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Nov 172010

It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that!

Tune in bright and early, as Senator Bernie Sanders will be with me just moments after 10am ET, when the show begins.  There’s so much I’d like to discuss with him but, since our time is limited, I’ll tackle an issue that’s near and dear to me and, apparently, to him too.

When MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann, these words came over my computer via Sen. Sanders’ twitter feed:

” There already is far too much media concentration in this country. We need more diversity, more local ownership, more viewpoints….. Progressives know there is something very wrong when a nation divided politically has one major network operating as a propaganda arm of the Republican party, and 90% of talk radio is dominated by right-wing extremists.”

And now, we’re faced with more media concentration by way of the proposed Comcast takeover of NBC.  Senator Sanders is working to prevent that from happening.

Sanders to FCC: Block Comcast-NBC Merger

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 – Sounding an alarm over the concentration of media ownership in the United States, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today asked the Federal Communications Commission to disapprove the merger of NBC Universal and Comcast.

“At a time when a small number of giant media corporations already control what the American people see, hear, and read, we do not need another conglomerate with control over the production and distribution of sports, news, and entertainment,” Sanders said. “In my view, we need more media diversity, more local control, more points of view – not more media concentration.

Decreased diversity and increased cable rates also are among the likely consequences of the deal, Sanders said in a letter to the FCC opposing the combination of media conglomerates.

The proposed merger would fold NBC Universal, the General Electric subsidiary, into Comcast, the largest cable television provider in America. If the FCC okays the deal, Sanders said the result would be “less local news, less diverse points of view and less competition for viewers and advertising.”

The arrangement also would put other content providers at a competitive disadvantage to NBC in reaching Comcast cable customers, the senator said. Comcast would be in a position to charge independent producers higher fees and to offer them less desirable placements on cable channel lineups.

Sanders cited a study by former FCC chief economist William Rogerson, who calculated that consumers would pay $2.4 billion in added rates if the merger is completed. “I would think it an obvious conclusion that ‘public interest, convenience, and necessity’ would not be served by a regressive wealth transfer of $2.4 billion from ordinary citizens to what would be one of the largest corporate entities in the United States,” Sanders wrote.

By statute, the commission should not approve a transfer of station license “except upon . . . finding . . . that the public interest, convenience, and necessity will be served thereby.”  The proposed merger, Sanders said, clearly does not meet that standard.

Senator Sanders has launched a Facebook group for grassroots opponents of the merger.  Sign on and help out.

So, we’ll certainly talk about that, and the related issues of talk radio (including the sad situation I find myself in here in South Florida, where I’m told that my politics are too “crazy” and “nuts” for WFTL, the station that’s home to Joyce Kaufman – the woman that inspired a threat that locked down all schools in Broward county one week ago today), and net neutrality- which is the only way liberal voices will continue to be heard!

In hour two, I’ll be joined by the one and only Digby!  I’ve never met Digby in person, though I’ve been reading her blog for years.  We’ll talk about what she’s been writing about recently… from the TSA scanner and patdown insanity (Welcome to the Police State) to the trash that comes out of right wing radio on a regular basis (This Is What They Do), to the surreal world of the Palin family (Tribal Dancing with the Stars and The Teabag Channel) and, or course, the Obama presidency (The Blame Game).

Listen live from 10-noon ET, or check back later for the podcast.

Nov 162010

It was Halloween 2008, four days before election day when we elected Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.  I was dressed as the scariest figure around that year, Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin.  And I took a picture with then first-time Congressional candidate Allen West, who remains scary to this day… even moreso as he’s now in the incoming class of right wing Republicans freshman Congressmen… representing ME!

I was working, for two weeks, as the token liberal at WFTL, the station that’s home to the bombastic Joyce Kaufman – the woman who was tapped to be incoming Congressman Allen West’s Chief of Staff, and then backed out after some crazed fan apparently used her words to threaten schools and government buildings here in Broward County Florida.  (Of course, to hear Kaufman tell it, it’s the “vile, despicable liberal socialists” and the media who prompted this, rather than her own vile, despicable words.)

I know we’ve been talking a bit about this situation, but there’s good reason. I’m smack dab in the middle of it.

