Episode #376: Not So Fast
First Broadcast: 3/28/05 Transmission began at 2:00:14 AM, with a few seconds of black before the episode began. Transmission ended promptly at 2:28:00 AM, cutting off the last 15 seconds of our program, more or less.
Are we referring to the people who have been standing outside Terri Schiavo's hospice in Miami, who are bent on preventing her from dying a natural death, despite Ms. Schiavo's own wishes? (And for the Congressmembers who support those people, where was their overwhelming concern for human life when civilians were--and still are--getting killed by the U.S. in Iraq? For that matter, where was George W. Bush's concern for life when he allowed over 150 people to be executed during his governorship of Texas?) Or are we referring to George W. Bush and his cohorts who are trying to privatize Social Security by taking the money people pay into its trust fund and diverting it into the stock market? And did anybody notice that if you remove the $90,000 income cap on the Social Security tax for the (conservatively estimated) 205,000 millionaires in this country, and didn't even raise the tax above its current 12.4%, you would add an extra $23 billion (minimum) to the trust fund every year, which would amount to an additional $850 billion over the next 40 years? (If CNN's estimate of 8.2 million millionaires in the U.S. is accurate, it could mean a minimum additional $34 trillion for the trust fund between now and 2042!) Is there any reason why the cap shouldn't be lifted, since it would affect less than 3% of the population at the high estimate, and less than 1% of the population at the low estimate? Witness:
|Stats on number of millionaires in the United States|
|Number of millionaire households in U.S.||8,200,000||205,000|
|Current maximum S.S. payment/year||$ 11,160.00||$ 11,160.00|
|S.S. Revenue at current rate||$ 91,512,000,000.00||$ 2,287,800,000.00|
|12.4% of $1 million||$ 124,000.00||$ 124,000.00|
|S.S. Revenue w/o tax cap (minimum)||$ 1,016,800,000,000.00||$ 25,420,000,000.00|
|Difference||$ 925,288,000,000.00||$ 23,132,200,000.00|
|Percentage increase in revenue||1111%||1111%|
|Amount of millionaire revenue 2006-2042 current rate||$ 3,385,944,000,000.00||$ 84,648,600,000.00|
|Amount of millionaire revenue 2006-2042 w/o cap (min)||$ 37,621,600,000,000.00||$ 940,540,000,000.00|
|U.S. population as of 3/24/2005 at 10:58:02 PM EST||295,729,668||295,729,668|
|Percentage of population affected by cap removal||2.77%||0.07%|
|Percentage of population not affected by cap removal||97.23%||99.93%|
Isn't it funny how this is the one option that hasn't come up in the public debate yet? Could that be because of the 40 millionaires in the Senate, and the 123 millionaires in the House? Should anyone be surpised at this point?
Episode #377: Not A Slow News Day
First Broadcast: 4/4/05 Transmission began at 2:00:25 AM; black was on screen from that point until 2:00:59 AM; then transmission switched to program grid bumper until 2:02:16 AM; then switched to multicolored digital snow with static-like audio for a few seconds; then back to the program grid for a few more seconds; then finally to our episode, which began at 2:02:38 AM. Transmission ended at 2:29:31 AM, at least 1 minute from the end of our program.
The day we taped--March 31, 2005--had more news than the networks could shake a stick at (if that's your idea of a good time). All on the same day: Terri Schiavo died, the MTA voted to accept the New York Jets' offer to build a stadium on Manhattan's west side, Paul Wolfowitz was installed as the head of the World Bank, Pope John Paul II began his two-day decline towards death, and the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction released a report that said "the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." Gosh, didn't Free New York point out how suspect this "intelligence" was back on October 14, 2002, when we questioned how Bush & co. could insist that Iraq had nuclear weapons even though all the public information at the time was evidence to the contrary? Didn't we point this out again on February 10, 2003, when we criticized Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. about Iraq's non-existant weapons of mass destruction--a presentation which even Powell now admits was "wrong"? Didn't I point this out again on March 19, 2003, when I kept on asking "Where is the evidence?" I hate to say "I told you so," but, damn it, I seem to have been one of the few people who had good intelligence all this time--and I don't work for the government! Was it "bad" intelligence that got this nation into a war with Iraq, or was it a conscious willingness to ignore any evidence that contradicted official White House doctrine? Three guesses what I think. P.S.: Find out more information about that Counter Convention trailer here.
Episode #378: The Other End Of The Scale
First Broadcast: 4/18/05 Transmission began at 2:00:40 AM, cutting off approximately the first 5 seconds of our program.
