Friday, January 16, 2004

Hot air and little else make up Bush space proposal

Bush's Mission to Mars proposal on first glance is exciting. But on closer examination it is revealed as little more than election year posturing with no serious effort by the administration to follow up on Bush's rhetoric.
Bush Co. is proposing a whopping 5 percent increase in NASA's budget to finance its proposal or about $1 billion over five years. This is worse than a joke, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people. A typical space shuttle flight costs $500,000, so we get the equivalent of two extra space shuttle launches over five years (saying nothing about the cost of building another space shuttle to replace the one that just blew up.)
Bush Co. has tried to spin this initiative as being comparable to what Kennedy did in 1961 when he launched the Apollo project. But Kennedy went much further than just flapping his jaw to back up his proposals. NASA's budget was doubled the very next year and then doubled again the year after that.
Bush Jr.'s proposal is more like the one his father made in 1989 on the 20th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. The first President Bush called for lunar colonies and a Mars expedition as well, but like his son he did nothing else to make it happen and the proposal went nowhere.
The Apollo missions cost about $150 billion in 2003 dollars which just shows how far off Bush's proposal is from reality.
If anything, Bush has made our prospects of going back to the moon or sending a manned mission to Mars much worse by bankrupting the government with his fiscally irresponsible trillion dollar tax cuts.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Television losing its grip

I just want to say how much I appreciate the major television networks and their efforts to help ween me from my nightly television viewing habits. By continuing to cancel shows that I watch regularly and failing to produce any new shows that are worth my time they are making it much easier for me to spend my evenings doing more productive things.

Just this past week they announced this is the last season for Frasier. And earlier they announced that there will be no more Friends. That frees up a whole hour right there. Unfortunately, I did get hooked recently by the new series Joan of Arcadia, so it’s pretty much a wash right now. But I’m fully expecting the networks will opt not to renew Joan of Arcadia next season since my decision to watch a show typically seals its doom in that respect.

Right now my weekly television viewing habits are pretty sparse. Here are the shows that I watch on a regular basis:
Monday: None
Tuesday: Frasier; Judging Amy
Wednesday: Star Trek: Enterprise
Thursday: Friends; ER
Friday: Joan of Arcadia
Saturday: None
Sunday: None

My wife and I just started watching Friends for the first time this season. I’m sure that was the final nail in the show’s coffin. But at least we have six years worth of re-runs that we have never seen.
I’m worried about Enterprise. The ratings have gone down and the show has become increasingly desperate to draw more viewers which usually only speeds its descent into oblivion.
ER is still going strong even with an almost entirely new cast. I was preturbed, however, when they decided to kill off my favorite character this season - Dr. Ray Romano, the arrogant and saracastic jerk with the heart of gold. Last season they decided to torture his character by chopping his arm off with a helicopter propeller and this season they wrapped it up by having a helicopter drop out of the sky to squash him like a bug.
Over at Judging Amy, the main character is continuing to torture every man who has the audacity to fall for her. This season she abandoned her latest beau at the alter - literally. And the show’s writers are continuing that Hollywood tradition of breaking up every marriage and keeping all the characters unhappily single. I suppose that locking a character into a loving relationship is a hardship on the poor writers who then cannot fall back on their bag of cliches for new plot developments.

Inattention to Deficits Disorder

The American Prospect recently said President Bush is suffering from a new malady called IDD - Inattention to Deficits Disorder.

Bush is going to request $1 billion over 5 years "to fund the start of a new American campaign in space intended to put a permanent base on the moon and land astronauts on Mars."
I think that is great. The only problem is that it is going to take a lot more money than that to accomplish those feats (hundreds of billions by some estimates) and Bush has put the nation in a position where it cannot afford to do these things. If this space campaign is to ever come to fruition, it is going to be up to some future administration to make it happen.

In the meantime, Bush is proposing to spend even more money ($1.5 billion) on a conservative campaign to "promote marriage" among low-income couples.

The International Monetary Fund has recently scolded the U.S. for its troubling debt warning that "the U.S. profligacy and its voracious appetite for credit will drive up interest rates around the world and threatens the global economic recovery."

"An economic slowdown and President George W. Bush's huge tax cuts conspired to swing the U.S. federal budget from a surplus of 2.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2000 to a deficit of about 4 percent in 2003. Add the states' own budget shortfalls and the country's trade deficit, the IMF report notes, and the United States faces an "unprecedented level of external debt for a large industrial country."

The Bush administration's $1.7 trillion in tax cuts are without a doubt the most fiscally irresponsible action by a U.S. president in our nation's history.