When I went on the air this morning, the furthest thing from my mind was the possibility of speaking with one of the key actors in the Iran Contra scandal that plagued this country during the Reagan administration. Of course, if you listened to any of the GOP sycophants running around the US these days, Reagan was a saint who never raised taxes or was complicit in international crimes.
Of course, we know all about those Reagan years, and Ronnie’s former National Security Adviser Robert “Bud” McFarlane. What I didn’t know – and honestly didn’t care about until this morning, is that McFarlane is now working as an foreign policy adviser on Newt Gingrich’s campaign.
It still wouldn’t matter to me if I had not been put on the phone with him during my show this morning!
Each morning at 11am ET, I get a news report – or more accurately, engage in a discussion about that day’s news with someone from the Talk Radio News Service. This week, TRNS is in New Hampshire, covering the primary there, and running a “radio row” in which they provide broadcast facilities and guests for the visiting stations to interview.
This morning, they provided me with McFarlane is a guest.
Usually, the guests are involved with whatever event is being covered and I can usually just wing it with an interview. This morning, though, I would have preferred a bit of advance notice so I could have adequately prepared.
Mr. McFarlane’, again, played a key role in Iran Contra – and he’s now advising Newt Gingrich on foreign policy? Scary thought. While I was a bit shocked at the start of our conversation, I let him speak and then questioned him on his asinine statements.
He criticized “Obamacare” – and when I pushed him on that, he protested that his area of expertise was foreign policy. So, I questioned him on our involvement in Afghanistan until he changed the subject and criticized Obama for increasing the nation’s debt. When I asked him about George W. Bush’s responsibility for his unbridled spending (and waging of wars), he again sidestepped my questions.
When he outright lied by claiming “hundreds of thousands” would be put back to work if only we’d approve the Keystone XL pipeline, I ended the charade of an interview.
Listen for yourself here… or just listen for it in the middle of the whole show podcast…
In the first hour, I spoke with activist Robert Abston – national coordinator for the Progressive Leadership Action Network and NewStand Media. He compiled a great collection of essays from some of the best progressive minds in the nation for FIX America: How Each of Us Can Help All of Us, and has some great ideas about promoting a progressive vision that I hope he can realize!
In hour two, as we do every Monday, I visited with Nicole Belle of Crooks & Liars to recap the Sunday talking head shows in a segment we call Fools on the Hill. Today, I was still a bit shell shocked coming off the McFarlane fiasco so we didn’t actually get to a lot of the audio… but here’s her recap. The links are definitely worth following. A giant comedy of errors…
Because we just don’t get enough Republican debates, NBC decided to pre-empt their regularly Meet the Press for an ungodly early debate in New Hampshire. As usual, the clear winner of the debate was President Obama, because the Republicans just couldn’t keep showing themselves as the clowns they are.
Ron Paul, for example, rejected moderator David Gregory’s framing of what entitlements Ron Paul wanted to cut to prove how serious he was about dealing with the deficit. But because we’re talking about Ron Paul, the framing he rejected wasn’t the notion that entitlements needed to be cut, but that entitlements should exist at all. As Paul said, “Entitlements are not rights.”
Mitt Romney, to whom his rivals were oddly charitable, took several opposing stances during the debates. When asked by Gregory whose economic outlook he agreed with more, Warren Buffett and his “raise the taxes on the wealthy, they can afford it” or Grover Norquist’s “no new taxes”, Romney refused to answer the question directly. But lest you think he might be leaning towards Buffett, Romney immediately adopted Norquist’s tax policy as his own.
Mitt also suggested that only rich people should run for office in that clip.
Credit Newt Gingrich for having the quote of the day during the debate when he told Romney to cut the “pious baloney.”
On the non-debate front, John McCain proves just what a finger on the pulse of American sentiment he has by insisting to Bob Schieffer that we should be still in Iraq, because it’s “unraveling.”
And finally, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Candy Crowley that she absolutely thinks Obama should run on how little Congress has accomplished in its overarching need to oppose any legislation that would assist him (and therefore, the country).
