Note: The first episode shown during the Fourth Quarter 2019 was a rerun of
#838 on September 23, 2019.
Episode #840: Misuse of the Office
First Broadcast: 9/30/19
We taped this episode only a few hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an official impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the culmination after a series of news reports that Trump had made a "promise" to a foreign government that alarmed a federal official so much that they felt the need to alert intelligence authorities about it. We could only speculate on what was going to be revealed in the coming days! Since then, we learned of the existence of a rough summary of a phone call between Trump and the President of Ukraine, where Trump asked the President to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President and current candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination for 2020, Joe Biden; specifically by saying, "I would like you to do us a favor, though..." Then, we saw the complaint made by the person who learned about the phone call, specifically saying:
In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foeign country to investigate one of the President's main domestic political rivals. The President's personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.
We also learned that Trump's staff thought this phone call was so damaging, that they separated its records from all the other records of Trump's communications with foreign leaders, and placed it on a secret computer server that's normally reserved for genuinely sensitive intelligence (as opposed to politically damaging material), and that conversations with officials from Russia and Saudi Arabia were also moved to the same server! Are there actual recordings of all these calls? Will their audio or word-for-word transcripts reveal even more criminal acts by President Trump? How long can Trump deny that he violated his oath of office? How long will Republicans look the other way? Will Trump finally be impeached? I think I can answer that last question, but only time will tell, as our audio adventure continues!
Episode #841: Master Projectionist
First Broadcast: 10/7/19
So much has happened since this Trump-Ukraine scandal became public that you need a list to keep track of it all. Trump keeps changing the reasons why he asked the President of Ukraine to "look into" Joe Biden's son, the inciting incident of the impeachment inquiry in the House, and during this whole process he has now roped in his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry into this mess. Is this all the result of Trump believing that bullshit conspiracy theories are reality? Are more Americans warming up to impeachment? Did we even mention the alligator-filled moat? The audio bizarreness continues!
Episode #842: Who's Dying This Week
First Broadcast: 10/14/19
A week ago, after President Trump had a single phone call with President Erdogan of Turkey, the White House issued a statement that claimed the Islamic State was "defeated," and that U.S. troops were being removed from "the immediate area" of Kurdish territory in Northern Syria, allowing Turkey to be "moving forward with its long-planned operation" into that same area. This, despite the fact that these were the same Kurds who fought alongside U.S. troops to defeat the Islamic State in the first place (losing 11,000 Kurdish soldiers in the process), while simultaneously fighting off the dictatorship of the Assad government that currently rules most of Syria, while also establishing one of the most equitable governments in the Middle East for women. Needless to say, as soon as the American troops left the Kurdish area, Turkey began bombing the towns there, killing civilians, executing Kurdish leaders, enabling Islamic State captives to escape Kurdish prisons, and firing shells uncomfortably close to the American troops' current positions. In other words, Trump's decision to remove American troops and leave the Kurds to fight off Turkey by themselves served as a green light for Turkey to invade Syria, notwithstanding Trump's later contradictory condemnation of the very invasion that he knew would happen in the first place. Will the Kurds ever trust America again, given that this is far from the first time the U.S. has screwed them? For that matter, how can any ally trust the United States from now on, if the U.S. is willing to discard any alliance whenever it's convenient? Can one really be against "endless wars" if one's actions start wars rather than stop them? Was this all because of Trump's self-confessed "conflict of interest" with regard to Turkey? Can we hurry up and impeach him already? The audio journey goes on!
Episode #843: Avoid the Sound Bite
First Broadcast: 10/21/19
We here at FNY watched the CNN/New York Times debate among the Democratic candidates for President on October 15, and myself and Camerawoman Kim noticed how very careful Elizabeth Warren was in avoiding the words "raise" and "taxes" in the same sentence when she replied to a question about whether or not implementing Medicare-For-All would raise taxes on the middle class. "Costs will go up for the wealthy, for corporations," said Warren, "but for middle-class families, it will go down." Pete Buttigieg got on her case about it, and Amy Klobuchar said Warren was being less honest than Bernie Sanders about where the funding would come from. My guess is that Warren didn't want to repeat the failure of Walter Mondale that's been hanging over Democrats' heads since 1984, when he uttered these famous lines in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention that year:
"Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did."
Mondale lost that election to Ronald Reagan by a margin of 525 electoral votes to 13--the largest electoral college victory in U.S. history to date--and his blunt endorsement of tax increases was seen in retrospect as perhaps a key factor that doomed his campaign the most, even if he was ultimately correct about its necessity. Ever since then, the subject of tax increases has been a bit of a sore spot for Democrats. However, Bernie Sanders has explicitly advocated for tax increases across the board to pay for Medicare-For-All, and critics still seem to be ignoring studies that show how, as expensive as it may be, Medicare-For-All would still be cheaper than the costs of private health insurance as they are now. Will this be the defining issue in 2020? Will the rest of the Democratic Party eventually rally around the policy that's supported by 70% of the country? Only time will tell in the realm of audio!
Episode #844: Full of Less
First Broadcast: 11/4/19
New York City is banning foie gras (but only the force-fed kind)! Dean & DeLuca has closed in SoHo! Wegmans has opened in Brooklyn! Isn't it nice to talk about food instead of all the other horrible things that are happening right now? Who knows what else lurks in the audio abode!
Episode #845: Some Good Results
First Broadcast: 11/11/19
Early voting may not have made a big splash in New York this year, but Ranked Choice Voting might make a big difference when it goes into effect in 2021. Try not to get killed when you eat your Popeyes chicken sandwich and dig in to another audio episode!
Episode #846: He Did the Shit
First Broadcast: 11/18/19
What's worse than hearing witnesses describe how Donald Trump abused the Presidency for personal gain? Hearing Republicans act like it's perfectly normal for a President to extort another country into interfering with an upcoming election. The same President, mind you, who thinks it's OK to invite a dictator to the White House, a dictator who wants to commit genocide in his own country, and whose security team beat up numerous Americans on his last visit to the United States. Is the GOP planning even more nonsense for 2020, such as dragging out its expected impeachment trial, or maybe cutting it short? I can't wait to see how it all ends--if it ever ends... aurally speaking...