4/18/08 from Marc

Random Thoughts..

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

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

Your responses to WYPR Board

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

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

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

Presidential Election

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

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

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

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

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

That would be refreshing.

NOW

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

Have a wonderful weekend.

-marc

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4/17 from Marc, on WYPR BOD meeting

I heard from a number of people what occurred at the WYPR Board of Director’s meeting.

I suppose some of you heard what happened to Kay Dellinger when she left the meeting. She was among the last to leave, and encountered WYPR GM Tony Brandon in the parking lot talking to one of the police officers sent to guard the board from its listeners. They were talking about whether the building was empty.

As Kay passed Tony Brandon she said to him, referring to the board, “You are a bunch of cowards.”

Tony replied :”F**k you, Get a life…”

So, elite, well-mannered, calm, cool, collected, tough-minded business mogul tells a woman who is his elder to F**K herself. It shows you what kind of man he really is.
Tony has misled the board, and most of the board has bought his claims, hook, line, and sinker. The board has never asked to talk with me. The board never asked to talk with Ray Blank, the consultant who worked with Tony and me over four years to manage our station

WYPR has attempted to mislead the public with its ever-changing excuses for why it fired me.

At the meeting, board chair Barbara Bozzuto said that I was fired because of philosophical differences. Previously, they claimed that my show was replaced because it focused too narrowly on Baltimore and they wanted a “statewide” show (easily disproved by looking at the list of topics the show addressed and by the fact that they had no “statewide” show lined up to replace me). Then they claimed that there were “personnel” reasons for firing me, but they have never provided any specifics to me, nor to the public, despite my public waiver of any claim of confidentiality. The falsity of their claim is demonstrated by the fact that they offered me $50,000 to keep quiet (which I would not accept) — not the sort of offer an employer makes to an employee who has done something wrong. Then they claimed they dropped me because ratings were down. But Chris Kaltenbach of the Sun showed that the numbers didn’t support their claim. Moreover, the station had cut back on promoting the show. Most importantly, public radio isn’t supposed to be driven by ratings.

Now, it is “philosophical reasons.” At least they’re getting closer to the truth.

Yes, there were philosophical differences — I believed in putting the public in public radio, they did not.. That in combination with Tony Brandon’s ego and determination not to manage the station as a team (but on his own, something he made clear at the first board meeting back in 2002) led to them ousting me as Vice President in the summer of 2005. There were philosophical reasons then, but since 2005 we have hardly said a word of importance to one another. They won control of the station, and we lost, and I decided to produce my show and serve the community as best I could.

Bozzuto said they were moving beyond my “narrow audience base”. Narrow audience base? When they canceled the show, fired me, or as NPR’s Andre Codrescu put it, “carried out a palace coup,” the support for our show and for our public radio was broader than most other public radio shows. Conservatives like Bob Ehrlich and Richard Vatz, leaders of the Jewish and Arab American communities, heads of universities, inner city activists and Hunt Valley dwellers, artists, doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, black, white, Asian — that “narrow audience base” for our noon show — have expressed their support of me.

If there were philosophical differences that erupted in the last three years, they revolved around what we did on the air. Some of them took umbrage that I had the temerity to raise questions about their powerful corporate friends and investments, that we did too many “urban” shows, that we brought voices on that did not sound like them. I was given grief about “Just Words,” the very series that won my producer Jessica Phillips and me a Peabody. The voices of the working poor wasn’t considered real journalism.

Well I am sorry, I thought I was finished with this, but maybe I am not. It gets so frustrating at times.

I really appreciate the almost 1,100 people who have now signed the petition to bring back my show, as well as those of you who have stood outside the station, who have written letters to WYPR’s management, made public and private statements, stood by us, taken a stand on public radio and personally supported me and Valerie through all of this.

When people ask would I go back, of course I would love to go back. I loved what I did. As Valerie often says, I lived and breathed my work. Could I do it in that atmosphere, with that leadership in place, after all that has been done? No, I could not.

When you ask what to do, I say keep the pressure on to make public really the public’s radio. It does belong to us.

This week we will be launching our website to bring you great stories and interviews every week. Our site will be a place for unheard voices. I am excited about what we are building with your support.

Keep in touch-

Marc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ANNAPOLIS

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

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

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

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

 

MORE – MOVIES NOW

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

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

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

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

See you at the movies.

4/3/08 More on Iraq War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-marc

3/28/08 Constellation Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-marc

3/18/08 Obama’s Speech Today

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

Today, I was a guest on Doni Glover’s show on WOLB.   When we finished our conversation on the air, I stumbled into their lunchroom.   Everyone was glued to CNN listening to Obama’s speech on race.  I sat down.   I became glued to the TV, to the words Obama was speaking to us all.  

