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The Non-elite Elites

October 7, 2009

Not too long ago I nearly drove off the road when a local NPR station’s host questioned as reasonable a caller’s opinion that all citizens should have access to the same health care plan as members of Congress. (Something I seem to recall being a frequent line in Obama’s campaign.) At any rate, this post isn’t about health care reform. The reason for my dismay was that the host didn’t site cost, or competition; but rather made what I found to be the astounding statement that members of Congress are elites, and so should somehow be entitled to superior health care.

I suppose that in an earlier time, we would all have been conditioned to view our elected officials in this way. I don’t know how old the host is – okay, it was Larry Mantle from KPCC’s AirTalk -but he did say he had always been raised with this view. I’m sorry, but in today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle; with dozens of cable channels, wall to wall aggregation of stories online, social media, etc…we have the “benefit” of a lot more exposure to our elected leaders. And it’s not pretty. Sarah Palin, anyone?

The upshot is that I find it pretty difficult to view a lot of politicians as elites. Especially in the House. (Geesh! They’ll let anyone in there.)  I see nothing wrong with ambition, or with striving to succeed beyond your innate abilities. But they open their mouths; and they go on record; and I shake my head. (I’m looking at you, Michele Bachmann!) So I’ve decided that I will be keeping track of the C- students in Congress. Ms. Bachmann is an easy a target, but today my favorite non-elite is Rep. Louie Gohmert from the great state of Texas.  Enjoy.

Update:I want to be clear on what this video is. This is Mr. Gohmert’s speech during the House debate on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He used this time to delve into his belief that the Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes Bill will be a slippery slope into government sanctioned bestiality and pedophilia. And on and on he goes from there…

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. couchrevolution permalink
    October 8, 2009 6:02 pm

    What a fucking idiot, makes me want to stab myself with a knife in the eye, take a bath in gasoline and light myself on fire. Stupid Texas Ranger Illuminazis making the world a worse place for everyone. I’m waiting for the revolution to start.

  2. October 8, 2009 5:31 pm

    Not to sidestep the issues being discussed here, but I’d like to make a point about conservatism as a political ideology:

    When people use the label ‘conservative’ to define themselves politically, they often are revealing enormous personal and social ignorance. I say this because, as they’ll often proudly admit, what they associate with conservatism is, essentially, a policy of maintaining the status quo (i.e. the root word ‘conserve’). They see this as a means to preserve morality, decency, and/or return to a previous time and place in history. This is a political philosophy that, at its core, makes no sense.

    It’s easy to casually dismiss opposing political beliefs as “insane” or “stupid” or “dangerous”… sometimes they can indeed be these things. But the entire idea of conservatism being something to apply within a political system, or even to associate with the Republican Party is outrageous and sad. It illustrates a profound state of arrogance and prejudice that has befallen a great minority of Americans. To say that you, as another citizen of the same nation, under the same government as someone else, should have the authority over them to direct their choices, and punish them for behavior that does not hurt you or anyone else, but simply offends you, is so base, so hypocritical (especially among self-described ‘Christians’) that it is simply… out of date at this point.

    Politics is, at its core, the act of managing CHANGE for a society. Society itself, year by year, generation by generation, person by person, institution by institution CHANGES consistently and dramatically. The notion of what some call “the good old days” never actually existed, at least not the way people choose to believe they did. When women were more oppressed, interracial couples were prevented from marrying, and electroshock treatment was used on people for “therapy” (and/or illegal, disturbing medical experimentation) – we still had a lot of problems, believe it or not. Just because Donna Reed was on television and homosexual people were forced to stay in the ‘closet’ does not mean it was a happy time in America… per se.

    In any event, people are of course allowed to dislike the behaviors of others. That’s not politics, that is life. Given that every life is an individual’s experience, and not a group venture – it is vital that people collectively disavow opinionated bigots from acting where they should only speak. The idea that a “conservative” movement needs to rise up with a moral authority over the rest of the country and prevent free choice among others is ludicrous, it’s scary, and it’s nonsensical.

    Trying to prevent change goes against the very nature of politics. Trying to prevent free choice goes against the very nature of being American. Moral relativity is fine, moral subjectivity is also fine, but politically, we need to ensure a direction that enables and SUPPORTS us to be free with our choices – be they opinions, romantic selection, or political affiliations.

    http://www.jamesonfreeman.net

  3. October 8, 2009 5:27 pm

    Our founding fathers and beliefs were to get away from the deviants….

    Plus, check out this dude….