Rachel Maddow spoke about it again last night:

Well, I have an idea. I mentioned yesterday that I will avail myself of the offer of a computer terminal in West’s office for his constituents.  I think, as someone who lives in his district, I’ll have to get my congressman on the air with me.  He can’t turn me down, can he??  Stay tuned…

On today’s show, I’ll talk with William K. Wolfrum — writer, blogger, journalist, satirist, humorist American living in Brazil… and a twitter friend.

Gloria Feldt- author, commentator, public speaker and former President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, who teaches “Women, Power and Leadership” at Arizona State University – will join us to talk about her new book, “No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power.”

And, since it’s Tuesday, The Political Carnival‘s Gotta Laff will be here to premiere her newest Blunt webisode “Dear Mr. President, About Those Tax Cuts…”

And we’ll discuss these stories too:

Clarence Thomas’ Wife Quits Tea Party-Linked Group

Former Army Lt. Dan Choi: “I am somebody! I deserve full equality!”

Mrs. John McCain was against DADT before she was for it.

VIDEO- Fox: Palin’s reality show “Like ‘The Sound of Music” without Nazis, romance & music”

“Reagan used his status as an entertainer to become a politician; Palin using her status as a politician to become an entertainer.”

The Federal Election Commission wants a few clarifications from SarahPAC…

Top Sarah Palin aide is on Soros’ payroll

Joe Miller’s Lawyers Call It Quits

Tea Party Patriots give out personal cell numbers, e-mails of freshman Republican members

Nov 152010

These are photos taken of some of the images projected on The Wall Saturday night when I saw Roger Waters perform the Pink Floyd concert.  In addition to being musically brilliant and visually stunning, the message was perfect for the times in which we live.  Kind of interesting, as The Wall was released in 1979…  but Roger Waters made it just as relevant today.

As the song “Bring the Boys Back Home” was playing, those images flashed on  The Wall, bringing these words to the masses:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired,

signifies – in the final sense – a THEFT from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

–Dwight D. Eishenhower

Pretty powerful stuff!  Here’s a short snippet of that part of the show

And what I shot…

Yes, pretty incredible.  But if you go, my advice is to sit in the middle – even if you’re all the way in the back of the arena.  You’ll see everything straight on.

On today’s show, I brought you up to date on the insanity that is Florida politics and the latest on the crazy woman who will now not be Allen West’s chief of staff but will remain on the air, spouting her “peace loving” ways. I kid you not.

In hour two, Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars joined in for our weekly “Fools on the Hill’ segment…

There’s a famous fable of a snake who convinces a person (sometimes it’s a farmer, sometimes it’s a little girl, other times it’s another animal) to carry them across a rushing river to the other side.   The person is initially distrustful, but the snake promises to not hurt him.  But sure enough, once picked up, the snake does turn around and bite the person and remorselessly points out when the person cries out at the betrayal that he should have always known that was the snake’s nature.

The point of the fable, I guess, is a warning of putting undue trust in destructive relationships.  And I think that the service that sites like Crooks and Liars provides is to remind people of that fundamental nature of the snake, hopefully so they think twice before trusting that snake.

In terms of the Sunday shows, I think most people are savvy enough to know that all politicians are snakes.  But what I hope that I show is that the media are snakes too and we should not trust them either, no matter how much they cajole us.

Case in point, listen to Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus chide anyone who is opposed to the Debt Commission (aka the Catfood commission)’s recommendations as “behaving incredibly childishly”.  Thankfully, Paul Krugman is there to inject a little sense.

And then there is David Gregory, who doesn’t even try to fake balance on his show.  In a roundtable discussion of the economy, he invites disgraced former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich and might-as-well-be Republican Harold Ford, Jr to advocate for cutting Social Security to solve the economic ills. (It’s almost a 9 minute clip, but full of discussion points.  May be worth stopping and starting it to discuss)  At this point, I will say that it’s my official stance that anyone who shows such deference to Newt Gingrich and Republican talking points as Ford does in this clip has absolutely no place in Democratic leadership or representing the Democrats.

Gregory also habitually dismisses his responsibility to provide context or fact-checking—you know, actual journalism—to his viewers and he did it again at a Politico function with all the major hosts of the Sunday shows.  When asked by a self-identified member of the “Independent Media” why no one has mentioned the enormous American embassies being built in Iraq and Haiti, Gregory simply waves it off and part and parcel of the huge amounts of money spent in these wars, without actually acknowledging that they didn’t cover that either.

