December 1, 2005

Robert Novak Hypocrisy on “Foul Mouths”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 5, 2005 @ 12:10 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, Indecency

Robert Novak in 2002 criticized the “foul mouths” of Crossfire co-hosts James Carville and Paul Begala.

Novak then asked “Isn’t that the decline of values in language that is… that is poisoning America?”

Details on Novak’s hypocrisy at Think Progress.

Shades of Bernie Goldberg

This reminds me of the hypocrisy of Bernie Goldberg, who writes in his latest book that “A slow poison is running through the veins of this great country and our tolerance of crap is just one small part of it.”

Goldberg also goes on television and decries foul language. But Goldberg’s book uses language like “crap” and “screwing up.”


In Battle for SoCal PBS Station, Religious Group Offers “Compromise”

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 5, 2005 @ 10:24 am
Filed under: PBS

We’ve been following the story of Southern California PBS station KOCE, which was forced to put itself on the market in order to continue its slate of educational programming. KOCE board members wanted to sell the station to a community foundation that would uphold the station’s mission. However, a judge overturned that sale and awarded the station to the actual highest bidder — religious broadcasting company Daystar. (More background here and here.)

KOCE appealed, and the court has agreed to revisit the case. The station’s future is up in the air.

Meantime, Daystar has made what it considers a viable, peace-making compromise offer. (This bit of news is buried near the bottom of an article about KOCE’s founder.)

In all its Christian generosity, Daystar has offered to devote a whopping 20% of its air-time to the educational programming that KOCE viewers have come to appreciate. The other 80% would be dedicated to Daystar’s traditional fare, like Joni Lamb’s show.

Joni seems to be an evangelical combination of Oprah and Regis Philbin. (But without the black. Or the penis.) Her show offers spiritual guidance and musical relief. She also offers for sale a wide variety of Christian paraphernalia, such as Healing Scriptures books-on-tape (narrated by Joni herself) and the entire catalog of albums by Joni and the Daystar Singers.

Joni also offers tips on how to dress fashionably — but modestly.
And let’s not forget “Joni” magazine, an unabashed take-off on Oprah’s. One feature of the April issue: “3 Girls Get Joni-Tized!” (Sorry, but to me that sounds like an incredibly un-Christian process. But anyway.)

Fed up and frumpy?

Ah, Daystar. You seem to be the perfect antidote to PBS. Southern California shall be saved after all!

Is 80% Joni, 20% education a fair offer? You be the judge.

1 Comment

The Comeback of the Confederate Flag?

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 5, 2005 @ 9:54 am
Filed under: General

The Dukes of Hazard movie has been hyped so long and hard, it would seem there’s nothing left to talk about.

Ah, but there is. There is!

Let’s talk about the Confederate flag!

With the movie’s release — finally, after a summer of breathless anticipation — comes a new slew of articles about the General Lee and its car-top Confederate flag.

Here’s the roundup.

Cox News (in the Arizona Central):

“It’s an interesting take on the politics of the flag, given all the political debates over it recently,” said Western Kentucky University professor Tony Harkins, author of “Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon.”

Director and co-writer Jay Chandrasekhar said there were conversations before filming started about not having a battle flag atop the General Lee, considering how controversial it has become, or replacing it with an American flag.

“It’s a complicated symbol,” he said. “I know how some people feel about it, but there were certain things I wasn’t gonna change. I wasn’t gonna change Daisy’s shorts and Boss Hogg’s suits, and I certainly wasn’t gonna touch the car. I felt the flag had to be on the roof. It would have been even more controversial to take the flag off the car.”

Johnny Knoxville, who plays Luke Duke, said there was a little talk about the flag on the set. “The thing is, Luke and Bo aren’t racists,” Knoxville said. “That would be ridiculous. They had it on there as a sign of rebellion.”

Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

Commenting on performances here is like critiquing the production design of a porno–it’s beside the point. Briefly: Knoxville, bad choice, man. Reynolds, you make a good villain. Simpson, lovely posing. Scott, you’re from Minnesota and it shows–but I bet stunt driving school was fun.

The deeper problem–and believe me, there’s nothing deep about this flick–is that Chandrasekhar tries to pass off this whole mindless, mean-spirited mess as good old American fun. An everyman narrator tells us at the outset that “some folks say Hazzard is where apple pie was invented,” and producer Bill Gerber apparently came to this film by “searching for a project that really captures the American spirit.”

And nothing says “God bless America” like uneducated, bar-fight-happy hillbillies with a seething disdain of law enforcement and the aforementioned flag painted on the rooftop of their NASCAR-ready car. (The question my sensitive Tribune co-workers have asked me most about this movie is, “How did they handle the Confederate flag?” And they “handle” it by having the car go in for service flagless and come out with a whole lot of Southern pride, which horrified Atlanta city folk point out to the naive — and therefore blameless — Duke boys.)

Austin American-Statesman:

How are the makers of the new “Dukes” movie dealing with a symbol that’s controversial ?

Directly and with humor.

