The Marc Steiner Show

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The Creative Alliance: Ru-Jac Records & The Legacy of Baltimore Soul

November 6, 2017 – The Legacy of Baltimore Soul

Baltimore boasts a rich musical history, from Billie Holliday to Tupac Shakur to today’s thriving music scene. Now, thanks to musician and producer Brooks Long, Charm City’s soul/R&B and hip hop generations are about to converge at the storied Arch Social Club on Pennsylvania Avenue, at a Creative Alliance event this Saturday, November 11, called “Ru-Jac Records & the Legacy of Baltimore Soul.”  Ru-Jac was the Doo-Wop, soul music and  R&B powerhouse located right here in Baltimore.

Long, who is the  Deutsch Fellow at the Creative Alliance, stopped by our studio along with  Kevin Coombe (www.DCsoulrecordings.com), who wrote the liner notes for all the re-issued Ru-Jac recordings. It took this younger generation to bring back the wonder of Baltimore’s great musical legacy.

Enjoy.

Dharna Noor: Corporate Controlled Media and Critiquing Bias

October 27, 2017 – Corporate Controlled Media and Critiquing Bias

Real News Producer Dharna Noor wrote a compelling article for Truthout on the nature of corporate-controlled media and the complex symmetry between the Trumpian attacks on the media and Freddie Gray protesters in Baltimore. She stopped by the CEM studio for a chat and we share it with you now.


Me Too: Confronting Misogyny and Sexism in Our World

October 20, 2017 – Misogyny and Sexism in Our World

In the wake of the explosive Me Too campaign on social media, we begin a series of podcasts dealing with the pervasiveness of misogyny in our world. The world is  finally admitting that sexual assault and harassment are ubiquitous.
We open our series today with: Brittany Oliver, Founding Director of Not Without Black Women; Maura Callahan, the City Papers Performing Arts Editor, and Rebekah Kirkman, the City Paper’s Visual Arts Editor. Callahan and Kirkman co-wrote a compelling piece entitled “Abuse and Accountability in the Arts Scene: A Reckoning” that appeared in the Baltimore City Paper last August.

Native American Music Awards: Local Baltimore “JAR” Nomination

Jean Albert RenaudOctober 5, 2017 – Native American Music Awards: Baltimore Nomination

The 17th Annual Native American Music Awards — Nammy’s — are coming, and for the first time a Baltimore recording artist has been nominated.

Jean Albert Renaud, or “JAR” as he is now known, is nominated as Best New Artist of the Year and his song “I Ride Horses” is nominated as  Best Country Song of the year.  We sat down to talk with Renaud, who began his career as a Motown star in the 1960s and  now dedicates much of  his time to the plight of wild horses and to long distance riding.


After the Confederate Monuments Come Down

September 29, 2017 – After Confederate Monuments

The Confederate monuments in Baltimore are gone, so now what? We talk with a group of artists and activists exploring their ideas about what should replace them.

We are joined by art-apartheid founder Sheila Gaskins, artist Pablo Machioli who created the Tubman Black Madonna piece to replace Lee/Jackson, Owen Silverman Andrews, former City Councilman Carl Stokes, and Bilal Johnson-Bey founder of D3T Magazine.

Enjoy the conversation and let us know what you think on our Facebook pages, or send us an email to marc@steinershow.org


Baltimore’s Future: David Warnock’s ‘Pugh Plan’

DavidWarnockSeptember 27, 2017 – Warnock’s ‘Pugh’ Plan

We are launching a series of conversations about the future of Baltimore. David Warnock, former Mayoral candidate and founder of Camden Partners, wrote an interesting op-ed on what he thinks should be “Pugh’s Plan” to revitalize the economy of Baltimore. We sat down in CEM’s studio to explore his ideas. Please let me know what you think on our page or by emailing me at marc@steinershow.org


Democracy in Crises: The Fire and The Fury

democracyincrisislogoAugust 10, 2017 – Democracy In Crises

We hosted the newest edition of Democracy in Crisis! I talked with co-host Baynard Woods about the the now present specter of nuclear war and Trumps latest comments on the situation with North Korea. Democracy in Crisis is produced by Calvin Perry.


Baltimore Ceasefire: What Success Means & Where We Go From Here

August 10, 2017 – Baltimore Ceasefire

Today we launch our first podcast since our daily show closed. At the very least we will be bringing you a new podcast every week.

Baltimore Ceasefire captured the hearts and minds of our community when it launched the campaign for a weekend without killings in our neighborhoods. Last weekend was that weekend when I was unfortunately away in Memphis.  As we all know Baltimore Ceasefire went viral over the last month and no less so last weekend when dozens and dozens of groups of people craeted Ceasefire events around this City. Yes, two were murdered in a 72 hour period but a movement, a consciousness, a spirit has been born. This first podcast reflects that spirit as we talk with Erricka Bridgeford who inspired and created Baltimore Ceasefire and community theater activist and Steiner Show commentator Koli Tengella who was not part of the planning but was one of thousands to spontaneously and creatively participate respond to the call of  Baltimore Ceasefire.

National Roundtable: BPD Controversy, and Trump’s Plans For The Middle East

BPD Planting Drugs (Credit: Baltimore Sun)July 20, 2017 – Segment 1

We hosted a National News Roundtable, where our guests reflected on the latest headlines.

With: Dr. Lester Spence, Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies and one of two co-directors of the Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and author of a number of publications including the books Stare in the Darkness: Hip-hop and the Limits of Black Politics and Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black PoliticsDr. Ray Winbush, Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University; and Dr. Roni Ellington, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Morgan State University.

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Mayor Dixon Announces Her Resignation

Mayor Sheila Dixon’s pending resignation is a real tragedy both politically and personally.   

We don’t know the details of the bargain she made with the judge and the prosecutors, although that will all  come out shortly. My guess is that there will not be another trial and that she will fight to keep her  pension. I predict that she may run again in the future.

It is hard to say what a Stephanie Rawlings-Blake administration will be like. The hope is that she will  keep on some key personnel to make the transition easier for our city. However, rumors abound that Frederick  Bealefeld’s tenure as police commissioner will be short under acting Mayor Rawlings-Blake. Many feel that  the pending acting Mayor, along with her ally Governor Martin O’Malley, did want to see Bealefeld named  commissioner, that they favored former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey. The commissioner believes that  public safety comes first and that massive arrests are not the way to ensure the safety of the public. He is  a tough, smart cop who needs the years ahead of him to turn the culture of the department around.

I have questioned Mayor Dixon about her integrity on my program on such issues as voting on the Board of  Estimates to give contracts to Utech (a company that employed her sister), taking free tickets to an event  at 1st Mariner Arena, and awarding a computer contract to her campaign manager–if you remember, a contract  paid out in sums small enough to not have to be disclosed officially. But she was not indicted for any of  those events. She was indicted for perjury because she did not disclose fur coats given to her by her  boyfriend, albeit a contractor. She was found guilty of taking less than $600 in gift cards. What happened  in the state prosecutor’s office that they could not indict her on issues of substance?!  

The mayor has made some bad personal blunders. But I don’t think they merit her going to jail or having to  resign. She should have apologized to this city, and the whole mess should have been a matter for an ethics  hearing that could have forced her to repay the money and face the voters. I find using gift cards meant for  poor children to be abhorrent, but it’s hardly an offense worthy of resignation.

Having said that I do not think Mayor Dixon should go to jail over these offenses, I want to add that I  don’t think anyone else should, either. Thousands of people have languished in the Baltimore Detention  Center for stealing far less than the mayor did. This should be a call to reform our entire justice system.  

We will see what the administration of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake brings to us. More importantly, I hope we  see the people of this city bring something to her, to force some creative thinking about the problems we  face and to build our own dynamic future.


Happy 90th Pete Seeger!

photo by Michael Cantor

Pete Seeger turned 90 on May 3rd. They threw him a 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. He is an American icon, a national treasure that embodies the heart of the great American soul of liberty and justice for all.

For more than 70 years he has been singing about freedom, justice, civil rights, human rights, for the workers, for the environment. Wherever someone struggled for freedom in America, Pete was there. On Barack Obama’s Inauguration he sang with Bruce Springsteen and closed out the event with every stanza of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. He fearlessly and to the glee of the revelers included the long unused stanza that called for the “breeching of the wall of private property.” He bounded off the stage like a man forty years younger. He was hugged and greeted by the new President.

He lives his beliefs as he sings them. When Senator Joe McCarthy and his dreaded House Un-American Activities Committee came after him, he refused to cooperate. He was blackballed and banned for ten years. He said “I don’t give a shit about my career.” When he returned, the Smothers Brothers brought him back to TV. He sang the anti-war and freedom folk song “Waste Deep in the Big Muddy.”

When he helped make Huddie Leadbetter’s, (aka Leadbelly’s), “Good Night Irene” into a hit, he made sure that Leadbelly got the royalties. He did the same for the family of Solomon Linda who wrote the African Freedom song that everyone sang in the fifties, sixties and seventies that became a rock‘n’roll hit, “Wimoweh.” He could have stolen the proceeds of the royalties and kept them for himself, as so many of the unscrupulous did to Black performers. Not Pete Seeger; he lives his life by his word, by work, by his politics, by his beliefs.

I first saw him as a young civil right worker singing with the Freedom Singers in Mississippi, a young Bob Dylan by his side. I grew up with his folk music because my mother always played him.

They say he has memorized more songs than any performer alive. Whenever he hears of a struggle for human rights in America, for the poor, for the infirmed, for our earth, he is there at 90. On his banjo, that he has had for over 60 years, are written the words “this Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender.”

He has become a sage. When asked why, in the face of so much opposition, of so many backward turns and some say the hopelessness of the causes he believes, why does he keep singing, pushing and fighting for justice, he gives a New Testament parable about a soldier who with his sword slashes open a bag of seeds. Some fall on the rocks and die, some seeds drown in the water, some are crushed under foot, but some fall onto fertile ground. They sink into the soil and grow a thousand fold. That is who we are he says. He knows the fight for freedom, for a just world is endless, and that every song we sing, every word we write, every story we tell, every oppression that is pushed aside brings more people to a better world and one day the fertile soil will win.

Peter Seeger, one of the few heroes I have in life …. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, and to my Mom, wherever your spirit is floating around.  I am sure you are having a Guinness and shot.   She is the reason that I am so Irish.   Well, she was Irish by immersion.   Maisie Anne Round Steiner grew up in the north of England, the daughter of North Country miners and a Scotswoman of the MacPherson clan.   She was a wild, unruly, alive renegade whose mother sent her to a Catholic convent (though she was Protestant of Baptist/Methodist roots) in the mountains of Wales.  It turned out that the nuns were a bunch of Irish pro-IRA radicals who embraced my mom as she embraced them.

So we were brought up on the legends of ancient Irish warrior kings like Brian Baru, IRA revolutionaries like James Connolly, the first Jewish Mayor of Dublin Robert Briscoe and the great Irish poets and writers who graced our bookshelves.  The nuns imbued in her a sense of social justice.  As a young British woman she embraced the IRA, anti-colonial struggles and love for humanity and human rights.  Her mother sent her away to be disciplined and straightened out, so she could act more like an English lady.  Instead, she came back with the fire, soul and love of life of the Irish.  She passed it on to her children and breathed it deeply with each breath she took.  She found four leaf clovers and had conversations with the leprechauns and the spirits.  Though Eire did not flow in her veins, it lived in the depths of her being.

Thanks Mom, for making me Irish.  I’ll have a Guinness and a shot for you tonight.


Marc on Mayor Dixon’s Indictment

I hate watching this happen.  It is no small matter for a sitting Mayor to be indicted.

I have known Sheila Dixon for over thirty years.   We are not close friends.   We have not been in a private social setting together in 32 years. We met when we were both counselors and teachers at Baltimore Prep, a program at Westside Shopping Center for street kids who had just come out of prison or had been kicked out of school, whose lives were on the corner instead of the classroom.   Sheila was committed to those kids. She didn’t take any stuff from them and she knew every game they could play, because she came from the same streets that they did.  Baltimore Prep is also where she met Mark Smith, who later became her husband, with whom she raised her nephew Juan Dixon and his brother.   The boys’ parents had died from heroin addiction.  Sheila and Mark saw those boys to manhood.  This is the Sheila Dixon I know.

I knew her a little in the intervening years.  I remember when she was first elected to the city council.   I remember when she banged her shoe on the table exclaiming it was our turn now.   She was committed to working class black folks. She lived and knew their pain, joys and struggles.   A lot of white journalists, politicians and others thought she hated white people.  I don’t know what her innermost thoughts about race were, but I can say that anyone who came up in a certain way who was from a certain place had historical reasons to have a mistrust of white people.  Whatever she thought then, however, she has grown from that place, as did William Donald Schaeffer from his place of not caring about Black folks before he became Mayor.  She bleeds working class blue in her veins.   That is the Sheila Dixon I know.

So, these indictments are just tragic.  If they are true, they show stupidity and sheer greed.  

As I wrote last week, the only difference between the actions of our city officials and indicted power developers, and goings on in Congress between politicians and corrupt corporate leaders, is the thin but sturdy line of legality.  

Politicians are always doing favors for the powerful and their friends.  It is part of human existence.   Nevertheless, it was not the fur coats that bought Ron Lipscomb city contracts, but rather all of his city and corporate contacts.  

I am not excusing anything here.  If Sheila and others broke their sacred trust with us, they have to leave elected office at the very least.   It cannot be tolerated.  

The worst offence would be if she actually took gift certificates that were intended for poor families and children to enjoy Christmas.   I hope that even if the bribery and malfeasance indictments are true, that stealing from street kids and poor families is not true.   That could break a city’s heart.

That would not be the Sheila Dixon I know.   Soon we will know whether she broke the law.  If she did, then the court will decide her fate.  If she is exonerated, she could become one of our greatest Mayors. If not, she will become one of our greatest disappointments and tragedies.


City Hall Indictments – Mayor Sheila Dixon Indicted

Update: We just received news, at 2pm today (Friday January 9) that Mayor Dixon has been indicted on 12 counts.  Read more in the Sun.

We will see what the day brings but the rumor mill has it that Sheila Dixon will be indicted today, just as Helen Holton and Ron Lipscomb were indicted yesterday.

My feeling is that if she had just declared those coats she would not be in front of a grand jury. If she had just recused herself from voting for a company her sister worked for there would be no investigation.

If Helen Holton had declared that Ron Lipsocmb paid for her poll then how she voted or what she pushed for would not be an issue.

It is not what they did but how stupidly they played the game. That for me is the issue.

Like Governor Blagojevich they were too blatant and not slick enough to get it done. Sure it was greed on some level but many politicians are greedy. Many participate in a life full of graft and influence buying but do it on the edge of the line of law so they get away with it. Notice I wrote many politicians not all. There are many men and women who are highly ethical in this business of politics. Most start that way but some get lost in the power.

Two articles recently in the New York Times brought home for me the glaring reality of it all. One was about New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He was accused of being one of the culprits in deregulating banking and Wall Street that led to this economic disaster we are facing. The article pointed out that Wall Street billions backed his campaigns and campaign fund/. In Congress he did their bidding.

The other article was about the junior Senator form New York, now Secretary of State designee, Hillary Clinton.
She helped push through legislation that aided contributors to her husband’s foundation and library.

All this was all legal influence peddling. The corruption in the marriage of corporate wealth and political power is insidious. It must be exposed at every turn and reformed. It is how we ensure the survival of a real democracy.

Our local elected officials played the same game but on the wrong side of the thin but sturdy line of legality.


Marc on the killing at Lemmel Middle School

THE STABBING

In 1962 there was a sixteen-year-old kid who had to survive in the streets of this city, terrified.  

He was a confused kid in a lot ways.   He read Hemingway, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Spinoza, Bertrand Russell and Marx.    He was a non-violent warrior in the civil rights movement who experienced the terror of violence by white mobs and cops.   He was also a street corner boy.   A jitterbug with his 20-inch pant cuffs with pleats, banlon shirts and porkpie hats.    Drinking wine, shooting nine ball, looking for parties, talking shit and sometimes getting into trouble.   All over the place he was, in the midst of violence but not violent, going for bad because you had to and standing up even when you knew you would be hurt.   You had no choice on the corner. 

This kid hung out on the Heights, the next neighborhood over was the Junction.   Now the boys on the corner from the Heights and the Junction knew each other, didn’t war, walked through each other’s zones, intermingled and went to the same parties often but had different corners they owned and different pool halls and basketball courts they played on. 

One day he went into Arundal’s Ice Cream parlor on the Boulevard, that long stretch of street that connected the two corners.   Arundals was in Heights territory.  They always had better spots on the Heights.   Big Hand Bey and Blue Eyed Plu and the some of the boys from the Junction were hanging out there.   As was custom, this kid walked up to Bey, a titular top dog from the Junction, and held out his hand palm down to slap five with Bey.   Bey didn’t offer his hand, just a glare with a broke down mug that signified something was up and it wasn’t good.   The other boys with him just postured and stared.

So, this kid knew something bad was going on and that these guys meant him some harm for some reason.   He remembered just months before when Big Hand Bey beat down Blue Eyed Plu into submission on the corner.   It was a bad beating but Plu now ran with Bey.   At this point discretion was the better part of valor and that ice cream soda could wait a while.

Later that day he went over to the elementary school yard where the boys from the Heights hung to talk, play basketball, shoot craps and do whatever.   When he got there Ronald said he should split because Bey and them had been up here earlier looking for him with a .45.   All the brothers in the yard turned their backs on him, because he was a marked man and no one would stand with him.  

It was a terrifying moment.  He was alone.   He turned to his walking partners Scott and Methu.   They called Phillip Methu because he looked so much older than everyone else. Methu was short for Methuselah.   Even though he was 16 he could pass for 21 and often bought the wine and malt liquor everyone loved. Methu was scared of no one. 

At any rate, he turned to Methu and Scott and to his best friend Little Billy for help.   He knew Scott and Methu would stand, or he hoped they would.  Little Billy had taught him how to dance, fight with a knife, talk to girls and survive the streets.   There was a deep bond between the two.  All three said they would stand with him, as would Taz and Jerry.   Taz was Ronald’s brother.   Where Ronald was mean and a terror, Taz was sensitive, smart but a brave stand up guy and Jerry was cool.  Always dressed cool, knew how win the ladies over and was a damn good boxer and a bit country to boot.   Against Bey and them that wasn’t many guys but you knew they had your back. 

They said we need a war council, so they all met at his house.   To his surprise two of the older heads on the corner who were also two of the baddest boys around, period, Benny Lee and Meathead, showed up at the council that was held in the basement of his house.  

