Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 20, 2011

AN UNSHAKABLE PERSECUTION COMPLEX.... I missed the speech yesterday in which a House Republican compared health care reform to tyranny of King George III, so I was glad to see Greg Sargent track it down.

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), a freshman, railed against the individual mandate provision -- which was a Republican idea, by the way -- which he considers unconstitutional. "As Virginians, we did not accept the chains of George the Third," Griffith said. "Nor will we accept the chains of Obamacare."

This is obviously very silly rhetoric from a right-wing politician who's trying too hard, but it fits nicely into a larger pattern of Republicans with a deep-seeded persecution complex. Greg explained that GOP officials have a "comical" tendency to "compare their current situation to that of history's leading victims of oppression, persecution, and genocide."

After noting several recent examples from prominent far-right voices -- including the "blood libel" and "pogrom" incidents from last week -- Greg added, "It's hard to know what motivates this kind of thing. It's almost as if these folks are suffering from what you might call a world-historical inferiority complex. They're desperate to imagine themselves as actors in an ongoing drama that rivals the most momentous struggles and conflicts in human history. So they just play-act the part.... It's all so pathetic and adolescent."

Well said.

I'd add, while we're on the subject, that this notion that the individual mandate is some kind of unprecedented, abusive power-grab from a government gone mad really is ridiculous. The Center for American Progress had a report this week on how fairly common it is for Congress to exercise its legal authority to regulate.

Existing federal laws require millions of homeowners, for example, to purchase flood insurance. Nuclear power plants to purchase liability insurance, whether they want to or not. The Civil Rights Act mandated businesses engage in commercial activity that owners found objectionable. George Washington even signed a law requiring much of the country to purchase firearms and ammunition. (The 10th Amendment never came up.)

It's precisely why Republicans didn't think the health care mandate was unconstitutional when they came up with the idea -- it's consistent with how the government has operated for generations.

Morgan Griffith may believe his own nonsense about "chains," but his twisted understanding of reality is nevertheless absurd.

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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I knew this asshat would embarrass us in Virginia's 9th, I just had no idea it would be so soon. Yikes.

Posted by: Cando on January 20, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Steve writes: ". . .Republicans didn't think. . ."

That pretty much sums up the politics in Washington. Because thinking is hard, and posturing is easy. So, let's knock off for the day, and go fishing. I'll bring the beer. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 20, 2011 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Bringing up George III strikes me as little more than bringing up the "Tea" in Tea Party, which has been their metaphor all along; what, really, is new here? Griffiths getting to give that speech he (clearly) always wanted to give... is just kind of, I don't know, cute in a high school student council kind of way, or the Hollywood ending to a do-gooder movie. The insurance mandate as Taxation without Representation metaphor is definitely misplaced (though there's a lively discussion to be had rehashing the history of the pre-Revolution complaints), but so what? If the mandate holds up in court (we'll see), then the opposition is meaningless and if the mandate gets junked, then we'll all have to see if there's another way to go about it. So much of this repeal debate has been so silly, but especially so, to me, in the way lefty bloggers have tried to make the GOP's words and actions on repeal seem especially crucial or worth the endless discussion. They wanted repeal, and now they've done it. They said a lot of stupid stuff along the way. None of this matters very much. Now, can we get in to stuff that really does matter?

Posted by: weboy on January 20, 2011 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

One other type of insurance mandate...many states require car owners and/or drivers to have car insurance with no claims of this being some kind of government tyranny. These claims are ridiculous.

Posted by: Dr Cheese in WI on January 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

People used to be required to sign up for the draft, too. Was that tyranny?

Posted by: cld on January 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's clear why they always have to play the part of the victim:
"Cause, if you ain't the victim, you're the VICTIMIZER!
Oh, pity the victim - the poor, downtrodden majority. Trying to maintain relevancy and power as it becomes the minority.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 20, 2011 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot to list Buchanon's "lynch mob" comment.

Posted by: JEA on January 20, 2011 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ad nauseum Benen...

What part of FREE in FREE-markets do you not understand?

The governments should NOT have the right to stop me from using my money and property in any manner that I see fit! If I want to buy half of southwest Virginia and turn it into a toxic waste dump, the governments should NOT have the right to stop me. As a matter of fact, that sounds like a good investment opportunity. We should be able to make a good return on investment by turning Griffith's congressional district into a nuke waste dump!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

This is a long-standing attitude of the Right. Back in 1964, Richard Hofstadter pointed it out as a then-long-standing attitude of the Right in "The Politics of Paranoia." It is in fact one of their basic organizing principles.

A year ago in another forum frequented by both sides, I described a campaign that had been run against me by some right wingers, a campaign that shocked most of the people on that forum. But not one of the conservatives, who proceeded - after saying he was shocked to hear this - to talk about how conservatives were always persecuted by the left. When I asked him to provide some examples, he couldn't, but still maintained that it was a well-known "fact" that the left constantly persecuted conservatives for their conservatism.

It's just more proof of the alternative universe these morons exist in.

Posted by: TCinLA on January 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

The entire Republican Party, along with the Tea Party (the two together are the Republican't Party) seem to be chapters of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), the folks who bring you Renaissance Faires. Heck, I'm in a Civil War reenactment musical troupe myself, but don't think of the Rebs as traitors, or run a station for the Underground Railroad in my basement (the black lady who has a room in my basement is not in danger from slave-catchers, just from anti-gay bigots).

