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From Lea – Not About the Issues, huh? and “The Mirrored Ceiling”

As I try and recover from the most derisive, hateful and misleading (Rudy Guiliani representing the joys of family values and small town America?) convention I have ever had the non-pleasure to witness, I’m sitting and pondering about the next few weeks and trusting that the actual issues and not I’m-a- hockey-mom-and-you’re-not-you-elitist-rich-non moose-eating Democrats, will make way to discussing our soaring unemployment rate, our bizarro trade deficit, our over 40 million fellow citizens with no health insurance, poverty, HIV-AIDS…shall I continue?

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Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week, “This election is not about issues.” “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” That is unbelievably frightening. Issues don’t matter, huh? The last time we elected a president we wanted to have a beer with, we descended into eight years of hell.

So, I decided to torture myself just a bit more and check out the mainstream media web sites, and as I clicked across net-land, I came across this blog entry by Judith Warner for the New York Times. She brilliantly states my beliefs, and I wanted to share:

The Mirrored Ceiling
by Judith Warner

It turns out there was something more nauseating than the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate this past week. It was the tone of the acclaim that followed her acceptance speech.

“Drill, baby, drill,” clapped John Dickerson, marveling at Palin’s ability to speak and smile at the same time( as an indication of her unexpected depths and unsuspected strengths. “It was clear Palin was having fun, and it’s hard to have fun if you’re scared or a lightweight,” he wrote in Slate.

The Politico praised her charm and polish as( antidotes to her lack of foreign policy experience: “Palin’s poised and flawless performance evoked roars of applause from delegates who earlier this week might have worried that the surprise pick and newcomer to the national stage may not be up to the job.”
“She had a great night. I thought she had a very skillfully written, and very skillfully delivered speech,” Joe Biden said, shades of “articulate and bright and clean” threatening a reappearance. (For a full roundup of these comments go here:

Thus began the official public launch of our country’s now most-prominent female politician. The condescension – damning with faint praise – was reminiscent of the more overt misogyny of Samuel Johnson.
“A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs,” the wit once observed. “It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all.”

Palin sounded, at times, like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.

But that wasn’t held against her. Thanks to the level of general esteem that greeted her ascent to the podium, it seems we’ve all got to celebrate the fact that America’s Hottest Governor (Princess of the Fur Rendezvous 1983, Miss Wasilla 1984) could speak at all.

Could there be a more thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women?
You are not, I think, supposed now to say this. Just as, I am sure, you are certainly not supposed to feel that having Sarah Palin put forth as the Republicans’ first female vice presidential candidate is just about as respectful a gesture toward women as was John McCain’s suggestion, last month, that his wife participate in a topless beauty contest.

Such thoughts, we are told, are sexist. And elitist. After all, via Palin, we now hear without cease, the People are speaking. The “real” “authentic,” small-town “Everyday People,” of Hockey Moms and Blue Collar Dads whom even Rudolph Giuliani now invokes as an antidote to the cosmopolite Obamas and their backers in the liberal media. (Remind me please, once again, what was the name of the small town where Rudy grew up?)
Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?

Because the Republicans, very clearly, believe that real people are idiots. This disdain for their smarts shows up in the whole way they’ve cast this race now, turning a contest over economic and foreign policy into a culture war of the Real vs. the Elites. It’s a smoke and mirrors game aimed at diverting attention from the fact that the party’s tax policies have helped create an elite that’s more distant from “the people” than ever before. And from the fact that the party’s dogged allegiance to up-by-your-bootstraps individualism — an individualism exemplified by Palin, the frontierswoman who somehow has managed to “balance” five children and her political career with no need for support — is leading to a culture-wide crack-up.
Real people, the kind of people who will like and identify with Palin, they clearly believe, are smart, but not too smart, and don’t talk too well, dropping their “g”s, for example, and putting tough concepts like “vice president” in quotation marks.

“As for that ‘V.P.’ talk all the time … I tell ya, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me, What is it exactly that the ‘VP’ does every day?” ( )Palin asked host Lawrence Kudlow on CNBC sometime before her nomination. “I’m used to bein’ very productive and workin’ real hard in an administration and we want to make sure that that ‘V.P.’ slot would be a fruitful type of position.”

And, I think, they find her acceptably “real,” because Palin’s not intimidating, and makes it clear that she’s subordinate to a great man.
That’s the worst thing a woman can be in this world, isn’t it? Intimidating, which appears to be synonymous with competent. It’s the kiss of death, personally and politically.

But shouldn’t a woman who is prepared to be commander in chief be intimidating? Because of the intelligence, experience, talent and drive that got her there? If she isn’t, at least on some level, off-putting, if her presence inspires national commentary on breast-pumping and babysitting rather than health care reform and social security, then something is seriously wrong. If she doesn’t elicit at least some degree of awe, then something is missing.

One of the worst poisons of the American political climate right now, the thing that time and again in recent years has led us to disaster, is the need people feel for leaders they can “relate” to. This need isn’t limited to women; it brought us after all, two terms of George W. Bush. And it isn’t new; Americans have always needed to feel that their leaders were, on some level, people like them.

But in the past, it was possible to fill that need through empathetic connection. Few Depression-era voters could “relate” to Franklin Roosevelt’s patrician background, notes historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “It was his ability to connect to them that made them feel they could connect to him,” she told me in a phone interview.

The age of television, Goodwin believes, has made the demand for connection more immediate and intense. But never before George W. Bush did it quite reach the beer-drinking level of familiarity. “Now it’s all about being able to see your life story in the candidate, rather than the candidate, with empathy, being able to relate to you.”

There’s a fine line between likability and demagoguery. Both thrive upon manipulation and least-common-denominator politics. These days, I fear, this need for direct mirroring — and thus this susceptibility to all sorts of low-level tripe — is particularly acute among women, who are perhaps reaching historic lows in their comfort levels with themselves and their choices.

Just look at how quickly the reaction to Palin devolved into what The Times this week called the ( “Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition.” Much of the talk about Palin (like the emoting about Hillary Clinton before her) ultimately came down to this: is she like me or not like me? If she’s not like me, can I like her? And what kind of child care does she have?

“This election is not about issues,” Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” That’s a scary thought. For the takeaway is so often base, a reflection more of people’s fears and insecurities than of our hopes and dreams.

We’re not likely to get a worthy female president anytime soon.


Thanks Judith.

Just my opinion folks, and you know what is said about those…


Lea Gilmore – Sarah Palin Speaks

Sarah Palin speaks. Lets give it to her, she was phenomenal. Her presentation, her engagement, her fiery delivery wowed the Republican base, and a new conservative mega-star was born.

As the loudspeakers played the Sly Stone dance maker “I’m Everyday People,” there was a moment of irony for me. Because unlike the Democratic convention, I didn’t see the rainbow of “everyday” people I know. I saw an overwhelming white audience, oh yes they did find some black Conservatives and Latino delegates to be within camera shot.

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Palin’s speech vehemently energized the Republican base. But will the searing attacks on Obama and so-called liberal ideals speak to Independents? That being said, her role has clearly been defined as the “attack dog.” Joe Biden will have to step lightly when “attacking” back given the obvious dynamics, a fact that I am sure was taken into consideration during the vetting process that produced this unlikely nominee – a 72 year old heartbeat away from being the next leader of the free world.

Palin hit this speech out of the proverbial ball park.

It looks like it is time for Hillary to practice the glowing support she gave Senator Obama last week. By passionately speaking out now, Hillary can end the comparisons and stop the McCain camp in it’s tracks for going after her “18 million supporters.” Silence from her will just be giving permission that those oh so important voters are fair game. Hillary can make it known that just because two powerful, dynamic politicians share the same internal plumbing, women are not interchangeable and to believe so is an insult to us all.

Back to the speech…

Going for Obama and those who have questioned her small town experience Palin stated, "Since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities." Ouch.

Palin delivered a populist message, referring often to her young family. She also touched on the theme of the day – Reform. "Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election," Palin said. "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

With her family sitting in the audience, thousands of cameras focused on her 17 year old daughter Bristol and her fiance’, and now with the world focused on Palin, we are being thrown into a campaign of ‘your style versus my style’. I would much rather it be ‘your ideals versus mine’.

I may adore her new shoes, but I fundamentally disagree with most of Palin’s ideology. The former is not how I choose my vote. The issues matter, and the dressing of the messenger doesn’t, and that goes for both political parties.

McCain speaks tonight.


Joe Lieberman Takes Center Stage by Lea Gilmore


“What after all is a Democrat like me, doing at a Republican party like this…,” stated Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat and now Independent, opening his speech to the Republican National Convention last night.

Man oh man, what a difference eight years makes.

Just eight years ago, Joe Lieberman, a proud Democrat, was grasping the hand of then Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore as Gore’s choice to be his Vice-Presidential running mate.

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Ready for prime-time and speaking with as much energy that he can muster, Lieberman went on attack. "Sen. Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead," Lieberman said. "But my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times for America."

