Apr
05

The Man Behind the Curtain

By

I just came back from a lunch date with Mark Cates, the aerospace engineer who made a run for City Council last election cycle. Mark, who has started commenting here at the Hooligans, would most likely describe himself as a conservative. And as such, he has received a lot of thumbs down when it comes to his commentary and political beliefs.
I tried to approach our lunch with an open mind, because I do not share a lot of Mark’s beliefs about the role/effect of government. I was mainly interested in meeting the person behind the commentary.

It can be very difficult to evaluate what someone is saying if you can’t look him/her in the eye while they are saying it.

And while Mark was wearing sunglasses for most of our lunch, I was able to get a better view of him as someone other than that “conservative guy” who often comes across as “the victim” on these boards.

I have met a lot of the folks that are regulars here. Michael, Gordon, Tom, Shad, Aric, Keith Thomson, Diogenes, T.J. And I can say that meeting them has given me a broader idea of what they mean when they are commenting.

As a political cartoonist, I told Mark that I voted for him for the same reason I voted for Carl Mumpower last time he ran—–I knew that I would always have something to draw about!

And I’ll vote for him again if he decides to run. Not to make fun of him (much), but to have someone on Council who can bring reasoned arguments and a different perspective. Too much of one side or the other makes for an imbalance that I am not comfortable with.
Thanks for lunch, Mark, and good luck with all of the current stuff that has landed on your table.


Categories : Local

Comments

  1. Diogenes says:

    The question I have for you, if you’re serious and you voted for him, ( if only so’d you have some worthy material for your cartoons) do you trust him with the future of your children and grandchildren? Does he see the world & all the creatures in it in a way that the best possible future for your children will result? Can you trust him to do the right thing? Will he know the right thing when he sees it? When I vote, I generally look for someone who sees the world accurately & does the best right thing for future generations. I’d have to see the list of candidates the next election Mark Cates is in before I decide, but I doubt, based on what I know now, that I’d vote for him.

    But I’d have lunch with him anytime.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  2. Diogenes says:

    ps. No sketch, no doodle, no illustration???? Very disappointed.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  3. Matthew Hoagland says:

    Congratulation, Mark, now that the election is over, you’re ScruHoo title has now officially changed from “TEA Party radical,” back to aerospace engineer.

    Good to see a rare sign of open-mindedness from this blog…

    Thumb up 6

  4. David Cohen says:

    Diogenes—
    that’s a pretty tall order for ANY candidate to fill.
    I don’t know that I would do the right thing every time I was presented with a choice.
    And seeing the world accurately? My guess is that that is the most open-to-interpretation of the requirements you asked for in a candidate.
    Can you say that you see the world accurately all of the time?
    I can’t.
    And when you say based on what you know, is what you know what you have read here on Scru Hoo, or have you had in person conversations with Mark?
    All I’m saying is that now that I have sat down with and listened to Mark, my opinion is much wider and inclusive than what it used to be.
    And I told Mark that I would leave my sketchbook at home. I did bring it, but didn’t open it.
    Maybe I’ll do a doodle of you……………..

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  5. Mark Cates says:

    A post about me on the front page… ; -)

    David,

    [would most likely describe himself as a conservative.]

    I wouldn’t say that. If I were to be asked the question in casual conversation, I would describe myself as an Abe Lincoln/Teddy Roosevelt Republican.

    Diogenes,

    [...do you trust him with the future of your children and grandchildren?]

    As I stated to David and TJ at lunch, one of the reasons I have taken an interest in politics is because I am a concerned father. I have a pretty good life, that I enjoy very much. Being involved in politics isn’t something I desire, as much as recognize a very real need.

    [When I vote, I generally look for someone who sees the world accurately & does the best right thing for future generations.]

    Does the “right” thing include raising fees on the some of the most vulnerable people in Asheville during one of the worst economies? Not to me. I still find that hard to fathom, but the city did this. But since one was recycling, does that mean I am not rightly concerned about the environment? Not at all. I just think putting food on the table is a much higher priority right now.

    Is it the right thing to take a mercury container and hang it over my sons head in the form of a CFL bulb? Watching my son throw a ball around the house makes me think it isn’t. Given the technology and dispersion rates of mercury from coal fired plants, I believe the plant is far less dangerous to my son than the bulb hanging over his head at school. Is that me seeing inaccurately? I see it as common sense and good parenting.

    Right now, my 8 year old is about $50,000 in debt to the US government and climbing rapidly. I don’t see that as right. His local gov’t is operating off the belief that they will have the same amount of money from the feds and state in the future, as they do today. I think that is a risky position to take with my son’s future and well-being. Hence, I will continue to “right” the current situations.

