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Alan Grayson

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Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
Number of posts: 400

Journal Archives

Why I Support Marianne Williamson, and You Should Too

"We have shrinking civil liberties, we have undue monied influence, and we have domestic surveillance. So, at what point do the American people say, “No More!”? We need a people's movement.

Marianne Williamson, CA-33 candidate for Congress, is in a close race tomorrow, and I’m hoping that you will provide her some last-minute support. Here’s why.

It’s exceedingly difficult to get any real feel of how a candidate thinks, much less what he or she will do in office. Most serious candidates know their lines, and they always have their game face on. So sometimes – often, really – we get fooled. We mistake the resume for the heart. We mistake the record for the soul. We mistake the words for the meaning.

In the case of Marianne Williamson, that is not possible. What you see is what you get.
Several people in public life have written books. A smaller number have actually read books. And an even smaller number have actually written the books that list them as authors.

These books tend to be extended exercises in rationalization. “I did this, I did that, and the world should be absolutely delighted with me.” As if.

Marianne Williamson has written many books – four of them #1 best-sellers on the New York Times list – and her books aren’t like that. In fact, her books aren’t about her at all. They are an extended discussion about the human condition, about us, and how we can be all that we can be. Here are some very brief excerpts:

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’”
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”

“Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learned here.”

“No one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.”

“You playing small doesn’t serve the world.”

“It’s your time to sparkle. We need less posturing and more genuine charisma. It’s about a sparkle in people that money can’t buy.”

“There is no peace without forgiveness.”

“Never give up hope. When darkness falls, the stars come out.”

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.”

Why am I telling you this? Marianne Williamson can explain that, too:

“People hear you on the level that you speak to them from. Speak from your heart, and they will hear with theirs.”
If you heart hears what Marianne Williams is speaking, please support her before her primary tomorrow. Because we need more true leaders in Congress.
Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.”
- Marianne Williamson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Jun 2, 2014, 05:22 PM (2 replies)

This Is How a Real Progressive Sounds

I’m pleased to announce the winner of Blue America’s Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award: Roberta "Bobbie" Kirkhart, of Los Angeles, California.   Thank you to the 1000+ supporters who contributed to our campaign, and a special thank you to Blue America, for two things: making it possible, and making it happen.

Now, on to business.

On Tuesday, there will be a primary in Southern California to choose the successor to Rep. Henry Waxman, a master legislator who has served in the House for 40 years. In that race, I’m hoping that you will show your support for   Marianne Williamson, the most inspirational candidate of 2014.   Rather than telling you about her myself, I’m going to let her explain her candidacy in her own very articulate words.  Here is her message to the voters and to America, featured in her current TV ad:

“Hi. I'm running for Congress because I think   we're living through the corporate takeover of the United States government. We have shrinking civil liberties, we have undue monied influence, and we have domestic surveillance. So, at what point do the American people say, “No More!”?   We need a people's movement. Independent voices, passing a constitutional amendment to outlaw the undue influence of money on our politics, in order to   return our government to the American people. I’m Marianne Williamson, and I approve this message."

Q. Who else is addressing the voters with this kind of ennobling call to action on the central issue in our political system?

A.  No one else.

Please click here to support Marianne Williamson’s congressional campaign. I need her, with me in Congress.  You need her.  America needs her.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson


The Letter That Changed the Law

This morning, at 12:40 am, the U.S. House of Representatives did something that has eluded it for 42 years: it passed a law to prevent journalists from being imprisoned for protecting their sources. I took this concept, known as a “shield law,” boiled it down to 52 words, and put it up for a surprise vote. And won.

What brought together a bipartisan coalition of 173 Diocrats and 52 Republicans behind this bold progressive measure was the following “Dear Colleague” letter, which I handed out to Mibers personally on the Floor of the House, as the clock struck twelve:


GRAYSON AMENDMENT – Vote to Have the Federal Government Join 49 States in Protecting Reporter Sources

Dear Colleague:

In the last set of votes on the CJS Appropriations Bill, there will be a vote on having the Federal Government join 49 states in protecting reporter sources. The amendment reads as follows:

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to compel a journalist or reporter to testify about information or sources that the journalist or reporter states in a motion to quash the subpoena that he has obtained as a journalist or reporter and that he regards as confidential.”

