Archive for April, 2008


Petition to nominate Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize




Why a Nobel Peace Prize for Pete?

Eleanor Walden, 2007

Pete Seeger is an ambassador for Peace and Social Justice and has been over the course of his 88-year lifetime. Using his prowess as a musician he worked to engage other people, from all walks of life and across generations, in causes to build a better and more civilized world: His work shows up wherever you look in the history of labor solidarity, growth of mass effort to end the Vietnam war, ban of nuclear weapons, work for international diplomacy, support of the Civil Rights Movement, for cleaning up the Hudson River and for environmental responsibility in general. Pete knit the world together with songs from China, the Soviet Union, Israel, Cuba, South Africa and Republican Spain. We learned that Crispus Attucks, born a slave, was the first man to die at the opening of the Revolutionary War, that the Farmer-Labor party in the mid-west had a socialist philosophy that lasted well into the 20thcentury, we learned that anti-slavery movements were often inspired by songs that indicated a map of escape, such as “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd,” he popularized many of the IWW songs that helped in CIO organizing, and spread the Civil Rights Movement through promoting the SNCC Freedom Singers and making songs such as “We Shall Overcome,” known all over the world.

When subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in August of 1955, at the height of the McCarthy period, Pete defended himself on the basis of the First Amendment, the right of an American citizen to free association, not the Fifth Amendment, protection against self incrimination. When he was boycotted from earning a living and practicing his craft on a national scale Pete appeared at union meetings, summer camps, Jr. High Schools, High Schools, and Colleges. His pay at times was as little as $5, but his value was priceless!

Pete also had his mentors: among them Paul Robeson, who said: “The Artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery…” It is time that a cultural worker receives the acknowledgement that, as Bertolt Brecht points out, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” The cultural workers who know the power of the arts for social and political change, also know how difficult it is to gain recognition for cultural creation without either trivializing the art or somehow qualifying for designation of “high art” by an elite. Pete Seeger always held to the principals that people’s music is not only “good art” but is representational art through music. That reality often refers to the conditions of exploitation and oppression that were apparent to formally uneducated folk. Thus “folk music” was not cute or quaint or obsolete, but through Pete, a living, vibrant form of culture.

Pete is again the Pied Piper of an historic environmental movement. When I was a child in New York City the Hudson River was an open sewer, GE alone pumped a million pounds of PCB’s into it. Pete developed the idea for the Sloop Clearwater, modeled after Hudson fishing vessels in the 19th century when the river supplied fresh fish for people from Albany to Manhattan; he suggested having song festivals along the river banks to bring attention to cleaning up the river. Of course the idea was derided by everybody except those who knew Pete; he said, “You can’t expect people to fight for a cleaner river until they learn to love it.” People learned to love the idea that there were things they could do to clean the river. They pitched in, they cleaned the river, now there is a floating pool where children can swim and the Shad and Sturgeon are edible again. In a segment of the otherwise brutal sitcomLaw and Order on CBS a character says, “The Hudson River’s clean now, thanks to Pete Seeger!”

Culture, in essence, means to honor our forbears. In the words of the Eastern European writer Milan Kundera: “the struggle for people’s power is the struggle for memory and against forgetting”. Pete’s talent, sense of decency, and inalterable belief in, as Anne Franke said, that, “at heart, people are basically good”, were uniquely his, but he has never been alone in his work; the support of his wife Toshi and his family gave him the opportunity to be all he could be. We all stand on Pete Seeger’s shoulders in a manner of speaking. We share Pete Seeger as a “father” of cultural, social, and political movements, as much as we share our parental DNA.

It is time that cultural work receives the recognition that the arts have great influence and global reach, that it is not only a medium of entertainment but of education, compassion and action. It is the desire of the committee that Pete Seeger be recognized as a beacon of integrity and principle in a time, and in a country, more defined by the absence of those qualities than by their honor.

Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep from Singing?


I would say that Pete Seeger has had a profound influence on my own life, on the impact that one can have as an artist on society; on each of us taking personal responsibility to make a difference. I grew up in an artistic and musical family, discussing politics, current events, books and ideas at the dinner table. My parents are artists and political activists, and when they were younger, they had given Fred Hellerman from The Weavers rides up to the Catskills when he otherwise couldn’t afford to get there on his own steam. My mom worked on political fund-raisers with the likes of Mary Travers and others over the years in NY. I literally cut my teeth listening to Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, and folk music in general, along with classical music.

I have seen Pete Seeger many times. He has always used his concert appearances as an opportunity to promote causes. I remember seeing him in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow when he began his campaign to clean up the Hudson River with the Sloop Clearwater, and singing an infectious and memorable Guantanamera at a concert rally at a church in Cambridge, MA for the United Farm Workers when I was a picket captain for them (I’d been picketing and raising awareness for anti UFW union-busting since I was in High School).