Well, isn’t that interesting. Let’s think this through a bit “eloquence is no substitute for a record.” Can these same words not be applied to Governor Sarah Palin? The Republicans, including shadow Republicans like Lieberman, are walking a slippery slope when they attack Obama on the experience issue. Especially taking into consideration a 72 year old presidential candidate who has fought off four occurrences of cancer, Governor Palin is literally a heartbeat away from being the most powerful leader in the known world. I would lay off the experience thing when Palin’s six years at the helm of Wasilla, Alaska population 7,000, combined with her 20 months as governor of Alaska doesn’t actually scream of the potential to negotiate with Putin and the bunch.

Last night, Lieberman either showed political courage, or pandering opportunism – maybe a bit of both. Click here for Lieberman’s speech.

Lieberman continued with an attempt to get those voter’s leaning on the fence, "Tonight, I want to ask you, whether you are an independent, a Reagan Democrat, a Clinton Democrat, or just a plain old Democrat: This year, when you vote for president, vote for the person you believe is best for our country, not for the party you happen to belong to.”

This rhetoric has understandably enraged Democrats.

When Lieberman stated in his speech that "In the Senate, [Obama] has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party." 

A swift reaction was given by Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs calling that a “flat out lie.” According to, Gibbs cited Obama’s work with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, on the government budget.

My 17 year old son said last night “how does that guy sleep at night?” I’m thinking, quite comfortably. He has placed all of his bets at the McCain/Palin table, and he believes America, no matter how disaffected and angry, just isn’t quite ready for that other team for a myriad of obvious and coded reasons.

If the Democrats win, Lieberman may just find himself in a political no-man’s land, but that’s OK too. Because, he will make millions on the conservative lecture circuit expounding on how he stood up to those “big bad liberals.” Ironically, it seems the “big bad Republicans” didn’t have the same courage he has displayed when he was at the very top of the list to become McCain’s Vice-Presidential running mate.

Tonight – Governor Sarah Palin speaks, and we will be listening.

Oh yeah, by the way I am so sick of hearing the term “maverick” used. It’s like calling Andy Williams “that new teen sensation.” If the term no longer applies, drop it.

Lea Gilmore


8:22PM – Well here we are! There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands here to mark, celebrate and take in this historical moment. 

I am in the stands that are filled to the rafters.  My fellow stand sitters are staring at me like I am nuts sitting here with a lap top 😉

We walked and walked for over a mile in the blazing sun and it was worth every moment.

Gov. Bill Richardson just concluded to rousing applause.  The lights are blinking and the sounds of Bon Jovi are in the background.

I will not be able to give a play by play as much as I would like, but make sure you listen to WEAA’s live coverage.  88.9 FM! 

Lea Gilmore – I’m Taking This Moment

Well, after the crescendo of Barack Obama’s acceptance to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States this evening, we will be ushered into what promises to be one of the most aggressive, to say the least, campaign seasons we will experience in our lifetime. There is much work to be done, many hearts and minds to be healed and won, many doors to be knocked, many grass roots to be fertilized and much more.

But today , August 28, 2008 – I celebrate. We celebrate.

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Right now, I’m going to take a few moments to convey just what this day means to me. Void of political analysis and void of ideological musings, I am speaking as a woman, an African American, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, an activist and a colleague; and maybe even an enemy to some.

I am typing this blog at 5:30am. I like to do this before I check out the mainstream media’s madness. I understand, know, reflect upon and respect today’s political realities, but again today, my brothers and sisters, I am going to revel in this moment deeply and with unapologetic, unadulterated joy.

As I type these words, the emotions are deep. I so wish my parents could be here to see Barack Obama stand up before the world and accept the Democratic nomination for the President of the United. States. Of. America. Man oh man, even saying it is stunning.

My dad…wow. This was a man born so poor in the segregated South of the 1920s that he had to quit school in the third grade to take care of his mother and brothers and sisters. A sharecropper, my dad’s hands were stained yellow from picking tobacco in the hot North Carolina sun. Barely able to read or write, he decided he would move “up North” to make a better life for himself. In Baltimore, he met my mom. My mom was the oldest of ten kids (and I’m an only child, so guess those siblings wore her out!). Also from North Carolina, she realized early while attending the Rockingham Colored High School that education is the “great equalizer” and became the first black woman to graduate from her studies in microbiology at the college she attended. Even given my dad’s limited education, he was the most brilliant political pundit I knew. He was even a Reagan Republican. I chose not to follow that. 🙂

He should be here for this moment.

This man, who had to cross the street if a white woman was coming down the opposite direction, just in the case he may glance at her, and would suddenly “go missing.” This man worked and worked along with his wife to create a middle-class world, full of hope and opportunity for their one child. I thank them.

They should be here for this moment.

Yet many of my parent’s generation ARE here to be a witness. In good health and bad, they are making their way to INVESCO field, sitting in front of their televisions, or laying in a hospital bed with a radio at hand – they are listening and reveling. Even the most ardent and stoic are shedding tears in the realization that dreams can come true, and I’m about to be a witness. I can hear a song playing in my mind and soul right now “My Soul Looks Back in Wonder on How We Made it Over.”

This is a great day for the United States of America. Let’s give ourselves permission to enjoy it. Don’t let the naysayers steel your joy. FOX News Network will be there tomorrow.

I have also been moved by the grace shown by Hillary Clinton. Ultimately, this is not a story about white women losing and black people winning – America has won.

This country will never ever be the same. We can’t go back. History has been made.

This is the same country, whose immense wealth was built on the backs of slaves and sharecroppers. This is our country, where the highest court in the land once legislated bigotry and racism by saying black folks had no rights that white folks need respect (Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1856). This is our country, that separated the races by law (Plessy vs. Fergurson, 1896), and then took 58 years with the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to have the law reflect what so many knew so well already– separate is inherently unequal. This is our country that turned what would have been a mild natural disaster into a disaster of negligence and inhumanity when the New Orleans levy system snapped, out of neglect, and utterly destroyed an entire working class black community, and created urban refugees who many are still in dire straits.

And this is OUR country that we will see an African American become the presidential nominee of a major political party. Eternal vigilance is truly the price of liberty.

Today, if only for a moment before the real hateful campaign games begin, we see a country that has risen above its demons (yeah, we know those demon types are still running rampant), but for this moment, we will watch a man with a name like Barack Hussein Obama, a product of a Kenyan father and white American mother, stand proud, stand strong and accept the Democratic nomination for the President of the United States. I can’t say that enough.

There is a party going on in heaven. Sojourner Truth, Dred Scott, Fannie Lou Hamer, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T.Washington, Frederik Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Malcolm X, Mahalia Jackson, those nameless slaves, freedom fighters, heroes, sheroes, and my mom and dad, will be visiting INVESCO Stadium tonight with the best seats in the house.

And finally, how amazingly appropriate that today, August 28, 2008, is the 45th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream Speech” given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.

For Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all rational humans, this is a monumental night.

As Americans and citizens of the world, let’s be proud.

Lea in Denver – Jesse Jackson at The Nation

A surprise guest is now speaking at the Progressive Democrats of America event sponsored by The Nation Magazine – the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Rev. Jackson is currently speaking on the importance that no matter how progressive the Presidential administration is there is always a need for activism.

When Rev. Jackson arrived, the audience stood and gave a grand ovation.

As he continues, he speaks of the importance that America honor its promissary note of equality and justice.  

He says that to move from freedom to equality it recquires investment: shoring up the levies in , books for our children, ALL of our children…

"In 2008, we must outwork them and not let them steal our vote!" 

It is crucial that we get more people o color to register to vote.  

"Out register, out work, end poverty – end the war!" 

Rev. Jackson ended on that note with huge applause.




Lea – Gallup Poll and Quick Thoughts

The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll today gives Obama 45% and McCain 44% of
This is a statistical dead heat. 

There is an element of concern here, in that the numbers are so close even
during the hype of the convention.  

Another thing, the Democrats, not realizing that Obama would raise an
enormous amount of funds, moved the convention up a while back to use primary
funds as long as possible. Well, an unfortunate error.  With only a week
between conventions now, there is really no time to enjoy the post
convention bounce given that the McCain campaign is set to announce his VP
choice, and the media will be moving on to the Twin Cities as soon as they shut
the lights on INVESCO.

There is an interesting issue out there for the Republicans – a hurricane is
forging towards New Orleans.  Given the disastrous and inhumane way the
Bush Administration handled post Katrina relief, the last thing they will be
wanting is a hurricane raging towards New Orleans during their big show.


From the Gallup Poll Editors Blog: Interesting…

Given the apparent adulation around Hillary Clinton in the convention
hall last night, it’s worth noting that the percentage of Obama primary voters
nationwide who harbor negative feelings about Clinton (32%) is much higher than
the percentage of Clinton primary voters who have a negative view of Obama

The above has not been something we have discussed.  We have focused on
the vocal minority of Clinton supporters who refuse to support Obama. This
offers some perspective. 

 Post convention, Democrats have to work hard at the grassroots level
to strengthen their base.  They have the goods.  The Obama campaign
is a tight machine with little internal dissension. In a united front, it is
time to reach those conservative democrats with straight talk about why they
will make your life better in America, and the Republicans will continue to
bring more of the same.  

