Note: The first episode shown during the Second Quarter 2012 was a rerun of #594 on March 19, 2012.
Episode #600: Peanut Butter & Jelly
First Broadcast: 3/26/12
Attempted Repeat: 8/27/12 Program not shown. A program named "Cultura Y Futuro" was shown by MNN in our timeslot instead. MNN still has not provided any explanation for why this happened.
To commemorate our 6th triple-digit milestone, we take our cameras out into the street to answer the question, "What is New York like?" For some clues to the answer, you might venture a look over here, but the complete package can only be seen on MNN for now. Let's hope we still have a few more anniversaries in store for the future!
Episode #601: You're All Under Arrest
First Broadcast: 4/9/12
After a brief discussion about the formats of "reality" television, we delve into the implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling "that any person arrested can be subject to a strip search — even for a minor offense or traffic violation — without any reason to suspect that they may be carrying a weapon or contraband." When you consider how many people are arrested in this country every year whose charges end up being dropped (for example, all 227 people who were arrested in a single incident near the World Trade Center on August 21, 2004, had their charges dismissed by the Mahattan D.A., thanks to work by the NYCLU), this means there are potentially hundreds or thousands of innocent (a.k.a. "not guilty") people every year who could be strip-searched at the whim of the police. To me (and to the ACLU), this sounds like a major violation of the Fourth Amendment, not to mention the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 5: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"; Article 12: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy"). When you combine that with the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama, that allows the military to indefinitely "detain" anyone anywhere in the world for any reason; Attorney General Eric Holder's assertion that the President has the right to kill anyone in the world at any time for any reason; the numerous secret prisons around the world that were run by the CIA, outside the law; the growing privatization of prisons in the United States, which inherently requires more inmates to increase profits; the increased presence of police in public schools, which has basically criminalized childhood behavior; and the fact that the United States now has more people in prison than any other nation on earth (with a black prison population disproportionate to the general population); and I have to wonder if I'm the only one who thinks the United States has now moved closer to being an authoritarian police state than at any other time since the Declaration of Independence. It's a scary thought, especially when you consider that Obama ran his 2008 campaign on a platform to end the policies of the Bush administration, and that none of the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates have any objection to these unchecked powers that essentially give a President the same rights as a King. Unless either Congress or "the People" put a stop to this, I wonder if things will be even worse by 2016 before they get better--if they ever get better...
Episode #602: One Kid To The Left
First Broadcast: 4/23/12
The Great Recession! More foreclosures! Foreclosure fraud! Foreclosure settlements! Austerity bites! The Patco strike! And the lack of real political variety on cable news networks! Did I forget something? Oh yeah, this...
Episode #603: Meat Puppet
First Broadcast: 4/30/12
First of all: No, not those Meat Puppets. Second: Bradley Manning has been in prison for over 700 days without trial. Third: Relations between Iran and the United States might be a lot better if the U.S. hadn't replaced democratically-elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh with the monarchy of the Shah. Fourth: The Shah's extremely repressive human rights record was a direct cause of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Fifth: The U.S. was supplying intelligence to both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. Sixth: Most of this information was glossed over in the background history outlined in the 9/11 Commission report. Seventh: Obama's civil rights record hasn't been that good lately either. Eighth: Will anyone on either the Democratic or Republican tickets mention any of this during this year's Presidential campaign? I highly doubt it.
Episode #604: Cancer...You Suck
First Broadcast: 5/14/12
Even though I misquoted Alton Brown, the sentiment still stands. This week, our show is all about Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA, a.k.a. Nathanial Hörnblowér, who died on May 4, 2012, from cancer of the salivary gland. We talk about his innovative career as one of the founding members of the Beastie Boys, how his death seemed to hit harder than that of Maurice Sendak, and how he and the other Beasties retained the respect of their fans by--I think, in addition to continually creating good music--never selling out, and never even needing to sell out. I hope for New York's sake that more people like Yauch are out there. He will be sadly missed.
Episode #605: Furtive Movement
First Broadcast: 5/28/12
Repeated: 7/23/12, 10/15/12
Unplanned Repeat: 2/25/13 MNN decided to rerun this episode, even though they had tapes of episodes #621 and #628 in their possession at the time. I don't know why they chose to play this episode, nor do I know why they kept an encode of this episode in particular on hand. It's as much a mystery to me as it is to you.
