Politics & Society

Back In 4B, Now Time To Rant

We made it! Finally, at 2:30, we were back in our studio, 4B, for the last interview of the day! At last, at last!

Does this rank up there with achieving world peace and an end to global warming? Uh, no.

But we were sad. We've been nomads all week, just in time for me to get back from the conventions and to welcome a new engineer (Hi, Kimberly, say hello to the people!), wandering from studio to studio, looking for a home. Stop the Madness!
But, finally, the studio's missing parts arrived from ... Australia? New Zealand? What did they say?

Anyway, we're back in cozy 4B. Hooray!

And, just in time to find out about the power sharing agreement in Zimbabwe and faith travel to Turkey.

Have we forgotten the poor inundated people in Texas? Certainly, not. But the communications links are so poor, so intermittent, and the reporters down there so thinly-stretched we decided to wait a day to see if we could find some distinct angles to the story that you were not getting on the rest of the network.

We're going to do our best for tomorrow, as well as try to shed some light on this financial mess that's taken over Wall Street. At the very least, we have our money coach Alvin Hall. He can make the most complicated story simple, but we'll see who and what else we can add to round out the story.

And, send us your questions. We're looking for blogger/listener input to add to tomorrow's discussions.

Finally, excuse me while I rant.

I don't know about you, but I have been seething since last week about a couple of the speeches I heard at the GOP convention ... but I couldn't quite put my finger on why. Yes, some of the speeches were sarcastic and kind of nasty but it's not as though they talked about anybody's momma. I think they stayed within the boundaries of acceptable public discourse.

I'm a big girl, I've heard it before. So what was it exactly that was getting under my skin? Couldn't put my finger on it. And then I got back here to D.C. and talked to D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee about the kids she's trying to teach, who are two and three grade levels BEHIND where they are supposed to be; kids who are so turned off to school the city is considering paying them to get them turned back on. And it occurred to me that what infuriates me are not these messages aimed at Obama's politics — that's fair game, it's entirely legitimate to question whether somebody's economic plans or national security framework is legitimate and rational and able to work.

No, what's bugging me is this effort to portray Obama as an "elitist."

Huh? A kid born to a teenaged single mother who put himself through school on scholarship and then took a low-paying job instead of going to a white-shoe law firm is now an "elitist"?

And then I thought of all these kids in all these classrooms for whom he might be the ONE reason they decide to open a book, and then I realized that's what I was annoyed about. It is what I wrote my commentary about today. take a listen, and tell me what you think.

Next week, I'll tell you about how the Democrats are annoying me ...



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This is a crock. I have no problem with Sen. Obama getting a free ride to elite high /college schools but you make it sound he "worked his way". That is a half baked story. "Seething"?? Wow someone call a doctor! Give me a break. I am SHOCKED! SHOCKED!!

Sent by BS Sorter | 10:34 PM | 9-15-2008

Woman to woman, let me say what I don't like about Sarah Palin. But first, the reason the media has been focusing (obsessively) on her gender, her family, her cuteness, her sassiness, etc. is that it is exactly the way she presented herself at the Republican convention. Her appeal to so many white women (and men) is because of the way she has called attention to everything about herself except her political and social values and her real actions as mayor and governor. Let's hear about Sarah's vision. Let's hear about her positions on critical social, economic and global issues. And, let's examine her record. She and McCain could get the media to focus on the issues if they wanted to. It serves their purpose to keep the drama going that she is somehow a victim. Hillary tried very hard not to play the gender card while she campaigned on her experience and vision for the future. Since she has compared herself to Hillary, let's see if Sarah can at least rise to that level of integrity.

Sent by Patricia Hamilton Gyi | 10:23 AM | 9-16-2008

Hi Michel,

Your rant about the tone of the convention speeches aimed at Obama was, as usually, dead on, insightful and meant to get us to think about what is important. It resonated with me as a mother of a 21-year-old college student and an administrator for a program that serves over 5,000 adults annually ages 18-59 who cannot read or write on the high school level.

This topic is vitally important to the future of our country and I think it would make an incredible series. We could really start to tackle "Who do we aspire to be as Americans?" and "Which Americans deserve the American dream?"

I would like to explore these topics:
* Why have we made it cool to dummy yourself down? Would this nation of "win at all cost" and "be popular at all cost" young people continue to do so if they knew that America ranked 18 out of 24 nations in terms of the relative effectiveness of its educational system? Additionally, there has been a steady decline in the performance of American students from grades 4 to 12 in comparison to their peers in other countries.
* Are the tragedies of Columbine and Virginia Tech the result of Pop-culture's hold over our children or our parental deficiencies, which failed to offer a counter-culture that was equally appealing?
* How many people can we mobilize to take back our public schools? Can we inspire people to adopt a child in a public school and provide mentorship, books, educational opportunities outside of school and a connection with a positive adult who they can blog with on facebook?
* Yes, we can! -- have a national dialogue on race and we need to desperately. Barack's speech resonated with us because we have never had a national dialogue on RACE. We cannot truly call ourselves a great melting pot and embrace other cultures when we cannot resolve the Black-White issue.
* Why do we allow "fringe" groups to dominate public discourse? On one hand, "true racist" are just a few diehards living in the past. On the other hand, the polls are close and melanin is on the top of the ticket. Folks in the mainstream media have a "we have overcome" attitude about this topic and seem genuinely surprised that race is bubbling up again.

