Crime & Punishment

What to Do?

Warning: (Unavoidable) Obscenity below.

TMM Producer Douglass Hopper is back from Mexico City, so I can't leave the heavy lifting to him anymore. Oh well.

Today we had a debate over the lede of the show.

Do we talk about Ron Suskind's new book? Or do we go with a bloggers' roundtable discussion on politics?

Follow this link to an interview on Ron's new book with Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition.

Our question was: what can we add to the conversation? Is there a guest we can bring you who can shed light on the truth or falsity of his claims? Is there more to say that Steve didn't get to talk about?

In the end, I'll be honest, it came down to ... I have to finish reading the book before I can do a credible job with the interview. We'll keep you posted.

And so it was on to the question of whether Sen. Hillary Clinton's name should be put into nomination at the upcoming Democratic National Convention. On its face this is not an interesting question; typically that is what's done for a former opponent of the expected nominee. But this election has been so fraught with discord, party leaders are wondering whether that's a good idea.

And, some erstwhile Clinton supporters say yes they can!

What to do, what to do? We don't know, so we asked two bloggers to hash it out: Darragh Murphy of and Pamela Merritt of Angryblackb—

(That's really the name of the blog, but it has interesting content ... so what can I do?)

And, I'd like you to tell me more about what you think about the lack of diversity in the cast of moderators selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates to moderate the, well, Presidential debates. Yes, Gwen Ifill will, once again, moderate the VEEP debate (and, yes, she is one of my closest friends), but still ...

Finally, our hearts go out to the family of LaVena Johnson who died while serving in Iraq in 2005. But did the Army investigate her death fairly, or is her family in denial? ... And how will we ever get to the bottom of it?

Let us know what you think.



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Michel, when i heard your commentary, I (literally) jumped out of my chair here at work , fist pumping, and scared the heck out of my coworkers. Again, (and I'm sounding like a broken record here[yes I said record]) when you said that the commission considers their 70+ white male demographic as the "default", you hit the nail directly and solidly on the head. Now, I can hear those folks out there who will say "Why does their race matter?","Why do you have to play the 'race card'?". Well, remember the dap? I think that says more than enough. Once again, great job Michel.
(By the way, as a real old-school card player, I HATE the term "Race Card". Matters of race are not some GAME to be played or trivialized. Am I the only one?)

Sent by JR in Cincinnati | 10:58 AM | 8-12-2008

Michel I loved your comments on the debate moderators. While I do think there is some "ism" in the all white guy thing I think it's more a matter of our cultures strange observance of tradition. You journalist are as susceptible as anyone else to this syndrome, with all those lingering looks back at Edward R. Murrow and the guys at the three networks blah, blah, blah. Are far as I'm concerned Gwen Ifill should run the whole damn thing :) My ideal debate moderator team is: Gwen Ifill, Ray Suarez, & of course...Michel Martin. Personally I just the baby Jesus that Chris Matthews is no where near the joint. These "traditions" die hard sometimes and sometimes they just need an elbow in the ribs. Your comments are a good place to start.

As for the Clinton supporters I have one thing to say and that is GET OVER IT! They're like a bad smell. Just another example of entitlement in my view. Can you imagine the situation reversed! We'd be a group of angry colored folk.

She ran, she lost GET OVER IT!

The country has been tellin everyone from the Native Americans to the blacks, the gays to the Mexicans immigrants to just get over it for years and now the lazy susan has swung around to the sad white woman. Sisters I support you in nearly every other way but GET OVER IT and that's all.

Sent by raul415 | 4:20 PM | 8-12-2008

The death of Ms.Johnson is a tragedy. My deepest heart-felt sympathy goes out to her family. I can only imagine the pain they must be going through.
There is no doubt in my mind, that in as much as this war was based upon a lie; there are untold cataclysmic events that have been filed away in the military's "file 13."
I'm never astonished when the truth finally emerges. We, along with the Johnson family have a right to know the truth behind every casualty. We also have a right to be completely apprehensive about every report that's paraded as truth.
I think there are those in our society who proudly wear glasses designed to produce what's known as trompe l' oeil(visual deception). Those of whom I speak, have elected to dismiss the cannobolic history of America.
To all who may not be knowlegable, consider how long it took the truth about "agent orange" to emanate. Even after the truth surfaced with supporting evidence, our government staggard about like an inebriated alcoholic. Instead of immediately coming forth and repenting they studdered,weasled, and choaked at the very idea.
Many died knowing that their nightmare was inflicted by the same country for whom they fought.
So, I'm fully behind the Johnson family demanding an investigation into the investigation.