Most of them thought that the only way to avoid a throw down with a much bigger force was to have him fight Big Hand Bey straight up, one on one.   That was a terrifying thought.   Bey was big, strong and bad.   He had seem him fight before and knew that he could not win and would be badly beaten in a face off with Bey.   He knew he may have no other choice. 

If it came down to it on the corner or at a party everyone would throw down with him, come whatever.     He knew they would stand with him, have his back, but his loyalty to them did not want to put them through it.   The meaning of real and true friendship was defined as never before.   That definition would define his life from that moment on.

He couldn’t understand why all this was happening?   What was it?   What had he done to incur the wrath of Bey and those boys!? 

A few weeks earlier everyone had thrown in some money to buy some wine and malt liquor up at the bowing alley.   This boy, Binky, took the money to buy everything.  When he returned empty handed he gave some of the money back to everyone but him.   So he said to Binky, where is my dollar?  Binky said he wasn’t going to give him his dollar.   Fuck you, Binky said.   So, he said, Boy you are going to give me my money back.   As Binky took off his coat he knocked him out with a flurry of punches.   Then took a dollar from Binky’s pocket and walked away.   He thought he was cool but Binky was one of Bey’s boys.

Then there was that night a month or so before when there was a party over on Bentalou.  One of those blue lights in the basement parties.   He was slow dancing with this girl who this other boy wanted but he kept on with her.   He pulled her not the other dude.   They went off together but the other boy threatened to fuck him up.   He payed that no mind, the girl was just too fine, phat and willing to be with him to worry about that threat.  Didn’t know the boy but he might have been one of Bey’s boys, he thought.

Or, was it because he was white?  The only white boy on the corner, there weren’t too many like him.    An easy mark for many … boys who did not like him, the cops or other white folks who saw him as a traitor and a freak.

Probably it was all of that but being white didn’t help … did not help at all …

One night he was going to visit his girl friend.   The same girl he met at the party.  Beatrice, really beautiful girl who was down from Harlem for the summer to visit her aunt.  It was late.  He was walking down a street with few lights but a peaceful, warm, quiet night.   Earlier, he was going to go to a dance at the hall in his neighborhood but Scott and Methu said the Junction boys were there and it be best if he did not go.  So, he split to see Bea.  

As he walked a couple of blocks past the club on a residential street, a car slowed down.  He could feel it sliding slowly over his left shoulder.   He was aware of it, very conscious of everything around him, then a shot rang out, then another.   The boys in that car were shooting at him.  

He took the hat from this head and ran hard.   Through the bushes, leaping a fence, another shot rang out, he leapt another fence was then faced by a Doberman, but he kept running, the Doberman hard at his heals, but he leapt another fence over into an alley as another shot rang out.   He hid, then ran, then crept, knowing they were driving around looking for  him.  He saw them, but hid in the shadows behind a garage in a dark alleyway. 

Then he made a dash for it down the alleys, around the corner and down another alley.  He got to Bea’s crib, banged on the door, she answered, he pushed her inside, panting and out of breath, disheveled, socks falling down around  his shoes, pants torn, drenched in sweat and fear.  He spent the night there in her basement curled up beside her.

Little Billy had given him a switchblade.   He wanted a gun.   He carried the switchblade everywhere.   At night he would walk with it open, up his sleeve.   The handle of the knife rested in his palm, the blade resting on the underside of his forearm as he bopped with that pimp walk that was  how you did back in the day.    He was keenly aware of every shadow, every movement and would walk out into the street when he got to alleyways.    He would turn to look down the alley, always terrified, always nervous and jumpy, leaping with fear at the slightest abnormality or sound.

One night he was coming home from a party.   Scott and Methu peeled off to head in the opposite direction to their homes, Taz and Jerry walked a way but then they too left, walking west to get to their houses.   He was once again alone for the next seven blocks to his house, switchblade open against the sweat of his forearm, head pounding with fear that made the eyes and throat dry and tight.  

As he passed an alleyway he sensed some movement.   A figure darted out, grabbed his left arm, spun him around.  Then another figure punched him hard in the right side of his head, sent him twirling, almost losing his feet from under him.   They were on him.  The switchblade slid down his palm twisting the blade end out,   He lashed out stabbing and slashing blindly as fists swung around him.   He felt the knife hit something hard then soft, it was sickening sensation.    He kept slashing and stabbing, one boy fell to the ground, and a knife skidded from his grasp down the alley.   The other boy staggered back down the alley.   He heard screaming and moaning as he glanced at the scene before turning on his heel to run.   Run, he ran hard, scared, not stopping for blocks until he got to his house.   The knife still in his hands as opened the front door.   He ran to the phone, dialed the Operator, said two boys were stabbed in an ally, then hung up the phone quickly.  He stumbled into his room, falling into his bed.   His hands were covered with blood, his shirtsleeves were red with blood, blood all over his clothes.

What the fuck had he done.   What was he going to do?    Had he just killed someone?   What was he going to do?

I stayed awake all night thinking about those boys.   Did I kill somebody?!   What was going to happen next.   I knew they would find me, my hat was in the alley, they would snitch, one of them would die.   I would go to jail forever, no one could save me, just like no one, not my parents, not the cops and not my brothers on the street could save me from the Junction.  

COMMENTARY ON THE KILLING AT LEMMEL

I could not get this story of my past out of my head after reading about that 14-year-old child who was stabbed and killed at Lemmel Middle School on Friday.   My first reaction was wondering what happened.  What fear drove them to carry weapons?   What madness lived under the reason for the killing?

At first people were saying it was gang-related.   Now, one of the stories surrounding this young man’s death is that he was a bully and the kid who killed him was one of his victims.   The child who did the stabbing turned himself into the police. 

Many people do not understand the fear that so many of our children in the inner cities of America live with every day of their lives.    I would venture to say that the vast majority of young people who carry weapons, be they knives or guns or clubs, do so out of fear and self-protection.   You have to live with a mask of neutrality and fearlessness on your face at all times.   That joy of youth that so many children in our nation enjoy cannot be allowed to blossom for most inner city kids.  When gentleness can be a weakness, the hard cover you are forced to wear keeps the joy at bay.  

So, if it is true that the poor boy who died was a bully, and this kid who stabbed him then turned himself in was in a corner with no where to go but slashing his way to escape, then what should our response be as a society who judges actions of others like this?  

What do we do with this boy who took a life perhaps defending his own in a world where no one can protect you but yourself?   What are we as a society and our government willing to do to invest in these children to be able to learn, live and find joy in their schools?   Will we send an army of counselors and therapists into that school to help the children and their teaches cope with what just happened?   Will we teach alternatives to violence?  Will we invest in recreation centers staffed with counselors to reach out to street kids?   Will we invest in the green economy to put their parents to work so we can build stable families?

Can we show we care?   Can we build a society that cares enough to put people to work, to eliminate poverty and invest in our children the way we do highways, McMansions and prisons?  

We can if we have the will.  We can’t lose another child to the streets.


Day After the Election by Marc Steiner

Last night, I went to my daughter Chelsea’s home to watch the returns.   She was having a watch  party.  It was the perfect venue for that night for many reasons.     Chelsea’s mom, Sayida Stone, my first wife and a dear friend, is African American.   Chelsea is a Black woman, a mixed race child of America.   She has three children, my grand children.  Their father, Ebon, a schoolteacher, martial artist and musician, is Afro-Italian-Puerto Rican.   From the beginning, Chelsea was deeply moved by Obama’s candidacy.  It was their time, it was their day, and it is their time now. 

Chelsea’s sister, Alana, her mom’s daughter with her husband who is Jamaican, is 21 years old, a brilliant artist and a junior at MICA.   I call her my daughter once removed, she calls me Saba, which is Hebrew for grandfather.   Alana was there with a dozen of her classmates.  Young, African American, Latino, Asian, mixed race and white who worked for this campaign, who believed in this message of hope.

Chelsea’s friends who were there ranged from 28 to their early forties, every color of the American rainbow.  Her mom, her husband Jenel, and others of our generation were there, as well.

The feeling in her home was electric and explosive, but explosive with peace and hope.   When Obama was announced the next President of the Untied States of America, there was a pandemonium of joy, screaming, shouting, hugging, singing and champagne corks popping.  

I looked around realizing this was their day.  These young people believed so deeply and were so full of what the future might bring to us all.  

While watching television it was hard not to notice the contrast between the Obama supporters in Grant Park in Chicago and the McCain supporters.   Obama’s in a public park with thousands of people of every generation and race in America and McCain’s in a private club for the wealthy and all, well not all, but almost all, white.  

This was an election of the two Americas from which we were born and in which we still live.   Our great nation has no state religion.   Our state religion is our democracy, our belief in freedom and liberty.   The USA was founded on liberty and slavery in the same breath.  Imagine that and think about that for a moment.   Liberty and slavery are the foundations of our nation.   The roots of the contradiction and the hope that dwell uneasily together in our nation’s soul were alive and palpable last night in this election.  

Maybe the tenor is about to change.   Race and racism hurt America.   It is a deep wound in the Black American spirit.  It is a burden of pain in white America, as well.  

The man who was voted in to become the 44th President of the United States of America may be changing the tenor and tone of our nation.  In the spirit of the civil rights warriors, he was unbowed and non-violent in his stand against his tormentors in this campaign.   When Barack Obama was faced with lies and low blows dealt by his opponents, the Republican Party and their independent advocates, he responded with dignity, strength and love.  So many of his supporters screamed that he should fight back, blow for blow  and spit in their eye.  Barack Obama chose to hold his head and his sense of morality and ethics high, so he kept walking straight ahead amidst the verbal blows and lies.  He set a standard for his supporters and the America he believes in.  The roots of that way of responding politically come from Martin Luther King, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s that they gave birth to and that gave birth to them.   It bodes well for what we may be able to do in America together.

I am not naïve about the difficulty that lies ahead of us.  Barack Obama is not the savior; he is the embodiment of hope for many Americans.  The struggle is now on to define our future.  We can now fight for something rather than against it.   We will have a seat at the table for the debate on our nation’s future.   We have serious work ahead of us.

Good gumbo, too, last night… A gumbo of America in the room, a gumbo of America who voted Obama,  and a great gumbo in the pot.


Marc on the Bailout

It is interesting to read the New York Times columnists and editorial writers, among many other papers, ridicule the Neanderthal Republicans for voting against and killing the bailout package negotiated between the Democratic congressional leadership and the White House. They seem to forget that 40% of Democrats in the house (90) voted to kill the package, as well.

 Click "READ MORE" below!

Without the Democrats voting no, the bill would have passed despite Republican grassroots anti-government conservative opposition. The Democrats who voted no were Progressive Democrats, Mexican American and Black members (many, not all), the Blue Dog populist southern and working class democrats who did not trust this bail out of wall street that did not have enough safeguards for working people, regulations on the financial industry or controls over the fox Paulson watching the banking/financial industry henhouse.

They knew when they voted against this that the nation is in a crisis that has to be addressed. They did not believe this bailout package was the answer.  Perhaps the congressional representatives who voted no thought that the idea that the government would come back in five years to report to congress made little sense, or that that the little guys’ interests would never be taken into account when the bill presented used words like "may" instead of "shall" or "encourage" instead of "mandate" when it came to aiding Americans confronting losing their home or rising mortgage costs.


The Republican opposition may never vote for a bailout. They love deregulation, voted for it, created it and bow down to it. They think the market will correct itself, and the people should not be bailing it out. They helped create this mess and they seem content to live with it. They have a strong, passionate ideological belief in small government and an unfettered marketplace and they are sticking to their poltical guns.

In the eighties and nineties, they killed the Glass-Steagall Act created under FDR to regulate the banking industry that ensured that lines of investment and banking would not be crossed. They led the deregulation of everything possible and pushed through bills that made it easier for banks to foreclose on people’s homes. Instead of protecting mortgage lending, they allowed bundling to make billionaires out of thin air with faked paper to be traded across the globe. They did it till the dot com bust and they did it until the housing market’s sandy bottom gave way.

Ahh, but to be fair, let’s not forget the crown jewel was laid during the Clinton years when another Goldman Sachs leader, Robert Rubin, was Secretary of the Treasury. What began under Reagan had its last driving nail in the coffin of regulation protecting the citizens’ interest under Clinton.

Now the Democrats better get their act together. It might have made sense to vote this pro Wall Street bill down as it was written but we are in a hell of a mess. Credit is tightening. We are about to be served big time with tightening credit on everything from our cars to credit cards (you think 20 something percent is high, just wait) to our homes and our small businesses, which are the backbone of this economy. Banks are going belly up, being eaten by bigger banks, banks are not loaning each other money, let alone us, our retirement accounts are getting hit hard (remember it is all privatized and in our 401K hands now), gasoline shortages are beginning to occur, many small businesses may close, unemployment is going up and will go higher.

The leadership better stop worrying about brining the needed votes in to pass all this by Thursday and start paying attention to the smart voices in our society who are warning them about what to do.

Hedge fund leaders, like George Soros, who helped get us into this mess, are trying to say no to the bailout, there is a better way. Hundreds of economists, led by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and others, are saying no to the bailout. Social thinkers like James Galbraith and Mark Sumner are outlining alternatives. Read them, hear their testimony and wrestle with their ideas to help us find a solution.

We need to pass a bill to help America, put credit back on track, invest in our infrastructure, protect those losing their homes and regulate our finance and banking industries to protect them from themselves and from destroying us. The marketplace must be free but with freedom comes responsibility and limitations.

The sweeteners that the Democratic leadership offered today of expanded FDIC coverage to ensure deposits up to $250,000 may assuage the small banks who will then lobby their congressional representatives to pass this measure. Will it turn the tide? I am not sure. Will the power of the Congressional leaders in the House and Senate be able to twist arms hard enough so their members drop their call for safeguarding mortgages, more regulation on finance and greater oversight on Paulson and Bush?

That question will be answered by tomorrow when the House votes again. Will the citizens win or will the power of finance rule the day? We will find out.



Marc on Obama and Race in America

Last week I wrote a blog about Obama. I originally wrote in my essay that 30% of the people in America would not vote for a Black man for President. Jessica Phillips, one of my producers, challenged the stat, asking me where it came from. Well, I could not pin point the source, if there ever was one. Maybe it was an amalgam of things or that 30 odd percent of Americans would always vote Republican. There is an element in that number for whom it would be anathema to vote for a black man. But then again, I have met a number of traditional Democrats who have blatantly and without flinching said the same thing. So, why was that in my head?

This morning I was watching Fox News while I was working out at the gym. It is really the only time I watch that channel. I don’t watch TV much to start with. At any rate there was one time Bush right hand, yet to be indicted, slick as a slippery eel Karl Rove waxing forth on Obama. He commented that given the economic state of the nation, the war and the President’s poll numbers there is no way this race should be so close. He said it clearly showed that the American people had doubts and did not trust Obama.

OK, that may have some merit. Senator Barack Obama is not the be all end all for America’s future. He is a politician who wants to get elected, who could use more specifics, and has altered or nuanced his position in order to remain on top of the electoral heap. So, in that I am not sure how different he is from McCain other than public perception or media projection.

There is one glaring difference other than their political vision. RACE.

I know what the polls said but let’s look beneath the polls. Attitudes about race in America are more nuanced and subtle. They are subterranean and not spoken about in the open.

The New York times polls often cited also says, as Ball pointed out in his NYT column last week, that 16% of Americans think Obama will favor Black over whites and almost 20% think racial relations will get worse (that again could have many political interpretations and meanings). The poll also said that 48% of voters oppose any preferential treatment for minorities. Now that is striking and deserves greater exploration.

A third do not know or work with someone who is Black, a quarter think America is not ready for a Black president, more than a quarter feel they have been discriminated against because they are white and 27% say too much is made of problems facing black people in America.

OK, so maybe I have no scientific or polling evidence to say what I almost wrote last week, but something is going on here. Race is a reason a majority of Black folks will vote for Obama and why a deeply significant number of White people will not vote for Obama whether they are open about it or not.

We are not in a post racial world; people and institutions are not color blind. It is not really more nuanced but it is more complex. It involves wars of class and generation in the Black world, as well as changing attitudes about race in younger generations. Race in America is beyond black and white and is Mexican, Latino, Asian, immigrants, and it is still in white America wrestling with itself and our collective national legacy.

Maybe we are in a perfect moment to have a really different and open look at race and ourselves as a nation. It won’t be in our schools or our churches; they are mostly made up of one race or other. Won’t be in the media, much too substantive not to mention frightening for their bottom line, which is not our well-being.

Where? I don’t know. Maybe we will have to start it together.


Marc on Legalizing Pot

It is such a beautiful, unseasonably cool August morning, crisp, cool and a tad cloudy.  I picked up the Sunday papers on my way back in from walking our dog, Charley.  I opened the Times, put it down and glanced at the front page of the Sun, below the fold on the right hand side.  “Community in shock over Harford man’s drug charges … Ecologist, decades long teacher revered by residents.”

 

My gut told me this was not some heroin dealing, gun toting, cocaine smuggling outlaw swaggering through the Harford County landscape posing as a mild mannered teacher of our children.  I was sadly right, as I read the story.  Sadly right and really, really pissed off.  

 

A sixty-two-year-old man who spent his life teaching kids about nature, our environment and love of life.  He smokes marijuana and it appears as if he might consume some psilocybin mushrooms sometimes.  He must really be an evil man.  Pretty soon, all the kids in Harford will be smoking dope, dropping acid, snorting cocaine, having sex and god knows what else.  Known as Ranger Bob to all the kids, why, if there ever was a contrived name, Ranger Bob is it.  Look, he even has a beard and plays Santa Clause on his Christmas tree farm.   That’s how he snares all those kids.  The devil in disguise.   You think he is really teaching about the earth, nature and our history, respecting life and the planet we live on…

 

OK, enough with the sarcasm, but this is just madness.   I don’t think anyone should go to jail, or have their home or children threatened with seizure, or livelihood taken away from them for smoking, growing or even selling marijuana.   Most Americans who are 62 and lived through the counter culture world of hippies, slogged through a rice paddy in Nam, were active in the anti-war movement, in some non-combatant military role or alive in 1968 smoked a joint.  Presidents did it.   Some folks still do it that lead functional, successful and productive lives.  

 

Most people I know, at some point in their lives, smoked dope.   There is a reason why we call it dope.   So, most of us don’t do it anymore.   Most of us don’t get drunk anymore.   We have more important things to deal with then people’s personal behaviors. 

 

People should not go to jail for using marijuana.  We should legalize it, tax it and let it be.   Grow hemp so we can stop cutting down trees for paper, and let marijuana bloom like we grow tobacco for cigarettes and hops for beer and barley for whiskey.    Many Indian reservations want the chance to grow hemp for industrial uses.   It could help our environment, create new jobs and new industries.  

