this decision and PREMIERE's enthusiasm for this partnership. It’s truly a dream come true."
PREMIERE Radio EVP/Affiliate Marketing JULIE TALBOTT said, "RANDI has carved a niche in Talk radio with her straight-forward approach, intelligence, wit and fact-driven content -– qualities that attract audiences. We can’t wait to deliver THE RANDI RHODES SHOW to stations nationwide." RHODES has been out of syndication since leaving NOVA M RADIO earlier this year; she was previously at AIR AMERICA RADIO.
Unfortunately, we here in South Florida will have to listen to the show online, via streaming from one of the 25 or so stations that will be carrying the program... unless some smart broadcaster here decides to pick up the format, or realize that a show like this would do well on any talk radio station!

Still under the weather...

I don't know if it's just a bug, or a combination of how the stars are aligned along with the Florida heat, and the shitty world events plus a bug, or that I'm just overwhelmed. But I've been feeling lousy most of this week. I'm working on a few different things behind the scenes today, so there will likely be no Radio or Not podcast today.

Instead, I'll take a page from Cheryl Wheeler's "If it Were Up To Me," a song I played Monday, the 10th anniversary of the Columbine killings, and write my own poetry today...

Maybe it's the torture, maybe it's the lies
Maybe it's those memos coming to life before our eyes.

Maybe it's the heat or maybe it's the rain,
Maybe it's the radio and its ranting that's insane.

Maybe it's stupidity, maybe it's the schools,
Maybe it's the meltdown that came from killing all the rules.

Maybe it's the credit cards, maybe it's the debt,
Maybe it's the bailouts that we'd like to just forget.

Maybe it's Republicans, maybe Democrats too
A politician's a politician, whether he's red or really blue.

Maybe I just get unhinged when life is out of sorts
Maybe we need to put away W and his co-horts.

I don't know the answers to the questions in my head,
So I think I'll take a nice long bath and crawl into my bed.

Perhaps when I awaken I'll find this all has been just a dream...
that Gore became the president, with no Supreme Court scheme.

That eight years of peace and prosperity had gone by
Barack Obama's our new president and we're all still on a high.

Ahhh wishful thinking. But not about the bath and bed part.

I'll talk to you Monday, live from noon-3pm ET, on Air America Radio. I hope you'll be listening!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Take Your Child to Work Day

But, what do you do when you're unemployed? Well, if you're me, you're still working!

Perhaps you don't get paid for all of your work, but you certainly spend most of the hours during the work day being productive. Whether you're trying to find a job or working on building a business and getting to the point when you won't have to depend on a potential employer for your livelihood, hopefully you're spending your days in a productive manner.

So when my almost 10-year old daughter, Alison, asked if she could spend "Take your child to work day" with me, I realized that it would be a good idea to show her what I do all day.

Since I'm not on Air America this week, I'm working on the Radio or Not podcast and blog, and working toward my goal of launching an actual internet radio station.

Although there's lots to talk about today (did you see or hear about the Levin Report? We'll delve into it tomorrow...), I figured Alison and I would join forces for today's podcast. Yes, the topic is "Take Your Child to Work Day."

I put Alison to work first thing this morning by telling her to do a little research on the day. She was my interview subject, and also consulted on the music and editing of today's show.

We both hope you'll enjoy today's Radio or Not episode... the first joint production of Nicole and Alison Sandler! Click here to listen to it (runtime 9:21)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Earth Day Musical...

Welcome to Earth Day 2009. Unfortunately, I'm a bit under the weather today. So, in lieu of a new Radio or Not podcast, I thought I'd give you a musical reminder of what earth day is about.

First up, a band that I grew to love back around 1994 when their debut, self-titled album was released. It contained this song, If You Love Me Why Am I Dying? that is written on behalf of our planet...

I believe it was a few years earlier that the Los Angeles based band, Dramarama got sucked up into the excitement of Earth Day. There were big concerts and events happening all over the country on April 21, which happened to be a Sunday, so that's when the celebrations were scheduled.

John Easedale, who wrote What Are We Gonna Do? mistook that fact that the events were happening on the 21st for the actual date of Earth Day, which he later learned was really April 22. But the song lives on....

And, of course, there is the grandfather of Earth Day songs, from the one and only Marvin Gaye... written long before Earth Day was a day to celebrate and cherish and plan for the future of our planet...

Happy Earth Day from Radio or Not!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture and Treason and Lies, Oh My!

Click here to listen to today's Radio or Not podcast (runtime 32:47)

I wish I could say "Ding Dong the witch is dead" to go along with the title of today's entry, but the flying monkeys are still circling the poppy fields.

