Episode #408: Not A Garage With Spikes In It
First Broadcast: 3/27/06
We start off by noting that more than a few news outlets (such as the Daily News) couldn't help referring to the animal that was tranquilized in Central Park as a "wily" coyote--no doubt showing that the influence of Warner Brothers cartoons is much larger than anyone might realize. Then we swing over to this exchange between George W. Bush and Helen Thomas from March 21:
HELEN THOMAS: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?
GEORGE W. BUSH: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --
Thomas: Everything --
Bush: Hold on for a second, please.
Thomas: -- everything I've heard --
Bush: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people. Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --
Thomas: They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.
Bush: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --
Thomas: I'm talking about Iraq --
Bush: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans. I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --
Thomas: -- go to war --
Bush: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.
Aside from Mr. Bush's attempt to once again link the events of 9/11 to Iraq, and aside from his apparent confusion over whether the Taliban were in Iraq or Afghanistan, you might notice he also tried to resurrect that tired nonsense about people believing that "oceans" made the U.S. safe prior to September 11, 2001. Anyone who's ever seen the "Duck and Cover" cartoon, or any number of Twilight Zone episodes, will know that Bush's assertion is false. As you can see from any number of civil defense ads from the 1950's and 1960's, depictions of mushroom clouds over cities and concerns about fallout meant that people back then did not think oceans would protect them from a nuclear attack; so that notion was not true for at least 40 years prior to September 11, 2001, and probably a lot longer than that if air raid drills during World War II were any indication.
However, perhaps the most interesting comment Bush made that day came later in the conference:
Q: Will there come a day -- and I'm not asking you when, not asking for a timetable -- will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?
Bush: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq.
Q: So it won't happen on your watch?
Bush: You mean a complete withdrawal? That's a timetable. I can only tell you that I will make decisions on force levels based upon what the commanders on the ground say.
Now, that certainly sounds to me like Bush doesn't plan to remove all American troops from Iraq at any time prior to January 20, 2009, at the very least. But, look how fast White House spokesman Scott McClellan backs away from that statement just two days later:
Q: At what point did the President decide that during his watch there would be no major withdrawal from Iraq? And what did he --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think that's what he said.
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think that's what he said.
Q: Well, he said, future Presidents will have --
MR. McCLELLAN: In fact, a couple of things. First of all, the President was asked a very specific question, when will there be zero or no troops in Iraq. So he was responding to that specific question. But we are already seeing a reduction in our troop levels. ...
Q: Well, my point is at what point -- I mean, what has been the reaction? The headline was that we were going to stay there well into another presidency, possibly.
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't write the headlines, and I think it's wrong for any --
Q: This is the impression the President left.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no --
Q: You say no?
MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree. There were some articles that put it in -- in some of the coverage -- that put it in the full context. If you look at exactly what he said and exactly what he was asked --
Q: -- future presidencies and new Iraqi --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's what I'm getting to, Helen. It would be wrong to suggest that he was saying that there would still be a substantial number of troops in Iraq after he is out of office. That's not what he was asked. That's not what he was talking about. What he emphasized again was that troop levels will be based on the decisions of our commanders who will look at conditions on the ground.
Q: I'm not talking about troop levels. I'm talking about American presence. And we certainly will have troops there, and he certainly indicated that well beyond his own presidency we'd be there.
MR. McCLELLAN: We're in Afghanistan -- we've been in Afghanistan since 2001. There's still troops there, but it's substantially down from where it was initially.
Once again, the topic is Iraq, and the White House shifts it to Afghanistan, trying to combine both conflicts into a single battle in the minds of the uninformed. However, no matter how often Bush & company try to justify it, that still doesn't change the fact that the war in Iraq is illegal, Bush broke the law in order to wage it, and that for this and many other reasons, Bush needs to be impeached. Get it?
Episode #409: Before King George
First Broadcast: 4/3/06
This week, we have even more evidence that George W. Bush was planning to go to war with Iraq no matter what anyone else had to say about it; we talk about how Bush forced Saddam Hussein from power in order to establish a democratic form of government in Iraq that would elect a Prime Minister that Bush now also wants to force from power; and we shake our heads in total amazement as Mr. Bush has the nerve to say this about Iraq:
I want the Iraqi people to hear I've got great confidence in their capacity to self govern. I also want the Iraqi people to hear - it's about time you get a unity government going. In other words, Americans understand you're newcomers to the political arena. But pretty soon its time to shut her down and get governing.
George W. Bush, 29 March 2006
"Newcomers" he says, about the country that occupies what used to be known as Mesopotamia, where the Sumerians and others pretty much invented the concept of civilization--including laws, courts, and city-states--as early as 7000 years ago, before the United States was even a gleam in anyone's eye. You might even call that part of the world the "cradle of civilization," in fact. So, to hear Bush call those present-day residents "newcomers" to politics--"newcomers" to anything, even--shows an appalling lack of historical awareness. We agree with Bill Maher, who recently said "Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes." And we also wonder: if it's legal today in Afghanistan to sentence someone to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, why the hell did the U.S. bother to get rid of the Taliban in the first place? What was the point of the entire American mission in Afghanistan since 2001, if apostasy can still be prosecuted there? Why does the United States refuse to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on so many levels? I have too many questions and not enough answers. P.S.: Much more info about Articles Of Impeachment Against George W. Bush can be found at the Center for Constitutional Rights. At least they're paying attention!
