A longtime Arlington County Board member shakes up Virginia politics by announcing plans to step away. Uncertainty clouds the future for the chief of one of Maryland's treasured public school systems. And the field of candidates narrows in D.C.'s special elections looming in the spring.
New revelations about N.S.A. eavesdropping create a diplomatic rift between the U.S. and European allies. Teen drinking becomes a focal point of Maryland’s gubernatorial race. D.C. inches closer to decriminalizing marijuana. Kojo invites listeners to share their views on these and other topics in the news.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Your Turn. You can start calling now so that you can indeed have your turn. The number is 800-433-8850 or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the opportunity for you to discuss your opinion about what's on your mind.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAfter days of playing defense over its botched rollout of its new online health insurance marketplace, the Obama Administration announced last night that Americans who want to buy insurance will have an extra six weeks to do so. The administration said this extension is not related to the huge problems the insurance website healthcare.gov is experiencing, but technicalities may not matter for millions of Americans who have been trying to sign up on the site, many of them unsuccessfully.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAs the government works overtime to fix the site, we're not deep into the blame game on Capitol Hill. Congress hearing today from four federal contractors testifying that blame for the glitches that occurred after the October 1 launch should not be laid squarely on their shoulders. On the heated question from lawmakers, the contractors said the site was being fixed and that the Department of Health and Human Services was ultimately responsible for the final decision to take the site live. 800-433-8850. What’s your opinion?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIMeanwhile, President Obama and Vice-President Biden this week sought to reassure the nation and business leaders that the site will be fixed. And Republicans are trying to find political motives behind the decision-making process before the rollout. Additionally, reports about the savings reaped by the Affordable Care Act are not positive. Today's New York Times saying that one of the programs' loftiest goals, to encourage competition among insurers in an effort to keep costs low is falling short for many rural Americans.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIHave you tried to sign up on healthcare.gov? What was your experience? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Do you think healthcare.gov will be fixed quickly? More than 55 contractors built the healthcare.gov. Is that too many? Should the government scale back its use of contractors? It's Your Turn, 800-433-8850. And for years now the legal landscape for marijuana has been shifting in this country. Some states like Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana with detailed rules for growing, selling and taxing the drug.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWashington, D.C. now has medicinal marijuana dispensaries but there appears to be new momentum that take it a step further. Yesterday council members held their first public hearing on a proposed law to decriminalize marijuana. Under that law, possession of marijuana would be a civil charge with $100 fine as opposed to the current criminal charge which carries six months of jail and $1,000 fine. WAMU 88.5's Patrick Madden attended the hearing in Anacostia yesterday. He talked -- or listened to what council members Anita Bonds and Tommy Wells had to say. First council member Tommy Wells.
COUNCIL MEMBER TOMMY WELLSCriminalization of marijuana is not working. Against this wasted effort there's a serious human cost for marijuana criminalization. Every year nearly half of all drug arrests in this country are for simple possession of marijuana.
COUNCIL MEMBER ANITA BONDSAs a lifelong resident of the District of Columbia, I'm aware of the harmful effects that illegal drugs such as marijuana use and others have on the community in general. But I'm concerned too about what it does in the criminal justice system.
NNAMDID.C. council members Tommy Wells and Anita Bonds. But not everybody agrees with this. Patrick Madden also spoke with Pastor Barnard Howard at that event.
PASTOR BARNARD HOWARDWhen we allow this decriminalization, our young me will take that as a green light to think that it's okay to use marijuana and to be in that environment. And I think that world of drugs is only going to end in a worse state. And most of us that have ever done anything realizes it's going to end up in jail or in the cemetery. So I'm just against it.
NNAMDIWhat do you think? It's Your Turn. Is this a drug issue or is it a social justice issue, 800-433-8850? There's pretty strong evidence that public attitudes are changing, a gallop poll this week finding that 58 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana. That's the highest level yet recorded. Compare that to just 12 percent in 1969 when the organization first started polling this question, why do you think attitudes are changing?
NNAMDINow, contrast that with a story from thousands of miles away in Uruguay. That South American country is moving toward complete legalization of the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Under a bill currently under consideration there Uruguayans would be able to grow up to six plants in their homes while cooperatives would be able to cultivate up to 99 plants. The drug would be supplied to pharmacies, which would be able to sell it to individual buyers. It would be illegal to sell to children or foreigners.