Dick Cheney is now saying that torture is acceptable if it yields results and, damn it, now he wants the top secret memos made public to prove that his torture program kept us safe.

Even though I seriously doubt that by waterboarding Abu Zubayda 83 times in August 2002, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in March 2003, our government got any actionable intelligence that kept us safe from harm, I'm also relatively positive that our treatment of "detainees" has served as a reliable recruitment method for their friends and families.

I was really going to deal with the case before the Supreme Court today on this program... that of the then-13 year old who was strip searched at her school because some other kid said she had (gasp) prescription strength ibuprofen! If the US Supreme Court rules that school personnel can violate the privacy of a child in such a manner, with no proof or even a reasonable assurance that the child is putting other kids at risk and without first notifying her parents, then I'll have to find an alternate way to educate my child.

But I'll see what the outcome is before I get too crazy.

Instead, I made the mistake of watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe" for just long enough this morning to see this exchange...

Joe Scarborough has got to be one of the most offensive hosts on television today. Perhaps Fox can hire him away from MSNBC so he'll be with more of his ilk.
After seeing that segment this morning, I take back every nasty thing I ever said about Chris Matthews. I won't go as far as to say that he's my new hero; but I will admit that, now, I think we're kindred spirits! (You'll have to listen to today's podcast to hear why!)
In addition to my rants about Clueless Joe, today's Radio or Not episode includes an interview with Ray McGovern who, for close to 30 years worked as a CIA analyst. He's a founder of Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), who came to my attention in 2006, when he stood up at a Q&A session with then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and confronted him on his lies.
See it for yourself here:
I spoke with Ray McGovern Friday during my Air America Radio program, the day after the infamous torture memos were released.
Just as I was finishing up production on today's podcast, a story with the headline Obama open to prosecution, probe of interrogations hit the wires. It reports that, after his meeting in the Oval Office today with King Abdullah of Jordan, President Obama proclaimed that the decision on whether or not to prosecute those who justified the torturing of prisoners was up to the Justice Department, and not his to make!
To be continued....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Welcome to 4/20

Click here to listen to today's 4/20 edition of the Radio or Not podcast (runtime 29:20)

What a day it is! I'm actually talking about the date. There are few dates on the calendar that have such different meanings to such disparate groups.

The first, which is dealt with at the very end of today's podcast, is one of those inauspicious anniversaries. Truly one which we'd prefer not to remember, but which we certainly cannot chose to forget.

Ten years ago today, two troubled teenagers in a suburban Colorado community brought a veritable arsenal with them to school, and proceeded to kill 12 students and a teacher and wound 23 others before committing suicide.

Unfortunately, the assault weapons ban that went into effect during Bill Clinton's presidency in 1994 expired 10 years later, under George W. Bush's administration. As promising as Barack Obama seemed on this topic, we're now seeing few, if any signs, that the ban is coming back. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who introduced the bill in 1994 said just last week on 60 Minutes that this is not the time to reintroduce the legislation.

If you missed the 60 Minutes piece on guns last week, today would be a good day to watch it:

The other significance of the day is somewhat happier.

The number 420 has taken on a new meaning, though there is some question about how the number came to signify marijuana! (For more on the origins of the meaning, read "What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number" from Huffington Post)

I worked at San Diego alternative radio station 91X in the late 90s, where at 4:20 every afternoon, it was "Mandatory Marley." And today, 4/20, all over the world, pot smokers will light up... especially at 4:20 this afternoon. (One big celebration is expected again this year in Boulder, Colorado on the campus of Colorado University.)

I'll use the day to once again call for the legalization of marijuana.

On today's Radio or Not podcast, I share some statistics, as well as an interview with Jack Cole, executive director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

For more on the day and the topic, all you need to do is search. Huffington Post has a number of articles commemorating the day, and agreeing with my stance. For example, 420: Thoughts on Pot vs. Alcohol from a Former Police Chief.

If you're 420 friendly, you might want to participate in the festivities of a worldwide marijuana march that will be held in over 544 cities in 54 nations around the world to celebrate the medicinal value and spiritual benefits of marijuana. Find out more here.

Finally, I'm embarking on an upgrade for Radio or Not. Details will be coming over the next few weeks. But the gist of it is that I'm moving toward creating the Radio or Not media station.

I plan on doing my show live every weekday, and incorporating some other elements into the site. For that, I'm hoping you'll participate in a survey. I'll be sending it out to members of my email list. So, if you haven't yet signed up, I hope you'll look to your right, and join. I promise not to spam you, but would like your input as I move into the future...

