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May 162011
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Thanks to the awesome Stephen Goldstein for this editorial in yesterday’s South Florida Sun Sentinel

West’s hypocrisy: Talk-show host deserves apology

Stephen Goldstein
Columnist

May 15, 2011

If the original Boston tea partiers had had to follow Congressman Allen West‘s rules, we’d still be a British colony. He needs to “man up” and apologize to radio talk-show host Nicole Sandler.

She was arrested at one of his recent town hall meetings for the crime of exercising her First Amendment right — and “becoming physically aggressive,” according to the police report, a charge which she denies. It shocked and grieved me to see her being treated like a common criminal — eventually held overnight in jail (three hours in solitary confinement) and maced. Watch the videos of her ordeal at radioornot.com. In one of them, West’s wife tries to grab Sandler’s camera, before she even speaks out.

Hypocrisy of hypocrisies: Tea party/Republican West was elected in 2010, benefiting from a wave of disruptive, mass, orchestrated tea-party protests around the country during town hall meetings on health system reform. Sandler acted alone. But now that West, who went to Washington to “take back” the government for “the people,” is a member of Congress, he appears only to want to hear from “the people” if their questions are screened and sanitized.

First, a little about my history with Sandler. I have known her personally for many years. Well-known and respected, she is a passionate advocate for liberal issues. Controversial, she knows what she’s talking about: Her positions are solid and well-researched. She had her own radio show on WINZ, the Air America affiliate in South Florida, now hosts a weekday radio show at radioornot.com and pinch-hits for nationally syndicated Randi Rhodes. Sandler has interviewed Kingsley Guy and me numerous times — and we have guest-hosted her program.

Second, a little background about my history with West. I met him only once, which was quite enough. My “Dueling Columnist” partner, Kingsley Guy, and I had been invited to debate at the Tower Forum in Fort Lauderdale. During the Q&A, no one stopped West from publicly telling me that, because of my political views, I was destroying the country.

He appointed himself judge and jury of my patriotism. No one made him write down his comments and hand them to someone else to censor or deliver — as attendees at his “town hall” were required to do. No matter how subjective, offensive, or outrageous his comments were to me, no one muzzled him. He didn’t hesitate to be confrontational. I told West that I would see to it that he wasn’t elected to Congress, which of course I had no intention of doing — because I don’t engage in revenge journalism. We spoke civilly after the event.

West could have diffused tension when, ignoring his rules, Sandler spoke up. He could have listened to her, answered and then continued. Instead, he watched as she was handcuffed and taken away.

But the retired Army lieutenant colonel needs to get out of military mode and take a course in “How to handle objections,” because he’s in for opposition wherever he goes. His extremist voting record puts him at odds with most Americans, even most Republicans — especially because he defends the GOP destruction of Medicare, the subject Sandler wanted clarified.

She, who lives in West’s district, wonders why he doesn’t. (He lives in Plantation and his member of Congress is Debbie Wasserman Schultz.) She also finds it odd that the Calvary Church, where he held the town hall she attended, isn’t in his district.

West’s handling of his town hall set in motion a shameful chain of events that is typical of today’s divided America. But it’s not too late for him to take the high road and acknowledge mistakes made in his name.

I have not discussed this with Sandler, but he would rise in everybody’s estimation if he were big enough publicly to clear the air with her — even give her the hearing she was denied at his town hall by being a guest on her radio program. I’m waiting for him to show me he’s a bigger man than I have reason to believe he is.

Stephen L. Goldstein’s commentaries appear on alternate Sundays. Email him at trendsman@aol.com.

Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

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May 052011
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Quite a show today…

David Dayen, who always does a great job covering the news for FireDogLake, joined me near the top of the show to give the details on yesterday’s passage of HR3 – the anti-choice bill – by the House of Representatives.  Sixteen so-called Democrats joined with all the Republicans to limit women’s rights to control our own bodies.

Where are the jobs, Mr. Boehner?

Jason Leopold, deputy managing editor of Truthout.org, has done extensive investigative reporting on Guantanamo Bay, including exclusive interviews with former guards and detainees.  He joined the show this morning to cut through the lies about the intelligence that led to Osama bin Laden’s killing.