Kudos to President Obama for doing the right thing yesterday and using recess appointments to put Richard Cordray at the helm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and get three others on the National Labor Relations Board. Neither of these agencies would be able to function without those appointments, so what he did was truly in the best interests of the nation.
Today, I also professed my respect and admiration for the Supreme Court of Montana who upheld the state’s law banning corporate campaign contributions - in direct opposition to the SCOTUS ruling in Citizens United. And big congratulations and thanks also going out to the NY City Council, who followed the lead of Los Angeles, Oakland, Albany and Boulder in passing a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United!
The Iowa caucuses are history. We could call it much ado about nothing, as it really doesn’t mean anything at all. Except to Michelle Bachmann to called it quits today after her last place finish yesterday.
It is truly a loss for comedians everywhere. But honestly, I’m just thrilled I don’t have to hear her call it the Unined States any more. We did however learn that President Obama is a socialist and, left to his devices, America would become a Socialist country, and “obamacare” will destroy American society and life as we know it. We also learned to pronouce the ‘g’ in poignant. Thanks Michelle!
Columnist, strategist, personality Karl Frish joined me on the show this morning to talk about what happened last night and what will happen going forward.
Welcome to the first election day of 2012. Except it’s not really an election, it’s a caucus – held in Iowa – and it doesn’t mean a damned thing.
The Caucus: My friend Kenneth Quinnell of the Florida Progressive Coalition wrote a great piece for Crooks & Liars - Iowa Caucus Preview - and he joined me to talk about it. We also discussed some Florida issues – including next Tuesday’s of the legislative session and the Awake the State rallies planned statewide that day. Find the one closest to you and attend. (I’ll be speaking at the one in West Palm Beach!)
The Guns: In mid-December, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office released the results of an investigation into online gun sales. The report, entitled Click Point Fire, found a “found a vast and largely unregulated market for illegal guns, with 62 percent of private sellers willing to commit a felony by selling firearms to people who likely could not pass a background check.”
This morning, I spoke with Bloomberg’s Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt about the report – and also threw in a few questions about the police behavior relating to the OWS protesters and Feinblatt’s wedding performed by Mayor Bloomberg on the first day same-sex marriages were legally allowed in New York.
The News: As we do every Tuesday morning in the second hour of the show, I chatted with The Political Carnival‘s GottaLaff about some of the news we might not have otherwise gotten today. Today, she brought us these stories:
During the discussion about Santorum’s position on abortion, listener Susan sent a link to this story claiming the Santorums had aborted the baby whose fetus they then brought home (to show the other kids? Eew!)
One line in that piece
In his 2004 interview with Terry Gross, Santorum characterizes the fetus, who must be treated as an autonomous person, as a practically a gunslinging threat, whom the mother must murder in self-defense. Karen has had to justify her decision to save her own life by explaining that if she died her other children would have lost a mother.
made me go in search of that 2004 interview. I couldn’t find the audio, but did locate the transcript here, which includes this exchange:
TERRY GROSS: Let’s look at what the Republican platform has to say about abortion, and I quote: “We say that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” This would mean, I think, that an embryo would have the same constitutional rights as the pregnant woman carrying it. Is that right?
Senator RICK SANTORUM (Republican, Pennsylvania): That’s correct. It-I think it’s a fundamental belief that life begins when it’s-at conception because at that point, that egg and sperm that have combined are genetically human. They’ve all the chromosomes present of any other human being, and it’s living, it’s a human life and, as a result, should be protected by our Constitution and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which protects all life. And that’s the kind of inclusive society that the president talks about in his-when he refers to the culture of life and has been the position of the party now for at least, I think, 24 years.
GROSS: So, Senator, what are the legal implications of this if the fetus-if a fertilized egg basically has equal constitutional rights as the woman carrying it. If, for instance, a woman’s health is…
Sen. SANTORUM: Well, the fertilized…
GROSS: …threatened by the pregnancy, what are the legal implications?