Thanks... and happy 4/20: National Pot Smokers Day, however you choose to celebrate it!

Click here to listen to today's 4/20 edition of the Radio or Not podcast (runtime 29:20)

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's not torture if we say it's not!

That seems to be the bottom line of the four memos written by Bush administration officials that were released yesterday, thanks to the work of the ACLU.

Click here to read the actual memos themselves.

Watch this video of the director of the America Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project, Jameel Jaffer, explaining why they filed for the release of the memos under the Freedom of Information Act:

Mr. Jaffer will be my guest at 12:35 ET today on Air America radio. His appearance will be followed at 1:00 by Bob Fertik of, who have already put up an online petition calling for No Amnesty for Torturers.

I've been fervently looking for someone on the right to condone these memos and the use of torture by our government, but they've been eerily silent on the matter. The only one I could find was the wingnut Scarborough, from Morning Joe this morning, on the "lefty" network, MSNBC:

I may just have to play devils advocate today, if I can't find someone to come on the air with me to defend the torturers. After all, Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that we will pay to defend the people who tortured prisoners against any lawsuits, and our taxpayer dollars will be used to pay damages, if any are awarded them due to said lawsuits.

Today is our last day of this week's run on Air America Live, from noon-3 ET. I want to end the week on an up-note, so actor/comedian John Fugelsang will join me for the last hour. We'll hang out and talk about all the news events of recent weeks.... I hope you'll join us too, by listening here or here, and calling in to 866-303-2270.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The ongoing saga of the teabaggers

Today's the last day you'll hear about teabagging from me. (Well, now that I think about it... John Fugelsang will be on the show with me, so there may be a few jokes left dangling...) For the most part, though, I'm done with it.

On Tuesday, the day before the big events, I reached out to Freedom Works, one of the groups that has been actively promoting the planned protests, and helping people organize their rallies. I have no problem with that! In fact, I say it regularly... get out and get active! Speak up for what you believe in. And I don't really care if some right wing groups help organize the things. After all, I know that helps people on my side of the fence organize many of their activities. No harm in that.

However, when they pretend that this started on the grassroots level, and insist on painting it in that light, when the Fox "News" Network is running promos ad-nauseum urging people to get out and protest, you can't call that grass roots. Hypocrisy is more like it.

So, on Tuesday, I interviews Max Pappas, the VP of Public Policy for Freedom Works, who started out the interview by claiming that theirs is a non-partisan organization working for lower taxes and less government. Hear the interview for yourself by clicking here.

I thought it was a pretty good interview. I exposed what Freedom Works is about... though I've since found out more. For example, we knew that Freedom Works is run by former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey. What I didn't know then was that Armey represented three of the financial behemoths that brought the economy to its knees, necessitating such a widespread government response in the first place. In just the last year, Armey’s firm, DLA Piper, has represented, AIG, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. So much for non-partisan, huh?

Yesterday was the big day. But the oddest thing happened. I started getting an inordinate number of emails from right-wingers. Not only that, but most of the messages weren't only addressed to me.... Mine was one of five email addresses these messages were sent to. They went to Paul Krugman at the NY Times, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and David Shuster at MSNBC, and little ole me.

After the initial shock, I realized that some entity -- probably one of the same ones who implored the regular folks to get out and protest the Obama regime -- told these people to write to the five of us, because we had the gall to suggest that the idea for all of them to take to the street wasn't a grassroots uprising.

So, I guess we were to surmise that each of these people who sent the following messages came up with the idea to do so on their own as well!

Here's a sample of some of the best I received:

From Greg with the subject line "I Agree"

From Enrique Daubin:
This e-mail is a fake, just like all those fake tea parties that occurred yesterday throughout the nation. Don’t try replying, because I actually don’t exist (I am fake too).

Taxed Enough Already,

Enrique Daubin
Greensboro, NC

PS – The ‘Silent Majority’ has been awakened. Stay tuned…

From Michael Day:

I am a real taxpayer, who attended a real tea party yesterday, with real opposition to being ignored by my government.

and from Robert:

I think the lot of you are extremely immature. The fact that there are Americans out there - regardless of the number of them - that oppose outrageous, unnecessary, and socialistic government spending - should not cause "intellectuals" such as yourselves to get into such a tizzy. Why does it bother you so much that there are people in this country who disagree passionately with the way the country is now headed? Since when did patriotic, sincere dissent become such an object of irrational, frenzied, crude, and sophomoric ridicule? Are you adults, or are you pre-pubescent twelve-year-olds? If the tea party protests of yesterday were truly as insignificant as you claim they were, why spend so much time and waste so much oxygen denigrating them? My only answer is that you are either spoiled little children who can't get it through their thick skulls that people might actually disagree with the current administration, or you are scared witless about it. Either way, the time you've spent trying desperately to marginalize conservatives and libertarians opposed to big government has only helped the cause and has made more people aware of the dangers that we face. So, I suppose I should be thanking you. I'll leave you in peace now to go back to your moronic blathering.

