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By David Podvin
As someone who is passionately in love with the America that was envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am enraged by the ineffectual opposition to George W. Bush as he takes our country in exactly the opposite direction. The Unelected One continues to rupture the economy with his Marie Antoinette-style economic approach while he generates international contempt towards the United States with his bullyboy foreign policy. Bush divides our citizenry by pampering the rich at the expense of everyone else and promoting conformity as a superior alternative to individuality. Rather than incurring righteous indignation, he is treated with the greatest of deference by the ostensible opposition party while being continuously canonized by the corporate media. Those who are charged with the responsibility of telling the truth about this travesty have been intimidated into silence.
Thankfully, there are a few high profile citizens – all too few – who have been fighting the good fight. They have been upholding the noblest American tradition by following in the footsteps of Dr. King, who was so committed to social justice that he refused to back down even when forcefully confronted by the malevolence of this nation’s morally bankrupt power structure. These fighters serve to remind us that there are still Americans whose devotion to democracy is stronger than their instinct for self-preservation.
The following is a brief note of gratitude to four individuals who have fought back. I do not present them as glorious heroes who are always right, but as fallible human beings who have been courageous enough to adamantly oppose the evil that is being inflicted on the United States of America by George W. Bush.
It turns out that the toughest man in the Senate is a woman.
You have consistently battled Bush on behalf of your constituents, although this has gone largely unreported because you are politically incorrect. Unlike your craven Minority Leader, you behave as though you sincerely care about the people who vote Democratic. You have fought hard to stop Bush from turning the federal courts into an alumni association of segregationists. You have opposed his efforts to close child abuse clinics, destroy the environment, trample civil liberties, and repeal civil rights. It has often been a singular and futile struggle, but at least you have made the effort.
You told the truth about Iraq when virtually everyone else in Washington was more interested in pretending that Hussein was really Hitler and vast piles of camel dung were really horrifying weapons of mass destruction.
You have also been honest about the Bush tax “cut”, which is just a redistribution of wealth plan in which the upper class gets to raid the Treasury now and the middle class gets to pay off the deficit later.
As reward for your integrity, you are Number One on the Republican hit parade in 2004: Barbara Boxer is at the top of the list of Democratic senators targeted for electoral extinction. The GOP insists that you are vulnerable, but if the people of California can recognize honor and valor when they see it, then you will win in a landslide.
On the Academy Awards telecast, you broke through the corporate media’s Soviet-style prohibition against telling the truth about the stolen 2000 presidential election. Actually, you screamed the truth over an orchestra that had been instructed to silence you. In the USSR, they sent political dissidents to the gulags – in Hollywood, they drown you out with the theme from The Summer of ‘42. For being honest about Bush, you were vilified as a “traitor” by the right wing slime squad and – of course – condemned for behaving “inappropriately” by their liberal enablers.
Standing with you are the Dixie Chicks, three performers who made the mistake of believing that freedom of speech extends to people who sing through the nose. The anti-war trio had their songs pulled from country radio stations that continued to play the material of wife beaters. Even more ignominiously, the Chicks were the objects of derision from America’s favorite super patriotic singer of detestably bad songs, Vince Gill. He is the Bush supporter who persuaded super patriotic Amy Grant to ditch her husband and young children in order to join Gill in a fundamentalist Christian relationship based on the Republican family values of adultery and child abandonment.
You are a Constitution-waving populist who is widely condemned for your Constitution-waving populism. Vince Gill is a flag-waving phony who is widely praised for his flag-waving phoniness. We owe this perversion of reality to the corporate media, which vilifies principle while lauding hypocrisy. Viacom and Disney and General Electric are desperately seeking to eliminate regulations that restrict their ability to monopolize the flow of information in this country. The resulting media credo is that supporting Bush is virtuous, while opposing Bush is seditious.
As long as the communications conglomerates continue to tell self-serving lies for love of money, America will continue to need pariahs like you who tell forbidden truths for love of country.
Not only do you tell the truth, you tell the truth about CORPORATE AMERICA! which controls network television and both political parties and everything else in this nation.
You examine the failure of the hyper-profitable and mega-phony “War On Terrorism”, which is a crusade that has less to do with foiling suicide bombers and more to do with securing sweetheart contracts from a corrupt administration.
You reveal that the federal government is basically a currency exchange center at which multi-national corporations convert millions of dollars of campaign contributions into billions of dollars of taxpayer cash.
You routinely expose Bush as the habitual liar that he is.
And you are totally unapologetic about it. In fact, this week you again shamelessly crossed the line by delivering a deeply moving summation of what Memorial Day really means. You spoke of the brave soldiers who died at Normandy. You explained that they did not give their lives so that Kenneth Lay could swindle his shareholders and employees, or so that buccaneers could fill the public airwaves with sewage, or so we that could have an economic system that embodies the law of the jungle. You said that our honored dead sacrificed themselves protecting freedom and democracy and equality, and that it is therefore our moral obligation to also protect those principles.
The speech was beautiful in a subversive way that rarely surfaces in public. After hearing your heresy, it is easy to understand why Barry Goldwater called you “that vicious son of bitch”. And why Richard Nixon said you were a “prick”. And why Karl Rove reportedly despises your very existence.
So, when are you available to be cloned?
Alone among the members of Congress, you voted against giving Bush the authority to use 9/11 as an excuse to shred the Bill of Rights. Even our girl Boxer wavered on that one, but you were rock solid, personifying the very definition of courage: grace under pressure.
The Republicans threatened to get you unless you capitulated. Even though you represent a politically “safe” district, they vowed revenge if you were disobedient. And you had every reason to believe that they meant it; the GOP had already destroyed Jim Wright, who was also from a politically “safe” district. If they could take down a powerful Speaker of the House, then it seemed logical that they could decimate little Barbara Lee.
But you refused to be intimidated. You gave an eloquent speech in which you noted that it was unwise to destroy freedom in the name of saving freedom. At the moment of maximum irrational frenzy, yours was the lone Congressional voice of reason.
You are one of the rare politicians in American history who has emerged unscathed from the great patriotic crucible: You did the right thing at a time when doing the right thing was extremely dangerous, and you did it because you cared more about your country than you cared about yourself.
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