Your thoughts?

Lea – Live Blogging from Maryland Watch Party – Day Three!

10:58 – There they are folks. Barack Obama and Joe Biden standing together as the Democratic ticket for President and Vice-President.  Biden’s large family has now joined him on the stage. Barack is smiling and shaking hands.



10:42 – Joe Biden has begun to pull out the big guns and is now going for John McCaine, intensely showing how his policies are "just not change, it’s more of the same," as the crowd chants.

"These times require more than a good soldier, it requires a wise leader."

He is now detailing what Barack will do to make this a better country saying – "that’s the change we need!"

10:32pm – Joe Biden has just accepted the Democratic nomination for the Vice President of the United States.

In a very moving moment, Senator Biden introduces his mom. He is truly a son who is thankful for the influence of both of his parents.

10:28 – Joe Biden is coming to the stage with the song "Ain’t that America" playing in the background.

10:25pm – After a film on his life, Senator Joe Biden’s son Attorney General of Delaware Beau Biden, is introducing his father. Beau Biden is also a member of the Delaware National Guard.

10:03pm – A moving film in tribute to US troops in the military is now playing.

9:24 pm "America must always be a place called Hope…" After this statement Clinton ends his speech to great applause while the band plays "It’s a Beautiful Day."

He did what he came to do. Personally, as a young woman, I was in awe of Bill Clinton. I met him while an intern on Capital Hill. He is a striking presence. This election broke my heart, when I saw a bitter, spiteful man… This man who was a hero to me.

Tonight I believe he is moving back in the right direction.

A further analysis later.


9:22pm – HAH! Bill Clinton references when he was first runnuing for President, the Republicans said he was too young and too inexperienced to be elected President. Sound familiar?

The crowd loves him. He has a magnetism that few share….


9:15pm – The rest of the world has always been more influenced "by the power of our example, then by the example of our power."

Clinton lists the myriad of ills that the Republicans have created the last eight years. "Are these the family values the Republicans keep telling us about?"

The crowd yells a chorus "Yes He Can!"

Bill says, "Yes, he can, but first we have to elect him.

Clinton respects the work and experience of John McCain, but associates him with the extreme philosphies of the last 25 years.


9:12pm – The moment that many were waiting for, Clinton stated "Barack Obama is ready to become President."


9:06pm – Bill Clinton just stated that he will do everything he
can do to elect Barack Obama. He soundly encouraged Hillary’s 18
million voters to vote for Obama.

Clinton says "our nation is in trouble…America is undersiege." He
continue to lists the ills that we Americans are experiencing.

9:00pm – President Bill Clinton has now taken the stage. The crowd, waving American flags, are giving him an incredible ovation. He says "Y’all sit down, we gotta get on with the show." The audience still continues to cheer.


7:46 – Miami Mayor Mani Diaz is now speaking in English and Spanish. Born in Cuba, he states that he believes in the American dream because he is the product of it. "We are all Americans. We all want the dignity that comes from a hards day work…we must defend the dream for all Americans."


7:41pm – US House of Representatives Majority Whip Jym Clyburn is now speaking. The Majority Whip is the second most powerful position, behind the Speaker of the House. For the first time in history, the Speaker is a woman, Baltimore born Nancy Pelosi; and the Majority Whip African American.


7:38pm – Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings took the national stage and just gave a rousing and inspiring message to the convention attendees.



7:05pm – It’s official Senator Barack Obama, by acclimation, has been nominated as the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States. In a move for unity building, Hillary Clinton released all 1700 of her delegates and suspended the roll call.

Clinton stated ""It is traditional that we have nominations, that we have a roll call,
that we have candidates who look for ways to make sure we come out of
here ready to win in November," she said. "As part of that tradition, I
am here today to release you as my delegates."

From the Maryland Watch Party, cheers and tears rang out. One man was just pumping his fist in the air in joy.

This is a moment that I wish my parents had been here to see. They would never have believed it was possible. It IS possible and we are experiencing a great moment in our country. No matter what our political stripes, America should be proud.

Lea from Denver: It’s Official: Barack Obama Nominated for President!!


It’s official: Democrats nominate Obama

    * Story Highlights
    * NEW: Obama nominated by acclamation
    * Hillary Clinton asks to cut roll call short
    * Clinton releases delegates; criticizes Republicans
    * Headlining speakers include former President Clinton, Biden

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) — Democrats Wednesday officially nominated Barack Obama to be their candidate for president.

Sen. Hillary Clinton asked to cut the roll call short saying, "With eyes firmly fixed on the future, and in the spirit of unity with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and our country, let’s declare together with one voice right here, right now that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president," she said.

Delegates then affirmed Obama as their choice with cheers.

Clinton and Obama were on the ballot at the party convention on Wednesday.

The states announced their votes in alphabetical order. The voting was to continue until a candidate received 2,210 delegates — the threshold needed to secure the nomination.

While most delegates cast their votes for Obama, some were voting for Clinton.

There were a few boos at one point — when Massachusetts cast its vote and gave a nod to its sports teams, the Red Sox and the Celtics, the current baseball and basketball champions.

As Obama arrived in Denver, Clinton released her delegates Wednesday afternoon, allowing those who had been pledged to her to vote for whomever they choose in a roll call vote later in the day.

"This was such a competitive primary season," Clinton told her delegates in a packed ballroom at the Denver Convention Center, "I want you to know this has been a joy. Boy did we have a good time trying."

Clinton engaged in a bitter primary battle with Barack Obama until the last contest in June before conceding. On Tuesday night, she delivered the headline address to the party’s convention in Denver, which was intended to heal any rift that the contentious campaign had caused.

"I believe that as Democrats and as Americans we will leave Denver united," she said on Wednesday.

Clinton told the delegation that she had waited to address them in one place so she could address them all before releasing them.

"It is traditional that we have nominations, that we have a roll call, that we have candidates who look for ways to make sure we come out of here ready to win in November," she said. "As part of that tradition, I am here today to release you as my delegates."

Controversy has surrounded the role of Clinton’s nearly 1,700 pledged delegates. Last month, she said allowing them to cast a vote for her in a roll call at the convention could provide a "catharsis."

Clinton said Wednesday she signed her ballot for Obama.

As Clinton addressed her delegates, she also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the opposition party, telling her supporters that Republicans "should apologize to the country."

Clinton has strongly urged her backers to support Obama, but some appear to be backing Republican John McCain in growing numbers. A CNN poll taken at the end of June indicated that 16 percent of Clinton’s supporters intended to vote for McCain.

A new CNN poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, showed that 27 percent of her voters now said they supported the Republican candidate.

Clinton made her case for Obama Tuesday night, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will step into the spotlight Wednesday. VideoWatch more on what Bill Clinton will say »

Bill Clinton is expected to speak before the convention shortly after 9 p.m. ET. Sources told CNN earlier this week that the former president was unhappy with his assigned speech topic for the convention, national security. He reportedly would have preferred to discuss the economy — the issue that, more than anything else, helped propel him to the White House 16 years ago.

Democrats on Wednesday also will officially nominate their presidential ticket and yield the podium to former President Clinton and the presumptive vice presidential nominee, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

The lineup of speakers for Wednesday evening — with the theme of "Securing America’s Future" — features a roster of Democratic foreign policy and national security heavyweights.

Biden will be leading the attack on McCain’s foreign policy.In his acceptance speech, Biden is expected to outline why he believes McCain’s and President Bush’s world views have ignored the most dangerous threats facing the United States, said a Democratic source involved in crafting the speech for the six-term senator.

Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, widely is believed to have been chosen for the Democratic presidential ticket based on his foreign policy credentials.

Obama’s perceived weakness compared to McCain on foreign policy and national security issues has been a concern to Democratic strategists, especially since Russia’s conflict with Georgia intensified this month.

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 78 percent of registered voters said they believe McCain can handle the responsibilities of commander in chief, while 58 percent said they thought Obama could shoulder those responsibilities. View poll results on national security »

The poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, also found that 60 percent of voters said they believe McCain would better handle the issue of terrorism, whereas 36 percent have more faith in Obama. A majority also said it believes McCain is more likely than Obama to be a strong and decisive leader.

The poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, also found that 60 percent of voters said they believe McCain would better handle the issue of terrorism, whereas 36 percent have more faith in Obama. A majority also said it believes McCain is more likely than Obama to be a strong and decisive leader.

The vice presidential candidate also will focus heavily on his personal biography and Senate experience during his speech, the source said.

Others who will speak on foreign policy include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Sens. Evan Bayh and Jack Reed, who are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee; New Mexico Gov. and former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson; retired Army Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy; and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth.

Lea in Denver – The protest that wasn’t (photos included)

There are so many events happening around Denver…

It is a beautiful day here. I have been walking the city talking to everyday folks about the convention, how they are dealing with the invasion of 50,000 extra “residents,” and recording their reactions. I am typing this in Civic Center Park where a very large protest against the war is scheduled. I know I am in the right place. It seems that someone forgot to send me a memo. Instead of protestors, I am sitting across from mounted riot police in full, intimidating gear.

