Maryland Senator Ben Cardin joins us to talk about the youth movement against gun violence, Russian sanctions, and more. D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh shares her thoughts on relief for high water bills and news that D.C. Public Schools is taking over an all girls charter school.
Whether it’s elections, football or fall foliage…you set the agenda. Share whatever is on your mind with Kojo.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's your turn, where you join the conversation. You don't just join, you dominate the conversation, by calling 800-433-8850. You set the agenda by going to our website, kojoshow.org, and making a comment there or send us a tweet at kojoshow, an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The New York Times front page today, Tuesday, October 26th, Karzai confirms that Iran gives bags of money. You've got to wonder exactly what is going on with the U.S. relationship with President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and what the implications are for the ongoing war there.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe New York Times reports that President Karzai's statements were the latest indication that American relations with Mr. Karzai were badly frayed, despite diplomatic efforts to mend ties and improve governments in Afghanistan. He said, they do give us bags of money. Yes, yes, it is done, Mr. Karzai said in responding to questions about a report in the New York Times on Sunday that Iran sends regular cash payments to him through his chief of staff. He says that he uses the money to pay expenses incurred in the course of doing his job.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIncluding for quote/unquote, "special expenses and helping people." Asked what he does in return for the Iranian money, Mr. Karzai said, they have asked for good relations in return and for lots of other things in return. Of course, the U.S. has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in the war in Afghanistan so far. So what Iran is giving in cash may seem like not that much, but it's certainly calls into question the level of governance and the quality of governance that we are apparently supporting in Afghanistan and how it will affect our stay there. But this is your turn, you dominate with calls from -- to 800-433-8850. So let us start with Daniel in northeast Washington. Daniel, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DANIELHello, Kojo. I was interested in the previous topic. It seems that the Supreme Court is a very activist court and it's carrying out a Reagan, Bush, Bush Jr. agenda. The destruction of our electoral process by opening the flood gates of corporate donations without even identifying where the money comes from is a complete destruction of the electoral process. And we also have to remember that these are not just campaign ads, but they are psychological warfare. They are distorted, they are subliminal and they are negative advertising. So (unintelligible) .
NNAMDIBut what do you see, Daniel, is the relationship between that and Virginia Thomas' political activity?
DANIELBecause the Supreme Court doesn't get elected and it was stacked by Reagan and Bush and Bush Jr. And if this incident where Clarence Thomas, who was not even qualified, if he lied during his confirmation and said that Anita Hill was not telling the truth and none of the things she said were true, but they are true, if he lied during his confirmation, then a country with some spine would be getting up and saying, we want you to resign. Your nomination, your confirmation was prejudiced. It was perjured.
NNAMDIBut, Daniel, we have not been able to assert whether or not Justice Thomas lies. And Anita Hill did take a polygraph test and passed. Justice Thomas refused to take one, but that has not -- that cannot be used as definitive evidence that either one of them told the truth or lied. The fact of the matter is, we still don't know.
DANIELI see. So the highest court in the land, the justices who are determining how our democracy is going to proceed or be destroyed has -- don't have to go to a higher standard than whether -- Anita Hill is being confirmed. All her accusations are being confirmed by a second witness who just released a book. So if the democrats in the House and the Senate had any guts, if they weren't completely jelly fish, they would've been passing a law to stop this destruction of campaign funding. This is the United Case. And they couldn't do that. And they would be getting the Supreme Court justice to resign so that...
NNAMDIHow do you propose...
DANIEL...if you want to play politics...
NNAMDI...how do you propose they do that? Get a supreme court justice...
DANIELI'll tell you...
DANIEL...the whole process has no integrity and it started with Clarence Thomas. And the campaign finance law is so completely destructive. Our democratic process (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDII know, but Daniel besides calling for..
NNAMDI...a supreme court justice to be removed, how are you suggesting that democrats should go about having a sitting Supreme Court justice removed?
