Saturday, September 23, 2006

NBC cuts God out of VeggieTales

I had intended to write a lengthy football preview for today's important games, but as I was engaging in my usual morning custom of parousing the newspapers, I came across a story out of this morning's Tennessean that made me very angry.

If you ever happen to be watching Saturday morning cartoons on NBC either because you have children or you are just flipping through the channels, you might have noticed Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, the signature characters from the VeggieTales series, the wildly popular video series that has sold millions of copies and is popular with kids of all ethnic and religious backgrounds all over America. It has now made its way to Saturday morning TV.

Since VeggieTales made its debut on Saturdays, I have to confess that I haven't seen much of the show. However, I have seen several of the videos that were parsed to create the Saturday morning program. They are wholesome, clean, and promote a message of love and respect, but most of all, VeggieTales is a lot of fun.

Apparently, part of the deal in order to bring VeggieTales to Saturday mornings involved censorship of the show's religious content-VeggieTales is a Christian program. The worst part of this censorship is that NBC is not admitting the obvious-that they are censoring the show for references to God-they are merely saying that they are editing for time allowed. Let's look at the "time edits" NBC requested from Big Idea Productions:

As discussed, there are a few edit notes for Episode #2 MINESSOTA CUKE

We list the time-code with specific dialogue lines to be deleted:*

11:50-11:52 – "Calm down. The Bible says we should love our enemies." (on phone)

16:53-17:06 And the best part is God gives us strength too. He gives us an even greater power than Samson's, the power to love our enemy and even be kind to them." (on phone)

18:36 – "Because God gives us the power to love everybody, even our enemy." (on phone)

All of the lines are from MARTIN's voice-over during phone conversations.

Greatly appreciate your attention to Program Standards notes & concerns. As soon as the edits have been addressed, we will need to re-screen for broadcast approval.

Meanwhile, NBC still plans to show Madonna blaspheme the name and person of Christ by mocking the crucifixion on-air. We can't say anything bad about certain other religions over the airwaves, but it is perfectly alright to mock Christianity while censoring all positive references to it (though they now officially say they are "reconsidering" doing so.)

This kind of double-standard is precisely why Christians feel that the mainstream media is not friendly to them and is in fact a force in opposition, and this social double standard is one of the reasons why the divide in this country is so deep and pronounced.

VeggieTales doesn't mention God every other word, but its Christian underpinnings are obvious. If NBC didn't want a Christian show, they shouldn't have jumped on the VeggieTales bandwagon.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Commission investigation into Harbergate could soon begin

The World has previously reported that a prominent Knox County Commissioner may move to launch an investigation into the Harbergate Affair at the September meeting. We have heard the story from several sources, most of whom have long proven to be reliable. Because of the seriousness of the investigative process, we have been hesitant to report until now just who might be considering making a move to launch an investigation by the Commission. However, people need to be encouraged to make the moves that they have been contemplating to insure justice is done.

The word given to us is that the Commissioner who may move to investigate the corruption in Mike Ragsdale's administration is none other than Commissioner Scott Moore, the Commission Chairman. If this proves to be true it is an extremely significant development, since Moore was supported by Ragsdale in his bid to topple former Commission Chairman Leo Cooper. If Moore leads the way in investigating whether Mike Ragsdale is guilty of wrongdoing, it will show that Moore wishes to serve the people of Knox County and East Tennessee before he wishes to do the bidding of Mike Ragsdale. If Moore (or anyone) does not move to investigate Ragsdale, it will show that the Commission is more interested in their pet projects than insuring clean as well as effective government for the people they serve.

Meanwhile, the efforts of those who support the present establishment to cause their political opponents (especially Republicans who oppose them) personal and professional harm seems to continue unabated. It would seem that the city and county, in their supposed "efforts" to join together in "improving" city parks and "develop" the waterfront along the south side of the Tennessee River plan to steal several properties under the cloak of imminent domain. Among the lands, homes, and other properties that are reportedly on the list for government-approved theft are several owned by Knoxville City Councilman, former Knox County Mayoral candidate, and outspoken Ragsdale and Haslam opponent Steve Hall. Does anyone really think that is just a coincidence?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Democrats: Still unacceptable

In a recent response to a comment made about an election analysis that I wrote at Where I Stand, I laid out in no uncertain terms why the Democratic Party is still unacceptable to Middle America. I think those thoughts are worth posting here also.

I agree with you that 1) Democrats will pick up seats but probably not take the house or senate and 2) they have only themselves to blame for being a non-option for intellectually honest and consistent conservatives. It's sad really, because as much as I will vote against the Republican party, I'm not sure that the Democrats would deliver on the majority of issues that concern me- deficit reduction, welfare reform, eliminating tax shelters, and promoting fair trade.