On the political front, McCain made his 24th or 25th appearance on a Sunday news show since his 2008 loss.  McCain’s goal on Meet the Press?  To move the goalposts on repealing DADT in view of the preliminary reports last week that predicted no problem with allowing gays to openly serve in the military.

And along the same lines of changing goalposts, McCain BFF Lindsey Graham thinks that 2014 is a much more realistic withdrawal date from Afghanistan.  All of this information goes past Christiane Amanpour without a single question about what’s going to be any different in 2014 than in 2011 (or in 2008, come to that) to reflect that realism.

Nov 112010

Wow. Where to begin today?  I guess we’ll start with the story that I’m, albeit remotely, connected to.

Broward County Schools Lockdown connected to incoming Congressman’s Chief of Staff

As I was on the air yesterday, word came that all Broward County schools were on lockdown, including the school my daughter attends.  The only information we could get at the time was that an email and a phone call to a ‘local radio station’ saying that someone was going to start shooting at a government building or school was deemed a credible enough threat to take this action.  Late last night came word that the ‘local station’ was indeed WFTL, and that the impetus for the threat was Joyce Kaufman’s commandment that “if words don’t work, bullets will.

Video of Kaufman’s proclamation was featured Tuesday night on MCNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show (scroll down to yesterday’s blog to see the report).  Last night, South Florida’s local WSVN made the connection, leading to widespread reports today, including this one from the Broward New Times:

Channel 7 is reporting that the man who allegedly threatened to shoot up a Pembroke Pines school was prompted somehow by Joyce Kaufman, the acidic right-wing radio show host who was named yesterday newly elected Congressman Allen West’s chief of staff.

This whole thing is still murky, but WSVN reported that the threat was linked to Kaufman’s “call to action” during a Tea Party rally in Fort Lauderdale on July 4 during which she said, “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

Kaufman and West

The threat was emailed to Kaufman’s radio station, WFTL-850. A woman identifying herself as the emailer’s wife called the station to confirm it was real. And that led to the massive lockdown in public schools throughout Broward County. Broward Superintendent Jim Notter wrote in an email to selected school officials wrote that the threat contained ethnic and religious slurs, though it’s not clear which religion was at issue.

The television report says the issuer of the threat had seen Kaufman’s incendiary statement on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC the night before. That somehow sparked him. Again it’s still a sketchy case. And it’s important to note that there’s really only one person to blame for today’s lockdown: The man, still at large, who sent the email.  (more here)

So, what’s my connection to this story? Yesterday on the show, I told you of my meetings with station management on Friday and again Tuesday regarding the possibility of replacing Ms. Kaufman on the air there.  I’m guessing they didn’t hear my show yesterday, as they had more important things to deal with.  To be continued…

Huffington Post Reports that the White House Will Give in on Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

Sam Stein and Howard Fineman spoke with David Axlerod yesterday, and reported

President Barack Obama’s top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.

That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week’s electoral defeat.

“We have to deal with the world as we find it,” Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. “The world of what it takes to get this done.”

But not so fast, reports Greg Sargent:

UPDATE: White House denies giving in on Bush tax cuts: The White House is sharply denying the Huffington Post story I noted below claiming that David Axelrod signaled a willingness to accept a temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts, claiming that their position remains unchanged.

Axelrod emails:

There is not one bit of news here. I simply re-stated what POTUS and Robert have been saying. Our two strong principles are that we need to extend the tax cuts for the middle class, but we can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy.

And White House comm director Dan Pfeiffer adds:

The story is overwritten. Nothing has changed from what the President said last week. We believe we need to extend the middle class tax cuts, we cannot afford to borrow 700 billion to pay for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and we are open to compromise and are looking forward to talking to the Congressional leadership next week to discuss how to move forward. Full Stop, period, end of sentence.

Stay tuned…

It’s Veteran’s Day

Ironically and sadly, the chairman and co- founder of VoteVets, Jon Soltz, has been called up for active duty in Iraq (I thought all combat operations had ended?!).

