Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy discusses his efforts to address gang violence. Plus, D.C. Councilmember Trayon White joins us to recap the "grocery march" protesting food deserts east of the Anacostia River.
On Monday, a rampage by a former Navy reservist and military consultant left 13 dead, including the shooter. The incident raised questions about mental health services and overall security at military facilities. The week also brought a U.N. report on chemical weapons use in Syria and more political fallout from leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. And Congressional gridlock could lead to a government shutdown if a budget deal isnt reached by Sept. 30th. It’s your turn to weigh in with questions, comments and thoughts on the week’s headlines.
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, 800-433-8850. It's Your Turn to decide what the topic of conversation is going to be, events in the news, recent editions of this broadcast or anything else on your mind. In the wake of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard Monday that killed a dozen people, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday that the process for granting security clearances and access to military installations needs to be removed.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe shooter Aaron Alexis was an independent contractor with mental health issues and an arrest record that should have raised red flags. Investigators found that he had carved odd messages into his gun including one saying better off this way. The defense secretary ordered a review of physical security, access procedures and the process for granting and renewing security clearances at Defense Department Installations here and around the world.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAt the same time the incident is raising questions about mental health care both for veterans and civilians and access to firearms. What do you think should be done to make sure those with mental health issues get the help they need? Should this incident put gun control back on the agenda? Are we becoming numb to mass shootings in this country? What do you think can be done about that?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd we may be closer than ever to a government shutdown. Lawmakers have until September 30 to keep the government funded. And in October Congress will also need to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans are setting up a major showdown with President Obama and Democrats. They've set a vote in the House for Friday to keep the federal government funded and simultaneously defund the Affordable Care Act. They're throwing in a few other items from a wish list including reforming the tax system and approval of an energy pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIPresident Obama said yesterday that House Republicans are using the budget battle to extort him into defunding his signature health care law. He also said he refuses to set a precedent in which the debt ceiling caused an apocalypse every three months. What is your view? It's Your Turn. Call us, 800-433-8850. Is this politics as usual or do you think gridlock in Washington is worse today than it was in the past? Do you think Congress deserves its rock bottom approval ratings? And do you think the health care law should be on the table in any negotiation over the federal budget? Why or why not?
MR. KOJO NNAMDI800-433-8850. It's your turn. If the lines are busy, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, send us a Tweet at kojoshow or go to our website kojoshow.org, make a comment or well, not ask a question because today you're really about making comments. It's Your Turn. On now to Carol in Bethesda, Md. Carol, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CAROLHello. Thank you very much. My comment goes to the gun issue raised by the Navy Yard shooting, that controversy. First of all, I agree with everything -- the wide variety of comments and recommendations that have arisen after that shooting. But I go back to the controversy about the gun issue itself. I believe that nothing is going to change. This controversy is like a dog chasing his tail. We must go to the center of the whole issue, which is the role played by the gun manufacturers.
CAROLThere is a monetary relation between NRA and the manufacturers by which a portion of the sale of every gun goes to the manufacturers. They, and the NRA rather, is their public voice. The NRA speaks for the manufacturers without most of us realizing...
NNAMDIBut Carol, the president and several members of Congress and all kinds of officials said after the Newtown shootings that we should act, we would act and yet nothing was able to get through the Congress.
CAROLWell, yes, that's true. And part -- the only way that that can be addressed, I believe, is greater knowledge on the part of the public and greater publicizing of that relation. After one of these events the -- many of the gun owners will rush to buy even more guns.
NNAMDII'll tell you that, Carol, because here's an email we got from Henry. How would you respond to Henry? Henry said, "I just listened to your show about shootings and violence. You did not mention the obvious choice of arming the citizens. A gun is a tool. It can be used for self defense. You seem to be afraid of guns. We need less legislation in government not more. Yet another example of liberal one-sided discussions." Henry feels that a valid part of these discussions is more guns. How do you feel?
CAROLWell, I still see it as the money being raised by each gun purchased. And I don't know what -- how to do that really except for a public response to that relationship to recognize the role that is played by the manufacturers.
CAROLI don't know, you know, if it's -- it will be hard no doubt but that's where to start.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Meredith in Ellicott City, Md. Meredith, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MEREDITHYes. My comment also has to do with the Navy Yard shooting.
