Note: The first episode shown during the Second Quarter 2011 was an unintended rerun of #567 on March 21, 2011.
Episode #568: Worst Case Is Death
First Broadcast: 3/28/11
First of all, if you haven't already donated something to help the survivors of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown in Japan, then I encourage you to visit the Red Cross web site and donate something now. Second, I don't think the U.S. getting militarily involved in Libya's civil war is a very good idea. Third, I was a bit disappointed that the death of Leonard Weinglass was so extremely overshadowed by the death of a certain movie star on the same day. But, hey, what do I know? I think a lifetime of work fighting for civil rights is a bit more important than a lifetime of being in front of a camera. Of course, this probably means I'm also not going to be remembered very fondly myself, but that's a totally different story...
Episode #569: Less Transparent
First Broadcast: 4/11/11
If Obama is refusing to try Khalid Sheik Mohamed in a civilian court, like George W. Bush; if Obama is starting undeclared wars with countries in the Middle East, like Bush; if he alleges the right to imprison people indefinitely without trial, like Bush; if he refuses to fight for a national health plan, like Bush; and if he thinks the way to an economic recovery is to promote Republican tax cuts, like Bush; then what, exactly, is the advantage to re-electing Obama in 2012? That he's not batshit-crazy like some potential Republican candidates are? Is it similar to the dilemma many people had when deciding who to vote for President in 1968? My stomach hurts...
Episode #570: That Trick Doesn't Work
First Broadcast: 4/25/11
Fox News, in a move which I hope surprises no one, repeats Republican talking points about the federal deficit; namely, "Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem." The fact is, it is a revenue problem, at least if people like Nobel-prize-winning economist Paul Krugman are to be believed. Although, if you want to cut spending, I can think of several expenditures that can be eliminated immediately; namely, every military operation the United States is running in the Middle East. If history is any guide, whenever the United States forces itself into an internal conflict in another nation, the results are usually much worse for everyone. At the very least, it's very hypocritical to condemn human rights violations in some countries while other countries get carte blanche to violate as many rights as they want. And I'm willing to bet that if we stopped wasting all the money we're currently spending in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere, we'd have a lot of money available for much more beneficial programs that would help people instead of hurt them. Don't you agree?
Episode #571: Water For Rocks?
First Broadcast: 5/2/11
Repeated: 7/18/11; 4/2/12
Let's put this as simply as possible: Ban Fracking. Why would anyone in their right mind risk destroying one of New York State's (and New York City's) most valuable natural resources: its tap water? Speaking of water: shouldn't we cut back on the bottled water a bit? Isn't an awful lot of energy and money wasted by bottling and transporting something that we normally get out of the tap for free? (Especially if it's coming from places like Fiji?) And could we also hold back on using so much water for mining out west? People in California and Nevada need water to survive too, you know.
Episode #572: War and Violence Is Gruesome
First Broadcast: 5/16/11
This week, we discussed the death of Osama bin Laden, which was announced by President Barack Obama late at night on Sunday, May 1st, 2011 (May 2nd, Pakistan time, where he was apparently killed). While none of us here at Free New York are sorry to see this man disappear from life, we do have concerns over the way he was dispatched. Specifically, since the definitive account of precisely how the death occured has yet to be written, all we can do is speculate over whether or not Bin Laden being killed by U.S. Navy SEALs was actually legal in any sense of the word--and so far the evidence strongly suggests that it was not. Also, the lack of photographic or other evidence of bin Laden's body means we are at the mercy of either the White House or Al Qaeda to verify his death--two institutions which each have their own historic problems with credibility, to put it politely. Independent verification of bin Laden's remains--be it DNA evidence, dental records, photographs, or what have you--is essential to validating whether or not the White House is telling the truth. At the very least, it's necessary so that people are not solely relying on a politician's word to determine what the facts are or are not. The attitudes that people like President Obama ("I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn't deserve what he got needs to have their head examined") and Senator John Kerry (“I think those SEALs did exactly what they should have done, and we need to shut up and move on about, you know, the realities of what happened in that building") are displaying towards anyone who might be questioning how the U.S. conducted this action are certainly not conducive towards any kind of critical thinking about it. Unfortunately, critical thinking is always necessary for events like this, especially when you have a head of state making a statement like this:
Frankly we took more care on this than, obviously, bin Laden took when he killed 3,000 people. He didn't have much regard for how they were treated and desecrated. But that, again, is somethin' that makes us different. And I think we handled it appropriately.
Right there, in an interview with 60 Minutes, President Obama explicitly says that Osama bin Laden killed the (nearly) 3,000 people who died in the events of September 11, 2001, even though none other than The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (a.k.a. the 9-11 Commission) gives bin Laden credit for approval, funding, and manpower for those attacks at best. Now, if it's acceptable to say that bin Laden "killed" the people who died on 9/11, even though he obviously wasn't one of the hijackers who crashed the planes on that day, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was named the "principal architect" of those attacks; then shouldn't it be equally acceptable to say that George W. Bush "killed" the 100,000 people (more or less) who died when he decided to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003? Isn't it a double standard to blame one leader for one mass murder, while refusing to blame another leader for another mass murder? Isn't it also a double standard to condemn people who cheered the deaths of others on 9/11 while not condemning people who cheered the death of bin Laden on 5/1? And isn't it highly inaccurate to call what happened to bin Laden "justice," when the more appropriate word is surely "vengeance", if not "an eye for an eye"? I'm sure we're not done asking questions about this; I only hope we all get some answers eventually.
Episode #573: Weird-Ass Financial Thing
First Broadcast: 5/23/11
Surprise, surprise: The "Rapture" didn't happen this weekend, despite Harold Camping's "infallible, absolute" prediction that it would. So, with that out of the way, we turn to Columbus, Ohio, where about 800 protestors showed up at a shareholder's meeting for JPMorgan Chase to call attention to the damage done to Ohio and elsewhere by big banks, their mass foreclosures, and the financial mishegas that led to this entire sad state of affairs. Here's hoping that things will actually improve--at least, before the next disaster occurs.
Episode #574: No War Declared
First Broadcast: 5/23/11
First, if you haven't seen Jon Stewart's epic takedown of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump's taste in pizza, please view it now and prepare to be awestruck. After that, wonder along with us why Dennis Kucinich's resolution to end U.S. involvement in the military campaign against Libya was postponed by the Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives. Is it because no one wanted to address whether Obama's decision to involve the U.S. military in Libya is Constitutional? Is it because no one wanted to investigate whether Obama's actions violated the War Powers Act? Is it because no one wanted to see how this Libya action, Obama's war on whistleblowers, the continuing trials at Guantanamo Bay, and the refusal to prosecute anyone from the Bush administration for authorizing torture as all part of a pattern of Obama being just as bad as (if not worse than) George W. Bush as far as civil liberties, open government, and foreign policy are concerned? Obama still has time to change the direction he and the White House are going in, but at this point I wonder if he really wants to.
Episode #575: No Cash Value
First Broadcast: 6/13/11
Somewhere in this rambling rant, we talk about Representative Weiner, unemployment rates in New York State, Mayor Bloomberg's war on the middle class, how the Key Food on Avenue A gets on my nerves, and how delis are disappearing left and right in the wake of the Great Recession. Will the next rant be more comprehensible? Your guess is as good as mine.