"Stop And Frisk" is the policy by which the New York Police Department stops and frisks anyone, anywhere, anytime, even in the complete absence of criminal activity, in the vain hope of seizing illegal weapons and reducing crime in general. In reality, the policy has had a negligible impact on reducing the number of weapons in New York City, and has harassed people of color in the city to the point where more young black men were stopped in 2011 than the entire population of young black men in the five boroughs. The only thing this policy achieves, besides creating a climate of fear for all New Yorkers who value civil rights, is the increased potential of arresting people who would otherwise not be subject to arrest. It's not far removed from the tremendous increase in arrests for marijuana possession (an offense that was reduced to a violation in 1977) that began with the Giuliani administration; or the epidemic of civil forfeiture across the nation, and in Tennessee especially; or the push to privatize prisons throughout the country. All these actions achieve the goals of criminalizing behavior that was not previously criminal, increasing the amount of people subject to criminal fines and criminal sentences, and increasing the revenues of police departments and private prison corporations, whose increased incomes directly depend on the first two results. This is an unsustainable environment, the ultimate result of which is that everyone becomes a potential criminal in the eyes of the law. We should thank the Center for Constitutional Rights for filing a class-action suit against the NYPD to end the Stop-And-Frisk policy. Maybe that will be the first step in returning police to their proper role of serving and protecting the public, instead of using crime as a method of generating profit.
Episode #606: Show Trials
First Broadcast: 6/4/12
This week, we discuss a New York Times article which reveals that President Obama has weekly meetings where he personally chooses whether or not to kill people who his advisors think may or may not be be threats to the United States. The method of choice for these killings are robot drone planes, and, despite National Security Advisor John O. Brennan's assertion that the number of civilians killed by drone attacks has been incredibly low ("In a speech last year Mr. Brennan ... said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes"), the Guardian reports that up to 535 civilians have been killed by drones under Obama, and that, since 2004, drone attacks under Bush and Obama have killed up to 175 children. Perhaps Obama & company keep the civilian death toll low by counting everyone who's killed by a drone as a "militant," and defining militants or "combatants" as "all military-age males in a strike zone ... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent." How does the White House justify such behavior tantamount to genocide? To them, it comes down to this: "people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good." So, there you have it: If you're the wrong age, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, then you're guilty; and if you get killed as a result, that merely confirms your guilt. As you might guess, this whole procedure is disturbing on a number of levels. For instance, since the accused never has a chance to hear the charges against them, face their accuser, or defend themselves in an open court with a judge to maintain fairness and an attorney to offer the best arguments against those charges, then what makes these backroom discussions of Obama's any better than the show trials during Stalin's rule of the Soviet Union, which were equally devoid of due process? In fact, what makes Obama's decisions over who lives and who dies any different from Josef Mengele, who would make the same decisions about the prisoners who entered through the gates of Auschwitz? How can anyone be less than appalled and disgusted at a President who endorses a form of wanton death that's every bit as despicable as that committed by those who are designated as "terrorists"? I guess the differences between George W. Bush and Barack Obama are far fewer than I ever expected.
Episode #607: It Can Always Get Worse
First Broadcast: 6/18/12
This week, we pick up where we left off in the previous episode, with more thoughts on President Obama's appalling robot drone assassination program. I wonder: Where is the Tea Party's objection to this? After all, they were extremely vocal about objecting to the fictional "death panels" they thought were in the health care bill signed into law by Obama. Why on earth wouldn't they object to the real-life death panels being held every Tuesday in Obama's White House? I guess when so-called "militants" are being killed, some people's values suddenly vanish. I talk about how, in the web site summary for the previous episode, I compared Obama to Josef Mengele--the Nazi doctor who would make decisions about who lived and who died at the Auschwitz concentration camp--and how that comparison might have been a bit unfair. After all, Mengele made his decisions right in front of the prisoners whom he chose to kill, where everyone could see him. Obama, in contrast, makes his kill-list decisions in secret in the White House, and his victims only know they're going to die when the drones that kill them are overhead. I mention how Obama's classification of everyone killed by these drones as automatically being "militants" (unless "posthumously" proven otherwise) reminds me of the line from Full Metal Jacket when the soldier in the helicopter says, "Anyone who runs, is a VC. Anyone who stands still, is a well-disciplined VC!" And I wonder whether this means we, as a nation, have learned nothing at all from its involvement in Vietnam--and who knows how many other countries besides that.