I'll just be straight-the Democratic Party has never delivered on those issues on a national level and barring some miracle, I don't expect them to-ever. I was opposed to NAFTA for example, but voted Republican in 1994 and 1996 anyway. The Democrats were doing little or nothing to promote American industrial interests from the beginning. Reagan, apostle of free trade though he was, was not afraid to use the tariff to protect our country's key industries...the Dems (as a party-many individuals were opposed) sold the whole store.The Dems do have an alliance with the militant social Left that they are completely unwilling to give up, however-they are masters at how to make themselves unacceptable to people in the Heartland, which means that in Presidential years to come, we may see more and more bloc voting.

Nonetheless, Democrats do offer us a real alternative when it comes to strengthening homeland security and fighting terrorism. Bush has shown that he is neither competent nor ethical when it comes to fighting the War on Terror. And the GOP, with the exception of a few Senators, has shown that it is nothing more than a rubber stamp.

With the notable exception of Iraq (and even there we can't be entirely sure since Gore was not elected) I do not think the Dems would have reacted to 9/11 any differently. What would have been different is the reaction from Republicans: Gore would have (rightly) been labelled a tyrant worthy of tarring and feathering. Conservative reaction would have been such that these mid-term elections would have all but destroyed the Democrats. So why the difference here? I can't speak for the rest of Red-land, but around here the general mood is "this is bad...a Dem majority will make what has been made bad 100 times worse," and this mood exists because in the past, that has been the perceived outcome when Democrats are allowed majorities at all levels of government.

Hopefully, when Democrats eventually take back the government, they will have the wisdom to make some of the necessary fiscal reforms that although not rallying their base, will give red state conservatives a reason to consider them a viable option come election time.

I'm sure that's a lovely thought to dream, but I must say with honesty that I am not holding my breath.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Democrat political tide-is lowering

As I expected, the tide is slowly beginning to turn where the race for control of Congress is concerned. If the numbers in the latest USA Today Gallup Poll are any reflection of the national reality, here is the scenario we can expect in November: Democrats will gain some seats, but not control of the House and perhaps not control of the Senate, as they were hoping. Just as in 1998, the Democrats will lose the election but claim that they won it because they gained some seats.

In fairness to the Democrats, this sort of thing is a common electoral tactic the world over- "we will lose the election but claim victory anyway."People are disenchanted with the administration, and the thing that a lot of the pundits on the Left don't seem to understand is that there is a real disgruntled attitude among conservatives and Republicans with the situation in Washington-this isn't some massive national shift to the Left.

I live in what is arguably the most Republican Congressional District in America. This district has not elected a Democrat for 126 years and it won't this year, either. The First was "Republican Red" long before the 1994 landslide. However, just because the area is so Republican (and over the years it has evolved into a very conservative district) doesn't mean that all is well in GOP-ville. You don't hear the fellas at the Sanitary Drugstore saying "man, this Iraq thing is really going well," when they stew over their morning coffee. It is not common to hear "wow, the price of gas is really tolerable." What is heard are things like "this federal spending is rediculous, it needs to be brought under control," or "I wish the government would get out of our business." These are things you expect to hear from conservative people, and often the complaints reek of one central theme: Congress and the President are not conservative enough.

The reason that a lot of people in Red States won't break down and vote for Democrats is not because they are satisfied with the present situation, but that they are not at all excited by the alternative. People do not feel that the core values of the Democratic Party (as a whole) are values that are shared by the "silent majority" in Middle America. People understand that we have a two-party system in this country whether we like it or not, and they have to make their choice based on which party best represents their long-term values and interests. For a lot of us "out here," that makes the Democrats a non-option.That is precisely why the Republicans will suffer some seat losses-but win the election.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Long Live the Pope!

As everyone knows by now, much ado has been made of an academic speech by the Pope last week in which he quoted Byzantine Emperor Manuel II:

" 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached' ".

The Pope then went on to say:

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "

Yet many proponents of the so-called "religion of peace" have seen fit to do nothing more than prove the point that the Holy Father was trying to make this week by burning churches in the Holy Land, killing an innocent nun, and burning the Vicar of Jesus Christ in effigy, making such statements as "we will break the cross and spill the wine." Those are fighting words to any truly practicing Catholic and in centuries' past such words would have triggered the launch of the sort of crusade the Muhammedians are so afraid of.

Pope Benedict has said he is sorry that his speech has triggered such a terrible outpouring of violence, but note that he did not say that he was sorry for what he said. He should not be. The Holy Father has shown great courage in dealing with the 800-pound theological gorilla that is invading our thought process every time we rationalize that Muhammedianism is a religion of peace. How many Christians send suicide bombers to major cities? Did Christians send large numbers of suicide bombers to kill innocent civilians in our cities when we do not get our way politically? When Christ is blasphemed, do Christians react with the same vengeance that many of our Muslim counterparts have done to a speech that actually called for inter-religious dialogue?