Click READ MORE below for Lea’s pictures from Denver!

Not only that, the park is fully secured, surrounded by a chain link fence keeping all out. The proverbial “they” are saying that it is because the foodie festival “Taste of Denver” is being set up for the weekend, but the locals I spoke with insist the preparations are way earlier than usual.

I spoke with several wandering souls who were walking up and down the downtown streets looking for the action. Some of the most interesting I had the chance to talk with were a group of high school students who were covered in peace pins and pink stickers that read “Make Out, Not War.” (Love that). Note: Being the mom of a teenager, I sure am not promoting "making out!" 



The teens and I were standing in the park watching the riot police (looking like escapees from the cast of Robocop) and watching people’s reaction, when one of the students, a 15 year old boy named Chris said, “Man, when the government messes with that free speech thing, it’s just way un-cool. “ Yeah, Chris you’re right. It is way un-cool in a big way.

Yesterday, the police and protestors clashed resulting in over 100 arrests. Those arrested faced charges for violating city ordinances including failure to obey a lawful order, obstructing a public roadway and interference. Pepper spray was also used on a few protestors .

This past Monday, an 80 year old man walking from the library to the bus stop was gassed and cuffed by officers, although he had nothing to do with the protests or confrontations. Yep, 80 years old. Go here for the full story:

I completely understand the need for intense security during the convention – especially this convention. But you know, I get suspicious when 80 year old men are gassed, and chain link fences surround pre-arranged protest areas without warning.

There were concerns back in May of this year when the ACLU of Colorado successfully sued to protect protestor’s constitutional rights when requests for parade permits were going unanswered and denied.

So now, I am going back out on the streets to find the peaceful protests and marchers. There are many, but I just have to keep searching.

I will keep you posted.

Lea – Couple of Photos from Denver

Hey folks.  I just want to share a couple photos with you.  The first taken outside of a popular local restaurant and the second of a Northern Colorado protester I spotted at an event held by The Nation Magazine.

I will definitely be adding more as we go from place to place.  I am officially convinced that we need 28 hours to the day — give or take.   Lea





Lea from Denver – Reflecting on Hillary Clinton’s Remarks and More

It’s 3:43 a.m. and I want to give my brief reflections on Senator Clinton’s historic address before I turn on CNN and glance at the New York Times, and be told how she didn’t go far enough and blah blah mainstream press bizarre focus on dissension blah.

Click ‘READ MORE’ below!

Here in Denver, I am with the Maryland Delegation that is watching the festivities from the Maryland Watch Party at the Renaissance Hotel. We were watching on the big screens and as the cameras panned the massive audience there was much Hillary love in the house. There were Hillary banners, funny little (and big) hats, buttons, streamers and those long stick things that are at every convention being enthusiastically raised. The crowd that was just waiting for her to speak history.

The atmosphere on Monday evening seemed one of excitement and deep emotion with the speeches of Senator Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama, but the atmosphere Tuesday night was electric. You could feel the anticipation.
We also saw that President Bill Clinton is still a superstar in the Democratic world. Sitting next to a young African American man, he smiled easily and clapped often. When he arrived in the arena the audience went wild and the cameras seemed to be focused all on him, even though someone else was speaking.

Tonight, Bill speaks and the world will be listening. He is expected to sound the same note of healing and reconciliation. Man, after such a divisive primary season, I’m so ready for it. Bring it on.

I was pleasantly surprised by the rousing and unifying comments made by Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana who spoke directly before Hillary. We just may have witnessed a future presidential candidate?

Oh yes, Dennis Kuchinich gave a serious wakeup call in his ready for primetime speech to the delegates earlier in the evening. This unimposing looking man is one compelling speaker. The crowd went crazy when he said, "Up with peace! Up with prosperity! Up with the Democratic Party! Up with Obama!," he shouted, pumping his arms. "Wake up America!" Durn, he was good. You can check out his comments here:

Last night Hillary’s speech was not just for Barack Obama, but it was for Senator Clinton as well.

This was the speech of her life, and she delivered it with gusto, passion and most of all – I believed her. I believed her when she enthusiastically stated, “"Barack Obama is my candidate.” "And he must be our president.” She also did not hold back on her words and went there when she said that even though Senator John McCain is her colleague and friend, this country cannot accept another four years of the same ole same ole. "No way," Clinton said. "No how. No McCain."

As I stated last night in the live blog, this was a Hillary I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was passionate. She meant what she said and she said what she meant. She evoked the spirit of Harriet Tubman when she urged Democrats in the face of adversity to “Keep Going!”

Hillary was a class act who showed humility by rallying her supporters around Barack Obama.

Did it close the deal? Who knows?

There will always be folks who are just completely, totally, and entrenchly (I know that’s not a real word, but you know what I mean) be angry at the outcome of the primary. So much of their hearts, minds and hopes were invested in Senator Clinton’s historic candidacy. We can deeply respect that, but please stop.

There is so much at stake here.

Please remember how hard we fought for women to keep the government out of making choices on what we can do with our bodies. Please remember all of those women who died so young in back alley abortions gone wrong. Please remember that we are just one Supreme Court Justice away from being stuck with a generation long deeply conservative Court who is ready, willing and able to make scary ideologically based decisions that become the law of the land.

This in itself trumps all the understandable frustrations.

If you value reproductive justice and so much much more, you will not stay home on Election Day. You will not rally for the other side.  Of course the two parties have so many just plain bad similarities, but the differences are glaring, and that is what counts.

I hope Clinton’s speech was a cathartic moment for her supporters and a healing moment for the Democratic Party. She urged her supporters by saying, "Whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We’re on the same team and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines."

When referring to next week’s Republican convention she held back no punches, "It makes perfect sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together in the Twin Cities because these days they are awfully hard to tell apart."

Can we move forward now? Will the mainstream media let us? Let’s all promise to think for ourselves.

Republicans are looking for every opportunity here in Denver to exploit the divisions and perceived divisions of the Democrats. Last night when I turned on the TV, I saw the one billionth campaign commercial sponsored by the Republican National Committee. On the screen was a grainy Hillary Clinton making a comment stated during the primary season that “Senator John McCain has a lifetime of experience. I have a lifetime of experience, and Barack Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.” Ouch. It ended with saying something like, “Was she right?”

Come on folks, let’s get to uniting and full speed ahead!


Tonight’s theme for the third day of the convention "Securing America’s Future."


Lea – Live Blogging From Maryland Watch Party in Denver – Day Two!

11:16pm – This was a Hillary I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was passionate. She meant what she said and she said what she meant. She evoked the spirit of Harriet Tubman when she urged Democrats in the face of adversity to “Keep Going!” I think she closed the deal, or we are at least a lot closer. Now let the pundits bicker!

Click ‘Read More’ below!

10:52 pm – I will now listen to Senator Clinton’s speech. You can listen to a live feed at

10:50pm -Hillary thanks her supporters – "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits." 🙂

10:46 pm – This is amazing. Hillary is speaking. The crowd here at the Maryland Watch Party is watching the monitors with such intensity. She said "No way, no how, no McCain" – the folks here are on their feet yelling to the tv screen!

10:40pm – Chelsea Clinton introduces Senator Clinton. The crowd is on it’s feet cheering. Hillary is waving with a broad smile wearing a striking orange suit

10:37pm – A film introducing Senator Hillary Clinton is being played.

10:15pm – Which may have been the most gavanizing speech of the convention so far was enthusiastically delivered by Governor Brian Schweizer of Montana.

9:41 – Governor Mark Warner or Virginia has now taken the stage to give the keynote address.

9:04pm – Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who was on the short list for vice-president, is now speaking. She is linking the family values of Obama’s family with her own. The Governor stated that Barack Obama has a plan to save the dream of home ownership and more for working Americans. She has made a stark contrast between John McCain providing more of the same and Obama offering real hope in change.

8:00pm – We will be beginning live on-air coverage on WEAA radio 88.9.

7:47pm – John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO introduced senior blue collar workers who have suffered with lost jobs and illnesses. These people cannot afford four more years like the last eight years. What happened to the promise of a better America? That’s why they want Barack Obama for President of the United States. "Brothers and sisters, this is our chance to create much needed change, and help rebuild this country that we all love."

7:42pm – The representative from California spoke of the need to let all of America’s workers that they are appreciated. He stated how after the many have left the Pepsi Center there will be people there working through the night. The past eight years have seen these workers lose their jobs, houses gone in forclosure and on and on, because of the failed policies of the Bush Administration. "If that what we mean by conservatism, then we will take no more of the con they are serving."


7:32 – Governor Ed Rendell linked John McCain to Bush’s failed energy policies. He says that an Obama administration will bring "everyone to the table" to reduce our demand for "old energy sources."

7:25: Following Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Democratic women of the US Senate spoke passionately about health care, Katrina relief, keeping jobs at home, energy independance, fiscal responsibility, and the needs of the middle class. The final speaker ended encouraging and urging the women of America to support Barack Obama for their and their families sake.