And comedian John Fugelsang joined in to end my broadcast week with some laughs about the news.  When I asked him to comment on the Allen West clip in which he said that his female supporters need to help build up the men who “fight for them”… that those “women on the other side  the Planned Parenthood women and the Code Pink women” were “neutering men”.  And that if women made men “subservient to them” the debt would continue to rise, John explained it all by claiming “Allen West has a very small penis.”

Thanks John, that explains so much!

 

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May 042011
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Then-ea Party Republican candidate Allen West with two members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang. (Still from NBC News report October 15, 2010)

Yesterday, I read the latest “newsletter” from Congressman Allen West.  It was more of a smear letter than a newsletter, but what do you expect from someone who doesn’t allow people with dissenting points of view to speak at a “town hall meeting”?

One of the key parts was

I must share these two funny anecdotes; first was the response to a question from a woman at the Boca Raton town hall which inspired this woman to stand and shout, “That was my question and you did not answer it the way I wanted you to.” Now, if that is not a clear indication of liberal progressive “controllitis” then tell me what is?

The second really humorous moment was looking out and seeing Code Pink women with pink tape over their mouths. (Shark Tank Video-Code Pink)

Special hat tip to Calvary Chapel (Pastor Bob Coy and staff), Mae Volen Senior Center (Director Elizabeth Lugo and staff), and the law enforcement officers of Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton who ensured there was a safe and professional environment for those attending. Speaking of Code Pink, this past week, America lost 21 servicemen and women in Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly Afghanistan. Has anyone seen any protests by Code Pink? Has anyone seen any coverage of this in the media this week? Where is Cindy Sheehan, since she is soooo concerned about our troops. Has Code Pink staged any protests of the opening of a new combat theater of operations in Libya?

The duplicitous hypocrisy would be laughable if not so pathetic! To the families of the Men and Women who will not be coming home, especially to the children, I send my most sincere and humble condolences. If there is one thing I despise about liberals and their complicit media allies, their faux concern for our Military…which after this past week, we must all recognize is rooted in political expediency, not sincerity.

The idiocy of that statement is astounding.  First of all, we haven’t seen any coverage of Code Pink’s protests and actions in the media because the media only covers right wing antics. As we’ve learned, you get tens of people with misspelled signs and teabags hanging from their hats, and it’s a media circus.  You get hundreds of thousands out to protest – in Madison, Wisconsin for example – and not a peep any where in the so-called mainstream media.

Has Code Pink continued to protest all of our wars, including the opening of a new combat theater of operations in Libya? Absolutely.  But don’t take my word for it.  Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink will join me on the show today to answer those ridiculous charges and tell us what they’re all about.  And be sure to visit CodePinkAlert.org and join the action to Bring Our War $$ Home!

And perhaps you might want to sent Medea’s recent Huffington Post piece to West.  “Osama bin Laden is Dead; Let the Peace Begin” is awfully good reading!

Speaking of Allen West‘s attacks on Code Pink and other women who dare to speak out… remember this lovely quote from just last week?

Here’s the exact quote, courtesy of Think Progress:

WEST: We need you to come in and lock shields, and strengthen up the men who are going to the fight for you. To let these other women know on the other side — these planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women that have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient. That’s what we need you to do. Because if you don’t, then the debt will continue to grow…deficits will continue to grow.

Unfortunately, Allen West isn’t the only crazy right winger to have been swept into office last November.  We have a governor who should be in jail instead of Tallahassee, along with a veto-proof Republican majority in the Florida legislature.   With just three days left in this legislative session, we’ve seen the state of Florida set back decades.

Franco Ripple – recently named as one of Florida’s 25 rising political stars under 30, who serves as the Southeast Regional Director of the Florida Young Democrats – will join me this morning to bring us up to date on just what the legislature has done in the past almost-60 days, and what’s still to come.  He’ll also fill us in on how Florida progressives can get involved in the next Awake the State day on May 10.