This amendment would bring federal law in conformity with the law of the States; of the 50 States, only Wyoming lacks protection for reporter information and sources. This gap between federal law and State law has persisted for over 40 years, since the closely contested 5-to-4 U.S. Suprie Court decision of Branzburg v. Hayes. Ironically, even though the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees “freedom . . . of the press,” absent statutory authority, federal courts have been reluctant to follow the consensus established by the States that protects reporters and their sources. For over four decades, Congress has failed to fill this gap.

Support for such a law is bipartisan and bicameral. In the House, last July, Reps. John Conyers and Ted Poe joined together in a op-ed article entitled “A Shield Law Is Essential to a Robust Press.” In the Senate, Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham have introduced a federal shield law that has drawn the approval of the White House, called the “Free Flow of Information Act.”

The need for a shield law is hardly abstract. In 2005, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for 85 days for doing exactly what any reporter would do, i.e., refusing to reveal her source.

I encourage my colleagues to seize this opportunity, pass this amendment, and show our continuing respect for the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment, and freedom itself.

Sincerely, etc.

Despite opposition from the House Republican leadership, and “no recommendation” from the House Diocratic leadership, the persuasive power of these words gave us a 225-183 win.

During the next few days, I’ll tell you more about this victory, and the other three progressive measures that we found a way to incorporate into this morning’s appropriations bill in the Tea Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. But in the meantime, know this: It’s still possible to be a progressive, and to get things done.

Victory, sweet victory.


Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Deadline Tonight: Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award

Hello again. I'm David Keith, Congressman Alan Grayson's Finance Director, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. I want to remind you that your one and only chance to win a Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award, for the album "Are You Experienced?" ends today, at midnight Pacific Time.


As I explained a few days ago, due to my upbringing, I am not terribly familiar with your so-called "rock bands," like ZZ Topless, Pink Lloyd, Lead Dirigible, the Rolling Rocks, Guns and Bullets, or the Beetles. (I never understood why you would name a band after an insect.)


I may not know much about . . . how you say? . . . "rock," but I know what I like. And I like one song in particular on the album "Are You Experienced?" It's called "Third Stone From the Sun." It recounts an alien invasion of the Earth. The aliens are totally fed up with the human race, so they decide to kill all of us off, and leave a different species in charge:


The chickens.


And after hearing that haunting song, I swear that I will never again ask, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" I will never count my chickens before they are hatched. I will never complain that I work for chicken feed. I will never compare anyone of the female persuasion to a "spring chicken." And I will never liken anybody to a chicken with its head cut off.


If chickens will be in charge, I'm not going to mess with them.


Please join me in clicking this link, and celebrate my new and improved taste in music by contributing to Alan Grayson's campaign and seizing the opportunity to win a Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award!


Here's an interesting coincidence: Rolling Stone said that Jimi Hendrix was the world's greatest guitarist, and I work for the world's greatest Congressman. (I'm referring to Alan Grayson, in case you live in a cave and can't read smoke signals.)


Whether you win or lose this prize, we all win, because you are helping to sustain the Grayson campaign (and also my employment). And I'll tell you why: In my humble opinion (and I have so much to be humble about), what Jimi Hendrix was to music, Alan Grayson is to justice, equality and peace.


Please click this link to support greatness, by contributing to Alan Grayson's campaign and a chance to win a Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award! Today is the deadline. It's your last chance for Musical Paradise.


Sincerely,


David Keith
Finance Director
Grayson for Congress


P.S: I recognize that Jimi Hendrix's music may not be everyone's cup of tea. If you hate legendary music - as I was sure I did - click here to donate directly to Alan Grayson's re-election campaign, and spare yourself the unfortunate opportunity of winning this invaluable and cherished platinum award. If you clicked above, you have a chance, and if you click here, you are SOL. And if you click here and contribute twice, then that doubles your chance of not winning this precious award. Click above, and you are in the game. Click here, and don't say we never gave you anything. Because we promise we won't.


