Summary: Featuring guests Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene House and Thistle Farms; J.C. Smith, Outreach and Alumni Program Coordinator for Operation Stand Down Nashville, Elbert Ventura, Managing Editor for the Progressive Policy Institute, and Karl Frisch of Media Matters for America.

Links: Thistle Farms, Operation Stand Down Nashville, Progressive Policy Institute, and Media Matters for America

Faces of Love, Part 1 A quick run down of the news of the week and then we feature representatives from the two organizations we are adopting this holiday season. Listen to our interviews with Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene House and Thistle Farms, and J.C. Smith, Outreach and Alumni Program Coordinator for Operation Stand Down Nashville. [20.3MB download mp3]

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Faces of Love, Part 2 A quick run down of the Senate health care debate. Plus, Elbert Ventura is back! And he’s packing a new website for pragmatic progressives. And Elbert’s replacement, Karl Frisch of Media Matters, issues the smack down on this week’s conservative obstructionist redonkulousness. (He is a very busy man.) And just whose interests are Republican legislators looking out for as they stand in the way of meaningful health insurance reform? [21.3MB download mp3]

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Here at Liberadio(!), we had high hopes after the bittersweet moment of Election Day 2008, where Democrats and progressives were jubilant at the election of President Obama but frustrated at the loss of both state houses of the General Assembly to Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction. Our hopes were high because, despite Tennessee’s electoral contrarianism, we had a pair of Republican Senators who did not seem to take cues from the Inhofe/Palin/Limbaugh/Beck wing of the party.

They were heady days in early 2009, when we saw former Sec. of Education and now Tennessee’s senior U.S. Senator Lamar(!) Alexander join current Sec. of Education Arne Duncan in co-writing an op-ed for The Tennnessean on the importance of improving Tennessee’s charter schools laws. This was meaningful bipartisanship. It was almost—dare we say it?—statesman-like.

It seems to be shrinking. Like the ice caps.

It seems to be shrinking. Like the ice caps.

Our hopes, however, have since been dashed. It was not long before Lamar(!) was using Glenn Beck math in a prelude to boycotting bipartisan committee meetings.

And once he had set foot on the slippery slope of being a member of Republican leadership in an era in which true leadership seems to be in hiding, it wasn’t long before he had slid down into the depths, where he saw fit (with the blessing of advisers?) to repeatedly call Medicaid a “medical ghetto.”

“Or arrogant in its dumping of 15 million low-income Americans into a medical ghetto called Medicaid that none of us, or any of our families, would ever want to be a part of for our health care.”

We’re left wondering whether he feels similarly about all government services, including public education.

Now we discover that he’s “quietly” trying to provoke teabaggers into another wave of astroturf town halls.

We can and should advocate for effective government, but achieving this model must always be done in recognition that there is a group of people, now including Lamar(!), that hate government and want to see it fail. We want to see good governance and a sound legislative process that attracts the best and the brightest to the domain of public policy. We want programs that are well-run so that they serve the American people well. With detractors and obstructionists like Lamar(!) thinking that his family is too good for government services, success is made difficult but not impossible. Fortunately, there are 100 Senators, and Lamar(!), should he choose to stand (a process requiring a spine) for re-election, will be up again in 2014.

We proudly present the 2009 Liberadio(!) Jive Turkey Award to… Lamar! Congratulations, sir. We hope that you and last year’s winner Bill Hobbs will enjoy cigars at the reception. The buffet table will be full of leftovers.

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Faces of Love

On tomorrow’s show we will be joined by representatives of two local non-profits we are offering our support to during the holiday season.

First, Rev. Becca Stevens will tell us about Magdalene House, the residential community for women with a criminal history of prostitution and drug addiction she founded in 1997, and Thistle Farms, the non-profit business operated by the women of Magdalene. HINT: Who doesn’t love sweet-smelling gifts for the holidays?

Watch a short video about Magdalene House:

Read Rev. Stevens’ moving essay, about their Faces of Love project:

I chose the moon as my face of love, because it looks like a wafer hanging over the earth, and it was the biggest expression of love for the sake of the world I could imagine. In September fifty artists and our hosts for this evening gathered at Dyer Observatory to share their face of love images and take pictures for the video. At the end of the evening we were invited to climb the stairs and see Jupiter. I looked into the telescope and for the first time saw the gilean moons of Jupiter, all four moons bigger than our small moon. And, like the countless times before, the face of love expanded beyond my own imagination to encompass a bigger idea. That is how love works. Last year my youngest son, Moses, asked me, “Are you the boss of Magdalene because you thought of it?” “Yes,” I said. “It must have been a big thought.” “No sweetie, it wasn’t.” The community of Magdalene now, this face of love, is bigger and wider than anything any one of us could imagine. This community is the coming together of individual visions into something more powerful and lovely than any single idea. It is why love in community remains the most powerful force for social change in the world.