After a news update from TRNS, I’ll be joined by Howie Klein, of Down With Tyranny and the Blue America PAC.  Howie is a friend and a regular guest who’ll talk with us about the 2012 cycle, what it takes to mount a campaign, and his latest missive, Health Care Republican Style.

I’ll be leaving immediately after today’s show to meet with a potential attorney to represent me on the heinous criminal charge of “trespassing after warning”.  I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

As always, the podcast will be posted here and on iTunes after the show… thanks for listening, radio or not!

***Update *** If you listen to the podcast (player up top), you’ll hear Medea Benjamin tell us that Allen West absolutely knows of their continual war protests.  His “newsletter” was just filled with lies.  So, “Man Up” Allen West.  Quit hiding behind your lies!

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May 032011
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***Update added — scroll down***

The only thing missing was the sex.  We learned a few things this week:

  • War is NOT the way to combat terrorism. You can take out a terrorist with trained soldiers, and don’t have to drop a single bomb in innocent civilians.
  • The so-called Tea Party believes that only they are entitled to speak freely; the rest of us are only allowed to agree with them, or remain silent.
  • Ft. Lauderdale Police and Broward County Sheriff’s deputies LIE incessantly
  • The idea of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is a myth in the United States.
  • Cops do not have to read you your Miranda rights when they place you under arrest.
  • Right wingers will never believe a single thing President Obama says or does and, under NO circumstances, will give him credit for anything!
  • Congressman Allen West defied the Geneva conventions when he fired a gun just over the head of an Iraqi police officer – committing a mock execution – in 2003, resulting in his being relieved of his command.
  • Allen West’s wife is one nasty bitch!

Evidence of all of the things I’ve said above can be found on this blog from the previous week’s entries, videos I recorded at the so-called Town Hall Meeting with MY congressman, and my radio shows.

I’ve been called all sorts of names and slandered left and right since being arrested for the “crime” of attending a “town hall meeting” with my congressman, attempting to ask a question and have my opinions heard.  I can’t help but think back to August of 2009 during the seemingly never-ending health care debate.

Town Hall Meetings were held all over the county, and right wing groups did everything they could to encourage their lemmings to disrupt them.  In fact, there were written instructions on how exactly to accomplish their goals of “rattle them, stand up and shout!”  Brian Beutler wrote about the strategy at TPM:

The memo, authored by Robert MacGuffie, who runs the website rightprinciples.com, suggests that tea partiers should “pack the hall… spread out” to make their numbers seem more significant, and to “rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation…to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early…. to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda…stand up and shout and sit right back down.”

In case you want to see the whole thing, just click here to read the instruction manual: “Rocking the Town Halls — Best Practices”.  I kid you not.

However, even though there exists video after video of these disruptions, I can’t find a single instance of anyone being thrown out of any of those meetings, let alone arrested!  Double standard much GOP?

This morning on the show, I reached out to a Pakistani journalist named Kaswar Klasra to get his take on the Osama bin Laden story.  Unfortunately, we were cut off after just a few moments and weren’t able to reconnect.  I’ll try to get him back on the show later in the week.

Since it’s Tuesday, it was time for Gotta Laff of The Political Carnival.  We talked about these stories and lots more….

TPC Exclusive- Allen West’s office: “Nicole Sandler got what she deserved for speaking out about West, tea party”

Video- Donald Trump pouts, whines, and reacts to President Obama’s, Seth Meyers’ jokes

VIDEO- Fox5: “President Obama is dead.” Oops!

VIDEOS- Osama bin Laden Watch: The so-called “vigilance” of George W. Bush

PhotOh! Drudge Report makes Bin Laden death about Trump vs. Obama

Oops! Signature of lawmaker’s dead father on Wisconsin Democrat’s recall papers

Video- Mitt Romney Wants to Hang Misery Index Around Obama’s Neck

Studies: The rich do not flee states with high taxes

And the newest Blunt webisode…

*** Update. I forgot to post the “newsletter” from Congressman Allen West, which gives his thoughts on the events of the past week. A few observations: all spelling, grammar and other mistakes are left intact. (Congressman West, perhaps you should get someone to proof-read your missives before sending them out.) And notice his war mongering at the end. This is a US Congressman?***

The week ended with the mastermind  behind the 9/11 attacks finally meeting his maker and paying form the consequences of his decisions to attack the United States and kill thousands of innocent victims. The United States military served ultimate justice on this evil individual.