MEREDITHAnd Carol brought up an interesting point. But my thought is that I know personally I am not lukewarm to it. It is just so tragic and heartbreaking when innocent people in their daily lives are murdered by people in this free country. But it gets to a point, I think, that it feels like we're being played with as citizens. I mean, my emotions are very strong about it but I also know that members of our Congress are so addicted to the money that the NRA has and so intimidated by the NRA that nothing is going to change.
MEREDITHAnd so I can be sad and I can cry to myself about the loss of these people's lives and the destruction to their families and I know in this country nothing is going to be done because money talks. And the NRA has plenty of it and acts in pretty much a totalitarian manner of frightening our legislators who don't have the backbone to stand up and say, we need to do what's right for our country.
MEREDITHAnd I heard the Henry email, let's arm the country a little more. Wow, that's going to help, then we can just shoot at each other whenever we get unhappy about something. So that's my thought.
NNAMDIWell, you seem to be -- in the face of the money that you refer to, Meredith, you seem to be suggesting that money cannot be fought.
MEREDITHWell, not -- apparently not with our Congress. They are in love with money, what it brings to them, what riches it may bring to their districts or whatever versus really what's good for the common -- what's good for all of us. What is better in the whole than for their little narrow self interest or district interest, you know, whatever. That's my view. I'm not a politician.
NNAMDIWell, no, you're not. But you also seem to be suggesting that -- and I'll say it for you -- we need to get the money out of politics.
MEREDITHIt would be wonderful but it has not happened and it's not going to. And that's where I think when you say lukewarm, yeah, we're lukewarm. You know, I think it's just that we know it's going to keep happening. And our emotions are just -- we have them to ourselves but there's no point in broadcasting them because nothing changes. And we just hurt more and more.
NNAMDIOkay. Meredith, thank you very much for your call. It is Your Turn. You too can call us at 800-433-8850 You want to talk about the Obama Administration's response to the crisis in Syria? How do you feel the administration responded? Do you think they bungled it, which seems to be the consensus here in Washington? Or as some have been saying outside Washington that they really aced it, that we have got a peaceful solution to a troubling problem in the short run? 800-433-8850. Here's Joe in Tacoma Park, Md. Joe, your turn.
JOEHi. Thank you, Kojo. I feel the Republicans are scared to death that the Affordable Health Care Act will be implemented. And then it will be very clear what a great benefit it is for the American people. And this will entirely discredit them. And so this is their last stand. This is a suicide stand. They're willing to take the country down. And I think every society has to face a time when it just determines whether it's going to allow a small minority of maniacs to destroy it or not.
NNAMDIYou know, the House Majority Leader or the House Speaker John Boehner reminded Republicans of the risk of this kind of political brinkmanship. Back in 1991, President Clinton's popularity surged after a government shutdown. Congress at that time didn't come out smelling like roses. And I guess what the speaker was saying is that they run the risk this time of having the same consequence. What do you think?
JOEI think there's a lot of confusion this time because frankly there are so many people who cannot somehow accept the fact of what a great president this is. And they have a lot of doubts, I think frankly, you know, because of his race and that he's perceived as different than others by a lot of people. And so I think the Republicans are getting away with much more than they could otherwise get away with. And I think that it's really imperative that people who conceive this for what it is really speak up and really not let them continue to take us down this path...
NNAMDIAnd you think all of those hostile feelings that you attribute to the president's race, do you think all of those hostile feeling coalesce around an issue as seemingly innocent as universal health care?
JOEIt could be anything, you know. I mean, we -- I don't know -- there's how many people still think he's not American.
NNAMDIOkay. Joe, thank you very much for your call. On now to Jerry in Vienna, Va. Jerry, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JERRYHey Kojo, thanks so much for taking my call. I want to read a few threads that have already come to your show today. It starts with the terrible tragedy at the Naval Yard. I live in the shadow of the National Rifle Association here in Northern Virginia and their headquarters sends out all sort of lobbyists to change policies at state levels, local levels and national levels. I'm recalling the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hooks on December 14 of 2012 in which when those children were slaughtered, we awaited the NRA's pontification about what to do next.