DANIELLike anything else, his behavior is unacceptable. He perjured himself during his confirmation hearing. Like any other -- look at Juan Williams, the last show. That was a farce, what happened with Juan Williams. We can't do it with a Supreme Court justice?
NNAMDINo, we can't.
DANIELNo. But the issues are that the fairness doctrine is gone. The media is molding an American electorate that is so distorted and believes crazy delusional things.
NNAMDIYeah, but Daniel...
DANIELAnd Obama is, you know, Muslim, things like that.
NNAMDI...but, Daniel, in order for us to get focused here. We're talking more specifically about the activities of Virginia Thomas and the ethical implications for her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas. And I fail to see how all of the other things you used to try to connect these dots, will, in the final analysis, result in the outcome that you apparently want, which is for Justice Thomas to step down and a lot of other of these things to be corrected. But thank you very much for your thoughts. We move on now to Gloria in Delmarva, Md. Gloria, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
GLORIAThank you, Kojo. I am a daily listener and a huge fan of your show. Thank you for allowing me to make a very brief comment in response to one of the earlier callers who suggested that Mrs. Thomas go back to the kitchen.
NNAMDINot that she was ever there, but go ahead, please.
GLORIAThis is the 21st century, not the 19th century where women were tied to the home and the kitchen. To suggest, in any way shape or form, that what she chooses to do as a profession or, you know, career has absolutely nothing to do, in my opinion, with what her husband does (unintelligible) .
NNAMDIYou raise a fascinating issue, Gloria, the gender issue. But let's raise it in both gender terms and political terms. If the spouse, the male spouse husband of a supreme court justice had done the opposite of what Virginia Thomas is doing, and that is gone off to the extreme left and criticized a president of the United States, comparing him to Hitler, not that Virginia Thomas has done that in the case of President Obama. Would you feel that that was acceptable?
GLORIAAbsolutely. Yes. I'd -- I don't feel that it's gender specific. I think that -- and it's just the mere suggestion that she should live in his shadow, if you will, as a house wife, if you will, that offends me, deeply.
NNAMDIOh, yeah, well, I guess most people would take offense at that.
NNAMDII guess most people would take offense at that.
GLORIAYes, absolutely. Well, I was here at my (word?) .
NNAMDIOkay, thank you.
GLORIANo. she's, you know, she's got aspirations of her own and her aspirations may have little or nothing to do with his aspirations.
NNAMDIWell, the question we were raising is whether or not a situation arose where her aspirations and his job came into conflict. If, in fact, she was receiving funds from anonymous donors, who, as our guests are -- that presumably she knows who they are and one of those donors were making -- was making that donation in order to find favorable treatment because that donor had a case before the supreme court on what Justice Thomas was sitting and his wife may have shared the information with him about this donor. But that would be something only the two of them would know. What would you think Justice Thomas should do in that situation?
GLORIAI think that, you know, I think that all of that information should be public information. I don't approve of potential governors and I'm using that in a broad sense.
NNAMDIWell, potential is a good word to use because one of the things we were discussing earlier is that this is likely to be happening more in the future because women are in the work place and pursuing careers in much the same way as men do. So we're probably likely to see it a lot more in the future. And that's one of the reasons we were discussing it today. Gloria, thank you very much for your call. It's your turn. You can call us on any issues that you'd like to. The number is 800-433-8850 or you can go to our website, kojoshow.org, join the conversation there.
NNAMDIDrug lab in a dorm room on the campus of Georgetown University. I'm shocked, shocked. Drugs on campus, who would have thunk it? Here is Jerry in Arlington, Va. Jerry, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JERRYThank you, Kojo. I am upset about the Juan Williams. I'm a flaming liberal Democrat, but I hate political correctness and my station, my NPR, let me down. I don't even always agree with that great Kojo Nnamdi. But...
NNAMDIWhat? Cut him off.
JERRY...Juan is a man who I've listened to on PBS and NPR for years. And to fire him on the phone and to place on him political correctness crap is a disservice to him and it's a disservice to me and the listener. And I raised holy hell, as did thousands of others last week and I'm still raising it. Well, let's bring Juan Williams back and if we disagree with him, have Kojo talk to him and say, but, Juan, don't you think this was a little over the top?