Osama bin Laden did not die of natural causes. He died because our military led by General David Petreaus and assisted by our Intelligence Community, hunted him down and then took him down in a special operations attack at his compound in Pakistan.

We must acknowledge President Obama for given the order and commend General Petraeus and the Special Forces who carried out this critical mission, as well as all of the Men and Women in uniform. Former President George W. Bush stated, “America has sent an unmistakable message… no matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

Osama bin Laden is Dead… Justice has finally been served! Long live the United States of America!

Now…on to the rest of the week!

This was the second week of the two week Easter Constituent work (District) work period.

We ad our monthly town hall meetings and it was our first time instituting a new question and answer process. After the previous town hall meetings, it became apparent that we could not control persons at the microphone, and not wanting to be disrespectful or cut them off, we believed getting the questions written down would help smooth out the process.

Therefore we instituted a process which I found very effective- used in many settings as this, most recently by the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches. Our constituents were able to submit a question on a card. The cards were then given to the individuals hosting our town hall meeting. The hosts then arranged the cards and handed them over to the moderator for the evening. The hosts did not eliminate any questions because of the subject matter. I had no knowledge of what the questions were or in what order to ask them prior to stepping on stage. The result was that in two evening town hall meetings we responded to more than  100 questions from our Constituents. That’s more than double our previous town halls.

Of course, we did find that there are those who do not have any substance to add to the intellectual discourse of the town hall and sought to be completely disruptive. I must advise those who believe in using expletives in referring to me, it is not an effective communications method, and certainly shall not produce timidity in me, you actually elicit quite the opposite.

I must share these two funny anecdotes; first was the response to a question from a woman at the Boca Raton town hall which inspired this woman to stand and shout, “That was my question and you did not answer it the way I wanted you to.” Now, if that is not a clear indication of liberal progressive “controllitis” then tell me what is?

The second really humorous moment was looking out and seeing Code Pink women with pink tape over their mouths. (Shark Tank Video-Code Pink)

Special hat tip to Calvary Chapel (Pastor Bob Coy and staff), Mae Volen Senior Center (Director Elizabeth Lugo and staff), and the law enforcement officers of Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton who ensured there was a safe and professional environment for those attending. Speaking of Code Pink, this past week, America lost 21 servicemen and women in Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly Afghanistan. Has anyone seen any protests by Code Pink? Has anyone seen any coverage of this in the media this week? Where is Cindy Sheehan, since she is soooo concerned about our troops. Has Code Pink staged any protests of the opening of a new combat theater of operations in Libya?

The duplicitous hypocrisy would be laughable if not so pathetic! To the families of the Men and Women who will not be coming home, especially to the children, I send my most sincere and humble condolences. If there is one thing I despise about liberals and their complicit media allies, their faux concern for our Military…which after this past week, we must all recognize is rooted in political expediency, not sincerity.

This week the media also missed the communications between the leader of Pakistan and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai imploring him to reject a long term security arrangement with the United States. Instead, Pakistan admonished Karzai to enter into agreements with them and China, this in the same week where countless Americans gave their lives for Afghan freedom?

Yes, I am miffed about this and the day is soon coming, at least in my assessment and perspective, when we bid farewell to Karzai and his culture of corruption. My focus would be solely on executing precision strike operations against Islamic terrorist groups wherever they seek to establish sanctuary, no more nation-building, occupation-style warfare.

As well, it seems President Obama forget to discuss a very important Middle East political alliance while he was on Oprah Winfrey’s show. This week Hamas and Fatah announced they would establish a unity government. As of recent days, there has been an increase of rocket and mortar fire coming from Gaza into southern Israel, seems those new Democratic Egyptians have given Hamas a green light.

