Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday on Steroids!

***Updated to include audio links!

Click here to listen to my interview with Senator Bernie Sanders.

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

Mondays are always tough. But the Monday after a four day weekend, complete gluttony galore (both in terms of food and purchases), is even harder. So it's best to jump in with both feet! And that's just what I'm doing today.

I'll be guest hosting The Randi Rhodes Show today from 3-6pm ET, and will be back in my usual 11pm-1am ET slot on Air America Radio tonight too.

I'm not the only one jumping right back in either!

The Senate, this afternoon, begins debate on Health Care Reform. Tomorrow night, President Obama will address the nation from West Point, explaining to us his rationale for sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Oh, there are other things going on as well. For some reason, President Obama wants to keep Ben Bernanke on for another term as Chair of the Federal Reserve. The White House is going to address the Jobs disaster, and will also be enacting some programs to help those of us in danger of losing our homes to foreclosure.

And there are distractions too.... A couple of narcissistic attention-seekers crashed the State Dinner at the White House Wednesday night, begging the question "Who's in charge?".

We'll deal with many of these issues today, between the two shows.

I'll be joined by both Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Dennis Kucinich today during Randi's show (and will also share them with you tonight on my show). If I had my way, they'd be our next president and vice president. Unfortunately, that won't happen. But fortunately, they're both looking out for our best interests in Congress. I just wish we could clone them and get a lot more like them!

As you probably know, they're both against the plans that President Obama will put forth tomorrow night. Michael Moore is too, and he wrote about it in an open letter to the president today.

The Daily Beast's Peter Beinart takes a different approach today in a piece entitled "Stop Talking About Leaving." He'll join me this afternoon to discuss his rationale too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Night Menagerie


Just a reminder that tomorrow night is the big adoption show on Air America radio.... Tonight, we have a bit of everything!

We'll get started with a Quickie News Update with Victoria Jones of the Talk Radio News Service.

We'll follow that with a conversation with Will Bunch, senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, whose "Attytood" blog is one I enjoy immensely. He wrote a piece on Thursday "The 26% Solution" that caught my eye, so I invited him on to tell us about it... He is also author of the book, Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future.

We'll round out the first hour with a visit from Howie Klein of downwithtyranny.com, who live-tweeted Saturday's Senate debate before the vote to open debate on the health care bill.

Hour two will be filled with a no-holds-barred conversation with Dylan Ratigan, host of MSNBC's Morning Meeting.

Join in the fun! Click here to listen live (11pm-1am ET), and call in at 866-303-2270.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Best Thanksgiving Ever



Ten years ago this month, I was hoping to bring my daughter home. Six months earlier, I had started the process to adopt my daughter. I wasn't sure where she was, or what she looked like, but I had already spent countless hours assembling my adoption dossier, and dreaming of a baby girl in an orphanage somewhere in Russia.

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It took another year of waiting, of re-doing paperwork, and lots of frustration. But at the end of October, 2000 I accepted the referral of an 18-month old little girl in an orphanage in the village of Karakastek, Kazakhstan.

Nine years ago tonight, I was in the city of Almaty, about 90 minutes by car from her village, but I had already visited three times. Nine years ago tonight I was spending my final night as a childless woman.

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It was Thanksgiving Day! On November 23, 2000, I appeared in a freezing cold courtroom in a tiny village on the other side of the world, trying to convince a judge that he should allow me to take this precious little girl with me home to the US, to be her mother.

I've made many mistakes in my life, but I often say that adopting my daughter is the one thing I know I did right.

The process was long and involved, but it certainly didn't get any easier after bringing Alison home. Parenting is the toughest job I've ever had, but it's also the most rewarding.

People often comment to me that Alison was very lucky, and I have always respond that we both were. She is definitely my daughter; that was apparent almost immediately!

This Tuesday, November 24, Alison and I will celebrate our 9th "Forever Day." Many in the adoption community refer to the day the new parents take their child from the orphanage as their "gotcha" day. We prefer the more sentimental description, as it is the day we became mother and daughter, forever.

November also happens to be National Adoption Month, so I tend to do at least one adoption related show every year at this time.


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I hope you'll tune in to Air America radio this Tuesday night, November 24, 11pm-1am ET, for a very special show. (Click here to listen live)

When I first made the decision to adopt internationally, I joined a few list-serves. (FRUA, EEAC are home to the two biggest.) Through those lists, I found a group of families who were using the same agency as me, and we formed our own little list.

It's now more than 10 years since we began the process, and I count this group among my closest friends, even though some of us have never even met in person! We went through the heartbreak of long waits and broken promises, the fear of making bad decisions, the joy of accepting referrals and traveling to meet and bring home our children.

We've supported each other through issues with our kids, deaths, divorces, surprise births and so much more...

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Tuesday night, a few of these very dear friends will join me on Air America to tell their stories. Perhaps you'll be moved to find out if your child is out there somewhere waiting for you.


Click here to read my journal
, and please join us Tuesday night!

Friday, November 20, 2009

What a Long, Strange Week It's Been

***Updated with audio links... click to hear the interviews with
Robert Reich, Dave Dayen and Kevin Zeese****

This has been a strange, strange week.

It was the week of Palin. Sarah Palin who, by all rights, should have disappeared from the national discourse after she quit her job as governor of Alaska with 18 months left in her first term, is a phenomenon.

Palin is revered by the non-thinkers, the anti-intellectuals, the Bible-thumpers who know not the meaning of Christianity, the hate-mongers and the teabaggers, and reviled by those of us with a conscience, with compassion for our fellow human beings, with a modicum of education and the minds to think for ourselves.

I was planning to have a little fun with Palin tonight. I was going to conduct my own "interview." There's certainly more than enough footage of recent Sarah interviews from the past few days to piece together the answers to the questions I'd pose. But I realized after about 10 minutes of sifting though her inane answers to questions from everyone from Oprah and Barbara to Hannity and Beck that I had much better things to do with my precious time.

Then I came across this gem from funnyordie, which says it all... Finally, Sarah Palin tells the truth!



