4th Quarter 2006
Episodes 424, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431

Episode #424: Nuclear Icing
First Broadcast: 9/25/06
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deliberately did not plan for occupying a post-war Iraq, and when generals told him he needed those plans, Rumsfeld told the generals that "he would fire the next person that said that." So, what's the latest big idea to secure Baghdad in the 4th year of this unplanned debacle of an occupation? Trenches. You know, the newest technique for 1918? This is coming from the same White House that would invade Pakistan if they thought it was necessary; the same White House that told Pakistan that it would be bombed "back to the Stone Age" if it didn't cooperate with the so-called war on terror; the same Pakistan that's had nuclear weapons since 1998, by the way. And the result of over three years of warfare with a country that never attacked us in the first place? Torture in Iraq now is worse than it was when Saddam Hussein was running the place, according to the United Nations. Way to go, USA! Perhaps events like that are the reasons why the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, called U.S. President Bush "the devil" in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly this week. Chavez also displayed a copy of Noam Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival during the speech, sending the book to the Number 1 sales position on Amazon.com, among many other places. On the one hand, this might place Chavez firmly on the side of the left, and thus in favor of strong protections of human rights. However, Chavez's recent literal embrace of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accompanied by a string of bilateral agreements between Venezuela and Iran, make me think that Chavez is also not above allying himself with other countries whose policies are not respectful of human rights (Iran's current horrendous policies requiring raped women to be killed by stoning, along with other heinous laws, are probably the most obvious examples), just as long as those other countries are also on the outs with the United States. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read Chomsky's book though.

Episode #425: Five Years Later
First Broadcast: 10/2/06 End of episode cut off early at 2:27:45 AM.
Four years into the occupation of Iraq, and 60-70% of all Iraqis want foreign troops to leave the country immediately. Six years after the U.S. entered Afghanistan, Newsweek concludes that the Taliban is close to regaining control of the entire country, making it the cover story of every edition except the U.S. edition. The New York Times points out that U.S. troops have now been in Iraq for longer than it took to invade Europe and defeat Germany in World War II; and I point out that the U.S. was also able to decisively defeat and conquer Japan in about the same amount of time. Today, even though the U.S. allegedly has much more advanced technology now than it had during World War II, and even though the U.S. allegedly has much more powerful firepower now than it did during World War II, the U.S. is not even close to maintaining the the same sort of peaceful occupations of the countries it's invaded lately, compared to the countries it invaded in World War II. Perhaps part of the problem is that the unncessary, illegal, and unjustified war in Iraq is taking money, resources, and manpower away from the slightly more justified occupation of Afghanistan. Perhaps another part of the problem is that--as the absolute failure to maintain or repair the infrastructure of New Orleans has shown us--this government is currently being run by people who are incapable of using government resources to provide tangible services to its citizens. The only thing this adminstration seem to be any good at is allowing things to be destroyed, whether it's the World Trade Center, Afghanistan, Iraq, or New Orleans. Couldn't an Executive branch and a Congress who don't have ambitions to go to war with every other country on earth come up with more productive way to spend $2 billion a week? We think so.

Episode #426: Hey, Crabman!
First Broadcast: 10/16/06 Countdown shown before beginning of program. Program cut off before end.
The Army has plans to keep troops in Iraq until 2010 (quite a far cry from "Mission Accomplished" back in 2003). Keith Olbermann points out how Congress and George W. Bush cooperated to destroy habeas corpus in this country by passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006, form which I quote:

No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.
--HR 6166 EH, Section 7, Habeas Corpus Matters; S.3930 presented to President on 10 October 2006

I and the Center for Constitutional Rights point out how this Act is unconstitional, since the Constitution says quite clearly:

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
-- The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, 17 September 1787

This law, if it ever gets signed, ought to be struck down by the Supreme Court as soon as possible. By the way, that CIA ad for spies was creepy. Don't you agree?