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9B72KD00&show_article=1

    • Cassandra Behrns permalink*
      October 8, 2009 5:33 pm

      It kind of depends on who you’re talking about. If you mean the Puritans, then yes, they may have believed they were escaping the “deviants” in England. (Although, it was really more about escaping persecution.) If, on the other hand, you are referring to the actual framers of the Constitution (Jefferson, Franklin, Payne, etc.) you really need to reeducate yourself about who these people were.

  4. October 8, 2009 3:20 pm

    ahem, to be fair and balanced…let’s not forget when Obama said there were 57 states, just one of many mis-statements that his adoring press glosses over…and don’t even get me started on that idiot Biden (a simple google will illustrate my point)

  5. October 8, 2009 12:24 pm

    Since we can’t give all Americans the same health care plan as Congress, the solution is obvious. Give them the same health care plan as the rest of us! 🙂

    Personally I don’t feel that little green pieces of paper should decide who gets the best access to health care. I think the only way to be fair is to make the playing field as level as possible for everyone.

    • Cassandra Behrns permalink*
      October 8, 2009 12:28 pm

      So true! Give them a regular old Blue Cross HMO & see how fast we get real reform!

  6. muz4k permalink
    October 8, 2009 10:49 am

    “Evil exists to glorify the good. Evil is negative good. It is a relative term. Evil can be transmuted into good. What is evil to one at one time, becomes good at another time to somebody else.”

    -Mencius

    Define tolerance. Define victim.

    • Cassandra Behrns permalink*
      October 8, 2009 11:09 am

      Alright, this is the last you’re getting out of me. You seem to be a conservative, I would think you’d champion the rights of the individual.

      Tolerance = society allowing any individual the freedom (no, the right) to live their life in any manner they choose. Provided that these choices do not impede on the rights of any other, society should have no say. Two consenting adults in a homosexual relationship do not in any way affect your ability to pursue your life and happiness. It may, perhaps, offend your moral sensibilities, but that is not a true injury. At best, it is an affront to your intellect – and believe me, society does not care to police that. Victim = one who has an injury inflicted upon them through the actions of another. ie: The child, unable to grant consent, is the victim of the pedophile.

      And don’t you dare come back and tell me that society is a victim of a degenerating moral code. Or Evil (ooooh, scary!) Society, especially one as diverse as the US, can only thrive if laws and government evolve with the people.

      • Cassandra Behrns permalink*
        October 8, 2009 11:46 am

        Hey, muz4k: sorry if that last reply was a little less than cordial. I’ve got work to go do & you pushed my buttons! Hope we’re all good.

      • Timothy Sherrell permalink
        October 8, 2009 12:57 pm

        I know this is not my argument. I only wish to point out something that is merely a side issue. Sorry if I’m turning sinks into the sea here.

        You said, speaking of intellect, “believe me, society does not care to police that.” I assume, that when you say “society” you mean government since you used the verb “police” which is a definition for government.

        Would you say you believe America is a self-sustaining entity? The founding fathers believed it was not, which is why they passed the Bill of Rights.

        Any type of “thought police” is a violation of the 1st Amendment. The former existed before the latter and explains why the latter was needed.

        Would laws, eventually, bend in the direction of controlling thought (or speech)? That it might, is the premise of Orwell’s 1984. Our founders predicted it and contrived measures to prevent it. The suspicion of just such an outcome is one thing that keeps me voting.

        Just a thought.

        • October 8, 2009 6:44 pm

          Timothy Sherrell: I’m not quite sure that I understand your argument. Do you mean to point out some sort of contradiction in my thinking? You’ve taken an off-hand remark in a quickly written comment to have much greater significance than intended. The remark, in context, was meant to expand on my belief that legal acceptance of homosexual relationships would not amount to a true injury to the rights of someone intellectually opposed to such. (In other words, society should protect the freedom of the individual to a pursuit of happiness, provided it does not infringe on the rights of another. The fact that someone else’s life choices contradict your personal moral beliefs, does not rise to the definition of a violation of your rights.) In short, you’re free to believe whatever you want about gays, but your beliefs shouldn’t supersede their rights.

          So, if you’re inferring that I am advocating “thought-police,” you’ve misread me. Now, if you have an argument to make about the need for hate crime laws versus simply prosecuting the criminal act, that’s a debate I have with myself. Because it can’t be denied that in these instances the motivation for the crime (thought) is prosecuted along with the action itself. I have problems with that, I really do. But we have a history of laws enacted, when needed, to correct glitches in the system. Hate crime legislation gives the Federal government the ability to act in egregious cases where local law enforcement falls short of carrying out justice. (Think of lynchings not so long ago that would simply go unprosecuted.) Besides, in courtrooms all over the country every day, a defendant’s motivation is weighed as either aggravating or extenuating circumstances. Hate crime laws are there for when the line between thought and action is crossed. I still struggle with it philosophically, but my gut is okay with it.