Robert Weber
Lancaster, PA

Those were only a few of the couple of dozen of emails I received that were addressed to me, Rachel, Keith, David and Paul Krugman. I emailed most of them back, and asked why I was included in such esteemed company, and most ignored my question.

The writer of the last letter I included above, Robert, did reply to my producer, Sean Kensing's request that he join me on the air.

And Max Pappas of Freedom Works agreed to come back on the air with me as well. (Right before we went on the air, I found the source of the emails... a post on the Freedom Works homepage "Email and Twitter Addresses of Left-Wing Media Saying Tea Partiers Are Fake" which listed the five of us. Again, I'm flattered to be put in such an esteemed group!

Click here to listen to the segment with email author Robert and Max Pappas of Freedom Works.

Now on to another topic... sort of. I'm able to call these people hypocrites because they stood by and supported GW Bush as he spent us to the verge of bankrupting the nation, yet they will criticize Obama no matter what he does.

I believe in speaking truth to power, no matter what party the power is from. And I don't hold back on criticizing President Obama. I did it yesterday when I interviewed Glenn Greenwald of about how this administration is trying expand on the abusive powers that Bush seized for himself.

Today I turned to Robert Greenwald (no relation to Glenn, as I found out today) of BraveNewFilms, about his latest piece... the third installment of "Rethinking Afghanistan" this one focusing on The Cost of War. Watch it here... then listen to our interview by clicking here.

Tomorrow, we'll wrap up the week with a look back at the week with actor/comedian John Fugelsang... and more. I hope you'll listen noon-3 ET on Air America radio.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interesting, but scary stuff!

The interview I was most looking forward to this week happened today. One of my must-reads every day is Glenn Greenwald's column at Although all of his columns are worth reading and talking about, I was most interested in talking with him about the piece he wrote on Monday, An emerging progressive consensus on Obama's executive power and secrecy abuses.

Click here to listen to my interview with Glenn Greenwald on Air America.

You can read my thoughts about how it's possible to like a president, but disagree vehemently with some of his policies. And I do!

Today's show wasn't all doom and gloom... We had a little fun too, with Lisa Derrick, who blogs at FireDogLake. We talked about Phil Spector who was convicted yesterday of 2nd degree murder, and dished on lots other stories too. She was getting ready to dress up and go incognito to one of the tea parties, so she checked in at the end of the show with a report. We'll check back in with her tomorrow to get the rest of the story.

I called on my favorite conservative pundit, John LeBoutillier. I met him many years ago when I produced the Bob Grant Show, back at WMCA in NY. John was a newly-former Congressman, and friend of Grant's who would occasionally guest host the show. Even though I disagreed with him ideologically, I always liked him. And I always enjoy sparring with him on the air. The odd thing is that we agree on many points. Go figure! (In addition to his own blog, linked above, he also writes for the ultra-right-leaning!)

Enjoy the rest of your patriots day... stay away from the teabaggers. They know not what they're protesting!

I'm so conflicted!

I like Barack Obama. I really do. And I shudder to think what would be going on today if he had lost the election and John McCain was in charge.

But I'm still troubled about a lot of what's going on in the executive branch.

I hope to get more clarity today when I get to speak with's Glenn Greenwald today on Air America radio (at 1 PM EDT). He wrote a scathing piece about President Obama's DOJ taking the powers seized by Bush & Co. and even expanding them. I know I won't like what I hear, but we need to hear it!

The powers I'm talking about here are the worst examples of the shredding of the constitution practiced by the former administration... domestic spying and warrantless wiretapping, denying habeus corpus to prisoners, blanket immunity from lawsuits for those who've violated the civil liberties of our citizens and, sadly, more.

I liked Bill Clinton too. He, like Obama, is smart. I love that the two of them can speak with authority about whatever issue is before them. Knowledge is power, and intelligence is an aphrodisiac. (Maybe that's what got Bill Clinton in so much trouble!)

But President Clinton made some fatal errors during his presidency. He signed the legislation that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, which lifted the regulations that were put in place after the depression and could have prevented the dire economic situation we're now experiencing. He also signed the awful Telecommunications Act of 1996 that deregulated the broadcast industry and relaxed ownership rules -- which effectively destroyed the business in which I've worked for 25 years. Yet, I still like him.