Starfleet to Scout Ship, please give your position. Over.
I'm in orbit around the third planet from the star called the Sun. Over.
You mean it's the Earth? Over.
Positive. It is known to have some form of intelligent species. Over.
I think we should take a look.


Strange beautiful grass of green,
With your majestic silver seas,
Your mysterious mountains I wish to see closer,
May I land my kinky machine?


Strange beautiful grass of green,
With your majestic silver seas,
Your mysterious mountains I wish to see closer,
May I land my kinky machine?


Although your world wonders me,
With your majestic and superior cackling hen,
Your people I do not understand,
So to you I shall put an end.
And you'll never hear surf music again.


Secret
Oh, secret
Oh
Shhhh . . . .



- Jimi Hendrix, "Third Stone From the Sun" (1967).

The Most Famous Image in Rock ‘N’ Roll History

Thanks to Howie Klein of Blue America PAC, our contributors through today and tomorrow have a chance to win a Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award , for the album “Are You Experienced?”


I guess that we could have told you, “You’ve heard the name Jimi Hendrix, right?   Well, ‘nuff said.”


Or we could have told you, “It’s a platinum album, and platinum is a
precious metal.  It’s shiny, and it’s pretty.  And also round.  ‘Nuff
said.”


But I wanted everyone to understand what a truly awesome opportunity this
is.  So I explained a couple of days ago that this is the RIAA-certified
platinum album award for the album that Rolling Stone called the 15th greatest album in history – by the performer whom [em>Rolling Stone called the greatest guitarist in history. ]


Now I want to tell you about the intimate ties that this album has to what probably is the single most famous image in history – a still photo of Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and summoning those flames to rise and rise .


If Woodstock was the Jupiter of all rock music festivals, then the
Monterey Pop Festival was the Saturn of all rock music festivals.  There
were 20 hours of music, over three days.  Here is a partial list of
performers:



  • Simon and Garfunkel

  • Lou Rawls

  • Country Joe and the Fish

  • Canned Heat

  • The Steve Miller Band

  • Jefferson Airplane

  • Laura Nyro

  • Otis Redding

  • Ravi Shankar

  • Buffalo Springfield

  • The Grateful Dead

  • The Who

  • The Mamas and the Papas, and . . .


The Jimi Hendrix Experience.


The Monterey Pop Festival established California as the center of the ‘60s counterculture, and it was the inspiration for Woodstock, two years later.


The Beatles were supposed to perform at the Monterey Pop Festival, but Beatles music by this point had evolved to include orchestras and all sorts of musical special effects, so they were reluctant to perform live.  Instead, Paul McCartney enlisted two groups for the Festival: 
The Who, and . . .


The Jimi Hendrix Experience.


(Rumors of a Beatles performance were so pervasive that a member of the band The Monkees walked onstage in the middle of the Grateful Dead’s set to inform the audience that the Beatles were not attending the festival in disguise.)


Jimi Hendrix performed toward the end of the last day of the festival.  Hendrix began his set with a few songs written by others, but then he played his favorite songs from the album Are You Experienced?:



  • “Hey, Joe”

  • “Can You See Me?”

  • “The Wind Cries ‘Mary,’” and

  • “Purple Haze”


He finished with “Wild Thing,” by The Troggs, and then he got down to work – his electric guitar with lighter fluid, setting it on fire, smashing it to pieces, and then tossing the pieces into the frenzied audience ].  This is how Rolling Stone described it:


"When Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he created one of rock's most perfect moments.  Standing in the front row of that concert was a 17-year-old boy named Ed Caraeff.  Caraeff had never seen Hendrix before nor heard his music, but he had a camera with him and there was one shot left in his roll of film.  As Hendrix lit
his guitar, Caraeff took a final photo.  It would become one of the most famous images in rock and roll."


Rolling Stone colorized the image, and placed it on its cover.


Here is what others have said about that moment:


Author John McDermott: "Hendrix left the Monterey audience stunned and in disbelief at what they'd just heard and seen."


Author Gail Buckland:  "Hendrix kneeling in front of his burning guitar, hands raised, is one of the most famous images in rock."


Author and historian Matthew C. Whitaker: "Hendrix's burning of his guitar became an iconic image in rock history and brought him national attention."


