1. 5/29/15 – Politics, Death Penalty, Grodin

    May 29, 2015 by MelStar1

    Captain dum-dum (Chris) is off today so it’s me, Alfred, doin’ today’s blog.

    In the beginning of the show we heard from Stand Up’s unofficial ombudsmen and Pete’s brother, Brian Dominick. He chastised Pete for his uninformed take on Apple from yesterday’s show.

    Our first guest was the lovely, Mark Preston of CNN. Marky Mark, talked about the election and said it makes for good radio when Pete’s angry. I disagreed…

    Heather Beaudoin of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty gave us her take on Nebraska abolishing capital punishment.

    We then opened the phones up and took calls about all kinds of stuff. We got a call from Andrew Spar, President of the Volusia Teachers Organization who discussed education policy.

    Actor Charles Grodin ended the program. He was great. Catch him at Gotham Comedy Club, Monday 6/1 for Help USA’s “Homelessness Isn’t Funny, But We Are” comedy series benefit.

    My love for you is overwhelming,


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  2. Get Busy

    May 28, 2015 by MelStar1

    Peter Berenson’s “The Forgotten Prisoners” was published in UK paper The Observer this day in 1961. It sparked the “Appeal for Amnesty” campaign, and by that July, Amnesty International was founded.


    Today on StandUP!

    Lisa Gilbert is the Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, where she focuses on government transparency, financial reform, civil justice and consumer protection. Today, she spoke with Pete about a letter written to the Securities and Exchange Commission by three former top-level employees urging the commission to force companies to disclose any campaign contributions.

    We spent hour two talking with comedian and host os ESPN’s “Over the Ball” podcast, Kevin Flynn, about the growing corruption scandal within FIFA, the soccer world’s governing body. The US Dept. of Justice has arrested top officials on charges of bribery and corruption, and it has greater political ramification than you think, since the next men’s World Cup is set to take place in Russia.

    If soccer talk was too pedestrian and boring, our next guest certainly woke you up. Barry Ritholtz is a professional money manager, Bloomberg View columnist and founder of “The Big Picture” blog at Ritholtz.com. Today we talked about the cost of college and the recent writings of another StandUP! favorite, Bruce Bartlett.


    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to get busy livin’.





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  3. Docu-mentor-y

    May 27, 2015 by MelStar1

    Happy Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge!


    Today on StandUP!

    When Pete heard author Gillian Zoe Segal on Jenny Hutt’s SiriusXM Stars show, who knew she’d be a good fit for StandUP! as well. Segal’s new book, “Getting There: A Book of Mentors,” asks some of the most successful names in Business, Art, Entertainment, and Sports about the role mentoring has played in their careers.

    Next, we caught up with Joy Behar on her back deck and spent a half-hour laughing as she and Pete went back and forth on issues big and small. Joy is performing at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC June 1st as part of “Homelessness Isn’t Funny, But I Am,” a benefit that also features Regis Philbin, Charles Grodin, Marian Grodin, and Ted Alexandro.

    Alex Winter told us there is not a day that goes by where he is not recognized from his role in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” which goes to show you just how influential and wide-reaching that movie really is. Today, Winter shared with us his latest documentary, “Deep Web,” all about the anonymous, legally murky parts of the Internet commonly known as the “dark net.” The anonymity of this part of the web can help journalists or survivors of trauma share their stories, but it can also cater to those with more illicit and nefarious goals.  “Deep Web” premieres on ePix this Sunday at 8pm EDT.

    We kept the documentary category open and welcomed actress/director/producer Rashida Jones to StandUP. “Hot Girls Wanted” takes a hard look at the pornography industry’s insatiable thirst for young, attractive women and the effects a career in the sex industry has on a 19-year-old. Produced by Rashida Jones and directed by Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus, “Hot Girls Wanted” will be available for streaming on Netflix this Friday.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have paint myself International Orange.





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  4. Back for Summer.

    May 26, 2015 by MelStar1

    Not exactly a “beach book,” but Bram Stoker’s Dracula went on sale May 26, 1897.


    Today on StandUP!

    Back from the loooooooong weekend and fresh as a daisy, we kicked off Monday’s Tuesday’s show with editor-in-chief of Daily Beast, John Avlon. John and Pete took a look at how the media handles campaigns and elections, and talked up Bernie Sanders’ chance in the Democratic primaries.

    Next, we spoke to journalist and author, Chris Hedges, about foreign policy and middle east politics. Hedges won the Pulitzer Prize during his nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent, filing stories from Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. His new book, “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” is out now.

    The Intelligence Squared debates are one of our favorite ways to stay informed and on top of the issues, and moderator and newsman John Donvan is a favorite guest of the show when he drops in to preview the night’s motion. Check out the website for information on how to attend or livestream, “Obama’s Iran Deal is Good for America.”