JERRYYou don't fire people because you disagree.
NNAMDIJerry, actually I did have a brief conversation with Juan before his appearance on the Diane Rehm show at 11:00 o'clock today, but it was a personal and private conversation. Juan is a long time friend of mine. It was clear at some point that the relationship between NPR and Juan Williams, especially after he started doing commentaries on Fox News, was an uncomfortable fit, if you will, for NPR. And the general consensus is that NPR was looking for a way out of its relationship with Juan Williams and has now admitted that it indeed handled that very badly.
JERRYWell, Kojo, if you want to an excuse to get rid of Juan, do it in a way that doesn't smack of standing in the face of 40 years of standards that I hold NPR to. See, political correctness is dumb. And for me as a liberal democrat, it feeds the people who I oppose. Every time you fire somebody like this, what you do is in engender fox and you engender the...
JERRY…narrow-minded people to go out and slam liberals. That's dumb.
NNAMDI...Jerry, unfortunately, I did not have a chance to listen to much of Juan's appearance on the Diane Rehm show because then I'm reading and writing for my own show. But I seem to get the impression that it was a fairly animated conversation that took place there. Thank you very much for joining us, Jerry. You, too, can join us at 800-433-8850. It is your turn. Here now is Barbara is Leesburg, Va. Barbara, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BARBARAHi, thank you very much for taking my call. I'm a big, big fan. I went to the 10th congressional district in Virginia debate last night and I heard Jeff Barnett, Frank Wolf and William Redpath. And two of the three advocated abolishing the department of education, federal level. And I'm sure you've heard that many times.
NNAMDIWhere have I heard that before?
BARBARAAnd -- oh, my goodness, I don't know. So I'm wondering what it would look like. Would the states like Mississippi, which I think is at the bottom of the ladder financially, educationally would they just get worse? Would states that have budget issues anyway, get worse? Would it be, like, a bunch of different countries? I don't know what it would look like and I'm wondering what the -- what other listeners have to say.
NNAMDII don't know what it would look like either, but there has been -- have been calls for the past 25 years or so to get rid of the department of education from those people who feel that education should accord to local standards and local standards only whether we're talking about local jurisdictions or states for that matter. Local standards are what is most important in their mind. How it would be structured in the event of that? How we would maintain American competitiveness in the world marketplace and in the world arena of ideas? I haven't heard any kind of plan for exactly how that would occur.
NNAMDIBut other listeners might have ideas, Barbara, so thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIYou, too, can call us, 800-433-8850. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, more of your calls. It's your turn. You set the agenda, whether you want to talk about what's going on in Afghanistan with money allegedly and then acknowledgedly being taken by President Hamid Karzai. He acknowledges that he's receiving cash from Iran. Or anything else on your mind, 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's your turn. Cholera outbreak in Haiti, war in Afghanistan, the president of Afghanistan accepting cash from Iran, a drug lab in a dorm room on the campus of Georgetown University, and everybody, it seems, wants to talk about Juan Williams and NPR. But hey, it's your turn. You get to decide. So here we got a Facebook posting from Heather that has to do with Virginia Thomas.
NNAMDI"The feminist in me," says Heather, "cringes when I hear suggestions that a woman's professional or political activities should be monitored or curtailed because of her husband's job. We know that each of the justices has political leanings and we have a good idea of what they are. Why punish their spouses?" That comment from Heather. We weren't really talking about punishing. We were talking about the implications of this for the justices themselves, now and in the future.
NNAMDINow, back to the telephones. Here is Mike in Washington, D.C. Mike, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MIKEYes. How you doing? I'm calling about Juan Williams. And I would like to say, I listen to all the radio and talk show hosts and when I heard that Juan Williams (unintelligible) to say, what the heck? But then, after listening to it, I said, wow, this is great. Here's Juan Williams, a person that you know you're going to hear honesty, intelligence and truth on a conservative talk show.
