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October 24, 2003 7:32 PM   Subscribe

"If Tom Delay is acting out of his Born Again Christian convictions in pushing legislation that disadvantages the poor every time he opens his mouth, I'm not saying he's not a Born Again Christian, but as a the Lord's humble fruit inspector, it sure looks suspicious to me. " - Bill Moyers interviews Joe Hough.
posted by specialk420 (36 comments total)

 
Wow. This interview completely summarizes what I've felt as I've watched Bush and Co. get farther and farther away from the values they claim to represent. You can say it's not a good idea to mix faith and government. Fine. But they are, and if they're gonna do it, it leaves the door wide open to criticisms from people like Joe Hough.

It's terrible to see this administration march under a standard of a faith I believe and yet see it do so little to actually put their faith into action. There's a reason why people Christian-bash, and it's in part because of fellows like Ashcroft, Bush and the rest.
posted by Happydaz at 7:40 PM on October 24, 2003


"By their fruits ye shall know them" - Jesus

I like it!


Tom Delay - AKA "Lord of the Flies"

"....You can take the man out of the extermination business, but you can't take the exterminator out of the man. DeLay, a former exterminator, watched in amusement as an enormous and annoying fly terrorized senior lawmakers and staffers for nearly 45 minutes at a super-serious meeting, which focused on Iraq, in Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) office. The fly then landed on National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis (Va.), who tried in vain to swat the insect. Then the fly decided to dive-bomb into the food, followed by a full landing on Rep. Christopher Cox's (R-Calif.) arm. Then the miscreant made the grave mistake of landing on the table between Hastert and DeLay, who seemed to feel a rush of nostalgia. "[DeLay] got this look," said one eyewitness. "His eyes kind of squinted. Then he reached slowly, slowly and caught the fly in mid-air." Then DeLay showed his colleagues a thing or two. "He stood up and flung the fly against the fireplace," said the source. "It falls to the ground and wham - he stomps all over it." When the meeting broke up, DeLay was heard mumbling on his way out the door, "The Democrats are next." "
posted by troutfishing at 8:13 PM on October 24, 2003


Hough's statements sit pretty well with me ... But he's never asked the tough question on this issue : if you believe that government has a different role than caring for the poor, and you actively care for the poor through other channels — what's wrong or un-Christian about getting the government out of the business of caring (to one degree or another) for the poor?
posted by silusGROK at 8:15 PM on October 24, 2003


"If you are prosperous on Earth, that means that God is rewarding your rugged individualism. If you are poor, it is a sign that God frowns on your reliance on handouts."
posted by homunculus at 8:16 PM on October 24, 2003


The question is, is carring for the poor the same as forcing others to care for the poor as well? i would say yes, but others would say no.
posted by delmoi at 8:22 PM on October 24, 2003


[this is freakin good]
posted by poopy at 8:23 PM on October 24, 2003


Watch out for those who truly believe themselves to be among those in the ranks of the righteous - for among the former are the vilest of snakes, murderers, and demons.
posted by troutfishing at 9:02 PM on October 24, 2003


I personally can't think of a single modern American politician who actually carries into their leadership the teachings of their professed faiths. I'm more inclined to believe such claims merely gains the support of a particular group who do so to feel they are being represented. Not that I doubt such convictions exist, but it seems most tend not to practice it at an official capacity. So I am not at all surprised by such an observation regarding DeLay. IMHO, he's simply one more self-serving asshole politician. Anyone who actually buys into anything he says, expecting him to behave a particular way based on such has not paid attention to what's been going on forever in government. I suppose we are hoping for a hero, or maybe just someone honest, but for now I must agree with the Nobel Laureate Moyers refered to that the time has indeed come for some sort of civil disobedience. I move for an end to the complacency and oust these two-faced punks already.

/rant :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 9:02 PM on October 24, 2003


what's wrong or un-Christian about getting the government out of the business of caring (to one degree or another) for the poor?

It seems to me that the government's doing a fairly good job of taking care of the rich, the powerful, and even the middle class - if it's going to take care of the top half of our society, why shouldn't it take care of the bottom half? Jesus was more concerned with the outcasts than the pillars of our society - it would seem to me that a government that followed Christian principles would act accordingly.

There's another argument to be made that doesn't specifically address Christianity - poor people who aren't cared for become a danger to any society. They riot, they commit crimes, they damage the social fabric, and worst of all, they embrace demogogues and revolutionaries. History has shown many times what the desperate will do to a society when they get desperate enough.
posted by pyramid termite at 9:28 PM on October 24, 2003


LouReedsSon : FWIW, I know politicians who really do carry into their leadership their respective faiths. There really are good people who run for office, there are even some who win, I'd be willing to bet that there are some who get re-elected. But there you go.