He understood, profoundly, how to elevate people’s troubles and struggles to music, thus elevating the discourse and people’s spirits. He understands the grass roots nature of all political and social justice movements. He has remained true to his vision all these years. I’ve seen the recent documentary about his life Pete Seeger:The Power of Song twice, it is so uplifting. I highly recommend it. Pete Seeger fearlessly stands up for his beliefs and challenges the rest of us to do the same. I enthusiastically endorse nominating him for a Nobel Peace Prize. He is one of a kind, an American treasure, a true leader!


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Senator John Kerry speaking at the Third Annual Three Towns & Two Cities Breakfast, 4/12/08.

Senator John Kerry speaking at the Third Annual Three Towns & Two Cities Breakfast, 4/12/08.
Image: Nancy Weinberg.

Today, the Senate conducted a Commerce Committee hearing about the future of the Internet. It’s important for the committee to hear from us! Kerry has asked for our input. I saw my Senator at the “Third Annual Three Towns & Two Cities Breakfast” up in Newburyport a week or so ago. His challenger, Ed O’Reilly was one of the invited speakers, so he had an incentive to come out and speak with us. He spoke for about half an hour and then took another half hour of questions from the floor. Although some important issues were brought up (voting machine problems, impeachment, etc), unfortunately, Net Neutrality NEVER CAME UP and Kerry did not think to speak about it. I wish that our elected officials would do a better job of coordinating their activities to give their constituencies opportunities for input into these issues before the last minute. Kerry missed a great opportunity! (Looking at his past fundraising and actions regarding Media, it’s easy to understand his ambivalence at being too outspoken on these issues. This is one of the places where issues of money in politics overlaps media issues.) To give Kerry credit, he has recently been getting more vocal about these issues:

Kerry to FCC: We Weren’t Bluffing

Kerry Challenges Martin
















Ironically, everyone is able to wait until the last minute by utilizing the Internet as the main notification tool! This is an apt example of something that might be lost in future without an open internet. The company selling you internet service might be able to (legally) censor what information comes your way. There have already been some battles over content control and censorship by Verizon, Comcast and others. (Also see Senate Committee Tackles Net Neutrality Today, from Infoworld 4/22/08)

Many of us take the openness of the internet for granted. If it were not for the internet, I’m not sure in how much worse shape this country would be (can it be worse? The economy in a meltdown, our civil liberties eroded, infrastructure crumbling…) all of the grassroots organizing, fundraising, dissemination of information, would be much more difficult. We must work to keep “Net Neutrality” – the openness and evenhandedness of the internet. As Comcast and other large corporations have demonstrated (Homeless? Comcast Will Pay to Attend FCC Hearings & John Kerry: They Took Your Seat), they want to carve up the internet more and more, controlling speed, innovation (or lack thereof), content, access and keep an iron grip so they can make even more billions $$$.

Comcast pays seat-fillers to keep public out of Feb. FCC Net-Neutrality Hearing

There was a second FCC hearing last week- April 17th- on Internet “Net Neutrality” at Stanford, which was quickly scheduled after the embarrassing fiasco of a hearing in Cambridge in February. Stanford Law Professor (and founder of the Center for Internet and Society) Lawrence Lessing spoke eloquently on the need to maintain a free and open internet. I recommend that you watch the videos of the hearing. Not surprisingly, the big telecommunication companies (Comcast, Verizon, etc) boycotted the event. The big companies are always looking for ways to charge more, for example for faster speed and extra features, and control more – not to mention the blocking that they’ve already been caught doing. This would squelch innovation and true competition. The big companies would become “gatekeepers” much as the big companies owning the rest of the media -like radio and TV- are gatekeepers blocking access for those who don’t support their agendas. Lessig also gave testimony at today’s Senate Hearing.

Besides today’s Senate hearing, a bipartisan group of five Congresspeople introduced legislation March 14, 2008 to overturn the recent December FCC ruling allowing even more cross-media consolidation, and there is a Senate Resolution of Disapproval S.J. Res. 28 as well. The ACLU has also written a letter to the Senate about the resolution.

[Update from FreePress.net: Today (4/24/08), the Senate Commerce Committee passed a “resolution of disapproval” that would veto the Federal Communications Commission’s latest attempt to dismantle longstanding media ownership limits. Last December, the FCC voted to remove the longstanding “newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership” ban that prohibits one company from owning a broadcast station and the major daily newspaper in the same market. The ruling still must pass muster in the federal court that reversed the FCC’s previous attempt to lift media ownership limits in 2003.

