Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 9, 2006

TAKING ON BIG BIRD -- AGAIN....In the mid-'90s, Gingrich & Co. thought there would be minimal political backlash if they tried to slash funding for PBS. They were wrong, the public rallied behind Sesame Street characters (Save Big Bird!), and the GOP backed off.

Ten years later, conservatives in the House have decided to give this another shot.

House Republicans yesterday revived their efforts to slash funding for public broadcasting, as a key committee approved a $115 million reduction in the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that could force the elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs.

On a party-line vote, the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health and education funding approved the cut to the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes money to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. It would reduce the corporation's budget by 23 percent next year, to $380 million, in a cut that Republicans said was necessary to rein in government spending.

The reduction, which would come in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, must be approved by the full Appropriations Committee, and then the full House and Senate, before it could take effect. Democrats and public broadcasting advocates began planning efforts to reverse the cut.

The Boston Globe added, "Republicans say they remain adamant that public broadcasting cannot receive funding at the expense of healthcare and education programs." That's an interesting spin -- Republicans are prepared to boost spending in healthcare and education? Since when?

Steve Benen 1:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (71)

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That'll take care of the deficit.

Posted by: jpe on June 9, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

In GOP-world, "healthcare and education" are code for "transferring more public money to our contributors."

Posted by: craigie on June 9, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK
"Republicans say they remain adamant that public broadcasting cannot receive funding at the expense of healthcare and education programs."

I agree. It should receive funding, sacrificing estate tax cuts instead of healthcare and education programs.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

It's too bad for the mad-cow party that The Daily Show is privately funded by advertising - Jon Stewart is doing them more damage than PBS ever could. I'm sure they are about to have him declared an Enemy Combatant.

Posted by: craigie on June 9, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, I think that they SHOULD do away with NPR/PBS.

Their absence would be felt by America's liberals.

Then maybe they'll get off their fat SUV-driving asses and vote for Liberal candidates.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 9, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK


Funny. They have no hesitation about cutting taxes for wealthy people -- but they want to cut funding for PBS -- one of the few sources of genuinely educational television around. If you can't afford cable TV, where else are you going to go for documentary television?

Oh wait -- that's the problem. Frontline isn't a friend to the Prevaricator-in-Chief.

Posted by: Harpo on June 9, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

They will still air Bill "Free Market" Bennet's "Values" show, right?

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 9, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Cable documentaries almost entirely suck. On very rare occasions they manage to make a documentary as good as the worst documentaries on pbs.

Posted by: jefff on June 9, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

After watching a Peter, Paul and Mary show on PBS last night I can certainly understand why these style of liberal marxist programming must be defunded anyway possible. I mean leftist songs like: "If I had a hammer" should never be allowed broadcast out there in the perfect conservative, fascist world.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 9, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we could cut the 'death tax' for everybody but Paris Hilton. You know, once her parents die from embarassment.

Posted by: Stephen on June 9, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Good, cut PBS. Get rid of the nigthmare that is Elmo and bring back Super Grover and then we can talk.

Posted by: Marcus Wellby on June 9, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

How about we just cut all federal support for State-run education and healthcare instead?

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think Democrats should let the Republicans do whatever they want.

If the Dems follow my advice, the GOP would be well-deservedly buried in the pile of shit of its own making after the dust settles.

Posted by: nut on June 9, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

If the Dems follow my advice, the GOP would be well-deservedly buried in the pile of shit of its own making after the dust settles.

Seems to me thats what the Dems have been doing. But the only ones getting buried in shit are the rest of us.

Posted by: Marcus Wellby on June 9, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

The result of this will not be a funding cut. The result of this will be that PBS will produce more programs featuring right-wing Republican propagandists like Tucker Carlson and the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal and will fire people like Bill Moyers, while NPR will offer less radio journalism and more vapid piffle, and both NPR and PBS will make sure that all of their news and public affairs programming is "fair and balanced" like Fox News.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 9, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

"The Boston Globe added, "Republicans say they remain adamant that public broadcasting cannot receive funding at the expense of healthcare and education programs." That's an interesting spin -- Republicans are prepared to boost spending in healthcare and education? Since when?"