And I just got word from Iraq Veterans Against the War about Jeff Hanks, an Army Specialist who to go AWOL (Absent Without Leave) in order to seek civilian mental health care after being denied treatment by his command for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Specialist Hanks will turn himself into military authorities today to face possible charges and read a public statement about the denial of his care as well as hazing of soldiers seeking care and military disregard of professional medical recommendations.

There is a bit of positive news coming out on this Veteran’s Day. The Washington Post is reporting

A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.

And Then There’s Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, released their preliminary report, and it’s stunning.  Among their recommendations (from HuffPost);

  • Roll discretionary spending back to FY2010 levels for FY2012, requires 1% cut in discretionary budget authority every year from FY2013 though 2015;
  • Fully offset the cost of the “Doc Fix” by asking doctors and other health providers, lawyers, and individuals to take responsibility for slowing health care cost growth;
  • Reduce farm subsidies by3 billion per year by reducing direct payments and other subsidies;
  • Achieve100 billion in Illustrative Defense Cuts;
  • Index retirement age for Social security to increases in longevity. “This option is projected to increase the age by one month every two years after it reaches 67 under current law, meaning the normal retirement age would reach 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075.” There will be a “hardship exemption” for those unable to work beyond 62;
  • Give retirees the choice of collecting half their benefits early and the other half at a later age to minimize impact of actuarial reduction and support phased retirement options;
  • Reduce corporate tax rate to 26% and permanently extend the research credit;
  • Gradually increase gas tax to fund transportation spending.
  • Reduce Congressional & White House budgets by 15 percent;
  • Freeze federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation at non-defense agencies for three hears;
  • Cap the number of federal political appointments at 2,000;
  • Eliminate the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools;
  • Eliminate all earmarks.;
  • Reduce unnecessary printing costs;
  • Reduce funding to the Smithsonian and the National Park Service and allow the programs to offset the reduction through fees;
  • Cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

We’ll discuss all of these things, if time permits, on today’s show.

But it being Thursday and the end of my work week, I try to inject a bit of fun too.

Today, I’ll be joined by former National Lampoon contributor Rick Meyerowitz, who’s written the brand new book Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Good.  He’ll be here in South Florida for the Miami Book Fair International, reading and signing at 3pm on Sunday Nov. 21.

And we’ll end the week with comedian John Fugelsang, talking about everything I’ve written about this morning. Whew…

Nov 102010

I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke ’cause it’s old
They’re saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we’re getting out of control

Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don’t give you any choice ’cause they think that it’s treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they’d never seen me

Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up, they don’t wanna hear about it
It’s only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin’ to anaesthetise the way that you feel

—Elvis Costello “Radio Radio”

As much as I love the freedom of doing my show online every day, the stark reality is that it doesn’t pay the bills.

I’ve worked in radio my entire adult life.  I actually majored in broadcasting in college and haven’t held another job other than in this industry that I simultaneously love and hate.  I hate it because it’s changed so drastically in the 30 years I’ve been doing it, and in ways too numerous to recount here today.

The “talk radio” station is nothing like it was back in 1981 when, as a recent college graduate, I headed for NYC and got a job working at WMCA.  The station was home to conservative talker Bob Grant (with whom I worked for three years as his producer), liberal Barry Gray, and other hosts with varying points of view and topic fodder.

Today, that type of station no longer exists.  Most talk stations are political in nature, and are either right wing conservative talk or liberal – “progressive talk.”  Unfortunately, the number of progressive talkers is dwarfed by those that air only the conservative point of view.

Here in South Florida, we used to have a progressive talk station.  Clear Channel decided to dump it over two years ago and put in its place the market’s sixth sports talk station in order to run the “Fox Sports” format, which they own.

South Florida is home to two conservative talk stations, the Clear Channel owned WIOD, and the James Crystal owned WFTL.

It’s the latter that is in the spotlight today, as their local midday host Joyce Kaufman will head to Washington DC as Congressman-elect Allen West’s Chief of Staff.  Why is this important?  Here’s Rachel Maddow’s report on it from last night’s show:

Pretty frightening, huh?

I’ve actually worked at WFTL twice.  And on Thursday afternoon, I got a phone call from the General Manager inviting me to lunch to talk about an opportunity there.

I know I’m biting the hand that could potentially feed me but I could not, in good conscience, keep quiet about this.