JERRYThey came out with a crazy policy that we need to arm school administrators, custodians, maybe cafeteria workers. They're not going to come out this time saying we've got to put more guns into the hands of civilians within the Navy Yard. That's going to be patently ridiculous. They're going to spend a lot of time talking about the poorly troubled Mr. Alexis who clearly had mental health problems. So let's see whether they're going to come out and support Obamacare. Because Obamacare actually mandates that mental health services be covered.
JERRYSo is the NRA going to fight against their base and argue that we should have greater insurance coverage for people to be treated for mental health problems? Let's watch and see if Wayne...
NNAMDIWell, a lot of people, Jerry, would say that you're opposing a rhetorical question to which you already know the answer.
JERRYI've been known to do that.
JERRYYou found me out.
NNAMDIThanks a lot, Jerry. Thank you very much for your call. Obviously Jerry feels that the NRA is not going to come out in support of Obamacare. But this is Your Turn. Jerry, thank you very much for your call. We're looking for your call at 800-433-8850 or if the lines are busy, send us an email to email@example.com. A United Nations report released earlier this week found clear and convincing evidence of a chemical attack in Syria. That attack involved rockets filled with sarin gas fired into suburbs of Damascus on August 21.
NNAMDIMore than 1400 people were killed. The report did not assign blame but many experts say the evidence points to military forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has criticized the report calling it biased and incomplete. The U.N. report is especially important because the UN Security Council is debating how to enforce a U.S. Russia plan to have Syrian President Assad give up all his chemical weapons by mid 2014. The report adds to pressure for tough penalties on Syria if it fails to surrender its chemical weapons.
NNAMDIDo you think we have a responsibility to step in when chemical weapons are used, 800-433-8850? What do you think about the administration's handling of these entire episode? You can also shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you think the security council should pass a resolution authorizing force if the Syrian regime fails to meet the deadline to declare its stockpiles? We're going to take a short break. When we come back, if you have called, stay on the line. We'll get to your calls. If not, shoot us an email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn, when your phone calls, emails, Tweets and visits to our website with your comments set the agenda for what we'll be talking about this hour. The number's 800-433-8850. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can go to our website kojoshow.org and make a comment there. We move on now to Hannah in Silver Spring, Md. Hannah, your turn.
HANNAHHi. Thanks for taking my call.
HANNAHIsn't it possible that the ethics of our society are reflected where we put the most money, which would be defense and military? I think we have a violent history as a nation and it's consistent with the role the United States has in international conflicts. And we're not putting our money in places like citizen welfare. So it's no surprise really that we have so many shootings by people who are involved intimately with the military, in my opinion.
NNAMDIWell, do you make a distinction between a violent culture and a gun culture? By which I mean there are societies that take pride in their abilities to defend themselves, that take pride in the courage of their citizens, in particular the courage of their men that take pride in the wrestling abilities of their men. Do you make a distinction between that and a gun culture, if you will?
HANNAHI can't really think of any countries that come to mind that has -- that gives such easy access to guns as we do and that has such a wide range in population that could afford to.
HANNAHSo I do think they are intertwined.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call.
NNAMDIOn now to Paul in Reston, Va. Paul, your turn. Paul, are you there? Oh, I'm sorry. Tricia, your turn. Hi, Tricia.
TRICIAYes, I'm here.
NNAMDIYou're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TRICIAThank you for taking my call. I love your show.
TRICIAMy question is in regards to how mental health is dealt with on clearance issuance.
TRICIAI live in the D.C. area and actually lived in Navy Yard last year and have friends that work in Navy Yard. So I was very sad and disturbed to see the whole thing unfold. And so I know people who have clearances, and one person in particular who has depression issues. And he's wonderful and brilliant and is afraid to get help for fear that his clearance will be taken away. And then there's other people like this gentleman who caused the shootings who has clear instances of very violent circumstances within his mental health illnesses. And it seems his clearance wasn't in question at all.
TRICIAAnd so my question is how are they dealt with case by case? I've listened to a lot of experts in the last couple of days talk about the clearance -- clearances and how they're issued. But I haven't really heard this addressed. And to think that there aren't mental health issues is very unrealistic. Obviously a large percent of the population has mental health issues.
NNAMDIWell, we discussed this on the broadcast yesterday, the whole issue of security clearances and how they are granted and the fear on the part of some in the military not to seek any help with their mental health issues because they're afraid of losing their security clearances. And we talked about the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also said that you don't necessarily have to lose your security clearance if you seek mental health because people have a wide variety of issues -- mental health issues, some of them that are not threatening to other people at all.