Pyramid Termite : you've missed the point of my statement. I am not here to argue whether or not it's government's duty to care for the poor. I am asking whether we can judge a person as being a hypocrite (or some such) for believing that it's not government's place... then working to take government out of that business — all the while making personal efforts in the arena of alleviating the fate of the poor.
posted by silusGROK at 10:23 PM on October 24, 2003


silusGROK: FWIW, true as your statement may be, I rarely, if ever, see positive changes resulting from politicians with "high moral fiber." This leads me to believe that they are either completely ineffective or simply don't exisit. Either way, I still advocate serious change at any cost.

Enough is enough. The current system is failing the majority.
posted by LouReedsSon at 10:41 PM on October 24, 2003


I am asking whether we can judge a person as being a hypocrite (or some such) for believing that it's not government's place... then working to take government out of that business

Because people shouldn't have to put themselves at the mercy of some or other religious group in order to avoid starving to death. The purpose of the welfare state is to preserve some degree of dignity and assure fairness.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:43 PM on October 24, 2003


The Bush people would fuck the religious right any time Karl Rove told them it was the right thing to do. Don't delude yourself.
posted by crunchburger at 1:39 AM on October 25, 2003


poor people who aren't cared for become a danger to any society

Why do you think we are building all these nice prisons?
posted by rushmc at 6:00 AM on October 25, 2003


If you are prosperous on Earth, that means that God is rewarding your rugged individualism.

is "rugged individualism" the same as "greedy as hell?"
posted by mcsweetie at 6:51 AM on October 25, 2003


LouReedsSon : at any cost? A little over the top for me. I'll campaign for change, and when the time comes I'll vote for it (hell, I didn't vote for W the first time 'round).

Space Coyote : I'm not sure if confusion was the goal, but quoting me and then talking about something else entirely doesn't seem to have much of a point.

Crunchburger : I'm afraid you're right.

Rushmc : I'm guessing you're being witty... but (sadly), you're not far off. In our current system of government sponsored welfare we have created a caste system, the lower castes being inmates, hereditary welfare recipients, and wage slaves.

We need to overhaul the system, and Hough's rhetoric (at least in the NOW interview) was off-message — even if it was soothing.
posted by silusGROK at 7:47 AM on October 25, 2003


"The Democrats are next"

It's interesting how history has way of making fools of jackasses like Delay. I look forward to linking back to this assinine quote somday.

and Hough's rhetoric ... off-message

ummm ... how? do you read the newspapers?

have any idea what starving the federal government of revenue will mean for state and local governments (schools, property taxes, the environment, healthcare for the disabled etc...)?
posted by specialk420 at 8:04 AM on October 25, 2003


I'll campaign for change, and when the time comes I'll vote for it

silusGROK, I can appreciate where you are coming from and have supported that very idea my entire life... that is up until we witnessed how the one power to change gauranteed to us (that silly little right to vote thing) was bastardized in 2000. The rules have simply changed as they aren't playing by them anymore.

IMHO, the powers that be are creating an us-against-them situation that will only be tolerated for so long. So yes, if this current trend continues, I will stand on my previous "at any cost" statement.
posted by LouReedsSon at 8:52 AM on October 25, 2003


I know exactly what starving the federal government will mean.

But that's not the point.

Hough is saying that the likes of DeLay, Rumsfield, et al are not living up to their Christian mandate to care for the poor because they are systematically taking the government out of the business. But that assumes that the only way for the poor to be taken care of is through some federal program or largesse. He very quickly excludes that part of his audience which does not readily agree that the federal government has a role to play in the alleviation of poverty.

I _do_ believe that our administration -- which is self-labled as being a Christian administration -- is not behaving as such, but in so many ways that focusing in poverty (and then botching that argument) does us no favors.
posted by silusGROK at 8:56 AM on October 25, 2003


(Could someone post the quote that we're all dancing around? I can't think of it nor the author exactly... but it was to the effect that "We are starving the federal government until it is weak enough to over-throw".)
posted by silusGROK at 8:57 AM on October 25, 2003


LouReedsSon ... I'm not sure there's a trend yet. But yes... if a trend emerges and continues, I will be much more apt to say "at any cost".