Next, is J. C. Smith, Outreach Coordinator for Operation Stand Down, the primary nonprofit resource for veterans in Middle Tennessee.

OSD is VA approved and supported. OSD clients are primarily honorably discharged homeless veterans and their ultimate goal is to give veterans in need the tools to rejoin their community as productive, responsible citizens.

The details surrounding homeless Veterans in the area are startling:

The most recent homeless count, conducted by the city of Nashville in January 2009, found 2,157 homeless people in Davidson County. The count did not include homeless in the surrounding counties who also come to OSDN for services. With approximately 30% of the homeless being veterans, at least 647 veterans are homeless in Nashville/Davidson County, with more in the surrounding counties, on any particular night. Our unique partnership with the VA Medical Center and the VA Regional Office allows us to provide more direct, personal social services than any other agency in this area.

As OSDN says, no veteran should be homeless, jobless, or hopeless.

We’re thankful for Rev. Stevens and Mr. Smith and the great work both organizations do for our community. We’re also thankful they have agreed to spend part of their Thanksgiving week with us.

Until tomorrow morning then.

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Summary: Featuring guests Judy Norsigian, Our Bodies Ourselves co-founder and Executive Director; and Karl Frisch of Media Matters for America.

Links: Our Bodies Ourselves, Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research, Media Matters for America

A Black Eye, Part 1 The intro, the end of the world on celluloid, recounts possibilities (or impossibilities), Republican hypocrisy in Sumner County, plus the Media Matters for American Smackdown with Karl Frisch, in which he packs a whole lot of Sarah Palin in a short time. [38.3MB download mp3]

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A Black Eye, Part 2 A really big “oopsie” followed by a whole lotta backpedaling by Tennessee’s U.S. Senators Alexander and Corker, political performance art by Palin and her friends insults truth, justice and the American way, more health insurances woes keep us from the American dream, and our interview with Judy Norsigian, a hero of the women’s movement. [36MB download mp3]

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Yesterday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) “investigate whether Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) violated House rules by organizing and holding a November 5th rally on the U.S. Capitol grounds to oppose a health care reform bill.”

CREW contends that Rep. Bachmann misused her official congressional website by urging people to come to the Capitol to protest the legislation despite House rules restricting members from using their websites to engage in “grassroots lobbying or solicit support for a Member’s position.” Rep. Bachmann’s website urged people to come to the Capitol rally “and tell their Representatives to vote no” on the health care reform bill.

Hrm….”urged people to come to the Capitol rally” on her website. Now where have I read that before? Oh yeah! At the website Tennessee Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn built with taxpayer dollars to serve her constituents! And at the website Tennessee Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn built with taxpayer dollars not to lobby for or against any particular legislation or legislative position. From Congressman Blackburn’s website:

“From all over the country, people are coming to let Speaker Pelosi know that they are opposed to her massive new health care bureaucracy. If you can make it to Washington, you should. If you are already coming to Washington, please let me know. The event will begin at Noon on the Capitol steps.”

Hey Office of Congressional Ethics and CREW, when you get done with investigating Congresswoman Bachmann for this ethics violation, you might want to take a gander a little further south to Tennessee Congressional District 7.

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The Memphis Flyer gets it. When the judge “declined last week to issue the injunction sought by plaintiffs trying to force the hand of stonewalling state election authorities,” he potentially signed a death warrant for the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act – and secure and accurate elections for Tennesseans.

Without such an injunction, it seems clear that Secretary of State Tre Hargett and state Election Coordinator Mark Goins will attempt to run the clock out until January when the legislature convenes again. And the Republican majorities in both houses, fully alert now to how the game is being played, will pick up where they left off in the 2009 legislative session. That was when, on the eve of the General Assembly’s adjournment, they tried to vote a postponement of the act’s provisions until after the 2010 election cycle but narrowly failed to do so, essentially because a handful of key GOP members happened to be elsewhere on the day of the vote.

That oversight will be corrected in January, when party discipline will rule the day. The reality is that Democrats want the TVCA in effect for the 2010 election cycle and the Republicans don’t. The GOP will have the votes, and all that remains to be seen is whether the act is merely postponed or amended or quashed altogether.

Tennesseans deserve to secure and accurate elections – the kind that we can’t get now because the voting machines we use simply do not work.

The TVCA will replace the broken system we have now – where a machine votes for us under cover of a secret black box – with one in which we have a piece of paper that actually records the intent of each voter correctly – and which we can rely on for recounts and audits.