You really have to be kidding here aren't you Mr. Benen? In case you haven't been paying attention, Republicans have been boosting spending on healthcare and education at faster rate under Bush than any other adminstration in history.

This is why the conservative voters' approval of Bush and the GOP Congress is way down. Apart from the War on Terror and judges, Bush and the Congress are just about as worse as the Dems would be on every domestic issue.

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 9, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist:

You say that like "fairness" is a bad thing.

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Shooting Big Bird down?

Sounds like a job for Dick Cheney.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 9, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

How about we just cut all federal support for State-run education and healthcare instead?
Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

And roads too!

And the DoD!

Cut it all.

And Congressmen. Their salaries should come 100% from contributors, not from the Public Treasury.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 9, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, those $100M sure will make a big difference in 'government spending.' Maybe they can use it pay Haliburton instead.

Posted by: mac on June 9, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

OBF:

Like it, or not - roads, Defense, and Congressmen are specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK
Like it, or not - roads, Defense, and Congressmen are specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

Federal standards for state-run education programs are in Article I, Sec. 8, too.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Like it, or not - roads, Defense, and Congressmen are specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution.
Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

What're you, a commie?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 9, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist nails it.

Posted by: Powerpuff on June 9, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans say they remain adamant that public broadcasting cannot receive funding at the expense of healthcare and education programs."

When you rely on Enron style accounting and PR to govern its not at all surprising you would come up with such a ridiculous justification.

Given that the GOP has completely tossed fiscal responsibility out the window there is no basis for asserting any kind of tradeoff other than a completely imaginary invented political excuse.

The reason for revenue problems has nothing to do with PBS and everything to do with runaway tax spending and pork barrel politics. A more accurate statement would be:

"Republicans say they remain adamant that public broadcasting cannot receive funding at the expense reckless & corrupt pork barrel giveaways and tax cuts to lobbyists and political supporters.

Posted by: Catch22 on June 9, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK
Like it, or not - roads, Defense, and Congressmen are specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

I know, bad form to respond twice, but also...so what? Just because Congress has a clear Constitutional power there doesn't mean it must spend money on those things, only that it may do so.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Like it, or not - roads, Defense, and Congressmen are specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution.
Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

. . . Besides, the Constitution isn't a suicide-pact. Have you forgotten, we're at war? We've got to defeat the terrorists!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 9, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the Republicans are whining about. Sesame Street attempts ideological balance. Oscar the Grouch has been representing conservative views for years.

Posted by: vendor on June 9, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

LOL OBF - that's the first time I've heard a "strict constructionist" position labeled as a "commie" - good one. As for cmdicely's point about permissive vs. mandatory spending - I'll take defense over education any day of the week.

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

After watching a Peter, Paul and Mary show on PBS last night I can certainly understand why these style of liberal marxist programming must be defunded anyway possible. Posted by: Where's osama

Actually, though I am a proud subscriber to one of our two PBS stations, I'd like to be able to earmark my dollars to assure that broadcasts of Peter, Paul and Mary and a number of other really lame things don't get paid for.

Frontline, however, is simply the best thing on TV, regardless of the channel.

Posted by: JeffII on June 9, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

You say that like "fairness" is a bad thing.
Posted by: Don P.

Once again, irony is lost on poor Don. Whatever state you're from, Don, must have severely cut public school funding while you were there.

Given your (lack of) knowledge about WWII, I would guess you were home schooled by a hamster.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 9, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie posting as "Don P" wrote: You say that like "fairness" is a bad thing.

I referred to the phrase "fair and balanced" as used by Fox News, in which context it means "100% pure right-wing Republican propaganda".

"Fairness" construed as giving equal time to lies and the truth while pretending that it is impossible to know which is which is a very bad thing.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 9, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK
As for cmdicely's point about permissive vs. mandatory spending - I'll take defense over education any day of the week.