NNAMDIThis proposed law is being interpreted as a direct challenge to the United States' antidrug laws, which tries to stem the flow of drugs here by addressing supply in other parts of the world. What's your take, 800-433-8850? Are you opposed to what Uruguay is doing or are you packing your bags and getting ready to move there? You can't because it says that it would be illegal to sell to children or foreigners there. And you would be coming under the category of foreigner. But what do you think, 800-433-8850? You can send email to email@example.com.
NNAMDILet's see what Lee in Washington wants to talk about. Lee, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Lee, I can't hear you very well so it might be -- oh wait a minute. Lee, are you there?
LEEI'm here. Can you hear me?
NNAMDIYes, I can.
LEEOkay. thanks for having me on your show. My comment is not about marijuana.
NNAMDINo, it's whatever you want to talk about.
LEEOkay. It's about same-sex marriage. And I did research with the National Human Genome Center and the genome project some ten years ago. And we found that, oh, between 8 and 10 percent of the female population was actually XY. They were males. And you can't tell by just looking. Phenotypically they appear to be females. You could be married to one, have all the same functions. They just can't have children, but they are biologically male.
LEESo given that you have some at least 8 percent of the population who are males but appear to be females, how can you vote against same-sex marriage?
NNAMDIBut you're talking about a very small minority of the population. Given that scientific reality, I don't think that's what's in the minds of people who are against same-sex marriage. They're not interested in what the scientific makeup of 8 percent of the population may be. I think they are more interested in the broader question of whether they think it is right or wrong. Not whether or not they think it is real in 8 percent of the population.
LEEBut you can't tell who's male and who's female.
NNAMDIWell, but for people who are -- especially people who are against same-sex marriage, it doesn't really make a difference, as far as they're concerned. Otherwise it would have been a persuasive argument that would have persuaded them a long time ago.
NNAMDIWell, thank you very much for your call. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. Here is Ishmael in Arlington, Va. Ishmael, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Why am I doing this wrong today? Hi, Ishmael.
ISHMAELHi. Can you hear me now?
NNAMDIYes, I can.
ISHMAELGood. My name is Ishmael and I'm calling from Arlington. Thank you very much for your show and for your time on the air.
ISHMAELI had several comments basically. I'm a contractor with the federal government. And unfortunately I am no stranger to federal government-maintained websites. They're just awful. Several years ago we had to -- me and my colleagues, which are plenty of us, had to register with one particular website which was not -- it was not operational at all. It was impossible because the more you got into it the more byzantine and bizarre it got.
ISHMAELBut unfortunately we had to register because otherwise we would be ineligible for federal contracts. So what I'm trying to say is when it comes to healthcare.gov, I am unfortunately not at all surprised and neither are my colleagues, which we count in thousands. I tried to use healthcare.gov. It was impossible. I couldn't get through. And then I started -- I actually tried to do that very close to the rollout date.
ISHMAELAnd then I started hearing news coming and I was like, oh well, then it's definitely not me. It's definitely not my connection. It's not my inability to use the internet. What I was trying to ask is, is anybody at this point asking a question -- and I admit I don't follow this closely lately. I'm depressed with the news on TV. I listen to only NPR nowadays. From what I understand, I'm trying to figure out whether the rollout -- I'm sorry, the deadline, which I believe -- correct me if I'm wrong -- December the 1st, is it going to be rolled back?
ISHMAELBecause evidently the site is not operational and people just cannot register. Or will the deadline remain the same? Thank you for listening to my ranting. Thank you for...
NNAMDIIt is my understanding that the deadline is being rolled back by six weeks after December the 1st as a result of these problems. Which brings me to a question for you. Given the experience that you have had, Ishmael, do you think that the problems will be in fact corrected?
ISHMAELI am not expert. I am the first one to admit, I am not expert when it comes to things IT. But from what I hear -- again mostly on NPR -- is, you know, this tech surge what they call, they're just throwing more people at the problem. And some gentleman said a very smart thing. He said, the more people you throw the slower it's going to go because they don't work on the same language. You have to train all these people before they can be even useful in terms of solving this big mess.
ISHMAELI believe the problem is either corruption or just ineptitude, if you ask my personal opinion. I believe that hiring 55 contractors is unfortunately the stupidity of a big machine. And I'm no small government proponent. Please don't misunderstand me.