Now on to things much more important...

Tomorrow night, the Senate will hold the first procedural vote on the way to passing their health care bill (which you can read here). Tonight, I'll check in with a great panel of folks who'll weigh in with their expertise and opinions on what's good and bad about this bill, and what will happen with it.

Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton and now professor at UC Berkeley, Robert Reich will join me to talk about two of his most recent blog entries: "Harry Reid and What Happened to the Public Option" and "The Great Disconnect Between Stocks and Jobs."

Dave Dayen writes the FDL News blog for FireDogLake, and he'll give us the details on where the 3 rogue ConservaDem Senators stand the night before the first vote tomorrow.

Kevin Zeese is president of Prosperity Agenda, one of the organizations, one of the three "initiating groups" behind Mobilize for Healthcare, a nonviolent campaign to end private health insurance abuse and win health care for all! He'll talk with us about their next step in the fight for the real “public option”: Medicare for All, a national single payer plan that cuts out the profit, covers everyone, and puts patients first.

And my favorite activist, David Swanson will check in too. He's in California, on his book tour for Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union. He was in Miami last month for a book reading/signing, and I was honored to introduce him to the crowd. C-Span was there too, and will show that event this Sunday morning at 7:45 ET on C-Span 2.

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One Step Closer


Tonight, the United States moved one step closer. One step closer to the rest of the free world.

It should come as a huge shock to realize that the United States of America stands alone as the only industrialized nation on the planet that doesn't consider health care to be a basic human right. The good ole US is the only first world country in the world in which a person can go bankrupt and lose everything he or she owns simply because he, she or a family member got sick.

The United States of America, where compassion seems to be a very rare commodity.

At least, that's what the rest of the world must think of us.

But I know that I, as a liberal, progressive, ACLU card-carrying democratic-socialist wannabe, I am compassionate. I don't think anyone should have to choose between putting food on the table or visiting the doctor when something is wrong. Health care, to me, falls under the heading of those inalienable rights granted us in the Declaration of Independence of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nowhere does it say "if you can afford the premiums, co-pays and deductible!"

Today, Harry Reid introduced the new Senate Health Care bill, H.R. 3590 "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." This is the product of the two Senate committee bills merged into one that will be debated, amended and, hopefully, voted on.

Once that passes, this bill will have to be merged with the House bill. And then both the Senate and the House will have to pass it in order to take us yet another step closer to giving Americans the peace of mind that so many of our fellow world citizens already enjoy. The dignity of life.

It's more than a little ironic that the Republican members of Congress who, unanimously, claim to be "pro-life" are so against the one thing that can help our people live. Health care for all.

Tonight on my Air America radio show, I'll bring you the latest updates on the Senate bill, from Ryan Grim at Huffington Post and Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo.

And I'm thrilled to speak tonight with Rich Stockwell, a senior producer at MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. He's the man who came up with the wonderful idea to show the Democratic Senators who just might stand in the way of health care reform just what's at stake by mounting a series of free clinics, in conjunction with the National Association of Free Clinics. The first one was held last weekend in New Orleans.

Rich wrote about the experience in "Health reform's human stories," a piece that Keith felt compelled to read on the air in its entirety.

Listen live from 11pm-am ET by clicking here, join us in the chat there too, and call in at 866-303-2270 with your thoughts!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two Smart Women....

I'll have two brilliant, accomplished women on the show tonight. OK, I felt I needed to make up for last night's night of Pa(l)in. But more importantly, the two women on my show tonight are both fascinating and each has much to say.

I first heard of Connie Schultz in 2007, when I saw a review of her book "...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man," which told of her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, now-Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio. At the time, I was producing a talk show, and the male host was not interested in interviewing her. Hmmm....

I've since become a fan of this Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Schultz has just returned from Hong Kong where, as a visiting lecturer, she was teaching Chinese women who were allowed to leave mainland China for one year to study the principles of a free press!). In her latest column dealing with the gruesome discovery of 11 bodies at the home of a convicted sexual predator in Cleveland, Connie writes of the incredulity with which the Chinese women digested this story, who all wondered how the 11 victims could be missing for so long, yet not missed.

Yes, there is much to talk about with Connie Schultz, including this amazing column called "No magic can keep us young; the trick is aging gracefully" which, considering my recent 50th birthday, touched a chord for me.

In hour two, I'll speak with the inimitable Kathy Griffin, who also has a book. "Official Book Club Selection" is the actual title, and it actually should be one! I read the whole thing in less than a weekend, and was sad when it ended. I am a big fan of Kathy's because she says what she thinks, and pulls no punches. We need more people like her.

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Pa(l)in in the Ass

***Updated to include audio links..
Click to hear Lisa Derrick, Richard Kim, Shannyn Moore, and my "tribute" to Sarah Palin***

I'm sorry. I know that everywhere you turn today and tonight, you'll be subject to the inane ramblings of a woman who doesn't deserve the time of day, much less the fifteen minutes of fame she's used up a thousand-fold!

But here we are, with a Sarah Palin on Oprah the most talk-about media event of the season. Seriously, it will likely be one of Oprah's highest rated shows of the season. The question is, though, how many are watching hoping for the train wreck?

I know I am... or did. Unfortunately, other than one truly stupid choice of words (she's "reloading"?!?!), it was a rather boring show.

Hopefully, my show tonight will not be! We'll have some fun at Palin's expense, a fairly easy thing to do. I've put together one of my production pieces -- not from today's Oprah appearance, but some of our favorite blasts from the past.

I'll also have a great slate of guests... Richard Kim, Senior Editor of The Nation magazine, and co-editor of Going Rouge: An American Nightmare will join us to talk about the book, a collection of essays about Palin and her 14 months in the spotlight and her inauspicious political career. (Note: Going Rouge is only available through OrBooks.com until Dec. 1, when it will be available at all other booksellers.)

Lisa Derrick was live blogging today's Oprah broadcast on her La Figa blog at Firedoglake.com,
and she'll join us tonight with the high... or low points.