        • Timothy Sherrell permalink
          October 9, 2009 11:05 am

          I think I did misread you a bit. I took your statement to mean that you did not believe society would ever try to control thought or intellect but I did not think you were advocating thought police. Nonetheless, I was responding to a statement made in context and it looks like I took it out of context. I thought that might be the case but wanted to find out.

          I want to address some of your above statements here.

          Just a question on this one – When you state “legal acceptance of homosexual relationships” do you mean marriage or is there another outlet, in your opinion, that would suffice, e.g. civil unions?

          Now on to hate crimes. I think I understand your reluctance to come to a clear mental standard on hate crime legislation. I just want to add one or two meditations to the pot.

          Are not all crimes involving violence hate crimes? Hate is present. Crime as the carrying out of hate is present. If all violent crime is hate but if only the crime carried out against select races or preferential groups is considered hate by law, then discrimination is built into said law. I have a problem with this kind of narrowly defined legislation. Once we start defining down legislation or other legal acts to involve specific groups or members of society, there is a chance it may accomplish the opposite of its purpose, in terms of how it effects the broader scale of all members and groups of society. Calling crime against a particular group of citizens “hate” is using a persuasive definition. Of course, Congress does this all the time in the naming of legislation.

          Lastly, hate crime legislation is one thing. Hate speech laws, quite another. I oppose the enactment of hate speech laws on many grounds, philosophically speaking. The thought police is alive and well in countries with hate speech laws. America has thus far been able to avoid that blunder, for the most part.

        • October 10, 2009 10:57 am

          Only have a quick minute to respond before I have to run out the door, so sorry if I’m not too detailed.

          First, yes I mean marriage for gays, not civil unions. As a function of the state, and not the church or other private entity, full marriage rights (called marriage) should be applicable to all couples above the age of consent. (Which, for the record, I think should be higher in most states. But I digress…)

          Secondly, I’ve already discussed my hesitance regarding hate crime law, but I think you’re being purposefully simplistic when you define all violent crime as hateful. I’ve read your posts & think you’re smart enough to make the intellectual leap to understand the difference. If I hate my neighbor (because her dog pooped in my yard, or she slept with my husband, or I don’t like her bad attitude) and I beat her with a shovel – it’s hateful, but not a hate crime. If, on the other hand, I hate her because of her identity as a lesbian, or Jew, or African-American (and violently act upon that hate) – that’s a hate crime.

          It has long been an accepted goal of government to protect the few from the tyranny of the masses. So we have, and will continue to have laws that seek to protect particular groups. Our understanding of which groups deserve protection is constantly in flux. Ideally, we would not need any of these special protected classes of citizens. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world.

        • Timothy Sherrell permalink
          October 13, 2009 8:55 pm

          You’re right. I do understand the difference between a crime that is hateful and a hate crime as understood through law and society. I am not, however, intellectually limited to agree with the language used in presenting such legislation. I guess that is my real grievance with “hate” crime legislation. I think the language of a law effects the way that law is applied to a person.

          Say, for instance, a white man murders a black man. If we can prove that he did it and he is therefore sentenced to some punishment as a result of the murder, why are we concerned with what to call it? We know it is called murder, which is always bad and always hateful. Does calling it a hate crime really accomplish anything? Does it make the punishment any more stiff? If it does, then we are discriminating on the basis of race, which may eventually undo any progress we have attempted to make in that area. Sometimes in attempting a thing we sow the seeds of its destruction into the method of carrying it out.

          The color of the victim or the murderer should not make a difference in sentencing. The law is supposed to be blind. In that case, the only effect of calling it a hate crime is on society itself and not the law from which comes the language. Except once society is affected the law is also affected as an extension of society. How can the societal effect of using such language do anything but inflame race passions. By doing so, we give select races a victim mentality while other races are made the oppressors.

          One might suggest calling such a murder a hate crime raises awareness for race relations. That is fine as long as meaningful conversations are held as a result of it. If not, then perhaps selecting one or two groups of people as special victims is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          “There is nothing more potent in the hand of the oppressor than the mind of the oppressed.” – Steven Biko 1971

        • October 14, 2009 11:12 am

          Sure, murder is murder; but hate crimes are more than that. They not only affect the victim and his family, but also the other members of his group. By this I mean that murder committed against, say a black man, when the motivation is hate effects all blacks through fear and intimidation. It’s an act of terror. Which, in fact, is another good analogy: murder through acts of terrorism is still murder, but not many would argue that society’s response to terrorism should not be elevated. In fact, I would point out that most of the people who are currently kvetching about “thought crimes” in the Matthew Shephard bill (John Boehner, Tom Price, etc.) had no problem with the Patriot Act or the “Global War on Terror.”

