Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rare specimen of Democrat politician with spine - possibly also testicles - discovered in Florida

Folks who don't live in Florida and/or don't watch a solid amount of Cable News probably haven't heard of Alan Grayson, the Freshman Democrat Congressman for Florida's 8th District... but that's probably going to change once THIS campaign "attack ad" against his Republican challenger Dan Webster hits the Monday news cycle - which was almost-certainly the point.

What makes the ad unique - at least among ads thus-far generally run by "liberals" against "conservatives" - is that it explicitly targets, vilifies and "calls out" the whole concept of "Religious Conservative" political ideology in the harshest possible terms. Summary of the piece: Webster is a hardline anti-abortion/anti women's-rights Christian Fundamentalist, said views on women and abortion are similarly held by Islamic Fundamentalists, therefore supporting Webster is roughly equivalent to siding with... well, you get the idea - and in case you don't, it closes out by re-christening Webster "Taliban Dan."

Video after the jump...




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvB-mHXcWzg

Now... there's a part of me that looks at that and says "Ugh... y'know, regardless of what side it's on this sort of hyperbole and villianization is exactly what's wrong with the discourse as a whole." The OTHER part of me, however - the part that lives in the real world and not Care-A-Lot - says "y'know what? Fuck yeah! Spot-on, about time SOMEONE said it out loud, more of this PLEASE!"

Okay, yeah... the generic "Arabic"-style script on "Taliban Dan" is probably a nudge too far.

But otherwise? Yeah, I'm not ashamed to admit that this particular smackdown makes me more than a little giddy. I'm no more a "liberal" than I am a "conservative" or a "Klingon," but you don't need to be a partisan to see what a cancer the "Religious Right" and "Social Conservatives" are on this country - and it's been too long in coming for rational members of modernity to get up in said ideologies' faces about how much their "values" have in common with the "values" we're supposed to be at war with right now.

33 comments:

beyrob said...

Oh yeah I love this guy. Him and Anthony Wiener (sp?) from the house are both fantastic. If they were on a ticket together i'd RUN to the voting booth.

Graham said...

Wiener is a democrat from New York, I believe. But yeah, about time someone said it. The ad seems a little bit short though. Kind of rushed.

Q said...

Ok, Bob, I'm not going to call Grayson out on his shit but I am going to call you out on yours.

I'm guessing by "real world" you mean "Randian Rambo-polis where acting like a dick doesn't have consequences because apple pie and baseball..." in other words "Bullshit!" It's one thing to call out your opponent's radical beliefs but it's another thing to link someone who you probably only have a minor disagreement with to MURDERS. It's still a low blow and completely uncalled for.

This is leads me to another point (where's my soapbox?) I'm fucking taking a granola eating leftist stand here. When is it appropriate to act like a dick by attacking a good 20% of this country (because even the people who doesn't agree with his extreme position will still be offended anyway because he attacked their religious beliefs and not just man himself) in an election for a seat that at the end of the day will not mean anything.

I'm serious this guy will make a bigger spectacle out of himself than Glenn Beck for nothing. This isn't going to start a movement, there was nothing truly intellectual about his attack that I can get behind. And I am long pass the point where shit like this can impress me as every thirteen year old with new copy of "Bowling for Combine" can make the same observation.

So let me just say this, it does not matter what a person's belief is. A stoning is still a stoning. And American soldier getting his head cut off is still far worst than a man going on Television saying hateful words. Hell, even denying women the right to divorce is still not as bad as a public fucking stoning.

Democrat with a dick indeed.

akkuma420 said...

@Q

Sing it sister! couldn't agree more.

Bob said...

@Q,

With all due respect...

Michael F. Griffin, Paul Jennings Hill, John Salvi, Eric Robert Rudolph, Scott Roeder.

The only substantial difference between the nutters HERE and the nutters in the desert is the size of the body-count. Oh, and the Christian Fundamentalist crazies tend to be white, "familiar" folks from here, while the Islamic Fundamentalist crazies tend to be dark-skinned and foriegn... but THAT couldn't possibly have anything to do with the disparity in the way the culture regards them, right? ;)

If someone just as demonstrably batshit-nuts as, say, Christine O'Donnell was running for office but was using "Allah" as the excuse for their lunacy instead of "Jesus," people would be losing their shit and guys like Webster would be leading the charge.