ISHMAELI believe the government has a role to play in our lives and a very strong one. And it has to employ a lot of people. But unfortunately what it comes to, they hire a whole bunch of people. If I tell you about my experience, this was a so-called IT people in the federal government...
NNAMDINo, don't tell me. We only have an hour left in this broadcast.
ISHMAELI'm so sorry. (unintelligible)
NNAMDIIt'll take too long, but I do appreciate your call. I do appreciate your call, Ishmael. Thank you very much for calling. On to Steve in Washington, D.C. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEVEHello, Kojo. You've got the button right this time.
STEVEAnd congratulations on your longevity on the air. I heard about your celebration. Sorry I couldn't attend. Anyway...
NNAMDISo I'm slow and I'm old, but go ahead.
STEVEYou know, I am one of many folks that is in recovery and have been for decades from various substances, including alcohol. And I think the obvious thing here is that as long as we have legalized alcohol in this country, it's an absolute no brainer that marijuana should also follow suit. It's a complicated problem, but it's one that requires a lot of personal choice to overcome. Anyone of age or not of age can buy and consume alcohol.
STEVEAnd, you know, it was the great predator in my life. And frankly I gave up marijuana voluntarily because it made me pass out when I drank. So -- and also, I mean, just a quick example. I have never heard of a case of someone that's high on pot roaring through a stop sign at 100 miles an hour and fist fighting with a cop. That is really the realm of alcohol and the violent reaction that people who abuse it often have.
NNAMDIWell, has your opinion about marijuana, Steve, changed or evolved over time or is this a view that you've always held?
STEVEWell, you know, it's something -- I mean, given my proclivity toward addiction, you know, I don't want to use anything. And anyone that has a problem, I wouldn't. And having said that though, yes, I've mellowed on it quite a bit. And I must say that I've looked at Colorado and Washington's legalization with sort of a nostalgic state and sort of thought, well, finally.
STEVENow, do I think it's a social ill? Yes. I don't think that there's going to be any violence as a part of it, but I think many souls will sort of dissolve away on a couch. But that is a personal choice and I don't really think it's going to have an enormous impact on society so much in a negative way.
STEVEBut it will certainly have a brilliant effect on the criminal justice system in wiping out probably, for instance, half the trade that comes across the border from Mexico and the incumbent violence with that.
NNAMDIOkay. Steve, thank you very much for your call. We're going to take a short break. But before we do that, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is in the news this week. Not for his politics but for his parenting. Gansler acknowledging that he was present for a short time at a beach week party in June where teenagers later confirmed there was under-aged drinking. He says it was not his job to intervene. Gansler and a group of other parents rented a six-bedroom beach house in South Bethany, Del. for their sons who had just graduated from the private Landon School in Bethesda.
NNAMDIGansler had stopped by to talk to his son and then he left. He said, in an interview, that the parents set ground rules which included no drinking hard alcohol. But he said he doubted that the parent chaperones, two dads on duty each night, would have wanted to send someone home for drinking beer. First, Gansler is Maryland's top prosecutor. He's running to be democratic nominee for governor. And he is having a press conference even as we speak to address this issue. We will have more information about that later in the broadcast.
NNAMDIBut for the time being, do you agree with Doug Gansler's position? Did he have the moral authority over other people's children at beach week in another state even if he had noticed people drinking, 800-433-8850? If the lines are busy, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you think it's okay for underage teenagers to drink beer at beach week as long as they don't drive and don't become too loud or unruly, stay in doors? They were graduating from high school, celebrating that graduation anyway. 800-433-8850, it's Your Turn. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn. We're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. The lines seems to be filled, so for the time being if you're trying to get through, shoot us an email to email@example.com, send us a Tweet at kojoshow or you can simply go to our website, kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. I'll go now to Natalie in Salisbury, Md. Natalie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NATALIEHi. I'm calling because you were earlier talking about marijuana legality. And I just wanted to kind of give a viewpoint on the effects of the legalization of marijuana and its effect on the African American community.
NATALIEI heard someone speaking earlier saying that they were concerned about the negative impact that free use of marijuana would have on the African American community.
NATALIEI just wanted to say that there's been a very negative impact on the black community by the illegality of marijuana use. I'm a criminal defense attorney. And I know that black people are disproportionately prosecuted and incarcerated off of marijuana possession, even for small amounts, even for first time, second time and third time users and abusers of marijuana. Although there may be some social ills that come as a result of using marijuana, there is far more criminal penalties that the African American community faces.