So, it's OK to like President Obama, while criticizing some of his actions. I just know that I'd like him much, much more if he'd listen to the people who elected him, and do the right thing.

Dolphins save the day

My favorite news story of the day:

 BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday.

    The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China's fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China's.

    The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness befor the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.

    China initiated its three-ship escort task force on Dec. 26 last year after the United Nations Security Council called on countries to patrol gulf and waters off Somalia, one of the world's busiest marine routes, where surging piracy endangered intercontinental shipping.

    China's first fleet has escorted 206 vessels, including 29 foreign merchant vessels, and successfully rescued three foreign merchant ships from pirate attacks.

    About 20 percent of Chinese merchant ships passing through the waters off Somalia were attacked by pirates from January to November in 2008, before the task force was deployed.

    A total of seven ships, either owned by China or carrying Chinese cargo and crew, were hijacked.

    Tianyu No. 8, a Chinese fishing vessel with 16 Chinese and eight foreign sailors aboard, was captured by Somali pirates on Nov. 14 and released in early February.

    The second fleet of Chinese escort ships arrived at the Gulf of Aden on Monday to replace the first fleet.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Still a bit traumatized, but made it through today's show!

In case you don't know what was so traumatic today, scroll down and read my earlier post. I'll wait.

OK, now you understand. I finished the show, which was a non-stop parade of fascinating guests (details coming in a moment), and ran out back to dispose of the body before my 9 year old daughter got home from school.

I took the advice of the majority of folks who emailed me with suggestions. Although I liked the comment left on the afore-mentioned earlier post, gift wrapping the cat would have required more contact than I was willing to make. I barely kept my lunch down as it was.

And in case you were wondering, a cat dead since 4:30am is most definitely stiff by 3:15pm.

On to more pressing matters....

Today's show began with a visit from a man who should be in Washington DC today. Joe Garcia ran against incumbent Republican Mario Diaz Balart in 2008 and came close, but not close enough to unseat the hack. Joe is a Democratic Party activist, longtime Cuba Policy advocate, and the former Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. He's always been my go-to guy on all issues related to Cuba, so when President Obama yesterday lifted the restrictions on family travel to Cuba, I knew Joe was the guy to call.

He debated the issue last night on CNN

and after appearing on Air America with me today, he was on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell.

In today's second hour, I wanted to hear from some of the people behind the teabagging parties that are scheduled for tomorrow, at the urging of Faux News and a group called FreedomWorks.

Much to my surprise, FreedomWorks' VP for Public Policy, Max Pappas, agreed to come on the show. At the beginning of the interview, he was making some sense. But the more I questioned him, the more his whole premise began unraveling.

I'm all for people challenging authority and speaking out in support of whatever they believe. But I don't condone lies and deception. When I asked about the organization, Pappas claimed they were a non-partisan group, but as he laid out their ideas and asked him point blank if he was a Libertarian, he said yes.... and then went on to say that he's not politically affiliated! And when I pressed him on who heads FreedomWorks, he finally admitted that the guy in charge is none other than Dick Armey, former House Republican leader! Non partisan my ass....

Last week, I had my favorite activist David Swanson on the air to talk about this column that he wrote for I also asked him about a piece he wrote on April 1 titled, "John Yoo Arrested" that said Yoo had been arrested in Italy and extradited to Spain. I saw the date and realized it was an April Fools joke, but today, I had David back on the show to talk about Scott Horton's piece on The Daily Beast titled "The Bush Six to Be Indicted" which tells us that Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzalez and five others from the Bush administration for torture! This time, it's for real!

All that, and I still had another hour to go! Hour three kicked off with a conversation with B.L. Ochman, a marketing strategist and blogger who can be found at She wrote a piece for Advertising Age about removing any LGBT themed books from search and rankings, and told how the story spread like wildfire over the weekend on twitter.

We then moved on to the issue of gay marriage, as the past week or so saw great strides with Iowa and Vermont joining the growing chorus of states legalizing the rights of consenting adults to form lasting, loving family units! I was joined by Matt Coles, director of the ACLU's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. They're doing great work, and you should check them out when you get the time.

And finally, a three-judge election contest court in Minnesota ruled that Al Franken won the election by a margin of 312 votes, yet Norm Coleman will likely appeal that ruling too! Any time there's a question about elections, I turn to Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog, and did just that today too.

Whew. At least it all kept my mind off of the dead cat in my back yard!

Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow. If you haven't yet read Glenn Greenwald's piece on entitled An emerging progressive consensus on Obama's executive power and secrecy abuses, you might want to do so tonight. He'll be joining me in the second hour of the show tomorrow to talk about the powers that Bush claimed and that Obama is holding on to.

We'll also talk with Lisa Derrick who blogs at about politics, entertainment and pop culture at FireDogLake. And we'll check in with folks who are brave enough to head out for some tax day teabagging! I hope you'll listen in. You can call in too at 866-303-2270...

I'm responsible for the death of a cat...

I thought that my lovable, cuddly living teddy bears Sasha and Pooh (pictured below) would just chase the cat away, as they've done before!

I was awakened at 4:30 this morning by my two very loud dogs barking. When I looked out the bedroom window, I saw the black cat lying lazily at the side of the pool. Realizing the dogs wouldn't shut up until the cat departed the premises, I figured I could just let them out and they'd chase him/her away.

But this must have been one very slow cat. I knew it was a bad plan when I heard the cat howl louder than the dogs barked.

By the time I threw on some clothes and found a flashlight, the cat was silent, and the dogs were standing guard over their prey. I pried them away and back into the house, and laid awake for the rest of the night/morning, realizing that I was responsible for the death of the cat.
Now I have a dead cat in the backyard, and two dogs who want to get out there. And I'm on the air in one hour on Air America.
Not my best day!
However, if you get a chance to pick up the Miami Herald today, you'll see a lovely piece about me, the loss of WINZ, the podcast, and my work on Air America. Happily, there's nothing in it about the dead cat.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Not too bad for a Monday!

Aside from the fact that the three hours flew by on Air America today, it was also a good day thanks to Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald, who wrote this lovely piece!

On today's show, I spoke with Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State... someone every Christian fundamentalist in this country needs to listen to!

I reached out to Shannon Moriarty, editor of the End Homelessness blog at She's a grad student at Tufts University, who is studying housing and urban policy, and has done a great job on this blog.

Since animals are also affected by the bad economy, I was moved when I read of Joni Taylor's efforts to help feed some dogs whose owners are having a tough time these days. She's the founder of FIDO (Friends Involved in Dog Outreach) in Clackamas, Oregon, where she also started a dog food bank! If you're in the Portland area and can help or need help, or if you're elsewhere but want information on what Joni's doing in Oregon, you can reach out to her at or call 971-678-6928.

In the third hour of today's show, I spoke with Zephyr Teachout, who works as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Duke University, and is one of the organizers behind A New Way Forward.  If you are at all concerned about the bank bailouts and the way the Obama administration is handling the economic crisis in this country, you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to visit that website and, at the very least, become informed.  Or better than that, get involved!

I'll be back on Air America tomorrow from noon-3 Eastern.  We'll kick off the show with Joe Garcia, who'll fill us in on all the developments with Cuban-American relations.

The Times They Are a Changin'

It's certainly a new day at the White House, on this Monday, the day after Easter.

It's time for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and you might want to ask, "How is this Easter Egg Roll different from all other Easter Egg Rolls?"

For starters, it comes just days after the very first Passover Seder at the White House. Yes, our Christian President and First Lady hosted the first-ever White House Seder.

It's a new dawn that embraces inclusiveness and tolerance.

I remember doing an interview with one of the White House Easter Egg Roll "crashers" in 2006. She and her partner were among a group of "gay and lesbian families" who dared to show up for the "straight family only" event, identified for all the world to see by the rainbow-colored leis around their necks. Today, members of the LGBT community will be there, as invited guests. No special identification necessary to spotlight their inclusion!

If you feel so moved, you can actually watch the 30,000 kids who'll participate today roll their respective eggs along the White House lawn here, as it will stream live on the internet -- another first!

And just in case you're still upset by President Obama's flippant dismissal during his first-ever Online Town Hall Meeting of the question about legalizing marijuana, I think he might be trying to make it up to us today. Ziggy Marley will be one of the musical performers at today's White House soiree. Just a thought....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Looking forward to a new week!

It's Sunday afternoon. Easter Sunday. Since the Sandler household is pretty much non-religious (we didn't observe Passover either), today I took my daughter to the Marlins-Mets game. We were cheering on the Mets, and eager as Carlos Delgado came to bat with the Mets up 2-0, with 2 outs at the top of the 9th inning, figuring he'd once again save the day. But, alas, his double and the one run he was able to eek out weren't enough this time.

In case you were wondering, it was ridiculously hot at Dolphins stadium, making me realize that the Marlins do, indeed, need a domed stadium if they ever hope to get fans in the seats. But I still think they should be paying for it, not tax dollars!

