Near Earth Archive

A backup of Near Earth Object by Paul Fidalgo

Month: October, 2008

If You Threw a Party, Invited Everyone You Knew…

Elizabeth Dole asks the question in her latest ad, “If godless Americans held a party in your honor, would you go?”

What a great question. And since I’m an atheist, I think it’s only fair that I take this question seriously. So to all those in my acquaintance, let me warn you now: If you ever wish to hold public office, and I throw a party for you, do not go! 

Republicans have made their position very clear, and they are not beating around the bush. Atheists have no place in respectable society, and mere physical proximity to one is a disqualification for office. I am an atheist, and no matter how nice you might think I am, no matter if you consider me a friend, no matter if you think that I am just as much a citizen as any religious believer, your best bet is to steer clear. Your career, your good name, and let’s be honest, you status as a patriot depend on it.

But maybe I have this all wrong. So let me ask all of you, if I threw you a party, would you go? I don’t even like throwing parties, so if I threw one for you, you’d know I really liked you. I guess that would be even worse news for you, though.

But I’ll ask this more broadly. Have any atheist friends? Know any folks who you like and respect and also happen to be nonbelievers? If Congressman Pete Stark, Ron Reagan Jr., Susan Jacoby, Sally Quinn, Steven Fry, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti, Carl Reiner, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Richard Branson, or Lance Armstrong threw you a party…would you go?

Really?

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Saving Throw vs. Douchebag, Chapter 3

McCain communications douche Michael Goldfarb has amused me with his idiocy time and time again. He seems to have a problem with people who are smart, and now I’ve realized why. Because he really, really isn’t. Watch.

[Video removed by network]

Yeah, and he’s a jerk, too. When this election is over, he can go back to whatever dive sports bar bathroom floor he crawled from and ferment.

By the way, props to CNN’s Rich Sanchez for doing a good job at being appropriately incredulous at several points throughout this election season. If only etcetera, etcetera.

Thanks for the Useless Umbrage

A follow-up from my post last night concerning my feelings about the Elizabeth Dole “Godless” ad:

Oh, thank goodness! People are condemning this ad! Fantastic! Happy joy!

Except it’s all bullshit.

As I mentioned in my previous post, yes, it’s wrong for Dole to misrepresent or make false implications about Kay Hagan’s religion. But I have seen no one complain that this ad classifies all atheists as pariahs, unfit for association with respectable people. Oh, sure, Campbell Brown does one of her pseudo-editorials condemning the ad for attacking Hagan’s faith, but not a single word about the fact that Dole is also attacking a benign, law-abiding, rational minority for no reason. Seems that no one may question anyone else’s religious beliefs, as long as they have some.

The umbrage people are taking over the “nastiness” or the “tone” of the ad — while ignoring the vulgar insult to atheists — is worthless to me. It takes no courage to defend Kay Hagan’s Christianity.

Will no one stand up to say that atheists are not second-class citizens?

State Senator Hagan? Senator Schumer? Senator Obama? I’ll be right here when you want to pipe up.

Elizabeth Dole and the GOP Tell Me to Go to Hell

My day was flat out ruined by a political ad.

I’m very passionate about politics to begin with, but usually if a political ad upsets me it’s in the direction of worry (”this is gonna kill us!”) or rage (”that’s a filthy lie!”). But this ad ruined my day because it made me feel a certain emotion in a way I don’t think I had before.

Offense.

People throw that term around pretty loosely in politics these days. If I were to summarize the 2008 presidential election, I don’t think I’d be too far off if I described it as a competition to see which campaign could take more “offense” at the other.

“That was sexist! How dare you?”

“You accused me of racism! That’s the race card! How dare you?”

Etcetera.

But the offense I’m talking about is the kind that really inflames the kind of anger that is one of the ingredients for cohesion in (I cringe at this term) identity politics. This offense is not the false umbrage of Geraldine Ferraro or Carly Fiorina, but the kind that emerges when a statement is made that explicitly says that one group of people is not welcome in America, that associating with them is an example of a flaw in one’s character. Of course, I’m not talking about associations with people who are legitimately questionable (had Barack Obama actually been a member of the Weather Underground, for example, I could see people having reservations). I’m talking about a group of Americans that is vilified even though they are law-abiding, decent, thoughtful citizens.