NATALIEThat leads to things like then having less job opportunities, missing out on educational opportunities, missing time in school. And it does lead from funneling kids from say tenth and eleventh grade directly into the jail system or the juvenile justice system so...
NNAMDINatalie, I believe you're --
NATALIE...instead of going to college they're going to jail.
NNAMDI...I believe you're making the argument that several members of the D.C. council are making for the decriminalization of marijuana at this point. Because they're arguing that its criminalization leads to a loss of decent futures for a lot of young black people, especially young black males who otherwise may have bright futures ahead of them. So thank you very much for your call. Let's see what Elizabeth in Alexandria, Va. has to say about this. Elizabeth, your turn.
ELIZABETHHi, Kojo. Actually Natalie almost entirely took my point. I would add that it's equally -- or may not equally but it also really strongly affects the Hispanic community. So I would make the same argument as the D.C. council members. And I also wanted to point out one book that I read, which is really helpful for me in thinking about this issue, was Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," which basically talks about the effect that the war on drugs has had on lower income communities...
ELIZABETH...and how it's just decimated a lot of families and a lot of opportunities for young people.
NNAMDIThat's a book on a conversation that received quite a bit of attention. So, Elizabeth, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Jill in Silver Spring, Md. Jill, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JILLHi, Kojo. I just wanted to make a comment about what you were discussing earlier in regards to the underage people drinking alcohol. And I think that people in, you know, a position, you know, where, you know, they are in the public need to be aware that what they've done is -- you know, by allowing these minors to consume alcohol, is illegal. And that's just the bottom line.
JILLAnd that's the point I want to make, that if they're in a position where they can change that because they think that, you know, younger adults or older children, as they might be, you know, should be allowed to consume, like, softer, you know, adult beverages like beer or wine, then they should look at changing the law so that beer and wine are, you know, consumable by, you know, our younger adult population, as it is in Europe.
NNAMDIWell, I'd like you to stay on the line for a while, Jill, because we mentioned that Doug Gansler was having a press conference even as we speak. He is still speaking at that press conference in Silver Spring, but I'd like you to listen to a part of the statement he made about the beach party at the house where his son was staying.
DOUG GANSLERPerhaps I should've assumed there was drinking going on and I got that wrong. What I can tell you is that at no time while I was in the house did I see any teenager in any danger or any risk. If I had, of course, I would've attended to that person as I always do and spoken to the chaperones about ending the party. If you see a teenager that needs help, obviously you help them. I went in, I told my son what time we were leaving in the morning, that I love him and then I went home. As a parent you always try to make the best judgments. In this case, maybe I should've done something differently.
NNAMDIJill, I'm pretty sure you heard the statement that Doug Gansler has to make. As to the illegality of the action involved, there are laws that state that if the children are drinking beer in a private home under the supervision of their parents then that may not be a violation of law. I'm not sure, but what do you say now, Jill?
JILLWell, I'd say that there were multiple children that were in this home. And, you know, in this particular case, you know, I still think that if you're aware that there are children that are, you know, drinking alcoholic beverages and you know that they're not supposed to be consuming alcoholic beverages because it's illegal for, you know, minors to consume alcoholic beverages that you should probably, you know, not -- especially if you're a public figure, not let your child participate in such an activity.
NNAMDIWell, it is my understanding that when these parents rented this six-bedroom house for their children who were -- for their sons who were graduating from Landon to celebrate, it was made with the understanding that whatever they did it would not A. include the consumption of hard alcohol, B. that whatever they consumed, beer and wine, would be done inside the premises and C. there would always be two male parent chaperones there. What do you say now?
JILLYou know, I'm not a lawyer and I don't know specifically what the legalities are in terms of what you're talking about, Kojo, but...
NNAMDIIt still seems irresponsible to you, though.
JILLI think it's irresponsible. I think that we need to teach our children that if the law says that, you know, you're not supposed to consume alcohol under the age of 21 that we need to abide by that.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. We move on now to James in Annapolis, Md. James, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JAMESKojo, it's good to speak with you. Thank you for your work.
NNAMDIThank you for calling.
