Episode #327: Binary Worldview
First Broadcast: 9/29/03
Our title this week refers to the apparent black-and-white view the Bush administration has of the world in general, a view which is crystallized in such phrases as "Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists," or, this past week at the U.N., "Between these alternatives there is no neutral ground." How can George W. Bush say things like this with a straight face:
Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides: between those who seek order and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change and those who adopt the methods of gangsters; between those who honor the rights of man and those who deliberately take the lives of men and women and children without mercy or shame.
How can Bush say those things, when the U.S. has spread chaos in Iraq by displacing its government; when the U.S. acted like a gangster by ignoring international law when it invaded Iraq; and when the U.S. has taken the lives of between 3000 and 9000 civilians without mercy or shame during the bombing, invasion, and occupation itself? How appalling--saying exactly the opposite of what is actually happening.
In the same vein: On August 21, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said "the force levels are where they should be," in Iraq (Rumsfeld says no need for more troops in Iraq, Reuters 8/21/03). But barely a month later, on September 25, General John Abizaid, the commander of all forces in Iraq, said "In order to rotate the troops that are there, we will call up additional Guard and Reserves." (U.S. May Send More Reserve Troops to Iraq, AP 9/25/03) So, which is it?
Finally, Senator Edward Kennedy told the Associated Press what he thought of the situation in Iraq:
There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud.
George W. Bush responded to the comments by telling Fox News, "I don't think we're serving our nation well by allowing the discourse to become so uncivil that people ... use words that they shouldn't be using." I see. So, the actual invasion of Iraq, the breaking of several international laws, and the causing of 300 American deaths and up to 9000 Iraqi deaths is completely civil, but saying that those actions were unjustified is uncivil? I can't stand it! Fire Rumsfeld and Impeach Bush already!
Episode #328: Yes On Special Counsel
First Broadcast: 10/6/03
We here at Free New York support the proposal to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate who was responsible for leaking the name of an undercover CIA agent to the media, which was seemingly done by members of the White House in retaliation for that agent's husband--former Ambassador Joseph Wilson--publicly repudiating the Bush administration's assertion that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," since he was also the man who personally found the Bush administration's claim to be bogus after investigating it in Africa at the request of Vice President Cheney. (Diagram that sentence if you dare.) So far, the criminal investigation of the leak is being handled by regular agents at the Justice Department, which, of course, is managed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was appointed to the position by Bush, and who also employed Karl Rove on his last Senate campaign, Rove being the person Wilson most suspected to be the source of the leak. Scott McClellan, the newest White House spokesman, seems to deny the idea that anything happened at all, despite all the news stories being written about it. Bush says "I welcome the investigation," which sounds a lot like Nixon who said "I welcome this kind of examination," right before he said "I'm not a crook," when Watergate was big news. And what do Nixon's people think? Hell, John Dean, Nixon's White House counsel, says that Bush's team has now out-Nixoned Nixon in the dirty tricks department. Now that says something!
Episode #329: Do The Terrorists Win If I Get To Look At This Web Site?
First Broadcast: 10/20/03 Program began at about 2:00:30 AM, and was cut off in progress a few seconds before 2:28 AM, eliminating our contact information and end title.
The web site in question is the one for the U.S. Space Command, which was inaccessible during the taping of this episode. Why couldn't we see it? Did someone in the military decide that it wasn't a good thing for everyone to know about U.S. desires to dominate space militarily--especially when some news outlets seem only too eager to report on possible Chinese desires to have a military presence in space, and not report at all on those similar U.S. desires, even when the information about them has been available for over two years now? (Or could it just be that Space Command has now merged with Strategic Command, and has been renamed--get this--"Space Control"?) Who knows? Also: California has now elected for governor an actor who doesn't have a real good record of running large organizations, if his history as an owner of Planet Hollywood and as a movie producer is any guide. And, once again, George W. Bush is equating people in Iraq with the hijackers of 9/11/2001, by saying things like "We're striking our enemies before they can strike us again," in a speech about Iraq. Impeach him! Investigate him! And don't re-elect him!
Episode #330: I Don't Get It!
First Broadcast: 10/27/03
Why is a Christian fundamentalist like Lieutenant General William G. Boykin in charge of looking for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein--who, if they're still alive, are probably living in areas inhabited mostly by Muslim fundamentalists? Why is it all right for a Deputy Undersecretary for Intelligence to say things like "[our] spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus," but "the madrassas and the radical clerics" in the Middle East are considered breeding grounds for "the next generation of terrorists" by Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense? How can George W. Bush say "We will finish what we have begun and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror," on October 24, when Donald Rumsfeld said "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror," over a week earlier on October 16? Why hasn't Boykin been fired yet? Why hasn't Rumsfeld been fired yet? How long until that next election?
Episode #331: Bad, Bad Policy
First Broadcast: 11/10/03
That's what Vietnam was. Not a war of "sacrifice for liberty," as George W. Bush puts it, but bad policy. But, what else would you expect someone like Bush to say? Someone who says such things as:
This very week in 1989, there were protests in East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year, every communist dictatorship in Central America had collapsed.