We all know that Hamas has clearly stated in its charter the destruction of Israel as an objective…one can only surmise that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority share those goals. Our office released a statement this week requesting the immediate cessation of American taxpayer support, and military support, to the Palestinian Authority. It is time we evidence where our allegiance lies… let us pray that this Obama Administration has the right allegiance, which means no unilateral UN recognition of a Palestinian state, or shall a say, an Islamic terrorist state, this summer.

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May 022011
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You might think I’m talking about Osama Bin Laden, but I’m not.  I’m glad Bin Laden is gone. Now maybe we can bring our troops home and stop killing people.

But the war criminal I’m writing about now is Allen West, who disregarded the Geneva Conventions in 2003 when he carried out a mock execution of an Iraqi police officer – shot a gun right over his head.  He was relieved of his command and fined $5000.  Truthout’s Jason Leopold joined me on the show today to give the whole story of Allen West’s war crimes… everything you’d never wanted to know and more about this guy who is supposed to be representing me in Congress.

I’ve been smeared all over the interwebs, newspapers and on TV- when all I wanted to do was ask my congressman a question.  Since there are so many accounts of what went on during West’s lecture (it was no “Town Hall Meeting”) I’m now posting the rest of the video I shot from my flip cam that evening.

The first clip is the beginning of West’s speech, during which a few people shouted out things about Medicare  and “Ballots and Bullets”  -in response to West’s first pick for his chief of staff, right wing radio host Joyce Kaufman who, in a speech at a ‘teaparty’ 4th of July rally shouted out “If ballots don’t work, bullets will”.  By the way, a listener informed me that Kaufman now has her sites set on running for governor of Florida. Lovely.

A few points that should be made perfectly clear. This so-called Town Hall Meeting was more of a rally, presentation and speech than anything else.  In every other town hall meeting I’ve been to or have seen on television, the representative interacts with his or her constituents.  I went to make sure my congressman heard my concerns.  I’ve already heard his talking points and have seen how he votes.  I went to be able to express my opinions to him.  That was not allowed.  And for daring to attempt to be heard, I was escorted from the room and manhandled by a police officer. And to the trolls who are saying I was harassing West’s wife, the video shows quite the opposite. Notice how she tries to grab my camera!

The event was held at the Calvary Chapel, a mega-church, which is NOT EVEN IN WEST’S DISTRICT!  Yes, “Pastor Bob” sauntered out on stage to sing the praises of Congressman West, and tell how he endorsed his candidacy.  Why does this political organization have tax-exempt status?  I can’t figure it out…   By the way, West doesn’t even live in the district he represents; he lives in Plantation, FL and is represented by Debbie Wasserman Schultz!

Unlike the people who shouted out at the beginning of the event, I kept my comments to myself and the woman who saved me a seat in the center of the second row, right behind Mrs. West. In this segment, you’ll probably see how difficult it was to keep quiet, when West suggests we could better use the money we’re paying in interest to China to buy FIGHTER PLANES! Talk about scare tactics.

When West finally got around to “answering” the written questions that had been picked and read aloud by his staffers, he just proceeded to give his standard talking points. You’ll notice in all the videos thus far I may have muttered a few comments under my breath, and made some comments to the woman seated next to me. I raised my hand a number of times, in an attempt to be able to ask a follow-up question. Finally, after his bullshit answer about “preserving Medicare for future generations” I couldn’t sit quietly any longer. I said (loudly enough to be heard, as I was NOT given a microphone) that they weren’t preserving Medicare, they were privatizing it. I asked how a profit motive would make Medicare more efficient. (It won’t!) I asked for the name of the for-profit insurance company who’d sell a policy to a 75 year old with obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. (There isn’t one!)

And that’s when I was escorted out of the building.

This was not a town hall meeting. It was a lecture. Had it been billed as such, I wouldn’t have gone! I would have instead gone to the media availability the following evening in Boca Raton, when West answered this question about me:

And then there’s Andrew Breitbart, who thinks since he stages astro-turf events, that everyone else does it too… He was on Real Time with Bill Maher, and accused me of orchestrating my own arrest! Classic projection.

Later in the program as Maher asked him about his belief that Bill Ayers wrote President Obama’s second book, and asked Maher, incredulously, “Have you written all of your books?” to which Maher responded “YES!” Yikes.

