• I Love Big Bird, Too, But You Don't See Me Trying To Fire Him, Mitt.

    Not shown: the termination notice Mitt Romney gave him during the morning meeting.
    Like most Americans and possibly others around the world, I grew up with Sesame Street. Big Bird, Ernie and Bert, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and that weird Snuffleupagus thing. As a young kid, Sesame Street was just one of the many programs I watched on a regular basis on PBS. My mother figured planting me in front of a TV tuned to PBS was a slightly better alternative to just planting me in front of a TV, period. Given her druthers, she would have rather had my nose buried in a book.

    So seeing Mitt Romney, a man who's already expressed a willingness to dispose of employees as easily as one tosses a used tissue, proclaim a love for the big yellow tuft of feathers in one breath and crap in the bird's nest in the next irked me a bit. I like Big Big and I sure wouldn't say the following to a guy who hosts one of the premier news and debate shows on PBS:

    I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to -- I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one.

    Mitt's little golden moment shouldn't surprise anyone. No, I haven't wrapped my head around how PBS became a line item that requires a Chinese title loan to keep afloat, either.

    If Fred McFeely Rogers was still alive, he'd probably have some choice words for our friend Mitt. Then again, perhaps Mitt would try to bully Mr. Rogers around before the shame subroutine on his neuronet processor kicked in. Fortunately, we have Neil deGrasse Tyson around to send a few of those choice words his way:

    For the record, 60 percent of PBS funding comes from private donors and grants, which explains the yearly PBS donation drives. In 2010, federal funding accounted for a mere 12 percent of revenue. For 2015, Congress plans to set aside approximately $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity that handles the funding for PBS and NPR. In the grand scheme of Congressional budgets that include ludicrous things like corn subsidies and multi-billion dollar military equipment, the money allotted for CPB is the literal equivalent of the grocery store coupon you clipped out of the newspaper. It's not even worth the penny you just vacuumed up by accident that time.

    And yet, it wound up being an expenditure that has to be stopped.

    I doubt Mitt would do something as stupid as "kill Big Bird." His words, like so many others, are red meat for an audience who gets off on the thrill of ideological gore. They already see PBS as an indoctrination tool wielded by liberals to teach kids subversive social skills like sharing, empathy and tolerance. The arts, public programming, most forms of education and programs that benefit the poor are looked at with an evil eye by conservatives. I'm sure corporate execs don't have much love for PBS or Big Bird, either. After all, it would be a major coup for corporations if they could somehow can the "no commercials during the show" format in favor of...what you already see on decidedly non-public television.

    Make no mistake, this isn't about cutting waste. It's all about indulging in a unique type of "tough love" fantasy that involves conservative father figures whipping America's soft behind with a wire hanger. It's a fantasy continuously cultivated by Republicans who don't mind coasting on a wave of bootstraps-induced cheerleading from their die-hard constituents, many who believe they shouldn't be indulging in "any of that faggot hippie shit." These are the very people who will not only kneecap the futures of their own children just to run a "liberal pussy," "red diaper doper baby" or a "Muslim Socialist Kenyan Marxist nig*CLANG*" out of office, they also believe that the guy they vote into office genuinely gives a fuck about them, even as their state whittles down their Medicaid coverage to a bottle of aspirin, a semi-sterile lance and a few bandages.

    To think that Mitt Romney genuinely cares about your situation is like a drug addict believing his dealer genuinely has his best interests at heart.

    This is the approach we have to take to get America to a balanced budget. The president said he’d cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately, he doubled it. Trillion-dollar deficits for the last four years. The president’s put it in place as much public debt -- almost as much debt held by by the public as all prior presidents combined.

    The above conveniently forgets the continuing debt created by engaging in two major military operations overseas, tax breaks largely benefiting a sub-section of Americans and foreign nationals whose wealth remains out of national circulation and a devastating economic downturn that's resulted in high unemployment rates and dim prospects for today's job-seeker, the very same people who are being told to pull up their bootstraps, suck down those cheap tins of cat food and get back to finding a job during a jobless recovery.

    $15 trillon dollars seems like a big amount to someone who's looking at, say, $15,000 of credit card debt. The difference between the U.S. debt and your debt is that 1)the U.S. has the ability to print as much of its own scrip as it wants to pay down that debt and 2)you don't. And if you did, you'd be up for federal charges right about now. Unlike Greece, the U.S. has the ability to momentarily print its way out of debt if it wanted. For obvious reasons, it's not a very good idea, but the option is there. So is taxation and the elimination of loopholes, wasteful subsidies and pork spending, but we all know how popular those options are with most folks.

    Balancing the budget on the backs of Big Bird and Elmo won't do shit except give die-hard FReeper-types a penile salute at half-mast and GOP candidates something to point out to their constituents as they make their reelection runs. Cutting and slashing puny programs like public broadcasting might satisfy those who just can't wait for the ideological coat hanger to thwack America's hind parts, but it won't do anything to solve the problems plaguing this country.