JAMESI wanted to share an observation concerning the recent behavior by the Republican Party, which is that when you have a group of people who believe they're smarter than everyone else, they see evil wherever they look in the federal government and they're determined to root it out regardless of the cost to society, that to me is McCarthyism.
JAMESWell, because they -- if you go back -- for those that remember the history, there was a group of ultraconservatives in congress around '50, '51, '52 that believed that communists were everywhere. They were all over the federal government and they were determined to root it out regardless the cost to society or people's individual lives or careers. And I see a lot of parallels there.
NNAMDIWell, there are people who have made parallels between this and the people who support the confederacy. Now you're making comparisons between this and McCarthyism. Why can't this stand on its own?
JAMESIt can. It can. I just -- I think people need to see a bigger picture sometimes or understand how their behavior plays out.
NNAMDIWell, even people in the Republican Party who were opposed to the shutdown say that the 20, 30 or 40 characterized as Tea Party conservatives in the party were irresponsible because they did not have a specific strategy in which shutting down the government was involved. Simply shutting the government down in and of itself is what they feel was irresponsible. Would you have understood it better if it were part of a particular strategy?
JAMESIrregardless of the fact that their objectives are being pursued without being mindful of the larger cost.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. And I'll remind that anyone who participates or would like to participate in Your Turn, we can discuss any of the subjects we've discussed previously. Or even if there's a subject that we have not discussed that you'd like to discuss, feel free to call us at 800-433-8850. If you have called, stay on the line. We will get to your call. We won't be moving past your topic. We're discussing all topics today.
NNAMDIBy the way, here's this one. Europeans are furious over new reports that the U.S. National Security Agency has listened in on the German Chancellor's cell phone calls and eavesdropped on millions of calls and text messages in France. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have both reportedly called the White House to confront President Obama about the alleged spying. The U.S. apparently assured Merkel that she's not the target of current surveillance and won't be in the future, but didn't say anything about the past.
NNAMDINews reporters say that President Obama has tried to convince both leaders that the revelations of spying contained in documents leaked by NSA leaker Edward Snowden should not harm the transatlantic relationships between the important allies. Do you think the NSA revelations will have any long term impact on America's relationships with those key allies? Should the U.S. be gathering as much intelligence as it possibly can as a matter of course, even intelligence on its allies?
NNAMDIAnd then there's this. Has your view of Edward Snowden evolved, changed in the way that Washington Post's columnist Richard Cohen's view of Snowden has evolved? At first, he thought Snowden was not a whistleblower. He says he's changed his mind on that. Snowden, in his view now, can be considered a whistleblower. He can't decide on exactly how he should be punished.
NNAMDIBut what do you think, 800-433-8850? Do you think Edward Snowden has performed a service and if so, to whom? How should he be treated, 800-433-8850? You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. But it's Your Turn. Perry in Washington, D.C., you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PERRYThanks for giving me a turn, Kojo. Thank god for Ed Snowden, (unintelligible) . On the issue of decriminalization of marijuana, Kojo, you know, Paul Zukerberg ran a special election. And he proposed as a one-issue candidate, decriminalization this past fall.
PERRYAnd so depositing of this matter right now is a matter of convenience. You know, Tommy Wells is running for mayor. And he's been on the council since '07. Never thought about it. And of course, you know, (unintelligible) out of this equation, but this is a matter of convenience. You know, marijuana decriminalization is equal to alcohol abuse. And so the boogey man that folks keep throwing up, it stinks. And then no one knows better than I that previously convicted people cannot get gainful employment.
PERRYThe number of previously convicted people who gains employment in this city hovers around between 3 and 7 percent when they make up at least 10 percent of D.C. residents. D.C. is allowed by law to legally discriminate against those who've been previously convicted regardless of how long ago conviction was. I've been unemployed for four years. I've petitioned 207 employers within the confines of D.C. and have not gained gainful employment. So I have to, of course, rely on my internal skills, my intrinsic skills.
PERRYBut decriminalizing marijuana is a good step. It's a step in the right direction. It may seem overly progressive, but D.C., which has a 93 percent Democratic electorate, should not even have a problem with it. Thanks for giving me a turn, Kojo.
NNAMDIThank you very much for expressing your opinion, Perry. We'll see if anyone disagrees with that. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. It is, in fact, Your Turn. It is Sean on the eastern shore in Maryland's turn. Sean, go ahead, please.