Finally, I think rants are good. They help keep us sane (better out than in) and saves us money on therapy. Thank you for the opportunity to learn from your rant and share mine.

In harmony and in health,


Sent by Stefani Zinerman | 8:21 AM | 9-17-2008

To BS Sorter.

How exactly does one get a "free ride" to Harvard University? It seems to me that if Harvard was in the habit of offering free rides and Barack was the recipient, he would still have to "work hard" and "earn it" to stay there. Do you really think his fellow Havardites elected him president of the law review as yet another "free ride"? Let me tell you: You do not need the break you have suggested Barack got; you need some information. What should "shock" you is your own comments. Call the doctor indeed - one with a Ph.D in education.

Sent by Stefani Zinerman | 8:36 AM | 9-17-2008

Hello Mrs. Martin,

I want to say that I completely agree with you about the fact that the Republican's claim that Obama is an "elitist" is untrue. This has bothered me since the primary race first began and people said that Obama was not "black enough" because he was educated. If either party and/or the media put people down for being educated then how are we to ever expect kids to want to improve in school? Like you said, they will see being smart as "uncool" and perhaps give up on trying. I am very excited about the fact that Obama can be a great role model for anyone who has ever struggled in their lives with difficulties, but in particular it is great to have an African American continually in the news because of something wonderful and positive rather than a negative. He is making headlines every day because of all of the wonderful things he has accomplished and he should be touted as a role model for these accomplishments rather than criticized for them. If people want to criticize his politics, that is completely fair game, but don't criticize him for achieving the American dream.
That is part of what really bothers me about Palin. The spin on her is that she is just an "average woman" who now is running for vice president and that is a large part of what makes her great. Well Obama started with an "average" background, he was not born into an elite family like many in politics. He chose to work hard for everything he achieved and so today is being punished for those choices? It doesn't make sense to me. He should be lauded for being able to come so far rather than condemned for the very thing that so many Americans would like for their own children. His story proves the American dream that with hard work and some luck anything is possible. I don't think it's fair to now disparage him for that.

Sent by SCarman | 4:13 PM | 9-18-2008


I love your show. Its very "fair and balanced"

I wanted to add a comment about your show on Oct 2nd...regarding the issue of race perception and latent racism.

I am white. I am married to a 2nd generation hispanic wife whos father would best be described as a black Carribean hispanic man (her mother is salvadorian).

Together we live in Prince George County in Maryland. PG county has one of the largest black middle classes in the country.

We live in a very mixed neighborhood of whites, blacks and hispanics of generally well to do, working class or mid level white collar folks.

Overall I am a minority, being white. I grew up in a largely white area in Northern Virginia, although we had a healthy mix of kids in my high school. I was raised to be open minded by parents who themselves came from the north and the south.

However, I have noticed some wonderful things and yet many disturbing things living amongst so many black folks that are worth sharing, largely to push aside the innuendo code talk that many whites are afraid to speak about.

The first truly disturbing thing that strikes me is how it would seem so many younger black children, teenagers and young adults (up to their 30s) who come from hard working parents ~in nice homes~ seem to be hypnotized by ghetto culture, pimp culture, drug culture...the things we would righly call the seedier side of life.

While I do draw similarities to many white kids who were seduced by the heavy metal/hair metal culture of the 80s, the difference in this case is that it appears to be a longer lasting trend.

I see young kids and young adults who come from good hard working parents (who themselves benefited from the civil rights struggle) that seem to care little or have no appreciation for what their own grandparents...and in some cases parents went through.

Sadly, I see black adolescents, not trying to integrate themselves further, not trying to work hard to establish themselves, not mindful of their own family's struggle...not mindful of their own peoples struggle...that idolize not great leaders like Martin Luther King, but rather gangsters like Frank Lucas, or Rappers who offer nothing but sex, booty, gold teeth and flashy dollar bills.

Now I grant that there are black adolescents that are working hard to achieve more, but theyre voices are snuffed out by a "crowd" of people who have been deluded, misled, and hypnotized by black entertainment.

And when people like John Hope Franklin the great historian....or Bill Cosby speak out about this disturbing trend, black entertainment ($$$$$$$) fights back hard, proclaiming they are only giving people what they want..and reflecting life as it is.

So the question I pose to society in general is....if the art is less than ideal, why would we allow that art to influence life when the consequences of doing so, heavily erode the advancements of the civil rights movement....because you see (getting back to my point) I firmly believe the "glorification of ghetto culture" is exactly what many white people find repulsive...and for good reason; the attributes of this trend glorify murder, drugs, sexual exploitation of women, and exploitation of other blacks...I mean sincerely, I cringe when i hear a black man calling another black man nigger...much less refer to himself as a "real nigga" as if to suggest his base attitude is what all blacks are really like, underneath the white collar, the blue collar, or the school books.

Why on Gods earth are black leaders sitting back and allowing black entertainment to destroy the advances that were made.

This only validates true racists and imprints negative stereotypes on whites who, in other circumstances might not otherwise be led to feel this way.

Its the double standard that black america must face and fight....and frankly white american must also stand up and help.

Where is the african american version of Tipper Gore?

I hate to see the struggle of all those involved in the civil rights movement, slowly erode in vain.

As a white man, I think I speak for many white people who feel this way.

We are not racists...we do care about whats happening...but black america must also rise up and reaffirm the civility and humanity, rather than descend into civil barbarism.

Sent by A Young | 3:30 PM | 10-2-2008