As they left the stage, the band began playing, "Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves."

7:12pm – Introduced by video tape by Senator Hillary Clinton, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski has taken the stage with loud applause. With great enthusiam, Mikulski says we must select Barack Obama so we can finally get equal pay for equal work.

Welcome to day two of the Democratic National Convention! There are a great number of speeches, and I will try and reflect as much as possible.

We will begin live coverage on WEAA 88.9 at 8:00pm EST

Diana Veiga’s reaction to Michelle’s speech

I listened to Michelle Obama’s speech on the radio last night. Yes, I had to take it old school because I had to make an airport run. There’s nothing like listening to a speech on the radio, especially a speech of this magnitude. There I was driving down the highway and envisaging Michelle’s outfit, her hair & make-up, her gestures, the venue, the colors, the audience’s reactions. I depended solely on the cadence of her voice and my imagination to tell the story that was unfolding, the history that was being made.

Click "Read More" below!

I heard her speak of her father with respect, Barack with love, and her country with pride. I heard thunderous applause when Michelle spoke Hillary Clinton’s name and said Clinton had shattered 18 million glass ceilings. There was more thunderous applause when Michelle declared that she is proud to be an American. The speech was everything it was supposed to be: a loving and supportive wife presenting her husband to the nation, a professional woman diligently working to shed the angry black woman image, and reaffirmation in the reality of the American Dream.

I could feel the energy of the audience, pulsating throughout and beyond the venue, into the veins of everyone watching and listening. Michelle’s words were beautiful, moving and honest. And I figured that plenty of tears had been shed by people of all races and colors. Turns out I was right. My girlfriend called after the speech and said, “I was crying right along with the other women in the audience. Barack took Michelle out for ice cream. Black love does exist.” Yes, Michelle’s words touched different nerves for different reasons. My mother started crying when Michelle described Barack driving their daughter home from the hospital and promising to give her a father’s love he never had. My grandmother already had her tissues at the ready because after 82 years of being on this earth, of being jailed for fighting for civil rights, this moment was finally happening.

Michelle’s words were just the start of what will emerge from this convention. It felt like the audience was literally on the edge of its seats, holding its breath, waiting for more, pleading for more, desperate for more. More hope, more change, more unity, more peace, more, more, more of something else, anything else that is different from what we’ve had for the past eight years. That’s definitely an understandable feeling. Let’s just hope this momentum continues through November. Hopefully the best is yet to come.

-Diana Veiga

Diana Veiga blogs at

Maureen Rowland – New Contributor on Rethinking Criminal Justice

Click here to read a post by Baltimore Assistant Public Defender Maureen Rowland!

‘The myth that undermines the criminal justice system’ by Page Croyder

Read Page Croyder’s latest thoughts on Baltimore’s criminal justice system by clicking here.



Doug Colbert on Criminal Justice Reform

CEM is thrilled that Doug Colbert, a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland, has weighed in with his response to the articles that former Assistant State’s Attorney Page Croyder has been publishing on the CEM website. Check out his article, and Page’s response, by clicking here.

If you have comments on these pieces, please leave them on the page with the pieces, not this page.

Vietnam Update

Hello friends,

Jessica here with an update from Vietnam.

The past few days have been among the strangest, most challenging and most wonderful of my entire life. There is no way I could even begin to do them justice in this blog post. All I can do is bring you a basic outline of what has transpired over the past few days and promise you that soon after I return home we will begin work on a documentary to bring you this amazing story.

Click "Read More" below for the story and pictures.

I came to Vietnam on May 20th with Homer R. Steedly, Jr. He was returning to Vietnam for the first time since he served here almost 40 years ago. His mission was to meet the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam, a North Vietnamese soldier and medic he had met on a jungle trail, shot and killed in 1969. He had promised not only to travel and meet the family, but to journey with them into south Vietnam to recover Dam’s bones, and then to return with the family to their small village for the funeral. He hoped that this trip would offer the family some closure for their tragic loss, and also help him in his recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a recovery he began several years ago with the help of his wife, Tibby. The story of how Homer got in touch with the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam was the subject of a CEM produced documentary called Wandering Souls. You can listen to it by clicking here.

But now let us move to the story and photographs of what has transpired over the past few days.

Day 1

We departed from Hanoi by van early on Saturday the 24th. Our destination was the village of Thai Giang in the province of Thai Binh. The village is about three hours south of Hanoi but a million light years away. It is a rural place, home to only a few thousand people. The road into Thai Giang is bumpy and lets you know that you are officially off the beaten path. When we pulled into the village, we were met by the youngest brother in the Hoang Family, Hoang Dang Cat. He shook every one’s hands and whisked Homer and Wayne at once into the People’s Committee House, where they were asked to provide the passport numbers and full name of everyone who was traveling in our party.

The People’s Committee House

People’s Committee House

After a few minutes, they returned and we all got into the car and went to the Hoang family home.

We heard the wailing as we walked up the alley to the home, and the sound increased as we entered the courtyard of the home. Homer was carrying a tray laden with fruit and other offerings for the altar. He walked into the home with wailing women on either side of him. We were all given incense to place on the altar. The room was hot, with fans pushing the air around. The wailing intensified as we approached the altar. We each paused before the altar with the incense in our hands and bowed our heads in Dam’s memory, and then we placed the incense in the holder. The smell filled the air. The wailing continued.

Homer in the courtyard holding the offering

Relatives of Hoang Ngoc Dam weeping as Homer approaches the altar.

At some point we were ushered back into the courtyard. While we were outside, quite stunned by the heat and the emotion, one of the Hoang sisters, Thi Dam, began to experience what was described to us as a possession by her late brothers spirit. Stamping her feet and speaking words that the Vietnamese speakers among our party did not recognize, her behavior heightened the tension. She was surrounded by her family members who attempted to find out what was going on. Finally, her family brought the message to us that Dam, speaking through her, had instructed us to bring him home and then "everything will be okay." We were moved back into the house and offered chairs. We introduced ourselves to the family and they introduced themselves to us. A huge feast was served and we all sat on the floor and shared the meal. After we ate, the dishes were cleared and we began to discuss the schedule for the next few days. It became apparent quickly that there had been some miscommunication between the family and us. They had settled on a schedule that was one day longer than what we had expected. We relented, because there was no other option but to relinquish control and follow their lead.

At 3:30, we set out with sister Hoang Thi Tuoi, brothers Hoang Dang Cat and Hoang Huy Loang, and brother-in-law Hoang Minh Dieu.
What to expect? How could we know? Emotions and tensions had run high the entire time we were at the family home. When the sister Thi Dam began to shout and stamp her feet, I think several of us felt fear that the entire situation was about to spin out of control. But as soon as the four family members got into the vehicle with us, they were gracious, friendly and curious about us. Their good nature continued as we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with them at a hotel in nearby Nam Dinh while we waited for our train. There were many toasts, questions, and smiles.
We boarded the train at around 8:00 pm and arrived in Vinh around 1:00 am. We made our way quickly to the hotel and to bed. It had been quite the day and tomorrow would be just as packed.

Day Two

We awoke in Vinh and met for breakfast. The family was in good cheer again, shaking our hands whenever they saw us and happily attempting to pronounce our names. We set off without them to visit the home of Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Tien. Tien is retired now, but she spent several years running the effort to find and identify the remains of the more than 300,000 Vietnamese who are still MIA from the American War. She designed and built a memorial and museum to that cause in Vinh, and she took us to that museum, where we were met by the Hoang family.

From left: Lt. Col. Tien, Hoang Huy Loang, Hoang Dang Cat, Hoang Thi Tuoi, and Hoang Minh Dieu at the MIA museum in Vinh.

You can read an article about Lieutenant Colonel Tien here.

Quite unexpectedly, at the home of Lt. Col. Tien we were introduced to this gentleman, the truck driver whose drivers license had inexplicably been on Dam’s person at the time of his death. Though in his 70’s and suffering from a bad knee, he had driven 40 kilometers on his motor scooter to meet Homer and the Hoang family.
After saying goodbye to Tien, we went to the hotel to test. At 6:30 that evening, we caught the overnight train to Quy Nhon.

Day Three

We got off the train in Quy Nhon at 10:30. We had to move
quickly because, by our estimation, we had a 6 hour drive to the grave
site. The Hoang family had to arrange the release of Dam’s remains and
the remains had to be exhumed that evening. The family went in a
separate car from us in order to be able to take care of those
arrangements while we traveled to Pleiku to find our hotel room for the
evening. It was a three and a half hour drive from Quy Nhon to Pleiku,
through some truly beautiful country including the exquisite Mang Yang
Pass. We arrived in Pleiku and found a hotel. We got back in the car
and had been driving for about five minutes when the phone rang. It was
the family calling. The process to secure permission to exhume Dam’s
remains was taking much longer than they had anticipated. They didn’t
think it would be done until much later that evening. We will stay here
this evening, they said, you go to the hotel and come meet us here
tomorrow to light incense sticks for Dam, then we will go back
together. We returned to the hotel and hoped things would go more
smoothly tomorrow.

