Note: The first episode shown during the Second Quarter 2017 was a rerun of #756 on March 20, 2016.
Episode #760: Some Serious Pads
First Broadcast: 3/27/17
This episode, we salute the late, great Chuck Berry, one of the founding fathers of Rock 'n' Roll music, and one of the most influential musicians of all time. With an almost unbroken string of hits between 1955 and 1965, Berry cemented his reputation as one of the biggest stars of the early Rock era, and he remained an active performer right up until his death on March 18, with one more new album due out later this year. Innovators like him are few and far between, and he will be missed. Days later, another innovator, Chuck Barris, passed away. Barris might be best known as the producer and host of "The Gong Show," a bizarre, surrealistic talent show that aired on TV in the late 1970s and--in my opinion--remains as one of the most stupidly funny programs ever to be seen on network television. Luckily, many clips of the show still live online--and, hey, so do many of Chuck Berry's songs, so these works won't be lost to future generations anytime soon. (In fact, Berry's work might even outlast humanity itself.) Here's hoping I won't be proven wrong right away.
Episode #761: Privatizing Wiretapping
First Broadcast: 4/3/17
To the benefit of no one but the largest telecom companies in the United States and the Congresscritters who serve them, the House passed a bill that allows Internet Service Providers to sell their users' Internet browsing histories without their permission. Specifically to blame are Republicans in the Senate and the House, as no Democrat in either body voted for this crap. Does the GOP have any idea what the consquences will be if anyone with enough money can purchase the records of all the Internet sites that any person or group ever visits? What would happen if the FBI, Amazon, China, or any random hacker could gain all that information just for the price of admission, without any legalities whatsoever? Max Temkin, the creator of "Cards Against Humanity," made the following vow:
If this shit passes I will buy the browser history of every congressman and congressional aide and publish it.
But, will that be enough of a deterrent to prevent Donald Trump from signing it into law? Who the hell knows anymore? In the meantime, better dust off that VPN...
Episode #762: The Jig Was Up
First Broadcast: 4/10/17
The A.V. Club put it succinctly: "Why are there so many TV shows about time travel right now?" Is there a mass desire in the United States right now to be anywhere else but here? (I wonder why?) Does GQ have a point about time travel programs being popular due to Netflix? Is "Making History" close to being canceled? "Time After Time," the show based on the movie, is now cancelled, disappointing all those who looked forward to more episodes named after Cyndi Lauper lyrics. Perhaps that's for the best, considering the show's portrayal of H.G. Wells as a relatively chaste man was completely at odds with his actual past. Maybe I need to write my own show to get it done right...
Episode #763: Sui Generis
First Broadcast: 4/24/17
First off, we salute the recently departed David Peel, who died on April 6, 2017, at the age of 73. He wasn't quite a frequent guest on Free New York, but we did run into him often in the neighborhood, and he was always willing to either pose or chat for the camera. He memorably offered his views and a song about the closing of CBGB in episode #427 of our program, and for that we'll always be grateful. His unique presence in the East Village will definitely be missed. On top of that, we wonder this week if the firing of Bill O'Reilly from Fox News, the very good showings of Jon Ossoff and James Thompson in special Congressional elections, and the record unpopularity of President Trump are all signs that bode well for a Democratic changeover in Congress in 2018? Well, I can dream, can't I?
Episode #764: Stupid Song and Dance
First Broadcast: 5/8/17
In this episode, we wondered aloud: Would Republicans in the House be stupid enough to pass a bill that would ultimately cause 24 million people to not have health insurance? (They would.) Would Donald Trump lie about whether the GOP's health care bill protects people who have pre-existing conditions? (He might.) Would the GOP be craven enough to exempt themselves from this bill that affects everyone else? (Oh yes they would.) Would they really vote to pass something many of them didn't even read? (Looks that way.) Why would they do something so hurtful and cruel? (An advisor to John Kasich has a thought about that.) I suppose we'll have more questions in the future, assuming we live that long...
Episode #765: Bigly Incorrect
First Broadcast: 5/15/17
On May 9, 2017, Donald Trump fired F.B.I. Director James Comey, surprising virtually everyone who found out about it, including Comey, who received the news via television before being officially notified himself. Among many other questions: Why did Trump, apropos of nothing, say in his letter to Comey "I am not under investigation"? Why did Trump wait until Comey was literally on the other side of the country to dismiss him? Is it believable that Trump is only now displeased with the way Comey treated Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election? Is it just a coincidence that Comey had asked Congress for more money to investigate ties between Trump and Russia, before Trump fired him? Could this incident help motivate voters to put Democrats in charge of Congress in 2018? I don't have all the answers, but I can't wait to find out!
Episode #766: Into His Own Foot
First Broadcast: 5/22/17
On Monday, May 15, 2017, The Washington Post published a story that said, in part:
President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.Then, on Tuesday, The New York Times published this:
President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.
The reactions within the White House were, well, about what you'd expect by this point:
Report: Trump presidency plunges White House staff into confusionSure, maybe we've already moved on to the next crisis, but who knows if that will replaced by another one next week? (I'm guessing the odds are pretty good...)
White House on edge: 'We are kind of helpless'
"WH comms staffers just put the TVs on super loud after we could hear yelling coming from room w/ Bannon, Spicer, Sanders"
Episode #767: Not With a Bang But a Covfefe
First Broadcast: 6/5/17
So, the President of the United States posts a message to Twitter that looks like he had a stroke in mid-sentence, it stays posted for almost 6 hours with no explanation, and then the President and his Press Secretary act like he meant to do that all along, sparking a whole host of commentary for the rest of the day. I wonder which is worse: That this could be the latest sign of Donald Trump's cognitive decline, or that the Chief Executive of the United States was possibly severely stricken, and no one in the White House seemed to be in a hurry to do anything to do anything about it? PS: Does anyone care anymore, now that we've lurched forward to the next Trump-induced crises of the day?