    PS: Before anyone says water rates were raised on businesses… that’s not the only people who were affected by the 27% increase. As I said, it impacted some of the most vulnerable in our community.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  6. Ascend of Asheville says:

    Mark: If your son is $50,000 in debt to the US government, and I assume you are talking about national deficit here, why do you and yours keep voting for people who keep growing that deficit while at the same time eroding the tax base and investments that would get rid of it?
    “Trickle down” has been shown to be an unworkable sham, education in the hands of religious institutions and private companies has a horrible historical track record when it comes to equality of opportunity and freedom of inquiry, and the actual performance of Republican leadership over the last several decades puts the lie to the rhetoric of “smaller Government”.
    Those on the right also seem to be unable to stay out of the bedrooms, school rooms and examination rooms of Americans because they are afraid that the aforementioned free inquiry and unrestricted personal freedom will kill their God, weaken their racial strain, and offend their twisted sense of moral superiority. (And yes, I know, sap them of their precious bodily fluids.)
    So, if you are more reasonable than that, more economically responsible, more intellectually honest and more socially accepting than that, then all I have to say is, welcome to the Democratic Party.
    Fiscal prudence is no crime, but I got to tell you, that is not the defining characteristic of the group you have been hanging out with.
    …and I’m sorry about the “fuck-tard” bit, as long as we’re all getting our fence mending equipment out. I’m glad you are part of the conversation.

    Thumb up 5

  7. TJ says:

    “I’m glad you are part of the {conversation}.”

    Finally settling in for the night, and caught the thread.

    I am glad I met Mark, and feel it was a worthwile endeavor. I appreciated the conversation, although, I had gone not intending to speak about politics at all, and it just be a “get to know ya’” thing. I was not surprised, though, as it is what got us together to begin with.

    I left with the feeling that I met with two really cool/interesting people. As we shared a bit of our “story” with each other, there were several touchpoints we had a sense of similarity. Many same concerns, perhaps with different ways of approaching a solution (although, like I said at lunch, I actually enjoy the process most of all).

    It was a striking example of how having different perspectives offer wider opportunities (i.e., looking at root causes at the same time a “bandaid” is applied), and allows for people of different backgrounds working on an issue together. Just like I don’t want the “thought police” ruling my life, I don’t want to do that in turn to someone else. We all have various gifts and passions. I agree with David about diversity… if we all think the same way, we could miss someone with a valuable idea that is out of our sphere of experience or knowledge.

    David, I appreciate your openness to listening to someone you know who has different perspectives than you.

    Mark, I appreciate your willingness to meet, uncertain how it would be, and in a sense, being vulnerable with two others vs. you. I know many people who won’t even talk to ONE person they feel might be disagreeable. I also appreciate you sharing a bit about yourself.

    This kind of dialogue is what is needed for anything to move forward. I really hope others will do the same, in their own personal circles, and hope they have the chance to meet interesting people they might otherwise not wish to associate with.

    Mark, I cannot lie…I did not vote for you, but, I respect your efforts to improve life around you in ways you feel passionate about.

    Thanks guys, for the great conversation. And David, I still want to know where my cartoon is ;-).

    Mark, I am glad you enjoy the banter on SH, and definitely want to see your comments (even when I don’t agree ;-) ). And, yes, take good care of yourself, and I hope your “stuff” goes well.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  8. nick s says:

    Right now, my 8 year old is about $50,000 in debt to the US government and climbing rapidly.

    No he isn’t, so stop being so silly; and it’s your own fault for putting a rope-ladder on your wall.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  9. mat catastrophe says:

    “Right now, my 8 year old is about $50,000 in debt to the US government and climbing rapidly.”

    If we’re all supposed to share equally in the national debt, then why can we not share equally in the nation’s wealth?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  10. Mark Cates says:

    TJ,

    [I left with the feeling that I met with two really cool/interesting people.]

    [I am glad I met Mark, and feel it was a worthwhile endeavor]

    Feelings mutual TJ. Although, don’t forget I’ve watched you at TKD testing!

    Mat,

    [If we’re all supposed to share equally in the national debt, then why can we not share equally in the nation’s wealth?]

    Always trying to make something more than what it is, aren’t you? I didn’t say we are all supposed to share equally in the national debt. I said my son’s obligation right now is 50K. That’s a very common method used by http://www.usdebtclock.org/ to describe our debt, as I am sure you already knew.

    Or are you saying you were unaware that this is a standard method of describing our debt? If that is the case, then I am glad I am share that with you.

    However, asked me what I thought, I would respond with, “I’m pretty sure his obligation will be much more than others.”