MIKEWe're going to finally get their liberal, honest point of view across to these people, and I thought it was a fantastic thing. And then, you know, I worked at NPR in '95. And when I was there, I thought your whole contract systems appeared to intimidate your workers. I watched people like...
NNAMDIWell, allow me to make a correction, Mike. I don't work for NPR, nor does anybody at WAMU work for NPR. The Diane Rehm show is distributed, syndicated by NPR and we are an NPR affiliate in Washington, but we are not of ourselves NPR. That's on Massachusetts Avenue Northwest.
MIKERight. But every worker is a contract worker for NPR and I think that system just leads to being able to hire friends and family more than giving job security to people. And if you're a public station asking for public money, I don't think you ought to be running your business like a corporation. I think you ought to be more concerned about job security for your employees.
NNAMDIYes. There has been -- Mike, there has been a great deal of internal controversy at NPR over the contract system, people nervous about whether or not their contracts are going to be renewed. But go ahead.
MIKERight. Well, I work for myself now because I couldn't stand the corporate world. And working at NPR wasn't that great a deal in the first place. But either way, when I hear Juan Williams, that's one of the most intelligent people on radio. And I listened to Diane Rehm this morning. I thought it was a farce they had two people call in talking about Juan Williams' past and this and that. Forget about it.
MIKEI'm talking about a man that is actually able stand up to the right wing and stand up for the positive things in this country. Most importantly, the media doesn't have any honesty anymore. Juan Williams always talks about truth and honesty and (word?) NPR...
NNAMDIWell, a couple of things about that, Mike. I don't think Juan likes to characterize himself ideologically as either liberal or conservative. I know that he doesn't like to go along with whatever the prevailing orthodoxy might be. He does tend to offer his own opinion. But when you talk about the media in general, I would just like to hear your opinion of NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" overall.
MIKEWell, NPR's a great station. You know, you can't take that away from NPR. It's just that NPR has an inability to be concerned about the people that work for them. It's not just Juan Williams. I worked there. I watched people intimidated about their job security. And I think it's a terrible thing. And I think what they did to Juan Williams was a point of that NPR culture.
MIKEIt has nothing to do with the talk shows. You guys put on great shows. But because of my experience with NPR, I'm sorry, I hate to say this to you...
NNAMDIOh, no. The fact...
MIKE...I don't donate to NPR because it's a corporate-type thing. I don't like corporate-type businesses. I think it's about people, not about a corporation.
NNAMDIMike thank you very much for your call. I think there are lessons to be learned here and one of them is going to be learned by NPR. Thank you very much for your call, Mike. On now to Jackie in Washington, D.C. Jackie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JACKIEYeah, hi. Hi, Kojo. I listen to you daily. I am an avid listener. Sometimes it's so good, I listen to it again in the evening when the stories are repeated. And I was distressed to hear about Juan Williams. I don't want to sound like a broken record. My position on this is I believe he was treated differently than other journalists who freely speak their minds, who freely talk about important issues, that talk about things that are relevant, about issues that sometimes other people don't, a wide spectrum of things.
JACKIEBut more importantly -- most importantly to me, as a mother of two African-American college-educated kids who are looking for jobs in the communication field, he was a face, the face of a successful African-American man making it in the world.
NNAMDIOr at least on radio, a voice.
JACKIEAs I listen to these comments, I'm concerned that we are talking about the professionalism and the livelihood of two African-American men who are doing the same thing that everybody else is doing. I'm no fan of Clarence Thomas at all. I personally think that it's a conflict of interest. But there was a conflict of interest. I thought Hillary Clinton was a conflict of interest and I'm a definite Democrat. I think Juan was treated unfairly...
NNAMDIYou mean a conflict of interest when, as the wife of the President, she herself was politically active?
JACKIEOh, yeah. I think that was -- I think that in many ways, the way that President Clinton injected himself into the campaign and made personal attacks on President Obama...