Why are they still dragging their feet?

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Is Blackface Ever OK?

The Daily Show’s Larry Wilmore answers the question, “Is Black Face Ever OK?” The quick answer? “If you wake up and your black face is smudged on your pillow, it’s not OK.” Just thought we should know.

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“I can’t believe this is happening in the age of Obama…Oh, I know. Hold up. Is this why you voted for him? To give yourselves cover, huh? Obama’s that convenient black friend every white person has to have to prove they’re not racist, right? ‘I voted for a black man. We’re square. Get me my shoe polish.’”

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Tonight at 6:00 PM, in honor of our veterans, the Davidson County Democratic Party, along with Rep. Janis Sontany and Council Lady Anna Page, will host their annual Veterans Day pot luck dinner.

The event will be held the Coleman Regional Community Center, 384 Thompson Lane (intersection of Thompson Ln and Nolensville Rd) in Nashville, TN.

The event is free but space is limited so please RSVP to 354-5400 or!

So please join Rep. Janis Sontany, Council Lady Anna Page and the DCDP Executive Committee as they honor our veterans and enjoy a delicious potluck dinner.

Happy Veterans Day!

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Yesterday, via linking to a post by Goldni, I asked Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN, the Fightin’ 5th!) to explain his vote for the Stupak Amendment. Last night, I received his answer:

“Health reform would simply not have passed without the Stupak Amendment. The Speaker of the House made this deal, and she is one of the strongest Pro-Choice members of the House. I think this just underscores how important this issue was to the passage of the bill. The health care bill only passed by two votes. Going forward, we need to better define the status quo regarding the Hyde Amendment because that is what most members support.

The reform bill does contain the most important health improvements for women in history, including bringing more women into a heath care system that includes reproductive health benefits. I continue to support affordable birth control and a woman’s freedom to choose, and I hope that we can make progress on these issues in the future with the Senate version of health reform.”

Thanks, Coop (He lets us call him that. OK, no he doesn’t.) for both your “Yes” vote for H.R. 3962, the health insurance reform legislation, and for the explanation of your Stupak Amendment vote.

Now, I’m satisfied with Congressman Cooper’s answers regarding his Stupak Amendment vote. I understand, however, that some are not. I understand that some still take issue with the way in which this vote went down.

Not me.

Instead, I take issue with those who were on the front line of this debate decades ago – when the term “pro-life” was first used – for scrambling to find a different term to describe their position instead of standing up and screaming, “How dare you! The definition of ‘pro-life’ doesn’t begin and end where you say it does, buster. I’m ‘pro-life.’ You’re ‘pro-life.’ We’re ALL ‘pro-life.’ Now stop being a dumbass and let’s work on ways in which we can eliminate the underlying reasons why women seek to have abortions in the first place. Hello? Lack of age-appropriate public school sex education? Hello? Lack of affordable contraception? Hello? Poverty? Hello? Lack of affordable child-care options? Hello? Hello? Hello?

The Stupak Amendment and the strangle-hold it had over the health insurance reform debate is a direct result of elected officials giving up the practical moral high-ground on this issue a long, long, LONG time ago. We reap what we sow.

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Zach Wamp: Extremist

Sean Braisted analyzes some recent missives from the gubernatorial candidacy of Zach Wamp and asks, is Zach Wamp offering Tennessee “a style of conservatism that alienates anyone in this state who doesn’t hate everyone who disagrees with them?” That would be a big 10-4, good buddy.

Somehow I’ve managed to get on all the major Republican e-mail lists, and so it goes that today Zach Wamps sends out email touting an upcoming fundraiser hosted by Nashville’s biggest douche-bag John Rich and the self-described “Redneck Woman” Gretchen Wilson. In addition, he is touting the pseudo-support of national rightwing blogger Erick Erickson of Red State:

Erick Erickson, the Editor-in-Chief of the nationally acclaimed conservative blog RedState, wrote an analysis of the Tennessee Governor’s race and said Zach “is a conservative and would govern conservatively.”

In his article, Erickson trashed popular Republican officials like Lamar Alexander and Howard Baker, saying:

For the longest time Tennessee has elected squishy moderates state wide. Howard Baker was conservative, but in a “compromise his mother to advance his goal” sort of way. Arguably Lamar Alexander is even worse, refusing to do anything that does not advance bipartisanship, even at the expense of core conservative goals. Hell, Alexander is not even and does not consider himself to be, a conservative.

Could you imagine a Tennessee Democrat so gleefully touting the endorsement of someone like Markos Moulitsas? Erickson has compared Linda Douglass to Joseph Goebbels and urged Conservatives to beat elected officials to a bloody pulp for regulating dish soap.

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