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In the Nicomachean Ethics , the Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested that virtue is its own reward. I’m hoping that that’s true, because I’m not seeing any other reward lately. For sure, the media couldn’t care less about all of the good things that we do.
Let me give you a few examples, and then explain why this means that I need your help .
Example No. 1. Last October and November, I convened impromptu hearings in Capitol Hill regarding the innocent victims of drone warfare in Pakistan and Yemen. Hundreds of children had been killed, among others. I pointed out at those hearings that if the Government of Pakistan wanted to stop the drone attacks, it could do so overnight. That statement was front-page news in Pakistan. And lo and behold, the drone attacks stopped for six months, as did the murder of the innocents. How do I know that our action made the attacks stop? Because someone very high up and very close to the situation told me so. (If I told you who it was, they’d have to kill you – and probably send a drone to do it.) The cessation of drone attacks was barely reported in the United States. As far as I could tell, not a single article linked what we did to that result. (Fox News did take the opportunity, however, to slam me for cavorting with terrorists, or some nonsense like that.) News media coverage: zero – except for some idiotic local reporter who repeated the Fox lie verbatim.
Example No. 2. For several years, the CIA has had a policy against using journalists as spies, because this leads to the assumption that all journalists are spies. This prevents them from performing their journalism thing, and puts them in great danger. Earlier this year, I wrote to the CIA, and suggested the same principle should apply to health professionals. Doctors and nurses whom we were sending to disease-ridden backwaters were unable to perform their function because they were misperceived as spies. That meant that fatal diseases were not being treated, vaccinations were not being given, and our billion-dollar efforts to eradicate TB and malaria were failing. A few weeks ago, “Intelligence” released a statement that health professional would not be used in spying. As far as I could tell, not a single article linked what we did to that outcome. News media coverage: zero.
Example No. 3. Last year, it came to my attention that a political prisoner was being held in Benin on the hokey pretext that he had tried to poison the President of Benin. The charges were so absurd that a judge ordered them dismissed – and then the judge was arrested, while the prisoner remained in prison. I had a diplomatic and cordial discussion about this with the Beninese Ambassador, after which I provided him with a deadline. After that deadline passed without action, I introduced a bill to cut off all U.S. aid to Benin. At which point this political prisoner was released. As far as I could tell, not a single article linked what we did to the release. News media coverage: zero.
And don’t even get me started on the subject of my outspoken opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria. The final reported chemical weapons in Syria were destroyed last week. News media coverage: close to zero.
I pass more amendments that any other Member of the House. Local media coverage: zero.
I write more bills and resolutions than any other Member of Congress. Local media coverage: zero.
I’m the only Member of the House to raise most of his campaign funds from small donors. Local media coverage: zero.
But there were over 100 local “news” reports on certain divorce proceedings.
Maybe if I voted naked . . . .
Essentially, the only thing that our voters in Central Florida hear about my work in Congress is whatever lies gibberish and drivel that the Koch Brothers vomit up onto our local TV screens.
And the only way for us to change that is for us to hire the canvassers, buy the internet ads, send the mailers and run those TV and radio spots. Which is why I need your help.
For all practical purposes, the so-called “mainstream media” has forged an alliance with the Far Right to treat America like a giant mushroom farm: keep us in the dark, and spread fertilizer all over us. The “mainstream media” deploys its weapons of mass distraction (Kim Kardashian! College Football!), while the Far Right inundates us with propaganda.
We have to break through that Iron Curtain of Malignant Stupidity. And your contribution powers our breakthrough.
The clock is ticking down to the end of the quarter. Our Federal Election Commission cutoff time is Monday night at midnight. Would you please give our campaign the resources we need to inform our voters?
Every dollar counts, because every human being counts. I’m counting on you. So stand up, and be counted.
Rep. Alan Grayson
“A prophet is honored everywhere, except in his own land.”
-- Matthew 13:57.
Alan Grayson’s pal, David Keith here. If I knew anything about modern culture, I would make an oblique reference to “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen,” a popular comic book that was published from 1954 to 1974. But that was way before I was born, so I know nothing about that.
Here at Casa Grayson, we sometimes are asked why the name of our website is www.CongressmanWithGuts.com. Once when Alan was on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, Rachel noted that there wasn’t much demand for that URL before Alan came along. So it was readily available.
Do you want a Congressman With Guts in the U.S. House of Representatives? Then please click here, and show your support for Alan’s re-election campaign.