 Every 45 seconds someone is arrested on a marijuana charge, and most of those for mere possession.   In 2003, the last statistics I could find, there was an all time high (no pun intended) of 755,186 with 88 percent of those arrests were for possession, not the manufacture or distribution, of marijuana.  The cost in imprisonment of these offenders’ amounts is conservatively $1.2 billion each year.   If you are arrested for growing over 100 marijuana plants you go to jail for a minimum of five years.  That is longer than for manslaughter or for grant theft auto.  Conservatively, it costs $1.5 billion a year to incarcerate these folks.  If you add in law enforcement and courts along with imprisonment, it may be as high as $15 billion a year. We could have spent that money to build new schools, to open homeless shelters or veterans’ hospitals, to preserve the environment or even to fund anti-drug programs in schools. 

Harvard Economist Dr. Jeffrey Alan Miron produced a highly acclaimed study, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," which was endorsed by hundreds of economists, including conservative leaders like

Dr. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith of George Mason University.  He concludes that “replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels for a combined savings of $10 to 14 billion dollars."

 Everyone has statistics.   This argument has been going on for a long time.  The bottom line is that chasing down pot smokers is a waste of our time, energy and money.   People should have the right to have as they wish, consume what they want and pursue their pleasures as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others, harm our children or the environment.   

Bob Chance, by all accounts from the former Mayor of Bel Air to the head of their county library, is a good soul who loves children and a defender of our environment who loves teaching.  He should not have his life destroyed because he likes to smoke pot on his own time.  He should be able to wake up on this unseasonably cool August morning not worrying about going to jail or losing his beloved farm.


Marc on Wal Mart and Unions

When I opened the Wall Street Journal this morning, that centerpiece article Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win:

 

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they’ll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies — including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized."

Wow, I just read it and sat there stunned for a minute.  Then I woke up,
and wondered what I was so shocked about. 

Here we have Wal-Mart, a store, that despite its new green image and it’s pronouncements about the Green economy with SEIU boss, Andy Stern, has a history of abusing its employees, paying low wages and few benefits.  

Wal-Mart says they are not telling any employees how to vote or who to campaign for. Right, I am working the cash register at Wal-Mart wearing a big Obama button.  Oops, is that a pink slip floating after me?!  Who’s to know, who’s to protect my rights.   Oh yes, that would be Papa Walton. 

Let me be clear about my past.   I have been a member of union.   I have
been a union organizer.   I am one of those who believe that if had not been for unions we would have had no middle class in the numbers that we have in America.  They fought to ensure that their working class members had a decent life.  

Now, unions have become increasingly irrelevant to life in America.   Partially of their own making by becoming lethargic corporate giants themselves.  Union leaders got too far away from their own members forgetting what it means to work hard to pay your bills and take care of your families.   They stopped organizing.  Yes, unions were victims of this economy and of the erosion of the industrial base of America.  But they have done little to fight it, to change with the times, to organize new workers, to speak up for the unorganized and to enter the 21st century.   They became lethargic dinosaurs. 

They became easy targets for onerous laws to destroy or curtail or cripple their power to organize.   Unions became the media demon and the business
the clean good guys in white shirts that knew how to run a nation. 

Unions are only here because so many employees get screwed.    It is
interesting I can think of five friends who own companies that don’t have unions.  Their workers don’t want or need them.   These owners run the gamut from libertarian to progressive to conservative to liberal.   They don’t have unions because they treat their employees right.  They offer health care, take care of people, worry about their families and take human beings into consideration.  They are small companies, too, from 50 to 200 employees.  They do it right. 

If business leaders don’t want unions, then treat people right.   Meanwhile,
America’s laws should be union friendly.   Unions need to be protected while organizing and have the freedom to do so.  The Employee Free Choice Act that Wal-Mart and others are so worried about is the least our government can do to protect an employee’s right to organize and better their lives.

Senators McCain and Obama, what say ye?   We are waiting here.


Marc on Mayor’s Control Over Baltimore Schools

 Psst!  Looking for Marc’s blog post on legalizing marijuana?  Click here to read it!  We sent the wrong link in the last email!  Sorry!

 

Yesterday’s Sun carried a story about Mayor Sheila Dixon’s desire to
reclaim control of Baltimore City Schools. She was always troubled
by the state takeover, as were many of us. She is being encouraged by all the other Mayors who have taken control of their city’s schools.

I remember when State Superintendent Dr. Nancy Grasmick made her move
to control the management of city schools. We aired a number of
conversations in this debate. I was very doubtful then of the logic
of the move. More importantly the state’s bureaucracy was no more
nimble or creative in its work, or willing to take the risks necessary
to change the city schools than the city school’s entrenched
Paleolithic-minded bureaucracy.

It was not until the Baltimore City Board of Education’s leadership
and direction changed that things began to move. More importantly it
was not until parents, students and teachers started to demand charter
schools that any movement took place. Ultimately, it was when Dr.
Andres Alonso arrived that our city schools began to make the
radical leaps needed to shake the lethargy out of aging special
interests. Now our schools have begun to blossom. Students,
parents, teachers and principals are beginning to be heard, held
accountable and be made part of running our schools.

The Board and the new CEO and our schools seem to be operating almost
independently of the state or the city. Things are changing. The
state needs to get out of the way. The city should not get in the
way. Maybe an entirely new partnership has to be created between the
city and our schools. Perhaps we have not invented the next step, yet.
The Mayor and the School CEO need some quiet time together to think
this through. City officials, the CEO, the school board, parents,
teachers, students, and our business and philanthropic leaders need to
spend some time thinking calmly and clearly about the future.

There is no going back to old paradigms and designs. There is no
handing pack power to old models of control and management. We need
to be moving forward to new ideas, not stuck in 20th century power
politics playing with the lives of our children.

We have a unique opportunity here. Let’s build it not blow it.


Marc on Baseball

 

That was some game last night at Camden Yards.   Hard fought between the Toronto Blue Jays and the O’s.  The crowd was on its feet, people did the wave over and over.  It was the bottom of the 9th,  2 outs,  bases loaded,  men walked standing on base, full count three and two, just two runs away from winning the night that was a see saw battle.  People were chanting go O’s … then the pop fly … out … it was over.  Three men left standing.  Oh well, it was beautiful night in our lovely Camden Yards.  We had great seats, six of them right down by third base. I bought ‘em at silent auction for Young Audiences, it was a steal.  Well, it was a contribution.

But I looked around and the stadium was empty. I was shocked at how empty the place was. It struck me that the more expensive the seats, the more people were in them . The bleachers, such as they are in Camden Yards (I mean by that they are still pricey but there is not a bad view in the house)  were the most empty.

The price of a ticket to a game and the cost of having a beer or a soda and some food is astronomical. My daughter Maisie and our friends’ daughter Jahia went down for some food.    I bought a beer, two waters, a crab cake, shrimp and box of popcorn.  It cost almost fifty bucks. It could have been a $200 night.

No wonder it was empty.   The economy is sinking, people are stretched paying for gas, groceries and the essentials. Who can afford baseball or football? To watch on TV you got have cable and that ain’t free either.

The time when you could turn on local TV and watch a game, or go to a game with your family of four or five, buy some food and drink, and have money left over, is gone, long gone.

I sat having another beer, eating some peanuts with our friend Sherrilyn and my lady, Valerie.  I remarked how long the game was taking.   There used to be just a seventh inning stretch. Now everyone was stretching between every inning. What was that?  Well, that was the big screen entertaining while baseball and television made their multi-millions selling advertising on television between each inning. So, a long game is even longer. Have another beer!

With all that money flowing and public money to build private stadiums, why is this simple entertainment costing us so much?   It’s more than just the huge salaries.

Maybe the owners should open up the park sometimes for less money. Go out to the middle class neighborhoods, the Latino community and inner city. Put some baseball back in the lives of people . Build tomorrow’s lovers of the game.

When the game was accessible on the tube, in your home, it belonged to everyone.   I saw a man walking down to his seat with his son. He had on an Orioles jersey with the number 34 on it and the name Hagy above it.  Remember him? Wild Bill Hagy, the Dundalk cabbie who led the cheering section in section 34 up in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium on 33rd street…. It was a people’s game then, wild, raucous, safe, and fun. And affordable!

He died not long ago.  An era went with him. 

It was still a great game, though.  Great baseball being played. We had a blast.   The girls holding up their home made Go O’s signs in orange and black trying fruitlessly to get the camera to see them so the world in Camden would see them waving on the big screen…it was fun.

Beautiful, beautiful stadium, great weather, good friends, good night …

But it ain’t the people’s game no more.


Marc’s take on spying on peace groups

Spying

The Maryland State Police Homeland Security and Intelligence Division have been spying on peace activists and anti-death penalty activists. Is this serious? Is this 1968 or 2008? If it were not such a dangerous precedent for the future of our civil liberties and our democracy, it would be laughable.

I want to ask, and will ask, Governor Martin O’Malley what he thinks. Governor O’Malley has been a leader among Governors (and Mayors when he was Mayor) in decrying the lack of attention and funds for state’s and city’s to deal with homeland security. He must be outraged at this misuse of funds and personnel. Spying on peace groups opposing the war in Iraq and anti-death penalty activists instead securing our port, rails, airports and following leads of those who may actually do us harm!

Will he oust the Col. Thomas Sheridan or demand explanations? This is truly a misuse and abuse of state power and authority.

We will be asking questions about this and discussing this on our website and our show next week. What do you think?

-Marc


Marc on Keswick and the media

 

Keswick

When I got back from Cape Hatteras last week, I was driving down Roland Avenue and saw all these signs saying “Stop Keswick.” I thought maybe all the retirees and senior citizens who live at Keswick Multi-Care Center had run amuck in the streets or became merry senior pranksters.

 

Then I went through a weeks worth of local papers to find out Roland Park was up in arms because the old Baltimore Country Club wants to sell its grounds for $14 million to Keswick Multi-Care Center to build their nursing home on new grounds.

 

You could dismiss it as wealthy North Baltimoreans whining over losing a bit green space to run their dogs or play Frisbee. It is more than that. Our green space is limited. It keeps getting eaten up by development deals and ever expanding businesses. Yes, we need business but there is plenty of room to expand without eating one more acre of green. Our uniqueness as a town and our quality of life is at stake.

 

It is not just the neighborhoods of North Baltimore. In the inner city there are vast tracts of brown dirt fields where houses once stood, not to mention the  acres of useless and unredeemable housing. Some are whole blocks and some just the width of a house or two. Why not turn these into green spaces as parks or urban farms or unique architectural landscaped oases for people to bask in?

 

It is all connected. The problem is that our communities are not connected. Each pocket whether in Roland Park, or Hampden, or Guilford Avenue or Forest Park goes it alone. Each fighting their individual battles to save their open space. They often lose because they go it alone.

 

Leave the green alone in on Falls Road and build gardens in the devastation of West Baltimore. Communities need to come together to support one another and determine what our urban landscape should be.

 

 

Media and the Campaign

 

Most of the political pundits in print and on the airwaves seem obsessed with guessing whom McCain and Obama will pick as their running mates. Take a breath; we will all know that answer right around Labor Day.

 

Cable talk, radio talk, even respected columnists keep talking about the insult of the week. How much longer can we talk about Wesley Clarke insulting John McCain, or whether Obama is moving to the center and do white men like him, or all the clap trap about Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain, and now we will hear ad nauseum about Jesse Jackson’s latest ridiculous comment about Obama. … STOP ALREADY!

 

There are serious issues facing America. Our commentators and pundits seem to all have taken the yellow journalism pill of “gossip is the news”. We deserve better. Can my colleagues in the media please focus on issues of substance?

 

Where is the debate over the candidates positions on FISA and wiretapping American citizens? Our economy is in a tailspin. What are their responses to the ever deepening mortgage crisis? Rising oil costs do not just effect gas prices but the cost of most of what we consume in the carbon powered economy of ours. What are are their plans?

 

Both candidates tax and spending proposals will drive our nation further into debt. Obama’s less so than McCain’s but who is asking them the tough questions about our future.

 

Both candidates want to boost military spending, add numbers to the Marines and Army. Ideas may differ on how they spend it but who is asking them about this and its implications?

The chances are we may not get to interview Senators Barak Obama or John McCain (we will try) but we will talk to their issue people and political leadership to hear what they have to say about their candidates’ vision for America. Forget gossip, the horse race and the specious scandal of the week, we need answers about the future of our nation.

 

What do you think?

-Marc


06/10 Marc on Larsen’s resignation from the PSC

 Steve Larsen’s Resignation

I am not surprised that Steve Larsen resigned as the head of the Public Service Commission. When community activists railed against him and O’Malley as sellouts to Constellation Energy, I always defended Larsen as a man of integrity and honesty. He believed in using the tools of the government to make the public sector more responsive to the citizens. He was a quiet, diligent and intelligent crusader on the inside, whether it was health insurance or regulating energy.

I think he resigned not to go back to the public sector to make more money but out of frustration. When the state reached the deal with Constellation Energy that ensured that the PSC would have no subpoena power, it took the teeth out of the PSC. Larsen would not be able to get to the bottom of any sweetheart deals between the Constellation and its subsidiary BGE to unearth whatever potentially unscrupulous deals were made to purchase energy at the consumers’ expense.

I wondered aloud how long Steve Larsen would stay after this. He was crusader for the people who had his cape destroyed. He chose to walk away rather than plummet to the ground.

Given the price of oil, the cost and real crisis we are facing with electricity generation and looming public wars over our energy future we need more caped crusaders or this secure world of ours could be in trouble. -Marc

Related blog posts:

04/09/08 Looking back at the session

03/28/08-Marc’s argument against the settlement

03/03/08 Marc on what is missing in the investigation

 

Banning Little Cigars

What would it really accomplish to ban the sale of small cigars in the city of Baltimore? What I am writing about is the Mayor and Health Commissioner wanting to ban the sale of individual little cigars that many young inner city folks use to make into blunts. Blunts are cigars stuffed with marijuana. Many young people and young adults buy the individual cigars because they can’t afford to buy a whole pack. They come in flavors that are very enticing to some such as watermelon, sour apple, and grape. Some people just like to kick back and have a smoke to relax. Much like more well off patrons who go to cigar shops and throw big bucks for a wannabe Havana cigar. I never did like them even when I smoked though I do like a Havana a few times a year.

 

Let me admit, I always have an initial visceral response to the banning of most anything. Outlawing substances that people choose on their own to ingest does nothing but increase criminalization of what is otherwise activities of individual choice. Tax products, go after unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors, and find creative ways to combat it. Don’t ban it.

 

If you ban the sale of cheap cigars by corner stores in the inner city then some enterprising young hustlers will buy them up and sell them on the street. I understand what the city is trying to accomplish, it is just the wrong way to go about it.

 

As some City Council representatives said to me “What do we do about the young people on the corner who terrify the older neighbors … it really is a generational thing . .lack of respect for the elders….” The response has to be much more profound than banning little cigars.

 

Take this to the state legislature, ban the sale of individual cigarettes state wide, tax the cigars, put warning labels on them, take on big tobacco, their Annapolis lobbyists and friends in the legislature, start an education campaign about health and smoking theses little flavored cigars. Open recreation centers, work programs for youth and hit the streets with street workers to challenge the street culture.

 

Banning cigars sales… a waste of time, money, energy and it is just the wrong thing to do.

 

-Marc

 


06/06 Marc on 1968

"Where were you when…?"

Resurrection City, June 1968. Photo by Ollie Atkins.  See more.

 

I remember clearly where I was for all the horrible assassinations of the 1960’s.

 

I remember my quiet walk with Adrienne Cooper (who later died from a back alley abortion) around Stockbridge Bowl the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. We walked and reflected on the world we lived in light of that horrible event.

 

I remember two years later standing in line to view Malcolm X’s body as it lay in state in Harlem. I had taken a bus to New York as soon as I heard about the assassination.

 

I was living in the heart of the D.C. Ghetto, and pulling up to my apartment in my old VW bug when I heard the news on the radio that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. I was in the heart of the city, our nation’s capital, and within hours the city was burning all around me. I walked through that rebellion in the wake of his death.

 

When Bobby Kennedy was killed I was living in a plywood shack between the U.S .Capital and the Washington Monument with thousands of others in a place called Resurrection City.

 

Resurrection City was an encampment of thousands of poor people-Black, White, Puerto Rican, Mexican American and American Indian. They came from mountain hollers, the rural south, Indian reservations, small mill towns and inner cities. The Poor People’s Campaign, one of King’s last acts before he was assassinated, was an amazing movement because of its racial unity and its class-consciousness. It was led and driven by the poor themselves. They marched on D.C. from a dozen routes from across the nation. They took over the mall, built the city out of plywood. We slept there, cooked our meals there, had meetings, studied, played and created theater. This movement went beyond notions of white power or the new slogan of Black power. This was the people’s power, the power of the poor united across color lines. There were many in both Black Nationalist and white conservative movements who despised the interracial power of this movement and many wealthy supporters of civil rights were put off by the class demands of this group. I think this march may have heralded the end of the civil rights movement. Right now the mainstream media is doing story after story about the magical, mad, terrifying and glorious year of 1968-but in all that reporting, almost nothing has been said about the Poor People’s Campaign. A notable exception is the public radio program Weekend America which did a great piece on Resurrection City as a part of their series This Weekend in 1968.  Click here to for their interviews and multimedia slideshow.

 

Bobby Kennedy was one of those who supported the idea of the poor marching on the capital. His death brought a pall over our encampment. His body passed us on the way to the Rotunda. The mourning was palpable, soulful and deep among the thousands who camped on the mall that summer.

 

It has been forty years since a politician like that captured the imagination of America. Bobby Kennedy was loved by all the communities camped out on the mall that summer and by working and middle class people across our country. You can’t help but ponder what America might have become had he become the President of the United States.

 

Do we have another running now like that? Do we?

 

What do you think?

-Marc


5/14 from Marc

 

Lou Cantori 

Lou Cantori was a force to be reckoned with.  We lost him this week to a heart attack at his home on Monday.

Lou appeared on our show dozens of times over the last fifteen years. He was just a lovely and wonderful  human being with a powerful mind.

 

He was every bit of the Marine sergeant that he was as a young man in the fifties. He was a patriot who continued to teach not just at his academic home, UMBC but also at our US military and intelligence academies.  He taught them reality of our world, not just what they wanted to hear. He was no one’s parrot. He spoke fluent Arabic and defied America‘s academe by trying to enlighten us to the true nature and soul of the Arabic and Muslim worlds.

 

He was that unlikely combination of a military and intelligence analyst who was a champion of social justice in America and the world.

 

Despite all his work, his first priority was the love he had for his family. As his son Greg Cantori said to me this morning, Lou was the best father in the world.  He was always there for them.