Its pretty clear that you'd take anything over education, no matter whose money was being spent, any day of the week.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen >"...Republicans are prepared to boost spending in healthcare and education? Since when?"

The 12th of Never ?

"Everyday reality now is a complete fiction, manufactured by the media landscape and we operate inside it." - JG Ballard

Posted by: daCascadian on June 9, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, even jucier than PBS or "Don P"'s serial dishonesty, we may be in for another exciting episode of the Will Allen Show!

Posted by: Gregory on June 9, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK
LOL OBF - that's the first time I've heard a "strict constructionist" position labeled as a "commie" - good one.

Your position -- that funding for any purpose mentioned in the Constitution may not be deleted -- is not a "strict constructionist" position. Its not really a "commie" one, either, to be fair, its more of a "completely insane" one.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

both NPR and PBS will make sure that all of their news and public affairs programming is "fair and balanced" like Fox News

Not, you know, like they haven't been moving in this direction already...

Posted by: Gregory on June 9, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'll take defense over education any day of the week.
Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Cuz ignorance is the surest way to a strong defense!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 9, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

As for cmdicely's point about permissive vs. mandatory spending - I'll take defense over education any day of the week.

Just what the DoD needs - dumb recruits. Then, they'll actually have to educate their recruits - probably at ten times the cost it would take state-run schools to do.

When was the last time DoD ever did something on the cheap?

Posted by: NSA Mole on June 9, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK
Cuz ignorance is the surest way to a strong defense!

Hey, its strongly defended Don's skull from any incursions by intruders like "sense", or "reason".

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

we could fund PBS for a year with what we're spending in Iraq every week.

fuck the Republicans.

Posted by: cleek on June 9, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

As for cmdicely's point about permissive vs. mandatory spending - I'll take defense over education any day of the week.

Why in the hell should this be a tradeoff? We're the richest damn country in the world. Why should we have to choose between defense and education? For crying out loud! It's an idiotic construct.

I believe in public education -- in the value of providing universal access to information -- and I also want to see a strong -- and effective national defense.

These things are not mutually exclusive. To suggest that they are is moronic. And if you really think they are -- or should be -- it seems to me that you would be much more comfortable living in a totalitarian state -- a one-party system where there is no real choice, no marketplace of ideas, no real public debate over anything, just blind, unquestioning obedience to the regime.

It seems to me, Don P. or Charlie or whoever you are, that this is really what you are: A fascist. You are certainly not a person who believes in democracy. Because if you were, you would know that a well-educated population is essential to the functioning of a democracy -- and you would never suggest that we ditch public education so that we have extra money to build bombs. You'd never think it. Because you would know that the very notion, on its face, is repugnant.

But you do think it. And so you show who you really are. You're a fascist, Don P. You are the true face of anti-Americanism in this country. It is you --- and those like you -- who will be the undoing of America.



Posted by: Harpo on June 9, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Right, of course they want to slash funding for PBS. Don't they have some bridges to build in Alaska????

Posted by: Susan on June 9, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

MeLoseBrain?:

I believe you are mistaking me for Stefan.

SecularAnimist:

We will have to agree to disagree then.

cmdicely and Gregory:

Very funny - who needs "Will & Grace" anymore when we've got you two for laughs?

deCascadian:

Federal funding for education and healthcare has INCREASED every year since Carter - what on earth are you talking about?!

Harpo:

I believe is public STATE education too - just not federal funding - last I checked, that was the "strict constructionist" position.

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Would Public Broadcasting be better off with NO Federal Funding?

One option worth considering is helping PBS wean itself of all federal funding all together. See, e.g. http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2902

The bulk of public broadcasting is already outside of taxpayer sources, but that the government uses its share to skew coverage and limit the actions of public broadcasting.

The CPB provides approximately $400 million a year to NPR and PBSabout 15 percent of the two entities combined budget. http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2671

I would like to agree to the sentiment expressed above - FRONTLINE is truly some of the best televison made.