I don’t know how many of you heard it, but you can watch and read it here.  I have never heard a politician running for office talk about race in that manner.  He tackled it head on.   

We live in a nation where race has always been at the root of our social and political discussion.   Race is at the root of our national persona.   It is complex, very complex.  Our generation, our race, our region, our gender, and our exposure other races define our feelings and sense of race as a nation.   Barak Obama clearly understands the complexity of race in America.   My own sense of him is that growing up as a Black child raised by a socially and politically open white mother, with conservative white grandparents in a white world, with an African father whom he did know, defined his own search for racial identity in America.   He lived in other cultures and saw race not just through the lens of Black and White but through Asian worlds that most non-Asian-Americans ever touch.   This is a life journey that took him, and continues to take him, wrestling with race through all its American complexities. 

America needs to have this conversation with itself.  Maybe Barak Obama is the only one, at the moment, who is able to create this conversation among ourselves.  

I really understood what he was saying about his minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.   White America easily dismisses Reverend Wright because they identify his words with the words of Farrakhan.  Most of us in the white world have to be willing to admit that this visceral reaction is what motivates us to become angry at the words of Reverend Wright.

Obama said he could no more turn against Reverend Wright than he could his white grandmother.   He said Reverend Wright came out of a generation that grew up in segregation and in the face of outright racial hatred in America.   He is still a distrustful and angry man.  He also said how much he learned about his faith and life from Rev. Wright.

Obama went on to say how much his white Kansas rural-raised grandmother loved him.   How much she loved this Black child in her life but how he cringed at her racist remarks. 

This is life in America.   This is an America where love and family cross all those lines.  This is an America that must have a conversation with itself.

When Obama turned his conversation to the white working class of America and its frustrations, it was clear that he understands the anger of white working class Americans who feels like Black folks are getting a free ride, while they worked for everything they have.   He understands how that is all wrapped around the economic conditions they face with factories closing, mortgage foreclosures, and crumbling public schools that intensify the anger around race.

He understands the responsibility Black America must take for itself.   He called on Black fathers to come home to their children while understanding the devastation and desperation of life in the Black inner city streets of America.  

He also understands that to get beyond race we need to have more than just a conversation with ourselves as Americans.  We need to rebuild our economy so that it supports stability and equality.   A nation rebuilding its infrastructure, breeding and teaching creative minds, a nation at work with decent paying jobs, a system that provides health care for all its citizens, and public schools where we feel safe and confident sending our children, just might allow us to go beyond race.  A movement fighting for this America has the power to transcend race.

I hope and pray that Big Media in America will do this speech and this conversation justice.   I am not optimistic but will jump for joy if proven wrong.   Let’s see what sound bites they use from this magnificent speech. 

Let’s see if the rabid hosts of hot talk television and radio and the knee-jerk response columnists can keep their powder dry.   Let’s see if they can stop to think for a moment and help us have this conversation.  

I was sitting with a dear friend at lunch (yeah, I can have lunch these days – what a novel idea) who said his liberal Jewish mother and her friends could not vote for Obama if he defended Rev Wright’s words.  

The first thing that came to my mind was, how short our memories are.   His Mom is obviously part of my Dad’s generation.    I remember growing up in a world where we Jews lived in our neighborhoods apart from the rest.  It was because of discrimination against us and by our own choice to live among one another.  Non Jews were not trusted not to be anti-Semitic until we were satisfied they were not.   Goyim jokes (jokes about those who were not Jews) abounded in the community.   I grew up with cousins with numbers on their arms tattooed on by their Nazi torturers in concentration camps.   I knew that at any moment they .. the proverbial they .. could turn on us before sunset.  There is a distrust born of being a discriminated against minority.

You overcome it, you go beyond it, you fight against it, both in society and within your own being.  It is a complex thing.   I, too, understand the anger in Rev. Wright and in other dear friends of mine.   I don’t agree with it.   Race is both deep and superficial.  It means nothing in the reality of existence but it defines our every move in America.  

President Clinton’s conversation on race when he was in the White House was superficial, elitist and detached.   Maybe now we can have a conversation based in the material reality of our everyday lives.  Obama’s words were eloquent but eloquence is not enough.   If he wins, he must build the America he preaches about.  If he loses, he has to build the movement he talks about.  Words of beauty will only take us so far.  

I hope the substance is as powerful as the speech.   We will see.

-marc

3/3/08 Monday Morning Thoughts

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEXAS OHIO VERMONT AND RHODE ISLAND

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

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

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

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

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

ENERGY SUITS WHO?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your thoughts?

-Marc