NNAMDIBut more importantly, if one can get help with that mental health issue, it would make you less of a threat. I think what makes the case of Aaron Alexis even more compelling and to some confusing is that he did seek help with his mental health issues. During the course of the past several months he was on medication of some sort. But apparently there was no judgment made that he was a danger to others. So it's a very complicated issue to deal with.
TRICIARight. And because he withheld information, he only went in for the insomnia issues is what I'm hearing and didn't disclose the other violent tendencies.
NNAMDIWell, he had disclosed previously that he was hearing voices that were telling him to do things. And that is very often a sign, but not being a professional in that field myself, I don't know how you make the distinction between whether those voices are likely to lead the person to do something dangerous or not.
TRICIARight. So I guess my comment would be, in investigating these procedures, you know, to discover a better way to take these case by case.
NNAMDII think you're absolutely right. And I think there's going to be a lot of soul searching on the part of the military in general and the navy in particular about what went wrong here and how to try to prevent it in the future. I guess we'll have to keep following the story to see what happens. But thank you very much for your call, Tricia. We move to Heather in Reston, Va. Heather, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
HEATHERHi. So I would like to (unintelligible) Affordable Care Act together. I was thinking about this just last night and commenting to people about it. I think it's extremely troubling the fact that the Republican Party wants to hold the government hostage unless we defund the Affordable Care Act just several days after somebody with clear mental health issues who had been looking for help and hadn't received the help that the really needed, went and shot and killed a bunch of people.
HEATHERAnd doesn't this really show how much something like this is needed? How much people need to be able to get access to things like that?
NNAMDII am hoping that we will get a call -- calls, emails, Tweets from people who will argue with you who feel that the repeal of the Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is indeed warranted as a part of this budget bill. Because, Heather, they may be able to make the argument much more effectively than me that in order to get improved mental health care, not only do we not need the Affordable Care Act, but they may argue that the Affordable Care Act, in their view, is an obstacle to getting better mental health care. What would you then say?
HEATHERI have yet to see how this could be the case when clearly at this point people aren't getting the help that they need. And at least this is something that is setting up ways for people to be able to. Unless there's something that's going to immediately replace it, we can't just defund something and replace it with nothing when we have issues like this occurring.
NNAMDIWell, I think you make a very good point. I'm just waiting to see and hoping that someone will try to argue effectively against that point because you're not the first caller who has made that point. And I'm sure there are a lot of others who share your sentiment. Thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Melissa in Frederick, Md. Melissa, you're on the air. It's your turn.
MELISSAHi, Kojo. I guess the point I want to make -- I'm a nurse. I work in an outpatient clinic near Baltimore. And I know that so much of what we can provide is dictated currently by what Medicare will reimburse or not reimburse. And I think there are a lot of people that are concerned that with the Affordable Care Act we're going to have another federal bureaucracy that will determine what will be allowed or not allowed to a patient. They are concerned that we will do a lot of subsidies and things to people who are in some way undeserving because they're not compliant with what the doctor wants them to do.
MELISSAThey're also concerned that federal bureaucracy won't be dictating what is the best treatment versus what the physicians and the clinicians feel are the best treatments. I think the bottom line is nobody really knows what is in Obamacare. We just have people saying, oh it's a wonderful thing, it's a terrible thing. It'll provide this, it won't provide that. And nobody really knows what it actually is. And, you know, I...
NNAMDIWell, why do you think nobody knows what it actually is? Media, including this broadcast and news media in general, print media, online media have spent a great deal of time trying to explain exactly what is and is not in the Affordable Care Act.
MELISSAYes. But then we hear summaries depending on who we're talking to.
MELISSAFor instance, we hear on the news that they say it's the worst legislation out there that's been done. We hear it's wonderful. It's going to provide Affordable Care to everyone who needs it, you know. And I think we hear kind of summaries in the general media, you know, as opposed to actually the details of what is in it.
NNAMDIWell, what weight do you put behind this? My friend Joe Davis was making this argument in his column in the Washington Post today that President Obama was re-elected after the Affordable Care Act passed, that, well, the Affordable Care Act pass and that it's been upheld by the Supreme Court and that the House has tried oh maybe about 40 times to have it repealed. What weight do you put behind that argument over whether the Affordable Care Act should or should not be implemented?