We begin by talking about how two news stories about drug smuggling by members of the U.S. military (one involving cocaine from Colombia and another involving ecstasy from Germany) seem to have been lowballed by the "mainstream" media here in New York City, even though one of these cases is going to be tried in a federal court in Manhattan. After ranting about that, we turn to the latest activities by the extremist Republicans in Congress, namely House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (who now wants to have a "congressional review" of the Terri Schiavo case--no doubt to further his own re-election campaign in 2006, since every court that ruled on the issue was in agreement with the original ruling, so what's the use of a review?) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (who, in the words of The New York Times, "agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as 'against people of faith' for blocking President Bush's [judicial] nominees," even though over 95%--219 of 229--of Bush's judicial nominations were confirmed by the Senate during George W. Bush's first term). In all of the above instances, it appears to me to be multiple symptoms of the same brand of intolerance: intolerance of drug users, which leads to dehumanization of drug users and government endorsement of a military solution (i.e., a "war on drugs") instead of treatment that recognizes the difference between drug use and drug abuse; and intolerance of philosphical and religious differences among the American people, which leads to the dehumanization of anyone who disagrees with those in power (i.e., saying that Democrats are "against people of faith" when the White House gets less than 100% compliance with its wishes). Extreme fundamentalism of all things--whether it be religious, financial, political, or pharmaceutical--is what I believe to be one of the bigger problems in the world today. Whether anyone will step up to the plate to reign in these extremists in 2008 (or 2006, for that matter) is anyone's guess.
Episode #379: Speaking Of Being Struck By Lightning
First Broadcast: 4/25/05 Episode began at 2:00:16 AM. Transmission ended at 2:27:57 AM, cutting off about the last 20 seconds of our program.
Repeated: 10/10/05 Another program shown in our place for a few seconds, starting at 2:00 AM; then MNN's "Coming Up..." bumper shown for about 1 minute; then our program finally began at 2:01:08 AM. Transmission ended at 2:28:49 AM, cutting off about 20 seconds from the end of the episode.
Which is what might happen to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay if he keeps espousing views that belong in the 17th Century. Specifically, here's something DeLay said on April 19, 2005 (on Fox News Radio, no less), that might as well have been uttered in 1605, considering how narrow-minded it is:
"Absolutely. We've got [Supreme Court] Justice [Anthony] Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That's just outrageous. ... And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."
Oh, far be it from anyone to use the Internet for research in 2005! That alone should speak volumes about how DeLay and his ilk of Republicans want the United States to retreat to a pre-technological (if not pre-industrial) era in history. But DeLay's ignorance about the constitutionality of international law is even more insulting to those of us paying attention. I quote now from Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Did you catch that part? The part that says "Treaties" are "the supreme Law of the Land" just as much as "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States"? This isn't even an amendment--this was in the Constitution when it was first written in 1787, and it is still the law today! So, if treaties have always been meant to be equal to the laws of the Constitution, then aren't various international agreements to which the United States is a party (such as the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) as equally worthy of research as U.S. law is by a Supreme Court justice? DeLay should resign already so that I don't have to keep pointing out the obvious. P.S.: We also pointed out how the new pope Benedict XVI, back in 1996 when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratizinger, said that rock 'n' roll music was an "instrument of the Devil," specifically mentioning "Pink Floyd, Queen, Led Zeppelin, the
Beatles, the Eagles and, of course, the Rolling Stones." The American Athiests newsletter that reported this also mentioned that "church leaders" insist that the name of the band AC/DC stood for "Antichrist, Death to Christ," even though the AC/DC FAQ says that Margaret Young (younger sister of guitarists Malcolm and Angus Young) suggested the name after seeing the initials "on the back of a vacuum cleaner." I guess it's better if Papa Ratzi doesn't see my CD collection. P.P.S.: Go ahead and take a gander at the new food pyramid at mypyramid.gov and tell me if it isn't as ridiculous as it looks.
Episode #380: Unintelligible at any Speed
First Broadcast: 5/9/05 Transmission began around 2:00:10 AM, cutting off our opening animation and "Free New York" title. Transmission ended at 2:27:56 AM.
This was the apparent conclusion in 1965 of the FBI's investigation into the lyrics of The Kingsmen's cover of "Louie Louie". Additionally, the FBI determined that the lyrics were so indecipherable that "it was not possible to determine whether this recording is obscene." On top of that, the FCC knew as early as 1964 that the original lyrics to "Louie Louie" are so innocuous that none of them could be considered remotely controversial in any context. So, if this was already settled 40 years ago, why did Superintendent Paula Dawning of Benton Harbor, Michigan order a middle school marching band to not play "Louie Louie" in May, 2005, because of "the song's allegedly raunchy lyrics"? Is she too lazy to do a search on Google? Does she believe every urban legend she hears? Did it dawn on anyone that marching bands play instrumentals, and not lyrics?
The second topic dealt with the inconsistencies in the Abu Grahib investigations so far. Why is it that Brigadier General Janis Karpinski (the American General in charge of Abu Grahib prison after the U.S. invasion of Iraq) was demoted to Colonel even though "an investigation by the Army inspector general's office 'determined that no action or lack of action on her part contributed specifically to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib'"; while, simultaneously, Vice Admiral Albert T. Church III, who was investigating U.S. detention policy, had the nerve to say that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was above accountability because
"I don't think you can hold anybody accountable for a situation that maybe if you had done something different, maybe something would have occurred differently." (3/10/05)That's funny, I always thought the very definition of accountability was the ability to have done something different in order for something to have occurred differently. So, does it make any sense that the person determined to be unresponsible gets punished, and the person who has the most accountability is no longer accountable? Maybe it's just me.
