Episode #416: Trash Of Mass Distraction
First Broadcast: 6/26/06
First we start with a brief discussion of the "COPE" Act, which, if passed by the Senate in the version as passed by the House, would no longer allow communities to set franchise requirements (such as requirements for public access channels) for cable television providers to operate locally. Visit saveaccess.org for more information. After that, we move on to a report of how "about 500" "degraded," "no longer ... dangerous," "unlikely to be lethal," "vintage" chemical munitions "produced before the 1991 Gulf War" "were found in ones, twos and maybe slightly larger collections" since the 2003 invasion, scattered all over Iraq. This isn't really news, since reports of these dead shells being found have been surfacing ever since the beginning days of the American occupation of Iraq. However, even then these degraded weapons were not considered proof of the existence of "weapons of mass destruction," since none of these nearly-inert munitions matched the descriptions that Colin Powell et. al. made in 2003--namely that there were "100 to 500 tons" of potent chemical weapons that somehow posed an imminent threat to the United States. Now, however, these decidedly unthreatening arms are somehow magically being described as the weapons in question by Senator Rick "We now have found stockpiles" Santorum, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who had the brass balls to say this about the equivalent of finding scattered bullets in the Mojave Desert:
"They are weapons of mass destruction. They are harmful to human beings. And they have been found."
Who was it in the administration who said "we create our own reality"? Apparently, they're still living in it. And why does somewhere between 60% and 93% of the Senate oppose taking American troops out of Iraq, when (according to a NBC News-Wall St. Journal poll from June 9-12) 61% of the public disapproves of the way George W. Bush is handling Iraq, and 54% of the public would be more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate who "favors pulling all American troops out of Iraq within the next twelve months"? How can George W. Bush say that Iraq is now "free and democratic," when even his own ambassador to Iraq admits that Iraqi staff in the green zone "live in fear other Iraqis will find out who they work for, and are affected by sectarian tensions"? Is everyone in Washington creating their own reality lately? Did they alter the November 2004 election to fit their own reality as well? How do I sleep at night after reading about all this? Not very well, thank you.
Episode #417: Our Court, Not Your Court
First Broadcast: 7/3/06
On the one hand, the Supreme Court delivered a stunning breath of sanity to the whole "enemy combatant" debate by declaring 5-3 that the Bush administration had no constitutional right to set up its own tribunals for the prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba, independent of both military court martials and civilian courts, and that the White House was violating the Geneva Conventions by not holding hearings to determine if these prisoners are "Prisoners of War" or not. On the other hand, the Supreme Court also ruled in another case that American law was superior to international law, and that World Court rulings do not "compel" the United States to comply with international treaties, even if the U.S. is a signatory to them. So, if treaties need to be respected in one case, but can be ignored in another case, then what's the common thread? The answer is: In both cases, the authority of the Judicial branch itself was being challenged--by the White House on one hand, and by foreign courts on the other. Though it seems as if the Supreme Court might be ruling with some regards to common sense, to me it seems as if both rulings have total regard for the Court's own self-interest, which is--not so surprisingly--remarkably similar to the way almost everyone else in Washington seems to be acting lately. Additionally, the telecommunications overhaul bill sponsored by Senator Ted Stevens (R, Alaska) does not, at the moment, contain any requirements for "net neutrality" (nor does it contain any protections for Public Access TV), so Senator Ron Wyden (D, Oregon) plans to filibuster the bill until such an amendment is included. Hopefully, he'll succeed. I also briefly mentioned how the Israeli military arrested a third of the Palestinian government's cabinet, but we ran out of time before we could talk about that any further. Maybe we'll discuss it more next time.
Episode #418: Vista Bombs
First Broadcast: 7/17/06
This week, we talk about the latest conflict between Israel and Lebanon, where members of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, and Israel retaliated by blockading Lebanon and bombing the Beirut airport. Hezbollah apparently retaliated by firing 120 rockets at Israel, and Israel has so far continued to bomb the airport and several other locations throughout Lebanon. So far, Lebanon reports 104 people killed and 286 wounded; Israel reports 24 killed and over 100 wounded; and Canada reports 7 killed and 3 wounded in Lebanon, as a result of Israeli bombing. The numbers themselves ought to underline the obvious: when one side kills 430% more people and wounds 286% more people than the other, one might conclude that the side doing the greater killing and wounding is doing so disproportionately to the other. Free New York agrees with that conclusion, and does not think that starting a war with Lebanon is an appropriate response for Israel to take, regardless of the offenses committed against Israel's soldiers. We also add that it was soldiers, not civilians, who were kidnapped; and that the soldiers were kidnapped, not killed (as far as we know), making the killing of Lebanese civilians in response all the more unjustfied (though, to be fair, we find all killing of any civilians to be unjustified, in our opinion). We think that all sides could be persuaded to meet and come to an agreement if the United States encouraged Israel to use violence as a last rather than first resort. But, as long as the U.S. continues to give Israel copious amounts of foreign aid money, regardless of how Israel uses its military, Israel will have no incentive to come to any agreements with Lebanon, the Palestinians, or any other nation. Stopping foreign aid as long as the violence continues might be one strategy that could lead to an agreement that all sides in this conflict could endorse, which--I think--would also have to address Israel's nuclear weapons if there is ever going to be any lasting peace in that region. However, I doubt the current administration will ever try such an approach; this being the same administration that announces that the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay will be recognized under the Geneva Conventions one day, and then argues that Congress should restrict the rights those same prisoners would have under Geneva less than a week later. Oh, woe is us!
