Saturday, February 26, 2005

Private Gannon 

Whether or not to expose a controversial story is a hard decision to make. But sometimes you've got to stand up, stiffen your resolve, and let it all hang out. In short, it takes balls. I'm sure this has been all around, but, though I've been latent in my blogging lately, I don't want to go soft, so here it is. Private Gannon. (Through Capitol Banter.)


Public Harassment 

So. PBS, which already has two new conservative shows (to my count - it may be more) is under constant harassment from the FCC for showing cuss words in documentaries about Iraq. It's the worst kind of intellectual chilling, and I think it's safe to say that the FCC's official business right now is to unfetter corporate mega-mergers and to make certain no one -- expecially networks funded by tax dollars -- ever says anything against the government.
The raging battle over what's indecent on TV claimed another hostage yesterday: "Frontline," the award-winning public-news program whose story about a group of soldiers in Iraq has caused a ruckus even before it airs next Tuesday.

Many of the scenes are vivid, as one might expect from men and women under fire. So is the language — and that's the problem.

With the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) mounting crackdown on indecency and the U.S. House of Representatives' decision this week to dramatically increase fines on TV and radio stations, PBS took no chances.

It edited the nationally televised version of "Frontline" that will be fed to member stations. Instead of cursing during an ambush or sniper attack, there is bleeping.

The unexpurgated version will be available to stations that want it, but with a major caveat. The show will not be indemnified by PBS or producing station WGBH-TV, meaning that if the FCC levies penalties, an airing station is financially on its own.

The House on Wednesday passed a bill by a 389-38 vote that would increase FCC fines for companies from $32,500 to $500,000 for every offending "incident," loosely defined as a word or deed. Theoretically, if the FCC found two words in a show offensive, it could result in a $1 million fine.

The Department of Education last month threatened to yank its financing for the animated children's television series "Postcards from Buster" if an episode featuring a visit to children with lesbian parents were to air.

The FCC has not offered much insight into its process for determining obscenity or indecency. [L]ast month [the commission] rejected 36 complaints about "Friends," "The Simpsons" and the movie "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me."

Reuters recently reported the agency will dismiss complaints against 159 ABC affiliates that aired "Saving Private Ryan" last November. No announcement has been made.

"It seems to me that if you have the use of the F-word and S-word in the heat of battle, it's not indecent because they are not sexual or excretory," [First Amendment lawyer Kurt] Wimmer said. Moreover, "This is actual news footage; it really occurred; it is critical to the integrity of the show."

Those words, he added, are "part of life. It almost seems unpatriotic to say you've got to sugar-coat a war that we are paying for and that people are dying for."
No shit, Kurt. It's moralizing by decree and it's a full-on assault on everything, from legislation to education to public television. The surreality continues. If PBS wants to show coverage of the war, cool. We'll just fine them a quarter-million dollars any time we hear a word commonly spoken in high schools, police departments, and PG movies. Words. Swear words. Somehow, s-h-i-t is considered more offensive than the reality of what is actually happening in Iraq. It is the most bizarre set of ethics, science fiction stuff, and it's official government policy. I will continue to look into this story and investigate what (what? what? what?) can be done. I know the FCC to be a fair, open-minded agency which happens to have a Republican majority. So. Yeah.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Well, And 

Here's one about a bunch of mega corporations arguing over who should get the grotesque sums of money these companies get for designing machines to kill people!
he Air Force improperly favored The Boeing Co. on a $4 billion contract to upgrade C-130 cargo planes, congressional investigators said Thursday.

[Former Air Force official] Darleen Druyun, who later took a job at the Chicago-based airplane maker, is serving nine months in prison for violating federal conflict of interest laws.

"The record ... shows that the Air Force conducted discussions in a manner that favored Boeing," according to a two-page summary from the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.

Last week, the GAO upheld Lockheed's protest of a $2.5 billion Air Force contract awarded to Boeing to build precision bombs that can be launched from a fighter plane, bomber or unmanned aircraft. Lockheed had protested the award because of Boeing's ties to Druyun.

That we live with this and deal with it so nonchalantly is... is...


Enter the Real 

It is my inability to process or comment upon this sort of surreality in the world that has led to the recent drought in posts.
"Democracies always reflect a country's culture and customs and I know that," said Bush. "But they have certain things in common: they have rule of law, and protection of minorities, a free press and a viable political opposition."

"I was able to share my concerns about Russia's commitment in fulfilling these universal principles," said the US president, who has been increasingly vocal in criticizing Putin on the issue.

I honestly don't even know what to say about this. What can one say? What can anyone say anymore? Saying is saying. It's time for doing, and maybe I'm too scared or lazy to do anything.

But what do you do?


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