And finally, a woman who can thank Sarah Palin for unwittingly helping her career! Shannyn Moore has had a pretty good year as an Anchorage, Alaska- based blogger and broadcaster. She's been telling us the truth about Palin through her radio show, TV appearances, her blog, and more, and we've been loving it. Shannyn penned a piece today on Huffington Post "Sarah's Oily Lies Drip from the Pages of Going Rogue" and we'll talk about that and others of Palin's lies too.

And although Sarah's five part interview with Barbara Walters starts tomorrow (I kid you not), we're done after tonight. Unless she says something we, like the proverbial train wreck, just can't ignore.

Listen live from 11pm-1am ET here
, and call in at 866-303-2270.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night: Keeping the Light Alive

It's been a long week. Friday's are always welcome in my world, but even more so this week.

On tonight's Air America radio show, we'll deal with the news of the week...

I'll visit with Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story and atlargely.com, who wrote today about Greg Craig's resignation from his post as White House counsel. Why is this important, you ask? Well, there are just some weird things about the story... like the fact that Craig is a Karl Rove buddy, and that Craig will be replaced by veteran Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer, who just happens to be married to outgoing White House communications director Anita Dunn. Hmmm....
Mark Karlin, editor and publisher of BuzzFlash.com will check in with the BuzzFlash stories of the week, including health care reform/Stupak and the Senate and the revolt of the Democratic women, the rise of Jon Stewart as a media force exposing the wrongs of Faux News, the Afghanistan conundrum, and the jobless recovery.

And we'll wrap up the week with an old, dear friend of mine. Dan Navarro is best known as half of the singer/songwriter duo of Lowen & Navarro. Dan and Eric Lowen wrote, recorded and made music together for twenty years, releasing nine albums.

Five years ago, Eric Lowen was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), and just a few months ago retired from performing.

A group of artists and friends of Lowen & Navarro -- including Jackson Browne, Keb' Mo', John Ondrasik (Five for Fighting), The Bangles, and others - have released Keep The Light Alive: Celebrating the Music of Lowen & Navarro, the proceeds of which will benefit The Eric Lowen Trust, ALSA LA and Augie's Quest. Find out more at www.keepthelightalive.org.

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

The Other Side of Nicole Sandler

My Multimedia Page is now up, featuring a huge video/music project I've been working on for the better part of the last year.

My dear friend, Michele Clark, has been producing an amazing event for the past 12 years, called Sunset Sessions. She brings adventurous radio programmers, music supervisors (the people who place music in film and televison shows), music industry professionals and artists to beautiful locations to enjoy three days of music, conversation, information and networking.

Michele Clark's Sunset Sessions 2009 was held Feb 12-14 at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA, and featured a wonderful mix of established stars (Chris Isaak, Third Eye Blind) along with some up and coming bands (Eric Hutchinson, Zac Brown Band) and others whom you may not have heard of yet, but should soon...

I posted the entire project on my new multimedia page, www.radioornot.wordpress.com. I hope you'll visit and enjoy some of the great music there. Here are a couple of my favorites from the project:

Chris Isaak:



Eric Hutchinson:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Veterans Day- Get Out Of Afghanistan


Congressman Eric Massa joins me tonight on my Air America radio show. Since today is Veteran's Day, we'll talk a bit about his career in the Navy, and get his thoughts on Afghanistan. He might surprise you.

Eric Massa also surprised a lot of his colleagues Saturday night, when he joined with Dennis Kucinich as the only two signatories of this letter from the Congressional Progressive Caucus who vowed to vote against any bill without a "robust" public option to actually follow through on that promise!


We need more representatives like Massa and Kucinich. Perhaps if the rest of the 57 held true to their word, as apparently the Blue Dogs and the anti-choice members did, we'd have a better health care bill today.

Last night, Congressman Kucinich joined me and, in discussing the Kucinich amendment, we spoke a bit about ERISA. Tonight, I'll once again be joined by Jeff Metzger, an attorney from Orange County, California who represents clients against insurance companies for unfair denials. Most of those claims are subject to ERISA, which we'll explain again tonight.

As we continue to feature the fight for real health care reform as the primary topic on the show these days, I'll be joined tonight be Joan McCarter. She blogs at DailyKos as McJoan, and has done amazing work. She'll bring us up to date on the latest developments, as Harry Reid has said we'll see the final Senate bill by the end of the week, and debate will begin on Monday.

And we'll also check in with Courtney Scott, a listener from Portland who sent a note asking if I'd consider doing a segment on animal rights. After following the link in her email signature, I saw that she's a film producer, currently finishing up a film called "The War on Animals," so I invited her to tell us a bit about it.

In honor of Veteran's Day, tonight's music will have a message too...

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

**Updated to include links to the interviews... Click to listen to Dennis Kucinch, Raul Grijalva, and Eleanor Smeal.****


That's a quote from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who joins me tonight on Air America radio to talk about the reasons why he voted against HR 3962 on Saturday night, but continues to fight to bring real health care reform to the nation.

As I wrote yesterday, I'm truly conflicted. We need reform so badly, but I'm afraid that this bill --while bringing some much needed regulation -- still serves as a massive boondoggle for the for-profit leaches, government sanctioned extortionists known as the for profit health insurance industry.

What would have made Dennis Kucinich vote for it? As he'll explain tonight, if there was any protection for consumers, his vote would have been different.
The Kucinich Amendment (you can read the text here) would make it possible for states to enact their own single payer health care systems, and not be subject to the little known ERISA regulations that would render such systems impotent.

ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) is a very complicated topic. I've done two shows on the subject. Jeff Metzger is a listener who happens to be an attorney who represents clients against insurance companies, and contacted me to educate me on the topic. I invited him on the show to explain what it's about. You can listen to that broadcast from August 18 here.

To underscore the importance of the issue, an opposing attorney contacted me, asking to present his side of the issue. So, on August 26, we revisited the subject, with an insurance company attorney, and Richard Johnston, the author of the blog called problemisERISA.blogspot.com. You can listen to that broadcast here.