 

Greg also told me the story about when they lived in LA  during the mid-sixties. Lou was the head of the West Side Housing Association, fighting racial discrimination in housing at a time when you were allowed to have "Whites Only" and "No Colored" signs in your advertising.  The great Carroll O’Conner, Rob Reiner and others were fixtures in their home, as board members of Lou’s movement.  It was there that Greg first learned about fighting for social justice.

 

He is a beacon for all of us. He was a tough guy and gentle caring soul, he was a patriot, a progressive, a jarhead (Marine) through and through, a fighter for social justice and deeply devoted father and husband. Lou Cantori ..  I love you and will miss you forever. I will carry your spirit in my heart.

From the Cantori Family

 There will be an open house to celebrate his life on Sunday, June 8 at Nadia’s home near Laurel, Md. We would be honored to have you attend. Please RSVP by responding to cantorifamily@gmail.com.

 

Exact details on time and directions will be available soon on our memorial blog/website:

 

http://rememberlou.blogspot.com

 

Please check back soon. We will be updating and checking this site frequently.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either of the following:

 

UMBC Foundation, Lou Cantori Scholarship Fund, C/O Kim Robinson

8th Floor, Administration Building

1000 Hilltop Circle

Baltimore, MD 21250

 

or

 

Kidsave c/o Lou Cantori Memorial Fund

PO Box 277587

Atlanta, GA 30384-7487

http://www.kidsave.org/

 

Lou touched many lives: personally, professionally and in his community and it’s been quite a job contacting so many people.  Please feel free to forward this message to others that knew Lou.

 

Our family would like to thank everyone who kept Lou in their thoughts during his illness.

 

The Cantori Family


5/12 from Marc

Juvenile Justice

The Sun story on Saturday May 10, 2008 of the Juvenile Justice Center being out of control is not new news (read it here). The teachers are fearful and have had enough so they stepped up to the Governor.

Last year, we reported on the Marc Steiner Show about the potential for an explosion and the loss of control at the center.

Ray Cook, who works with gangs and inner-city kids in trouble with their lives and the law, through his program On Our Shoulders, was hired by juvenile services after meeting Secretary Donald DeVore on my program earlier in 2007. Ray is one of those unique figures who can walk into a situation and can instantly demand respect and trust on the toughest corners, with young people deeply involved in Bloods, Crips, and other gangs. He is from those streets. He has hustled, led criminal operations and been jailed on those streets. He turned his life around. Now, he’s obsessed with saving the children of our city. He is a father figure to kids around Edmondson Avenue and now down in Cherry Hill.

At any rate, Ray took a job with DJS because he thought he could make a difference. Secretary Donald Devore, who I truly believe wants to and is trying to change the system, hired him because he knew Ray could make a difference. Ray, and another man he brought in to the Juvenile Detention, Dante Wilson, who runs Reclaiming Our Children, (ROCAP,) had the hardest cases in that joint listening, weeping and talking and on the move, the slow grueling move, to come face to face with their emotions and turn their lives around.

Ray and I spoke everyday that he worked at the detention center. It was tearing him up inside. He kept saying to me “Man, it is out of control. They won’t listen (talking about the bureaucrats.) It is off the hook.” He quit in frustration.

Ray Cook is not a company man but an effective man who knows how to move children who are deeply damaged by the streets and poverty, in a way most with all the graduate degrees in the world cannot.

This is not to disparage all the teachers, social workers, counselors, and therapists working with our kids who have been busted, detained, arrested, and jailed. It is a process where all parties and skills are needed to work together to salvage our collective future.

It is to say, this is not new news. They would not listen to Ray and the others.

The solutions are right in front of us. Maybe the Juvenile Justice system ought to turn the school and therapeutic sections of that institution over to men and women who can run it successfully. Bring in an independent non-profit designed to do the job right. Give them the independence and power to do it right. Hire people who come from the streets themselves, who have track records of successfully working with children in trouble. Don’t be afraid to hire ex-cons and others who can make a difference.

Maybe the state should think twice before building more maximum-security juvenile institutions. Maybe we should start investing in community programs, halfway houses and community corrections facilities instead of prisons. Maybe we should put money into recreation centers and after school programs, turning our neighborhood schools into community schools that operate 24/7. Maybe we should invest the resources we have now in new directions. Maybe spend a little more in the right and most effective places. Maybe the state government and bureaucrats should start listening to and heading the advice of the Ray Cooks of our world.

Then maybe we can start to turn this thing around.

-Marc


From Marc – May 8

VIOLENCE AND OUR SCHOOLS

On May 19th, from 6 to 8 PM, I will be hosting a special two-hour, live call-in with Baltimore Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso on WEAA, 88.9 FM, your community radio station.

One of the issues we will talk about is violence in our schools. In many city schools, it is palpable when you walk through their halls or when you talk to students and teachers who are in them every day.

It is fine to give more control to individual principals and schools, but there needs to be a system-wide policy to address what is in their control to address. Violence cannot be tolerated. Students who attack teachers and other students have to be dealt with firmly. Students have to know the limitations. The response can be therapeutic and healing, but it must be swift and with consequences.

Then you can talk about what individual schools can do.

So, please, join us on the 19th; it will be great being back on the air with you and taking your calls.

THAT RADIO STATION WHERE WE USED TO BE

So, I wandered over to the WYPR website yesterday. Don’t do that often. Actually, this may the second or third time I have done it since they kicked us off the air. I thought I would take a gander to see what was going on.

The Board of Directors meeting scheduled for May 20th at the Learning Tree has been turned into an internet meeting to be streamed live. Apparently, so many folks still outraged by the senseless cancellation of our show called in to say they were coming to attend the meeting. So, the folks at the top at the station said we could be in compliance with Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) open meeting rules by streaming it on the web.

It is amazing they really have no respect for the people of this community or their station’s listeners and members. It is outrageous and very telling when the leaders of that station are afraid to face and listen to their listeners.

For a while a few years ago, I was excited by how much underwriting was being brought into the station. It was to be a model for the nation’s public radio stations on how to address the dwindling federal support for public broadcasting. Then I realized that while underwriting grew, funds for expanding and building membership were being eviscerated at the station. Underwriting accounted for over 53% of funds and membership was down to the thirties. Underwriting by large corporations has steadily grown at WYPR since the station’s founding. The influence that the corporate money buys is significant, but that is clearly to the liking of the management.

I now realize that this is not the salvation of public radio, but the bells chiming that could be its death knell. Public broadcasting is supposed to be adventuresome, where opinions outside the mainstream are heard and given voice, where creative experimentation is unleashed, where members and listeners actually participate.

We are losing control of our public airwaves and we must demand them back.

THE LIGHT RAIL

I was reading in the Sun about the MTA light rail dilemma, which got me thinking about mass transit. So, more people seem to be using light rail because of high gas prices. That is a wonderful thing. Most seem to believe we can’t get people out their cars into public transit. Well, I think over the long run we can. Keep gas prices high, stop building new developments, squeeze the auto industry to make hybrid/electric/hydrogen vehicles, and for god’s sake put money into mass transit and stop building so many bloody highways. Life can change. It takes, it takes patience …… it takes money.

In the meantime, MTA has to get its act together. The state should take some of that highway money (those highway contractors and developers are powerful lobbies in Annapolis) and put it into MTA and the MARC to buy more cars, high speed (give them a lane) hybrid alternative diesel busses, and more maintenance workers and inspectors. In the long, they should build more rail (so MARC runs faster and the Light Rail has at least two tracks with more routes.)

That is the answer. Short term – buy more cars and busses. Long term – give us more rail.

It can be done. Am I nuts? What do you think?

DEMOCRACTIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The common wisdom has been, and primary election vote analyses tell us, that higher income people with more education, African-Americans, and younger voters are voting for Obama and that older voters, white women, Latinos, to a degree, and working people with less education are going with Clinton. No matter what happens, a portion of the Hillary voters will never vote for a Black man and a portion of the Barack voters will never vote for Hillary or a woman. The majority of primary voters, many of them new or voting for the first time in many years, could be Democratic voters in the fall.

It means that the two candidates have to come together and convince their supporters to support a new tomorrow together or they may once again lose despite Americans’ frustrations and anger over the state of the economy and the war in Iraq.

They have to ignore the demagogic demons of cable talk TV, these so-called pundits with nothing to say but divisive viscera of mistrust and hate. Democrats have to stop talking about Reverend Wright, ignore and rise above the media’s obsession with their “bittergate" and dividing people with emotionally charged rhetoric over race and class. Sure, race and class are at the core of our fears, our mistrust, and the most horrendous parts of our history.

They have to speak forcefully, passionately, persuasively and intelligently about those things that concern Americans. You have to speak to people’s hopes and fears about the future. There is no reason why the wealthiest nation on the planet cannot guarantee a decent income, health care, and schools that we want our children to go to. Someone has to make sense of immigration and our relationship to the world economy honestly and clearly. People will hear it. Americans want us out of Iraq; we did not want to be there in the first place. Now it has to be clear that the Republican mess has to be cleared up, and it won’t be easy. Say it clearly; it will be heard. Most Americans want large corporations and the financial investment industry to be regulated and allow small business to flourish. People want immediate help and a vision for the future. Most folks don’t mind paying if they know where they are going. That is as long as the paying for is equitable where the wealthiest and the major corporations are carrying their weight and then some.

Talk about those issues and bring our future into the clear light of day and most Americans will go…"Reverend WHO?”

The Republicans have their vision and their candidate(s). The Democrats better see to theirs unless they want to sit by the gates of the White House panting like a thirsty dog for the next four years.

ABOUT TOWN

So, one of my favorite spots to eat near our new Hampden office is Soup’s On, located on 36th Street in Hampden. They’re closing this Saturday for three months. Just two days left to get your favorite soup, salad, chicken pot pie, iced coffee and dangerous cupcakes. The lovely Cynthia, proprietor and creator of Soup’s On, is going to have a baby. Get her wares while you can, or wait till the end of the summer.

Also, went to Luca’s Café in Locust Point, on Fort Avenue across from the Phillips Seafood HQ. The food was just phenomenonal and prices, well, four of with a few drinks was $96 bucks. Great wine list too. Check it out.

At the Baltimore School for the Arts, students and faculty are putting on four one-act Moliere plays. It runs through Sunday. Don’t miss it. The plays are really well acted by adults and students. My old friend Tony Tsendas is hilarious, right in his element (I think he channels the Marx brothers.) Richard Pilcher directs it all. Don’t miss it. Our School for the Arts (and Carver in Baltimore County) is among the best in the nation.


5/02/08 end of the week

I am sitting here at my computer; I have not blogged all week. I have really wanted to write something.The week has been taken up with planning the future of the Center for Emerging Media, so we can become the new public media for our community.It has taken time to raise money and plan productions. I am lucky that despite the uncertainty, Jessica Phillips and Justin Levy, my producers, left WYPR to work with me and build CEM.

So, this morning I was all set to wax forth on Presidential campaigns, Obama and Wright, the property tax wars in Baltimore City, and the future of the bay and the crabs that are trying to survive in it, but I am just not there right now.I will be, though, in the coming days. Right now, I keep reflecting on how this has been an interesting two weeks of lecturing at colleges and emceeing.It has filled me with a joy and hope for our future.

And this morning, I was all set to write, when I went outside to look at the field across from our home.A family of foxes dug its den across the road.The mama fox gave birth to five kits the other week.So instead of writing I went outside with my binoculars to watch the kits cavort with one another, leaping in the air and wrestling.Some wandered over to suckle on their mother, who sat calmly watching over her offspring to ensure their safety.

Then, just as I had my fill of my new neighbors the Foxes, Valerie called me outside again.Her hands were cupped around a baby finch that had left its nest too early.It was huddled up on the windowsill of our den.She called the wild animal rescue lady and now has the baby in one of the carrying cases she keeps around to rescue small things lost or injured.My lady is a reiki master and performed her reiki healing on the young bird.We will see how the young, downy-covered boy fairs today.

The spring is full of life and new birth, as I’m witnessing with the exciting and creative growth of the Center for Emerging Media.

We will be sending our fund drive letter out to you all soon, so you can support your new public media meeting ground in Baltimore.CEM will be doing some interesting things for and with you in the coming months.

Last night, I was the emcee for a Baltimore Green Week event at Morgan State University.The keynote speaker was Van Jones, who is the founder of Green for All. WEAA recorded his talk.It was so inspirational.He is working to bridge the gap between social and environmental justice.His thrust is that building a green economy creates jobs and is the way to start ending inner city poverty in America.

He is right.We have to build industries in this country based on solar and alternative energy technologies.Just retrofitting all the buildings in America can create millions of jobs.He calls for a Green New Deal to stimulate this economy, government stimulus that will release the entrepreneurial spirit to create new jobs and new industry.He is right we have to dream big and push for a new America.Our country needs to be the world leader of the new Green Economy.The earth and our future will not wait.It has to happen now and we have to make it happen.

This week, I also lectured to a graduate communications class at Morgan and moderated a panel of actors, a writer, director and producer from The Wire at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.You can hear The Wire panel right on our site.

Two weeks ago, it was Goucher, this week Morgan, and I continued to be inspired by this generation of twenty-somethings in our midst.They want to do the right thing, are socially committed, and the graduate students I met at Morgan want nothing to do with corporate media.They want to create their own and say what has to be said.

So, all in all, it has been a good week.And next week, well I promise to write more…and want to hear from you.

Have a wonderful weekend…see you at the Flower Mart in Mt. Vernon.

-Marc


4/24/08 Youth Violence and More

Youth violence seems to be in the air now.   At least it is all over the news.   Fifteen-year-old Nakita McDaniels was sentenced to the juvenile system for leading the attack on a woman on an MTA bus.   From accounts discussed in court and published, she seems to have a history of violently attacking people who she feels have disrespected her.    Disrespect – that is a key phrase.

When I got home late last night from my speaking engagement with Goucher students, I got on the web to look at the latest KAL cartoon videos.  When I got to You Tube I noticed videos commenting about an earlier video of eight young people who invited another teen to a friend’s home, so they could beat her up for a comment she made.  The idea was to tape it and put it online. 

It made me think of the teacher who was beaten up recently at Reginald F Lewis High School in the city.  A young person taped her beating and put it up on the web.

It seems that it has become a badge of honor to commit an act of violence, videotape it, and put it online.     

When I interviewed the students from the Algebra Project yesterday (available for podcasting on our website later today) they spoke about the hopelessness of stopping the violence in our schools.    They said it comes from the street and carries over into the schools.  It is a matter of respect they say.   You have to respond if you are disrespected.   The communities are a dangerous place they said.   They seem to be critical of the violence but accepting of the moral rightness of “defending yourself if you are disrespected.” 

What we face here is more than implementing policy to address violence in our schools and among our youth.  We are facing an issue of major ethical and moral consequence for our world.     Violence is nothing new. Mob violence and gladiators are age old, as old as humankind.  This nation was built on violence. Lynch mobs and mass beatings resound throughout our history.   

But it is different now.   When I was in elementary school and junior high school, we had fights.  I remember one big one in the 6th grade between a good, tough guy and the school bully.  It was the biggest fight I had ever seen, up to that point in my life, which is why it has stayed with me all these years.   I went to Garrison Junior High, known as little Alcatraz, I suppose, because it was where middle class/poor blacks and whites met for the first time in a school setting.  My second day there I got into a fight defending another kid who was being picked on.  I got the stuffing beaten out of me by another kid who later became my friend. 

Those were fights.  But what are happening now are mass beatings.  

There is a confluence of social events that is exacerbating violence in our world.    

First, violence is in our face all the time.   Media saturation has changed the way we live and think.   One of the reasons that the Vietnam War was ended by protests was because it was in our living rooms every night on the evening news.   Our soldiers killed, wounded, and in distress were scenes America could not get out of its collective mind.

Now with cable and the Internet and the market demanding its profit, the media is pervasive, with us 24/7.   So, the sex and violence that has always titillated us as human beings draws us in constantly through the television and our computers.  Once we had boxing and wrestling; now it is extreme fighting.  Sex was something we did or had to go to a foreign film or porno theater to watch.   Now, just click it on… any kind of sex, from joyful to perverse, is a mouse click away. 

We are like kids on sugar.   Humans love sugar, but we had to search for the fruit to get it until we packaged chocolate and candy.   Now, look at us. 

Put that access to violence with the culture of violence we breed in America and you have an explosion.  Those who live in the direst of inner city poverty in America absorb that violence like no other part of our culture.   It is reflected back out at us liking a blinding beacon.  Since the turn of the last century, America’s oppositional culture has come from or been reflected out of Black America, from blues to jazz to being cool and hip, to challenging the established order and world, and now on to hip hop.   We have kept Black America imprisoned and that prison culture has taken over the street and that street is the mirror America must face. 

We have to recognize what we have done to ourselves, so we can figure how to fix it and mend our country.  We can do it. 

THE OTHER SIDE 

Last night I spoke at Goucher College.   I left so inspired by the young people I met there.  I met students who had gone to New Orleans to rebuild the 9th Ward, who were studying Chesapeake Bay grasses to save our environment, who were working with the Latino community in East Baltimore to tell their stories and start a low power AM station, who wanted to join Teach for America when they graduated… 

An African American woman, a little older than the students, came up to me after my speech saying she read about it in the Examiner.  She was concerned about these kids being so naïve but wanting to do good.  She herself was trying to find out how to get involved in social change to lift up her community. 

These were the Obama kids full of hope.   They want to use their minds, their skills, and new technology to change their world, to make it a better place for all of us. 

I am meeting young people like this everywhere I go, in Baltimore’s public high schools and in private schools like Park and Friends.   They are at University of Maryland Law, Medicine and Social Work schools.   Undergraduates at UMBC, Coppin, and Morgan.     

Students from UM and Baltimore law schools going to New Orleans in droves to provide legal services for the poor and incarcerated of Katrina.   The Albert Schweitzer scores from UM that are more interested in humanitarian work than raking in the bucks. 

In this world, the positive and the negative dwell side by side in the dialectic dance.   These young people and the countless thousands like them in public, parochial and private high schools, in our communities, wealthy, middle class and poor, and in our colleges and universities, are our hope, are our future, are the beauty and joy in this madness we live in.

 More about them in a later blog.

marc

 


4/21 from Marc

Welcome!

Our new website is born. So please spend some time with us here. Our endeavor is to create a new public media that crosses all the platforms and makes you part of all that is going on around you. We have archived our Peabody Award winning series, Just Words and the documentary series we produced on the Vietnam War that we taped here in the states and Vietnam. Our new programming, like conversations with folks from the Wire, Phil Donahue, Andre Codrescu and others is here, as well. There are also video, still photography, and places for your comments.

Speaking of places for your commentary, we opened forums for you to comment on anything that is on your mind. It’s sort of like open phones on the web. Please join us there and send us some story and interview ideas. Tell us what is happening in your communities and things of interest you think we could share with everyone.