Sen. SANTORUM: Well, first off, the fertilized egg is a little girl or little boy. It’s not a fertilized egg anymore. It’s genetically not going to change at all. It is exactly as you or I or any other person in America or in the world was at that point in time in our lives and should be treated with respect as a result of it. What the implications are is that we have to honor and respect that, and we have to take responsibility for that child and protect that child until it is capable of providing for itself. And whether that means adoption or whether it means, you know, the mother…
GROSS: My question was if the health of the woman is threatened by the pregnancy and if the embryo has equal rights to the woman who’s carrying it, what are the legal implications about the woman’s health and her ability to abort?
Sen. SANTORUM: Yeah, if the case is a situation-and I think we’ve always made this clear. If the case was a situation between the life of the mother and the life of the child, then obviously that’s a decision where-we run into all the time in the law, which is if it’s two people’s lives then obviously you aren’t prosecuted for, in a sense, self-defense. If you’re defending your own life, then you can take the life of another to defend your own life. That is clear in the law. But as you know, 99-plus percent of abortions…
GROSS: So it would be the equivalent of, like, shooting somebody in self-defense?
Sen. SANTORUM: It’s exact-if that child is a threat to your life, then you have a right to defend yourself, in a sense, against this child. But as you know, over 99 percent of abortions in this country have nothing to do with the health or life of the mother. They have to do with the convenience or desire at that point in time in the woman’s life not to have a child and the child is killed because of…
GROSS: But we’re talking specifically about the provision in the Republican platform to give equal constitutional rights to the fetus, which is slightly different than just whether abortion is legal or not, so that’s why I’m asking specifically about that.
Sen. SANTORUM: But-well, I understand that, but we have to look at the vast number of cases in which we’re dealing with the issue of abortion, and in the vast number of cases-you know, over 99 percent-we’re talking about abortion which is done simply because the mother no longer wants the child, not because there’s any health consequences or life consequences to the mother. And that’s why this is, you know-I can understand how people would obviously have exceptions for the life of the mother or maybe even some other rare circumstances like rape or incest or something like that, but the idea that this is an extreme idea that children and that all human life at all points in time in life should be protected and given constitutional protection and be treated in a dignified and respectable manner, I think, is something that every advanced society should have as its credo.
GROSS: But if a woman’s life isn’t threatened, but her health is likely to be compromised, should that be taken into account, or is that-does the…
Sen. SANTORUM: Again, the law speaks to that, and that is that you can use lethal force if lethal force is, in a sense, being used against you. In other words, if your life is threatened, then you can respond in kind. If something less than that, then you can respond in less than that. The interesting thing is, with modern medicine today, you know, there are all sorts of procedures available in which, you know, we can attempt to save the child. But there are times, as I think you’ve pointed to, where pregnancies, you know, may need to be terminated to protect the life of the mother. But with respect to health, there’s usually situations, again, with modern medicine, that we can deal with those to minimize any kind of health effects to the mother.
GROSS: Let’s get back to the Republican platform when it comes to abortion in addition to giving equal legal and constitutional protections to the fetus. The platform says, ‘We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.’ Does that mean that in the Republican platform it basically says there should be a litmus test to appoint only judges who oppose abortion?
Sen. SANTORUM: I think what we’ve seen in practice is that the president wants judges, and Republicans usually put forward judges, who see their role as not creating new law but in fact the role of interpreting the laws of this nation within the realm of what the Congress intended. And that’s really what this point is about, which is, what happened in Roe vs. Wade and what’s happened in some of the other subsequent cases after Roe was the judges took on the responsibility of the Legislature and created law where it did not exist. There was no right to an abortion in the law and there was no right to an abortion in the Constitution. And it’s not the role of judges to create new rights when they believe they want it. That’s what the constitutional amendment process is about, and that’s what the Legislature and the Congress and the president and governors in the states are about. It’s about the people making these decisions as to what rights people should have as opposed to a few unelected judges sitting on high, dictating to us how we’re going to live our lives and run our country.