OK, so we didn’t have to use the term “guts.” We could have said bravery, courageousness, pluck, boldness, daring, fearlessness, audacity, intrepidity, heroism, lionheartedness, dauntlessness, spirit, resolution, determination, feistiness or spunk. But “guts” is so . . . short. And “CongressmanWithSpunk.com” definitely doesn’t sound right.
CongressmanWithPluck.com, on the other hand . . . .
Anyway, I want to prove to you, by example, that my boss deserves the title of “Congressman With Guts,” and that you should contribute to his campaign in the next 72 hours. If not sooner.
You may know the story of the last three Grayson elections:
2008: won narrowly, becoming the first Democrat to represent downtown Orlando since Watergate.
2010: lost badly, after being hammered by more “independent expenditure” sewer money than any House candidate in the country, anywhere, ever.
2012: won solidly, in the greatest comeback in House history – and the Koch Brothers started to run attack ads against him shortly thereafter.
We can’t let 2014 be like 2010. Contribute to Alan Grayson’s campaign before our June 30 deadline, and make sure that he continues to represent us in the House.
So let me tell you about something gutsy.
Of the $5.5 million in sewer money spent on vicious attack ads against Alan in 2010, providing Alan with a two-year unpaid vacation, $4 million of that was spent by the Koch Brothers.
You might think that after that trauma, when Alan ran for Congress again in 2012, he might have kept his head down, and gone out of his way not to bring himself to the attention of them Koch guys.
If you thought that, you would be wrong.
In 2012, Alan went on national TV, and condemned the Koch Brothers by name for their “outright lies” and their “trickery.” A Huffington Post report on that interview drew over 2000 comments.
In 2013, when the Koch Brothers held a sewer money summit in Alan’s hometown of Orlando, he organized a street protest against them.
And earlier this year, when Alan learned that the Koch Brothers own much of the Texas refinery capacity at the termination of the Keystone XL pipeline, standing to make billions in profits if the pipeline is completed, he spread that essential information far and wide.
Alan Grayson: He Doesn’t. Back. Down.
And that’s why we need Alan Grayson to remain in Congress, despite the Koch Brothers attack ads running against Alan in his district since last November. That’s why Alan needs your support – and deserves it.
So when we say that Alan Grayson is a Congressman With Guts, we’re not talking about his viscera, his entrails, his bowels or his innards. We’re not talking about his chitlins.
We’re talking about his moxie, his cheek, his cojones, his grit and his chutzpah.
But sometimes, you pay a price for that. Here is another random cultural reference that I couldn’t possibly know:
Lou Grant: “You’ve got spunk. I hate spunk.”
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970).
I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that the Koch Brothers hate Alan Grayson’s spunk. <strong>And that is what makes it so important that you contribute to our campaign today, before the June 30 FEC deadline.</strong>
That, plus the fact that I’m paid in arrears, and I deeply desire to see a paycheck on July 1 for my outstanding work during the month of June.
It’s time for you to chip in.
Alan Grayson’s pal David Keith
Turk Jackson : You got rocks , ain't ya?
Jimmy Olsen : Yes, sir, especially in my head.
- Adventures of Superman: Through the Time Barrier (1955).
So the GOP had us vote in the U.S. House of Representatives today on yet another malevolent bill, whose primary purpose evidently is to reduce Planet Earth to a burnt cinder. If the GOP were right that humans weren’t causing climate disruption, that might prove to be something of a relief, because then we wouldn’t feel so stupid about the extinction of humanity. The title of the GOP’s bill was “Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act,” also known as the LGPTFAATW Act. Paging Dr. Orwell, paging Dr. Orwell . . . .
Five House Democrats stepped forward with amendments, seeking to make this putrid saddlebag of puss slightly less detestable. There are 233 Republicans in the House, and 199 Democrats. Here is how the Democrats voted:
(1) 178 to 8.
(2) 179 to 5.
(3) 183 to 3.
(4) 174 to 12.
(5) 185 to 2.
So the Democratic amendments drew the support of between 94% and 99% of all the Democrats. Sounds promising, right? No, not right. Here is how the Republicans voted on the same amendments:
(1) 1 to 224.
(2) 4 to 222.
(3) 5 to 220.
(4) 5 to 217.
(5) 4 to 221.
Not a single Democratic amendment drew more than 2% of the Republican votes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the 113th Congress!
