Thursday, February 17, 2005

PBS facing troubles

The Thursday NY Times reports that newly appointed managers of PBS are pressuring the network due to what the perceive as its "liberal bias". The story quoted Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, "a conservative watchdog group", as saying, "Conservatives do not want to give more tax dollars to television stations that attack their ideas."

Worse, PBS plans on dismantling its analog TV broadcasting capabilities in order to switch to an all-digital, HD, cable/satellite-based system. The former public airwaves that it occupied will be auctioned off by the government to the tune of billions of dollars.

I'm highly offended by both of these points. First of all, PBS is a totally public-owned and public-supported system; the programming on it is protected by the First Ammendment and therefore, no government agent should have the ability to restrict or compromise its programming based on any perceived political bias. Conservatives have every right to push for the inclusion of programming on PBS that reflects their views, just as liberals have the same right. However, just because something like the Buster the Rabbit show has a lesbian couple on it, which could be offensive to some people, does not mean that it should not be included. The very idea that such an uproar as Bustergate occurred, proves that we live in a very dark era indeed.

Second of all, I am apalled that PBS would give up its rights to the public airwaves. With such a change, impoverished families that cannot afford cable/satellite TV will no longer get Sesame Street or any of the other educational programming PBS has to offer. It will clearly change the demographic to which PBS is available, to those who can afford expensive and frivolous TV bills every month. Of course, this change will even further change the support base that PBS enjoys, probably resulting with conservatives taking further control of the network.

Frankly I'm sick and tired of seeing every form of media in this country be affected by the conservative mentality. It's really disgusting. First, it was CNN changing its webpage to the red-white-and-blue color scheme after 9/11. Then it was Fox News becoming ultra-conservative to pander to that market. Of course there are some media outlets which have not bowed completely to the "Republican-ization" of everything, but even Jay Leno wears the stupid little "flag-pin" on his jacket.

Anyone that read flag etiquette books from the 1950s would know that the US flag should only fly free from the top of a pole, and it should never be fixed as a one-sided decal, unable to flap free in the breeze, forever locked in an artificial plastic pose. It should never be affixed to a vehicle or sports uniform as a static decal. It should only fly free, and not be used for partisan goals, but to represent the freedom from forced party participation that makes our nation what it is. I hate to see the flag become just another cog in the great polarizing machine the Republicans are forcing on our society.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I'm at CampFire USA's afterschool program now at a local middle school here in Portland, teaching some kids how to do blogging. Some of em are more interested than others but anyway, that's kids for ya.


Monday, February 07, 2005

NASA vs. the war

I find it strangely ironic that NASA is being forced to delay shuttle flights because of safety concerns, yet meanwhile, we don't blink an eye nor does the President even bother to mention it when 31 U.S. soldiers die in a helicopter crash. Are astronauts' lives that much more important than Marines'? I don't think so.

I hate it that we are shortchanging NASA and the Hubble program, and forcing unrealistic expectations regarding shuttle safety upon NASA. Space exploration will never be a safe deal, and we've known that since we ever started doing it. Yes, every possible effort should be made to enhance the safety of shuttle missions... but come on, it's not ever going to be perfect.

I really don't think we should can the shuttle missions and the shuttle program itself because of President Bush's uninformed pipe dreams regarding returning to Mars and the Moon. We are leaving our international cohorts out to dry regarding the Space Station Alpha, renegging on our commitment to complete it according to the original plan and failing to continue our resupply missions with the space shuttle.

Yes it was a great tragedy, and one that should have been avoided, when Columbia went down. Perhaps an even greater tragedy than the Challenger incident, because of all the scientific experiments that were lost. However, that does not mean we should abandon the project -- when 9/11 happened, did we abandon every World Trade Center in the U.S.? No. Did we let it force us to lose hope? No. Instead, we started multiple wars that have cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

We should respond to the tragedies and challenges within NASA with similar zeal. We should press forward and press harder to ensure the success of the shuttle, of Hubble, and of the Space Station and worry about Mars and the Moon later.

JSG Signing Off

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Give them some guns!

I read that a bunch of Iraqi soldier-trainees were summarily shot as they were forced off of their transport bus and into the street by insurgents.

What? They didn't have their own guns, these trainees? Why not? Lets arm the Iraqi soldiers already, OK?

Wait a second, didn't Iraq used to have the "fourth largest standing army in the world"? I remember hearing all about that back in '91. What happened to all those trained soldiers, all those Republican Guard? Where are they now, and why don't they cherish their newfound freedoms?

Oh wait, I forgot, they ARE the insurgents.

I'm also at a loss as to how in the world Bush can say that Iraq is a major front in the war on terrorism, and how us being in a war there somehow prevents terrorists from attacking us here at home.

What terrorists are we battling there? Are the insurgents equivalent to terrorists, just because they use similar rhetoric and receive support from Al Qaeda? Or is it more that they are not terrorists, but rather, they are insurgents (aka guerillas), and it is simply that the USA is the mutual enemy of both them and Al Qaeda, so they work together against us?

I'm sure this is a very complicated question but clearly Bush's overly simplistic rhetoric does no service as a just answer to it. Rather he continues to blur the line in the mind of Americans, just as he did before the war started in his fallacious suppositions that Saddam was somehow in bed with Al Qaeda -- a fact that has never been proven.

Oh, you may label me a "liberal" and say that I hate America. If you do then you're full of shit. Because neither am I a "liberal" nor do I hate America. I'm a modarchist (I'm not "left" or "center" or "right" but rather "distributed") and I hate Republicans and Democrats, but especially Republicans.