SOMEONE with a platform had to say this, and I'm glad it's been said - heavy-handedness and all.

Sara Pickell said...

@Q
I'm pretty sure that by "real world" he meant the world in which he was only human and prone to darker, less rational thoughts.

I watched the spot again, twice, I'm not sure how he attacked anybody's religious belief's except the exact target's. He was called a religious fanatic, and had his extreme view called out. If people feel damaged by association... maybe the problem is their associations. Or is it that it's supposed to be okay to be fanatical as long it's about religion?

Personally I don't really disagree that he is being a dick. On the other hand, even if steeped in hyperbole, the fundamental point still withstands. If your philosophical underpinnings are the same as a given group of murderers, then you can only be better if you have a greater respect for life. However, if you provably place your own beliefs above the safety and lives of others, then whether the eventual deaths you cause are noticed or not has little difference. Public stonings are terrible, but staying in an abusive marriage until you're beaten to death isn't any better, just more banal.

Ergo, unless you can prove the commercial wrong about his statements, prove that he does provide exceptions for unsafe situations etc.., it's still making a valid point, even if poorly.

Q said...

Wow, who knew trolling would get an actual response.

@Bob
I may not be in line with common morality here but isn't a body count like... a HUGE fucking difference.

But like a said the hypocrisy of the Religious Right has always been self-apparent. They racebait and spread xenophobia just to get elected but at the end of the results do matter to people and you can make all the ironic points you want no one will care if he doesn't murder like a zealot.

I am reminded of the one joke in the Daily Show, in which Jon started dissecting Bible to make the same accusations on Christians as Fox News was making on the Muslims. The crowd was silent even though he was being sarcastic. Why? Because people take their religion very seriously. Which leads me to...

@Sara
You're right, the problem is with association. Even the religious moderate get offended simple by mentioning their religion back-handedly. The nutjobs have made their alliances strong.

Allowing a woman to be beaten to death by her husband is too far removed to be blamed on a Representative, it's not public enough. Oh yeah... they ARE just running for a House seat and probably will never have a chance to shape either local, or state legislative. So even if he does get elected he'll just be doing exactly what all right-wings want him to do: indiscriminately vote against Obama. There will be no murders except the one in Webster's sick and deprived head.

@akkuma420
Please don't say that straw-man has a point.

The Shades said...

Ok, Normally I keep quiet on political talk, cause of the very reasons these comments happen. But As someone FROM Florida who's been following Greyson's run, i'm in support of this.

My issue with the right ATM is they are even willing to vote against the very things they support. Look on youtube for videos on issues Republicans supported not even a few weeks prior to a bill coming into discussion, and watch their opinion 180 when a Democrat puts a bill through office giving them EXACTLY what thye said they wanted, simply because a Democrat or the President created the bill. I also see Reps hating on bills passed in congress, then turning around and praising it's success as if they were in favor of it . It works both ways, as there are some Dems that do it too, and I hate them just the same. We need to end this Two-Party system, and have politicians run solely based on their own personal beliefs and interests. Then, at least, we'd know where they stand.

Is Alan Greyson a little strong? Perhaps. But at least someone on the Left has the Balls to call out the hypocrisy and stupidity the right is front-running. When People like Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle can win primaries on a platform of no Abortions EVEN IN CASES OF RAPE OR INCEST, regardless of what they'll actually do when they get there, there is something seriously wrong here, and someone in a position of notice should say something.

Jonathan said...

"... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..."

I, my family, and my church are part of the Presbyterian Church of America, so you can easily catagorize me along with the "taliban right". I'm just not sure what to say about this, other than I find it odd that all those things are in one bill (1586).

If the Holy Spirit is with Webster, then he would have definitely matured as a christian since 1990, and recanted such views... And I find the equating a guy who is alleged to have no problem with wife beating with Christine O'Donnell to be way out of line.

Nixou said...