Politics and the Media

The Pennsylvania primary is tomorrow. Thank God, at last, we thought it would never get here!

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debate in Philadelphia.  Photo Credit: AP Photo

I don’t know if you saw last week’s faux debate between Hillary and Barack on ABC. I do mean faux, it was just horrible. What is wrong with major media in our country? Is it just them or are we all becoming that shallow, uninteresting and banal? They are shirking their duty to all of us. Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were pushing Barack Obama on his relationship with Bill Ayers, former SDS Weatherman who went underground in the sixties. They’re focused on Hillary and her claim that she had to run under sniper fire which turned out to be false. The media created “bittergate” as they call it, and are pushing the capital gains tax! Well that fits, most of the big media stars are so well paid and run with such wealth that I guess they are worried about capital gains. What about the rest of us?!

Where were the questions about Iraq, the economy, health care, our infrastructure, home mortgages, the financial market, No Child Left Behind and our schools, veteran’s benefits, Afghanistan, global warming, the environment and the future of this nation?

It is all about selling product and the drivel they think will sell to the masses. Well, give the masses some credit. Those who are involved and voting deserve better.

In Pennsylvania, they could have devoted the debate to the economy. What are their ideas about the financial markets? Do they believe that hedge funds and speculation of billionaires need the same oversight as banks? What role does the federal government play in stimulating this economy? Can we create a green economy and rebuild the infrastructure of America the same we did in the 30’s or in the 19th century when the federal government stimulated growth by building the canal system and then later the railroads?

Give us something! America is at a crossroads with wars, the economy and a 21st world that will be very different that the last century.

WYPR

One small tidbit that I would like to share. I heard that management will be spending considerable money for an advertising firm to rebrand the station. It feels it must clean its tarnished image of the last several months. It must purge the identification of Steiner with WYPR.

They tried that before, spending at least $20,000 on the 5th anniversary for WYPR.

Oh, well…join me, join us at the Center for Emerging Media as we create a new public media for our community, for all of us, for the 21st century.

-Marc


4/18 Blog Today

Random Thoughts..

First, where is everybody? It seems that very few of you have questions or comments for Mayor Sheila Dixon. So, is that disinterest in city politics, or more who could care what she says, or this kind of stuff is just ho hum? Well, we will be in her office at 4:30 on Monday. Hope to have it up on our site when we get back from City Hall.

Next, we will be focusing some of our work on school violence, talking to the CEO, teachers and students. So, if you have thoughts on it, send them in. If you are a schoolteacher or student maybe you can be part of the interview. Comment here or email justinlevy2@gmail.com.

Your responses to WYPR Board

Someone asked if Martin O’Malley ever voiced his support. I heard he did from a third party. I also received calls from many elected officials outraged by what happened, including Senator Ben Cardin, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Congressmen John Sarbanes, Wayne Gilchrest and Elijah Cummings, Delegate Jon Cardin, State Senator Jamie Raskin and many others. I heard there was a lot of outrage from many within the Baltimore Metropolitan delegation.

I wake angry and frustrated many days thinking about what happened. Usually, once I say good morning to my little one, walk my dog Charley, and have coffee with Valerie, I am over it.

We keep up the good fight with them where it needs keeping up, but we are moving on. We have so many stories we want to do, interviews we are waiting to produce, town meetings to organize, and a new public media we’re working to create to worry about their board and management too much. They are a distraction.

Presidential Election

I have been thinking a lot about Obama’s comments and the continuing ad nauseum conversation about what he said. How much can we talk about it, over and over and over. The other day when I was in Hagerstown for our Maryland Humanities Council performance of Martin, Malcolm and Marc, we were in a hotel bar. Fox was on. It is amazing to me that all the discredited political professionals, like Dick Morris and angry caustic commentators of new like Geraldine Ferraro kept going on and on saying so little of any substance. Is there no other news to be covered by our major media than what Obama said at his fundraiser? Their choice of commentators tells us everything about what they are attempting to make important in this election. Their base of thought is so limited, yet has the broad power to define the discussion. We can end that with new media and new conversations.

American elections have always been contentious. I have been reading the book 1800 about the election that swirled around Adams and Jefferson and others. If you just look at that election along with the elections of 1860, 1912, 1928 and 1960, you can see that the venal and the vicious has always been at the forefront. It is bare knuckled. Part of the bare knuckles of 1800 and 1860 and 1912, besides the vicious personal attacks, was actual deep policy differences. Candidates were unafraid of speaking to their visions of America, and they had them.

So, I could put up with all viscera, silliness, nastiness and meanness if candidates would just declare their visions honestly and with the passion of conviction.

I believe what Obama said about what motivates people’s distrust is true, and what McCain said to Michigan workers about their jobs not returning was real and true. They were both eviscerated and trashed for being straight.

Instead of backpedaling, candidates, tell us the reality as you see it and what you think we as a nation need to do.

That would be refreshing.

NOW

I gotta go, my 10 (almost 11 year old) only has a few more days till she is gone and back to school, so we got some Daddy/Daughter time that is calling.

Have a wonderful weekend.

-marc


4/09/08 from Vietnam, to Annapolis, to the Movies

This has been an interesting week. First, the Peabody Award comes for our work on the series we produced called Just Words. It was funded by the Open Society Institute and aired on WYPR for a little over a year. We submitted the work for the prestigious Peabody but had no expectations of winning one. It is a little overwhelming to be in the company of Steve Colbert, Planet Earth, Sixty Minutes, and other incredibly important national shows (including Project Runway, which I watch at my 11 year old daughter’s behest). It is quite an honor.

From 2005 to 2007 dozens of NPR stations around the country aired our six part documentary series, Shared Weight. I don’t know how many of you heard them (all six will be up on our new website for you to hear and podcast). They are six stand-alone hours produced with and about Vietnam veterans from both sides of the conflict. We spent six weeks in Vietnam recording and three veterans of that war went with us.

At any rate, we planned to return to Vietnam sometime in June or July to finish one of our stories. The first hour in our series was the story of Vietnam Veteran Homer Steedley and North Vietnamese soldier Hong Ngoc Dam. Homer killed Dam on his first day in Nam. They met coming around a bend in the road. There they were alone face to face. Homer got his gun our first. Dam died. Homer took the documents off his body. He kept them in his mother’s attic. For over thirty five years the image of that young man’s face and the documents he kept haunted him. He had to find Dam’s family to give them back that piece of him, of their son, husband and brother. We found the family. That first hour was called Wandering Souls because Vietnamese Buddhists believe that souls of the dead wander if their bodies or something of theirs is not returned home. Dam was one of 350,000 Vietnamese MIAs.

Now, Homer is going back to Vietnam for the first time since the war. He wants to meet Dam’s family and together they will journey to Kontum to find Dam’s body. We want to be there to finish this story of healing.

Well, we found out this week the trip is moved up to May. So, producer Jessica Phillips and I will be journeying to Vietnam. Hopefully, we will be sending back stories to you, with any luck with sound and pictures.

When we get back, we will head out in early June to the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They want to hear, and we want to tell, the story of what happened at WYPR. We want to tell the story of this community’s efforts to keep the public in public radio and to build and keep our sense of community. There will be thousands of people there who are dedicated to keeping alive and creating community non-corporate-controlled media. We will let you know what we find.

Then I am off for a week to the Pueblo Indian reservation in New Mexico to teach radio to a national gathering of Native American high school students. It is a camp called Native Visions started by the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. It is not my first time there over the last fifteen years, but I love teaching at the place. Hopefully, more stories for me to share.

ANNAPOLIS

OK, Annapolis is done. The session is over. So, what really happened?

The biggest crime was the Constellation Energy deal being ratified by a bullied State Senate and House of Delegates. It was 1999 deregulation redux. I know, I know, the reregulation debate can still occur. The Public Service Commission was not granted subpoena power. This is the single most important failure of that deal and legislation. Read Sun Business Columnist Jay Hancock’s column today. We still do not know why energy cost so much after the 2005 auctions or what goes on at the auctions. The control of the grid and wholesale electric market is opaque, at best, at the state, regional and national level. It is controlled by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is controlled by the federal government, which, as we found at the beginning of the Bush/Cheney administration, is controlled by big oil and coal. Remember Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force in 2001 that would not release its report and never did. Do you remember that it was made up of all his friends in oil and coal and their ancillary industries?

What we needed was a bill that put teeth in the PSC, that changed laws to allow full disclosure of deal making in that industry and encourage our elected Congressional representatives to demand reform at the national level.

We can have openness, honesty, and a strong energy future with Constellation or anyone else. These ideas are not mutually exclusive.

MORE – MOVIES NOW

OK, enough blah blah … what I want to know is when will these clouds go away? I want sunshine.

We saw the film Stop Loss the other day at Hunt Valley. It was a powerful movie about the back door draft affecting the lives of so many American soldiers. It was by directed by Kimberly Pierce, whose previous film was Boys Don’t Cry. We went to a 5 PM show. We were the only two people sitting in the theater. I know Mondays at five may be a slow movie time but I think Americans don’t want to hear about this war. So few of us know people who serve, who died there or who were wounded in battle. What about you, do you know anyone who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan? After we saw the film I was thinking about my student’s brother who died in Iraq and another woman I know whose son was killed in Iraq. This war makes me angry.

We also saw John Sayles’ Honeydripper at the Charles. What superb acting, wonderful script, great music and uplifting. God, it felt good to walk out of a movie smiling.

And Thursday night, it is the Stones in Scorsese’s Shine a Light at The Senator. I can’t wait. Talk about feeling good. I am afraid to tell you all that I saw my first Stones concert in the spring of ‘64 in Albany, New York. I have been hooked ever since. I was always more of Stones man than a Beatle boy. Though I loved post 65 Beatles. OK, too much information.

See you at the movies.


4/3/08 More on Iraq War

Yesterday in Washington DC, we interviewed Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, who co-produced the documentary on the Iraq War, Body of War. The subject of the film is Thomas Young, an Iraq war veteran who was shot through his fourth vertebra and is paraplegic. It is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. On Friday, we are going to interview Thomas Young. Living with the injuries he sustained in that war tires him out, so, he could not join Donahue and Spiro when we interviewed them yesterday. He graciously agreed to reschedule our interview and meet with us tomorrow morning. Once we have that interview in the can, we will be producing an audio/videowebcast and public radio show on the Body of War. It is coming soon.

This week I have been thinking a lot about the veterans of this Iraq war. I watched Body of War three times preparing for our interviews with Phil Donahue and the others. I have been talking with Josh Kors who exposed how the Department of Defense labeled over 20,000 veterans with “pre-existing conditions” so they could deny them millions of dollars in benefits. And last Monday I gave a keynote address to veterans and those who work with disabled, addicted and homeless veterans.

On top of that, this week in Adbusters and Rolling Stone there were articles about the Iraq war’s Marlboro man, James Blake Miller.

The photograph of him taken during the battle of Fallujah with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, eyes staring off, with blood and dirt on his face became the iconic image of the young, tough, swaggering American war hero. He was a teenager then. His image was used and abused to support the war and entice other young people to join up. James Miller, who suffered severe PTSD, is now home in Kentucky, violent, angry, reflective and alone. He refused to let his image or name be used to support Bush’s war.

There are now over 4,000 American service people who have died in Iraq and almost 29,000 wounded or horribly maimed and crippled. There are tens and tens of thousands more who were wounded in body and soul. They estimate that up to 40% of returning vets will suffer from PSTD. The National Guard, whose rate of PTSD is astronomical, gets few federal benefits.

Our advanced medical technology kept those 28,000 badly wounded service people alive. If this were Vietnam, most of them would be dead. Yet the system of medical care for our veterans is in worse shape now than it was forty years ago. There is a scene in Body of War, when two veterans, one from the Iraq war and the other from the Vietnam war, both in wheelchairs, are talking. The Viet vet said he was in the hospital for a year with his wounds and was taught how to care for himself. The younger Iraqi war vet was in the hospital for only three months.

We went into this war without thinking about the consequences for Iraq, and for our veterans. All this mayhem and blood spilled for what?! For oil? For strategic political hegemony?

Yes, it was for oil. Yes, it was a war to protect our oil interests and our allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. We produced many shows on the lead to up to this war. In that, we discovered Project for A New American Century, a think tank in Washington DC. Papers written over a twenty year period by all the shining lights of the Bush administration (Abrams, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, and others) lay it all out in clear detail why we need to invade Iraq: protect the oil and secure American political power in the Middle East.

So now the Bush administration has gotten us into this madness, we have to deal with our responsibility to Iraq, a nation we have torn asunder, and to our veterans. We will be paying for the steep social and fiscal costs of this war for a generation, maybe more.

I don’t mean to rant or bring you all down, but when I meet and interview veterans of this war, and when I interview Iraqis here and in Iraq, I become so angry at what has been done to us. Now, we as a people have to make it right.

-marc


3/28/08 Constellation Deal

So, what is up with this deal between O’Malley and Constellation? Where are the voices of dissent? Where are the voices in our state legislature, in print, on TV and in radio who are raising questions about this so-called settlement?

Martin O’Malley ran on a campaign to address consumers being shortchanged, over-charged and ripped off by Constellation and their home state company BGE as a result of the 1999 deregulation of the industry. A move pushed by Sen. Pres Mike Miller and one of the forgotten forces behind all that lobbying in Annapolis in 1999 – ENRON.

The state government and Constellation say this will allow us to deal with a looming energy crisis in the next few years that will lead to brownouts across the state. We don’t generate enough electricity for our growth. But how does this “settlement” address that issue?

OK, so now we are getting some credit and rebates and the state won’t have to pay the bill of deactivating Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plants. We all get back $175 if we are lucky and they get to profit millions or even billions. We are still saddled with at least a 72% increase in our rates. Governor and state leaders, tell that to our bank accounts every month!

Because of the settlement, there will be no more investigations into stranded costs paid to Constellation to compensate them for losses that never occurred when they took over BGE plants. What about the investigation into the corporate relationship between BGE and Constellation? What about the accusation that Constellation sells Maryland energy sources outside the state, then sells them back to us, to BGE for huge profits? No further investigations into the wholesale power auctions and our exponentially rising utility bills! Investigations in 2005 and 2006 clearly showed something amiss. It clearly appeared we were being gouged and huge profits were being made. We will never know the answer to what happened to us and what Constellation really did.

No subpoena power for the Public Service Commission! How will they get to the bottom of anything as they look at re-regulation of the industry and plan for the energy future of our state? Steve Larsen, Chairman of the PSC, on my show, said he wanted the answers to this and more. Now his hands are tied.

Constellation stock is now on the rise. They can have outside investors without state regulatory approval.

What about the future? Hydropower will have its end. Our dams can’t handle the load and the silt is building up. Solar, wind and nuclear will take years to make a dent in our total energy supply. Does this give Constellation the power and right to continue to mine coal, spew its death into the air, and make West Virginia look like a moonscape after the tops of our most ancient mountains are lopped off?

We need better answers to what de-regulation did and what was going on between Constellation and BGE. We need a better plan for our energy future than we are getting.

State legislators need to raise their voices and raise questions. Our local media needs to investigate and keep this discussion alive. We all need to be involved at whatever level we can to keep the pressure on.

Dealing with the power of Constellation Energy and the rates we pay was a central theme of Martin O’Malley’s run for Governor. This shows all too well the power that corporate giants have in our state political process. I know Governor O’Malley felt pushed against a wall. We have a very precarious energy future in the next few years. This settlement, however, was not the answer. It was not even close.

-marc


Nina Noble, Executive Producer

Nina Noble and friends accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries for HBO’s The Corner in 2000.  She is on far left.

Nina Noble and friends accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries for HBO’s The Corner in 2000. She is on far left.

Nina Noble, Executive Producer for The Wire, spent the past several years doing all the behind the scenes work that is required for a successful show. She joined Marc to share her stories and experiences from the past few years.

I have major sympathy for Nina Noble.  We share a job title (okay, well her title has the fancy ‘Executive’ in front of it) and people are constantly asking me “What does a producer DO?”  I imagine she gets the same question.  I always like to answer, “I do all the work” and then flash a smile.  If Marc is around, I will usually add jokingly, “…and he gets all the glory.” (Fair enough, really, considering he also has to bear the brunt of all the criticism!)

But seriously, Nina Noble had a gigantic job as Executive Producer of The Wire.  From convincing the Port of Baltimore to let them shoot scenes on location to keeping track of the hundreds of characters David Simon and the other writers created, it’s a wonder she didn’t burn out long ago.  But as she told Marc when she sat down for an interview about the experience of working on The Wire, this is the only job she is suited for.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 40:20.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

External Links


3/17/08 An Iraqi American view on the Iraq War

Iraqi Americans in Michigan celebrate execution of Saddam Hussein. Not all Iraqi Americans were so happy. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Imagine you are a person who left your native country because you didn’t want to live under its government.  Imagine several decades later, your adopted country chooses to invade your native country and topple the same regime you left under.

What do you do?

Do you celebrate, thrilled that the regime you disliked is now gone?

Or do you mourn as you watch your country, which despite the dictatorship was a vibrant safe place, turn into a place you can barely recognize?

Such is the circumstance of many Iraqi Americans.  Most of the Iraqi’s living in the United States disliked Saddam Hussein.  But that doesn’t mean they were happy to see U.S. tanks roll into Baghdad to topple his government.

The fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is upon us.  Over the next couple of weeks, we’re bringing you interviews with scholars, veterans, peace activists, and more.  Today, we are bringing you an interview with Dr. Adil Shamoo.  Dr. Shamoo grew up in Iraq, in the Chaldean christian community.  He came to the United States in the 1960’s, and he a professor of bioethics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Click here to stream the interview.  Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this interview onto your computer. Want to get this and other podcasts on iTunes?  Click “Read More” below to find out how. Running time is 25:30.  The music heard at the beginning and end of this interview is “Second Baghdad” by the Iraqi musician Rahim Alhaj.

Click Read More to get resources and information on how to get this podcast on iTunes.

Read More→


3/17/08 Iraq and the Presidential election

Yes, it has been quiet in here over the past week but that’s only because we’ve been so hard at work!  We’ve got lots of new content that will be coming your way this week, so make sure to check back everyday for something new.

IRAQ: FIVE YEARS LATER

Can you believe that on Thursday, March 20th, it will have been five years since the United States led the invasion into Iraq?  Sometimes it seems like the conflict has been dragging on so much longer.  Other times it seems like just yesterday that we were watching American troops help Iraqis pull down that statue of Saddam.

Does it seem that we are talking about Iraq a lot less than we used to? Has the mainstream media totally abdicated responsibility for covering this story, choosing instead to talk about super-delegates and shocking caucus results?  Have the candidates refused to discuss it?  Are we just so relieved that the violence is below pre-surge levels that we feel we can ignore it ?  Are we just bored with it-and misinformed about it?  Why is there not major mainstream media coverage of the winter soldier hearings?

