Our Best to Ron Kuby

I have let too much time go by without noting that Ron Kuby’s show on Air America has been cancelled. AA says that they have a place for Ron, but no indication yet what it is.

I was a podcast subscriber and could not take a long road trip without downloading a few hours of Ron’s work. Kuby’s show had the same smart approach to current events that marked Rachel Maddow and Al Franken’s radio time. He combined that with call-ins from fans and unfans to make an entertaining, topical three hours.

Kuby is a thinking liberal, a Jayhawk radical turned Ivy Leaguer, turned criminal defense attorney, turned radio talk show host. He is one of the smartest people on radio and definitely top of the Air America lineup, which suffers from too many blowhards and empty headed radicals. I love the idea of Air America but if they can’t keep talent like Ron Kuby on the air they need to rethink what they are doing.

Best, Ron. Hope to hear more soon.

Bye Bye Bernie (For Now at Least)

Bernie Madoff’s 150 year sentence is exactly what he deserves. It is highly unusual for anyone with his money and connections to get such a stiff sentence, and it is still possible he will get out of jail free.

Our history of sentencing white collar criminals over the last 30 years is pretty thin. Andrew Fastow, second banana at Enron, got 37 months for helping to bilk thousands of stockholders, many of whom were his own employees, out of millions and millions of dollars. His boss, Ken Lay was never sentenced because he conveniently died.

Neil Busch paid a $50,000 settlement fee for stealing over $4 million from Silverado Savings and Loan. His brother Jeb was never charged for a fraudulent $4.5 million loan from Broward Federal Savings and Loan, which he never repaid.

The king of them all (Before Bernie) Charles Keating, stole millions and millions from pensioners by telling them that their investments in the bonds issued by Lincoln Federal Savings and Loan were federally insured. He was sentenced to 10 years on a state charge, but it was overturned because of a flawed jury instruction given by Judge Lance Ito (the same judge who presided over the OJ Simpson circus). Keating was given 12 years by a federal court, also overturned for technical reasons. In short Keating served only 4.5 years and can still claim he is completely innocent. (He actually claims he was railroaded by a vindictive government, which had caused his failure.)

One factor contributing to the stiff sentence for Madoff may also be the lack of any action taken against anyone else involved in the current market meltdown. (Robert Alan Stanford, with a $50 billion Madoff look-alike scheme, and a couple of other small Ponzi operations excepted.) No one from Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Freddie and Fannie no one from Country Wide. No significant actions in the offing.

Will Bernie go down for their sins, or rise again on the third day?

Stunner: The 'State Secrets Privilege' Is Based On A Big Pile Of Crap

This American Life episode called “Origins” is fascinating (as usual). It is in “Act Two: The Secret Life of Secrets” that we learn that the “state secrets” privilege, upon which the federal government claims it can withhold information if it deems it necessary for national security, is based on a big fat steaming pile of poo.

The piece tells the story of Judy Lother, a Boston suburban housewife whose father was killed in the crash of a B-29 Superfortress in 1948 in Norcross, Georgia. From the Wiki:

Their widows brought an action in tort seeking damages in federal court, under the Federal Tort Claims Act. As part of this action, they requested production of accident reports concerning the crash, but were told by the Air Force that the release of such details would threaten national security. Because of the failure of the government to produce the documents, a directed verdict in favor of the plaintiffs was granted by the trial court. The judgment was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The United States Supreme Court reversed the decision, and remanded it to the trial court.

By overturning the decision, SCOTUS recognized state secrets privilege for the first time ever. They also assumed that there was some classified information in the accident reports regarding the top-secret stuff that was on that aeroplane at the time that would jeopardize national security were it released.

But there wasn’t.

Curious about her father’s fate, Judy Lother began to use this thingie called “the Internet.” Eventually, she came across the now-declassified accident reports, which referred to a top-secret project on that aeroplane, but which did not reveal an iota of the data therein. (Her testimony before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties of the House Judiciary Committee, January 29, 2008: PDF or View as HTML)

So, you see, even the Supreme Court precedent that recognized “state secrets” is based on a big fat lie. Ain’t that somethin’?

There is movement afoot right now in committee to reform this pile of crap. For an explanation, please see Leahy’s news release here and Kennedy’s here. This does appear to be a decent attempt to tighten up a segment of law that has been way to sloppily managed for too long.

And, oh, yes: The Heritage Foundation hates it. Heh.