These are legitimate questions, and Benedict has chosen to raise them. It is right that the spiritual leader of the overwhelming majority of the world's Christians (including yours truly) should be the one to finally speak the truth with boldness.

The Pope believes that we Christians cannot have dialogue with other faiths until the Christian roots of our Western civilization are more fully restored. We can't dialogue with others until we experience a revival of our own faith.

I am proud the Pope said what he did-it is something that needed to be said with the delicate yet bold style with which only he could say it for a very long time. Long Live the Pope!

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, September 18, 2006

The divided house

Can the Left and the Right in this country find a way to live in a civilized manner? This is a complicated question because contrary to the impression of some folks, this doesn't involve the subquestion "can a conservative be friends with a liberal/Democrat." It might surprise some readers to know that I do indeed have Democrat and liberal friends, and that I communicate with them regularly. I do not think politics should determine who your friends are, and the fact that you can sit down to a meal/beer/Coke/ballgame with someone from the other side helps keep the country from a short-term eruption, as well as enriches the social lives of the involved participants.

However, having said that, I can also say that it is one thing to know some folks on the other side and be able to sit with them in peace in a spirit of friendship. It is quite another to be able to live civilly within the same body politick. As we have seen in the blogosphere, both sides make accusations against the other that each side believes is based in reality. Both sides believe the other is wrong, and believe they have good reasons for believing this. Can we say anything general about both sides? I think we can say a few things that cut to the root of the problem.

For people in Red State, Red Meat America: Love America, and do not see America as a bad guy, the way some people do. These same people overwhelmingly believe in the existence of God. Walk through any small town in the Heartland of this country and you will often find the name of God (spoken in a positive sense) spilling freely off of the lips of neighbor after neighbor. No matter what a person's opinion might be on the issue of abortion, it is not widely seen as a "choice" but as a human tragedy. Since a whole lot of us own guns, the notion of gun control is out of the question. It is also a common belief that the idea of the traditional family (mother, father, children) is worth preserving. Marriage is a Holy Estate to be entered into between one man and one woman. Rights come from the God we believe exists and endowed them to us. It is the job of the State to defend those rights.

For people in Blue State, Lean Meat, Fat Free America: Love America, but see the U.S. as a bad influence on the world and believe that the U.S. owes the rest of the world to do and be as more "progressive" nations are. God may exist, He may not, but He deserves no public mention. Mention of His Name may offend those who do not believe or may lead to some religious conflict so it is best to leave the Name of God unsaid. Guns cause crime and make city streets dangerous and should therefore be banned. Rights are a popular construct that comes from the existence of the State. Marriage is whatever the State defines it as being, and can be between a man and a woman, two men, two women, or perhaps multiple men and women.

No matter where you come down on these issues or to which side you belong, there is little doubt that at this point in the debate that there is no middle ground. Yes, both sides love America, and I will be the last person to question the patriotism of anyone opposed to the Iraq War, since I was against it myself. However, the political divide in this country is less about the War and more about culture itself-it is a culture war. Both sides know this, and both sides know that the first side to blink will be the side that will ultimately control the country. Both sides believe the other side is not only in the wrong, but is a danger to the country itself. So here we stand. The divide does not exist because either side wants there to be one, but it has been coming for a long time. The chasm between these very competing worldviews is too great to avoid confrontation, and sometimes that pits friends against one another.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My college football rankings this week

After one of the most unusual weekends in college football that I can remember for quite awhile, here are the votes I have submitted for this week's IRA-CF college football poll.

1 Ohio State
2 Auburn
3 Southern Cal
4 West Virginia
5 Florida
6 Michigan
7 Texas
8 Louisville
9 Georgia
10 LSU
11 Virginia Tech
12 Notre Dame
13 Oregon
14 Iowa
15 Tennessee
16 TCU
17 Oklahoma
18 Florida St.
19 Clemson
20 Arizona St.
20 Boston College
22 California
23 Penn State
24 Boise State
25 Texas Tech

To say this Saturday was a heartbreaker for a whole lot of good teams would be an understatement. Michigan didn't beat Notre Dame-they picked the Irish apart at nearly every aspect of the game and left the college football world with all kinds of questions. Was Notre Dame over-rated at the beginning of the season? Is Brady Quinn still a high first round draft choice (his Heisman talk is finished). Most importantly, is Charlie Weis partly at fault for refusing to delegate coaching authority or listen to constructive criticism?

Tennessee's loss to Florida was disappointing, but the offense looked impressive enough that the Vols only lost by a measly point, and that was the result of a Florida comeback late in the game. Perhaps running the ball up the middle is not Tennessee's best option, but the Vols have a history of being obsessed with that strategy.

Once again, Ohio State remains atop the college football world but look out for Michigan. If the Wolverines continue to play the way they did against Notre Dame, the Third Saturday in November could take on the kind of epic proportions that it did back in the 1970's and early 80's.

This coming week should clear up a lot of questions like the very simple "who is as good as we think they are."

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