Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 29, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), he of "terror baby" fame, is fond of wandering onto the House floor at odd times and sharing odd thoughts that pop into his head. Last night, Gohmert offered this gem:

"We have people on welfare and I know there's some that just don't wanna work, but there's some that do. How 'bout if instead of the welfare, we give 'em an alternative. We'll give you so many acres that can provide land where you can live off of it, make a living and we'll give you seed money to start, but you have to sign an agreement that you'll never accept welfare again. How 'bout that? We got plenty of land."

He really said that. It's on video.

I'm not sure quite where to start with this. I suppose the first question is whether Gohmert's Republican colleagues would be comfortable with Congress handing over large swaths of federal land -- for free -- to low-income Americans.

Second, I'd like a definition of "welfare," since it really isn't limited to the poor. ExxonMobil receives all kinds of subsidies from the government. Is that "welfare," too? Dose Gohmert intend to having over "so many acres" to oil giants in exchange for the elimination of subsidies in the future?

And third, I'd love to hear more about implementation. If a family is on food stamps in, say, Florida, and there's plenty of federal land in, say, Utah, does Gohmert envision a federally funded migration/relocation program? All in the hopes of eliminating food stamps forever?

Walid Zafar concluded, "If any of this sounds familiar, it should. Gohmert's proposal has vestiges of the much-misunderstood 40 acres and a mule deal offered to former slaves after the Civil War or the relocating of 'undesirable' populations into predetermined plots of land."

I shudder to think how many lawmakers will be in Congress next year who share Louie Gohmert's intellect and understanding of reality.

Steve Benen 2:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

Vote Gohmert! The future is sharecropping!

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on September 29, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Before reading to the end I was wondering where the mule was...so transparent when someone of the intellect of Gohmert speaks...he's thinking of all those Non-white people who are on welfare...because of course he wouldn't want to have a FACT BASED opinion...kinda goes with the sign someone in CA was carrying at a Tea Party rally about teaching a man to fish and Dems lose a vote! Wishing we hit as hard on them about prividing cover and giving "welfare" to those BIG EARNERS who already have the largest % of the money here...this country is DOOMED to continued ignorance and class warfare...Stay tuned!!!

Posted by: Dancer on September 29, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

it's less reminiscent of the 40 acres and a mule (which, very few former slaves actually got) than it is of the Homestead Act.

Not such a bad idea, actually, in 1862, since it made the West.

Posted by: g on September 29, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

ROTFLMAO! That's the most truly socialistic idea anyone in Washington has proposed in years! Give away government land? Give it to the poor? That's the kind of talk that got the Gracchus brothers assassinated in the ancient Roman republic, for daring to threaten the power of the land-holding class. Well, apparently even Socialism IOKIYAR.

Posted by: T-Rex on September 29, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

So, if someone signs Gomer's pledge, then has a kid (and perhaps is a subsequent failure at subsistence farming), what happens to the kid? How does the kid get fed, clothed, etc?

Posted by: kth on September 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see. There's 14.9 million unemployed people in the US. And the United States government owns approximately 650 million acres of land. That comes out to nearly 44 acres apiece.

That does it. I'm throwing off the chains of corporate labor and making my way to the Promised Land! I hope my 44 acres are close by.

Posted by: chrenson on September 29, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

So if we give 'em land, would they then be eligible for farm subsidies? Or does that count as "welfare"?

Posted by: MAE on September 29, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Also: Gomer seems to think that means-tested welfare is a major constituent of either the budget or the growth in the deficit. Maybe he should look at the numbers. Though of course it's perfectly obvious that his concern about welfare recipients has nothing to do with the numbers.

Posted by: kth on September 29, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wait 'til Gohmert unveils the plan to annex Canada. Then we'll have all kinds of land!

Posted by: Will on September 29, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Do these dingbat political figures of the GOP realize to what extent the nations competing with the US are grateful for their idiocy?