That's the Way God Planned It

Hal Sparks guest-hosting for Stephanie this morning offered a fascinating Michael Jackson bit today: You know the chorus in “Smooth Criminal?” “Annie are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?” You know where he got that?

Ever take a CPR course?

When I remember where I was when I first heard about Michael Jackson’s death, I will remember just being in my little kitchen trying to busy myself while waiting for the arrival of PB for the weekend. That is all. I switched on the kitchen TV for a little Hardballs. And I yelped at the headline.

I don’t know why. His death at 50 should be no surprise—a person who voluntarily has 5/8 of his head’s cartilage removed isn’t going to live to be 95. I have always believed that Jackson angered the Muses by scarfing up the Beatles’ catalog, and that all of his misfortune can be attributed to their wrath upon him. At any time, had Jackson simply returned the catalog free of charge to Sir Paul, his boils would disappear, his wealth would return, his schnoz would grow back, and he would have a brand new family to boot.

I listened intently to “Thriller.” I was in junior high school when it was released, and it and Talking Heads’ “Speaking in Tongues” were in high rotation on my turntable. It is one of the most comprehensively good collections of music ever produced. This is a scientific fact.

But still, I don’t understand why people weren’t this bent out of shape when Billy Preston died. (I sure was.)

Now, as Papa Bonk has indicated: Can we get back to the news? Please?

Note to Hal Sparks: No, no, Hal. Michael Jackson had a hyperbaric chamber. CONGRESS has a hyperbolic chamber. Two of them, actually…

RIP Michael. Don't let the Door Hit You in the Ass on the Way Out

Michael Jackson. One of a kind. Icon. Artist. Pedophile. RIP. We have to note his passing, and it is worthy of a news headline because of his age, his career, and his attempt to come back. Maybe ten minutes. But two hours of Keith Olberman’s time? Endless cable coverage? Come On. This is the biggest waste of valuable air time since they tried to canonize the Raygunner. I shudder to think about how much time they will spend on MJ’s funeral.

Two other icons of my youth died this week. Ed McMahon, a mainstay of the greatest talk show of all time (Johnny Carson should be a canonized national treasure). Farah Fawcett was just smoking hot, the first female action hero and a major influence in the fashion choices of the time. They both got good send-offs, including, in Farah’s case, a death watch appropriate to her condition.

Give Ed and Farah five minutes maximum. Maybe 10 minutes for Michael only because it was not expected. That’s plenty. Get back to the real business of the news. What is going on in Iran? Will Congress ever investigate the criminal activities of that moron our former president? Who is the Argentinian hottie? Is she really a cousin to Evita? (OK I made that up.) Will the federal government ban mowing of highway medians? There is work to be done!!


As I went through my ablutions this morning, I thought to myself, self, you should really include in your blog posting that there’s no way in hell any man flies to Argentina on a whim unless he’s following his penis.

But I didn’t. I mean, I mean, I all but said it. But I didn’t. Woulda shoulda coulda.

You know, I think it’s time for the Republigoats to codify their actual stance on extra-marital kertanging into their platform—preferably right after “Protecting Our Families” and “Preserving Our Values,”* as follows.

Fucking Around on Our Wives
It’s okay for Republicans to fuck around on their wives. It’s not okay for Democrats to fuck around on their wives. If a Democrat gets caught fucking around on his wife, Republicans are allowed to run him of office and to use the event to disparage and smear the Democratic Party ad infinitum.** If a Republican gets caught fucking around on his wife, he may resign a token post but remain in power, provided he appears at a press conference, preferably but not necessarily with said humiliated wife, and that he appear to be sorrowful about fucking around on his wife. He must also utilize at least one mention of the sweet blessed name of Jesus or several pithy Bible quotes. Once this deed is accomplished, the Republican receives the GOP Medal of Freedom and a certificate for three free lap dances*** Rob Roy cocktails at Camelot Show Bar.

Such a platform change would certainly be more honest and would make things much easier on our poor friends in the GOOP.

* Actual planks of the GOOP’s 2008 Republican Platform.
** Every Republigoat I have ever met still thinks that blue dress and/or cigar jokes are funny.
*** Taxation Without Representation: Lap dances are illegal in the District of Columbia.


But there is something to bear in mind regarding Sanford’s incredible press conference of the day: It was little more than a distraction.

