Monday, October 27, 2008


Elected officials can talk a good game at election time- they all want to cut your taxes, reduce health care costs, support the troops (always the troops- they will never say "support the defense contractors"), but what are they really doing and who are they really listening to day in and day out? A typical example of who really exerts influence over Congress is Georgia's first term Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss. A small town trial lawyer out of Moultrie, Georgia, he ran for Congress in 1994 and won a seat in the new Republican majority that swept the Democrats out of power that year. After his election, Saxby morphed into a loyal Republican who had no particular influence or prominence until the infamous 2002 Senate election when his campaign ads were so viciously unfair (photos of incumbent Democratic Senator Max Cleland next to photos of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein) that even renegade Democrat Zell Miller took to the air waves to denounce them. But his voting record has been pure big business, never once bucking his party or President Bush on any issue relevant to the average voter.

Of particular interest in 2008 is the fact that Senator Chambliss has supported deregulation of financial institutions while opposing any protections for consumers, regulations of credit, or relief for homeowners, leading to the subprime mortgage crisis and the current credit freeze. A look at who has given to his campaign illustrates where his true allegiances lie:


American Bankers Assn $9,000
Bank of America $5,500
Branch Banking & Trust $1,000
Cash America International $-500
Citigroup Inc $5,500
Credit Union National Assn $7,500
Financial Services Roundtable $2,000
Independent Community Bankers of America $1,000
JPMorgan Chase & Co $6,498
Regions Financial $2,500
SunTrust Banks/Georgia $5,500
Wachovia Corp $2,500
Washington Mutual $1,000
Wells Fargo $5,000


Fannie Mae $10,000
Fidelity National Financial $5,000
Mortgage Bankers Assn $1,000
National Assn of Realtors $4,000
Wells Real Estate Funds $5,000

Saxby Chambliss also opposed any health care plan that would provide low cost insurance to individuals or which would have allowed family members with pre-existing conditions to purchase insurance, because that would hurt the bottom line of insurance companies and HMO's. Although Senator Chambliss claims to be a champion of reducing government spending, his actions were the opposite-- he supported the disastrously expensive Medicare prescription drug benefit which prohibited the federal government from negotiating discounts from pharmaceutical companies. Again, one need only to follow the money to see why he voted the way he did:


American Academy of Ophthalmology $2,500
American Assn of Clinical Urologists $1,000
American Assn of Orthopaedic Surgeons $6,500
American Assn/Oral & Maxillofacial Surg $1,000
American Chiropractic Assn $1,000
American College of Radiology $2,500
American Dental Assn $5,500
American Dietetic Assn $1,000
American Interventional Pain Physicians $5,000
American Physical Therapy Assn $4,000
American Society of Anesthesiologists $5,000
Cooperative of American Physicians $2,000
American Hospital Assn $4,000
Federation of American Hospitals $1,000
HCA Inc $2,500
Tenet Healthcare $1,000
Triad Hospitals $2,500
Universal Health Services $1,000


Acadian Ambulance Service $500
Aetna Inc $3,250
Centene Corp $0
Express Scripts $2,000
Louisiana Healthcare Group $2,000
United Surgical Partners International $1,000
UnitedHealth Group $2,000
Wellpoint Inc $8,000


Abbott Laboratories $5,000
Amgen Inc $4,500
AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals $5,000
Biotechnology Industry Organization $1,000
Bristol-Myers Squibb $2,500
Covidien US $5,000
CR Bard Inc $2,000
Cryolife Inc $600
Edwards Lifesciences $500
Invacare Corp $1,000
Johnson & Johnson $4,500
Novartis Corp $6,000
Solvay Pharmaceuticals $6,000
Steris Corp $2,000
Wyeth $1,000

Finally, to explain why Senator Chambliss failed to take any action to ensure that there were enough troops, adequate body armor, and proper equipment when he voted for war in 2002, and to explain his continued unwavering support for spending over $10 billion a month in Iraq- over $600 billion total to date (much of which went to large American defense contractors), one need simply look at who has put money into his campaign:


