Friday, January 16, 2004

Just a couple of comments this morning: I assume almost everybody heard that Prime Minister Aznar has been on the road, first at the inter-American conference they had in Monterrey, Mexico, (not Monterey, California), and then in Washington with President Bush. Bush said some very nice things about Aznar, who responded by saying some very nice things about Bush. (A mistranslation in the US press had Aznar calling Bush an "emperor".)

Interestingly, the whole Aznar-Bush thing was considered highly newsworthy by TV 1, Antena 3, and even Tele 5, but it didn't get too much attention on TV 3 and got buried way back in the Political section in the Vanguardia. Of course, TV 1, controlled by the central government, is totally pro-Aznar, though not all their foreign correspondents always toe the line. TV 3, controlled by the Generalitat of Catalonia, is totally anti-Aznar. This is why MEDIA OUTLETS SHOULD NOT BE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED.

I can see a role for a non-commercial cultural / fine arts channel, along the lines of TV 2 and TV 33 and PBS, funded by the government, but there's no way the government ought to be in commercial TV, much less providing news. The government also owns a polling agency and a press agency, both of which ought to be privatized immediately, along with all government-owned commercial TV and radio stations. Then you wouldn't have unpleasant fights about which party is going to get to run the government TV, like the one going on right now between the various Catalan political parties. You see, with the change in government from CiU to the Socio-Communist-Independentista coalition, the board of directors of the TV and radio corporation are going to be shaken up, as will be the heads of programming and news and the like. No more TV news stories about old guys in the Pyrenees who still make sandals by hand. Lots of new TV news stories about plucky working-class organizations that join together to Fight the Power.

By the way, nothing of particular interest happened at either meeting, Monterrey or Washington. The Vangua's correspondent is talking about a Cuba-Venezuela-Brazil-Bolivia alliance against the hated Yankees and their lackeys. I bet George Bush is sweating awake as he tosses and turns at night.

The Vangua is reporting that China and Russia are going to get into a space race against Washington. Please. First, I think Bush made a grievous mistake in his announcement of new missions to the Moon and Mars. Unless, of course, we privatize NASA, or keep NASA as a Pentagon-like agency which adjudicates private contracts to companies for specific jobs. But it seems to me that to the degree with which we can spend money on space exploration, we get a lot more bang for the buck by sending out unmanned probes to actually find out what's out in space for scientific purposes than we do by setting up a manned base on the Moon or putting some dude on Mars. Putting a robot on Mars, great, let the robot do the exploring. I bet we learn plenty from this most recent expedition to the surface of Mars, I really do, I think this kind of thing is well worth the money spent (and NASA's budget is a very tiny piece of governmental spending). So who needs a man out there when the robot is doing so well?

This whole Bush space challenge thing struck me as pretty bombastic. I understand that great national projects, like putting a man on the Moon in the Sixties, are sometimes necessary for national morale, but this ain't the time or the place for this sort of great national project. It seems to me that we are already engaged in a great national project, that of founding a democracy in Iraq and defeating the terrorist-rogue state alliance.

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