NNAMDIOh, in the campaign, oh.
JACKIEIn the campaign. I thought that when she was -- when he was in office that she interjected herself in some things that perhaps I thought was good for healthcare reform, but I thought that she hurt it. I thought she hurt it because I -- hurt the effort because I thought that people saw her and didn't see the issue. We now have the issue passed. I'm pleased. I'm hoping that people will give it a chance to come to fruition.
JACKIEThe people who are complaining about it don't realize that it hasn’t fully come into activeness yet. And so they will be able to soon see the efforts of those individuals. But getting back to Mr. Williams, he didn't call for a rally, you know, in the city. He didn't say anything that other people don't think, be it right or wrong. This is America. People can burn the flag and they can do what they want.
JACKIETo fire that gentleman so publicly and then for people to call and talk about...
NNAMDIWell, there are people -- Jackie...
JACKIE... (unintelligible) I thought were inappropriate.
NNAMDI...Jackie, there are people who will say, yes, you can say what you want, this is America. You can say what you want. You do have freedom of speech. And there are those who, on the other side, will say, but does that obligate your employer to keep you on the job as a journalist?
JACKIELet me say this. I, you know, I'm an avid reader. I read three or four newspapers a day. I'm a news junkie. So there's nothing that you've said on NPR I haven't heard a thousand times. I listen to Bill O'Reilly. I listen to everybody. I want to hear what everybody has to say and I form my own opinions.
JACKIEMy opinion of this is that you all had -- not you all -- NPR had an issue with him and they picked a weak position to let him go.
JACKIEI have to let employees go myself at times. But I have to substantiate -- I have to prove that I worked with them. I have to do all these other things. And the one thing that I can't do is libel them. I can't say that they're mentally unstable. I can't (word?) them. I can't even say what they've done. So I think the same rules that apply -- just like I think that the same rules that apply that I can't hire my loved one to work with me...
NNAMDIWell, Jackie -- Jackie, I do have to move on. But to explain to our listeners that when Jackie says, I can't say they are mentally unstable, it is in reference to the CEO of NPR at one point saying that maybe Juan needs to have a conversation with his psychiatrist about what he said. And from that, the inference is drawn that he was being considered mentally unstable.
NNAMDIJackie, thank you for your call. On now to Jen in Washington, D.C. Jen, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JENI just wanted to point out to...
NNAMDIJen, you're breaking up. Are you on a cell phone that's on the move? So it would appear. You seemed to have moved out of our jurisdiction. So we move onto Belal in Washington, D.C. Belal, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BELALYes. Good afternoon, Kojo. Thank you for having me on.
BELALI know this is a recurring topic, but I am calling on the Juan Williams controversy. Not so much his firing, but more so the actual topic. And the reason he was fired was for his comments about Muslims. And I really think that it's kind of ironic that he was relieved. He did preface his statement by saying, well, I'm not a bigot. You know, he's written books on the civil rights era, and civil rights issues.
BELALBut it seems like people have forgotten in the United States that we as Muslims are actual Americans. And because of that, any comment can be made about Muslims. You've heard it with this whole controversy about the building of the mosque and it really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
NNAMDIWell, what do you say, Belal, to those people who say when -- well, let me give you two scenarios. One is that it's -- most people have, at some point, bigoted thoughts in their head, but they don't say them on the air. On the other hand, there are those people who say that if you are quote/unquote "honest" enough to express bigoted thoughts on the air, then it leads to a discussion that we need to be having. How do you feel about that?
BELALWell, I definitely agree with that. And, you know, you can have an academic discussion about certain things, but it reminds me of the time during -- the time during the civil rights movement when people were advocated to have academic discussions about the differences between whites and blacks or any other academic conversation.
BELALNow, of course, in the context of Juan Williams and Bill O'Reilly's conversations, they each spoke some sort of -- I mean, they're both journalists of some sort. I know Bill O'Reilly is more of a pundit. And I'm not sure of the ethical requirement...