For a Democrat to win on any vote, that Democrat needs the support of all the Democrats, and at least 8% of the Republicans. Or somewhat fewer Democrats (I’m looking at you, Jim Matheson!), and even more of the Republicans.
That didn’t happen today. Not even close.
But hey, I’m a Democrat, and somehow or other, I won on 13 House amendment votes last year -- more than any other Member, Democratic or Republican. Plus 15 times this year – so far. And I won on good progressive stuff, too – protecting us from NSA sabotage of security standards, moving money from weapons to biomedical research, cutting off funding for contractors whose work is late or over budget, etc., etc.
Q. Who deserves your support? A. A proud progressive Democrat who knows how to win! Please contribute to our re-election campaign before the June 30 FEC deadline.
So why have my amendments succeeded, when so many other Democratic amendments have failed? Here are a few reasons:
(1) I give some thought as to what might make a progressive amendment appealing to 18 or more House Republicans. Sometimes I can make a regional pitch, as I did to coastal Republicans on an offshore drilling amendment. Sometimes I can make a Constitutional pitch, as I did on a shield law for reporters and their sources. Sometimes I can make a nationalist pitch, as I did for protecting the Buy American Act from being gutted in trade negotiations. And sometimes I can make a political pitch, as I did for increased funding for Spanish-language housing counseling. (“Do you really want Hispanics to hate the GOP forever and ever?”) With some thought, I can see each proposal the way that the other side sees it, and I can come up with a way to win enough of their votes without compromising our principles.
(2) I come up with things that are worth voting on. I’m not going to waste everyone’s time with an amendment to establish a commission, or order a report. That’s not my style. I swing for the fences. And in an institution scared by pervasive, perpetual boredom, that counts for something. I keep it real, and I keep it interesting.
(3) I’m not afraid to talk to GOP leadership directly. I walk right up to them, I tell them what I want, and I explain why I want it. I don’t mince words. I don’t try to fool them. I don’t kiss up to them. Usually, they say no, but every once in a while, they say yes. And they love being asked.
(4) I work it. I work it like no one else in the House. (Sorry, but it ain’t bragging if it’s true.) For every amendment that I care about, I personally write a letter to every other Member of the House, explaining why I deserve their support. I hand the letter to most of them myself. I talk to dozens and dozens of GOP members about what my amendment is all about. My staff talks to their staff. And I enlist the help of other Members to spread the word.
Isn’t this EXACTLY what you want from a Member of Congress? Someone who pays attention, works hard, cares about our principles, and figures out HOW TO WIN? As MSNBC’s Ed Schultz once said about Rep. Alan Grayson, “This guy is what it’s all about!” So show your support for our Congressman With Guts right now, before the looming June 30 deadline.
You may ask, why don’t other House Democrats do this, instead of sitting around and whining about how awful the GOP is? It’s like the old joke:
Q. Why is there so much ignorance and apathy? A. I don’t know and I don’t care.
I tell other Members that if they’re unhappy with their job, then they should let someone else have it. No matter which side has the numbers, there are 50 different ways to win.
And it’s so important to win. There are 700,000 people in Central Florida, and 320 million people nationwide, who are counting on me to do something good for them. And that’s good enough for me.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. As we said yesterday, with the June 30 deadline approaching, you’ll be seeing a lot of messages this week from Members of Congress, asking for your support. But ours notes are the only ones that you’ll see citing actual accomplishments. Think about that, and then show your support for America’s Congressman.
When I was a boy, back in prehistoric times (as my children would say), our first assignment upon returning to school after each summer was to write an essay entitled “What I Did This Summer.” Well I feel that you, Dear Reader, you are entitled to a similar report. What have we been up to, here at Fort Grayson, for the past several months? Allow me to explain . . . .
Last year, we passed more amendments on the Floor of the House than any other Member of Congress, Democratic or Republican. Which is not easy thing to do, when you lose every single vote that goes along party lines. We passed thirteen amendments, enacting good, solid, progressive legislation.
This year, so far: FIFTEEN. We have shattered our own record, even before we reach the midpoint of The Year Two Thousand Fourteen.
<em>IS THIS THE KIND OF PROGRESSIVE LEADERSHIP THAT YOU WANT TO SEE? If yes, then click here to support our reelection campaign. If no, then go waste your time watching Fox News .
And once again, we have passed all of these amendments without renaming a single post office, establishing any commission, or mandating some report. Nope, we’ve done some real heavy lifting in the past few months. Here are some examples:
(1) In a stunning surprise vote at 12:40 am that pieced together 175 Democrats and 53 Republicans, we enacted a shield law to protect journalists and their sources.