Thanks to the wonderful Stephanie Miller, who invited me on her show to talk about the ordeal. We mostly wound up talking about Osama Bin Laden’s death, but that’s ok!

And, because it’s Monday, Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars join in for our weekly “Fools on the Hill” segment. Here’s what she brought us today:

I feel a little ridiculous covering Sunday morning news shows when Sunday evening news has so clearly sucked all the oxygen out of the room and rendered all clips petty and unimportant.  But carry on we must, so let’s look at the Sunday morning stupidity.

I think my first measure of disgust has to be Christiane Amanpour and This Week.  Before Amanpour took over, I had had several arguments with the executive producer of This Week about their blatant tipping of scales in overwhelmingly booking Republicans.  And frankly, I thought George Stephanopoulos was a lightweight.  I had high hopes that Amanpour would elevate the level of discourse on ABC News, but so far, she appears to take more of a page from David (fact checking isn’t my job) Gregory and rarely, if ever, asks follow up questions or put her interview subjects in a light that would make it clear that their “facts” have little factual credibility to them.  She appears to have been co-opted by the same machine that keeps any of the Beltway journalists from actually committing journalism.

So in a cozy town car, Amanpour asks Tea Party It Boy Paul Ryan (who didn’t have to deal with any kind of Democratic “balance”, given Amanpour’s uninterrupted attention for the entire segment) about the growing outrage being expressed in town halls all over the country.  Ryan dismisses it as being from “misinformation” coming from ads and radio spots.  Because, you know, that “liberal media” is so good at brainwashing the low information voter.

It’s humorous to me to see the growing number of Republicans—perhaps scared off by the vociferousness of the backlash at these town halls—trying to back pedal away from their support of Paul Ryan’s budget.  But Ryan isn’t giving up his Randian dream to quash all those moochers and looters and transfer all the wealth to the supermen for whom Atlas shrugged. He insists to Christiane Amanpour that the deficit will be the main issue of 2012.  Polls and town halls notwithstanding.  Frankly, knowing the Democratic Party tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, I remain cautiously optimistic that Obama is in a position right now to  get Americans to forget the deficit completely in lieu of real job growth.

One of those backing away from Ryan’s plan is Marco Rubio, who refused to say if he supported the Ryan Plan when asked by David Gregory, but then completely made up figures to claim the Ryan budget does something it doesn’t.  And then they complain about liberal misinformation.

And on the subject of low information individuals and misinformation, Michele Bachmann—who has been getting altogether way too much attention for someone who has yet to say anything that hasn’t been widely debunked—was on Fox News Sunday claiming that NATO air strikes ordered by Obama had caused the deaths of up to 30,000 Libyans.  Should you be surprised that she’s completely wrong–again?  The number she quoted came from the US Ambassador to Libya who says that 10-30,000 Libyans have died as a result of battles between rebels and Qaddafi’s forces, not NATO forces.  Pesky details.

Someone else who has a lot to say our efforts in Libya is John “If it’s Sunday, I’m gonna be on TV” McCain.  Not surprisingly, McCain is not very impressed with Obama’s work, saying that he’s taking a backseat to NATO and that he should be ordering MORE air strikes.  Because we need more unnecessary deaths.  And can I just point out that all this cowboy diplomacy coming from the right flies in the face of international law? Exactly how do we win over hearts and minds that way?

And because I simply cannot let go unmentioned the incredibly smooth performances of Obama and Seth Meyers in roasting Donald Trump at the WHCD, let me just highlight Donald Trump’s petulant response the next day.  Calling in to Fox & Friends Sunday, The Donald whined about being the major focus of jokes (I heard some Biden jokes in there too, just sayin’) and resorting to the last refuge of the thin-skinned, insulted Seth Meyers’ delivery, calling him a “stutterer”.   Contrast the high road taken by President Obama at the constant insults and racism and it’s plain to see that even if you didn’t think Trump for President was a joke before, there’s no question it is now.  I also think that it’s high time we liberals start really pushing back on these expressions of white privilege.  It never should have been allowed in the first place and it undermines us all by allowing it unchallenged.