    Our last guest of the day is the George Polk Award-winning journalist and author of, “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill),” David Cay Johnston. Pete and @DavidCayJ talked big money and took your calls.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to get my summer haircut.




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  5. Tina!

    May 22, 2015 by MelStar1

    Memorial Day became a three-day weekend in 1968.


    Today on StandUP!

    Before we packed up the cats and headed off to start summer (unofficially), we performed the dramatic conclusion to Criminal Justice Week, with guest star Tina Winsett!

    CNN Politics’ Executive Editor, Mark Preston, gave us the lowdown on D.C. politics and the how the presidential race is shaping up.

    Bear Grylls is an adventurer, author, and host of the seminal adventure/reality series “Man vs. Wild.” Bear joined us today to promote his new NBC series “The Island,” where normal guys are left to fend for themselves in a tropical paradise. If it were the staff of this show left on that island, I predict that much of the series would involve Pete plotting to kill and eat us.

    Then, we were joined once again by Stanley Richards, whose journey from prison to SVP of Fortune Society is both inspiring and an effective example of the type of prison and criminal justice reform his group advocates.

    Finally, we said goodbye to Criminal Justice Week with a long visit with former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who found himself behind bars in federal prison for 3 years. His time in the system has led him to change his view on the prison system and with his new book, “From Jailer to Jailed,” he hopes to make criminal justice reform a major issue in the 2016 Presidential Election.

    Now, if you excuse me I am going to have one three more slices of Tina Winsett’s delicious brownie cake!


    Have a safe and fun Memorial Day Weekend, see you Tuesday!




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  6. Top Ten

    May 21, 2015 by MelStar1

    Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross on this day in 1881.


    Today on StandUP!


    At the top of the show, we ran diagnostics on David Letterman’s final outing as host of The Late Show. Like most good finales, it left us with a full heart, a teary eye and a smile. Although…there are still a few things that linger

    Our first guest of the day was Barbara Ortiz Howard, founder of Women On 20s, the grassroots organization leading the call for some gender diversity on U.S. currency. It may seem like a foolish idea to you right up until the moment you ask yourself, “why not?” and “why am I searching for a valid reason to defend the status quo?” and “why can’t I find any good reason not to have at least ONE dang woman on a dang gum twenty dollar bill?”

    Yesterday, after the show, Pete made his way downtown and backstage at the New York Ideas Festival, the last big precursor to The Atlantic and Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival in late June/early July. Pete brought back a great talks with The Today Show’s Willie Geist and Atlantic’s editor-in-chief and president, James Bennett.

    Then, the president of advocacy group Public Citizen, Robert Weissman, joined Pete to go in-depth on the recent ruling AGAINST 5 major, major banks in the LIBOR scandal and inside the idea of free public education paid for with a Wall Street tax.

    Lastly, we continued Criminal Justice Week, this time talking Mass Incarceration with former New York City ADA and current Senior Counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Lauren-Brooke Eisen. Here, Eisen talks about the dramatic rise in America’s rate of incarceration since 1990:



    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to fill out this internship application for the Letterman show.





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  7. Late (Morning) Show

    May 20, 2015 by MelStar1

    So long, Dave.


    Today on StandUP!


    Criminal Justice Week rolled on for a record breaking THIRD day! You can reminisce about all the good times we had and learn how to stay out of prison at the SiriusXM blog.

    Wednesday’s first non crime-related guest was Stephen Walt, the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University whose recent piece in Foreign Policy on what Mankind’s situation on Earth will look like in the year 2050 gave us a lot to think about. If you thought rent was out of control now, just wait until there are 50 million more of us…

    In the second hour, we had the honor to spend some time in-studio with iconic actor Ray Liotta. If you have no appreciation for Goodfellas or Field of Dreams, you may be reading the wrong recap. Ray Liotta was in to talk up the new 5 part docudrama Texas Rising, premiering this coming Monday on History Channel, but really what he did was service our fanboy nature by being pretty cool.

    The last case on today’s docket was Mark Osler, former prosecutor in Detroit and current Professor of Law at University of St. Thomas. Mr. Osler and Pete talked about the mandatory minimum drug sentencing and it’s destructive effect on Americans. Here, Osler explains his transition from prosecutor to activist:




    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to redefine late night programming for an entire generation.





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  8. Syzygy

    May 19, 2015 by MelStar1


    8 planets in our solar system will align on one side of the sun, on this day in 2161. See you then!


    Today on StandUP!

    Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon called us up in the first hour to talk commencement speeches and American policy, both foreign and domestic.

    Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell professor of History at the University of Michigan and author of “The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East.” And here I thought Millennials were just an American problem…

    Criminal Justice Week rolled on with a look at police tactics and protocol with John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor of Law and Police Science, Eugene O’Donnell. In this clip, Mr. O’Donnell explains that, in his view, body cameras will not be helpful when it comes to policing:


    Our last guest on this Tuesday was Ricky Schroder, whose childhood role in “Silver Spoons” is legendary. Last year, Schroder spent 4 months with a documentary film crew in Afghanistan, recording the lives and missions of US troops in that region. You can catch “Fighting Season” tonight at 9pm EDT on DirectTV’s Audience Network, and on iTunes beginning tomorrow.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to buy another pair of pants and wear them until they fall apart.





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  9. (Criminal) Justice is Served

    May 18, 2015 by MelStar1

    Mad Men ended it’s run on AMC last night, so have a Coke.


    Today on StandUP!

    I don’t know how to sugar coat this: bees are dying. Even worse, we don’t have a clear, resolute reason why. University of Maryland asst. professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, joined us to dissect the issue, remind us of the importance of a healthy bee population, and to discuss his work as director of the Bee Informed Partnership.

    Next, CNN’s chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, checked in from uptown to talk finance and take your calls. Christine’s new book, “Smart is the New Rich: Money Guide for Millennials,” is geared toward helping the next generation of American’s avoid the financial mistakes that have plagued America’s hardworking, good-looking, comically gifted and highly intellectual radio producers. Ahem.

    Today also kicked off Criminal Justice Week, and we had two great guests who took a micro and macro look at the topic.

    New York Times’ investigative journalist Deborah Sontag’s latest piece is all about the effort to diminish and hopefully eliminate a long-standing element of life behind bars: sexual assault. Once considered a deterrent to crime or something a criminal “deserves,” prison rape had finally come to be seen for the addressable, nightmarish issue that it is, although the cause doesn’t have the push it once had.

    Then, we were joined in-studio by Jed Shugerman, associate professor at Fordham Law School and author of, “The People’s Courts: The Rise of Judicial Elections and Judicial Power in America.” Jed provided a great history of the US court system and explained the democratic positives and negatives of an elected judiciary. Below, Jed reveals to Pete the international origins of our all-american courts:


    And the religious-basis for some of our most tried and true judicial beliefs:



    Criminal Justice Week continues tomorrow with John Jay professor and former NYPD officer, Eugene O’Donnell, on police tactics and policy.


    Now, if you’ll excuse me I am going to think about why our favorite TV shows are about generally unlikable professions.





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  10. Forever is Composed of Nows

    May 15, 2015 by MelStar1

    Today on StandUP!

    In the first hour, we broke down why nobody in Washington seems to be in a rush to repair the Infrastructure and then we checked in with the executive editor, CNN politics, Mark Preston. Mark and Pete explained how this was Jeb Bush’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

    The Supreme Court will be posting some pretty big decisions a few weeks from now, and Georgia State University Constitutional Law professor Eric Segall paid us a visit to go over the major cases and arguments, including his personal favorite, King v. Burwell.

    SiriusXM Insight host Dean Obeidallah called in to tease the next episode of his Saturday morning show, update us on his ongoing campaign to create equal space for pro-muslim ads in the NYC subways, and his latest scheme contest, “Draw an Islamophobe!”

    Today’s show, and the week, wrapped up with a great visit from the very funny Bryan Callen, who gave us the secret to pulling off a realistic foreign accent: don’t do an accent of a person being overly ethnic/foreign, do an accent of a person from another country trying to speak their best English. Bryan has shows coming up this weekend at Gotham Comedy Club in New York, but check his website for dates in Texas, San Francisco, Denver and Calgary soon.

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Emily Dickinson, the great-yet-reclusive American poet. Dickinson wrote over 1,800 poems, although only a dozen were published in her lifetime, the rest discovered in countless notebooks after her death.

    Forever — Is Composed of Nows —

    Forever – is composed of Nows –
    ‘Tis not a different time –
    Except for Infiniteness –
    And Latitude of Home –

    From this – experienced Here –
    Remove the Dates – to These –
    Let Months dissolve in further Months –
    And Years – exhale in Years –

    Without Debate – or Pause –
    Or Celebrated Days –
    No different Our Years would be
    From Anno Dominies –
    – Emily Dickinson
    See you Monday,

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  11. Our Maine Man

    May 14, 2015 by MelStar1

    Mickey Mantle hit his 500th dinger off the Orioles’ Stu Miller this day in 1967.


    Today on StandUP!


    Pete came back from his Northern Maine adventure, but he seems like a changed man.

    If you have ever had bedbugs, or even thought you *maybe* had bedbugs, then you know the nightmare scenario the little jerks can bring into your life. Today’s first guest, Popular Science writer Brooke Borel, made herself into a bit of an expert on the matter, after several bedbug infestations of her own. Her new book, “Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World,” follows the rise, fall, and rise of the blood-feasting insect.