There is so much more, but it is very late here and I must get some sleep. I will update you on the final days of our journey to return the remains of Hoang Ngoc Dam to his village as soon as I can.



This is what mountaintop removal looks like

These are photos I took looking out across an active mountain removal site on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia.  It’s hard to get a feel for the size of the mining site without being there.  It’s even harder to imagine what it looked like in its natural state, but look at the dark green, tree-covered hills all around it to get some idea.

We’ll be bringing you more about what’s happening on Kayford Mountain soon, but I wanted to get these images out there right away.  Larry Gibson showed us around here.  He grew up on Kayford Mt. and now the land his family and others lived on for generations is being irreparably destroyed.  He came with his cousin that day to mow the grass in two family cemeteries that are here.  We walked past them on the way to what is now a cliff over the mining site where I stood and took these pictures.  Another of their cemeteries has already been destroyed by the mining company as they’ve blasted the mountain apart and carted away ton after ton of coal from inside of it.

Larry told us not to waste his time.  He wasn’t showing us around for no reason; he wanted to make sure we were going to do something about what we saw.  Larry is for abolishing the use of coal altogether, despite having family members who work in the industry and are upset by his stance.  Unlike many people we spoke to who expressed support for continuing mining in a responsible, less destructive manner, Larry told us he doesn’t believe it’s possible to mine and use coal in a way that is not harmful.

Over and over again last week, people mentioned supporting the Clean Water Protection Act as the most important thing anyone can do right now to help bring an end to mountaintop removal.  Contact your Congressmen and make sure they support it!

Please also check out our new forum on mountaintop removal, and these two blog posts from West Virginia last week – 1 & 2.


Hello from Hanoi!

Hello from Hanoi!

Well I see that my coworker Justin is trying to outdo me with multiple blogs from his trip to West Virginia. Since it is
only 5:30 am at home and he is sure to be asleep, I will take this opportunity to do a little reporting of my own!
Click "Read More" below for stories and pictures.

I am writing to you from my hotel room in Hanoi. We arrived in Hanoi last night at around 7 pm after a flight from Saigon, which here is called Ho Chi Minh City. I am here to document the return of Homer Steedly, a Vietnam War veteran who has come to Vietnam to meet the family of the man he killed in March of 1969. If you want to hear the story of how Homer came to this point in his life, please take the time to listen to
the documentary
that CEM produced as part of the Shared Weight series.

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City after traveling for about 24 hours. We were exhausted. I am visiting this country as a person with no emotional baggage attached to this place-but I am traveling in the company of three American veterans. One of the men, Wayne Karlin, is a writer who has returned many times. Another man, Doug Reese, now lives here with his Vietnamese wife. The third man is of course Homer Steedly, and this is his first visit back to the land that has played such a huge role in making him the man he is today.


From left: Homer, Wayne, Doug


I was relieved to get off the plane when we arrived in HCMC. The scene outside the international terminal was intense and vibrant. It was chaotic and warm and wonderful. Hundreds of people were lined up waiting for their loved ones to arrive. It was loud and hot and just that small experience made me feel the hours of traveling had been worth it.

The scene outside HCMC international airport terminal

We stayed at a small hotel in HCMC called the Spring House Hotel. It was a very nice small hotel. We all crashed and in the morning I was woken by the sound of intense honking on the street below. What a racket! I learned all about Vietnamese traffic from the final installment of CEM’s
Shared Weight Series. In Unpredictable Journey, Marc talked about how the traffic initially flummoxed him. It seemed so chaotic, so random, so dangerous. The hundreds of scooters, bicycles and cars seem to operate independent of any order. Disaster seems imminent. But somehow, it all works. It doesn’t make sense to my American eyes, but I have to admit that I enjoy it. I love being in a taxi and seeing a
scooter approaching from one side while a car approaches from another, while the driver deftly maneuvers to keep from colliding. I just laugh to think of my mother along with me and how she would be pushing an imaginary break on the floor of the car!

Doug Reese took Homer and me to a huge indoor market. I love
markets and this was a good one. From shrimp to jewelry to raw meat to beautiful artwork to an entire tailored suit from scratch–there was nothing this market couldn’t offer! It was the kind of place I could have spent four hours in, taking my time wandering from stall to stall, carefully weighing all my options before making my purchases.

Various types of rice and beans for sale

Meat for sale at the market

These little blue pigs caught my eye


Doug then took Homer and me to the rooftop deck of a very tall hotel so we could see a great view of Saigon.

After that, it was back to the hotel to check out, then a great lunch, then off to the airport–where our flight was delayed by an hour before we got on the plane headed to Hanoi. On the plane I met an American woman
who was with the Vietnamese boy and girl she had just adopted. She had been in the country for seven weeks already. She had arrived with her husband having been promised by the adoption agency that the entire
process would take only three weeks. However, there has been a recent crackdown on international adoptions after agencies in the US complained about irregularities such as some children turning out to not really be orphans after all. It took seven weeks for the adoption to come through, and she was leaving Saigon and heading to Hanoi to go to the American embassy to fill out the necessary paperwork to be able to take her new son and daughter home. She was hoping to be able to leave for the US in a week. She looked tired but as he held her beautiful son in her lap it was clear that she
would have stayed as long as necessary.

In Hanoi we had dinner at a restaurant that serves only one dish: grilled fish. It became clear once we walked in that the restaurant had some experience with disappointed tourists. They handed us a piece of paper that said, "We serve only one dish: Grilled Fish!" We smiled
and nodded; we had come to the restaurant fully aware of this. We walked upstairs and sat down. The waiter brought over a piece of paper. "We serve only one dish: Grilled Fish!" We smiled and nodded. Yes, we know. He pointed again at the paper. Yes, we know. Finally he understood that we were aware and that we were not going to make a
fuss when they didn’t appear with a menu. The meal was delicious.

Today we woke up and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Then we met Wayne’s friend Duc. He is an artist who lived for a time in San Francisco where he had a radio show on KQED. Now he lives in Hanoi and owns an art gallery. He took us to a wonderful coffee house. If you have never had Vietnamese coffee, you must! It is served with sweetened condensed milk and is delicious.
Wayne, Doug, Homer and Duc all had the traditional Vietnamese meal of pho. As a pescatarian , I was unable to eat this as it is made with chicken broth. Duc asked them to bring me some bread, assuming a baguette of some sort would be delivered. Instead, they brought me a wrapped loaf of sliced American-style white sandwich bread. We all got a good laugh out of that.



After coffee and pho we walked around Truc Bach Lake. Hanoi is a city of lakes and much of the social life of the city is centered around these areas.

A couple enjoying the scenery together

A grandfather taking his grandson for a stroll around the lake

Smiling teenage girls enjoying each other’s company at the lake

Another couple enjoying some time together

This is the lake that John McCain parachuted into after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War. A monument commemorating the event has been erected on the western side of the lake. Some details are wrong, such as the spelling of his name and military branch.



We stopped at Vietnam’s oldest pagoda, the Tran Quoc Pagoda, on the West Lake. This is a beautiful and peaceful spot-that is, until the tourist bus arrives!


Later in the day, we went to the Hoa Lo Prison, known more commonly to Americans as the Hanoi Hilton. This prison was built by the French when they occupied Vietnam. Many Vietnamese political prisoners were held there and subject to torture and terrible conditions. Years later it became the place where captured American soldiers were held, including Senator and Presidential hopeful John McCain. American soldiers who spent time there tell their own stories of torture and enduring awful conditions. It is very strange to visit the Hanoi Hilton, as an American, fully aware of these stories-and then to see display after display that shows pictures of American soldiers playing basketball and decorating Christmas trees while being held at Hoa Lo. Visiting this prison, you cannot help but be struck by the insanity of a place being used to torture one people who then turned around and used it to torture another. You are struck by the sadness of what we are capable of doing to each other, and you just hope that places like this throughout the world all become museums and cease to be operational.

The entrance to Hoa Lo Prison, aka the Hanoi Hilton

This very eerie room is full of statues showing how Vietnamese prisoners were kept shackled. You feel almost as if they could come to life any moment.

Artwork depicting the torture of Vietnamese political prisoners


That was enough for one day. I sit in my hotel room now resting with the streets still exploding with noise beneath my window. Tomorrow we have another day in Hanoi, and then we begin the journey to meet the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam, the young medic that Homer Steedly killed 40 years ago while a soldier. We will travel with them to where the fortune teller has told them Dam is buried. That body will be disinterred, and then we will travel with them back to their village for the funeral.

I hope to have the opportunity again to share more about my travels while I am here in Vietnam! I hope you have enjoyed reading about the journey so far!




Dispatch from Indiana – Part 5 – Wednesday May 7, 2008

This is the fifth and final installment in CEM’s series of dispatches from Indiana, courtesy of our intern Christina Arrison, who has been there working with the Obama campaign.