(2) We expanded our “corporate death penalty” for government contractors who commit serious crimes.
(3) We moved $20 million more from the military budget to the medical research budget.
(4) We once again boosted funding for bilingual housing counseling by 50%.
(5) We prohibited the Trade Representative from weakening Buy American Act laws, showing that Congress will protect our interests against “trade” giveaways to multinational corporations.
(6) We prevented the National Security Agency from weakening cryptographic standards.
AND WE DEMONSTRATED THAT A PROGRESSIVE CAN GET THINGS DONE. Which is why our campaign deserves your support, as our June 30 deadline approaches.
I could have spent the last three months schmoozing with corporate lobbyists. I could have spent the last three months begging rich people for campaign funds. I could have spent the last three months on “Congressional delegation” junkets. I could have spent the last three months selling off little chunks of the law to the highest bidder, just like the Republicans do.
But you deserve better than that. You deserve a Representative who can fight for progressive values, and win.
So as the clock winds down on Q2, as the Spring Semester comes to an end, ask yourself this: Who has EARNED your support? Who DESERVES your support? Who really REPRESENTS YOU in Congress?
You know the answer. So click here, and show your support. The show must go on, and with your help, it will.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. You’re going to be seeing a lot of messages from Members of Congress this week, asking for your support. I’m fairly confident, though, that this is the only one that you’ll see based on actual accomplishments. Think about that, and then click on that button below.
My colleague, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, will offer two amendments on the defense spending bill today or tomorrow. Both of these amendments will prevent funding for war in Iraq. I need you to sign this emergency petition supporting Congresswoman Lee's amendments.
Although Rep. Lee was the only member to vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001, she won't be alone this time. I will also stand up to say “No!” The more names we add to the petition, the more members of Congress will come out in opposition, too.
We need to say NO. American combat forces didn't help last time and they won't help this time. What is happening in Iraq is tragic and awful, but we should use the Hippocratic oath for foreign policy -- first do no harm. Please join us.
Here are the gory details of the amendments. The first eliminates funding for the Authorization of the Use of Military Force in Iraq, which is basically our declaration of war made in 2002. The second eliminates funding for 'combat troops' in Iraq.
Maybe Congress will get it right this time, after getting it so, so wrong last time. At the very least, since I'm in Congress this time, you can count on me to support peace. We also have a President not named Bush, and he actually listens to reason.
But tens of thousands of you pushing is essential!
This is an emergency. Send this to your friends. Send this to your family. Post this on Facebook, on Twitter, on whatever newfangled services are out there.
If you know any reporters or bloggers, send this to them. Yes, this is real breaking news.
We may win the vote, or we may not. But if we don't advocate peace, we won't get peace. So let's do this. Together.
P.S. Please share this on Facebook and Twitter.
A lot of people think the internet is a free and open environment, where you can say what you want and visit, build, and use the sites and services you want. And it is. But that's only because the government protects us from the large cable and phone companies. These companies want to block, slow, or degrade services and sites that don't pay them money. This means that, absent government protection, any site or service might be slowed down and made unusable, if the owner won't or can't pay off the corporate bullies.
Winning. It's not a word you hear often among progressives. But our campaign against giant corporate-friendly trade agreements is working.
Right now, the United States Trade Representative is negotiating two giant trade corporate agreements that would create free trade areas with East Asia and much of Europe.
Two weeks ago, I passed an amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives mandating saying that no matter what happens with these agreements, local, state, and the Federal government are allowed to buy American-made products. This is common sense. The American government should be able to buy American products. Even the corporate GOP were afraid to vote against this amendment.
Now it's up to the Senate to pass this amendment as well. Senator Ron Wyden recently became Chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate, which is the committee that handles questions of trade, including these giant trade agreements.
Please sign my petition asking Senator Wyden to turn my Buy America provision into law.
I'll deliver your names to his office, so he can see how much support there is for a smarter way to do trade.
If a Tea Party dominated House of Representatives can take on corporate interests and pass this, then surely Democrats in the Senate can.
Let's make it happen. Forward this email to your friends. Let them know that we the people can win. Let them know that we the people are winning. Together.
P.S. Here's a story about my amendment.
"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.
Rep. Alan Grayson
“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.”
- Marianne Williamson
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.
Rep. Alan Grayson
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
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.
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.
Rep. Alan Grayson