@Q
"It's one thing to call out your opponent's radical beliefs but it's another thing to link someone who you probably only have a minor disagreement with to MURDERS"

Ok: you want to learn something about the real world? You knwo why the "religious right" in the US, and the far-right parties in Europe have yet to attempt a coup d'etat, followed by the systematic murder of political opponants, the abolition of human (and especially women) rights and the jumpstart of the genocide of Muslims? It's because they do not have enough firepower to be succesfull.

That's it: Bob was talking about the size of the body-count, but this difference does not come from their respect the democratic institutions, nor because they believe that people who disagree with them deserve to live and be free: the only difference between the Talibans and the far-right in the western world is that the western states are still to powerfull to crush the far-right, should it be foolisg enough to try to pull off a bloody take-over of the state. Because they cannot win on the battlefield, for now, they play by the rules, hoping that their demagogy and fake outrages will garner them enough support to eventually establish the dictatorship of their dreams.

Also, yeah, if 20% of the population of a country, any country, agree with someone like Daniel Webster, those 20% deserve nothing but contempt and have to be banished as far from any position of authority as possible.

Finally, you do not fight back a bully by being polite and obviously smarter than him: the political bully is not here to convince you, he is here to subjugate you, and the only thing which will stop him is hitting him back as hard as you can until his self-preservation instinct kicks in. The fact is, by refusing to fight back for decades, the democratic party bears a big responsability when it comes to the influence of today's american far right.

Nixou said...

Whoops, I screwed up my copy-pasting: instead of:

" the only difference between the Talibans and the far-right in the western world is that the western states are still to powerfull to crush the far-right, should it be foolisg enough to try to pull off a bloody take-over of the state" You should have read:

" the only difference between the Talibans and the far-right in the western world is that the western states are still too powerfull not to crush the far-right, should it be foolisg enough to try to pull off a bloody take-over of the state"

RestamSalucard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

First of all, I thought your country was supposed to be secular, you know? Constitutionally established separation of church and state?

Religious nuts of any denomination should be barred from any kind of elected position.

Anyway, my comment is for Nixou.

When you say that Christians haven't tried to carry out a coup, wipe out the Muslims and enforce draconian laws (and forgetting anything "historical") what about the Balkan conflict?

The predominantly christian Serbs had a damn good crack at eradicating the rest of the locals.

Religion, superstition and spirituality of any kind are an affront to modern culture and their practitioners disgust me.

Where is the rationality?

Nixou said...

@ Andrew:

"First of all, I thought your country was supposed to be secular, you know? Constitutionally established separation of church and state?"

Well, the Weimar republic was also supposed to be a democracy, that did not stop people who hated democracy to run for office and completely destroy the democratic institution once they were in charge.

***

"Religious nuts of any denomination should be barred from any kind of elected position."

While I agree with the fact that religious should be kept away from any kind of influential position, you cannot forbide them from running. I you want to have a democracy, then you have to allow any citizen to run, overwise, you meet the infamous slippery slope and might eventually get tempted to bare from elected positions anyone who disagrees with you.

***

"When you say that Christians haven't tried to carry out a coup, wipe out the Muslims and enforce draconian laws (and forgetting anything "historical") what about the Balkan conflict?"

The Balkan conflict was peculiar for a few reasons:

First, Yugoslavia was not a democracy to begin with: Milosevic & co were not politicians trying to win an election but members of the ruling class who were unable to deal with the power vacuum caused by Tito's death and who tried to appeal to old nationalism in order to stave off a revolution AGAINST them (it's not our fault if the economy is in bad shape in this post iron-curtain world, it's... the fault of the Croats and those Muslims from Bosnia and Kosovo, yeah, that's right, so please go kill them instead of trying to overthrow us)

The second reason is that it was a territorial conflict: it was not about killing muslims because they were about to build a Mosque near Tito's statue in Belgrad, it was about conquering provinces: in this case, the ethnic cleansing was a mean to an end, and not a goal in itself.

But even so, we have indeed a case were a "christian" ruling class tried to commit an ethnic cleansing against a muslim population because they thought they could get away with it; which actually validate my point: the only thing stoping western demagogues from being as murderous as the Talibans is the lack of firepower, not some ineffable cultural difference between Christians and Muslims.

Andrew said...