Aside : I don't believe that Gore lost in the halls of the Supreme Court — he lost it Tennessee and Ohio, and every other state where he didn't take enough of the popular vote to make Florida a non-issue. And honestly, I don't know that he even won the popular vote. Florida was so colorful, that the other states with obscenely close calls were never even addressed.
posted by silusGROK at 9:09 AM on October 25, 2003


siliusGROK, that would be Grover Norquist, of the "Americans for Tax Reform"

"I've been a 'winger' from way back," he says. "I was an anti-Communist first, and then I became an economic conservative. I think I've gotten more radical as I've gotten older." Today, he can barely suppress his glee at how much the movement has succeeded, saying that politics is shifting to the right while he remains constant. "I started out as a right-winger, and when I retire I want to be a squishy middle-of-the-roader," he jokes, chortling at the thought. To Norquist, who loves being called a revolutionary, hardly an agency of government is not worth abolishing, from the Internal Revenue Service and the Food and Drug Administration to the Education Department and the National Endowment for the Arts. "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years," he says, "to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

(Robert Dreyfuss, "Grover Norquist: 'Field Marshal' of the Bush Plan," The Nation, Apr. 26, 2001. http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml%3Fi=20010514&s=dreyfuss

Does any radical change count as "revolutionary," or does it have to be in the direction of social equality? That is, if Norquist and others work actively against, say, the inheritance tax, permitting wealth to be increasingly accumulated by those in the top .1% of society and kept there, is that revolutionary, or counter-revolutionary, or what?
posted by palancik at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2003


And honestly, I don't know that he even won the popular vote.

And that doesn't, er, bother you at all, the not knowing?
posted by rushmc at 10:12 AM on October 25, 2003


Rushmc : Statistically speaking, Gore and Bush were tied in so many places that it's impossible to say.

So no, it doesn't bother me... we have a recourse for that, and that's the Supreme Court.

Democracy isn't broken because the system worked as it was supposed to. The question is whether we are willing to stand by and pout while not doing something to make such a tie less likely. In my opinion, that would be some sort of automatic run-off situation.

At any rate, the only place democracy fails is when folks who think that something is broken ... but all they do is belly-ache. Gore lost fairly within the rules... don't like it? Let's change the rules.

Of course, this is all off-topic.

Thanks palancik for the quote!
posted by silusGROK at 10:23 AM on October 25, 2003


I don't believe that Gore lost in the halls of the Supreme Court

This may have also been a factor.

that would be Grover Norquist, of the "Americans for Tax Reform"

And who may have been employed by people who funded terrorist groups, it now seems (scroll down to the conversation with Loftus.)
posted by homunculus at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2003


In my opinion, that would be some sort of automatic run-off situation

We should have all yelled "do over!" like when we were kids! :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 10:51 AM on October 25, 2003


The problem with compaining about politicians (in this case self-labelled Christians) not acting in accord with their religious texts is that the texts themselves are (a) not internally consistent and (b) open to interpretation because we have events and 'opportunities' that didn't exist or have reasonable analogs at the time the texts were compiled. So the pols can pick the parts that agree with the preferred positions and desired outcomes.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:15 AM on October 25, 2003


Hough is saying that the likes of DeLay, Rumsfield, et al are not living up to their Christian mandate to care for the poor because they are systematically taking the government out of the business.

Taking the government out of the business, and doing what they can to ensure that others in the future cannot put it back into it. And working to enrich the rich. And having little or no opposition to welfare on which they and other middle-and-up class people depend, like the mortgage deduction. It is apparently only the poor who need to be defended so vigorously against horrors such as assistance.

And they have no compunction about using the law to force people to use their genitals in "moral" ways, so they can't claim any principled opposition to using the law to force people to behave in accordance with Christian doctrine. All they can claim is that Christ cares a lot more about where you put your willy than about whether the hungry get fed and the naked get clothed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:29 AM on October 25, 2003


But that assumes that the only way for the poor to be taken care of is through some federal program or largesse.

No, it assumes that poverty is part and parcel of economic policy. If you're arguing that the government should not participate in economics, including coinage, zoning, corporate welfare, etc. etc., that's one thing - but you can't have a government that sets any economic policy without the question of poverty being a consequence of it.

I don't know of a modern society that has substantially alleviated the problem of poverty without government involvement.

To answer your earlier question about hypocrisy, silusGROK, I don't think I have to go that far - naive and dangerously misguided will do.
posted by pyramid termite at 11:48 AM on October 25, 2003


Believing that the church that takes care of some poor people (of their choosing, of course) is virtuous and wanting to starve all those who don't want to prostrate themselves at the door of some religious institution and proclaim whatever faith will get them fed that night by getting the state outof the business of caring for its past and / or future taxpayers are two different things.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2003


Please don't confuse my argument (that Hough's interview was nothing more than interesting), as a statement of my own beliefs on the subject of government involvement, pyramid.

