I really, REALLY, don't like doing this. There are many positive things going on in our world on which I would like to focus. HOWEVER, the bad guys are in full-howl, frothing-at-the-mouth mode and, not content with the wreckage already wrought, seem determined to drive us all permanently into the abyss.
"Thug" is an apt description of my Senator, Saxby Chambliss (R/GA), for which I'd love to lay claim, but can't. Credit a friend, former Georgian and well-known historian who was visiting us. He was recalling how abhorrent he found being nominally represented by those who distort facts and pander to hate. ("Thug" applies equally well to the unrelenting, virulent malignity I confront daily in unrelenting emails from the wrong-wing, in which Chambliss is an eager fellow-traveler.)
Ugly is bad; hypocrisy knows no shame.
When the greater good of the American people is well served -- say, an economic stimulus plan to begin to repair the devastating fallout generated by the greed and corruption of Chambliss' corporate handlers and race-baiting electoral base -- Senator Chambliss hates "govm't". And for goodness sake, never let facts get in the way.
"Instead of focusing on three major issues - job creation, housing and compassion for Americans who have lost jobs through no fault of their own - to boost the economy, this bill has morphed into a bloated government giveaway." [from Sen. Chambliss' website 2/10/09]
GovernmentContractsWon.com reports Georgia got 11,821 "defense" contracts worth $6,025,053,234 in 2008 alone, $40,551,006,306 over the course of the Bush Administration (which began, lest we forget, the same year Chambliss' notoriously unseated Max Cleland in an unconscionably slanderous campaign). And Chambliss dares talk about "pork" or "earmarks"? Georgia gets about $1.01* back for every dollar it sends to Washington. Unlike, say, Alaska which gets $1.84 for each tax dollar, Georgia is merely helping to redistribute money from taxpayers to the politically well-connected.
But let a Defense Secretary -- even a holdover from a Republican administration -- lead a belated challenge to what General/President Dwight Eisenhower (another Republican) aptly named the phenomenally bloated "military-industrial complex" and Saxby? Oh, that's different.
Senator Chambliss hates government spending ... except when he doesn't, and unabashedly contradicts himself, as he reportedly did on "Talk of the Nation": "When it comes to stimulating the economy, there's no better way to do it than to spend it in the defense community." That is incorrect. That is wrong. That is bad economics. The economic multiplier effects of weapons-of-mass-destruction and weapons-of-lesser-destruction are substantially less than, say, similar amounts of money INVESTED in wind turbines or health care or education or policing or mass transit.
It's tough to choose between contempt and ridicule, so let's stick with the facts and choose both. Chambliss is an old-fashioned front for the military-industrial-security/business-as-usual complex. And, by all means, underscore "business": big business; business with lots of lobbyist and political payrolls.
Diane Nash, an underappreciated, heroic figure from America's Civil Rights movement, never let any of us off the hook. Since the people are sovereign in the U.S., if we don't like something, change it. That takes engagement. True, it's tough to stay engaged in the country which proudly includes the political party, the Know-Nothings. It's especially hard when far right wing extremists -- sectarian and secular alike -- cynically distort what they touch and trumpet their abominations. However, engagement is essential if we are to control our own destiny.
Freedom of speech** is only the beginning. It allows for us to "out" thuggery. Sunlight IS a powerful disinfectant. Then we're required to act. That includes my never letting the Saxby Chamblisses of the world forget that they have FAILED to represent ME and working hard for those who do -- between elections as well as during them.
Please understand that I do not want to silence Saxby Chambliss. I want him to shut up. He has the right to hold false views. Within a very broad range, he has the right to share those views. He has the right to sell his view to the highest bidder (assuming certain legal niceties are followed). And I have the right and the civic duty to publicly disagree.
As "The Economist" put it in their April 18th edition (p 36): "... the Glenn Becks of the world are more than just a joke." Saxby Chambliss may be less than a joke but he is 1% of the United States Senate (once Al Franken takes his seat). He is dangerously unfunny. He is not the problem; he is part of the problem. He is a symptom of the problem, which, by current evidence, is a Republican party whose members act as if their principal constituent is the mutant offspring of Rush Limbaugh and Haliburton. Thuggish.
* -- These "balance of payments" figures are taken from the Tax Foundation website reflecting data for 2005.
** -- For a preview of legendary reporter Anthony Lewis' take on the vital role of speech AND action guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, check out our YouTube video at YouTube.com/user/SunlightOxygen, featuring an excerpt of his appearance with us on "The Paula Gordon Show". The entire conversation is available (MP3) on our website. Both are free.
Thanks to the excellent newsource, Alternet.org, for reproducing Amanda Terkel's 4/13/09 "ThinkProgress" comments, in which she quotes Senator Chambliss in "Krugman Calls Out GOP Hypocrisy on Job Creation and Defense Cuts".