Last Thoughts 

It’s all over, and everyone I’ve talked to has been pleased with the outcome of yesterday’s primaries. While an outright win in Indiana would have been nice, the margin was so narrow in Indiana and he won North Carolina by so much that the night as a whole was certainly a victory. To me, though, one of the best outcomes of the primary was that it led a lot of people in Indiana to participate in politics for the first time. There were so many new volunteers coming into the campaign office who found out that it really is easy to help out. So many people were able to talk to volunteers, or to cast a vote for the first time. When I wrote my first post I was torn between appreciating the chance to give every state a voice and my worry that it would divide the party. But listening to the speeches of both Obama and Clinton last night it seems like the antagonism has been toned down, and now I’m convinced that the positives have outweighed the negatives. The work that the campaign and volunteers did during the primary didn’t stop mattering when people cast their vote yesterday – come this November, and in many elections to come, the people who were energized by this primary will still be there, and hopefully will still remember that their voice matters.

Dispatch from Indiana, Part 4 Tuesday, May 6, 2008

CEM is pleased to be bringing you dispatches from Indiana, courtesy of our intern Christina Arrison, who is working with the Obama campaign. This is the fourth in the series.

Election Day!

Canvassing on election day is usually pretty fun because at that point the universe of voters you’re communicating with has been narrowed to consist almost entirely of strong supporters and undecided people who lean heavily towards your candidate. It’s an exhilarating feeling to go to a neighborhood and find that everyone you’re talking to supports your candidate. It can make it a little more heartbreaking if your campaign loses, though, because after spending a lot of time with staffers and volunteers and talking to supportive voters, a win begins to feel inevitable. Today definitely felt like that – I walked this afternoon in a mostly African American neighborhood where at least two thirds of the adults I saw at their doors and out on the street were wearing "I Voted" stickers. Most of the rest said they were heading out later in the afternoon. It was a really great way to end my time talking to Indiana voters.

Voter Access

In terms of other election day observations, I thought that there were too many gaffes on the part of election officials. This year many polling locations were changed in Indianapolis for the first time in years, and the Obama campaign found this morning that in most of the old places there was nothing to indicate where the new location was. The campaign dispatched people to stay by the old polls and direct voters to their correct location, but while the authorities don’t have a legal responsibility to post the new address, it seems to me like that’s a simple step that could improve voter access immensely. Many of our canvassers also talked to people today who registered before the deadline but were told that they were not on the voter rolls. Instead of the poll workers telling them that they could cast provisional ballots, many of them were simply turned away. While the last time I was able to check the news there thankfully hadn’t been reports of major problems, like running out of ballots or broken down voting machines, I’m frustrated because it seems like these minor mistakes are repeated each election. And now that I know firsthand how difficult it can be to win over each vote, and how excited many new registrants are to cast their first ballot, it angers me even more to see even one person turned away. We all need to do a lot of work before November to ensure that the voting process goes smoothly everywhere across the country.

After the Polls Close

But now that the polls have closed all there is to do is wait. And clean up. And sleep. And hopefully celebrate! I have to head back to Baltimore so I won’t be able to see the returns in Indianapolis, but maybe by the time I land we’ll have a winner, or at least be close to knowing. No matter what happens, I’ve had a great time working on this campaign, and thanks to CEM for the chance to post my observations!

Dispatch from Indiana, Part 3 Monday, May 5, 2008

CEM is excited to be bringing you dispatches from Indiana from our intern Christina Arrison, who is working with the Obama campaign. This is the third in the series.

The Night Before 

This is going to be a short one because I’m about to hop into bed to snatch a few hours rest before going back in tomorrow to canvass. The crazy Obama staffers are still at the office getting packets together for tomorrow, but they turned down offers of help so I got to come home to bed. They are going out at 3am to hang flyers on supporters’ houses so they’ll be there first thing in the morning when everyone leaves for work. I’ll be going in around 6 to do some visibility, which can be pretty fun – standing at busy intersections with campaign signs and waving them around. I’m not sure how many votes it actually gets, but I guess any publicity is good, and maybe it will remind people to get to the polls.

Disenfranchised Voters

Today was surprisingly uneventful for a day just before an election. I knocked on doors in a neighborhood where about a quarter of the houses on my list were empty. I wonder where all of those people went to. I’m sure that many of them moved for benign reasons, but I couldn’t help but think about the foreclosure crisis all day. That got me thinking about the many subtle, indirect ways that people can be disenfranchised. Home foreclosure of course wouldn’t prohibit someone from voting, but it does mean that the voter probably won’t receive any information from the campaigns, and switching your address for voter registration is probably the last thing on your mind if you’re dealing with the trauma of losing a home. In Indiana if you moved more than 29 days before the election and didn’t officially change the registration record you can’t vote at your old precinct. There’s also the fact that this state requires photo identification and proof of residence to vote, which low income, young, and elderly voters are much less likely to have. The recent Supreme Court decision that upholds the legality of such requirements means that even more states will probably establish similar laws. On a smaller scale, the fact that many lower income voters live in apartment complexes means that it’s harder for canvassers to go talk to them, and personal contact at a door is one of the most effective ways of getting people out to vote. Last but not least, of course, there’s the fact that the polls are only open until 6pm at night. And unlike many states, Indiana doesn’t have a law mandating that employees must receive enough time off to vote, if their work schedule would otherwise prohibit them from going to the polls.

Huge Rally

Rather than close on that note, though, I should mention that tonight I was lucky enough to go to a huge rally downtown. We were all packed onto the American Legion mall in downtown Indianapolis. A local radio station put the attendance at more than 20,000, and the energy of the crowd was palpable. Stevie Wonder made a guest appearance, opening the rally with three songs which he played to the end despite a sudden downpour during the third number. The crowd held despite the several bursts of rain, and Senator Obama delivered a fiery version of his stump speech. It was a positive way to end the day and hopefully a good omen for tomorrow. The bulk of the work has been done now – tomorrow it’s only what is called "knock and drag," where you knock on doors until you find someone who says they’re planning on voting and you bring them yourself to the polling location. And so now to get some practice in, I’m going to knock off writing and drag myself to bed.


-Christina Arrison

Dispatch from Indiana, Part 2 Sunday, May 04, 2008

CEM is thrilled to bring you these blog posts from our intern Christina Arrison, who is currently in Indiana working with the Obama campaign. Enjoy!

7 Votes

Obama won the contest in Guam yesterday by seven votes, which was really the only thing keeping me going at 1:30 am last night after two hours of putting tiny stickers that reminded voters to bring their photo IDs to the polls onto a seemingly endless stack of doorhangers. The campaign staff and I kept reminding each other about those seven voters, thinking about how the balance of the election could hang on just one sticker, one person remembering her ID who wouldn’t have otherwise, and how maybe that one vote will push us over the edge. Working in the field operation of a campaign requires that mentality, the firm belief that every vote matters. Some people think a campaign comes down to a good debate performance or a savvy piece of election mail; I think it comes down to a 1" by 2" white sticker.


Today I got a chance to put some of those stickers into action by going out and knocking doors. A lot of my work on the primaries so far has been the behind-the-scenes organization of the canvasses, so I really relish any opportunity to get out and talk to voters. Canvassing is one of the most exhausting things that I’ve ever done. It’s physically tiring to be out in the hot sun walking all day, but more than that it can be emotionally draining to talk to people about a candidate I’m so passionate about and be greeted with apathy or anger. It’s obviously not a personal attack on me, but after the all-night sticker marathon I’m not thinking logically today. Thankfully those people are few and far between, but I do still have the urge to go out right now and wake up the 24 year old I talked to today who said that he never votes because "change will still happen whether I vote or not." I tried to convince him otherwise but to no avail. I’m comforted, though, by the thought of two other young men I talked to today, both of whom said that they’ve never thought that voting mattered but that this time they feel inspired to cast a ballot.

It is a very intimate experience to go to the homes of so many strangers. Canvassing has taken me into neighborhoods of all kinds that I usually wouldn’t have a reason to visit. It’s given me lots of food for thought. Why is there, for example, an inverse relationship between the number of items on a house that say "Welcome" and how welcoming the owner is? Why are the front doors in the so-called "bad" neighborhoods always unlocked and wide open, while in the "safe" areas there is always at least one deadbolt fastened?

The issue of race

Knocking on doors also shines a bright spotlight onto the issue of race in this country. Race has obviously played a large role in the campaign in terms of the possibility that we could soon elect our first black president, but it also concretely affects canvassers who cross over racial boundaries to go door-to-door in neighborhoods that are in many cases still very segregated. Last week two of our canvassers, both young black men, were followed around by police in the mostly white neighborhood where they were working. When the pair was done knocking, the police car tailed them the whole way across the city back to our headquarters. Two middle-aged women from one of our unions were in a similar area today when they knocked on the apartment door of an off-duty police officer who told them they were illegally trespassing in the complex (which was not true) and that if he got one complaint from a neighbor he would arrest them right then and there. As a white woman I experience a different side of things – my blood still boils when I think of the woman in Ohio who told me she wasn’t going to support Obama because she didn’t think that America was ready for a black president. She leaned in confidingly and added, "But I suppose he’s not all black. His mother was white."