I don’t have any major revelatory statement to make… just a commentary on the mood of the nation and how, if we don’t learn to work together, we will be torn apart.

Listen live beginning at 10am ET.  Or come back later for the podcast….

Also on the show today, Truthout‘s Jason Leopold on his latest piece: “Special Prosecutor Declines to File Criminal Charges Over Destruction of CIA Torture Tapes”.

And Russ Baker, author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the powerful forces that put it in the White House, and what their influence means for America, to counter the George W. Bush book/image rehab tour currently underway.

Here we go…

Nov 092010

Or better yet, please don’t.  But it might be unavoidable.

George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” hits stores today, and the shrub hits the pr trail to promote it and try to rehabilitate his image.  Based on his first interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, it might not be possible.  (Video coming up at the end of the post, should you care to watch it.)

Let’s not forget the eight long years this country suffered with W at the helm.  Just before he left office, I took us on an alphabetical journey through his reign… Have a listen so you don’t forget!

A quick aside.. some groups on the left, including, have started a book bomb urging us to buy Russ Baker’s explosive book “Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the powerful forces that put it in the White House, and what their influence mans for America“  instead of the Bush tome to counter the lies he continues to tell.  It seems to be working, as Family of Secrets, published over a year ago, is currently sitting at #10 at Amazon!  Russ Baker will join me tomorrow morning on the show, so be sure to tune in!

I’m sure the subject of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama will come up today when I welcome Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post columnist and associate editor Eugene Robinson to the show.  He, too, has a new book out: “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America.”  We’ll talk about that and his upcoming visit to Miami for the Book Fair– Wed evening Nov. 17, for An Evening with Eugene Robinson! .  Plus, I’ll get his take on President Obama, post mid-term shellacking.  Robinson has a great op-ed piece up today, “Wanted: Mojo All Around

And, as we do every Tuesday morning, I’ll be joined by The Political Carnival’s GottaLaff to talk about the big news of the week.  Among the stories we’ll discuss:

Vice President Biden asked Keith Olbermann advice on anger

Key Republican: “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.”

Veteran: “Not once did I hear anyone voice a concern about sexual orientation.”

Investigate “Obama’s Watergate”? Nah, Darrell Issa was only kidding.

“When the left pretends to be the right…people will shun you out of office.”

“My answer to these pundits: Let’s see you try.”

“It takes the work of being a citizen.”

VIDEO: Christine O’Donnell lands book deal and reality show offers after LOSING

And, of course, Keith Olbermann’s suspension and then reinstatement by MSNBC chief Phil Griffin.  Laffy got right on it and produced a Blunt video so we could all voice our outrage:

(I may have to ask Eugene Robinson about that too.)

Now, as promised, the Bush/Matt Lauer interview…

Sorry to remind you!

Listen live 10-noon ET, or come back later for the podcast.

Nov 082010

On Friday afternoon, twitter was all a-tweet with the news that MSNBC had suspended Keith Olbermann – INDEFINITELY! – because he had the hubris to donate to three political campaigns… without asking permission from the corporation first!

That’s the important part.  Not the fact that someone working for this news organization made a political contribution, but that he didn’t ask permission first!  Seriously?!?!  This is the corporatocracy of which we’ve been warned.  (And the right screams of ‘facism’? Seriously?)

Well, after a weekend of hand-wringing and petition signing, MSNBC chief Phil Griffin this morning announced that Keith will be back on the air tomorrow night.  Good news, I supposed, but one can’t help but wonder what’s in store for the so-called “liberal” station when Comcast assumes control of NBC… and what will happen to the idea of net neutrality?

Of course, that’s an ongoing topic here on the show to which we’ll continue to return.   But not today…

This weekend, I needed a bit of an escape from reality and politics.  So, I sat down to read a new book, a novel, called “A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans,” and I couldn’t put it down.  Yes, I am a dog lover, and this book gave me a whole new insight and, I think, better understanding of my four-legged ‘children.’   I don’t usually do this type of thing on Mondays, but I’ll take a few moments this morning to chat with the book’s author, W. Bruce Cameron.  Sometimes, in addition to the unconditional love of a dog, we need a break from the real world!