BAE Systems Inc $1,000
Boeing Co $3,500
EADS North America $1,000
General Electric $8,500
Goodrich Corp $4,000
Honeywell International $6,500
Lockheed Martin $10,000
Rolls-Royce North America $3,500
Textron Inc $5,000
United Technologies $6,000
Vought Aircraft $1,000


Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow $3,000
Ball Corp $1,000
DRS Technologies $4,000
General Dynamics $8,500
Harris Corp $2,500
Raytheon Co $6,000
SAIC Inc $2,000
Sierra Nevada Corp $1,000


Alliant Techsystems $1,000
Armor Holdings $1,000
Emergent BioSolutions $9,700
General Atomics $1,000
Northrop Grumman $7,500
SRA International $1,000
Washington Group International $1,000

It's sad that this is the legacy that Saxby Chambliss will leave behind when he finally exits the Senate. Anyone who votes to keep him in office should forswear complaining about big spenders in Washington or an unresponsive government. The government is responding-- but only to those who can afford to pay for influence.

If you have read this far (and I congratulate you), here is a bonus for the voter who craves information. This is the questionnaire I sent with the responses from Senator Chambliss' compaign which they were kind enough to send me whilst in the middle of a hard fought campaign. Note his responses to questions 12 and 13 on campaign reform and his acceptance of contributions from companies which have federal contracts:

1. Would you support or oppose a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, and what are the reasons for your position?

a. I have previously voted in favor of a Constitutional amendment regarding the desecration of the flag to restore the Constitution to what it was before unelected jurists, in a 5 to 4 decision, changed it. In 1989, five justices ruled that flag desecration, including burning the flag or any number of similar offensive acts, is speech. The amendment I supported would have returned the power to protect our flag back to the Congress of the United States. Every state legislature in the Union called for this amendment and I was disappointed it failed. The desecration of this unique symbol, our national symbol, causes everyone in the communities in which it occurs to suffer. Out of respect for those who gave their lives defending our flag and out of appreciate for this symbol for so many around the world who seek the freedoms and opportunities our country offers, we should not allow our flag to be desecrated.

2. Do you want to see Roe v. Wade overturned in the Supreme Court, and what are your reasons?

a. Human life is sacred at all stages of development. As a father and a grandfather, I believe that life is precious and gift from God. We must protect the life of the unborn. I am pro-life and I believe that abortion should be illegal except to protect the life of the mother, or in a case of rape or incest.

3. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, would you support a federal law banning on all abortions? Why or why not?

a. Human life is sacred at all stages of development. As a father and a grandfather, I believe that life is precious and gift from God. We must protect the life of the unborn. I am pro-life and I believe that abortion should be illegal except to protect the life of the mother, or in a case of rape or incest.

4. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, should abortion laws be left to the States? Why or why not?

a. Human life is sacred at all stages of development. As a father and a grandfather, I believe that life is precious and gift from God. We must protect the life of the unborn. I am pro-life and I believe that abortion should be illegal except to protect the life of the mother, or in a case of rape or incest.

5. Should the federal government be allowed to listen to Americans’ telephone conversations and read their e-mails without a warrant issued by a judge, based on probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed or is being planned? Why or why not?

a. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution has long been interpreted to protect Americans from unreasonable search and seizure, and within that interpretation a warrant issued by a judge has been required in order to listen to the telephone conversations or read the email’s of anyone located within the United States. I believe that this basic Constitutional right has been guaranteed by our Court today. That being said, our Constitution, until recently, had never extended Fourth Amendment rights to individuals, including Americans, overseas. I supported the FISA Amendments Act earlier this year which included additional legal protections for American citizens located overseas. Under the new FISA law, the government must obtain a warrant from a judge in order to listen to the telephone conversations or read the emails of individuals overseas who the government reasonably believes are U.S. persons, which even includes non-U.S. citizen, legal alien residents of the United States.