NNAMDIThe line becomes increasingly blurred, my friend.
BELALSorry. Can you hear me?
NNAMDII said, the line becomes increasingly blurred between who is a pundit and who is a journalist and who is both journalist and pundit.
BELALAnd I think that's a problem. And I don't -- I can't cast judgment on whether or not Juan Williams should be fired or not. But as a civil rights -- as an African-American who's written on civil rights, I wonder how he would feel if someone else made the same comments. Especially when he said that when he sees someone dressed in Muslim garb and they wear that on -- they choose to identify themselves as that person foremost.
BELALIf you were change Muslim to African-American or Jewish or whatever have you, I wonder how he would feel about that.
BELALWhether it's his honest opinion or not. I mean...
NNAMDII can't say how he would feel because, well, he's not here to speak that for himself. Belal, I do appreciate your call and your comments. Thank you very much. We move on now to Brenda in Centerville, Va. Brenda, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRENDAYeah. I, too, have a comment on the Juan Williams thing. I'm a fan of his. I don't think he's a bigot. I think he was starting a conversation -- a reasonable conversation -- and sometimes you do interject that. But I can also see NPR's thing. I'm going to defend him a little bit on that. I absolutely don't like how they handled it. It was horrible. But I think he might be in a better place. And I hope he continues the dialog and the reasonable conversation and being honest.
BRENDAI hope he continues that. But one thing that I really resented about this whole thing is how all these conservative pundits are like, we have to take away funding from NPR. We have to take away funding from NPR. Because I remember several years ago talking to somebody and asked them if they had listened to a show that was on NPR. Oh, I don't listen to NPR because they're so liberal.
BRENDAAnd I'm like, you're missing a lot of really good valuable programming if you're not listening to NPR. I don't see the spies that everybody else does.
NNAMDIYeah. Well, that's why I was asking our previous caller if he listened to "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," and, of course, the talk shows here at WAMU 88.5. But if you listen to "Morning Edition," and "All Things Considered," you get a more thorough picture of what it is that NPR does because it has bureaus all over the world and in different cities. And you get a fairly thorough picture of what's going on in the world if you listen to one of those broadcasts.
NNAMDIAnd if the argument that is being made is that those broadcasts are just an example of bias, then I would ask people and challenge people to say, well, show me a news broadcast anyplace that you hear that is more thorough than the ones you hear in the morning and the evening here.
NNAMDIAnd that's maybe my bias.
BRENDAYou could talk to a lot of your callers. A lot of people think that the public radio station is NPR, and it's just carrying some of the programming.
NNAMDIThis is true. Because that is the case in many public radio stations. But Brenda, thank you very much for your call. We move onto Patricia in Silver Spring, Md. Patricia, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PATRICIAYes. Thank you Kojo for taking my call. I have a very different perspective from many of the people who called in today. And I dare say some of them may not have watched Juan Williams on Fox News. First of all, I think NPR did the right thing in firing him. His comments were racist and bigoted. And just as Belal said, if they had made -- someone had made comments like that about African-Americans or Jews, there would have a human cry.
PATRICIAWell, I wonder where was that human cry when Sanchez was dismissed from CNN and where was the human cry when Helen Thomas was dismissed for stating her opinion. There's clearly a double standard. And furthermore, you know, obviously these people have not listened to some of the things that Juan Williams said on Fox. For example, he said that Michelle Obama was a Stokely Carmichael in a dress.
PATRICIAAnd I watch the Sunday morning news programs with Juan Williams and I think that NPR did the right thing in firing him because his comments were racist and bigoted and there's clearly a double standard. And these people calling in, they may have heard him on NPR, but they obviously had not been watching him on Fox.
NNAMDIWell, I wouldn't say, Patricia, that his comments were racist and bigoted. I think he admitted to having bigoted thoughts and he made that admission on the air and later on attempted to explain it. But we're out of time. The damage, as they say is, done. Thank you very much for your call. Thanks to all of you who participated in your turn, and thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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