I'm getting ready to begin another week on Air America radio. I'll be hosting noon-3 EST all week, starting tomorrow. Since it's the Monday after Easter and Passover, I thought tomorrow would be a great time to talk about the separation of Church and State. We'll do that in the first hour, with Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Rev. Lynn in the past, and promise you'll find it fascinating as well.

We'll also take a look at the issue of Homelessness in America, and lots more...

I'm trying to wrap my brain around a few other issues... pirates, taxes and teabagging are among them. If you have any suggestions for guests and topics you'd like me to try to cover this week on Air America, please email me!

In the meantime, I thought you might get a kick out of this misguided youth, who apparently didn't get the "teabagging" memo...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Day at the Beach

Literally. The weather is beautiful here in South Florida today, so I'm going to take my daughter, Alison (who's on spring break this week), and head to the beach... the one thing I truly love about life down here.

A day off... what a concept!

One quick programming note -- I'll be on Air America all next week, from noon-3 EDT. Please put a reminder in your calendar to listen online at

I'm sure I'll post something later. But for now, time to get out the sunscreen, a good book, a beach chair and a towel.

What a way to celebrate passover, huh?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wednesday morning mea culpa

Yes, I have to fess up today to missing yesterday's big story.  Before I get to that, though, a few words from Jon Stewart who, I believe, has become one of our best political commentators.  He drives home his point with a comic touch that makes even the most bitter pill easier to swallow and, metaphors aside, the truth easier to understand.  

That is, of course, unless you're a right-wing talk show host.  

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The next clip that you need to see today comes from another of our best -- Keith Olbermann.  He and Jon Stewart arrive at many of the same conclusions and help to inform the more erudite segments of the population (i.e. those who actually think), but get there via different routes.

Keith is more in-your-face, more to the point.  There's not as much of the comic nuance as we get from Jon Stewart's brand of commentary.  Keith leaves little to the imagination.  He calls it exactly as it is, though sometimes we don't like hearing what he has to say. 

And that was the case last night.

I blew it yesterday on this story.  I was speaking with Ron Brynaert, Executive Editor at when I guest-hosted on Air America.  We were talking about the top stories of the day, and I didn't even deal with the headline that read Obama Administration quietly expands Bush's legal defense of wiretapping program.  

I knew just by looking at the headline that it was bad.  Perhaps that's why I skipped over it, and opted instead to talk about the story of actor Kal Penn (of Harold & Kumar fame) leaving his cushy gig on the TV show House to join the Obama administration as a public outreach liaison, and other such light fare.  My mistake.

And I made that mistake after discussing with Mr. Brynaert the fact that we, as "progressives and liberals" don't tow the party line unchallenged.  I think my exact quote was "I'll call a spade a spade, and if I believe Obama is wrong about something, I'll call him on it!"   I even had a similar conversation earlier in the show with author and activist David Swanson who, although he voted for Obama, has remained as vigilant about exposing the hypocrisy of this administration as he was the last.  

A quick aside here, as I neglected to do this yesterday.... Although I've interviewed David Swanson numerous times over the past few years, the post that prompted me to invite him on the air yesterday, What's the Real Reason?, is must reading for everyone. 

Back to the main point.  Keith Olbermann covered the story of President Obama and this administration not only defending the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program but, in essence, expanding on it!  

In the following two clips, you'll hear Keith speaking with Newsweek's Howard
Fineman about the story, and then discussing the ramification of it with one of our foremost experts on Constitutional law, Jonathan Turley.
It's up to us to make sure President Obama hears us on this.  If you want to get involved, I'll once again direct you back to David Swanson's numerous websites --, and as some good starting points.

On another note, I promised that I'd put together a primer of sorts on progressive talk radio that you can hear online.  Actually, the work has already been done.  You can find a very comprehensive listing at    I will check with the proprietor of that blog and ask if I can cannibalize his listings and create a page here at Radio or Not to make it easier to navigate your way through it.  But that's a good starting point for you to check out, and bookmark your favorites!

As for the lack of local progressive talk here in South Florida, I promise to use this blog and podcast to pick up the slack.  In the coming days, I will speak with some of Florida's legislators who are still entrenched in Tallahassee for their annual 60-day legislative session.  We'll likely pick that up after the Easter/Passover break.  In the meantime, please check back here regularly, as you never know what will spark my interest.