Whatever it is, we know our audience still cares about Iraq and what is happening there, so over this week and next we are bringing you a series of podcasts talking about Iraq.  We’re going to hear from scholars, journalists, Iraqis and Iraqi Americans, veterans, peace activists and more.  If you have any ideas for points of view you want us to investigate, let us know!

First up, we wanted to take a look at the intersection of the presidential election and Iraq.  Where do  Senators McCain, Clinton, and Obama stand on the war (click on their names to read their campaign platforms on Iraq)?   What is their history in terms of the Iraq war (Go here for Clinton, here for McCain, and here for Obama)?  What can the beliefs of their advisers tell us about their agenda?  McCain has a reputation for being a maverick-does he have a maverick agenda for Iraq?  Does the fact that he is a veteran give his agenda more credibility? Some people say Hillary and Obama agree on most major policies–is that true for their Iraq plans?  To get to the bottom of these questions, we talked with UMBC history professor Brad Simpson.  He is an astute observer and analyst of U.S. foreign policy. Sure, he’s got a point of view and he isn’t afraid to voice it, but he’s got criticism for both sides of the aisle and he dishes it out with a real knowledge of the issues.

Click here to stream Marc’s interview with Brad Simpson.  Right-click here and select “Save Target As” to save the mp3 onto your desktop.  Transcript coming soon. Running time is 27 minutes.

Check back everyday this week for more interviews.  We’ve got more podcasts about The Wire, and we’ll be talking with other folks about Iraq.

Let us know what you think…

-Jessica


A Visit to Viva House Soup Kitchen

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I have a lot of friends from out of town who love The Wire.  I always kind of feel sorry for them because I feel like they aren’t getting the whole picture.  Only someone really familiar with Baltimore can get all the inside jokes, references, and cameos that pepper the series.  But sometimes the reference is arcane enough that not even Baltimoreans quite get what they are looking at.  For example, how many people know that the soup kitchen Bubbles worked at in season five is a real place?

My co-producer Justin brought that up, and we decided that it would make a great podcast to go down and talk to the people who run that soup kitchen and learn about their experience being featured on The Wire.  Their names are Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham.  They play themselves on television (well, sort of…listen to the podcast to find out more!) They are wonderful people and they have a lot of great things to say about Baltimore, social justice issues, and of course, The Wire.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 17:30.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Click “Read More” for a slideshow of pictures from Viva House as well as other resources.

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Robert Chew, the Character “Proposition Joe”

We’re back again today with another fantastic interview for you.  Last week Marc sat down with Robert Chew, the Baltimore native who has portrayed the east Baltimore drug lord Proposition Joe for the past several years on the hit HBO series The Wire.  Prop Joe, as he came to be known, was an iconic figure that represented a time in Baltimore where the drug trade was less violent and bloody, when word was bond, and “The Game” was something very different than what it is today.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 34 minutes.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Click read more for interviews and resources.

Read More→


David Simon, Series Creator

simon-and-cast.jpg 

 Our Wire podcast series continues with a forty minute interview with David Simon!  Sunday is getting closer.  In the meantime, hear what The Wire’s creator has to say about the show. 

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Read More→


Ed Burns, Writer and Producer

Ed Burns on the set of The Wire

Ed Burns on the set of The Wire

As we promised last week, this week we are bringing you a series of interviews with folks from the hit HBO series The Wire.  The series finale of this show is airing on March 9th.  Marc is a huge fan of the program, and we know a lot of you are as well.   So for our first podcast series we decided to concentrate on this television show and talk to writers, producers, actors, security guards and crew to ask them about their experiences in making The Wire.  We wanted to find out what they think the message of the show is.  What does it have to teach us about urban America?  What lessons can we learn from the five seasons?

We began with a quick conversation with Ed Burns, a writer and co-producer.  He is a former Baltimore City Cop and Baltimore City public school teacher.  Those experiences deeply informed the script of The Wire.  His real life experiences often found their way onto the screen.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 15:20.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Tomorrow, we’ll bring you a conversation with series creator David Simon.  Later in the week, you’ll hear from the actors who play Lester Freamon, Prop Joe, Bubbles, and more.  Stay tuned, and let us know what you think.

-Jessica

Click “Read More” for links to articles, interviews and more.

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3/3/08 Monday Morning Thoughts

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY

Fifteen years ago today the first Marc Steiner Show aired.    Tuesday
March 3rd, 1993.   It was a show on Norplant.    There was a huge
controversy in 1993 on the use of Norplant as a contraceptive
administered by the city health department to mostly inner
city teenagers.   Some argued that the long-term effects of the drug
were not known, others that the city had to do something to respond
the rates of teen pregnancy in the city.

So, there I was, bathed in fire on the air.    Four guests, all women,
an hour and a half with no breaks.   We started the show with a short
documentary that we produced on the subject.  We did that a lot in the
first year of our show.    I miss that.

Becoming a public radio host was total serendipity.    In 1990 after
three years spent producing, directing and casting radio commercials for
an ad agency I longed to get back to something with some substance.
It was time to leave the world of selling white bread, beer, BMWs and
the lottery. I had learned a lot about producing and mixing sound,
music and voices for radio.

I had this idea for a thirteen part series on the History of Jewish
Music.  I knew it was an idea that could work.    So did David Creagh,
the General Manager of WJHU who gave me office space to work on the
idea.   Well about a year later with some promises in hand and great
board of advisers, the project went belly up when the station ran into
some financial difficulties.    It is still a great idea and I have
the proposal waiting in my files.

A couple of years later, in late 1992, I ran into Denis Kita at my
dentist’s office.   Dennis had been Assistant General Manager when I
first met him.   He was now the new GM of WJHU.     We sat there in
the waiting room of Dr. Charlie Stine, who at that time was producing
and hosting a short program every week on the wonderful natural
wonders and histories found in our back yards.   Charlie, besides
being my and Dennis’s dentist, had been my Dad’s best friend and my
natural history mentor since I was a young lad.

At any rate, Dennis Kita and I were talking in the waiting room when
he said to me “We are thinking about launching a public affairs
program at WJHU.    You know this city so well from the street corners
to the corporate board rooms, I thought you might have some ideas.”
Well for some reason the first thing that blurted out of my mouth was
“You should let me be the host!”   Dennis said but you don’t know
anything about radio.   I said, ” What do you have to know?   You
read, you talk and ask people questions.  I do that at my dining room
table all the time.”

Well, poor Dennis, he opened the door.   I would not let go.  I hocked
him for months.   Finally, one day when I was at the station, after
bugging him for months, he said “OK, here is your desk, here is your
phone, no money, no producer, I will take off All Things Considered
every Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30.    That will be your time slot.
See what you can do.”   I took it.   And the rest is history.   Well
there is much more to that history, but we’ll leave that for another day.

TEXAS OHIO VERMONT AND RHODE ISLAND

Tomorrow is a very critical primary day.  Not for John McCain, he
has the Republican primary all sewn up.  Well, then again it might
be important for him because what happens to Democrats internally, how
they behave towards one another and how they do or do not support one
another could have a profound effect on the November general election.

If they split Texas and Ohio or if Hillary Clinton wins them (lets not
forget Rhode Island and Vermont) then the race for the Democratic
nomination is still on.   It could get quite volatile and nasty.
Texas with its weird primary/caucus blend might well not be decided by
tomorrow night.    Lawsuits could erupt.   The Democrats could commit
fratricide.  You never know, it has happened before.    The Democratic
front runners could easily decide it is not necessary for their party
to win the White House when they can let their egos rule the day
instead.

If Barack Obama wins then the Democrats would hope that Clinton would
not only bow out but also come out supporting Obama in a big way.   If she doesn’t, then the wound could fester and hurt the Democrats in their quest
to regain the White House.   If Barack wins, I hope she and Bill
Clinton can bow out gracefully with class, putting their party and
its beliefs ahead of personal animosity and ego.

The New York Times over the weekend had some very interesting stories
about the race.   On Saturday, Jeffrey Rosen wrote an op-ed on civil liberties and the Democratic candidates.   The article was making the point that Barack Obama was able to forge a working coalition in both the Illinois and US Senates between liberal civil
liberties advocates and conservative libertarians on everything from
police harassment actions to the far reaching aspects of the Patriot
Act.   Rosen made the argument that the Clinton administration and
Senator Clinton’s record on civil liberties was, by comparison, questionable.

While the article said only about 20% of American voters care deeply
about civil liberties, it does not say how many care about their
liberties, or how many conservatives care about libertarian values.
I did not read how the question was asked in the polls but my sense is
that Americans have a visceral response to the ill defined notion
liberty.   Civil libertarians and libertarians have much common
ground.

ENERGY SUITS WHO?

So, the state government beat Constellation Energy to the punch with a
lawsuit
.   The state says Constellation still has to reimburse
citizens for the rate increase.    Constellation thinks that since the
legislature did not approve its merger with Florida Power and Light
then there is no deal to ameliorate the rise in rates.

While the state and the Constellation battle this out in the courts
there is a question that going unanswered by anyone.    Steve Larson
does a great job.   He wants to protect the consumer, but neither he
nor Constellation’s representatives ever answered the question I think
is the most critical when I posed it to them on my former show.

Is it true that Constellation Energy sold its energy cheaply out of
state then resold it back to BGE for a huge profit?     What are the
inner workings and relationships of these two companies?    One is
owned by the other yet we as citizens of this state reap no rewards
from this alleged economy of scale.    There is a serious
investigation both in public hearings and state investigations that
must be had here.   Where is it?  Is it going on?

LOCK EM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY
It is unbelievable, but then again maybe not, that 1 in 100 adult
Americans are in jail
.

This has its roots not just in Reagan and Bush the first but also in
Bill Clinton’s eight years.   Clinton’s administration maxed out the
time to be served for crack cocaine, but not powder, remember?    Who
snorts it and who smokes it?

That is not even the most important issue.    People like Governor
Martin O’Malley have the power and the opportunity to do something
about this.   We need to radically reform our juvenile and adult
justice systems.    Put money at the front end, create a responsible
system of community corrections for non violent offenders, stiffen
sentences for violent offenders, create a prison system where non
violent offenders and those addicted are separated from violent
offenders into a system that offers job training, drug rehabilitation
and hope

America can become the leader in the new world green economy.    In
the process we can transform our inner cities with work building the
new green economy and our infrastructure.

One in 100 is a frightening commentary on the future of America in the
21st century.

Your thoughts?

-Marc


3/12 BOD meeting cancelled

Hello friends.

Just got this message in and I thought it was important to share with you.

Dear Guests,
 
WYPR’s March 12 Board Meeting has been rescheduled for April 15 – it will still take place at 3pm.  A location will be posted on the website by March 15. 
 
Thank you!
~ Alex
 
Alexandra Price
Associate Development Director
WYPR
2216 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
 
ph. (410) 235-1446
fax (410) 235-1161
www.wypr.org
aprice@wypr.org


2/21 Child Brides; Stolen Lives

afghan-bride.jpg

Sunam is only 3 years old. She is dressed up in her bridal outfit as she prepares to marry her 7 year old cousin. Photo Credit: Farzana Wahidy/AP.

We have brand new content for you from the Center for Emerging Media! Stream the podcast here. (Or just right click on that link, and choose “Save Link As.”  This will download it onto your computer.  Thanks to our intelligent reader Ron Counsell for figuring this one out!) Program length is 39: 21.

Female genital mutilation. Sex slaves. Human trafficking. These are the topics that journalist Maria Hinojosa thought of when she was deciding which global women’s issue to focus on for a special episode of NOW, the acclaimed PBS program. But a phone call to a source set her straight. The biggest issue facing women globally is not genital mutilation, or slavery. It is the millions of women that are forced to marry as children. 51 million girls under the age of 18 are married. According to a report by the International Center for Research on Women, that number will rise to 100 million by the end of this decade. Marc and Maria sat down and talked about her documentary Child Brides; Stolen Lives which premiered on PBS in 2007.

You can stream that interview here. (Program length is 39: 21)

Want to watch the documentary? Visit the website of Now on PBS.

Under the cut…resources and pictures!

Read More→


2/20 A few words from Marc

Hello everyone,

I have a few short reflections after seeing what I wrote last night. I don’t want to fall into the trap of he said/she said quarrel of inconsequential detail. On some levels I have allowed myself to do that.

First, I realized when I spoke of the $750,000 raised that I inadvertently left out that $70 some thousand dollars of that amount was really contributed or in a sense forgiven by Johns Hopkins University. I realized after I sent it in to my blog that I left that line out.

Second, I want to be clear how grateful all of us should be to the original guarantors. Bill Clarke, Jonathan Melnick, Anne and Jane Daniels, Tony Brandon, Charlie Salisbury, Earl and Darielle Linehan, Tom and Barbara Bozzuto and Albert Williams. Without their guarantees we could not have saved the radio station for Baltimore. I just want to be absolutely clear about that.

Finally, the problems boil down to certain things that leadership of the station just doesn’t get.

  1. This should have been a partnership between guarantors, contributors and members to create a board to oversee the fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities of WYPR

  2. Martha Rudski, WJHU Marketing Director, came up with the name Your Public Radio because we believed we could create a truly powerful and unique institution that belonged to this community.

  3. When we first started, the story around NPR was the amazing marriage between this conservative Republican corporate executive and a community activist talk show host known for his progressive leanings coming together to build a community radio station. My belief in the myth hurt us all.

  4. All this is madness. There was never any concrete reason for it to happen. They keep changing their story as to what led to the end of my show because they are grasping for straws. There is no reason other than a deep personal and political dislike for me from Tony Brandon and a few others. They could not stand what I stood for, or that I was the face and voice of the station. Ray Blank, the station consultant, has said to me more than once that they see you getting all the recognition. They feel they deserve some. I always gave it to them.

  5. So, all this is for what?

 

I have nothing left to say unless they come at me or at the public with more specious comments.

See you tonight.

-Marc


New Links

Hi everyone,

Please note the new header tab above with the words “Protest Links”.  If you go there, you’ll find links to the following sites:

Read More→


2/15 Marc on Norris again!

Don’t miss Marc on the Ed Norris Show on 105.7 WHFS FM today from 10:30-11:30. He’s joining them for their news roundup. Call and be part of the show at 410-481-1057 or email theshow@ednorris.com.

-Jessica


2/14 from Marc

Well, I’m back. My road trip was great.   I know I am just a doting Dad (with my older ones who are gone now, and my little one at present) but she was brilliant on the stage.  Well worth the day off. 

I don’t have much to say about the Dan Rodricks issue.  I have no control over it, can’t do anything about it and will just wait and see on that one.   There was a big hole left and opportunity to fill it.   Doesn’t come along every day.  He filled it.   What can you do?  That’s life.

I want to encourage you all to come to the Community Advisory Board Meeting at the BMA on February 20th.    It will begin at 7:00.  It is scheduled to last two hours.  The CAB was formed in response to a regulation that requires all public radio licensees to have a community board.   The event on the 20this your opportunity to speak your piece.  I hear it may be taped and made available on the WYPR website.

A public radio station worth its salt should have some of those who make up the CAB be members of the Board of Directors.   The board, while made up of many good people, should be all inclusive.  It is not.  Listener members should be members of that board.   Community and corporate leaders should interact on the board to help guide the station.   That is a real democracy of the public airwaves. 

Anita and others who wrote on the blog recently talked about how the crowd at the Obama rally held in the 1st Mariner Arena represented that same “view/world”, as she put it, as those who have supported me and my show.   I want to build on that.   We want to continue our public commitment to this community.  We want to create a new forum for all of us.   We are going to start on the web.   We will build it from there.    Jessica Phillips and I are already trying to work on ideas to produce and share with everyone.   Let us know what you think.    What do you want?  More documentary features?  Panel discussions?  One on one interviews?  What topics do you care most about?  What have you enjoyed in the past?

It is Valentine’s Day.    Gotta go celebrate.   Remember, it may be a Hallmark Card day and full of commercialism but reality is if you blow it… you’re done. 

I’m Marc Steiner, for whatever comes next that will be your public media

Take care, talk soon.

-Marc


2/13 I read the news today, oh boy…

Big news out today. Looks like Maryland will have two new faces in our Congressional delegation (unless Wayne Gilchrist and Albert Wynn choose to run as Independents and win). Read More→


2/12 from Marc

Hi everyone, 

Let me say once again how gratifying and humbling it is for all this support.     This is a wild ride and it is not over yet.   There is much more news to come.   Some of it will be mind blowing. 

Rumor has it that Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun and formerly of WBAL will be the new host at the noon hour at WYPR.   If it is true,  I am not surprised.    They needed star power and personality to try to assuage and persuade the audience to stay or to come back.   Dan has always wanted to be a part of WYPR.    Now, he has his chance.    But who knows.   It could anybody.   Either way, I want you to know I am ok. I have a lot of plans for my own work and have a lot of options and opportunities that have surfaced over the last week.

I thought it funny today that Tony Brandon keeps talking about “commitment to the public and community.”   Orwellian corporate speak is a frightening thing.   WYPR has become corporate speak zone.   More than you know, but you will soon know more. 

It is because of all of you that the fund drive was cancelled.   I have heard the station has gotten well over a thousand letters and e-mails.  I don’t know the exact number but it has overwhelmed them.    

Don’t forget on February 20th there will be open to the public Community Advisory Board meeting.   Right now it is scheduled to be held at the BMA at 7 PM.    As we know more, we will let you know what is up with that meeting. 

My emotions with all of this  are all over the place.   Yesterday, I was tired and in a funk but today I feel really upbeat.  I started the day taking a long walk in the woods with my dog Charlie, talking for a long time with the lady in my life, Valerie.  I went to vote and went to the gym, then drove over to our digs in Hampden to start writing and talking with people.   We are going to do wonderful new things.  I really look forward to all of you being part of it. 

What has been amazing to me is the diversity of this movement that has developed since the station let me go.     It has involved inner city community activists, elected officials, university professors, teachers, social workers, receptionists, truck drivers, doctors and lawyers.    The station has heard and I have heard from Orthodox Jewish leaders, the head of the African American Muslim Community, Baltimore Hebrew University, ministers of every possible Christian denomination, Arab Americans.   It has been Black, White, Asian, Latino, young, old, middle aged, rich, poor, middle class, gay, straight.

It is everything I ever dreamed and hoped my show would mean.   When I began the show in 1993 I said I wanted it to be bridge between worlds and communities.  A place where all people and ideas could gather to speak together without fear of ridicule.  A lyceum, an agora, a marketplace of ideas.   A place where people who would never meet in life could hear and meet each other.    

I feel very satisfied with what we have built together over the years.     
 
