Monday, June 20, 2005

Bagging Big Bird

Beth A. Keiser, AP (gun graphic added- SS)

"Americans overwhelmingly see public broadcasting as an unbiased information source. Perhaps that's what the GOP finds so offensive about it." Rep. David Obey

Okay boys and girls, repeat after me: P is for Public. And what does Public mean? "All the people of a nation." And what is Public Broadcasting? "Television and radio supported by public funds and private contributions."

It's right there in the dictionary, unambiguous, very clear. And yet every year at budget time Republicans in Congress hold Public Broadcasting hostage by threatening to cut funding. It's outrageous. Unconscionable. And dangerous.

Those who claim certain ridgedly ideological Republican leaders are intent on controlling the public airways are exactly on target. Radical Republicans, determined to assure TV and radio programming reflects their own personal value systems, take regular aim at Big Bird and other vital children's programs.

I wonder, if Rush Limbaugh and similar right wingnuts were broadcast on NPR, would the same ideologues in Congress be in such an all-fired hurry to blast funding for Public Broadcasting? Not on your life.

But their excuses are pure hooey. "It's not political. We just have to cut the budget somewhere." Oh please. This from a bunch of good ole boys so busy filling special interest pork barrels they wouldn't know Clifford the Dog if he brought them their slippers.

The new Appropriations bill contains billions of dollars for unnecessary bridges and highways. How many "bridges to nowhere" does it take to send children nowhere too?

And have you noticed it's always programs which benefit the disenfranchised and those with the least influence that are regularly endangered by Republicans in Congress? A spokesman for a public broadcasting lobbying group put it this way, "This action could deprive tens of millions of American children of commercial-free educational programming."

That's not overstating. Outstanding PBS "Ready to Learn" programs like Sesame Street, Dragontales, Clifford, Arthur and Reading Rainbow could soon go up in smoke. The proposed cuts would also lower the boom on scores of small public stations serving minorities, low-income and rural areas.

It's downright contrary to the public interest to pander to special interests by undercutting public broadcasting. In fact, deprive those who need free access to educational programming most and you end up shooting yourself in the foot.

Congressional Republicans know this, yet they seem compelled to make the country beg for what is rightfully ours. When it comes to spending America's money, they're far too willing to forget they were elected to act on behalf of ALL constituents, not just those with power and influence. Especially not only those with similar religious beliefs.

We need to insist they find the money to fund Public Broadcasting -- it's there, they've got it locked and loaded on private boondoggles. And, as always, it's up to us to disarm them, and point the money in the right direction. is shooting for 1 million signatures on a petition telling Congress to save Public Broadcasting. Join them Save NPR and PBS.

Or find your own way to let our government leaders know we want them to Keep the "Public" in PBS and NPR.

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