We’re familiar with this kind of bigotry in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. In all cases, it is obviously unacceptable, and more to the point, an example of willful ignorance and/or maleficence on the part of the person advocating for exclusion. What we never talk about, though, is prejudice against people with no religion.

Having made some minor rumblings about this a couple of months ago, the reelection campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina along with the National Republican Senatorial Committee have released ads on TV and the web attacking Democratic challenger Kay Hagan for the most unforgivable of sins: consorting with atheists.

Here is the Dole campaign’s ad. Watch and then keep reading below.

[Video has been pulled]

Kay Hagan is upset mainly because the ad implies that she is an atheist, which she certainly is not, and is right to be upset at this misrepresentation. I am upset because the ad implies that because I am an atheist, I am someone who no self-respecting public figure should ever come in contact with. In other words, as then-candidate George H.W. Bush said in 1987, “I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.”

In my stomach-sickening anger after seeing this ad (and then later the NRSC’s web ad which displays the word “Godless” in smeary, blood-red letters), I wondered why we see so little of this kind of attack, accusing one’s opponent of being an atheist (of course, Obama is being compared to Karl “Religion-is-the-Opiate-of-the-Masses” Marx). Of course, the answer is that there are essentially no atheists in public life. Why is that? The unspoken religious test that disqualifies all atheists from serving in public office (unspoken until, of course, these ads).

There are two exceptions, of course, that I know of. Rep. Pete Stark of California is a non-believing Unitarian, and there is a Nebraska state legislator named Ernie Chambers who is also an atheist (and attempted to sue God, who did not show up for his court date despite calls of “come out, come out, wherever you are”). I know nothing about local Nebraska politics, so I have to chalk Mr. Chambers’ election up to a quirk of the region, and Rep. Stark has been serving in Congress for 18 terms, and only revealed his godlessness to his very liberal constituency last year

The point is that it’s nearly impossible to accuse public figures of atheism if atheists are not allowed out in public.

Of course, there remains bigotry toward women, racial minorities, homosexuals, and people of faith. In these cases, however, it is now the mainstream position that this kind of prejudice is not okay, and any manifestation of this bigotry must be done covertly, with code, and hints, and innuendo. For atheists, however, a group differentiated only in their utilization of reason over superstition, are not allowed within this political force field. The Dole campaign and the Republican Party have made it clear that it is still okay to express open bigotry and hate toward atheists.

Or is it? These ads are relatively new, and Dole and the Senate Republicans are desperate. Perhaps there is still time for wiser voices in our political discourse to call this what it is: baseless discrimination and unwarranted prejudice.

I have little hope, but I have some. When Mitt Romney gave his semi-famous “religion speech” during the Republican primaries, he made two notable statements: “Any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty has a friend and ally in me,” and most notably, made the starkly definitive statement, “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” Much to my surprise, major media figures such as Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos pressed Romney and his campaign as to whether Romney meant to explicitly exclude atheists from “freedom,” citizenship, or less importantly, his friendship. Romney, notably, walked his words back, and allowed a begrudging place for atheists in America. Thanks, Mitt.

But as of now, the ire against Dole and her pals is all focused on misrepresenting Hagan’s religion, with little about how the ads spit on nonreligious Americans, treat them like criminals, and declare them unacceptable in American society.

So I’m experiencing a small taste of offense in the way that I expect many other oppressed groups have experienced it. Of course, no one is locking me up, telling me where I can drink from a fountain, where I can sit on a bus, or keeping me from voting. But now I am more certain than ever that if many people had their way, they would.

Zombie Politics

Per the Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina:

Zombies pose no threat at Palin event

. . . As many as 700 zombies are expected to amble up Flint Street past the Civic Center about 5 p.m., just after doors open for the Palin event.

Dan Burrello, who started the Asheville Zombie Walk in 2006, said he spoke with the Secret Service and Palin advance team about the walk.

“I mean, when you see 700 shambling dead zombies walking toward the Civic Center up the bridge, it would probably get the Secret Service’s attention,” Burrello said with a laugh Friday. “So we gave them a heads up on it to make sure they know we’re not doing any kind of protest or (are a) threat in anyway.

Well of course the zombies are no threat to Gov. Palin. Everyone knows that zombies want BRAAAAIIINNNNS.