The Los Angeles Times: with this action, Hendrix "graduated from rumor to legend."


And here is how Hendrix himself explained it: "I decided to destroy my guitar at the end of a song as a sacrifice. You sacrifice things you love. I love my guitar .”


So one of our supporters will be fortunate enough not only to have the platinum album award for the 15th greatest album in history, but an award that embodies and memorializes what may very well be the single most famous image of the single most famous moment in rock ‘n’ roll history .


Would you like to be that fortunate supporter of our campaign?  Then click here.


Today and tomorrow.  That’s it.


. . . And thank you for your support.


Courage,


Rep. Alan Grayson


I Can't Play the Guitar with My Teeth


This week, and this week only, Blue America PAC is offering Grayson supporters a chance to win a Jimi Hendrix platinum album plaque – if you contribute now. I’m going to let Blue America explain this one itself:
There is no other member of the House like Alan Grayson. Blue America works hard to try to change that -- by helping elect other members as brilliant, as fearless, as values-focused, as principled and as strategic as Grayson. But they don't grow on trees. As Alan said recently:

“Wall Street is running our economic policies. The big oil companies have been running our energy and environmental policies. The military-industrial complex runs our foreign policy. It doesn't have to be that way.
This week, we're hoping to help Alan's own reelection campaign raise some of the money that he needs, to answer the incessant smear attacks financed by the Koch Brothers against him. In 2010, the Koch Brothers spent more money on media attacks against Alan in Alan's Central Florida district than in any other congressional district in the country! ]

Grayson pointed out over the weekend that "many Americans believe that the top 1% is responsible for the rising tide of inequality in America, which is swamping and drowning the other 99%" "the top 1% is not the problem ... The top 0.1% is the problem. In 1960, the top 0.1% had less than 8 percent of our national wealth. Now it’s 22%, and rising. Those who have a net worth of $20 million or more now own almost a quarter of everything that one can own in America ...

"Our equal society -- black and white, men and women, young and old, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking, and now straight and gay -- our equal society is what made America famous. ] A light unto the nations. And year after year, that light of equality gets dimmer and dimmer. We can rekindle it. Or we can let it flicker and die.

"It’s up to you. It’s up to us.”

So what does that have to do with Jimi Hendrix's unique skill set? ]

I Blue America PAC Director Howie Klein – ed.] met Jimi Hendrix in 1967, before he went off to England and formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Musical talents like Jimi don't grow on trees, any more than political talents like Alan Grayson do. I watched Jimi -- he was Jimmy James then -- play guitar at a John Hammond, Jr. show, at a tiny NYC club, the “Cafe Au Go Go.” I asked him to come and play at my college, at Stony Brook. He said he was leaving the next day for England, but that he'd play at my school when he got back. The following March he was back -- on his first U.S. tour as the “Jimi Hendrix Experience” -- and he remembered his promise to me and played at Stony Brook, one of his first shows. Later, I spent some time with him in Morocco. Then I saw him, for the last time, at the Isle of Wight Festival. Felicitously, and much later, after he had died so young and so tragically, I became the President of his record label, Reprise.

During my years at Reprise, I was given hundreds of gold and platinum record awards, when our releases reached sales plateaus . There was never one I was more thrilled to have gotten than a platinum award (for sale of one million copies) for Jimi's debut LP, “Are You Experienced?
[br />
Grayson's "Republican Health Care Plan" speech on the floor of the House was his Are You Experienced? moment. That's why it was my natural instinct to offer to give that rare, collectible platinum award -- RIAA-certified, of course -- to an Alan Grayson contributor.

That's our Blue America "contest" this week. Just contribute -- any amount -- to Alan Grayson's reelection campaign on this page and you may be the lucky, randomly selected donor who gets the Jimi Hendrix plaque, as a thank you gift from Blue America. ] (In fact, if you want the plaque but can't afford even a $10 contribution at this moment, send a post card to Blue America at PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027 and let us know you want the award; you'll be included too.)

We are all in this together,

-- Howie, for Digby and John

--------------------

A Jimi Hendrix platinum album plaque. OMG-OMG-OMG!! So what do you say? Are you in? ]

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

White-collared conservatives,
Flashing down the street,
Pointing their plastic fingers at me.
They're hoping that soon my kind will drop and die.
But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high.