Anyway, Congressman Kucinich will continue fighting for real reform. Stay up to date with what's going on at www.kucinich.us. And, as he'll tell us tonight, calls and emails to the White House, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, imploring them to put the Kucinich Amendment back in the final health care bill can only help.

You might be wondering, as I was, what happened to the rest of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, 63 of whom wrote a letter to Nancy Pelosi vowing to vote against any bill that didn't contain a "robust" public option. Tonight, I'll also speak with Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. He'll answer that question for us.

And then there's the question of the Stupak Amendment. The more I think about that piece of shit- er- legislation, the angrier I get. As I was perusing the interwebs today, I came across this piece on HuffPo, "Abortion in Health Care Reform: The Fight Is Far From Over," written by Eleanor Smeal, one of the true heroes of the feminist movement.

Today, in addition to serving as publisher of Ms. magazine, Ms. Smeal is president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and she'll join us tonight too, to discuss the giant step backwards for human rights foisted upon us by the Stupak amendment.

I hope you'll join us too. Listen live (11pm-1am ET) by clicking here, and call in at 866-303-2270.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Reform... Or Not

***Updated to include links to the interviews. Click the links to hear Howie Klein and John Nichols***

I'm truly conflicted.

I watched much of the "debate" in the House of Representatives on Saturday. I watched some during the early morning hours, presided over by John Dingell - who's spent his entire 28 terms in Congress, and carried on the legacy his father, John Dingell, Sr. started when he first introduced health care legislation in 1943 -- when the Republicans attempted to derail the debate by objecting every time a Democrat spoke.

But it eventually got back on track, and the bill - HR 3962 - Affordable Health Care for America Act, squeaked through by a vote of 220-215.

There's a lot of good in the bill, but way too much bad. Most notably, the horrendous Stupak Amendment, which was introduced and passed in the eleventh hour, which sets women's reproductive rights back to the stone age.

Tonight, John Nichols from The Nation will join me to talk about his piece "Six Smart Progressive Complaints About House Health Bill", and I agree with all of those arguments.

Congressmen Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Eric Massa (D-NY) both voted against the bill for reasons that we should all heed.

Kucinich:


"We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

"Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

"But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies-- a bailout under a blue cross.

"By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress' blog, Think Progress, states, 'since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.' Similarly, health care stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that 'money will start flowing in again' to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. Investors.com last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

"During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The 'robust public option' which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.

"Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks' hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy-- in which most Americans live - the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street.

"This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America's manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.

"Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America's businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals."
From Eric Massa's office:
Today Congressman Eric Massa outlined his reasons for voting against H.R. 3962 on Saturday night. To summarize the specific votes: Rep. Massa voted for the rule of debate, against the Stupak Amendment and against final passage of the bill.

When H.R. 3962 was first introduced on Thursday, October 29th, Rep. Massa canceled his weekend schedule to read and review the legislation. Following seven days of studying the bill, consulting with experts and speaking with constituents, Rep. Massa announced his intention to vote against the bill.

Rep. Massa had several concerns because the legislation did not meet several of his key objectives, including guaranteed universal access for all Americans and an assurance of individual affordability. While this bill does contain a public option, it is far from a "robust" one and Rep. Massa pledged, in a letter months ago, to vote against anything less than that. The public option in this bill is available for only about 2% of the American population and its premium rates will match private health insurance, guaranteeing no effective competition in the marketplace.

Additionally, he thinks that this bill, if signed into law, will not do enough to regulate the private for-profit health insurance industry and will actually empower them further. This is a major problem with the legislation as far as he is concerned. During the months of public debate on this topic, Rep. Massa called for the health insurance industry to be able to write plans across state lines and, while this bill partially addresses this, it does not lift this exemption outright. As such, he views this as a half measure rather than true interstate competition and believes that the goals of interstate competition will not be realized.

Rep. Massa also expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the individual mandate. While the Constitution empowers the Congress to raise and levy taxes, there is no clear indication that it allows for Congress to require the public to purchase insurance plans if they can afford them.

Detailed careful reading and understanding of the bill shows that should this become law, property taxes in New York State must increase by a minimum of 3%. By increasing Medicaid availability to citizens with an income of 150% of the federal poverty level, the federal government passes to New York State and its counties a cost sharing increase of at least 3% at the county level. Rep. Massa views this as being exceptionally counterproductive to our economy at this time.

During the closing hours of the debate, Rep. Massa voted against the Stupak Amendment which he viewed as a significant universal increase of current federal law. For the first time, if passed, the federal government would have prohibited a private citizen from using private funding to buy an insurance policy that covered elements of reproductive rights. The bill as written is clear, no federal funding for abortion procedures is allowed. Rep. Massa agrees with that but does not support an increase in federal law on this matter. This amendment passed and became part of the final legislation.

While there are several provisions that he did like in the bill, such as the elimination of patient rejections on the basis of pre-existing conditions, and the closing of the Medicare Part D Donut hole, members of Congress cannot vote for one part of a bill and against another.

"There are several reasons why I voted 'no' on H.R. 3962," said Congressman Eric Massa. "I have always said that I will vote 'no' on a bad bill to try and get a better one and that's what I did. Reforming our health care system is critical to our economy and our nation, but I had some serious concerns regarding the bill that we voted on Saturday night. If the Senate is able to move forward, I hope we can get a better bill back for a conference version."
I love that these two men are standing firm on their principles. Some progressives have very short memories. We cheered the Congressional Progressive Caucus when 62 of them sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi in which they vowed to vote against any bill that did not contain a "robust" public option. Kucinich and Massa are the last men standing.

And the despicable Stupid, er, Stupak Amendment just made this bill reprehensible. So, how could anyone who cares about women's rights vote for this bill with that amendment in it? To move it forward. This is NOT the final bill.

From the NY Times:
Some Democrats said they voted for the legislation so they could seek improvements in it. “This bill will get better in the Senate,” said Representative Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat who has been outspoken in his criticism of some provisions of the bill but decided to support it. “If we kill it here, it won’t have a chance to get better.”
We can only hope!

