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Nov 302010
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I’ve been singing this song for a while now.  In GOP land, up is down, in is out, and right is truly wrong.

Unfortunately, the Democrats in power aren’t helping very much to make sense of it either.

Yesterday, in advance of a sit-down with Republican party leaders, President Obama gave them something they’ve been wanting without asking for anything in return.  Seriously.  He just offered up no pay raises for most of the 2 million people who work for the federal government… Yes, middle class workers taking the hit again!

In case you were wondering, the freeze doesn’t affect members of Congress.

The freeze applies to all Executive Branch workers — including civilian employees of the Defense Department, but does not apply to military personnel, government contractors, postal workers, members of Congress, Congressional staffers, or federal court judges and workers.

Lovely.  So, tonight, our spinally-impaired leader meets with incoming Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to do what?  Ask them, pretty please, to let the wealthiest citizens in the world’s wealthiest country to contribute a teeny weeny bit to help dig this nation out of the hole their party got us into in the first place?

One would think that the way to do that would be by bringing a bargaining chip.  But, as he did with the idea of a single payer health care system, President Obama gave it away before the bargaining dinner table was even set.

It’s like how he negotiated during his Thanksgiving basketball game… by getting an elbow to the lip, requiring a trip to the hospital and 12 stitches.

Today, the Pentagon will release the studio on the effects of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and we know what it’ll say.  No big deal.  That’s now how John McCain and his fellow bigots will spin it.  Will the President do something?

The industry in which I’ve worked for 30 years is crying poverty.  I’ve been employed by Clear Channel a number of times; I still do some freelance work for them on a regular basis.  They’ve been making massive cuts in their workforce for the past few years, crying poverty.  But the news broke today that they just signed a 3-year $60 million contract with Ryan Seacrest.

The GOP is now screaming about civil rights!  The party that said ‘go ahead an wiretap me without a warrant! I don’t have anything to hide’ is now complaining about the invasive searches at airport security.  Where were they when Bush formed the biggest new government agency in decades (Homeland Security), and its chief began pushing the porno scanners on us, and then figured out how to make a profit from their sales?

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It’s Tuesday…. and the world is still reeling from the wikileaks cablegate…. not!  If you listen to the administration, perhaps.  But what we have seen are some of the lies, secrets and backroom politics that the administration would like to keep from us.  Truthout‘s Jason Leopold will join me to tell us what more we’ve learned about this document dump.  Perhaps he’ll give us an early look at a big story on Gitmo he’ll be breaking tomorrow.

And in hour two, Gotta Laff from The Political Carnival joins in for our weekly discussion of live in this upside down inside out world.  Here’s some of what we’ll be talking about today…

President Obama once said, “I won”. Say it more often, please.

Democrats with spine: The good news and the bad news

Another terrorist plot foiled due to intel provided by… a Muslim

Sr. citizen on TSA “pat down” experience

Tweet: “Barack can use [whire hangers] if his kids get ‘punished with a baby’”.

Lab test Results: Gulf seafood petroleum residue levels double what FDA says acceptable

And there’s a new Blunt… Don’t TSA me bro…


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Nov 242010
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Ten years ago today, I arrived at the orphanage in Karakastek, Kazakhstan for the last time.  I had been there a number of times in the days before, meeting and bonding with the child who would become my daughter.  On this day, she’d leave with me, to be with me forever.  Ten years ago yesterday, I stood before a judge in Kazakhstan who granted my petition for adoption.  We  call this our “forever day.”  (In case you’re wondering, Sandy was my first baby… of the four legged-variety.  But that’s a story for another day!)

I had meant to re-post the journal I kept here… but life got in the way.  So, for now (until I have time to move it), you can read it here.  You can also watch part 1 of the video I put together about our journey. (Part 2 will have to wait until I can edit it, as Warner Bros. had you tube remove the audio from one section, as I used The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” in one section.)

In the second hour of today’s show, I’ll speak with my friend Robert Lamarche, a gay man who was one of the first to legally adopt in Florida!  And perhaps Alison will join in for a few minutes too.