I happen to believe government _has_ a role to play in issues of poverty and the like. I just don't think that Hough calling the current administration names based on a flawed logic does more harm than good... I'd rather him argue that we're not behaving as Children of Abraham ought, for a whole slew of reasons above and beyond what he's doing in the interview.
posted by silusGROK at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2003


silusGROK I'm not saying anything about _your_ beliefs, all I know about you is these 3 or 4 MeFi posts. I don't, however, find it very 'Christian' of any politician or otherwise if then want to dismantle the social safety net and then just say 'well the church'll take care of it' ("can't someone else do it?")

My thought is that the half of the governmnent that just wants to see the poor starve to death if it'll bring them a few extra dollars on their tax returns has duped the religious fanatic half into adopting this idea that it's the church's responsibility and that this precludes the state from having a role as well. It's also a question of control for many churches. Controlling the life or death of a group of people is not something most churches in this part of the world have had the pleasure of for a long time, they probably miss the power trip.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2003


...welfare on which they and other middle-and-up class people depend, like the mortgage deduction.

Hell yeah, ROU_Xenophobe. This and many other benefits otherwise known as "wealthfare" account for 3/4 of government "handouts," but through very sucessfull propaganda, most voters are of the belief they are only supporting the "lazy" welfare recipients and will vote for anyone who's platform includes a reduction in social programs for the poor. Armed with outdated poverty levels (as if any family of four could live on $17,000/yr), our leaders convice many that such cuts will be affecting such a small portion of the population, further dividing us through a suggestion that the poor in America are so by choice (since there aren't that many in the first place) and so deserve no help.

I'll say it again... Us against them.
posted by LouReedsSon at 12:57 PM on October 25, 2003


Space Coyote ... the only one setting up folks to go to church if they want a hand up/out is you... I didn't bring it up, Hough didn't bring it up, I haven't even heard anyone in leadership bring it up (though I wouldn't be surprised).

I'm guessing you're having a conversation with someone and just letting us in on part of it.

Anyway, I've made my points.

I wish Joe Hough the best of luck in his campaign to call the leadership to repentance. I do hope, though, that his stump speach touches on more points than his NOW interview, as that point seems to be pretty weak on its face.
posted by silusGROK at 3:28 PM on October 25, 2003


I think that Grover Norquist started from a different axiom then most people, when considering government. That being, that the purpose of government is *basically* to protect its people from foreign and domestic war.
With this as the *basic* purpose of government, everything added to government beyond that is questionable.
Granted, some things are obviously desirable, or have to be accepted as inherent powers of government, logically. Many of these can be seen in the US Constitution.
But, he might ask, at what point does it stop being a federal government responsibility. And then, when does it stop being a state and local government responsibility, reserving whatever is left to the individual?
In other words, he believes that everything that government does, beyond its very most basic responsibilities, must continually be questioned, as to whether it is a philosophically legitimate act. If not, then government should not be doing it--must be stopped from doing it, even if it is popular and seemingly reasonable.

Now, I point this out *not* to defend Grover Norquist's ideas, but to show the starting point of his opinions.

comparatively, then, what are the axioms of those who oppose him, in their beliefs of how and where government should operate?
They could legitimately assert that we already *know* that lots of things government does, it does well. That we do *not* need to re-invent government continually any more than we need to re-invent the wheel each time we wanted to build a car.
They could also very reasonably argue that when it is a choice between philosophical exactitude and human need, human need should always win out--to the point where it is possible.

But I should point out the irony here. That when either side relies on philosophical or religious *certainty* to support their goals, they fall flat and people suffer as a consequence. So here is my argument:

Embrace the realistic goals inherent in both these philosophies, but disregard their ends. There can be no perfect Laissez Faire nation, as there can be no perfect Social state. Grover Norquist will never have his imaginary government of 25% any more than Teddy Kennedy will have his socialized medicine, less we all suffer so that some can revel in thinking they have maintained philosophical purity.

"Realism" is embracing the best of all worlds. Embracing ideas while not your own, are as just as well meaning.
posted by kablam at 3:42 PM on October 25, 2003


silasGROK, I wasn't confused, I was simply trying to flesh out Hough's argument a bit for him - he made one decent point, but you're right to point out that it's not quite enough, that other things need to be answered, which I was attempting to do.

I'll also say that I'm not entirely comfortable with using religious justifications for public policy - that can lead to some dangerous things.

It did occur to me that one area of hypocrisy might be when politicians would use Christian justification for their positions on abortion, gay marriage, etc. but ignore what their religion would say on poverty, etc.
posted by pyramid termite at 4:34 PM on October 25, 2003


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