Is there enough good in this bill, as it stands today, to outweigh the bad? I honestly don't know. But I can support these measures that ARE included:
  • Ending the insurance companies' anti-trust exemption
  • Extending coverage for kids to remain on their parents plans up to their 27th birthday
  • Creating a new voluntary, public long term insurance program
  • Begins closing the Medicare Part D Donut Hole immediately
  • Immediate help for the uninsured
I know that if we held out for what I'd consider acceptable, we'd never get anything done.

Down With Tyranny's Howie Klein will join me for the first hour tonight to break down the vote, and look at who voted for what, and consider the ramifications.

Listen live (11pm-1am ET) by clicking here, and add your thoughts by calling in at 866-303-2270.

Friday, November 06, 2009

It's Friday Night,, Do You Know Where Your Health Care Bill Is?


We'd heard that the House of Representatives would be voting on HR 3962 - Affordable Health Care For America Act - tomorrow, sometime around 6pm. Or not...

It's now looking like the vote may not happen tomorrow at all. Perhaps Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday... The Obstructionist Party is trying to delay things, as usual. But the Blue Dogs are throwing their own wrenches in the works too.

Tonight, we'll check in with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus to find out how she and the other progressives will vote on the bill, and get an update about what's actually in the final House bill.

We're all still reeling from yesterday's massacre at Ft. Hood, while those on the other side of the aisle seem to be dealing with it by ratcheting up the hatred toward Muslims. Larisa Alexandrovna (Raw Story), has written very eloquently, as usual, about this topic on her blog, atlargely.com, and will join me in the first hour tonight to talk about the insanity of it all.

And since it's the Friday night, we'll end the week with a fun interview with Jo Maeder. Radio listeners from South Florida and NYC might remember her from Y100, K-Rock and Z-100. The former "Rock & Roll Madam" left radio to care for her ailing mother, and wrote about it in the book When I Married My Mother: A Daughter's Search for What Really Matters --and How She Found It Caring for Mama Jo.

The Miami Book Fair International is coming up next weekend, and I've been fortunate to be able to speak with a number of the author's who'll be appearing, including Jo. She'll be reading Saturday afternoon, 11/14.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

If It Were Up To Me....


A wonderful singer songwriter named Cheryl Wheeler has a song called "If It Were Up To Me." I play it on the radio too often. And I will, unfortunately, be playing it tonight.

I first played it on the air in 1999, after two kids opened fire on their fellow classmates, killing 12 of them and a teacher, and injuring many more, at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO.

I played it eight years later, almost to the day, when a mentally unstable student at Virgina Tech terrorized a building on campus, and killing 32 people and wounding many others before killing himself.

Although music is one of my greatest joys, I've never taken pleasure in playing "If It Were Up To Me," as it's always in response to a crazed person with a gun.

Today, at the "soldier readiness facility" inside the world's largest military base, Ft. Hood in Texas, US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly began shooting. At last count, 12 of his victims have died; 31 more are wounded.

I don't know if it's irony or somehow related to his alleged actions today, the fact that Hasan is a graduate of Virginia Tech. So many thoughts spinning through my mind, and I'm sure yours too. We'll talk about it tonight.

Initial reports said that one shooter was killed, and two or three other suspects were either in custody or at large. We've now learned that Hasan likely acted alone and that he is still very much alive. Perhaps we'll be able to get some idea of what goes on inside the crazed mind of a person who'd do such a thing.

Hasan might be able to give us more answers into his own state of mind. He's an Army psychiatrist, who spent many hours counseling soldiers upon their return from Iraq and Afghanistan, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at Walter Reed Medical Center.

If It Were Up to Me
Words and Lyrics by:
Cheryl Wheeler

Maybe it's the movies, maybe it's the books
Maybe it's the bullets, maybe it's the real crooks
Maybe it's the drugs, maybe it's the parents
Maybe it's the colors everybody's wearin
Maybe it's the President, maybe it's the last one
Maybe it's the one before that, what he done
Maybe it's the high schools, maybe it's the teachers
Maybe it's the tattooed children in the bleachers
Maybe it's the Bible, maybe it's the lack
Maybe it's the music, maybe it's the crack
Maybe it's the hairdos, maybe it's the TV
Maybe it's the cigarettes, maybe it's the family
Maybe it's the fast food, maybe it's the news
Maybe it's divorce, maybe it's abuse
Maybe it's the lawyers, maybe it's the prisons
Maybe it's the Senators, maybe it's the system
Maybe it's the fathers, maybe it's the sons
Maybe it's the sisters, maybe it's the moms
Maybe it's the radio, maybe it's road rage
Maybe El Nino, or UV rays
Maybe it's the army, maybe it's the liquor
Maybe it's the papers, maybe the militia
Maybe it's the athletes, maybe it's the ads
Maybe it's the sports fans, maybe it's a fad
Maybe it's the magazines, maybe it's the internet
Maybe it's the lottery, maybe it's the immigrants
Maybe it's taxes, big business
Maybe it's the KKK and the skinheads
Maybe it's the communists, maybe it's the Catholics
Maybe it's the hippies, maybe it's the addicts
Maybe it's the art, maybe it's the sex
Maybe it's the homeless, maybe it's the banks
Maybe it's the clearcut, maybe it's the ozone
Maybe it's the chemicals, maybe it's the car phones
Maybe it's the fertilizer, maybe it's the nose rings
Maybe it's the end, but I know one thing.
If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns.

(P) October 1, 1997

Penrod And Higgins Music / Amachrist Music ACF Music Group International Copyright Reserved

Unfortunately, I have the song ready to play, once again, tonight.

Also on tonight's program, I'll be joined by Christy Harvey of the Center for American Progress with a look at some of the other stories of the day.

And I'll talk with Diane Havens, one of the co-founders of HearTheBill.org, a place you can go to hear volunteer voiceover artists read the text of HR 3962 "The Affordable Health Care for America Act".

As always, I hope you'll listen tonight (11pm-1am ET) by clicking here. And participate in the conversation by calling 866-303-2270.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

One Big Day, Two Big Shows!