But the Senate is intervening right away. The resolution of disapproval (Senate Joint Resolution 28), introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) in early March, serves as a “legislative veto.” If passed by Congress and signed by the president, it would nullify the FCC’s new rules.

Today’s vote follows news that Murdoch’s News Corp. is close to completing a $580 million deal to purchase the Long Island daily Newsday from Tribune Company. News Corp. already controls the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and two TV stations in the New York market — and the new deal would violate longstanding media ownership limits.

The legislation has 25 bipartisan co-sponsors including Commerce Committee ChairmanDaniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Sens. John Kerry(D-Mass.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The Senate had 60 legislative days to pass the resolution from the time Congress was notified about the rule in late February. Last month, a House version of the resolution — which is not limited by the legislative shot clock — was introduced by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Dave Reichert (R-Wash.).

Permitting further media consolidation goes against the core values the agency was created to protect,” said Joseph Torres, government relations manager of Free Press. “The FCC did not heed the overwhelming public opposition to its decision. The Senate appears to be listening.”]

I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea that my ability to speak my mind to whoever wants to hear is a matter of corporate grace rather than constitutional right, and I suspect other Americans will feel equally uncomfortable if the FCC abandons its responsibilities and fails to act.”


For more information, articles, video and actions you can take, check out:

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From Robert Greenwald:

Air America’s Sam Seder has a chance to take over the time slot created by Randi Rhodes’s departure.  It was just about a year ago that Air America made the foolish decision to move Seder from a daily show to Sundays; he a vital progressive voice on the radio, one that should be heard  daily.  No one fuses humor with political insight quite like Sam.

Sign our petition to bring Sam Seder back into Air America’s daily lineup

Sam has the right mix of serious politics, great interviewing skills, intelligence, humor and rightful indignation about his subjects. I know that Sam has been a great champion of both exposing important issues to the light of day and inspiring activism. He, of all the hosts who started on Air America, really came into his own and flourished. He has truly built a community (even though everything was stacked against him, as his various shows kept getting moved around, cancelled, diminished). Isn’t this part of what the network should be striving for? Loyal, devoted listeners who will listen to the network all day? I believe that the network takes him for granted, and us (the listeners) for granted. Please help give Sam the real chance he deserves, with real support from the network! Sign the petition and send them email:



Sam Seder fills in for Randi Rhodes last October!

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Excerpts below from 4/11 post by Jill http://brilliantatbreakfast.blogspot.com  about Air America, entitled: Why I miss Air America, and why this week just makes it worse. I really could not say this any better myself. Check out the entire post at her blog!

I miss the original Air America. Creative, smart, enthusiastic, experimental, funny, edgy, real…

Again, support the idea of a 5 day a week show for Sam Seder by writing to Air America:  pcollins@airamerica.com


“… what Air America has meant to me, and to people like me, over the past four years, is something that I don’t think the parade of ants in suits who have marched through its offices during that time have ever really understood.     

…In those early days, Air America had a kind of “Hey, kids, let’s put on a radio network!” feel to it as the various shows fumbled their way towards some kind of cohesiveness. 

…With an on-air stable of talent that included few people with any actual radio experience, we were able to listen to their on-the-job training. This was not everyone’s cup of tea, as it often resulted in things like listening to Janeane Garofalo screeching or playing out her issues with her conservative father Carmine on our time. But it was new, and it was fresh, and it was different, and damn it, it finally spoke to US — after a decade that saw mindless grinning mouthbreathers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz and Mark Levin suck up all the AM frequencies.

…Because Arbitron never takes into account web streaming and podcasting, it’s impossible to know how many people were actually listening, but it was a lot more than the conventional meme of “Progressive Radio Fails Because No One Wants It” would have you believe.

…Air America has been plagued by bad management since day one, and it’s the company’s employees, the on-air talent, and the audience that have paid the price. What far too few of the incarnations of Air America management have understood is what a life preserver the network has been to those of us who have had our eyes open through the horror that has been the Bush years. I realize that for the suits in the executive suite, it’s about delivering eardrums to advertisers, but these nimrods that have marched through this company over the past four years, stuck in an era when it’s all about the AM ears, have never realized that Air America’s audience has been just as much about streaming and podcasts as AM radio. They have never understood that the audience was not only far larger than they realized, but also ferociously loyal; but loyal not to “the corporation” but to the bigger concept of progressive talk radio, and to the on-air talent that brought the news, the perspective, and the funny to our ears.

… it’s rare that radio personalities make themselves as accessible to listeners as these two men [Marc Maron and Sam Seder] have. 

