Note: The first episode shown during the First Quarter 2021 was a rerun of #335 on December 21, 2020.
Episode #880: Brain Fog
First Broadcast: 12/28/20
When we recorded this episode, we didn't know whether or not President Trump was going to sign the latest COVID-19 relief bill into law, since--after it had passed both houses of Congress--he had complained that the "stimulus" checks in the bill should be increased from $600 per person to $2000 per person. Democrats were more than willing to amend the bill to include the increase, but Republicans in the House blocked the amendment, so the bill's ultimate status was still in doubt, especially since Trump had already vetoed a defense spending bill that same week. In the end, Trump signed the original relief bill after all, with no change in the stimulus amount, mere hours before our episode premiered. This all begs the question: Was Trump just fucking around and delaying the whole process because he could? Was this a "fuck you" to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, reminding voters in Georgia that Republicans are the reason their stimulus checks won't be bigger, only days before a runoff election for both of Georgia's Senate seats, which will determine which party will control the Senate for the next Congress? Was Trump bored after dishing out pardons to his extended criminal family? Can't we still impeach him for trying to convince the world to believe his fantasy that he somehow won the 2020 Presidential election that he lost by all methods of counting the popular and electoral vote? Here's hoping we all survive the next few weeks of this bullshit...
Episode #881: Into a Froth
First Broadcast: 1/4/21
The United States keeps passing more grim milestones, as over 350,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 in the year since the pandemic started. That's more dead than the total number of combat deaths in the American Civil War, with the equivalent of the 9/11 attacks' worth of deaths now occurring every day in this country. Thankfully, two COVID vaccines are now available in the U.S., but vaccination is proceeding so slowly at the moment that the nation won't be fully vaccinated until 2031--which isn't the kind of thing you want to hear when a new, even more contagious variant of coronavirus first identified in the U.K. has crossed the Atlantic Ocean and is now present in no less than three non-contiguous states. Will incoming President Biden's administration really be able to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office? Will I really be able to get a vaccination by June, as the outgoing White House has predicted? Will the crew at Free New York remember the difference between a Leica and a Lektor? Only time will tell!
Episode #882: Delusional Fantasies
First Broadcast: 1/11/21
On December 19, 2020, President Trump, back when he still had a Twitter account, tweeted "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" As advertised, on January 6, 2021, the date that Congress convened to count the electoral votes from the 2020 election for President, "Stop The Steal" and other pro-Trump groups, held a rally in Washington D.C., where Rudy Giuliani and other Trump supporters falsely claimed, once again, that allegedly massive, widespread fraud robbed Trump of a second term as President, even though the President's proponents failed to prove that any voter fraud occurred in at least 60 different lawsuits filed since the election. When Donald Trump himself showed up, he launched into a speech that lasted over one hour, repeating the same false claims of victimhood that he had been making ever since he lost the election in November. At the end of it, he said this:
If we allow this group of people to illegally take over our country, because it's illegal when the votes are illegal, when the way they got there is illegal, when the States that vote are given false and fraudulent information. ... I think one of our great achievements will be election security because nobody until I came along, had any idea how corrupt our elections were. And again, most people would stand there at 9:00 in the evening and say, "I want to thank you very much," and they go off to some other life, but I said, "Something's wrong here. Something's really wrong. Can't have happened." And we fight. We fight like Hell and if you don't fight like Hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. ... So we're going to, we're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we're going to the Capitol and we're going to try and give... The Democrats are hopeless. They're never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we're going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don't need any of our help, we're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let's walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Now thoroughly incited, the rally crowd walked to the Capitol building, bum-rushed their way past the surprisingly sparse number of police and other personnel who were guarding the place, and stormed the building, scaling walls, breaking windows, smashing doors, ransacking offices, assaulting police, and openly expressing homicidal intent towards "the media," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Mike Pence, forcing Congress-members and their staffs to flee to "secure" locations within the building while the mob marauded through various halls and offices, at one point reaching the floor of the Senate itself. Makeshift barricades and drawn guns prevented the crowds from reaching the House floor, and pure chance prevented someone from using 11 Molotov cocktails full of homemade napalm, but not before at least one woman was shot dead by Capitol police, and at least 4 other people died from injuries received during the collective assault, including one police officer. Several hours after this insurrection started, National Guard troops and police from several states finally arrived to clear the trespassers out of the building, but somehow still managed to not arrest most of them when they had the greatest opportunity to do so. Congress eventually resumed their electoral vote count, which officially registered Joe Biden as the President-Elect of the United States, but not before some Republican Senators and Representatives continued to object to the electors from some states, repeating some of the same claims that Trump had used to incite his followers to invade the Capitol only hours before. Rather than condemn them, Trump expressed sympathy and justified their actions, and by the next day, Americans from all political persuasions were calling for President Trump to either resign, be impeached, or be removed from office via the 25th Amendment, unwilling to gamble on what other dangerous activity he could inspire with his few remaining days in office. After we recorded our episode, Twitter permanently banned Trump from its platform, on the grounds that there was too great a "risk of further incitement of violence" if he remained there, followed by a cascade of other social media restrictions on Trump and the online places where his fans congregate. Will Trump become the only President to get impeached twice? Let's hope his cult doesn't hurt anyone else before we find out!