After our diversion, it’s back to reality.  Joy-Ann Reid of The Reid Report will join in to ruminate about what happens next.  I particularly enjoyed this little ditty from TPM this morning:

Where Will He Be in Six Months

Josh Marshall | November 7, 2010, 8:23PM

Gov. Charlie Crist (R)

First he was a Republican. Then he was an independent. Then he was all but a Democrat. Now Charlie Crist is considering a posthumous pardon of The Doors’ Jim Morrison for charges of indecent exposure stemming from a notorious concert incident in Florida in 1969.

Six months I’m thinking, leading advocate of industrial hemp/pot legalization or building new power base at an ashram in Oregon.

Or maybe something based in South Beach.

But the more important question is whether or not we can ever find common ground, or if the divide will widen into a giant schism that’ll rupture the country.

In hour two, after a news update, we’ll return with our Fools on the Hill© segment with Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars, to let you know what happened on yesterday’s talking head shows.  Here’s what Nicole sent over this morning…

Well, it didn’t take long after the mid-term elections for the media to give up any semblance of balance on the Sunday shows.  Only two guests invited this week were Democrats, both members of the House to answer for the losses the Democrats incurred.  Never mind that we still retain the Senate and the White House.  It’s apparently far better television to allow the Republicans to overwhelm the airwaves and keep insisting to the American public that they trust the Republicans to get us out of the mess we’re in (ignoring that it was Republican policies that got us there in the first place).

Fareed Zakaria opens his show acknowledging that this is the third Republican revolution we’ve had—behind Reagan and Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.  As he says, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me three times…”  Zakaria says that this is the Republican Party’s last chance to show us Americans that they can govern.  If they fail again, Americans would be foolish to trust them ever again, theoretically killing the party.  Sadly, I think this is an overly optimistic attitude.  Because as far as I can see, there is absolutely NO logic in giving the reins back to the Republicans who were the very ones in office that CAUSED the economic mess we’re in.

Speaking of which, Eric Cantor–who just bugs me in this clip, maybe it’s the barely hidden patronizing tone—has the audacity to tell the Democratic Party who should and should not be their leadership.  Ironic for someone who until a few weeks ago was angling around to see if he had enough votes to usurp the Speaker of the House position from Boehner, should the Republicans win back the House.  He is shocked—shocked, I tell you!—that the Democrats would consider Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader.  Clearly, they haven’t learned the lessons of the election, which to Cantor is the utter and complete repudiation of liberalism.  Too bad that isn’t the really what’s going on.  A simplistic look at the exit polls of the mid terms would seem to indicate that the voters are angry, unhappy about the economy and believe that the country is going in the wrong direction.  But that ignores the demographic that provides that info.  Overwhelmingly, the voters that came out for the mid terms were older, white and self-identified as conservatives.  That does not describe the whole country, just the voters that came out.  Unfortunately, there are many disaffected Democrats as well, but when you are part of the party in the majority and you feel frustrated by the political process, you don’t get your voice out there, you sit out the election.  Nancy Pelosi has been unfairly demonized during this election process, but make no mistake, she’s been an incredible Speaker of the House.  She was able to pass a record amount of legislation in spite of Republican obstructionism and got a public option in her health care bill.  Frankly, I think the reason Cantor is so set against Pelosi is that since she outguns them in intelligence and political savvy, they’re afraid she’s going to make them look bad.

You knew that Rand Paul would be on at least one of the Sunday shows.  Now that the election is over, he need not be as fearful of speaking to press.  But that may be something that the GOP establishment will rue, as when Paul was pressed to come up with areas to cut spending, he said he’d be willing to cut military spending.

That Paul would stray so far away from the GOP messaging is indicative, I think, of the larger problem that the GOP has with these tea party elects.  What the GOP has lacked in successful governing, they’ve more than made up for with unified messaging.   Wild cards like Paul will ultimately hurt them, because these TeaPublicans are far more ideological than the establishment GOP.

I’m trying to decide where Jim DeMint actually resides on the GOP/TeaPublican spectrum.  Based on his support of Tea Party candidates and his ideological rigidity, I’d place him closer to the Tea Party than the establishment GOP.  Still, if it came down to holding on to his seat, I’m willing to bet that the more pragmatic side of DeMint would surface and that ideology would go out the window in favor of re-election.