6. Do you support or oppose an amendment to 42 U.S.C. §1983 which would eliminate defenses of qualified immunity? Why or why not?

a. Qualified immunity does not grant government officials absolute immunity from personal liability or unconstitutional actions, but only in limited situations. The Supreme Court has attempted to define the precise contours of qualified immunity in its jurisprudence over the past thirty years. I do not believe qualified immunity should be eliminated but I do believe it should be narrowly construed according to the tests laid out by the Supreme Court. I believe that individuals who work for the government should be provided with certain protections for work that they are directed to do because of their employment. Our legal system has protected individuals in the private sector who act within the scope of their employment, but these protections are even more important for individuals acting under the color of law. For example, a police officer who is charged with confiscating a drug dealer’s home must be protected from lawsuit for merely carrying out orders. However, if a government employee acts outside of the Constitution or outside of the scope of their employment, they should be held liable without qualified immunity.

7. Do you support or oppose extending the reach of the Constitution to all persons in federal custody or control inside or outside the United States, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or national origin?

a. I support the application of equal and humane treatment of all in custody of the federal government regardless of religion, ethnicity or national origin. Within the United States, individuals in federal custody benefit from the full reach of the Constitution. Outside of the United States, one must consider the circumstances and all of the relevant and applicable laws and treaties. For example, in time of war, the President may detain enemy combatants under authority derived from Article II of the Constitution as well as under international laws which the U.S. is a party to. In these circumstances it may not be practical or reasonable to offer enemies of war the full legal protection afforded by our Constitution, but in no instance do I support the inhumane or cruel treatment of those individuals.

8. Do you support or oppose a law which would ban all forms of torture, including waterboarding, by any agents, employees, or surrogates (“surrogates” meaning persons acting at the direction of or in cooperation with) of the United States?

a. I do not support torture and have supported legislation which banned specific techniques which Congress and the American public believe to be deplorable. For example, I supported the Detainee Treatment Act which limited the interrogation techniques that could be used by our military. Congress found that certain techniques are so objectionable that they merited explicit prohibition. For example, the U.S. Army Field Manual forbids “forcing a detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee; using duct tape over the eyes; applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or other forms of physical pain; waterboarding; using military working dogs; inducing hypothermia or heat injury; conducting mock executions; or depriving the detainee of necessary food, water or medical care.”

9. Do the annual deficits of over $400 billion and the increase in the federal debt of over $5 trillion during the last eight years concern you? Why or why not?

a. We have faced many national crisis and disasters in recent years that have put a strain on our national budget. September 11, 2001; war in Afghanistan and Iraq; natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina; and the current economic crisis. These were things we could not ignore and have put a strain on the national budget. But that said, I do not want to leave the bill for my grandchildren. That is why I believe we need greater spending cuts and John McCain is just the man to lead our country in that direction.

10. If you support deficit reduction, should it be achieved in part by raising taxes? If so, what (and whose) taxes should be raised?

a. Raising taxes is not the answer – raising taxes would only hurt hard working Georgians especially during these tough economic taxes. I do not support raising taxes. We need a focused plan of spending cuts.

11. If you support deficit reduction, should it be achieved in part by cutting spending? Other than “waste and fraud” (an expenditure never supported by any candidate in the history of the United States), which of the following areas in the federal budget should be cut or frozen (and please specifiy whether you are advocating a cut or a freeze): the military, job creation, farm subsidies, Temporary Assistance for Needy Children, Medicaid, energy exploration subsidies to oil companies, ethanol subsidies, Food Stamps, urban renewal, infrastructure repairs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security, Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Other (and please specify the “Other(s) to which you refer)?

a. I am an original cosponsor of a bill to establish a Sunset Commission by which government programs would be evaluated for efficiency and effectiveness, ultimately resulting in their termination based on their review.

12. Would you support a law banning federal campaign contributions from companies and their employees who are doing business with the federal government?

a. No. Corporations or companies may not contribute to a federal election. Individuals or employees of any corporation or company may participate in the political process by making personal contributions to federal candidates or, if their employer has a authorized Political Action Committee (PAC), they may voluntarily participate through the employer’s PAC. Every American has the right to participate in the political process. Political contributions are a form of speech and are protected under our Constitution. Furthermore, candidates are required to disclose contributions in excess of $200.