    But applying your logic could be interesting. If we all aren’t going to share equally in the debt, then it appears you would be okay with him keeping more of his money than others. Very kind of you.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  11. Mark Cates says:

    David,

    There is no curtain. I think that is what throws the hard-core progressives (and Mat) off.

    Ascend

    [Mark: If your son is $50,000 in debt to the US government, and I assume you are talking about national deficit here, why do you and yours keep voting for people who keep growing that deficit while at the same time eroding the tax base and investments that would get rid of it?]

    You don’t know who I have voted for, so your assumption is inaccurate. Regardless, the national debt increased under Clinton, Bush and Obama. Clinton had the luck of a great economy and a much more disciplined Republican Congress. Bush had the Clinton bubble, the tragedy of 9/11 and bad spending policies, while Obama inherited all of this plus his own massively bad spending policies.

    However, keeping taxes at a minimum is crucial because I trust you more with your money than elected officials. When too much of your money goes to taxes, crony capitalism and waste becomes even more rampant. Look no further than the billions lost on all the green bankruptcies. Heck, just the other day I suggested we drop bags of stimulus money on Lael Gray’s doorstep, because I thought she would be a better steward. I could add you to that list if you like?

    Don’t get me wrong, I see the benefit of spending taxpayer dollars. My best friend in California loves the new dog park that was built with stimulus money and that study on whether people are more likely to have sex if they have been drinking was worth every penny. How else would we have ever known that fact, if not for that study?

    [“Trickle down” has been shown to be an unworkable sham”]

    I think crony capitalism is the big problem. Not trickle down.

    [‘education in the hands of religious institutions and private companies has a horrible historical track record when it comes to equality of opportunity and freedom of inquiry”]

    Can you back that up with something more concrete and modern?

    [‘ and the actual performance of Republican leadership over the last several decades puts the lie to the rhetoric of “smaller Government”]

    Fair point. It’s really been disappointing. I was a big critic of Bush II’s spending, as were many Republicans.

    [Those on the right also seem to be unable to stay out of the bedrooms]

    As I said to David and TJ, I don’t support trying to use gov’t to force one’s ideology. It would be better for all citizens, if gov’t stayed out of bedrooms, doctor’s office, and so on.

    [‘school rooms and examination rooms of Americans because they are afraid that the aforementioned free inquiry and unrestricted personal freedom will kill their God”]

    So you support school choice and are against the Affordable Heatlhcare Act? Interesting. On Weds, my son asked me why he wasn’t out of school at the same time as some of his friends. I told him that he goes to private school and they go to public school. He asked me how much public school costs. I said it’s sort of free, but paid for with taxpayer dollars. I swear he said this and then I almost fell over laughing, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to pay for both?” When I stopped laughing, I had to tell him that I do pay for both. He simply looked at me like I was crazy and said, “That’s dumb.”

    [“offend their twisted sense of moral superiority”]

    That’s a really tempting one to respond to, but with all the love in the air I will just let it go.

    [‘So, if you are more reasonable than that, more economically responsible, more intellectually honest and more socially accepting than that, then all I have to say is, welcome to the Democratic Party.”]

    You lost me… if you could please direct me to the Democratic principles that would be appreciated. Here are the Republican Principles:

    I am a Republican Because…

    I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

    I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

    I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

    I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

    I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.

    I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

    I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

    I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

    FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

    Cheers!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  12. TJ says:

    “I swear he said this and then I almost fell over laughing, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to pay for both?” When I stopped laughing, I had to tell him that I do pay for both. He simply looked at me like I was crazy and said, “That’s dumb.””

    Don’t you love it when your kid makes more sense than tons of adults around us? I say we put a few kids in office. If they know so much better (like the ads would suggest re: sense of fair play, etc.), maybe the worst we would have to contend with is who gets to be the line leader next time. ;-)

    Okay, I am just kidding…but, it really WAS easier to deal with my son would stand in front of me with chocolate circle on his mouth and say, “nnootthing,” with that funny, guilty face. Now, I have to listen to agency people say with ALL seriousness, “how ELSE can ‘we’ ‘help’ you today? (after helping with NOTHING), and looking dumbfounded when I don’t respond in a grateful manner.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  13. TJ says:

    “I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored”

    “I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.”

    “FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government”

    Okay, Mark, this is what confuses me…

    For dignity and equal rights to exist, we must allow for differences, even when we don’t approve of others’ choices or lives(Now, I know this can be interpreted to extreme, so I am not talking about illegal activities for this discussion).