Sent by Randy Scott | 6:53 PM | 8-12-2008

Remember how Rep. Clyburn broke his famed neutrality (wink, wink, nod, nod!) during the S.C. Democratic primary in order to comment on Sen. Clinton's "dismissive" comments on Martin Luther King?

She said "Dr King's dream began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done."

Shockingly dismissive, considering that LBJ was one of the few Southern politicians who supported the 1954 Brown decision by the Supreme Court and was one of only three Southern politicians to refused to sign the Southern Manifesto protesting the Brown decision.

And of course, none of the legislation he helped pass benefited poor people:

Civil Rights Act of 1964
Voting Rights Act of 1965
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
The Higher Education Act of 1965
Office of Economic Opportunity
Head Start
Jobs Corps
Comprehensive Employment and Training Act
Child Nutrition Program
School Lunch Program

I believe LBJ is also responsible for Affirmative Action, the policy that conservative blacks like John Ridley and Stephen L. Carter (who claims it victimizes blacks by making them indebted to whites) are hopeful that Sen. Obama will overturn if elected? I don't think Clinton would have touched that one without a fight. Get over it yourselves!

PS I hope that like Governor Paterson and unlike John Edwards, we're spared any of the candidate's romantic revelations until after the election.

Sent by mike | 10:00 PM | 8-12-2008


I have something to confess. I am a 40 year old African American male and recovering Repbublican. When I was 18 I was in the military during the Reagan years and the man was giving me constant pay raises. Why not vote Republican? As a registered Republican, I voted for Bill Clinton twice and Al Gore once. After the travesty that was the 2000 election, I changed my affiliation to Independent. I did not become a Democrat because I have major problems with the Democratic party's lack of identity and focus. I also hate the way that the Democrats treat black people.
Let me explain. The Republican party has it's core issues and they stick to them. Some of them may be jacked up and misguided but they do have a starting point from which to proceed. The Democrats want to court everyone who is not a Republican and that is just wrong. Democrats can never come togther because the moderates and the extreme left cannot agree. Case in point: prior to Obama, any candidate that was going to be accepted by the Dems had to be publically pro-gay, pro-abortion, anti-gun and anti-religion in every day life. How did the Dems ever expect to win? I hate to say it, but the Dems need to come more to the middle and bring the extremists into line.

Next the Dems treat Black people like a booty call. As in, they don't do anything nice for us but always talk sweet and they never call without wanting something. Every election cycle we hear about how they are going to do something for Black people and every year things get worse. Just look at every major city where there were historically Democratic Mayors and look at the condition of Black people in them? Some cities are getting better with newer, younger Mayors who are turning their backs on the elders and their faces towards the people. I hope this trend continues.

Finally, when the rank and file majority Dems have the opportunity to step up and support someone of color for the highest offce in the land, we get this nonsense. Wake up people and put your vote where your mouth is! All of you Hillarycrats need to ask yourselves a question: Is is more important to be angry and give the Republicans another 4 years? Or, is it more important to put your petty personal loyalties and biases aside and bring this thing home. Obama is the best chance that you have had this century. If you screw up you will have no one else to blame for a Republican victory. Move forward and stop crying like a bunch of spoiled children. Forget the date who you brought to the party and concentate on the one you can get luck with and take home. The Republicans understand this and that is why thet win.

Sent by John | 1:02 PM | 8-13-2008

@John "the Dems treat Black people like a booty call"? OMG OMG...keep it COMING people! and
@JR--DOn't scare the people at work JR! you'll give me a bad rep! save that for home! LOL! but thanks!

Sent by Michel Martin, host, TMM | 12:54 AM | 8-15-2008