MELISSAI think that the fact that Obama was re-elected and the fact that the Supreme Court has held it as pretty much constitutional, I think we should go on and try to actually enact it. And then like they said, it may not be the most perfect legislation but on the other hand it can be tweaked as opposed to people just continuing to try to defund it. That’s how I feel.
NNAMDIOkay. But the people who are trying to defund it say we are merely following our principles and our constituents. And we feel that in the final analysis this will be a political victory for us. Do you see blocking Obamacare as the root to re-election in the White House for the Republican Party?
NNAMDIOh, you didn't take long to answer that. Thank you very much for your call, Melissa. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. It is Your Turn. Now it's Paul's turn. Paul is in Leesburg, Va. Paul, you're on the air.
PAULThank you, Kojo. I'm glad you're letting us contribute today. I am calling about the hostage taking of the government for I guess the 44th, 45th try at repealing it through funding this time. I find it farcical. I don't understand how our government has sunk to such dysfunctional low that this keeps coming up. And really it makes me cry. It's bad.
NNAMDIWell, it's clear that the House Republicans think that this could be a winning issue for them. It has been a winning issue for some of them who got elected on the basis of opposing Obamacare. What do you think? Can it be a winning issue?
PAULI certainly hope it's not a winning issue if they go through with it because I think it's an exhibit of all the bad things they -- I mean, oh, we can't get the XL Pipeline passed. We'll pile it on something that has to go. And then if it doesn't go because we added all this extra crust to it, we'll point -- in the next election cycle, we'll point back and say, hey, the other team wanted to shut the whole government down and conveniently forget the fact that they added a bunch of unrelated crap to it.
NNAMDIOf course, none of this is going anyplace in the Senate.
PAULWell, no. And it -- but it's theater and they're playing to a base I suspect re-sales of the movie "Idiocracy" will go up if this keeps on going. But, I mean, it doesn't seem rational that our government can be so dysfunctional and partisan.
NNAMDIOkay. thank you very much for your call. We got an email from Ako (sp?) in Gaithersburg on the Navy Yard issue. Ako writes, "More guns is not the answer. The argument for that is that it allows people to defend themselves more easily. The problem is that it makes so many otherwise non-deadly situations turn into murder or mass murder."
NNAMDIWe got this email from Katherine on Obamacare. "Obamacare has been passed into law and upheld by the courts. It should not be on the table. The Tea Party Republicans are causing unnecessary gridlock. And yes, congress is worse than ever in cooperating, debating and getting anything done. It is so discouraging," writes Katherine. It is Your Turn. We're taking your emails at email@example.com. On to now Crystal in Washington. Crystal, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CRYSTALHi, Kojo. How are you doing?
CRYSTALI love your chose, I just got to say. My call today is because my concern that I hear time and time again, every radio show -- you do a better job than most -- but time and time again we don't take a step back, we don't have critical thinking, we don't have root cause analysis. And I think the problem is that we don't teach it in schools anymore. You know, I did geometric proofs growing up. One thing that my dad did for me -- and I have to say thank you to my dad while I have the air for a moment -- is you know, little kids always ask their parents why. My dad always asked me why and sent me on it.
CRYSTALI think that that taught me a lot of skills that a lot of people in America don't have. You see a constant push on the press from the public to jump to conclusions. You saw that in Benghazi, you saw that in the IRS scandal. You know, people jump in with opinions, add guns, drop guns, add mental health care, drop mental health care, whatever. The Affordable Care Act, exactly like you were saying, that ties into what I'm saying. The hodgepodge that that is. There's no planning, there's no legislative inquiry into what is the problem. What do we need to do to fix it?
CRYSTALAnd I really do think that it goes back to what we're teaching in our schools these days. And, I mean, there may be an acceptable error rate for violence. We need to determine what that is and what the appropriate response is for that, to fix it if it is a problem.
NNAMDIWhat -- how were you taught critical thinking in school?
CRYSTALGeometric proofs or we had -- actually I was very, very fortunate. Holton-Arms is the high school that I went to. I got a scholarship to go there. I was very blessed to go there but they had -- in the classroom the teachers asked us questions predominantly.
NNAMDIAnd you think that what's...
CRYSTALThey, of course, are thinking very Socratic method, like they do in law schools.