Episode #427: Goodbye, CBGB
First Broadcast: 10/30/06
Repeated: 12/4/06, 3/12/07, 7/2/07;
Repeated: 11/5/07 Opening animation, "Free New York" title, and all opening credits cut off.
Repeated: 6/16/08 MNN's playback of the audio was overmodulated.
Repeated: 12/1/08, 12/14/09, 5/30/11, 10/24/16, 4/17/17; 11/13/17; 10/29/18
On October 15, 2006, CBGB opened its doors at 315 Bowery for the last time, closing later that night for good after Patti Smith performed the last show there ever. We taped some of the ambiance outside the building that night, interviewing several people to get their feelings about the end of this unique New York icon. Among those we spoke to were musician Matt Pless, artist Andrew Galindo, a member of the Hungry March Band, and the legendary David Peel, who performed the song that ended up as our title, "Goodbye CBGB". If you couldn't see this show on MNN, don't fret: Free New York now has a presence on YouTube, and you can watch the (almost) complete episode there (and on our multimedia page) as well. Finally, something useful on the Internet!

Episode #428: Keys To The Country
First Broadcast: 11/6/06 Transmission began with a black screen from about 2:00:06 AM to 2:00:22 AM; MNN graphic was on screen from that point until 2:01:19 AM, followed by our program beginning with the "Free New York" animation. Transmission ended before the end of the program.
For those of you who haven't noticed, there's an election coming up this Tuesday. As usual, this means Republicans have to resort to the worst possible tactics in order to scare people into not voting for Democrats. Tactics such as this:

"Democrats are flat-out wrong when they say, 'Let's wave the white flag and surrender to the terrorists.'"
-- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN, 11/3/2006

“If what is done — and is what my opponent suggests and urges — is that we withdraw and surrender Iraq — that will leave Iraq as a sanctuary for the terrorists.”
-- Senator George Allen, R-VA, published 11/4/2006

"Voters have a clear choice to make on Election Day ... It's a choice between Republicans who understand the most important responsibility we have is to protect and defend the people of the United States. Or Democrats who will wave the white flag of surrender in the global war on terror and deny the tools needed to achieve victory."
-- "President" George W. Bush, Republican, 10/12/2006

Just in case you needed some assurance, I seriously doubt that Democratic majorities in the House and Senate would result in some sort of "surrender" ceremony wherein the nation would be handed over to "terrorists." Even if you restrict the debate to whether or not Democrats would "surrender" Iraq to "terrorists," I don't think a complete withdrawl of American troops from Iraq could be considered a surrender to "terrorists" any more than a complete withdrawal of robbers from a bank could be considered a surrender to its tellers. When the Confederacy surrendered to the Union at the end of the Civil War, the Confederates did not withdraw from the South. When France surrendered to Germany during World War II, the French did not withdraw from France. And, when Germany and Japan surrendered to the Allies at the end of World War II, the Germans and the Japanese did not withdraw from Germany and Japan. Withdrawal does not equal surrender, and surrender does not equal withdrawal.

Not only that, but "victory" cannot be achieved by Americans in Iraq for at least three reasons: One, no government can be imposed by foreigners on people who actively resist a foreign occupation, no matter what form of government that may be. Two, even if every "terrorist" in Iraq now was arrested, confined, and removed from the country, every other citizen of Iraq has the potential to be labeled a "terrorist" if they resist the American occupation in any form, so terrorism can never truly be eradicated from Iraq, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. And Three, if one of the goals of Bush & company is to build up Iraq to the point where "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," then American troops will never leave because: a) Iraq will never be allowed to build up a military advantage to the United States; and b) It can be argued that Iraqi "terrorists" who are attacking American troops now are "standing up," but that would never be considered proof of the ability of Iraqis to defend their country, even if it has the ultimate effect of forcing American troops to leave Iraq in the future. So, neither actual or imagined armed force will persuade the U.S. to leave Iraq if "victory" is defined in such amorphous terms.

Additionally, I don't have a problem with the remarks Senator John Kerry (D-MA) said in California on October 30, which were: "Education, you know, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." First of all, according to Kerry's written version of this speech, he was clearly referring to George W. Bush's misguided Iraq adventure, which may have been avoided had Mr. Bush bothered to study history a little more closely. Second, even if he was saying that a lack of educational and economic opportunities gives some young people no other way out of their situations than a tour in the Army, he might not have been wrong, since: 1) Enlisted troops do seem to have less higher education than the country as a whole (16% of troops have at least an Associate's Degree, while 27% of the general population 25-and-over has a college degree); 2) People who are willing to sign up for a government job that pays only $16,000 a year (that's $307.69 a week, or $7.69 an hour, which is only $0.54 an hour more than the scheduled 2007 minimum wage in New York State), might still make you eligible for food stamps, and comes with the possibility of getting shot, wounded, and killed on duty, are obviously either lacking in safer and more lucrative job offers, or else possessing way too much trust in the people in charge of the military, both possibilities which could be alleviated by a little more education at all levels, I believe. In any event, I hope all the troops come home sooner rather than later. No one deserves to die for Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, or any of those fools who put the troops in Iraq in the first place. Maybe a sea change in Congress is just what we need to get the country going in a different direction.