It's a busy day today. The country is reflecting on President Barack Obama, one year after we made history by electing him our nation's 44th leader. I'm celebrating my 50th birthday today with two shows on this auspicious anniversary.

From 3-6pm ET, I'll be guest hosting The Randi Rhodes Show. What an honor, and a great birthday gift from a woman who inspired me to enter the realm of talk radio.

I'll be taking your calls at 866-87-RANDI throughout the three hours, during which we'll be joined by various guests weighing in too.

DC insider and The Hill columnist Brent Budowsky penned two columns this week, both taking a hard look at Obama then vs. now. Check out yesterday's "Come Home, Mr. President" and Monday's "Voters Are Not Stupid."

Howie Klein, the man behind DownWithTyranny.com and the Blue America PAC, will join in for a look at yesterday's off-year election day, and we'll discuss whether or not the outcomes are a reflection of Obama's performance.

And Ryan Grim will check in from Huffington Post with the latest in the fight for health care reform. Is the president doing enough to enact real change? Did Nancy Pelosi reinstate the Kucinich amendment when she released the "manager's amendment" late last night?

I look forward to your thoughts this afternoon too!

Tonight, we'll end the day with my regular Air America radio program, from 11pm-1am ET. I've pre-recorded it so I can celebrate my 50th with some friends and family. But I hope you'll tune in for an in-depth and spirited conversation with Ralph Nader about his new book, "Only the Super Rich Can Save Us" and how his work of fiction could, possibly, become reality!

And we'll wrap up the day with Russ Baker, who explained in "What Obama is Up Against" on truthout.org some of the hidden factors affecting the Obama - and every- presidency.

You can actually listen to both shows today on the AAR stream, as Air America carries the Randi Rhodes show on their Washington DC station.

Thanks for making my 50th a very happy birthday indeed!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Election Day 2009 and God


What do those two things have in common? Other than the fact that all wining candidates will probably thank the man in the sky, they'll both be discussed on my show tonight!

Let's start with election day. OK, it's an off year, but there are a few important contests. The gubernatorial races in both VA and NJ might signal a resurgence for Republicans. The VA race was called almost immediately after the polls closed, as Republican Bob McDonnell handily defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds. Perhaps it was Deeds' name that sunk him.

NJ, at the time of this writing, is still too close to call.

Maine voted today on medical marijuana and marriage equality. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will find out if he will win a third term (money has it's advantages), and the nation's eyes are, unfortunately focused on the strange race in the 23rd District, where the teabaggers endorsed a carpetbagger right winger instead of the Republican candidate, who finally dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat!

Ahh, politics. Jack Rice, my Air America colleague will join me at the top of the show to bring us all the latest returns.

Then I'll be joined by one of my favorite guests. Frank Schaeffer's new book, Patience With God --Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) hit stores last week.

Frank's father, Francis Schaeffer was the founder of the religious right movement, and Frank was right by his side... until he saw the light, so to speak. He wrote of that experience in his last book, Crazy For God-- How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) Of It Back.

And, if time permits, we'll take a listen down memory lane, with an interview I did with Shirley Maclaine two years ago. She had just written a book which contained a brief passage about Dennis Kucinich and UFO's. Tim Russert had asked Kucinich about it in a presidential debate, and I asked her about that question!

Join us tonight from 11pm-1am ET on Air America! Click here to listen live, and call in at 866-303-2270!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Milestones and Reflections

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 is quickly approaching. I will be fifty years old.

It's at these major milestones that we tend to pause for reflection. For me, a number of milestones have converged. This is not my typical Radio or Not newsletter. It's a bit more personal in nature than I usually get. But I hope you'll read on as I indulge in some mid-life reflection.

I recently wrote about my mom, on the 30th anniversary of her passing. I was an idealistic and, in many ways, naive young woman, a scant two weeks away from turning 20. On the verge of leaving my teens behind and entering adulthood, I was catapulted into learning one of life's toughest lessons all too soon.

The world kept turning, but it was a new era, my life after mom. On my 20th birthday, November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, beginning a crisis in which 53 hostages were held for 444 days. I remembered thinking, as I watched this unfold, that my mother would never know about that.

A year later, on my 21st birthday, Ronald Reagan was elected president. Milestones and Reflections.

Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter in the primary that year. I honestly don't have any memories of that, but I can now only imagine how differently things might have turned out had Ted Kennedy become president. I believe the world would be a much better place today.

I wasn't politically involved as a young adult. I was aware, but not involved. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in broadcasting, and soon after moved to NY to pursue a radio career.

Mom never heard me on the radio; that part of my life happened after mom. Aware but not involved, I moved from my first NY radio job (producing the very conservative Bob Grant Show at WMCA) to the pop culture/music world, working with Jim Kerr at WPLJ. In 1987, I headed west, out to Los Angeles, for a man. The relationship lasted a year, but Southern California became my home for fourteen years. My life was music and FM radio, when music radio still held the promise of creativity.

Perhaps some day I'll write a book. My first job in LA was producing the Phil Hendrie morning show at KLSX. Yes, the same Phil Hendrie who had great success years later with his very creative shtick, arguing with himself as the colorful characters he created.

The world kept turning and Bill Clinton was elected president November 3, 1992. Ahh, the Mark & Brian years. About a year after I moved to Los Angeles, a morning duo also arrived. Mark & Brian had a successful morning show in Birmingham, Alabama, and were brought to LA to do something different.

They were unique. A couple of overgrown kids who tried to crack each other up every morning. It was endearing. When they hit the air, I was working at KNX-FM (LA's Mellow Rock), which then became LA's other oldies station, KODJ.

Finally, in early 1990, I was hired to produce the show.

Radio was much less corporate back then.. KLOS was, at the time, owned by Cap Cities/ABC. The Mark & Brian Program was FUN. We did silly things like "stealing" the Bob's Big Boy statue from in front of the restaurant on La Cienega Blvd. and dressing it up like Elvis, and putting it on the top of the Capital Records building so the whole city could pay tribute to "the King". (And, of course, Elvis always wanted to be on Capital Records!)