DeMint held on to the Tea Party line that there is absolutely no way  that he’d approve of raising the debt ceiling without cuts.  But when asked what he’d cut, DeMint could only offer up earmarks (which is less than 1% of the budget).

Mike Pence, who is rumored to be preparing for a presidential run, is equally as inflexible.  He appeared on Meet the Press and pronounced the idea of tax increases absolutely unacceptable in any way, shape or form.  (it’s a 10 minute clip.  Pertinent part at 6:42)  David Stockman, who introduced the notion of supply side economics during Reagan’s term, takes a more pragmatic approach, saying the only way to get us out of this economic mess is to raise taxes and cut spending drastically (including in the military, because we can no longer afford to dabble in imperialism around the world).

And finally, I wanted to bring up something that wasn’t on the Sunday shows but something that I caught during the week and waited to see some outrage about, and never did.  On Hardball, political consultant Mark Penn told Chris Matthews that Obama really needs some event to help him re-engage with the American public.  His idea of a perfect opportunity?  Another Oklahoma City bombing.  And Chris Matthews bats not an eye at the idea of hundreds or thousands of innocent Americans dying in some senseless domestic terrorist attack as a great way for Obama to get a favorable rating from Americans again.  This literally made me sick to my stomach, and coverage on other blogs, which wrote it off as thoughtlessness, only furthered it.  In my mind, this is exactly like Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’.  When we can have a discussion of the deaths of human beings so casually and divorced of ramifications, we have truly become inured to evil.

Nov 042010

Yesterday, my 11-year old daughter enthusiastically asked me “Are you excited Mom?”  When I asked her “about what?” she replied “Your Birthday!!!!”

After explaining that, at my age, birthdays are not something we really get excited about any more, I realized that it is still a day for recognizing milestones and taking inventory of our blessings and shortfalls both.

Two years ago today, I was  thinking I got the greatest birthday gift ever, with the election of Barack Obama–the first African-American president in history, and someone who would advance a progressive agenda and get us back on the right track after eight disastrous years of BushCo rule.

While preparing for this morning’s show and pulling some audio clips from yesterday’s press conference, I wonder what happened to our great communicator and the candidate I saw leading up to my very happy 49th birthday.

Today I  turn 51, and I’m in a much worse place, financially, than I was when I turned 41.  In the year 2000, I was living in Los Angeles, had a great job, a beautiful home  (damn, why did I ever sell it?), and was getting ready to head to Kazakhstan to adopt my daughter!  The future was rosy, and I had every reason to believe I’d be able to give her a better life than the really good life my parents gave me.

But when I left for Kazakhstan, the 2000 presidential election results had not yet been decided.  I was over there for about a month (with Faux News being the only English-language “news” channel available).  The day I returned to the states with my new daughter was the day the Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush president.

What a difference a corrupt, war-mongering, lying, over-spending presidency can make.

Although I love doing my show online each day, my last full-time paid gig died with Air America Radio. I make some money here and there with fill-in work (BIG thanks to Randi Rhodes who calls upon me regularly to guest host her show – the first time was exactly 1 year ago today!), and doing voiceovers, other odd jobs and, of course, from the generous support of readers and listeners…

But my savings have been depleted, and I’m in the process of letting my home go via a short sale or foreclosure.  The equity was lost in the housing crash over the last couple of years so, if I’m lucky, I walk away with nothing.

Thank goodness I have a wonderful man in my life, who invited Alison and me to move in with him, which also gives me the freedom to do this show and try to build upon it.

In that sense, I’m very thankful.  Unfortunately, most Americans who find themselves much worse off than they were 10 years ago don’t have that luxury.

So here we go… embarking on a new decade in a couple of months, kicking it off with a Republican-led House of Representatives and the unthinkable, John Boehner as Speaker.

My birthday wish is for President Obama to grow a pair. Realize that the GOP isn’t interested in working with you, so stop claiming that there will be bi-partisanship.  That ship sailed a long time ago.

I’ll talk more about this on today’s show… and John Fugelsang joins in too.

As always, listen live from 10-noon ET and come back later for the podcast.

Nov 032010

Yes, I’m in mourning today.  I’ve never been particularly fond of Florida (except for the weather from Dec-March), but the next few years will be particularly awful here.