SEANWell, thank you, Mr. Nakombi (sp?) . The thing that happens after these house parties close, where do the children go? They go back on the boardwalk. They're supposed to go home. Do you think that's right?
NNAMDIWell, in this case the children supposedly stayed overnight at this facility. And according to some parents the next day they helped them clean up. But there was another controversy because apparently somebody went into the home and did some destructive work there. But it is my understanding that on that night they stayed there. They didn't go out anyplace.
SEANAs the potential governor of our State of Maryland, is he going to relax rules on drinking underage? I just feel that this is an irresponsible parent. I've seen the photographs. We're both almost 50 years old -- I am almost 50 years old. But I would never, ever -- my parents didn't -- my graduation party, yes, we drank beer. It was ten of us. We put our keys in our hats. And my dad took them to put with him. We slept in the grass and tents and everything else. This is getting out of control.
NNAMDIBur wait a minute. You said you drank at your graduation party and your dad knew about it?
NNAMDIWell, why was it not irresponsible of your dad but it is irresponsible of Doug Gansler?
SEANBecause first of all, he limited it to my ten friends and we drank beer. But the next day when we got up, you know, we went out, we did our job.
NNAMDISo you're saying that you're not opposed to kids drinking beer at their graduation party. You're just opposed to them going out in the street after they've done it?
SEANNo. After looking back, I think it's wrong. I shouldn't have. It led to my alcoholism and I had to go through rehab and take care of that. I think what parents...
NNAMDIAre you -- do you consider yourself, Shaun, to be a recovering alcoholic, or are you still drinking?
NNAMDIOkay. Well, good luck to you and thank you very much for your call. We move onto Bob in Stafford, Va. Bob, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BOBGreat. Thanks, Kojo. I'm 25, and when I was in high school, I grew up in a house where my parents allowed me and my friends to drink in the house. And, you know, we had to stay in. We -- there had to be some rules that were set up. But my experience with that was that me and my friends were able to experiment with alcohol and learn our boundaries and even learn how to take care of each other when we drank too much.
BOBIt was that kind of thing that I learned as a young adult that I was able to take into college where my parents were out of the equation, where I was able to be a more responsible drinker even though I was still drinking under age.
NNAMDISo you think that what the Attorney General Doug Gansler did was what you would see a responsible parent doing?
BOBAbsolutely. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was my friends who didn't have that kind of support and understanding from their parents that were the ones who were more prone to go when their parents were out of town to go down and to break into their liquor cabinet and to get really reckless and irresponsible, invite a bunch of friends over and to be really reckless, and I just noticed that because my parents set up the place where it was accepted and supported to learn your boundaries and what this -- what alcohol does to you and whether or not you like it, what drinks you like, those kind of things, it -- I just thought it made me a lot more prepared for my young adulthood.
NNAMDIBut you're not saying that you're advocating a change in the legal age at which a young person can drink.
BOBI think it's something that we should look into, especially because when I was 19 and 20, I traveled, I studied abroad, and I was in European countries where that was perfectly acceptable, and I met a lot more responsible 18, 19, and 20 year olds traveling abroad than I did back on college campuses.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Bob. We anticipated that there would be a lot of responses to this issue, so if you can't through at 800-433-8850, either keep trying to send email to email@example.com. Send us a tweet @kojoshow, or go to our website kojoshow.org, because it is Your Turn. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to Your Turn where you're setting the agenda with your calls and emails and tweets. The number is 800-433-8850. We got an email from someone who said, "You would not believe the number of professional people in high stress jobs who indulge in marijuana and other recreational drug use. Alcohol has much worse consequences on people than marijuana. I see the effects of it on people as a registered nurse. The criminal justice system is overwhelmed by people being prosecuted for this victimless crime, and there's a disproportionate number of people of color being prosecuted."
NNAMDIWe got a couple of other emails to that effect, but let's go back to the phones where calls await us at 800-433-8850, this one from Cooper in Annapolis, Md. Cooper, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
COOPERHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I was very interested in the Edward Snowden revelation because it's very clear to me that our government is lying to us at a lot of different steps, and it's not Obama, it's not Bush, it's not a lot of different presidents, it's a lot of bureaucracy and smoke and mirrors that's really clouding our judgment and really diluting the representation of the people. I really think more whistleblowers need to come forth like Edward Snowden, like everyone else -- like, excuse me.