Still, all of the negative and difficult experiences are far outweighed by positive stories that make me really believe that change is possible. Our team has had thousands and thousands of conversations with voters here in Indianapolis, and stories like the ones above are the exception, not the rule. All of the canvassers I’ve talked to see the chance to go into unfamiliar neighborhoods and talk to people they would otherwise probably not interact with much as an amazing opportunity to build unity, not as an uncomfortable or futile task. Our volunteers have boundless energy – the two women who were threatened by the police officer today came back to headquarters, got another packet, and went back out to knock more doors. And every time the press does another story about the "insurmountable" racial divide in the electorate, I just remember standing in Ohio with an African American coworker of mine as the union volunteers were getting ready to canvass. Most of the canvassers were middle-aged, white and male, many of them current or former meatpackers – definitely not your typical Obama demographic. She turned to me, laughed, and said, "Just look at all these white guys working their butts off to elect a black guy president. Who would have thought?"

Tomorrow’s the biggest day of the campaign, so I’d better go get some sleep. In Indiana the polls are open for an extremely restrictive amount of time – 6am to 6pm. That means that most of the voter turnout canvassing has to be done tomorrow because on Tuesday there won’t be enough time to catch people after work before the polls close. More on that to follow tomorrow.

 – Christina Arrison

Dispatch from Indiana, Part 1, Saturday May 4th 2008


Hey folks – one of our interns, Christina Arrison, is in Indiana for the primary. She’s going to be sending us first-hand observations and thoughts from there for the next few days. By way of an introduction, here’s her first dispatch. 


The Dirty Truth

The public face of any political campaign is a polished, powdered, and prepped candidate hopping on and off planes, buses, and trains to deliver speeches in front of supporters and ever-present news cameras. But the dirty truth is that the real work of a campaign is done once the candidate rolls out of town, by an army of sleep deprived, underpaid, junk-food-stuffed, (usually) 20-somethings, who serve as the ground troops for the candidate. I’m a new intern at CEM, and I’m also wrapping up a stint working as one of those sleepy 20-somethings for a group of labor unions that have endorsed Barack Obama in the presidential primary. Since the endorsement I’ve worked in Columbus, Pittsburgh, and the suburbs of Philadelphia, and I’m currently on a plane headed back to Indianapolis for second stint there leading up to next Tuesday’s election. Justin asked me to write a little bit for the site about my experiences working in the primaries, so I’ll be sending a few dispatches from Indiana during these final, hectic days of campaigning.

The Hoosier View

The best part about being on the ground for three important primary contests has been the chance to talk to and work with people who are experiencing this election on an individual and personal level – people who, many for the first time, feel a meaningful connection to Washington and the process that puts politicians there. It’s a nice counterbalance to the Big Media view of the campaign – all scandal and spin and personal attacks and very little examination of what the election means to real people. It’s been four decades since the last competitive Democratic primary in Indiana. From what I’ve seen, many Hoosiers are a bit bemused by all of the attention – voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania are used to the swarms of canvassers and scads of robo-calls and TV ads from past general elections, but in Indiana, a solidly red state, many people are experiencing the invasion for the first time. Overall, though, I think people appreciate the attention and genuinely believe that their voice matters. Every day when our canvassers get back from the field they give reports of talking to voters who say that this is their first time voting, and that for once they think an election offers them a chance to concretely improve their lives – by getting better healthcare or livable wages, by ending the war, and for countless other reasons. We hear heartbreaking stories like the Katrina survivor with AIDS who can’t afford his pills, and asked our union volunteer to have the Obama campaign contact him to get him cheaper medication. But even if the personal connection to the campaign just involves a voter yelling at a canvasser to get off her property, or slamming down the phone on another prerecorded call, at least they are offered the chance to participate.

Rising Tensions

That being said, I am a little worried about the length and tone of the race. Even in just the three primaries I’ve worked on there’s been a shift in voters’ attitudes. When I knocked doors in Ohio, most of the Clinton supporters I talked to were firm in their choice, but polite. On the plane back to DC after the Ohio election, I was seated next to the president of the New York chapter of NOW, and we were able to chat relatively amicably about the election, she in her Clinton button, me in my Obama t-shirt. Canvassing in Pennsylvania, five weeks later, the tone had shifted. Lots more people yelled at me, balled up their flyers and threw them back, or slammed the door in my face. I remember walking up the driveway of one house just in time to hear the woman say to her neighbor "If I get ONE more thing from Obama I’m just going to-" I didn’t quite catch what she was going to do, as I was doing my best to blend in with the trees as I backed away. I think a lot of people (including some campaign staffers I know who literally have not had a day off in 15 months) are ready for this to end.

But in the meantime I hope that the next few days will provide some food for thought, and a chance to look at some of the issues that Indiana voters and the campaign workers and volunteers are thinking about.

-Christina Arrison

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→

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.

10/16/07 Congressional Representatives

Today at noon we are talking with 1/2 of Maryland’s representation in the House.  We’ll hear from Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, Wayne Gilchrist, and John Sarbanes.  Topics?  Iraq, SCHIP, Iran, veterans issues, and whatever you choose to bring to the table!


cute kitten, as promised

Not long ago, I mentioned there would be some forthcoming pictures of a cute kitten.  We had BARCS on, and they brought this great puppy, and hopefully it inspired some people to do something nice for an animal, like maybe adopt one from the shelter.  We got this kitten from our neighbors, who obviously didn’t have their cat fixed.  Maybe they’re pro-life.





And now, a serious question, which picture is the cutest?  Cast your vote here.



A challenge for our listeners.  If anyone can figure out why the following search terms are sending people to our blog, I will send you a free copy of any show you like.

According to the blog stats that our blog provider shows us, people have typed the following phrases into search engines and then surfed to our blog.

Feet (today)

Girl feet (yesterday)

Feet girls (two days ago)

Girl foot love (two days ago)

  I think I just figured out why this is occuring.  But I keep the challenge open!


America’s Approval Rating

Let me recommend the website once again.  It’s a great website that translates into English articles about the United States from all over the world.

 I found a recent article from a Swiss paper of interest.  It’s called Can America ‘Find Love’ Again?  It’s basically advice from a Swiss columnist on how America could improve its popularity around the world.  A recent Pew Poll that talked to 45,000 people in 46 countries found that this is how people feel about us:

image borrowed from

Yikes. What do you think of that?  I’m sort of surprised that people on Venezuela are so split.  We seem to be pretty popular in Africa; must be all those aid dollars?

How important is it that other countries have a favorable impression of the United States?  Does it matter?  Should we try and improve it?  How could we improve it?

Poll: Is it important for America to have a positive approval rating?

We don’t have a show planned on this topic, but I’d just be interested to hear what you have to say.


A chance to meet an author about to be on the show!


I made a post below asking our female audience to submit their financial questions for Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, authors of the book On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girls Guide to Personal Finance.  We are doing a pre-recorded interview with them this afternoon, and I am happy to say that lots of you submitted questions. 

You have a great opportunity to go meet one of the authors, Sharon Kedar, MBA, CFA tonight at the Light Street Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library at 6:30.  She will be speaking and copies of the book are available for purchase and signing.  Call 410.396.1096 for more information.


“‘Ready to Blog’”

A week and a half ago when Jessica told us she had our long-awaited blog up and running, I thought, “Great, I’m ready to blog.”  Then I kept forgetting to get on it, as it’s not part of the daily routine, yet.

Today, I took a look at this page for the first time since it went up.  I had no idea Jessica had been so busy blogging away in the next room.  Good work.

I’m curious to know what listeners would like to see here.  Obviously, it seems like a good place to continue discussions that begin on the show.  We could do the same in reverse, as well, that is, start a discussion here that will continue on an upcoming show.  Thoughts about the BGE rate hike?  We’ll be discussing it again at noon on Wednesday; get us your ideas ahead of time right here.

Other ideas?  Predictions for The Ravens upcoming season?  Funny youtube videos?  Stories about our engineer Jon Ehrens?  I promised him I’d mention him on the blog.

Back to work,


United Workers Association

This morning, our News Department did a report on the efforts of the United Workers Association to organize day laborers who are employed by temp agencies to be cleaners at Camden Yards.  

Those temp agencies are hired by a company called Knight Facilities Management that is based in Michigan.  KFM was hired by the Maryland Stadium Authority to handle all staffing of cleaning crew at Camden Yards.

The United Workers Association argues that the Maryland Stadium Authority is using public money to create poverty level jobs while ensuring the profits of two private temp agencies. They also have directed many of their organizing efforts at trying to reform the temp agency system itself.

Just Words has been reporting on the human toll of this issue since December.  We began with a three part series about a stadium cleaner named Jaquetta Lyles that you can listen to here, here, and here.  Then, in March, for a special report on The Marc Steiner Show, we spoke with the owner of one of the temp agencies, a worker, and an organizer for a special report we aired when Tom Perez, the Secretary of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation came for an interview. You can listen to that report here.

 This particular issue really is just a small part of the larger issue of temp agencies and whether they need to undergo extensive reform and government regulation.   I hope you find these reports interesting.

-Jessica Phillips