 

 

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Apr 282011
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Allen West with Nicole Sandler (dressed as Palin) 10-31-08

That’s the conclusion I arrived at after telling my entire story on my show this morning.  This sad, pathetic man who hides behind his military badges and his “character” is afraid to talk directly with his constituents at events he has the audacity to call “Town Hall meetings”.

I attended because it was a town hall meeting, so I could ask my congressman a question.  I live in the 22nd district. (Ironically, Congressman West does not.) The event was held at a mega-church, the Calvary Chapel, headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, also NOT in the district.

“Pastor Bob” of the mega-church walked out on stage to thunderous applause from his minions in the audience.  He then regaled us with his great support and whole-hearted endorsement of Congressman West.  That alone should remove the Calvary “Church” from its tax-exempt status.

If you have any doubts about the misogynistic West or his understanding of how the debt/deficit, this clip (courtesy of Think Progress) should tell you all you need to know:

When I arrived, I was informed that all questions had to be written on cards, which would then be chosen and read aloud by West staffers.  Constituents would not be able to speak directly with our congressmen.  Honestly, if they had advertised that it would be a lecture as opposed to a town hall meeting, I would have stayed home.

I spent the first 90 minutes of my show this morning telling my story is great detail.  You can listen to the audio (at the top of this post), or watch the video (posted here, and archived on the video archive page).

The most shocking thing I discovered today is how the arresting officer lied about why he arrested me.  Here’s the arrest report.  Notice how he said I pushed him?

arrest doc (Click on the image to enlarge)

All you need do is watch this video of my arrest (skip the edited part from the “meeting” itself. I’ll give you the real video from that in a moment) to see that I never touched or “pushed” the officer, as he wrote on that report.

Here’s my video of the question about the future of Medicare, and West’s non-answer that prompted me to ask a follow-up question (which, apparently, in West’s world is against the law!)

Thanks to Gary Nelson at CBS4 in South Florida for covering the story with an open mind.

Unlike the slanderous NBC affliliate, who filed this horrible piece of shit that they try to pass off as journalism.

I’ll be on MSNBC tonight – perhaps their Miami affiliate could learn a thing or two about reporting from them – on Cenk Uyger’s show, and likely on The Last Word as well.

I’ll be writing more about this, after discussing it all with my attorney.

Thank you so much for all of your support. It means more to me than words can express…

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Jan 032011
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Here we go. Welcome to the New Year. We certainly have our work cut out for us.

I live in South Florida. Or, I should say, Flori-DUH. This is the state that elected a criminal as our next governor. Rick Scott’s former company Columbia HCA (he built it from the ground-up) paid a record $1.7 billion in fines for Medicare fraud and pleaded guilty to 14 felony charges. Oh yeah, this is going to be interesting times in Florida.

If you thought things couldn’t get much worse, my new Congressman is the one and only Allen West.

I’ll talk Flori-DUH politics and more with Joy Ann Reid of The Reid Report on today’s show.

And, if it’s Monday, it’s Fools on the Hill with Crooks and LiarsNicole Belle.  The Sunday talkers wasted no time kicking off the New Year with propaganda…

The new 112th Congress is right around the corner and the Republicans are jockeying for positions of prominence and to set the tone for the coming congressional session.  And since the Republicans will be in control of the House (just ignore the fact that they didn’t win the Senate and there’s still a Democrat in the White House) the media is only too happy to look to the new Republican bucks to push these corporate narratives.

First up in Chris Matthews & company, all very serious Villagers inside the Beltway.  Their advice to Obama in dealing with new Republican majority?  Ignore your base, punch those hippie liberals and move to the center, baby. Because you know those reasonable Republicans will work with you if you dis your base and work the center.

The thing that’s telling about the clip is that even these Villagers, eager to marginalize the left in any way possible, can’t hide the truth eventually.  Listen carefully, and you’ll hear them dance around the real reason Obama will look better next year: because compared to the Republicans, he’ll look like the reasonable one.