COOPERI think more whistleblowers needs to come forward so that we can really have an open government where our own voice comes through and not just the people in power who make these decisions for us claiming to really represent us as a people.
NNAMDII get the impression that you are implying, or I am inferring that you feel the government was lying to us by either telling us or giving us the impression that no government agency was monitoring our phone calls and emails and that the revelations of Edward Snowden made that turn out to be untrue. Is that what you're saying?
COOPERYes, I do. I really believe that even if that collecting of our phone calls led to terrorism, led to less terrorism abroad has really compromised the safety and -- compromised the public safety where people can't live their daily lives. That's the way I feel. I'm a 23 year old college student, and I really feel that going forward in my life I won't be able to trust my government because they will be looking after he, and they will be checking as to my family when I have a family, and that going forward we really need to blow this thing open with NSA and the CIA we really know exactly what they do. Maybe not all of the operations, but...
NNAMDIWell, what do you think should be done with Edward Snowden because there is an acknowledgment that he violated the law and that he broke an oath to which he swore?
COOPERI believe that he did more of his civic duty in doing that and is helping to create new laws. I really think that he did not break the law and even though technically he did, I really believe that he should be able to be pardoned eventually when we realize that he was right all along.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. We move onto Paul in Arlington, Va. Paul, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PAULThank you, Kojo. I had an interesting experience with my daughter when we graduated from high school six years ago. She came to me after the senior prom they wanted to have a party and I knew there was probably going to be drinking. She wanted to know if she could rent a hotel that a friend of mine owned. I went to him and he had a small boutique hotel in DC, 28 rooms, and he said he would rent it to my daughter and her friends for $3,000.
PAULWell, she got 40 of her dearest friends together. They raised the money, rented the hotel. After the prom came, they came over and -- the boys came over to the hotel in the afternoon and stocked it with liquor. After the prom they came over in two is stretch limos, so they had no cars, went into the hotel, and ate and drank the night away. I stayed until about 3:00 and chaperoned. My friend who owned the hotel stayed through the night. And two -- one thing I found that the -- they couldn't drive. They were in a safe place, a place where they could sleep.
PAULI knew they were going to have parties after the prom where they would drink and probably get into cars to go to different places, and that would be the dangerous thing. I wasn't going to be able to stop them, but I could put them in a safe environment. And the interesting thing is, they were really well behaved, and they respected my friend and his property. They even got up the next morning to help clean up, even though he told them he had staff to do that. And, you know, they went on their merry way.
PAULAnd, the observation I took from that was I watched these kids drinking and they're chugging out of bottles of champagne and other liquor, and I thought, the parents should have hosted the bar, because we teach our kids how to drive. We don't teach them how the drink. Within a few weeks they're going to go off the college and they're going to start drinking, and even under age because they're either going to get fake driver's licenses or fake IDs or, you know, drink at a party.
PAULSo I think we're better off working with our kids and finding safe ways for them to learn how to drink properly.
NNAMDIOkay. What do you say to people who would say to you but when you introduce them to drinking at that early an age you run the risk of having them grow so attached to it that they either become alcoholics or they indulge in it too frequently?
PAULWell, I have -- I have two kids, two years apart, and neither one are very heavy drinkers. Actually, my daughter went off the college and became a bartender because in West Virginia you can tend bar at 18. And she made a ton the money working for one the biggest bars in Morgantown, and one thing, by tending bar on the weekends, she wasn't able to go to parties because she was working, and people tending bars there don't, you know, you don't drink. But, you know, it's not the best solution, but sometimes we have to have -- come up with a reasonable solution.
PAULAnd we're sending our kids off to college with this taboo of no drinking at all until they get off on their own, and then what do they do, they start binge drinking. Well, my kids didn't grow up in a taboo society in our home life, and both went off and behaved very responsibly at college.
NNAMDIOkay, Paul. Thank you very much for your call.
PAULThank you for taking it.
NNAMDIYou too can call us at 800-433-8850 because it's Your Turn. If you want to get in a comment, now is the time to do it, or you can shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We move onto Don in Woodbridge, Va. Don, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NNAMDIHey, Don. Go ahead.
DONCan you hear me okay?
NNAMDII hear you very well.