- Jimi Hendrix, “If 6 Was 9” (1967).



What Made America Famous

Many Americans believe that the top 1% is responsible for the rising tide of inequality in America, which is swamping and drowning the other 99%. Professor Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley says that they are wrong. The top 1% is not the problem, he says.

The top 0.1% is the problem.

In a report that he issued in March (summary here ), Prof. Saez examined wealth and income in America during the past century. He found that wealth inequality is back to where it was in the 1920’s, just before the Great Depression. And since this trend started in 1977, the only group that has taken a rising share of national wealth is not the top 1%, but rather the top 0.1%. The 15,000 richest Americans.
(Oh, top 0.9% not in the 0.1%, how we weep for thee!)

In 1960, the top 0.1% had less than 8 percent of our national wealth. Now it’s 22%, and rising. Those who have a net worth of $20 million or more now own almost a quarter of everything that one can own in America.

Folks who are in the bottom half of that one percent, the mere multi-millionaires ($4 million and up), actually have seen their share of wealth decline. A little higher, between the top 0.1% and the top 0.5%, the share of wealth has been flat. The share of the top 0.1%, though, has more than doubled. And the share of the super-super-super rich, the top 0.01%, has more than quadrupled, from 2% in 1977 to over 11% today.

As for the Forbes 400, their share of national wealth has risen from 1% in 1983, when Forbes started the list, to over 3% last year. If that percentage keeps tripling every thirty years, then a century from now, in the year 2114, 400 Americans will own everything.

Which stinks. Unless you are one of those 400, I guess.

And what about just plain folks? How have they been doing? For the bottom 90%, since the late 1980s, the value of home equity has crashed. The value of small businesses has crashed. The value of liquid assets – cash, stocks and bonds minus auto and credit card debt -- has been wiped out entirely. The only form of middle class wealth that has sustained itself is pensions/401(k)’s, and more than a quarter of all American workers don’t have one.

In a vain effort to pay all those credit card bills, the bottom 90% in America had to spend more than they earned during every single year from 1997 to 2008 , until the credit wipeout during the Great Recession made that impossible. And as a result, their share of national wealth has dropped from over 35% to barely 25%.

And the bottom 50%? They have a net worth of zero. Zilch.

Since America seems to have forgotten about the principle of progressive taxation, the rich now enjoy a return of 6% on their investments, after taxes. That means that anyone who works for a living has to get a 6% wage increase each year, just to stay even with the rich. Good luck with that, buddy.

In America, in sum, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

And during my entire adult life, all that our political system has ever done has been to grease the skids. As we hurtle down, down, down toward an America – if you can call it that -- where a tiny group of people own everything, and everyone else is a slave to wages and debt. Middle-Class America, we bid you adieu. Farewell. So long. Good-bye. Cheerio, and pip-pip. Hasta la vista, ciao, and have a great day.

Our equal society – black and white, men and women, young and old, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking, and now straight and gay – our equal society is what made America famous. A light unto the nations. And year after year, that light of equality gets dimmer and dimmer.

We can rekindle it. Or we can let it flicker and die.

It’s up to you. It’s up to us.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

“Greedy Old Psychopaths”

Here at the Grayson High Command, one of the best parts of our job is listening to what you have to say. Because we are always impressed, and often moved, by the eloquence of ordinary people.

Charlene Dill, a hardworking young woman with three children and three jobs, lost her life because Florida Republicans chose to turn down $60,000,000,000.00 in federal aid that would have paid for her healthcare, and the healthcare of one million other Floridians who comprise the working poor. After Congressman Grayson told her sad story in a Tampa newspaper, our Facebook page was inundated with over 600 comments. We’d like to share some of them with you:


Tom Odom: It's more than sad. It's shameful, reprehensible and immoral. Those legislators responsible for blocking Medicaid expansion should be brought up on manslaughter charges, at the very least.

Linda Weiner Seligson: I still remember the GOP presidential debate when there was a question about the lack of health insurance, and the audience shouted "let 'em die," and then cheered!

Cathryn Sykes: Killing people to make a “point.” Monsters!