In the first hour, DownWithTyranny‘s Howie Klein will be my guest to talk about his mind-blowing story about the DCCC and how they decide which candidates to support, and which to ignore.  I guarantee you won’t be thankful about that one!

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Nov 232010
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Yesterday, David Swanson told us that War is a Lie. Today, we see the sad truth that comes out of those lies.

Restrepo, the Grand Jury Prize winner for Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is a feature-length film by photojournalist Tim Hetheringon and journalist/author Sebastian Junger that chronicles the deployment of US troops stationed at one of the most dangerous outposts in Afghanistan.  It’ll premiere Monday night (11/29) at 9pm ET on the National Geographic channel.

Tim Hetherington will be my guest this morning to talk about this new, unvarnished look at the realities of war.

In hour two, Gotta Laff of The Political Carnival joins in to talk about these stories and more:

Nancy Pelosi: Big Girls Don’t Cry, Big Boehners Do (reframing GOP as “unprofessional”… the “unprofessional Right”?)

Sarah Palin 2012, courtesy of cable “news” (plus a little Frank Rich thrown in)

Thom Hartmann: We need a Progressive movement, NOW.

“Outsider” Rick Scott puts GOP insiders, lobbyists on transition team

California GOP is “not just wounded, it’s in a coma” (for fun)

Next Tea Party Target: Corporate America. Yes, really.

TSA forces amputee to remove prosthesis, separates her from 4-year-old son

TSA pat-down leaves bladder cancer survivor covered in urine

The TSA forced a cancer survivor to show her prosthetic breast

A young boy was strip searched by the TSA

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Nov 222010
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It’s Monday… so we’ll visit with Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars as we do every Monday morning for our “Fools on the Hill” segment, recapping the Sunday talking head shows.  And yes, we have a whole crop of new and bigger fools heading for the Hill…and we’ll hear from at least one of them today.

In the first hour, I’ll be joined by my favorite activist, David Swanson, whose new book, War Is A Lie, hits stores today.

This weekend, I participated in a voiceover workshop… and one of the exercises was to write and deliver a rant, in order to help us find our true voice.  Knowing that I’d be speaking with David about his book today, I ranted about the wars…

Over the past nine years, we have spent over $367 billion on the war in Afghanistan, and more than $743 billion on the war in Iraq.

Although most Americans will now admit that Iraq was a giant mistake — we were lied into invading a country who did nothing to us, by a sociopath who wanted to be a “war president” — many otherwise intelligent people still think that invading Afghanistan was the right thing to do because, after all, they attacked us.

Uh, no they didn’t!

We were attached on 9-11 by Al Qaeda.   A senior U.S.  intelligence official, last December, told ABC news that there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan!  But most people don’t know that because the media no longer reports the truth.

So now we’re told we’re still fighting in Afghanistan because of the dangers posed by The Taliban!  Seriously?

I agree that the Taliban are evil people, but who died and made us the police of the world?  We were told that we invaded Afghanistan to avenge the 9-11 attacks  and to get Al Qaeda — not to protect the people of Afghanistan from the Taliban!

It’s the same logic that kept us in Iraq. We invaded Iraq because we were told that they had weapons of mass destruction – aimed directly at us.  They lied and said we were in imminent danger and if we didn’t invade them now, it would be too late when we found ourselves under a mushroom cloud!

Fear worked, and we invaded a country that did nothing to us and posed no threat.  When not a single weapon of mass destruction was found, the reason changed.  Then we were told that we had ridded the world of an evil dictator and that the Iraqi people were much better off.

But that’s not what the Iraqi people say… who’ve lost anywhere from 150 thousand to a million of their friends and family, and who are lucky if they get an hour a day of electricity in their post Saddam Hussein world.

And then there’s OUR most precious treasure, our young men and women sent to fight and die in those wars.

According to icasualties.org, the US has lost 4746 men and women in Iraq, and another 2224 in Afghanistan.  (That was last night. The number could be higher by now.)  We’ve spent over $1 trillion, taken the lives of 6970  American men and women, and left many, many thousands more maimed and broken – physically and mentally, to what end?