If there's a local story you think needs addressing, by all means, post it in the comments section below, on the message board, or email me.  I read it all!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Let's get the money out of politics

That's been my mantra for a long time.  I honestly believe that no meaningful change can come without a complete overhaul of how elections are paid for.  Politicians will always be beholden to the people who gave them the most money.  And I also think it borders on criminal to spend so much money on political advertising when those dollars could be put to much better use... education easily springs to mind.

As the economy gets worse and we follow the money, we see that many millions of dollars have gone from the Wall Street mega banks into the coffers of our elected officials.  

Check out some of these facts and figures from Americans for Campaign Reform 
(Source: Center for Responsive Politics analysis of campaign finance
disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission, 1990-2008)

‣ Individuals and PACs in finance, insurance, and real
estate have contributed over $2 billion to federal campaigns
since 1990, the largest sector by a factor of two

‣ Wall Street contributions increased five-fold from $60
million in 1990 to $311 million in 2008

‣ Members of the U.S. House and Senate received an
average $142,663 and $1,042,663, respectively, in
Wall Street contributions as of July 28, 2008

Both Parties Profit from Wall Street Funds
‣ Wall Street donors consistently favored the political
party in power with higher contributions in eight out
of ten elections between 1990-2008

‣ Republicans received 55% of total Wall Street funds
from 1990-2008, compared with 44% for Democrats

‣ The top twenty recipients of Wall Street contributions
include Senators and Representatives regarded as
among the most liberal and the most conservative
Members in Congress

Wall Street Targets Regulatory Committees
‣ Wall Street contributions to House and Senate candidates
in 2008 were heavily concentrated on members
of the relevant banking, commerce, and tax committees
responsible for industry regulation

‣ Nine of the top ten House recipients of Wall Street
contributions in 2008 served on the Financial Services
(6) or Ways and Means (3) committees

‣ Top-ten members of the relevant House committees
received an average $1.5 million from Wall Street in
2008, ten times the overall average in the House

‣ The top ten Senate recipients of Wall Street contributions
in 2008 were either candidates for President or
members of the Commerce, Banking, Finance, and
Budget committees, or in Senate leadership.

‣ Their average in Wall Street Contributions was $14.3
million, or $2.2 million excluding giving to major
presidential candidates.

Top ten Wall Street contributors, 2008
Rank /Organization /Amount
1  Goldman Sachs  $4,287,701
2  Citigroup Inc  $3,438,497
3  JP Morgan Chase & Co  $3,029,568
4  Morgan Stanley  $2,842,517
5  National Assn of Realtors  $2,525,300
6  UBS AG  $2,256,060
7  American Bankers Assn  $2,029,088
8  Lehman Brothers  $1,921,167
9  Merrill Lynch  $1,824,505
10  Bank of America  $1,800,504

Stunning, don't you think?  And we wonder why our elected officials are spending so many of our taxpayer dollars bailing out the banks?  Those same elected officials are owned by the banks!

So, what can we do?  Well, we can contact the people who represent us in Washington and DEMAND a change.  Legislation is already before Congress.  The Fair Elections Now Act was introduced to both houses on March 31.  Introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Representatives John Larson (D-CT) and Walter Jones (R-NC), the Fair Elections Now Act provides a new, small donor-driven approach to campaign finance.

I spoke at length with Dan Weeks, president of Americans for Campaign Reform today on Air America Radio.  Click here to listen to our interview (runtime 28:53)

On Air America today from noon-3 EDT

We have a great show lined up for you today, so I hope you'll listen live at, and call in at 866-303-2270.

In the first hour, as I've been threatening to do, we'll deal with the issue of the role of money in elections, and how to fix it!  Campaign Finance Reform is, in my opinion, the most important issue of the day!  I'll speak with Dan Weeks  President, Americans for Campaign Reform.  Find them at

In hour two, we'll look back at President Obama's Excellent European Adventure with Beth Arnold, an American living in Paris.  She's a journalist whose work you can read on Huffington Post, and numerous other places, including

In the third hour of today's show, one of my favorite guests who always keeps us on our toes, activist and author David Swanson.  We'll talk about issues we should all be concerned with, including the status of the effort to hold Bush/Cheney et al accountable for their crimes, and take a critical look at the Obama presidency.  

David Swanson is the author of the upcoming book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" and of the introduction to "The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush."  He is co-founder of, creator of and Washington Director of, a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, the Backbone Campaign, and Voters for Peace, a convenor of the legislative working group of United for Peace and Justice, and chair of the accountability and prosecution working group of United for Peace and Justice.  In his spare time, he also blogs at

And of course, we'll take a look at some of the other stories of the day.

Again, listen live at and call in at 866-303-2270.  And please let your friends know they can listen too!