Taft Chatham: The GOP Congress is one big Death Panel.

Fernando A. Ojeda: The GOP doesn't really care about people who might or might not be able to afford healthcare . . . . They only seem to care about their billionaire sugar-daddies!

Dave Kisor: If you don't have a million to donate to the gangrenous obsolete party , you simply do not matter.

Lala Jaymes: Please continue to highlight the people in the state that die UNNECESSARILY, because of inhumane cruelty wrapped up in fake conservative politics. Give them a VOICE, so that the voters will have a CHOICE!!!!

Pat Evans: Most Republicans don't care if people die because of lack of health care. In their minds, if you don't have the money to pay for health care, you deserve to die. And then they go to church and praise God for all of HIS goodness, just to them. Strange people and strange religion.

Dick Olsen: Republicans want 47% of Americans to die. They see Poor People as Surplus Humanity. Affordable Health Insurance is the last thing they want for Americans.

Michael Durham: Time and time again, the GOP proves that they view the less affluent among us as eminently expendable cows, to be mercilessly milked for all we're worth. Cattle have to be culled once in a while, you know.

Dave Hayes: survival of the fittest. The GOP views people as animals. No one cries if the squirrel dies because it forgot to gather nuts, or ran in front of the car.

Walter T. Kuebler: They believe in Darwinian values, and they want the poor sick enslaved, incarcerated or dead. Or better still . . . pregnant.

Harvey Anderson: GOP mantra: The poor, ill, disabled, and unemployed are solely responsible for their own and all of America's problems and ills. Solution: eliminate all the poor, disabled, and unemployed; but it must be done quietly and without fanfare or publicity, lest the backlash destroy the Republican Party. Therefore, it must seem natural and inevitable when a poor person dies, preferably in obscurity, just one person at a time over a long period of time. Then the GOP can crow about how right they are.

James M. Wardell: The GOP and their belief in unregulated capitalism always put profits or the bottom line above people. It’s a flawed economic system when profits matter more than the people and the planet. It’s not sustainable, as we are starting to see.

Richard Schroeder: The GOP believes life begins at conception and ends at birth. A 32-year-old woman dying doesn't matter to them as much as a 32-week-fetus.

Gregory Gadow: According to GOP dogma, people die for lack of basic medical care because they *want* to die for lack of basic medical care. If they wanted to live long, healthy lives, they wouldn't have been poor in the first place.

Chris Reulbach: They are betting that the majority of people will die will be those who can't afford individual insurance – a/k/a Democratic Voters.

Jamie Dallas: They know exactly what they're doing: killing off the Democratic voters. What better way is there to prevent us from voting?

Chester Prusaczyk: It's tragic that so many will suffer and die because the conservatives hate the President.

Melissa Maino: What Republicans lack is empathy. If it doesn't ffect them personally, they are incapable of understanding someone could be hurt. I believe that is a major difference between the parties, between the people who choose one party or the other.

Cathy McCarthy: Why isn't this story all over the ? The GOP manages to go national with stories about people who have not benefitted from the ACA -- and they have all turned out to be lies. But the story of a woman who collapses and dies because Florida refused the Medicaid expansion doesn't even make the local news.

Eddie Schmidt: Go search Fox News for this story; nowhere to be found . . . .

Stefanie Krantz: in the wealthiest country in the world. We are not broke, we are greedy. There is a difference. Not providing decent medical care to all residents is a moral outrage, in a country literally overflowing with wealth. Charlene would have been better off sweeping the streets in Greece or Cuba. So much for “family values”! My family values are equality, generosity, concern for the sick, the poor, and the downtrodden. Thanks, Republicans! What the hell is wrong with these people?

Mercedes Arguello Aguirre: So much for the "pro-life" party. Hypocrites, all!

Robert Quisenberry: How long will it take before even Republicans realize that their electives care nothing about America and Americans?

Donna Bergman: The GOP & the Tea Party are proving that they are the most hateful, hate-filled, spiteful, mean bunch that has EVER been in our Congress, in the history of America!!!! It's VERY evident that Satan has these people in a choke hold, and he isn't about to let go! He's certainly USING them to his advantage, that's for sure!