Posted by: Catch22 on June 9, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Federal funding for education and healthcare has INCREASED every year since Carter

Yeah, while the population has gone right down. And the cost of healthcare has stayed completely static, even in the private sector.

And the moon is a balloon.

Posted by: craigie on June 9, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

But, then, wouldn't PBS just be called BS?

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

craigie:

It was daCascadian who sarcastically asked "The 12th of Never?"

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Strict constructionist"? Goodness, there hasn't been a respectable argument that the federal government doesn't have broad powers to spend for "the general welfare" since Jefferson and Madison abandoned their opposition to the Hamiltonian position and bought Louisiana from the French.

You, sir, appear to be the constitutional law equivalent of a flat earther . . .

Posted by: rea on June 9, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure that federal funding of PBS is necessary. It could get eliminated entirely and the stations in most large cities would survive. The biggest effect would be the elimination of stations in rural states the do not have the market to attract subscribers.

It would also eliminate some original programming, but that would be recovered eventually through corporate sponsership.

My local PBS/NPR stations seem to spend much of their time fund raising now and shilling for corporate doners anyway. I little more wont hurt.

Posted by: steve on June 9, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK
Would Public Broadcasting be better off with NO Federal Funding?

Well, no.

The entities called "PBS" and "NPR" might be, but they also wouldn't be even remotely "public" anymore.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

rea:

There wasn't even a FEDERAL Department of Education before Jimmy Carter!!

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, I must not have been paying attention. When did Don P. change from being an aggressive atheist to being a hard right-winger? - Oh, never mind. Who cares?

Posted by: chasmrich on June 9, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK
I'm sorry, I must not have been paying attention. When did Don P. change from being an aggressive atheist to being a hard right-winger?

A while back, the old Don P persona vanished and, after a while, the name was taken by the Charlie/Cheney/etc. hive-mind, along with all the usual Chuckles posting tics.

The old Don P -- or at least its posting style, personal grudges, and distinctive tics -- has reappeared under a variety of names more recently, including "Atheist" and others.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

I do have to correct ONE part of my prior statement -- the Federal budget for education in 1980 was $14.1 billion. In 1981, which was still Carter's budget, it was $14.8 billion. Reagan's first appropriation, however, the one for 1982, held the level for education steady at $14.8 billion -- so it did not increase that year. However, FY 1983, it increased to about $15.3 billion -- and has increased every year since to almost $60 billion this year. My question above to daCascadian still stands.

Posted by: Don P. on June 9, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I've been a member of NPR and PBS for decades, because I listen to and watch those stations. However, I see no reason why others should be forced to subsidize my listening and watching preferences. Nor should the public be force to support Al Franken or Rush Limbaugh.

Furthermore, government support for public broadcasting means that the government decides what they will and won't support, thus giving them some control over content. That looks to me like a free speech issue.

Finally, I think public TV could exist without government support. Their shows are popular. They even run ads. They should cut the cord. I'll keep supporting them.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 9, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK
Finally, I think public TV could exist without government support.

Public TV could not exist without government support.

Private TV supported by a combination of subscription and advertisement certainly could, but given that private subscription and advertisement-based TV services dominate TV, that's hardly a stunning observation.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK


One way to Fund PBS & NPR would be to dedicate a specific percentage of Commercial TV / Radio ad revenues to cover their operating expenses. Or, at least a portion of them.

I believe Channel 4 in Britain operates this way.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 9, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Like it, or not - roads, Defense, and Congressmen are specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution.
Posted by: Don P.

--------------------------------------------------
Like it, or not - roads, Defense, and Congressmen are specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

Federal standards for state-run education programs are in Article I, Sec. 8, too.
Posted by: cmdicely

don, are you saying that all roads are post roads?

cmdicely, you've got me on that one. are you broadly reading "general welfare?" or maybe you're going for clause 8?