NNAMDIUm-hum. And you think that what's happening in schools now is that there's too much -- and maybe I'm putting words in your mouth, tell me if I am -- too much teaching to the test? There's too much emphasis on kids taking tests?
CRYSTALYes. My mom, she did teach high school in the district. And she actually switched over. So now she's teaching elementary school because she got tired of the administrative nonsense. But, yeah, honestly that was one of her big complaints was that she constantly had to teach rote memorization teaching to the test. It wasn't about expanding the student's mind. If you wanted to meet your metrics, if you wanted to accomplish what you had to accomplish in order to get successful performance ratings, then it was not about teaching expansion of the mind and root cause analysis and critical thinking.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Crystal. Do you think the faulty evidence in the case of Iraq in 2003 should make us cautious in the case of Syria, even though the United Nations report released earlier this week said it found clear and convincing evidence of a chemical attack? And meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican Senator John McCain seem to be engaging in what can only be called op ed diplomacy.
NNAMDIIn an op ed in the New York Times last week, Putin spoke directly to the American people and to our leaders and laid out his point of view on Syria, urging President Obama not to strike Syria over chemical weapons use, and in response this week, Senator John McCain criticized the Russian leader in an opinion piece on the Russian news site Pravda saying that President Putin sides with tyranny, and reminding Russians that they would not be able to publish such an op ed in their own country. Did you read either op ed? What did you think?
NNAMDIWhat do you think of the latest chapter in U.S./Russian relations? We got an email from somebody who didn't want their name mentioned, but it says, "Today's Washington Post column by David Ignatius titled 'Obama's Uncredited Win,' is spot on. Bottom line, President Obama can propose what the country wants from no good choices in Syria. He has gotten Russia involved and is destroying WMDs in Syria and succeed at it and still get hammered as a failure." That's our anonymous emailer's opinion. What's yours?
NNAMDIGive us a call at 800-433-8850. It's Your Turn. Or shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to Your Turn where you decide the topic that we will discuss. How about this? Relations between the U.S. and Iran could be headed for a fall. Iranian President Hassan Rohani is headed to the U.S. to attend the United Nations general assembly in New York next week. The moderate has undertaken a charm offensive since he was elected in June. Iranian authorities recently freed 11 prominent political prisoners, and President Rohani said the country would never seek weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons.
NNAMDIWhat do you think of this charm offensive on the part of Iran's president? Do you think Iran can be trusted? Shoot us an email to email@example.com or send us a tweet @kojoshow. We move on now to Nelson in Annapolis, Md. Nelson, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NELSONThank you, Kojo. I feel like I'm preaching to the choir after listening to your other callers, but I'm physician who practiced in this area for 40 years, and I just felt I should add my voice to those who are supporting the president and his healthcare bill. In terms of not knowing what's in the bill, online there are summaries and summaries of summaries and summaries of the summaries of the summaries. You can find out as much as you want to know. The reason it's 2,000 pages is because it's an extremely complicated issue.
NELSONIt's the president can do in the absence of support for a single-payer system. And I can only say that it certainly should go into effect. I hope the president hangs tough with these Republicans, and if necessary, if they insist on bringing down the government, they'll have to bring it back. That's all. I can't say enough good about this president. Even as you are trying to change subject, even his foreign policy is beginning to bear fruit and Syria and perhaps in Iran.
NELSONI think that we are blessed to have President Obama. If there's any -- if the Republicans maintain they have a philosophical difference, well, I'm sorry to say it, but the only -- the other thing...
NNAMDIThe foreign policy that you see as bearing fruit is felt by a lot of people here in Washington to be simply an indication of weak president and the weakening of America. The notion of having Russia help us deal with Syria, the notion of maybe having a conversation with Iran is interpreted by some pundits in Washington as indications of weakness on the part of the administration. What do you say?
NELSONI don't think it's weakness at all. I think that the question is what is your objective? I was going to say that we have a party that is unfortunately represented in part -- in a significant part by avarice, greed, violence, and racism. And they speak from that point of view. I'm sorry to say it. The president wants to live in this world where we are a power among powers, and we want to live in peace with the rest of the world. It's a very hard goal to attain, but when you have these complicated situations like Syria, and when there's no good move, you don't make a move.