Robert Nordgren: Just remember this, people: More people have died the hands of GOP anti-Obama actions than have died Muslim terrorists worldwide. So ask yourself: Who is the real threat to America? It is the GOP.

Alexis J. Richard: Greedy Old Psychopaths.

Vox populi (the voice of the people): We’re listening. And Charlene Dill, R.I.P. We hope that the world learns something from your suffering, and it was not in vain.

Death by Dogma: Charlene Dill Didn't Have to Die

Republican-controlled States are refusing to take free federal money to expand Medicaid health care coverage to the working poor. My State, Florida, is one of them. The consequences of this callous GOP decision are grave. In a column for the Tampa Bay Times last week, I explained how grave they were for Charlene Dill – they put her in her grave. Please take a moment to read my piece, entitled “The price of ideology: a woman’s life.”

I believe that every Floridian who is sick should be able to see a doctor. Every person should get the necessary care to stay healthy and alive. Sadly, not every Floridian can afford health care.

One of my constituents, Charlene Dill, could not afford it. Last month, at 32, Charlene died of heart disease, leaving her three young children behind.

This young mother didn’t have to die.

Charlene knew she had a heart problem, but she couldn’t afford the medications and frequent visits to the doctor. She worked three jobs but earned only $11,000 last year. With only $11,000 to feed her three children, keep a roof over their heads and pay the property taxes on her trailer, Charlene couldn’t afford standard health coverage. And because she made more than $5,400, she was not eligible for free or reduced-cost coverage under Florida Medicaid.

Floridians with annual incomes between $5,400 and $11,400 are stuck in the “Medicaid expansion gap.” Charlene Dill was one of an estimated 1 million uninsured Floridians who fell into that gap. It cost Charlene her life.

When Congress passed Obamacare, it included a provision to expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor, like Charlene. States expanding Medicaid would receive the full cost of that coverage from the federal government for three years, and then 90 percent of the cost after that. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that states could drop that expansion after the first three years, without penalty, and pay nothing.

The federal government committed more than $50 billion to fund Florida’s Medicaid expansion. You might think that our cash-strapped state would be clamoring for money to provide health care to the sick and poor. But you would be wrong. Republican ideologues in the Legislature refused the money. And now, Charlene Dill is gone.

Florida has the second highest rate of uninsured individuals in the nation. Twenty percent of our state has no coverage. When these people get sick, they go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms cannot provide long-term care, manage chronic health conditions or provide lifesaving treatments on a one-off basis.

Charlene could never get the care from one single visit to the emergency room that she needed to stay alive. And she won’t be the only one. One study estimates that approximately 1,158 to 2,221 Floridians will die each year as a result of Republicans’ stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid.

Even if you leave aside the obvious moral merit of providing health care to nearly 1 million Floridians, the GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid defies any economic sense. Florida’s forfeiture of tens of billions of federal dollars means that our federal tax dollars will instead pay for health coverage for the working poor in New York, California and other states that expanded Medicaid. But our own residents will receive nothing. That’s a high price to pay for the GOP’s blind adherence to ideology.

The rejection of Medicaid funding is only the latest instance of our GOP state legislators putting party politics ahead of what’s good for Florida. Their intractable opposition to the President has led them repeatedly to turn down federal aid with no strings attached — money that is urgently needed in central Florida.

In 2011, GOP lawmakers attempted to block $8.3 million in federal aid to allow the Osceola County Health Department to expand its community health centers. Why? Because they didn’t like Obamacare.

Lawmakers also turned down $2.1 million over a five-year period to help elderly and disabled nursing home patients regain independence and move back home — again, because they didn’t like Obamacare. (Ironically, the same legislators so morally opposed to accepting any money f
rom Obamacare made an exception for $2.6 million in funding for “abstinence-only” sex education.)

Republican legislators argue that accepting funds from a bill that they opposed would be politically “inconsistent.” But what is more important, saving face or saving lives?

To Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee, on behalf of all of Florida, I have one request of you: Choose life. Expand Medicaid. Take the money. And spare 1 million Floridians from suffering, from sickness and from death.

Charlene Dill: R.I.P.