    Hour two kicked off with actor/director/producer Matthew Modine, whose new TNT series,”Proof,” premieres this June. After dropping a great story about his time on the Full Metal Jacket set, Modine shared with Pete his take on what makes a Liberal, liberal.



    Lastly, we continued the conversation on poverty with Center for American Progress’ Rebecca Vallas that began last week. Rebecca plays a leading role in the Center’s anti-poverty policy development, and she was great to have on hand to discuss President Obama’s remarks yesterday at Georgetown University, and also your calls.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I am going to make peace with the fact that I’ve never even hit ONE home run.





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  12. Ex-Zepp, Stage Right.

    May 13, 2015 by MelStar1

    In 1846, we went to war with Mexico over Texas!


    Today on StandUP!


    Josh Zepps completed his tour of duty and, upon completion of today’s show, was honorably discharged from service as guest host. But first…!

    PBS Frontline ran a pretty shocking story last night on the state of America’s poultry industry. Frontline Correspondent David Hoffman joined us to talk “The Trouble with Chicken” and consumer safety in the henhouse.

    Next, we were joined by author and journalist Kate Anderson Brower to discuss, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House,” all about the inner workings and staff of the President’s American home.

    Then, with the news that American Idol will be finishing its run on Fox after this next season, we checked in on that show’s legacy with USA Today senior music writer, Brian Mansfield.

    Keeping in the land of television and entertainment, we spoke with Brian Abrams, author of “AND NOW…An Oral History of Late Night with David Letterman, 1982-1993.” Dave’s last ever show is next Wednesday, and it was fun to talk about where he took the format and where it could go from here.

    Comedian Myq Kaplan joined us at the start of the third hour to talk spirituality, performing on TV and what it’s like to plan a comedy tour around the task of moving your girlfriend from Los Angeles to New York.

    Our final guest of the day was writer and photographer Jeffrey E. Stern, who shared with us his latest piece for The Atlantic, “Cruel and Unusual,” all about the botched death-by-lethal-injection of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, which has come to highlight the modern argument against the death penalty.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go home and prepare for Pete’s return tomorrow.





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  13. Zepps Led Again

    May 12, 2015 by MelStar1

    The Siege of Charleston ended on this day in 1780. It was America’s greatest defeat of the Revolutionary War.


    Today on StandUP!

    HuffPo Live’s Josh Zepps fulfilled the prophecy as it was foretold in the ancient scrolls and guest hosted the show again today. Here’s who made the world spin for three hours:

    – Politics Professor at Queen Mary University of London, Tim Bale, gave us an insider’s look at the UK election and just how it could effect more across the world than just the price of eggs in Hull (which it may not effect at all, really.)

    – Canadian import Sabrina Jalees is a regular on The Nightly Show and a fixture in New York’s comedy scene. She joined us in the second hour to make light of many topics, but also to lead a pretty great discussion on the nature of sexuality and the complications of coming out as gay.

    – Euro Economics Editor at the Wall Street Journal, Marcus Walker joined us to slice through the Greek debt crisis, making it easy to digest and understand.

    We also spoke to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh about his new piece in the London Review of Books about a new theory about the killing of Osama Bin Laden the refutes the accepted version of events in nearly every way:


    Hersh believes that his proven record as an investigative journalist should more than give credence to his reportage on this theory:



    Prior to speaking to Seymour Hersh, Josh Zepps asked Joshua Keating, staff writer at Slate with a focus is on international affairs, what parts of Hersh’s story should be believed and what parts sound too incredible to be true:

    Here, Keating admits that stories like this have made it harder for Hersh to be taken as seriously by the media as he once was:


    Wild stuff, to be sure. <=== Classic Non-committal Statement


    Now, if you’ll excuse me I am going to see if a bad review of “Mad Max: Fury Road” even exists.



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  14. 5-11-15 – Pete takes a vacation but America doesn’t

    May 11, 2015 by MelStar1

    Hello! Since Chris is sick, it’s your old pal, Alfred writin’ up today’s blog.

    Pete is camping in the great state of Maine so Josh Zepps of HuffPost Live is filling in.

    The first guest was Bryce Covert of ThinkProgress discussed why Americans don’t have vacation time.  Here’s a piece she wrote about it for the New Republic.

    We looked into the conspiracy theories regarding Jade Helm in Texas with freelance journalist, Alexander Zaitchik.

    Attorney, Ansel Halliburton told us about the situation with 3D printing, guns, and the First Amendment. Here is an article he wrote about it for TechCrunch.

    Comedian Greg Fitzsimmons was funny as always talking about plane travel, baseball, and what he did for Mother’s Day.

    Former NPR CEO, current CEO of Palisades Media Venture, and author of  “With Charity For All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give”, Ken Stern discussed efficient uses of charity.

    I love you all tremendously.

    The Alf-man

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