By totally sabotaging the economy, the infrastructure, the underpinnings of social cohesion - they are hobbling the US, just as China, Russia, India and Brazil are racing out of the gate.

I speak to Russians who are completely dumbfounded that US political discourse is as absurd as it is - the media, the political leadership and the public discussion is centered on vacuous topics of absolutely no consequence to the purpose for which one has a government and a political leadership: to advance and strengthen the nation.

Sad.

Posted by: SteinL on September 29, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Because the skills, temperament and culture developed by life in chaotic inner-cities or mobile-home parks translate easily to a life of subsistence agriculture.

And when they fail, as they would, does the govt let them starve and die?

I don't understand the general fixation of certain personality types on "welfare". Very little of federal taxes go to "welfare."

Posted by: flubber on September 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of clues for the gentleman from Texas:

The good land is already being used.

Giving away poor quality land (as was done with a lot of homesteading in the West) just changes urban poor with access to some services to rural poor without access to services.

The great majority of farmers in America today are stretched to make a living completely on the farm; many take outside work to sustain their farms.

Posted by: Wapiti on September 29, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

The levels of irony in this statement are just astounding, considering the level of subsidy payments that support the average farm and/or farmer in America. Hey, why not end welfare for farmers?

When it's urban it's welfare and the people who receive it are sponges at best. When it's rural, it's agricultural support and the people who receive it are real Americans and patriots.

Posted by: Barbara on September 29, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

"I shudder to think how many lawmakers will be in Congress next year who share Louie Gohmert's intellect and understanding of reality."

If this happens it's only because there is a majority of people in this country who in fact think this way. Nauseating...on so, so, many levels.

Posted by: stevio on September 29, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I like it.

Let's have the government seize land held by giant agribiz corporations and redistribute it to the landless poor.

Fidel must be laughing his ass off.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 29, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Listening to our elected officals proves the schools in this country are graduating idiots.

Posted by: Schtick on September 29, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

It is just so darn easy when one of the wise ones speak . I bet right now Obama is depressed that he didn't think of giving away someone else's land .
No no no , he needed to come up with one of them smarty pants idears that fashioned a prudent investment in the engines of the economy to start the forward growth of employment .
Sheesh wotta maroon .

It is pretty certain that if we were all republicans every thing would be better than okay , cuz then , everything would make sense , then .
Heck of Job Gomie (Gohmert) .

Posted by: FRP on September 29, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, many conservatives, particularly in the mountain west, would be quite comfortable with giving away federal land to private landowners. Many of them have been traditionally hostile to the large landholdings by the feds, and view public ownership of land (or ownership by land trusts like the Nature Conservancy) to be forms of "socialism." More private landownership means more local control -- and sometimes it means more money in the local economy. Not that I think this isn't a loony idea, but it isn't accurate to say that it isn't consistent with what passes for "conservatism" in Gohmert's neck of the woods.

Posted by: Jorge on September 29, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The question is: How drunk was Gohmert, when he wandered onto the floor. . .

Posted by: DAY on September 29, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

This has been said a million times, but to a wingnut: "Welfare" = "lazy brown people".

Posted by: bikelib on September 29, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Where will they get the land? The "Reservations", of course. As with tigers and zebras, white-dogs never change.

These day's, though, we're better "equipped".

Go on, try it...

Posted by: Ten Bears on September 29, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

As dumb as this idea is on many levels, I must confess that many Republicans and Tea Party'ers in states west of the Rocky Mtn's would like to give -- or sell -- federal land to individuals or corporations. They do not believe its legal for the feds to own large swaths of these states.

The real question for them is whether we give -- or sell -- the land to the rich (and or mineral/hydrocarbon extraction industries) or give land to the poor. If the poor they might object. If done in lieu of welfare maybe, so long as those folks are allowed to sell the land to the rich when they discover how difficult it is to make a living on small plots (165 acres and a plow, etc.).

Posted by: davidi on September 29, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

This actually sounds a lot like the 19th Century concept of Poor Farms.