13. Have you accepted any campaign contributions from companies or their employees which have federal contracts? If so, why? If not, why not?

a. Yes. Please see answer to 12.

14. Would you support or oppose a law which would ban all solicitations by candidates for federal office, and all contributions to candidates for federal office, and which would fully fund federal elections from public funds? Why or why not?

a. No. As I mentioned in my answer to 12, I believe that it is important for citizens to have the opportunity to participate in the political process and contributions within the proscribed limits of the law are appropriate.

15. What were the stated reasons of the United States government for invading Iraq in March of 2003? Did you agree or disagree with those reasons at the time? Why or why not?

a. In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. needed to reevaluate the threats it faced from foreign enemies and terrorists. In the fall of 2001, the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan in response to the attacks and effectively eliminated al-Qa’ida’s safehaven there under the Taliban. As al-Qa’ida fled Afghanistan, the U.S. began to examine other nations which were sympathetic to or state sponsors of terrorism which could pose a threat to the U.S. On top of that list was Iraq. By the fall of 2002, the available intelligence stated that Iraq had WMD and ties to terrorism. Based on the available intelligence which supported the threat that Saddam posed to the United States, I supported the October 2002 congressional authorization for the use of force against Iraq as did a bi-partisan group of 76 other Senators. After the United States went to war with Iraq, it was proven that the prewar intelligence was severely flawed due to poor analytic tradecraft, poor intelligence collection, and a general misunderstanding of Saddam and his intentions by our intelligence analysts. I supported the Iraq War because, along with the majority of Congress, I was convinced that Saddam Hussein needed to be dealt with decisively and that the status quo—of intentional deceit to UN inspectors, regional aggression, human rights violations, and support to terrorism—was neither sustainable nor acceptable.

16. What are the stated reasons of the United States government for remaining in Iraq in 2008? Do you agree or disagree with those reasons? Why or why not?

a. I continue to support the war to ensure that Iraq does not pose a threat to the U.S. or foster instability across the Middle East in the future. The U.S. needs to help provide the security and stability the Iraqi people and government need to effectuate their own governance. Only when this happens will Iraq be able to deny permanently safe haven for terrorists. All responsible observers of the situation in Iraq agree that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal at this time would leave a power vacuum which would lead to chaos resulting in perhaps the largest and most dangerous failed state in the world. This is an unacceptable outcome that must be avoided, and to dramatically withdraw our support to Iraq at this time is the wrong approach. I agree with my colleagues who argue that there is no purely military solution in Iraq. However, I also believe that establishing safety and security in Iraq is a pre-requisite to any meaningful political progress. This belief has proved to be correct as improvements in security are – in fact - leading to political progress, reconciliation, and cooperation, particularly at the local level.

17. How much has the United States spent on the War in Iraq since March 20, 2003?

a. Approximately $540B

18. How many Americans have died in Iraq since March 2003?

a. 4,185

19. How many Americans have been wounded in Iraq since March of 2003?

a. 30,723

20. What have Americans received in return for these sacrifices?

a. These sacrifices have helped Americans and other nations avoid Iraq becoming a failed state and a haven for terrorists that poses a grave threat to the Middle East and the rest of the world for decades to come.
21. Do you think there would have been a less expensive means of achieving this goal, and if so, what?

a. The less expensive means for achieving this goal would have been for Saddam Hussein to have complied with the countless UN Security Council Resolutions and provided unfettered access to UN weapons inspectors from 1991-2003.

22. Whose fault is it that, as Donald Rumsfeld famously said (I'm paraphrasing), "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had", in which he was responding to questions as to why, when the invasion was launched and for several years afterwards, the military didn't have sufficient or effective body armor, armored vehicles, or counterinsurgency plans?

a. Rarely do countries have the privilege of deciding when they go to war. When the United States went to war with Iraq in 2003 we did so based on what we and other countries perceived to be a clear and present danger which had to be dealt with without delay. Had we waited ten years to go to war with Iraq we may possibly have been better prepared to do so. However, it is impossible to know precisely what equipment, skills, personnel, or plans will be required before entering into any conflict.