Episode #410: Wild Speculation
First Broadcast: 4/17/06
We start with a re-enactment of a White House press conference (one which doesn't seem to be archived on the White House web site) where White House spokesperson Scott McClellan uses the phrase "wild speculation" several times to describe Seymour Hersh's article in The New Yorker that the United States is actively planning a nuclear strike on Iran to eliminate Iran's nuclear enrichment capability. The more astute among you will probably notice that calling something "wild speculation" isn't a denial; in fact, it's probably a very good example of a "non-denial denial," something that's been used in Washington D.C. for a long time now. Also, we touch on how National Geographic's newly discovered text of the Gospel of Judas portrays the disciple as the one who understood Jesus the most and wanted to help Jesus fulfill his prophecy; but Pope Benedict XVI carried on in a public address this week by calling Judas a "liar" and a "double-crosser", so I guess this shows how much Mr. Ratzinger is influenced by current events. P.S.: Was our guest bear related to a bear on another public access show? Who can say?
Episode #411: Free Market of Violence
First Broadcast: 4/24/06 Opening animation and "Free New York" title cut off.
The title refers to the current state of violence in Iraq, which is quite different from the state monopoly of violence that existed during Saddam Hussein's rule of the country. So, to the question "Is Iraq better off now without Saddam Hussein?" we answer "Iraq isn't better off now; it's just different." This, along with countless other examples of governmental incompetence, all add up to a very relevant question: Is George W. Bush the worst President in all of American history? Does it matter that the Bush administration has borrowed more money from foreign governments than every other adminstration from George Washington to Bill Clinton combined? Is it more than a coincidence that less than a week after the airing of our critique of Scott McClellan in episode 410, Mr. McClellan then stepped down from his position as White House spokesman? Is the grand jury in the Valerie Plame leak case finally going to approve criminal charges against Karl Rove? Should the world be extremely worried about Bush's plans to attack Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons? We hope the answer to all those questions is "yes," but only time will tell.
Episode #412: This Iraq Mishegoss
First Broadcast: 5/1/06
A Senate committee thinks the best way to fix FEMA is to abolish it altogether; retired generals who want Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign may get to testify at a Senate hearing; Illinois, California, and Vermont may accomplish what the House of Representatives can't--namely introducing a resolution to impeach George W. Bush; and the new White House Press Secretary has publicly stated there is no proof that evolution has occurred, and that there was no proof to contradict the false claims that John Kerry didn't legitimately earn his medals during the Vietnam War. Is it any wonder this guy used to work at Fox News? No, no wonder at all, really.
Episode #413: They're In Al Capone's Vault
First Broadcast: 5/15/06
The "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that Iraq allegedly had, that is. The ones that between 63% and 89% of the public say George W. Bush lied about (unless you watch Fox News, in which case only 2.3% of you think Bush lied about them). The reason why Bush started a war that Hillary Clinton still supports. Perhaps that reason is why Hillary Clinton is now being supported by Rupert "Owner of Fox News" Murdoch in an upcoming fundraiser. We know it's the reason why Jonathan Tasini is challenging Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary for her Senate seat this year on an anti-war platform. Those nonexistent weapons are also the reason why Ray McGovern confronted Donald Rumsfeld in Georgia and got him to admit that "It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there" in Iraq, even while Rumsfeld tried to palm it off as being Colin Powell's fault, by saying "He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate," even though Powell himself was quoted as early as June, 2003, as saying, in response to his prepared speech for the U.N. being so inadequately sourced, "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit." Are there any other reasons why Bush shouldn't be impeached by this point?
Episode #414: Constitution Shredding
First Broadcast: 5/22/06
Our title reflects one of the many adjectives Will Durst uses to describe the current Bush administration, as written in the June 2006 issue of The Progressive magazine. We touch on how it would seem that most of the country agrees with Mr. Durst, since a recent series of opinion polls show that George W. Bush has a positive approval rating in only 3 out of 50 states: Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. (New York State, by the way, has the second-lowest approval rating for Bush in the nation, with a 23% approval and a 74% disapproval rating. Only Rhode Island is lower, with a 23% approval and a 75% disapproval rating.) Despite this massive disapproval of what Bush is doing across the country, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi won't even entertain the mildest notion of impeachment for Bush's crimes and abuses of power, saying instead:
"I donít see us going to a place of impeachment... That is not what we are about."
-- Nancy Pelosi, Meet The Press, May 7, 2006
Sure, when the Chief Executive of the United States blatantly violates the Fourth Amendment, the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and at least 750 other laws (as noted by WikiThePresidency.org and Human Rights Watch), why on earth would you want to hold him accountable by the one method specifically mentioned in the Constitution? Why, if Bill Clinton can be impeached for lying about a blowjob, can George W. Bush not be impeached for lying about the reason why he wanted to go to war with Iraq, which caused over 2400 Americans and between 37,000 and 200,000 Iraqis to be killed as a result? Why is the government tapping ABC's cell phones? What made Arlen Specter tell Russ Feingold "good riddance" when Feingold left a committe meeting? And where does noveau White House spokesman Tony Snow get off using the term "tar baby" to describe something, as if that term never had any racist connotations to it? No wonder he used to work for Fox News. Sheesh!
Episode #415: Rising Sea Levels
First Broadcast: 6/5/06
That could be the ultimate outcome, if the worst case scenario in An Inconvenient Truth comes to pass. Go see that movie today, if you can. After all, any movie about ecology that makes right-wing pundits compare Al Gore to Nazis can't be all bad. It's definitely more entertaining than The Da Vinci Code, less ridiculous than X-Men: The Last Stand, and probably more informative than The Men Who Killed Kennedy. After that, take a walk around the city and admire all the "national monuments and icons" that the Department of Homeland Security says New York doesn't have ("0" to be exact), resulting in a $40 million decrease in "anti-terrorism" funding compared to 2005. Follow Hillary Clinton's efforts to get that money restored, not the least of which is her postcard campaign with Republican Representative Peter King, in an attempt to enlighten DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff as to just how many monuments and icons there truly are in New York City--an incalculable number in my estimation. I wonder if CBGB will make their list?