DONYeah. I was having a little trouble there so I'm on my Bluetooth now. But, well, I just wanted to say on Snowden that I really respect the opinions of young people such as the young man that was 23 before who defended Snowden. From another viewpoint, and coming from a retired military member, and this is irrelevant, but a huge Obama supporter that I am, I would feel the same way I suppose with any president when one does something in my opinion as impetuous as Edward Snowden did without any apparent real forethought, and taking that sort of extreme action as opposed to what might have been some other more conservative means such as coming forward and using the process that so many people seem to not have any faith in at all with our government. But instead he's done this and sort of marooned himself now to...
NNAMDIWell, let me -- let me raise a couple of questions with you, because he didn't seem to do it spontaneously. He seemed to have thought it out very carefully. He collaborated with people who are in the news media so that he wouldn't simply just be releasing all the stuff himself. He released it through the news media, and there are others that say that had he gotten through the process we have had individuals on this broadcast who attempted to do it through the process and ended up finding themselves both losing their jobs and being prosecuted for it. What do you say to that?
DONYou're referring to his working with the -- I can't remember the gentleman's name now, the reporter for the Guardian.
DONGlenn Greenwald, yes. But on the contrary, I thought that his actions were spontaneous until he left the country as he did and then began releasing information. I wasn't aware that he'd been trying to do due process until he actually left America.
NNAMDINo. I wasn't saying that he tried to do due process, I said we had other people on this broadcast who said that they attempted to use due process to do it and found themselves out of a job, sanctioned by their superiors and in at least one case, prosecuted in court even...
DONPerhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. But, you know, call me a cynic, but just believe there's a better way, and I'm not going to get into the call -- name calling and calling Snowden a narcissist and things of that nature which other people have done, but...
NNAMDIWell, you know, one of the people who did that was Richard Cowan and he now says he was completely wrong about it, the Washington Post columnist.
DONI don't know. I don't know. And guys like the Synagogue Papers guy, Daniel Ellsberg might defend him as well. But there's always something to be said about someone who takes charlatanistic, if that's a word, type of action as opposed to do things that -- relying on some sort of due process, Kojo. I mean, if we were to all take the action of not using due process ever, what are we going to be left with, anarchy, and also..
NNAMDIAnd I guess that's why I raised the question with people about what they think should be done with Edward Snowden because he did in fact break the law, and he did violate an oath that he took.
DONAnd now look where he's been left if you will. And now all we see is President Obama have to seemingly come out and defend himself on almost a daily basis to the embarrassment that clearly he had nothing to do with in terms of wiretapping the phone of Angela Merkel and the French prime minister, et cetera, et cetera. So I'm just not sure what Edward Snowden in the long run has stood to gain here, and I can think of a lot more people better to follow in terms of why I want to go in my direction of life than Julian Assange.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Don. We move onto Jenny in Arlington, Va. Jenny, your turn.
JENNYKojo, I'm also from Arlington, Va., and I'm replying to Peter's phone call. You know, you can't teach drinking. And, you know, I grew up in a family, my father was French and we had alcohol at home. We had glasses of wine, you know, on the weekend or a glass of wine occasionally at dinnertime. Five kids and one's an alcoholic. We are all raised the same. We were raised to be responsible, but it has nothing with teaching kids how to drink.
JENNYPeter also has to realize that he is breaking the law. He's encouraging his kids to break the law. You know, they are not 21. These are minors, they're going out and buying alcohol, stocking up a hotel and parents are condoning this? I mean, I'm just appalled. And you know, there are studies that have done -- been done in France, and where, you know, wine is accessible to children as a very young age, and it does not lead to people being responsible in their drinking. They also have a tendency, and maybe even higher so of being alcoholics.
NNAMDIWell -- well, wait a minute. You say it does not lead to people being responsible, but are there indications in Europe that it does lead to them being irresponsible?
JENNYNeither. I guess not irresponsible or responsible. It goes to my point that drinking is an addiction for some people, fine for others, and just because you're exposed to it at a young age at home does not mean that you're not going to have problems with it later on.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, and your contribution. I'm afraid we're just about out of time. We had a previous caller who referenced a NPR segment on the problems with healthcare.gov who questioned whether the tech surge would work. On October 22, Melissa Block talked with Rusty Foster a writer and commuter programmer. He talked something called Brooks Law. Brook law is a principal in software development which says that adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
NNAMDII'm afraid that's all the time we have. Thanks to all of you for participating in this edition of your turn, and thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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