23. How much are we spending each year on the War in Iraq now?

a. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of our operations in Iraq to be between $9B and $10B per month.

24. Should we increase, decrease, or keep the same number of American forces in Afghanistan? Why?

a. The US needs additional forces in Afghanistan, and as troops rotate out of Iraq, additional troops will be sent. We also need additional NATO troops and, most importantly an increased number of Afghan Security Forces. This is necessary to establish security across Afghanistan and assist the Afghan Army in their efforts to provide security and defeat insurgents.

25. Should there be a "war tax" on all Americans to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Why or why not? If not, how should we pay for the wars?
a. I do not support additional taxes to pay for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Expenses related to these wars will be paid for through the normal process of Federal Revenues. The costs of these wars pales in comparison to the cost of allowing Iraq to be a safe haven for terrorists or allowing Saddam Hussein to place the world by possessing weapons of mass destruction and the means to use them against the United States and other nations. In the long term, our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will create lower costs for key resources, including oil, which will result in a cost-savings to the US, US consumers, as well as other nations around the globe.

26. What are the chief causes of the Wall Street financial meltdown?

a. Our economic crisis was not created overnight and will not be turned around overnight. This was years in the making and includes at it root sub-prime lending practices, excessive greed at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other financial institutions, and unenforced regulations.

27. Which political party, Democrat or Republican, bears the greater share of the blame for the Wall Street melt down (or is it a tie)? and why?

a. There is plenty of blame to go around to both political parties.

28. What should be done to prevent another financial crisis in the future?

a. We need greater transparency and stronger oversight in our financial markets to protect not only the average investor but also small businesses that rely on our community banks for day to day access to credit for things like payroll and inventory.

29. Do you support making health care a right for all Americans? Why or why not?

a. All Americans should have the opportunity to receive affordable healthcare. I believe a public-private partnership between insurance companies and the government to provide individuals with the healthcare they need.

30. Do you support or oppose extending the same health care benefits that Congress enjoys to all Americans? Why or why not?

a. I am open to any suggestions to begin the discussion on fixing our healthcare problems in this country as long as it does not increase the burden on tax payers.

31. Can there be a plan to publicly insure all Americans for health care which allows doctors to remain in private practice and not be public employees?

a. I support a plan that would provide individuals and families with tax incentives to allow them to afford to purchase their own health insurance. It would also focus on promoting prevention, allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and transparency among healthcare providers.

32. If you listed "opposition to socialized medicine" as a reason for opposing national health insurance, state whether you support dismantling the current socialized medical programs of Medicare and Medicaid? If not, then what would be your reason(s) to oppose extending Medicare to all Americans?

a. America’s healthcare system is severely flawed and in need of serious change and reform. Quality affordable healthcare is becoming less and less accessible.
There is plenty of Medicare fraud that is currently taking place and curbing this would be a good start to reforming our healthcare system.

33. Would large businesses, which currently bear millions or billions of dollars in health care expenses, benefit from a national health care plan based on public financing rather than private insurance? Why or why not?

a. I support a plan that would put people on the same playing field as corporations, and employees would no longer have to pay more for the same coverage provided through work and could take their coverage with them if they decided to change jobs.

34. If you oppose a national health care plan, is there a better way to treat non-insured Americans than President Bush’s suggestion, which was to use hospital emergency rooms? If so, what is your proposal?

a. I support a plan that would provide individuals and families with tax incentives to allow them to afford to purchase their own health insurance. It would also focus on promoting prevention, allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and transparency among healthcare providers.

35. Would you support or oppose a national plan to eliminate medical malpractice lawsuits, eliminate medical malpractice insurance, and instead to create a no-fault insurance plan for injuries caused during medical procedures? Why or why not?

a. I support caps on punitive damages.