Lurch, baby, lurch

Lurch, baby, lurch

(Photo: my brother, Benjamin Fidalgo)

The Niche, Temporary Awards Pile Up…In a Small Pile

A minor bit of self-back-patting: My nerdy hip-hop anthem “Ain’t Tryin'” got an award at Garageband.com for Best Male Vocals in Alternative Pop for this week! You can download it right here for nothin’, cuz I just like you that much.

A few weeks back, “Bussard Collector” took a couple of little awards from Garageband.com as well, including Track of the Day. This music juggernaut is unstoppable.

Attacked!

My MacBook is in the shop. Why? Because I was at the ATM, see, and a Bob Barr supporter mugged me, saw my Obama hat, and carved a backwards mustache on my face. Oh, then he spilled beer on my laptop’s keyboard.

Seriously! That’s what happened!

So I’m blogging from my iPhone. Thank you, Steve.

Maybe Actors Need a Code of Ethics

But listen.

I don’t think my fellow actors have given this enough thought: what to do about actors who do sleazy, dishonest, unethical campaign ads? I hate giving these piles of e-crap any more attention than they already have, but I need to prove my point. Witness this boy band reject douchebag in this ad for the shady Let Freedom Ring 527 group.

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Look how earnest and concerned ol’ Justin Timberfuck is. We must be in real trouble if the less charming half brother of Kirk Cameron is so worried and righteous. Wait. The real Kirk Cameron is like that, too. My god.

I’m getting off the track here. How should actors — creative, progressive, open-minded actors — deal with colleagues who choose to lend their likenesses, bodies, and voices to these reprehensible ads? The wife and I are hard up for cash, but neither of us would be able to do a whispery voiceover in which we called John McCain “dishonorable,” especially if the ad was a lie to begin with. Our consciences would never allow it, and I’d like to think that the artistic community as a whole would shun this kind of bile as a whole.

But then there are the unrepentant propaganda meat puppets who are, I assume, happy to smear for the paycheck cut to them by organizations like this one (funded by John Templeton Jr., by the way — that’s right, Mr. Intelligent Design).

So I joke about the blacklist. Even industries that are most ridden with scoundrels have codes of ethics, and I wonder if there shouldn’t be one for actors in regard to public service announcements and ads, especially of a political nature. Left or right, an actor gives up a piece of their soul when they give up their person to the worst of our society and discourse. I think they should give up their professional credentials, too. This should, of course, apply to all sides of the political debate.

There is a difference between performing fiction and insidious deception. Those actors who choose the latter should get out of the business so our profession is not enabling this deterioration of our politics.

Drudge Alerts Us to Scandal of the Millenium!!!

What would we do without Matt Drudge? Thank goodness he is highlighting this atrocious scandal that will surely derail the Obama campaign, and let’s be honest, the entire Democratic Party, and with it, the country.

Behold!

Note the tattered flag amidst an ill, defeated, setting sun — much like America will set should Obama blah, blah, blah.

Oh, here’s the entire context of Biden’s “alarming” words.

“Within the first six months of this administration, if we win… we’re going to face a major international challenge. Because they’re going to want to test him, just like they did young John Kennedy. They’re going to want to test him. And they’re going to find out this guy’s got steel in his spine.”

I know. Devastating. Pack up now, Democrats.

Drudge Hosts Smear Ad with Obama and Mohammed Atta

I know that all the right wing fringe groups like posting their ads on Drudge, as they know they can find sympathetic whatever-it-is-they-use-as-hearts. This one, though, seemed to me to cross a line even Matt Drudge might find unacceptable.

This is an ad from something called the National Republican Trust PAC, which claims a guy named Scott Wheeler as its executive director, and it features an angry-looking Obama next to a drivers license for 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. Before I have a brain hemorrhage over it, I thought I’d call these people out for the literally tens of people who read this blog.

Since I don’t want to give them free ad space, I have somewhat messed with the image to add my own gratuitous, unfair, ad hominem attack.

They have a likewise offensive TV ad running. AlterNet has some more on the group in question, and a little more from the Boston Globe.

Wingnut ads are one thing, but Drudge gets an enormous readership. I know his standards are impossibly low for what appears on his site, but the Fedora’d One should really start thinking long and hard about the kind of person this stuff makes him seem to be.