The problem with democracy is that although we through the word about there is no functioning democracy.

There is no "consensus" like that found in Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy.

All individuals are not equal and they do not all have their say.

There just isn't (quite) the technological ability to give every voter a choice on every decision.

Nor should there be, why should those vast majority who neither understand nor care about an issue be able to out vote the dedicated few who understand and care?

What I was saying is that in the current system where you trust a representative to act on your behalf the faithful should be barred.

The mentally ill and convicts are barred are they not?

Isn't the belief in an intangible and pointless god a form of mental illness? Scientific method is killing god and it can't happen too soon.

Picture this situation:
You have to vote for a representative, the one who most closely matches your moral viewpoint is also a devout christian. You can't vote for that person because if elected you can't trust them not to pass a bill banning the teaching of evolution.
What do you do?
If you have a supposedly secular government why should you have to worry that a nut might sneak through?

Men are weak enough in positions of power, why be forced to choose a completely irrational man?

Beyond that I think we are broadly on the same sheet.

The Christians and Muslims (when their beliefs are taken to extremes) are both equally insane and dangerous.
When not taken to extremes both are equally medieval in their attitude.

Rarer Monsters said...

Okay, I know that liberals everywhere are prepping for their big smug wank about this, but doesn't this just condone every insulting racist anti-Islamic conservative ad?

I mean, how can you criticize hardline evangelists for showing no tolerance or respect for other beliefs when you run an attack ad targeting Islam.

Or is the vague feeling of smugness that comes with attaching themselves to secular humanism the only important feeling in the world?

(It's okay, it's a rhetorical question)

Rarer Monsters said...

Oh, and Andrew, please just cram it. I know you think you're being secular and coldly logical, but you aren't. You are just throwing ideas about religion and mental illness around in ways that show you have no understanding of either. I'm sure you think you appear smart, but you appear like a smug jerk who copy pasted some arguments off of 4chan and are trying to rub them in people's faces in a desperate attempt to make yourself feel big.

Q said...

@Rarer Monsters

You're a douche but you do make my point. Both Andrew and Nixou are both making the same mistake that Bob made by assuming that the religious right deserves the same dehumanizing rhetoric that they impose on others. Being offensive doesn't mean you've changed the game and right wing political atrocities will go away you've just changed the victims. Or at least that is what it looks like to the public.

Listen to any Christian trying to defend their beliefs. They don't believe themselves to be borgs of a collective but as individuals with personal beliefs. They had nothing to do with Crusades or the Inquisition. That's the major problem with the militant left they're too cynical to believe you have to yell and fight dirty like the other side just to be hear but you are being regardless of theatrics.

Allow the other side to look like assholes, just hold your ground or else you are no better than them. That is, at least, to the public.

beyrob said...

@rarer monsters

But he didn't attack all muslims like the right wingers have, he attacked the taliban by association. "This is what he wants to do, which is basicly what the Taliban does to their women." hyperbolic? yes but everyone seems to call everyone they disagree with hitler.

Rarer Monsters said...

@Beyrob: He could have just attacked him as anti-feminist or anti-choice or fundamentalist or intolerant, he didn't. He tried to link him specifically to an evil foreigner. It's the same tactic beyond 'Barack Osama'.

Think about who he's trying to reach with this ad: It isn't the intelligent educated people who appreciate the deep irony, those are not a big voting bloc and already support him. It's the undecided Floridians who will be swayed by an intense fear of Muslims and a prejudice against anyone associated with them.

RocMegamanX said...

@Andrew

"Isn't the belief in an intangible and pointless god a form of mental illness?"

You're equating theists with the criminally insane. This is a stereotype. Stereotypes can stem from intolerance.

If you don't believe in God, that's fine. I may not agree with you, but as long as you're OK with the person, that's good.

But calling all theists/religious people "criminally insane" is wrong, because not every theist/religious follower is Timothy McVeigh, Osama Bin Laden, or even Adolph Hitler.

Also, why do you try to "kill" God with scientific evidence? Are you trying to avenge those killed because of religious fanaticism? To me, it seems that way.

I really wish I could find proof that God existed. That way, theists/the religious wouldn't keep getting dragged through the mud like that.