The movie’s writer-director, Jay Chandrasekhar, told Premiere magazine he planned to acknowledge the flag’s presence “and say, ‘Look, we know the situation we’re in here; here’s some jokes about it.’ “

In the movie, a battered General Lee gets a midnight overhaul from mechanic Cooter, who gives the car a fresh coat of paint, including the flag on the roof.

On the run, Bo and Luke Duke flee in the car to Atlanta and only learn about the flag when a succession of motorists passes by, each offering comments ranging from “The South will rise again!” to “You’re going to be late for your Klan meeting!”

It’s a clever approach, allowing the film’s protagonists to take a beating for their insensitivity, but absolving them from actually painting the flag on the roof themselves.

A later encounter, when the Duke cousins in the General Lee pull up next to a heavily stereotyped group of African American hoodlums, is much more awkward and much less funny.

Kansas City Star:

The Confederate flag “is a symbol of an idea that was terribly, terribly wrong,” and Hollywood is sending the wrong message when it places that flag on the souped-up car driven by the main characters in the new “Dukes of Hazzard.”

So says Kevin Willmott, African-American filmmaker and University of Kansas professor.

In a recent press release Willmott, whose mockumentary “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America” will open in theaters this fall, said that by placing the rebel flag on the car driven in the film by Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville, “a whole new generation of young people will be taught that the Confederate flag is not a racist symbol. Would anyone ever consider having a film with a Nazi flag on the car that the lovable heroes drive?”

That flag “symbolizes a group of Americans who broke away from the United States so they could continue to enjoy slavery,” Willmott said. “I felt someone needed to comment on this … the lack of any serious discussion about the issue is deafening.”

Chicago Sun-Times:

To this day, some people still claim the Confederate flag represents not the slave system of the South but its heritage. But the heritage of the flag is it was flown for the seceded South in its failed attempt to let white people keep their slaves. The flag was resurrected by racists in the 1950s to show rebellion against the civil rights movement. That is awful.

And where is that Confederate flag now? It’s painted on top of the Dukes’ Dodge Charger, which is named the General Lee. Its horn blows the tune from “Dixie.” In the TV show, the all-white characters were once held captive by a mean, black fugitive from prison. …

I’m sure some people think I’m taking the flag and “Dukes” — which, by the way, was a predictable take on slapstick — - too personally. These people perhaps have never been called “Jewboy” — and I wasn’t even a practicing Jew — while hanging out with friends of non-white ancestry who bore much worse. And in our [Georgia] classrooms, hateful stupidheads were validated by the Confederate Stars and Bars flapping on the state flag.

And then, every week, that flag came “Dixie”-ing down the road on top of the “Dukes” car. Puke. Personally, I’m waiting for a good movie version of a less reckless family show, “Speed Racer,” which starred the supercool Mach 5 car, Speed Racer, his monkey, and his hot sister Trixie. Ah, Trixie. Now she was one hot bowl of dumplings.


FCC Hits the Wallets of High-Speed Internet Subscribers

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 5, 2005 @ 9:46 am
Filed under: FCC, Government

This end of small DSL companies.

From the AP:

Federal regulators on Friday eased rules governing high-speed Internet services offered by phone companies, saying they hope it will speed Internet growth.

They FCC officials DIDN’T say they hope it will speed job offers from phone companies when they announce they’re leaving the FCC, but same thing.

The Federal Communications Commission’s 4-0 vote means that phone companies delivering Internet access via digital subscriber lines, or DSL, eventually will no longer have to lease access to their networks to competitors at deep discounts.

The decision is a political win for new Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, who has made broadband growth his top priority.

This means people who want high-speed internet will generally have a choice of getting it from one cable company which offers it in their area, or one DSL company.

Good for companies who want to raise prices, bad for consumers who aren’t rich.

With regard to the question of whether this will cause big phone companies to offer DSL where they now don’t, due to bigger profit expectations: maybe so, but the government could have offered breaks for phone companies to offer DSL in more rural areas, instead of hurting consumers with higher prices no matter where they live.


Novak’s Bullshit: WWBBD?

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 5, 2005 @ 9:14 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Daily Show viewers and blog readers are no doubt familiar with “journalist” Bob Novak’s appearance on CNN yesterday. During a typical debate with Democratic adviser James Carville (typical, that is, because Carville interrupted and opined with abandon), Teflon Bob finally reached his limit.

When Carville remarked that Novak felt the need to prove his manhood — er, backbone —to the Right Wing, a grumpy Novak said “I think that’s bullshit.” After reflecting for a moment, Novak stood up and poutily left the stage. (A copy of the video and a collection of links can be found at

Carville and host Ed Henry did an excellent job of pretending nothing was out of the ordinary, and continued the debate. (CNN announced yesterday evening that they had given Novak a time-out. And also, that he had been informed that he would be questioned about his role in the Valerie Plame/CIA leak. One wonders, then, if the tantrum was a cleverly constructed bit of theatrical distraction.)

There’s no shortage of amateur and professional analysis of Teflon Bob’s behavior on the web and in the media this morning. We won’t bore you with additional punditry — it’s probably all been said anyway.

We will pose this question: WWBBD?

What will Brent Bozell do?