NELSONAnd when you see an opportunity to do something that can be beneficial to the country, their country, our country, and the world, you take advantage of it. That's just common sense. We have, fortunately, a president with plenty of sense, common sense and wisdom.
NNAMDIOkay. I'll make one more try. What do you say to people who say the president is naive if he does not understand that countries like Syria, that countries like Russia, that countries like Iran, that countries like China are hostile and not interested in furthering the interests of the United States?
NELSONI answer that the people in all those countries are just like the people here. Unfortunately, they have not had an adequate voice in previous years. They were -- some of them had governments which were absolute, but with the advent of media and of Internet, interconnectedness in the world, many more people have a voice, and ultimately, not soon enough for most of us, but ultimately that voice will be heard and the fact that we're all similar, we all have the same desires in the end will bear fruit and that's what the president is depending on.
NELSONI can't -- I know you don't believe it's naive. It is what everybody knows. Syria in general is no different than America. Of course we have fringe groups and so do they.
NNAMDIYes. Nelson, you identify yourself as a medical doctor, which is I'm sure what you are, but are you sure you're not running for something? You clearly have given a great deal of -- no. I simply wanted to say you clearly have given a great deal of thought to a wide variety of issues.
NELSONKojo, I'll be 83 this year. I'm running from everything.
NNAMDIEighty-three going on 25 is what it sounds like to me, Nelson. Thank you very much for your call and good luck to you. We move on now to Joyce in Columbia, Md. Joyce, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOYCEThank you. And it's so wonderful to speak to you, Kojo. Thank you for your shows and your point of view, your open-minded point of view on everything. I want to talk about the shooting at the Naval Yard, and all the predecessors to that. We have a society that has a long history of glorifying the rebel, Bonnie and Clyde, the bank robber, you know, that kind of mentality. Yes. You know, the independent who did the outlandish thing. There's kind of that mystique in this society.
JOYCEBut what I'm concerned -- and we also have a long history of not ever being able to stop things like, you know, controlling the sale of alcohol even way back when, and now the sale of drugs. My concern is that we have a society where children at a very early age, perhaps even as young certainly as five and six, are handed an electronic device where they play for hours and hours and hours on end video games where they shoot and kill, and they become desensitized.
JOYCEAnd these are the kids who later in life in their adolescence, and we know thanks to your show and Diane's, and all the wonderful, you know, professionals that you have on and authors, that the human brain is not fully developed till let's say until the early twenties, specifically in males I'm sorry to say, and that these -- and so we have the child who's been playing and killing and killing, killing all kinds of different creatures and devices and whatnot.
NNAMDISo you're saying that by a certain age this child has become desensitized to violence. What intrigues me even more about your statement, Joyce, is that you seem to believe that this began with ending prohibition.
JOYCENo. I'm saying that we've never been able to stop anything. I don't believe we can stop the sale of violent games to little children. I don't believe -- if we censor it, it's going to go underground. So we're not going to stop that. I have a whole thesis here. So -- but basically I know we're not going to stop the NRA. I know we're not going to stop the sale of these violent games, and we're not going to stop parents from handing their kids these marvelous little devices, you know, where they can play and kill, kill, kill.
JOYCEThese kids become adolescents, and if they have a mental illness like this latest murderer, or if they are unsocialized as happens to the most normal, wonderful kids...
NNAMDIRight. I see where you're going -- I see where you're going, Joyce, but if we're not going to be able to prevent all of these things, what then can we do?
JOYCEI'm going to give you the answer.
NNAMDIThere we go.
JOYCEI developed all that as I was sitting here waiting for you, Kojo. Thank you. So basically we have the kid who's unsocialized, hasn't made friends, or is a little funny in his habits or too smart or whatnot, and he's ostracized a little or teased in school as many of us, and many, you know, wonderful people have been in the adolescent years, which is so cruel in the development stage. Then they get the gun and they go -- they're already programmed to be desensitized to killing.
JOYCEAnd they want to become the superhero. And we've seen it over and over and over.
JOYCEThe only thing I can say that we can do is put a cap on you, the media. And the next one that happens, and it will happen -- it will happen at a shopping, or school, God help us, wherever, a sanctuary full of wonderful people who are there in prayer.
NNAMDIDon't cover it.
