Monthly Archives: May 2004

Kerry Keeps Mum

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With President Bush’s approval numbers spiraling below 50 percent, and administration officials under daily grilling over prisoner abuse, and war and honor, you would think these would be heady days for the opposition. But John Kerry, the Democratic challenger is out on the hustings talking about health care, job retraining, and bonus pay for teachers. And while these issues might play well in Peoria, that’s also the only place they’re making headlines.

Experts say that Kerry is obeying one of the fundamental principles of politics, that when your opponent is in over his head, you don’t try to push him under. Others say that by going AWOL on the biggest political issue of the day, Kerry is failing to lead and damning the Democrats to defeat once again in November. Will Kerry get his war on?


James Rubin, foreign policy advisor to John Kerry

Joe Klein, political columnist for Time Magazine

Ryan Lizza, senior writer for the New Republic.

Workplace Weasels

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An entire lexicon exists for naming the office jerk and that says a lot about the descriptive powers of the oppressed. It’s also testament to just how much space we make in our lives for these self-absorbed, backstabbing, confidence-crushing buffoons.

Unfortunately, the FCC would prefer that we not use some of the more colorful language that we might otherwise choose. But we are free to describe certain characteristics of this particular category of office cubicle creature. What’s worse, the experts tell us that jerks succeed. They’re more likely to get promoted so they can really tell us what to do. They live among us like foul weather, this hour we’ll talk about their fits and storms, the dark grey cloud, the jerk in the office and how he or she manage to rule our world and ruin our day.


Robert Sutton, professor, Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University School of Engineering

Loraleigh Keashly, associate professor, Urban and Labor Studies and Psychology, Wayne State University

Gloria Elliott, organizational development consultant, Elliott and Associates

Mike Reynvaan, partner and member of the management committee, Perkins
a Seattle-based corporate law firm

Senator John McCain

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Senator John McCain drives like he lives: fast and always with his own two hands on the wheel, which is rare for a politician of his standing. But then again everything about the Arizona Republican sets him apart from his colleagues. He survived five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison, three plane crashes, a bout with cancer, his own political scandal and a run for the presidency.

Often accused of being a thorn in his own party’s side, he is one of the most outspoken critics of the administration’s handling of the war in Iraq and the prison abuse scandal. Yet despite mounting casualties among Americans and Iraqis, McCain says it’s vital to stay the course, at least for now. So what will it take to win the war on Iraq, and some straight talk on why courage matters.


John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona

Urban warfare

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The body count continues to rise. And there is an unending stream of tragic stories behind the numbers. No, we’re not talking about Iraq. We are talking about neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Boston, and DC where many residents live in war zones, created by rival gangs. And, in case you think this problem just affects poor people in housing projects, think again.

The Murrays are a middle class black family in South Los Angeles. They bought their dream house 20 years ago. Even as the gangs moved in, Rodney, Vivien, and their two children refused to move out, determined not to give up on the neighborhood they loved. Last month, their 20 year old son Sean was gunned down by gang members. His father joins us to talk about the cost of urban warfare


Rodney Murray, son was killed by gangs. Jill Leovy, reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

Married in Massachusetts

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It’s official: gay marriage is now legal in Massachusetts. As of midnight last night, the Bay State became the first in the nation to offer state-sanctioned marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This was the date set by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court when it ruled last year that gays and lesbians had a constitutional right to marry. Since then, all attempts by the state legislature and the governor to forestall or overturn the ruling have failed.

Today, as thousands complete marriage applications in which the words “bride” and “groom” have been permanently replaced by “Party A” and “Party B”, those opposed to such unions, politicians, religious leaders, and activists are meeting in Washington to map out a strategy for securing a constitutional ban.


Alan Wolfe, Director of the Boisi Center on Religion and American Public Life at Boston College

Mary Bonauto, plaintiff attorney in Goodridge case

Rev. Cathy George, chair of Episcopal Diocese Task Force on Blessing of Holy Unions

Carlos French, who applied for license with his partner Anthony Gomez last night at Cambridge City Hall

Brown's Legacy

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On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court handed down a decision declaring “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” At the time it was seen as a major judicial move, one that was supposed to end segregation in schools forever.

But today, critics say that the Brown versus the Board of Education decision has failed to achieve its promise. They point to a sustained backlash against busing, white flight from urban areas, and a failure to balance resources between schools, as reasons why minorities still receive an inferior education. Others say that Brown’s short comings just show that integration is not the key to excellence in education.


Ted Shaw, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Randolph Carter, diversity educator;
Dr. Gertrude Hill, principal, Harlan High School in Chicago.

Back to the Gandhis

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The aftershocks of India’s electoral upset continue to shake the country. In one of the most dramatic political turn-arounds in 60 years, rural voters said quite clearly they are tired of being ignored.

The ruling party’s “India Shining” campaign, boasting of new jobs, glowing cities, and broadband heaven didn’t stick with villagers who have no running water or electricity. So the world’s largest democracy changes course, sending the BJP packing and taking a chance on a return to India’s storied past.

As Delhi rolls out the red carpet for Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party, some wonder if this time the rural poor will be invited along, or if a revival of the Gandhi dynasty will be just more, politics as usual.


Nirupama Subramanian, editor of The Hindu

Smithu Kothari, visiting professor at Princeton University

Nisid Hajari, managing editor of Newsweek International.

Prizes for the Privileged

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There is a country in the Pacific Ocean — a group of coral atolls straddling the equator — that couldn’t have bought Picasso’s “Boy with a Pipe” even if it wanted to. The painting sold at auction last week for $104 million. Kiribati, the country in question, has an annual GDP that falls far short of that amount. And if the people of Kiribati hope to see the garland-crowned boy in blue, they’re out of luck. For that matter, so are the rest of us. Because the Picasso painting, like so many master works that land in private hands, will likely never be seen again.

As New York’s spring auction season draws to a close, and as paintings vanish into private collections, we consider who really pays when the priceless goes to the privileged.


Nicholas Wapshott, North America correspondent and U.S. bureau chief, The Times of London

Greg Hubert, owner, The Hubert Gallery, New York City

Charlie Finch, columnist with and founder of the Coagula Art Journal

Justice Denied?

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If you look at the news footage of the story of Emmett Till, it’s all in black and white. Till was a 14-year-old African American boy from Chicago, who was beaten, shot, and found floating in the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi back in 1955. All this for whistling at a white woman. Two men were eventually tried for his murder and acquitted by an all white jury.

Many are now applauding an announcement by the Justice Department this week, to retry the case. But others are wondering what can be gained when the main suspects are dead, and everyone’s memories are hazy. Prosecuting the past in the case of Emmett Till. Is it still to be seen in black and white?


Christopher Benson, author of “Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America”

Revered Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin, who was with him the night he was murdered

Douglas Jones, an attorney who recently won convictions in the 1963 Birmingham bombing case.