And so it is really that dichotomy between an activist judge who sees their role as to be sort of the warrior putting forth their agenda and imposing on the public, and, by the way, having no check or balance, because once the judge says this is the law, it’s very, very hard for a Congress or a president to overturn it, short of this rather cumbersome procedure called a constitutional amendment, which takes two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-quarters of the states. Yet to create a new constitutional right, the way we’ve seen it now in practice over the last 40 years, takes the stroke of a pen and four signatures assigned to it. Five justices of the Supreme Court can do what it takes three-quarters of the states and two-thirds of the Congress to accomplish. That’s not the balance that our Founding Fathers intended, and it’s this corruption of judicial power that this is aimed at.
GROSS: You say that you oppose judges who are activist with their own agenda, but could you argue that the judges the Republican platform calls for appointing are activist judges with an agenda? Their agenda is to overturn abortion and make it illegal.
Sen. SANTORUM: No, their agenda is to return to the traditional role of what judges are supposed to do in the checks and balance of powers that was established in the Constitution, which is the judges are there to interpret the law within the realm of congressional intent, not to be able to on their own create new constitutional rights without the process that the founders put forth, which is a constitutional amendment process. I understand it’s easier; I understand it’s quicker. I understand it’s less mess and trouble. But it’s not the way we should be changing our Constitution. So, no. We’re not saying that judges should come forward and say that all abortions are banned. What we should say is that this is a decision left up to the people of the United States to make in their state capitals and in the nation’s capital. That’s what the Republican platform calls for, that’s what Republicans generally have been calling for ever since 1972 and ’73, and that is to let the people speak on these very important moral issues instead of a select group of judges proclaiming from on high how Americans shall live.
GROSS: Now we’ve been talking about the Republican Party platform planks on abortion. There hasn’t been a lot of public discussion about abortion during this election period. Why is that? How important do you think the Republican platform on abortion is, and how much do you think we should be discussing it?
Sen. SANTORUM: Well, I think it’s probably as important as the Democratic plank on abortion, which is, you know, abortion on demand, which is-if you look at where the public is on the issue of abortion, more of the public, you know, hold the position that the Republican platform has than hold the position the Democratic platform has. The Democratic platform has abortion on demand at any time during pregnancy. That is a position held by less than 20 percent of the people in America, whereas the Republican position is held by, you know, upwards of close to 30 percent of the people in America, and if you take the cases of rape and incest, which are, you know, 10ths of a percent of the abortions that we have to deal with in America, you know, the number gets, you know, up into the 40 percent. So, you know, the idea that somehow or another the Republican platform position is out of the mainstream I think is simply not the case and, in fact, I think is a very important part of the base of the Republican Party, just as a very important part of the pro-choice element is of the Democratic Party.
This morning we began yet another new year of shows in which we examine what’s happening and try to figure it all out.
Today, I was joined by Howie Klein of Down With Tyranny and the Blue America PAC. We talked about his trip to the Yucutan and his visits with the Mayan people who told him that it’s only the calendar that ends in December, not the world!
We also discussed the DCCC, the NDAA (and my questions to Debbie Wasserman Schultz about it on the Randi Rhodes Show on Friday), and the upcoming elections and the need to elect real progressives to congress.
I’m sure it’s because we have two primaries/caucuses within the next ten days that caused the Sunday show bookers to only ask on Republicans. Not even the bluest of Blue Dogs got booked on a Sunday show this week. You’d almost think we only had a single party in this country.
Even with just days before the Iowa Caucus, Steve King–who has been trying to position himself as a “kingmaker”--coyly still refused to endorse a Republican candidate. Methinks he doesn’t understand the concept of “kingmaker”.
Ron Paul, I suspect, is scaring the GOP inner circle, because he very well may win the Iowa caucus and they really, really don’t want to deal with anyone as ideologically rigid (and crazy, frankly) as Paul. So the issue of Paul’s racism and homophobia (normally, not a really big issue in conservative circles, let’s be honest) keeps coming up. Jake Tapper asked him again how he can distance himself from a newsletter that he put his name on and profited from with undeniable instances of racism.