… Sam Seder is another story entirely. …Seder worked hard, improved his delivery, did his homework, and created his own style and his own following via his web site. No one can ever say that Sam Seder hasn’t played well with others. When they cancelled The Majority Report, he moved seamlessly to the morning slot. [when they replaced his morning show with Lionel] Seder kept his mouth shut, moved to his Sunday wasteland, and took his community with him.

…Over the last year, SamSederShow.com has become an online community in its own right, and on Tuesdays Seder and Marc Maron do a VODcast that provides a single hour of sanity for those of us who wake up every goddamn day wishing the old Air America was still around. Sam Seder is a good and decent man who has done nothing but bleed Air America blue for the last four years. He fills in when he’s asked to, often at a moment’s notice. He hasn’t once complained. When he had to find out via Instant Messenger that his employer had once again kicked him in the teeth by choosing someone else to keep the 3-6 PM slot warm next week, you never heard him complain on the air. 

…None of these guys [the corporate suits] get that progressive talk radio cannot simply be about getting people to buy John Cammuta’s latest get rich quick scheme or some cream to make your dick bigger or some other cream that’s guaranteed to get rid of the bags under your eyes if you just give them your credit card number so they can charge you every month. 
…No, it’s about the community. It’s about the unique bond that these radio novices created with those who listen to them.

It’s not about money, it’s about people. It’s about sustaining a community in an alienated world. 

Morning Sedition has been gone for over two years, and I miss it every single day. Sam Seder’s show often doesn’t make it to the podcast till two days later. Now Randi is gone, and if there’s any justice in the world, Rachel Maddow will take over for David Gregory in the MSNBC 6 PM slot. And then everyone who made Air America something exciting and special will be gone.”  

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“If we don’t believe in freedom of speech for people we despise,
we don’t believe in free speech at all” –
 Noam Chomsky

Randi Rhodes calls in to Marc Maron subbing for Mike Malloy, 4/10/08



Randi Rhodes on Larry King Live, CNN, 4/10/08

BREAKING NEWS: Randi Rhodes will appear on CNN’s “Larry King Live” tonight (Thu, 4/10) – 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific



For Immediate Release April 10, 2008



The Nova M Radio Network is thrilled to announce the addition of “The Randi Rhodes Show” to its nationally syndicated talent offerings beginning this Monday, April 14, 2008. Randi Rhodes is the #1 rated progressive talk radio host in the nation. Nova M CEO John Manzo says, “I just can’t stop smiling – Randi is simply the biggest and the best. Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy under one roof – talk about TALENT!” Randi Rhodes adds, “With Manzo at helm of Nova M, I am truly going to work for the best of the best. He is radio elite…and I am too <laughs>. I’m home, I’m home, I’m home!” “The Randi Rhodes Show” will air live Mon-Fri from 3-6pm Eastern on The Nova M Radio Network. AFFILIATE, MEDIA, ADVERTISER & INVESTOR INQUIRIES: John Manzo, CEO Nova M Radio Network jmanzo@NovaMRadio.com


Oh, and to quote Crooks And Liars:

“I, like many, think that Sam Seder deserves his own show again. Write to pcollins@airamerica.com and let them know you want Sam back full time. We wish Randi all the best in the future.”

[4/24/08 Update on Randi Rhodes via ltradio.blogspot.com:

XM fans may be able to satisfy their Randi Rhodes fix soon.Orbitcast is reporting that Rhodes, who left Air America earlier this month for Nova M Radio, is in talks to return to XM Radio’s so-called Air America (ch 167) channel.]


[Further Update:
Rhandi Rhodes will be returning to her old slot of 3-6pm on XM radio, Monday, May 5th.]



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By Tim Einenkel

Last week Air America suspended Randi Rhodes for abusive, obscene language at a recent public appearance in San Francisco which was sponsored by an Air America affiliate station. 

Air America Media was informed last night by Ms. Rhodes that she has chosen to terminate her employment with the company. 

We wish her well and thank her for past services to Air America. We will soon announce exciting new talent and programming that will accelerate Air America’s growth in the future.


More on Air America webpage http://airamerica.com/

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Randi Rhodes GONE from Air America
John Scott speaks out on the Return of Randi Rhodes    


UPDATE: John Scott, Program Director of Green960, speaks out:

“We have been very frustrated the past few days in our efforts to rectify the Randi Rhodes Situation (her suspension by her network, Air America Radio).  It is our understanding that today (April 9th) she is no longer an employee of Air America.  So we are bringing her back.”

Monday, April 14th at 4pm… it will be our pleasure to announce the return of Randi Rhodes to the Green 960 family.



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