Episode #883: Amped Up Yahoos
First Broadcast: 1/18/21
The more information that comes out about the riot at the Capitol that Trump and his acolytes incited on January 6, the worse it looks. For months beforehand, Trump and right-wing media had been promoting a fictional narrative alleging that massive, widespread voter fraud stole the 2020 election from Trump, despite the complete lack of any evidence to support those claims. People who monitor right-wing activities online warned law enforcement that Trump fans were planning to commit violence in D.C. on that day, but it seems that police either didn't pay attention, or didn't take those warnings seriously. More than one member of Congress is alleged to have given "reconnaissance" tours of the Capitol to the future rioters in the days before the insurrection. The organizer of the "Stop the Steal" rally promoted a theory of violence that's also being promoted by white supremacists. One Republican Congressman who spoke at the rally brought a gun to the Capitol, and had told a crowd a month earlier to "lightly threaten" politicians who accepted the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Trump told the people at that rally "I'll be there with you" when they walk down to the Capitol, but of course he bailed on them, and spent hours "delighted" and "excited" from watching the riots on TV, refusing to send help to Congress until after it was clear that this attempted coup wasn't going to achieve his goal of overturning Joe Biden's election victory. In the days afterwards, dozens of rioters were arrested, hundreds more are going to be indicted, and Trump himself was impeached (again) one week to the day later, charged with "incitement of insurrection." Washington D.C. now resembles an armed camp, currently housing more American troops than there are in Afghanistan and Iraq, just in case more Trump fans attempt more violence on Inauguration Day. Even the armed forces themselves aren't beyond suspicion, since former members of the military have been accused of taking part in the Capitol riots. This might be Trump's ultimate sad legacy, regardless of whether he's convicted in his second impeachment trial, or not: Dividing America against itself more than it's ever been since the Civil War. It's technically possible that Donald Trump won't end up being the worst President of my lifetime, but I hate to think what a President would need to do to top Trump's sheer magnitude of horridness.
Episode #884: Relax a Little
First Broadcast: 1/25/21
On January 6, 2021, a mob of violent Trump supporters invaded the Capitol building, using force and intimidation in an attempt to prevent the Congress from recognizing Joe Biden as the incoming next President of the United States. Many of the participants have been arrested and charged, with probably many more arrests and charges to come. Simultaneously, in Congress, dozens of Republicans in the House and at least two Republicans in the Senate proceeded to officially object to accepting the electoral votes from two states whose votes went for Biden, reinforcing the same false belief that the Capitol rioters had, that the election was somehow being "stolen" away from Trump. Since then, there have been several calls for those Republicans to resign from Congress, as their commitment to democracy is now an open question. One week later, on January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump on one count of "incitement of insurrection," which cited as evidence: Trump's speech at the so-called "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington D.C. on January 6, as well as his phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia, in which he encouraged the Secretary to "find" just enough votes to be able to overturn the official results for the Presidential election in that state in order to switch Georgia's electoral votes from Biden to Trump, and possibly overturn the national electoral vote winner in the process. One week after that, on January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, in a ceremony that, despite--or perhaps because of--the presence of thousands of National Guard troops who were ready to prevent a repeat of the event of two weeks prior, and despite--or perhaps because of--the absence of the usual throng of spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions, was relatively routine and peaceful, which freaked out all the "Q" dupes who were absolutely shocked to discover that no parts of their fan-fiction of Trump seizing the presidency and executing Democrats en masse were ever going to come true. Biden's inauguration featured a speech that called for a defeat of white supremacy and an end to politics as "total war," a poet who captured the world's eye with her words, age, and fashion sense, and a meme from Senator Bernie Sanders which is the gift that keeps on giving. The only kink in the whole day was Trump's weird-ass not-quite-farewell speech that morning, where he promised (threatened?) to "be back in some form" and told the a small crowd to "have a good life" and "We will see you soon." Your guess is as good as mine what he meant, but at this point I don't really care. To paraphrase President Gerald Ford, one small part of our long national nightmare is now over. And because of that, I want to chill for at least a few minutes, and hope that we don't have yet another awful event anytime soon.