Apparently, David Gregory isn’t too comfortable with Rick “Please don’t Google my name” Santorum’s recent rise in the polls either. For a guy who doesn’t think it’s his job to fact check his guests or ask follow up questions, he gave a rather hardball interview to Santorum. In this example, Gregory called him out on the patent lie (one of many told) that Obama refused to meet with Republicans.
And then Gregory showed how idiotic Santorum is on foreign policy by pinning him down that he would order airstrikes on Iran. Because you know, we’ve had so much success attacking Middle Eastern countries with no cause.
And proof that conservatives live in a completely different reality than the rest of us, on a fairly softball 60 Minutes interview, Eric Cantor’s press secretary interrupted the interview to insist that Reagan never raised taxes. Is that right?
And finally, I think Newt Gingrich is telling us what he really wants to do beside run for President (because I’m still convinced that this campaign is nothing more than a craven attempt to sell more Gingrich Media products): he wants to be a paleontologist. Unfortunately, because he’s “studied” dinosaurs, he thinks that makes him more skeptical of global warming. And this is the smart guy in the campaign.
Today is a double header… I popped in to finish off the year of the Nicole Sandler Show here on Radio or Not this morning. Cliff Schecter and John Fugelsang helped us close the book on 2011. That one is up on the podcast so you can listen in case you missed it.
I’m now sitting in Randi Rhodes‘ studio, getting ready to fill in for her again today. It’s going to be another fun afternoon with another visit from Cliff Schecter talking end of the year stuff, Brad Friedman of Brad Blog talking election/voting insanity, and singer/songwriter/poet/artist/activist Michelle Shocked who’ll be participating in Tuesday’s Occupy the Rose Parade.
I hope you’ll listen and join in by calling 866-87-RANDI….
Well, for me on The Nicole Sandler Show anyway…
I’m guest hosting the Randi Rhodes Show Fri 12/23 and Mon-Fri 12/26-30. Shane-O will hold down the fort here on my show next week…
In the meantime, on this show I finished up our annual year in review, and chatted about the year gone by with John Fugelsang.
See you later!
This morning on the show, I had an eye-opening conversation with civil rights attorney James Otto about a lawsuit he filed in California against “healthcare company” Molina Healthcare. (Ed note: I put healthcare company in quotes because I believe this company and others do nothing to care for the help of its clients.)
I urge you to listen to the interview, as it’s pretty in-depth and mind blowing. But basically, Otto is representing a group of former employees who were fired and replaced by non-citizens allowed to work here under H-1B visas, after being forced to train those workers to do their jobs!
In a piece entitled “Where Have All The Jobs Gone?“, Jim Otto quotes then Sec. of Labor under George W. Bush from 2001-2008 (and wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) in her strategic report 2006-2011, page 35:
“H-1B nondependent employers are not subject to the conditions [of searching for qualified U.S. workers], and their H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker. (Emphasis added.)”
Regarding the case Otto filed on behalf of the fired Molina employees:
The current case of Beasley v. Molina Healthcare, Inc., filed in Long Beach, California by leading civil rights attorney James Otto proves beyond doubt the Government’s betrayal. In that case, 220 highly trained American workers were replaced by Molina Healthcare, Inc. and Cognizant Technology with foreign workers, simply because the Government and corporations have joined to put Americans out of work. The 21 plaintiffs not only lost their jobs, as a result, they lost their homes, marriages, and their careers. Molina humiliated Americans by maliciously forcing them to train their replacements before they were fired from their jobs.
The complaint alleges the company falsely swore to the Department of Labor that it was not replacing any U.S. worker by bringing in over 500 foreign workers. According to the lawsuit, the Director of Human Resources’ investigation established testimony from 160 IT employees testifying to the rampart segregation of U.S. workers; the Budget Manager has testified that Molina had plenty of work but decided to fire all U.S. workers; and two Directors of the IT Department have stated that Molina did intend to segregate all American workers out of their labor market.