JOYCEAnd we don't cover it. Take away the glamour. Yesterday I heard one of my favorite, favorite, favorite NPR celebrities, Terry Gross, who I adore her interviews, do a whole -- I didn't listen to it because I couldn't, but she was doing an hour on the Charles Manson biography. Don't you think people here and the people who are...
NNAMDIBut what you are advocating, Joyce, is censorship.
JOYCEI'm sorry. When it comes to these mass...
NNAMDIWhat you're advocating if censorship. If the media simply doesn't cover these things, than who can people protect themselves from the possible danger? If the media simply don't cover these things, than how can we stop ourselves by being a state in which the government decides what we can hear and what we can't hear in their view in our own best interest?
JOYCEI heard you say in their view our best interests, Kojo.
JOYCEDo we hear the president when he speaks to his security chiefs or whatever, his financial advisors? No. There are a lot of things we don't hear, Kojo.
JOYCEThe only way we have to something away from this, that gentlemen, Mr. Alexis, I don't remember his first name, but my...
JOYCEMy daughter's name is Alexis. So see, now her name has been slandered. Okay. But we -- his name will be in history. It'll be in the books now.
JOYCEAnd he's guaranteed that and that...
NNAMDIAnd young people -- I'm only paraphrasing you because I have to move on, but thank you very much for your call, but you were saying that young people of course will pick up on that and want to emulate it. But since you mention Mr. Alexis's name, I thought that what Mr. Alexis's mother had to say from her Brooklyn home in New York was very moving. She tried -- she didn't attempt to make an apologies or excuses for what she did.
NNAMDIIn fact she apologized to the families of all of Mr. Alexis's victims, said that he is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, that she has no idea why he did it, but she understands that others are devastated by it, and she simply apologized. Joyce, thank you very much for your call. Here now is Steve in Baltimore, Md. Steve, your turn.
STEVEHey, Kojo. I just wanted to call and say that I listen to your show all the time and you're great, and I'm also in agreement with I think it was two callers ago about how the conservative party is just setting this country on a wrong track. Whenever they don't get their way they cross their arms and stick their tongue out and say no fair like a little kid who doesn't get his way. I think the 2014 election should be an implosion of their party. Their balloon should be popped and their ice cream needs to melt on the hand and they can go sit in the corner and cry about it, and learn a lesson on how to move this country forward and progress, and...
STEVEIt's just been a travesty. I mean, they're pretty much following the lead of treasonist Rush Limbaugh who is sending them on this extremist track, and I really think that if they don't get their stuff together they will implode and...
STEVEI just, you know...
NNAMDISteve, thank you very much for you call. I wanted to get one more in from Alex in Falls Church, Va. Alex, your turn.
ALEXHi, Kojo. Long-time listener, first-time caller. Great show. You're doing a great interview. But I have a counter argument for the socialized medicine solving the whole issue with the Navy Yard. This is an individual that did not go into a private doctor and seek help, and unless I'm wrong, I think the paper is saying today that he went in and was looking for insomnia -- a cure to insomnia issues. In some ways, didn't he go into a socialized situation?
ALEXHe walks into the VA -- I realize there's a lot of people that are doing some great work in the VA, but he -- this is, for all intents and purposes, often a one-size fits all already a socialized medicine type of system that might not have asked the detailed questions. But how to ask questions like are you a danger to self or others, and because, you know, there's policy, and socialized policy says they have to ask that question, which is not a great question anyway to ask if you expect somebody -- for self-disclosure. So that's kind of my argument.
NNAMDIWell, you seem to be suggesting that anything that is run by the government is by definition socialist. If it's the VA hospital then it's socialized medicine. Do you also there believe that because you consider that socialized medicine that what the Republicans are doing in the House is correct, that we should never ever allow Obamacare to be implemented?
ALEXNo. I don't think -- I think we have to come up with different safety nets. I'm not a big Obamacare fan just because I think the government -- I am involved in the government on some level, and I don't want them making those decisions far away from the localized situations.
NNAMDIBut apparently you don't want to see it as a part of the budget fight. Again, I'm paraphrasing because frankly we are out of time. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, Tayla Burney, Kathy Goldgeier, Elizabeth Weinstein, with help from Stephannie Stokes. Brendan Sweeney is the managing producer. Our engineer today AC & DC, Andrew Chadwick in the house. Natalie Yuravlivker is on the phones. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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