          The funny thing is, Timothy, that the more I discuss this with you, the more it removes any ambivalence I have toward the legislation. All laws are part of the societal contract, and as such are defined by society. Society has every right to declare that some crimes are in their very nature worse than others. Would you argue that genocide is just like any other murder? I assume you would not; but what is genocide except a hate crime on a very large scale?

          No, I think the current debate is much more about a thinly-veiled attempt to avoid extending equal protection to a class of people that many on the right still find distasteful. No one will be prosecuted for their thoughts, only their actions. In fact, as I alluded to in a previous comment, the legislation is written so that it won’t even be enforced, except in cases where justice is diverted, whether due to local law enforcement, judges or juries. There were 7000 hate crimes reported in this country last year, 1500 against members of the LGBT community. That’s nearly 20 acts of hate, and over 4 against gays every day. That sows fear and does nothing to make our nation stronger.

          In the United States, you are still free to think and say whatever you want, short of incitement to violence. If some people feel societal pressure that they feel discourages them from voicing their prejudices, too bad for them; and good for the rest of us. That doesn’t mean they don’t retain their first amendment protection. There is nothing is this bill inconsistent with the Constitution or with the greater aims of our nation. We are not, as you say, picking one or two groups to declare as special victims. Current law protects against discrimination based on race and religion (anyone’s race, anyone’s religion), the expanded legislation would cover gender as well as sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. That protection would apply to all. Just imagine if the far right’s worst nightmare came true and the “Gay Agenda” took hold, who would protect your rights as a heterosexual? Hey, I know: this bill!

  7. muz4k permalink
    October 8, 2009 10:26 am

    I’ll leave it to you to find the comments I’m addressing here.

    I’m sure we disagree on a few key fundamental points, so this may end by our agreeing to disagree. Those points being:

    1. Morality has an absolute source (measuring tape).

    2. Our government is trying to make morals relative (non-absolute), to please greater masses, get themselves re-elected)

    3. We shouldn’t trust our government.

    The funny thing is, we probably agree on that last one, so I feel like you’re contradicting yourself. You trust the government to NOT allow crushing and beastiality? 25-30 years ago, homosexuality would have been just as disturbing (yes, it would). Are we sliding? I think so. So this is a moral thing.

    Ghomert is a personal friend, and one of the few that I believe still stands for morality in government. I applaud him for being will to look like an idiot at times. 🙂

    • Cassandra Behrns permalink*
      October 8, 2009 10:39 am

      Thanks for your civility. You’re right, we are going to agree to disagree. I agree that this is a moral question, and you are correct that we are sliding. But I believe we are sliding up hill toward the light of tolerance. I just wish we could get there faster; that I could grab people like Rep. Gohmert & drag him along for the ride.

      Also, anyone should be able to see that the difference between homosexuality, bestiality and pedophilia is that there is no victim with homosexuality.

  8. October 8, 2009 10:01 am

    I disagree mus4k. This isn’t a serious point, although it is a serious topic. Rep. Gohmert is using the old standby “slippery slope” argument, which first year philosophy students admit doesn’t hold water, regardless of the accent in which it is delivered.

    “If we let 2 gays marry, next thing people will be marrying their pets…” OR “If we allow crush videos, next thing we’ll have The Human Sacrifice Channel on cable…”

    No. Just because we as a society deem one thing ‘morally acceptable’ doesn’t mean we cede our rights to later say that something else further down the slippery slope is IMmoral.

    Agreeing that ‘sexual orientation’ is a protected class when it refers to homosexuality doesn’t mean that we’ve automatically given up the rights to later say ‘bestiality’ is NOT a protected class under the same sexual orientation clause. Bestiality is cruel & unusual, and most would agree, immoral. That line is not erased when we allow gay marriage.

    BTW, lest anyone think I support a filmmaker’s rights to distribute crush videos, I do not. It’s simply an argument currently in the news that (I hoped) illustrates my point.