Victory? How do you win a war? The only winners are the arms manufacturers and military contractors to whom war is a business, and they get even richer.

For the rest of us, including those screaming about the federal deficit, the trillion dollars and counting we’ve spent killing people on the other side of the planet is being taken from us.  Money that could be better spent on paying teachers, police and firefighters and helping the millions who are unemployed due to the state of the economy–which is this bad, in large part due to the ridiculous amount of money we’re spending to fight these insane wars!

And then there are the families of the almost 7000 men and women who were killed, or the countless others who have to live with their injuries and memories..

There is no way to win a war.  In war, everyone loses.

If you want to follow along with Fools on the Hill today, here are the topics and links to the clips we’ll be discussing, courtesy of Nicole Belle:

Apparently, the media en masse decided that the important story of the week had to do with national security and foreign policy.  That’s my presumption at least, looking at a Sunday morning schedule that included no less than five appearances of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Adm. Mike McMullen.  Personally, I’d love to have a little more of a realistic discussion about Afghanistan, but that is a little too optimistic of these Sunday shows.
But Hillary Clinton did defend the criminal courts trial and conviction (on one of almost 300 counts) of terror suspect Ahmed Ghailani, saying most suspects should get their day in court, as opposed to a military tribunal.
Honestly, I don’t understand the right’s demagoguery of this.  How can you simultaneously hold up our criminal justice system as the best in the world and be afraid to use it with terror suspects?  How is it that our courts are perfectly appropriate venues for Eric Rudolph or Tim McVeigh, but suddenly become unacceptable if the suspect’s first name is Muslim?
But at least that’s better than Rep. John Mica, who thinks we should privatize TSA.  Of course, because adding a profit motive to porno scanners and pat down molestations is bound to make everything better.
Frankly, I’m hoping that the pushback on the TSA’s new procedures sees some modifications to these ridiculous measures.  The choice between getting dosed with radiation (I used to fly constantly for my job.  If I went through those scanners, I would be glowing within a year) or getting felt up by an underpaid and undertrained TSA agent is not making flights any safer.
Meanwhile, David Brooks–ignorant of just how desperate the situation is for many seniors, likens the raising of the age for Social Security to the inconvenience of losing a wisdom tooth.  (On a semi-related note, this Friday, Mike Pence started off his rumored run for the Republican presidential nomination by insisting that people WANT a smaller safety net.  There are just no words for this level of stupidity.)
And then there is my favorite subject of how the media fails us.  And who is the poster child for this kind of egregiousness?  David Gregory on Meet the Press.
Gregory interviewed newly elected (and already controversial) tea party candidate Allen West.  But did he mention any of the violent rhetoric that has surrounded West and his inner circle?  Nah, that would be journalism and Gregory doesn’t play that.
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Nov 182010
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Backscatter

I really don’t know what I’ll do the next time I fly.  I just know that the “security” checks we’re subjected to are invasive and ridiculous.

Have you read John Tyner’s blog?  He’s the guy who spoke those now-legendary words when the TSA flunkie told him how he was going to feel him up.   I’m sure it’s a topic I’ll discuss with John Fugelsang during our regular Thursday morning get-together today.  He’s in Charlotte, NC today, which means he had to fly.  I wonder if he met any new TSA friends?

How did we wind up with these backscatter machines anyway?  Did Congress vote to authorize this latest invasion of our privacy?

I’ve been talking about how we MUST get involved… more than by just signing online petitions.  If the teabaggers can do it, surely we – the “educated elite” can take the initiative to speak out.

Today, in an informative and interactive segment, I’ll be joined by Beth Becker and Neal Rauhauser, a couple of friends who are involved with ProgressiveCongress.org and the new Progressive Congress News site.  They’ll explain to us how to not only keep up on proposed legislation, but to make sure our elected representatives know how we stand on each and every vote they’ll cast.

As you follow along, you’ll want to visit VisibleVote.us and download the correct app for your phone, or bookmark it on your computer.

Our future depends on it!

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Nov 172010
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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.

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