Posted by: Objective Dem on September 29, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I want forty acres and a mule... ;-; Instead I have 40 hundred square feet of hillside with no sun.

Posted by: Crissa on September 29, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Forty acres, ok, but where is the mule?

Posted by: Skocpol on September 29, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be happy with 10 acres if I could upgrade the mule to something cool like a unicorn or a pair of white tigers.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on September 29, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Like I've always believed the difference between a Republican and Democrat is simple. When a Democrat thinks of what America's problems are they look up, when Republicans think of the same problems they look down.

Posted by: Archon on September 29, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

My 'favorite' thing about all these mo-fo's like Gohmert is that they have for the most part been in government or government-dependent jobs for all of their 'working' lives. The only non-government employment Gohmert has ever had was 10 years in private law practice in a backwater Texas county, where I would bet a good part of his practice involved helping farmers swindle additional subsidy payments from the government; otherwise, he has been on the government teat his whole life, first as a JAG corps lawyer, then a Texas judge, and now a Congressman.

And BTW, does the 650 million acres of national land cited above include national parks? If so, the guys that get the plots on the top of Half Dome or in Death Valley are going to have a pretty rough time of it!

Posted by: dcsusie on September 29, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

to crown it all, note that the Great State of Texass has very little federal public land - one of the conditions that bunch of white supremacists (oops, Patriots) imposed on entry to the US of A. So Louie Louie is also, implicitly, inviting the poor brown people of his state to go where the garbage goes - Somewhere Else.

Posted by: gulo on September 29, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Given recent (r) comments, I assume he calls unemployment checks welfare, so I'll bite:

Give me a plot of land with a value well exceeding the remainder of my max. UI claim-- $9,000+

I will then promise not to pay into, or take, unemployment insurance ever again. But then, Gohmert probably wants the recipients to farm the land, or whatever would make the idea stupider.

Posted by: Half Elf on September 29, 2010 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you fir the read Mr. Benen,but quite frankly,you expect far too much of our elected leaders! What idiots they are! Just leave it at that. -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 29, 2010 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

May I have a couple acres of Manhattan?

Posted by: exlibra on September 29, 2010 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

I've already asked for Mt. Rushmore where, in gratitude for my piece of paradise, I will carve the likeness of Louis Gohmert just to the right of Lincoln.

Posted by: jrw on September 29, 2010 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"But then, Gohmert probably wants the recipients to farm the land, or whatever would make the idea stupider."

Maybe he just wants to set people up for a visit from the man from M0nsanto. "Our seeds blew onto your farm. You owe us everything you've got. Pay up."

Posted by: Forrest on September 29, 2010 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! Steve, Utah. We made it to the big time. A great conversation to have would be how places like here (Utah) - America's own Zion - that are such hotbeds of tea party mendacity, got to this place. Utah is 2/3 federally owned, and has been abused by the Feds for 163 years.

Our situation is disgusting vs so many of the Southern States that spout their bullshit about the Feds. Gohmert is a cunt - I am reading Hitchens memoir and this is an acceptable substitute for man according to him. Texas does well, and always has.

Having known, and had family who participated in homesteading - and incidentally been laid over a barrel and screwed hard with oatmeal lube by the Federal government - Gohmert's romantic notions of the practice are romantic, if one prefers rape to consensual intercourse.

I am ready to box with this slutpuppy now if he will show up.

I am ready for a rant and flame. A bit more wine than was absolutely necessary, and a major positive turn in life events - whoulda thunk. Warm, fuzzy, positive, and ready for a brawl.

Posted by: henryedward on September 30, 2010 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

Aren't there large swaths of uninhabited desert in the Southwest? Couldn't the Gov. create large, oh let’s call them reservations, and we could move all the welfare folks there, and things would work out well. If they don't want to go, the cavalry could round them up and walk them out there.

This hasn't been tried before, has it?

Posted by: Marc on September 30, 2010 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

Farming is easy! anyone can do it! Just ask Rep. Gomort!

Posted by: rea on September 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK
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