The next time I write I want to share with  you the absurdity of all of this. But you know I want this blog to be a place where we can talk about anything, not just the madness and idiocy of what Tony Brandon, Andy Bienstock and Barbara Bozzuto  have done to our public radio. Soon we will be launching an Internet media site and much more.  I look forward to growing more with  you all and talking about all kinds of things. 

I can’t write tomorrow because I have to spend some time my 10 year old daughter Maisie.  She is in a play tomorrow and I also want to celebrate the fact that she just won her first debate.  Did anyone see where she and a friend of hers were commenting on the Baltimore Sun website?  The best part of life is being a Dad.  No question.

Thanks again!   I will  read all that you wrote and write some more.

-Marc


2/8 WYPR Staff, the WYPR Board Meeting and the CAB Meeting

Hello everyone. I just wanted to share my thoughts on your latest thoughts.
I stopped by to say hello to the protesters at WYPR today. Some drove all the way from the Eastern Shore and Bel Air. I must say I am humbled by the outpouring. You all do love the soul of public radio. You get it.

The staff at WYPR is fantastic. They have been really supportive to me personally. When I taped my Maryland Morning segment many staffers were watching, cheering me on. They know the truth. They have confronted Tony Brandon and Andy Bienstock in meetings. Asking tough questions of management is never easy but they have done it. They are advocating for you, the listener. I know many of them feel lost but I have told them to work. They have families to support and mortgages to pay. Some have refused sit in my place on the air. Despite the difficulties I have faced with sectors of the management and some of the board, it has been a joyous experience to work with the producers and staff at WYPR. They are as upset about all of this just as you and I are.

As for management…are they trying to cancel the March 12th WYPR Board meeting, or are they just trying to discourage people from coming? Certainly all mention of it has disappeared from the WYPR website, where there was previously a message giving you a phone number to call if you wanted to attend. There are also reports they they are considering try to cancel the Community Advisory Board meeting on February 20th, despite the fact that the CAB is meant to be independently operated. I have also heard they on the verge of hiring a host for the midday show. So, we will see.

While the truth squads will keep working, we are going to work on developing new programming for the web and for the radio. I would love to hear what you think you would like us to do besides keep up the good fight. What are your ideas?

Keep letting them know what you think, show up on the 20th and let us know what you want us to do.

I have to read everything your wrote today. I will be back, and we will be in touch by e-mail and blog to let you know our next steps.

Thanks…

-Marc


2/7 from Marc

I just read each and every one of your entries on the blog. It is hard to know what say.

For starters, show up at the Community Board meeting on February 20th. It will be at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the Meyerhoff Auditorium at 7 pm. I have no idea what the WYPR representation will say but I am sure that it will be a continued misrepresentation of the truth.

What I am really worried about is the future of public radio in our community. WYPR will be here for a long to come. Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion and all the other national programming you love will be there. They won’t go off the air.

What is missing in the you in public radio. I think about all the times during the fund drives (which they cancelled for February) I said to you “that you are the public in public radio, that is why I named WYPR “Your Public Radio”. I feel like you were betrayed and lied to.

The management of the station has done a remarkable job building underwriting. Perhaps the best job in public radio
But they have let membership wither on the vine. No money, or I should say very little money is invested in serving members, getting new members or marketing the station.
While they may make enough money with underwriters to sustain themselves, the heart and soul of public radio is the listener members. There has to be a balance. The balance is gone. You are not cared about nor there to ensure the democratic nature of the station.

The board has some wonderful people on it who love and are very devoted to public radio. While we need corporate and philanthropic leaders on any non-profit board what is missing are the everyday listeners who invest their money in this station. They are not heard. They do not have a seat at the table. Gary Levin is there as President of the Friends Group but he is ex-officio with no vote. The board does not reflect those listeners who invest in and support the station.

These are just two of the battles I have fought and lost at the station. I will tell you more stories along the way on this blog, and soon we will begin some new productions on the web.

Jessica Phillips, who was a producer on the Marc Steiner Show from October 2005 to February 2007, has come to work for me. I have a production company called The Center for Emerging Media that has produced a series on the Vietnam War and a series called Just Words, about the lives of the working poor and other marginalized groups. You can go to our website to see some of what we have done. The whole Vietnam series, Shared Weight, will be posted soon. The website itself is going to be rebuilt.

I thought soon, even though we will continue for a time to talk about the station madness, we should talk together on this blog about the issues of day. We will be posting interviews and productions soon as well.

So, we will all stay in touch.

Thanks so much for your support.

-Marc


Ed Norris

I’ll be on the Ed Norris Show tomorrow the 6th of February at 11 am.  Tune in to 105.7 WHFS.  Call and talk 410-481-1057.


2/5 from Marc

First, thanks so much for all the support. In my next post I will respond directly to the thoughts and ideas you all have shared.

I don’t know if you all heard Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast today. They interviewed me and then they spoke with Tony Brandon,  who is president of the station  and who led the effort to get of me. Quickly, I want set the record straight on one thing that he said which was a bald-faced lie.

He has constantly attempted diminish what I and our listeners did six years ago in raising funds to purchase what was then WJHU. He said on the air that we raised only 5% of the $5 million to purchase the station. I have all the records, and the old bank statements. We raised close to $750,000 after I send an e-mail asking listeners to support our effort to buy the station. $400,000 of that came in huge contributions of six figure. Four people gave $25,000 and numbers more $15, $10 and $5 thousand dollar contributions. Hundreds more gave everything from$5.00 to $1000.00. None of them (those who gave $25 thousand and less) were ever acknowledged or thanked by the station.

At any rate, in many ways this is beside the point. The money is not important. It is more important to them than to me.  But it is important that the efforts of the listeners and early supporters not be diminished.

What is important is the future of public radio. What is important is that this is about integrity of public radio. It is about the corporatization of WYPR and of public radio.

When I raised the money from listeners I said I would return every dime to them if we did not buy the station. You trusted me. I met some people, like Tony Brandon, who I thought would be partners to build our community station. Instead it was hijacked.

There is a history here that I will relate to all of you over the next few days. Right now I have to go off to a lunch meeting so I can continue to ensure coverage of our world in print, audio and video on our blog and the Center for Emerging Media website.

So, I will share with you all our future plans, and my perspective on the history of the past six years at WYPR very soon.

Thank you all so much. I will back at you a bit after lunch and for the next few days.

Take care.. and thanks

Marc


1/30/08 The Geography of Bliss

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Living in Baltimore, I can’t help but notice a lot of distinctly unhappy looking people  around town.  I know this is not exactly some kind of utopia, so is it reasonable to assume that people are, in general, happier elsewhere?

NPR Correspondent Eric Weiner will be joining us at 1pm today to discuss what he learned travelling the world purposefully seeking out happiness.  Check out his book The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.

-Justin


1/29 Banished/Sundown Towns

The saying, "Don’t let the sun go down on you in Forsyth County," was a warning to African-Americans, in the early part of this century not to be in certain counties after dark. Forsyth County is just one of a number of counties which practiced a form of ethnic cleansing.

The story of these towns, and their ongoing legacy is told in the documentary Banished by filmmaker Marco Williams and the book Sundown Towns by James Loewen. Also taking part in the discussion is University of Maryland Law Professor Sherilynn Ifill. Professor Ifill will host a post screening discussion of Banished at the University of Maryland Law Center on Thursday, January 31 at 5pm.

-Marcus

P.S. To listen to Marc’s interview with Marco Williams, go here.

 


1/29/08 Marc’s thoughts on today’s show

PAYING KIDS TO DO WELL

Dr. Andres Alonso at noon

Paying kids to do well on tests?!?!?!?!?!?!?

My first visceral reaction was no way.  This is antithetical to what we all believe, that we should instill an intrinsic love of education. 

Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Schools, is going to spend a million dollars, in part to pay kids in the 11th and 12th grade who failed one of the High School Assessment tests, if they improve their scores on future tests.   They will receive up to $110.00, depending on how much their scores improve.  Money will also be used to pay students to tutor other students.

Some would argue, like Dan Rodricks, that middle and upper class families always bribe their kids with cash, dinner and objects of desire if they do well in school.  What is wrong with the city doing it for unmotivated kids also mired in poverty?

Others argue it is a quick fix and a bribe that hides real issue of why students don’t have an intrinsic love of learning and why they lose in our schools.

Is it a bad idea?  Looking forward to hearing what Dr. Alonso has to say.  Looking forward to what you have to say on air and on our blog.

 BANISHED

I was not amazed when I first heard that there was wholesale ethnic cleansing of African Americans from towns across America.  I was shocked when I found out that it occurred well into the depression era of the 1930’s.

One of our guests, Marco Williams, recently made the movie Banished.  It’s about the interactions of three Black families, who were descendents of the banished, and white people now living in those towns.  

The issue of the day will be to find out what relevance this has on our lives now.  The Germans paid reparations to the Jews who survived the camps, the US paid reparations to the Japanese Americans and the descendents of those interned in camps during World War II.  Should the US do the same for those who are the descendents of those African Americans ethnically cleansed from their homes?

Is it different because these are descendents of rather than the victims themselves?  Is monetary reparation the only possibility?  Does this give us as a society a chance for some reconciliation?  Is it just history, something for us to learn about and then let go?

What do you think?  Call in or write in at one, or comment on the blog.
Check with you later.

-Marc


1/29/08 Dr. Andres Alonso and paying kids to perform

Did your parents ever give you an incentive to perform well in school?  As in, raise your grades and we’ll raise your allowance?  Or, keep a certain GPA and we’ll take you on a vacation?  Mine did.  Freshman year of college my mom wouldn’t let me take my car to the campus first semester-and I wasn’t allowed to bring it second semester unless I got a certain GPA.  I worked pretty hard to make sure I hit that GPA mark–I needed my car to escape campus every once in awhile.

We all know that lots of parents do this.  But when the actual school system gets involved, we get very uncomfortable about the idea of learning having a cash/material reward system.  We want education to be pure-for students to be motivated by a love of learning-to learn for learning’s sake.  But do we need to do a reality check? Do we need to abandon our high ideals and take a look at what is really going on, and maybe adopt a method that stems from a harm-reduction philosophy? 

That’s what we’re talking about today at noon, with Dr. Andres Alonso, live and in studio.  Join us!

Poll:  What do you think about Dr. Andres Alonso’s idea that the school system pay students who improve their test scores?

-Jessica


1/28/08 Black Conservatism

I remember in 2006 during the race for Maryland’s vacant senate seat, a hot debate being sparked on our show when a guest said, “Any black person who votes for a Democrat in this election is a patsy.”  Oh, the calls that came in for the rest of the hour-people were SO angry! 

While it was a comment that probably could have been worded in a much more intelligent way, what it implied was interesting.  The implication was that the Democratic party was taking the African American vote for granted by not supporting the candidacy of Kweisi Mfume-and that blacks should vote for the Republican candidate, Michael Steele, an African American.  Most of the callers were offended by the very suggestion that the Republican agenda had anything to offer black voters.

But according to statistics, more and more blacks are finding something about the Republican party to interest them. In 1972, fewer than 10 percent of African Americans identified themselves as conservative; today nearly 30 percent-11.2 million-do.  Those are the numbers presented by Christopher Alan Bracey in his new book, Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, from Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice. He points to the social issues that African Americans tend to be conservative on-abortion and gay marriage for example-and traces the history of politicla conservatism in the Black world.

Figures like Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell–what appeal did they find in conservative politics?  Why do they remain such polarizing figures?  Join us today to discuss.

-Jessica

P.S. Go here for information on Bracey’s event in Howard County this weekend!


 


1/24/07 Green Governor

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Then-Mayor Martin O’Malley at an Earth Day Planting at Gilmor Elementary in 2005

Before I came to work at WYPR, I worked at a documentary company called Soundprint.  While I was there, they were working on a series of stories about urban forests that delved into the unique environmental issues that cities face.  For the documentary Watershed 263, we attended an Earth Day planting ceremony at Gilmor Elementary in Baltimore.  Gilmor was one of a dozen schools in Baltimore that had converted their parking lot into a garden.  Things like parking lots and roads are terrible for the environment.  When it rains, the rain gathers up all the oil and other pollutants that have been sitting on the pavement and then whooshes it all into a storm-water drain.  That all ends up in the Chesapeake, of course, where it wreaks havoc.  A garden, on the other hand, keeps that water right there, and puts it to good use.  It’s a lot of fun for the kids, too, to get a day out of class to get their hands dirty and have a beautiful spot to play.

 The purpose of that whole long story was to tell you that on that day, then-Mayor Martin O’Malley was at that school, and ceremoniously planted the first flower in the soil.  I remember being impressed that he would find time in a busy schedule to visit a school, make a speech, plant a flower, and hang out with the kids for awhile.  I left with the feeling that he cared about the environment.

The impression I was left with would please the now Governor, and those who work to craft his image.  He has very purposefully cast himself as a “Green Governer“.  But what does that term really mean?  As the environmental crisis in the Bay and beyond seems to grow more urgent, how does the criteria for being an environmental politician change?  What is the gold standard in environmentalism for a politician?  What is the leading edge-and is O’Malley on it?

We’ll discuss this today with people who all care deeply and have devoted their lives to the environment.  Join us, to share your thoughts on what you would like to see happen in Maryland.

Poll: Do you think Governor Martin O’Malley is a Green Governor?

-Jessica

 

Here are some pictures courtesy of one of our guests today, Gerry Winegrad.  His descriptions are below:

 

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rockfish.jpg3

 

1.  brown bull headed catfish taken from the South River near Annapolis by USGS.  Nearly 2/3rds sampled had these cancerous tumors from water pollutants, most likely from stormwater runoff.
2.  BROWN TIDE KILLS 7,000 INNER HARBOR FISH   June 5, 2007 BALTIMORE — State environmental officials said a lack of oxygen killed thousands of fish in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor last weekend.  State program director Charles Poukish said the fish kill is  the result of an algae bloom or brown tide.  Poukish said the lack of dissolved oxygen is the result of a large bloom of microscopic algae. Recent warm water temperatures killed the algae and that depleted oxygen near the water‘s surface.   Massive fish kills also were reported in the Potomac during the summer and other kills in the Magothy and other rivers.
3.  rockfish with mycobactreiosis (chronic wasting disease).  A wasting disease that kills rockfish and can cause a severe skin infection in humans has spread to nearly three-quarters of the rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay, cradle of the mid-Atlantic’s most popular game fish.  The disease also sends a grim message about the entire bay ecosystem. The rockfish remains bay conservationists’ only success story — a species nearly wiped out, then revived by fishing limits.  But as the number of rockfish surged, the fish remained in a body of water too polluted to support the level of life it once did.

-Justin


1/23/08 Operation Safe Streets

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Marc has said for years that the best way to address drug and gang related violence in Baltimore is to get ex-offenders, those wise men who have been there and come back to tell the tale, to work in outreach with troubled communities.  But there has always seemed to be an institutional and government aversion towards giving money to people who have been in prison.  Maybe things just had to get really, really, really bad before that changed.In 2000, Chicago implemented a program that was developed at the University of Illnois School of Public Health in Chicago.  This program began in  West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. Police Beat 1115 was chosen as the first CeaseFirezone in large part because of the high number of shootings.  The idea was to send ex-offenders, faith leader, and other community members into those neighborhoods to offer conflict resolution, help kids get out of gangs, and whatever else it took to save a neighborhood. In the first year of CeaseFire, shootings in beat 1115 dropped by 67%.  In the past few years, CeaseFire has seen continuing success, which you can read about here.

Last year, Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore City Health Department brought Operation Safe Streets to Baltimore.  It is a program based on CeaseFire, and we’re hearing that the pilot neighborhood has seen a tremendous drop in homicides and shootings.  Today at one, we’ll talk with people from that community to learn more.

Join us….

-Jessica


Marc is guest blogging

Marc is the guest blogger for the OSI-Baltimore Audacious Ideas blog.  Go check it out!


1/22/08 Americans and Money

As the subprime mortgage mess has gone into major meltdown mode, we’re hearing a lot about “predatory lenders” while sympathetic words are being used for the people who are losing their homes. 

But at what point do we say, “Wait a second–should these people bear some responsibility for making bad financial choices?  Why did they choose a loan that was not good for them?  Are they guilty of living beyond their means?”

Ah, living beyond ones means.  An American tradition, some would say.  Advertisers and credit card companies surely want you to engage in this kind of behavior, and hey, it’s good for the economy, which is good for America, right?  Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves when those $230 Cole Haan shoes at Nordstrom are calling our name.

But at what point does it become too much? If I buy the Cole Haan shoes, or use my credit card to pay for groceries or for my kids school uniform, and then I can’t make the payments and my interest rate jumps not only on the credit card I didn’t make the payment on but on ALL my credit cards–is that my fault for not being responsible with my money?  Or was I lured by dishonest and seductive promises about easy credit and low APR’s into thinking that I could spend now, pay later?

And if, as in the case of the subprime debacle, the government intervenes, what message will it send to people?  Will it help us become smarter spenders and borrowers, or teach us that we can engage in risky behavior and not bear the consequences?

We’re talking about issues of responsibility with debt today, and how our culture thinks about money and credit.  The subprime mess has showed us how far this issue reaches.  All sectors are hurt, not just those involved with the industry. Is it time for our country to radically transform the way we think about money, credit, and debt?

Join us!

Poll: Who do you think is to blame for the mortgage meltdown?

Poll: Should the government intervene to keep people from losing their homes?

-Jessica


1/17/08 Mexico’s Southern Border, and Synesthesia

Mexicans.  That is what many Americans call any person living in America who is from south of our border.  But the truth is that many of the people living in our country without permission began their journey south of Mexico-and they had to sneak into that country illegally as well.  That is the subject of a new article in this month’s National Geographic.  Around 400,000 people sneak into Mexico every single year, making Mexico’s southern border feel “like the place in distant water where the wave first rises and swells and gathers uncontainable propulsive force.”  We’ll talk with the author of that article, Cynthia Gorney.  Please also check out the photographs of Alex Webb, who traveled with Cynthia as she reported the story.

And then…

 

There is this cool test on the BBC website I took last week that measures whether or not your senses overlap. As in, do you connect days of the week, letters or numbers with color?  Is Thursday always green to you, and is the letter F always red?  What the test is really measuring is whether or not you may have a neurological phenomenon called synesthesia.  Synesthesia is only beginning to be understand by scientists and the people who have it.  There are several different types, the most common called Grapheme-color synesthesia, which is where an individual associates letters and numbers with color.  There is also spatial-sequence synesthesia, where numbers have spatial relationships to each other and to you-for example, 18 is further away and to the left, while 9 is rather close and above.  There are many other kinds and you can read about them here.  

So what is life like for someone with synesthesia?  Today we are going to talk with writer Alison Buckholtz, who wrote a great article for Salon.com earlier this week called The Letter E is Purple about her personal experience with the condition-and how she feels about the fact that her son may have it..