And if giving God the benefit of the doubt makes me "mentally ill", then put me in a mental hospital. I'd rather be "mentally ill" than to grin and bear a world full of war, greed, the media forcing young girls to develop eating disorders, teen pregnancies, people burning places of worship, everyone freaking out over a Community Center near Ground Zero in New York, and the Doomsday Clock.

The Crusades and Spanish inquisition were bad, but they happened CENTURIES ago. "Centuries ago" is not now.

And before you say it, no, I'm not reading "The God Delusion", because the title already mocks and derides theists and, like I said, equates theists/the religious as a whole with the criminally insane.

tl,dr: Stereotypes are bad, mmmkay?

UncleTim54 said...

I don't particularly like religious fundamentalists running for public office but even against a candidate like that, this is a pretty low and immoral ad.

The imagery does seem to play off xenophobic views of Muslims, from the background music, fonts, and the inclusion of Webster over a background of Muslims kneeling in prayer. I think attempting to associate Webster with the Taliban capitalizes on that as it is but the fact that very general images of Muslims are used makes me very uncomfortable. Visually, he's not being associated with the Taliban, he's being associated with Muslims overall.

Worse yet: isn't it a bit odd how that phrase "submit to me" is used over and over with the audio cut so close? Perhaps because the original context of the phrase is entirely different? It's actually from Webster discussing verses from the Bible for couples. In the full sentence, he says men should NOT choose verses in which men say that a wife should "submit to me" but should choose verses focusing on their own responsibilities. See?

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-grayson-webster-attack-ad-20100927,0,199030.story

Webster's values may be venomous and disgusting but for fuck's sake, use real evidence of them, not manipulated audio and quotes out of context. You lose credibility right there.

I don't care who you're campaigning against, dishonest and race-baiting tactics do not represent the traits we should be celebrating in our leaders and politicians on either side. It's only by practicing and promoting qualities such as integrity and tolerance in the dreaded "real world" that we can in fact make them real.

Bob said...

@Tim,

With respect, I can go along that the background music and the choice of font is a bit much, but I'm not seeing the "generic" Muslim imagery.

The pictures seen, in-order, are of guerilla fighters - likely Afghan going by the mountains - a group burning an American flag, a woman wearing the "chadri"-style Burqa generally associated with the Taliban and other hardline/extremist sects, another chadri-clad woman - this time in handcuffs - and finally a group of chadri wearers. I don't know that images making specific reference to the most extreme forms of fundamentalist Islam and/or outright terrorism are "generically" Muslim, as none of these things are typically seen in the majority of Muslim countries and/or populations.

As to integrity and tolerance, certainly those are nice things - but a smattering of strategic offense has it's place, too. The Gettysburg Address, for example, may have been stirring and forward-looking and hopeful... but IT didn't win that war - Sherman did.

UncleTim54 said...

@Bob. Strategic offense is one thing, but outright deception is something else. Are you telling me you actually approve the manipulative and not even particularly creative or effective use of audio in this ad?

Outside of integrity, it's simply clumsy with the repetition and sharp cutting. As soon as I heard it in the ad, my first thought was 'he's actually saying something else here' and sure enough he is.

I wouldn't condone those type of tactics in an ad from either side and am kind of surprised and disappointed you do, you who so often call bullshit on both sides without prejudice.

Jonathan said...

@bob

We have a rebbuttal

And based on other accusations, I'd say grayson is grasping at staws, much like McCain was durring the end of his campaign.

dkh said...

Bob,

you should probably look at Fact Check's take.

http://factcheck.org/2010/09/rep-grayson-lowers-the-bar/

Bob said...

@Tim,

That a negative campaign ad utilizes trick editing is not something that should be a surprise to anyone. Is this fighting dirty? Absolutely. Is it manipulative? Completely. Does it rise to the level of "deception?" Not quite, and yes I'm splitting hairs i.e. taking only a portion of a statement is not the same thing as "re-writing" it to sound worse. Besides, the brief audio clips are just dressing for the text-factoids, all of which are sourced.

It's not "the high road," definitely - but at this point, I can live with that, certainly with this version of that. Very few history books include the words "They lost, but they fought REALLY fair so good on them."