    • Charlie permalink
      October 10, 2009 7:42 am

      I am a libertarian and often find both political wings offensive for personal liberties…which is what our country is founded upon. Government shouldn’t be in the marriage business. The federal government is designed to have very limited yet strong power…and should NOT be defining social practices. Our rights are not granted to us by our government but are inalienable in our existence.
      We have created a golden calf to idolize and fight over by having benefits associated with marriage. Subsequent rights with a federal ‘box to tic’ as civil partnerships for ALL partnerships will resolve the problem. People both gay and straight will marry and not have rights contingent upon whether a partnership qualifies to marry or not…it is not illegal for gays to marry, but rather not acknowledged…quite different. With ‘civil partnerships for all’ at the federal level, it will not be necessary to convince an entire population that any of their practices be redefined or altered. Freedom does not require homogenity. Partisanship has put forth intentional polarity which does not serve the people. One’s practices should be protected, not pitted against one another.
      The slippery slope argument is absurd. People will do what they want in their privacy regardless of what the government suggests is acceptable. Progressives, both right and left, wish to control, and manipulate society ‘for its own good’ though typically leave us with more poverty, more crime, crippling debt, higher prices and less rights in spite of their efforts. Laws should be kept to ‘did anyone get hurt or take what doesn’t belong to them?’
      Keeping a public arguing over morality (which is always left to interpretation), distracts us from much greater issues. Regulation has collapsed our economy not lack there of. Our socialized monetary policies have enabled the Fed to print money at will, elasticize our money so Progressives can spend money on unnecessary wars and more programs. Their ‘fairness’ has left us with a dollar now worth less than 5 cents. See who is co-sponsoring the unprecedent effort to audit the Fed (HR 1207) and who opposes the transparency that we deserve. see RonPaul.com

      • October 10, 2009 11:11 am

        Running out the door, but would love to address your comments on marriage, because you have some very interesting ideas. Will have to do so later.

        But, quickly, because I just can’t help myself: Progressives are spending money on unnecessary wars?!?! WTF? Now, I know your boy Ron Paul has been very vocally against these wars since the beginning; but can we not just reset that statement to something closer to the facts? Maybe Libertarians didn’t create the wars, but neither did Progressives. Just take a look at the opposition Obama is getting from his very own base on this. I give Paul props on the war & some stances on personal liberties; but it is absurd to assume that society would be better off if government made no efforts on behalf of the people. Plus, if you get me started on Paul’s convoluted, warped and conspiratorial theories on the Fed my head might just explode.

  9. October 8, 2009 9:56 am

    comment

  10. muz4k permalink
    October 8, 2009 9:14 am

    Are you discriminating against him because of his southern accent, or because of his moral stance? He’s making a very serious point on a very serious topic. Granted, his delivery isn’t the greatest, but if we discredit what he’s saying based on his charisma, we can be sold anything.

    • Cassandra Behrns permalink*
      October 8, 2009 9:31 am

      No, I’ve lived in the south for much of my life – this isn’t about any accent. It’s about the sheer idiocy of his arguments. It’s not even so much that I (obviously) disagree with his position on this issue. It’s that I know a thing or two about valid, logical arguments, false equivalencies, and over-the-top rhetoric. Mr. Gohmert may be quite sincere in his fears, but they are based in ignorance. Were he an elite that I should truly respect, he could put together a cogent argument, devoid of the fear-mongering and thinly-veiled hate. Don’t forget that his speech was during the debate about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – and he managed to derail himself into a discussion of how the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill is going to lead us into legalized bestiality & pedophilia. Classy!

  11. steve permalink
    October 8, 2009 4:47 am

    bwahaha, he used “articulate” in the same sentence as “black.”

  12. Steven Harris permalink
    October 8, 2009 3:23 am

    The moment politicians consider themselves different from, or superior to those they represent is the time to dsmiss them from office. How can you represent the people if you do not realise that you are one of the people?
    http://doctorbeatnik.wordpress.com/

  13. October 8, 2009 1:41 am

    Exactly right! Civil servants are just that- servants. Why should they get better healthcare than firefighters, postal workers or any ordinary person? It’s not about decreasing quality of care for Federal Employees, it’s about giving *everyone* that level of care.

  14. October 7, 2009 9:27 pm

    I could only watch about 40 seconds into the video. The stupid burnt too much.

    Dana made a good point.

  15. wigera permalink
    October 7, 2009 9:17 pm

    Check out my wicked sick profile at the good game ROBLOX

  16. danakennedy permalink
    October 7, 2009 6:47 pm

    Cassandra, I’m totally in agreement with your point of view. The founding fathers of our country not only DIDN’t consider themselves elite, but they did everything possible to prevent the formationof and elite class. We don’t have royalty in this country, no matter what the NPR radio host may have learned as a child!

    On a general note, great blog; I really enjoyed it! Keep up the good work!

    Dana Kennedy
    see my blog at http://danakennedy.wordpress.com/

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