Episode #429: Rip That Rug
First Broadcast: 11/13/06
Ah, how sweet karma is. George W. Bush, the man who once said that Donald Rumsfeld would remain as Defense Secretary until the end of his term; the man who said that if Democrats are elected to Congress "The terrorists win, and America loses"; the man who, when asked about the possibility of Democrat Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House, replied "That's not going to happen," was forced to eat some heaping portions of crow this past election day when Democrats (and their Independent associates) were voted into majorities in both the House and the Senate. Within 24 hours of the initial election results, Bush sent Rumsfeld packing (replacing him with a guy from the CIA who was connected with the Iran-Contra mess), and made nice-nice with Ms. Pelosi with these words:

"I truly believe that Congresswoman Pelosi and Harry Reid care just about as much -- they care about the security of this country, like I do. . . . I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it's time for us to move on."
-- George W. Bush, November 8, 2006

This is also the same man who said in March that the day when no more American troops will be in Iraq "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq"; the same man who said in August that "We’re not leaving [Iraq] so long as I’m the president"; and the same man who said shortly before the election that "It's hard for me to tell" if American troops will still be in Iraq in 2009. So, it's not as if contradictory statements are unknown to Bush. But why, you may ask, did Mr. Bush say such vicious things about Democrats before the election, only to completely reverse himself less than a day afterwards? Simple:

"What's changed today is the election's over. And the Democrats won."

While on the one hand it's refreshing to hear Bush admit that he was lying for political reasons, on the other hand it's one more reason to do something about all the other lying that Bush has been doing on the job for the past five years, don't you think? Now that John Conyers is poised to become the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee, maybe something about that will finally happen! (Props to George McGovern for giving the incoming Democrats some help with a potential new Iraq policy, by the way; I'd rather have him give advice than Henry Kissinger.)

Episode #430: Honor, Truth, and Brotherhood
First Broadcast: 11/20/06
Repeated: 11/26/07
We begin tonight with a look at Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective, specifically that of the late Wamsutta (Frank B.) James, a Wampanoag who, in 1970, was asked by the organizers of a dinner in Plymouth, Massachusetts, if he would come and address the attendees with some words about Thanksgiving. He prepared a speech, but when the organizers saw a copy of it before James could deliver it, they banned him from speaking at the dinner because they objected to the speech's content, which was basically an indictment of how the white settlers had treated Native Americans in Massachusetts (and beyond) ever since the Mayflower landed near Plymouth Rock (and before). Here's a selection:

Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.

In return, the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), a group that James helped organize, declared a National Day of Mourning, which has been observed on Thanksgiving in Plymouth every year since. After we read the speech for the benefit of those who haven't heard it, we follow with a short selection from The Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon, the Death of Teddy's Bear, and the Sovereign Exception of Guantanamo by Magnus Fiskesjö, detailing the relatively recent ritual of the annual pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey by the President of the United States, and how this frivolous act is not only irrelevent as far as the ultimate fate of the pardoned turkeys (since they're always killed sometime later to prevent them from dieing painfully from the conditions inherent in their being bred for food instead of survival), but also symbolic of the power over life and death that Americans invest in the President, which is expressed no more clearly than in the imprisoning of people in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, insisting that they are outside the reach of every law save those the President deems acceptable. Fascinating stuff. Think about that while you're all munching on the cranberry sauce this year, guys!

Episode #431: Surpassing Bonanza
First Broadcast: 12/11/06
The title this week reflects the obvious: with this episode, we have now produced more episodes of Free New York than there are episodes of Bonanza, one of the longest running prime-time series in TV history, which numbered 430 episodes when it finally ended its 14-year run in 1973. We discuss that, the drunken women who sat in front of us at King Kong and TALKED THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE MOVIE, Representative Charles Rangel's fucked-up idea to reinstate the draft, and how victorious Democrats Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, and Russ Feingold are now "pussin' out" on impeaching George W. Bush for his crimes against the Constitution! Hey guys, whose fuckin' side are you on, anyway? The GOP, or the people of the United States?

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