The Elvis Bob had a long life... he became Franken Bob and Dracu Bob for successive Halloweens, and was the star of the M&B Drive In movie events, at which we'd show double features of the scariest movies.

He became Evel Bob for a trip to Vegas when hundreds of listeners, Tom Jones and Evel Knevil himself were on hand as we launched the Bob over the fountains at Caesar's Palace.

Evel Bob
And we threw skydiving Bob out of a plane, for the thousands of listeners who trekked out to the desert for this bit of live on air silliness.

Music was secondary, but we were allowed the freedom from KLOS's classic rock format to bring all kinds of acts into the studio for our #1 by a huge margin morning show. We had them all... from Bon Jovi to James Taylor to Lyle Lovett to Pete Townshend (pictured below) who led a slew of listeners with their guitars in hand in a parking lot play-along, so they could tell their grandkids they played guitar with Townshend, and more than I can recount here. And many of them took us up on our invitations to perform at the annual Mark & Brian Christmas Show, which was staged, produced and aired live from 6-10am.
peter Townshend WINZ letter
Looking back on those days, I'm amazed at what I was able to pull off as the lone producer of that show. It was pre-internet, and before every desk was home to a PC. "My" computer was actually delivered the day I left KLOS to cross the street to help launch a new radio station, fm 101.9 KSCA.

I had actually decided to leave KLOS about six months before I did. Howard Stern had come to town about midway through my four year run with M&B. He was great at entering a new market and targeting the top morning show in town. He came at Mark and Brian with guns blazing, accusing them of copying his act. Honestly, that accusation couldn't be further from the truth. First of all, they never listened to him - or any other morning show. And second, their act was nothing like his. Although there was some sexual content, it was mostly fun, not creepy. We didn't have naked women in the studio (except for the time they had someone make a mold of my friend Andrea's breasts before she went for breast reduction surgery.)

Kurt RussellClick here for an audio trip down memory lane, from the M&B days.

But Stern did succeed in knocking them out of first place, and bringing lots of tension to the show.

I got into radio in the first place because of my love for music. When I had to choose a major for college, the only thing that really interested me was radio, because I figured I could keep going to concerts and listening to the music I loved. But, of course, I have fairly eclectic taste in music, and no commercial radio stations played what I liked!

That is, until around 1994, as a new format was just starting to pop up in some cities. KBCO in Boulder, Colorado had actually been around for a while, and is still considered one of the founders of the Triple A (Adult Album Alternative) format. Dennis Constantine had been the Program Director and was now consulting other such stations.

I had reached out to him, longing to work at a radio station that actually played the music about which I was passionate! After he responded to my letter with a standard "let me know when you're in town, and we'll talk," I flew out to Boulder to meet with him. I learned that Constantine had been speaking with the late, and greatly missed, Bill Ward, GM of LA's KLIT, the last remaining station in the Golden West Broadcasters group owned by Gene Autry.

The weekend of July 4, 1994 saw the launch of the new fm101.9, Southern California's Album Alternative! We made magic. KSCA was my favorite radio station ever, and those 2 1/2 years remain among the happiest in my professional life.

At KSCA, I got to interview some of my biggest idols

WINZ letter
(Jackson Browne, Ray Davies)
Ray Davies












and introduce listeners to others (Dave Matthews first LA radio interview, and
Ben Folds Five's first one too!)

Ben Folds Five

Unfortunately, Bill Clinton threw a wrench in the industry. He signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 into law, which did away with all the ownership rules of broadcast stations. The era of consolidation had begun, and brought with it the end of local, creative. adventurous radio.

In February of 2007, owners Gene and Jackie Autry sold KSCA to Entravision, who changed the programming to a Spanish language format.

I moved to a radio and record trade magazine, the now-defunct Album Network, where I wrote about music, then down to San Diego for a stint as co-host of the 91X "Brand X Morning Show", when I heard that Clear Channel (who had now grown to gargantuan size during that consolidation frenzy) was going to flip two small signals in Santa Monica and Newport Beach to Triple A.

They brought me back up to Los Angeles to be Music Director and afternoon host at Channel 103.1.

Tom Petty

Before Bill Clinton's monstrous gaffe, companies were permitted to own one AM, one FM and one TV signal in a market, with a cap of 40 stations total. After the Telecom Act became law, companies were, and still are, (generally speaking) allowed 8 stations in a single market, with no cap on the total number of stations they can own. Clear Channel now owns somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 radio stations!

By 2000, after merging with yet another company, Clear Channel owned more than their limit of stations in LA and, since we were actually two stations with less than full market coverage and a niche format, we were the first to go. And to another Spanish language format it went!

In the year 2000, the internet was becoming a force for radio to reckon with. Clear Channel had been one of the earliest radio companies to launch an internet division.

Charlie Rahilly, now the CEO of Premiere Radio, was the force behind Channel 103.1. He believed the format would work in LA, and he agreed with me that we could make history by moving it seamlessly from over the air to online only as worldclassrock.com.

You can read my first-hand account of that transition here.

Unfortunately, the story didn't have a happy ending. We were just too early! Broadband was still a rarity, and people just weren't listening to much music and certainly not radio online yet! Then the dot com bust happened and, the rest, as they say, is history.

Meanwhile, I had adopted my daughter from Kazakhstan (you can read all about that journey here), and I was out of work. I was already ready to leave LA when 9/11 happened. I wanted to move as far away from a big city as possible, so I sold my wonderful home in Culver City (stupid, stupid, stupid!) and moved to Taos, New Mexico.

I was told that Taos Mountain either welcomes you or it doesn't... and, in my case, it didn't! After a few months with at KTAO, I once again picked up and moved back home to Florida so my daughter could know her cousins and her Pop-Pop.

Another job brought me up to Boston for a year, but it still wasn't right, so we came back to South Florida, where I decided to start my own video production business, helping families transform their stories, photos, home movies, etc., into DVDs they could hand down to future generations.

But a funny thing happened. While doing the video production work, instead of listening to music, I had the radio tuned to the local Air America affiliate.