    I don’t know EVERY Republican’s stance, but, the ones I do know, none of them approve of gay relationships. They do NOT agree they should have equal rights or benefits. They see them as a “scourge” on our society, to be isolated and converted (if possible), and, for goodness sake, we don’t want them teaching our children, do we?!

    Now, there are points I DO agree with. However, for me to settle in somewhere, I have to feel safe. Denial of anyone’s rights does not feel “safe” to me. I guess I am baffled at times, because so many from the “right” see the future as one where THEY will be judged harshly and unfairly, imprisoned or martyred for their beliefs and choices based on those beliefs. I guess THEIR rights are of great importance, because they are on God’s side. (I don’t know many Republicans who are not religious, so, if there are, I don’t mean to offend).

    I am not completely sold on ANY party, to be honest. However, reputation-wise, D’s have been known to be more concerned with social issues than R’s.

    How to find that happy middle ground? I don’t know, and I don’t know many who do. However, I can’t just pretend all is good, just because one side tilts more in my favor than another.

    How to reconcile this with my personal beliefs? Well – I’m still working on that one, too.

    I just like when people still have questions, and don’t seem to think they have all the answers (I am not accusing you of that, I am just saying, because I have known people like that).

    Dialogue.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  14. Davyne Dial says:

    ““I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored”
    “I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.”
    “FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government”

    That sounds real good. BUT history shows many Republicans believe much differently. Democrats may also believe differently, but they’re not openly spouting their disdain.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  15. Mark Cates says:

    Davyne,

    [BUT history shows many Republicans believe much differently]

    If anything history does not show that. From slavery, to civil rights, to the founding the Progressive Party in America (Teddy Roosevelt).

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  16. Mark Cates says:

    TJ,

    There’s alot of Democrats you need to have a talk with in California. They voted for Prop 8.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/05/MNH413UTUS.DTL

    And perhaps Obama and Bill Clinton…

    [For dignity and equal rights to exist, we must allow for differences...]

    I would suggest we need to allow for more freedom.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  17. Davyne Dial says:

    “If anything history does not show that. From slavery, to civil rights, to the founding the Progressive Party in America (Teddy Roosevelt).”

    As you well know a year in politics can be a lifetime. So reaching back to Roosevelt and the Progressives, (as a progressive myself proud to be in Teddy’s company) Lincoln and the Civil Rights movement, is a lifetime ago….lately Republicans have strayed for to the right of those very laudable beliefs. And you know that. These days, Goldwater and probably Reagan would be chastised as being liberal wienies.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  18. Jessica Britton says:

    Mark Cates says: “I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.”

    Does that include folks like me, Mr. Cates? Members of the LGBT community? How do you stand on the discriminatory Amendment One that is coming up for a vote?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  19. Mark Cates says:

    TJ,

    [I don’t know EVERY Republican’s stance, but, the ones I do know, none of them approve of gay relationships. They do NOT agree they should have equal rights or benefits.]

    Many Republicans and Democrats are against what they see as the redefining of marriage. That’s very different from equal rights or benefits. In the world of sound bites, that nuance doesn’t make as much news.

    Davyne,

    [That sounds real good. BUT history shows many Republicans believe much differently.]

    As well as Democrats, but I am glad you think it sounds good. I look forward to you supporting Republicans that you believe will uphold those ideals. No doubt, there is truth in your statement but I think it also neglects the nuance above.

    [Democrats may also believe differently, but they’re not openly spouting their disdain.]

    Odd that you would say that Democrats don’t openly spout their disdain. See this blog for openly spouting of disdain:

    http://www.scrutinyhooligans.com

    I suppose one could make the argument that they aren’t Democrats…

    […lately Republicans have strayed for to the right of those very laudable beliefs. And you know that.]

    Yes, I do and I have been using my own time and money to change that situation.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  20. Davyne Dial says:

    “[Democrats may also believe differently, but they’re not openly spouting their disdain.]~Davyne

    Odd that you would say that Democrats don’t openly spout their disdain. See this blog for openly spouting of disdain:
    http://www.scrutinyhooligans.com“~ M. Cates

    Referring to ongoing current, national issues Mr. Cates. Also it’s just not manly to continue whining about how mean people are to you, especially when you continue to play devil’s advocate.

    Thumb up 6

  21. Mark Cates says:

    Davyne,

    The hardcore progressive community in AVL practices uncivil behavior towards those they disagree with. I will continue to point it out when I see it.

    I’m secure in my manhood, but thanks for your concern.

    This blog is mostly about spouting disdain… so not sure what your point was about current issues.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  22. shadmarsh says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for coming here to spout your disdain for our spouting disdain. Circle of life!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4