The Ryan Budget: How I Spent My Weekend

The Ryan Budget Resolution was circulated to Members of Congress at 7 p.m. on Friday. It’s 100+ pages. Amendments were due at noon today, i.e., Monday. That’s the new normal in the GOP House – accomplish nothing, and do it quickly.

Hypothetically, if you wanted to distill every form of right-wing economic lunacy into a 100-page document, then hypothetically, it would be the Ryan Budget. It’s all in there, and I had to cuddle up with it this weekend. Tax cuts for the rich, the so-called “job creators.” Tax cuts for multinational corporations, the other so-called “job creators.” (Why don’t they ever call them by their real name: the “job exporters”?) Cuts in middle-class tax benefits, like the deduction for pension benefits and IRAs, to pay for this. (Robin Hood in reverse.) Cuts in Medicaid and food stamps, because, you know, the Republicans want to make millions of sick, hungry poor people more self-reliant. A legal requirement to force the President to propose legislation to cut Social Security benefits and/or raise Social Security taxes, to make Obama do the Republicans’ dirty work for them. Big jumps in student loan interest rates. And massive increases in military expenditures.

Republican “ideas” – don’t they just stink? Don’t they just stink out loud? Like with a bullhorn – that loud?

And bear in mind that this is not some Monty Python proposal, put forth by the People’s Front of Judea, or even the Judean People’s Front. No, this is a resolution written by the gentleman who might be Vice President today, if Mitt Romney weren’t such a fop.

The weather was very nice in Central Florida this weekend. I could have spent the time at the beach. But duty called, so instead I read though that compendium of cruelty, that syllabus of stupidity, that oeuvre of offal, that digest of dreck.

(“So how do you really feel about it, Alan?”)

And then got to work. Before the noon deadline today, I introduced eight amendments to the Ryan Budget Resolution. Here they are:

(1) “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed to mandate, support or require any reduction in Social Security or Medicare benefits.” (Last year, I delivered to Speaker Boehner’s office almost 3,000,000 signatures on a petition saying this; let’s see whether he listened.)

(2) For Medicare, rather than defending from benefit cuts only “those in or near retirement,” I would protect “everyone.” (Yes, everyone – including you.)

(3) For Social Security, rather than requiring the President to introduce legislation to cut benefits, I would require him to introduce legislation NOT to cut benefits.

(4) Rather than increasing student loan interest rates, I would cut them until they are no higher than what Wall Street pays for loans from the Federal Reserve. (Thank you, Senator Elizabeth Warren, for this proposal.)

(5) The Ryan Budget Resolution has a sentence regarding so-called “free trade” that says, “The idea that global expansion tends to hollow out US operations is incorrect.”> I would change “incorrect” to “correct” – possibly the shortest amendment in history (only two letters!).

(6)
As between men and women, equal pay for equal work.

(7) Prohibiting the destruction of middle-class tax breaks like exclusion of employer healthcare coverage from income, the deductibility of pensions and IRAs, etc., for the purpose of lowering tax rates on the rich.

(8) Instead of cramming more and more cash down the gaping maw of the military-industrial complex, we change federal spending priorities in order to achieve full employment. (For instance, a million dollars spent on a bridge creates roughly four times as many U.S. jobs as a million dollars spent on the military – and after it’s spent, we have a bridge.)

So, that’s how I spent my weekend. House of Cards will just have to wait. (So please, no spoilers in your comments.)

Thanks to gerrymandering and Big Money, my party, the Democratic Party, is a minority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Even though my party received 1.5 million more votes in the last election, there are 235 Republicans and only 200 Democrats in the House. The Rules Committee decides on which amendments the House votes. Thanks to internal gerrymandering, the GOP outnumber the Democrats on that committee by 9 to 4. So there is a good chance that none of my amendments will ever come to a House vote.

So what? At least I did my job. As Dylan Thomas would say, I will not go gently into that good night. I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

I’m willing to fight for Social Security, Medicare, student loans, U.S. jobs, equal pay, progressive taxation and full employment. I know that a lot of people are counting on me to do just that.

Including you.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


- Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” (1951).
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Apr 8, 2014, 09:35 AM (4 replies)
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