Although the Governor’s race hasn’t officially been called, as of this writing -at 9:40am Wednesday morning and 99% of the precincts reporting, Rick Scott is in the lead with 2,553,434 votes (49%) to Alex Sink’s 2,500,510 votes (48%).  Ms. Sink has a press conference scheduled for 10:30 this morning.  Unfortunately, I think it’ll be her concession speech.

Want to know a bit more about our presumptive governor?  Here’s what the Broward New Times had to say:

If your ex-con boyfriend slaps you around when you ask why he emptied out your bank account and then you take him back, everyone knows you’ve given him permission to rob and hurt you again.

That’s the message voters gave Republican Rick Scott yesterday when they elected a man to the governor’s mansion who oversaw the biggest Medicaid fraud in the nation’s history.

Throughout the campaign, reporters asked Scott whether he took credit for the fraud
Columbia/HCA committed while he was its CEO. Scott’s answer was that his underlings didn’t keep him in the loop, yet he took credit for the company’s successes during his tenure. At best, that’s malfeasance, and at worst it’s criminal.

Yet it appears Scott has clinched the race. Final results haven’t been announced, and Scott has yet to declare victory. But the remaining absentee ballots and uncounted precincts appear to be not enough to give Democrat Alex Sink a victory.

Scott ran Columbia/HCA for ten years before resigning in 1997 amid an FBI probe. The company’s scam was a simple bookkeeper’s skim job — overcharge the government for Medicaid procedures and reap the excess profits. The company later paid a $1.7 billion fine but avoided criminal charges. Scott also was never charged, despite overseeing the Medicaid rigging.

(More here)

Marco Rubio is the Senator-elect.  But he likely won’t hold that seat very long, as he’ll likely be running and, if last night’s trend continues, for VP in 2012 or 2016 at the latest.

We lost one of the best members of the House of Representatives, as “Taliban” Dan Webster unseated Alan Grayson.  I’m sick about that.  And here in my district, another criminal was elected. The unthinkable has happened with Allen West heading to Washington.

More about Florida on today’s show, along with the rest of what happened yesterday.

Howie Klein will join in for the post-mortem, and will shine the spotlight on one of the positive aspects of the outcome… “Blue Dogs Wiped Out!”

And in hour two, I’ll be joined by Dante Chimmi,  journalist and author of the new book, “Our Patchwork Nation: The Surprising Truth About the ‘Real’ America… The 12 community types that make up our nation”

Nov 022010

It’s finally here. Regardless of how the day ends, one thing is good… no more of those horrendous political ads, for a while anyway.

My predictions?  I’ll stay optimistic and say that the Dems will retain control of both houses of Congress, though just barely.   The one good thing that will come of today is that many of the Blue Dogs & ConservaDems (Blanche Lincoln, Bobby Bright and others of your ilk, yes, I’m talking to you) will be purged from our government.  The Democratic caucus will be smaller, but more progressive.  And that’s a good thing.

But it’ll take each and every one of us to get out and vote.

On today’s show, my friend and favorite activist David Swanson will give you a bunch of good reasons why you must vote.  I hope you’ll listen, but you can also read what he wrote over at DailyKos. By the way, the author of  Daybreak has a new book on the way: War Is A Lie! I can’t wait.

We’ll start the show with a quick call to Ellen Freidin, campaign director of Fair Districts Florida, who is the woman behind Florida’s Amendments 5 & 6 to put an end to gerrymandering in this state.

In hour two, we’ll get the news from TRNS.  And then our weekly visit with GottaLaff from The Political Carnival.  Here are a few of the stories we’ll talk about this morning….

Rosanne Cash thumps John Boehner on Twitter

Christine O’Donnell infomercial fail was self-inflicted

PhotOh! Side by side aerial shot of Rally to Restore Sanity (215K) and Beck rally (87K)

Sarah Palin is outraged: CBS Stands For “Corrupt Bastards Club”

Joe Miller thought Alaskan GOP party chair was plotting to kill him.

And Laffy has given us two new Blunt episodes too…

Now do your job as a citizen. Go vote!

A programming note: Kenny Pick will do a special election night coverage show tonight 9-midnight ET right here at Radio Or Not!

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