Look, what it comes down to for me is that this is, in microcosm, THE key conflict of this era of history - Thinkers vs. Believers; and even if it's just ONE hyperbolic ad from ONE small-potatoes congressman in Florida, I'm glad to see the Thinkers side actually fighting back - hell, fighting AT ALL - in explicit terms.

kenneth said...

I have no idea why believers who clearly aren't 'Thinkers' would waste time getting a masters degree in apologetics. After all, they don't rationally think, debate and discuss things, they just 'believe' what they read from books because that's what their parents did!
You can disagree with people, but don't go around saying anyone who doesn't agree with you is not a thinker, at least not until you've had an in-depth discussion with them. Which you haven't. Internet doesn't count, My dad's a smart guy, you'll never hear him talk apolgetics on the internet because he's actually doing something IRL to help others, instead of debating with trolls in teh interwebz.

Jonathan said...

Link to full text of Florida house bill 1586 please?

All we have is Greyson's "Not only is he draft dodge (bull), he is a wife beater (BIG bull)..." and the words of FactCheck.org

But the ad’s claim that Webster would "deny battered women … the right to divorce their abusers" is a distortion. The claim is based on legislation he sponsored in the Florida House of Representatives 20 years ago. The bill, HB 1585, would have allowed Florida residents the option of a "covenant marriage," which would limit their divorce rights. Under the proposal, couples could dissolve a covenant marriage only in cases of adultery. But that would not have applied to anyone who did not choose to enter a covenant marriage. The legislation died in committee in June 1990. Webster has not advocated for covenant marriages as a congressional candidate.

@Kenneth (I hate twitter notation). To paraphrase the religious fanatic and financial radical Dave Ramsey, you could have a doctorate in German Polka History, but that doesn't necessarily get you anywhere.
Being learned (apologetics is an important topic to us, though Bob probably would categorize it as brain washing) and smart are not one and the same.

Speaking of which, this seems to be your first encounter with Bob Chipman. He isn't just another internet troll with a blogger account. He is incredibly learned and incredibly thoughtful. He probably read more literature and experienced more cinema than the both you and I combined.

Bob said...

@kenneth,

It has nothing to do with agreeing with me, or with being a person of faith or not. It's about the overall manner in which one approaches the world.

In the most general sense possible, there are people who go through life primarily operating based on reason, open to new ideas, being challenged and the notion that what's "true" or "everybody knows" can change in an INSTANT; and then there are people who go through life operating on irrational assurance, secure that what they have "made up their minds" about is unassailable and close themselves off from modernity and personal evolution. The first type all call Thinkers, the second are Believers. There're shades of gray, but at the end of the day you're either one or the other.

I know plenty of Christians and Muslims who are Thinkers, and other faiths (mainstream Judaism comes to mind) practically REQUIRE an adherent to be one. But fundamentalists like the Taliban overseas or the various pro-life/flat-earth/anti-gay/creationist sub-sects here are most definitely of the second type - and there's not much within reason and legality I'd consider going "too far" in order to keep them away from power.

RestamSalucard said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd8VvpZbM1Y Grayson is confronted on the ad by Contessa Brewer and responds.

Dave said...

@Bob
YOU HAVE GAINED SO MUCH MORE OF MY RESPECT WITH YOUR LAST COMMENT. 'Thinkers' of any sort know that they are accountable for their actions, and are thus better people. But besides understanding that, you also recognized the people who are both religious and dynamic thinkers.
Escape To The Movies is a great section of The Escapist!

blockmangamer said...

@Bob

Grayson "pulled a Breitbart". (my quotes)

No matter how kickass or awesome or factual sound the ad was, that powerful "submit to me" message taken completely out of context has undermined the ad's credibility plus casts a shadow of doubt on Grayson's credit and any issues against "Taliban Dan" as well. It's a dirty trick that backfired and (may irreversibly) caused more damage than good intended. It's as simple as that.

Grayson should have known better and you should know better too, Bob.

To condone Grayson's actions is no different than condoning Breitbart's hand in the Sherry Sherrod fiasco.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

And "Anything is better than Nothing" = "At least he's better than W"