Episode #768: Vague To The Point
First Broadcast: 6/19/17
On June 14, 2017, a man named James T. Hodgkinson shot and wounded four people at a baseball field in Virginia, one of whom was Republican Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Hodgkinson died from wounds he received when security guards returned his fire at the scene. While his exact motivation may never be known, Hodgkinson was reported to have asked Republican Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida, who was also on the field, whether the people playing that day were Democrats or Republicans; he had a history of making anti-Republican remarks on social media; and he was a supporter of Bernie Sanders' campaign for President in 2016. Predictably, right-wing media (and The New York Times, of all places) seized on these facts to paint Hodgkinson's attack as the most severe symptom of what they regard as an alleged wave of leftist violence--which is ridiculous when you consider that Sanders has supported bans of automatic weapons and of high-capacity magazines; Sanders himself is a proponent of non-violent protest; and mass shootings in this country have been perpetrated on and by people of many different political persuasions. Some even want to use this shooting as an excuse to tell those opposed to Donald Trump's policies to stop their criticism of him--but I don't think I need to tell you that one idiot's violence shouldn't stop legitimate non-violent opposition to an incompetent and hurtful President, especially one who deserves to be impeached as much as Trump. Here's hoping things to get too much worse before that happens.
Episode #769: About Bob
First Broadcast: 7/3/17 (Episode mistakenly shown in widescreen aspect ratio by MNN.)
Repeated: 8/7/17; 12/18/17; 6/25/18
The third season of "Twin Peaks," a.k.a. "Twin Peaks: The Return" is perhaps the most fascinating program on television right now, and Episode 8 is the most jaw-dropping episode so far, the "pure heroin version of David Lynch," as it were. Was it "the most artistically ambitious hour of narrative fiction in the history of television"? Is it "one of the greatest hours of television I’ve ever seen"? Is there "nothing to point to in the history of television that helps describe exactly what this episode attempts"? The answer to all of the above is probably "YES," and then some. To paraphrase what François Truffaut said about 71-year-old Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy ("Frenzy is a young man's picture"), Episode 8 of this season of "Twin Peaks," directed by 71-year-old David Lynch, does not feel like the work of senior citizen coasting on one's reputation, but instead surges with imagery and sound in a unique way that literally "forces your brain to work differently." I feel privileged to be able to watch these episodes in real time for the first time, experiencing them as an entirely new event in both television and cinematic history. There's no reason why you should deprive yourself of the same pleasure.
Episode #770: Floppy-Haired Buffoon
First Broadcast: 7/17/17
To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, if you receive an email proposing a meeting between you and an emissary bearing material from the Russian government intended to aid your father's election to the Presidency of the United States, and your response is "I love it," you might be a criminal. This story is still developing faster than a plummeting approval rating, so I'll pose this question: Is the downfall of Donald Trump and/or Junior worse than the downfall of Fredo from the Godfather movies? I'm sure we won't be done with this any time soon.
Episode #771: Losing Track
First Broadcast: 7/24/17
There have been so many developments in the unfolding connections between Donald Trump and Russia that it's pretty easy to get confused about who did what and when. Our confusing President isn't helping things when he talks either. However, one thing seems to be constant: "It was always about the money." Stay focused, and let's hope the Grifter-in-Chief and his friends don't fuck up the country before they're thrown out of power.
Episode #772: Retrograde
First Broadcast: 7/31/17
So many crazy things happened after we taped our episode this week, that we don't have the final outcome of the latest healthcare vote in the Senate, we don't mention the bombshell interview Anthony Scaramucci had with The New Yorker, and we don't have coverage of (former) Chief of Staff Reince Preibus's exit (firing? resignation?) from Trump's White House. What did we talk about? For starters: Trump dissing his own Attorney General, which still doesn't excuse all the horrible things Jeff Sessions has done in his short time in that post; How everything Trump & company are doing in the White House is all about getting money for themselves; Trump's attempted ban on all transgender people from serving in the military; the closing of yet another decent restaurant, The Great Jones Cafe; and probably a bunch of other things that I am too addled to remember right now. (Is it too early to think of 2020 candidates yet?)
Episode #773: Threats and Things
First Broadcast: 8/14/17
The news is barreling ahead full speed these days, so we didn't talk much about Anthony Scaramucci being fired from the White House after only 10 days on the job; or the NAACP issuing a travel advisory for the state of Missouri; or the significance of the FBI searching the residence of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Instead, we were more preoccupied with Trump vaguely threatening a nuclear war with North Korea, or at least that's how it sounded when he warned they would be met with "fire and fury" if they made "any more threats to the United States"--a line which caught his entire staff off guard, since he improvised it on the spot. I guess I should take the fact that we're all still here reading this as a good sign, even though this news has already been eclipsed by yet another horrific event, but that will just have to wait for next week... assuming there is a next week...
Episode #774: Batshit Crazy Crisis
First Broadcast: 8/21/17
Repeated: 9/4/17; 3/25/19
After hundreds of various white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, marching through the city and meeting resistance from counter-protestors of all stripes, one racist (or, at least, one man who marched alongside racists) rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer, a young woman whose last online post included the message, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Donald Trump's response to all that? (The one after his initial weak response, I mean.)
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides — on many sides.”
Wait, what? "On many sides"? So, the people who came out to protest Nazis, and didn't murder anyone, are just as bad as the Nazis who did murder someone? As you might guess, this mildest of rebukes of homicidal racists didn't go down well with most thinking people, so two days later, Trump got a bit more specific:
"Racism is evil -- and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
This stilted and overdue denunciation came across as "too little, too late," and only further convinced many people that Trump's sympathies were more with the racists than the people who protested them. So, the only thing left for Trump to do was to tell the world how he really felt, at an "off-the-rails" press conference where he reverted to his view that "there's blame on both sides," said there were "very fine people, on both sides," and equated George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with Robert E. Lee, among many other things. A sample:
"There were people in that rally -- and I looked the night before -- if you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day it looked like they had some rough, bad people -- neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest -- because I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country -- a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country."
So, in Trump's view, white supremacists carrying torches and shouting "Jews will not replace us!" are "protesting very quietly," "innocently" and "very legally," while people who gathered to denounce white supremacy "didn't have a permit," (a false statement) implying some sort of invalidity on their part. "There are two sides"; no difference between Nazism and those opposed to Nazism, so no point in trying to distinguish between them. Is it any coincidence that a member of Trump's White House had said only days before that "'white supremacists' are not 'the problem,'" while that member's wife also "revoked a grant to Life After Hate, a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis"? Should we be worried that the manufacturer of Tiki torches made a stronger statement against white supremacy than the President of the United States? Should we be concerned that Trump's statements actually encouraged white supremacists that he was on their side? 'Scuse me while I discuss these points with the nearest Moscow Mule...
Episode #775: The Whole Episode's a Spoiler
First Broadcast: 9/11/17
Repeated: 10/2/17; 7/9/18
“Once we cross, it could all be different.” "What year is it?" "Hopefully they don’t scream in my ear." “The glow is dying.” "Twin Peaks was the only TV show that made sense to me this summer." "He’s a little like Groucho Marx." "Well, what did you expect from David Lynch? A happy ending?"
In other words: Twin Peaks.