Sanford did far worse to his state than he did to his beleaguered wife and family. He abandoned South Carolina. For an entire workweek. One of the arguments the Monigators made was that Bill Clinton’s affair might have caused him to be derelict in his duties. Sanford’s affair clear-cut made him derelict in his duties.

Shit, South Carolina’s Constitution doesn’t even set the threshhold at “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

SECTION 1. Power of impeachment; vote required; suspension of officer impeached.

The House of Representatives alone shall have the power of impeachment in cases of serious crimes or serious misconduct in office by officials elected on a statewide basis, state judges, and such other state officers as may be designated by law. The affirmative vote of two-thirds of all members elected shall be required for an impeachment. Any officer impeached shall thereby be suspended from office until judgment in the case shall have been pronounced, and the office shall be filled during the trial in such manner as may be provided by law. (1970 (56) 2680; 1971 (57) 48.)

Not showing up for work for a week is most certainly “serious misconduct.”

If you don’t believe it, try it yourself sometime.

I was going to write that, if they don’t impeach this guy, impeachment doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Then I remembered that, thanks to Nance Pelosi and friends, actually, it doesn’t.



At first glance, the recent story about the five-day disappearance of Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina seems to be simply weird and vastly overplayed. Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer has passed on that Sanford is “somewhat taken aback by all of the interest.” On its surface, that is the sort of story this seems like, that of a famished 24-hour news cycle on the prowl for dinner, much ado about nothing and golly gee shucks, the man just went hikin’ for goodness sake.

At least that’s what I thought before I went to sleep last night. This morning, Sanford says he spent a week in Argentina.

The thing is, though, well, how do I put this…you know when you were a kid, and your mama would ask you, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” If she asked you that question and you lied to her about where you actually had been, why did you lie?

Because you were up to something you knew you shouldn’t be up to.

Among other reasons, this is why the Sanford story has legs. It’s not something he’s going to be able to wriggle out easily. Aside from the more obvious questions: Who did Sanford expect to govern the state while he was out of touch? Should someone who would leave the ship of state untended for a week be allowed to steer? Why did he use a state car to drive to the airport? Did he leave an armed car in an airport parking lot? Yada, yada, yada.

Besides these specific questions, there is a general sense that, if one lies about one’s whereabouts, that may mean one was up to no good wherever he was. This is not going to shake out well for the famous would-be stimulus rejector.


At least as far back as January 29, 2007, we here at Ketchup Is A Vegetable, a subsidiary of Crack Whores for Good Government and the Serious Poo-Poo Institute of Technology, have been asking an essential question regarding the future of liberal talk radio: “AAR, an entire network concerned with public policy and you’ve not got any single solitary presence in the Nation’s Capital?”

Noting today that, not only has AAR launched a new terrestrial radio presence in the D.C. Metro area (WZAA, 1050 a.m.), but that AAR refers to WZAA as a “flagship” station and has swallowed its pride to once again broadcast “The Randi Rhodes Show” from that venue, extrememly appropriate since Rhodes now broadcasts from Washington.

Sometimes, a good idea gets through.

All Nostalgic For Nonthinking Swagger

Lawrence O’Donnell is becoming one of my very favorite people.

On The Group yesterday morning, O’Donnell all but echoed the old Ackroyd line: “Monica Crowley, you ignorant slut…” She was of course highly critical of President Obama’s handling of the situtation in Iran. At her blog, she refers to his actions as “…tepid, weak, and equivocal.” She could not, however, provide specifics as to what she’d have the President actually say about the situation that he hasn’t already said, even when directly challenged to do so by O’Donnell.

Crowley is no doubt feeling the bitter pangs of nostalgia for a time when the immediate past president would use phrases such as “evil-doers” and “bring them on” and “crusade,” and who invaded a sovereign, secular nation without true provocation. Ah, those were the days. Sigh.

Funny thing is, belief that President Obama has been right on the money regarding Iran isn’t just some liberal fawning. Buchanan thinks so. George Will thinks so, too, as does Henry Kissinger.

You know why? Because Obama has been right-on about Iran. A cooler head will prevail here. The minute the American President gets squarely in Mousavi’s corner is the minute the clerics have all the ammunition they need. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that the likes of Crowley and twice-failed presidential candidate John McWeirdsmile don’t recognize wise statesmanship when it comes out of the White House. The only thing that seems to impress these folks is a big “yippy-kai-yay motherfucker!”