So we should just consider the GOP as the Modern Confederate States of America (MCSA), a sub-chapter of the SCA. I must say that most of the other people in the SCA are considerably more sane than the Republican'ts.


Posted by: Ed Drone on January 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Did any Dem take the floor and rip this guy a new asshole? Didn't think so.

Posted by: bdop4 on January 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

I make the most of all this stress
I try to live without regrets
But I'm about to break a sweat
I'm freakin' out

It's like a poison in my brain
It's like a fog that blurs the sane
It's like a vine you can't untangle
I'm freakin' out

Every time I turn around
Something don't feel right

Just might be paranoid
I'm avoiding the lies
Cause they just might slip
Can someone stop the noise?
I don't know what it is
But I just don't fit
I'm paranoid

I take the necessary steps
To get some air in to my chest
cant hear the thoughts inside my head
I'm still freakin' out

That's why my ex is still my ex
I never trust a word she says
I'm running all the background checks
And she's freakin' out

Every time I turn around
Something's just not right

Just might be paranoid
I'm avoiding the lies
Cause they just might slip
Can someone stop the noise?
I don't know what it is
But I just don't fit
Consider me destroyed
(Consider me destroyed)
I don't know how to act
Cause I lost my head
I must be paranoid
(Must be paranoid)
And I never thought it would come this
I'm paranoid

Stuck in a room of staring faces
Caught in a nightmare, can't wake up
If you hear my cry, running through her street
I'm about to freak, come and rescue me

Just might be paranoid, yeah
(Might be paranoid)
I'm avoiding the lies
Cause they just might slip
Can someone stop the noise?
(Someone stop the noise)
I don't know what it is
But I just don't fit
Consider me destroyed
(Consider me destroyed)
I don't know how to act
Cause I lost my head
I must be paranoid
(Must be paranoid)
I never thought it would come to this
I'm paranoid

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 20, 2011 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

As a Virginian, perhaps this fool-of-a-Confederate might imagine the entire GOP as Pickett's Division at the Battle of Gettysburg. You know---thousands marched out; dozens came back; that sort of thing....

Posted by: S. Waybright on January 20, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

That was by fhe Jonas Brothers.... By the way.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"World Historical Persecution Complex"

That is the funniest fucking thing I've heard in a long time! A "new" Amerian neurosis to celebrate! Republicans always get their cake and get their "victim" on too!

Amazing, what will they think of next?

Posted by: Trollop on January 20, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Doh, "American"..

Posted by: Trollop on January 20, 2011 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Well weboy what makes you think that those asssocks will ever get to anything substantive?

Posted by: Gandalf on January 20, 2011 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

"People used to be required to sign up for the draft, too. Was that tyranny?"
Posted by: cld on January 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Some of my parents' friends did think so, at least one of whom is still in Canada.
I'd say the jury's still out on that one.
Especially given the disparities in racial, ethnic, gender, and class impacts on the draft as it was actually applied.
But if your point is that Publicans = hypocrites, then yes, clearly, very much so.

Posted by: smartalek on January 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Deep-seeded"? You mean "deep-seated". You've got to be more careful.

Posted by: DRF on January 20, 2011 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Look at it this way: Section 8 of COTUS (is that the correct acronym?) says at first that Congress has power to levy taxes for common defense and for general welfare. That validates things like Social Security and Medicare, and would validate the Public Option had it been part of the ACA as it should have. But at end of S8 we do see that Congress has ability to accomplish the first goal via appropriate legislation, which provides some cover it seems to even the mandate. But seriously, as "progressives" aren't we supposed to be suspicious of program features too handy for private businesses like a mandate to buy from them? There should at least be a PO, and BTW self-professed Democrats/Liberals/Progressives should not be ridiculing those who promote that latter viewpoint, calling them stuck-up perfectionists etc.

Posted by: neil b on January 20, 2011 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Not to get to far off topic Mr. Benen, but DRF is right. The expression is 'deep-seated' not 'deep-seeded'. It is apparently a common contemporary error, but the original term meant that an idea was 'deeply seated within one's breast.'

Posted by: William E. Elston on January 20, 2011 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing King George III would have charged more then $95 in 18th century dollars as a penalty for not complying with one of his edicts. Earth to Republican freeloaders: Shut up and buy health insurance for your families.

Posted by: max on January 20, 2011 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Call it what it really is...a tax incentive.

If you don't have children then you don't get the child tax break. If you rent instead of own your residence you don't get the mortgage tax breaks...

If you can't afford the cost then the gov. will help you pay for it. We really should stop calling it a mandate and just refer to it as a tax incentive...but then we are dealing with liars who will misinform the public dramatically to make themselves look deserving of power and respect...truth be damned.

Posted by: bjobotts on January 20, 2011 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

bjbotts is right, if the "punishment" for not buying insurance is not getting a tax break rather than a criminal penalty. I wasn't sure it was completely like that, is it?

Posted by: neil b on January 20, 2011 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Deep-seeded" sounds like it ought to make sense, but if you plant seeds too deep nothing comes up.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on January 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK



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