Brent Bozell and his Parents Television Council have historically had no qualms about mustering over the broadcast of a single naughty word. Cable news shows — exempt from FCC indecency enforcement — are not exempt from the PTC’s ire.

So, what will Bozell do?

The smart money is on zero, zilch, nada, niente.

Remember when Laura Bush told a joke about her husband milking a horse — a male horse (wink wink) — at the White House press dinner in April?

Profane? No. Bawdy? Yes. And bawdy’s no big deal, except that if it had been Hillary Clinton’s joke, Bozell’s analysis would have been quite different from his take on Laura Bush:

Mrs. Bush’s speech, which seemed designed to loosen up the stuffy evangelical Christian image as the Washington press corps worries about a new American ayatollah under every bed, brought to mind the last feeble attempt to loosen up the Bush family image: the Bush daughters’ clunky introduction of their father at the Republican convention in New York last summer.

The lesson here is that Bozell is an unrepentant partisan. Yet the PTC has struggled to sell itself as a nonpartisan organization. Take a glance at their “About Us” page. Which word jumps out?

So will Brent Bozell and the PTC call Bob Novak on his “bullshit”? Or will the circle the wagons, like the good conservative activists that they are?

Stay tuned.


ABC Rejoins the National Association of Broadcasters

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 5, 2005 @ 7:28 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch

From the Internet Movie Database:

ABC is returning to the NAB fold. The Walt Disney Co., the network’s owner — and the owner of 10 TV stations and 70 radio stations — said that it was rejoining the broadcasters’ organization in view of the fact that “policy differences [are] now behind us.”

ABC becomes the first of the Big 4 TV networks to resume its membership in the association after a dramatic split between the networks and independently owned stations that were battling them over their effort to effect a change in FCC rules that would relax the limits on the number of stations a single company could own.

In a statement, Eddie Fritts, NAB president and CEO, said, “This is great news for NAB, ABC and the entire broadcast industry. There is no denying that we are stronger as an industry when we are united.” Addressing ABC, he said: “While we cannot promise you or any other member that you will see eye-to-eye with the NAB 100% of the time, we now have systems and procedures in place to give you and all members the opportunity to be heard.”

I hope the NAB knows what they’re doing by welcoming Disney back. This could result in a muddled message on the issue of more media concentration, which Disney wants, but the small owners at the NAB oppose.


Britain Will Punish Website Owners, Bookstore Owners

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 5, 2005 @ 5:35 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

From the AP (”Britain could deport foreigners and groups inciting hatred under new anti-terrorism measures” by Ed Johnson, August 5, 2005:)

LONDON — Foreigners who preach hatred, sponsor violence or belong to extremist groups could be deported from Britain under strict new measures that Prime Minister Tony Blair announced today, nearly a month after suicide bombers killed 52 people on London’s transit system.

Membership in extremist Islamic groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir would become a crime under the new measures. The group, which advocates the creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia, already is outlawed in several countries.

Blair said the government also would compile a list of Web sites, bookshops and centers that incite hatred and violence. British nationals involved with such organizations could face strict penalties. Foreign nationals could be deported, he said.

“Strict penalties” for a British citizen who owns a bookstore which sells certain books? Like prison?

The article continues:

“They come here and they play by our rules and our way of life,'’ Blair said at his monthly news conference. “If they don’t, they are going to have to go.'’

The government would hold a one-month consultation on new grounds for excluding and deporting people from the United Kingdom, he said.

Britain’s ability to deport foreign nationals has been hampered by human rights legislation. As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Britain is not allowed to deport people to a country where they may face torture or death.

The British government has been seeking assurances from several countries — including Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt — for suspects to be protected against inhumane treatment if deported. The government has already reached an agreement with Jordan.

Because countries which engage in torture don’t lie about it. Lying would be a sin.

Britain was seeking assurances from about 10 countries, and Blair said he had constructive talks with leaders of Algeria and Lebanon on Thursday. The government was prepared to amend human rights legislation if legal challenges arose from the new deportation measures, he said.

Blair said anyone linked with terrorism could be refused asylum, and the new measures make it easier for the government to strip extremists of dual citizenship.

The government also was considering a request from police and security services to hold terror suspects for three months without charge. The current time limit is 14 days.

Three months is long enough to ruin the careeer and relationships of someone they don’t have enough evidence to charge.

Here in the US, George W. Bush claims that he can label any one of us an “enemy combatant” and imprison us for the rest of our lives without charges (Jose Padilla case), and so Blair isn’t as bad as Bush in this regard.

The article continues:

A spokesman for Hizb ut Tahrir Britain, Imran Waheed, said Blair’s comments were “most unjust,'’ and the group would fight any ban through the courts.

“Hizb ut Tahrir is a nonviolent political party,'’ he said. “Our members are all for political expression, not for violence.'’

Blair said the government will consult with Muslim leaders on how to close mosques “used as a center for fomenting extremism'’ and would draw up a list of foreign Islamic clerics “not suitable to preach who will be excluded from Britain.'’

“We will establish, with the Muslim community, a commission to advise on how, consistent with people’s complete freedom to worship in the way they want, and to follow their own religion and culture, there is better integration of those parts of the community presently inadequately integrated,'’ Blair said.