Posted by: Brian on June 9, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Harpo >"...It seems to me, Don P. or Charlie or whoever you are, that this is really what you are: A fascist..."

Hey now, we can`t have that kinda talk !

daTruth can`t be allowed to just be tossed out there here in Merica cause very soon folks would be wantin "All truth all the time" & that wouldn`t be good for Merica`s royals ya know

Don P. >"...what on earth are you talking about?!..."

Uhhh, something really, really unfamiliar to you

Reality, the best disinfectant around bar none

"...The growth of state power is neither a caprice of history nor the fruit of "paganism." It is the consequence of the community's effort to protect itself against irresponsible economic power." - Reinhold Niebuhr

Posted by: daCascadian on June 9, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'd just like to speak up here and put in a good word for "Cheney" and "Don P." They are far more than shrieking voices of lunacy inside my head. They have also become close and valued friends.

yrs.,
Charlie
"not insane"

Posted by: Charlie on June 9, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely, you've got me on that one. are you broadly reading "general welfare?" or maybe you're going for clause 8?

Clause 16, actually, remembering that the Constitutional militia is universal.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 9, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Clause 16, actually, remembering that the Constitutional militia is universal.
Posted by: cmdicely

fascinating. i'm familiar with the concept of the "universal militia," but not with what you mention here. could i trouble you for a brief explanation?

Posted by: Brian on June 9, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

chasmrich: I'm sorry, I must not have been paying attention. When did Don P. change from being an aggressive atheist to being a hard right-winger? - Oh, never mind. Who cares?

cmdicely: The old Don P -- or at least its posting style, personal grudges, and distinctive tics -- has reappeared under a variety of names more recently, including "Atheist" and others.

cm sums it up nicely. However, someone--why not me!--should add that the old Don P, now posting mostly as GOP, sometimes as Atheist, sometimes as other names, has given up all pretense of rational libertarianism and is now wallowing in the mud of his own wild-eyed Republicanism. That, and a very unhealthy interest in following every move cmdicely makes (close the curtains, Dice!), are his guiding obsessions these days.

Posted by: shortstop on June 9, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

"There wasn't even a FEDERAL Department of Education before Jimmy Carter!!"

And there wasn't even a Louisiana (not to mention Missouri, etc.), before Jefferson. Your point?

Posted by: rea on June 9, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

I was actually teaching when Carter and friends created the federal Dept. of Education. My point of view is that when you hire another big bunch of highly paid people who do not actually have any student contact hours in their day, you haven't done jack to educate anyone.

Dubya realized this and actually tasked DOE to do something. No Child Left Behind not only represents their best effort, it represents THE ONLY KIND OF THING such an inane entity could possibly do that would matter. If the DOE is supposed to be having a big debate on what to teach or how to teach, it is a waste of money. The states have their own DOE's to do that and they are all wastes of money, too.

Posted by: Mike Cook on June 10, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: biy on June 10, 2006 at 4:37 AM | PERMALINK

Don't make me come down there and kick your sorry republicann asses again.

Posted by: Elmo on June 10, 2006 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a proud progressive, so don't think this is coming from a Gingrich/DeLay right-wing punk, but one change I would like to see is to require PBS' national programming to come from sources more accurately reflecting the nation's population. Funding would be allocated in this more proportional manner.

This would benefit PBS' members in boosting programming in more parts of the country that currently produce little national PBS material, and I'm sure a lot of them would create intriguing, thought-provoking fare. As it is, we have a ridiculously disproportionate amount of national PBS programming from the usual suspects -- WETA, WNET, KQED and the ever-present WGBH. Too much goddamn Boston.

Posted by: Vincent on June 10, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

If they are successful at this cut I'm pretty sure my Elmo loving daughter will never vote republican as long as she lives.Maybe this is a good thing.

Posted by: gandalf on June 10, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I heard a talk radio host last week describe NPR as National Palestinian Radio after hearing their take on the killing of al-Zarquawi.

Posted by: Mike Cook on June 11, 2006 at 4:41 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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