Episode #885: Speaking of Lunatics
First Broadcast: 2/8/21
On January 28, 2021, Media Matters For America published an article about a Facebook post that Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on November 17, 2018, two years before she was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives, in which she speculated that the wildfires in California that year might have been started by a "Jewish space laser," as many media outlets have summarized it. More specifically, after alleging a connection to a company named "Rothschild," a name that is frequently invoked by anti-Semites who push the false belief that the world's money supply is controlled by Jewish people, Greene said this:
Then oddly there are all these people who have said they saw what looked like lasers or blue beams of light causing the fires, and pictures and videos. I don't know anything about that but I do find it really curious PG&E's partnership with Solaren on space solar generators starting in 2009. They announced the launch into space in March 2018, and maybe even put them up before that. Space solar generators collect the suns energy and then beam it back to Earth to a transmitter to convert to electricity. The idea is clean energy to replace coal and oil. If they are beaming the suns energy back to Earth, I'm sure they wouldn't ever miss a transmitter receiving station right??!! I mean mistakes are never made when anything new is invented. What would that look like anyway? A laser beam or light beam coming back to Earth I guess. Could that cause a fire? Hmmm, I don't know. I hope not!
[All typos the same as in the original.]
Aside from the disappointing fact that someone so dumb is now a member of Congress: There's a lot that's wrong here. First of all, Solaren Corporation stated on January 29, 2021, that "As Solaren has not yet launched any Solar Power Satellites into space, the Facebook post has no basis in fact." I could just leave it there, since without that key allegation, the entire theory falls apart. However, I also felt the need to find out if the type of energy described in that post had the ability to set fires from space in the first place. To start with: The idea of wireless power transfer is not new. Nikola Tesla demonstrated it in the 19th Century, and the CBS Evening News aired a story in 1964 about a William C. Brown, an engineer who demonstrated a toy helicopter that received all its energy from microwave transmission, so the proof of concept has been around for longer than Greene has been alive. Second: While the idea of collecting solar energy from space would have the advantage of constant sunlight unrestricted by the weather or the rotation of the Earth, current technology would require a satellite with a transmitter 10 kilometers in size, a receiver 1 kilometer in size, and the ability to overcome the obstacles of building, launching, maintaining, and repairing such a device in space, all of which haven't been definitively solved yet. Third: Although lasers could be one method of transmitting energy from a satellite to a receiver on the Earth, the risk of injury from lasers (such as blinding people or animals, and yes, burning from a laser's extreme heat) appears to have encouraged those who are developing this technology to focus on electromagnetic or microwave transmission, the same sort of technology that's used for wireless charging of cell phones, or Wi-Fi in general. So, even if solar power transmission satellites were in use, they would most likely be using microwave transmission to avoid the exact kind of problems hypothesized in that Facebook post, making it extremely unlikely that any fires in California or anywhere else could have been caused by any kind of satellite currently in orbit.
I was able to figure this all out within a few hours of online searching. That Greene was either unable or unwilling to do the same means that she's either dumber than I thought, or only cares about getting attention, regardless of how much false information she pushes in the process. Combine this with her espousal of other anti-democratic nonsense and her endorsement of the execution of her co-workers, and you have more than enough reasons to expel her from Congress. At the very least, can't a more competent person run against her in 2022?
Episode #886: Actions Were Terrible
First Broadcast: 2/22/21
The second impeachment trial of now former President Donald Trump is over and done with, and even though the Senate voted 57 to 43 to convict, that total fell short of the 2/3 requirement mandated by the Constitution, so he was acquitted. However, that is far from the end of Trump's legal problems, as there are now no less than 7 separate situations that could find him back in court in the near future. In no particular order:
On top of this: Is it too much to ask for the Senate to officially declare that Trump is ineligible to ever hold public office again in this country, since he violated the 14th Amendment when he engaged in insurrection against the United states on January 6th? Because, as Representative Ted Lieu said, "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he'll run again and lose because he can do this again." Well put.
Episode #887: Variants
First Broadcast: 3/15/21
On the day we recorded this episode, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which President Biden signed into law one day later. As a result, every American who has an annual income of $75,000 or less will receive a $1400 stimulua payment from the federal government; financial assistance will be provided for schools, vaccination programs, restaurants, and theaters, among many other industries; and a whole host of other forms of aid will be distributed in a package worth around $1.9 trillion dollars in total. In other good news, the Biden administration also agreed to purchase 100 million more doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, doubling the total amount of J&J doses the U.S. will have made available, putting the country well on track to meet Biden's goal of having vaccinations available for every adult who wants one in the United States by May 1 of this year. Will that be enough to overcome people's suspicions of the currently available vaccines? Is half the population of Jackson, Mississippi, the largest city in the state, still suffering from a lack of clean water? Is this what happens when you have 40 years worth of people running government who don't want the government to run? How are you commemorating your 1-year COVID anniversary? Can May get here any faster?