 Join us!

-Jessica


1/16/08 Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld

Baltimore City’s 36th police commissioner has a lot of work to do to keep the homicide rate from following last year’s trend, when it was the highest since 1999.  He’s going to be in the studio today to discuss his plans, which include using community engagement, targeted enforcement, and strong partnerships. We’re taking your questions for Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld.  Join us at Noon.

-Jessica


1/16/08 Dicussing The Wire with David Zurawik

Baltimore is crazy for HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire.  I think that many citizens of Baltimore secretly enjoy the violent and criminal reputation of the city, that they are perversely proud of it in the way that New Yorkers were of their city before Giuliani cleaned it up. We think it makes us look tough or something.  The Wire is a part of that–almost our way of saying to the world, “See how messed up and tough our city is?  I bet you couldn’t handle this.”

 It’s also just such a great show.  Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik, who you also hear weekly on WYPR’s Take on Television, will be in the studio today to discuss the show.  We can also talk about the writer’s strike and what it means for the next year of entertainment.  Is any end in sight?

Join us, with your questions and comments for David.  What do you love or hate most about this new, final season of The Wire?  What television show are you going to miss seeing as a result of the writer’s strike?

Poll: What do you think of the fifth and final season of The Wire?

-Jessica

P.S. Aaron Henkin of The Signal, our weekly arts and culture show, did a great piece last week where he watched The Wire with former drug dealers and got their thoughts on how real or unreal the depiction of their lives is.  Listen to it here.


1/15/08 Dr. Nancy Grasmick

There is probably no one more suited to the role of having to defend their job from a Governor, two legislative leaders, and dozens of delegates and senators who are only too happy to give the men in charge what they want, than State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick.  But as equipped as she is, she has quite the fight ahead of her.  The Governor has said he wants her removed, and the Speaker of the House Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller have said they will change the law to give him what he wants.
So what is going to happen?  What are Nancy Grasmick’s plans for defending her position?  And if she is successful, what is her agenda for the next four years?
Join us at one o’clock today, to find out.  We’ll be joined by Dr. Grasmick live in the studio.

1/15/08 Middle East Peace

One of the most interesting things I have read about the situation in Israel and Palestine is a positive observation. The observation is that for the first time in many, many years, the leader of Israel and the leader of Palestine trust each other.

The problem is, perhaps, that their own people may not trust them.

Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, is under investigation for corruption, has been blamed for the loss of the second Lebanon war, and according to some polls, only 8% of Israeli’s support his government.

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority, is in a constant fight to keep the Palestinian populace loyal to his Fatah party as opposed to Hamas.

And President Bush, who is meant to help usher these men and their nations towards peace, is generally disliked in the Arab world and due to leave office in a years time.

Is there any hope?

Join us at Noon today to discuss. We’re going to talk with Aron Raskas, a Baltimore attorney who is national vice-president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and a director of www.onejerusalem.org, and with Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning Palestinian columnist/journalist and currently a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, as well as William Kern, Managing Editor of WORLDMEETS.US, a website that provides articles translated into English from an array of international media.

Poll: Do you think this latest push for peace will result in any lasting agreements?

-Jessica


Blade Runner

In case you missed it, Diane Rehm just revealed that her favorite movie is Blade Runner.

I thought that was important to share.


1/07/2008 Valerie Plame

We’ve got  Valerie Plame on the show today. She’s going to talk about her experience being at the center of a national scandal over the leak of her identity as a covert CIA agent.  Though no one has been held responsible for revealing her status, one man, Lewis Libby, has been found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury in charges related to the investigation into who leaked her name.  She’ll share her experience today and take your questions.  Last fall she released a heavily redacted autobiography, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.

Poll: Do you think anyone will ever be held responsible for leaking Valerie Plame’s status as a covert CIA agent?


1/07/08 Voting Machines and Kenya

Two topics today at one.

We’re going to start with Clive Thompson, a contributing writer to New York Times Magazine who wrote the cover story this weekend titled Can You Count on Voting Machines? This is scary stuff, people.  In actual election situations, touch screen voting machines have crashed, lost votes, failed to properly print paper records of votes, and more.  These are the machines that roughly one-third of all Americans will be using to cast their votes in the 2008 Presidential election-an election that may be determined by very slim margins.  Including Maryland. 

Poll: Do you trust electronic voting machines?

And then, we go to Kenya, where 486 people are estimated dead since the disputed Presidential election there last week.  Things have quieted down since both political parties have cancelled protest rallies and agreed to mediation.  But the situation is precarious and the humanitarian crisis remains with a quarter of a million people displaced.  We’ll talk with Maina Kiai, Chairman of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, who is currently in Kenya, and with Christopher Fumonyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute.


1/2/07 Studs Terkel and Nelson Peery

Marc loves Studs Terkel, the great historian, author, broadcaster, and so much more.  So whenever he releases a new book or is anywhere near a studio and they offer us an interview, we know the answer is always yes.  Recently, he released a memoir called Touch and Go.  After decades of telling other people’s stories, Studs is finally telling his own.  Today at one we bring you an interview with Studs that we recorded before the holidays.  It may be the last time we get to speak to this 95 year old American treasure, so don’t miss it.

 And then we’ll talk with Nelson Peery, an author and activist whose latest book is Black Radical: The Education of an American Revolutionary.  This book examines the time in this communist’s life after he returned home from serving in World War II to the time of the Watts Riots in 1965.  He challenges the notion that the Civil Rights Movement in America was led by the clergy elite. Instead, he believes that it was the experiences of black veterans of WWII that gave the movement the mass appeal that it needed to succeed.  He joined us to discuss his experiences in the Communist party, the freedom movement, and more. 

A great show…today at one. Don’t miss it.

-Jessica


1/2/07 Open Phones

We’re back, so dry your tears and join us at Noon today for Open Phones.  What is on your mind?  We’re interested.  1-866-661-9309 or 410-662-8780 or email at steinershow@wypr.org.  Or leave your comment here.

-Jessica


12/10/07 Surge?

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What effect has the increased level of US troops, ‘the surge,’ had in Iraq?  Statistics show decreased levels of violence, but does that constitute a success?  There are still tragic amounts of daily violence, and a host of other problems, throughout Iraq.  What would a “good” outcome to the war look like at this point?

 Joining us today is Nancy Youssef, who just returned from Iraq where she reports for the McClatchy newspapers.  Read her articles here.  Also joining us is Adil Shamoo, who recently wrote an article supporting a military withdrawal from Iraq, which you can read here.

 

Join us…

-Justin


12/6/07 Mothers

In my work as producer for the Just Words series, I’ve come to believe that inner city mothers are the new stoics.  I can’t tell you how many times I have asked a mother “How do you deal with all this?” and they just look at me like I am crazy to even imagine that they would take the luxury of considering NOT dealing with it all.  I do not know how they do it.  Being a mother is hard enough, I imagine.  But to be a mother trying to raise a child with drug dealers on the corner,without much money, with the schools in terrible shape and murders on the rise? 

That’s what we are going to hear about today.  We’re invited three women who have been featured on the Just Words series.  Lorraine Mackey lost her son, Aaron Mackey, to gang violence over a year ago.  She’s doing everything she can to keep her other son safe, and is trying to pick up the pieces and figure out, what went wrong?  Sheilah Cannon’s daughter was caught in gang crossfire while going to pick her little brother up from school, and had to spend months in shock trauma.  Now Sheila is doing everything she can to find a place she can afford to move her children to.  Nargas Hyman began to worry about her eldest son years ago when she saw him and his friends hanging out after school, with nothing to do.  She created an afterschool youth program that she is still running, over a decade later, out of her mother’s basement.

What do these women go through as they struggle to keep their children safe?  We’ll find out today.  Join us.

To hear Nargas, Sheila, and Lorraine on JUST WORDS, go here.

-Jessica


12/04 Jonathon Scott Fuqua and Zakes Mda

The Marc Steiner Show is getting into the Christmas spirit with a doorbuster opportunity for you today…A twofer!  At one o’clock we’re going to bring you two authors in one hour. 

First, we’re talking with Jonathon Scott Fuqua.  When you were a teenager, did you ever have a book that just so perfectly captured your life or your feelings that you read it over and over again?  I did.  It was Girl, by Blake Nelson and I can’t say it so much captured my life as it was the life I wished I had.  I also loved Unfinished Portrait of Jessica by Richard Peck.  Both of these books are about girls turning into women and how thorny that process can be.  Jonathon Scott Fuqua writes books like this.  They are books that come as a relief to the people reading them; finally, someone understands!  His latest book is called Gone and Back Againand is the story of Caley, a teenager whose dad has a personality disorder and whose brother is handicapped.  His parents are divorced and he’s been moved all around the country, eventually ending up in Florida, which is where the novel begins.  It’s a story that draws upon the author’s own struggles with depression.

And then we talk with Zakes Mda.  He’s a writer from South Africa whose work is really about our interactions with history and memory and how we manage those things in the middle of present life.  His latest book is Cion, and is about Toloki, the hero from a previous novel, moving to Ohio with his family and learning about his ancestors, runaway slaves. 

Join us today at one, for all that!

-Jessica


11/29/07 Ghetto Nation

“Prostitution is hilarious!”

I’m always shocked when I hear about some stupid group on a college campus having a Pimp’s and Ho’s party, or a “Ghetto” themed party where you are encouraged to bring 40’s in brown paper bags and “wear your favorite gang colors!”  I mean, do these people really not get it?  Are they really unaware that someone is going to be offended by this?  Where is the motivation, anyway?  Why do people want to emulate ghetto stereotypes and celebrate the worst of human behavior?

These are the questions that Cora Daniels asks in her most recent book, Ghetto Nation: A Journey into the Land of Bling and the Home of the Shameless.  Why do people like Paris Hilton appropriate ghetto attitudes and style?  How can corporate America defend it’s practices of making so much money off harmful ghetto stereotypes? Do we really live in a world where Pimp and Ho”  for children costumes are available?  Yes.  We sure do.

Let’s discuss…at Noon…

-Jessica


11/28/07 Joel Hafvenstein

 

In 2004, Joel Hafvenstein went to Afghanistan as part of an aid program to help Afghan opium farmers find alternative ways to make money.  Predictably, the program ran into resistance from the area’s drug trafficking warlords, and responded with ambushes.  Within just a few months, nine of his colleagues were dead.

He’s our guest today to talk about his time in Afghanistan, which is chronicled in the new book Opium Season: A Year on the Afghan Frontier. It’s a really exciting account of his time there, and a quite educational story about the complexities of Afghan society and the larger issue of the problems present in U.S. attempts to bring aid to foreign countries.

So join us, to hear this fascinating story….

-Jessica


11/27/07 Kaufman and Hancock

A socialist and a capitalist walk into a bar….

The beginning of a joke, right?  Not today.  Today we have a socialist (A. Robert Kaufman) and a capitalist (Okay, well not specifically a capitalist, but a business writer, so he writes about capitalism and for the most part we’re all capitalists, after all….anyway it’s Jay Hancock from the Baltimore Sun) and they are coming in together to talk about how they both came to this conclusion: the War on Drugs has failed and must be ended. 

Jay Hancock revealed this belief in a column on November 7th.  Kaufman has been advocating this for years.  They’re going to talk about how they came to this conclusion from very different places.

Join us, to share your thoughts on the War on Drugs.

-Jessica


11/26/07 Annapolis Peace Summit

Seems like this week’s Middle East peace conference in Annapolis has come back from the dead.  Everyone was saying that the conference had become irrelevant–that no one was coming, it would only be one day, and it wouldn’t make a dent in the enormous amount of work and negotiation that needs to occur between Palestine and Israel.

But things seem to be looking up.  As President Bush emphasizes his desire to make peace in the Middle East part of his legacy, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and other nations of the Arab League have agreed to attend. 

So looks like we’re going to have a bona fide conference.  Today at Noon we’re going to discuss what issues are going to be at the top of the heap.  What are the likely sticking points?  What is a reasonable set of things we can hope to see accomplished?

We’ll talk with our friend Ali Zaghab, a Palestinian-born local businessman who has joined us many times in the past to discuss these issues, and Dr. Elli Lieberman, a retired Israeli Army major, a PhD in Middle East studies, and a local businessman.  We’re also going to here an essay on peace and interfaith understanding and love from John Oliver Smith.

So join us.  What do you want to see accomplished?  Do you feel optimistic?

-Jessica


11/20/07 Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore

 

Today, local author, Goucher professor, and friend Madison Smartt Bell is joining us to discuss his new book Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore.  The book is what it sounds like; the author takes us on a walk through Baltimore, pointing out the important cultural, historical, and social points of interest along the way.  He visits typical Baltimore tourist spots like the Inner Harbor and Fells Point, but also goes to places off the tourist track, like the vibrant Greenmount Avenue and Greenmount Cemetery. 

 Producer Justin went out with him last week and captured the sounds of some of these spots…we’ll be playing those on the air today while we talk with Madison.  So join us with your comments, questions, and stories of your favorite parts of the city!

-Jessica


11/15/07 Iraq and Pakistan

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Well, I hope if any of you aren’t members, you will become one after today, because we’re gonna be running up the phone bill here at WYPR!

 First–we’re going to go to Iraq, to talk with Nancy Youssef of the McClatchy papers.  She’s going to share her first-hand perspective of the political and security situation in that country.

Then, we’re traveling to Pakistan.  We’re going to talk to Shahan Mufti of the Christian Science Monitor, who is reporting from Pakistan.  We’ll also talk to Washington College professor Tahir Shad, a Pakistani who is currently in Argentina.  And we’ll talk with Kamran Asdar Ali, a Pakistani and professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas.

What do you want to know about the situation in Iraq and Pakistan?  Bring them to the show!

-Jessica


11/14/07 Economy

Can I let you in on a little secret?  I am loving the housing slump.  It is my favorite thing in the world.  I hope it just keeps falling and falling.  I, of course, am a prospective buyer.  But you, the owner, are cursing me for celebrating the loss you are experiencing in your net worth!

The differences in our attitudes explains in part why it is so hard to come to a consensus about the economy and how it is doing.  In my eyes, the economy was flying so high that someone like me, young and without much money, couldn’t really get my foot in the door and buy stocks or a house.  It was not an economy that was friendly to beginners. I felt priced out of that economy. But to someone whose foot was in the door already, the economy was perfect-great-never been better!

We’re going to talk today with people who have different ideas about what the economy we have today means.  Does the housing slump portend a recession-or is the market just correcting itself?  Are oil prices rising higher and higher because of actual supply and demand issues, or is it market manipulation? Why does the Federal Reserve seem so optimistic? And what role do hedge funds play in alll this?

Join us…with your comments and questions…or offers to sell me your house at a reduced price!

-Jessica


10/23/07 Diana Walker

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Today we are talking with one of the finest photographers working in journalism today.
Her name is Diana Walker and she is a contract photographer for Time Magazine. She’s spent over two decades covering the White House, and has photographed Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. Today she is joining us because of her new book The Bigger Picture: 30 years of Portraits. It’s an amazing book, and she is full of amazing stories of behind the scenes on the campaign trail and behind the public face of public officials.

National Geographic, which published the book, was kind enough to share with us some of the photographs in the book.

Diana Walker is our guest at 1 pm on Tuesday. Here is some of the great pictures from her amazing book The Bigger Picture: 30 Years of Portraits.

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New Jersey Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick-1978

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Boris Yeltsin, President Clinton-1995

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Clinton-Gore campaign staffers-1996

 

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First Lady Hilary Clinton-1997

 

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The Gores, Democratic Convention-August 2000

These are just a few of the fantastic pictures that are available in Diana Walkers book The Bigger Picture: 30 Years of Portraits. Hope you enjoyed the interview and the photographs!

All photographs © Diana Walker 2007. No use without written permission from the publisher.

Want to meet Diana? She’ll be doing a talk and book signing at Politics & Prose in Washington D.C. on November 11th. Call 202.364.1919 for more information.

-Jessica

 


10/17/07 Travis Price

When this book came in, I was immediately transfixed.  We get a lot of books coming through everyday, and when a pretty one comes in, it’s a nice break from the policy tomes we see all the time.  But this book goes so far beyond that.  It is way more than pretty pictures.  It’s a poetic argument in favor of reinvigorating architecture with a sense of purpose and spirit.  It’s a passionate plea from an architect who is seeing our world become increasingly devoid of metaphor and grace.

This book is so visually stunning, and the conversation is bound to focus on a lot of the images of the buildings that Travis Price has designed and built.  He was kind enough to let us use some of his images to create a little visual exploration for our blog readers.  Just click here and enjoy!

Join us on air or here in the blog to talk about your favorite buildings, what you think about American design today, and whether or not you think our world has lost it’s way in terms of design.

And don’t forget to become or renew your membership!

-Jessica


10/11/07 Voices of Lombard Street

Lombard Street, back in the day

Lots of people pitch show ideas to us all of the time.  Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not, but we only have so many hours in a week, and we could never get to them all even if we wanted to.

The idea for his hour’s show came to us from the Jewish Museum of Maryland, who want to promote a new exhibit they have opening on Sunday.  In general, if someone is pitching an idea that is a thinly vailed promotion, I would politely decline.  In this case, however, I realized this idea had some great potential for us.

The exhibit is called “Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore.”  The idea of actually bringing together a group of people with deep roots in one neighborhood, so that we could explore the history of the neighborhood from a personal level, is what really appealed to me in putting this hour together.  In a place like Baltimore, the combination of neighborhood histories and personal stories always makes for something interesting.

If you, or someone in your family, grew up around East Lombard Street, have memories of the area at different times, or live there today, we’d love to hear from you.  As always, you can call or email while we’re on the air at 1pm today, and also leave your stories here.

We’re thinking about adding a new segment on the air in which we’ll read emails and blog posts from listeners reflecting on shows that have already aired either later in the week or the following week.  So, don’t hesitate to keep writing after each show.

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-Justin


10/11/07 Personality Disorder

Today we’re going to return to a topic we’ve been covering since the story broke, and that’s the case of wounded soldiers being discharged from the Army under Chapter 5-13 “Personality Disorder.”  This enables the Army to avoid paying medical and disability benefits for these soldiers.  It was being applied despite the fact that these men passed the Army’s rigorous psychological entrance examinations and displayed no prior evidence of mental disorders.  Joshua Kors from The Nation is the one who broke this story (the original article is here,  and he’s back with an update, which you can read here.  We’ll also be joined by Congressman Phil Harefrom Illinois, who has introduced legislation to stop this kind of discharge, and from Congressman Bob Filner from California, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

We’ll also have a statement from the Army.  They declined to come on live. You can read their statement here.  You can also read the statement they sent us on March 27, 2007 here.

-Jessica