Thanks to my dad, I had always listened to talk radio. I even started my professional career in talk in both Tampa and New York.

But back in South Florida, where music radio is abysmal, it was Air America radio keeping me company.

It was also a sign of the times. George W. Bush had squandered the budget surplus left by the Clinton administration, and lied us into a war in Iraq.

Day by day, this aware but not involved woman morphed a bit more into a concerned single mom wondering and worried about what was happening to this world her daughter would soon inherit.

Although I loved the creative side of my video business, I loathed the selling part. I remembered the feeling of loss on 9/11, but not in the way you'd imagine. Having worked my entire professional life in radio, my first thought any time there's a major tragedy or disaster is to run to the radio station and help!

This wasn't just an event; our world was being destroyed by the administration!

I contacted Peter Bolger, then-Program Director at WINZ, the then-Progressive Talk station here in South Florida. After a six month courtship, he finally hired me to produce a new local morning show, hosted by newspaper veteran Jim DeFede. After a year, Jim moved on, and I took over hosting the show.

I found my new voice. I still love music, and work it into my show whenever possible, (like this interview with Neil Finn from last Thursday night!).

But by being able to talk for more than 30 seconds at a clip, by being able to voice an opinion, by being able to interview newsmakers and others with their own opinions, I felt, for the first time in a long time, that I was making a difference! I was loving being creative, and doing something really worthwhile at the same time!

Unfortunately, the consolidation era in radio was just a symptom of a bigger problem. Radio had become like most other industries in our country-- a tool to feed Wall Street. The product was no longer important; it was all about the bottom line.

I was always attracted to radio because of its immediacy and the personal nature of the medium. TV talked to the masses; Radio was the private, intimate medium.

But now it's about voicetracking and syndicated programs.

Most local radio stations' broadcast day is filled with national talent. The rare local talk show is usually found in morning drive only, which is where I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with the people of South Florida for a couple of years.

August 22, 2008, the Friday morning before the Democratic National Convention convened in Denver, I was let go from WINZ, only to be replaced by Don Imus. So much for "progressive talk" in South Florida. Six months later, the whole station was gone. WINZ now offers South Florida's fifth sports talk format!

Thankfully, I was introduced to the people at Air America, who gave me my first shot at a national audience about six weeks after losing my morning show. I guest hosted The Thom Hartmann Show. What an honor! To me, Thom is the most knowledgeable, respected voice in talk radio.

new aar logoAir America has been my lifeline! As a listener, their programming moved me from aware to informed to involved.

They suffered through a number of management and ownership woes, but continue to survive and, I hope, to thrive. The right constantly refers to the liberal media bias but, you and I know that that's a myth. There are too few liberal voices on the airwaves, and too few radio stations offering Air America's programming.

Since that first day filling in for Thom Hartmann, I've been honored to guest-host for Rachel Maddow, Ron Reagan, Ron Kuby and Montel Williams. And for the past four months, it's been my privilege to host a nightly program on Air America radio.

I've come a long way, and I'm truly grateful for the wonderful notes of support and encouragement I receive from listeners; from the new ones who've just found me on Air America to the old M&B fans who are still listening!

On November 4, 2008, my 49th birthday, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. We had so much hope.

How audacious of us. To believe that a bright, young, good looking, dare I say Kennedy-esque man could appear out of relative obscurity to bring this nation back to the promises and ideals of those pre-Reagan days. Back to the security I felt when I was still in my teens, and could go home to the safety of my mother's arms.

OK, I got caught up in the hype too. But this president was supposed to be different from the rest. And as I'm fortunate enough to be able to talk about every night on Air America, we've still got a very long way to go!

This Wednesday, November 4, 2009, I will turn 50 years old. As I take stock of my life in this rambling note of reflection, I realize that I have lots to be grateful for. I have a healthy, happy, beautiful, energetic, creative daughter (and I must remember those things when the less than joyous traits of her complex personality surface to infuriate me). I have a wonderful, loving, generous, patient, smart, compassionate, politically involved, brilliant boyfriend who loves me dearly (and I must remember those things when I get frustrated at the complexity of relationships and the lack of simplicity implicit in them).

I have a voice and an opinion and the opportunity to share them and, perhaps, have some sort of influence in an increasingly difficult world. I get to interview and ask tough questions of some of the best and brightest people who are truly working to change our country for the better, and challenge many of those, personally, whom I feel could be doing a much better job on our behalf. And I still get to listen to great music and introduce what I love to listeners who might otherwise not get to hear it.

I'm fifty years old this week. I lost my father six years ago. After he died, I learned that his degree from Boston University was in radio! He never told me that. He was very proud of me and happy for the success that I enjoyed during the good runs, and was always supportive when times were tough.

I'm now the parent, with my young daughter on my mind every day. She motivates me to try to make the world a better place.

The day I turn 50 will mark one year since we elected Barack Obama president. His year in office hasn't miraculously transported us back to my early childhood, when JFK was president. We haven't been returned to the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years, when I crossed the globe to adopt my daughter.

Obama isn't the hero so many of us thought he would be. What I've learned, aided by the wisdom of my years, is that nothing worthwhile is easily attained. And I don't think we'll ever have the answers. But we have to keep plugging away.

We leave childhood behind because we can't live in that state forever. But we must also fight for those things that are truly important.

I'll keep talking about what I believe, exposing truths and looking for answers. I'll keep listening to great music, I'll continue trying to teach my daughter what's important, all while trying to change what I can and be grateful for all I'm so lucky to have in my life.
Nicole and Alison Sandler

Ever evolving, growing, learning, loving. Remembering the past, but moving forward....


Thanks for your continued support. It means more to me than you know.

I hope you'll share this with any friends who might be interested in my thoughts, activities or whereabouts! I also hope you'll find me on Facebook, where I tend to post a lot of information, and at my podcast/blog at www.radioornot.com.

And, for as long as they'll have me, I'm on Air America Radio, every weeknight from 11pm-1am ET, streaming live here!

Here's to making the next fifty better than the first. At least I know I'll die trying!