Case in point: Darrell Issa.  Darrell Issa, who has a shady past and has been accused of car theft three times, and who quite Orwellianingly was named the head of the Oversight committee.  Issa, prior to the mid term elections, postured himself as the swaggering he-man that was going to put Obama through the wringers by forcing him to answer to one investigation after.  He went on Rush’s radio program and got so worked up by Rush that he called Obama the most corrupt president in modern times.  He has since walked in back a few times, but still couldn’t pull it together for even a mildly challenging Ed Henry. (It’s a 12 minute video, but he was so ridiculous that it was hard to cut it. )

Here’s my favorite exchanges:

In saying that this is one of the most corrupt administrations, which is what I meant to say there, when you hand out $1 trillion in TARP just before this president came in, most of it unspent, $1 trillion nearly in stimulus that this president asked for, plus this huge expansion in health care and government, it has a corrupting effect.

When I look at waste, fraud and abuse in the bureaucracy and in the government, this is like steroids to pump up the muscles of waste.

HENRY: But first of all, on TARP, that was before the Obama administration. That was pushed through by the Bush administration, not — so how could you call the Obama administration one of the most corrupt ever if the Bush administration pushed TARP through?

ISSA: I was — I wasn’t talking about TARP legislation. What I said…

HENRY: But you said now that that’s what you meant…

And

HENRY: OK, but specifically you also went — went after President Obama in the Joe Sestak case in Pennsylvania and called it “Obama’s Watergate,” and you said it was an impeachable offense. So I know you’re — you seem to be backpedaling now and saying you’re not going after him.

ISSA: Ed, just so you understand…

HENRY: But why did you call…

(CROSSTALK)

ISSA: Just so you understand, you’re misquoting. And it’s very important that we get it right here.

HENRY: No, we found the quotes, and you…

ISSA: What you’ll find is…

(CROSSTALK)

HENRY: In an e-mail, you said…

ISSA: I quoted Dick Morris…

HENRY: Right, that’s who said…

(CROSSTALK)

ISSA: … who had said it was an impeachable event. OK…

HENRY: And an e-mail you put out said it was Obama’s Watergate.

ISSA: OK, so let’s not — let’s not compare the two.

HENRY: Well, but Watergate was impeachable offenses.

(CROSSTALK)

ISSA: Ed — Ed, I came on your show, but don’t create a statement which has to be answered…

Like that Sharron Angle-like response?  “How dare you expect me to be accountable for my words.”  All I can say is it’s going to be a long two years.

Lindsey Graham, who appears to be trying to win back the love of those tea partiers/extreme right wingers who hate him, told David Gregory that he is absolutely unwilling to entertain the notion of raising the debt ceiling unless the US uses this “opportunity” to make austerity cuts to the budget, namely raising the retirement age and means test Social Security and Medicare, essentially turning them into welfare systems, rather than the insurance trusts they were created as.  Of course, he had no problem raising the debt ceiling SEVEN times during the Bush administration.  And what’s worse, is five minutes later Graham said that he thought we should have a permanent presence in Afghanistan.  So we have the money to throw away on a permanent occupation of Afghanistan, but w e can’t be bothered to worry about the seniors here at home?  (I don’t know if you want to use both clips, we can talk about either one or both, depending on your preference).

And then finally, we have the corporate media.  George Will uses the snowpocalypse to say that the biggest problem these metropolitan areas face is public employees unions. Thankfully, Donna Brazile pushed back really well:

BRAZILE: No, they’re the scapegoat, George. I mean, when you start cutting state budgets and city budgets, and you start cutting snowplows, and you start cutting the amount of salt that you have stored, that has a real impact on people’s lives.

This, in a nutshell, is the problem with the how Democrats and Republicans govern. It sounds fiscally responsible to cut costs, to shrink the size of the government when speaking in the abstract. But when something happens, Americans WANT to rely on the government to take care of these necessities. Public employees didn’t cause the “Snowpocalypse”. But the constant drumming to cut costs to the bare bones (and sometimes even whittle those bones down further) shows you the danger of not having the resources when you need it.

And if you really want a laugh:  Judith Miller criticized Julian Assange for not verifying his sources. Pot, meet kettle.

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Nov 162010
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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

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Nov 152010
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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.

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Nov 102010
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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…

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