36. Do you support or oppose a Constitutional Amendment which would ban same sex marriage and take this option away from the States? Why or why not?

a. Yes. I am currently supporting a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Americans have traditionally recognized this definition as being the most beneficial arrangement for the creation of stable family structures and for the upbringing of children. Americans have also repeatedly shown their preference for the traditional definition of one-man, one-woman marriage by passing state and federal laws or by amending state constitutions to preserve the traditional definition.

37. Do you consider the United States to be a Christian nation? Why or why not?

a. Our nation was built on Christian principles and our founding documents reflect those Christian values. Quotations from our founding fathers indicate we are a Christian nation, and our legal code is based upon Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.

38. Do you support restoring prayer and/or Bible reading in public school classrooms? Why or why not?

a. In 2006, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation encouraging public schools to offer an elective course that teaches both the Old and the New Testaments in the context of history and literature, using the Bible as the primary textbook. I support this legislation. I support prayer in schools. I believe the First Amendment protects the rights of students to pray in schools.

39. If you support school prayer, then if a school district is 51% Muslim, would you support allowing school officials to conduct Muslim prayers in public school classrooms? Why or why not?

a. I do not believe Muslim prayers should be conducted in public school classrooms. I believe Muslims should be allowed to pray privately or in groups, just as Christians, and Jewish students can.

40. Should Christianity receive a national preference in areas like school prayer and funding of religious groups? Why or why not?

a. I believe every religious group seeking federal funding should compete on the merits of the people they would serve and what they would do with the funding. I believe there is a natural tendency towards Christianity because the majority of Americans are Christians, so there will likely be more organized Christian activity as compared to activities by other religious groups.

41. Assuming that a candidate is otherwise legally qualified and competent, would you urge Americans to vote against an atheist running for President? A Muslim? An American of Arab ethnicity? Why or why not (for each)?

a. I would not support an atheist running for President because I do not believe that atheist would share my values and beliefs. I do not think any Presidential candidate should be judged by race or ethnicity but by their policies, values, and beliefs.

42. Which notable decisions of the United States Supreme Court since 1940 do you think have made a great contribution to America and the rule of law?
a. I believe the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, decided in 1954, was a landmark decision, overturning almost 100 years of segregation, going back to the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896. This unanimous decision by the Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate schools for black and white children to be a constitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Chief Justice Warren wrote, “We conclude that the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This decision paved the way for integration of our schools.

43. Which notable decisions of the United States Supreme Court since 1940 do you think have caused harm to America and the rule of law?

a. The Supreme Court decided Korematsu v. United States in 1944. President Roosevelt in 1942 signed Executive Order 9066, which allowed military authorities to enact curfews, forbid people from certain areas, and to move them to new areas. Many Japanese and Japanese Americans on the West Coast were interned at camps farther inland. They were forced to sell their homes and their belongings and move to these camps, where they lived in barracks with no running water or cooking facilities. Fred Korematsu was arrested and convicted of violating an order that banned people of Japanese descent from the area of San Leandro, CA. He challenged his conviction in the courts. The government argued that the evacuation of all Japanese Americans was necessary to protect the country because there was evidence that some were working for the Japanese government, and that because there was no way to tell the loyal from the disloyal, all Japanese Americans had to be treated as though they were disloyal.
The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, sided with the government and ruled the exclusion order was constitutional because the need to protect against espionage outweighed Fred Korematsu’s individual rights and the rights of Americans of Japanese descent.

44. Who are the Supreme Court justices who best embody, in your opinion, what a future Supreme Court justice nominee should be like? Why?

a. One Supreme Court justice I greatly admire is Chief Justice John Roberts. Chief Justice Roberts is an able jurist and a decent man. His unwavering fidelity to the Constitution and commitment to the Rule of Law is evident both by his professional career and his behavior and substantive answers to questions during his confirmation process.

45. Who are the Supreme Court justices who least embody, in your opinion, what a future Supreme Court justice nominee should be like? Why?

a. Out of respect of the position of Supreme Court Justice, I decline to answer this question.


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