Episode #736: 1 Every 3 Months
First Broadcast: 6/20/16
The murder of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, has been described as the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States. It's certainly the worst since mass shootings have become more commonplace in this country, and it is indisputable that they are occuring more frequently since the federal ban on certain assault weapons expired in 2004. Using statistics that Mother Jones compiled about "public mass shootings in which the motive appeared to be indiscriminate killing," one can find the following facts:
In the 12 years before the ban took effect, from 1982 to 1994, there were 19 such shootings, or 1 every 7Ĺ months, resulting in 161 fatalities and 185 wounded, or 346 victims total;
In the 10 years while the ban was in effect, from 1994 to 2004, there were 15 such shootings, or 1 every 8 months, resulting in 96 fatalities and 101 wounded, or 197 victims total;
In the 12 years since the ban expired, from 2004 to June, 2016, there have been 47 such shootings, or 1 every 3 months, resulting in 411 fatalities and 361 wounded, or 772 victims total.
To me, it seems like more than a coincidence that there were less mass shootings and less mass shooting deaths in the decade while a federal assault weapons ban was in place, compared to the dozen years before the ban existed and the dozen years after the ban expired. Perhaps, instead of watch lists, "no buy" lists, and bombing lists based on whatever ideology is the threat of the moment, maybe we'd be better off just removing the tools that enable easy mass murder altogether, so that no one can perpetrate it regardless of whether they're watched, unwatched, "terrorist," "mentally ill," or any other condition that has yet to be identified as a factor. After all, a gun like an AR-15 is capable of killing scores of people no matter who's pulling its trigger. Maybe the best thing to do is make sure no one can pull a trigger like that in the future.
Episode #737: Ollies In The Parking Lot
First Broadcast: 7/4/16
Repeated: 8/15/16; 2/6/17
What personality disorder best explains Donald Trump? Would an underveloped prefrontal cortex explain his lifelong bizarre behavior? In other words: Is Donald Trump literally brain-damaged? Is "Brexit" a warning about what could happen here if Trump was actually elected? Outlook hazy...
Episode #738: More Humanely
First Broadcast: 7/18/16
Both President Barack Obama and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton referred to "Black Lives Matter" in a positive light in separate speeches this past week. To me, both speeches were thoughtful takes on the current states of race relations and police-civilian relations in the United States. However, I thought one part of Obama's speech stood out:
...in this country we donít have soldiers in the streets or militias setting the rules.While that might be true most of the time, I couldn't help but think of all the images of militarized police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, recently. To me, these images also validate the complaints made by many Black Lives Matter activists about many police officers being overly aggressive towards people of color. So, I'm completely mystified by people like Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, who say that "Black Lives Matter" is "a very, very, very divisive term." Are people like him hearing "Only Black Lives Matter," instead of "Black Lives Matter Also"? Do people not believe that de-escalation is possible? Will Bernie Sanders' endorsement actually convince people to support Hillary Clinton? I shudder to think what might happen next.
Episode #739: 75 Minutes
First Broadcast: 8/1/16
This episode is a wrap-up of our impressions of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where... gulp... Donald Trump was officially nominated as this year's Republican party candidate for President of the United States. Trump's acceptance speech clocked in at around 75 minutes long, longer than any other Democratic or Republican Presidential candidate's acceptance speech in the last 44 years, and it was just as horrifying as you can imagine. I don't have room for all the lies that Trump told during his televised address, but he perpetuated a ridiculous amount of falsehoods in that amount of time. Fortunately, there's no shortage of people keeping track of Trump's lies. But will he ever admit that he's wrong? Will this stop anyone from voting for him? Should I look more closely into what's required to liThis weekve abroad? A wrap-up of the DNC will be coming in the next episode!
Episode #740: Reach For The Donuts
First Broadcast: 8/8/16
This week, we're still letting the results of the 2016 Democratic National Convention sink in: namely, that Hillary Clinton--and not Bernie Sanders--is now the official Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Aside from the fact that the DNC was working against Bernie and for Hillary during the entire primary, and aside from the DNC constantly slighting Bernie's supporters during the convention, the most annoying part of the convention was how Hillary and so many other speakers went out of their way to praise Republicans in their speeches, while practically abandoning Sanders supporters at every conceivable opportunity. Seriously: Retired generals, tons of American flags, crowds chanting "USA! USA!", and fond recollections of Ronald Reagan sounded a hell of a lot more like the RNC to me. I suppose the only thing missing was Clint Eastwood, but maybe it's best for everyone that he stayed out of the way this year. What will all this mean for the general election? I'm not totally sure, but a lot can happen in the next... ugh... three months...
Episode #741: A Different Tone
First Broadcast: 8/22/16
Tonight, we eulogize the late "The Nightly Show," Larry Wilmore's current events TV program which was canceled by Comedy Central this past week. The network's reasoning was like so:
"Unfortunately, it hasn't connected with our audience in ways that we need it to ... both in the linear channel and in terms of multiplatform outlets and with shareable content and on social platforms as well."
To me, this seems extremely shortsighted. While the lack of connections on "social platforms" might be a potentially valid complaint for a pure entertainment program, I think what Comedy Central failed to realize is that "The Nightly Show" became a more or less bona fide news program, and TV networks have a decades-old tradition of treating their news programs as, for lack of a better term, "loss leaders," keeping them for their institutional value as long as they didn't go over budget. That, and, as Jon Stewart told Wilmore, "You gave voice to underserved voices in the media arena." That sort of discussion is badly needed because: 1) Round table talk shows often don't include the voices of ordinary people, especially people of color, who deserve to have their opinions heard as much as anyone else; and 2) "The Nightly Show" presented this national conversation in way that, I think, made it accessible for white people, and if the relationships between white people and people of color are ever going to improve in this country, then that conversation needs to reach the widest audience possible. Canceling "The Nightly Show" silences some of that conversation for now. But perhaps more positive developments await us further down the line. The show will be missed.
Episode #742: Very Simple Name
First Broadcast: 8/29/16
Our discussion tonight revolves some of the new movies we've seen in 2016, including The Nice Guys, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Zootopia, to name a few. Do you think maybe the bad comic book movies could give it a rest with all the action sequences taking place "in the dark, or in the rain, or in the dark in the rain"? I'm not holding my breath. Maybe I should watch Casablanca again to remember what a good movie looks like. Did I also mention this year is on track to be the hottest year on record?
Episode #743: The Other Party
First Broadcast: 9/5/16
All the recent job gains are occuring in the service industry, which doesn't really sound like good news to me. Does anyone really know where Trump really stands on his positions with Mexico? Is Apple really going to eliminate the standard 1/8" headphone jack from all its future iPhones? Does Apple risk turning its Lightning connector into another obsolete format, like Firewire, or Zip and Jaz drives, or any of the numerous Sony formats that have bit the dust over the years? Is this another example of the "reality distortion field" that Steve Jobs allegedly possessed? Or perhaps something outside of the "reality-based community" that Karl Rove legendarily disparaged back in the day? Anyone remember netbooks? Or Esperanto? We're all over the place this week, which proves that even we don't want to work too hard on Labor Day.