Today’s show also included a continuation of my annual year end year in review. Today we covered March through May – including Japan’s tragic earthquake and tsunami in March, April’s “not intended to be a factual statement” on the Senate floor regarding Planned Parenthood, and my arrest at an Allen West “town hall meeting”. From May, we listened back to some of the coverage of the killing of Osama bin Laden, including Fox’s pronouncement that President Barack Obama is finally dead.
We’ll attempt to finish up the year tomorrow!
Every year, I dig back into the archives of all the audio I gathered for the show – and compile a year-end Rear View Year in Review. On today’s show, we got through January and February…
Forgive me for the brevity of today’s post… all the details can be heard by listening to the show …. as I just realized that Chanukah begins tonight (I thought it was tomorrow), so off shopping I must go. It comes with being a parent!
I’ve been vilified on the internet for daring to attempt to reason with people who won’t criticize our president, even in light of horrible abuses of our constitutional rights as citizens.
I’ve learned my lesson: tweeting while sick and attempting to reason with the unreasonable are two things I will no longer do. When my thoughts are muddled, I’ll stay off the twitter machine. And I’ll no longer engage those who don’t debate in good faith.
That said, I have many reasons to be worried about the provisions in the Defense Authorization Act the allow for the indefinite detention of anyone deemed to be a terrorist – or even a terrorist sympathizer.
One who argued with me about this provision in the bill kept referring to a 1 1/2 page summary of the 900+ page bill – and badgered me repeatedly with “did you read it? I read it!..” Well, a summary does NOT tell you what’s in the entire bill.
It went on, sounding a lot like Monty Python’s Argument Clinic “Yes there is. No there isn’t. Yes there is. No there isn’t…” We were discussing whether or not there is language in the bill pertaining to detention of US citizens.
Hal Sparks referred me to Sec 1031, paragraph b, part 1 … which reads
(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
And I pointed out that it says there’s no REQUIREMENT to detain US citizens, but there’s nothing that prohibits it. I suggested he read Section 1031, which he claimed
@HalSparksHal Sparks@nicolesandler section 1031 isn’t even in the final bill
“The bill continues to authorize heavy spending on defense despite the end of the 9-year-old war in Iraq. Ironically, the Senate vote came on the same day when Defense Secretary Panetta was in Baghdad officially declaring that our military mission there has ended and that virtually all of the combat troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year. At a time when we have tripled defense spending since 1997 and spend more today on defense than the rest of the world combined, I get concerned that my deficit-hawk friends say we’ve got to cut Social Security, Medicare, education, health care and other programs that help working families, but when it comes to defense spending the sky is the limit.
“This bill also contains misguided provisions that in the name of fighting terrorism essentially authorize the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens without charges. While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans.” (emphasis mine)
If that doesn’t do it for you, how about Senator Ron Wyden?
Again, I’m not worried that President Obama might try to paint me as a terrorist sympathizer because I criticize some of his actions — but I do worry that a future president (Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Rubio ….) might.
And I’m sad that some people who claim to be progressives chose to get nasty with those of us who are questioning the chipping away at our civil liberties. Once again, if they keep fighting people who are ostensibly on the same side, we will likely lose.
Rather than stand up for what’s right, they seem to be fighting against those trying to protect what’s right…
Today on the show, after laying out my case on the NDAA, I checked in with my friend Zach Roberts. Zach is a photojournalist who works with Greg Palast and on a number of other projects. He’s been covering Occupy Wall Street and, for his troubles, was arrested on Saturday.
Saturday was the two month anniversary of the beginning of the Occupy movement, and the one year anniversary of when a vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire, prompting the start of the Arab Spring.
Talk about having our civil liberties taken from us! The cops should be protecting the protesters, not arresting them…
In the second hour, as she does every Monday morning, I was joined by Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars for a recap of the Sunday talking head shows. She usually gives us a truly eloquent written recap but, thanks to internet difficulties, you’ll have to just follow the links below and check it all out there…