Episode #419: The Fisherman's Creed
First Broadcast: 7/24/06
We continue to discuss the ever-expanding war between Israel and Lebanon this week, pointing out how Israeli forces--at the time of our taping--had killed about 300 Lebanese people since this latest escalation in violence started, compared to about 30 Israelis killed by Lebanon. To paraphrase what we said last week, when one side in a war kills 1000% more people than the other side, you have to wonder if one side is literally engaging in overkill. Again, we don't think such violence is justified, regardless of how it started or who started it, and Israel's collective punishment of Lebanese civilians for the actions of Hezbollah (which can easily be viewed as retaliation for the actions of Israeli troops against Palestinians earlier in the year) only further destabilize the efforts on all sides to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East. The Bush administration's opposition to an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon (to allow Israel to "defang Hezbollah," according to CNN), which would almost certainly result in more civilian deaths--most of them Lebanese--also shows just how hypocritical George W. Bush's veto of a bill expanding federal embryonic stem cell research really is, since Bush was ostensibly objecting to "the taking of innocent human life". Not only that, but this eruption of violence along with the increased killing in the "undeclared" civil war in Iraq illustrate just how much of a failure the American occupation of Iraq has become, since it has led to anarchy, and not democracy, taking hold in Iraq; it has not solved the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; it has not increased the standing of the United States among either its enemies or its allies; it has degraded people's civil and human rights here and abroad; it has not prevented either Iran or North Korea from making developments with their nuclear weapons programs; it has not eliminated Israel's nuclear weapons program; and it has generally made the world a less safe place than it was five years ago. Will the situation get so bad that Congress eventually listens to the majority of Americans and Iraqis and pulls all the troops out of Iraq as soon as possible? Will the other violence escalate even further? I'd like to know the answers to all of the above.
Episode #420: Two Generals Agree
First Broadcast: 8/7/06 "Free New York" title cut off.
Top officials in the United States and Britain agree: if the violence in Iraq does not abate, that country is headed for a civil war. What does the U.S. do in the wake of this information? It raises the maximum age of Army recruits to 42, that's what. But what good does it do to expand the amount and range of American soldiers in Iraq, when you have American soldiers there that are killing people indiscriminately, and think that "every man, woman and child in Iraq deserves to die"? Isn't it time that we all started supporting politicians who want to get American troops out of Iraq sooner rather than later?
Episode #421: Travel Light
First Broadcast: 8/14/06
We start by showering applause on the B-52's for putting on such a stellar outdoor performance in Brooklyn this week, in spite of all the rain that drenched the audience (including your host and camerawoman Kim) waiting for them to take the stage. We hope to see them again in the future. After that, we talk about the brand spankin' new travel restrictions on air passengers within the U.S. and Britain, and how this ratcheting up of the terror alert comes not too long after anti-war candidate Ned Lamont's victory over incumbent Joe "Our Troops Must Stay" Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. Coincidence? Who the hell knows, but so many examples of past terror alerts coinciding with unwelcome news for George W. Bush & Co. have me more than a bit jaded to all the other alerts that may come in the future.
Episode #422: Incestuous Serpents
First Broadcast: 8/28/06 "Free New York" title cut off. Program cut off early at 2:27:46 AM.
First, we talk about those motherfucking snakes on that motherfucking plane, urging all of you cult movie fans to see this flick before it gets yanked because of its perceived poor box office. Then, we grind gears and salute the ACLU for winning its lawsuit against the National Security Agency in Federal court, in which the ruling judge ordered the NSA to immediately stop its warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, deciding that such activity was not only illegal but also thoroughly unconstitutional. You see? There really is good news on this show once in a while!
Episode #423: Connect The Dots
First Broadcast: 9/4/06
The Scream is back, safe and sound. Donald Rumsfeld compares critics of George W. Bush to friends of Nazis, and Keith Olbermann has the balls to point out who the real fascists are in Washington right now (read it or watch it; it's a good speech either way). The Pentagon complains that not enough people are listening to its spin of the war in Iraq, and Bush once again simultaneously implies that Iraq had something to do with the September 11th attacks while insisting that he's never made such a comparison in any of his speeches. Do you suppose anything will change this November? P.S.: Here's the 7-Up commercial with Pac-Man I was talking about, if you're curious.