P.S.: Counter Convention: A Free New York Special was politely screened at The New York International Independent Film and Video Festival on May 5, and we thank everyone who showed up. CBGB's, on the other hand, is in danger of becoming extinct, and needs all the help it can get.
Episode #381: You Guys Are Expendable
First Broadcast: 5/16/05 Transmission began at 2:00:05 AM with our opening animation cut off. Transmission ended at 2:27:54 AM, cutting off the last several seconds of our program.
First off, another "thank you" to those of you who showed up for the Counter Convention screening on May 5--especially everyone I didn't recognize. Bravo for you! Someone at the Lonely Pamphleteer meant to show up, but didn't make it, according to their web site. Moving on, we found out that the London Times published the minutes of a meeting between George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair that was held on July 23, 2002, which confirmed that Bush had already decided by that point that he was going to wage war with Iraq ("It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided")--despite the fact that Bush had told the world such things as "we wanted to resolve the issue peacefully," and "every measure has been taken to avoid war." How much more evidence does everyone need before they're convinced that BUSH LIED to get the U.S. into Iraq? By the way, how can anyone take this administration seriously when it says it's fighting "terror," but doesn't notify the Mayor of Washington D.C. to evacuate his office, even though other federal buildings nearby were told to evacuate when a small plane flew too close to the White House on May 11? (Could those 9 out of every 10 votes for John Kerry in 2004 have something to do with it?) And why didn't the M.T.A. build a transfer between the 6th Avenue line and the Uptown 6 train at the Bleecker Street station the last time it was renovated? Will more things bug me like these in the coming weeks? Probably.
Episode #382: The Sith and Other Bad Stuff
First Broadcast: 5/30/05 Transmission began at 2:00:01 AM, but cut off our opening animation and "Free New York" title.
The Sith, of course, being from The Revenge of the Sith, which might have been directed by the Sith, now that I think about it. You know a movie can't be that good when, instead of quoting lines that were actually spoken in the film, you find yourself quoting dialogue that you wish had been in the film! "Bring my shuttle," damn it. In other news, Sith spokesman--I mean, White House spokesman--Scott McClellan complained that Newsweek's recently retracted report of U.S. interrogators flushing a Koran down a toilet at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "was wrong, [and] has had serious consequences." Additionally:
People did lose their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged; there is lasting damage to our image because of this report. And we would encourage Newsweek to do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region.The word "hypocrisy" isn't strong enough. "Irony" isn't funny enough. For the White House to blame Newsweek for the deaths of 16 people who were apparently killed by Islamic fundametalists is bad enough. But for the White House to declare outrage at that, and none at its own "wrong" reports about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, which caused a lot more people to "lose their lives" and "damaged" "the image of the United States abroad" to a much greater degree--well, I haven't heard George W. Bush or anyone else in that White House make any retractions lately, have you? Oh, and what about all those other reports about Korans being "mistreated," according to the F.B.I.? I guess they're an unreliable source as well. In closing, we discussed a bill that has been proposed in the Senate (S.J. RES. 15) and the House (H.J. RES. 3) that would finally "offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States," but with two catches:
SEC. 2. DISCLAIMER.Nice, huh? I guess it's the thought that counts.
Nothing in this Joint Resolution--
(1) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or
(2) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.
Episode #383: Who Do You Trust?
First Broadcast: 6/13/05 Transmission began 2:00:15 AM, cutting off all our opening animation and our "Free New York" title.
First off, we discuss W. Mark Felt's admission that he was "Deep Throat," the infamous anonymous source for the news stories about Watergate written by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for the Washington Post back in the 1970's. We then trash an incredulous article by Ann Coulter that bluntly implies that Woodward and Bernstein were the biggest liars of the whole Watergate scandal, and that the worst result of the entire event was the election of Jimmy Carter to the Presidency. Please. Carter was definitely no saint (he did look the other way as far as Indonesia's genocide in East Timor was concerned, to put it politely), but he also didn't continue an illegal war in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos during his term in office, and he did pardon everyone who dodged the draft during that war, so that can't possibly be worse than waging the war in the first place. After that, we touch on how Mayor Bloomberg had the audacity to say that, because the State of New York refused to pony up $300 million of public money to fund an unnecessary stadium on Manhattan's West Side, New York had "let down America." Gosh, it couldn't possibly be because the people of New York City think that there are tons of better things that such a large amount of money could be used for, could it? No, the people who objected to such a waste of money are obviously slighting "America"; it couldn't possibly be related to an actual opinion about the proper use of taxpayer funds. What a bunch of nonsense all around, I say.