Now I got to go back to work...

JSG Signing Off


Played SOTU BINGO tonight with my girl in our bed as we watched a VHS tape of the SOTU (State of the Union [Address]).

We put down all the various words we thought Bush would say. The only ones he didn't say were "tonight," "ownership society," "Republican," and "Democrat." Neither of us had a BINGO until he started talking about war, because we put down all stuff like "terror," "peace," "war," "North Korea," "Iran," etc.

Let me tell you, It is much better to watch a Bush speech on VHS, so that you can fast-forward through all of the stupid applause that comes every 15 words or so. I mean, can't these idiots wait until the fricking end of the speech to clap? Especially considering how hideous it is when fat Republicans clap, and their jowls vibrate like the scrotum on a steer that has just been zapped with a cattleprod -- empty, ball-less and flacid, yet jiggling with racous force.

I mean, let the man talk, for Chrissake. Clap later.

The applause is equally retarded considering that half the time, only half the people clapped. The camera made sure we knew this. Like if the Democrats clap or don't clap, it really matters. It's not like it's a damn vote, and it's not like anyone cares what the Democrats think anyway. They might as well clap so that they don't become fat like Republicans, since we now know that even the most minor fidgeting can lose you 30 pounds per year (maybe more Republicans should fidget, or applaud at home along with their ilk that is present at the speech itself).

Just like there were 9/11 babies, there will probably be 1/30 babies amongst Republican families, who began gyrating like psychotic Jack-in-the-Boxes as soon as the Iraqi election was shown to be a success. Bush's narrow victory in November was enough to make them think to themselves, "All Democrats are now obsolete! All your base are belong to us!" Yet doubt still remained in their minds, obviously, since now with this success in Iraq, they seem to have found some proof for their faith. And now they are fervently declaring the Democrats as obsolete, rather than merely fervently suggesting it.

On the other hand, we all know that the war could not have occurred without the requisite votes of Democrats like John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, among others. So any rational individual cannot claim that Democrats are made to look bad by this good day for our goals in Iraq.

What about me?

I'm happy for Iraqis, at least, the ones who got to vote and didn't get blown up. I hope that this leads them towards things like running water, under-ground sewage systems, 24-hour electricity, and gas stations that you don't have to wait for 10 hours in line at. Along with no more occupying army, no more constant threat of terrorists attacking anywhere at any time.

However, I personally think that our own "democracy" (it's not really a democracy at all but a corporatocracy) in the USA is fundamentally flawed, as the last few elections have proved. Many ballots were discarded, many voting machines failed, many people waited in line longer than the Iraqis had to, especially in heavily left-leaning areas of Ohio, and Ralph Nader was forced off of the ballot in many states by very questionable means. We had a voter turnout of less than half of all Americans, which is absolutely pathetic.

And then there was the war: had it come to a popular referendum, or had the American people somehow been able to override the votes of their idiotic and misled representatives, I highly doubt there ever would have been a war in the first place -- at least not a terribly planned, horridly rushed one, that was more of the experimental "brainchild" of Rumsfeld than anything else.

Also, I honestly don't think that we need to be mucking around in a country that posed absolutely no threat to us, at great expense that is putting us in great debt, while here at home we don't even have a solid democracy and not everyone who can vote, does so. I feel that voting in major elections should be 100% mandatory, and that even homeless people with no address should be able to register to vote. I also feel that the voting age should be lowered to 14, since anyone who is 14 might be drafted within the term of a given president -- and at 14 they should know enough about the public school system to have a voice in changing it. If they are not literate enough -- well do you think that many adults are any more literate?

Look I simply don't buy the argument that either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars were necessary or the best way to go about things. I think that if you look back at history, when a country embarks on military campaigns in the way that we are doing, it ends up leading to a long, bloody war or series of wars. And if you read Bush's rhertoric, that's exactly what he wants, because he thinks it will spread "freedom" around the world and will "secure" us here at home so we'll be safe from "terror" and that this is "progress" for "America" (BINGO).

But I do not believe in the idea of a "just war." I believe we are only making our enemies more numerous and more resolved by our unrequested intervention. And while there may be short-term positive signs, like the recent election, I do not agree with nor condone the methods used to achieve them. It is entirely one thing for a nation to undergo revolution and come to democracy on their own, like we did, like France did, like the Greeks did. It is entirely another thing to have it imposed by a foreign nation (unless it is being restored, or if they attacked us first, like in WW II), and I do not think it wise of pundits to claim what is happening in Iraq is equivalent to the falling of the Berlin wall or the collapse of Communism in Russia.

For indeed, pundits may feel that the Iraqi elections are equivalent, but what matters is what Iraqis think, and what they are able to do, and when they are able to do it.

Someone might say to me, "If, in 10 years, Iraq is free, has a democratic government and a military of its own, and we are no longer there, then what will you say?" I will say you are smoking crack, because we will be there forever, just like we will be in Germany and Japan forever. But even worse, in Iraq, it is American and British companies who are now, and will be forever, controlling their oil.

What do you think, that the new Iraqi prime minister is going to demand that all our forces pull out and that Iraqi companies be able to control all that oil? Those trillions of barrells? LOL!!! Iraq is going to be a foreign-controlled corporatocracy, and while yes that is better than Saddam for the Iraqi people (and certainly for Bush's oil buddies), I don't like it very much.

JSG Signing Off