By the middle of the 1970's, Bush said, "Greece held free elections." But what about the military dictatorship which was aided to power by a CIA-backed coup in 1967--a dictatorship that stayed in power for 7 years? And, by the way, who in the State Department handed out a memo to the press in Nicaragua which read. in part:
Nicaraguans in general have little interest in international affairs ... The world revolves around Managua ... They follow US issues only as they directly relate to Nicaragua and have virtually no interest in the Middle East, China, the EU, Africa or global issues like the environment, disarmament or terrorism ... There is not a single issue where they see the US in a positive light ... [Those who support the United States] prefer to dress in Ralph Lauren shirts, drive large Ford SUVs, watch American movies, when going out for a meal, brag that they go to TGI Friday's ... In summary, Nicaragua crawls along as the second poorest country in the hemisphere after Haiti, battered by storms of nature and of their own making, with little hope of things changing in the future ... Most Nicaraguans are subsumed by the struggle to find the next plate of rice and beans and, therefore, have little time to think about the United States or world affairs in general ... The decision-makers see the US as a selfish neighbor, who lives relatively nearby, but who drives a bigger car, has a better house, sends his kids to better schools, and who is so busy making money that he doesn't have time to stop and chat, much less care about the troubles of a less fortunate neighbor.
Whoever got that information out, I'd like to give them a medal. And, thanks to Jeff Dukes, we now know that it took 98 tons of dead plants and animals congealing over millions of years to produce every gallon of gasoline that's being used today. Not only that, but:
Dukes also calculated that the amount of fossil fuel burned in a single year--1997 was used in the study--totals 97 million billion pounds of carbon, which is equivalent to more than 400 times "all the plant matter that grows in the world in a year," including vast amounts of microscopic plant life in the oceans.
Something to think about the next time you jump into a SUV, I'm sure.
Episode #332: Sounds An Awful Lot Like Vietnam, Doesn't It?
First Broadcast: 11/17/03 Transmission began at about six seconds past 2:00 AM, cutting off some of our opening animation.
Of course I'm talking about Iraq. And even though Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez insists that "[Iraq] is not Vietnam ... And there is no way you can make the comparison," Reuters was able to compare the American body count in Iraq so far with the American body count in Vietnam during the early 1960's. And you know what? More Americans are being killed in Iraq now than during a similar period in the early part of the Vietnam War. Not only that, but the CIA says there may be as many as 50,000 people in Iraq helping to resist the U.S. occupation, a "bleak assessment that the resistance is broad, strong and getting stronger." Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press and the Congress (subsequently making it onto Richard Nixon's "enemies list") once said about the Vietnam War, in the documentary Hearts and Minds:
The question used to be, might it be possible that we were on the wrong side in the Vietnamese war? But we weren’t on the wrong side, we are the wrong side.
I think the application of that quote today towards the current situation in Iraq was never more appropriate.
Episode #333: Swinging Such A Big Stick
First Broadcast: 12/1/03
Repeated: 2/23/04 Opening animation and program title cut off; 6/6/05
This week, we went out into the wilds of the East Village, and asked people our burning question: "What do you think of U.S. foreign policy?" Two people laughed outright, two people said "It stinks," and three people ran away from the question altogether. The rest of them went in depth with their opinions, which we always appreciate. And one person had a very strong resemblance to the star of all four Alien movies (that is, the star besides the alien). Did we actually stop a known actress for our program? Were we just clueless not to notice? Or were we clueless to think that we stopped a star in the first place? Or all of the above? Tune in and judge for yourself.
Episode #334: You Can Stand Up Straight
First Broadcast: 12/15/03
So, Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination for President on December 9. Even though news outlets like The New York Times insist that this came in "under the radar," this came as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. After all, Gore did speak twice to audiences sponsored by MoveOn.org this past year--not exactly a "centrist" organization. [NOTE: Yes, now I know that MoveOn.org was started as a response to calls to impeach President Clinton. I forgot that they existed prior to 2001!] So, by endorsing Dean rather than former running mate Joe Lieberman, does this mean Al Gore has undergone some sort of conversion from the personality he had during the 2000 campaign? Have both him and Dean been similarly affected by what's happened in this country since September 11, 2001, since Dean has not always been regarded as a friend of the left? I'd say the answers to both questions are a definite maybe. But, since the presidential election is still 11 months away (assuming Bush doesn't call it off first), there's still plenty of time to see exactly where the candidates stand. In any event, the recent remarks of Dean and Gore are certainly preferable to a recent posting on the Defense Department web site (which was yanked not long after it was posted) which hinted that plans are being made to bring back the draft. (Charles Rangel and Fritz Hollings want to bring back the draft too, by the way.) Why a return to the draft? Well, if the United States currently has 369,000 troops in 120 countries (over 62% of the countries in the world, if there are 191 countries in the United Nations), with 100,000 soldiers being rotated out of Iraq, and 46% of troops in Iraq saying they don't want to reenlist, where is the U.S. going to get more people to have their ass shot off in Iraq (or North Korea, or Syria, etc.)? This ought to be an issue in 2004 as well. Will anyone address it?